Posts Tagged ‘appetizers’

Do you like jalapeno poppers? We do.  What’s not to like? Jalapenos, cream cheese, and bacon, baked to perfection. Simple and simply good.  I know not everyone shares my love of jalapenos.  My upper GI fights back when I wolf down my favorite jalapeno-laden burger, and I pay dearly for the occasional indulgence.

Even that can’t put a permanent damper on my love of jalapenos.  But I should say my warm feelings started out less-than-warm:  in fact, until just a few years ago, I routinely picked them off our pizzas and nachos.  I liked the residual heat but not the tongue-searing encounters with those little green slices.  But over time, my heart grew fonder, and now I will fight for the last pepper on the nachos, and eat them with abandon on just about anything.

This recipe can be adjusted for your personal preferences.  If you are like the former me, you can scale back the number of peppers in this recipe, and seed them to keep it mild.  If you like it hot, the more the merrier.

First things first, I want to give credit where it’s due; I stumbled over the original recipe here.  I adapted it and served it for our football view-a-thon over the New Year’s holidays. We tackled a lot of the dish when it first came out of the oven, and then more over the next day or two.  I wish I had gotten a picture–I used my new Fiesta pie plate, since a pie wasn’t in my short-term menu plans.

So here’s my adapted version, in time for you to add it to your Super Bowl food starting lineup…it’ll be on ours.

Hot Popper Dip

4-6 fresh whole jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced (I used 6 and seeded half of them before I diced them up; I’d say it was moderately spicy)
2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
6 slices thick-cut bacon, diced into 1/2 inch pieces and cooked (I microwaved it for about 3 minutes until crispy, then drained on paper towels)
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup diced green onions including tops

1 cup crushed Ritz crackers
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup butter, melted
Dash paprika
Dash coarse-ground pepper

Heat oven to 350.  Tip:  To keep those stinging capsacins off your fingertips, use food service gloves to handle them.  Or be sure to use only one hand to touch the cut peppers. (Use the other to cut them up. This is REALLY important if you need to remove contact lenses the same day you make this dip! Ask me how I know 🙂

Combine all dip ingredients. Spray a shallow dish (Quiche pan, pie pan, 9-inch glass baking dish, etc.) with cooking spray and spread dip evenly.  Top with crackers and Parmesan cheese; drizzle with butter and sprinkle with a bit of paprika and pepper.  Bake for 30 minutes or until top is golden and bubbly.  Serve warm with Ritz crackers or corn chips (Fritos or tortilla chips.) Enjoy!

This dip can also be mixed up in advance and refrigerated, then baked just before serving.  If you do that, allow your dish sit on a counter while preheating the oven to avoid putting a cold stoneware or glass dish directly from refrigerator into a hot oven.

Happy popping,

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Football and sausage balls just go together, don’t they? And for Sunday’s “Big Game”… (because “Super Bowl” is now a trademarked word…)

it’s all about the snackage.  I especially like this recipe because it captures the flavor of sausage balls, but it’s less work to whip up a batch. Pull out those mini-muffin pans and get your bake on!

Sausage Muffin Bites

1/2 pound sausage (we like hot or half hot/half mild – you choose)
1 1/2 cups biscuit mix
1/2 cup shredded cheese (sharp cheddar or pepper jack work great)
1/2 cup Velveeta, coarsely chopped or use shredded
1/2 cup milk
1 scallion, diced fine (optional, but I like them for flavor and a bit of color)

Preheat oven to 375. Lightly grease muffin pans. In a large skillet, crumble and brown sausage; drain and cool. In large bowl, combine Velveeta and milk and heat in microwave until softened. Stir to blend, then add sausage, biscuit mix and shredded cheese and scallions. (If you used mild sausage and want to add some zest, add a dash of hot sauce to taste.) Mix well but don’t over-mix. Spoon into mini muffin pans and bake for 15 minutes or until tops are lightly browned – don’t overbake. Makes 24 bite-size muffins. Best served warm.

So who are you rooting for on Sunday? Do you have a favorite team, or are you like me, and tuning in mainly for the commercials?

Happy cooking!

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There are as many recipes and variations on this dip as there are mid-price eateries that serve it as an appetizer. That said, everybody’s got a slightly different version and this is my personal favorite. It started out as artichoke dip and then spinach got introduced a while back. I don’t care for frozen spinach but you can substitute it – just be sure to thaw and squeeze the moisture out first. 

I’ve continued to modify and tweak this over the years, and it’s a far cry from its humble 3-ingredient beginnings: 1 jar artichoke hearts, 1 cup mayonnaise, 1 cup Parmesan cheese. (Don’t worry – the first time I made it, I was taken aback by what looked like too much mayonnaise, too.) But I bravely plunged ahead and was rewarded by an appetizer that met with my family’s admiration and approval.Well, most of my family. There’s always one of our offspring that is likely to turn his or her cute little nose up at a new dish, because they don’t care for one (or more…or ANY) of the ingredients. That’s okay – it just leaves more for the rest of us. 

Hot Artichoke and Spinach Dip 

2 handfuls of fresh spinach, stemmed, washed, dried and coarsely chopped
1 jar (14-15 ounces) marinated artichokes (Trader Joe’s are my favorite), drained and coarsely chopped
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup grated Parmesan (you can use the stuff in a jar, or up the ante with fresh-grated from the deli)
1/2 cup grated mozarella or provolone cheese (optional)
1 teaspoon diced/minced garlic (1 clove, minced or smashed)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated Parmesan for topping

Preheat oven to 350. In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except final 1/4 cup of Parmesan. Mix well and place in a shallow glass or ceramic baking dish (I have a 10-inch white ceramic quiche dish that is just the right size.) It does not need to be greased – the mayonnaise will prevent any sticking. Sprinkle with Parmesan and place in hot oven for 25-30 minutes or until the dish slightly puffs and gets golden brown on top. Serve with plain pita chips or bagel toasted rounds.

Makes 8-10 appetizer-size servings.

Note: If you have a sizable amount left over, refrigerate promptly. Scoop it into smaller dish and reheat for 15 minutes or until bubbly hot. Take it to work for your co-workers, and they’ll never know it’s leftovers – they’ll just wish you had brought more! 
Happy eating!

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I heart my Kindle. It’s one of the best gifts Mr. Official has ever gotten for me, and he’s given me some pretty awesome presents over the years.

Not only do I have couple Bible versions, some insightful self-help type books, scads of novels old and new (reading Jules Verne and Rudyard Kipling for the first time as an adult was an absolute delight), but I also have several cookbooks in my carry-everywhere gadget.

And not too long ago, swimmer girl and I were doing a little sunbathing at the local pool and when she glanced over, she exclaimed, “Seriously? You’re reading a COOKBOOK? REALLY????”

To which I smiled sagely and said that indeed I was. Doesn’t everyone READ cookbooks like they do novels? If not, you should.

Anyway, this was “Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker: Recipes for Entertaining” and I bookmarked a few of the most-promising sounding recipes to try. One good one is this one, even though I haven’t actually used my crockpot to make it. Irony, I know.

If you have purchased bean dip in the chip aisle, you know how expensive those precious little jars and cans are. And while I think the Tostitos Zesty Bean & Cheese Dip is pretty awesome, a jar can get slurped up in a hurry around here.

This recipe makes a dip that tastes a lot like the Tostitos dip, and with just a few inexpensive ingredients, you have enough dip for a crowd.  Or refrigerated and doled out into ramekins for warming up a serving at a time, it can last several days. Well, theoretically maybe it can last that long. We can go through it in a hurry.

Since discovering this recipe, I’ve made three batches, including one last night for Bunco as a side dish/dip (I doubled up on the beans in order to lighten it up and make it more side-dish appropriate.   Each time I’ve made this recipe, the results disappear pretty quick.  That, plus the fact it’s easy to make clinches its spot as a go-to recipe in my book!  (Whether that proverbial book is an eBook or my notebook of clipped recipes, which is now much neater than it’s been in years.   Speaking of which, I’ll show off some before-and-afters soon.)

Creamy Refried Bean Dip

1 16-ounce can refried beans*
1 cup picante salsa (we like homemade or medium-hot Pace Picante best)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
4 ounces cream cheese, slightly softened
2 cups shredded cheese (any combination of cheddar, Monterey jack or pepper jack)

Mix all ingredients together. Place in small crockpot to heat up (or microwave for 3-4 minutes, stirring every minute.) Serve with corn or tortilla chips.  Makes approximately 3 cups of dip.

*To make some jazzed-up refried beans to serve as a side dish, just double the beans for a big batch, or cut everything else in half.   It still has some zippiness without being too heavy on the cheese.

Happy dipping!

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Recipe of the Week: Old School Cheese Ball

I guess this could be classified as a “vintage” recipe. It was a holiday party staple in my childhood years – every Christmas and New Year’s party had at least one cheese ball set out, and this one is generally better than store-bought varieties. It is getting difficult to find chipped beef these days but this is a trusty recipe that always delivers on flavor, so it’s worth the hunt to find the beef.  Notice the recipe does not call for any salt; the Worcestershire sauce and beef will add more than enough sodium for anyone’s palate. 

Where’s the beef?  For those of you who aren’t familiar with chipped beef and all its potential uses, such as chipped-beef-on-toast…a package of this is what you’re looking for in the packaged lunchmeat section of your grocery store.

You may also find jars of dried chipped beef along with other canned meats and tuna – but if you can find the refrigerated package, I’d recommend it over a jar of dried beef.

Beef and Cheese Ball

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
3 green onions, diced fine (be sure to include some of the green tops for flavor and color)
1 package chipped beef, sliced into slivers
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Chopped pecans or sharp shredded cheddar cheese

Mix all ingredients together; blend well.  Form into a ball and roll in crushed nuts or cheese.  Refrigerate until firm and serve with crackers.  Makes one cheese ball.

Alternatively, the mixture can be placed between pecan halves for serving as bite-size hors d’oeuvres.

Happy appetizer-ing!

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Recipe of the Week: Hot Chili Cheese Dip

This dip is embarrassingly easy, but always goes over well, especially in the cooler months when guests tend to gravitate toward warm comfort foods. I like it because it is a change of pace from the typical cheddar or Velveeta-based dips. My mom gets the credit for the recipe, and it’s the main reason I have always had a “half pint” size crockpot in my cabinet.

Hot Chili Cheese Dip

1 can chili (with or without beans)
1 9-ounce package cream cheese (regular or low-fat)

Mix together in a small crockpot and stir a few times as the cheese melts and the chii heats up. Serve with corn chip “scoops” or sturdy tortilla chips. The recipe can be doubled or tripled for a crowd.

It’s really that easy – heat, eat and enjoy!

Happy snacking,

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Recipe of the Week: Crab Wedges

Since we’re enjoying spring break in the “Fishing and Seafood Capital of the East Coast” this week, here’s a recipe for an appetizer that showcases my personal favorite seafood, crab. (And finally puts something in the “appetizers” section of my recipe box page!)

I first encountered these hors d’oeuvre at a college professor’s home when he invited a group of students and spouses/significant others over for a get-together, and it was our host who produced them. I immediately requested the recipe, which he graciously shared.

Crab Wedges

1 3-ounce package cream cheese,  softened
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter (unsalted; do not substitute margarine), room temperature
1/8 cup finely chopped green onion
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (or to taste)
1/8 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 cup Cracker Barrel or other sharp cheddar, finely grated
1 6.5-ounce can crabmeat, drained or 1/2 pound cooked meat from crab claws
3-4 English muffins, split open

Mix together cream cheese and butter.  Add onion, Worcestershire sauce, garlic dry mustard and cheese; mix well.  Fold in crab meat. Spread on English muffin halves.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until bubbly.  Use a pizza cutter to slice each English muffin into sixths.  Serve warm.  Makes 36-48 wedges.

Happy eating!

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