Foodie Fridays – Mini Goat Cheese Appetizers (or Biscuits, or Grands, or Puffs)

Onto the deliciousness that is goat cheese.  I’ll take it pretty much any way I can get it, so I always jump at a recipe that includes it.  I found this one over on eggton (one hilarious chick, who also cooks and bakes and shares her recipes), but she called ’em cocktail puffs.  I feel I may have mentioned this once or twice on this blog, but my local grocery stores SUCK. So not only do I have to substitute stuff when I’m cooking because I chronically forget one ingredient, but some days it barely pays to get out of bed, because my stores are so lacking in the ingredients I want.

So when I decided I wanted to try these cocktail puffs for Book Club, I really had to get creative. Of the three goddamned ingredients, I could only get one.  So I had to sub in spicy mango chutney for hot pepper jelly (which was totally awesome and not half bad) and I had to also sub in Pillsbury Homestyle Grands for puff pastry (which again, actually worked out fine). What I’m getting at here, I think, is this:  I’ll never buy frozen appetizers from Costco again, because, no matter what I couldn’t find at the store, these turned out great, and were re-donc easy. And also, I feel weird calling them cocktail puffs for lack of said puff.

I got really creative later in the week and used Pillsbury biscuits and bacon with the leftover goat cheese and more mango chutney.

Guess what? Still freaking awesome.

Check out the original recipe here from eggton. I bet it’s even better than what I ended up with, but I’ll probably never know, until I move out of my neighborhood.

Here is my massively altered version (massive is probably an exaggeration):
Mini Goat Cheese Appetizers
1 can of Grands (or Biscuits)
Spicy Mango Chutney (or any other jelly that excites you) (about 10 – 12 tbs)
Goat Cheese (about 10 – 12 tbs)
Great add-ins: Caramelized Onions, Chopped Bacon, Cubed Pancetta, Spinach, get crazy!

Preheat oven as directed on the can (425 – 450 degrees).  Lightly spray cupcake pan.  If you’re using Grands, split them in half with your fingers (they pull apart pretty easily).  If  you are using Biscuits, pull them apart to flatten a bit (like mini pizza dough).  Place these into the cupcake pan, and fill with delicious ingredients.  Pop in the oven for about 12 – 15 minutes, or until golden brown on the edges.  Enjoy! 

I did a lot of mixing and matching when I made these both times this past week.  No matter what you add, don’t skimp on the jelly, otherwise, they are too dry.  Be generous with the filling, especially if you use Grands, otherwise the filling-to-dough ratio is a little off.  These are so EASY AND DELICIOUS, you’ll never bother with frozen appetizers for your guests again. And now I think I need to go make more…

Foodie Fridays – Beef and Veggie Soup

Thanks to getting called in for jury duty, I’ve been getting home at a respectable time and getting tons of stuff done around the house this week.  Today I made a simple chopped meat and veggie soup, that my mother always made for me.  Tom and I are trying to be slightly healthier, and this soup is a good jump off for both of us.  Tons of veggies and really filling!

Beef & Veggie Soup
Serves 6 – 8
1 lb ground beef, browned and drained
1 medium onion
2 – 3 carrots
2 – 3 celery stalks
8 – 16 oz V8/Tomato juice
2 – 3 cups water
2 beef bullion cubes
Additional fresh or frozen vegetables as you desire
1 tsp black pepper

Brown then drain the chopped meat, and return to pot. Add in chopped onions, celery, carrots, and any additional vegetables you’ve got lying around.  Depending on how many vegetables you add will determine now much tomato juice and water you need, but basically just enough to cover it. Drop in your bullion cubes and pepper and let simmer for about 20 minutes and serve!  

I skipped the fresh carrots this time since my frozen mixed vegetables already had carrots in it.Pasta or beans are always easy additions for this dish, or if you want to scale back some of the beef.  A sprinkle of parmesan cheese gives it a nice additional kick. Enjoy!

Foodie Fridays – Raspberry Streusal Bars

So I made these a few weeks back as part of a cookie exchange with a few of my best friends right before Christmas.  We each made a bunch of one or two types of cookies (I also made these chocolate chip bacon cookies), and then pooled them together and split them up evenly so everyone had a great variety.  I highly suggest finding at least one other friend that is willing to do this with you. It’s a great excuse to get together, and it also forces you to make something (whereas in previous years I had high hopes and then scraped them last minute).

So against my better judgement, I have to tell you how bad I am at following directions before I give you the recipe.  I blame my mother and grandmother.  There is just something in our blood that makes us feel like we don’t really need to follow the directions. I’ve found that for as many times as I’ve improved a recipe for not following it exactly, I’ve also ruined recipes.  And I had just recently ruined an entire dinner so Tom was giving me an extra hard time about whether or not I was going to follow these cookie recipes while I was making them.  I told him my mom already told me to skip the almonds and powered sugar, but I was following everything else to a T.  So I did that and for some reason my mixture was not coming to a nice crumble as I expected.  I even baked it longer, thinking that maybe something was wrong with the oven:

The next day I was at work and it dawned on me.  I had a brief mental fart the night before and had only put in half the butter it called for.  When I had read 3/4 cup butter, I had translated that to 3/4 of a stick of butter in my head.  Which clearly, is less than 1/2 cup, or approximately half of what the recipe called for.  I am really amazed that I have a great job at a private equity firm doing taxes sometimes.  Math is not my strong subject. Anyway, I tried the whole thing again last night, and this beauty came out of the oven:

Of course I called my mother to let her in on the secret and we had a good laugh…but what bothered both of us is that I probably made this same butter calculation mistake when I made the chocolate chip bacon cookies, and they turned out fine. I’m not really sure if what I’m saying is, don’t use all the butter in the other cookie recipe, because clearly they turn out fine with only half of it.  Maybe they will be even better than what I ended up with if you use the correct amount of butter.  Or maybe I didn’t make a mistake when I made those. Who knows. I certainly never will. Now I feel like I’ve led you to never want to trust one of my recipes again. But you should. I think. Anyway – literally copied and pasted from the original site (so no typos!) here is the recipe:

Raspberry Streusel Squares
1 1/2 c. flour 
1 tsp. baking powder 
1/4 tsp. salt 
1/2 c. sugar 
1/2 c. light brown sugar 
3/4 c. butter 
1 1/2 c. quick cooking rolled oats 
1 jar (10 oz.) red raspberry preserves 
1/4 c. chopped almonds 
Powdered sugar

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in mixing bowl; stir in sugars. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly; stir in oats. Press about 2/3’s of mixture onto bottom of lightly greased 9 x 9 inch baking pan. Spread with preserves. Add almonds to remaining crumb mixture and sprinkle over preserves. Patting down lightly. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until golden. Cool on wire rack. Then sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cut into squares.

Am I the only one that says rasP – berry in my head every time I try to read raspberry?  The I force myself to say raZZ – berry.  Then I get confused and annoyed at the English language. Anyway – make these for New Year’s Eve!! And have a safe and happy weekend! 2012 here we come!