Friday, December 11, 2009

Where've You Been?

Last Sunday I hosted my 6th annual Cookie Exchange. We each baked and brought 6 dozen cookies to exchange. I had a new Christmas Jeopardy PowerPoint, a Christmas Duets mix for the gals to guess who was singing, and refreshments. We had a great time! Twelve of my girlfriends came to the party so we had 156 cookies to swap. Then, on Monday we had a cookie exchange at work; I made 3 dozen cookies for that exchange. All together, I made about 15 dozen cookies this year: 9 dozen to exchange, I burned 2 dozen (and threw them away), and we had about 4 dozen in the house. We're a little cookied-out around here.

I made four different cookie recipes this year. There were Cinnamon-Spiced Hot Chocolate Cookies, Crisp Chocolate Chip with Dried Cherries and Pistachios, Pistachio Sandwich Cookies with Fig Filling, and Oatmeal Pecan Lace Cookies. All were yummy! I swapped the Hot Chocolate and Chocolate Chip cookies at my cookie exchange and the Pistachio Sandwich cookies at the work cookie exchange. I took some of the Oatmeal cookies to the trivia game we went to last weekend too.

The Pistachio Sandwich cookies are my favorite; the original recipe calls for cherry preserves and I made them that way the first time I baked them. However, I like them best with the fig filling. I also used a Christmas Tree cookie cutter so they looked kind of neat. Also, the oatmeal pecan cookies are incredibly easy to make and a real crowd pleaser! I will make all of the cookie recipes again.

For refreshments I made:
Wind & Willow White Chocolate Cherry Cheeseball served with Club crackers honey wheat snack sticks
Brie & Pepper Jelly Shots served with crostini from the Dierbergs 2009 Holiday Idea Book
Salami won tons (roll salami up in won tons, secure with a toothpick and bake until browned - 400 F about 18-20 minutes)
Cheese Tortellini salad (the Mediterranean Orzo salad with cheese tortellini instead of Orzo - see September 13th)
Fresh Veggies (cucumber, carrots, bell peppers, and grape tomatoes)
Fiesta Ranch Dip
Hot Crab, Spinach, and Artichoke Dip
- look on page 13
Crunchmaster original crackers (love these - and they're gluten free!)
and Super Stuffing Stuffed Mushrooms

My sister, Cindy, brought Pomegranate Martinis (page 17) over. Boy were they YUMMY! Everyone really enjoyed those.

I got the stuffed mushrooms recipe from a Healthy Cooking Showcase hosted by the University of Illinois Extension that I attended in November. I've made them twice now; they're really easy to make and people really like them. Here's the recipe:

Super Stuffing Stuffed Mushrooms
20 large white button mushrooms, stems removed
1 cup leftover stuffing
1/4 cup grate Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil

1-Preheat oven to 400 F. On a lightly greased baking sheet, bake the mushroom caps, stem sides down, for 10 minutes.
2-Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the stuffing, Parmesan cheese, parsley, garlic, and olive oil. Flip the mushroom caps over and mound the stuffing into each one.
3-Bake until the mushrooms are tender and the stuffing is golden, about 20 minutes.

Yield: 10 servings (2 mushrooms per serving)
You can prepare these a day in advance and they are microwavable.

So, that's what was on the table last week. This weekend I plan to make:
Carrot-Parsnip Latkes
Baby Summer Squash Medley from Whole Foods that I'll steam
and Spinach & Cheese Stuffed Portobello Caps

I got the latkes recipe from my Weight Watchers meeting this week. We all received a small weekly magazine that's new. It's more like a little brochure.

The latkes call for:
3/4 lb carrots, peeled
3/4 lb parsnips, peeled
1 small onion, peeled
3 large egg whites, lightly beaten OR 1/3 cup fat-free egg substitute
1/4 cup all-purpose flour OR plain dried bread crumbs
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp coarsely ground black pepper

1-Set a rack on a large baking sheet and place in the oven. Preheat the oven to 200 F. Coarsely grate the carrots, parsnips, and onion into a medium bowl; stir to combine. Add the egg whites, flour, thyme, salt, and pepper; mix well.
2-Spray a large nonstick skillet with nonstick spray and set over medium heat. Drop the mixture by 1/4 cupfuls into the hot skillet to make 4 mounds. Press each mound into a 3-inch pancake. Cook until browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes per side. Transfer the latkes to the oven and keep warm. Repeat with the remaining mixture.

Yield: 8 servings (2 latkes per serving) for 1 point per serving.

I'll let you know how it all turns out.

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