I am a great fan of picnics. I think it dates back to when I first met my husband and we lived in Northern Michigan. Beautiful parks and lakes were abundant and we always packed a picnic and headed out to explore the area. A great picnic can consist of a run to the deli and a great bottle of wine or a few make ahead specialties that you can prepare in advance and serve cold or at room temperature. This Caramelized Onion Tart is picnic perfect. You can make early in the day and it is easy to transport. I like to pack a bottle of good balsamic vinegar to drizzle on just prior to serving.
Caramelized Onion Tart
- Onion Topping
- 5 red onions, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 1/2 - 3/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
- Balsamic vinegar
- Filling -In a large skillet melt the butter and the olive oil. Add the onions. Cook over medium high heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the thyme, salt and pepper (to taste) and sugar. Reduce heat to medium low and cook and additional 20 minutes, stir frequently. Remove from heat and cool.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Crust-In a medium bowl combine the dry ingredients. Add the milk, olive oil and butter. Mix until all is incorporated. Place dough on a floured surface and knead a few times. Roll into a rectangle approximately 10 x 14 inches. Place on a baking sheet.
- Cover with onion filling. Sprinkle with goat cheese.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Remove and cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into squares.
- If desired, drizzle with balsamic vinegar when serving.
The name explains it all – the pizza toppings are on the bottom and the crust is on top. You can add or substitute any pizza ingredients that you like. You simply pour over the crust batter and as it bakes it puffs and turns golden brown. Perfect to serve with a salad for a casual dinner.
Upside Down Pizza
- 1 pound bulk Italian sausage, mild or hot
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 oz. can sliced black olives, sliced
- 1 cup pizza or marinara sauce
- 1/2 pound sliced mushrooms
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 10 oz. sliced mozzarella cheese
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- In a large skillet, crumble sausage and cook over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, stirring frequently until sausage is cooked and onion is transparent. Drain sausage mixture and return to skillet. Add olives, sauce, mushrooms, green pepper, and heat until bubbly. Pour into an ungreased 9 x 13 inch pan. Top with sliced mozzarella slices.
- In a blender, blend milk, eggs, milk, oil, flour and salt until smooth. Pour mixture evenly over mozzarella. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
- Bake uncovered in a 400 degree oven until the crust is puffed and golden brown about 25 minutes. Serve immediately.
You will find many versions of spiced nuts when shopping, how great it is to make your own in under ten minutes. These peanuts are a little salty, a little sweet, and a little spicy. They are quick to prepare and as the name says, perfect to serve along side your favorite cocktail.
- 3/4 cup dry roasted peanuts
- 1/2 tablespoon butter
- 1 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon. curry powder
- In a heavy frying pan, melt butter and mix in brown sugar and curry powder. Stir in peanuts and cook for 3 - 4 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until the nuts are coated. Cool on foil, separating the nuts with a fork. Store in a covered jar.
Recipe #1 in the Spartan Oil #EVOOChallenge.
When challenged to create recipes using Spartan Oil Olive, I took the challenge with no hesitation. I use their olive oil in many of my recipes and always find the results outstanding. When testing these recipes, we hosted a party for eight, all of our guests serving as my “taste testers”. This proved to be a wonderful evening of great food, olive oil discussions and candid comments. As the week progresses, you will see my other EVOO challenge recipes.
Looking for a make ahead appetizer that you can make up to one week in advance? This appetizer is perfect with a great glass of wine or a cocktail. Serve the marinated cheese on crackers or baguette slices. If you have any leftover, you can refrigerate and it will be terrific in other recipes. Here are a few ideas: mix with warm pasta and roasted vegetables for a terrific pasta dish, spread on baguette slices and broil until bubbly or put the goat cheese in an oven safe ramekin and top with sun-dried tomatoes and bake in a 350 degree oven until melted, serve with crackers.
Olive OIl Marinated Goat Cheese
- 2 logs of goat cheese, sliced in 1/2 inch slices
- 1 cup Spartan Olive Oil
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon fresh ground mixed peppercorns
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh thyme
- 1 large clove of garlic, slivered
- 3 tablespoons fresh basil, slivered
- Sliced baguette
- Place goat cheese in a serving dish with one inch sides. In a small saucepan, over medium-high heat, heat oil, bay leaves, pepper, and thyme until it sizzles. Pour hot oil over goat cheese. Sprinkle garlic and basil over cheese. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bring to room temperature prior to serving. Serve with baguette slices.
- Marinated goat cheese may be stored up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
I don’t know about you but this is one exciting time of year – the football playoffs. Yes, if you know me well, you know that I am an avid fan and especially loyal to one Midwest NFL team. With the Super Bowl just weeks away and play-off games going on now – I thought it was time to post my Game Day Wing recipe. You can serve these with or without the classic ranch dressing on the side. If you like your wings “hotter”, just step up the amount of red pepper you add. These will definitely put you in the game day mood. Cheers for those pigskins!
Game Day Wings
- 16 chicken wings, cut apart
- 1 1/2 cups ketchup
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place wings on baking sheets, salt and pepper both sides of the wings. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over wings. Bake for 60 - 70 minutes, turning every 10 minutes. Remove from the oven when the wings are glazed and the meat is falling off the bones.
This is one of my favorite make ahead appetizer recipes. This recipe can be made in advance and refrigerated up to 10 days. This vegetarian pate is delicious served with water crackers. Perfect to serve during the holidays.
Kitchen tip of the day – Ever wonder how to clean mushrooms?
How to Clean Mushrooms: the Wiping Method
- Using a damp paper towel, gently wipe away any visible dirt or grit, working with one mushroom at a time. Use a soft brush or fold a paper towel into a tip to gently remove any debris from delicate gills.
How to Clean Mushrooms (Except Morels): the Rinsing Method
- Mushrooms with a significant amount of dirt, or those that contain grit in hard-to-reach places, may be lightly and quickly rinsed with cool water. Contact with water should be kept to a minimum to avoid waterlogged mushrooms that won’t brown nicely or readily take on seasoning. Read more : http://www.ehow.com/how_1352_clean-mushrooms.html
- 1 lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon dry sherry
- 4 oz. semi-soft herb and garlic cheese (I use Boursin brand)
- 4 oz. cream cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Saute mushrooms in butter and sherry until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed. This will take approx. 5 - 10 minutes. Combine mushroom mixture, cheeses, and salt in a food processor or blender. Blend thoroughly until mushrooms are finely chopped. Pour into a serving bowl. Refrigerate at least 3 hours prior to serving. Serve at room temperature with crackers.
My featured recipe in CEO Magazine for December is Hot Cheese Puffs – you can check out the recipe in this month’s issue of CEO Magazine ( I have pasted the link below); I have also posted the recipe below. .
I can attribute my cooking skills and entertaining skills to my mother. She was an amazing cook with a flair for entertaining. I remember my parents hosting large parties throughout the holiday season. One of the things my mother was a master of was preparing things in advance. This enables you to enjoy your holiday party with the prep work complete. Hot Cheese Puffs was one of her go-to recipes. I think you will agree these are quick to prepare, store in the freezer and then bake when you need them. They are like eating a cube of bread dipped in the most luscious fondue.
Hot Cheese Puffs
1 loaf French bread
1 – 3 oz. package cream cheese
¼ lb. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
4 ounces of butter (1/2 cup)
2 eggs whites, beaten stiff
Remove crust from French bread and cut into 1” cubes. In a medium saucepan, melt butter, cream cheese and cheddar cheese over medium low heat, stirring frequently. When creamy, carefully fold in beaten egg whites. Dip cubes into mixture and place on a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze. When frozen, place in a plastic bag and store in the freezer. When ready to serve – preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bake puffs for approx. 8 minutes until puffed and golden.
Looking for the perfect condiment to serve along side your turkey? Or are you looking for the perfect appetizer to serve over the holidays? Spiced Cranberry Chutney is perfect to have in your refrigerator and ready to serve. I am going to serve this as a condiment on a cheese board with brie cheese, manchego cheese and grapes. Serve crackers along side and you have a quick, easy, delicious and beautiful appetizer or spice up a turkey sandwich with a generous amount of chutney. This recipe is easy to prepare and can be refrigerated for 3 weeks and is always ready to serve.
Spiced Cranberry Chutney
- 1 14 oz. can whole berry cranberry sauce
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup apple, finely diced and peeled
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally until apples are tender and the chutney has thickened slightly, approximately 30 minutes.
I am a fan of goat cheese and use it every chance I get on salads, pizzas, main dishes and appetizers. This appetizer is a real winner! Warm goat cheese topped with vegetables and served on plain water crackers. Get the cocktails ready – it is time to party!
Goat Cheese Appetizer with Vegetables
- 1 goat cheese log
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Sea Salt
- Fresh cracked pepper
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 cup mushrooms, chopped (I use Baby Bella mushrooms)
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
- Sundried tomatoes in oil, slivered
- Fresh baby spinach
- Grape tomatoes, halved
- Fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Place goat cheese log on a serving platter and place in oven for approx. 20 minutes or until warmed through.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring balsamic vinegar to a boil and reduce until it reaches a syrup like consistency, about 3 - 5 minutes.
- In a medium saucepan, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil, add chopped mushrooms, season with salt, pepper and rosemary: sear until brown.
- Turn heat down and add the sundried tomatoes and minced garlic. Add a couple of handfuls of spinach and basil leaves and toss with tongs until wilted. Add grape tomato halves and warm for 2 minutes.
- Remove cheese from oven, top with spinach mixture. Drizzle with olive oil, reduced balsamic vinegar and a little reserved oil from sundried tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with plain crackers or crostini.