Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Eve Dessert - Phyllo Triangles and Pie

After church on Christmas Eve evening, my family enjoyed some dessert while we opened our presents. We had a cheese plate created by Salt & Peppa (my bro & fiance), a coconut cream pie (keep reading to learn about the pie) and berries & cream phyllo triangles.

I had some Alouette Berries & Cream Spreadable Cheese and have been thinking about how I wanted to use it. I really enjoyed just eating it with graham crackers. But for Christmas I figured I'd make something fun with it. Somehow my mom accumulated 3 boxes of phyllo sheets in her freezer so we had all the ingredients on hand.

These are so easy and seem so fancy!
The recipe is from the Alouette Cheese website.

Berries and Cream Chocolate Phyllo Triangles

1 pkg. (6.5 oz.) Alouette Berries & Cream Spreadable Cheese
18 sheets phyllo dough, defrosted
12 oz. unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tsp. confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Lay out 3 sheets of phyllo dough. Brush 1 sheet with ½ tbsp. melted butter. Place second sheet on top. Brush top of second sheet with ½ tbsp. melted butter. Repeat with third sheet.
Cut stacked dough into 5 equal strips (approx. 2.25 inches wide).

Place ½ tbsp. Alouette Berries & Cream in center of each strip at the end closest to you. Begin folding in a triangle (in the style we fold our flag). Fold triangle over until the end of the strip. Place triangle on sheet tray end side down. Brush with melted butter.

Repeat preceding steps with remaining sheets of phyllo dough.

Place the 30 bundles on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake until golden, about 13 minutes.
Meanwhile, place chocolate in a small bowl and microwave on HIGH, stirring occasionally, until melted, about 2 minutes.

Transfer bundles to waxed paper and drizzle with melted chocolate. It was hard for me to "drizzle" so I just put a little spoonful on each which worked well too.

Let rest for 5 minutes.

Dust with confectioner’s sugar and serve warm.

As for the coconut cream pie, it is a family favorite. And no one can make them like the The County Seat Restaurant in New Bloomfield - where this pie came from. Every time we go there for a meal, we always hope there is a slice left. The meringue is so high and delicious - my mom and I can only hope that one day our pies will look and taste this perfect!
Thank you, Sue!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Easy Cocktail

This is a tasty cocktail from Sandra Lee. Just pour 1/4 cup canberry juice in a champagne flute and fill the rest of the way with any type of sparkly. I used Korbel Extra Dry, but a brut, asti or spumante would be good too - whatever you have, grab at the store or is on sale. Then float a few dried cranberries for a garnish.

So festive! And for the person who doesn't want a super sweet drink.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My new mug

I was pleasantly surprised when Bec gave me this cute mug as a thank you! I just love it so much that I've been drink more these past 2 days just so I can use it.

And our dogs really can't hold their lickers - especially Trapper!

She also got me delicous Christmas/winter-themed tea. So far my favorites have been peppermint candy cane and gingerbread spice!

Thanks again, Bec!


Monday, December 13, 2010

Praline Blondies

Last week I was on the hunt for unique recipes to make for the cookie reception after our church choir concerts on Sunday (yesterday). And since the treats were going to be on a cookie buffet, I wanted them to be just small little bites.

This recipe is from Real Simple's 50 Best Holiday Cookie Recipes. I love blondies and praline so I was really hoping it would be a winner. Turns out it was and each little square was gobbled down quickly.

These turned out so well I just might make them again. Afterall, I only got one small piece from this batch and that just wasn't enough for me!

nonstick cooking spray
1 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs

3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
a few tablespoons of milk, if needed

Heat oven to 350° F. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with the cooking spray. Line the pan with 2 crisscrossed pieces of parchment, leaving an overhang on all sides; spray the parchment with the cooking spray.

Make the blondie: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Remove from heat and mix in the brown sugar and vanilla. One at a time, mix in the eggs; mix in the flour mixture until just combined (do not overmix).

Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs clinging to it, about 25 minutes. Cool completely in the pan. You can put the pan in the fridge to hurry the cooling process along.

Make the praline topping: In a small saucepan, heat the brown sugar and butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until bubbling, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla, 1 tablespoon of water, and confectioners’ sugar until smooth. If mixture is clumpy that means you cooked the sugar too long (what happened to me) so add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, and whisk really well until smooth. Spread over the cooled blondies and sprinkle with the pecans. Let the topping set, 10 to 15 minutes.

Holding both sides of the paper overhang, lift the cake out of the pan, transfer to a cutting board, and cut into squares. Store the blondies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Last Friday I was in the mood for really good creamy chicken and wild rice soup. That's all I wanted in the soup - chicken, rice, a creamy base and lots of flavor. But then I found a recipe from Taste of Home that got great reviews but it called for broccoli and carrots, which ended up being a great addition.

You need to plan ahead a bit for this recipe because you have to prepare the chicken and cook the wild rice which can take up to an hour - then you can start preparing the soup.

2/3 cup uncooked wild rice (can take 45 minutes to an hour to prepare)
2/3 cup chopped onion
2/3 cup chopped carrot
2 tablespoons butter
7 cups chicken broth
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 bay leaf (I got this idea from a reviewer on the Taste of Home website)
1 cup chopped fresh broccoli
3 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (I roasted a split chicken breast with salt, pepper and olive oil in the oven at 350 until done and then shredded the meat)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup fat-free half-and-half

Cook rice according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan coated with cooking spray, cook onion and carrot in butter for 2 minutes. Stir in the broth, potatoes, salt, pepper and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add broccoli; cook 3-7 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender. Discard bay leaf.

Drain rice if necessary; fluff with a fork. Stir chicken and rice into potato mixture; heat through. In a small bowl, combine flour and half-and-half until smooth. Gradually stir into soup. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.

Yield: 8 servings (2-1/2 quarts).

My soup was thick so you can add more milk or broth if it's too pudding-like for you.

You can play with the amount of ingredients or omit an ingredient all together. It would be good with more potatoes and no broccoli too but I like that we got a serving of greens!

We ate the soup with a baguette from Panera.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Spices Inc.

I recently won a set of 10 spices from Spices Inc., who happens to be based out of Pennsylvania!

I received the Chickens Gone Wild Spice Set which includes:
Jamaican Jerk
Blackened Seasoning
Adobo Lime
Citrus Seasoning
Mediterranean Dry Rub
Chipolte Honey
Kickin Chicken
Sweet Tweetie

I have been trying to decide which spice I want to try first. I am excited for the Chipolte Honey and Adobo Lime because I love sweet and spicy together.

I think I will use these more in the summer for some marinade pre grilling.

A big thank you to Foodbuzz and Spices Inc. for this great collection!