Here are a couple of recipes I rely on every Holiday season. The first one I use for gifts and also as something to snack on while I’m wrapping gifts. (Warning, not for those on a diet!)
Brown Sugar-Pecan Shortbread
Makes about 30 cookies
2 cups all purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter (at room temperature)
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
12 squares (1 ounce each) dark chocolate, melted
In a medium size bowl, stir together flour and salt.
In a large bowl, use a mixer on medium speed to blend together the butter, slowly add the sugar and then the vanilla until well blended.
Reduce the mixer speed to low.
Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until well blended. Stir in the toasted pecans.
Turn the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and shaped in a 6 X 4 ½ inch rectangle. Wrap securely and refrigerate the dough for several hours or until completely chilled.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Cut the chilled dough in half lengthwise.
Working with one half of the dough at a time, (keep the remining dough wrapped and in the fridge), cut the dough crosswise into ¼ inch thick slices. Place on prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Repeat with the remaining half of the dough.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes or until lightly golden brown, switching and rotating baking sheets halfway through the baking.
Let the shortbread cool for about 10 minutes and the transfer them to wire racks to cool completely. Dip each cookie into melted chocolate and place it on another sheet of waxed paper. Let them stand at room temperature until the chocolate is firm
You can store these cookies…if they don’t disappear immediately. With a sheet of waxed paper between layers of the shortbread in air tight containers at room temperature.
This second recipe, well it’s one of those that once again I’m embarrassed to call a recipe. For me there’s nothing worse than throwing a holiday bash and spending all your time in the kitchen. You can make these goodies ahead of the party. They look great as part of a buffet or even on a cheese platter. There’s no better taste than pear, blue cheese and walnut combined together, and when you serve these treats people think you spent more time with the recipe than you actually did. Best of all cream cheese and blue cheese go on sale this time of the year so they’re budget smart friendly too.
Pear, Blue Cheese and Walnut Treats
(makes about 20 treats)
1 8 ounce package of cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup chopped canned pears
½ cup crumbled blue cheese
1/3 cup pulverized walnuts (put them in the blender and chop them until the look like fine sand)
Pinch of pepper
In a medium size bowl, add the cream cheese, the chopped pears and blue cheese and blend together. Place the mixture in the fridge for about 20 minutes which firms it up so handling is a bit easier.
Roll the mixture into ½ inch balls (treats) and place on waxed paper until you have about twenty of them. Add a pinch of pepper to the walnut mixture and blend together. Pour this onto a large plate and roll each treat in it and then place them back onto the waxed paper.
When they’re all done put them back in the fridge until party time.
Any leftovers you have (as if you actually will) are great as a topping on a green or spinach salad.