Sunday, December 21, 2014

December Tapas

It was our monthly Tapas Night last night and we had a bunch of people there.   We also did a Grinch Christmas Present exchange, which is always a fun event.

Some people jealously guarded their presents, while others put their presents up for bids.
Nah, they really didn't.   But there was a little bit of stealing going on, and some presents traveled to a couple of new owners until they were frozen in place. 

All I know is I had fun, and I hope our guests did as well. 

And to all those who brought us hostess/host/doggie hostess gifts, thank you.  You didn't need to do that, but we do appreciate them and our doggy does as well. 

However, there is one thing I do know, there was a lot of food, and everything I got to taste was so good.

So without further ado, and no drum rolls either.  
 Homemade Hummus, two different kinds,  one with Kalamata Olives.  Both tasted wonderful. 
 A veggie plate, and the dip, well, all I know is I need the recipe for this.  It had tomatoes and bacon in it, and was sinful.   And when the veggies were gone, we were putting it on the leftover ciabatta bread and eating it like that. 
 I put out some Ciabatta rolls with two different kinds of dipping oils.    The one at the top is a Pomegranate Quince Balsamic vinegar which I paired with a Coratina Olive Oil.    The other one at the bottom is the Black Current Balsamic with the Baklouti Green Chili .   And yes, I did put links to the store here, but I'm not getting any kind of recompense for it, I've just become such a fan of these oils and vinegars.  

And never mind how many I have in my pantry.  
 I also tried making some little puff pastry bites, but the idea was good, it was tasty, but the execution was off.  I did notice most of them got eaten anyway.  I'll tell you all about it later on, and what not to do. sigh. 
 I was going going to say something cheesy that we had everything from soup to nuts, but we didn't.  There was no soup.
I made these sugared pecans, and all I can say is that the guests are darn lucky they even got to taste them, cause I was nibbling on them all day. 

I'll share how to make these addictive (for me at least), nuggets of goodness in another post.

Now this was one of those, hard to keep out of dishes.  A cheesy pull apart bread.  I kept watching people going over there and just getting a little bit, and then going back for another taste and...

OK, so it was me.   sheesh.   But gee, cheese, garlic and bread.

A trifecta of yum.

 I just love it when people decorate their dishes.  This was so good, there was some blue cheese and candied pecans studded on top of the sweet potato souffle'ish dish.   I ate a big scoop. 
 This chicken was to die for.  Seasoned beautifully, cooked to perfection, and I think I need to get this recipe as well.   I could so totally do this one. 

Every time I eat a lovely melange of veggies like this, I think of one thing.   If only my mother could see me now.  She would laugh.  She loved her vegetables, and me, well, despite the fact we lived on a farm and grew vegetables for market, I didn't like them.    And now I do. 

 Mom, you were right.  Vegetables are good to eat. 
 And look at this luscious pasta dish. 

 Ummm, I think I need the recipe for this as well. 

Really, I could make a meal of this, and look Mom, it's got vegetables in it as well.
 I just wonder sometimes about Sweet Potatoes.   They have got to be one of the most versatile dishes around.  You can bake them, make them into wonderful souffle's, turn them into layered casseroles.  

It's all good.  And this dish was as well.
 You knew we were going to have some pineapple as well, didn't you?   And look Santas' hiding.  I guess he's a little overwhelmed at the moment.   
 Cornbread stuffing, cause I had told people I was trying my hand at a brined turkey.    And you need stuffing to go with it.    Very nice.  

Cornbread stuffing so southern, and I'd never had it before moving here,  and Kathy makes a really good one.
 And then there was this dish.   It had Tamales on top, and around the side and I ate one.  Of the tamales that is.    It's been years since I've had a tamale, not since we lived in Malibu.   I really think I need to make some of these for myself.   

Here's one view of the table with some of the food, before I continue on with the individual dishes.    

I'm very thankful I have a sturdy table at these events.  

 Someone got into the holiday spirit on this one.   Look how pretty, and it tasted really good as well.  I love these loaves?, well, I'm really not too sure what to call them.  They're just plain good. 

 This was so good, again, a mixture of vegetables, roasted so that the natural sweetness comes through.  

My mom would have loved all the vegetable dishes that were brought last night.  So good.

And also a good overview of the table.  Before the hordes descended. 

 I made a brined turkey, for the first time, and have to admit to not realizing just how little meat I was going to get off of that turkey.  I knew it wasn't that big a turkey, but...  It all got eaten.   I think there were more bones than meat on it.   I'll show you what I did with the bones in another post. 
And here's another overview of the table.    

And this wasn't all that people brought, there was more.  
Here's some more veggies.  Asparagus and tomatoes, and yes, I had some of them as well. 

At least I ate 'good for you' food last night. 

And this is what happens when you get a bunch of people in.   The bottom dish there, was a lovely sweet potato casserole, and as you can see, inroads were made on all of the dishes. 

 I tell you, ravening hordes have nothing on us when it comes to consuming good food.      And as I look at this picture, I didn't get a good shot of the Cranberry compote that was brought.  Plastic dish, upper right hand side.     But it was eaten, with relish.   (was that a pun?, if so, sorry.  Not). 

 But... we still had dessert to contend with and eat.   Just kidding.

We had some totally awesome dark fudge.   Always a popular item.  

I mean, fudge and dark chocolate together?

 I had made some Chocolate Hummus and there was a little left over from Friday night at NPA so, I served it again.  
I have to say, it's so much fun watching people's faces when you say Chocolate Hummus.   And then they taste it. 
And it's all good for you as well.  
 An assortment of cookies, all dressed up in holiday style.  
Sorry, couldn't resist that one.
 There were some lovely pumpkin scones.   I tasted them, so I know they were lovely.  
 Peppermint bark, and it is good.  And you can see in the background one lonely (but not for long) sliver of the Cranberry Pie.
 And this is how it looked at the beginning.   I do have the recipe and I'll be sharing it later on.    Cause it's that good.  And deserves to be shared.

(This is the same one, well not really the same one, but another one, that I failed to get a picture of at Boat Club).

Along with the other cookies, we also had these cookies.  

I have to take an especially long walk today, tomorrow and for at a week to walk off some of these calories.  

But it was worth it all. 

And I leave you with a shot of our Christmas tree lights,  I love it when I accidently get a shot like this.  

Friday, December 19, 2014

Roasted Broccoli

I made something healthy for NPA this past week.

Really, I did.  And it was also very tasty and I'm going to make this again and again and again.

Or at least cook it this way.

I had seen a recipe for Roasted Broccoli on Facebook, and it looked good, and easy to make as well.

I mean anything that has garlic added to it has to be good, right?

So I got a nice bunch of Broccoli, and roasted it, took it to NPA and it got devoured, and was pretty much guilt free as well.  

Let's face it, we all need something guilt free from time to time.   Well, food wise that is.

Here's the how to's...

Preheat the oven to 375 deg.  
Take a head of broccoli and either chop it up or cut the little florets apart. 
Rinse and dry them off, then take a couple tablespoons of olive oil, and add a couple of minced cloves of garlic to it, I used my microplane for this,  a little salt and pepper and then put the broccoli into a ziploc bag, and pour the garlic olive oil mixture over it.  Kinda toss it around in the bag so that the oil gets all over the broccoli and then dump it onto either a greased pan or the reusable parchment paper you have or a silpat baking sheet.
Take a moment and inhale the wonderful garlicky scent (Umm, that would be me, I love the smell of garlic)
Place in the oven for 15 minutes, then give it a stir, and roast an additional 15 minutes.
Take an 'artistic' picture cause something brushed past your foot as you took a picture.  And you went EEEEE and jerked the camera a little.
Take a deep breath and then take another picture. 
And after tasting the broccoli, decide it needs a little something so grab a hunk of Romano cheese out of the fridge and add just a sprinkling of cheese on top.   

As I said, this was very good, the roasting brought out a wonderful sweetness in the broccoli and I will definitely do it this way again.  

I'm heading to the store in a little bit, I think I'll check out the fresh broccoli...


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Hissy Fit Dip

I got this recipe from White Lights on Wednesday.  
She was my assigned blog for my recent Secret Recipe Club reveal, but she had a couple more recipes on her blog I wanted to make, and this is one of them.

I had to make this, even before I read the ingredients for this dip, I knew I had to make it.

The name got my attention. 

I do live in the south and I can just see someone throwing a hissy fit if all of this dip gets eaten, before they get a chance to try it.

Tis the season for gatherings so this would be a great recipe to make and take or just stay home and eat.

And since I was going to a combo birthday/house warming party, I thought this would be perfect to make and bring. 

I was right.

Look at the ingredients, cheesy, gooey and rich.  YUM.


8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
8 oz. Velveeta, cut into cubes
8 oz. Muenster Cheese, grated  (the recipe called for 4 oz., but I got carried away with the grater)
1 pound Pork Sausage
2 tablespoons fresh chives, snipped up a little
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Onion Powder
1/2 teaspoon dried ground sage (my sausage was quite sagey so I omitted this)

Cook sausage until browned, drain and set aside to cool.   Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat an 8x8 inch cooking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Add the cheese and spices to the sausage and mix together.  
  I used a stand mixer to do this step.    Place the dip ingredients into the baking dish and smooth out the top a little with a spoon, evening it out a little.
  Place in oven and bake until bubbling and golden brown.    About 30- 40 minutes or so.  (the original recipe called for an hour, but that was about 15 minutes or so too long.  I ended up with a lovely crust on the bottom, but that's not what I wanted.)

Serve with crackers or veggies or chips.  Whatever is handy.   I think this would wonderful on baguette slices as well.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Cherry Pie Shortbread Cookies for SRC Cookie Carnival 2014

 And here's another Secret Recipe Club reveal.   

Actually this is a fun one, not one of our regularly scheduled monthly reveals.

As is usual, we get paired with another blogger, and then have to pick, make and post about a recipe we find on the other persons' blog.

This month, in honor of Christmas, we're looking for and making cookie recipes, and who doesn't need more cookie recipes?   I know I do get in a rut and make the same kinds over and over and over.  But that's cause we like the ones I make, and I know how to make them.

I was paired with Andrea at Adventures In All Things Food, and while looking through her recipes I found the following;  

Cherry Pie Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies

I love Cherry Pie, and making a cookie that was like a miniature cherry pie, well, gee that was a no-brainer.

 We had Boat Club before this reveal so I did a private 'reveal' for them.    We usually have lots of sweets, but these, I just thought they would be extra special, and I was right. 

I think I need to make more.


1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour (I used White Lily brand)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used some Creme de Cacao)
1 can cherry pie filling
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk (I used some heavy cream I had in the fridge)
1 teaspoon Creme de Cacao

Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Cream the butter and sugar together, then add the vanilla extract.   Slowly add the flour, and mix.  The mixture will seem a little dry, but that's OK.

It does hold together.   Use a small cookie scoop to form the balls.  Flatten then a little
then press either your thumb (these are thumbprint cookies) or use a small spoon to make an indentation to hold the filling.

 Spoon a little cherry pie filling in each indentation, I found that each one held one cherry plus a teensy bit of juice.  

 Bake for 15 minutes, the edges should be turning a light brown.
  Take them out of the oven and place the pan on a cooling rack.   The cookies do need to set for at least 10 or 15 minutes to finish setting up.  I just slid the parchment paper over onto the rack. 

Then mix the powdered sugar, cream and extract together, and spoon into a piping bag or a ziploc bag and snip off a corner.   Pipe over the cooled cookies.   Let them sit for a few minutes for the icing to set up, and then serve.
These made three dozen cookies.    

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Savoury Garden Dip (aka Garbage Dip)

Tis the season.

For gatherings, for parties and lots and lots of good food.    I know my calendar is filling up rapidly with parties and get-togethers, and while I've got a few ideas of things to make and bring, I'm always up for new ideas.

Then as I was cleaning up my desk the other day, a piece of paper came to light, with a recipe on it.

Gee, what a surprise!

Actually, I was trying to get some stuff organized and found a couple of recipes I'd tucked away, and forgotten about.

This was one of them.  It had actually been brought to one of the first Tapas Nights we hosted, and was devoured.   Really, it was that good.    And when I asked the name was told that it had been named Garbage Dip.  

I'm sorry, but Garbage Dip just doesn't cut it here.

So I renamed it Savoury Garden Dip, but I'm open to other suggestions for the name. 

And best of all, it's downright easy and really yummy.     You can also make it with low fat sour cream, not all that bad for you.

I serve it with potato chips, but you can also serve it with veggies or ...

1 pint Sour Cream
1 Tomato, chopped
1 onion (small) chopped (I only used a half an onion cause it was making me cry)
1 pkg. Ranch Dressing
1 minced garlic clove  (original recipe called for 1/2 tsp. garlic salt)

Mix together and place in the fridge for an hour or so, then serve with chips.

And cause it's close to Christmas, I had to fancy it up a little.    Or at least fancy the presentation up a little.  

What do you think?