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Holiday Paper Star Ornament

December 7, 2009

Get the whole family involved in this charming holiday craft project,

compliments of Elizabeth W. Gift Baskets.

Happy Holidays!

3-D PAPER STARS

These delicate stars are far simpler to make than they appear. Hang them on your Christmas tree or decorate the party room with them by hanging several at varying lengths from a chandelier, doorframe or light fixture. For a variation, cut bell shapes from holiday sheet music and assemble in the same way as the stars.

You’ll Need:

Star cookie cutter or stencil

Art paper in holiday tones

Scissors

Stapler

Squirt-out glitter glue or puffy paint, (optional)

Assorted thin ribbons

Craft glue

1. Use cookie cutter or stencil to trace around and cut out three identical stars from the art paper. With point at top, fold two stars in half vertically.

2. Place folded stars on either side of remaining (flat) star and staple together along vertical fold with a single staple. Decorate with glitter glue and/or paint, if using; let dry. Cut ribbons for hanging stars and attach with a dot of craft glue.

OUR “HOLIDAY STRIPES” BASKET IS THE PERFECT GIFT FOR THE SWEET TOOTH ON YOUR LIST!

Here’s another holiday party recipe,

compliments of Elizabeth W. Gift Baskets.

Happy entertaining!

BABA GHANOUJ

Let’s face it. This creamy Middle Eastern eggplant dip is just not very pretty to look at. But it’s too delicious to let that keep you from serving it. My strategy is to garnish it with something green and serve it in small portions, surrounded by pretty tidbits. Here, I’ve given each guest a little individual cutting board (found them at a yard sale!) with a small bowl of Baba Ghanouj, a small knife, a wedge of aged Manchego, a few olives and a handful of smoked almonds. Pass warm pita or crackers to spread the Baba Ghanouj on.

INGREDIENTS

1 large eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

3 tablespoons olive oil

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

juice of ½ lemon

1/3 cup tahini

½ teaspoon ground cumin

1 large clove garlic, peeled and smashed

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the eggplant cubes on a large baking sheet and toss with 2 tablespoons of the oil, the pepper and half of the salt. Arrange the cubes in a single layer and roast, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden, about 15 minutes. Let cool.
  2. Put the cooled eggplant, lemon juice, tahini, cumin, garlic, and the rest of the salt in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Serve with crackers or warm pita.

OUR “BLACK & WHITE DELIGHT” BASKET IS THE PERFECT ALL OCCASION HOLIDAY GIFT!

Delight your Thanksgiving guests with this charming recipe,

compliments of Elizabeth W. Gift Baskets!

SWEET POTATO BISCUITS WITH BACON & SHARP CHEDDAR

I originally posted this recipe in last year’s Thanksgiving blog, but it was so popular I decided to rerun it this year for all my new readers. These mini sandwiches make great Thanksgiving dinner appetizers. Or, serve the biscuits on the day after stuffed with turkey and cranberry sauce. Of course, you don’t have to cut the biscuits into turkey shapes. These beauties will taste just as good if you simply pat out the dough and cut it into squares with a knife.

(Makes 14 – 16 two-inch biscuits)

INGREDIENTS

2 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon each cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg

¼ cup cold butter, cut into ¼-inch dice

1 cup baked and mashed sweet potato (about 1 medium sweet potato)

2 tablespoons milk

2 tablespoons maple syrup

16 slices crisp fried bacon

Sliced sharp cheddar

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl. Add the chilled butter pieces and cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  2. Stir together the mashed sweet potato, milk and maple syrup. With a wooden spoon, stir the potato mixture into the flour mixture until dough starts to form in clumps. Add a tablespoon or so of milk if the mixture is too dry, or a little flour if it is too sticky. Do not overmix.
  3. Turn the clumps out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead once or twice until the dough comes together. Roll or pat the dough out into a 1/2 –inch thickness. Cut out shapes with a 2-inch cutter dipped in flour. Gently pat the scraps together and repeat with the remaining dough. Place biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake 10 – 12 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. While still slightly warm, split biscuits and fill each with a strip of crisp bacon (broken into thirds to fit on biscuit) and a slice of sharp cheddar. Serve immediately.

Turkey Tip:

This old southern, artery-clogging, but delicious trick is sure to make your Thanksgiving turkey moist, flavorful and delicious. Slather the bird with bacon grease before roasting!

Get 10% off this or any of our gift baskets if you act quickly!


Bake adorable Thanksgiving cookies with this tried and true recipe,

compliments of Elizabeth W. Gift Baskets.

Happy entertaining!

THANKSGIVING ROLL & CUT CHOCOLATE COOKIES

I put chocolate cookie dough mix in some of my baking gift baskets, but if you’d like to make your cookies from scratch, here’s my tried and true recipe. Everyone loves cookies, so they make the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving dessert selection. Bag some up in small cellophane bags and tie with ribbon to hand out to your guests as party favors.

INGREDIENTS

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened

½ cup packed light brown sugar

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 large egg, at room temperature

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled

½ teaspoon baking powder

2 cups all-purpose flour

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then the chocolate and baking powder. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour, beating until just blended.
  2. Pat the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic, and chill until firm enough to roll out, at least 1 hour or overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and have ready 2 ungreased cookie sheets. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Add sprinkles, if desired.
  4. Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, until cookies feel firm. Let cool in the pan for 2 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

OUR RANDOM HARVEST BASKET IS THE PERFECT THANKSGIVING GIFT!

Mile High Quesadilla Pie

November 16, 2009

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Here’s another cool party recipe,

compliments of Elizabeth W. Gift Baskets

MILE HIGH QUESADILLA PIE

Now don’t everyone panic when I say, “springform pan.” This recipe is really easy and, thanks to a tip I found in Everyday Food magazine about trimming the tortillas to fit the pan, it’s even easier! This is an impressive for casual entertaining because it looks a lot harder than it is. Once I served it on a cakestand and really wowed my guests! Accompany the pie with soft polenta, a crisp green salad, guacamole, salsa, sour cream, and tortilla chips.

INGREDIENTS

1 pound lean ground beef

1 (1-ounce) packet of taco seasoning mix

5 (10-inch) flour tortillas

1 cup frozen corn, thawed

1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained

4 scallions, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish

1 (4-ounce) can chopped roasted mild green chilies, drained

2 ½ cups shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese (or a mixture)

fresh cilantro sprigs, for garnish (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Combine the beef and taco seasoning mix to make taco filling according to directions on the seasoning mix packet. Let cool.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using a paring knife, trim tortillas to fit a 9-inch springform pan, using the removable bottom of the pan as a guide. Assemble pan with bottom upside down (this makes the pie easier to remove after baking) and lightly oil bottom and sides.

Place one tortilla in the prepared pan. Sprinkle with the corn and ½ cup of the cheese. Top with a second tortilla. Using a slotted spoon, top the second tortilla with the meat filling, spreading evenly. (You may have some left over.) Sprinkle with ½ cup of the cheese. Top with a third tortilla. Spoon the beans, scallions, and ½ cup cheese on top of the third tortilla. Top with a 4th tortilla. Spread the chopped green chilies and ½ cup of cheese on top of the 4th tortilla. Top with the last tortilla and sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup of cheese.

Bake until hot and cheese is melted, 20 to 25 minutes. Run knife around edge of pan; remove sides. Sprinkle with scallions and garnish with cilantro, if using. To serve, slice into wedges.

FIND A GIFT FOR EVERYONE ON YOUR LIST AT

ELIZABETH W. GIFT BASKETS!

Brown Butter Pound Cake

November 9, 2009

DSC04478

Celebrate life! Try this pound cake recipe with a twist,

compliments of Elizabeth W. Gift Baskets.

Happy entertaining!

BROWN BUTTER POUND CAKE

When I am at a loss for what to make for dessert I often turn to pound cake. This crowd-pleasing classic can be dressed up with glazes or frostings, or topped with fruit, ice cream, lemon curd, chocolate sauce or whipped cream. I’ve even cut plain slices into fingers and served them on a cheese platter.

I made this cake on the day I heard my beloved Gourmet magazine was folding. I have been a subscriber for almost 30 years and will miss it terribly. The recipe is from their October 2009 issue and was developed by Paul Grimes. I had the pleasure of working with Paul before he joined the staff at Gourmet, when I was creative director of Food & Wine and he was a freelance food stylist.

I added frosting, but this wonderful cake is delicious just plain.

INGREDIENTS

Makes one (8 ½ by 4 ½) inch loaf

2 ¼ sticks unsalted butter

2 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup packed light brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

4 large eggs

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees with rack in middle. Butter and lightly flour an 8 ½ by 4 ½ inch loaf pan.
  2. Heat butter in a 10-inch heavy skillet over medium heat until milk solids on bottom are a dark chocolate brown. Transfer to a shallow bowl and chill in freezer until just congealed, about 15 minutes.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Beat together brown butter and sugars with an electric mixer until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. At low speed, mix in flour mixture until just incorporated.
  5. Transfer batter to pan, smoothing top, then rap pan on counter to settle batter. Bake until golden brown and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 1 to 1 ¼ hours. Cool in pan 30 minutes, then invert cake onto a rack and cool completely, right side up, 1 hour.

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

Using an electric mixer, beat one 8-ounce package of room-temperature cream cheese and ½ stick of room-temperature unsalted butter until light and fluffy. With mixer on low speed, beat in 1 cup confectioners’ sugar a few tablespoons at a time, scraping down bowl as necessary. Add ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract and ½ teaspoon grated lemon zest (optional); increase speed to high and beat until frosting is light and fluffy about 3 minutes. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to one week. Bring to room temperature before using. Makes about 1½ cups.

FIND A GIFT FOR EVERYONE ON YOUR LIST AT

ELIZABETH W. GIFT BASKETS!