Archive for the ‘appetizers’ Category

apricot brie dip


i first had this dip at my friend Rachel‘s house. with the first bit i took of this, i instantly knew what heaven must be like. it’s one of those foods you crave just thinking about it. even people (including men!) who have either never had brie before or don’t typically like brie like this dip. it looks and tastes classy, but is oh-so-simple to make.

(a Pampered Chef recipe)



1 brie round (with rind)

½ c. apricot jam

¼ c. pecans, chopped

1-2 jalepeños, seeds and veins removed, and finely diced



Preheat oven to 400°F.

1)  cut brie in half side to side. place one half on a pizza stone or baking dish, cut side up.

2)  in a small bowl, combine apricot jam and peppers.  spoon half of jam mixture on top of cut side of brie. top with half of the chopped nuts.

3)  top with other half of brie round, cut side up.  top with remaining jam then remaining pecans.

4)  bake at 400°F for 8-10 minutes.


serve with toasted baguette slices, crackers, and/or pita chips.  if you are cooking this on a pizza stone, put the brie in the middle and arrange the baguette slices around the outside of it, then spray with a little bit of olive and bake according to directions.

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honey cheddar biscuits


i like this recipe because it’s really flexible as far as extras you can throw in there, something i have been experimenting with lately. i’ll go into more detail of variations at the end of the recipe.


1 c. AP flour (or ½c. white, ½c. wheat) + extra

3 tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. cream of tartar (i get nervous about wheat flour making the dough flat, so i use a rounded tsp of tartar)

¼ tsp. salt

¼ c. cold butter, cubed into small pieces (earth balance works too, i was pleased to discover recently!)

½ c. shredded cheddar

1/3 c. milk

1 T. honey (or agave nectar)


preheat oven to 425°F.

1)  mix 1 c. flour, baking powder, cream of tartar, and salt in medium bowl.

2)  using a pastry blender or two knives in a criss-cross motion, cut in butter until mixtures resembles pea-sized crumbs. with a wooden spoon, stir in cheese. add milk & honey; stir until mixture forms a soft ball.

3)  normally, now would come the part for kneading the dough. but i’m pretty lazy when it comes to kneading dough so i cheat a bit. (but if you are a better person than i, than go ahead and turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead with your hands abut 8 times.) for the lazy way:  using the back of the wooden spoon, squish the dough against the side of the bowl until you feel like you’ve “kneaded” all the dough, about 8 times. add a couple extra tablespoons of flour into the bowl during the process. by the end, you should be able to tough the dough without it sticking to your hands, but it also should be moist still. (i apologize for my choice of words, for those of you who do not like the word “moist.”)

4)  divide dough into 8 balls. place on a baking sheet. bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.


1)  throw some shredded parmesan in with the cheddar

2)  substitute the cheddar for other kinds of cheeses: just recently i used garlic herbed goat cheese. pepper jack could also add a fun kick

3) use sugar instead of honey, if you don’t have honey

4)  throw in some chives or finely diced green onions

5)  to spice it up a bit, throw in a diced jalepeno or serrano pepper

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winter squash dip

anyone who knows me knows how obsessed i am with autumn and winter. in fact, one of the first memories my husband has of me is seeing this strange girl walking around our sunny san diego college campus during winter all bundled up in a winter coat and scarf–there’s always a scarf on, november to march. you see, it’s not that i can’t handle a slight breeze in the air; i can. in fact, i pray really hard every day for that slight breeze to turn into a huge gust–preferably with snow. but living in coastal southern california that’s just not bound to happen–sleet, maybe, but soft, beautiful, powdery snow? not exactly. so when we DO receive even the slightest hint of a chill in the air, i squeal with delight and bundle myself up…all in celebration of winter. oh Cold, how i love you so.

needless to say, i love autumn and winter. all the yummy seasonal food is one of the main reasons of this, and topping my favorite food list is winter squash. i have to admit, when i walked into henry’s a month ago and saw their autumn squash display in the middle of the store, an audible squeak left my mouth as i gasped in delight–and almost nearly ran into the flyer stand. and topping the list of squash is butternut squash–just ask my husband how passionate i am about butternut squash…in fact, i truly believe that spring and summer exist for the sole purpose of allowing the orange tint of my skin to fade back into my normal pasty white (yes, believe it or not, my skin tone can actually fade; i never knew that was possible). oh butternut squash, how i love you so. (hmm, i love a lot of things “so”…)



1 kabocha squash, small butternut squash, or 2 c. pumpkin puree

4 oz. neufchatel cheese, softened

1/2 c. fat-free sour cream

1 tsp. brown sugar

1 T. honey

pinch salt

nutmeg, to taste

cinnamon, to taste

cayenne, to taste

chili powder, to taste



1) preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2)  (for step-by-step instructions with photos, see here.)  cut squash in half from top to bottom. scoop out seeds and strings. place in glass pan cut side down. add a little bit of water into the pan so squash doesn’t stick to bottom and to give the meat a bit of moisture while it roasts. bake for 45-60 minutes, or until tender when poked with a fork.

3) remove squash from oven. allow to cool for about 5 minutes, or until you can touch it without burning your little fingers.

4) scoop out cooked meat with a spoon and place into a small mixing bowl. 

5) add remaining ingredients. (note: i didn’t put measurements for the spices because i feel like everyones taste buds are different. so add to taste, remembering that it’s better to add a little bit at a time rather than too much, because you can always add more spice but can never take it back out. also, if you prefer it to be sweet only and not spicy, feel free to eliminate the cayenne and chili powders. i added it in there because my husband and i like sweet and spicy mixtures, and like to have a little kick on the back of our tongues when we eat. but i promise you won’t be disappointed if you keep it in there. just add a bit to taste but not enough to make you breath fire out of your mouth.) 

6) blend with an electric hand mixer until smooth. serve and enjoy!


we ate this with pieces of fresh pita bread (from our local farmers market, yum!) and with apple slices. but i’m sure it would taste just as good with pita chips, carrot sticks, graham cracker pieces, etc. i even contemplated spreading it on a slice of pumpkin bread like pumpkin butter.

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