Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ham and Gruyere Party Sandwiches



When planning a food menu to serve for a party or to feed a crowd, I always look for a few items that can be made ahead of time so that I’m not too stressed the day of the event. Most everyone enjoys a ham and cheese sandwich, especially when the cheese is gruyere! The sliders can be made the day before, stored in foil, and placed in the oven 20 minutes before serving. The butter, mayo, mustard, chives, and thyme all work well together and make a great condiment to the sandwich. Another plus is that the sandwiches can also be frozen for later use.

Ham and Gruyere Party Sandwiches

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons minced chives

1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme

4 (15 oz) packages slider buns

2 1/2 pounds very thinly sliced deli ham

1 1/2 pounds Gruyere cheese, shredded

In a medium bowl, combine butter, mayonnaise, mustard, chives, and thyme, stirring until smooth.

Using a serrated knife, cut buns in half crosswise, keeping edges of buns attached to each other.

Spread butter mixture evenly over bottom halves of buns. Top evenly with ham and cheese; cover with bun tops. Wrap each set of six sandwiches in heavy-duty aluminum foil, and refrigerate up to 2 days.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bake wrapped sandwiches, directly on oven rack, for 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through.

To freeze ahead, place wrapped sandwiches in freezer, and freeze up to one month.

Remove from freezer, and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Bake as directed.

Source: Cooking with Paula Deen, November/December 2010

Monday, March 28, 2011

Ham and Cheese Pretzel Bites



For those reader’s that haven’t given up on me, thanks for being so patient. We spent a week on a cruise vacation and returned back to winter and snow in New York. I keep thinking now that I’m no longer in school, things will calm down some, but I haven’t been able to nail down a routine and get back to blogging. While I still can’t promise a ton of posts, I am doing my best to test out new recipes in the kitchen and hope to be able to share some with you soon.

After trying homemade pretzel bites back in October, I’ve been wanting more! This time I tried another variation… pretzels filled with ham and cheese. The pretzels were just as addicting. Soft dough filled with gooey cheese and ham. I opted to serve the pretzels plain, but if I had a good recipe for a cheese sauce, it would have been even better.

Ham and Cheese Pretzel Bites

For the Dough:

1 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

1/4 cup warm water

1 cup warm milk

2 1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour

For the Filling:

1'/2 cup small diced ham

1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

To Finish:

6 cups water

4 teaspoons baking soda

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Kosher salt (or pretzel salt), for topping

To Make the Dough:

Combine yeast, brown sugar, water, milk, and 2 1/2 cups of flour in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix until a dough has formed into a ball. Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed until soft, elastic dough forms. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of flour, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time until the dough is tacky but not sticky.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place, until the dough has doubled in size and bubbles on the surface, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

To Finish:

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 4 equal pieces. Stretch or roll one piece of the dough into a 12 x 4 inch rectangle. Sprinkle some of the diced ham and the shredded cheese over one third of the dough closest to an edge, lengthwise. Roll up tightly, filling edge first, so that the filling is tightly sealed inside. Slice the log into 12 pieces and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Repeat with the remaining three portions of dough, and the remaining filling.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bring the six cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the baking soda and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Boil the pretzels in batches, cooking for about 20 seconds and turning once. They should be slightly puffed. Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to transfer them back to the baking sheet.

Bake until puffed and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Brush the warm pretzel bites with the melted butter and sprinkle with kosher salt.

Source: Annie’s Eats, originally from Gourmet, October 2009

One Year Ago Today: Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies

Friday, March 11, 2011

Samoa Bars



I’m sure many have noticed the girl scout troops out at local grocery stores and elsewhere selling their famous cookies. I have so many favorite girl scout cookies, its so hard to just purchase one box. The Samoa cookie is among my favorites. The amount of cookies per box seems to have shrunk, making each cookie a sacred treat. This year I decided that I would forego actually purchasing the cookies and try making them myself. Do to the many steps involved in this process, I decided that bars would be the easiest and fastest ways to duplicate the cookie. The cookie itself is a shortbread cookie, topped with caramel and coconut, drizzled with chocolate on top, and coated with chocolate on the bottom. The bars tasted just like the famous girl scout cookies and the best part is you can now enjoy them anytime of year!

Samoa Bars

For the Cookie Base:

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup butter, at room temperature

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Topping:

3 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)

12 oz chewy caramels

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons milk

10 oz semi-sweet or dark chocolate (such as chocolate chips)

To Make the Cookie Base:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly grease a 13 x 9 inch baking pan or line with parchment paper. In a large bowl, cream together sugar and butter until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. Working at a low speed, gradually beat in flour and salt until mixture is crumbly, like wet sand. The dough does not need to come together. Pour crumbly dough into prepared pan and press into an even layer.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until base is set and edges are lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack before topping.

To Make the Topping:

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Spread coconut evenly on a parchment lined baking sheet and toast 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until coconut is golden. Cool on the baking sheet, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

Unwrap the caramels and place in a large microwave-safe bowl with milk and salt. Cook on high for 3 to 4 minutes, stopping to stir a few times to help the caramel melt. When smooth, fold in toasted coconut with spatula.

Place dollops of the topping on the shortbread base. Using a spatula, spread topping into an even layer. Let topping set until cooled.

When cooled, cut into bars. The batch should make approximately 30 bars.

Once bars are cut, melt chocolate in a small bowl. Heat on high in the microwave in 45 second intervals, stirring thoroughly to prevent scorching. Dip the base of each bar into the chocolate and place on a clean piece of parchment or wax paper. Transfer all remaining chocolate into a piping bag or Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off and drizzle bars with chocolate to finish.

Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container.

Source: Baking Bites

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Chicken Enchilada Dip Roll-ups



Sometimes I feel that wraps/roll-ups are a bit underrated. I always seem to over look them when browsing for things to make. They may not carry the “wow” factor, but they always turn out really good and have the added bonus of being quick to make and usually something that can be made ahead of time. This appetizer is served cold and packs all the flavor of a chicken enchilada.  The original recipe calls for a southwest flavored rotisserie chicken, which I’m sure would add even more flavor, but I decided to use regular chicken breast since I already had some at home. I was also a little disappointed I couldn’t find the jalapeno cheddar tortillas because that would have also added an extra punch of flavor, but overall the rollups turned out great and would definitely make a great appetizer for a crowd.

Chicken Enchilada Roll-ups

2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened

1 1/3 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese

1 teaspoon garlic, finely minced

1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

cayenne pepper to taste

salt to taste

2 chicken breast, cooked and shredded

1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped

4 green onions, chopped

1 can Rotel tomatoes, drained

1 package jalapeno cheddar tortillas (I couldn’t find these, so I just used regular tortillas)

Mix cheeses together until well blended. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, salt, chicken, cilantro, green onions, and rotel tomatoes. Mix well.

Divide filling out between eight or nine tortillas. Place one heaping spoonful on each tortilla. Spread to edges using a metal spatula. Tightly roll tortillas and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Remove rollups and cut off ends with no filling. Slice each rollup into six pieces each. Serve immediately or refrigerate until needed.

Source: Cooking This and That

Monday, March 7, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Pizza



Living in New York, it is always so tempting to order take-out from a local pizza joint. The pizza here is so good and there is always an endless supply of different pizza’s to try. If I lived anywhere else, our family would probably have a “homemade pizza night” each week. That being said, I always forget how good the homemade version can be and honestly it is super easy to make. Buffalo chicken pizza happens to be one of our favorites so I was happy to find a recipe to make at home. I was already planning on making a chicken bacon ranch pizza for dinner last week, so I decided to also try this recipe. Eating both side-by-side, I must say I think I have a new favorite! The amount of hot sauce was perfect for my taste buds, but if you like things really spicy, you can always add more. Bleu cheese can also be added for even more flavor.

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

1/2 batch of pizza dough

1 medium sized boneless, skinless chicken breast

3 tablespoons hot sauce (such as Frank’s)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup ranch dressing

6 to 8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, for garnish if desired

Place pizza stone in a clean oven and heat for 20 to 25 minutes at 500 degrees.

Meanwhile, cook chicken in a grill pan or in a sauté pan over medium-high heat for 5 to 7 minutes or until cooked through. (If the chicken hasn’t fully cooked, it will finish cooking in the oven.) Add hot sauce and butter to sauté pan, heat through, and toss in the sliced/chopped chicken to coat. Remove from the heat and set aside.

On a well floured surface, roll out dough to desired thickness. Place dough on pizza stone. Spread ranch dressing out evenly on the dough, leaving a one inch border around the outside edge of dough. Add chicken and any leftover sauce from the pan. Sprinkle on the mozzarella cheese.

Bake at 500 degrees for ten to twelve minutes. Remove the stone from the oven and sprinkle with parsley, if desired. Allow pizza to sit for a couple of minutes before cutting. Serve hot.

Source adapted from: Smells Like Home

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Spicy Sausage Dip



Can you believe it is March already? I am ready for Spring weather, so I am looking forward to some changing temperatures! Thank you for sticking with me through my break. I am happy to say that I have successfully completed my thesis and will be graduating with my MBA in May of this year! I really did take the time off and tried to stay out of the kitchen as much as possible, so I don’t have many new recipes to share, but I did have a few saved up. This recipe is one that actually made an appearance on New Year’s Eve and happened to be the favorite appetizer of the evening. This was a nice change to the normal queso dip usually served. Loaded with cream cheese, chorizo sausage, and rotel tomatoes the dip has a creamy and spicy kick. The heat can be controlled by using a milder sausage and/or less hot sauce. The dip can be served with crackers, bread, or tortilla chips. This makes the perfect appetizer for game day and is sure to please the men in your life!

Spicy Sausage Dip

16 oz package pork sausage

1 can diced tomatoes with mild green chilies, undrained (I used Rotel)

2 (8 oz) packages of cream cheese, room temperature

hot sauce to taste (such as Sriracha or tobasco)

Cook the sausage in a skillet over medium heat until evenly browned and no longer pink. Drain. Reduce heat to low, and stir in the tomatoes and cream cheese until evenly blended. Cook just until heated through. Serve warm.

Source: My Baking Addiction