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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Party!

Here are a few things I made for our annual Christmas party with our friends. I was also going to make chocolate covered pretzels, but decided not to after making the cheesecake bites. They are originally called "pops," but I found that the sticks would not stay in them so I took them out and therefore they became bites! I couldn't find the wooden sticks anywhere so I used plastic coffee stirrers instead and they definitely didn't work! I really don't know if the wooden sticks would have been any better though. I forgot to get a picture of the bruschetta, but I will still post the recipe!

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Cheesecake "Bites"
Adapted from The Food Network

Before I took the sticks out.


1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar (I used light because that's what I had)
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature (I used neufchatel)
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups creamy peanut butter

5 tablespoons vegetable shortening
12 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips


For the cheesecake: Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Line a 8 by 8-inch baking pan with foil letting long flaps overlap on each side. Spray foil with nonstick spray.

Break up the brown sugar to remove all lumps. In a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until very smooth. Add the cream and beat slowly; then add the yolks and vanilla mixing until just combined. Gently stir in peanut butter. Take care not to over beat the mixture; this incorporates too much air and causes the cheesecake to crack.

Pour and evenly spread the batter in the prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes. Open the oven to release some heat, then lower the temperature to 200 degrees F. Continue to bake the cheesecake until the outside is set but the center is still loose, for about 45 minutes. Turn off the oven, and cool cheesecake in the oven for 45 more minutes. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.

Lift cheesecake from the pan by lifting up the foil. Transfer to a cutting board. Cut into

1 1/2-inch cubes. Stick a wooden pop stick halfway into each bar and freeze for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, put the shortening and chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with an inch or so of water to a very slow simmer; set the bowl over, but not touching, the water. Stir the chocolate occasionally until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. (Alternatively, put the chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Melt at 50 percent power in the microwave until soft, about 1 minute. Stir, and continue to heat until completely melted, about 1 minute more.) (I would probably use more chocolate because I didn't have enough for all of the pops and I didn't even coat them all the way like the Food Network picture shows.)

Dip the pops into the chocolate mixture, and stand on waxed paper to set, about 5 minutes. Serve cold (straight from the fridge), or freeze up to 2 weeks. Frozen pops make a cool summer treat, or can be allowed to temper for 10 minutes at room temperature before serving.

Upgrade: Coat the pops with chopped nuts or candies for a really decadent finish. To do this let the dipped pops drip over a bowl for 15 seconds before rolling them.

These were really good and tasted a lot like peanut butter fudge!

Parmesan Rosemary Pinwheels
Adapted from Pampered Chef, Season's Best, Fall/Winter 2003 as seen on Amber's Delectable Delights and herb seasoning courtesy of Joelen

1 can (8 ounces) Pillsbury Crescent Recipe Creations
1/2 cup regular cream cheese spread
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese (I just used the stuff that comes in a can!)
1 teaspoon Pampered Chef pantry rosemary herb seasoning mix or 4 teaspoons snipped fresh rosemary (I used a seasoning that Joelen came up with which is the following: 2 tbsp. dried rosemary, 1/4 tsp. dried grated lemon peel, 1 tsp. dried leaf oregano crushed, 1 tsp. celery salt, 2 tbsp. onion powder,2 tbsp. garlic powder, 1/8 tsp. black pepper, 1/4 tsp. salt)

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Roll out the crescent recipe creations dough.
3. Place cream cheese in small bowl. Add rosemary and Parmesan cheese to bowl and mix well.
4. Spread the entire sheet of dough with the cream cheese mixture, leaving a 1/4 inch border all the way around.
5. Roll up the sheet of dough from one of the long edges; pinch edges to seal.
6. Using a serrated knife cut the rolled up dough into ~22 slices.
7. Place slices, cut side down, on stone or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and press down lightly to even the tops of each pinwheel out.
8. Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Bruschetta with Goat Cheese
Adapted from Better Homes & Garden

8-oz. loaf baguette-style French bread
Tbsp. olive oil
oz. soft chevre (goat cheese), crumbled (I used feta cheese)
oz. light cream cheese (Neufchatel)
tsp. lemon juice
tsp. snipped fresh sage or 1/4 tsp. ground sage (Omitted)
7-oz. jar roasted red sweet peppers, drained and cut into strips (I used my food processor to make them into smaller pieces)
cups coarsely chopped pitted Italian or ripe olives (I used black olives and used my food processor to chop them)
tsp. olive oil
Finely shredded fresh sage (Omitted)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Cut bread into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Lightly brush both sides of each slice with the 2 tablespoons olive oil. Arrange on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake about 10 minutes or until crisp and light brown, turning once. If desired, transfer the cooled toasts to a storage container. Cover and store the toasts at room temperature for up to 24 hours.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl stir together goat cheese, light cream cheese, lemon juice, and snipped sage or oregano. (I used oregano) Cut red pepper into strips. Toss chopped olives in the 1/2 teaspoon olive oil.

3. To assemble, spread each slice of toast with cheese mixture. Top with red pepper strips, chopped olives, and sage leaves, if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature. To heat, return slices to the ungreased baking sheet. Bake in a 425 degree F oven about 3 minutes or until the toppings are heated through. Makes about 24 servings. (I didn't assemble them - I just put the bruschetta on a large platter and had 3 smaller dishes with the warmed up cheese, chopped red peppers, and chopped olives so people could assemble them on their own according to their preferences!)

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  1. Everything looks great! Especially those PB bites, yum!

  2. Sounds like a great spread! We're having a party food recipe contest and would love to have you enter! I've linked to the contest through my name - it ends today at 4 p.m. pacific time.