Wednesday, December 21, 2011

mini sausage rolls

cute little bites

These are really simple to make - especially because I used store bought puff pastry:)

what you need:
  • 1 package puff pastry
  • 6 or so italian sausages (or whatever kind you fancy)
  • 1 handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 2 green onions, chopped finely
  • a little bit of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 egg
what to do:
  1. In a large bowl, mash together sausages (casings removed), mustard, breadcrumbs, salt & pepper, milk, greens and nutmeg.  Allow mixture to sit in the fridge for about 4 hours (or overnight).
  2. Roll out puff pastry and cut into 2 1/2" width strips.  (About 3 strips each sheet)
  3. Beat egg in small bowl.
  4. Brush egg onto one side of the strip.  Spoon out the sausage mixture and place it along the other side of the strip, taking up no more than 1/3 width.  
  5. Roll it up and make sure the seam is on the bottom. Refrigerate or freeze for about 1 hour, then slice into small bites and brush with egg on top prior to baking.
  6. Bake at 425 F for 20 minutes, until tops are golden brown.  Enjoy!

panko crusted chicken lollipops

eat me!

I made these for the christmas sweater party and they were a hit.  They are a bit of work but totally worth it - the bony lollipop part makes it easy for guests to pick up and eat with minimal mess.  You can marinate the chicken in whatever you like - here I've used some asian flavours.

what you need:
  • about 15 chicken drumsticks
  • panko (japanese bread crumbs)
  • 3/4 cup light soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tbsp sriracha 
  • 3/4 ketchup
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire
  • a few pinches black pepper
what to do:
  1. Combine all ingredients (except for panko and drumsticks) - set aside.
  2. Clean chicken drums by cutting the bottom (skinny end) tendons with a paring knife, then use the knife to scrape down the skin to expose the bone to form the "stick" of the lollipop.  (Hint: this part is easier to handle if the chicken drums are a little frozen, it makes the tendons/skin easier to cut through).  Cut a diagonal vertical slit on the meaty part of the drum stick, then use your hands to push the meat down a little to make the "top" of the lollipop.                                                                                               
  3. Put prepared chicken lollies in a large tupperware and pour marinade over.  Cover well and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, up to 24 hours.  
  4. About 1 hour before you want to serve them, preheat oven to 425 F and prepare a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.  Hold chicken by the stick part and roll the meaty part in panko bread crumbs. 

5.  Once you've crusted all the chicken, bake in the middle rack for about 40-45 minutes, until panko is golden brown and chicken is cooked.  Enjoy!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

easy party treats

something for everyone

People always want different kinds of tastes - sweet like chocolate, caramel/candy, salty, and everyone loves rice crispy squares!  These party snacks are super easy and just take the original recipes to a new level.

mars bar rice crispy squares
I always save my baby spinach plastic containers...
so useful for storing things like this or transporting to another party!

what you need:
  • rice crispies
  • 2 mars bars, chopped into small cubes
  • marshmallows
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
what to do:
  1. In a large pot, melt butter and then add marshmallows (about 250 g), stir and when the marshmallows are almost melted, add the vanilla and one mars bar.  
  2. Turn off heat and once mars bar is melted, add 6 cups of rice crispies.  Stir to coat with marshmallows, then add the remaining mars bar cubes.  These won't melt as much and will be a delicious chocolately/caramel surprise bite!

swirly cheesecake brownies
what you need:
  • your favourite brownie recipe ingredients
  • 1 package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
what to do:
  1. Beat cream cheese with sugar until fluffy and smooth, then beat in the egg and vanilla extract.  Set aside.  Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Prepare your brownie batter.
  3. You can make the brownies in a large square pan or make mini-brownie bites as I did this time.  The second is more labour intensive.  Basically for both, you pour the brownie batter first into a well buttered pan, then pour the cheesecake mixture on top and swirl with a butter knife to get the marble effect.  When you make them into small individual brownies, you have to make sure you butter the mini-muffin tin really well and use a smaller tool (e.g. chopstick or toothpick) to swirl the brownie batter up into the cream cheese to get the marbling.                  
  4. For the large square, bake for about 40 minutes and check with a toothpick.  It depends on how gooey you like your brownies, but usually a little sticky residual batter on the toothpick means it`s ready.  If it`s clean it`s a more cakey texture...and if its super wet then its not done yet.
  5. For the mini-brownies, bake for 8 minutes then check with a toothpick.  It will probably take about 8-12 minutes, but keep checking because they are so small they will over bake quickly.
  6. Be sure to gingerly remove the mini-brownies after a minute from the pan to a cooling rack - you don`t want them to continue cooking in the pan.  Enjoy!

caramel dip

what you need:
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup
  • 1/2 whipping cream
  • 1 pinch of salt
what to do:
  1. In a small saucepan, add water and pour the sugar right in the middle.  Do not stir.  Place it on medium-high heat, and add the corn syrup.  Allow the mixture to bubble away, you can swirl the pan by holding the handle and gently swirling, but do not stir with a spoon or it will crystallize.
  2. Once the mixture becomes a dark golden brown, remove from heat and whisk in the cream.  Be careful as it will steam and bubble a little.  Add the salt.  The caramel will thicken once cooled.  Enjoy with any sliced fruit!
homemade bits and bites
I was inspired to make these after having some at my friend Hill`s.  So easy but such a crowd pleaser.

what you need:
  • 1 cup peanuts, unsalted
  • 1 cup pretzel sticks
  • 1 cup toasted O`s
  • 1 cup shreddies
  • you can add anything else you like...some people add the cereal corn bran, cheese nips, different nuts...
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp each of onion powder, garlic powder
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp celery salt
  • a few dashes tobasco *optional
what to do:
  1. Preheat oven to 300 F.
  2. Melt butter in microwave and then mix in the spices.
  3. Combine peanuts, pretzels and cereals in a large bowl pour the butter and spice mix all over.  Toss a few times to coat the mixture as evenly as possible.  Transfer to a large baking dish or cookie sheet and place in the middle rack of the oven.  Bake for about 35-45 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes or so.
  4. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature.  Enjoy!  It can also be stored in an airtight container for several days.

a christmas sweater party - holiday mojitos!

dodgeball boys
the girls
This weekend we hosted a Christmas sweater party for our dodgeball team.  It was a lot of fun and everyone had lots to eat and drink.  We had chicken lollipops, nachos with homemade mango salsa and guacamole, sausage rolls, sweets and holiday mojitos.  Super fun.

a festive cocktail
Holiday Mojito

what you need:
  • vodka
  • fresh cranberries
  • mint
  • sugar
  • water
  • club soda
  • ice
  • lime or lemon *optional
what to do:
  1. Make simple syrup by using equal parts sugar and water.  Bring to a boil and remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
  2. In a mortar and pestle, grind up some cranberries, mint and 1 tsp sugar.  
  3. In a cocktail shaker, add some ice, the mashed up cranberries and mint, a splash of simple syrup, and cold water.  Shake and pour into a glass, then top it off with club soda and a squeeze of lime or lemon.  Enjoy!