Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Year in Review - Nibbly Style
Part I

Can you believe it's the last weekend in 2007? This year has flown by and it seems like just yesterday I was celebrating my 1-year anniversary of starting 28 Cooks last January. As I mentioned in my last post, I've had so much to be thankful for this year.

There's nothing I love more than entertaining guests. I've always said that if I were to write a cookbook, I'd do an entertaining one full of recipes that would be perfect for serving at cocktail or tapas parties. I thought I'd take a look back at the year and highlight some of my favorite appetizer and nibbly recipes. Stop back by tomorrow for Part II!

*This is also part of the Best of 2007 round-up hosted by One Hot Stove. Be sure to visit the website for the official round-up and see the best of the food blogging world!

Lemon Pepper Glazed Cashews
January's best nibblies were definitely the glazed nut trio. Although the Lemon Pepper Cashews were my favorite, the Chili Chai Walnuts and the Jasmine Tea and Ginger Glazed Almonds were right up there.

Lemon  & Green Tea Granola II
Lemon and Green Tea Granola was my favorite recipe of February. I love homemade granola, especially since I can control how much fat and sweetener I add to the recipe. This one is quick, easy, and tasty to boot! And although it isn't a recipe, this was the month of the "Behind the Apron" round-up which was a great opportunity to see the chefs behind some great food blogs.

Potato and Cauliflower "Samosas" with Tamarind Mint Chutney
A great recipe for entertaining are the Baked Potato and Cauliflower "Samosas" with Tamarind Mint Chutney. You can make a large batch of these ahead of time, freeze them, and then cook as needed for entertaining. The chutney is also fantastic, either served with these samosas or with anything else.

Green Chile and Coconut Chutney II
I love recipes that can be used a million different ways, like this Green Chile and Coconut Chutney. It's great served with tortilla chips and would probably make an excellent topper for a few other things. Another great snack food is the Micro-popcorn. I was so enchanted when I discovered that you can make popcorn this way. Although I think it's best with hot sauce, it's fantastic with almost any seasoning you throw in the bag.

Plantain and Queso Fresco Puff Pastry Spirals with Roasted Tomatillo and Parsley Cream
What started out as a challenge ended in a fantastic recipe. The Plantain and Queso Fresco Puff Pastry Spirals would be perfect to serve at a cocktail party and aren't your normal pig-in-a-blanket. The roasted tomatillo and parsley cream is great served with the spirals, but is absolutely fantastic by itself. It's a great dip for chips or spread on a sandwich or wrap.

Basil Habanero Pesto
I'm in love with this Basil Habanero Pesto. I love all things spicy and all things pesto, so the combination of the two is perfect. Although it's not for the faint of heart, it's delicious if you're a lover of spicy foods. Another great nibbly to serve at your next party would be the Warm Cannellini Bean Bruschetta. It's full of flavor and has a great fresh taste. It's guaranteed to be a hit!

Tomorrow I'll be ringing in the New Year at a sushi making party. Although none of us have actually made sushi before, we're all fairly confident in our cooking abilities and are hoping it all comes out well. I'll let you know how it goes. If you are so inclined, leave me a comment with how you'll be spending the holiday.
See you tomorrow with the rest!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas To All!!

You know, it's been a great year. Although there were some bumps in the road, I can't help but be grateful for everything and everyone that's been a part of my life this year.

As most of my readers know, I lost a very dear and close friend not too long ago. And although it's been hard and there are still days I can't believe she's gone, losing her has taught me to cherish the loved ones I still have and to take the time to tell them before it's too late. Although she wasn't at my birthday celebration as she had wanted to be, I was surrounded by people that love me and that truly care for me, and that's what I'm most thankful for.

This time of the season, the hustle and bustle of shopping, opening gifts, and attending Christmas parties can sometimes overshadow the true meaning of Christmas. It's crucial that we take a moment, look at all that we've been blessed with, and say thanks to those who help enrich our lives on a daily basis.

For part of my schooling this semester, I spent a few hours volunteering at a soup kitchen as well as a women's emergency shelter. Being there was such a huge dose of reality for me, and it was impossible to not feel grateful for all that I've been blessed with.

This holiday season, I wish you all the best and a season full of love, joy, hope, and peace.

Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Cranberry Jalapeno Spread

You can breathe easy now - I'm back. Finals have been handled, the 30th birthday was a grand success (more on that later), and it feels great to be back in the kitchen. And it's not a shade too soon - the holiday is right around the corner!

I wanted to make something different but I really had no idea what I was looking for. I was digging through my refrigerator when I discovered a bag of cranberries I had picked up on a whim a week or two ago. I didn't want to make the traditional cranberry spread, so I thought I'd try something new.

This spread would work in so many ways. The slight sweetness is accented by the little kick of the jalapeno*. It would be perfect on a bagel with cream cheese or spread over goat cheese on a cracker. If you're of the carnivore variety, this would be perfect for basting a pork roast. Heck, it's good enough to eat by itself by the spoonful! It would also make a great gift for a foodie or keep it all for yourself. No matter how you use it, I can guarantee you'll find it to be a perfect little holiday treat.

*On the 28 Cooks' Hot-O-Meter, this ranks a very low 1 out of 5. If you're looking for more of a punch, add another jalapeno.

Cranberry Jalapeno Spread

Cranberry Jalapeno Spread
Makes 2 cups

1 (12 oz) bag fresh cranberries
1 c brown sugar
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of allspice

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer uncovered for 20-30 minutes until thick. Remove from heat and cool. Serve and enjoy!