I am all cookied out. Every single cookie that I brought home from last weekend’s exchange is gone. I didn’t eat them all, because that would be a terrible idea, but I had my share. And now I can’t even bring myself to edit the photos for the butterscotch cookie post that’s hanging out in my drafts folder.
I’m so over cookies that I’m actually looking forward to a spinach salad for lunch.
What I am not over, besides that salad, is caramel popcorn. But not just any caramel corn. Caramel corn spiked with a generous dose of gingerbread spices.
It’s Christmas in a bowl… you know, if you’d ever put Christmas into a bowl and then try to ruin it by sitting on the couch to hate-watch a Homeland mini-marathon. But at least while the frustratingly empty minutes tick by, your house smells like gingerbread and you have handful after handful of spicy, crunchy gingerbread caramel corn to keep you company.
Gingerbread Caramel Corn
Caramel popcorn gets a holiday makeover with a generous dose of gingerbread spices.
- 6 cups popped popcorn (the yield from 1/3 rounded cup of kernels)
- Cooking spray or parchment paper
- 6 Tbsp butter
- 1/3 cup dark brown sugar*
- 3 Tbsp light corn syrup
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Scrapings from 1 vanilla bean (can substitute 1 tsp vanilla extract or paste)
- 2-3 tsp gingerbread spice (purchased or homemade)
- Preheat oven to 300.
- Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray or line it with parchment. Have a rubber spatula handy.
- Pop the popcorn and transfer it to a large bowl.
- Heat the butter, sugar, molasses, corn syrup, and salt in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.
- Once the mixture comes to a boil, add 2 tsp gingerbread spice and cook another 5 minutes.
- Let a little of the mixture cool on a spoon and then taste - not gingerbread-y enough? Add another tsp of spices.
- Remove from heat and add the vanilla.
- Stir and immediately pour over the popcorn.
- Use a rubber spatula to stir until the popcorn is nicely coated and then transfer to the baking sheet, spreading out to an even layer.
- Bake for 30 minutes, stirring once halfway through.
- Let cool ~15 minutes before eating.
- Store leftovers in a ziptop bag on the counter... if you have leftovers.
Yields: 6 1-cup servings
Estimated time: 45 minutes
One of the things I look forward to most every December is my friend (and realtor extraordinaire) Brandi’s cookie exchange. Two dozen women each bring six dozen cookies, dump them in the dining room on their way into the kitchen, and then proceed to drink two dozen bottles of Prosecco.
It’s a cookie exchange that isn’t totally about the cookies. And it is a good time.
This year, my favorite part of the party wasn’t the cookies (never is). Or the Naughty Punch (always is). Or even the straight Prosecco when it was too much work to get up and walk into the kitchen for more punch (because why do that when you can carry a bottle around the house with you).
My favorite part was the artichoke bread. Guys. A loaf of bread split in half and topped with a creamy mixture of artichokes, cheese, and garlic and then baked to bubbly, melty perfection.
Who need chips or crackers when you bake your dip directly on the bread?
Bubbly, melty, cheesy perfection only gets better with that container of crab that has to be eaten, like, yesterday later. But, you know wasn’t. Because Prosecco.
Serve it with dinner. Or as dinner. And then lunch and dinner again.
Cheesy Crab & Artichoke Bread
Cheese, artichokes, and crab are baked on top of ciabatta for the ultimate party food.
- 1 large loaf ciabatta (my loaf was ~15in x 6in)
- 2 cans quartered artichokes, drained well
- 8 oz reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt (sour cream or mayo would also work)
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 4 green onions, sliced and dark green parts reserved for garnish
- 4 cloves garlic
- Small handful of parsley, chopped
- 1 tsp old bay seasoning
- 8 oz shredded cheese (I used half cheddar, half Monterrey jack)
- 8 oz lump crab
- Preheat the oven to 425.
- Cut the loaf of ciabatta in half horizontally and place on a foil-lined baking sheet.
- In a large bowl, mix together the cream cheese, yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, a couple of dashes of Worcestershire, white and light green parts of the green onions, garlic, parsley, and Old bay seasoning.
- Stir in the cheese, artichokes, and crab until everything is nicely coated.
- Generously top the two halves of the ciabatta with the artichoke mixture, spreading it all the way to the edges of the bread.
- Bake for 20 minutes and then turn the broiler on for an additional 2-3 minutes to brown the cheese (keep an eye on it while broiling).
- Slice into strips and serve warm/hot.
- I had ~3/4 cup of the topping leftover that I put into a ramekin and baked along side the bread.
- Leftovers will keep tightly wrapped in the fridge - reheat in the oven for ~10 minutes.
Yields: A lot. Servings vary.
Estimated time: 35 minutes
‘Tis the season to pour melted butter on *&^#! –Me.
Festive and classy. That Jason is one lucky guy.
I did mean it when I said that the internet will always have room for one more baked slider recipe. And I did mean it when I said that this was the season to pour melted butter on [mommy word].
Of course, I mostly said that because I have two more slider recipes hanging out in my drafts folder. And I mostly said [mommy word] because that’s just who I am when my 3 year old isn’t around to hear it and then put me in time-out.
You have never seen a power trip like a 3 year old with that kind of power.
But back to those sliders.
These buttery bites of magical cookery are the best thing to happen to holiday flavors since… Maybe I’m stretching, here. But, they do come slathered with a spoonful of Bacon & Cranberry Chutney and topped with browned butter with cripsy, salty bites of prosciutto and crunchy slivers of sage leaves.
And then they’re baked until the cheese gets all melty and starts oozing out the sides. Is it an appetizer? Dinner? Breakfast? Something to grab on one of those “just because” trips through the kitchen?
Baked Turkey & Cranberry Sliders
Repurpose holiday leftovers into a baked turkey slider topped with browned sage butter.
- 24 dinner rolls (Hawaiian or homemade)
- 24 slices of turkey
- 6 slices of provolone (or other cheese), quartered
- Cranberry & Bacon Chutney (or leftover cranberry sauce)
- 4 Tbsp butter
- 4 slices of prosciutto
- 4 large sage leaves, thinly sliced
- Preheat the oven to 375 and line a large baking pan with foil.
- In a small sauce pan over medium heat, melt the butter and cook until browned, frequently scraping the bottom of the pan with a rubber spatula.
- Remove from heat and add the prosciutto and sage, swirling to mix.
- Slice the rolls in half horizontally (if you break the rolls into 2 halves of 6, you can do this with 4 cuts and not squish the bread).
- To build the sliders, top the bottom roll with a slice of turkey (folded to fit), a quartered piece of cheese, a spoonful of the chutney, and the top roll.
- Place rolls close enough on the pan that they're nearly touching.
- After all rolls are assembled, brush butter sauce onto the rolls and spoon the prosciutto and sage leaves over top.
- Bake for ~15 minutes and serve hot. Or warm.
Yields: 24 sliders
Estimated time: 40 minutes
Even before the last of those lovely bacon jam-filled pretzel rolls disappeared, I’d already staked out the idea of combining the bacon jam with cranberries for a spread-on-anything and stuff-in-everthang twist on cranberry sauce.
The original attempt of turning bacon jam into cranberry-bacon jam failed. Well, as much as something called “bacon jam” could fail. While tasty – and then, of course, still completely devoured – there was simply just too much bacon. A feat that I didn’t even know was possible before!
So I turned cranberry chutney into bacon-cranberry chutney instead. Plenty of tart cranberries and just enough bacon to turn the sweet and savory and smokey chutney into a “just one more spoonful won’t hurt” spread.
I put it over baked brie. And on burgers. And sliders.
And then I made a second batch and did it all over again, making The Cranwich for lunch 3 days in a row.
Festive and delicious with layers of flavor. And just enough bacon.
Bacon & Cranberry Chutney
Homemade cranberry chutney flavored with smokey bacon.
- 3 slices of bacon, diced
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 2 Tbsp bourbon
- Juice of 1 orange
- 1 tsp worcestershire
- 1/4 cup brown sugar (more if desired)
- 12 oz bag of cranberries
- 1 cup water
- Generous pinch of salt
- Cook the bacon in a medium sauce pan until mostly crisped and then remove with a slotted spoon to a small saucer.
- Add the onion to the pan and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and stir, cooking another minute.
- Return the bacon to the ban along with the remaining ingredients.
- Bring to a slow boil over medium heat and then cover, cooking for ~10 minutes until the cranberries have softened.
- Remove the lid and let simmer until nearly all of the liquid has cooked away, about another 10-15 minutes.
- Taste for sweetness and add another tablespoon or two of sugar, if you think it needs it.
- Transfer to a food processor or blender and pulse a few times.
- Transfer to a jar or bowl and keep in the refrigerator where it will last a good 2 weeks. Probably.
Yields: ~2 cups
Estimated time: 40 minutes