Category Archives: Holiday Specials

Martha’s Parmesan Shortbread Crackers

IMG_1275-0.JPG

‘Twas the weekend of a holiday party,
With my “mommy” schedule filled to the brim.
I had no free time for something hearty.
Of course, I wouldn’t chance it on a whim.
So what’s a girl to do when an appetizer is required?
Even if I weren’t tired,
I’d turn to Martha to settle my fears?
And, a pint of beer.
(Ok, that last line was just for the rhyme. I don’t drink beer)

These crackers are super versatile and can easily be made in advance. You can even freeze a batch unbaked, if you like.

Shopping List:
1 1/2 cups flour
8 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
2 sticks salted butter
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
A pinch of cayenne

Instructions:
1. In a small bowl mix together with a pastry blender or two forks in the butter and flour until it is pea-sized crumbles.

2. Stir in Parmesan, salt and pepper.

3. Turn dough onto a floured surface to form it into 1 inch round logs. Then wrap it wax paper and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes.

4. After chilling slice into 1/4 inch rounds and space 1 inch apart on a parchment lined baking sheet.

5. Bake @350 for about 20 minutes or until golden and firm in the center.

Makes: 3-4 dozen crackers

Advertisements

Savory Tarlets: Fig Jam and Brie and Roasted Tomato Basil

P1050286
With the holiday season upon us, I thought I would post an oldie, but a goodie. If you’ve never used puff pastry sheets before, you are definitely missing out. It is by far my favorite trick when entertaining .

You can purchase the lovely dough in the frozen food aisle of any grocery store. Simply thaw it, then bake it off to make a fancy breadstick or a topping for a pot pie, or in this case savory tartlets. Top these buttery little rounds with whatever is in season and suits your taste.

Puff pastry makes something simple become decadent. So next time you sign up for a potluck, you might just find yourself using this delicate dough.

Shopping List:

1 box puff pastry sheets (2 sheets per box)

1/3 cup fig jam

4 ounces brie

1/4 cup of sliced almonds

1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup shredded parmesan

2 tablespoons fresh basil, shredded

Instructions:

1. Thaw the puff pastry sheets, then them roll out to 10 inches x 12 inches. Use a 3-inch round glass or cookie cutter to cut out  approximately 16 tartlets. You can roll out the scraps of the dough once to make remaining tartlets.

2. Lay out the circles of dough on two parchment lined baking sheets. Then, top one tray of circles with 1 teaspoon of fig jam and a thick slice of brie. Top the other tray with a teaspoon of cherry tomatoes, a teaspoon of parmesan cheese and 1/2 teaspoon of basil. Drizzle the tomato pizzettes with olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. Top the fig and brie ones with a pinch of sea salt only.

3.  Bake at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown at edges. Top the fig and brie tartlets with almond slivers.

Makes: 24  tarlets

A Party? In a Bowl? Why yes, thank you! (A Super Bowl Party Appetizer Wrap-Up)

As many of you know I love to entertain, mostly because I love to make mini-foods. But really because I enjoy hanging out with friends while celebrating something special. So, it’s been a pretty long tradition–ok so it’s only been 4 or 5 years, but what ‘evs–of hosting a small group of friends for a Super Bowl Viewing Party.

Normally, I will make a couple of heartier dishes and ask the other families to lighten the load by bringing a dish to share. Here are some of my favorite Super Bowl Go To Party Faves!

Nothing like a hot dip to get the party started, yeah? P1050450Baked Green Chile Artichoke Dip
Simply fresh flavors make this one pop.

P1050799Roasted Tomato Bruschetta
You’ve got to have something for the kiddos, too.

Pizza Pop 'ems
Pizza Pop ’ems

Pizza Pop ’ems
And, who doesn’t love bacon? P1040448

Bacon Carmelized Onion Pinwheels
Ok, maybe the vegetarian doesn’t love bacon? Real men do eat quiche.P1030196

Spinach and Feta Quiches

I really don’t care who wins, FYI.

Brownie Cookies

P1050067New Year’s Resolution #2: Do not make these cookies more than twice a year. Yes, they are that dangerous.

Secret: I am NOT a chocolate lover. I know…gasp…right? It’s not that I don’t like chocolate, it’s just that I don’t prefer it over other fruit-based desserts, like lemon bars. Yum. With that said, this is an awesome chocolate cookie recipe. Even I have to “just walk away” from the plate of these cookies. Continue reading Brownie Cookies

Bacon and Carmelized Onion Pinwheels

In my former life when I held dinner parties for adults, rather than kids, I used to pull out every stop to make an impression with some star ingredients. And I think I kind of do the same thing now, but with a more realistic working-mom approach. With that idea I still love to include food that caters to adults, but with flavors that kids will enjoy too. And the icing on the cake is that I’ve come to realize that a few shortcuts that help to make it seem like I’ve fussed a lot, is certainly worth it.

So one of my favorite shortcuts that makes everything fancier is puff pastry dough. You can easily throw anything in there, and it tastes like you’ve slaved for hours because of the buttery richness of the dough. So, this classic pinwheel appetizer marries some wonderful flavors that certainly impress and at the same time is pretty easy to throw together with a kid or two underfoot. I guess I will need post some of my other favorites with puff pastry, like empanadas and custard pies.

Shopping List:

2 sheets puff pastry thawed

1 onion, carmelized (see instructions below)

1 cup crumbled cooked center cut bacon (see this post for a simple technique)

1/4 cup shredded parmesan

4 Tablespoons deli mustard

1 egg

1 tablespoon water

Instructions:

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Whisk together the egg and water, then set it aside to use later.

3. Lay out the puff pastry sheets on a floured surface to prevent sticking.

4. Spread 2 tablespoons of mustard on each sheet. You want to try and leave a 1/2 inch border on one of the short ends, but otherwise paint a thick layer of this good stuff.

5. Divide the carmelized onion in half and evenly distribute it on top of the mustard.

6. Again, divide the bacon in half and chuck it on top of the onions.

7. Now here’s the tricky part, start rolling it all up from the short end of the pastry. Try and make it as tight as possible, so pull and stretch if you need.

8. Using a serrated knife cut each roll into 1/2 slices. Try to use a gentle sawing motion, so as not to rip the dough. I ended up cutting about 15 slices in each of mine.

9. Place them cut side down on a parchment lined baking sheet. The brush with the egg wash and sprinkle the parmesan on top.

10. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until golden on top. I ended up baking both sheets at the same time, to save a bit of time, but if you do the same, just make sure to rotate your trays half way through so that the bottom tray gets some sun too. Also, it allows for even baking. Enjoy!

CARMELIZED ONIONS: a lovely base to many a good dish.

In a large saute pan on high heat pour 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil. Heat the oil for a minute so that the oil is hot. Meanwhiile slice your onion. Slice them however thick you like, but know that the thinner you slice the faster they carmelize. Once the oil is hot, add your sliced onion, and coat it in the oil. Let it cook for a couple of minutes until the onions become translucent. At this point you can turn the heat down to medium-low, and let it cook away–ignoring it slightly.  You do want to make sure you stir them, so they brown evenly though. It will take about 30-45 minutes for them to get really sticky, so if you’re short on time, do a big batch to use all week and they will definitely freeze well in a freezer safe bag. Having these on hand certainly comes in handy when at the dinner crunch. You can slap them on a burger or sandwich for sure, or you can plop them on some chicken for French Onion Chicken or use them as the starter to a French Onion Soup or slide them inside a tortilla for an inspired take on a quesadilla. The possiblities are endless.

Chocolate Gran Marnier Drops

This year I thought I’d do a bit of a flashback to old-school style Christmas dinner complete with these drunken treasures to finish the meal. Now mind you, I’ve been off the grid for a bit as far as cooking, since my creativity and computer were out of wack, so when I saw a fellow blogger’s recipe for Bourbon Balls it reminded me of the one’s my mom used to make when I was a kid. I never did like those, but all the adults seemed to love them. Of course, since I’m not a bourbon fan, I choose Gran Marnier, but you can certainly do it totally old school and go for the bourbon ones, or replace the liquor with your favorite kind, ammaretto would be sweet too.

So I figured I’d give it a try to make a life a bit more festive with these little wonders. Little did I know how easy they were to make. Crush up some graham crackers, melt some chocolate, pour, mix, stir and then roll in granulated sugar. Yum! I’m sure that these don’t need to be relegated to the Christmas table either. They’d certainly be a welcome addition to any cocktail party too.

Shopping List:

2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 cup ground pecans

6 ounces semisweet chocolate

1/2 cup gran marnier

3 tablespoons light corn syrup

granulated sugar, for rolling

Instructions:

1. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar and pecans in a large bowl.

2. In a separate small bowl melt the chocolate in the microwave at short intervals, stirring in between. Start with microwaving it for 1 minute at 50 % power, and then continue at 30 second increments still at 50% power, stir in between each 30 second pass. When the chocolate is melted add the corn syrup and gran marnier to the bowl, and combine it well.

3. Add the chocolate mixture to the crumb mixture and stir the two until the crumbs are well moistened. Let this mixture set for 30 minutes at room temperature.

4. Using a small scoop (I used a melon baller to make them super tiny) form the drops into quarter-sized balls. Then, roll them in granulated sugar. Store in an airtight container for up to a week, or freeze them for up to a month (that’s what I did to get a head start on my bake-o-rama.) Enjoy!

Makes: 50 small drops

Adapted from: browneyedbaker

© Suzanne Brown and The Family Style Chef, 2011-2016.

Stuffed Artichoke: a solution for leftover stuffing

What’s prickly on the outside, but tender and buttery on the inside? An artichoke, of course. Artichokes are one of my all-time favorite vegetables. And yes, I do end up dunking mine in a whole lot of butter most of the time, but on occasion I have turned these little flowers into a meal by stuffing them with what else…stuffing!

It’s the perfect solution to what to do with leftover stuffing, if you end up with any, that is. Once you have the stuffing cooked, just pry open your prepared artichoke and fill the leaves to the brim and bake it off. Pretty simple and a wholle lot of fun for the kids (and grown ups) to eat.

Shopping List:

4 medium-sized fresh artichokes, with stems and leaves trimmed

1 1/3 cups of leftover stuffing (click here for my Bacon Apple Stuffing)

1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (optional)

Instructions:

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

2.After trimming the artichokes, pull the lower two or three layers of leaves out and down a bit so that you can shove in the stuffing. You’ll end up breaking a few of the leaves, but that’s okay. Just make sure they all stay attached or it will end up pretty messy.

the before picture, notice how the one on the right the leaves have been separated a bit.

3. With a small spoon nudge in about a tablespoon of stuffing on each leaf. Try to use about 1/3 of a cup of stuffing per artichoke. If you like cheese, a tablespoon of mozzarella over each is a nice touch too.

4. Once stuffed place them in a dutch oven (or a deep casserole dish) with about an inch of water at the bottom.

5. Then bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, until leaves will be easy to pull.

Serves 4.