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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Chocolate-covered P'nut Butter Ritzes

 
Hello readers.  I don't know about you, but it's been a long year.  I'm looking forward to a little break from the folderol of the work week and so will be treating myself to a little off time.  This will be my last post for 2013, but I will be back fresh and brimming with new ideas in January 2014.  Before I sign off for this year though I wanted to leave you one more parting recipe. 

This is a variation of a treat that my friend Michell brought into the office as part of her holiday baking share-with-the-office treats extravaganza.  They are a salty sweet addictive treat.  Just ask my pants that don't fit any more.

I say variation because while she and her mom take the time to carefully double-dip them in a concoction made from hand-shaved chocolate.  I am too lazy to do that, so here is K2's CCPBRs, the knock-off version.

Apologies for the lack of photos for this post.  Between being sick the better part of the month and trying to get ready for a holiday break, I didn't have the time.  But because this is apparently a very popular treat, I am providing a link to images of the same (and multiple varieties) for your viewing pleasure.

CHOCOLATE-COVERED P'NUT BUTTER RITZES

Ritz crackers (full-sized or snowflake-shaped or mini)
creamy peanut butter
white chocolate candy bark, melted

Spread your peanut butter on a cracker and cover with a second cracker.  Do not squoosh them together because you don't want your peanut butter oozing out the sides.

Melt your chocolate and then carefully dip the cracker sandwiches into it, coating it on all sides.

Set them on a sheet of parchment paper so the chocolate can harden.  If the coating is too thin, dip the cracker a second time.

Stuff into face.  Repeat.  Enjoy.

NOTES

Trying to spread peanut butter with a knife can get a bit messy, so my recommendation is to put your peanut butter in a pastry bag (or a zip lock with a corner tip nipped off to be used as a pastry bag) and squish the PB on the crackers.  Less muss, less fuss.

Looking through the photos on the link, I saw there were actually a number of things you can do with this treat.  F'rinstance:

-- use Nutella instead of peanut butter
-- use dark or milk chocolate instead of white chocolate and then drizzle with white chocolate
-- decorate with sprinkles or colored sugar or candies
-- use white chocolate, but tint it a color to match your party/gifting d├ęcor

So use your imagination and have a little fun with them.

Happy Happy Holidays to you all.  Safe travels, full bellies, good times!  Looking forward to a happy new fun-eating year!  Hasta 2014!

K2


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Joe Froggers

 
What the hoogly-moogs is a Joe Frogger, you ask?

A Joe Frogger is a soft, oversized spice cookie (reputed to originally have been baked to the size of lily pads), originating in Marblehead, Massachusetts and dating back to Colonial times. They were made by "Aunt Crese" who kept a tavern on Gingerbread Hill and were named after her husband, a Revolutionary War patriot and freed slave, Joe Brown.

Because the cookies used rum and water as ingredients, they would keep for long periods of time and so were packed up by the barrel-loads for fishermen to take with them on extended trips.

My dad’s side of the family hails from New England and we got this recipe from my grandmother, but my first memory of enjoying Joe Froggers was when my mom made them one Christmas when I was a teen. Because rum is one of the main ingredients in the cookie, I was pretending to be drunk on cookies which led to a giggling fit that lasted so long and got so out of control that my mom eventually sat on me to try to calm me down. Good times, good memories. Yes, she sat ON me. Mom claims not to remember the incident, but that’s the kind of thing that sticks with you so I remembered and that's all that matters.

They take a little time to make but are SO worth the effort. 

JOE FROGGERS

2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp allspice
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup dark molasses
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 tbsp rum
2 tbsp hot water
1/2 tsp baking soda

In a small bowl, mix together flour, salt, and spices. Set aside.


In a medium bowl, combine honey, molasses, oil, rum, water, and baking soda. Will be super liquidy. FYI, beware of the onslaught of rum fumes as everything mixes around in the bowl, may cause dizziness and/or excessive giggling.


Stir in flour mixture, a bit at a time, until well blended.


Chill dough in fridge for 1/2 hour.

Measure out dough by the 1/4 cup (should make 10 cookies) then roll into balls.  Dough is going to get sticky as it warms up so if needed, toss it back in the fridge for a few minutes to make it easier to manage.


Place dough balls on a greased cookie sheet, spaced 3" apart. Press balls out using a flat-bottomed glass or dish.  I pressed my glass in some of the flour before mashing down the dough balls to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the glass.


Bake 375° for 9-10 minutes.


Remove cookies from oven and transfer to a cooling rack.  Will be soft and mooshy, not crunchy.


YAUHM!!!

NOTES

You can roll out dough to make smaller cookies to share. Mine actually turned out smaller than I was planning, but they still work.

You can spread a little flavored cream cheese or some other tasty filling between two cookies to make a soft cookie sandwich.

YAUHM!!!


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Teeny Tostadas

 
Salty snack time!  Here's a fun bite-sized snack that's party perfect.

Teeny Tostadas

3/4 cup refried beans
1-1/2 tbsp. fresh chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 cup chunky salsa, drained
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded and chopped
3-8" flour tortillas

Using a 2-1/2" biscuit or cookie cutter, cut out rounds from the tortillas.  I was able to get seven from each tortilla.


Mix together refried beans, cilantro and cumin.  Set aside.


Put the salsa in a strainer.  Gently stir the salsa around to get rid of the extra liquid, leaving mostly the chunky parts.


Lightly spray or grease a cookie and set aside.  In this case, you'll want to use oil or grease on the pan instead of using a parchment sheet because it will help cook the underside of the tortilla round.

Cover each tortilla round with a thin layer of the bean spread and place on the cookie sheet.


Put a dollop of the salsa chunks on each round and sprinkle with the cheddar cheese.  I shredded the cheese and then chopped it smaller so that it would fit better on the rounds and when you bit into one you don't have to worry about dragging a line of hot cheese down your chin.

Bake at 400 degrees for 7 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for a few minutes before eating.  Did I mention the hot cheese thing?


You can eat as is (as are?) or with guacamole or sour cream for dipping on the side.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Joyeux Macaroons

 
I've been wanting to do a good coconut macaroon recipe for a while.  For some reason, to me coconut macaroons are the epitome of reception desserts.  Bite sized, chewy, decadent, delicious. 

Joyeux Macaroons

1/3 cup softened butter
3 oz. softened cream cheese
3/4 sugar
2 tsp. orange juice
2 tsp. almond extract
1 egg yolk
1-1/4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
6 cups sweetened coconut flakes, loose packed, divided
Hershey's Almond Kisses, unwrapped

In a mixing bowl, cream together butter, cream cheese and sugar.


Add in OJ, almond extract and egg yolk and blend until smooth.

In a smaller bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add into the butter mixture a bit at a time, making sure it is well incorporated.

Fold in 3 cups of the coconut flakes.


Set dough in the fridge for at least 45 minutes, or until easy to roll without getting dough all over your fingers.

Once the dough was ready, roll into 1-1/2" balls.


Roll the dough balls in the leftover coconut flakes and space evenly on an ungreased cookie sheet.

 
Bake for 11 minutes or until golden brown.

While the cookies are baking, unwrap Hershey's Almond Kisses.  When the cookies are done baking, remove from oven and press one Kiss into the center of each.  Let sit on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a cookie rack to cool.


Serve up on a pretty platter and enjoy.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

General Tso's Spicy Veggie Dip


As I was trolling through my old cook books looking for ideas for festive posts, inspiration struck after reading a section called "Easiest Ever Dips" in one of my 1970s entertainment idea handbooks (cuz they knew how to throw parties back then).  And yes, it is this simple.

Their BASIC FORMULA

1 to 2 cups sour cream and/or mayonnaise

plus

1 packet/can dried soup mix / dry salad dressing mix / dry sauce mix / dip mix / canned seafood (well drained) / cheese spread / canned spread meat (deviled ham or chicken)

add-ins

1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons chopped nuts / chopped or sliced olives / chopped onions / chopped chives / relish or chopped pickles / crumbled bacon / chopped dried beef

and/or

1 to 2 teaspoon onion or garlic powder / onion or garlic salt / dried minced garlic

for garnish

paprika / sliced stuffed green olives / sliced hard-boiled eggs / chopped or sliced green onions

So it got me thinking and when I went to the cupboard to see what I had, I found a packet of Sun-Bird's General Tso's Chicken Season Mix.  Hmmm....so here's what I came up with.  If you like zippy and zesty and a little on the spicy side, then you'll like this simple party dip.

My GENERAL TSO'S SPICY VEGGIE DIP

1 packet General Tso's stir-fry seasoning
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise


for dipping

baby corn spears, drained
carrot sticks
celery sticks
snap peas, raw or lightly steamed

Mix the seasoning, sour cream, and mayo.  Let sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend.  Serve up with some crisp fresh veggies (that will nicely offset the zingy dip).  Easy peasy and tasty too!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Cheesy Olive Buns

 
Holidays! Holidays! Time for some fun festive foods.  Let's start out with a little salty goodness.  I've found variations of this throughout my cookbooks from the '60s and '70s.  For those who don't like olives (I know Wendi is making her squiggy-ewww face right now) this is probably not going to be the recipe for you, but if you're going to be doing a little holiday imbibing, this makes a great date for your drink.

Cheesy Olive Buns 

1 (8 ct.) roll buttermilk biscuits
24 stuffed green olives
1/4-1/3 cup grated parmesan

Drain and pat dry the olives.  Set aside.


Layout the biscuits and cut into thirds.


Wrap each section around an olive and press seams closed.


Roll in parmesan and set on a prepared cookie sheet.


Bake at 450 degrees for 6 minutes or until golden brown.


Remove from cookie sheet and set on a rack. Serve up hot or at room temp.

NOTES

Most grocery stores will carry an assortment of olives.  You can find them stuffed with almonds (which is what I used), bleu cheese, garlic or jalapeno.  Pick your favorite and use that.

If you're using small olives, you can always cut the biscuits into 4 pieces each and proceed as planned.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Check It Out: Almond (Sparkling Wine)

 
Anybody else wondering what the heck happened to November?  Can't believe we are already at the start of the December, let the festivities truly begin!

For the rest of the month, I plan to bring you some party treats and finger foods for all your festive occasions, but wanted to start us off on a "cheery" note.

I was perusing the shelves at Total Wine for something to take to the 'Rents for Thanksgiving dinner and came across this little gem (for under $12!).  Weibel Family Almond Sparkling Grape Wine -- SOOOOO good!

As you can tell by its name, if you're not a fan of almond flavor, you probably won't like this, but for those of you who do and for the taste adventurers out there, I think you will really appreciate the sweet (but not cloyingly sweet) and creamy taste of this beverage.  It's light and bubbly and makes the perfect dessert complement or flavorful toasting vehicle.  So if you're looking for something new and different for this holiday season, you should definitely check it out!

DIDYAKNOW

While people use the term "champagne" generically when referring to sparkling wines, in all but a few cases it's actually a misnomer.  True champagne is produced using only grapes grown in the Champagne region of France.