Time for Dinner – Setting an Interesting Table

As you can tell by the title of my blog, A Passion for Entertaining, I love to entertain and create memorable dinners. I am always on the search for interesting dishes and serving pieces.  I think the most interesting tables I have set are those with many textures and patterns.  Bold patterns and interesting dishes enhance your table.  What fun it is to set a table with various dishes. Discount home stores, flea markets, estate sales, antique shops are always great places to start.  I have traditional place settings but prefer to switch things up when entertaining;  There is nothing better than expecting the unexpected.  

A few recipes that I have already posted are in the phot:os below:

Warm Caprese Salad – http://apassionforentertaining.com/warm-caprese-salad/

Italian Rolls http://apassionforentertaining.com/italian-rolls/

 

Bacon Pops

What I thought would be a great addition to brunch turned out to be so successful I would add this to any breakfast, brunch or tailgate.  I always knew cooking bacon in the oven when preparing large quantities was easy.  However,  this time I  wanted bacon to be finger food and decided to thread the bacon on a stick.  I cut each piece of thick cut bacon in half, then threaded each piece on a six inch wooden skewer.  Brushed them all with maple syrup (you will see the syrup on the first piece on the top row), then I sprinkled the bacon with a brown sugar,ground  nuts and cayenne mixture.  In the oven it went …

bacon pops 1

 

and out came the most delicious bacon pops…

Bacon pops 3

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A Passion for Entertaining’s Most Viewed Recipe of 2016

I am always interested in the recipe that is viewed the most on my blog.  Peppadew Goat Cheese Appetizer is the most viewed recipe of 2016.  I must admit, it is one of our favorites and evidently it is also a reader favorite.  If you have not tried this appetizer, give it a try, I do not think you will be disappointed, perfect to serve for you New Year’s celebration or while watching your favorite college bowl game.   I wish you all a prosperous New Year, with great friends, great foods, and great finds! 

 

When I was in Atlanta last week, I had an amazing Peppadew appetizer at one of the BBQ restaurants we visited.  It was so good, I came home and  tried my hand at recreating it.  I served my creation this past weekend and all agreed it was delicious. A Peppadew is a sweet piquant pepper grown in the Limpopo province of South Africa.  Interesting how combining a few basic ingredients, you can produce such fantastic results. This appetizer is very unique and if you are not familiar with Peppadews, what a good time to give them a try.  It is very easy to make, you can make this ahead and pop in the oven when your guests arrive.  I served this with water crackers.

peppadew appetizer

 

Rosemary Rolls with Olive Oil and Sea Salt

Recipe #4 – Spartan Olive Oil #EVOOChallenge

These rolls are perfect to serve along side any entrĂ©e, but also would be great as a hamburger roll.  I know that many cooks hesitate to bake bread and use yeast.  This recipe is so easy and the results outstanding that I encourage you to try them.  You simply mix the dough in a large mixing bowl, knead the dough (simply place the dough on a floured surface and gently incorporate the ingredients – check out this site for step-by step instructions http://www.wikihow.com/Knead-Dough)  Then you let the dough rise, shape into round balls, dip in olive oil, let rise again and bake.  The results – you will be a hero in the kitchen!

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The Challenge!

I was contacted by Spartan Oil and asked if I was interested in participating in the Spartan Oil #EVOOChallenge.  Next week, I’m collaborating with other food and healthy living bloggers on this challenge. Stay tuned next week for the creative recipes that have been cooked up.  My challenge is to post one recipe each day, January 18 – 22, using Spartan Olive Oil.  Wait till you see some of the unique recipes I have crafted for this event.  I love the label on their bottle – Bold Oil for Fearless Cooks – how could I not accept that challenge!

spartan oil bottle

A Passion for Entertaining/A Year in Review and Top Five Recipes 2015

I find it hard to believe I have been food blogging for one year.  Here is what year one has taught me:

  1. Follow your passion!  No matter what it is – it will be the most rewarding thing you ever do.
  2. Keep up with every new piece of technology you can get your hands on
  3. Involve your family and friends – I have had the best time involving everyone as my “taste-testers”
  4. Reach out and discover new and exciting things.  I never would have guessed what fun it was to learn about the life cycle of oysters!
  5. Keep reaching for the sky – I am always thrilled when new readers discover my blog and spread the word.  And..thank you to all of my faithful readers.

Now to the fun facts – it is amazing all of the stats I have from my first year. 

Following are my top five recipes according to reader “hits” for 2015.  I thought you might enjoy to see what others are cooking.

Cheers to a fantastic 2016!

A Passion for Entertaining Top Five Recipes 2015

1. Blackberry Cream Cheese Pie

http://apassionforentertaining.com/blackberry-cream-cheese-pie/

apaap

 

2. Vegetable Pasta Salad with Dill Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

http://apassionforentertaining.com/vegetable-pasta-salad-with-lemon-dill-buttermilk-ranch-dressing-vango-salad/

Vegetable Pasta Salad

3. Pasta Primavera

http://apassionforentertaining.com/pasta-primavera/

pasta primavera

4. Chocolate Cloud Cookies

 http://apassionforentertaining.com/chocolate-cloud-cookies/

chocolate cloud cookies

5. Olive Oil Orange Bread

http://apassionforentertaining.com/olive-oil-orange-bread/

olive oil orange bread

 

 

Italian Sausage Soup

Fall days, cool nights – it’s soup time.  I always love making a large batch of soup and freezing leftover soup for those busy days when I just don’t want to cook or time is running short.  I always cook  pasta for soups separately in additional broth.  Then I add the pasta to the soup just prior to serving.  I think the soup is best with fresh cooked pasta added.  When you refrigerate or freeze soup with the pasta added, the pasta absorbs additional liquid and the pasta looses it al dente texture. This soup would also be great with rice or tortellini added.

Italian Sausage Soup

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Easy Chocolate Loaf Cake

I  always shake my head when I think about cake mixes.  I cannot think of one good reason to purchase a cake mix.  I especially do not like the preservatives that are added into any prepared foods including cake mixes.  Check out the ingredient list below of a popular dark chocolate cake mix.

Sugar, Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour (Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Vegetable Oil Shortening (Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Propylene Glycol Mono- And Diesters Of Fats, Mono- And Diglycerides), Cocoa Powder Processed With Alkali, Dextrose, Leavening (Sodium Bicarbonate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate, Monocalcium Phosphate). Contains 2% Or Less Of: Wheat Starch, Salt, Polyglycerol Esters Of Fatty Acids, Cellulose Gum, Xanthan Gum

My recipe below is so easy to make and uses such basic ingredients, there is not reason to not make a cake from scratch.  This is so easy, I hope you agree.

chocolate loaf cake

 

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Apple Slices with Caramel Rum Dip

Looking for a sweet alternate to a traditional dessert. Apple Slices with Caramel Rum Dip will be the perfect choice. This is my go to easy to make caramel sauce. I add a splash of Dark Jamaican Rum after cooking and it is just delicious with apple slices. This sauce is so easy to prepare and so much better than the purchased variety in the plastic containers.  You could also serve with crushed pecans to dip the apple slices in after the caramel coating.

apple with rum dip

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