Sunday, December 26, 2010

Ah, the holidays!

I'm spending my end-of-the-year vacation in Michigan with Bobby and I'm having the best time ever! Our main activity during the week was "hunting" for Xmas gifts in the midst of rush hour, but we still managed to have lots of fun! On Xmas eve we went to his sister's house for dinner with the rest of the family and yesterday, Xmas day, we had a nice day at home with his kids, opening Santa's presents and being lazy for the most part of the rest of the day! :)

For dinner at Susie's place I was looking for appetizer recipes that could go well with Manhattans (the family's favorite cocktail) and something to end the meal on a sweet note . . .

Found an appetizer recipe on Southern Living (November 2003 issue) called "Cranberry-Cheese Box", but modified it and created my own version:

Susy's Rhubarb-Cheese Spread

  • 3/4 cup shallots, finely minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon McCormick's Black & Red Pepper Blend
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1-8 oz. container Chive & Onion Philadelphia Cream Cheese Spread
  • 1 cup Hellmann's Mayonnaise
  • 4 tablespoons Daisy Light Sour Cream
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
  • Zest from 1 orange
  • 1 cup dried cherries, finely chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon McCormick's Black & Red Pepper Blend
  • 1-10 oz. block Kraft's Cracker Barrel Natural Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated
  • 1-7 oz. block Kraft's Natural Reduced Fat Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated
  • 5 oz. rhubarb marmalade (I used more or less half of a 9.5 oz. container of American Spoon's Rhubarb Marmalade)
  • Garnishes: whole toasted pecans and dried cherries
  • Crackers

Fry shallots in vegetable oil until they are translucent, about 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and thyme. Set aside until cooled to room temperature. In a big bowl mix together cream cheese, mayonnaise and sour cream. Add pecans, orange zest and dried cherries. Season with salt and pepper. Add grated cheeses and mix well. Spoon mixture into an 8- x 8- x 115/32-inch square foil pan. Cover and chill 8 hours (or up to two days). Unmold and spoon rhubarb marmalade on top; garnish, if desired. Serve with crackers.


I must admit that I was greatly impressed with own my creation, especially since I also got rave reviews from everyone at the party! :)

Now, for the "sweet note" at the end of the meal, I went with the "Dulce de Leche Coffee" from "The Pioneer Woman Cooks" site. I adapted the ingredients to what I was able to find at the store. All I can say is . . . you've got to try it! It's simply yummy!!! :)

Dulce de Leche Coffee

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Servings: 6

  • 4 cups strongly brewed good coffee (bought a 12 oz. package of "Folgers Gourmet Selections Chocolate Truffle Ground Coffee")
  • 6 ounces, fluid “dulce de leche” (bought a 15.8 oz. bottle of "Nestle La Lechera Dulce de Leche"
  • 6 tablespoons Kahlua—more if preferred! (bought a bottle of "Sabroso Licor de Café"—imported from Mexico)
  • 1 cup heavy cream (instead of making my own whipped cream, I bought a 7 oz. can of "Extra Creamy Reddi-wip whipped topping" . . . if you do this, omit the next ingredient, sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons chocolate, grated (bought a 3.5 oz. bar of "Lindt Excellence Intense Orange Dark Chocolate")

Add Dulce de Leche to the very hot coffee; stir until completely dissolved and combined. Keep coffee hot. Combine cream with sugar and whip until stiff. Add 1 tablespoon Kahlua to each coffee cup. May add 1 1/2 if desired, or may add whiskey or brandy in addition. Pour the coffee/dulce de leche mixture into each glass. Top with a heaping tablespoon whipped cream and grated chocolate of your choice. Absolutely sinful!

Note: Dulce de Leche is sold in the Hispanic aisle of supermarkets, or in Hispanic specialty markets. It is sold in solid 15 ounce blocks, or in cans or bottles in more of a liquid form. You can also find recipes for making your own Dulce de Leche using sweetened condensed milk. Yum!


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