As the holidays continue to approach, time seems to move faster and to-do lists seem to breed on their own. At least that’s how it is for me. I love the bustle of the holidays and the fact that there are so many reasons to try out new recipes.
One of the most recent reasons was that it’s apple season, and I wanted to try a new dip that might get me to like one of my least favorite foods: yogurt. Now before you start raving about how wonderful yogurt is and how good for you, let me tell you that I’m already aware of the many benefits that come from eating yogurt, but I still don’t like it. There’s a dryness and tang when you eat it that I can’t seem to get past. And, believe me, I’ve tried. Though I know that I can’t eat straight yogurt, I keep trying different recipes that use it so that I can reap some of its benefits without having to deal with the aspects of it which I find unpleasant. I saw this dip a while ago on Pinterest, and I wrote it down thinking that I would like to try it with apples. Now that I’ve finally gotten to make it, I am happy to announce that, in this dip, I can finally eat yogurt and get some of its health benefits. If you eat the dip by itself, there is some of that dryness, but when it’s scooped up on an apple slice, it’s just a sweet, peanut buttery taste.
Peanut Butter Dip (from Yahoo)
1 6 oz. tub nonfat Greek vanilla yogurt (I would definitely recommend using the vanilla since it’s a little sweeter than plain.)
2 tbsp. peanut butter
1/2 tbsp. honey
1/8 tsp. cinnamon (I might even double this next time, since I couldn’t really taste it.)
1. Mix all the ingredients together and serve with apples (or other fruit of your choice) to dip.
Since that worked out so well, I decided that a fruit dip would also be a great addition to a Sunday potluck. I looked through my files and found one that sounded delicious and seasonal. Not only was this dish a snap to pull together, it tasted great! I decided to do 1 1/2 times the recipe to use up the whole can of cranberry sauce. That also meant that I got to take some home to enjoy this week. 🙂
Sweet Fruit Dip (from Kraft)
4 oz. softened cream cheese
1 c. whole cranberry sauce
1 c. thawed Cool Whip
1. Beat the cream cheese and cranberry together on medium til well blended. Gently stir in the whipped topping. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hr. Serve with fruit.
Now, before we get to our very special dessert, I wanted to share a sweet deal from Starbucks. From 2-5 PM on 11/15-11/18, you can buy a Caramel Brulee Latte, Gingerbread Latte, or Peppermint Mocha and receive another one (of equal or lesser value for free. That might help you stay awake during some holiday cooking , shopping, or decorating.
Now, my favorite dish from this past week (by far!) is the entry for this week’s holiday cookie (#7). I’ve noticed that many holiday cookie compilations include bar cookies, and I wanted to include this one because it would be perfect for Thanksgiving. Now, this may not be considered a bar cookie under its strictest interpretation, but I treat it like one, so I decided to include it here. The recipe is called pecan bars, and is very similar in flavor to a pecan pie. The crust is the easiest one I’ve ever made; it came together in no time (with the food processor doing all the work) and only had to be patted into the pan. (Read: no rolling or crimping to worry about.) And unlike a pecan pie the filling here contains no eggs. It starts off as a bit of a caramel being cooked on the stove and then is set during a quick jaunt in the oven. What this bar has over the pie is a quicker cooking time, an easy crust, and a very set filling that allows you to slice a square and eat it easily out of hand. I might have done that twice before my husband came home and tried it. 😉 Even as I write this, I’m having a very hard time not going into the fridge and eating several more (or all) of the remaining slices; it certainly won’t last long.
Pecan Bars (from Martha Stewart)
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. cubed butter
1 lightly beaten egg
1/2 c. butter
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. light corn syrup
1/4 c. heavy cream
1/4 tsp. salt
8 oz. pecans (I only had 6 oz., so I threw in a couple ounces of walnuts. Still amazing!)
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a 9 in. square pan with foil. (Use a metal pan if you can. I used glass and had to let my crust thaw a little so that I didn’t risk shattering my frozen pan in a hot oven.) In a food processor, pulse together the flour, sugar, and 1/4 tsp. salt to combine. Add 1/2 c. cubed butter and pulse til the mix resembles coarse meal. Add the egg and pulse just til a dough forms.
2. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan; with floured fingers and an offset spatula, press firmly into the bottom and 3/4 in. up the sides of the pan. Freeze til firm, about 15 min.
3. Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork and bake til lightly golden, 22-25 min. Let cool.
4. In a large saucepan, bring 1/2 c. butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup to a boil over high heat, whisking constantly til lightly darkened, about 2 min. Remove the pan from the heat. Whisk in the cream and 1/4 tsp. salt, then stir in the pecans.
5. Spoon the hot filling evenly over the crust, using a spoon to arrange and press in the nuts so they fit snugly. (You want as flat a surface as possible.) Bake til bubbling and amber-colored, 18-22 min. Cool completely.
With Thanksgiving coming up next week, I’m sure we’ll all be very busy. I am going to try my best to still get a post up, but don’t be surprised if it’s a little late coming. If I don’t talk to you again, I hope that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and are able to enjoy a wonderful gathering with friends and family.