Every woman needs a handful of recipes that are flexible, easy to pull off and yet beautiful and tasty to impress guests or hostesses. Whether you are hosting a party or attending and bringing a dish you want people talking about what you brought. A good dip recipe is great to have, especially once you master the basics of it and can start improvising with flavors like swapping out parmesan for gouda, chard for spinach or adding jalapeno or thai chilis. Once you have the basics down you can get super creative and create something specialized to your event, or just something that will help you clean out the fridge.
Baked brie is one of those things for me. It’s really pretty hard to mess it up and the options are almost endless when it comes to flavors and fillings. This Jalapeno, Peach and Pancetta on is one of my favorites because I am such a sucker for mixing sweet and savory and spicy all into one. This dish nails that combo. But the beauty of this is that you could just use bacon, or get fancy with proscuitto, ditch the jalapeno and add some balsamic, or use pineapple instead of peach- whatever your little heart desires. Or you could jump over to my Spicy Cranberry and Cream Cheese Dip and make that too.
I almost always have puff pastry in the freezer because it has so many uses. You can use it as pizza crust, cover pot pies with it, make homemade toaster strudels, a pie, beef wellington…just stuff something inside and bake and viola! Use whatever jam or preserve you want, or just simmer some fresh fruit and sugar to make your own. Just make sure that you take the puff pastry out of the freezer and move it to the fridge the night before and don’t try to force it when it’s still frozen or you will crack it and ruin the prettiness. Also, brushing with egg wash is a must, it is what gives it that shiny golden and crispy finish instead of dull and soft one.
I like to cut a strip off the side of the sheet before wrapping up the brie and make it into a flower for decoration, it’s not entirely necessary, but adds such a nice touch…
One last thing- I am currently obsessed with this Ayers Body Butter in Patagonia. It smells heavenly and is nice and thick and creamy but doesn’t leave hands too oily. What is your can’t live without moisturizer?
Saute pancetta or bacon in a non stick pan over medium heat until it begins to brown and crisp, drain on a paper towel.
Roll out the pastry dough a little, cut 1/2" off the side of the sheet and set aside.
Spread 1/2 of the peach preserves onto the center of the pastry, sprinkle with 1/2 of the pancetta, 1/2 of the jalapeno, and 1/2 of the basil.
Place the full wheel of brie in the center of the pastry, top with the other half of the peach preserves, pancetta, basil and jalapeno.
Beginning at the end, roll the reserved piece of puff pastry dough at a slight angle and pull out portions so that it resembles a rose. Place the rose in the center of the brie wheel and begin pulling the dough corners up over the brie and tucking into and under the rose, pinching to seal.
Using a pastry brush, brush the entire pastry with the egg wash. Bake 20-25 minutes until golden.
This holiday season feels so chaotic to me. I don’t feel prepared for it at all, even as it is happening all around me it still doesn’t feel real yet. Even our annual Rowland family Christmas party didn’t really make it sink in that Christmas is 5 days away! What the heck? It was JUST Thanksgiving like a week ago. I was planning on sharing all these holiday things with you, but time has really just gotten away from me. Finally, though, I have a minute to share at least this one appetizer recipe with you.
For the family Christmas party I was put in charge of coordinating all the appetizers so I felt compelled to make sure the ones I contributed were good ones. This recipe is from my Aunt Lisa and is one of my favorites. It’s cool and spicy and bright and tangy, delicious and addicting. Seriously, if you want to stop eating it you either have to finish the whole thing or go to a completely different room. You could use canned or pre-packaged cranberry sauce for this and skip 1 below, but the fresh cranberries are prettier and taste much better. Jalapenos vary so much in spice level, sometimes I use 2 and sometimes just 1. This last time I only used 1/2 because they were so spicy so add a little at a time and taste test until you get to the spiciness level you like. I also really like the red onion, but feel free to cut back on it if it’s too much for you.
Wash cranberries and place them in a saucepan with water and sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
Assemble the Dip
Place the whole jalapeno in a pot of water, covering completely. Bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute. Remove and let cool.
Remove the stem and seeds from the jalapenos (you may want to use gloves) and mince them.
Add cranberry sauce, cilantro, jalapenos, lemon juice, green onion, and salt to a bowl and mix well. Let sit for 2 hours or so in the fridge for flavors to incorporate.
Pour over 1/2 the sauce over a block of cream cheese, serve with pita chips.
I like to make this cranberry sauce an appetizer by pouring it over a block of cream cheese and serving with pita chips, but it would also be delicious on turkey or even wrapped up in baked brie. If you find a new use for it, please share with me!
This is a total non-recipe recipe. I say that because it doesn’t necessarily need precise measurements or a lot of ingredients, but sometimes you run across a particular combination of things that are just too wonderful not to share. This happened to me last night. I was not planning on blogging this recipe (hence the poor photography) but after digging in I was like, whoa, I have to share this. Then Brittany from Tragic Girls blog had an idea for a series called Simple Sundays where I share meals that are easy and quick for those Sunday’s where you don’t have the energy for anything more than quick and easy. I thought this would be a perfect one to start with because you can use leftovers or pre-made items if you have them, measurements don’t need to be exact and you can totally customize to your taste. So I snapped a pick and here we are.
This was incredibly easy to put together and it would actually be a really good idea for a build your own loaded fries bar for a Superbowl Party- just line up all the different toppings and let them go at it. Or make as a snack while watching Golf Channel on Sunday afternoon (and by that I mean desperately trying to find something else to do while your husband watchs golf). I used frozen Alexia Sweet Potato fries and baked them because no one has the time (or desire) to slice and fry up potatoes and then clean up the mess when it’s so easy to dump a bag of precut and seasoned fries on a sheet pan and throw them in the oven. I also used a pre-marinated meat to go on top- the Arrachera steak from Costco to be exact. It’s sooooo good. I bought a 3 lb package at 7.22 per pound and divided it out into 1/4lb bags and froze them so I can use it later for tacos, burrito bowls, or Spicy Pumpkin and Black Bean Chili (recipe testing in progress). Seriously, you should make this. For very little effort you get delicious and impressive results. This recipe will make enough for 4 as a full meal and probably 6-8 as an appetizer or snack but the recipe can easily be cut in half.
1 bag of Alexia Sweet Potato Fries
1 lb of pre-marinated carne asada or arrachera steak
1 c grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 can black beans
1/2 avocado, sliced
1/4 onion, finely chopped
1/4 tsp cumin
hot sauce to taste (I used Tapatio)
Bake fries according to package instructions.
While fries are baking, cook the meat- it is best grilled but if that’s not possible cook in a heavy skillet on med- high to get some good searing. Cook just under done. Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice into strips or cubes and set aside.
Heat black beans in a pot with the cumin.
When the fries are done sprinkle a thin layer of cheese on top followed by the black beans, steak and onion followed by another handful of cheese and return to the oven for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.
Top with avocado and hot sauce just before serving.
By now I’m sure you’ve noticed a theme in my posts. If you haven’t I’ll give you a hint- CHEESE. I love it. I can’t get enough. And there are SO MANY kinds! Most of my snacks involve some type of it. One of favorite combos right now is sweet and spicy jam with a creamy cheese. I just got this new jam from Hatchery by The Jam Stand called Not Just Peachy Sriracha Jam.
HOLY COW! It taste like you bit into the sweetest juiciest peach and then you feel a nice warm spicy hug in your mouth at the end. This is like grandma- special-made-this-for-your-birthday-good. Like put it in my cocktails, on my salmon, in my salad dressing and on a spoon straight from the jar good. For right this minute I’m pretty satisfied having it with whipped cream cheese, my favorite cracker and some green onion.
Green onion makes everything look and taste so fresh. Even things that came from a can or the freezer can be freshened up with some green onion on top. So go do two things- stock up on green onion, and order yourself a jar of this most delicious peach jam you’ve ever tasted.
I am always hungry. Like always. When I get home from work I need a little something to keep me from eating half of dinner before it even makes it to the table. Little bit sized snacks that are quick to whip and easy to snack on while I cook are ideal. I have been on a smoked salmon kick lately. I love it on everything but my favorite is paired with cream cheese. As a kid, one of my favorite snacks was crackers with cream cheese, smoked salmon, and Tabasco. When I got a sample bottle of Formosa Chipotle Hot Sauce in my Hatchery box last month smoked salmon immediately came to mind and the idea for this delicious little bite of perfection was born.
FormosaSauce makes a Habanero Hot Sauce and the Chipotle one I used from a recipe developed over 30 years ago. Both sauces are 100% natural with no preservatives which I love. I have yet to try the habanero one, but after making this I definitely want to. The Formosa chipotle sauce is about a 6 on the heat scale (to me, but I love spicy foods) and the contrast of the cool and creamy avocado and cream cheese is absolutely delish. Use whipped cream cheese to make it easier to spread without breaking the crackers and to cut a few calories. I had chives in the fridge so I threw some of those on top too, green onions would have been good too. A few fresh herbs is always a good idea.
I can’t wait to try this stuff on everything. Formosa egg muffins tomorrow morning? I think yes.