Dark Chocolate Shortbread

Many times the best gift is a homemade treat. The special ingredient being love. 

You’ll Need
· 4 ounces coarsely chopped dark chocolate
· ¼ pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
· ¼ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
· 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons flour, sifted

Directions
· Preheat oven to 400 deg F.
· Lightly butter a 9-inch pie pan (or your favorite shortbread mold).
· Using a food processor fitted with a metal blade, chop the chocolate using on-off pulses, until it resembles coarse meal.
· Using an electric mixer set at medium speed, cream the butter with the sugar in a large bowl until smooth.
· Beat in the flour.
· Stir in the chopped chocolate.
· Pat the dough evenly into the prepared pan.
· Using the tip of a sharp knife, score the dough into eight equal triangles.
· Bake the shortbread until light golden in color, about 30 minutes.
· Transfer in the pan to a wire rack to cool slightly.
· Remove the shortbread from the pan and cool completely on the wire rack.
· Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Swiss Chard with Raisins and Pine Nuts

This is a unique dish that can make a wonderful side dish! The colors of the dish are quite festive too!

You’ll Need
  • 1 ½ pounds Swiss chard (preferably rainbow or red)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (2 ½ ounces)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup water
Directions
  • Tear chard leaves from stems, then coarsely chop stem and leaves separately.
  • Toast pine nuts in oil in a wide 6- to 8-quart heavy pot over moderated heat, stirring constantly, until golden, 1 ½ to 2 minutes, then transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain and season with salt.
  • Cook onion in  remaining oil in pot, stirring occasionally, 1 minute, then add chard stems and cook, stirring occasionally, 2 minutes.
  • Add raisins and ½ cup water and simmer, covered, until stems are softened, about 3 minutes.
  • Add chard leaves and remaining ½ cup water and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until leave are tender, about 3 minutes.
  • Season with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with pine nuts.

 

 

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Herbed Goat Cheese Dip

 

A fabulous holiday appetizer. Celebrate the art of cooking and get creative with your food presentation.

Makes About 1 1/2 Cups

You’ll Need

  • 8 ounces goat cheese
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • Sundried tomato for garnish

Directions

  • Process goat cheese, oil and yogurt in a food processor until smooth.
  • Transfer to medium bowl.
  • Mix in all herbs and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Chill at least an hour before serving.
  • Garnish with some of the left over green herbs and a diced sun-dried tomato
  • Serve alongside crackers or veggie slices

Date-Pecan Bread

Breads of all types make wonderful gifts. Need a gift for someone special? Make them a special bread and don’t forget the secret ingredient of love.


You’ll Need
  • ½ cup dates, dried, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 cup flours, all-purpose, sifted
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped

Directions

  • Soak dates for 2 hours in water, then drain and dry on paper towels.
  • In a bowl, mix egg, sugar, and butter.
  • Sift flour with baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Add dry ingredients alternately with orange juice and water, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.
  • Stir in dates and pecans and beat until well blended.
  • Pour mixture into a greased 9x5x3″ loaf pan.
  • Bake in a preheated 350’F oven for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until bread tests done with a toothpick in the center.
  • Unmold and cool on a rack.

 

Almond Crescents


A delightful cookie for any time of year!

You’ll Need

· 1 cup butter
· ½ teaspoon almond extract
· ¾ cup powdered sugar, sifted
· 2 cups flour
· ½ teaspoon salt
· 1 cup oats, uncooked
· ½ cup almonds, finely chopped
· Additional powdered sugar for sifting on top of prepared cookies

Directions
· Heat oven to 325 degrees F.
· Beat butter and almond extract till fluffy; gradually beat in sugar.
· Add combined flour and salt; mix well.
· Stir in oats and almonds.
· Shape to form crescents.
· Place on ungreased cookie sheet.
· Bake 15-18 minutes or until light golden brown.
· Sift powdered sugar over warm crescents.

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Stuffed Mushrooms

Need an appetizer for a holiday party? These stuffed mushrooms are a sure hit!

You’ll Need

  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 pounds medium fresh mushrooms, stems removed (save stems)
  • 1 (8 ounce) package Neufchatel cheese
  • 1 (4 ounce) package goat cheese crumbles
  • 2 Tablespoons finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup mushroom stems, chopped
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped garlic
Directions
  • Heat two large skillets over medium-high heat, melt 3 tablespoons of butter in each of the skillets and divide the mushroom caps between the two. Cook and stir the mushroom caps until the edges are slightly soft, about 5 minutes. Place the mushrooms in a colander to drain and cool.
  • Stir together the cream cheese and goat cheese until well blended. Mix in the onion, and mushroom stems. Use all of the filling to generously fill each mushroom cap and place, filling side up, in a baking pan.
  • Preheat the oven broiler for high heat.
  • Melt the remaining 1/4 cup of butter with the garlic in a small saucepan over medium heat, cook the garlic for 1 minute once the butter has completely melted. Drizzle the garlic butter over the filled mushroom caps.
  • Place the pan of mushrooms in the preheated oven to broil until golden brown, about 5 minutes.

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Ginger Snaps

One of the most perfect holiday cookies! Give this ginger snap recipe a try.

Yields: Approximately 3 dozen cookies

You’ll Need:

  • ¼ cup softened, butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (you can leave out1 to 2 Tablespoons) 
  • ¼ cup dark molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup crystallized ginger


Directions:

  • Preheat to 375 degrees F. 
  • Combine butter, sugar, molasses, and egg. Beat well. 
  • Sift all dry ingredients together. Add the dry to the wet mixture. Mix well. Add ginger chips and mix throughout. 
  • Chill mixture for one hour. 
  • Form 1-inch balls.
  • Roll balls in granulated sugar (this is optional).
  • Place on a greased cookie sheet, approximately 2- inches apart. 
  • Bake 8-10 minutes.

Ruinous Sage Sausage Stuffing

 Why ruinous? This recipe has honestly ruined me on all others. I can’t do them, I can’t eat them, I can’t even look at them without weeping because I don’t have this stuffing. 
 
This is a recipe you’ll need to do the day before. But the good news is that, once you throw it all together, it gets covered up and thrown into the fridge. That way you just toss it in the oven about 45 minutes before serving time for a no-muss-no-fuss, plate of deliciousness! 
 
Note:
The measures below are guesses, but should be close – trust your judgment if you think you need more or less of something and let me know how this comes out!
You’ll Need: 
  • One small cornbread (in 8 inch iron skillet)
  • One baguette (sliced and lightly toasted)
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • ½ cup chopped mushrooms
  • ½ cup chopped water chestnuts
  • 2 hard boiled eggs (diced)
  • ½ lb of sage breakfast sausage (cooked and crumbled)
  • 2 raw eggs
  • Chicken stock
  • Rubbed sage
  • Salt/pepper
First
Crumble the breads, then mix in the chopped veggies, eggs and sausage. 
 
Then
Whisk the raw eggs and gently mix them in, adding chicken stock as needed to get a moist/wet mixture. Add seasonings to taste (it takes quite a bit of the sage). 
 
Pack It
into a baking dish, add a little extra chicken stock to make sure it does not dry out. 
 
Bake it
for about 30 minutes or until brown on top.