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Category Archives: Appetizers

Tex-Mex Cheese Ball

This cute post The Perfect Fall Cheese Ball – Family Fresh Meals caught my eye and I pinned it on Pinterest.  Unfortunately I didn’t get around to making it until December and no longer was a pumpkin cheese ball necessary.  I am more than glad I made this Tex-Mex Cheese Ball.  It was a huge hit for my birthday and all my company enjoyed it.

I made the cheese ball the day before to save some time the next day at the party.  I even crushed my Doritos and kept them in a sealed bag to just roll and go the next day.  As I was making it we had a few extra friends visiting us and helping me with the cooking.  One of the little girls told me it was going to be “the hit of the party” it was so good.

Making half the recipe next time would probably work.  Even with my large crowd we ended up with a bunch of leftovers.  Although we ate it for snack the next few days.  We also used the leftovers to spread inside some chicken quesadillas which turned out great.

Tex-Mex Cheese Ball:

  • 16 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cup shredded cheese (I used mexican blend)
  • 3 Tbs onions, minced
  • 3 Tbs salsa, your favorite kind
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 cup nacho cheese chips, crushed

In a stand mixer combine all ingredients but the chips.  Mix until creamy and combined.

Lay a large piece of plastic wrap on the counter and scoop the mixture into a mound in the center.

Wrap up the ball tightly and chill at least 2 hours in the refrigerator.

When ready to serve roll in the crushed chips.

We served ours with tortilla chips and wheat crackers.  Celery and carrots would also be very good.


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Pita Bread Recipe

I made pita bread once long ago and had no idea what recipe I used.  I checked out one of my favorite sites and found Peppy’s Pita Bread Recipe – Allrecipes.com.  With a few alterations my pita bread was complete.  It is so simple if you have the time for the dough to raise.

We had a few girls over to play for the day and had fun rolling and stretching the dough.  It was even more fun to watch it bake and puff up in the oven through the glass oven door.  Of course everyone had to sample our creation which was almost as much fun to taste a completed project.

My plan for pita bread was to make it the day before my birthday party and serve it at the party.  We ended up eating a bit fresh.  With the rest of the bread I placed it in a sealable bag.  It sliced nicely into wedges just before the party to dip into some hummus.

Pita Bread:Pita Bread

  • 1 1/8 cup warm water
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp dry yeast

Combine yeast, sugar, and water to proof until foamy.

Add in the oil to the yeast mixture.

In a bowl combine flour and salt.  Make a well in the center and add yeast mixture.

Knead until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Allow to rise in a warm place for about 3 hours or until double in size.

Once dough had doubled roll into a rope shape.

Pita Bread

Pinch off 12 pieces and place balls on a floured surface to sit and rest for 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees with the rack at the bottom.

Pita Bread

Roll each dough ball to a 5-6 inch circle with  a rolling-pin or using your hands to stretch the dough.

Bake about 4 circles at a time for about 5-6 minutes.  Until puffy and slightly brown.

Pita Bread

Remove from baking sheet to cool on a rack.

Pita Bread

The bubble will deflate but when you cut open the pita bread there should be a pocket.


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Candied Cinnamon Sugar Almonds

candied sugar cinnamon almonds in the slow cookerLast year my sister turned me on to Dimples and Tangles: CANDIED CINNAMON SUGAR ALMONDS.  This year for the holidays I got around to making them myself.  I enjoyed just about the whole batch myself.  I was inspired by their recipe but reduced the sugar and salt amount.

I can’t control myself around these delicious candied nuts. They make a great alternative to cookies to give away during the holidays.  I did share a few but was more than guilty of eating most of them myself over a few weeks time.

The best part of this recipe is they are made in the slow cooker or crockpot.  You do have to stir them often so they are not to be forgotten in the pot.  Another plus would be the wonderful fragrance your home is filled with as these cook.  You will be ready to steal a few before too long.

My kids also love these almonds which is good because almonds are healthy.  Okay, maybe not when covered in sugar but I am not one to nit pick.  In fact my 2-year-old was caught up on the counter numerous times eating them out of the plastic bag.  He couldn’t help himself they are that good!

Candied Cinnamon Sugar Almonds:

  •  1 egg white
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 3 1/2-4 cups raw almonds
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbs cinnamon
  • 2 Tbs butter, in chunks

Whisk together egg white, vanilla, and sea salt in a large bowl.

Add the almonds and stir until coated.

Candied Sugar and Cinnamon Nuts in Slow cooker

Turn the slow cooker to high heat and add in the chunks of butter.

In a separate bowl combine sugar and cinnamon.  Once combined add to almonds and again stir until coated.

Pour the coated nuts onto the butter and add the lid.

Cook on high for 2 hours stirring every 20-25 minutes, more often at the end so they do not burn.

Pour hot nuts on to a few sheets of wax paper to cool.  Break apart if needed.

Store in an airtight container or bag.
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Baked Southwest Chicken Flautas

I enjoy making and eating Spinach Chicken Flautas but was feeling creative the other night when I started to prepare them.  This is how I came up with Southwest Chicken Flautas.  I combined the other recipe with what was on hand in the fridge and these turned out even better.

These flautas are not as dry so you can eat them without dip.  The sweet corn plays nicely with the spice of the pepper and spices.  Mr.Picky said these ones are way better and took many to work with him the next day.

Baked Southwest Chicken Flautas:

These have been cut in half to cool for the kids!

These have been cut in half to cool for the kids!

  • 6-8 8″ tortillas
  • olive oil spray or cooking spray
  • 4 cups cooked chicken (thighs or breast), shredded
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1/2 jalapeno or 1 serrano pepper, seeded and minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 3 cups baby spinach, chopped
  • 1-2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup mexican cheese blend (or half Colby jack and half cheddar)

Prepare a cookie sheet by lining with foil and lightly spraying with olive oil or cooking spray.

In a small saute pan combine jalapeno, corn, minced garlic, baby spinach, and 1 tbs olive oil.  Saute until corn starts to brown and the spinach wilts.  Set aside.

In a large bowl combine all of the remaining ingredients and the vegetables that have slightly cooled.  Mix until evenly combined.

Using the tortillas cut them in half.  Spoon about 2-3 Tablespoons of filling on the straight side of the tortilla.

Roll the tortilla tightly from the straight edge to the round edge.  Place on the prepared cookie sheet seem side down.  Lightly spray the tops of flautas with cooking spray or olive oil spray.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes, flip and cook 5 minutes more until golden brown.  Allow to cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

We served our flautus with refried beans and guacamole.

They reheated great in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes for a quick lunch the next day.

Reheated Flautas for lunch

Reheated Flautas for lunch

Roasted Loaded Potatoes

After craving baked potatoes and Mr.Picky refusing to eat them I created a happy medium.  I made roasted loaded potatoes as I am calling them.  Roasted potatoes are one of Mr.Picky’s favorite ways to eat potatoes so I thought why not loaded it up like a baked potato.

Bacon, cheese, and potatoes can this combination even go wrong?  Of course the potatoes were well seasoned and roasted with some fresh garlic.  I will admit I ate two servings with sour cream atop.  The kids loved them “minus the green things”, as my daughter put it.  Although loaded with fat it was a wonderful change to the general roasted potato.

Roasted Loaded Potatoes

Roasted Loaded Potato Bites:

  • 8-10 red potatoes, scrubbed and diced
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 dry ranch seasoning package
  • 1 cup cheddar or cheese blend, grated
  • 4-6 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • sour cream or ranch dressing to top your potatoes

In a large bowl toss together potatoes, oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and ranch seasoning until well coated.

Roasted Loaded Potatoes

Spread potatoes on a sheet pan and bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes, flipping at least once.

Once your potatoes are cooked to your liking, just tender or crispy.  Top with 1/2 the cheese, bacon, onions, and the other half of the cheese to hold it in.

Place back in the oven for about 5 minutes until cheese is nicely melted.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream or ranch dressing drizzled atop.

Aunt Debbie’s Cantaloupe Salsa

Fruit with a bite is the perfect way to describe Aunt Debbie’s Cantaloupe Salsa.  Sometimes I skip the chips and eat it straight out of the bowl with a fork.  My Aunt Debbie married into the family and we warmed up quickly when she brought her famous salsa to a family get together.

Not only is this salsa super healthy, it is also flavorful and versatile.  Aunt Debbie said it is great on top of fish or chicken, she tops the chicken and fish with salsa covers and bakes.  I am going to have to make some to try this out.

Aunt Debbie's Cantaloupe Salsa

Cantaloupe Salsa:

  • 1 ripe cantaloupe seeded, peeled and diced into small bits
  • 2 bunches green onions, chopped
  • 2 -3 sweet bell peppers seeded and finely chopped any color—I like the red ones best
  • 2 large bunches of fresh cilantro—use just the tops and mince finely
  • Juice of 4 limes, you can add some zest if you need more lime flavor
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger—you can use pre-minced if you don’t have fresh
  • 1 or 2 seeded jalapeño peppers,finely chopped
  • Optional—1-2 cloves of minced garlic

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, best if the flavors are able to develop for an hour or two in the fridge.

This is a really forgiving recipe. Aunt Debbie has stretched the recipe for another meal by adding chopped apples, mango, peaches, or even tomatoes and sweet corn.

Zucchini Fries

I made these zucchini fries multiple times and I love them.  As I kids I often ate fried zucchini.  Fried zucchini was similar but used crackers as breading and the rounds were fried in oil.  This figure friendly version is just as good.  Plus all the zucchini fries are done cooking at once.  Much easier for the cook how never gets to eat because they are cooking the  dinner.

We served the fries with ketchup or homemade healthier ranch dressing to dip.

Zucchini Fries

Zucchini Fries:

  • 2 medium zucchini, cut into fry size pieces
  • 2-3 Tbs flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbs Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

First place sliced zucchini in a large colander in the sink and sprinkle with 1-2 Tbs salt.  Allow to sweat out any moisture for at least 30 minutes.  Rinse clean and pat dry.

Zucchini Fries

 

Prepare a sheet pan with parchment paper, and preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a small bowl (large enough for each piece of zucchini to fit down into) beat eggs with about 1 Tbs water.

In a pie pan combine bread crumbs, cheese, and seasoning mix until combined.

Sprinkle towel dried zucchini sticks with 1-2 Tbs flour, this will help the coating stick to the zucchini.

Zucchini Fries

 

Dip 2-3 sticks at a time into egg and then into bread crumbs.  One hand is wet for the egg dipping and the other hand is dry to dip into the bread crumb mixture.

Continue dipping each stick and place them on the prepared sheet pan until you are finished.

Lightly spray the fries with a bit of grapeseed or olive oil.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes, flipping the fries halfway through. Enjoy!

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