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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Swiss - Bacon Dip with baked Pita Chips

My friend Paula turned me on to the Food Network channel about 11 years ago. I watched Emeril and Rachel Ray incessantly!! I couldn’t wait to see what they would make next. One night I was watching Rachel Ray and she made this dip. It sounded so different and wonderful; I couldn’t wait to try it. It was the first time I’d ever heard of a cheese dip made with Swiss cheese.  I had to make it!!  So I looked up the recipe and ran to the store to get all the ingredients.

I changed the recipe up a little. Not only out of necessity but also preference. I started out severing this with mini rye bread loaves which worked really well. But since I’ve started making my own Pita Chips, I want to eat them with everything!!

Every time I make this dip, I am asked for the recipe. When we celebrate a birthday at work, I am always expected to bring this!! It’s that good!!



Here’s the recipe and some tips

First, I know you can buy shredded Swiss cheese, but let me tell you that when you buy cheese pre-shredded they coat it in flour so it won’t stick together in the packaging. I’ve tried this recipe with pre-shredded cheese and for some reason it’s a little oily on top. It’s so much better to shred your own cheese. It’s fresher and it’s not coated in flour. I use a fine shred when I make mine, but you could use a larger grader if you like.

Second, I’m on a sweet onion kick lately.  You could probably use any onion you like, as long as it’s not too over powering. Rachel’s recipe says to use green onions, but I like the taste of a Vidalia onion. So that’s what I use.

Third, the recipe calls for Dijon mustard. I had honey Dijon, so that’s what I used. I don’t know that it changed the recipe that much. Like I said, it’s what I had. 

Swiss – Bacon Dip
6 Slices of center cut bacon, chopped
6 oz of cream cheese, softened
½ cup of mayonnaise
2 rounded Tbls of Dijon mustard
1 ½ cups shredded Swiss cheese
¼ cup of chopped onion
Heat oven to 400°. Cook chopped bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towel until cool.
In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix until combined. Put dip in an ovenproof dish. Bake for 15 – 18 minutes until edges are golden brown and bubbly.


Rachel says to top dip with Almonds and serve with sliced vegies or crackers, but I serve them with the recipe below for Pita chips. I also don’t top the dip with the Almonds because I like the taste the way it is; the Almonds will take it to a different place. But feel free to top with any kind of nut.
Baked Pita Chips
6 slices of pita bread cut into 8th’s
Olive oil – I use the spray
Salt & Pepper

Cut up pita bread in 8th’s. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner. Split bread apart and put single layer of bread on cookie sheet. Drizzle Olive oil over chips or spray with Olive oil spray. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. I use sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. It tastes better!! I’m just sayin…..
Bake in a 400° oven for 10 minutes.

Serve chips with dip.

You can put other spices on the chips if you want. Garlic powder or Rosemary to name a few. I’ve also made these chips with sugar and cinnamon and served with a fruit salsa. I spray them with a butter spray rather than Olive oil. Chips can also be stored in a zip lock bag for 2 weeks. If they can last that long!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

White Chocolate Shortbread Hearts

White Chocolate Shortbread Hearts

Christmas time at the café was a wonderful time!!! All the new smells… Gingerbread, cranberry bread, peppermint scones just to name a few. We had a cookie walk that we would literally make thousands of cookies for.  Tracie and I would sit down in September and start deciding what cookies we would have in the walk. Most of the ones from the year before would make the list. And we would always try to find new ones to make to add to our list just to make it a little different. People would line up outside the cafe waiting for the cookie walk to start!! It was my favorite time at the café.

We used to make shortbread cookies at the café and dip them in Ghirardelli Chocolate.  We would make the shapes of the cookie based on the holiday.

Now I have to confess, I used to tell my customers everything was made from scratch. Which 99.99999% of everything was. This recipe is where “from scratch” kinda gets blurred. You see, this cookie, ok prepare yourself because here comes my big confession, this cookie starts out as a cake mix. Yes, a cake mix. Ok, there I’ve said it. I’m admitting that it’s not completely from scratch.  Whew…..
I hope you’ll still follow me.

You see, we started out using this recipe to make Neapolitan cookies for the cookie walk. We used vanilla cake mix, chocolate cake mix and vanilla cake mix mixed with cherries and food coloring. We would layer the cake mix’s in a loaf pan, refrigerate them and then slice and bake them.  After those turned out pretty good, I thought why not make cookies out of any cake mix?  So I was on a mission.

I found Betty Crocker’s Cherry Chip cake mix and thought I would give it a try. I made the dough then rolled it out and cut out little angels. Usually we dipped the cookies in chocolate, but I decided because they were smaller than our normal cut out, to just drizzle them with the white chocolate. Let me tell you, they were bliss!! They immediately went on the Christmas cookie walk list.

So you’re probably wondering why I’m calling them shortbread cookies when they come from a cake mix? The answer – you add a whole pound of butter to the mix. What is one of the main ingredients in Shortbread? Butter!! Ergo they taste just like short bread!! Trust me on this.

I made these for my grandchildren for Valentine’s day this year. Finn, Max, Logan and Audrey. The 4 little people that have the key to my heart!! Besides, I couldn’t wait until Christmas to share this with you.

Make them for your valentine.  And if you don’t have a valentine, make them for you!!


1 box of cake mix (as mentioned above, I used Betty Crocker’s Cherry Chip cake mix)
1 pound of butter softened (4 sticks)
2 ¾ cup of flour

Set oven to 350°.

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper or liner.
Put all ingredients in a mixing bowl and combine until dough starts coming together.

Work dough with hands to make a ball. Wrap dough and refrigerate for ½ hour so the dough is a little easier to work with.

Flour work area so dough doesn’t stick. Roll dough out to ¼ thickness and cut with cookie cutter. Put cut outs on cookie sheet 1 inch apart. Cookies will spread a little.

Bake in oven for 12 -  14 minutes or until edges start turning golden. Remove from oven and let sit a minute or two, then remove them from the cookie sheet and put cookies on a cooling rack. Let cool completely before dipping in chocolate.

I used Ghirardelli bark to dip my cookies in. If you can’t find it, you can always melt down white chocolate chips with 1 tsp. of shortening. With either the bark or the chips, melt in microwave for 30 second increments stirring after each interval until completely melted. Or you can melt the chips with the shortening on a double boiler on top of your stove.

Dip or drizzle chocolate on cookies and wait until chocolate is set.

This made about 36 cookies for me.


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Cream of Roasted Tomato Soup

I love Tomato soup.  I have childhood memories of my mom opening a can of Campbell’s tomato soup. She let the paste plop in the pot, adding only a can of milk, then brought it to a boil. It was the best segue to a grilled cheese sandwich ever invented.
What? Isn’t that how everyone’s mom made Tomato soup? Maybe your mom used water instead of milk?

So if it didn’t come in a can or took more than a half hour to make, my mom didn’t make it!!
I rethought my idea of what tomato soup should be on a skiing trip to Taos, New Mexico a few years ago. One Friday night during Lent, after a great day of skiing at Angel Fire, we decide to go into town for Pizza. We decided that cheese pizza would work for dinner on a Friday during Lent. We were driving along the main drag and saw a sign for “Outback Pizza.” We literally drove out back behind the string shopping center to find it. The place looked like a dump; we hesitated going in We decided to take our chances and I am so glad we did.

Taos Pizza has the best Italian food I’ve ever had!!! No really, they did!!  Who would think that one would find the best Italian food in Taos, New Mexico? Certainly not me!!
One taste of their Sweet Tomato Basil soup and I knew this is what tomato soup was supposed to taste like. I begged the waitress to get me the recipe, but to no avail. So I decided I would try to find a recipe that was as good as theirs. The following recipe is the closest I could come to replicating it.

We served this soup every day at the café. I had more compliments on it than I can remember. I also won a soup contest at work with it along with numerous people asking for the recipe.
So with the help of my friend Melissa (she took the pictures) this is my very first recipe I’m posting!!

I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. And if you ever find yourself in the Taos area, please try Outback Pizza!


Cream of Roasted Tomato Soup

1 large can of whole peeled tomatoes (18oz?)
8 garlic cloves peeled
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 + tablespoons of olive oil
1 medium onion (I use sweet onion but you can use yellow or whatever you have on hand)
1 small can of tomato paste
¼ cup of red wine
4 cups of water
4 cubes of vegetable stock (enough for the 4 cups of water)
1/3 cup of white sugar
¾ cup of heavy cream

Take the can of whole peeled tomatoes and put tomatoes on a cookie sheet and cut in half; reserve the juice. Take the garlic cloves and sprinkle them on the tomatoes along with the oregano and basil, then drizzle with olive oil. Put in a 450° oven for 25 minutes. If the tomatoes burn on the edges, it’s ok. When the tomatoes are done, let them cool down a little. Then puree the tomatoes, garlic, basil and oregano in the blender. Set aside.

Chop the onion. Heat the two tablespoons of olive oil in a pot, when the olive oil is hot, add the onions and sauté the onions until they are tender and translucent.

 Add the tomato paste and stir with the onions.  

Then add the roasted tomato puree to the pot, pour in the tomato juice that you set aside from the can, add the water and wine. Add the bullions and the sugar to the soup. Stir until all is combined. Bring soup to a boil. Once soup is boiling, take off the heat and stir in the heavy cream.

 Ladle into a soup bowl and garnish with fresh basil or sour cream. Serve with a side of grilled cheese and you are good to go!