Guacamole-Cheese Crisps, Mini-Hamburgers.
The Mini-Hamburgers are a copycat of White Castle burgers; they are fun to make and yes, you really do cook them right on the buns.
The Easy Baklava Bars don't quite taste like the real thing, but they are so much simpler to make than traditional baklava that it seems a good trade.
Shane loves to toss a little shredded cheddar cheese in a skillet and toast it until it's golden brown and crispy, so when I found the recipe for Guacamole Cheese Crisps, I knew I'd have to make some.
And finally, my daughter Jeanne made a pot of Mulled Apple Cider (photo below) that was absolutely delicious. It would be wonderful for a fall party as well as a winter one. We couldn't find the apple brandy, so we substituted a lesser amount (1/2 cup) of DeKuyper Red Apple Liqueur added straight to the pot for flavor (simmering away the alcohol), then spiked each serving as desired.
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 Tablespoon butter
1 - 1-1/2 pounds very lean ground beef (93% or leaner)
1 egg, beaten
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon ground sage
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
40 mini rolls, split
40 dill pickle slices
10 slices American cheese, cut into 4 squares each (or uses shredded cheddar)
In a skillet, saute onion in butter. Transfer to a bowl; add meat, egg and seasonings.
Spread over bottom halves of the rolls: replace tops. Place on baking sheets; cover with foil. Bake at 350°F for 20-30 minutes. If desired, place a pickle slice and a cheese square on each burger; replace tops and foil, then return to the oven for 5 minutes.
Makes 40 mini burgers.
Easy Baklava Bars
1 can refrigerated crescent rolls
2 cups chopped walnuts
1 cup coconut
1 cup rolled oats
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon brandy, if desired
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3 whole cloves
Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 15x10x1 jelly roll pan (mine was non-stick, so I did not grease it). Unroll crescent dough into 2 long rectangles. Place in pan; press over bottom to form crust. Firmly press perforations to seal*. Bake at 350°F. for 5 minutes. Remove from oven.
In food processor, combine all filling ingredients. Process in brief intervals until mixture is finely chopped and blended well. Spoon evenly over partially baked crust; gently press down. Return pan to oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until golden brown.
In small saucepan, combine all glaze ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove whole cloves. Drizzle glaze evenly over warm bars. Score bars while still warm. Cool completely; cut into bars.
Makes about 48 bars.
*I used the new Pillsbury Recipe Creations Crescent rolls. It unrolls in one continuous sheet, so there are no perfs to seal.
1 cup finely shredded cheddar or Mexican-style cheese (4 oz.)
1/2 cup guacamole (store-bought or your own recipe - here's mine)
3 Tablespoons sour cream (I used French onion dip)
3 Tablespoons salsa
Heat oven to 400°F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. For each crisp, spoon 2 teaspoons cheese onto paper-lined cookie sheet; pat into 2-inch rounds (I used an open round cookie cutter as a quick guide). Bake 7-9 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheet to wire rack; cool until crisp.
Spoon 1-1/2 teaspoons guacamole onto each crisp along with about 1/2 teaspoon each of sour cream and salsa.
Makes about 16 appetizers.
Mulled Cider with Winter Spices
1 gallon apple cider
1/4 cup orange juice
Peel from 1 orange, cut into strips (or 1/2 teaspoon dehydrated orange peel)
1 bay leaf
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
2 whole cloves
2 whole allspice
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
pinch of salt
1-1/2 cups applejack brandy (optional)
Combine all ingredients except brandy in a large pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain cider into mugs (to remove whole spices and any foam that may have formed on top). Serve hot cider, passing applejack brandy separately, if desired.
Makes about 1 gallon.