Roasted Garlic Parmesan White Bean Dip

Roasted Garlic Parmesan White Bean Dip

Creamy white bean dip flavored with roasted garlic and nutty parmesan cheese. 

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Hey all! I am back with one more quick and easy (I promise!) recipe before Christmas arrives. But before I get to that, I have one fun thing to share with you.

This past summer I was invited to participate in a series of short videos called Flavor Bits, produced by Chicagonista for Nielsen-Massey Vanillas. Each video was hosted by a different Chicago-area blogger and covered a different easy recipe using Nielsen-Massey vanilla products and/or flavor extracts. Since my love of baking and all things cookies is pretty well known, I was invited to do a video demonstrating my No-Chill Sugar Cookies recipe.

Want to see? Here you go, just in time for Christmas! (Be kind, please! xoxo)

So, there you go. And, in case you were wondering, those cookies ARE the perfect cookies to make this week with your favorite friends or family. Make, bake, frost, eat give! Done.

Now that I have reminded you of the perfect cookie recipe to make this week, let’s talk about this Roasted Garlic Parmesan White Bean Dip. I know that we have all been stuffing our faces with a few too many Brown Sugar Caramels and probably a bit too much Double Gingerbread Cake, so I thought we might need a light yet flavorful appetizer option to help ourselves out a little.

This dip is the perfect option. All it requires is a handful of ingredients – white beans, garlic, parmesan cheese, and a bit of parsley, olive oil and lemon juice – and a food processor. The roasted garlic is incredibly flavorful, the cheese is nutty, and the beans are super creamy, making this the perfect dip with pita chips or veggies.

Put this dip out while finishing up Christmas dinner and get everyone to even out their sugar intake for just a few moments – I promise, they won’t even realize that it’s good for them.

Roasted Garlic Parmesan White Bean Dip
 
Prep time

Total time

 

Ingredients
  • 5-6 cloves garlic
  • 2 (15.8-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • ¼ cup flat leaf parsley
  • ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Peel the garlic cloves. Place the cloves in a piece of heavy-duty foil – drizzle with a small amount of olive oil, then wrap in the foil, leaving a small opening at the top of the pouch. Place in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until garlic is soft and starting to turn golden. Allow to cool.
  3. Place the beans, roasted garlic, and the rest of the ingredients except for the olive oil in the bowl of a food processor. Run processor, streaming in the olive oil until it reaches a creamy consistency, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  4. Transfer to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Garnish with additional chopped parsley and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve with pita chips, crackers or veggies.

 

Brown Sugar Caramels

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Brown Sugar Caramels are the perfect sweet treat to make and give this holiday season — just try not to eat them all yourself!

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Anyone else have a really hard time keeping your hand out of the candy bowl when there are soft, chewy caramels in there?

…Yeah, me neither…

But seriously. There is just something about homemade caramels. (By the way…do you say “car-muhl” or “care-a-mell”?) It only takes a few humble ingredients and a little bit of heat to make magic happen when it comes to making caramel.

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I made these Brown Sugar Caramels just before Thanksgiving and took them to my family. Let’s just say that 75 caramels did not last long. They were super impressed – I did not admit to them how easy they were to make.

Much like sharing family recipes with you every Christmas, I seem to have need to encourage you to pull our your candy thermometers about once a year. (Exhibit A: My great-grandmother’s Peanut Brittle recipe.) I know that candy making can feel intimidating, but it really is not that scary. Get yourself a good candy thermometer – this one on Amazon is very similar to the one that I use – keep your eye on it, and you are set.

This recipe makes around 75 caramels – this can increase or decrease depending on how big you cut your candies – which is plenty to give as gifts or take to a holiday party this month. In fact, this recipe is a perfect addition to this month’s #12Bloggers theme – Holiday Party Treats!

Holiday Party Treats

Regardless of the occasion – be it a work shindig, school party or a soiree with the in-laws – we have you covered this month. Make sure to check out my fellow 11 bloggers’ recipes for fun and tasty holiday party treats:

Brown Sugar Caramels

5.0 from 2 reviews

Brown Sugar Caramels
 
Yield: Approx 75 caramels

Ingredients
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup light corn syrup
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla
  • Sea salt to top

Instructions
  1. Lightly grease an 8×8-inch square pan and line with parchment paper (the baking spray helps keep the parchment in place). Set aside.
  2. In a large glass measuring cup, add the cream, butter and salt. Microwave on high in 30-second intervals until cream is hot and steamy and the butter is melted, stirring or swirling gently between microwave intervals. Set aside.
  3. In a large heavy-bottomed pot (I used my 3-quart dutch oven – you want a large pot for this as the mixture boils up quite a bit), add the sugars, corn syrup and water. Whisk until thick and grainy. Use a wet pastry brush to wipe down the inside of the pot. Clip your candy thermometer to the side of the pot, making sure the tip is submerged but not touching the bottom of the pot.
  4. Turn the heat to medium. Without stirring, heat to 260 degrees. Remove from heat, then slowly whisk in the cream mixture. Mixture will boil up.
  5. Return to heat and, again without stirring, heat to 250 degrees. Turn off heat, quickly but gently whisk in the vanilla, and carefully pour into the prepared pan. Do not scrape the bottom of the pot, as this will have burned sugar that you do not want in your caramels.
  6. Top caramels lightly with coarse sea salt and allow to cool completely, at least 2-3 hours or, preferably, overnight. Cut into squares or rectangles and wrap each piece in waxed paper.

 

Win a KitchenAid Stand Mixer!

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That’s right, darling readers! ‘Tis the season to be merry and give gifts to our loved ones. And guess what? YOU are included in my loved ones!

So to wish you a Merry Christmas and a most joyful season, I am joining up with some of my best blogging buddies to bring one of you a shiny new KitchenAid stand mixer.

What you’ll win: A beautiful 6-Quart Professional Series KitchenAid Mixer in Empire Red (because it’s seasonal!). How to enter: Use the widget below – just follow the instructions! It is simple. Enter now until 11:59 pm (PST) on Sunday, December 13, 2014.

What are you waiting for? Go go go!

Christmas Spice Cake

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Holiday cake filled with dried fruit, nuts, and spices. It’s the perfect cake to share with friends this Christmas season!

This post is sponsored by Diamond of California. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting brands that make this site possible.

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I can’t seem to get through Christmas without sharing a family recipe with you.

Last year I shared Brown Sugar Fudge, a recipe from my friend Kathleen’s grandmother. Two years ago it was Fruitcake Cookies, a favorite of my Uncle Mike. Three years ago, we delighted in Maureen’s Rice Krispie Cookies, which you need to make immediately.

This year, I decided to focus on a cake recipe from my great-great-great-grandmother. That’s a lot of greats.

Mama Florence was my great-great-grandmother’s stepmother. I honestly don’t know a whole lot about Mama Florence, aside from the fact that she made this cake every year and that it was a Christmas staple for my momma’s family when she was growing up.

This recipe was not just a simple matter of making the recipe, photographing it and sharing it with you, however. Nope – when I say that I have my “great-great-great-grandmother’s recipe”, what I mean in this particular instance is that I have a “list of ingredients for my great-great-great-grandmother’s recipe with no instructions whatsoever and in some cases no measurements, either.”

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So, this was quite the experiment on my part, consisting of me piecing together this recipe with what I know about baking and sending up a prayer to all of the southern grandmothers who have ever loved me as I placed these cakes in the oven.

I knew the real test would be feeding the cakes to my grandmother, the only one who really remembers what Mama Florence’s recipe (or at least my great-grandmother’s version of the recipe) tasted like.

After the first bite, her face lit up like a Christmas tree. Bingo.

I am giving you this recipe now, because these cakes should be made at least 2 weeks in advance of serving them. YES. 2 weeks. That was not a typo. Once the cakes cool, you will wrap them up and, every 2-3 days, spritz them with a little bit of brandy. Wrap them back up and come for a visit again in a few days. Just don’t be like my great-great-grandmother, who one year took small bites of the cake every time she went to booze it up. By the time she went to serve the cake for a party, she had eaten almost all of it! #Oops

With the rich spices, molasses, pecans and dried fruits highlighted by the subtle flavors of orange and brandy, this is sure to be a cake your family and holiday guests will request every year.

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5.0 from 1 reviews

Christmas Spice Cake
 
Holiday cake filled with dried fruit, nuts, and spices. It’s the perfect cake to share with friends this Christmas season!
Ingredients
  • 1 pound golden raisins
  • 1 pound chopped dates
  • ¼ pound currants
  • 2 cups brandy, divided
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • ½ cup molasses
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 5 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ tablespoon EACH nutmeg, allspice, cloves and cinnamon
  • ½ pound Diamond of California Pecan Chips

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9×5-inch loaf pan and an 8-inch ring pan OR 3 8×4 inch loaf pans. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the raisins, dates and currants. Add ½ cup of the brandy and the orange juice. Cover and soak overnight, or cover lightly with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 5 minutes. If microwaving, allow to cool.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the orange zest, molasses and vanilla and beat until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until combined after each addition.
  4. Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda and spices. Slowly add to the wet ingredients, mixing on medium speed until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then fold in the dried fruit and pecans.
  5. Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake cakes for 1 hour to 1 hour, 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Cool cakes in the pans, then gently remove from the pans (run a knife along the edges of the pan before attempting to remove). Allow to cool completely.
  7. Place the remaining brandy in a spray bottle. Spritz the tops of the cakes with the brandy, then wrap tightly in heavy duty foil. Store in a cool, dark place for 2-4 weeks, unwrapping and spritzing with the brandy every 2-3 days.

 

Man-Bait Biscuits {+ an announcement!}

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Mile-high sweet potato biscuits are hearty enough to feed the man in your life (but fluffy and delicious enough to keep everyone else coming back for more as well).

Sweet Potato Biscuits
Welcome to the holiday season, friends! Before we dive into Christmas cakes, candies and appetizers (and there will be plenty of those, I can promise you that), I have a special recipe and a special announcement.

Yes!
This past Tuesday, Alex (formerly known ’round these parts as “Boyfriend”) took me out to the end of Navy Pier, got down on one knee, and asked me to be his wife.

I said yes.

Yes!
And so, on April 18 (maybe we did a little planning before the official proposal…), I will walk down the aisle and say “I do” to my best friend and the best man that I have ever known.

In case any of you were wondering, I feel fairly certain my cooking did a lot to influence the beginning of our relationship. In fact, I attribute a lot of things to my Sweet Potato Biscuit recipe.

Mile-High Sweet Potato Biscuits
When Alex and I started dating, I was living in Chicago while he was living in Iowa, about 3 hours away. The first weekend he stayed with me in Chicago, I made Sweet Potato Biscuits for breakfast on Sunday morning before he left. It was soon after this that I met his family (and discovered that he had already told them that I made the best biscuits he had ever had) and our relationship really took off.

Was it all thanks to the biscuits? That’s a tough call to make…but I’m certainly not discounting their powers.

And so, in honor of our engagement and entering this next big adventure, I share with you the recipe that made my man fall in love. Make them for breakfast this weekend – I can bet you that your sweetheart will love them, too.

Fluffy Sweet Potato Biscuits

4.8 from 5 reviews

Sweet Potato Biscuits
 
Prep time

Cook time

Total time

 

Yield: 8-9 biscuits

Ingredients
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • ½ cup cooked, mashed sweet potato
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles a coarse meal with a few pea-sized pieces of butter remaining.
  4. In a large measuring cup, whisk together the sweet potato and the buttermilk. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir to combine, just until barely combined.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Dough may be sticky; if so, lightly flour the top of the dough. Use your hands to bring the dough into a ball, then gently pat into a disk. Fold dough in half, turn it 90 degrees, and pat out again, flouring the dough as needed. Fold in half again. Repeat this process 1 more time. After the last fold, roll dough to 1-inch thick. Cut with a biscuit cutter; press cutter straight down, then twist to remove the biscuit. Re-roll dough as necessary, noting that rerolled biscuits will not get quite as much “lift” as the first batch. Cut 8-9 biscuits.
  6. Place cut biscuits in a 10-inch ungreased cast iron skillet, or close together on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until golden on top.

 

Pumpkin Pie Thumbprint Cookies

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Sweet sugar cookie thumbprints filled with pumpkin pie filling. Consider these your portable pumpkin pie – because that’s clearly a necessity. 

Pumpkin Pie Thumbprint Cookies
I don’t know how else to explain the origins of this recipe other than to say that I woke up with the idea in my head a few weeks ago.

I’m not saying some genius idea just came to me in my dreams…but maybe I am. I dunno. I’m going to just leave that one open to interpretation.

Just kidding — I totally had a genius idea come to me in my dreams. What I can I say? I dream about cookies more often than I would care to admit.

I actually wasn’t sure this recipe was going to work. I wasn’t sure if the ratio of cookie-to-filling would end up being right, if the filling and cookie would set at the same time, if the filling would even stay in the cookie thumbprint…there were a lot of things up in the air about these little suckers. But, after a few pans of finagling, I pulled out a pan of perfect thumbprints, with the cookie just barely cooked through – still a bit pale, even, a little like myself – and the filling just perfectly set. It made for a perfect soft cookie with just the right amount of pumpkin pie filling. A two-bite pie, if you will. Stick that pie in your pocket, take it with you wherever you go*.

Pumpkin Pie Cookies
I took this batch of cookies to my personal trainer, because what good are personal trainers if you can’t feed them your excess baked goods? She took one look at the container, ripped it open and inhaled a cookie in one swift motion. That’s some cookie affirmation, right there. She then proceeded to share the cookies, because she has more self control than I do. This is why she gets the cookies.

If you’re having a crowd of family in and out of your house this week, I highly suggest making a batch of these cookies to have on hand. They’re a piece of pie cake to make, and are easier to divvy up to passing family members than an entire pie. They might even become a new Thanksgiving tradition.

*Warning: I do not actually recommend sticking these cookies in your pocket. That would be a mess. Just stick them in your pie-hole instead. xoxo

Thumbprint Cookies with Pumpkin Pie Filling

5.0 from 1 reviews

Pumpkin Pie Thumbprint Cookies
 
Yield: 18-20 cookies

Ingredients
For the cookie dough:
  • ⅔ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups flour
For the filling:
  • ⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg white
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch of cloves
  • 2 tablespoons evaporated milk

Instructions
Make the cookie dough:
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the egg and vanilla; beat on low speed to combine. Slowly add the salt and the flour; mix on low speed until just combined.
  2. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls, placing them about 3 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets.
  3. Using the back of a rounded teaspoon, press the teaspoon into the top of each cookie, creating a well in the center (make sure not to press all of the way through to the baking sheet itself). Dip the teaspoon in flour or water between each cookie to make this process go a bit easier.
  4. Place the shaped and indented cookies into the refrigerator or freezer to chill for at least 1 hour. Near the end of the chilling time, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and make the filling.
Make the filling:
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the filling ingredients until well combined. When ready to bake, spoon about 1 teaspoon of filling into each of the indented cookie wells.
  2. Bake cookies for 15-18 minutes, or until cookies are just set and barely golden around the edges. Let cool on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack to finish cooling.