Tag Archives: Party food

Happy New Year!Quick Crab Cheese Ball/Spread

First of all, I want to wish each and every one of you as safe, healthy and prosperous 2013!

If you’re running late, we still have time to dash off a nice spreadable cheese ball for your New Year’s Eve entertainment, New Year’s buffet, host/hostess gift, pot luck or anytime you want to make something easy, yet special: Crab Cheese Ball, or Spread.

The one below is made with my original recipe, option #1 (and topped rather hastily!)You can make this as a ball or molded, as a spread ;plain or garnished in many ways.
This recipe can take many forms and I’d like you to feel free to improvise, especially on the garnish.

Crab Cheese Ball/Spread …and variations

6 ounces of Neufchatel (low fat) or regular cream cheese
1- 6 ounce can of crab meat, drained (If you have fresh crab meat, good for you! Use about ½ cup)
½- 1 tsp hot pepper sauce
½ tsp. dried or snipped parsley
½ tsp. paprika or crushed pepper
½ tsp. ginger (optional)

Garnish (options in recipe)

Drain the crab meat and pick out any cartilage. Soften the cream cheese and add to it the hot pepper sauce, the herb and spices. Taste and adjust seasonings. With a spoon or spatula, gather into a ball and chill.[For a quick spread, place in a small serving bowl or in the middle of a plate, garnish if you’d like and chill, or take right to the table; for safety’s sake, do not let it become warm.]
If making into a shape or ball, after the mixture is chilled, remove and make into a ball and roll in chopped nuts,(walnuts are best), parsley, or dried vegetable flakes, or line a mold with plastic wrap and press the mixture into it, ungarnished. When the ball or molded on is reasonably is firm, serve with butter knives or cheese spreaders and assorted crackers.

Crab Cheese Ball, quick and easy!

Crab Cheese Ball, quick and easy!

(The bell pictured above is the equivalent of about half of the recipe.)

To decorate a shape, use dried or rehydrated vegetable flakes.[To rehydrate, place flakes in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Drain thoroughly to use].You can use pickled peppers or other pickled vegetables, (giardiniera) ,chopped. I even made an angel shape one Christmas and used edible glitter (made from gelatin) for her wings and halo.
The one above I threw together,(again, too hastily), with chopped pickled red and yellow banana peppers and rehydrated pepper and tomato flakes.

Option #1: Reduce the mount of cream cheese to 5 ounces and add 1 ounces of your favorite firm cheese, grated,(Cheddar, Muenster, PepperJack, etc. I used Monterey Jack).

Option #2: Omit hot sauce. Add ¼ tsp. sesame oil to mixture. Garnish with sesame seeds.

Option #3: Omit hot sauce. Add ½ tsp walnut oil and garnish with walnuts
Or hazelnut oil and use hazelnuts. If using almond oil, reduce to ¼ tsp and garnish with …oh, go ahead and guess!)

I know you or your (non-vegan) guests will enjoy this. It is adjustable for any occasion and I often make it in a football shape for a Superbowl Party,(even if it is just me and my husband )

This should be  a gluten-free recipe,(check labels on all your ingredients) Be concerned for all of  your guests and add gluten-free crackers and /or gluten-free large chips on the side.

Have a Happy New Year!

Halloween Entertaining/Spice and Basic Cut-Out Cookies

Halloween is just around the corner! However you celebrate it, with adults, children or both, spookily or more “Fall Festival-ly”, have a good, safe time.

I make two types of cookie dough, refrigerated cut-outs, but I only use half of the recipe and freeze the other half to use for Thanksgiving, or, if there are too many goodies, I even wait and use them at Christmas.
I also used to make a cake, usually chocolate. I would decorate it with a twisted tree and fallen leaves, and mix or match any of the following: a jack-o-lantern, moon, cat, ghost, spider, spider web, depending on the size of the cake or my mood. However, I have not made one in years and made the half-recipe cookies because I found that with all the candy, it was real food that people would go looking for after a while. Even at church parties, and lots of kids, a large cake would not be completely gone at the end, but all of whatever meat they served would be wiped out.

Candy is the sweet of choice for Halloween.

When we moved into the house we have now, there was a ‘chicken house’ in the back yard, behind the garage and a storage barn. It was about 7X11 feet, with three or four doors on one side, (that looked like screened prison cells), and a loft. After a few years, my sons decided to make it into a ‘haunted house’ for any trick-or-treater who wanted to give it a try. It was clever, (if at times a bit cheesy), but a good time was had by all: the boys, whatever friends they had that came to help them and the brave-enough neighborhood kids who went through. And before, after and in between sets of doorbell ringers, the teenagers ate.

I would have a soup and chili, sausages, hot dogs or sliced meats, snack crackers, chips and pretzels. I’d have hot cocoa and tea and sodas, but mostly food they could eat quickly and still get warm, as most Halloweens here get cool if not cold, at least, by the time they stopped. Usually the soup would be Baby Meatball Stew or Fiesta Day Soup (September Archives).
And, of course, some cookies.

Here are two very reliable cut-out cookie recipes. The Spice Cookies are perfect for Autumn. The Basic Cookie is just that, so basic you can do anything with it. It is very popular with all ages and was the biggest seller in my bakery for any holiday and as a Sugar Cookie in-between. Both are very good with coffee, tea or cocoa.

Pumpkin-shaped cookies are perfect for Halloween with or without Jack-o-lantern features.
I often make bats and ghosts; there are many types of shapes .For Thanksgiving, I use the pumpkin –shapes without faces, turkeys and I always make Autumn leaf-shaped and colored cookies. You can make scarecrows out of gingerbread men shapes, (or as I have seen recently, mummies for Halloween.)

Basic Cookie

One cup (=2 sticks) of softened butter (preferable to margarine)
1 cup of sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. baking powder
4 tsp half and half or whole milk
3 cups of sifted flour

Chose the flavoring:
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. pure almond extract
or my favorite
1 Tbsp Brandy, plain or Apricot (Apricot is good for Easter and Spring)

In a mixer or with hand mixer, cream butter, add sugar and mix well. Add the baking powder and flavoring of choice. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl often. Add the eggs and beat until very fluffy. Add the mild or cream, blend thoroughly. Add the flour, one-half cup at a time and beat until smooth before adding the next half-cup. Beat an additional two minutes, Place in a smaller bowl and chill for at least 4 hours, (it can remain in the refrigerator for several days). Dough will be soft; do not be tempted to add more flour. If you are going to make a half-batch, divide at this point; wrap in plastic and put into a freezer bag .It will keep nicely for many months, ready to be thawed in the refrigerator and used as you need it.
When chilled, take a small amount out at a time and place on a well-floured board or clean table. Roll gently with a well-floured rolling pin, adding flour as needed, (but not too much, as it will make the cookies hard.) Roll to ¼ inch thick. Cut with floured cookie cutters and transfer to greased, cooking-spray covered or parchment paper covered baking sheets. Do not put them too close as they will rise, grow and run into each other. (If you are making sugar cookies, sprinkle with granulated sugar at this point.)
Bake in a pre-heated 325F oven for about 15 minutes or until slightly browned on the bottom and edges.
Remove, place on baking racks and cook completely. These may now be wrapped well, placed in a freezer bag with the air removed and frozen for several months, plain or iced with Royal Icing, (directions below)

Spice Cookies

1 ½ cups of butter or margarine (3 sticks), softened
1 1/4 cup of white sugar (or 1 cup white, ¼ cup brown)
½ cup mild-flavored molasses (NOT black-strap)
1 large egg
2 ½ tsp baking powder

Ground spices {1 tsp. cloves
1 ½ tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. allspice
1 Tbs. cinnamon
2 Tbs. ginger
or 6 Tbs. allspice

Cream the butter and sugars plus molasses and baking powder. Add spices. Scrape bowl. Add flour ½ cup at a time, beating well between additions and scraping sides of the bowl often. Dough will be soft and firm after it is chilled (If dividing, do so now. Wrap half of the dough in plastic wrap, place in freezer bag with all the air removed. Freeze up to 4- 6 months. Thaw in refrigerator when ready to use.) Chill dough for at least 4 hours before rolling, cutting and baking as in directions above for Basic Cookies. Bake at 350F for approx 12 minutes or until firm, (finger will not leave a dent when touched). Cool and freeze or ice with Royal Icing.

Decorate with Royal Icing made with 6 Tbsp. meringue powder, or dehydrated egg whites, ¼ cup water and 3 cups sifted powdered sugar, flavorings and colorings. (Royal Icing mix is available in some areas where cake decorating supplies are sold. Original Royal Icing is made with raw egg whites and should not be used as it is unsafe with possible contaminants and also will spoil.) You may have to adjust the firmness, (more sugar or water). Too thin and the icing may run or the designs may blend; too thick and you may not be able to work with it. If your designs are not perfect, go ahead and blur them with two or more colors swirled together. This is especially effective with leaf shapes for Autumn, Christmas bells, Easter eggs…you get the picture. Use a pastry bag or a zipper-close sandwich bag with a corner snipped-off to simply outline the cookie with icing, (good for bats and pumpkins).
Or spread icing and top with nuts, sprinkles, colored sugars or jimmies.

The Chicken House was torn down a few years ago, ravaged by time and termites. Although my sons only did the Haunted House in it for three or four years over 10 years ago, the neighbors still talk about it.We’ve had fun.I hope you do, too.