Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas Party Menu

Last weekend, we hosted a Christmas Party for our friends. The menu was basically appetizers, chili, and cookies. Unfortunately, I ran out of time and had to scratch a few things off the menu and take a couple of short cuts but overall the food turned out ok. Here are some of the highlights.

Carmelized Onion and Brie Bites (Joelen's Culinary Adventures)

1 can of biscuit dough
¼ cup flour
1 cup caramelized onion
½ cup brie, diced
cooking spray


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare muffin pan by spraying the inside of each well with cooking spray.

Open can of biscuit dough and separate into individual biscuits. Cut each biscuit in quarters to form dough pieces. Place a dough piece in each well. Gently push the dough piece inside the well to form a cup. Repeat until all wells are filled with a dough piece. Fill each well with brie. Top each well with caramelized onion.

Bake in preheated oven for 7-10 minutes or until golden brown

Unfortunately, these are best served nice and warm and they do get cold quickly. They are delicious though and very easy to make.

Fresh Mozzarella and Tomato Crostini (Williams Sonoma)

Extra-virgin olive oil for brushing, plus 1/4 cup
1 baguette, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick
Salt and coarsely ground pepper, to taste
8 vine-ripened tomatoes, about 1 1/2 lb. total
1/2 cup slivered fresh basil leaves
2 Tbs. finely minced red onion
1/4 tsp. minced garlic
1 Tbs. aged balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 lb. fresh mozzarella cheese


Preheat an oven to 350°F.

Brush a baking sheet with olive oil and arrange the baguette slices on the sheet in a single layer. Brush the tops with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake until crisp and golden, 15 to 18 minutes. If not using immediately, let the crostini cool, then store in an airtight container at room temperature until ready to use.

Core, seed and dice the tomatoes. In a bowl, stir together the tomatoes, half of the basil, the onion, garlic, vinegar, the 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper.

Slice the mozzarella into 1/4-inch-thick pieces or into smaller pieces so they fit on the crostini. To assemble, lay a piece of mozzarella on each crostini and spoon 1 to 2 Tbs. of the tomato salad on top. Garnish each with a pinch of the remaining basil.

These turned out well and are very easy to make. You don't need to follow the recipe that closely for it to turn out.

Stuffed Mushrooms (

12 whole fresh mushrooms
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 (8 ounce) package cream
cheese, softened
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 teaspoon ground black
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Clean mushrooms with a damp paper towel. Carefully break off stems. Chop stems extremely fine, discarding tough end of stems.
2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and chopped mushroom stems to the skillet. Fry until any moisture has disappeared, taking care not to burn garlic. Set aside to cool.
3. When garlic and mushroom mixture is no longer hot, stir in cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, black pepper, onion powder and cayenne pepper. Mixture should be very thick. Using a little spoon, fill each mushroom cap with a generous amount of stuffing. Arrange the mushroom caps on prepared cookie sheet.
4. Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the mushrooms are piping hot and liquid starts to form under caps.

These are the best stuffed mushrooms ever. Plus, they are veggie friendly which is rare it seems! I make these all the time for parties.

Pigs in Blanket (

1/2 pound butter (2 sticks)
1/2 pound cream cheese
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons heavy cream, divided use
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
About 36 small sausages
1 egg

Make the pastry: In electric mixer, cream butter and cream cheese together thoroughly. Add 1/4 cup cream and whip for 3 minutes. Gradually add flour and salt and work into a firm ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour.
Roll out pastry on a well-floured surface and cut into strips just large enough to wrap sausages around the middle and leave a bit of each end exposed. (For the Aidells sausage, I cut strips about 1 1/4 inches wide and 3 inches long.) Roll each sausage in a strip and pinch ends together firmly. Place sausages on baking sheets, seam side down and slightly separated to allow dough room to puff up.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk egg and remaining 3 tablespoons cream together in a small bowl. Brush each sausage roll with the egg mixture and bake until pastry is golden brown and crisp, about 25 minutes.

I actually did not like this. They were boring and bland. I would not make them again. Too much effort for the lack of taste.

Lastly, the main course!!!

Vegetarian Chili (

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon salt
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 green bell peppers, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 (4 ounce) cans chopped
green chile peppers, drained
2 (12 ounce) packages vegetarian burger crumbles (I skipped this and added zucchini instead)
3 (28 ounce) cans whole
peeled tomatoes, crushed
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground black
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans,
1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) can black beans (skipped and added more kidney beans instead)
1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel (skipped totally) corn

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion, and season with bay leaves, cumin, oregano, and salt. Cook and stir until onion is tender, then mix in the celery, green bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, garlic, and green chile peppers. When vegetables are heated through, mix in the vegetarian burger crumbles. Reduce heat to low, cover pot, and simmer 5 minutes.
2. Mix the tomatoes into the pot. Season chili with chili powder and pepper. Stir in the kidney beans, garbanzo beans, and black beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 45 minutes. Stir in the corn, and continue cooking 5 minutes before serving.

The chili turned out pretty good. I accidently added too much chili powder though and some people thought it was a bit hot. Oops!

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