Don’t Try This Trick at Home!

I could have titled this blog “The Amazing Exploding Hungarian Noodle Casserole.” Make no mistake, this is a delicious and hardy accompaniment for a Beef Bourguignon or similar entrée. But, my first experience in serving this to my guests taught me several valuable lessons.

Lesson 1: fire and noodles don’t mix!

The scene was a dinner party at my home with a buffet table full of mouth-watering offerings. Many folks had made their first pass through the buffet table and several us were hovering around the buffet chatting when…“BAM!…SHATTER!…SPRAY!!

Stunned, we all were paralyzed, jaws dropped as we gawked at the Baked Hungarian Noodle Casserole that had literally EXPLODED!. Glass shards and noodles littered the buffet table. The dinner was ruined — glass penetrated every nook and cranny of the food and surrounding area.

Silence. No…one…said…a…word…and turned toward me.

I wanted to cry, but without missing a beat, I threw my hands in the air and exclaimed, “And now for my next trick!”

The crowd exploded (pun noted) in laughter and applause! What else could we do? Several folks helped with clean up, in disbelief that Pyrex would shatter like that! I pulled some back-up food from the fridge and brought out more wine and desserts.

Lesson 2: It doesn’t matter what you serve people, whether it’s fancy or low-key, hospitality is from the heart. The main thing is to make people feel you are glad they came. Famous chef Julia Child wrote in her autobiography that on a few occasions she served dishes that flopped and she only realized it when she took a bite along with her guests. She never batted an eye or drew attention to the food, focusing on her guests the entire time.

So what happened? I guess I had the Sterno a little too close to the Pyrex? I had no idea  Pyrex could shatter but no glass is bullet proof. For more on this topic read this article “Exploding Pyrex Cookware Mystery Solved.”

I am making this recipe for Christmas Eve dinner this year.

Lesson 3: No Sterno and no Pyrex this time.

Baked Hungarian Noodles

This recipe, from A Private Collection published by the Junior League of Palo Alto, is written to serve 24 guests because it’s suitable for a crowd. It can be easily divided by 2 to serve 12. This can be made well in advance of the party. You might question only one pound of noodles for 24 servings; be sure to use only fine noodles to get the proper volume.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound fine noodles
  • 4 cups cream-style cottage cheese
  • 4 cups sour cream
  • 1 cup minced onion
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 dashes Tabasco sauce
  • 4 tablespoons of poppy seeds
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Freshly-ground pepper to taste
  • Paprika
  • Freshly-grated parmesan cheese

Cook noodles in boiling, salted water until tender. Drain. Combine the noodles with the remaining ingredients except the paprika and Parmesan cheese.

Place in two or three buttered casseroles and bake at 350 degrees until hot. Or, put in refrigerator at this point until ready to use. Approximately 30 minutes before serving, remove from refrigerator and bake until hot.

Sprinkle with paprika and serve with Parmesan cheese.

“While Visions of Sugar-Plums Danced in Their Heads”

I don’t really know what sugar-plums are but I decided they are anything sweet and delectable eaten during the Christmas season so you can have visions of them the night before Christmas. Sounds good to me.

Try this year’s version of my sugar-plums.

Ice Cream Cups, Inspired by Snickers®
An easy make-ahead dessert

  • 1 pint of chocolate ice cream
  • 1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
  • Caramel ice cream topping
  • 2 boxes of Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers (found in the baking aisle, not the cookie aisle)

Use about 24 paper cupcake cups. Place one chocolate wafer in each cup.

Soften the ice cream with a spoon, takes about 2-3 minutes. Stir peanut butter into the ice cream until well blended

Spread a tablespoon of ice cream mixture on each chocolate wafer. Top with a few teaspoons of caramel topping, top with another chocolate wafer, another layer of ice cream, then caramel topping. End with a chocolate wafer, drizzle with caramel sauce and red and green sprinkles. Put into freezer covered tightly for up to one week. Serve directly from freezer.

Nabisco Chocolate Wafers

Nabisco Chocolate Wafers

You can also use vanilla ice cream with peanut butter stirred into it. Or, use both flavors and alternate layers.

Today is National Cookie Day

December 4 is National Cookie Day, or so says the ubiquitous Internet where all things are true. So, let’s bake cookies with the flavors of the season. Here are two of my favorite Christmas cookie recipes.

Canberry Coins
Pictured above, this recipe came from Melanie, the neighborhood Martha Stewart. She got the recipe from Martha, of course!

INGREDIENTS
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
Beat butter, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla with a mixer until smooth. Add flour and salt; beat just until combined. Stir in dried cranberries. Divide dough into quarters.

On parchment or waxed paper, shape each portion into a log about 1 ½ inches in diameter and 4 inches long. Wrap logs tightly in parchment or waxed paper. Chill 30 minutes or up to one day. (Dough can be wrapped tightly in plastic and frozen up to one month.)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. With a sharp knife, slice dough into one-quarter-inch thick rounds. Rotate log as you cut to keep it from flattening. Place rounds on parchment-lined baking sheets, one inch apart.

Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges just begin to turn golden, 20 to 22 minutes. Let cookies cool on sheets on wire racks. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to two weeks.

Holiday Pumpkin Cookies
These were a mainstay every Christmas growing up. Mom made up her recipes and named them. Her naming conventions went right to the point. Thanks for the memories, Mom!

INGREDIENTS
1 cup shortening (this means Crisco, luckily, today, you can buy them in pre-measured sticks)
¾ cup sugar
1 egg
½ teaspoon orange extract
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup solid pack pumpkin

Cream the above, then add the following:
1-3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (usually a mixture of cinnamon, ground cloves and allspice)
Drop and top with pecan half.

Bake at 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes.

My variation: For Christmas, top with red and green sugar and the pecan. Or do some without the pecan for non-nut eaters. However, the original version is the one in the photo.

Holiday Pumpkin Cookie photo by Cindy Dyer.

True Colors

‘Tis the season for red and green and easy-to-carry party food. Spinach stuffed tomatoes provide all the color you need and this dish is easy to make ahead (even the day before) and bake when you need it. This tasty veggie dish is also a hit when you have to take something to a party because baked-ahead tomatoes can be eaten at room temp.

Spinach Stuffed Tomatoes

  • 10 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 package frozen spinach
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion of your choice (I use chopped shallots or finely-minced red onion)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese mixed with 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs and 2 tablespoons of melted butter

Wash tomatoes and slice a small slice off the stem end so the tomato will sit upright in a baking dish. Cut off the top of the tomato and scoop out the pulp. Lightly sprinkle the inside of the tomatoes with a little salt. Spray baking dish with cooking spray and place cored tomatoes in dish.

Cook spinach according to package directions, drain and squeeze all water out

Add butter, cream cheese, onions, salt and pepper and combine until butter and cheese is melted.

Spoon spinach mixture into tomatoes. Top with parmesan/bread crumb mixture.

Bake for 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Can make ahead and hold in refrigerator for two days before baking.

 

 

 

 

 

Ringing in 2016 with Thanks to 50,000+ of You!

Can you hear me screaming? Kelley Hospitality hit the 50,000+ mark in hits in 2015 and I have you to thank for that. We go together like salt and pepper. You wanted to know about all-things hospitality – food, family, friends, and folklore. And I had a passion for writing about it.

What is the All-Time Most Popular Blog Posting on Kelley Hospitality?

Ding! Ding! Ding!…It’s “A Fork Supper.” You needed a delicious meal you could serve at a large party and I had just the recipe! Here it is again for those of you just tuning in.

I wish you the best in 2016 and I look forward to more memories of hospitality recorded in these pages. Thank you and Happy New Year!

 

O Tannebaum in the Window

“They were pretty cute, I will say,” said Melanie, my friend in all-things hospitality.

Her annual Christmas party always shows up with something new – this year it was her Peppadew® trees. Yes, we are nuts about Peppadews. No, we don’t get paid to create recipes and blog about them. However, disclaimer alert − the Peppadew company did send me a supply after reading one of my blogs. I’m shameless about creating recipes and eating those little sweet piquant morsels of good for all the blog world to see!

You’ve asked where to buy them. They haven’t gone mainstream as yet, so try the fresh olive bar in your grocery story. Some stores, especially those that carry unique items might have them. Wegmans and Harris Teeter have them. You can also order them from Amazon or from the Peppadew company.

Have fun and have a Merry Christmas! I love you guys.

Peppadew Christmas Tree Cheese Ball
“Makes two trees and serves a lot of people, if they like cheese balls.” Melanie suggests that for a small gathering, make one-third the recipe (1 8-ounce package cream cheese).

3 packages (8 ounce each) cream cheese, softened
3 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons Peppadew brine
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons finely snipped chives
1/2 cup finely chopped Peppadews (Melanie used a mix of Sweet Golden and Hot Red)
Finely-chopped parsley, about half a bunch from the grocery store
Pine nuts or sliced almonds
2 tablespoons chopped Peppadews

In a large food processor, combine the cream cheese, Cheddar cheese, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, and Peppadew brine. Add salt and pepper to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon each). Process until mixture is thoroughly combined.

Turn mixture into large mixing bowl. Stir in the chives and the 1/2 cup finely-chopped Peppadews. Divide mixture in half; put each half onto a piece of plastic wrap. Pull up the sides of the plastic wrap, and twist into a point on the top. Repeat with the other half of the cheese mixture. The mixture will be soft so you can’t really shape it at this point, but you can once it has chilled. Set the cheese blobs in a small pan, such as a layer cake pan, and put in the fridge and chill until firm.

Just prior to serving, form each half of the mixture into a tree shape (cone); roll each tree in chopped parsley. Decorate the trees with pine nuts or sliced almonds, and the 2 tablespoons of chopped Peppadew pieces. Serve with crackers.

Deck the Halls

Here’s one that really lights up the room! Red and gold Peppadews® stuffed with cream cheese are easy to make and the sweet piquante peppers add zing.

Keep these ingredients on hand and put a tray out and watch who shows up!

Easy Stuffed Peppadews®

  • Cream cheese, softened with a little milk
  • Bruchetta seasoning or mixed herbs of your choice
  • Peppadews

Mix cream cheese with seasoning and pipe or spoon into peppadews.