Recipes

Warm Cranberry Spread (+Game Day Treats!)

Wow. I did not intend to disappear for an entire freaking month. It’s like the holidays ate me up and spit me out at the end of January with a backlog of winter recipes to share and a bunch of travel on the horizon. Last night, we got back from a trip to Florida visiting my family in Sarasota, and in 10 days I’m jetting to D.C. to present at a conference while Mark heads down to New York City for an audition. I literally cannot believe I have to get on a plane again a week from Monday. This comes right on the heels of a two-day, weekend-long professional training for women interested in running for public office (with a lunch break on Saturday to attend the Boston Women’s March in Boston) the weekend right before we left town for vacation. It was a whirlwind two days and I’m so honored to have been accepted to the program, but WHEW! Mama’s tired. And the training continues one weekend per month until June, when all 50 of the women in the program graduate. Interested to learn more? Visit EmergeMA.com.


Today, I’m sharing a yummy homemade warm dip that is perfect for your Super Bowl party! I can tell lots of you have been watching the playoffs big-time, because my website traffic these days is almost 90% for this Brown Sugar Kielbasa in the Slow Cooker and my super-simple Traditional Shepherd’s Pie — both great game-day options. And you know who I’m rooting for! #GoPats!!

I made this on New Year’s Day for a big family gathering we hosted with my in-laws and all of Georgia’s cousins. It goes great with a side platter of pita or crackers, as well as sliced  apples.  Here, I used lingonberry sauce, because I had almost a whole jar left over from Christmas dinner when I served it alongside Swedish meatballs and mashed potatoes. Any berry sauce or preserve you like, particularly whole berry, would work well.  I always buy the Ikea lingonberry sauce, which has whole berries in it, and I think that makes all the difference. I also mixed in some red pepper jelly to give it a hint of heat — which I LOVE! — but you could omit it if you really don’t want the kick. I will say, though, that my spice-intolerant husband liked this, and he can’t take any heat at all.


Warm Cranberry Dip

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 package (8 oz.) of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup whole berry cranberry or lingonberry sauce
  • 1 TBSP red pepper jelly
  • a of grated cheese such as pepperjack, white cheddar or parmesan
  • assorted crackers or toasted bread slices for serving

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350. In a small bowl, mix thoroughly the berry sauce and hot pepper jelly.

In a baking dish or pie plate, spread the cream cheese evenly in one layer in an ungreased baking dish or pie plate. Sprinkle evenly with the grated cheese of your choice and then top with the berry-pepper mixture.

Bake 15-20 minutes or until the berries are just starting to bubble and the edges of the cream cheese are only beginning to brown.

And that’s not all! If you’re looking for more recipe ideas for your Super Bowl party, I’ve got a TON.

Chicken Chili

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Sweet Hot Chicken Wings

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Slow Cooker Ribs

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Pulled Pork Sliders

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Pulled Chicken Chili

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Homemade Salsa

Pillsbury Crescent Sausage Rolls

Meatball Pizza

VEGETARIAN IDEAS

Healthy Baked French Fries

Crispy Kale Chips

Vegan Spinach & Artichoke Dip

Meat-free Shepherd’s Pie

Baked Egg Noodles with Cheese

Pesto Flatbread

Soy Chorizo Chili

Fried Tofu Triangles with Peanut Sesame Dipping Sauce

Vegetarian Stuffed Shells

We are taking it easy Super Bowl Sunday instead of having, or going to, a party. We need the time to unpack and get ready for the workweek. If you’re hosting or attending a game day bash, have fun and stay safe! And Go Pats!!!


kid-friendly · Recipes

Cream Cheese Stuffed Strawberries

It’s strawberry season in New England! These berries have a very short window of availability each year, and this summer the crop is peaking late — like right now — so it’s time to pick up some fresh berries at the farmer’s market and get baking. My brother’s girlfriend Michelle, who you may remember from this popular Stuffed Mushroom recipe at Christmas, makes one of the best strawberry treats I’ve ever had: strawberries stuffed with sweetened cream cheese. Auntie Shelly, as Georgia calls her, brings these to every summer gathering and they are always the absolute most popular item on the potluck, including last weekend when we had a barbecue for Mark’s birthday at our house. They were gone in a flash and I felt lucky to grab a couple before they disappeared. In addition to being a crowd pleaser, they are very simple to make. Read on to find out how.

Cream Cheese Stuffed Strawberries

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 packages of fresh strawberries
  • 8 oz of regular cream cheese
  • ¼ cup confectioner’s sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • Graham crackers (optional)

DIRECTIONS

First, take the cream cheese out of the refrigerator. It needs to be at room temperature in order for everything to blend well.

Wash the strawberries, and remove the stems. Cut the bottom off of each strawberry where the leaves are so they can stand up on their own.

Make an “X” cut on the pointed side of each strawberry and set them aside.

In a large mixing bowl, add all the ingredients and start mixing on low speed. Start slow to make sure the confectioner’s sugar doesn’t splatter everywhere! Increase the speed to medium/high until the mixture is a light, fluffy texture. This usually takes about 3-5 minutes.

Put the cream cheese mixture into a piping bag with a small tip. An easy way of doing this is to use a tall, empty drinking glass, which holds the bag so you can have both hands free when pouring the mixture.

Insert the piping tip into the middle of the “X” cut on each berry, and squeeze the filling in until you can see it starting to peek out the sides.

Finally, an optional last step is to put some crushed graham crackers on top of the berries. This can make them look extra fancy!

{{ Serve at room temp and watch guests devour }}


If you really, really love strawberries — as Georgia does — try these Strawberry Mini Muffins, my Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble, this Strawberry Yogurt Cake or my Creamy Strawberry Smoothie. We really love strawberries in our house!

Looking for places to pick your own strawberries this month? Here’s a great guide to you-pick spots and local strawberry festivals in and around Boston in June. Or, just follow the Facebook and Instagram posts from your family and friends for of-the-moment tips. Happy picking!


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Holidays · kid-friendly · Recipes

Caramel Apple Dip (EASY!)

A few weeks ago, we went to the 1st birthday party of a close high school friend’s baby girl. Her mom had made the most delicious dip for sliced apples, and adults and kids alike were gobbling it up. When I asked her for the recipe (as Georgia kept digging into it!), she said it had just three ingredients that sound gross when you list them out separately, but tasted perfect when combined together. They are cream cheese, caramel sauce and granola. Weird, right?

But just like she said, it comes together magically. Thanks, Judi!

I love how fast this is to make, and how easy it is to find these ingredients. It tastes like a caramel apple that you’d buy at the orchard after a full day of apple picking! And the best part is that, for $10 in ingredients, you can feed a gigantic crowd of people, because a little bit of this goes a LONG way when served alongside fruit and crackers. I had friends over Monday night and made it, and six of us polished off half the pan; my co-workers took care of the rest when I brought it to work today!.


You can buy any brand of cream cheese, granola or caramel sauce. I picked up Trader Joe’s cream cheese and caramel and Bear Naked granola at the Roche Bros. downtown because TJ’s didn’t have any normal flavors of granola left. This can easily be made with a nut-free or gluten-free version if you so desire.

Caramel Apple Dip

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 container whipped plain cream cheese (full or low fat, your preference)
  • 1 jar of caramel dip (such as T. Marzetti) or sauce, like you’d find near the ice cream cones and toppings
  • about two cups of granola, any flavor you like
  • sliced apples and/or simple crackers to eat alongside

DIRECTIONS

In a pie plate or large bowl, layer the whipped cream cheese, caramel sauce (softening for 1 minute in the microwave if necessary) and granola evenly and serve at room temperature with sliced apples, cut large enough to scoop out the dip. Enjoy with a dozen friends!

This pairs especially well with cheese on an appetizer spread. Just like that slightly odd New England tradition of eating slices of cheddar with apple pie, right? What I especially like about this is how it doesn’t melt, congeal, separate, or otherwise morph into something inedible or gross-looking when left out at a party for a couple hours. You can also make it a day ahead, refrigerate, and it’s ready to go as soon as you are.

See our recent apple picking adventures here, and stay tuned for an apple crisp recipe coming soon. And for another easy fall recipe, be sure to check out my brown sugar kielbasa in the slow cooker! It’s perfect for Sundays spent watching the game with family and friends.

I’m signing off to get those darn wisdom teeth out tomorrow, so wish me luck and I’ll be back soon! XOXO

Recipes

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

What’s the best thing about mashed potatoes? How fluffy, buttery and delicious they are, right? But there’s a dark side — all that peeling, chopping, boiling and mashing by hand the morning of a big meal, which almost makes you dread having them. Well, not anymore.

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As I mentioned in my Christmas Dinner post, I used a new recipe (new to me, anyway) from the Pioneer Woman, which calls for baking the potatoes the day before (I KNOW) and then popping them in the oven just half an hour before you eat. I had to try it. I love, love, LOVE buttery mashed potatoes, and yet they are such a pain when you’re trying to time the rest of a big meal to be ready all at once. Well, this make-ahead tip 100% worked for me, so I am posting it here in the hopes it’ll save you some time down the line. Enjoy!

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 5-lb. bag of Russet or Yukon Gold Potatoes
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 8-oz. container of plain cream cheese
  • 1 cup half-and-half or heavy cream
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions

Peel and cut the potatoes evenly into halves or quarters. Set a large pot of water on to boil, and when the water is simmering rapidly, add the potatoes. Cook for at least 30 minutes.

Once the potatoes are fork-tender, drain them in a large colander. When they are done draining, place them back into the dry cooking pot on the stove over low heat. Mash by hand with a potato masher over low heat, allowing all the steam to escape.

Turn off the stove and add the softened butter, starting with one stick and adding more to your taste. Then add the cream cheese and half a cup of the half-and-half or heavy cream, again adding more to your taste. Mash until there are no more lumps.

Taste and season with salt and pepper, taking care not to under-salt.

Stir well and add to a medium sized baking dish. Top with a few pats of butter and put it in the fridge, covered, until you’re ready to bake it.

If you’re eating it right away, just bake at 350 until the butter on top is melted and the potatoes are warmed through. If you’re making ahead of time, take it out of the fridge an hour or two before your meal and heat for 25 to 30 minutes at the same temperature.

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Chopping the potatoes into smaller pieces hastens the cooking time. Half or at the most quartered should do it, otherwise they’ll fall apart in the water.

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Using a hand-held potato masher is the only way to go. An electric mixer sometimes makes the potatoes glue-y.

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Make sure you’ve set the butter out to soften for a bit before mixing it into the potatoes. I also like to leave the half-and-half and cream cheese out for a few minutes to come closer to room temperature before using.

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Make sure you taste before putting the potatoes into your baking dish to make sure they’ve been salted enough!

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Yum.

Recipes

Pumpkin Spice Enchiladas

These are very pumpkin-y and taste like Fall (in Mexico)? Super easy and nutritious with a few key ingredient swaps, these make a good weeknight meal when served with veggies (I chose corn) or a salad.

Pumpkin Spice Enchiladas

Ingredients

  • 4 oz. light cream cheese  (about half a small container)
  • 1 1/2 cups pureed pumpkin (fresh or frozen — I used fresh!)
  • heaping TBSP pumpkin butter
  • dash of nutmeg
  • packet of taco seasoning (only need a tablespoon or so, to taste)
  • 1 can (7 oz.) diced green chilis
  • 1 can (10 oz.) green enchilada sauce, mild
  • 1 can (15.5 oz.) fat free black beans, rinsed
  • 2 cups Mexican blend shredded cheese
  • 1 package whole wheat tortillas (small or large)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 and get out a 9×13 glass baking dish.

In a mixing bowl, combine the pureed pumpkin (use frozen if you don’t have fresh) with the cream cheese (brought to room temperature) and stir to blend. Then, add the taco seasoning mix, chilis, and black beans (rinsed). Stir until just combined. Last, add the pumpkin butter and nutmeg and mix by hand until just blended.

In my opinion, the pumpkin butter really MAKES this dish and gives it the flavor punch it needs to be special. Without it, though, the enchiladas will turn out just fine, so don’t let one ingredient deter you.

Assemble each enchilada one by one, cupping the tortilla in one hand while scooping a few spoons full of the pumpkin mixture into the center, adding cheese on top. You’ll use about half your cheese inside the enchiladas and the rest on top of the dish before it goes into the oven.

Place the tortillas folded-side down in the pan; you can probably squeeze about 7 in one pan. Top them with enchilada sauce, taking a spoon to spread it in between and beneath each one, and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese starts browning. Serve warm.

I made some key choices to keep this healthier: whole wheat tortillas, low-fat shredded cheese, fat free black beans (which I rinsed under cold water to reduce the sodium content), lite cream cheese, and serving this with veggies on the side instead of tortilla chips, and without sour cream (it’s creamy enough already!) I also reduced the amount of cheese I typically bake on top. One of these enchiladas plus a full serving of veggies, like the frozen corn I used here, is a much healthier choice than using “Mexican night” as an excuse to overload on fried chips, fatty condiments and beer!

If you liked this, check out my butternut squash enchiladas, and my spinach-ricotta enchiladas — two more vegetarian options that are just as easy and delicious.

Uncategorized

Melted Zucchini Pasta

OK. Last zucchini post of the year, I promise. This recipe is great for a couple reasons: Number one, it’s easy; and number two, it’s a new take on zucchini that’s perfect for when your tolerance is growing thin (like at the end of the summer). Simmering the diced zucchini over medium heat for half an hour lets it fall apart into an earthy, nutty paste that you’ll mix with some starchy pasta cooking water to form a simple yet satisfying sauce. It’s great for the transitional weather between summer and fall.

Melted Zucchini Pasta

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. pasta, especially something that grips sauce well
  • 2 large zucchini, diced very small
  • olive oil for the pan
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • freshly shaved parmesan
  • optional: cream cheese to thicken the sauce (or omit for dairy-free)
I tried Giada’s Fusilli Col Buco, which is a corkscrew shaped pasta that’s twice as long as spaghetti (doubled over in the package). “Col buco” means “with a hole,” and it refers to the way these coils look as if you could stick a straw right through the “hole” in the spirals. I really liked this product.

Directions

In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, toss the zucchini and olive oil and cook, stirring frequently, until it begins to brown and fall apart (20-30 minutes, depending on how small you diced the zucchini).

Meanwhile, heat a large pot of water until boiling. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, or just underdone.

Add at least one cup of the starchy pasta water to the zucchini when it’s getting near done; let come to a boil. Stir and add more water as necessary to create a creamy sauce. Drain the pasta and add to the zucchini mixture with a healthy dose of salt and pepper, and cook over medium-low until combined.

If you’re using the cream cheese, stir in now while it’s still warm. Otherwise, top with a liberal dose of freshly shaved parmesan cheese and serve warm.

This recipe came my way from Real Life Delicious. Enjoy!

CSA 2011 · Recipes

Butternut Squash enchiladas

Enchiladas are fast becoming one of my top go-to meals when I’m out of inspiration. These are more of a fall dish, since they make use of butternut squash, which is fresh in season during October and November. But I actually think it’s easier to use pureed frozen squash here anyway, especially for a weeknight dinner. Next time I make it, I’m going to try pureed pumpkin since I preserved so much from my CSA this fall!

Ingredients

  • 1 package frozen butternut squash (about 12 ounces), or 2-3 cups fresh
  • 1 can of black beans
  • cream cheese (about 6 ounces), either plain or Philly Sante Fe Cooking Creme
  • 1 can of green chilis
  • 1 packet taco seasoning mix (2-3 teaspoons, to your taste)
  • 1 package flour tortillas (you’ll need about six)
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (I use cheddar or Mexican blend)
  • 1 can enchilada sauce
  • optional: cumin to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 and prepare a glass baking dish with your choice of cooking spray.

Meanwhile, mix together the butternut squash and cream cheese in a medium sized bowl. Once blended, add in the chilis, taco seasoning mix and beans, and stir.

To assemble the enchiladas, cup a flour tortilla in the palm of one hand, and scoop the squash mixture into the middle, spreading evenly. Sprinkle with shredded cheese.

Roll the tortilla up into a tube, and place face down (so the seam is on the bottom) in your glass pan. Repeat until you’ve fit all you can into the baking dish.

Spoon the enchilada sauce on top, taking care to get it down between the edges and all around the tortillas so they don’t burn while they’re cooking. Sprinkle some cheese on top before placing into the oven.

Bake for at least 30 minutes — it may take up to 40 depending on your oven — and remove when the cheese has browned.

This is a great vegetarian option for Mexican food. Serve with a salad, re-fried beans, spicy rice, a big dollop of extra sour cream, whatever!

 If you liked this recipe, check out my spinach ricotta enchiladas!

CSA 2011 · Recipes

RECIPE: Scallion Cream Cheese

This is pretty self-explanatory, but it came out so delicious that I wanted to share the “recipe” anyway.

I get these fabulously enourmous scallions in my CSA almost every week, and I just love finding new ways to use them. When I was a kid we used to get fresh bagels and homemade spreads from a bakery near our house (pretty hard to find that these days in Boston), and scallion cream cheese was so unusual and so satisfying that I’ve always remembered it as a favorite.

Lighter than chive and simpler than veggie, it makes a great bagel topper and I could see dozens of ways to use it beyond that (dip? creamy sauce for pasta? rolled up in place of boursin with chicken cutlets and prosciutto? The list goes on).

I made mine by purchasing a standard package of plain cream cheese at Trader Joe’s, and eyeballing the amount of scallions I snipped in with kitchen shears. But here is a recipe that gives better amounts, which I’ll use as a guideline below.

Ingredients

  • 1 package plain cream cheese (not whipped; lite is OK)
  • 1 bunch scallions (eyeball it depending on their size; about 5 pieces)
  • kosher salt (this is OPTIONAL — I did not salt mine)

Directions

1) Set cream cheese out at room temperature in a mixing bowl.

2) Snip the scallions into small pieces using kitchen shears. Add to the softened cream cheese once it has reached room temp.

3) Mix thoroughly; add more scallion if it looks like there aren’t enough (I like it very scallion-y).

4) Chill for one hour before serving. It tastes best at room temp.

***