Instant Party While On K.P.
by Susu, Rosie, Runt
Menu: Store-Bought Meatballs in Quick Sweet & Hot Gourmet Sauce | Store-bought Eggplant Parmagiana Cheated Up with More Sauce and Cheese, Turned into Congratulatory Hoagies | Store-Roasted Chicken Roll-ups | Serendipitous Cream Cheese and Chutney with Sturdy Crackers | Reclaimed Salad | Easy Formula Smoothies to Whip Up Fast | Foolhardy But Healthy-Seeming Baked Fruit Dessert | Flippin' Lucky Cookie Bars
Sometimes things just come together and you want to party with the people who have gathered. Or a special guest arrives on short notice, and you realize everyone wants to see them, too. So you throw a big party, BYOL (bring your own lomin!), or whatever else takes your fancy. You trust to the gods that there will be enough stuff to go around, and no one will hate any of it.
But sometimes you're forced to cater a party ... like Wes Janson was. He got caught with a woman he shouldn't have in Should Have Known Better (Rated PG-13) and suffered KP as a result. (It could have been much worse ... General Salm was talking about court-martial and disbanding the Rogues!) And while he was relegated, he was ordered by the kitchen hierarchy to put together a party for higher officers. They told him there were officers of several species, and that they had not been happy ith the fare served previously. If Wes did a good job; they would apply for a commuted sentence for him. What incentive! Do a good job, and get let out early; do a bad job, and who knew what would happen to him?
Wes knew that if you're a responsible host, you don't just hope people bring stuff to supply your party. You try to make sure there is enough of everything, especially stuff the others will not likely bring. There are other species to consider, but you call ahead and ask them to bring a small dish they like, so they don't end up starving while everyone else gorges. You also try to remember the "common denominator" foods throughout the Galaxy. But since he was responsible for providing the food in little time, he thought about how he could minimize this work and yet still put on a good spread.
Even in the GFFA, some observations seem to be true about people's food preferences, and Wes came up with these after thinking about the parties where he'd enjoyed the food. He had a lot of time to think, since he was sequestered in the brig:
So no excuses of time, budget, or talent limitations! Party on!
Store-Bought Meatballs in Quick Sweet & Hot Sauce
You can make the sauce and keep it in the refrigerator till you happen to have meatballs on hand. Use leftover ones, or ones already mixed, cooked and frozen from the store. You can even used chunked up leftover meatloaf! You eat it by either spooning it onto a roll, topping with melty cheese and eating it like a sandwich, or pour them out onto a platter and skewer them with toothpicks as an appetizer. The taste seems odd at first, but you'll find yourself going after them again and again. By the way, this sauce is also great served with balls made of turkey, chicken, pork, even fish balls, or chicken wings, or hotdogs (the little ones, or cut up bigger ones), or ... or ... or ... good on tofu, too ("tastes meaty!")! You can even marinate meat or vegetables that have already been cooked. But Wes went for meatballs, for obvious reasons.
Store-Bought Eggplant Parmagiana Cheated Up with More Sauce and Cheese, Turned into Congratulatory Hoagies
There are many miraculous things to be found in the deep-freeze at the grocer's, include meals that simply have to be put into a microwave oven. And it's often cheaper and better than you can do yourself (especially if you're into spending your time and efforts elsewhere)! Of course, if you partake in such fare, you should do as one does when ordering in a restaurant -- get stuff that you don't make yourself, or is just too tedious.
Eggplant Parmagiana is one such dish -- all the frying of eggplant, the making of sauce, etc. It's messy and eggplant sucks up so much oil ... So buy the prepared dish that serves 8 or however many, but don't dare serve it out of the box! When it's still frozen, you can rip open the box or bag and dump the solid block into a nice baking dish, and since this dish tends to become less moist with time (due to the breadcrumb coating on the vegetables) add a tomato sauce you've seasoned to your liking. Heck, you can even used canned or bottled sauce, and add some herbs and stuff to make it more homemade. Pour over the dish, grate some cheese over all, pop into the oven, then collect the oohs and aahs! It's so good, you can serve it as a meal by itself with a side of plain spaghetti. And it's cheaper because it isn't meat, but it's so awesome that the guys will never notice that point. (By the way, if you happen to have leftovers of this dish, you can treat them the same way as pre-made, store-bought products.) Wes also does this when cooking for dates -- the women are always impressed -- good for Wes, eh?
Get a nice homey looking baking dish and dump the parmagiana into it. If it's too big, you can take a serrated knife to it and cut it up. Or thaw the stuff and lay it into the dish. Pour the sauce over. Top with cheeses, then with herbs. Bake in the microwave till bubbly and the cheese is all melted, takes about 15 or 20 minutes on high power if it's frozen, somewhat less time if thawed.
Store-Roasted Chicken Roll-ups or Pinwheels
Some grocery stores have a display of rotisserie-style chickens cooking, pumping the tempting smells into the store ventilation to make shoppers ravenous and more likely to buy more! Just get the chicken, the source of all those salivary juices. Serve it without apology! The secret is how you cut it up and what you serve with it. Wes learned that if you use greens to line the platters, people think you're a genius and that you spent hours. Far be it from him to deny the effort made. (Again, use leftovers if you have them! Remember, it's free food since the cost for the chicken had been calculated into another meal.)
Cut up the chicken and shred or slice it into bite-sized bits, not too small. Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Arrange on the platter. Put out yogurt and sour cream in bowls, and the bread, too.
To assemble, place the flat bread on your plate, and place the chicken and your choice of vegetables in a line near the center, like you might be making a sushi roll. Spoon yogurt, sour cream or both on the pile -- not too much or it'll leak everywhere. Roll it up like a log, or fold it up like an eggroll or burrito: site the concoction so the line of chicken, etc. is sitting from left to right. Fold the bread bits to the left and right about a quarter of the way toward the center (not precisely, the don't have to meet in the middle); then starting from the bit closest to you (the bottom), roll tightly upwards to form a roll. Tie with a bit of cotton butcher's twine or spear with a toothpick to hold it shut.
Some people like to make big rolls and cut them like sushi into 1 to 2 inch slices. They come out looking like a pinwheel! Skewer each pinwheel transversely through with a colorful toothpick to hold it shut; colorful because you want to make sure people don't bit through the toothpick! You can also skewer two or three together on a shish-kebab skewer, interlaced with cherry tomatoes, for a festive presentation. Also, if you want to do this, consider using the large lavash, and try finding the ones in different flavors, like spinach or tomato -- they are green or red, and make for nice looking pinwheels.
Serendipitous Cream Cheese and Chutney with Sturdy Crackers
Wes came up with this recipe when he planned on making cheese cakes, but ran out of time. Neglecting to read the recipe, he didn't realize he needed to cook them the night before so that they would "set" and the flavors would meld. (The same is true for chocolate cake, but that's another story.) Desperate to use the softened cheese (there was nowhere to store it, and he had requisitioned it), he thought he could make a strawberry-cheese type of dessert and dumped what he thought was sweet fruit jam over the top. But before he could whip it together, he saw Hobbie's face through the porthole of the kitchen door. Pressed against his cheek was the girl over whom Wes had landed in trouble!
In a rage, he chased Hobbie, who was pulling Ameeli Salm down the hall behind him, till he ran into some MPs. He got some demerits, and was returned perfunctorily to the kitchen. When he got back, he was confused -- where had the cheese/jam mixture gone?
First surprise -- the waiters had taken the unstirred stuff out to serve. Second surprise -- why are there empty jars of chutney in the kitchen? Where were the empty jars of jam? Oh no ... Panicking, he crawled on his hands and knees into the dining hall so that no one would see him, hoping to sneak the platters off the table. But when he got there, he found the concoctions worked over and the platters nearly empty. They liked it! And thus through serendipity was a classic born!
Easy Formula Smoothies to Whip Up Fast
For some reason, certain cooks don't like recipes. They consider them beneath them, for some reason. Worse, if they don't have an ingredient, they just leave it out! Wes is kind of like that, even though he knows he should know better (thus, not knowing he needs to prepare things in advance, as for the intended cheesecake, above). Thus, he really likes this recipe because there are so few components, he doesn't need a recipe. Unlike milkshakes, it doesn't tend to separate on standing, so it actually can be put into a pitcher for party-goers to pour for themselves. It's got a big "ta-dah!" result, and he can honestly (and modestly?) say, "It's just something I whizzed up!"
This really depends on what's in the refrigerator and cupboards. You'll need a few fresh "new" ingredients, but this type of salad is different every time you make it. It's hard to give a recipe (which Wes doesn't like anyway -- something so "sissy" about following a recipe!), since Wes looks in the refrigerator and pulls out all the storage containers, peeks in them, then tries to imagine what a forkful of the stuff would taste like all mixed together. Anything that seems odd gets tossed out or put back in the 'fridge! Of course, there are some things that are are questionable or funny smelling ... don't ask, don't tell is the motto of many military organizations.
* little red potatoes, boiled
* string beans, cut into thirds
* asparagus, cut into one-inch sections
* cherry tomatoes, cut in half
* roasted red peppers, but into strips
* raw carrots, sliced thin
You get the idea. Shred or chop the lettuce, then throw it all into a very large bowl. This makes about 10 cups of salad. Add about a cup of dressing or to taste, toss well, and serve immediately. Feeds about 10 or 12.
Foolhardy But Healthy-Seeming Dessert
What could be healthier than fruit? It's a joy to eat when ripe or baked -- sweet, flavorful, lucious. Honey and orange juice are two other "healthy" ingredients ... but seriously, we all know that sugar and honey have a lot of calories. And the sweetened cream cheese is mostly fat ... but isn't cream cheese kind of healthy? "Oh heck," thought Wes "... it's just good." And it's easy! Don't even need to plate it, since there's a certain rustic appeal about serving the hot fruit on the tray or platter it baked on. Serve with ice cream, if you prefer. Then it will seem less healthy? "Well, it'll fool everyone into thinking I care," reasoned Wes ....
Mix together the brown sugar, honey, juice, half the extract and nutmeg. Dribble over the fruit. Sprinkle over with extra sugar and/or nutmeg if you wish. Place the baking tray in the oven and bake till softened, about 20 to 30 minutes.
Beat together the cream cheese, half of the vanilla extract and the white sugar. If you prefer it thinner, you can beat in a small bit of milk -- don't all too much at once or you'll end up with a runny sauce!
Serve by taking the tray directly to the guests and letting them take what they like. Dollop some of the cheese with the fruit as you serve.
Flippin' Lucky Cookie Bars
So how did Wes do? General Salm, who had caused Wes to be under arrest, was the man to decide how long his sentence should last. If it went to trial, it could be very bad for Wes and the Rogues, so it was important that the General make a decision before that could happen. Fortunately, General Solo had some dirt on him, and could force the issue; it's doubtful that Salm would have let it go to trial, but Solo decided to have some fun.
He challenged Salm to a round of sabacc; deep in his cups, Salm was pressured into accepting a deal -- if Han won, all charges would be dropped. If Salm won, he could send Wes to trial. Admiral Akbar and Wedge Antilles would make the third and fourth for the round.
Wes had made a quick cookie, a large tray cut into rectangles, rather than dropped on a baking sheet. It was much simpler, and to make it less rough and ready, he iced the things with a simple chocolate icing. That gave them "dark" and "uncoated" sides. Instead of dealing cards, General Solo dealt these cookies. Akbar and Wedge played along, but Salm was clearly befuddled. In the end, Salm ended up eating his "cards" and falling asleep. With witnesses to his loss, Salm rather good-naturedly agreed to leave Wes alone (perhaps because he had as much to lose if certain facts became public?).
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir into the butter mixture. Stir in the oats and raisins. Press into an ungreased 11" x 13" baking pan (a lasagne pan is good). Bake for 25 minutes or so, till golden brown.
Sprinkle over with chocolate chips and allow to melt a bit, then spread with a spatula or knife. Cut into 48 pieces when cooled.
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