Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Stroganoff Meatballs

Comfort food, comfort food, comfort food.

That's the name of the game around this time of least, as far as we're concerned!! Nothing warms up your belly quite like a dish such as this! We found this recipe in one of our favorite cookbooks..."The Best of Bridge", and once again, we were not disappointed. Not in the least. We've seen the kids try to lick their plates when we serve this! Of course, anything with the word stroganoff in it is alllllll goooood according to us!

The recipe goes together quickly, and the sauce is AMAZINGLY yummy! Your kids will like it, and it makes enough for leftovers. What's not to like? Serve it with a big leafy salad or some lightly steamed broccoli and you've got yourself a nice, solid meal!

Stroganoff Meatballs

2 lbs. lean ground beef
1 1/2 c. bread crumbs
1/4 c. milk
1/4 c. finely chopped onion
2 eggs, beaten
salt & pepper to taste

Sour Cream Sauce
1 c. chopped onion
1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. ketchup
(2) 10 oz. cans consomme, undiluted
2 c. sour cream

To make the meatballs, combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well and roll into balls of desired size. Place on edged cookie sheet and bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven, drain, and set aside.

To make the sauce, brown onion in butter. Add the flour and mix well. Add ketchup and comsomme, cooking slowly until thickened. Add sour cream, then meatballs. Place in a casserole dish and keep warm in a 250 degree oven until serving time. Serve over broad egg noodles.
So, so, soooooo gooooooood!!!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Rosemary Skewers

It's that wonderful time of year...the time of year when you can bust out all of your "extra-special" recipes for all the fun parties you'll be attending. Every year, we look for a new, special appetizer because we get bored easily. Yes...sad but true. We don't like to make the same things over and over again, no matter how amazing they might be. There are just too many recipes out there that need their time in the spotlight, and we figure we're just the gals to do it.

This appetizer made it's debut for our Bunco holiday party. I came across it in a BHG special holiday edition featuring appetizers and drinks for holiday parties. It had everything I was looking for...simple ingredients, quick to put together, wonderfully festive-looking, and cheese. You will never disappoint people with cheese. (Well, unless they have a dairy intolerance...but that's beside the point!)

Needless to say, these babies were a hit! And even better...they look like you really fussed over them, when really they went together in no time! Try these out for an upcoming party, folks...and watch your guests mentally RSVP to your next party before you've even planned it!

Olive-Pepperoni Kabobs

(12 ) 5-inch rosemary stems
(12) 4x1 inch rectangles of thinly sliced provolone
(12) 2-inch diameter rounds of thinly sliced pepperoni
(12) pitted kalmata olives

Begin by stripping the leaves from the rosemary stems, leaving 1 inch of foliage at one end of each stem. Fold a piece of provolone and thread it onto the skewer, then a piece of pepperoni, then an olive on the end. Serve on a decorative plate...that's it! How's that for easy?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

How to Make Food Disappear

It's Christmastime, which means lots of parties and lots of food. Here is your quick reminder on how to make the food you bring to a party or serve at your own magically disappears. Learn how to bring an empty plate home every time!

If you were at a party and a waiter approached you with a tray of Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake slices in the typical, triangular shape, like the one pictured above and right behind him was another waiter with a tray of single-bite square pieces of that same cheesecake, like the one pictured below, which would you choose?


I'll answer for you. You would choose the bite-size portion. You many want the whole slice, but you most likely will not commit or indulge in a whole slice. Now, if the choice had been between a normal slice and no slice at all, then you may have deliberated a bit...

"Omigosh.. That looks amazing! I would really love a piece of that cheesecake, but I don't know that I should. I'm not really hungry, but it's calling out to me. It looks soooo delicious... If I could just have a bite or two........"

Don't tell me you haven't had this conversation with yourself at a gala or family gathering or holiday party, because we've all been there. But, once a small, bite-sized piece of something divine is placed in front of us, our first thought is, "I'll just have one." And then we have two!

If you want your food to disappear at a party, make the food petite. Whether it's cookies, brownies, carrot sticks, zucchini bread slices, meatballs, or cheese on a tray - Shrink. It. Down!
Whatever it is you're selling, make it a size no one can say no to. No one wants to make a commitment to eating another large meatball or monster cookie, but I challenge you to find a live, breathing human - or dog - who can pass up that last little runt of a brownie on the plate.

What you really want is for people to be disappointed when your culinary "creation" is all gone. Actually, I personally prefer that they're a little devastated. If they only got one taste of the indescribable goodness, they'll dream of the next time they can experience that goodness again. You will have created a fiery frenzy around your food that will still be blazing long after the party is over.

Sure, it may blow up your ego - everybody raving about your culinary wizardry, but the real winners here are the ones you are cooking for. When you give them just one morsel of something delicious, you are helping them to treasure the moment, savor the flavor, and appreciate the magic.

Save them from overindulging because nobody ever feels good about that! Help your family and friends get the most enjoyment from your food by creating the best possible experience for them.

Apply the same theory when hosting a dinner party at your home. When it comes to the dessert, NEVER, EVER serve anyone - especially the person you most want to impress - a second piece of dessert. Even if they beg - don't do it. It's not as if you're letting them go hungry - they're just wanting more of the Deelish-Dish. Let them go home, crawl into bed, and dream sweet, sinful dreams about the wonderful experience they just had. Leave them wanting more and they'll be back. And when they do sit down at your table again, they'll be primed and ready to savor every single, magnificent bite, because NOW they know the magic is only for a moment - and then it's gone!


Monday, December 14, 2009

Key Lime Cheesecake Bites with Raspberry Drizzle

I, Sheri love Key Lime! I love it almost as much as I love lemon! But the flavor is so fabulously intense that "less is more." I choose to serve this cheesecake as mini-bites because the single bite demands that you stand up and take notice of it's marvelous flavor. If you had an entire slice on your plate you would be thinking of the next bite and the next.........but this way, each and every sinful bite gets the oo's and ahh's it deserves! And remember, you can eat as many bites as you want!

The whipped cream and raspberry drizzle not only adds beauty to this cake, but it's the delicate sweetness that soothes the wickedly, wonderful sour of the key lime.

Are you feeling wicked today?!!

Key Lime Cheesecake Bites with Raspberry Sauce

1-1/4 Cups Fine Crumbs Graham Crackers
3 Tablespoons Sugar
1/4 Cup Unsalted Butter

2 (8 ounce) Cream Cheese, room temperature
One Cup and 2 Tablespoons Sugar
3/4 Cup Fresh Key Lime Juice (about 1-1/2 lb Key limes) or bottled (we use Nellie and Joe’s)
1/2 Cup Sour Cream
One Teaspoon Vanilla
2 -1/2 Tablespoons Flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs

Whipped Cream:
One Cup Whipping Cream
One Envelope Whip It
One Teaspoon Vanilla
Sugar to sweeten to your liking

Raspberry Drizzle:
One Bag Frozen Raspberries
1/4 Cup Water
2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
4 Tablespoons Sugar
One Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Making the crust: Preheat oven to 350°F and butter bottom of springform pan.

Stir together crumbs, sugar, and butter in a bowl with a fork until combined well or just use a food processor, then press evenly onto the bottom of pan. Bake crust in the middle of the oven for 8 minutes and cool in pan on a rack.

Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.

Making the Filling: Beat cream cheese at medium speed until fluffy, then beat in sugar. Add lime juice, sour cream, and vanilla and beat until smooth. Mix in flour and salt at low speed, scraping down the sides as needed, until just incorporated. Then add eggs all at once and mix just until incorporated.

Pour filling into crust and set springform pan in a shallow baking pan. Bake cake in middle of oven until set in center, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes. Cool completely in springform pan on rack. (Cake will continue to set as it cools.)

From here you could treat this as a normal cheesecake - running a knife around edge of the cake and removing the sides of the pan - OR you could let it cool in fridge over night, then remove the sides of the pan and cut cheesecake into little square, bite-size pieces and place on a serving plate.

Then in a mixing bowl, beat one cup whipping cream, an envelope of Whip It, and some sugar and vanilla extract to taste. Using an icing doohickey thing or just a sandwich bag with a hole cut in the bottom, give each "bite" a generous dollop of cream.

Yesterday: Make a raspberry sauce by placing a frozen bag of raspberries in a pan. Take a glass with about 1/4 cup of water, add 2 tablespoons cornstarch, and 4 tablespoons sugar - mix until mixed and add to raspberries. Cover and heat over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally until raspberries break down and sauce thickens.

Then remove from heat and push sauce through a sieve to remove all the seeds. You are left with a beautiful, tasty, and smooth raspberry sauce.

Let cool overnight!

Take the raspberry sauce from yesterday and place in plastic sandwich bag. Cut a teeny tiny hole in the bottom corner. Squeeze the bag, letting the sauce drizzle over the dollop of cream.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Taco and Salsa Dip

Everybody has a 'recipe' for Taco Dip, don't they?

But we believe that this is the Best Taco Dip there is and that's why we want to share it with you!

This recipe came together one day when I wanted to make a taco dip for a party in December, and unfortunately, tomatoes are completely tasteless during winter in Ohio. So, I decided to use Salsa as a tomato substitute - but not just any salsa - raspberry salsa.

I chose raspberry because this dip has the 'Oh' so wonderful, but strong flavors of taco seasoning and sharp cheddar cheese and I wanted something hot and sweet to bounce off the intensity and spice of the cheese and seasonings.

My favorite salsa brand is Jose Madrid and it used to only be sold at the North Market downtown, but now Whole Foods and Andersons carries it also - wahoo! Choose your own favorite brand, but know that using a sweeter salsa, even if you don't typically like the fruit salsas, is a huge part of the fabulous contrast that makes this taco dip the best!

One of the other key ingredients used is the beloved herb, cilantro. Nothing smells more like summer than cilantro. The cilantro adds the sunshine!

Taco Dip with Raspberry Salsa

8 Ounces Cream Cheese
1/2 Envelope Taco Seasoning
One Tablespoon Mayonnaise

Beat cheese, seasoning, and mayo until smooth. Spread evenly over one large plate or platter or two regular sized plates.

Generously layer the following ingredients in the order given:

2 Green Onions, cut into tiny pieces
Cilantro, cut into tiny pieces
(I place these two items on top of the cream cheese to help it to stick. If there's too many items layered on the lettuce it just falls off the chip - and that's a crime!)
Raspberry Salsa
1/2-3/4 Cup Sharp Cheddar, shredded - then shredded even smaller
(I place the first layer of cheese over the salsa to keep it from wilting the lettuce)
Finely Shredded Lettuce, preferably field greens with radicchio
One Red Pepper, chopped tiny
One Cup Taco Cheese, shredded - then shredded even further

Serve with Blue Corn Chips

Note: Did you happen to notice the terms and phrases, "tiny" "shred smaller" and "finely shredded"? If you want your guests to swoon all over this dip, you've got to shred and dice and chop everything tiny because there's nothing better than every ingredient that you've stacked on this dip to be collected on each and every chip and each and every bite!

Nothing worse than scooping some dip onto your chip and big pieces of lettuce and friends falling by the wayside and leaving you with half the dip in your mouth and half still on the plate for the next lucky dipper. Chop everything small and your guests will get to enjoy all the dynamite flavor you've created for them.

Note: You may have also noticed that some of the ingredients are missing their recommended quantities - that is not an oversight. We would hate to limit your creativity in the kitchen by giving you precise measurements on this one. Feel your way to the dynamite flavor and make it your own!

Monday, December 7, 2009

White Chocolate Cookies with Pomegranate Jam

Cookie, cookie, cookie! Everybody loves cookies! It's the number one thing baking in ovens all around the world at Christmas time. Let's see.....there's chocolate chip cookies, gingerbread cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, and probably the most popular - the decorated sugar cookie. But if you're one of those plucky bakers always in search of something unique and exciting that will raise a few eyebrows and please a few palates, then you're in luck, because we have the perfect cookie for you!

BUT! If we're going to think outside the cookie box, we want to do it in style, which means cutting no corners. This festive cookie will undoubtedly please the eye, but in the end, it's the palate we most want to impress.

This is a white chocolate cookie...and we know there's no such thing as "white" chocolate, but yet there is such a thing as white chocolate. We've tasted some lousy ones and we've tasted some outstanding ones. We suggest you choose the best one for this cookie. And one of our favorite white chocolates, that in our book, achieves stellar status is Callebaut. We normally find it at Whole Foods, sold in big chunks. It's not cheap, but remember, it's worth it! Just take a walk on over to the cheese counter and kindly request that they cut it down to your size. No problem!

You may have your own favorite brand of white chocolate, but we ask that you don't assume they're all the same - they're not! Choose a delicious white chocolate and you will have a delicious new cookie that kids and adults will love!

White Chocolate Cookies with Pomegranate Jam

1/2 Cup Butter
One Cup Sugar
One Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
8 Ounces and 3 Ounces White Chocolate, Chopped
2 Eggs
2-3/4 Cups Flour
1/2 Cup Pomegranate Jam

Melt just 4 ounces of the white chocolate over a double boiler. In a separate bowl, beat butter, sugar, baking soda, and salt. When combined, beat in eggs and melted white chocolate.

Beat in flour and add remaining 4 ounces of chopped white chocolate.

Drop 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake in 375 degree oven for 7-9 minutes. Let cookies cool.

Over stove, melt the jam. Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon jam on top of each cookie.

Over stove, melt 3 ounces white chocolate. Drizzle over each cookie.


Note: Any jam of your liking can be substituted in this recipe....raspberry, strawberry, blueberry......In fact, you could arrange a variety of different colors of "jammed" cookies and have yourself a dazzling display of flavors.

Note: Once the jam and white chocolate is set, these cookies freeze very well. When removed from the freezer, they can stack on top of one another without sticking to each other.

Bragging Note: Recently, when served at a party alongside five other magnificent desserts, such as Tiramisu, Chocolate Brownies, Chocolate Mousse Cups with Raspberries, Pecan Pie, and Key Lime Cheesecake, these little White Chocolate Cookies were the only dessert that completely disappeared. I brought home an empty plate!


Mission Accomplished!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Penne with Gorgonzola & Walnuts

Do you go ga-ga over gorgonzola?

Just this morning, did you say to yourself, "Screw dieting!"?

If you answered "Yes!" and "Yes!" then we have just the dish for you!

This pasta tastes best when served in a super-sized soup bowl while it's still steaming hot with a few apple slices on the side for contrast, while you curl up in a blanket in front of a roaring fire, sipping on a fine glass of wine. Are you seeing the picture we're drawing here? Of course, eating it on a simple plate at the kitchen table is perfectly acceptable too - this dish will impress however it's dressed.

So, if you have gorgonzola and brandy in your house right now, this mouth-watering pasta can be yours for the low, low prep-time of fifteen minutes!

And just so we're clear......Mr. Gorgo and Mr. Brandy are the superstars of this show.


Penne with Gorgonzola and Walnuts

14 Ounces Penne (or Rigatoni)
4 Tablespoons Butter
One Cup Gorgonzola Cheese, crumbled
2 Tablespoons Brandy
One Cup Heavy Cream
2/3 Cup Walnuts, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped
One Tablespoon Freshly Chopped Basil
One Cup Parmesan Cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

Cook Pasta - we all know how to do that, right? Well, while that's cooking......

Melt the butter in a large saucepan or wok over medium heat. Add the gorgonzola cheese and stir until melted. Add the Brandy and cook for 30 seconds, then pour in the cream and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring until the sauce is smooth.

Stir in the walnut pieces, basil, and half the Parmesan Cheese, then add the pasta. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Return to heat, stirring frequently, until heated through. Divide the pasta among 4 warmed bowls, sprinkle with remaining Parmesan Cheese.

Take your seat in front of the fire. Smile! Enjoy! Worry about where this delicious bowl of heaven is going to take up residence on your body... tomorrow!

Stay in THIS moment!

Ahhhhhhh....that's goooood....