Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Dip

I just want to point out a couple of new features added here. One, the "search" button is back. It disappeared for awhile because it was not working properly. Now, if there is a recipe you saw and wanted to get back to or are looking for recipes using certain ingredients, use the search bar to the left to find what you are looking for.

Also, I had several people let me know their frustration in printing recipes off The Olive Tree without printing photos or tons of unecessary pages. You will now see a link in each post that says "Printable Version". Simply click this link and you will be directed to the recipe with no extras, just to print! I hope these features make your visit and cooking much more pleasant! I LOVE recommendations like these so please let me know if there is something you would like to see!

Today I thought I would share a recipe that you can use for your New Year's Eve get together or just make at home for yourself! This is a mouth-watering hot dip that you can bake ahead and keep warm in a small crock pot or warmer. I will warn you, it is addicting! This is not too spicy, but just right. One of my favorites!

*Printable Version*

What You Need:
2 10 ounce cans chicken, drained
2 8 ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup blue cheese dressing
2/3 cup buffalo wing sauce {I like Frank's brand}
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon hot sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a shallow baking dish with cooking spray. Combine all ingredients and place into baking dish. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until bubbly in the center. Serve with crackers or celery or keep warm until ready to serve! Enjoy!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Homemade Peppermint Patties {Last Minute Gift Idea}

It seems like I said I was finished with gifts and wrapping weeks ago, however at least every few days I remember one more thing I needed or an unexpected gift arrives. You know how it goes. I ended up needing a few gifts last minute and after a painful hour wandering a busy chain store and finding nothing but crowds and frustration, I decided my kitchen was a better place to be. I saw this recipe at Savory Sweet Life and decided to try. You could have these made in the time it takes to drive somewhere and back and it will be so much more impressive and thoughtful. If you are done with Christmas gifts, these would still be great for a holiday party. I'm thinking New Year's Eve! I didn't document the process as well as she did, so I've included some of her pictures with mine.

Printable Version

What You Need:
1 14 oz. can of condensed milk
5 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon peppermint extract
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons shortening

Add condensed milk, 2 cups of powdered sugar, and peppermint extract to a large mixing bowl. Mix everything on medium speed with mixer until ingredients are combined. Continue adding powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time until you have a dough that is pliable but firm. At this point I covered and refrigerated the dough for about 30 minutes but you do not have to. Remove from the fridge and roll 3/4" balls with the palms of your hands. Press each ball down slightly and place on a parchment covered sheet. The first time I flattened mine too much. They should look like this:

Place the sheet into the freezer for 30 minutes to an hour. Now you can make your chocolate coating. All this requires is melting the chocolate chips in the microwave {I do 1 minute to start, stir, and then 30 second increments}. Or you can use a double boiler on the stovetop. Thin the melted chocolate with the melted shortening. Let cool just a couple of minutes and then remove your disks from the freezer. Now you will place the disk on a fork and dip into the chocolate coating like this:

Place coated disks back onto the parchment and allow them to set. I put mine in the fridge overnight but you do not need to let them set that long. That's it! While they were setting up, I put together some cute bags to deliver them. {Now you will see the difference in my horrible photography skills!}

Here is my finished product: {Next time I want to add crushed candy cane or peppermints to the chocolate tops before they set}

Wrap them in tissue paper & tie:

I used paper bags. Fold down the top, cut slits the size of your ribbon and run the ribbon through. {After placing your chocolates inside the bag, of course!}:

Now give them away if you can avoid eating them all! Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Chewy Chocolate-Gingerbread Cookies

This year I didn't do as much baking and treat making for the holidays as I usually do. It kind of left me wanting something more. So when I saw a from-scratch recipe for these I wanted to make them. {Okay I didn't really have the drive to make them but really wanted to have them}. I was in the grocery store with fresh ginger and molasses in my cart and walking down the baking aisle when I saw Betty Crocker's Gingerbread Cake & Cookie mix. And then... the whole idea went out the window because I decided to cheat and use a mix and just make up the chocolate part. I have to say, they really turned out yummy. If you need a quick cookie idea for an exchange or a gift or guests, I don't think you will be disappointed. They are super easy!

What You Need:
1 Betty Crocker Gingerbread Cake & Cookie Mix {or I guess whatever brand you like}
1/2 cup hot water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon  baking cocoa
1/2 cup chocolate chips, melted
1/4 cup sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Prepare cookie mix according to the directions. I wanted mine soft and chewy so this called for the water and butter. Add the baking cocoa and melted chocolate chips and mix well. Roll the dough into balls and roll in sugar. Place on the cookie sheet and bake 10-12 minutes until the edges are just starting to set. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before moving to a wire rack. Enjoy!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Smoked Gouda & Garlic Mashed Potatoes

I love mashed potatoes. Like in the way that if we have them for dinner, I can eat them for breakfast love them. It depends whether you like them with some texture or smooth, but I use a potato ricer when I make mine, which makes them smooth. Okay, onto the recipe. I first tried this a couple of  years ago when my sister in law, Jamie, made them for a holiday dinner. She made them again this Thanksgiving and they are seriously good. {She got the recipe from here}. I have actually not made these yet on my own, but highly recommend it for your holiday meal!

What You Need:
 1 head garlic
 1 teaspoon olive oil
 3 pounds russet potatoes
 2 teaspoons salt
 1/2 pound smoked gouda, shredded
 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
 1/2 cup heavy cream {add more as needed}
 salt and pepper to taste
 to roast the garlic:
 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove outer layers of garlic skin. Cut off the top quarter inch of the head, exposing the tops of each of thegarlic cloves. Wrap garlic in foil or place into an oven-proof
ramekin. Drizzle with olive oil and cover tightly. Roast for 45 minutes. Uncover and roast for an additional 30 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
 To prepare the potatoes:
 Peel and chop potatoes, placing them into a large pot. Cover with cold water and cook over medium-high heat, bringing the water to a slow boil, until the potatoes are fork tender (approximately 20 minutes). When potatoes are done, drain in a colander and return to the warm pot. If you are using or want to try using a ricer, this is the point you would use it. Once done, add butter, garlic, cheese, and cream. If using ricer, stir the ingredients together until combined. Otherwise, mash until the desired consistency.  Serve warm. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What's For Dinner Wednesday

For dinner tonight at our house, it is one of our favorite easy Mexican dishes, technically called Citrus Pulled Pork, but tonight I am making it with chicken instead. I am using the slow cooker and for two chicken breasts cooking it on low for about 3 hours. I posted this recipe back in May but you can easily click over to it here. Enjoy!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Fresh Lemon Cream Crepes

This is my new favorite breakfast/brunch recipe! I made these for Sunday breakfast and while its a given that I will love every bite, its hit or miss with my hubby and he loved (three and a half) of them too! This recipe is on the Betty Crocker website made with Bisquick baking mix but I adapted it and made the crepes from scratch, so that part of the original recipe is changed. I followed their recipe for the cream filling though and it is amazing. I also made some with nutella and berries for my little boy. There are definitely endless fillings you can use for crepes but I am telling you, this lemon cream one can not be beat. The lemon is not overpowering at all because it is balanced by the sour cream. These would be perfect for your holiday breakfasts or brunches. I had never made crepes before and they are easy. My only tip is that for my 10 inch pan, I used around 1/4 cup plus a tablespoon of batter to make them as thin as they should be. If you are using an 8 inch pan, 3 tablespoons of batter might be closer to enough. You may need to try out a couple and see how much batter you need each time.

What You Need: {Crepes}
 4 eggs, lightly beaten
 1 1/3 cups milk
 2 tablespoons butter, melted
 1 cup all-purpose flour
 2 tablespoons white sugar
 1/2 teaspoon salt


1. In large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, melted butter, flour sugar and salt until smooth.

2. Heat a medium-sized skillet or crepe pan over medium heat. Grease pan with a small amount of butter or oil applied with a brush or paper towel. {I used a non-stick pan and found the butter in the pan was not necessary. There is plenty in the crepe batter.} Spoon about 3 tablespoons crepe batter into hot pan, tilting the pan so that bottom surface is evenly coated. Cook over medium heat, 1 to 2 minutes on a side, or until golden brown. Remove from pan and keep warm.

What You Need: {Filling}

 2 cups sour cream
 1/2 cup milk
 1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest
 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
 1 box (4-serving size) vanilla instant pudding mix
 2 cups fresh raspberries
 Powdered sugar
 Additional fresh Raspberries, if desired

1. In a small bowl, beat sour cream, 1/2 cup milk, lemon peel, lemon juice, and pudding mix with whisk until blended.

2. To assemble each crepe, spoon 1/4 cup on filling on one end of crepe; top with 5 raspberries. Roll up; sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve with additional raspberries.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Country Style Pork with White Beans

This is such a simple, affordable comfort dish and can be done either in the slow cooker or a dutch oven style pot in the oven at a lower temperature. At first I thought the combination of ingredients was odd but they really come together. This meal is hearty and warm and full of flavor, perfect for the season.  I served this over rice but it stands on its own if you prefer. This over filled my 4 quart slow cooker so I would go with a 6 quart pot if you can. Great northern beans are large, hard beans that hold up well in the slow cooker. If unavailable substitute dried red or kidney beans. Because the beans need to be soaked for at least 8 hours, make sure to plan ahead!

Photo and recipe courtesy of My Kitchen Cafe
What You Need:
1 pound dried great northern beans
3 pounds country style pork ribs (about 12 ribs), trimmed of excess fat
Salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
6 medium garlic cloves, finely minced
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 pound chicken or turkey kielbasa sausage, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 (14.5 ounce each) cans diced tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Eight to 24 hours before assembling in the slow cooker, rinse the white beans and place them in a large bowl with cold water to cover by at least 2 inches. Let the beans soak anywhere from 8 to 24 hours.

Eight to 9 hours before eating, drain the beans and transfer them to the slow cooker. Dry the pork ribs thoroughly with paper towels, then season generously with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat until the oil is hot and rippling. Add half of the ribs and brown on all sides, 4-5 minutes. Transfer them to the slow cooker. Return the skillet to medium heat and heat 2 more teaspoons oil until hot and rippling. Brown the remaining ribs and transfer them to the slow cooker.

Return the skillet to medium heat and heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil until shimmering. Add the onion and ¼ teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add 1 cup of the chicken broth, tomato paste, celery seed, thyme and bay leaf, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Turn the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Transfer the onion mixture to slow cooker.

Add the kielbasa, tomatoes and chicken broth to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on either low or high, until the meat is tender, 7 to 8 hours on low or 5 to 6 on high. Before serving, discard the bay leaf, stir in the parsley, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over hot, steamed rice, if desired. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Spiced Pumpkin Butter

This recipe took care of three things for me. One, I had quite a bit of extra canned pumpkin left from stocking up in the fall. Two, I always like to make some sort of homemade gifts for Christmas and have done pear butter in the past with good results. And three, made my morning toast ten times better with its delicious-ness! This recipe from Multiply Delicious is incredibly easy. In fact, I mentioned I've done pear and apple butter in the past and this is so much less work since there is no fruit to clean and peel. You may have seen popular store bought versions of it at Trader Joe's or Williams-Sonoma. This recipe will make you around 3-4 pints. I doubled the recipe, used half pint jars, and got 14 out of it.
This is what I would do if you are planning to use it for gifts. You can use these for neighbors, to add to gift baskets, etc.

*Printable Version*

What You Need:
4 cups Pumpkin Puree {will take a bit more than 2 15 oz cans}
1 1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup apple juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt


In a 5-quart pot, combine all ingredients. Bring to boiling and then reduce the heat. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat, stirring frequently, 25 minutes or until thick. The mixture will probably spatter as it comes to a boil so watch carefully or it will be all over your kitchen! {This may have happened to me!} Keep stirring and as it loosens up this will stop.

If you are canning:
Ladle into HOT sterilized jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Keep jars on a towel. Wipe rims and immediately add sterilized seals and rings. Do not disturb for 24 hours. Mine did not seal right away but were all sealed within the hour.

If you are not canning, ladle into freezer containers or refrigerate and use.

Serve with bread, biscuits, or toast. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Garden Herb Bread

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday! We were gone five days and I have been busy trying to catch up. This is a tasty quick bread recipe that I've had for so many years I am not sure of the source. This turns out fairly dense since it does not have a rise, but because of that goes perfectly with soups and stews. This bread is fabulous with this Tortellini Soup. Once the dough is made, I divide it in threes, make long pieces, braid and tuck the ends, as seen in the photo. However if you do not want to do that, shaping it into a bread pan works just fine. Very yummy and easy!
What You Need:
4-6 cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 packages of rapid rise yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup butter
1 egg

In a small saucepan, heat milk, water, and butter until just warm. Combine liquid with dry ingredients. Stir in egg. Gradually add flour until a stiff dough is formed. Do not over flour dough. Cover and let rest about 10 minutes. At this time, braid and knot the ends or form into a bread pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes. You may need to cover the top with foil during the last 10 minutes to avoid over browning the top. Enjoy!