All three dishes can be baked in the oven together, staggering the cooking time needed by each dish.
Stuffed Sole Fillets
4 large shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 scallion, minced
1 medium garlic clove, minced
½ celery stalk, finely chopped
1 mini bell pepper, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
1 tablespoon chopped chives
Salt and pepper
½ oz oyster crackers crushed
12 oz sole fillets
Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a baking dish just large enough to hold the fish with olive oil cooking spray.
Roll each fillet, jelly-roll fashion, and skewer it with toothpicks and place in the prepared baking dish.
Dot each roll-up with butter and cover the baking pan loosely with foil and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for another 10-15 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily when touched with a fork.
Easy Mac & Cheese
No need to make a white sauce to get creamy mac & cheese.
12 oz whole wheat elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 cup sour cream
Kosher salt and pepper
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup Velveeta cheese cut into small cubes
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
Heat the oven to 400°F. Cook the pasta for half the time recommended on package directions; drain.
In a large bowl, whisk together the mustard, sour cream, and 1⁄2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Fold in the onion and the Velveeta.
Transfer the pasta mixture to a greased 12×8-inch baking dish and bake until beginning to brown, 20 minutes.
Remove the baking dish from the oven and sprinkle the shredded cheddar cheese over the top of the casserole. Return the baking dish to the oven and bake until golden brown, 10 minutes more or until the cheese is melted. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Nut-Crusted Zucchini Sticks
1 medium-large zucchini, trimmed and cut into thin wedges
2 tablespoon olive oil
Pinch each of salt and pepper
1/2 cup finely ground nuts (any kind)
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray.
Place the zucchini wedges in a ziplock bag with the oil, salt, and pepper. Shake. Add the Italian seasoning and nuts. Shake until well coated. Place the zucchini on the prepared baking sheet and place in the oven. Roast the zucchini for 25-30 minutes until crispy and tender.
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We are in the midst of the holiday season and I love this time of year with all the fun things there are to do. You only need a few really good ingredients to create festive and delicious holiday food. Go for a mix of shapes and colors and your guests will love how beautiful everything looks.
While overindulgence is often the hallmark of holiday celebrations, your guests will appreciate party food that is nourishing and healthful as well as appealing. I like to arrange an appetizer tray with a mix of foods that can meet different dietary choices: vegetarian, gluten-free, low-calorie, etc.
Whether you want to host a few friends or have a big, open-to-all affair, the best way to make sure your guests enjoy themselves is to enjoy the party yourself—a relaxed, unruffled host makes guests feel welcome and at ease. With this in mind, do a little preparation ahead of time.
At a recent get-together at my home, I arranged appetizer trays filled with Castello Aged Havarti Cheese cubes at room temperature, homemade crackers, Prosciutto di Parma wrapped pears, mixed green olives, Mission figs/roasted red peppers/Castello cheese kabobs and homemade cranberry sauce for topping Castello cheese squares. What remained after the party were just a few crackers – everything else – gone. I had many compliments on the food and my friends loved the Castello cheese and asked where they could buy it.
Here are my recipes for you to recreate for your next party. I guarantee they will be a big hit.
Sweet Potato Crackers
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
- 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 1 cup of sweet potato puree (from 1 cooked sweet potato)
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
Roast the sweet potato in a 400 degree F oven for about 45-50 minutes; then let it cool, remove the skin and purée using a hand blender until smooth. You will need 1 cup of sweet potato purée for this recipe; use any leftover potato for another use. Set the purée aside.
Place the flour, baking powder, rosemary, paprika and salt in the bowl of a processor. Pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and pulse until is the size of small peas. Add the sweet potato puree and honey. Pulse until a dough forms.
Roll the dough into a ball and divide it into 4 pieces. For easier rolling, wrap each in plastic wrap and chill for a 1/2 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut parchment paper to fit two jelly roll pans or cookie sheets. Use the paper to roll out the dough.
Roll the dough 1/4″ thick and cut into 2″ squares, using a pizza, pastry wheel, a bench knife or a plain knife. Prick each cracker with a fork.
Lift the parchment onto the baking sheet. Separate the crackers a bit, leaving about 1/4″ between them, so they crisp evenly. If you’re not using parchment, transfer the crackers to the baking sheet, leaving about 1/4″ between them.
Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough. You will need to bake a second batch after the first finishes baking.
Bake the crackers for 12 to 16 minutes, until their edges are starting to brown. Switch pans after 10 minutes.
Remove the pans from the oven and slide the parchment onto the kitchen counter. Repeat baking with the second batch of crackers.
Store cooled crackers in an airtight container or tightly wrapped in plastic.
Castello Aged Havarti Cheese/Mission Figs/Roasted Red Pepper Kabobs
- 7 oz block of Castello Aged Havarti Cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- Mission figs, cut in half
- Roasted Red Peppers, jarred, drained and cut into one inch cubes
Drain the peppers on paper towels. On each toothpick skewer one piece of cheese, one fig half and one piece of red pepper. Repeat until all the cheese cubes are used.
Arrange the kabobs on an attractive serving platter.
Prosciutto di Parma Wrapped Pears
- 2 pears, each cut into 8 wedges and cored
- 8 thin slices (4 oz.) prosciutto di parma, cut in half lengthwise
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
- Pinch of kosher salt
Wrap each pear wedge with a half slice of prosciutto and set on a serving plate. Combine the oil, vinegar and salt. Drizzle over the pears.
Gluten-Free Almond Poppy Seed Crackers
- 1 3/4 cups Almond Meal Flour (Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur are brands I use)
- 2 egg whites
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Sea Salt
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
- Cracked pepper
- Dried Italian seasoning
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Cut parchment paper to fit two jelly roll pans or cookie sheets. Use the paper to roll out the dough.
Mix together the almond meal flour, olive oil and beaten egg whites. This will make a crumbly mix that shapes quickly into a ball.
Divide the dough into two pieces and shape each into a rough square.
Roll out one piece of dough at a time, keeping the piece you’re not working with covered to prevent drying.
Roll out on the parchment cut for the pan.
Roll the dough 1/4″ thick and cut into 2″ squares with a pizza, pastry wheel, a bench knife or a plain knife. Prick each cracker with a fork.
If you’ve rolled out the dough on parchment, simply lift the parchment onto the baking sheet. Separate the crackers a bit, leaving about 1/4″ between them, so they crisp evenly.
If you’re not using parchment, transfer the crackers to a baking sheet, leaving about 1/4″ between them.
Repeat with the remaining piece of dough.
Bake the crackers for 12 to 16 minutes, until their edges begin to brown. Switch pans after 10 minutes.
Remove them from the oven, cool right on the pan and then move to an airtight container to keep crisp and fresh.
Port Wine Cranberry Sauced Havarti
This appetizer is great with the Almond Crackers.
Makes about 1 3/4 cups
- 1 1/3 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 cups port wine
- 2 packages fresh cranberries
- 4 long strips orange zest
- 7 oz block of Castello Aged Havarti Cheese, room temperature
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and port wine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the wine has reduced slightly, about 4 minutes.
Add the cranberries and the orange zest. Simmer until the cranberries soften and the sauce thickens, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat; remove and discard the zest.
Set aside to cool for a few several minutes. Place the cheese in an attractive serving dish and spoon the warm sauce over the cheese.