"Food is our common ground, a universal experience." - James Beard

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Strawberry Pretzel Salad - from Lacey J.

A friend from work, Lacey, made this recipe for a party we had a few weeks ago, and it was a big hit!  So, I asked her for the recipe and made it for our clothing swap.  It's a recipe that's been around for years, but it's one that nearly everyone loves!  For those of you who like recipes that involve minimal cooking, this one is great.  Make sure to save enough time to let everything rest before moving onto the next step.  I was worried that my jello mixture was too watery to pour over the top, so I put it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to give it time to congeal first.  I used unsalted pretzels because I'm not a huge fan of salty/sweet mixes, but you could definitely use either.  Lacey and I also both used one package of regular cream cheese and one package of fat free or reduced fat cream cheese (just to make ourselves feel a little better!).

Strawberry Pretzel Salad
1 1/2 cups crushed pretzels
4 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
3/4 cup butter, melted1 cup white sugar
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 (6 ounce) package strawberry flavored gelatin
2 cups boiling water
1 (16 ounce) package frozen strawberries

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Mix together the pretzels, 4 1/2 tablespoons sugar and melted butter. Press into the bottom of a 9x13 inch pan. Bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Set aside to cool completely.
2.In a medium bowl, beat the sugar and cream cheese until smooth. Fold in whipped topping. Spread evenly over the cooled crust. Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.
3.In a medium bowl, stir together the gelatin mix and boiling water. Mix in frozen strawberries, and stir until thawed. Pour over cream cheese mixture in pan. Refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 1 hour.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sun-dried Tomato Spread

Last night I got together with some of my favorite friends for a clothing swap!  Several times a year we all go through our closets and gather clothes that we don't wear very much - then we get together and swap them around.  It's a great way to clean our closets and add new things at the same time!  My friend, BLC, from The Company She Keeps is always one of the hostesses with me.  Check out her blog The Clothes She Kept to see more pieces from her closet. 

Since I'm on Spring Break, I decided to try making a few new dishes.  This is one that I found on Pinterest from the Taste of Home website.  There's a lot of mayonnaise in the recipe; since I'm not a big mayo fan, I only used half as much as was called for in the recipe.  It was a big hit - and it makes TONS, so it's great for a big party!

Sun-dried Tomato Spread
2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened (I used one regular and one fat free)
2 cups mayonnaise
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 jar (7 ounces) oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
2/3 cup chopped roasted sweet red peppers
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Italian cheese blend
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
Assorted crackers

In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, mayonnaise, onion and garlic until blended. Stir in tomatoes and red peppers. Stir in the mozzarella cheese, Italian cheese blend and 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

Transfer to a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 18-22 minutes or until edges are bubbly and lightly browned. Serve with crackers. Yield: 28 servings (1/4 cup each).

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Brussels Sprout Hash with Caramelized Shallots

I know I know... I've gotten behind on blogging again.  With Spring Break coming up next week, I'm hoping to catch back up! 

My family never really ate brussels spouts growing up; I assumed they were terrible based on the way I heard people talking about them.  But recently, several of my friends started roasting them as a side dish for big dinners, and I have to say they're amazing!  I'll have to find a good recipe for simple roasted brussels sprouts to post soon.  Kent found the recipe below on Epicurious, but it was originally published in Bon Apetite.  We cooked this last week as a side for Stuffed Eggplant, and OH MY GOODNESS it was so amazing!  I promise that if you like brussels spouts even a little bit, you'll love this recipe.  It's pretty buttery, so we talked about cutting some of the butter out and substituting olive oil.  This is a great side dish for any meal!

Brussels Sprout Hash with Caramelized Shallots
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, divided
1/2 pound shallots, thinly sliced
Coarse kosher salt
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
4 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup water

PreparationMelt 3 tablespoons butter in medium skillet over medium heat. Add shallots; sprinkle with coarse kosher salt and pepper. Sauté until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Add vinegar and sugar. Stir until brown and glazed, about 3 minutes.

Halve brussels sprouts lengthwise. Cut lengthwise into thin (1/8-inch) slices. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sprouts; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until brown at edges, 6 minutes. Add 1 cup water and 3 tablespoons butter. Sauté until most of water evaporates and sprouts are tender but still bright green, 3 minutes. Add shallots; season with salt and pepper

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Some of our best friends in Birmingham, Susan and Will, left us this week for San Fransisco!  We're so sad to see them go (and Jack's in mourning because one of his bffs, their dog Ruffles, is leaving town, too)!  Last weekend we had a going away party for them at BLC's house and cooked only Southern dishes - we're hoping that they will miss Southern food and want to come back to B'ham!  Kent and I made this baked macaroni and cheese recipe that we found from Alton Brown on Food Network.  We'll definitely be making it again!

the girls at the going away party!

Baked Macaroni and Cheese
1/2 pound elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon powdered mustard
3 cups milk
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 large egg
12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh black pepper

3 tablespoons butter
1 cup panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it's free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf.
Temper in the egg. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.
Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.
Remember to save leftovers for fried Macaroni and Cheese.
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