Friday, December 30, 2011

FOLLOW FRIDAY: Dec. 30, 2011

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Are you ready for New Year's Eve?  I am.  I'm not doing anything.  We don't have a sitter, so we are staying home with our little guys.

For those of you fortunate enough to be hosting a New Year's party or attending one, you can find some dip and spread ideas here.

Today, I'm sharing three blogs with great party food ideas.

Simple Bites  Aimee is a wife and mother who retired as a professional chef to stay home with her children.  Here you will find yummy "real" food recipes, entertaining ideas, cooking tips, and simple living.

That's So Michelle Meet Michelle, a professional writer who shares her love for food and entertaining.  Here you will find great recipes for food and drinks, photography, and glimpses into her life.

Fun and Food Blog Mansi describes herself as "A doting mom to my darling toddler, and a loving wife to my husband."  This site is a valuable resource for vegetarian food and recipes, health and fitness, and entertaining.Pin It Best Blogger Tips

Thursday, December 29, 2011

RECIPE: Apricot-Pepper Dip

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One of my favorite foods is General Tso's Chicken.  I rarely eat it anymore, since it is deep fried and usually doesn't come with any vegetables.  (We also have traded in the Chinese buffet for Mongolian Grill.)

Americans don't combine sweet and spicy flavors together traditionally, but hot pepper jams and jellies are starting to appear on grocery store shelves.  I made up this recipe to capture those complimentary tastes of sweet and hot.

I used all-fruit apricot jam, since all of the other jams and jellies at our local grocery store had corn syrup in them.  The neufchatel cheese is lower in fat and calories, but cream cheese will work, too.  I also used Greek yogurt for the higher protein.

 I finely diced a half a serrano pepper first.

 Then, I added it to the neufchatel cheese, yogurt, and apricot jam.

I garnished the dip with a little shredded colby-jack cheese.



*8 oz. softened neufchatel or cream cheese
*1/2 c. plain Greek style yogurt
*1/2 a serrano pepper
*3 Tb. apricot jam


1.  Remove seeds from half a serrano pepper and mince into tiny pieces.  Add to neufchatel cheese, yogurt, and apricot jam.  Mix well.  Serve immediately or store in refrigerator for 1 day until ready to serve. 

Do you have a favorite sweet-hot recipe?  What is it?
  • Join me tomorrow for Follow Friday.  This week I will feature three blogs with great party tips! 
  • Check out the other dips/spread from this week here.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

RECIPE: Spinach Artichoke Dip (Vegan)

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One of my favorite dips is spinach artichoke dip.  If I order it in a restaurant, I'm sure to get a bowl of gooey, cheesy, green-flecked goop, that (let's face it) tastes amazing.  It also probably has a million calories in it.  (Well, maybe not that many.)

Since I put a few extra pounds on for Christmas, I decided to make a vegan version of spinach artichoke dip.  There are only four ingredients and it is simple to make.  Prepare it immediately before serving, since it may begin to separate.

This dip is a healthy alternative to the cheesy, cooked dip.  The garlic and olive oil give the dip the savory taste you desire, while the artichokes create a creamy texture to compliment a crisp cracker or crunchy vegetable.  The addition of spinach adds many health benefits.

"Like other dark greens, spinach is an excellent source of beta-carotene, a powerful disease-fighting antioxidant that's been shown, among other things, to reduce the risk of developing cataracts. It fights heart disease and cancer as well."  (Discovery Health)

Discovery Health also lists spinach as a natural weight loss food!

 First, I put all of the ingredients in my Vitamix.
(A food processor will work too.)
Here is another view of the spinach, artichokes, garlic,
and olive oil.
Then, I ran my Vitamix on medium speed,
using the tamper to help mix everything together.

[Print this Recipe]



*2 c. loosely packed fresh spinach
*14 oz. can of artichoke hearts
*1 garlic clove, peeled
*1 tsp. olive oil


1.  Drain artichokes.  Add all ingredients to high speed blender with tamper or food processor.  Blend thoroughly.  Serve immediately.

Have you gained weight during the holidays?  What is your plan to take the extra pounds off?
  • Come back tomorrow for Apricot Pepper Dip!

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What Matthew Ate Wednesday: Dec. 28, 2011

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How are you doing after the holiday?

I managed to put 3 lbs. on from all of the rich food I've been eating.  Ugh.  I'm sure all of the cookies I baked had something to do with it, too!

This week, I'm featuring Dips and Party Foods.  So far, I have posted Elle's Easy Guacamole, and Smoked Salmon Spread.  I'm going to finish the week out with vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip and Apricot-Pepper Dip.

I would also love to hear what Dip and Party Food recipe you would like to share for New Year's!

You can share your link and a picture here.  Submissions close Wednesday (today) at midnight.

Here is what my four year-old vegetarian son ate today.  He hasn't gained any weight over the holidays. ; )

 He started the day with two pieces
of homemade raisin bread French toast and almond milk.
I will share it with you when I get a recipe written up.
We have never given Matthew syrup with French toast,
but he gobbles it up anyway.

 For lunch, Matthew ate unsweetened applesauce
with Swedish ginger thin cookies my mom
bought at the store for Christmas.
He thinks it's so much fun to dip cookies, crackers, etc.,
in his applesauce instead of using a spoon.

For supper, we had fajitas, but Matthew wanted
the leftovers from Haystacks.
I couldn't get him to eat the tomatoes.
He also had a whole wheat tortilla.

Today, he was too busy playing with his new toys to eat much.

What did you eat today?  Any leftovers?
  • Come back later today for vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip!

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

RECIPE: Smoked Salmon Spread

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Since most of the recipes on this blog are vegetarian or vegan, a lot of people ask me, "Are you a vegetarian?"

My answer:  "No, but I would like to be again someday."

However, we don't eat much meat.

Once every two weeks or so, we eat red meat.  Since my grandparents were ranchers, my mom grew up eating beef every day and fed it to me as a child.  It's tough to be vegetarian here, since there are as many cows in our state as humans.

I know the health risks associated with eating red meat and my husband inherited the predisposition for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer.  I am weaning us off of beef again, so I don't buy it anymore.  I haven't bought beef since this summer, but we still have some left in our freezer. 

We also eat fish and chicken for supper several times a week, but about half of the time, we eat meatless dinners. 

Sometimes you will find recipes here which call for meat or fish.  Today, I'm sharing Smoked Salmon Spread with you. 

The smoked salmon gives this spread a rich, savory taste.  The firm neufchatel cheese base makes it a great spread for Hor d'oeuvres, while the red salmon and green onion add color to any plate.

First, I drained a can of red smoked salmon and removed the skin
before I added it to two packages of neufchatel cheese.

I flaked the salmon with a fork before stirring it in the neufchatel cheese.
I chopped two green onions and added them.
I julienned a few for garnish, then mixed the rest into the spread.



*6 oz. can of smoked sockeye salmon
*2 8 oz. pkgs of neufchatel or cream cheese
*2 green onions


1.  Soften neufchatel cheese for several hours at room temperature in medium mixing bowl.
2.  Drain can of salmon.  Remove skin. Add to neufchatel cheese and flake salmon apart.  Mix into neufchatel cheese.
3.  Chop green onions into small pieces.  Add to cheese and salmon mixture. Mix well.
4.  Refrigerate spread until ready to serve on crackers. 

How often do you eat meat?  Are you a vegetarian or vegan?
  • Join me tomorrow for What Matthew Ate Wednesday and vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip.
  • I would love to see what you are mixing up in your kitchen.  Add your recipe by linking it up here.  I decided to extend submissions until Wednesday at midnight because of the holidays.
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Monday, December 26, 2011

RECIPE: Elle's Easy Guacamole (Vegan)

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I hope you had a great Christmas!

I spent the holiday making LOTS of food.  We had a Swedish-American Christmas Eve with my parents, then ate Christmas Day lunch with my husband's family.  I made traditional and Americanized Swedish foods for dinner at home, plus pies, dips, and Garlic-Cheese No-Knead Bread for my in-laws.
Today, I'm posting my first dip recipe in preparation for New Year's. 

You can add a link and picture for your favorite party food or dip recipe here.

We eat guacamole at least once a week. 

In addition to being delicious and easy to prepare, the avocados used to make it have many health benefits.  First of all, avocados have phytosterols and polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols (PFAs), both of which help keep inflammation under control in the body.  Second, avocados support heart health and are a good source of monosaturated fats which can lower total cholesterol levels in the blood.  In addition, avocados may improve blood sugar regulation and may have anti-cancer benefits

This recipe is quick, healthy, and delicious.  The spicy salsa and creamy avocado make it perfect for dipping chips or adding a smooth kick to top your favorite recipe.
 First, I scooped the avocados from the peels.

 Then, I added lemon juice and mashed the avocados with a fork.

 Finally, I mixed in the salsa.



*3 ripe Hass Avocados (how to pick an avocado)
*1/4 cup salsa (mild, medium or hot)
*2 tsp. lemon juice


1. Slice the avocados in half.  Separate the halves and remove the pit.  Spoon the pulp from the skin.
2. Mash the avocado pulp with a fork or use a food processor to slightly puree the pulp. 
3. Add lemon juice and salsa. Mix thoroughly and serve immediately.

Serves: 3-4


1. Picante sauce may be substituted for salsa.
2. Lime juice may be substituted for lemon juice.


1. Refrigerate leftover guacamole.
2. Press a sheet of plastic wrap down upon the top of the guacamole to slow the oxidation process.
3. Substitute for sour cream in Mexican dishes.
4. Use as a great dip or sandwich spread.

What recipe do you make all of the time?
  • Come tomorrow for Smoked Salmon Dip
  • Later this week, find my recipes for Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip and Hummus.
  • I would love to see your Party Food and Dip Recipe!  Add your link here.

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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas! Dip and Party Recipes!

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I hope you are having a great Christmas!

We celebrated a Swedish-American Christmas Eve (Julafton) with my parents last night.  We had gravlax, kroppkakor, potatis korv, fisk soppa, and Janssons Frestelse (cured dill salmon, potato dumplings, potato sausage, fish soup, and Janssen's temptation). 

Today, we are on our way to my husband's family to celebrate.  I still have some foods to prepare!

This week, I am sharing dips and party foods to help you prepare for your New Years' party. 

Here is a preview of the dips/spreads I'm sharing this week.

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Cookie #12: Monster Cookies

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I am sorry, but I am so done with cookies. 

I didn't mind baking all of the cookies, but writing the posts and recipes...UGH.  I feel like all my creativity is tapped! 

Thank goodness we move on to dips and party foods next Sunday.

Today, I bring you the final cookie in my 12 Cookies of Christmas series.

Out of all the cookies I have made in the past few weeks, Monster Cookies are my four year-old's favorite.  I don't know if it is because of the chocolate chips, M&Ms, or peanut butter in the recipe; he might just like them because they are called "Monster Cookies."

Many people who lived in my small town have a Monster Cookie recipe.  I'm not sure why they are called Monster Cookies, but it could be because of the size of the recipe.  It originally calls for 4 times more of eatch ingredient. I minimized the recipe, making it more manageable to make in a mixing bowl.

 I mixed butter and sugars in my Kitchen Aid first.
Then, I added eggs and vanilla.

 Then, I added peanut butter.
I used to make my own peanut butter in my Vitamix,
so I have to buy the natural kind.
PB with hydrogenated fats is pretty nasty to me.

 After I mixed the peanut butter in, I added eggs.

 Then, I incorporated the oatmeal and baking soda.

 Finally, I added chocolate chips and M&Ms.

 I used my cookie scoop to drop the cookies

[Print this Recipe]



*1 c. brown sugar
*1/2. c. white sugar
*1/2 c. butter
*1 1/2 c. peanut butter
*3 eggs
*2 tsp. baking soda
*4 1/4 c. quick oats
*1/2 c. M&Ms
*1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips


1.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Cream together sugars and butter in large mixing bowl.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.
2.  Incorporate baking soda and oats.  Combine M&Ms and chocolate chips. 
3.  Drop cookies by the tablespoonful on to large baking sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Does your hometown have a signature recipe?
Have a Merry Christmas!  God Jul!

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Cookie #11: Stone Jar Cookies

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Aunt Henrietta wasn't my aunt or my mom's aunt; she was actually my Grandma Elaine's aunt. 

Both of my grandparents were only children, something unusual in the 1920s.  Consequently, my mother didn't have aunts and uncles, only great-aunts and great-uncles.  Aunt Henrietta was the wife of great-grandpa's brother.

She was gone before I was born, so I only have my mother's memories.  Henrietta was a tall woman with large eyes.  She worked as a nurse in the 1930s and she wanted her daughters to have careers, too.  One became a schoolteacher, while the other two worked for the FBI in Washington, D.C.

Henrietta shared this recipe with my grandmother and it passed down through the family to me.  Because of the nutmeg in the recipe, this chewy cookie tastes a little like egg nog.  These cookies are pefect to make anytime, though you will find them in our cookie jars every Christmas.

First, I creamed together the brown sugar, shortening, and vanilla.
Then, I added eggs and milk.
(This recipe is so old, it calls for Spry instead of shortening!)
I added the dry ingredients next with nutmeg.
After the dry ingredients were incorporated, I added chopped nuts.
I thought I took more pictures, but apparently not! 



*2 c. brown sugar
*1 c. shortening
*1 tsp. vanilla
*2 eggs
*1/4 c. milk
*3 c. flour
*1 tsp. salt
*1 tsp. soda
*1 tsp. nutmeg
*1 c. chopped pecans or walnuts


1.  Preheat oven to 375F.  Combine brown sugar and shortening in large bowl.  Beat in vanilla and eggs.  Add milk and mix well.
2.  Combine flour, salt, soda, and nutmeg in separate bowl.  Incorporate into wet ingredients until soft dough forms.  Add nuts and mix thoroughly.
3.  Spoon tablespoons of dough 2-3" apart onto cookie sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Yields 4 dozen cookies.

Did you have a woman in your family who had a career early in the 20th century?
  • On Friday, I will share my last (whew!) cookie from my 12 Cookies of Christmas series, Monster Cookies.
  • To prepare for New Years Eve, I am taking recipe submissions for dips, appetizers, and canapes from you!  Post on my Sunday blog post (Christmas) through Monday at noon!

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Christmas Cookie #10: White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

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Uncle Glen with Matthew, Dec. 2010
My mom has four younger brothers.  The youngest, Glen, lives the farthest away in Illinois, about 11 hours from here.  Glen is a master carpenter.  He remodels homes with great craftmanship.  One year for her birthday, he rebuilt my grandma's 100 year-old damaged cedar chest with the same tools his great-grandfather used to build it. 

Each year, I send him a box of homemade Christmas cookies. 

I send him a dozen of each of the family cookie favorites.  I used to make him chocolate chip cookies, then he told me that he loved white chocolate macadamia nut cookies even more.  Ever since then, these cookies replaced the chocolate chip cookie in his gift box.

I can see why he prefers these.  The creamy white chips are delicious with the rich brown sugar-based cookie and macadamia nuts add a firm texture.  The shortening helps preserve the cookies, making them perfect for 2-3 day shipping to a loved one.
I combined the shortening and sugar in my Kitchen Aid first.
Then, I added egg, milk and vanilla and mixed them well.
Next, I added the dry ingredients and mixed until a soft dough formed.

I chopped the macadamia nuts on with my ulu knife.
I was holding my fussy baby at this point.
I'm glad I can use the ulu with one hand!

Finally, I mixed in the white chips and macadamia nuts.
I scooped them out with my cookie scoop.
After I dropped the dough onto the cookie sheet,
I flattened the balls slightly with the back of a spoon.
I baked the cookies for 9 minutes at 375F.

[Print this Recipe]



*1 1/4 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
*3/4 c. butter flavor shortening
*2 Tb. milk
*1 Tb. vanilla
*1 egg
*1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
*1 tsp. salt
*3/4 tsp. baking soda
*1 c. chopped macadamia nuts
*1 c. white chocolate chips


1.  Preheat oven to 375F.  Combine sugar, shortening, milk, and vanilla in large bowl.  Beat at medium speed of electric mixer until well blended. Add egg into creamed mixture
2.  Combine flour, salt, and baking soda.  Mix into creamed mixture until blended.  Stir in white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts.
3.  Drop rounded tablespoonsful of dough 3 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheet.  Bake for 9 minutes.

Yields 3 dozen cookies.

Do you mail any homemade baked goods to anyone during the holidays?
  • Tomorrow, I will share the recipe for Stone Jar Cookies, chewy cookies with nutmeg and chopped nuts.  Friday will be the last recipe of my 12 Cookies of Christmas series, Monster Cookies.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What Matthew Ate Wednesday: Dec. 21, 2011

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Whew!  Have you been as busy as me this week?  I can tell Christmas is coming soon!

Over the past two weeks, I baked 12 different kinds of cookies, all of our family favorites.  I think it was about 50 dozen cookies.  I had lots of fun sharing them with friends and family!

I've posted 9 of the recipes.  I will post the remaining three recipes for White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies, Stone Jar Cookies, and Monster Cookies for you later this week.  You can find all of the cookies here.

Matthew went to my mom's house today while I braved Wal-Mart and JCPenney's.  I think I have all of my Christmas shopping done now.  Baby Benjamin did pretty well, staying happy for almost two hours in the baby carrier until we reached the checkout line!

I also began baking bread to give to my neighbors and friends.  Today, I made four loaves of Garlic-Cheese No-Knead Bread to share with my son's preschool teachers.  I love to bake cookies, but gifting homemade bread seems to be a great idea when so many people already get cookies and candy.

Next week, I am going to share appetizers and bite-size snack foods in preparation for all those New Year's parties.

On Sunday, I will give you the chance to link up your favorite party food recipe!

Also going on here at The Way...
  • I added CommentLuv to the comment section, allowing you to show off your latest blog post with a link embedded if you add your URL.
  • I am in the process of adding printable recipe cards for my older posts.  They are currently available for all new recipes. 

Here is what Matthew, my four year-old vegetarian, son ate today.

 For breakfast, Matthew ate oatmeal with almond milk,
brown sugar, and dried cranberries.

 At lunchtime, my mom fixed him "smashed" beans
and salsa with tortilla chips.

 About 5:30pm, he suggested that he eat
(unsweetened) applesauce and almond milk.
He usually has a snack earlier,
but he had Kindermusik today.

He also ate the rest of the box of dried cranberries
leftover from breakfast and another box of cranberries.
Matthew likes these little boxes because he can get them
on his own and they are "his size."

For supper, he ate two quesadillas on whole wheat tortillas
and green beans.

If you have children, do you buy them single-serving size snacks?
  • Later today, I will post my White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookie recipe!
Thank you for your comment.  I love to hear what you have to say!

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Christmas Cookie #9: Hidden Kisses Cookies

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One of the last pictures taken
of my Grandpa Eldon and Grandma Elaine
[Print this Recipe]

Only one of my grandfathers was still alive when I was born: Grandpa Eldon.

As I mentioned in the recipe post for Grandma Gladys' Date Pinwheels, he survived polio as a child.  He ranched for many years before becoming a full-time diesel mechanic. 

He revealed his mechanical genius in the devices he made after my grandmother's stroke.  He made a scooter for her in the early 1990s before they were marketed all over television.  He rigged their back door to stay open with a switch controlled by an air compressor. 

He used to be the only one who could pull slivers out of my little fingers and "fix" my ouchies.  He could be gruff and grumble, but he was delicate and sweet with his granddaughter.  The manly mechanic also cared for his wife for 20 years after her catastrophic stroke.

Every Christmas, many of us would buy him a box of cordial cherries.  He loved them. 

When I modified this recipe from Hershey's, I thought of my grandfather.  Inside the almond shortbread is a Hershey's Cordial Cherry Creme candy. The shortbread crumbles in your mouth and reveals the smooth chocolatey-cherry taste inside.  These cookies are perfect with a cup of hot tea or a cup of steaming coffee, something Grandpa Eldon drank all of the time.

First, I put the almonds in my Vitamix and ground them into flour.

Afterward, I toasted the almond flour in the oven.
While the almonds toasted in the oven, I mixed
the butter and sugar.
After the almond flour cooled, I added it to the butter-sugar mixture.
It made an irresistible shortbread dough!
Then, I used my cookie scoop to spoon out the shortbread dough
and roll it into balls after
I put a Hershey's Cherry Cordial Creme Kiss in the center.
A few of them leaked out chocolate and cherry creme in the oven.
I'm glad I put the parchment down!
After they had cooled slightly, I rolled the cookies
in powdered sugar.



*8 oz. bag of Hershey's Cordial Creme Kisses
*1 c. butter, softened
*1/2 c. powdered sugar
*1 tsp. vanilla extract
*2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
*1/4 tsp. salt
*3/4 c. toasted almonds, finely ground or almond meal
*Additional powdered sugar


1.  Preheat oven to 400F.  Remove wrappers from chocolate pieces.  In large mixing bowl, beat butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla until well blended.
2.  Stir together flour and salt.  Gradually add dry ingredients to butter mixture, beating until well blended.
3.  Stir in ground almonds or almond meal until well incorporated.
4.  Mold scant tablespoon dough around each chocolate piece, covering completely.  Shape into balls.  Place on parchment lined cookie sheet.  Bake 10-12 minutes or until set. 
5.  Cool slightly and roll in powdered sugar.  Cool completely.

Yields 4 dozen cookies.

Do you know a man who is both "manly" and a gentle caregiver?
  • I'm sharing What Matthew Ate Wednesday, tomorrow, the daily diet of my vegetarian four-year old son. 
  • I also plan on posting the recipe for White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies, recipe #10 of my 12 Cookies of Christmas.  Find the other recipes here!
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