Friday, December 14, 2012


It is the time of year for parties.  Here are three relatively easy party foods that are good any time of year for any occasion.  I hope you enjoy! 



1/2 pound elbow macaroni
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for brushing
Mini mac and cheese bites
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (1 packed cup)
4 ounces deli-sliced American cheese, chopped
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika


Preheat the oven to 425°. 
In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the macaroni until                 al dente, about 5 minutes.  
Drain, shaking off the excess water.
Brush four 12-cup, nonstick mini muffin tins with butter. 
Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the Parmigiano; tap out the excess.
In a large saucepan, melt the 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter. 
Whisk in the flour over moderate heat for 2 minutes. 
Whisk in the milk and cook, whisking, until boiling, about 5      minutes. 
Add the cheddar and American cheeses and whisk until melted. 
Off the heat, whisk in the egg yolk and paprika. 
Fold in the macaroni.
Spoon slightly rounded tablespoons of the macaroni into the prepared muffin cups, packing them gently. 
Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmigiano on top.
Bake the mini macs in the upper and middle thirds of the oven for about 10 minutes, until golden and sizzling. 
Let cool for 5 minutes. Using a small spoon, carefully loosen the mini macs, transfer to a platter and serve.
MAKE AHEAD The recipe can be prepared through Step 4 and refrigerated overnight.



2 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, chilled
1 cup caramel ice cream topping, chilled (I used Hershey's in the glass jar)
1 store bought graham cracker pie crust, crumbled


Place cream cheese in a mixing bowl and using an electric mixer, whip cream cheese until smooth and fluffy for about 1 minute. Stir in caramel ice cream topping. Break graham cracker pie crust into pieces and place pieces in a ziploc bag, then seal bag and using a rolling pin crush graham cracker crust pieces until finely broken (there should no longer be chunks). Serve with apple slices. Dip apple slices into caramel cheesecake dip then into broken graham cracker crust. Store cheesecake dip in refrigerator up to one week.

Note: this dip is also delicious with a bit of cinnamon (about 1/4 tsp) and a few dashes of nutmeg mixed in.

Recipe Source: Cooking Classy



15 large fresh strawberries
1/3 cup (80 ml) cold mascarpone cheese (can substitute with regular cream cheese)
1/3 cup (80 ml) cold heavy whipping cream (35-40% butterfat content)
2-3 tablespoons granulated white sugar, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Cream Filled Strawberries: Choose fresh strawberries that will sit flat. If you find the strawberries are a little wobbly with the stems left on, cut the green stems off so the strawberries will stand upright when placed on your serving tray. Then, with a small sharp knife, cut an "X" into each strawberry, starting at the top of the strawberry and cutting down almost to the bottom of the strawberry. (The cut should be such that the strawberry will open up but not fall apart.) Gently, with your fingertips, spread each strawberry apart to make "petals".  Set aside while you make the cream filling.

In a medium sized bowl, whip (with a wire whisk or an electric hand mixer) the mascarpone cheese, heavy whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla extract until stiff peaks form. Spoon the cream into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip (I used a Wilton 1M tip). Starting at the bottom of the strawberry, pipe the cream into each strawberry. If not serving immediately, cover, and place in the refrigerator until serving time. 

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