Double-Chocolate Pecan Balls


1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1 17.5-ounce bag Betty Crocker Double Chocolate Chunk Cookie Mix*
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons water
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted

*Do not add the ingredients called for in the label directions. Heat oven to 375º F. Beat the butter and pecans with an electric mixer until well blended. Add the cookie mix, flour, and water and beat until the mixture forms a dough. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and arrange on an ungreased baking sheet, 1 inch apart. Bake 14 to 16 minutes or until firm. Let cool 5 minutes. Roll in confectioners' sugar and set aside on a wire rack until completely cooled.


Yield: Makes 5 dozen

CALORIES 74(1% from fat); FAT 5g (sat 2g); CHOLESTEROL 4mg; CALCIUM 5mg; CARBOHYDRATE 8g; SODIUM 24mg; PROTEIN 1mg; FIBER 0g; IRON 0mg
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Cookie Trees


2 16-ounce boxes confectioners' sugar
6 egg whites
3 Styrofoam cones, ranging in height from 7 to 12 inches (available at craft stores)
4 12-ounce boxes vanilla wafers or other small, flat cookies

Beat all but 1/4 cup of the sugar with the egg whites until stiff. Spread a thin layer of the frosting on a cone, then, working from the bottom up, overlap cookies, using more frosting as necessary. Repeat for the other 2 cones. Use a small sieve to dust the trees with the remaining sugar.

Note: Straight pins can be used to hold the cookies in place until the frosting dries, but don't forget to remove them.


Yield: 3 trees

CALORIES 126.6(32% from fat); FAT 4g (sat 1g); CHOLESTEROL 4mg; CALCIUM 18.01mg; CARBOHYDRATE 21g; SODIUM 96mg; PROTEIN 1mg; FIBER 1g; IRON 1mg
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Chocolate Ganache Sandwiches

1 12-ounce bag semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups heavy cream
2 9-ounce boxes Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers

Melt the chocolate chips in the heavy cream over low heat, stirring occasionally until blended. Remove from heat and chill in the refrigerator until cool but not firm. (Can be made ahead to this point up to 2 days ahead, but allow the cream to soften before proceeding.) Beat the chocolate cream with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Assemble the sandwiches with 2 Chocolate Wafers and a few tablespoons of ganache.

Note: If you like crispy cookies and creamy filling, make these as close to party time as possible. For a softer, ice-cream-sandwich type of dessert, make them 1 day ahead and keep them covered in the refrigerator. The wafers will absorb some of the filling and become more cakelike.


Yield: 30 servings

CALORIES 183(1% from fat); FAT 11g (sat 6g); CHOLESTEROL 24mg; CALCIUM 14mg; CARBOHYDRATE 20g; SODIUM 130mg; PROTEIN 2mg; FIBER 1g; IRON 1mg
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Mint-Orange Squash

2 small acorn or butternut squashes, each cut into 4 wedges, with the seeds removed
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Cayenne pepper (optional)
1 orange
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves

To make it...

Heat oven to 325ºF. Brush each squash wedge with about 1 teaspoon olive oil, then sprinkle with about 1/4 teaspoon salt and a pinch of cayenne if using. Place the squash quarters on a baking sheet skin-side down. (Alternatively, arrange on the rack with the turkey.) Roast during the turkey's last 45 minutes in the oven. The squash is done when it is fork-tender. Meanwhile, grate the zest (the orange skin, not the white pith) and squeeze the juice from the orange. Remove the squash from the oven and immediately sprinkle with the mint, orange juice, and zest.

To fake it...and save 35 minutes

Prepare three 12-ounce packages frozen winter squash according to the label directions. With a wooden spoon, beat in the grated zest of 1 orange, 3 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional).


Yield: 8 servings, with leftovers

CALORIES 110(1% from fat); FAT 7g (sat 1g); CHOLESTEROL 0mg; CALCIUM 42mg; CARBOHYDRATE 13g; SODIUM 579mg; PROTEIN 1mg; FIBER 2g; IRON 1mg
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Mashed Sour Cream and Scallion Potatoes

10 large Idaho potatoes (7 pounds), peeled and quartered
5 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
7 scallions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced

Place the potatoes and garlic in a large pot and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain the potatoes and garlic and return to the pot. Add the sour cream, milk, and butter and mash with a potato masher. Add scallions and stir gently to combine well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot.


Yield: 8 servings

CALORIES 413(0% from fat); FAT 11g (sat 6g); CHOLESTEROL 27mg; CALCIUM 89mg; CARBOHYDRATE 73g; SODIUM 43mg; PROTEIN 9mg; FIBER 6g; IRON 1mg
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Winter Green Lasagna


2 1/2 pounds fresh kale, Swiss chard, spinach, or another fresh green, or five 10-ounce boxes frozen chopped spinach, thawed
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups low-fat milk
2 cups grated Parmesan or Romano, or a combination of the two
2 15-ounce containers ricotta
2 eggs, beaten Grated zest from 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 16-ounce box no-boil lasagna noodles

If using fresh greens, discard any tough stems and chop the leaves. Rinse and shake gently to remove most but not all of the water. Place 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large stockpot with the garlic and cook over medium-high heat. As soon as the garlic begins to brown, add the greens and toss. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Cover immediately and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until very tender. (If using frozen spinach, press out the liquid, then saute the spinach in 2 tablespoons of the oil and the garlic for about 5 minutes.) Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the remaining olive oil, the flour, and the remaining salt. Cook, whisking constantly, for about 3 minutes. Add the milk and increase heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens and boils, about 10 minutes. Stir in all but 1/2 cup of the grated cheese. Heat oven to 350º F. Coat a 13-by-9-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Blend the ricotta, eggs, lemon zest, and nutmeg into the greens. Spread about 1/2 cup of the cheese sauce in the bottom of the baking pan. Place 3 sheets of pasta on top. Spread on 1/4 of the spinach filling and 1/2 cup sauce, then another 3 sheets of pasta. Make 3 more layers. End with the pasta and sauce, and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes. Remove the foil and cook 15 minutes more or until golden. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. (Can be made up to 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Reheat in a 325º F oven for 20 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out hot.)


Yield: Makes 8 to 10 servings

CALORIES 575(0% from fat); FAT 27g (sat 13g); CHOLESTEROL 115mg; CALCIUM 611mg; CARBOHYDRATE 55g; SODIUM 694mg; PROTEIN 31mg; FIBER 3g; IRON 4mg
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Beef Bourguignonne


3 1/2 to 4 pounds stew or chuck meat, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 bottle dry red wine (such as Cýtes du Rhýne)
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1 14.5-ounce cans (3 1/2 cups) low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 small yellow onion
1 whole carrot, peeled
8 cloves garlic, peeled
1 pound whole carrots, peeled and cut into strips, or baby-cut carrots
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound fresh or frozen pearl onions
1 pound button mushrooms, sliced

Heat oven to 300° F.

Season the meat on all sides with 1 tablespoon of the salt and the pepper.

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large ovenproof pot over medium heat. Cook the meat in batches, turning to brown all sides. Transfer to a plate.

Add the wine to the drippings in the pot and bring to a boil. Cook for 3 minutes, using a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pot. Add the meat, tomatoes, and 2 cups of the broth and bring to a simmer. Add the yellow onion, whole carrot, and garlic. Cover tightly and transfer to oven for 1 hour.

Add the baby-cut carrots or carrot strips, cover, and return to oven until the meat is fork-tender but not falling apart, about 30 minutes more. Skim any fat from the surface.

Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pearl onions and the remaining broth. Simmer until the liquid almost completely evaporates and the onions are tender, about 15 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to coat the onions with the liquid. Transfer to a plate.

Clean the skillet, then melt the remaining butter over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and toss to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid released by the mushrooms almost completely evaporates, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat and add the remaining salt.

Meanwhile, place the pot of beef stew on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Using a slotted spoon, remove and discard the onion half and the whole carrot. Simmer the stew, uncovered, until it thickens to the desired consistency, 10 to 20 minutes. Add the pearl onions and mushrooms and simmer for 5 more minutes. Spoon onto plates.

In Advance: Beef Bourguignonne's flavor improves with time. Make it 1 or 2 days ahead of time, then cover and refrigerate it, keeping the onions and mushrooms separate from the stew. The next day, skim any fat from the surface. Reheat the stew over a medium-low flame for 45 minutes.

Yield: Makes 8 servings

CALORIES 554.28(41% from fat); FAT 25.15g (sat 8.82g); CHOLESTEROL 143.46mg; CALCIUM 90.38mg; CARBOHYDRATE 20.87g; SODIUM 835.8mg; PROTEIN 46.42mg; FIBER 2.26g; IRON 6.02mg
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Swizzle-Stick Pizza Appetizers


1 12-inch frozen cheese pizza
1/3 cup store-bought pesto
1 8-ounce ball fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, drained and thinly sliced

Place the pizza on a baking sheet. Spread the pesto evenly over the surface. Top with the mozzarella and tomatoes. Bake according to the package directions. Slice into 1-inch-wide strips and serve.


Yield: Makes 6 servings

CALORIES 513.08(47% from fat); FAT 26.7g (sat 12.42g); CHOLESTEROL 55mg; CALCIUM 308.79mg; CARBOHYDRATE 45g; SODIUM 988.26mg; PROTEIN 25.2mg; FIBER 3.87g; IRON 2.13mg
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If Cheese Crisps aren't right for you, try this Cheese Platter!

Cheese Platter

1 1/4 pounds Great Hill Blue, Point Reyes' Original Blue, or Cowgirl Creamery's Red Hawk
1 pound Pierre Robert, Bingham Hill's Poudre Puff, or Sally Jackson's Guernsey
1 1/4 pounds Appleby's Cheshire, Cabot Creamery's Vintage Choice Cheddar, or Grafton Village Cheese Company's Four Star Cheddar
Red or green grapes Pears, apples or clementines
Assorted breads and crackers

Cheese tastes best at room temperature, so take your selections out of the refrigerator 2 hours before the party begins. Decorate the platters with the fruit. Serve with the bread and crackers.

Note: Offer 3 different types of cheese, and label them so guests don't have to guess what they are eating and will know the name if they want to buy some for themselves.

Yield: 30 servings

CALORIES 193(1% from fat); FAT 16g (sat 10g); CHOLESTEROL 49mg; CALCIUM 264mg; CARBOHYDRATE 1g; SODIUM 476mg; PROTEIN 12mg; FIBER 0g; IRON 0mg
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Cheese Crisps
1 loaf (about 1 pound) country-style bread, very thinly sliced
1/3 cup olive oil
8 ounces Gruyère, grated

Heat oven to 375° F.

Place the bread on baking sheets. Lightly brush the tops with the oil, then sprinkle lightly and evenly with the cheese. Bake until crisp and golden, about 15 minutes. Break each slice into large pieces. Serve warm or at room temperature.

In Advance: Make the cheese crisps early in the day, then store them at room temperature.

Yield: Makes about 60 crisps

CALORIES 46.83(50% from fat); FAT 2.64g (sat 0.92g); CHOLESTEROL 4.16mg; CALCIUM 43.9mg; CARBOHYDRATE 3.94g; SODIUM 58.77mg; PROTEIN 1.79mg; FIBER 0.23g; IRON 0.21mg

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That's right! The ENTIRE month of December on this blog will feature a recipe that can be made during the holiday season for gifts or for parties that you might have. This is the THIRD year I've posted the Holiday Dish, so I hope you enjoy!! Look back tomorrow, December 1st, around 10 AM for the first Dish!

Take 2 large peppers (green, yellow etc.) cut in half lengthwise, remove seeds and membranes. Place in boiling water for 1 minute, drain. In large frying pan, mix 1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice (I used the ready made microwave bag!), 1/2 c diced onion, 1/4 c chicken broth, 1 T orange rind and a little pepper. Cook over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add 6 oz ground turkey breast. Break up meat and cook till no pink is left. Stir in 1 shredded carrot, 1 egg white, 3 cloves minced garlic and 1 t dijon mustard. Remove from heat. Fill up the pepper boats, and place in a baking dish. Pour 1/2" water in dish and bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Garnish with (recipe says fat free sour cream with 1/2 t dill, but I used...) Strained lowfat yogurt with 1/2 t dill. VERY YUMMY! Even the kids liked them. They are not soggy or mushy and have a great flavor with the orange and mustard!!!
Well, I hope this one does not ruin my, ahem, reputation... ; ) But it is soooooooo good! Mix together a box of cake mix (yellow, vanilla, something like that) a box of instant pudding (vanilla usually, I made one today with a pumpkin spice flavor!) 4 eggs, 1/2 c. oil, 1/2 c. water and 1/2 c. rum. Pour into greased and floured bundt pan and bake for 50-60 minutes at 325 degrees. As for the rum (But why is the rum gone???) yes, the alcohol cooks out... yes, you can use the cheap stuff. I used to, but found a better quality WILL taste better. My personal choice: Captain Morgan Tattoo. It's smooth and has great flavor. In the cake... yeah, the cake. ; ) Back to the recipe!!!! Cool in pan slightly (10-15 minutes) remove from pan. EASY GLAZE: Melt 1/2 container vanilla frosting in pan, remove from heat and add 2 T. rum. Spoon and brush over cake, wrap in plastic and refrigerate. MORE COMPLICATED BUT YUMMIER GLAZE: Melt a stick of butter in pan. Add 1/4 c. water and 1 c. sugar. Boil and stir about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add 1/2 c. rum. Spoon and brush over cake. I do this with the cake sitting on plastic wrap on top of a plate. Then you wrap it up (sitting on the plate) so all the glaze soaks in. Refrigerate. The longer it sits, the more... uh... flavor!!!! Yeah. Flavor. Enjoy!!
Ok, I know the "Big Game" is this weekend, and I have not really posted any ideas for food. Truth is, the plans for the menu were just finalized yesterday! So here is the rundown... Since none of us (me, my husband, kids, or my parents) can really throw FULL support behind any one team... we're kinda Giants fans by default... We decided to swing toward better food!! The Artichoke DIp (see previous post) with blue corn chips, veggies and homemade dip. My Mom is fixing some various assorted bruschetta toppings to top some yummy bread, and beef and barley soup (YUM!) Also, there will be gougeres (french cheese puffs) and cake! So there you have it. Will we miss the chips and dip and cheese fries??? Possibly... Will we miss the "Oh I ate too much" feeling?? Nope! So what is on everyone's menu?
Avast ye maties, it seems this be the day to be postin' me ARRtichoke dip recipe! What with the pirate speak and all... So in time fer the "Big Game" here ye arrrrr: 1 can artichoke hearts (chopped), 1 cup mayo, 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese and a dash of hot sauce. Mix it all up, put it in a baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or so. It'll be hot and bubbly... just like I like me rum! Ye could add some thawed frozen spinach too if ye be wantin' some green. Serve with crackers, bread, veggies, a fork... or my favorite... spread the unbaked dip on a boboli type pizza crust and bake till hot and bubbly.... WHAR BE ME RUM!
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