Friday, December 30, 2011

Holiday Cheese Ball

This cheese ball has made an appearance at many holiday gatherings. I've had the recipe forever, it is always a hit. Perfect for your New Years Eve party. It makes plenty and keeps in the fridge for a week or two.

Holiday Cheese Ball
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 5 ounce jar Kraft Roka Cheese Spread
1 5 ounce jar Kraft Old English cheese Spread
3 green onions finely chopped
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese finely shredded
Mix together and chill. Moisten hands and make 3 cheese balls, roll in finely chopped parsley and chopped pecans. Serve with crackers.
Printable Recipe

Monday, December 26, 2011

TWD Kids Thumbprints

I'm sad to say that our Tuesday's With Dorie baking group has come to an end. I joined the group part way through the book. I still have many recipes to make and much to learn. I think the recipe that most surprised me was Flip Over Plum cake, I had never cooked with plums and I was quite happy with the delicious results. 
It would be hard to choose a favorite recipe but Dorie's section on bundt cakes had many tasty recipes. I especially liked the All In One Holiday Cake. It is delicious!
Having Dorie in my kitchen each week was like cooking with a best friend. Her recipes were detailed and clear. I made 55 recipes from Baking From My home To Yours and only had one failure. That is great odds.

Our last recipe is Thumbprints for Kids. Ms. Dorie Greenspan is our hostess this week, she will have the recipe on her blog. First I want to say thank you to Dorie for an amazing cookbook. It is my go to book for all my baking needs. Thank you Dorie for being so kind and approachable. I had a question about a recipe, I e-mailed Dorie and she quickly responded with some suggestions. Impressive.
 Kids Thumbprints was a great marriage of two childhood favorites, peanut butter and jam. My sweet granddaughter was kind enough to help me. Although these cookies might be served to kids I saw plenty of adults enjoying them.
Great pick Dorie, thank you TWD bakers for a great baking/blogging experience.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cranberry Salsa Over Cream Cheese

I know some bloggers feel they must create their own recipe in order to blog about it. I have a differing point of view. The internet has opened up so many great sources for recipes. I feel it is my job to sift thru the hundreds of recipes I scan each day and pick a few that I think would be winners. I guess I don't want to reinvent the wheel.
So I make many recipes, only the very best make it on my blog. Sometimes I alter a recipe to suit ingredients available or personal tastes. These changes are noted. I will always refer back to the original recipe and blogger.
It is with pleasure that I share a recipe I found on My Kitchen Cafe, a favorite blog at my house.

Mel's Cranberry Jalapeno Cream Cheese Dip
                or Cranberry Salsa
12 ounces fresh cranberries
5 green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (I used at least 1/2 cup, we love cilantro!)
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice (I didn't measure, just juiced then entire lemon)
1/8 teaspoon salt
2  8 ounce packages softened cream cheese
Crackers or tortilla chips
Pulse cranberries in food processor until coarsely chopped. A Pampered Chef Chopped also works well for this task. Add green onions, cilantro, jalapeno, sugar, lemon juice and spices. Pulse till combined. Put mixture in a covered bowl and refrigerate for 4 hours or over night.
To serve spread softened cream cheese on a serving plate, cover with cranberry salsa. Serve with crackers, pita chips or tortilla chips.

This recipe has been served twice, both times with excellent reviews. It is perfect for your holiday buffet.
Candise had a friend over yesterday; Lindsey and her two cute boys spent the afternoon. The children played happily while the Mom's munched on this dip and sewed a darling banner. Something they saw on Pinterest I'm sure. Lindsey blogs at The R House, hopefully she will post a photo of the cute banner they made.

I'm grateful to have found another recipe to enjoy and share with those I love!

Monday, December 19, 2011

TWD Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie--Rewind

This week was a Rewind Week, make whatever you desire. So many great choices but I love cookies, and peanut butter and chocolate. So I made the Chocolate variation of Dories Peanut Butter Cookie. I have made this recipe many times, always with great results. Kids love it, so do adults. The outside is crisp, the middle is chewy. It's everything a cookie should be!
Check Jasmines blog for the recipe. Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the English recipe.
Next week will be our last week. Dorie is hosting! We will make Thumbprints for Kids, an awesome recipe!

SRC Onion Soup

I'm excited to say that the Secret Recipe Club has once again led me to an awesome blogger. Juls lives in South East England and blogs at Pepper and Sherry. Juls is a twenty something catering student. My first glance at Juls blog was one of, 'oh no' what can I cook.
By most standard Juls and I are eons apart. She lives half way around the world, is young enough to be my child and cooks with items unavailable in my smallish mid western town. But actually the more I read about Juls the more I realized we were alike. We both use cooking as a therapy, it really can heal the soul. There is a certain joy in gathering fresh ingredients, chopping, dicing and cooking. Smelling wonderful scents and tasting. And then sharing these labors with those we love.

I had to laugh at Juls response to her boyfriends dislike of onions. "I like onions", she stated, "and I will cook with onions". I had a similar problem 36 years ago when I married my hubby. I'm happy to report that Juls boyfriend and my hubby both now like onions!
Juls doesn't care for cumin which is interesting because my hubby calls cumin 'the stinky armpit' spice. I use it anyway--in moderation.
So, take a moment and get to know Juls, I would love to sit down and have lunch with her. Thank you Juls for letting me stalk your blog this month!
So what did I make from Juls blog? Well Onion Soup of course. I've wanted to make something like the restaurant version of French Onion Soup. But I didn't want an inch of chewy cheese and soggy toast. So thanks to Juls Onion Soup Recipe I made a perfect version for me.

Onion Soup

  • 4 large onions
  • 1 pint chicken stock--I used 4 cups (I like a lot of broth)
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary (I had fresh bay leaves)
  • 3 tablespoons red wine (omitted--non drinker)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcester sauce
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Optional: slices of baguette and grated emmental.
  1. Heat up a little butter on a low heat in the saucepan and finely chop the onions into half rings.
  2. Add the onions, minced garlic and rosemary to the pan, cover for ten minutes.
  3. Take the cover off and cook very slowly on this low heat to caramelise – it should take about forty five minutes until all the onions are soft, sweet, stringy and brown. (I had to cook an extra 30 minutes--my low must be too low).
  4. Add the red wine and Worcester sauce and cook into the onions.
  5. Pour in the stock and season.
  6. Preheat your grill and cut some slices of baguette and sprinkle on about half a handful of grated Gruyere on each. (I melted the cheese under the broiler. Cut the cheese toast into croutons and floated a few on the hot soup).
  7. Serve the soup into bowls and place the baguette slices and cheese on top and put the bowls under the grill for about five minutes until the cheese is bubbling and golden.
  8. Remember the plates are hot so remove with gloves and serve the bowls on plates.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Mint Brownies Bites

If you love to cook and you are in Utah a visit to Gygi's is a must. It is paradise for a foodie. Pans, utensils, chocolate, cake decorating supplies and more can be found at this wonderful store. Plan on spending at least an hour and a hundred dollars!
I found plenty to want at my visit last week. I came home with a new pan--can anyone have to many pans? No. This pan is by Nordic Ware so it is made to last. It makes cute little square brownies with an indention  on top. Fill with jam, ganach or frosting and you have a wonderful little bite.
Thank you Carol for the fun Christmas Tree Dish. Nothing completes a dish more than the perfect serving piece!

Mint Brownie Bites
2/3 cup butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
Heat oven to 350. Grease and flour Brownie Bites pan. Set aside. Melt butter and chocolate together over low heat, stir constantly. Set aside to cool. In medium bowl beat sugar, eggs and vanilla together on high speed for about 3 minutes. Stir in chocolate mixture. Add flour and mix gently. Spoon batter into prepared pan, filling each well 2/3 full. Bake for 18 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in pan. Invert onto cooling rack and cool completely.
Wash pan and repeat. Makes 32 brownie bites. When completely cool fill as desired.

Mint Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, soft
4 ounces butter, soft
2 Tablespoons milk or cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
dash salt
6 cups powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon Wilton Meringue Powder
1/4 teaspoon mint flavoring
pink food coloring gel
Beat cream cheese, butter, vanilla and milk together till smooth using wire whip attachment. Add powdered sugar and meringue powder. Cover mixer with a towel and mix together till fluffy. Add color and flavoring if desired.
Meringue powder will help set the frosting after it dries so it holds its shape. It can be purchased where ever Wilton cake decorating supplies are sold.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Orange, Cranberry Pecan Muffins or The Best Muffin I've Ever Made!

We are not coffee or tea drinkers so Starbucks is not somewhere we frequent. We recently spent too many hours in the O'Hare Airport. Our terminal happened to be next to a Starbucks. Out of boredom and hunger I looked at the yummy pastries in the glass window. Finally I could resist no longer and purchased a Cranberry, Orange Scone. It was delicious. I dream about food and that yummy scone has been in my dreams often!
Hubby and I were ready to find a Starbucks so I could have another scone. But thanks to Pinterest I made my own Cranberry/Orange treat in a muffin form. This muffin was perfect. Cranberry and orange are meant to be together, I added some chopped pecans because I love pecans. This is the perfect holiday muffin

Orange, Cranberry, Pecan Muffins
3/8 cup milk
3/8 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup fat free Greek Yogurt
1 egg
1/2 cup butter melted
1/2 cup sugar
Zest of 1 large orange
1 3/4 cups flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ginger
1/2 cup fresh cranberries, chopped (I used my Pampered Chef Chopper)
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 and spray muffin tins with Pam.
In medium bowl combine milk, juice, yogurt, egg, and butter. Whisk until well combined. In a large bowl add sugar and orange zest, rub together with your finger tips. This is the best smell in the world! Add in flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and ginger. Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients. Mix gently. Add cranberries and pecans. Do not over mix. I use a cookie scoop to portion batter in muffin tins. Sprinkle coarse sugar on top of each muffin.
Bake muffins for 18 minutes, mini muffins 12 minutes. I got 12 regular muffins and about 8 minis.
This recipe is adapted from Homemade by Holman. Thanks Pinterest!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Countdown

I'm so excited to participate with Krista and these other fabulous bloggers as we share a Very Bloggy Christmas. Enjoy these fun ideas - and Merry Christmas from my home to yours!

I am the lucky aunt to several darling little gals. They are happy, innocent, excited, and just fun to be around. Kids are so enjoyable when you no longer have a house full of your own! We can make a mess, eat treats, create till way past their bedtime--and then they go home. I win the 'favorite aunt' status.

We have had several 'craft days' over the years but last year I hit on a winner. I thought about trying to top it, but after about 10 minutes I quickly decided to just repeat it. It will probably be a yearly activity for many years to come.

What is the great activity? It is very simple advent calendar that even the youngest crafter can create. It starts with envelopes and sacks (that's what I had) and from there the sky is the limit. The envelopes and sacks were decorated with stickers, stamps, ink, punched shapes, markers, stencils and anything else they could find in my craft room.

Decorated envelopes were then filled with small treats. Of course you could also put an activity in the container. Read a Christmas Story, bake cookies, sing carols at a rest home etc., there are so many ways to celebrate the season. But candy is safe, I'll let the Mom's choose their activities!

We used clothes pins to hang the envelopes on a length of cord. The girls opted to make 25 envelopes--a perfect way to count the days until Christmas. We had a great evening--with talk of what we would do next year! This was the perfect way for me to start the Holiday Season.