Chef Salad Skewers

How cute are these??

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And here’s a whole platter of them!

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I took these to our to our church last night for an after service celebration and needless to say I didn’t bring any home!  I wanted to do something a bit different, and, well, both good and a bit healthy!  This could be put in your container for your lunch! It would also make a great snack for a healthy alternative and you could leave the croutons (homemade, by the way)  off and add an olive or a half boiled egg.  Your imagination can run rampant with these!

I used ham, turkey and summer sausage on my chef salad skewers!  You can use whatever combo you like on these or make them totally vegetarian. I would have put olives but some people don’t care for them so I just left them off on this batch.

I bought the package of little mozzarella balls of cheese and marinated them myself- just separate them – there’s a ton in one of those packages- and pour olive oil over to moisten them. I happen to have had some Tuscan flavored Olive oil and used this, sprinkled on a bit of kosher salt, pepper,  and Italian seasoning, and let marinate or a couple of hours. The leftovers will be great on our salads!

For the croutons, I cut Italian bread into large cubes, drizzled with olive oil, salt, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and placed in a 350 degree oven and let bake until almost crispy. Let cool on pan.  The slightly larger cubes makes it easy to put on skewer without breaking.  Worked like a charm!

Make some and have fun – a great side and a fun side to any meal!

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Tailgating is here!

Football time!  We are officially in football frenzy.  Everywhere you look football is on tv.  Even still Classic Football games are still being played.  Reruns of the weekend’s games are being played (if you wish to watch the agony and defeat…again, unless yours was a winning team).  Also, the chase is on.  If you follow Nascar, the race for the chase is on.  So, there is plenty to get excited about.  Me, I just love to hear it on tv.  I don’t get too upset over a win or loss.  I just quilt, and cook, and try to train the dog for his obedience class (that’s another story for another day).

But this will definitely be on our table for tailgating at David’s games.  Me oh my.  Someone will have to help eat this because I could eat the whole bowl.  And the cheese, this type of cheese is what makes this.

There are cheese spreads, pimento cheese recipes, but then there’s this.  And I have fallen in love with this.  And there’s no turning back.  If you serve this, you will be the star.  Trust me on this.  But make sure they know there’s heat in it.  In a good way.  Man, oh man, oh man.  Is it good.

Call it Cheese Spread, call it Pimento cheese, call it cheese dip, or serve a big dollop on your tailgate burger. Make you a Panini out of it. Or a regular sammy – or just serve a dollop by the side of your chicken salad.  Dip it up with crackers.  Dip it up with chips.  Just serve it.

Hot Buffalo Wing Pimento Cheese

Here’s how I made it –

I bought this cheese –

cheese

I grated it up – it’s a softer cheese but it still will grate fine –

In the bowl with the grated cheese, I also grated about a teaspoon of onion.  Feel free to finely chop yours.  You don’t need much – just a smidgen to add another layer of flavor.   I added two ounces of chopped pimentos (you can get a 2 ounce jar – just drain – if you can’t find the 2 ounce jar just use half of the four ounce jar), added about 1-2 tablespoons of worcestershire sauce (I usually add the 2 tbsp as we like the flavor), a pinch of salt and pepper (did you know adding a pinch of salt and pepper to your pimento cheese makes a big difference), and just enough mayonnaise to bring it all together.   Nothing else is needed.  It’s all in the cheese!  Just refrigerate till you serve – if you can wait that long!

cheese spread

Hope you will give it a try – I found this cheese in the specialty cheese section at the commissary.  You should be able to find it around town or something pretty close.  Have a spiffy super duper great week!

Weddings and food

There’s a wedding in our family on the horizon and we couldn’t be more thrilled. Our oldest granddaughter and her “intended” will be saying the “I do’s” late spring and we love her fiance. He is already part of the family and calls us Grammy and Paw Paw. A true sign that he just may like us a little!

One of the items that will be on the menu are these:
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And little old me gets to be in charge of making these! And I couldn’t be happier! These are easy, fun, and don’t fall apart like some cheese straws. But what makes these so good is that they are “Smokey Cheese Straws”, not just your regular cheese straws. We made a recipe for taste testing and they were so good. I wanted to make sure the bride loved them. And what made these a “plus” for her was that the store was out of the “smoked Cheddar cheese, but had the “smoked bacon cheddar cheese” of which I kindly obliged her bacon likings and used it. The recipe, according to her, was great. So I may just make a batch of regular and a batch using the smoked cheddar with bacon. Serve these at your next shower, get-together, or tailgate party!

Smoky Cheesy Straws Makes close to 5 dozen
1 (8-ounce) block of smoked Cheddar cheese, shredded (or the smoked bacon cheddar cheese like I used)
1 (8-ounce) round of smoked Gouda cheese, shredded
1 cup butter, softened
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground red pepper (more or less for heat to your taste)

In a medium bowl combine the cheeses and butter. Beat at medium speed with a mixer until well combined.

In a small bowl, combine flour, smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt, and red pepper. Gradually add flour mixture to cheese mixture until just combined. Wrap dough in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper. (It took two baking sheets for my recipe)

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to a 1/4 inch thickness. (err on the thinner of 1/4 inch. Mine were a bit too thick and were not as crisp as we wanted them to be). Using a pizza cutter or ki=nife, cut dough into 6inchx1/2inch strips, and place on prepared pans (I plan on making my next batch 3 inch x 1/2 inch) and place on prepared pans. bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool on pans for 2 minutes. Remove to racks to let cool completely. Store in air tight containers.

Stay warm and enjoy the rest of your week.

Oh, Nuts!

Hubby loves peanuts – roasted, raw, boiled peanuts. He loves mixed nuts and he loves Cajun roasted or seasoned.

I also like to make him a “trail mix” as he also loves raisins. This recipe has a bit of all that he loves. And this recipe would be a great one to serve at receptions, family gatherings, tailgating, or just healthy snacking. Try some soon.

And come back Friday – there may be a quick giveaway – I have been remiss…I blame a wonderful enjoyable retirement life! You should try it sometime!

Mystery Mix

2 cups whole almonds
2 cups pecan halves
2 cups roasted, salted pumpkin seeds
2 cups sunflower seed kernels
1 (15-ounce) box golden raisins
1 (10-ounce) bag dried cherries (I will probably use cranberries as that is what I like)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup honey
1 Tbsp curry powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground red pepper

Preheat oven to 250 degrees (nuts need to roast slow). Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine almonds, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, raisin, and cherries.
In a small bowl, whisk the melted butter, honey, curry powder, salt, and red pepper until combined. Pour this mixture over the nut mixture and toss until all is coated. Spread the coated nut mixture in an even layer in the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour, and stir every 15 minutes. Remove and spread in a single layer on parchment paper to cool. Sprinkle with kosher salt and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container. I like to use my large Ball Jars.

Enjoy!

I made it!

Today is my last day in the office……man, i have been in this building 33 years + and I am not sure if my car will be able to go in another direction!   It won’t for a while as I plan on enjoying the spoils of being home.   Hubby needs me and Ollie needs me.  i will enjoy waking up and not dressing to come to work.  I will enjoy having my morning java with the boys.  And I will enjoy not leaving in the middle of a Hallmark movie!  Priorities, you know.

And I can enjoy the holidays, while on my last days of vacation before my “official” first day of actual retirement (January 1, 1015) and know I won’t be coming back to the office except to do a quick report for my replacement.  So…….. I actually cooked my way to retirement!!!  And I can’t thank you all enough for following me all the way to the end of a life long career!

I had planned on ending my blog at the end of the two years, but I have had so much fun with this that I must keep on keeping on!   So, with goal met, let’s ring in the new year together!

And this little appetizer will be one that will be found on our Christmas table.  I know one granddaughter who loves bacon that will devour these!  Since we all will be enjoying the Reason for the Season, I am sure you will see that the posting will be slim through the Christmas season.  I pray each of you will have a safe and happy Christmas!  Merry Christmas, y’all!

Bacon Cheese Straws

1 pound bacon

1 – 8 oz. – pkg cream cheese, softened

1 1/4 cups mozzarrella cheese, shredded

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 egg

1 tsp milk

1 pkg frozen puff pastry, thawed according to the directions

flour for rolling

Cook bacon until crisp.  Cool and crumble.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a bowl, combine crumbled bacon, cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan chese, garlic powder and black pepper.  Using a fork, mix well.

Lightly sprinkle flour on the counter top and lay the puff pastry sheets out and roll to about 1/16 inch thick (I dare you to measure – ha).  Spread cheese mixture over half of the puff pastry.  Fold the other side over the cheese mixture.  using a rolling pin to roll the two sides together, so the cheese mixture is incorporated with the puff pastry.  Using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter cut into 1/2 inch strips.  Twist, pressing the ends together and lay on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

In a bowl mix together egg and milk.  Brush over each twist.  Freeze for 1 hour before baking (and don’t skip as it helps them stay twisted while baking).  Bake for 13 to 16 minutes until light golden brown.  Cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Again, thank you all for following, and have a Very Safe and Happy Merry Christmas!

Pizza – without the traditional crust

Wha????? No crust???

We had pizza this weekend.  We had pizza without the bread crust this weekend.  We had pizza with a different type of crust this weekend.   We had the best Cauliflower Crust Pizza!   Watching our carb intake this was such a wonderful alternative and you know what?  it was so good!   Hubby really liked it.  We will be having this again, real soon!

And since I am such a dunce and did not take pictures, you will just have to make it to see what it looks like!  Sorry…..

Here are the ingredients we used, but you can top it just like any other pizza – use your imagination and top it off with whatever you like.

1 head (small head) cauliflower

1/4 cup parmesan cheese (I used the kind in the can you use on spaghetti)

1/4 cup mozzarella cheese (I used the low fat shredded kind)

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 tsp dried basil

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp garlic powder

red pepper flakes – to taste – or optional to leave out but we didn’t and so glad we didn’t

1 whole egg

Place a pizza stone or baking sheet in the oven and preheat oven to 450 degrees.  On a cutting board, place a large piece of parchment paper and spray it with nonstick cooking oil (I just brushed mine with olive oil).

Wash and thoroughly dry a small head of cauliflower.   Make sure you get a smaller head of cauliflower or you will wind up with more than you need.  You need about 2 cups of “cauliflower snow”.  cut off the florets only – you don’t want much of the stem.  Pulse in your food processor until you have a powdery snow like cauliflower.  You will end up with about 2-3 cups of the pulsed cauliflower snow.  Place it in a microwave bowl and microwave for 4 minutes.  Then dump it in a tea towel, let it cool a bit,  and squeeze out any excess water.  It will then be sort of clumped once you squeeze the water out of it. This ensures you get a crust like pizza crust instead of it being crumbly.

Then dump it into a bowl, add the parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, kosher salt, dried basil, dried oregano, garlic powder, and the dash of red pepper flakes if using these.  Add the egg and mix using hands – they mix it better.  Form into a crust and press down on to the parchment paper forming it tight into a circle, rectangle, or whatever shape you want.  Don’t make it too thick or thin.  You will be able to tell.

Slide the formed crust on the parchment paper onto the heated baking sheet or stone.  Bake for 8-11 minutes, until it starts to turn golden brown.  Remove from oven.  Add however much sauce (we used a low carb (or a healthy heart) sauce to ours – and then whatever toppings you want – His side had some chopped ham, sliced onions, cheese – my side had some turkey sausage, onions, cheese.  Next time, I will put some bell peppers, mushrooms on mine.  We were more about tasting that crust this go-around!  top it with more cheese and put back in the oven and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes until the cheese is melted, bubbly and golden.   let it cool for just a couple of minutes before cutting.

I assure you, this is a great alternative for those who need to count carbs (diabetics, gluten tolerance) as it was yummy!

Have a great week everyone!

Breakfast Sausage Cups – not just for breakfast

What a great little jewel….these breakfast sausage cups.  Easy to make, easy to pick up and eat as a hands-on item.  A great little tail gate item or Sunday morning breakfast food for Sunday School.   I have a picture of these.  But it is on the camera I have not downloaded yet.  Sorry!   i didn’t want to wait to post this recipe as it was a hit at SS this past week.

Make these and see how you change yours up to satisfy your taste buds!

Breakfast Sausage Cups

1 pkg of whole crescent roll dough (found my complete roll at Wal Mart)

8 oz. smoked sausage or kielbasa, diced – about 2 cups)

2 Tbsp orange marmalade or your favorite jam (i am using some hot pepper jelly next time to kick it up a notch!

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

Fresh chopped parsley (optional- I did not use this at breakfast)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (I may have even baked mine at 375 – I’m weird that way)

Brown diced sausage just enough to get a bit of the grease out of it and to give it a slight crisp to it.  Drain on paper towels while preparing dough.

Sprinkle a bit of flour on work surface to keep dough from sticking.   Roll dough out and slightly roll with rolling pin dusted also with flour to thin it a bit.   Slice into 2 1/2 inch squares. I got about 16-18 out of my one square.

Press into mini muffin pan cups.

Place browned sausage in small bowl and mix in mustard and jelly.   Stir to coat.   Place about a tablespoon in each dough cup.   Bake until pastries are golden brown,   Sprinkle with chopped parsley, if you so choose.

Now you could mix your sausage with just about any flavor combination.   What about the grape jelley/bbq sauce if you were tailgating?   Or the hot pepper jelley and a spicy ketchup?   Man, the possibilities are endless.  Fingerfood at its best.

Try these and see if your crowd doesn’t like them.    Have a great day!

Drums……for eatin and keepin the beat

It’s football weekend and what a gorgeous weekend for it!   Nothing like beautiful weather, cooler temperatures, bands beating out the tunes to get you fired up, and food.  Man, that tailgating, munching, food.

This recipe is one you can change however your tastebuds (actually how hot or not) you like them.

I like mine hot and hubby not so hot.  So I may divide mine and alter the heat for us.

Baking these at home makes for an easy recipe for even a weeknight.

Taco Chicken Drummettes

1 1/2 lbs chicken drummettes (04 16 pieces)

1 (8-ounce) jar hot taco sauce (medium for you non-hotheads)

1 cup dry breadcrumbs

3 tablespoons taco seasoning mix (I shall be using my homemade taco seasoning mix)

Combine drummettes and taco sauce in a shallow dish; cover and chill 2 hours.   Combine breadcrumbs and seasoning mix in a shallow bowl.  Dredge drummettes in breadcrumb mixture, and place on a lightly greased baking sheet.  Bake at 375 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.

Have a great weekend, get outside and enjoy this great weather, and I hope your team wins!

Bacon Jalapeno Turkey Popper Meatballs

How good does that sound?  Man, oh man.  Serve these with sides for dipping, like salsa, or pico de gallo, guacamole, a dab of sour cream.   Yummy!

AND, a great ahead of time prep to take to tailgate, place in the “basket” grilling pan, and grill!  You get the smokey taste in them along with the heat of the jalapenos, and they are healthy!  Make these ahead of time, freeze and take out what you need. A winner all around.

Bacon Jalapeno Turkey Popper Meatballs

1 lb lean ground turkey

1/4 cup of 1/3 less fat cream cheese

2 egg whites

3 slices turkey bacon, cooked and minced (you can use real bacon if you prefer)

3 jalapenos, minced (leave the seeds out if you want less heat – but mine will have seeds left in!)

1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs

4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced fine (I will use 2 garlic cloves, as we don’t like a strong garlic flavor)

1/2 cup of 2% Mexican Cheese Blend

1 Tbsp dried oregano

1 tsp Mexican chili powder (i am adding 1/2 tsp of cumin to mine also for added mexican flavor)

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.  Remember not to over mix or you will have tough meatballs.  Using a 1 tbsp scoop, (or whatever size you want them to be) scoop out meat and place on baking sheet.   After you have scooped all of them, roll into balls, with slightly moistened hands (moistening hands with water will help meatballs form better and crack less).  Bake for 20-22 minutes until lightly browned and cooked through.   (cooking time may change if meatballs are larger)

If you want to freeze, you can then cool completely, place on tray and “quick freeze” for 30 minutes to an hour before bagging and placing in freezer.  By doing this, it will keep them from sticking together in bag and will allow you to take out only what you need.

This recipe is very versatile.  You can add or alter the spices to your liking!   Have fun wit this one!

Collard Green Dip – As Southern As You Get

Football and Collard Green dip – yep!   Sounds yummy, right?   Well, you don’t know until you give it a try!   I have noticed of late that the restaurants (or some locally) have collard Green Dip on their menu. I have wanted to try it but know the contents will be deadly in calories.

I have found a recipe that I have lightened up and one that I know I have have (no real bacon! HA) I will certainly be made this weekend and will be on our tailgate grill heating up when BeeBee comes over (get ready BeeBee!)

The recipe is below – if there is an ingredient out to the side in parenthesis (), that will be the original ingredient that you may insert if you wish to make it the original full-blown way (in other words, with the real bacon stuff – knockyourselfout version).

Serve it with Fritos, Crackers, and if you take it to tailgate, make it up before you go, put it in one of those aluminum cake pans (I always double layer mine) and stick on the grill to heat up!

Collard Green Dip

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

2 bunches fresh collard greens rinsed and chopped

(I will use the bagged greens, and probably use 1/2 of the bag for this

recipe with the large stem pieces removed)

5 slices of Turkey bacon, chopped     ( or -5 real slices of bacon, chopped)

1/2 sweet onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar OR 1/4 cup apple juice         ( or 1/4 cup dry white wine)

12 ounces light cream cheese, cut into pieces                (or 12 oz. regular cream cheese, cut into pieces)

1 -8-0z). container fat free sour cream                            (or 8 oz. container regular sour cream)

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes or more for more heat

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3/4 cup light or fat free Parmesan cheese – the kind used to shake on pizza or spaghetti  (OR 3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese)

1.  Heat olive oil in in Dutch oven at medium heat.  Add collard greens and cover, allowing to wilt for about 10-15 minutes, stirring as necessary.  Remove to another bowl.

2.  Cook Bacon in same dutch oven over medium high heat until crisp; remove bacon, and drain; (if using real bacon, reserve 1 Tbsp in pan; if using turkey bacon, may need to add a little more olive oil.)

3.  Saute onions in drippings/oil until tender, about 5 minutes and add chopped garlic and saute for another 30 seconds.  Pour in liquid (either the cider vinegar, the apple juice or wine, stirring to loosen the bits in the bottom of pan.  (get all that flavor up).  Stir in the greens, cream cheese, sour cream, red pepper flakes, and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook, stirring often, 6-8 minutes or until cream cheese is melted and mixture is thoroughly heated.

4.  Spray pan with cooking spray, and transfer mixture to pan.  sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.  broil for about 3-5 minutes or until the cheese is lightly browned.   Sprinkle with bacon pieces (the bacon you browned earlier).

I will also be serving mine with some veggie strips – bell pepper strips, celery strips, carrot strips, – yes, I know it won’t be as good as if I eat it with the Fritos, (which will be on hand for any who want those) but I really am trying to be good on what I eat.

So…..Give this a try for you true Southern raised football fans.   I think you will like this.  Happy Friday!