Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Pepper Jelly and Cream Cheese Spread

I had to sneak in one more recipe for the year! This appetizer is about as easy as you can get. We had it at both Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner and everyone loved it. It would also be a good New Year's Eve snack and you still have time to make it! You can use any kind of spicy jelly. I found mine next to all the other jelly at the grocery store. I tried different crackers, but Wheat Thins worked the best. Cream cheese is still thick even when it's soft and some of the other crackers just kept breaking.

Pepper Jelly and Cream Cheese Spread
1 8oz brick of cream cheese, room temperature
1 jar of pepper jelly (you only need about 3/4 a cup)

1. Place the cream cheese brick on a serving plate.
2. Open your jar of jelly and stir vigorously until it becomes pourable/spreadable.
3. Pour about 3/4 a cup (half of 12oz. jar) onto brick of cream cheese and spread to cover the top. It will fall down the sides which is fine.
4. Serve with crackers.

I used Mango Peach Jelly...loved it.

 For Christmas, I cut the brick diagonally and made a Christmas tree complete with yellow pepper star.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Cinnamon Toast White Chocolate Pretzels

We tried a new treat for Christmas that was easy and so good. Some of candy I like to make is a little time consuming, so I was glad to find this recipe because you can have these done in less than 5 minutes. They are definitely not just a holiday snack either, they would be fun to make any time!

Cinnamon Toast White Chocolate Pretzels
adapted from yourhomebasedmom.com
1 bag (15 oz) pretzels
2/3 c oil
1/3 c sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Extra cinnamon sugar for sprinkling
White chocolate or almond bark for drizzling, melted

1. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, sugar, and cinnamon.
2. Dump pretzels into a large microwave safe bowl and pour oil mixture in. Stir until coated. Microwave for 1 minute, remove and stir. Microwave 45 seconds more.
3. Spread pretzels in a single layer onto two lined cookie sheets.
4. While still warm, sprinkle cinnamon sugar generously. Drizzle chocolate over cooled pretzels. Once chocolate has hardened, store in an airtight container.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Quick Pie Crust

When I want to make an easy pie crust I use the Crisco shortening pie crust recipe. Shortening is more solid at room temperature than butter, which cuts out the dough chilling time time, and produces a flaky crust. I've used this for pot pie and quiche too.

Quick Pie Crust
Single Crust
1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup well-chilled shortening
3 to 6 TBSPs ice cold water

Double Crust
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup well-chilled shortening
4 to 8 TBSPs ice cold water

1. Blend flour and salt in medium mixing bowl.
2. Cut chilled shortening into 1/2-inch cubes. Cut in chilled shortening cubes into flour mixture, using a pastry blender, in an up and down chopping motion, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some small pea-sized pieces remaining.
3. Sprinkle half the maximum recommended amount of ice cold water over the flour mixture. Using a fork, stir and draw flour from bottom of bowl to the top, distributing moisture evenly into flour. Press chunks down to bottom of bowl with fork. Add more water by the tablespoon, until dough is moist enough to hold together when pressed together.
4. Shape dough into a ball for single pie crust. Divide dough in two for double crust or double deep dish crust, one ball slightly larger than the other. Flatten ball(s) into 1/2-inch thick round disk(s). If needed, wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for up to two days.
5. Roll dough from center outward with steady pressure on a lightly floured work surface into a circle 2-inches wider than pie plate for the bottom crust. Transfer dough to pie plate by loosely rolling around rolling pin. Center the rolling pin over the pie plate, and then unroll, easing dough into pie plate.
6. For a SINGLE pie crust, trim edges of dough leaving a 3/4-inch overhang. Fold edge under. Flute dough as desired. Bake according to specific recipe directions.
7. For a DOUBLE pie crust, roll larger disk for bottom crust, trimming edges of dough even with outer edge of pie plate. Fill unbaked pie crust according to recipe directions. Roll out smaller dough disk. Transfer dough carefully onto filled pie. Trim edges of dough leaving a 3/4-inch overhang. Fold top edge under bottom crust. Press edges together to seal and flute as desired. Cut slits in top crust or prick with fork to vent steam. Bake according to specific recipe directions.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Pear Pomegranate Salad

This is the salad we had for Thanksgiving this year, and I think we're going to have it again for Christmas dinner. I got this recipe from an Our Best Bites cookbook, and changed it just a tad. I used bottled dressing instead of making my own, left out a lime, used red leaf instead of romaine, and sugar coated my pecans in the oven. Loved the salad especially the pomegranate seeds which I never buy, so they made it exciting. :) 

Pear Pomegranate Salad
adapted from Our Best Bites
1 head red leaf lettuce, washed and chopped/torn
1 (14 oz) bag baby spinach
Seeds from one pomegranate
2 ripe pears, chopped or thinly sliced
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup sugared pecans
Dressing ( I used half balsamic vinaigrette, half poppy seed)

Combine and toss salad ingredients. Drizzle on dressing. Serve immediately.

This recipe makes a lot of salad, so I would recommend only putting the dressing on what you think will be eaten immediately. An easier route would be to put all the ingredients out and have people design their own salad.

Another dressing that would be good with this salad is this Red Wine Poppyseed Dressing.

The fastest way to sugar pecans is to combine 1/2 cup pecans and 1/4 cup sugar in a skillet and stir until sugar melts over med low heat for about 15 min. I like to do mine ahead of time in the oven. Using the following method.

Sugar Coated Pecans
1 egg white
1 T water
1/2 pound pecan halves
1/2 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Grease one baking sheet. In a mixing bowl, whip together the egg white and water until frothy. Add pecans to egg whites, stir to coat the nuts evenly. Remove the nuts, and toss them in the sugar until coated. Spread the nuts out on the prepared baking sheet. Bake  for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Pumpkin Pie

I finally made a pumpkin pie! I am not a fan of pumpkin pie, but my daughter likes it and I wanted to have one for guests at Thanksgiving. My mom has always made the Libby's pumpkin pie recipe that you can find on the can. This is a little different because I substituted half and half for some of the evaporated milk. It makes the pie not quite as dense. It turned out beautiful and everyone seemed to like it. Although I must say I didn't even taste it, because pecan pie is the only one for me. :) 

Pumpkin Pie
adapted from Libby's Famous Pumpkin Pie
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin puree
1 small can (5 fl. oz.) evaporated milk
1 cup half and half
1 unbaked 9-inch deep-dish pie shell or My Pie Crust
Whipped cream (optional)

1.  Mix sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves in small bowl; set aside.
2. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk and half and half.
3. Pour into pie shell. Bake in preheated 425° F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean.
4. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream before serving.

Ready for the oven.

Topped with a little whipped cream.

Cheesy Corn Casserole

I added this dish to my Thanksgiving dinner this year. A little cheese and bacon makes everything better! It originally called for 4 cloves of garlic which I felt was too much so I changed it to 2. This recipe makes a lot! I still have some leftover in the freezer. I used frozen sweet white corn and it was very tasty.

Cheesy Corn Casserole
adapted from saveur.com
4 slices bacon, finely chopped
6 TBSPs butter, cubed
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ cup flour
3 cups milk
4 oz. cream cheese, cubed
2 oz. Velveeta, cubed
2 cups grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1 tsp paprika
3 lb. fresh or frozen corn kernels
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Heat oven to 375°. Heat bacon in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium heat, and cook, stirring, until browned, about 8 minutes. Add butter and garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add flour, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
2. Whisk in milk, and bring to a boil; cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Add cream cheese, Velveeta, cheddar, and paprika, and cook until smooth.
3. Remove from heat and stir in corn; season with salt and pepper.
4. Transfer mixture to a 9″ × 13″ baking dish and bake until top is golden brown and bubbling, about 40 minutes. Let cool before serving.