Brie Bites with Preserves and Toasted Spicy Pecans

Last night I went to a holiday party for my tennis group. Everyone was asked to bring an appetizer. I knew my day would be packed with errands, but I didn’t fret because as long as I have phyllo shells in the freezer and brie in the fridge, I can whip up a tray of warm Brie Bites in just fifteen minutes!

Having two or three boxes of pre-cooked Athens Phyllo Mini-Shells in the freezer and a round of brie in the fridge during the holidays is the key to being able to make this appetizer, with the topping of your choice, at a moment’s notice.

Here the cups are filled with a pat of brie.

My Favorite Toppings:

I LOVE the combination of brie and fig preserves. If I still have a jar of Roasted Fig Preserves in the fridge, I’ll top the brie with that. A reasonable facsimile, available in most grocery stores or on Amazon, is a jar of this burst of deliciousness:

During the holidays, I typically have some of Grandma’s Cranberry Chutney in the fridge, and I often top the brie with that. If not, I keep a jar of my tennis friend Leigh Oakley’s Oakley’s Spreadalicious Sweet and Hot Pepper Jelly in the cupboard for last-minute appetizers. It is also good poured over a log of warm goat cheese, sprinkled with toasted, sliced almonds, and topped with a sprinkle of fresh thyme leaves for color.

My friend and fabulous cook, Mindy, makes her brie bites with Oakley’s Spreadalicious topped with yummy, lightly salted, toasted pecans. The mix of spicy-sweet pepper jelly, toasted spicy pecans, earthy brie, and crunchy phyllo shell is crazy good!

Here is how to make Mindy’s Spicy, Lightly Salted Toasted Pecans:

Preheat oven to 300º

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan. Turn heat off. Add one pound of pecans. Toss until evenly coated. Add one shake of Lawry’s Seasoned Salt and a sprinkle of sea salt. Toss again. Taste and adjust seasoning.
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Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread nuts in a single layer. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until you can just start to smell them in the oven. They are addictive!

Instructions for Preparing the Brie Cups:

Preheat oven to 350º. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Remove the snowy white rind that covers the wheel of brie. Or not. The rind is completely edible, and whether to leave it on or to remove it is a personal choice. I think it adds a mushroomy flavor that I’m not crazy about for this appetizer but tastes fine when I eat it unadorned on a cracker. Slice the brie into small square slices to fit in the phyllo shells. Bake for 5-7 minutes or until cheese melts. Remove pan from oven.

Add a spoonful of chutney or preserves, or just a toasted pecan, or both, to the melted brie. Place sheet pan back in the oven for a minute to warm the topping. Serve warm.

Other crowd-pleasing appetizers:
“Croatian Cheese” a Flavorful Appetizer Made with Feta and Goat Cheese
Grandma’s Italian Fried Cauliflower
A Quick and Easy Baked Hummus and Feta Appetizer
Roasted Tamari Almonds
Outrageous Roasted Rosemary Cashews

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© 2014-2020 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.

Oats, Sorghum, Ginger and Cranberry Cookies

My son is leaving town after a nice visit home and I have a need to send him off with his favorite cookies. Will this ever change? He said they are so hearty he eats them for breakfast. I like the way he is thinking; hearty sounds like a meal instead of a dessert. I would have seconds in that scenario.

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One of the key ingredients in this recipe is ginger, a spice that imparts heat and sweet at the same time. Usually, I use ground ginger, but since I had fresh ginger root in the fridge, I decided to grate it and see how it affected the taste.  The change was mind-blowing. Between the ginger and the sorghum, this is one very flavorful cookie.

Yield: 3 dozen large cookies

Ingredients:   
sorghum oat cookies     
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
1½ teaspoons salt
½ cup sugar
1½ teaspoons ground ginger or 1½ tablespoons freshly grated ginger
4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sorghum (could substitute honey or molasses)
2 tablespoons water
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1½ cups raisins, Craisins, or dried cherries
1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped (use sunflower seeds if allergic to nuts)

Topping mixture: you’ll need a small bowl of water, and a little sugar and salt

Prepare oven and baking pans:
Preheat oven to 350º.
Line three baking sheets with parchment paper, or grease pans with canola oil.

Mise en Place:
sorghum oat cookies

To melt butter: Place butter in a tempered-glass liquid measuring cup. Melt butter in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. If little flecks of butter remain after melting, that is okay; better to let them melt on their own than risk overheating and causing the butter to separate into fat, water, and milk solids.
Sorghum oatmeal cookies

To prepare chopped nuts:  I won’t dirty the food processor for just one cup of nuts. Instead, place the measured amount of nuts in a baggie and use a meat mallet to crush them into small pieces.

Sorghum oatmeal cookies

To grate fresh ginger: As a general rule, when substituting fresh spice for a dried amount, use triple the amount of fresh. This recipe calls for 1½ teaspoons of ground ginger; I grated 1½ tablespoons instead. Know that 3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon. Also, you can store unpeeled ginger root in the freezer.

First, peel the ginger root and then grate. I used a fine-holed Microplane grater. The ground ginger will be very moist.
DSC_1016.jpg ginger cookies sorghum ginger cookies sorghum

To prepare eggs: Always break eggs in a separate bowl before adding to batter and then inspect for tiny broken shells or a foul-smelling yolk.

Measuring the flour: For a refresher course on how to properly measure dry ingredients, check out my post, Home Ec 101. As an FYI, I spooned the flour into the measuring cup and then leveled it off with a knife (or my finger!). If you scoop the measuring cup directly into the flour sack, it packs the flour into the cup. If you do that four times, for the required four cups of flour, you could add as much as one full cup of flour to this recipe.

Finally, make the cookies!
Into a large mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients: the flours, baking soda, salt, sugar, ginger, and oats. Mix on slow speed for about 30 seconds.
Sorghum oatmeal cookies

Add the liquids: sorghum, melted butter, water, and eggs, and mix on low-medium speed for about one minute.
Sorghum oatmeal cookies

Turn the machine off and use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the Craisins and nuts and mix on slow speed for another 15 seconds. Over-mixing the flour could result in tough cookies.

Use a tablespoon or a cookie scoop to make golf ball-sized portions of dough.
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Place 12 balls of dough on each cookie sheet. Lightly press the balls with a fork placed on the dough in two different directions to create a criss-cross pattern.
sorghum cookies sorghum cookies

Using a pastry brush, brush the tops of each cookie lightly with water followed by a sprinkle of sugar and a touch of salt.
Sorghum oatmeal cookies

Bake cookies for 8 minutes and then rotate cookie sheets on oven racks. Set a timer. Cook for about 7 more minutes, or until just lightly browned. Best to err on the side of “I think they’re ready,” than “Ugh, too hard” when determining doneness. Place cookies on wire racks to cool. Cookies will harden as they cool.
sorghum cookies – Version 2

Other cookie recipes:
3 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies!!!
Mary’s Award-Winning Chocolate Chip Cookies
My Favorite Rollout Butter Cookies
Italian Sesame Seed Cookies
Italian Ricotta and Lemon Cookies

Here are a few other recipes that use sorghum:
Sorghum, Oats, and Cranberry Granola
The Biscuit King
Roasted Butternut Squash, Brussels Sprouts, and Cranberries
Raising Sorghum Cane

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© 2014-2020 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos, videos, and text may only be reproduced with the written consent of Judy Wright.