Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Healthier Hummus

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season! We were out of town for a bit, but am back now and I'm determined to finish all the Thanksgiving posts. There are about 3 more or so after this.

Another appetizer that we made for Thanksgiving was hummus. I love hummus and its great for entertaining as well as just keeping around the house as a healthy snack. Especially if its served with carrot and celery sticks instead of pita bread or chips.

A trick that I learned a long time ago from Martha Stewart is to replace the olive oil with chicken stock. That makes it even more healthy!


  • 1 can of garbanzo beans
  • 1 tablespoon of tahini (to taste)
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic (to taste)
  • juice from 1/2 of a lemon (to taste)
  • 1/4 cup of chicken stock, olive oil, the liquid from the garbanzo beans, or a combo of all.
  • salt to taste
  • Drain the garbanzo beans and reserve the liquid if desired.
  • Pour the beans into a food processor.
  • If desired, add a clove or two of garlic.
  • If desired, add some lemon juice, to taste. I used about about half a lemon.
  • If desired, add some tahini, I used about a tablespoon.
  • Turn on the food processor while slowly drizzling in the chicken stock, olive oil or liquid from the beans or a combo of any of the three until the desired consistency is reached. You may have to stop the processor and scrape down the sides during this process.
  • Add salt to taste.
  • Serve with anything from pita bread, to chips, to carrot and celery sticks.
You can sprinkle a bit of paprika or herbs on top for color and flavor too.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Award Winning Bacon Wrapped Dates

Can you believe these little guys have won an award?

Well, not these exact guys, but a variation of them that I made last year. We have some friends who have an annual Iron Chef potluck where you are told a secret ingredient about a week ahead of time and then everyone brings potluck dishes to share and vote on by secret ballot. We got to participate in this fun event last year and the secret ingredient was liqueur.

Normally, I either stuff my bacon wrapped dates with goat cheese or with an almond. Since the secret ingredient was liqueur, I decided to infuse the goat cheese with amaretto! Great idea, right? It tasted great and we won the prize for most creative dish and was up there in the running for best appetizer too!

But since Thanksgiving didn't require me to use liqueur and I was being lazy, I didn't stuff the dates at all. The hubby said that without the cheese, the dates were too overpowering, so next time I won't leave out the cheese.

- Pitted dates
- Bacon
- Goat cheese

- Split the dates and stuff them with goat cheese.
- Microwave the bacon for about a minute to render out some of the excess fat.
- Cut the bacon pieces in half (unless you have huge dates) and wrap each of the dates in the bacon.
- Place the bacon wrapped dates seam side down on a baking sheet (I used a silpat to make clean up a bit easier). If you have trouble keeping the bacon from unraveling, stick a toothpick through them.
- Put them into a 350 degree and cook until the bacon is nice and crispy. I think it took about 30 minutes though I wasn't really paying attention =P

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cheesy Biscuits

We love Red Lobster's cheddar bay biscuits. You just can't beat the buttery goodness of those biscuits, but it didn't stop me from trying!

Most Red Lobster cheddar bay biscuit knockoff recipes I found called for Bisquick. I didn't have Bisquick and didn't feel like buying it just for this recipe, so I used Paula Deen's biscuit recipe and added the cheese, etc, because I figured, if anyone knew how to make a buttery biscuit, it'd be her. Surprisingly, I still feel that Red Lobster's are even more buttery! Man, I don't even want to know how bad for me they are!

Inspired by Paula Deen and Red Lobster

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter, cubed
  • 3/4 cup milk (I used soy milk)
  • 1 cup of cheddar cheese shredded plus more for topping biscuits if desired.
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp parsley flakes

In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together. Cut butter into mixture until it begins to look like cornmeal.

Mix in the cheese, garlic powder and parsley flakes.

Make a well with flour mixture and slowly add milk into the middle. Knead dough with your fingers and add milk when necessary.

Because I wanted them to look like cheddar bay biscuits, I spooned out messy balls on a baking sheet instead of rolling them out and cutting out circle. I then topped them with a bit more cheese.

Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown in a 350 degree oven.

I'm also submitting this recipe to Joelen's Tasty Tools Event that is highlighting baking sheets this month. Check out her blog in the new year to see what other goodies people made with baking sheets or submit your own!

Monday, December 8, 2008


Nope, I'm not done with Thanksgiving posts yet. We had a LOT of food and there are many more posts to come =)

I always associate sangria with happy and fun times, so it makes sense to serve it during Thanksgiving (or any other party and even just for a quiet evening at home!).

My version is probably not too authentic, but it tastes yummy!

And I'm submitting this to Joelen's Floribbean Adventure since it has rum in it. Thanks Joelen for hosting yet another great event.


  • 1 bottle of red wine
  • sugar to taste
  • 2 cups of orange juice
  • rum (optional)
  • splash of soda water or 7up/Sprite
  • fruit - I used lemon slices, apples chunks & grapes halved, but whatever you have on hand should be fine.
  • Pour the wine, and orange juice into a jug.
  • Add a bit of rum or grand marnier for a little extra alcohol content since we're "watering down" the wine. You can skip this step too.
  • Add a splash of soda water or 7up/Sprite for some fizz. This step is also optional.
  • Then microwave some sugar with a bit of water. Let it cool down and then pour that into the jug too. I like to do it this way because whenever I pour the sugar straight in, it never melts. Making a simple syrup to pour in is much easier. Do a little at a time until the sangria has reached your desired level of sweetness.
  • Toss in the fruit.
  • Cover the jug and put it in the refrigerator for at least a few hours.
  • Serve it to your happy guests and have a great time!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Phyllo Brie Cups

First off, lemme just say, this appetizer totally wasn't worth the effort and didn't come out exactly as I had hoped, but I'll share it with you anyway.

I've since seen some recipes that put a slice of brie on a cracker with some sugar or fruit compote and nuts. Why didn't I run across those or think of it myself before I went to all this trouble? Sheesh! Next time, I'm going with that method instead for sure!

Anyway, this was inspired by baked brie wrapped in puff pastry. For that appetizer, however, you need the whole wheel of brie, but I wanted to use some of it for our cheese plate as well, so I thought I'd try making individually-sized baked brie. It didn't quite turn out the way I had hoped, but at least the cheese plate looked nice =)

My version wasn't quite as melty and the phyllo cups were too delicate to make them a good finger food, plus making the cups was pretty time-consuming. The flavor was good though, so I definitely think I'll be trying the puff pastry or cracker versions in the future.


  • phyllo dough
  • brie
  • melted butter or oil
  • brown sugar or fruit compote of some sort
  • nuts (I used walnuts)
  • Cut the phyllo dough into 2x2 inch squares. Layer them on top of each other in a spiral shape in a cupcake mold, brushing each layer with the butter/oil to create a cup. Put them into a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes until slightly crispy and browned.
  • Take the phyllo cups out and add some brie to the bottom, sprinkle with brown sugar or fruit compote and top with a few nuts. Put them back into the oven until the cheese is melted and declicious.

A Simple Spinach Salad

I've got another quick recipe from our Thanksgiving feast. Spinach salad!

Thanksgiving is filled with so many heavy dishes that I thought I'd offer something on the lighter side in case anyone was interested.

Just wash and spin-dry some spinach and sprinkle it with dried cranberries, walnuts, crumbled bacon, and if you'd like cheese. I totally forgot to put the cheese in (oops!) but normally I like blue cheese though goat or feta would probably be great too.

I made a simple balsamic vinaigrette that I put on the side so that the salad wouldn't get soggy.

So easy and you can make it way ahead of time too!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are already so sweet and delicious on their own that I really don't think they need all the gunk like marshmallows that are typical of a Thanksgiving dinner. Just peel, cube and toss in some oil or melted butter and toss them in a 350 degree oven to roast until soft. A light sprinkling of brown sugar on top for extra carmelization is a nice touch, but not necessary at all.

I accidentally picked up a white-fleshed yam and actually think it makes for better presentation and will do it on purpose next time! Mixing the white in breaks up the sea of orange and tastes great too. A little greenery such as a sprig of mint completes this simple yet tasty dish.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Cranberry sauce

What's Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce? I grew up with canned cranberry and never saw the point of cranberry sauce because I wasn't a fan of the canned stuff but felt it was necessary for traditional reasons. Last year, we made our own cranberry sauce for the first time and am now a big supporter of cranberry sauce for the taste, not just tradition. Plus it's super easy!


  • 1 bag of cranberries
  • orange juice (about 2 cups)
  • sugar to taste
  • grated lemon/orange zest (optional)
  • grated ginger (optional)
- Pour the cranberries and orange juice into a pot. Make sure there is enough liquid to cover the cranberries (if the cranberries didn't float).
- Bring everything to a boil. The cranberries will start popping. Bring it down to a simmer and add sugar to taste (you'll need a lot). You can also add the ginger and zest if you want at this point.
- Simmer until the cranberries have all popped and the sauce has thickened. Let it cool and put it into the fridge for it to set and thicken even more.
- Serve with your roasted turkey or smear it on the bread of that turkey sandwich the next day!