Carrie's Kitchen: Snacks inspired by The Maryland Wine Festival

The Maryland Wine Festival is just a couple of days away, and I, for one, am very excited.

I've missed the festival for the past two years, so we made plans two months in advance to have my sister-in-law watch our son this year so we can go and take part. It's just so nice to spend a relaxing day outdoors, able to try so many wines and wineries from all over the state all in one place.


And while there's lots of good food to get there, it's nice to pack a few snacky foods as well. In the past, we've packed some cheese and crackers and maybe some veggies and hummus. When you go with big groups of people, it's especially fun to think ahead and pack some snacks to share, but this year my husband and I are planning to go low-key and just enjoy being back at the festival.

Still, this week's column is dedicated to food fantasies inspired by The Maryland Wine Festival. The first two recipes are things you could pack, but the third should be served warm, so it could be nice to have it prepared and ready to pop into the oven when you get home.


The first recipe is for a grape salad that one of my husband's aunts prepared at a recent baby shower. I'm not ashamed to say I went back for thirds. It's pretty sweet, but the grapes freshen it up and the pecans make it earthy -- it was just amazing. The recipe calls for sour cream, but I think I'm going to try plain Greek yogurt when I make it -- it still has the thick creaminess and even some tang, just not the fat of sour cream.

The second recipe is for a caramelized onion and goat cheese dip, which I think would pair great with a lot of red wines. It didn't offer any recommendations for what to dip into it, but I think some pita wedges or prepared pita chips would be especially good.

And the third recipe is for a cauliflower and potato "tot" made with blue cheese and then served with a blue cheese dip. Blue cheese is another great ingredient to pair with certain wines -- but ask the winery or store for more specifics on pairings.

Cauliflower has become the new vegetable to sneak into dishes unexpectedly, especially mashed cauliflower. I like the idea of adding it to a tater tot, since the inside potato is already getting soft and warm and has that nice crispy coating on the outside -- you probably won't notice the cauliflower texture or its flavor with the blue cheese. Yum!


Grape salad

For salad:
1/2 cup sugar
8 ounces cream cheese
8 ounces sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 pounds red or black seedless grapes
For topping:
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup pecans

Cream sugar and cream cheese, add sour cream and vanilla and mix. Add grapes and stir by hand. Put into your serving bowl.
Mix brown sugar and pecans, crumble on top of grapes. Can be made one day in advance and refrigerated.

Source: Brenda Knauer

Caramelized onion and goat cheese dip
2 tablespoons butter
2 sweet onions, halved and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sugar
½ cup cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sour cream
4 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
½ teaspoon minced fresh thyme, or ¼ teaspoon dried
3 to 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add butter to melt, then add sliced onions. Sprinkle with sugar and cook, stirring frequently, until onions become soft and deep golden brown, about 10 minutes. Spread out on a plate to cool.
In a standing mixer or food processor, combine the cream cheese, sour cream, goat cheese and thyme; beat or process until smooth. Stir in cooled onions, then season with lemon juice, salt and freshly ground pepper. Taste and adjust.
Source: foodess.com

Cauliflower potato blue cheese tots
For tots:
1/3 head raw cauliflower, cut into quarters
2 tablespoons water
1 ½ cups shredded potatoes, frozen, that have been thawed
1 1/2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
For blue cheese dip:
1/2 ounce blue cheese crumbled
¼ cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon Frank's RedHot Sauce or other brand

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place a large wire rack on top of a baking sheet.
Place cauliflower in a food processor and pulse until cauliflower is the size of rice. Measure out 1 ½ cups of cauliflower.
Place cauliflower into a glass bowl and add 1 tablespoon water. Cover and microwave on high for 1 ½ minutes. Drain.
Pour cauliflower into a large bowl with potatoes, blue cheese, flour, salt and pepper. Mix well.
Pour panko and smoky paprika into a shallow baking dish. Take 2 tablespoons of the potatoes mixture and form into a tot. They are delicate, so be careful. Dredge in panko.
Place onto wire rack. Spray with cooking spray. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until lightly browned.
To make dip, mix all ingredients in a small bowl.
Serve while still warm.

Source: fooddonelight.com

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