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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!

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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.

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DSC04110Another party appetizer recipe, compliments of Elizabeth W. Gift Baskets

Happy Labor Day!

CLASSIC HUMMUS WITH HOMEMADE PITA CHIPS

If you’ve only had the grocery store versions of hummus and pita chips, you’re in for a real treat. Homemade hummus is far superior to the commercial kind and is a snap to make. I love the pita chips, with or without the hummus. They’re thinner and crisper than most of the storebought varieties. Both recipes are adapted from a wonderful cookbook by Jeanne Lemlin called, “Vegetarian Classics.”

INGREDIENTS

(For the hummus)

Makes 2 ½ cups

1 (19-ounce) can (2 cups) chickpeas, rinsed well in a strainer

3 garlic cloves, minced

½ cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)

1 cup tahini (stirred well before measuring)

½ teaspoon salt

½ – 1 cup water

Paprika and olive oil, for garnish

DIRECTIONS

Place the chickpeas and garlic in a food processor and process a few seconds, until the chickpeas are ground. Stop the machine and add the lemon juice, tahini, salt and ½ cup water. Process until the mixture is very creamy, at least 2 minutes. Check the consistency. Add a bit more water, if a thinner consistency is desired, and process until very smooth. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of paprika. (Can be stored in an airtight container in the refridgerator for up to one week.)

WHOLE WHEAT PITA CHIPS

Makes 64 chips

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cut a (6-inch) whole wheat pita in half to make 2 pockets. Use scissors to cut away the outer edge of 1 pocket to separate it into 2 single layers. Repeat with the other pocket. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the rough side of each piece with olive oil. With a sharp knife cut each piece into 4 triangles. Place on a baking sheet, rough side up. Repeat with 4 more pita breads. (You’ll need 2 baking sheets.) Sprinkle the triangles with garlic powder (optional) and kosher salt. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden, crisp, and dried throughout. Cool completely before serving. (Can be stored in an airtight tin for up to one week.)

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BLT Bites

August 21, 2009

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Celebrate the weekend with this mini BLT recipe, compliments of

Elizabeth W. Gift Baskets

Ah, bacon… the guilty pleasure that never goes out of style. All this talk lately about getting back to basics convinced me to give the classic BLT a tiny twist for this week’s appetizer recipe.

BLT BITES

Cut sliced sandwich bread into rounds using a small biscuit cutter. (Or, just remove the crusts and quarter the bread diagonally.) Toast the bread on a baking sheet in a 300 degree oven, turning once, for 8-10 minutes, or until dry and lightly browned.

While the toasts cool, mix together equal parts of crème fraiche (or sour cream) and crumbled feta cheese (or blue cheese.) Fry or microwave bacon until very crisp and drain on paper towels.

To assemble, spread the toasts with a thick layer of the cheese mixture. Top with a thin slice of tomato and a broken piece of bacon. Garnish with a small basil leaf.

Variation:

Use heirloom tomatoes and tomatoes in assorted colors… yellow, orange, red…  for a really pretty platter. Substitute finely chopped lettuce or another herb of your choice for the basil.

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Celebrate tomato season with this easy salsa recipe,

compliments of Elizabeth W. Gift Baskets.

FRESH TOMATO-CORN SALSA WITH HOMEMADE CHIPS

I’m OK with jarred salsa, but this time of year it’s foolish not to make your own. Fresh salsa, with its crisp, clean flavors bears very little resemblance to the storebought kind.

Grape tomatoes are the grape-shaped super-sweet ones, which I really like for salsa. But of course, any tomato will work for this simple, straightforward recipe. For a variation try substituting chopped fresh mangos, pineapple, peaches or nectarines for the corn. To add some heat, sprinkle in some crushed red pepper flakes or finely chopped fresh Jalapeno.

I’m repeating a chip recipe here from a previous post to accompany the salsa, but storebought chips are just fine.

INGREDIENTS

(makes 48 chips)

For the chips:

¼ cup vegetable oil, plus more for brushing pans

1 ½ teaspoons chili powder

½ teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon salt

12 (6-inch) corn tortillas

For the salsa:

1 pint (2 cups) grape tomatoes, quartered

1 small onion, coarsely chopped

½ cup fresh (cooked) corn kernels or frozen corn kernels, thawed

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Juice of ½ lime

DIRECTIONS

Make the chips:

1.    Preheat oven to 375 degrees and arrange racks in upper and lower thirds of the oven.

2.    Brush two large baking pans with oil. Whisk ¼ cup of oil with the spices and salt. Brush one side of 4 tortillas with the oil and spice mixture. Stack tortillas and cut the stack in half and then into quarters with a sharp knife. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Place the tortilla halves, dry side down, in a single layer on the baking sheets.

3.    Bake, switching the position of the pans halfway through, for 10 to 12 minutes or until the chips are golden and crisp. Season with additional salt, if desired, and let cool completely in the pans. Repeat with remaining tortillas. (The chips can be made up to 3 days ahead and stored in a tightly covered tin.)

Make the salsa:

Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Season with salt and more lime juice, if desired. Serve with chips.

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Tahini Beanies

July 17, 2009

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Another easy appetizer recipe, compliments of Elizabeth W. Gift Baskets.

Happy entertaining!

TAHINI BEANIES

I serve this as an appetizer, but it would also make a great side dish for grilled chicken.

INGREDIENTS

½ cup well stirred tahini (sesame seed paste)

¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

About ¼ cup hot water

1 tablespoon olive oil

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ cup oil-cured black olives, coarsely chopped

½ cup jarred roasted red peppers, coarsely chopped

Two 15.5 ounce cans garbanzo beans (chick peas) rinsed and well drained

Fresh parsley or cilantro, for garnish (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Spoon tahini into a large bowl. Add the lemon juice and whisk until smooth. Add ¼ cup hot water and whisk until well blended. Add the olive oil and cumin and whisk well, adding more hot water by tablespoons if mixture is very thick. Season to taste with salt.
  2. Stir in the chopped olives, red peppers, and beans. Mix well. Garnish with fresh parsley or cilantro.

FIND A GIFT FOR EVERYONE ON YOUR LIST AT

ELIZABETH W. GIFT BASKETS!