A Heartfelt Celebration

It’s always been easier for me to entertain when it’s a holiday or a theme is involved. One idea leads to another and before you know it, you have created the makings for a memorable event. And since most of us have been spending a lot of time cooking at home over the last year, this menu should be a piece of cake for treating a special guest or two.

One-Pan Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo

Serves 4

3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces fettuccine noodles (dry)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped, plus extra for garnish

In a sauté pan over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of the butter. Once it’s melted, add shrimp and cook for 1 to 2 minutes per side or until opaque. Transfer to a plate or a bowl, and cover to keep warm. 

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Add remaining butter and minced garlic to the pan. Cook for 30 seconds, stirring to make sure not to burn the garlic. 

Add broth, cream, and fettuccine noodles, stirring to separate the noodles. Once mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat slightly, and stir often for about 11 minutes or until noodles are al dente and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Add shrimp and cheese, stirring to combine. Remove from the heat, garnish with fresh parsley, and serve immediately.

Easy Asparagus

This is a quick green vegetable that I make often, especially when I can find the “fat” asparagus. I like the added crunch.

Serves 4 to 6

1 pound fresh asparagus
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 lemon, zested and cut in half
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
Freshly shaved Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

Snap off and discard tough ends of asparagus. Place in a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and butter, tossing to coat. Sprinkle with lemon zest, and squeeze the juice from lemon over asparagus. Sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper.

Bake 15 minutes, tossing once during cooking time. (I usually reach in with a potholder and jiggle the pan while it’s still in the oven.)

Top with shaved Parmesan cheese.

Learn from Leslie: I use a vegetable peeler for shaving cheese. This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled depending on the crowd.

Greek-Style Baked Feta

Serves 4 to 6

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 cloved garlic, minced
1 cup assorted cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
½ cup red pepper, diced
½ cup red onion, chopped
¼ cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved
½ teaspoon ground oregano
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
Salt and pepper
8-ounce block feta
Crusty French Bread Crostini 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium-size skillet until hot. Add garlic, and sauté for 30 seconds; add tomatoes and next 6 ingredients. Heat until onion is tender and tomatoes are beginning to soften. 

Place three-quarters of the tomato mixture in a 1-quart baking dish. Top with block of feta and then remaining quarter of tomato mixture. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until hot and bubbly and cheese begins to brown slightly. 

Serve warm with Crusty French Bread Crostini.

Crusty French Bread Crostini

Slice a French bagette into ¼-inch slices. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 20 minutes or until golden. Serve alongside the dip. 

Truly Decadent Brownies

Makes 9 (2½-inch squares)

Parchment paper
1 (4-ounce) good-quality semisweet chocolate baking bar
½ cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup good-quality semisweet chocolate baking chips
Strawberry ice cream
Assorted berries
Fresh mint (optional)  

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line an 8-inch square baking pan with 2 sheets parchment paper (8-inch by 12-inch pieces), allowing a couple of inches to overhang on all sides. (This will make for easy removal and cutting.)

Melt the chocolate bar and butter in a double boiler or in a heat-proof bowl over simmering water, stirring occasionally until melted and smooth. Set aside to come to room temperature. Stir brown sugar and vanilla into the chocolate mixture. Add the eggs and mix well.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture, mixing well until blended.

Stir in the chocolate chips, and pour batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool 10 minutes before cutting. 

Serve with strawberry ice cream, and garnish with fresh berries, and if desired, mint.

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Leslie Byars Register

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