Cook's Corner

Published 3:49 am Monday, December 19, 2005

By Staff
Grazing is what my mother calls it. It's that thing we do at a party when the hostess has prepared an array of wonderful appetizers.
At this time of year, it's pretty typical of folks to make a meal of appetizers. I know that I have and most certainly will do that during the coming few weeks. I love a party and the party foods associated with holidays of any kind. Christmas is no exception.
The usual things you see at holiday parties contain lots and lots and lots of fat. Most recipes call for some sort of cheese (who can celebrate Christmas without at least one block of cream cheese?), sour cream, mayonnaise - well, you know what I mean.
I've eaten enough cheese dips, cheese balls and sour cream based dip for chips of all kinds, to give anyone a heart attack. Even so, I intend to consume even more this holiday season.
I'll bet you've attended parties where a bowl of warm, melted cheese, a crock-pot full of barbecued meatballs, and a wide array of chips, dips, salsas, pimento cheese sandwiches and the like have left you hungry for something different. If that's the case, this week's recipes may be part of what you need.
This first dip/spread is certainly not one I've seen at any part where I've been a guest. It sounds a little out of the ordinary and certainly sounds easy to prepare (and I love the name!).
Hot Jezebel
1 (12 ounce) jar apricot preserves
2 tsp. prepared horseradish
2 tbsps. Dijon-style prepared mustard
Ground black pepper to taste
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
In a medium-size bowl, combine apricot preserves, horseradish, mustard and black pepper. Taste the mixture and add more horseradish, mustard, and pepper to taste. Cover and chill this mixture overnight. When ready to serve, place the cream cheese on a serving plate and pour the apricot mixture over the cream cheese. Serve with a basket of your favorite crackers.
If you are searching for a warm dip, this one should fill the bill. Preparing Buffalo-style hot wings for a crowd can be time consuming and expensive. This recipe will give everyone the same taste, but without all that grease and piles of bones.
Buffalo Chicken Dip
2 (10 ounce) cans chunk chicken, drained
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup Ranch dressing
Three-fourth cup pepper sauce (Tabasco)
1 one-half cups shredded Cheddar cheese
Heat chicken and hot sauce in a skillet over medium heat, until heated through. Stir in cream cheese and ranch dressing. Cook, stirring until well blended and warm. Mix in half of the shredded cheese, and transfer the mixture to a slow cooker. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top, cover, and cook on low setting until hot and bubbly. Serve with celery sticks and crackers.
I'm sure I'll be making that one at least once during the holiday season. My family loves hot wings, but I hate all the mess and time involved in preparing them. This one has got to be a winner.
OK, I'll admit it. I have two of the miniature cupcake pans (also called mini tarts). I've only used them a couple of times, but never used them for the purpose as they were intended. It's usually just for mini muffins or mini cupcakes. This recipe gives me another reason to use those pushed-to-the-back of the shelf pans.
Jalapeno Pie Mini Tarts
1 (16 ounce) jar sliced jalapeno peppers
1 (8 ounce) package shredded Monterey Jack cheese
6 eggs, beaten
1 tbsp. dried parsley
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease or spray mini tart pans with non-stick spray. Place one or two slices (or desired amount) of jalapenos in tart pans. Cover with Monterey Jack cheese. Fill almost to the top with egg. Sprinkle with parsley. Bake in the preheated oven 10 minutes, or until firm and lightly browned. Cool 1 to 2 minutes before removing from tart pans.
This next recipe is also a little different from anything I've served or been served at parties. Salmon is relatively inexpensive and how can you go wrong pairing it with cream cheese?
Pecan Salmon Roll
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 green onion, minced
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp. prepared horseradish
One-fourth tsp. cayenne pepper
1 (14.75 ounce) can salmon, drained and flaked
One-half cup chopped pecans
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
In a medium bowl, beat together cream cheese, green onion, lemon juice, horseradish, and cayenne. Fold in salmon until well blended. Cover, and chill in the refrigerator at least 2 hours. Shape the cream cheese and salmon mixture into a log, approximately 8 inches long. Roll log in pecans and parsley to coat. Refrigerate until serving.
I love olives. I told you that most recipes have a lot of fat in them. Olives are a high fat food as well - but it's the good kind.
Baked Cheese Olives
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
2 tbsp. butter, softened
One-half cup all-purpose flour
One-eighth tsp. cayenne pepper
24 pimento-stuffed green olives
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drain olives well and pat dry with paper towels. In a small mixing bowl, combine cheese and butter or margarine. Stir flour and cayenne pepper into the cheese and butter mixture. Blend well. Wrap a tablespoon of dough around each green olive. Arrange the wrapped olives on a cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
I certainly hope that your holidays are filled with friends and family sharing good times and good food.
Until next week, Happy Cooking!!!

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