Monday, November 8, 2010

Holiday Cooking Hot Spots- Episode 5

The holiday season is fast approaching and never wanting to be behind the eight-ball, Deb and Beth are dishing up their favorite go-to blogs for recipes and holiday entertaining ideas.  In a special twist, they are sharing some of their tried and true recipes too!

Listen here for the podcast or go to iTunes, key word Deb & Beth to download for listening fun later. 

The following are links to the  Blogs discussed today:

The Tasty Kitchen

The Noble Pig

Recipe Girl

Cook Like a Champion

And now for some cooking fun:

From Deb-
I love when unexpected guest stop by during the holidays- (not) but seriously, as long as the house is looking swanky with holiday decor, why not share the Christmas love.  Do yourself a favor and think of your favorite go to appetizer and make up a big ole' batch of it.  Use some now and then save the rest for later, even better if it's freezeable.   Keep an extra bottle of whatever it is you like to serve as a beverage around and when your friends and loved ones show up- they'll never know you planned in advance for such an occasion.  You'll be able to pull something out of the fridge and serve it up 'a la Ina Garten or Martha Stewart.

Here's a favorite.  It comes from the Pioneer Woman blog, cookbook and I'm sure you could find it on The Tasty Kitchen.  It's perfect for making ahead and serving later!  Plus it looks and tastes like you've worked for hours.  You'll be the talk of the block for your kitchen cunning and perhaps you'll even be able relax and enjoy the visit knowing you've got it covered.

Olive Cheese Bread
from the Pioneer Woman blog, The Pioneer Woman Cookbook and The Tasty Kitchen blog
(I think I've got it covered....I'm really not trying to copyright infringe....)

1 can black olives drained (14.5 oz size)
1 jar pimeiento stuffed green olives (6 oz )
2 green onions
1 stick butter (softened)
1/2 cup mayonnaise (real- no substitutions!)
1 pound Monterey Jack cheese grated
1 loaf crusty french bread

Drain olives (black and green) and give them a rough chop.  Chop green onions.  In a large bowl, combine olives, onions, buter, mayo and cheese.  Mix thoroughly (and try not to eat by the spoonfuls!)  Spread generously on split open french bread.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or unitl cheese mixture is thoroughly melted and starting to turn brown on the edges in a 325 degree oven.    Cut into diagonal slices and serve immediately.

Make Ahead Tips-
Extra Cheese mixture can be made ahead and stored in a tightly sealed container in the fridge for up to 2 days.  (Great for a long weekend of entertaining....Thanksgiving, Bowl Game Days...)
Spread mixture on bread, tightly wrap it all up and store in the freezer for up to six months.  Thaw before baking.   Enjoy!

From Beth-
First let me say that I have personally sampled Deb's Olive Cheese Bread and I liked it so much I requested it as a condition of travelling back to Ohio to visit this past summer!  Being the "new girl" in Massachusetts we don't, sadly, have a lot of drop-in holiday guests yet.  I suppose it's good though because a) I'm not a very good cook; and b) we do a lot of formal entertaining and a drop-in guest might just throw me over the edge.  My husband's job requires that we hold several holiday gatherings for different groups.  Did I mention I'm not a very good cook?  I'm feeling stress hives just thinking about this year's entertainment calendar.  I like to encourage folks to drink at my gatherings...heavily.  I don't much care for cooking but I do have a secret weapon recipe that everyone seems to like, it looks good, it's easy, and it always turns out tasty, no matter what I do to it.  Of course it's a Pillsbury Bake-Off winner, as all of my go-to recipes seem to come from the back of a box!

Savory Crescent Chicken
1 3oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 TBSP butter (don't use margarine, just don't do it)
2 c cubed or shredded chicken (this is a great time to pick up a Rotisserie chicken from the store...)
1 TBSP chopped chives or onion (or both!)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 TBSP milk
1 TBSP chopped pimiento (don't skip this ingredient, it makes a difference)
1 8 oz. can Pillsbury Refrigerated Crescent Dinner Rolls
1 TBSP butter, melted
3/4 c seasoned breadcrumbs or croutons, crushed

Heat oven to 350.  In medium bowl beat cream cheese and 1 TBSP butter until smooth.  Add chicken, chives or onion, salt, pepper, milk and pimiento; mix well.

Separate crescent dough into 4 rectangles.  Firmly press perforations to seal.  Spoon 1/2 cup of chicken mixture onto center of rectangle.  Pull 4 corners of dough to center of chicken mixture; twist firmly.  Pinch edges to seal.  Place on ungreased cookie sheet.  Brush tops of sandwiches with 1 TBSP melter butter; sprinkle with crushed croutons.  Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.

Serves 4.

Forget chicken cordon bleu, this dish looks just as appetizing with 1/2 the work!  Mix-ins to try: 1/2 cup mushrooms; 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup diced red pepper (instead of pimiento), or 1/2 cup chopped spinach.  You can make this dish ahead but don't brush the dough with butter and breadcrumbs until you are ready to bake.  Enjoy!