14 December 2010

Creamy Artichoke Dip

With holiday parties in full gear, I suggest making a few batches of this creamy artichoke dip. Believe me, it will get devoured in seconds! I served this with fresh veggies, in addition to crackers and crostini. I really enjoyed having the option of fresh crudites because it makes eating this appetizer way less sinful :) This recipe differs from most hot artichoke dips because it incorporates goat cheese... one of my favorites! Hope you will give it a try soon!

I used two oval pyrex dishes for baking and serving. That way, I was able to bake/broil the second dish when I saw the first one getting a little low.

Creamy Artichoke Dip
Yield: 6 servings

2 oz. Block-Style, Reduced Fat Cream Cheese, softened
2 oz. Goat Cheese, softened
1/4 C. Reduced Fat Mayo
3 Tbsp. Fresh Parmesan Cheese, grated
2 tsp. Garlic Clove, minced
2 tsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp. Tabasco Sauce
1/4 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp. Black Pepper, freshly ground
1 (12 oz) Frozen Artichoke Hearts, thawed & chopped
Cooking Spray

Combine the first 9 ingredients in a large bowl; stir until well combined. Stir in artichoke hearts. Spoon artichoke mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish or a pyrex dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350F degrees for 30 minutes or until artichoke mixture is hot and begins to brown. You might have to turn it to broil for a few minutes to brown the top.

12 December 2010

Triple Chocolate and Cherry Biscotti

I am very excited to share this recipe with you as it was a total hit with my coworkers. Doug was my test-taster before I brought them into work and he said that this was his favorite type of biscotti that I've made so far! I will definitely be keeping this recipe in my recipe box for future gatherings. The best thing about biscotti is that it can be enjoyed with a morning cup of coffee or after dinner (if you have a sweet tooth like me and crave a little bite of chocolate every now and then)! The original recipe called for dried cherries, but I swapped those out with natural dried cranberries because that is what I had in my cupboard. Delicious both ways, I'm sure.

Triple Chocolate and Cherry Biscotti
(Adapted from Gourmet Magazine - Dec. '94)
Yield: 30 biscotti

2 C. All-Purpose Flour
1/2 C. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Salt
6 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter, softened
1 C. Sugar
2 Large Eggs
3/4 C. Dried Cherries, roughly chopped (I used Dried Cranberries)
1 C. Semisweet Chocolate Chips
1 C. White Chocolate Chips, melted, for drizzling

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat until combined. Slowly stir in the flour mixture until it is all incorporated and forms a stiff ball of dough. Mix in the cherries and semisweet chocolate chips. On the parchment-lined baking sheet, with lightly floured hands, form the dough into two (slightly flattened) logs. Each log should be about 12 inches long and 2 inches wide (they will expand in the oven, so leave enough room between each log). Bake logs for 30 to 35 minutes, until slightly firm to the touch. Cool the biscotti on the baking sheet for 10 minutes. Transfer the logs to a cutting board and cut the biscotti diagonally into 3/4-inch slices. Arrange the biscotti, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake until crisp (about 10 more minutes). Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Once cool to the touch, drizzle the melted white chocolate over the biscotti.

11 December 2010

Steve's Famous Crab Cakes

You know how some people are known for making a specialty dish? For example, Uncle Fr. Phil is always asked to make his jalapeno corn dip at our family gatherings. Well Doug's brother, Steve, wants these crab cakes to be his "specialty dish"... the one where people will come together for a gathering and everybody will say, "Oh, Steve, I really hope that you'll make your crab cakes again!" He started this tradition at Thanksgiving (as in a few weeks ago), and let me tell you... It was a successful first attempt! I am posting his recipe in hopes that Steve will make these again for our Christmas Eve appetizer! Clap, Clap, Clap!

Steve's Famous Crab Cakes
Yield: 6 Servings

3 (1 oz) Slices of White Bread
1/4 C. Green Onions, chopped
2 Tbsp. Reduced Fat Mayo
1 1/2 Tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
1 1/2 tsp. Dijon Mustard
1 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire
1/2 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
1/4 tsp. Hot Pepper Sauce (optional)
2 Large Egg Whites, lightly beaten
1 lb. Lump Crab Meat, drained & shells removed
1 tsp. Olive Oil
4 Lemon Wedges, for serving

Place the bread in a food processor; pulse 10 times until the crumbs measure 1 1/2 cups. Combine the next 9 ingredients in a large bowl. Divide into 8 portions; shape into 1/2-inch thick patties. Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the crab patties and cook for 4 minutes per side. Serve with lemon wedges.

09 December 2010

Pasta Fagioli

Hearty soups, winter hats, and holiday markets... Yes, I am thoroughly enjoying this season! Hope you are too :) I made this soup for a movie night with some friends. We whipped up a double batch of it and it seemed to go over quite well! When I had leftovers the next day, the noodles soaked up a lot of the broth, making it more like a goulash. Speaking of which... My grandma made the best goulash ever (at least that is what I thought back in my red meat eating days). So, Cheers! I raise my rather large glass of red wine to you, Grandma Jan - miss you lots.

Pasta Fagioli
(Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker)
Yield: 6 Servings

2 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter, divided
1 Pkg. Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage, casings removed
1 Medium Onion, finely chopped
4 Cloves Garlic, minced
4 Carrots, thinly sliced
4 Stalks of Celery, thinly sliced
1 (28 oz) Can Diced Tomatoes
1 Can Red Kidney Beans, drained & rinsed
1 Can White Cannelini Beans, drained & rinsed
64 oz. Chicken Broth (or beef broth)
1 (28 oz) Can Tomato Sauce
2 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley
1 Tbsp. Fresh Basil
1 tsp. Salt
4 oz. Small Dry Pasta (like ditalini or mini penne)

Melt 1 Tbsp. of butter in a large stockpot over medium-high heat, and brown the sausage, crumbling it as it cooks. Once browned, remove sausage from pot with a slotted spoon and discard grease. Melt remaining 1 Tbs. of butter in the same pot; add the onion, garlic, carrot, and celery. Saute over medium heat until vegetables are soft (about 8 minutes). Add sausage back to the pot. Add the can of diced tomatoes (don't drain), stirring briefly, and simmer for 10 minutes. Then, stir in the beans, broth, and tomato sauce. Add in all the seasoning; stir well and turn heat to high. Once it boils, turn it down to low heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the dry pasta and continue to simmer on low for another 30 minutes. Serve warm.

05 December 2010

Oreo Truffles

Doug's sister, Emily, made these oreo truffles for the holidays! I tried them for the first time last year and they tasted just as I remembered... decadent, sinful, and oh so scrumptious! Do any of you make packages of cookies for the holidays? Might I suggest adding these to your recipe repertoire this year?! I think they are a nice surprise to traditional Christmas cookies and they are definitely sure to please the crowd. Did I mention that they are pretty simple to make? Yet another reason to make them...

Oreo Truffles
Yield: 4 Dozen

1 Package Oreo Cookies
1 (8 oz) Package Cream Cheese
1 Package Vanilla Almond Bark

Twist oreos and take apart. Scrape frosting from cookies and place into a large bowl. Add cream cheese to bowl and cream together with an electric mixer. Put remainder of cookies into a ziplock bag and seal. Using a rolling pin, crush the cookies until they are in small pieces. Fold finely crushed cookies into cream cheese mixture. Roll into 1-inch thick balls and chill on a cookie sheet for an hour in the fridge. Meanwhile, melt almond bark in a small saucepan. Dip balls of cookie dough into almond bark and then place on wax paper to dry. Let set and enjoy. Drizzle chocolate almond bark over cookie balls if desired.

03 December 2010

Sugar + Nut Glazed Brie

I have the perfect holiday appetizer for you to bring to your next group gathering: sugar & nut glazed brie! It is perfect for these cold, winter nights. I love that something so decant as this brie can feel just a little bit healthier just by serving it with apple wedges! Ahhh, the glorious power of fruit. My future sisters-in-law (and my bridesmaids!) put this together for our Thanksgiving feast. Let me tell you... it was d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s! I promise that you and your guests will enjoy it!

Sugar & Nut Glazed Brie
(From Doug's Mom)
Yield: 15-20 Servings

1/4 C. Packed Brown Sugar
1/4 C. Nuts, roughly chopped (walnuts, pecans, macadamia, almonds, hazelnuts, or almonds)
1 Tbsp. Whiskey or Brandy
1 (14 oz) Round of Brie Cheese (about 5'' in diameter)
Apple Wedges, Seedless Grapes, Crackers (for serving)
Lemon Juice

In a small mixing bowl, stir together sugar, nuts, and whiskey or brandy. Cover; chill up to one week. At this point, you can place it in a moisture/vapor-proof container, seal and freeze up to 6 months. To serve: If frozen, let moisture stand at room temperature for one hour. Place cheese on large round oven-proof platter or in a 9-inch pie pan. Bake at 500F degrees for 5 minutes or until cheese is slightly softened. Sprinkle mixture over top; bake for 2 to 3 minutes longer or until sugar is melted and cheese is heated through, but not melted. Brush apple wedges with lemon juice. Arrange apple wedges, seedless grapes, and crackers around the cheese.

02 December 2010

Pumpkin Blondies

Wow, the month of November was a bad blogging month for me! I blogged two times... Whaaaat??! That is crazy. Thanks for sticking with me, friends! I promise that I'll be a better blogger this month :) I already have eight posts in the pipeline and ready to go! I made these pumpkin blondies for a fun fall dessert. I think we are personally still in the pumpkin season, so have at it and make them soon!

Pumpkin Blondies
(Adapted from Annie)
Yield: 36 triangles

2 C. All-Purpose Flour
1 Tbsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 tsp. Baking Soda
3/4 tsp. Salt
1 C. (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, room temperature
3/4 C. Granulated Sugar
1/2 C. Dark Brown Sugar
1 Large Egg
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 (15 oz.) Can Pumpkin Puree
1 C. White Chocolate Chips
1 C. Butterscotch Chips

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line a 9x13-inch baking dish with foil. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Add the egg and vanilla; beat until well combined. Next, mix in the pumpkin puree. Turn the mixer to low speed and slowly add the dry ingredients; mix until just incorporated. Fold in the white chocolate and butterscotch chips. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake until the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pan (about 35 to 40 minutes). Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely before cutting. To serve, lift the cake from the pan, peel off foil, and cut into squares. I cut my squares into triangles for smaller serving sizes.