Sunday, December 14, 2008

Family Traditions in Food....

The not quite a cookie exchange cookie exchange party!

So, every year I host a cookie exchange, and everyone brings anywhere from 8-12 dozen cookies to be exchanged, and everyone leaves with a variety of goodies to take home. This year, I was going to have a party, but not ask everyone to bring cookies...just an informal gathering of friends and family to celebrate the upcoming holidays and being together. I'd serve appetizer type foods, and a dessert, and that would be that. Well, since I had to make dessert anyway, I decided to go ahead and make cookies (ok, well, certain people who shall remain unnamed were begging me for cookies! lol). Next thing I knew, Mom was making cookies too (my favorites!), and my sister in law was making fudge, and my friend brought over more appetizers...we ended up with a whole lot of goodies! So, in the spirit of giving inspired by the season, here are some recipes for you! Merry Christmas!

First up: Artichoke Dip. I came up with this version, because all of the recipes I found called for spinach, and I wanted a dip that focused solely on the delectible artichoke hearts. It's a quick mix and bake recipe that everyone loves.
  • 1 cup mayo (I used the olive oil kind)
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 2 small jars marinated artichoke hearts
  • 1 cup Quattro Fromaggio (a 4 cheese blend: parmesan, asiago, provolone & fontina)
  • 1 1/2 tsp fine ground white pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
Combine everything except the paprika and spread into a baking dish. I used a 6x9" glass dish. Bake at 350* for 30 min. Sprinkle with paprika, and serve with thinly sliced pieces of baguette, tortilla chips, or crackers (or all of them!)

This is a Veggie 'Pizza'. It's a really simple appetizer to make. You just use Pillsbury crescent rolls, baked flat in a single sheet. Combine 8 ounces each sour cream and cream cheese with your favorite ranch dip/dressing seasoning and spread that over the crescent roll base, then top with an assortment of fresh veggies. Tasty and simple, what more could you want? :)

Here we have a dip that is a family tradition going back a couple generations. It's an easy take on pate that my Mom made every year on New Year's Eve, and my family loves it too!
  • 8 ounces braunschweiger
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup chopped green olives (with pimientos)
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
Combine the braunschweiger and cream cheese until thoroughly mixed. (I use the paddle attachment on my stand mixer for this). Add in olives, green onions, and worcestershire to taste. Transfer to a crock, cover with plastic wrap and chill for several hours to allow flavors to meld. This can be made a couple days in advance. Remove from fridge 15-20 min prior to serving.

Next up, Cappuccino Love Bites! These are a buttery cookie that's been rolled in a combination of turbinado sugar and instant espresso, baked, then topped with a Hershey's Hugs. Tastes like a drink from your favorite coffee house!

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp espresso or milk
  • 2 1/4 c flour (all purpose)
  • 1/2 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 cup instant coffee or espresso
  • 48 Hershey's Hugs, unwrapped
Cream butter & sugar until light and fluffy. Whisk together flour, baking powder, & salt. To the butter, add the egg, vanilla, and milk or espresso; beat just until combined. Add dry ingredients; beat just until combined. Don't over-mix. Spoon dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap, and roll like a log. Chill 1 hour or until firm. Divide dough into 1" balls. Combine turbinado sugar and instant coffee; roll balls in mixture. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet (spray is fine), and bake at 350*f for 10 min. Tops will crack slightly. Don't allow sides to color. Immediately top each cookie with a Hug, and, if desired, swirl the hug with the tip of a spoon or knife while still warm.

Candy Cane meringues are something I started making a few years back, and they are hugely popular with our clan! Make a basic meringue and flavor it with peppermint extract. Be sure to use extract, not oil. Pipe onto parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with crushed candy canes. Put into a 225*f oven for about 90 min, or until perfectly dry. When completely cooled, dip bottoms into melted dark chocolate. That's it!
Next to the meringues: Lacies. A simple mixture of 1/2 c brown sugar, 7 tbsp of butter, 3/4 c flour and 1 cup chopped almonds. Spoon onto buttered cookie sheet and bake at 375*f until thin and deep golden, about 10 min. Sandwich cooled cookies with melted chocolate..yum!

Last but definitely *not* least! I saved them for last because they are the best! French Christmas Cookies. These little morsels are decadent and delicious. The combination of flavors works so perfectly together, you'll wonder why you hadn't thought of it sooner! And the best part about making them at Christmas is the recipe makes dozens and dozens of cookies, so you have lots to share with your family and friends!

  • 40 Graham cracker singles (2 packs from a box)
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 cups finely chopped pecans
  • 1 (12 ounce) bag mini chocolate chips
  • 1 cup half & half
Heat oven to 375*f. Line a baking sheet with candy cups (smaller than mini-muffin cups, these are available at crafts stores like Michael's or at candy/cake making supply stores).
Place the graham crackers into a ziploc bag, and roll over them with a rolling pin. You want them crushed, but not to a powder.
Cream butter and sugar. Add crushed grahams; mix. Add pecans & mini chips; mix. Add half & half, mix until thoroughly combined. Fill each candy cup 3/4 full. Bake for 10-12 minutes; just until set. Do not overbake!
For the icing:
  • 1 (12 oz) pkg chocolate chips
  • 1 (12 oz) pkg butterscotch chips
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
Combine and melt together, stirring often, until completely melted and smooth (except for nuts if using chunky peanut butter! lol). For ease and speed, fill a baggie with this mixture and snip a small hole on one corner and pipe the icing onto the cookies.

There you have it! Recipes for some of our traditional family favorites for the holiday season! I hope everyone has a wonderfully Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Hannukah...just a Joyous Season! Oh, and Happy New Year too!! Enjoy!

1 comment:

Rachel said...

I love the thought of cookie exchanges. Great Idea