Dinner Club – February 2013

SBE 065February 2013 Dinner Club

Our February dinner club was held at Tiffany’s.  Her theme of choice was romance movies.  She asked all the participants to taylor their portion of the meal around their favorite romance movie.  If you haven’t read my blog about Dinner Club and how it works, check it out.  Since Tiffany was hosting, she had the entree.  Her movie was “Love Actually” and she chose to do penne in a red vodka cream sauce.  It goes without saying that the menu was amazing so keep reading.

Dinner Club Romance Media
Dinner Club Romance Media

Dinner Club Themes, Menu and Media

SBE 061

Tiffany – “Love Actually” – Entree – You Won’t Be Single For Long Vodka Cream Sauce

Tracy – “Gidget Goes to Rome” – Appetizer –  Three Way Bruchetta

Kelly – “Mama Mia” – Side – Mediterranean Orzo, Feta, and Tomato Salad With Marjoram Vinaigrette

Jeni – “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” – Beverage – Champagne Bar

Stephanie – “Four Weddings and a Funeral” – Salad – Winterfruit Salad

Trisha – “Downton Abbey” – Dessert – Lemon Bar Cake Cookies

SBE 085

Yes, I’m fully aware that Downton Abbey is not a movie, but a television miniseries on PBS.  I was reminded over and over again that evening by multiple people, but in my defense, I love it as if it were a movie and I don’t always run with the pack, therefore making it perfectly acceptable and after all, it’s Dinner Club, so all is forgiven.

Bruchetta Three Ways

SBE 082

What’s better than having bruchetta three ways?  When your lover makes fresh french rolls the morning of Dinner Club day and you get to spoil all the girls with it!  Who needs store bought with that kind of man at home!

Ingredients

1 french baggette, preferably made by your lover, cut into half inch slices on the bias

1 T Olive Oil

1 clove garlic halved

Directions:  preheat your oven to 475 degrees.  Place baggette slices on a cookie sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and rub with halved garlic.  Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes watching closely so they don’t burn.  Remove from oven and arrange on a tray.  Serve with three sauces.  You can make these as you see them below or come up with  your own.  Personally, the tomato and the goat cheese are my favorite and they are really great together.

Tomato Topping:

2 diced roma tomatoes, seeds discarded

1 bunch fresh basil leaf, chiffonade

1 t. balsamic vinegar

freshly cracked black pepper

Directions:  Combine all ingredients into a mixing bowl and gently mix.  Serve on toasted baguette slices.

SBE 136

Goat Cheese and Onion Topping:

1 8oz pkg of goat cheese

1/4 C. of thick sour cream

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 T. finely chopped chives

1/2 t. garlic powder

Directions:  Combine all ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix until blended and smooth.  Serve on toasted baguette slices.

SBE 055

Drunken Fig Jam courtesy Epicurious.com

2 lemons

4 pounds ripe fresh figs (preferably black), stemmed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 9 cups)

4 cups sugar

3/4 cup brandy or Cognac

1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

Using vegetable peeler, remove peel from lemons (yellow part only) in long strips. Cut peel into matchstick-size strips (about 3 tablespoons).

Combine lemon peel, figs, sugar, brandy, and 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt in heavy large deep saucepan; let stand at room temperature 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Bring fig mixture to boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium; continue to boil until jam thickens and is reduced to 6 cups, stirring frequently and occasionally mashing mixture with potato masher to crush large fig pieces, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from heat.

Ladle mixture into 6 hot clean 1/2-pint glass canning jars, leaving 1/4-inch space at top of jars. Remove any air bubbles. Wipe jar threads and rims with clean damp cloth. Cover with hot lids; apply screw bands. Process jars in pot of boiling water 10 minutes. Cool jars completely. Store in cool dark place up to 1 year.

You Won’t Be Single For Long Vodka Cream Sauce adapted by Food Network

SBE 099

Ingredients

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, once around the pan in a slow stream

1 tablespoon butter

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 shallots, minced

1 cup vodka

1 cup chicken stock

1 can crushed tomatoes (32 ounces)

Coarse salt and pepper

16 ounces pasta, such as penne rigate

1/2 cup heavy cream

20 leaves fresh basil, shredded or torn

Crusty bread, for passing

SBE 077

Directions

Heat a large skillet over moderate heat. Add oil, butter, garlic, and shallots. Gently saute shallots for 3 to 5 minutes to develop their sweetness. Add vodka to the pan, 3 turns around the pan in a steady stream will equal about 1 cup. Reduce vodka by half, this will take 2 or 3 minutes. Add chicken stock, tomatoes. Bring sauce to a bubble and reduce heat to simmer. Season with salt and pepper.

SBE 053

While sauce simmers, cook pasta in salted boiling water until cooked to al dente (with a bite to it). While pasta cooks, prepare your salad or other side dishes.

Stir cream into sauce. When sauce returns to a bubble, remove it from heat. Drain pasta. Toss hot pasta with sauce and basil leaves. Pass pasta with crusty bread.

Orzo, Feta, and Tomato Salad With Marjoram Vinaigrette adapted from Bon Appetit

SBE 107

Ingredients

1 pound orzo

1/4 C. fresh lemon juice

6 t finely chopped fresh marjoram

4 t Dijon mustard

1 t grated lemon peel

1/2 C. olive oil

1 1/2 C. crumbled feta cheese

3 green onions, thinly sliced

1 C. pitted Kalamata olives, quartered

24 oz. cherry tomatoes, stemmed, halved

SBE 060

Directions

Cook orzo in a pot of boiling, salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occassionally.  Drain.  Rinse pasta under cold water until cool.  Drain well.  Transfer pasta to larger bowl.

Whisk lemon juice, 5 t. marjoram, mustard and lemon peel in a small bowl.  Whisk in olive oil.  Set aside 2 T. vinaigrette.  Add remaining vinaigrette, cheese, onions and olives to orzo; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Cover and let stand 2 hours to allow flavors to develop.  Toss tomatoes with reserved vinaigrette.  Toss into salad and add remaining marjoram.  Serve cold.

Winter Fruit Salad with Lemon Poppyseed Dressing

SBE 104

Ingredients

1/2 C. white sugar

1/2 C. lemon juice

2 t. diced onion

1 t. Dijon-style prepared mustard

1/2 t. salt

2/3 C. vegetable oil

1 t. poppy seeds

1 head butter leaf lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces

4 oz. shredded Swiss cheese

1 C. cashews

1/4 C. dried cranberries

1 apple, peeled, cored and diced

1 pear, peeled, cored and sliced

SBE 103

Directions

In a blender or food processor, combine sugar, lemon juice, onion, mustard, and salt. Process until well blended. With machine still running, add oil in a slow, steady stream until mixture is thick and smooth. Add poppy seeds, and process just a few seconds more to mix.

SBE 056

In a large serving bowl, toss together the romaine lettuce, shredded Swiss cheese, cashews, dried cranberries, apple, and pear. Pour dressing over salad just before serving, and toss to coat.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s Champagne Bar

SBE 093

This is such a wonderful idea.  If you have a number of guests over, grab a few bottles of your favorite champagne, mixers and your gorgeous glassware and have a ball mixing up your favorite champagne cocktails.  Don’t forget the must have cute napkins and drink stirrers.  With a champagne bar, everyone makes their own special version!

SBE 112

Ingredients

1 1/2 oz. orange vodka

1 1/2 oz. lemon juice

1 1/2 oz. orange juice

2 bar spoons Apricot preserves

Champagne

Directions

Combine ingredients in a martini shaker with ice and serve chilled in your favorite glassware!  Too many of these and we would have really had breakfast at Tiffany’s!

SBE 058

As you can see, our champagne bar had the following ingredients, but you can use virtually anything.  Be creative and taylor your bar to a specific holiday or celebration.  Here are some other ingredients you may wish to use to stock your champagne bar:

Peach puree

Mango puree

Orange Juice

Lemon Juice

sugar cubes

Bitters

Triple Sec

Simple syrup

Raspberry puree

Strawberries, raspberries, cut pineapple and marischino cherries for garnish

SBE 114

Downton Abbey Lemon Bar Cake Cookies

SBE 044

Makes 18 to 20

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 9 x 13 glass Pyrex.

Crust:

2 C. all-purpose flour

½ C. powdered sugar

1 C. butter (you can mix ½ cup butter and ½ cup shortening as an alternative to all butter)

1 tsp. grated Meyer lemon peel

Dash salt

Mix ingredients together with your hands until crumbly and press into the greased 9×13 Pyrex dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for 22 minutes until lightly browned.  Remove from oven and let cool before adding filling.

SBE 035

Filling:

4 eggs

1 C. all-purpose flour

1 ¼ C. granulated sugar

1 t. baking powder

Dash salt

¼ C. freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 t. lemon peel

1 t. lemon extract (optional)

Add all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and beat with a wire whisk until combined.  Pour into 9×13 over cooled cookie base and put in oven at 350 for 25 minutes or until center is cooked through.  Remove from oven and cool on counter.

SBE 052

Icing:

1 C. powdered sugar

8 oz. cream cheese softened

¼ C. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Mix sugar and cream cheese until smooth.  Add lemon juice until desired consistency.  Pour over lemon bar cake.  Let icing set for about an hour before cutting lemon bars.    When you cut, they will look a bit rustic.

Serving Tip:  Serve inside large white paper muffin cups or on top of sweet little decorative doilies covering a cake stand.

SBE 024

Vegetarian Tequila Queso

Vegetarian Tequila Queso

Vegetarian Tequila Queso

Personally, I would put chorizo, beef, chicken or pork in this recipe, but sometimes you want a cheesey dip that is a little lighter than the traditional.  I like this one.  It’s hot, melty and very tasty.  Try it with your favorite beer and chips.

Ingredients

2 T. olive oil

1 small white onion, diced small

1 jalapeno, seeds removed, diced small

1 – 14 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained

1/4 C. tequila

1 clove garlic, minced

2 C. mexican cheeses or monterey jack

Directions

Prepare heavy pot with olive oil and turn stove onto medium high heat.  Saute’ diced onions and jalapenos for about four minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes and minced garlic and cook 2 minutes more.   Deglaze with tequila.  Be careful here because alcohol is flammable.  Stir together until combined.  Stir in cheese and mix thoroughly.  Pour into a heat proof dish and serve with chips!

Harissa Sauce made with Spinach and Cilantro

This sauce is amazing.  It’s refreshing and brings new life to the old dinner menu.  I think you would agree with me that this is a “go to” sauce.  It’s impressive because it is versatile and can adorn virtually any meat, vegetable or bread.  Usually pesto is my “go to” sauce, but this has become a favorite.
If you have been reading this blog, by now, you probably understand that I really love to cook all types of food from varying cultures.  I’m facinated by the history of food, the preparation, the cultural impact and the different tastes.  One of the most relaxing things for me is to come home from work, turn on music that matches the dinner theme and just cook up a great meal.  The joy this brings me is only enhanced when I am joined by others in my kitchen who share my passion.  I hope some of these recipes inspire you too. 

Ingredients
2 C. fresh spinach, washed
1 C. fresh cilantro, washed
1 serrano chile, seeded
1 T. lemon juice
1 large clove garlic
1 t. coriander
1 t. cumin
1/2 t. salt
1/4 C. olive oil


Preparation
Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth consistency.  Store in plastic container in the fridge until ready to use.  I actually double the recipe and freeze half for quick and delicious weeknight meals.  Using a spoon, spread sauce on Salmon, cod, halibut, steak, bread, chicken or vegetables and cook as you normally would. 

Barbequed Greek Chicken Skewers

Barbequed Greek Chicken Skewers

I made this chicken dish earlier this summer and have made it numerous times since.  This recipe was sort of created by accident.  I have been craving greek food. I kept seeing ads for Greek Yogurt and became very curious about how I could use it in a recipe or maybe I just wanted to buy it because the package looked cool.  Whatever the reason, it came home with me.  I think it tastes horrible by itself, but it’s a wonderful tenderizer.  I also happen to love fried chicken marinated in buttermilk.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could eat fried chicken every day?  Ok…okaaaay maybe the wasteline doesn’t need it, but this recipe accomplished a lot of my cravings in one healthy recipe.  If you have leftovers, try rolling it in a tortilla with cream cheese and crunchy lettuce for lunch the next day.
Note:  You can buy Garam Masala in any specialty spice store.  Unless your grocer is really something, chances are they probably don’t carry it.  It’s worth every penny. 

Ingredients
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded flat and cut into strips
2 C. plain, greek yogurt
1/2 red onion, chopped medium
1/2 C. cilantro
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 C. olive oil
1 T. lime juice
1 T. garam masala
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1/2 t. powdered ginger or 1 inch grated fresh ginger

Preparation
Place all ingredients in a ziplock bag.  Make sure all the air is out.  Marinate the chicken in the yogurt sauce over night.  Assemble chicken on skewers that have been soaked in water for at least an hour.  Prepare barbeque grill and place chicken skewers on grill with skewer ends hanging over the edge so they don’t burn.  Grill for about 4 minutes on the first side and 3 minutes on the other.  Enjoy hot.

These are very good as little appetizers too.  Use toothpicks, but don’t put them on the grill.  Just cut the chicken up smaller and have toothpicks on the side for your guests to use.  Mmmm!

Tacos Al Pastor

Tacos Al Pastor

A TACO TRUCK IN THE VINEYARD
You’re going to laugh.  I ran into these tacos while wine touring.  How does one do that?  Well, I’m not really sure.  What I do know is that I attract unusual circumstances.  It’s been that way all my life and one day I’m going to write a book about it.  This day, it was a taco truck in the vineyard.  My sister, her beau, my husband and I were touring Washington wine country and at one of our last stops before the long drive home we drove to a vineyard on a bluff overlooking Rattlesnake Hills called Knights Hill Vineyard.  The vineyard was situated up a gravel drive.  In the dusty sunshine we crested the hill and there it was.  The glorious……taco truck.  Bright yellow, it seemed a vision of heaven for very hungry wine enthusiasts.
We had our priorities in order.  Wine tasting first, then tacos.  After making our wine purchases, we got in line to read the taco menu posted on the side of the truck.  Tiffany (my sister), pointed us in the direction of Tacos Al Pastor.  She said they would be the best around.  One thing I know for sure is that you never come between my sister and a taco.  Never.  I never ate Tacos Al Pastor but when one is staring in the eyes of the taco truck, the smell of the grill is wafting out the door and Tiffany is very enthusiastically convincing us this is the way, we were all listening and pooling our cash.  They were wonderful.  She was right.  I took a few photos to share with you all and researched recipes when I got home.  I made them and my husband and I shared them only communicating with raised brows and eyes open wide.  “It’s a hit.  It’s going in the blog” I said.
There are several methods for making Tacos Al Pastor, but since I do not have a rotisserie or a spit, or time for that matter, I did mine in the crock pot for a weeknight meal, but it is wonderful roasted to perfection in the oven.

 
Tacos Al Pastor
Ingredients
1 1/2 lb pork loin meat, cut into striplike pieces
1 C. white vinegar
2 jalapeno or serrano chile peppers
1 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 medium white onions, finely diced, divided
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 pkg Mexican Grill Seasoning (red)
1 C. pineapple juice
salt
Serving Ingredients
40 very small corn or flour tortillas (about four inches in diameter)
6 limes cut into wedges
1 bunch chopped cilantro
1 can salsa verde
1 can salsa ranchero
Preparation
Soak the pork in the vinegar for two hours prior to cooking.  Remove and drain well. 
To soften the chilis, boil them in about 2 cups of water on stovetop until soft and fragrant.  Save your liquid and set aside.  Remove from water bath and remove seeds.  In a food processor, combine chilis, tomatoes, one of the chopped onions (remember these were divided), garlic, Mexican Grill Seasoning, pineapple juice and salt.  Blend until smooth.
In a hot skillet, add sauce and simmer, stirring often for about ten minutes.  Remove sauce and let cool completely. 
When you are ready to assemble, add pork to crock pot with the reserved pepper water and half the sauce.  Keep the other half of the sauce refrigerated.  Cook either in a crock pot on low for four to six hours or in a roasting pan on 325 for 2 1/2 or 3 hours depending on thickness of pork.  At the end of the cooking time, drain the liquid.   Take a fork in each hand and gently pull the pieces of the pork apart, similarly to pulled pork.   Heat up the remaining sauce on stovetop or in microwave and pour over the top of the cooked pork and work in with a fork until combined.
Preparing your tortillas
You can do this two different ways; steam or lightly fry.  Both are good options.  To steam, preheat oven to 200 degrees.   Soak a teatowel in warm water and ring out.  Lay wet towel on a cookie sheet so half of the towel is covering it.  Lay your tortillas in a row next to eachother until sheet is filled.  Pull the wet cloth over the top and tuck in the sides so nothing can burn.  Place sheet in 200 degree oven and turn off the heat.  Get out one of your biggest plates or a platter.  After 10 minutes in the oven your tortillas should be moist and hot.  To fry, pour a tiny bit of oil in a skillet and heat until hot.  Lay the tortilla down for about one minute until it puffs.  Using tongs, turn it over and cook the other side.  Remove on plate lined with paper towel until ready to assemble your taco.

Layer two tortilla shells on top of one another and fill the plate.  Place the marinated meat on top and layer chopped onion and cilantro on top of the meat until all tortillas are filled.  squeeze your limes over the top excessively and serve with salsa verde and ranchero sauce.   After you taste these, you’ll know why I said “40 tortillas”! 

Enjoy along side your favorite vineyard!

Hummus

Hummus
I have looked over a lot of recipes for hummus.  Trader Joes has an excellent version that comes in a circle pack with four sections and each section is flavored differently.  My favorite is the spicy.  If you want to make it on your own so you know what is actually in the food you are eating, I think this recipe is the best by far.  It is actually a combination of a few recipes I’ve worked with and it has just the right flavor.  I think working with hummus is fun because it is very versatile and you can flavor it up any way you want.  It’s almost like a canvas.  You start with the base and then keep layering in flavor.  It’s also heart healthy for you!
If you are looking to make this the appetizer for a romantic meal, prepare it as shown below, but withhold the paprika and parsley.  Take a piece of paper and fold in half.  On the fold, cut out half a heart shape.  Unfold the heart and lay it directly on the surface of your hummus, but off to one side a bit.  Sprinkle  your paprika over the top and make sure to cover the heart.  Follow up with sprinkling your parsley.  You really don’t need much.  Carefully lift the paper heart off and there you have a very special Valentine’s Day treat for your sweet one. 
Hummus

Ingredients

1 14 oz. can of chickpeas, undrained
6 large cloves of garlic
1/2 C. olive oil
1 t. taco seasoning
1/4 C. Tahini paste
1/4 C. lemon juice*
1/2 t. salt
3 dashes of paprika for garnish
handful of flatleaf parsley, chopped
Directions
In your Cuisinart, add chickpeas, garlic olive oil, taco seasoning, tahini paste, lemon juice and salt.  Blend until smooth.  Taste for flavor and consistentcy and adjust as necessary.  Spoon hummus out into decorative bowl and serve alongside rice crackers, breadsticks, toasts or use as a spread on paninnis, tortillas or sandwiches.
*Special Note:  Tahini paste is really a paste made from sesame seeds.  It contains oil from the seed.  It usually comes in a can or a jar and can be found in the peanut butter section of your grocery store.  Unlike peanut butter, it separates into oil and solid.  Be sure to either shake well or stir it up prior to measuring it out for this recipe.
Enjoy!

Huîtres épicés / Spicy Oysters

Huîtres épicés or Spicy Oysters
In preparation for these blog entries, I did some preliminary research and asked a few people what food they considered romantic.  Their reaction was unanimous.  First a low smile, then silence, then nervousness, then they blurted out the first thing that came into their mind.  I received quite a range of responses, and I plan on sharing them with you this month.
The first answer I received was oysters.  Ahhh, the oyster.  A briny aphrodisiac.  The term, “aphrodisiac” coming from the Greek goddess Aphrodite, was born from the sea in an oyster shell.  Thus the reason shellfish are thought to evoke sexual potentcy.  Interestingly, Roman history tells tales of women who begin to act recklessly when they drank wine and ate oysters.  Maybe there are nutrients in oysters that when consumed, increase the libido.  Whatever the case, oysters were on the list of romantic meals.  Personally I love them, but if you plop a plate of oysters down in front of someone who thinks they are revolting, then your plans for a romantic evening may need a little tweaking. 
Huîtres épicés
Ingredients
8 to 12 Oysters
1/4 C. butter
1/4 t. white pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 C. dry white wine
1 T. hot sauce, such as Sriracha
1/4 C. bread crumbs
1/4 C. shredded or grated parmesan cheese
2 T. chopped parsley (optional)
Directions
Take your oysters and run them under cold water in a clean sink.  Using a quality oyster knife, place the blade in the crack between the two shells and turn the knife popping open the oyster.  Scrape the oyster muscle onto one of the shells and peel the other shell off and discard.  Place the oyster in the half shell on a cookie sheet lined with foil.  Follow this step until all the oysters are shucked.
In a small, microwave safe bowl, add butter and put it in the microwave to melt.  Remove from microwave and add pepper, garlic, white wine, and hot sauce.  Stir to combine.  Taking a spoon, carefully ladle spoonfuls of butter mixture over the oysters.  You may have some butter mixture remaining which can be poured over the top of each right before baking.  Sprinkle parmesan cheese over the top, then follow with the bread crumbs. 
Place cookie sheet in a broiling oven (500 degrees) for about 3 or 4 minutes.  Watch them carefully and remove them when they are golden brown.  Sprinkle with chopped parsley prior to serving.  Enjoy with a side salad and a glass of Viogner.

Pico De Gallo!

Pico De Gallo
Go to your local market or grocery store and spend some time in the chip aisle.  I mean, don’t just grab a bag of corn  tortilla chips and be on your way, but really stand there and take in the entire selection of tortilla chips.  It’s really fascinating.  If you never do this, then you are never going to know what you’re missing.  It’s true.  It’s like with anything, just because you have something doesn’t mean that you stop looking.  You don’t necessarily have to ‘buy’, but what is out there may make you feel better about the selection you have chosen, or it may make you feel like you will choose better next time.  If your tortilla chip really means anything to you, you will spend the time to be a little picky.  Even if it’s just really about a dumb corn chip. 
I was in a big rush because I don’t have any time (at all, ever) and I had company coming for dinner.  I thought the weather was going to be hot, but I was wrong.  I thought everyone liked fish tacos, but I was wrong there too (but I got the recipe coming because you’re going to love them – another story for later).  I wasn’t so much standing in the chip aisle as much as I was whizzing by with my little snub-nosed super stealth mini shopping cart thinking that the check out line was going to be at least ten people deep because I was there at the wrong time of day, and then in slow motion, this glorious vision came out of no where.  Well, at first it was a blur and then when I came to a stop, or more like a skid, in the aisle with my three inch heels on, I saw them.  The most breathtaking corn tortilla chips there ever was.  You could say, they literally stopped me in my tracks.  They are called Juanitas.  The bag is clear, red and green and they are produced by Dominguez Family Enterprises  in Hood River, Oregon. They are salty and crisp and taste like someone made them right now, especially for you.  They are better than restaurant style tortilla chips.  They’re the best corn chip in the entire chip loving world.  And by the way, no one requested to take home a fish taco, but they did go home with a stash of these amazing chips – by request!
These tortilla chips are supremely delicious, but I did make Pico De Gallo to go along side to keep them company, of course.  Here is my recipe.  Skeptics out there?  Let me share this – Two groups of people on two separate occassions, tasted the Pico De Gallo and I had several requests for the recipe.
5 roma tomatoes, gutted and diced very small
1 small white onion, finely diced
1 large jalapeno, finely diced
1 handful of cilantro, finely diced
1 lime, juiced
1 t. salt

By reading the recipe, you probably drew the conclusion that you will be finely dicing nearly all of the ingredients which really is the secret to success here.  Place all ingredients in a bowl and gently mix. Serve with Juanitas Tortilla Chips! Ole!
 
Tip!  Adhere to the “Rules of Engagement” with jalapenos.  Do wear plastic gloves when preparing the jalapeno or you will be feeling the heat on your hands and under your nailbed for a few hours and you will share the heat with everything you touch….including your eyes.  Please be careful.

Kalamata Olive Tapenade

If you are looking for a healthy snack, this recipe is for you.  Keep it in your archives, because it is a quick and tasty recipe for very little work.  It only has four ingredients, but tastes rich and complex.  This dip is versatile.  Spread on tortilla with turkey, peppers and lettuce as shown, use as a spread on crostini or as a dip with vegetables or pita chips.   You can even serve it as a starter for a Greek or Mediterranean themed dinner. 

Kalamata Olive Tapenade
3/4 C. Kalamata olives, pitted
3/4 C. cream cheese
2 cloves garlic
1 T fresh lemon juice

Directions:  Put olives, cream cheese, garlic and lemon juice in Cuisinart and pulse until desired consistency.   Olives are cured with salt already.  If you think you need to add some salt, use it sparingly.  After mixing, place in decorative bowl and serve up as desired.  Your guests won’t know what hit them! 
Picture courtesy Jolene Hansen 2009

Cordon Bleu Appetizers

My sister, Tiffany and her boyfriend, Shane came for a long weekend visit after the holidays.  We had planned to go sledding the day after they arrived and the weather turned out to be perfect.  We loaded up the car with kids and sleds and cold weather gear and headed up toward Mt. Baker Ski Resort.  Among other snow sports available at Mount Baker Ski Resort, like cross country skiing and snowshoeing, there is a great sledding ‘bowl’ that electrified and enchanted us all afternoon.  We darted and dashed down the hills.  We giggled and squealed and screamed with delight.  We videotaped ourselves and each other with small camaras which turned out to induce hilarious side-splitting laughter later that evening.  On the way home, after a quick trip to Mount Baker Vineyards, which just happens to be on the route, Tiffany made these tasty appetizers.  This recipe came to her via Shane’s family where it is highly regarded.  After a great day on the sledding hill, what could be better than a glass of wine and warm, delicious appetizers?  I ate three in a row.  There was no resisting!

Cordon Bleu Appetizers
by Diane Boyd
4 oz. Cream Cheese
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 C. (4 oz) shredded Swiss cheese
3/4 C. diced fully cooked ham

1/2 C. minced chives, divided
18 slices French bread (cut 1/2 inch thick)

In a small bowl, beat cream cheese and mustard until smooth.  Stif in the Swiss cheese, ham and 1/4 cup chives.  Spread 1 tablespoon mixture over each bread slice and place on baking sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. 

Tip: You can sprinkle cheese and/or chives over the top of the toasts with mixure prior to baking if you choose. 
Suggestion:  Serve with a well chilled Mount Baker Viogner.  Enjoy!