Cakes, Pies & Tarts

Another Birthday, Another Party!

When a very close friend of ours, Dwayne, celebrated his birthday a couple weeks ago, he graciously asked us to lend a hand and prepare some dishes for his party. We’re always happy to oblige and feed our friends. For this particular occasion, we considered the foods Dwayne likes, and does not like, to create some original dishes. For one, ever heard of bacon jam? Well, it’s not as good as it sounds–it’s better! We made it with the intention of using it in the sliders, but it was so good you could eat it on its own with crackers or bread (or with a spoon if you’re Amir). Since Dwayne does not eat pork, we subbed in turkey bacon. It was still incredible folks! Plan to see another post in the near future with bacon jam (pork for sure). It was that good.

We decided to make our Honey Ginger Marinated Fruit, sans the yogurt dip, but put them on skewers so they were nice and pretty. Since they were being delicately threaded on a wooden stick, we didn’t marinate the fruit, but brushed the finished skewer with a honey ginger glaze. Dwayne loves a slider, so we thought, why not do something other than a typical burger? Gyros immediately came to mind (And it’s pronounced jeer-oh or yee-row. Please correct Amir if you hear him say j-eye-row). Gyro Sliders! Guys, these are good! The bacon jam adds incredible flavor. We mixed up the meats using ground beef and lamb since gyros usually are made with lamb, but use whatever meat fits your palate. Everything else was inspired by a few of Dwayne’s favorite foods–apple butter, pigs in a blanket and yellow cupcakes.

Greek Sliders with Turkey Bacon Jam and Feta Tzatziki – Serves 12
1 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground lamb
1 jar roasted red peppers, drained
1/2 red onion, diced
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/8 cup fresh mint, chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 large vine tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 cup romaine lettuce, chopped
12 mini pitas, halved and warmed

Bacon Jam
1 pound turkey bacon, chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cubed
10 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium red onion, diced
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons ground paprika
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup coffee
4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup maple syrup
3-4 cups water

Tzatziki Sauce
1 cup Greek yogurt
4 ounces feta, drained and crumbled
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 1/2 lemons
2 Persian cucumbers, grated and squeezed to remove extra liquid
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1. Cook bacon in a shallow skillet (one with a lid) until done. Add onions, garlic, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, brown sugar, salt and pepper and cook over medium low heat until onions turn translucent. Drop in butter and toss to coat.

2. Add coffee, both vinegars and the maple syrup. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 1 1/2-2 hours, pouring in water 1/2 cup at a time to keep it from getting too dry. Remove from the heat and let sit for at least 30-45 minutes. Blend in a food processor until mixture reaches preferred consistency. (Best if made overnight.)

3. For tzatziki sauce, whisk all ingredients together, cover and chill until ready to use. (Best if made overnight.)

4. In a large bowl, mix beef and lamb with onions, roasted peppers, red pepper flakes, rosemary, oregano, parsley, mint, soy sauce, garlic, salt and pepper. Spread into a half jelly roll pan covered with parchment paper. Press flat.

5. Bake for 20-25 minutes in a preheated oven at 400 degrees. Remove baking sheet and cut the meat into 12 squares.

6. Spread one half of each pita with a little bacon jam and top with a square of meat, followed by a slice of tomato, romaine lettuce and a dollop of tzatziki sauce before topping with remaining pita half.

Turkey Sausage and Spinach Bites with Honey Mustard Sauce – Serves 20
3 large turkey sausage links, sliced into strips
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 cups fresh spinach leaves
4 ounces brie
*10 ounces Pillsbury Grands Biscuits (approximately 10 biscuits)
Melted butter

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
Zest of 1 lemon
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1. Blend ingredients for sauce together until smooth. Pour into a container, cover and chill until ready to use.

2. Place biscuit dough on a floured surface and cut each one in half. Roll out one of the halves width wise, then lengthwise to form a strip of dough approximately 3″ x 5″. Lay a piece of turkey sausage, a couple of spinach leaves, onion and a slice of brie at one end. Roll up and seal with your fingers.

3. Lay all of the biscuit rolls on a parchment paper covered baking sheet, brush with a little melted butter and bake according to package directions. Serve with dipping sauce.

Apple Butter – Makes 4-5 cups
10 large apples, cored, peeled and cut into chunks (a mix of varieties)
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 3/4 cups apple juice
1/4 cup whiskey or bourbon
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
2″ nub ginger, peeled
1 tablespoon whole cloves
4 cinnamon sticks
3 whole nutmegs, halved
1 tablespoon whole allspice

1. Add all of the ingredients to a deep pot and mix well. Bring to boil, then reduce to a very low simmer. Cook for about an hour or until apples are very soft.

2. Mash apple pieces to break them up, then dump everything into a sieve to remove the solid pieces. Cook for another 30-45 minutes or until thickened and dark in color.

Yellow Mini Cupcakes with Chocolate Latte Frosting 2 dozen

Your favorite yellow cake recipe or mix
6 ounces milk chocolate, cut into 1″ squares

1/2 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
3 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons half and half
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground coffee
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
Mini cupcake papers and pan

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, then line cupcake pan with papers and set aside.

2. Make yellow cake batter. Scoop about a tablespoon of mixture into each cupcake mold. Place a chocolate square in each mold and top with more batter, filling the mold right below the top.

3. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until cupcakes are golden brown. Remove cupcakes from pan and set aside to cool completely.

4. Meanwhile, make the frosting. Set chocolate in a heat-resistant bowl on top of a pot of simmering water. Be sure not to let the water touch the bottom of the bowl. Once melted, remove from heat and let stand a few minutes to cool slightly.

5. While the chocolate melts, cream butter and sugar in a large mix bowl with an electric mixer for 2-3 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, chocolate last, until well combined.

6. When cupcakes are cooled, pipe frosting over each cupcake.

Oh, and of course, we also made a cake–a fabulous Strawberry Shortcake birthday cake. The pics, however, were not so fab. Don’t worry, it was so delish that it will most definitely be made again. We’re happy to report Dwayne was very pleased with the food at his gathering. He mentioned to us everything was beyond his expectations, which was a nice thing for someone to say. Even if they are a good friend. Try some of these recipes out at your next party, and let us know how it all turned out.

*And one more thing! MyBlogSpark and Pillsbury actually gave us the opportunity to test taste the new Pillsbury Grands Honey Butter Biscuits. Unfortunately, they were nowhere to be found in the store near us. We grabbed the original Pillsbury Grands Biscuits, and they worked great for our appetizer with a twist. Maybe you’d like to win a Pillsbury prize back of Honey Butter Biscuits. You prize pack will include two coupons for free Honey Grands biscuits, a butter knife and a glass butter dish, which may come in handy sooner than you think. If you like how that sounds, you’ve automatically been entered to win once you leave a comment on this post. We’ll send the winner an email once they’ve been chosen. This is a quickie, so the contest ends on February 7th at 11:59 pm. The product, prize pack, information, and giveaway have all been provided by Pillsbury through MyBlogSpark!

Click HERE for printable recipes.


31 thoughts on “Another Birthday, Another Party!

  1. Your the best for cooking up all this delicious food for your friend! I wish I could sample everything.
    Bacon jam where have you been all my life?

  2. Those turkey sausage and spinach Bites look soooo yummy, as does everything here. They will be made in the Hedrick house at some point. :o)!

  3. i never think of making apple butter this time of year but i bet that would smell good simmering on the stove for hours when the snow is falling. yummmy. and it sure would taste good on some honey biscuits. good use for that butter knife.

  4. Everything looks so good, although two things in particular will be on my thought all weekend: the turkey sausage bites with honey mustard and the latte frosting (I can easily forgo the cakes and lick the frosting off of them). Looks like Dwayne had a very happy birthday.

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