Adding aromatic bay leaves and red pepper flakes is an easy, but elegant way to serve guests at dinner or cocktail parties.
Growing up, many of us made toffee popcorn for Halloween and carrying on the tradition is a wonderful thing. The trick to making toffee is using a candy thermometer and keeping a close eye on the temperature as you cook. Once you do that, you’ll find it’s even easier than making caramel.
Truffle Roasted Chickpeas are excellent snacks for serving with cocktails. Truffle oil has an intense flavor, so use it in moderation.
These pita chips are super easy to make. Serve them with hummus, salsa or avocado dip. They’re much better for you than potato chip and everyone will be impressed that you made them yourself.
As the host, you can be the life of the party, if you like, or just the life behind the party. Preplanning will keep your get-together lively and running smoothly.
Guests will be hungry at events held close to dinnertime, less so at late evening gatherings. It’s always a good thing to be organized and prepared.
For small gatherings of 8 to 10 guests, three or four types of appetizers are suitable. For parties of up to 45 guests plan on 6 varieties of appetizers. For more than 45 guests offer 8 choices of appetizers.
Plan on about 12 bite-size servings per person for cocktail parties. Hot appetizers and shrimp go fast, so provide plenty.
Estimate that guests will eat about half of what they would at an all-appetizer party if a full meal is to be served later.
Keep extra nibbles in your freezer and have the makings for things that can be assembled at the last minute in your pantry or refrigerator. Good options include crackers, cheeses, nuts, candies, smoked meats, olives, and vegetables for dipping.
Asparagus Wrapped In Prosciutto
Wrap strips of thinly sliced prosciutto around steamed asparagus. So simple!
Cheese Stuffed Pecans
In a medium-size bowl bring 1 cup finely shredded Gouda cheese to room temperature. Add 3 tablespoons sour cream. Beat with an electric mixer until creamy. Mound a teaspoon of cheese mixture onto the flat side of 20 large pecan halves. Top with an additional 20 pecan halves (flat side down). Cover and chill for 1 hour.
Cheesy Basil Shrimp Pizzas
Arrange three 6 to 8 inch Italian bread shells on a baking sheet. Brush 1 tablespoon garlic olive oil over bread. Top with 3 sliced roma tomatoes. Peel, devein, and remove tails from 8 ounces cooked medium shrimp. Halve shrimp horizontally. Top pizza with the cooked shrimp and 1 cup shredded Italian blend cheese. Bake in preheated 425 degrees oven for 5 to 6 minutes or until cheese melts. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons finely shredded fresh basil.
Nutty Sweet Brie
Place one 8 ounce round Brie cheese in a shallow baking dish or pie plate. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees oven for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan combine 1/4 cup butter, 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, 1/4 cup chopped nuts of your choice, and 1 tablespoon honey. Bring mixture to boiling over a medium heat. Stir constantly. Pour sauce over warm Brie. Serve with assorted crackers.
Today is National Cheesecake Day!
I love cheesecake. Growing up I would go blackberry picking in my neighborhood. There was always some area with overgrown blackberry bushes. Picking up my childhood sandbox bucket I would set myself to the task of bringing home a bucketful of blackberries. Not many would make it home and the evidence would be all over my face.
40 Crushed Vanilla Wafers
6 Tablespoons Melted Butter
16 Ounces Softened Cream Cheese
3/4 Cup Sugar
2 Tablespoons Unbleached Flour
2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Creamed Cottage Cheese
1/4 Cup Cherry Brandy
4 Cups Fresh Blackberries
Preheat your oven to 375° F. In a medium size bowl stir together crushed vanilla wafers and butter. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of an 8 inch spring form pan and set aside. In a large bowl stir together cream cheese, 3/4 cup sugar, flour and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on low until smooth and set aside. Place the cottage cheese in a food processor and blend until smooth. Incorporate into the cream cheese mixture. Next, stir in the 1/4 cup cherry brandy. Beat in the eggs on low speed until combined. Don’t over mix as you don’t want to incorporate too much air into the batter. Pour half of the cheese cake mixture into the crust lined pan. Spread 1 cup of the blackberries on top. Top with the remaining cheese cake mixture and 1/2 cup of the blackberries. Place in a shallow baking pan in the preheated oven. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until center appears almost set. Remove from the oven. Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Loosen the sides and cool completely. Cover and chill for 2 hours. To serve cut the cheesecake into wedges and top each with the blackberries. Serve with additional blackberry sauce if you like. Serves 10
I love this Southern spread made popular by Louisville’s Benedict’s restaurateur, Jennie Carter Benedict, who opened her restaurant in 1893. It can be used as a dip or for a sandwich and is perfect for either an afternoon tea or a light meal.
1 Large Cucumber
8 Ounces Softened Cream Cheese
4 Tablespoons Grated Onion or 2 Minced Green Onions
1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 Tablespoon Mayonnaise
Remove the cucumber skin and then grate it into a medium size bowl. Drain the cucumber and onion juice (unless using minced green onions). Add the cream cheese, grated onion, kosher salt and mayonnaise. Beat with a hand mixer on medium until all of the ingredients are combined. Place plastic wrap over the bowl and put into the fridge for 2 to 3 hours. If you are using for a vegetable dip then thin it out with a bit of sour cream. Makes about 1 1/2 Cups
This dip is super healthy and goes perfectly with raw vegetables, crackers or whole grain pita wedges.
1 Large Eggplant
3 Thinly Sliced Garlic Cloves
14 Ounces Silken Tofu
3 Tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
Preheat your oven to 350º F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise. Cut slits in the flesh side of the eggplant halves and insert the garlic slices. Put the eggplant cut-side down on the baking sheet and then prick the eggplant all over with a fork. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes. You will want the eggplant to be soft and collapsed. Remove from the oven and then when the eggplant is cool enough to handle scoop out the pulp and put it into a food processor or blender. Throw away the skin. Add the tofu, lemon juice and kosher salt. Puree until nice and smooth. Serve immediately. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.
If you like Nutella then you will like this pound cake recipe. It’s easy to make and can be eaten for breakfast or as a dessert.
1/2 Cup Softened Butter
3 Room Temperature Eggs
1/2 Cup Whipping Cream
1 1/2 Cups Unbleached Flour
1/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/8 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 Cup Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Nutella
Preheat your oven to 325º F. Allow the butter and eggs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Line a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan with parchment paper. Set aside. In a medium size bowl stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and kosher salt. Set aside. In a large size bowl beat the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add the sugar and beat for 30 seconds until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition. Scrape the bowl frequently. Alternately add the flour mixture and whipping cream to the butter mixture. Beat on low after each addition just until combined. Pour half of the batter into the parchment paper lined loaf pan. Place 1/2 cup Nutella on top of the batter and swirl with a knife. Pour the rest of the batter and place the remaining 1/2 cup Nutella on top of the batter. Swirl the Nutella with a knife. Place into the oven and bake for 60 to 75 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Remember that ovens heat differently so check at 60 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan (by pulling out by the parchment paper) and cool thoroughly on the rack. Makes 1 Nutella Pound Cake.
Victoria and Camille have been cooking together almost from the moment Camille was born. Camille’s tiny hands broke eggs for cakes, stirred frosting and of course licked the beaters. Victoria couldn’t keep Camille out of the kitchen so she purchased a little lightweight stool for her to stand on in order to reach the counters. Because Camille has been cooking for over 20 years she has become an expert in coming up with her own recipes and cooking ideas. She loves to cook for family and friends alike and I must admit her Banana Bread is out of this world. Here is Camille’s Smoked Salmon Frittata that she concocted last night. It was delicious and naturally there are no leftovers. Give her frittata a try for dinner, lunch or breakfast. It’s nice having a multi-meal dish at your fingertips.
1 Diced Medium Onion
1 Tablespoon Butter
12 Fresh Eggs
1 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Feta Cheese
1/2 Cup Cheddar Cheese
1/4 Cup Sliced Mushrooms
1 Cup Spinach
3/4 Cup Smoked Salmon
1 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper
Preheat your oven to 350º F. In a medium size ovenproof skillet sauté the onions and butter for about 5 minutes over a medium heat. You will want the onions to be translucent. Turn off the heat and let the onions rest. In a large size bowl add all of the eggs. Whisk until well combined. Add the milk, cheese, mushrooms, spinach, salmon and pepper. If you want to add salt you can, but I chose not to because the salmon is already salty. Mix everything together in the bowl and then pour everything over the onions that have been resting in the pan. Place in the oven and bake for 50 minutes until lightly browned and a knife comes out clean. Remove from the oven. Serve directly from the skillet and enjoy. If you’re serving this dish for dinner you could top with sliced avocado. Serves 8