Menu Ideas: Girls' Night In

Kick back with your favorite girlfriends for an evening of fancy fun and surprisingly simple treats.

The Menu

We've broken down the basics of these restaurant-worthy recipes for an easy-to-follow menu that leaves you plenty of time to enjoy the party.

-- Bruschetta
-- Sesame-Crusted Salmon
-- Phyllo Cups


You can make this Italian specialty by drizzling slices of bread with olive oil and baking them until they're crisp. The appetizer comes alive when you serve it with an assortment of crowd-pleasing toppings, shown here. The next five slides highlight steps for whipping up these sophisticated toasts.

Step 1: The Perfect Slice

To bias-slice a baguette, cut it at an angle with a serrated knife. This gives you slices with more surface area than straight cuts would. Next, we show you the essentials of the bruschetta's olive oil spread.

Step 2: Brushing Olive Oil

Arrange the baguette slices from Step 1 on a baking sheet. Using a pastry brush, brush a light layer of olive oil on the top sides of the baguette slices. Although you're technically finished at this point, our four topping mixtures, found in the bruschetta recipe, add irresistible flavors you won't want to miss. Next, we outline the steps to making a Fresh Tomato and Olive Topping.

Step 3: Removing Tomato Seeds

To begin making a Fresh Tomato and Olive Topping for the bruschetta, remove seeds from cored tomato wedges or halves by holding a tomato over a bowl and using the top of a spoon to scoop away the seeds. The next slide shows perfect chopping techniques.

Step 4: Chopping Tomatoes

After removing the tomato seeds in Step 3, you're ready to begin chopping.

To chop tomatoes, core, seed if desired, and cut into narrow slices from stem end to bottom. Holding the slices together, cut across the slices into desired pieces.

The next slide shows you how to begin preparing the onions for the Fresh Tomato and Olive Topping.

Step 5: Preparing Onions

Once you've chopped the tomatoes for the Fresh Tomato and Olive Topping, you can start preparing the onions.

First, rinse the onion thoroughly under cool tap water. To start chopping an onion, use a chef's knife to slice off the stem and root ends on a cutting surface.

Next, Step 6 details how to dice an onion.

Step 6: Chopping Onions

After completing Step 5, remove the papery outer skins. Cut the onion in half from top end to the root end. Place each onion half, flat side down, on the cutting surface. Make side-by-side vertical slices from stem end to root end. Holding the slices together, cut across the slices, making tiny pieces.

Preparing the olives is the next step to the Fresh Tomato and Olive Topping. We show you how on the next two slides.

Step 7: Breaking Open Olives

The final ingredient for the Fresh Tomato and Olive Topping is ripe olives. To get the pits out of olives, use your thumb to gently crush the long side of an unpitted olive to break it open. The pit will present itself. Our next slide shows the last step in preparing the olives for the bruschetta recipe.

Step 8: Removing Olive Pits

After breaking the olives open in Step 7, pull the sides of the olive apart and the pit will pop out. Now, you're ready to assemble the Fresh Tomato and Olive Topping recipe. Our complete bruschetta recipe includes details on making the three alternative toppings.

Sesame-Crusted Salmon

This stylish entree dazzles guests without taking away quality girl-time. A quick turn in the skillet keeps the salmon firm and juicy while enhancing the toasty crunch of the sesame. The next three slides take you through the basics of roasting sweet peppers -- one of this recipe's key ingredients.

Step 1: Preparing Peppers for Roasting

Halve peppers lengthwise; remove stems, seeds, and membranes. Place pepper halves, cut sides down, on a foil-lined baking sheet. The next slide shows you how to roast peppers in your oven for the Sesame-Crusted Salmon recipe.

Step 2: Roasting Sweet Peppers

After prepping the peppers in Step 1, bake at 425 degrees F. for 20 to 25 minutes or until peppers are charred and very tender. Bring the foil up around peppers and fold edges together to enclose. Let stand about 15 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Letting the peppers steam this way loosens the skin. Next, step 3 shows how to make these peppers recipe-ready.

Step 3: Slicing Roasted Sweet Peppers

You are now ready to begin cutting the roasted peppers from Step 2. Using a paring knife, gently pull off the skin in strips and discard. Use the peppers as directed in the Sesame-Crusted Salmon recipe.

Phyllo Cups

You don't have to be a pastry chef to master these flaky treats. The next four slides take you through the basics of preparing phyllo shells, and our complete recipe tells you how to make the tempting fillings shown here.

Step 1: Coating Phyllo Sheet

Start by laying a phyllo sheet on the work surface. Then, lightly coat the phyllo sheet with cooking spray. The next slide shows how to add sugar to the phyllo sheet.

Step 2: Adding Sugar to Phyllo Sheet

After coating a phyllo sheet with cooking spray, lightly sprinkle sugar over the entire sheet of phyllo. Top it with another phyllo sheet. Spray and sprinkle four sheets per stack. Next, we show you how to cut the stacks of phyllo sheets.

Step 3: Cutting Phyllo Sheets

After stacking the phyllo sheets in Step 2, use a sharp knife to cut the phyllo stacks in half lengthwise. Then cut crosswise into thirds, making six rectangles per stack for a total of 12. Now you're ready to bake the phyllo stacks. Our next slide shows you how.

Step 4: Baking Phyllo Cups

After preparing the stacks in Step 3, place each rectangle stack into prepared muffin cups, pleating sides as needed to form cups.

Anyone Can Cook

Anyone Can Cook is an innovative cookbook that encourages those new to the kitchen to make sipmle yet tasty meals, while providing the tools to move on to more complex recipes.

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