The snow has stopped falling. The electricity is back on. The heat is working. Hallelujah! Those of you that live in warmer places, thank your parents or yourselves for living there. I am really considering the option of moving down to Florida or maybe even Arizona.
As I write this, the thermometer outside of my kitchen window appears to be stuck at -9 degrees Fahrenheit. According to my husband, it’s not stuck; it really is -9! I can’t even say, “I’m freezing!”, because that is below the freezing point!
Needless to say, we have been cooped up inside this house for a week. I had a chance to get out on Saturday to pick up a few things, but I could not wait to get back home – the roads are nasty and the cold is unbearable.
For the reason that we are all in with nowhere else to go, I got to cook up, bake up, clean up, and all the “ups” there are to do when you have nothing else going on.
These cream puffs came about as we were preparing to entertain some guests that could not make it because of the snow drifts. I was so disappointed, but I can’t blame them – it’s like the apocalypse out there.
Savory Cream Puffs
You will need:
- 1 stick of margarine
- 1 cup of water
- 1 cup of all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 4 eggs, room temperature
For the filling:
- 1 cup of sour cream
- 1/2 cup ham, chopped
- 1/4 cup pickles, finely chopped
For the topping:
- 1 cup of sour cream
- Monterey Jack cheese, grated
- Preheat oven to 400.
- In a large saucepan put in the margarine, water, and salt and bring to a boil.
- Add in the flour and mix vigorously until the mixture begins to pull away from the pan and you get a smooth ball of dough. This will take about a minute or less.
- Put the dough into a mixing bowl and beat in eggs one at a time on low speed. Beat until well combined.
- Drop about a tablespoon of dough mixture onto a baking sheet, leaving a couple of inches of room in-between each drop.
- Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until puffed up and golden brown.
- Cool completely on a wire rack.
- During the cooling process, work on the filling by chopping up the ham and pickles; mix them in a bowl together with the sour cream and combine.
- Once the puffs have cooled, cut each of them in half, crosswise.
- Put a tablespoon of the filling on the bottom half of the puff and top it with the other half. Do that with the rest of the puffs.
- When finished, pipe some sour cream on top and garnish with grated Monterey Jack cheese.
- Allow them to cool in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving.
With NYE only two days away, most of you that are entertaining a party, or going to a party, are probably working on a plate, or two, of bite-sized gems to serve, or to bring with you for the lovely host/hostess. This year I intended to host a party, but things never go as planned, right? Instead, we are going out for a nice dinner with very dear friends of ours and then we are going to ring in the New Year back at their place. Because I could never go empty handed, even if it was just for a coffee visit, I made a bunch of hors d’oeuvres (or as we call it, “meze”) that I will be bringing with me.
These cute, delicious little treats are fajita pinwheels filled with bacon, turkey ham, roasted pepper, and green onion mixed in neufchatel cheese. These will be coming with me because they always please a crowd, especially when served with a glass of Chardonnay! And since my husband knows his wines, he will be bringing the Chardonnay.
You will need:
- 1 package (16 oz.) whole wheat tortillas (16 in a package)
- 1 (8 oz.) package of neufchatel cheese, softened
- 1 green bell pepper, julienned, roasted and finely chopped
- 3 slices of thick cut quality smoked bacon, cooked and diced
- 2 green onions, chopped (include the green stalks)
- 1/8 teaspoon onion salt
- 16 thin, deli-cut slices of turkey ham
- pinch of salt
- Preheat oven at 425.
- Arrange the julienned peppers on a baking sheet covered with foil; add a pinch of salt over the peppers, drizzle with EVOO, and in the oven for about 15 minutes.
- In the meantime prepare the bacon; dice it and cook it over medium-low heat.
- Remove the bacon and in the same pan where the bacon was cooked, add in the thin slices of turkey ham and cook on each side for about a minute.
- In a deep mixing bowl add in the neufchatel cheese, the bacon, green onions, peppers, and onion salt. Beat with a mixer on the lowest speed setting for about 30 seconds – this will result in a creamier mixture.
- Spread a tablespoon of the mixture onto the tortilla and top with a slice of the turkey ham. Repeat this process until you’ve run out of tortillas.
- Roll up the tortillas and place them in a plastic container with a cover.
- Put the rolled up tortillas in the fridge for 2 hours.
- Remove them from the fridge and cut each roll-up crosswise into 5 slices.
- Place the pinwheels in a plastic container, and back to the fridge until you are ready to serve them.
Everyone I know has their own recipe for Guacamole. And everyone I know says that their Guacamole is “the best”! Well, I feel the same way about mine. 🙂 The “Guac” I make is definitely loved by my taste buds and I always look forward to having it. Since it was Friday night (last night) and I spent it at home with Hubby and Munchkin, I thought to make some Guac and attack it with toasted bread chips. We definitely attacked. We watched the opening credits to a movie and it was gone. Hubby was right – I should have made more. So, word of advice; double the recipe if you plan to share this Guac.
You will need:
- 3 ripe Avocados
- 1 whole lime, juiced
- 1 large clove of garlic, minced
- 2 yellow pearl onions, diced
- 4 teaspoons of your favorite salsa – I use my homemade salsa, but you can use the store-bought kind, too.
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- generous pinch of sugar – trust me
- Cut the avocados in half, remove the pit, and scoop out the flesh into a shallow dish – mash it with a fork until smooth.
- Add in the lime juice and mix.
- Follow up with adding in the garlic, onions, salsa, salt, pepper flakes, and sugar.
- Stir until well combined.
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Taratur is a traditional Macedonian summer side dish that is usually served with grilled meat. But for the reason that Orthodox Christmas Fast always starts right around Thanksgiving, it has become a tradition in my house to serve it for the last time of the year on Thanksgiving Day; it is our last indulgence before our strict Fast. Just as an FYI, during Fast we are on a complete Vegan diet for six weeks; six weeks before Christmas – 7th of January – (our Church still follows the Julian Calendar) and six weeks before Easter.
Taratur is similar to Tzatziki, but it is not the same. The variations are in the extra ingredients used in Taratur and in the thickness of the yogurt; the yogurt used for Tzatziki is as thick as a spread, whereas the yogurt for Taratur is a lot thinner because Taratur is meant to be eaten with a spoon.
You will need:
- 1 cucumber, chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- salt to taste
- 1 cup plain yogurt, like Dannon Non-Fat Plain Yogurt
- 1/4 cup walnuts, ground
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- 1 or 2 mint leaves or a teaspoon of dried mint
- Chop up the cucumbers and try to absorb as much of the moisture as possible by drying off the cucumber pieces with a paper towel.
- Place the cucumbers in a bowl.
- Mince the garlic and add it to the cucumbers.
- Sprinkle on the salt and mix it all together.
- Pour in the yogurt. If the yogurt is not thick enough, you can use 1/2 cup of sour cream and 1/2 cup of yogurt – blend them well before you pour the yogurt over the cucumber mixture.
- Mix it all well and top it with the ground walnuts.
- Sprinkle on the olive oil and add the mint.
- Chill before serving it in an individual, cup-sized bowl.
When it comes to unannounced guests at your door (mother-in-law), I am the queen of fast preparation. I had to learn the hard way… “I just came to play with my granddaughter!”. Aha, right. Well, this creation is a result of her, “surprise! look who’s here!”, visits.
Pink Salmon Spread
The tangy sweet taste of the yogurt paired with a kick of lemon juice and a dollop of dijon mustard gives this salmon spread a unique flavor. I like to serve it with whole grain crackers, but if you like, you can also serve it with focaccia bread.
You will need:
- 1 (7.1 oz.) pouch Wild Alaskan Pink Salmon
- ½ fresh lemon, squeezed
- 2 tbsp. Dijon Mustard
- 6 tbsp. Plain Yogurt
- 1 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Place the salmon in a medium mixing bowl and break it up with a fork.
- Add the lemon juice, Dijon mustard, and yogurt; mix it well.
- Follow up with the red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper.
- Blend it all together and put it in the refrigerator for an hour.
- Serve it cold with whole grain crackers or focaccia bread.
*If the consistency is sort of runny, put the mixture in a strainer for about 20 to 30 minutes, then refrigerate it.
**If you have any ‘seafood spread’ recipes that you’d like to share, please post them. I would love to try them.