Recently my friend Jeffrey bragged about an amazing appetizer — cream-cheese-stuffed, bacon-wrapped grilled jalapeños — he had made for a party. Never one to be outdone, I decided immediately to make bacon-wrapped cheese-filled jalapeños that were better than his. After scouring the Internet for the perfect recipe, I chose one from Food Network because it incorporates sun-dried tomatoes and fresh basil in the cream cheese mixture.
The resulting appetizer is wildly delicious, intensely spicy, and downright addictive. The most difficult part is removing the seeds from the jalapeños without cutting the entire pepper in half. For best results I recommend using a sharp paring knife and small spoon. To look at the recipe, read more
Recently I participated in a "quickfire challenge." I was asked to concoct an amuse-bouche for 20 people. However, I didn't know anything about the group I was feeding, so the bite had to be vegetarian with universally liked ingredients. It had to be easily transportable, something that could be made in advance, and was representative of my cooking personality. The kitchen where I was to prepare the appetizer has a microwave and small toaster oven.
After much deliberation, I finally decided to make these Spanish olive and cream cheese canapes because the three components — crisp toasts, a cream cheese mixture, and grated Parmesan cheese — were easy to prepare the night before the challenge. Luckily my hard work paid off: the final result was excellent! The one-bite toasts were crisp, salty, cheesy, and delicious. They would be a scrumptious start to a cocktail party or romantic dinner. Learn how to make them when you read more
Don't knock it 'til you've tried it: Cream cheese smothered in pepper jelly and served with crackers is an easy and irresistible party appetizer. (Seriously, try it for Super Bowl.) Left with a deliciously sweet and spicy jar of Tabasco jelly from a recent gathering, I assembled an adult rendition of the old-school kiddie combo of cream cheese and jam.
As a nod to childhood bagged lunches, I cut the crusts off the bread for a sandwich as pretty as it is simple. Decadent and gooey, the pepper jelly has just the right amount of spice, which is gracefully cut by the creamy spread. I also threw in some baby romaine leaves to create a festive color palette of orange, white, and green and to add a bit of extra texture. The only danger of this sandwich is that I could easily eat five in one sitting. To get the recipe and step-by-step photos, read more
Instead of hosting a crazy party on New Year's Eve, invite friends and family over for a decadent lunch on Jan. 1. Begin the soirée in the early afternoon (around 2:30) to allow late-night partygoers plenty of time to recover. Serve a menu that is rich, satisfying, and luxurious.
Start with caviar on brioche toasts with creme fraiche. Slice smoked salmon and cream cheese frittata into bite-size pieces and serve as appetizers. Have guests sit down to a creamy leek and potato soup paired with a simple salad of mixed greens dressed with champagne vinaigrette.
This menu would also make a delightful first day of the year dinner. To check out the recipes, read more
When it comes to buttering my bread or baking, I'm a huge fan of Earth Balance natural margarine. It's cholesterol free, low in saturated fat, and dairy free. I just discovered that Earth Balance makes Cream Cheese. Yes it's made with milk, so it's not some vegan alternative, but it's made with rBST-free milk and it's supposed to be a healthier version of mainstream cream cheese.
To see how the two types of cream cheeses compare read more
Last week I was asked to make a sweet contribution to BabySugar's baby shower. Since the shower was a surprise, I decided what kind of cake to make. Filled with Fall flavors, this pumpkin cake with pecan brittle and whipped cream-cheese frosting is to die for. The cake is moist, rich, and delicious. The crisp pecan brittle provides a snappy texture while the creamy frosting is not overly sugary. This cake was a huge success at the party and it was devoured in mere minutes. On a Thanksgiving table it would be a festive alternative to the classic pumpkin pie. To look at the recipe, read more
In the height of good weather, food and festivity abound, and right about now, I'm wishing I could teleport myself around the United States. First I'd hit up Manhattan for Wine 2.0's wine sampling this week, followed by the Shrimp & Grits Festival in Georgia, and then some classic Eli's cheesecake in the Windy City. Don't miss out on these events — if you do, you'll have to wait another year!
- New York, NY: The StarChefs Rising Stars Revue New York — Sept. 16
- New York, NY: Epicurious Wine.Dine.Donate New York — Sept. 17
- New York, NY: Wine 2.0 New York — Sept. 18
- Atlantic City, NJ: Celebrity Chef Tour Atlantic City — Sept. 18
- Shawnee-on-Delaware, PA: Delaware River Food & Wine Festival — Sept. 18-21
- Nappanee, IN: Nappanee Apple Festival — Sept. 18-21
- La Crescent, MN: Applefest 08 — Sept. 18-21
- Leavenworth, WA: Wenatchee River Salmon Festival — Sept. 18-21
To see the rest, read more
Cupcakes are one of my favorite things, so I thought I'd died and gone to heaven when I saw Renees3's recipe. She starts with chocolate cupcakes, stuffs them with a white chocolate filling, ices them with a cream cheese frosting, and tops them off with a drizzling of seedless raspberry sauce.
When Renees3 couldn't find an adequate cupcake recipe, she decided to adapt a bunch of different recipes to make her own customized cupcakes. To me, that's one of the true virtues of cooking: You can tailor any recipe to suit your needs, which can result in something even better! To see how her cupcakes came together, read more