During the month of Leslie‘s birthday dinners, my multi-talented culinary musician friend Jason and I decided to collaborate on a home-cooked meal for everyone’s favorite munchkin. The email chain with Leslie, Jason, Shirley, and I procured us an abundant menu of comfort food. I picked Meatloaf Cupcakes with Mashed Potato Frosting – a savory dish for a change.
For the mashed potato “frosting”, I used the recipe from SkinnyTaste.com’s meatloaf cupcake recipe.
However, since we were already eating so heartily, I didn’t use SkinnyTaste’s meatloaf recipe. I defaulted to my favorite Turkey and Quinoa Meatball recipe, since it pretty seamlessly incorporates quinoa and lots of veggies.
For the potatoes, Jason did all the prep while I took forever trying to “de-leaf” the sprigs of thyme (un-de-leafable!). The thyme added some great flavor to the potatoes as well as some color to the otherwise very beige finished product. We pureed the potatoes in a food processor to ensure a smooth creamy finish when piping. Yes, I piped the potatoes onto the cupcake.
Jason pretty much owned the roasted brussels sprouts with bacon, and even made a balsamic reduction with brown sugar drizzle to offset the saltiness of the dish.
Leslie, being the ever-gracious host she is, refused to let us do all the cooking and made yummy almond-crusted tilapia filets and phyllo and prosciutto-wrapped roasted asparagus. However, Leslie’s eyes started to tear while she was chopping onions, so Tri MacGyver’d an “eye shield” for her.
Jason found a basic creme brulee recipe endorsed by Alton Brown on FoodNetwork.com, so we went with that. After making this, I was really surprised that a lot of people didn’t know what a vanilla bean looks like and that the pulp of a vanilla bean is what is used in recipes.
Leslie suggested adding sliced strawberries to the recipe for some extra pizzazz and color. Solid recommendation!
Everything was set for Leslie’s birthday dinner finale!
Here’s what my first plate (admittedly, of several) looked like!
It ended up being my first culinary collabo, and I would say it was a success! The first of hopefully many to come – and sooner than you think!