Artichoke Bread

This idea kind of combines a couple of other really good ideas. Cheese bread and artichoke dip with some garlic throw in for good measure. This just sounds like dinner to me. That being said, I am sure I could survive on bread and cheese – and maybe some apples and grapes and be a perfectly happy camper.dd_1810

For all the desserts that I bake, they just are not my favorite things. I do it to make the Boy happy and when I have extra to share, I take them to the office or to my local. I am going to make an effort to also start taking treats to the local sheriff’s department and the local fire departments. My only question there is – is that just weird? Will they be suspicious of it? I hope not. Cookies, and baking in general, are just good for me to do and I would like to share.

Last week was a pretty rough week for our LEOs  in Escambia County FL, Santa Rosa County Fl, and Escambia County AL. You probably didn’t hear, but a guy killed two women in Milton, another in Foley and stole her car, and shot a women in Pensacola and then stole her car too. She later died. It was a bit scary because he and his accomplice were seen not too terrible far from my office. I just don’t understand. Who does this? This seems really depressing, but it was that week. Let’s just say we were all hyper aware of our surroundings now.

I am sure artichoke bread will not fix the bad things in the world, but doing something comforting makes life a little better – at least it does for me.

14 ozs artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
2 scallions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 ozs cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded
1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano, grated
zest of one lemon
chopped chives
1 loaf Italian bread, sliced in half horizontally

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix artichokes, scallions, garlic, cream cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon zest, and cheeses, reserving some cheese for the top. Or just add some more, because it is cheese after all

Hollow about 1/2 inch of bread out of both halves of the bread. Spread mixture in the hollow and top with reserved cheese.

Wrap bread loosely in foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until the cheese is melty and golden brown.

Source: Closet Cooking


Mini Cheese Ball Bites

So this was a new appetizer for Thanksgiving  but for me it plays into my holiday thing. Holidays call for cheese balls – yes, they do, because I used to make a cheese ball when I was all of 12 years-old for our Christmas smorgasbord – my name for our Christmas Eve feast thing. I have tried to advance my cheese ball experience to go way beyond my immature 12 year-old self. I mean dried beef was involved.* Ugh.  But now that I think about it – what would it be like to try that recipe several decades later? Would it be good or would the food snob in me completely revolt. I am not sure and little scared to try to be honest. I still have that recipe, so who knows what might happen.

This recipe has lots of my favorite flavors: bleu cheese, cranberries, pecans. Those flavors are holidays to me. Especially with our local pecans, just harvested this fall – they are so sweet and totally set off the saltiness of the bleu cheese. Also, I am hard pressed to ever turn down a dried cranberry. [See: Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies]dd_1693

I do love that the base of this can be made ahead – the cream cheese, bleu cheese, cranberry part. Then the day of, make the mini cheese bites, roll in top quality local pecans and add that little pretzel skewer. Excellent. This will also make this recipe in a regular sized cheese ball to go with bread or crackers. May have to do this for the next pot luck at work. We shall see.

8 ozs cream cheese, room temperature
4 ozs bleu cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup dried cranberries, finely minced
1 1/2 cup pecans, minced
pretzel sticks

In a bowl, mix together bleu cheese and cream cheese until smooth. Mix in cranberries. Refrigerate until firm. Using a spoon, scoop into tablespoon sized balls. Refrigerate again until firm.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast pecan pieces in oven for 7 – 10 minutes, until fragrant. Allow pecans to cool. Roll chilled cheese balls in pecans. Keep balls refrigerated.

Just before serving, skewer each cheese ball with a pretzel stick. 

Do Ahead: Make the cream cheese, bleu cheese, cranberry mixture and cover, and refrigerate. When ready to serve, toast the pecans, roll the cheese balls in them, and add the pretzel sticks.

* Here it is for posterity’s sake.

8 ozs  cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar, room temperature
3 Tbs well-drained horseradish
1/4 cup finely chopped dried beef

Combine cream cheese, cheddar, horseradish until well blended. Make into a ball and chill. Roll in dried beef until covered. Chill several hours. Let sit at room temperature before serving. Serve with Triscuits or whatever crackers you like, but when I was 12, Triscuits is what I did. And everyone else did too.

2016 – A Year Ago – Cheddar Stuffed Mushrooms

 

Bacon-Wrapped Dates

We have a relatively new Christmas Eve tradition.  Christmas Eve fondue night. It makes a lot of sense to me – an easy, quick dinner that’s best with friends. With fresh bread, apples, grapes, and cheddar fondue, I was looking for something a little savory to go with it that would bring a different flavors. This recipe has the benefit of being able to make it ahead of time and bake when your ready. dd_1702

1 16 oz package bacon, cut into thirds
1 8 oz package pitted dates
4 ozs cheese – bleu, goat, Brie – whatever sounds good, yes Brie that is what we did
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp chili powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil and arrange wire baking rack on top. Spray lightly with cooking spray.

Stuff each date with cheese and wrap with bacon and secure with a toothpick. Place on rack, seam side down. Stir together brown sugar and chili powder and sprinkle mixture over dates.

Bake 20 – 25 minutes until bacon is crisp. Allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving. Because if you do not wait it will be very bad (serious burns).

I love any dried fruit wrapped in bacon. Or pretty much anything with bacon (See: baked beans). I was really pleased with this recipe and plan to make it again since the container of dates I bought had enough to do the recipe again.

And believe it or not, if you let the left overs sit out and get to room temperature, they are not shabby like that either. Yes, I did do that. I’m that person.

2016 – A Year Ago – Lime Sugar Cookies

 

Parmesan Walnut Crackers

I do love to make crackers. I have a cracker binder. I am guessing not many people have those. I mean a cheese cracker binder. Well, there it is. I just cannot help it, I love cheese crackers. This recipe was my winner in 2012 cracker challenge. Not my best year, but the best crackers. And I keep on making them again and again. dd_1673

8 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature
4 ozs freshly grated Parmesan
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
big pinch of fresh cayenne

Cream butter and Parmesan and mix well. Stir in flour, walnuts, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Form mixture to 1 inch logs and wrap in cling film. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 3 days, or longer.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Cut log into 1/4 inch slices. Place slices on a baking sheet about 1 inch apart and bake for 20 minutes until edges are golden.

Winner of the cheese cracker challenge. Yes, I do a cracker challenge quite often. So sad. And very geeky. But that is me.

I think I’ll do it in January just for fun with a new set of recipes. Might include cheese straws for this one. Or maybe not. We shall see.

Pear and Bleu Cheese Turnovers

I was always a big fan of turnovers. My Dad’s Mom made amazing fried apple pies –  which is a turnover – mostly. She made them with dried apples – not sure why they were made with dried apples but then she fried them in a  – I am not sure what that thing was called – I think it might be an electric skillet. Maybe? Not sure.

D&D_1492That said, when my grandmama came down from Rockingham North Carolina, she made those fried apple pies and they were (are) sublime. My Mom loved them – which was kind of cool because she was a great cook/bakery herself. Sometimes old recipes are the best. Indeed, mostly they are.

I have found a variation of  (chausson aux pommes “apple slippers”*) the fried apple pies that grandmama made and it totally works for me, but I think this new recipe might be just a little bit more interesting. I mean – pears – and then bleu cheese is involved. Although, I think Granny Smith apples would work well too.

1 sheet of puff pastry
1 good sized not over ripe Anjou pear, peeled, cored, and diced
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup bleu cheese, crumbled
1 egg, for egg wash, beaten with 1 Tbs water
Raw sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment. Combine pears, lemon juice, cranberries, and bleu cheese in a bowl and set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll a sheet of puff pastry into a square, about 11 x 11 inches. Trim back to a 10 x 10 inch square. Using a pizza wheel, cut into 9 smaller squares – oh, lord, math is involved – ugh. Place a tablespoon of filling in the center of each square. Brush two edges with egg wash and fold pastry into a triangle. Press edges to seal. Transfer to baking sheet and chill 20 minutes.

Once chilled, brush triangles with egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar and make a couple of slits for the steam to escape. Bake 25 minutes until puffed and golden brown. Serve warm.

* The French make everything sound so much better, damn them. It is also Bastille Day.

Source: Baking Obsession

Homemade Boursin

I am a huge fan of Boursin. My spell check wants me to write bourbon but I am not a big fan of that, so that is not going to happen. I think the best Boursin-like cheese I had was in Amsterdam. Lord, there are cheese shops there are on every corner. Yes, I should move there now. I really could live on bread and cheese alone – I am not kidding about this.D&D_1485

We were in Amsterdam when the Boy was about three and a half and he and I would walk along the canals. Such a lovely city. One time there was a what I can only think was a boat full of tourists on the canal and they were video recording the Boy and I (mostly the Boy) on the bridge as they went by. Funny, with his blonde hair and blue eyes, I’m sure they thought he was a native. They recorded a really cute American kid in Amsterdam.

It is a bit of an indulgence, Boursin. It is not cheap, but it is worth it. And to figure out  a way to make it at home would be pretty nice. Even if it is a close approximation I think I will be pretty damn happy with it.

Yes, just bread and some sort of cheese –  No dessert, no chocolate. Not sure I could give up lemons though. Just give me bread and cheese and I will be happy. Yes, very happy.  And beer not giving  that up, forgot to mention that bit. But I do not think that is a big surprise.

8 ozs cream cheese, softened
1 medium sized shallot, minced
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup Italian parsley, minced
2 Tbs chives, minced
a couple or three scallions, minced
Lemon zest, as much as you would like – I lean in favor of quite a bit, but that is me – at least, and then the juice of that lemon too.
Finely ground black pepper, just a few turns

Whir up the shallot in the food processor. Add salt, pepper, lemon zest and lemon juice and whir just a couple more times. Add the cream cheese,  parsley, chives, scallions, and ground pepper.

Pack into a ramekin and cover with plastic wrap (cling film) and chill for an hour and up to five days.  Serve with crostini or some kind of bread thing – so random – toast maybe. I still think that an oven-toasted crostini would be the best delivery vehicle. But now that I have had that, I think a nice soft bit of French bread would also suit well.

I have to say … I really liked this – um, a lot. Probably too much.

Turkey Cranberry Herbed Cream Cheese Pinwheels

This is a kind of riff on an Ina Garten recipe for turkey tea sandwiches on raisin bread (without cinnamon – this is crucial because that would just be yuck) with cream cheese and scallions. Ina’s recipe is one of the Boy’s favorite things, I do think he is correct. This is one of those things that you just should let people taste before you say anything about what is involved.D&D_1483

I am not a huge turkey fan in general, but turkey does work well with fruit, be it raisin, or in this case, dried cranberries – guess it needs to be dried fruit to work, but it works well. But maybe it is because we usually eat turkey with cranberry sauce – and oh, that works amazingly well.

2 – (6.5 ozs. containers) Alouette – Garlic and Herbs Cream Cheese, just sitting out for a bit
Dried cranberries, most of a bag, but taste as you go along, it is important. Chop those cranberries up a bit. It makes it work so much better.
Scallions, about three, green and white parts, again chopped up pretty fine
Roasted turkey – just enough to cover the tortillas. About 1/3 of a pound, sliced thin.
Spinach flour tortilla, but I think any tortilla would work. But I think the spinach ones look pretty good.

Spread the tortilla with the herbed cream cheese. Top that with the dried cranberries and scallions (and chives if you have them at the time). Then top with the roasted turkey. Now for the fun part – Roll them tightly and cover them with cling film – again tightly. Let them chill. Then (starting way too may sentences with that word) sliced them about an inch thick with a sharp serrated knife.

I kind of like these closer to room temperature than straight from the refrigerator.  My preference, but it so works for me.

I will say this is a good mix of flavors. Yes, you totally should try it for a party. Easy to make ahead and simple to put out – you can put toothpicks in the little rounds, but if you twist them tight enough, you will not need to do that.

I really like making something new from something else I really liked.