7-Layer Greek Dip

Our plans for New Year’s Eve fell through, so my little family is on their own tonight.  As appetizers are a “must have” for New Year’s Eve, I decided to try a new one that I thought Rob and I might like.  This Greek layered dip looked right up my alley.  It’s got an herbed cream cheese layer and a hummus layer which aren’t visible in my picture.  Then, cucumbers, tomatoes, Kalamata olives (on half, as the hubby isn’t keen on them), green onion, parsley and feta cheese.  It’s not even three in the afternoon here, but I already had to give it a try (with our favorite flat bread from Trader Joe’s).  It’s fabulous.  Even so, the next time I make this, I’d like to try it with hummus being the bottom layer and then a layer of thick tzatziki sauce instead of cream cheese (as I adore Greek yogurt).  I found this recipe at Best Bites.  Here it is:

7-Layer Greek Dip
Adapted by Our Best Bites from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook

1 8-oz. package cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. dill weed or Greek seasoning (salt free–go for a mix that just has herbs)
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 c. hummus
1 c. seeded, diced cucumbers
1 c. seeded, diced tomatoes
1/2 c. chopped Kalamata olives
1/3 c. chopped green onions (about 3 green onions completely chopped)
1/2 c. crumbled Feta cheese
1/8-1/4 c. minced fresh parsley

With an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese, seasoning, garlic, and lemon juice until light and fluffy. Spread in the bottom of a pie plate or a small, shallow baking dish. Then spread a layer of hummus. In order, create layers by sprinkling the cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, onions, Feta cheese, and parsley. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours. Serve with pita chips, fresh vegetables, and/or flatbread.

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Jolly Nog

Ho ho ho!  This recipe may be out there somewhere under a different name, although I’ve never come across it.  I created this little Christmas drink last year and named it Jolly Nog.  I enjoy egg nog in small doses, but enjoy it more when lightened up with some bubbles.

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 glass of 7-Up

1/2 glass of egg nog

Mix.  Enjoy.  (I use light egg nog and diet 7-Up to lessen the guilt.)

P.S. Here is a plate of my completed Christmas cookies:

Frosted sugar cookies, raspberry thumbprints, iced gingerbread men, chocolate crinkles, pumpkin snickerdoodles and chocolate peanut munchies.  Pretty, yes?

Chocolate Peanut Munchies

These are similar to Buckeye Balls, but crunchier (my preference).  They are super easy and totally awesome.  They disappear quick as a wink, too!

INGREDIENTS
1 small jar crunchy peanut butter (about 1 1/2 to 2 cups)
1 stick butter
2 cups powdered sugar
2 cups Rice Krispies cereal
1 (12 oz.) bag chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:
Cream together peanut butter and butter.  Add sugar until well blended.  Stir in rice cereal.  Roll cookie dough into small balls and place in refrigerator.  Melt chocolate chips.  Dip top half of peanut butter balls into chocolate and refrigerate until cool and firm.  Keep extra cookies in the fridge.

Sugared Cranberries

What a fun little treat!  I saw how pretty and Christmasy these looked (on this site: Olives for Dinner) and just had to make them.  It’s totally easy, as long as you don’t mind waiting a bit for the final result.  You soak these berries in a spiced sugar syrup for eight hours, drain them, toss them with more sugar and allow them to dry.  Be warned though, some bites are still on the tart side.  I don’t mind.  They are kind of addictive too, once you get going on them.  I kept the cranberry syrup because I couldn’t bear to throw it away.  I think I’ll mix a little with some 7-Up for a cranberry pop.

INGREDIENTS
3 cups sugar
3 cups water
2 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
3 cups fresh cranberries, rinsed (and toss any that are already soft)
1 cup superfine sugar, or regular sugar pulsed in a small food processor

DIRECTIONS:
Combine the sugar, water and spices in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar is totally dissolved. Allow the mixture to come to a full boil, then pour into a separate bowl and immediately add in the fresh cranberries. Cover and place into the refrigerator to soak for about 8 hours.

Drain the cranberries. Line a cookie sheet with paper towels and place the cranberries on them to soak up any excess liquid. Place the remaining cup of sugar in a large bowl and add in the cranberries. Toss gently until well coated. Reline the cookie sheet with fresh paper towels and place the cranberries back on them to dry for about two hours.  Store in an airtight container in a cool place for up to a week.