Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hot Delta Dip

Creamy and full of flavor, everyone at the shower enjoyed this dip. Donna, one of the hosts, made it by tweaking a recipe that belonged to her Aunt Imogene.

3 8-oz pkgs of cream cheese
1 small jar (2.25 ounce) of Armour's dried beef finely chopped
1 bunch of green olives finely chopped
1 4 oz can of mushrooms--drained and finely chopped
1 small (2.4 oz) can of chopped ripe olives (the kind that's already chopped in the can)
3 teaspoons of Accent---that's the original recipe, and nobody needs that much msg, but it sure did spike the flavor...I used about 2 teaspoons of Tony's instead.

In the original Aunt Imogene recipe, all of that is mixed together and rolled into a ball which may be rolled in chopped pecans and served cold with crackers.

Since we wanted a hot dip, Donna used half of the cheese ball mixture and added:

3/4 cup of sour cream
3 tablespoons milk
3/4 teaspoon garlic
1 teaspoon butter, though I think the butter should have been only for the pecans.

Top with 3/4 cup of pecans sautéed in butter, though I roasted mine in a 250 degree oven for about twenty minutes.

Refrigerate until ready to use, then bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Miniature Pumpkin Pies with Streusel Topping and Vanilla Buttercream

I made these for the bridal shower. They were a hit, the little pockets of creamy pumpkin topped with crunchy brown-sugary goodness. I really liked them, especially since they could be made ahead of time. All I had to do the morning of the shower was pop them in the preheated oven.

Thinking about the holidays: A batch of these, frozen, would make a great gift for someone who likes to entertain. She could stash them in her freezer and have on hand for last-minute guests.

For the miniature pies:

refrigerated pie pastry, homemade or purchased; I don't judge
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Roll the pastry dough to about 1/4-inch thickness. Using a round cookie cutter, cut 2.5- or 3-inch circles and press into miniature muffin tins. (I can't remember if I greased them or not. Maybe I sprayed them with Pam.)

In a large bowl, mix together the pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, and egg yolks. Stir in the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. In a large glass or metal bowl, whip egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold into pumpkin mixture.

Fill each pastry-lined muffin cup about 1/2 to 2/3 with the pumpkin mixture.

To bake and freeze for later:
Cover with freezer-grade aluminum foil and freeze. To bake, remove from freezer and bake without thawing as directed below.

To bake and enjoy now:
Bake for about 8 minutes, remove from oven, and top with the streusel mixture:

Streusel topping:
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoon butter, chilled
1 cup chopped, roasted pecans

Combine the flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. Add the roasted pecans and toss the mixture. Top the little pies with a bit of the streusel mixture.

Bake for another 5 to 8 minutes, or until the pastry begins to turn golden. Remove from oven and cool on wire racks.

Vanilla buttercream:
1 stick butter, softened
4 cups or so of confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream the butter and add the confectioner's sugar a cup at a time. Add the vanilla and milk, one tablespoon at a time, until it's a good, thick consistency. Pipe or dollop onto cooled pumpkin pies.

This icing was a bit sweet. The next time I make these I'll make a cream cheese frosting. Or leave off the frosting altogether; the miniature pumpkin pies are really good on their own.

Yields about 4-5 dozen miniature pumpkin pies

Sweet Potato Biscuits

I served these, stuffed with ham slices, at a bridal shower over the weekend. They would also be tasty served with pepper jelly.

If you have leftover sweet potatoes, this is a good way to use them up. The biscuits can be frozen, pulled out, and baked off quickly. They're great for a fast, hot breakfast or to go alongside a roasted pork tenderloin for dinner.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons shortening
3/4 cup mashed sweet potatoes
1/4 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Cut in the shortening until pieces of shortening are pea-sized or smaller. Mix in the sweet potatoes. Add enough milk to make a soft dough.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface, and roll or pat out to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut into circles and place biscuits 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet. If desired, brush biscuits with melted butter and a bit of grated nutmeg.

To freezer and serve later:
Bake biscuits for about six minutes. Let cool completely before packing in freezer zip top bags. Biscuits can be baked frozen.

To bake and enjoy now:
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Black & Orange Cookies

Or brown and orange cookies.

Some people call these cookies monkey poop or cat poo. In our house, we call them "those chocolate things that you cook on the stove with the peanut butter and oatmeal."

Black & Orange Cookies is catchier, don't you think?

To make:

2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 cup milk (I use 1%)
1 stick butter

Combine in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring mixture to boil. Continue to boil, stirring, for one minute. Remove from heat and add:

1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)
2 cups oats (See - they have oats. They're totally healthy.)

Combine well and drop by teaspoons onto wax paper or parchment paper or silpat. The mixture will be soft and wet (like monkey poo!) and will set up in a few minutes.

For Halloween, I used orange candy melts.

Craft stores and large discount stores carry them. They are orange-colored, not orange-flavored.

Put about 1/2 cup in a microwave-safe bowl.

Heat in the microwave until melted. You know your microwave best; mine took about a minute at half power, stopping every 20 seconds or so to stir well.

Ladle the melted candy in a zip-top bag and snip the very end of one corner. Drizzle the candy onto cookies and let sit.

If kids will be at the Thanksgiving table, these would make a good dessert as long as they can eat peanut butter. Kids may prefer monkey poo cookies to pumpkin pie. You could drizzle cookies with red, yellow, and orange candy melts for a fall look. Or top with sprinkles while the cookies are still wet. Go crazy with it.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Halloween Cupcakes

I love this time of year.

I made cupcakes for my son to take to school to share. Really, I wanted to experiment with chocolate spider webs as garnish for a cake. If I was going to do that, I'd need to get them out of the house fast. So. Good snack for the 3rd grade.

To make:

Bake your favorite cupcakes a day or two ahead.

Cover a couple of baking sheets with wax paper or parchment paper. Or silpats. Just cover them, to help make cleanup easy later.

In the meantime, melt some chocolate or almond bark, which is what I used. It's cheap and melts easily. I used three squares that I cut off the block 'o almond bark.

Spoon the melted chocolate into a zip-top bag. Snip the very end off of one corner. We're crafting a pastry-bag-type implement.

Make circles with the melted chocolate.

Draw "spokes" out from the center to the edge of the farthest circle.

But Keetha! They look like wagon wheels! Not spider webs!

I found that four circles looks more spider web-ish than three. I was going for the affect rather a literal interpretation of a spider web.

Let the chocolate harden up, which takes just a few minutes. When the cupcakes are frosted, peel up the chocolate spider webs.

For the buttercream:

Cream together two sticks of unsalted butter. Add 5 to 6 cups of powdered sugar and a couple of teaspoons of vanilla. Add milk, a tablespoon at a time, until it's the consistency you want. Then tint with food coloring or food paste color.

My cupcakes have orange frosting - really - only it looks yellow in the photos.

Happy Fall!