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Posts Tagged ‘party food’

Today is a beautiful, apple-icious day!

I love Spring. It just may be my favorite season. It and Summer. The Fall is pretty nice too. It’s winter I’m not so fond of. The snow is pretty, it’s the cold I have issues with, though I know some people like it. This week has been filled with mild temperatures and bright sunny days. It’s almost like a pre-cursor of what’s to come. My husband reported seeing his first Robin already and the Killdeer are quickly taking up residence here. The thing I love most about Spring is feeling the warmth of the sun on my face and I ‘m so looking forward to the heady scent of apple blossoms wafting from the trees. That and flowers popping up everywhere, getting re-acquainted with my Spring bulbs, fresh green grass and buds on the trees. I have to admit it’s been a mild winter here in Ontario, even by my standards, and it seems almost too good to be true, that Spring is officially just a week away. So this may seem rather odd, especially since we’ve just sprung our clocks forward an hour in anticipation of Spring, but I’m going to ask you to indulge me for just a moment.

Remember the Fall.

 It wasn’t all that long ago, really.

 

Think falling leaves, warm winds and crisp green apples.

 Or curly haired sheep with beautiful blue eyes and straw on their forheads.

Or pink pig caramel apples with candy watermelon slice ears, m&m eyes and a marshmallow snout.

Fall for me always includes a county fair or two and a delicious caramel apple. Or two. I know some of you worry about  all that messiness. Not me. No Siree. I’m all for messy, when messy tastes that good.

I love the crispness of the apple and the chewiness of the thick caramel followed by the deliciousness of the chocolate and crunchy peanut coating. Mmmm, so good.

I made this yummy treat last week and it reminds me of all of that minus the chocolate but with peanut butter, apples, Skor bits, caramel and chopped peanuts all on a sugar cookie crust, and sprinkled lightly with cinnamon, you won’t miss it. This Apple Caramel Cookie Pizza is a delicious treat and will be sure to delight young and old alike.

It combines the flavours of “Fall Fair” caramel apples on a delightful sugar cookie crust that is so yummy and delicious, it will literally disappear before your very eyes.  Seriously.

You’ll be, like, wait a minute — where’s the Apple Caramel Cookie Pizza I just made?  No seriously, is this a joke?

So my advice is, cut yourself a generous piece before serving, because as soon as you turn around, it will instantly disappear ~ it’s that good.

Now you can go back to blue skies and the sweet smell of Spring. Oh, that does sound good, doesn’t it!!  Happy, happy, happy!

Apple Caramel Cookie Pizza

Slightly adapted from Taste of Home Magazine

Serves 8

3/4 cup refrigerated sugar cookie dough

3 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

2 tablespoons Skor pieces (optional)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 medium tart apple, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons chopped unsalted peanuts

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 cup caramel topping, warmed

1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Method

1. Pat cookie dough into a pie pan or lay it on a pizza pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 °F for 12 -14 minutes or until slightly brown around the edges. Cool completely.

2. In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese, brown sugar, peanut butter, and vanilla.  Add Skor pieces and stir. Spread over sugar cookie crust. Arrange apple slices on top in a circle.  Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and dust with cinnamon. Drizzle with warmed caramel topping and cut into wedges to serve.

Notes

To prevent the apple slices from browning, I brushed them with a pastry brush dipped in a solution of 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1 tablespoon water.

Homemade Caramel Sauce

1/3 cup water

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup whipping cream

1/4 tsp vanilla

Method

1. Place the water and sugar into a small, heavy saucepan over medium high heat. Cook undisturbed until the sugar starts to color around the edges.  Gently swirl the pot to even out the color and continue to cook only until the mixture turns a light amber. Immediately remove the pan from the heat.

2. At arm’s length, gradually stir in the heavy cream. Be careful as it will bubble up.  Stir until the caramel is smooth.  When the bubbles subside, stir in the vanilla extract.

Notes

Like all caramel, this sauce thickens considerably as it cools.  It can be made ahead and refrigerated, then reheated for a few seconds in the microwave or on the stove over low heat. The sauce will be quite stiff when cold and will thin as it warms.

Caramel sauce can be kept covered and refrigerated until the best-by date stamped on the cream carton.

Other recipes with apples:

Vanilla Bean Baker’s Apple Pizza Pie

My Kitchen Addiction’s Balsamic Onion, Apple, and Gorgonzola Pizza

Brown Eyed Baker’s Homemade Caramel Apples

Picky-Palate’s Honeyed Apple Peanut Butter Tart

The Pioneer Woman’s Quick & Easy (and Yummy) Apple Tart

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Calling all mushroom lovers. Ovvvv–er here!

 

One of the things I absolutely love to eat are appetizers.  They’re so cute and so flavourful and of course, so little, that you have to have more than just one, or even two and well, dog-gone-it, sometimes 3 or 4.  Well the great thing about these little appetizers, is that they are almost all vegetables, so I’m giving you permission to have as many as you like and there’s absolutely no guilt involved.  None. Eat as many as your little heart desires.

The thing I like about this combination of flavours is its freshness.  It doesn’t leave a heavy aftertaste, nor does it make you feel like you’ve over-indulged.  It delivers a light, flavourful mouthful with every bite that will have your family and friends coming back for more. Served at a party, as an appetizer, these yummy little morsels are sure to get polished off.

Italian Stuffed Mushrooms

4 strips bacon, diced

1/4 cup (50 ml) ground pork

30 – 40 medium to large fresh mushrooms

1 cup (250 ml) onion and garlic salad croutons, crushed

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1 medium tomato, finely chopped

1/2 yellow pepper, finely diced

1/4 cup  (50 ml) grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons (25 ml) minced fresh parsley

1-1/2 teaspoons (6 ml) minced fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Method

1. In a large skillet, cook pork, drain fat and pat with a paper towel.  Chop finely with a knife or a hand-held blender and set aside. In the same skillet, cook bacon over medium heat, until crisp.  Remove to paper towels; pat dry, reserving 1 tablespoon of drippings.

 

2. Remove stems from mushrooms; set caps aside. Finely chop half of the stems (save the remaining for another use).  Add chopped stems to bacon drippings; saute for 2-3 minutes.  Remove from the heat. 

3. Mix mushroom stems with crushed croutons, cheeses, tomato, pepper, cooked ham, bacon, parsley and oregano.

4. Firmly stuff crouton mixture into mushroom caps. Place on a greased baking sheet.  Bake at 425 °F for 12-15 minutes or until mushrooms are tender.

Adapted from Taste of Home Magazine 2011

Notes

I filled a combination of 40 medium to large mushrooms and still ended up with enough filling left over for a great lunch idea which I’ll be posting here later in the week. In the meantime, here’s a handy little tip I found over at Farm Boy to keep mushrooms fresh.

What’s the best way to keep Mushrooms fresh?
Once you’ve purchased mushrooms loose or in a package, keep them in a paper bag to ensure freshness. This allows the mushrooms to breathe better and stay fresher longer so they retain their firm, tasty shape. Do not store them in plastic bags since plastics non-porous nature causes faster deterioration and loss of flavour while cooking. Stored properly, mushrooms should keep for several days. It doesn’t matter what size of mushrooms you pick. Size isn’t a sign of quality or age. Large ones are great for stuffing and smaller ones for marinating. Medium mushrooms are perfect for anything.

 

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