Monday, December 19, 2011


Hot & Cheesy Shrimp Dip

Hot & Cheesy Shrimp Dip Served in Artisan Bread Bowl

1 large or 2 small round(s) of artisan bread (as pictured), cut out top and center and set aside
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup Hot Wing Sauce
1/2 cup Italian mix shredded cheese (mozzarella, provolone, Parmesan and Romano cheeses)
1/4 cup ranch dressing
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 scant teaspoon chili powder
10 drops Louisiana hot sauce or 1/2 teaspoon Chipotle in Adobo sauce
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 24-ounce bag medium-size frozen cooked shrimp
1/3 cup Italian mix shredded cheese for garnish, if desired
1/4 cup green onions with tops, chopped for garnish, if desired
Additional soft bread for serving
or Tostito "Scoop" Chips

Thaw and rinse shrimp. Allow shrimp to drain in a colander; remove shells and snip off tails. Spread shrimp onto layered paper towels (about 3 or 4 thicknesses). Roll shrimp up in the paper towels (as for a jelly roll) and gently press out excess moisture; repeat if necessary. Place shrimp on a cutting board (a food processor is not recommended) and chop to desired size (I like to leave the shrimp big enough that it's identifiable). Set shrimp aside.

Place cream cheese in large microwave-safe bowl; stir until smooth. Mix Hot Wing sauce, shredded cheese mix, ranch dressing, yogurt, garlic powder, chili powder, Louisiana hot sauce, and salt with cream cheese; stir to blend. Microwave on High for 2 minutes; stir again. Cover and microwave for another 1 minute. Dip will be bubbling when it's ready to serve.

Pour Hot & Cheesy Shrimp Dip into hollowed out bread bowl. Top with additional shredded cheese and green onions for garnish (green onions on top of this dish are mainly for color). Serve from the bread bowl with large soft bread pieces, or serve dip from a heat-proof bowl with Tostito "Scoop" Chips or fresh vegetables (as shown). Yield: 4 cups dip

Note: Canned or diced cooked chicken or shredded beef
can be used in place of the shrimp.
The worst gift is a fruitcake. There is only one fruitcake in the entire world, and people keep sending it to each other. ~Johnny Carson

This quote is a bit cynical but it clearly expresses my experience with mailing packages this year. CB
Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Applesauce Fruitcake with Honey

When I was growing up, fruitcake was enjoyed by most grown ups around the holidays. It seemed to be somewhat of an adult treat; a desire for the fruit-filled doorstop escaped me entirely. My mom, her friends and my aunts looked forward to making and eating it, much like we kids longed for frosted sugar cookies and Russian Tea Cakes. I remember fruitcakes being baked in early December, wrapped in rum or brandy soaked cheesecloth, and then tucked away in obscure places around the house to "season."

Years later as a newlywed, and living far away from family, we were given fifteen (that's right, fifteen) foil wrapped fruitcakes by our thoughtful, well-meaning neighbors. They didn't want us to get homesick. And frankly, it was oddly comforting to have fruitcakes stacked in our tiny refrigerator just an arm's length away. Although we appreciated their kindness, neither one of us would eat the stuff.

It was that year, far away from home and with lots of time on my hands, I learned why I didn't like fruitcake. I discovered, through careful dissection, that fruitcakes were largely made up of a suspicious looking mixture called Fruitcake Mix. Ick! Other distasteful culprits in the fruitcakes were identified as dried citrus peel and dark raisins. More ick! One saving grace for the traditional, although aromatic, brick was the dense dark cake, loaded with sugar and spice and everything nice, like applesauce, honey and nuts.

And that's how and why I developed Applesauce Fruitcake with Honey, and other similar recipes for fruitcake. I omitted the suspect fruits and replaced them with candied cherries, candied pineapple, golden raisins or currants, and toasted pecans or walnuts. All of this was folded into just enough spiced cake batter to hold everything together. Now, we're talkin' holiday fruitcake! I've loved it ever since, and that's with or without the rum.

Applesauce Fruitcake with Honey
3 cups unsweetened applesauce
1 3/4 cups granulated white sugar
1 cup shortening or margarine
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

2 cups honey

2 cups dates, chopped

2 cups golden raisins
or currants
1 cup walnuts, chopped

1/2 cup candied cherries

1/2 cup candied pineapple

Preheat oven to 250°F. Blend together applesauce, granulated white sugar, and shortening; pour into a medium saucepan; boil gently for 5 minutes. Set mixture aside to cool.

Mix together 4 cups flour, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and cloves. Gradually add to cooled applesauce mixture.

In a medium bowl, mix together honey, dates, raisins, walnuts, candied cherries and pineapple; fold into the applesauce mixture; add 1/2 cup flour; mix well.

Divide mixture into 3 greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pans; bake in a pan of hot water for 2 hours and 30 minutes. Cool completely.

The fruit and spice flavors of fruitcake are enhanced when it’s wrapped tightly in cheesecloth or plastic wrap and then stored in an air tight container. Storage in a cool dark place helps to preserve moisture and flavor. Slice and serve after 1 week; fruitcake keeps well for 4 to 6 weeks.

Yield: 3 loaves, approximately 36 slices

Baked and cooled fruitcakes can be wrapped in rum or brandy soaked cheesecloth to enhance flavors. This is of course optional.

More fruitcake recipes can be found in my apple cookbook, Sweet Apple Temptations


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