Here I am mere weeks away from becoming a vegetarian and all I can think about are cookies. What? Before my annual cookie swap, I was trying to make a list of everything meat-filled that I need to consume right away in order to put the craving behind me for the new year. I got as far as Woody's pizzas, and then I went and ate them all. So now I'm just waiting for January 1 to roll around because I know that's all I'll think about and now I can't even brainstorm something that sounds particularly tasty. I think the cookies have killed my taste buds and that's why the troubled brain clouds are farkeling things up inside here. In the last week, I've had the orange-pecan rolled chicken fingers, Woody's pizzas (BBQ hamburger and bacon and the infamous hot wing pizza with chicken and blue cheese), pot roast (which was good but I won't miss it), orange chicken from Panda Express and Chipotle's chicken tacos (the best!). So you see, I do tend to eat a bit of the meat. I'm probably even missing some of it. I did, however, make breakfast burritos last week with vegetarian sausage, in preparation for next year. George ate them too, and said they were good. I guess that's one thing we can have together. Hooray!
I also have a few recipes to share, sort of crowd recipes, that I used for my cookie swap. One of them, which I got from Dave Lieberman's new cookbook, was NOT a success, but it didn't matter since it was just a rosemary and oil doused feta cheese and not the main event. But here were the ones people appreciated. . . .
White Bean and Oregano Puree on Garlic Toasts
1 can of your favorite white beans, rinsed and drained
1 tsp dried or 2 T fresh oregano
1/4 c. olive oil
salt & pepper
half a loaf of garlic flavored bread or else italian bread rubbed with garlic, sliced 1/2" thick
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Puree all but a handful of the beans with the onion, oregano, and olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with oil (this is a trick I took from the FoodNetwork) and spread it around with your fingers. Drop your bread slices onto the sheet and turn them to give each a light coat of oil -- much easier than brushing each of them! Place in the oven for 10 minutes, turn to toast evenly, and then bake another 10 minutes or so until they are lightly browned and crisp. Spread about a tablespoon of the puree on each piece of toast, adapting for the size of your bread. Sprinkle a couple of beans across the top, just so people will know what they're eating. Place the tray back in the oven to heat the bean mixture through, about 5-10 minutes or just keep on low heat until you're ready to serve. When you're ready, sprinkle the top with a little more oregano or pepper and shave or shred parmesan over the tops so it's pretty. Serve.
Goat Cheese Balls with Herbs and Sundried Tomato
1/2 c. sundried tomatoes packed in oil, drained
4-6 T your favorite italian herb mix (I used oregano, basil, a little hot pepper and rosemary)
8 oz soft goat cheese
Puree your sundried tomatoes until they're in very small pieces. Place in a small bowl. Add the herb mix to another bowl and add black pepper to taste. Slice the cheese into about 1/2 oz pieces (so you should have 16 or so), and roll the pieces until each becomes a ball shape. Roll the balls gently in the sundried tomato puree and then in the herb mix. Refrigerate to firm them up. Alternatively, you can roll some of the cheese in tomato only and some in herbs only, to have a pretty plate. But the cheese tastes great with both tomatoes and herbs on it.
Sweet Cranberry Pecans
8 oz shelled and halved pecans
2 oz dried cranberries
4 T sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
sprinkle of nutmeg
1 T melted butter
In a 350 degree oven, roast the pecan halves until the oils come out and you can smell them, usually between 5 and 10 minutes. Melt your butter in the microwave and keep ready. When the nuts come out of the oven, let them cool about 5 minutes, then pour the butter over them and mix well. Sprinkle with the cinnamon, sugar, allspice and nutmeg. Stir well until everything is coated. Add the cranberries and mix again. Let cool completely before serving.