Saturday, January 28, 2012

Say Cheese (balls)

Mix It
2 pkg. (8 oz. each) Cream Cheese, softened
1 pkg. (8 oz.) Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1Tbsp. finely chopped onions
1Tbsp. chopped red bell peppers
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. lemon juice
Dash ground red pepper (cayenne)
1/2 cup thinly sliced ham chopped
Make It  - Beat cream cheese and Cheddar in small bowl with mixer until well blended.
Add all remaining ingredients except nuts and crackers; mix well. Refrigerate several hours.
Shape into ball; roll in nuts. Serve with RITZ Crackers.

Change It - Keep the base of 16 oz softened cream cheese w/ add 8 oz shredded cheese but change up the flavorings:

Tex-Mex flavor - use shredded seasoned taco cheese, added 1 tsp. chili powder, top with chopped peppers or scallions
Cajun flavor - use shredded mozzarella cheese, add old bay seasoning and finely chopped shrimp, top with crushed saltines
Italian flavor - use Italian salad dressing mix (dry) and mozzerella & shredded parmesen cheese, top with crushed breadsticks w/ sesame seeds or with olives
Fruity flavor - use a can or crushed drained pineapple, omit shredded cheese, add chopped peppers, onion flakes . top with in pecans.

Twist It - make individual (golf ball) size servings.  Serve by adding a lollipop stick in each...cute presentation and everyone gets a sample all their own.

Keep It - wrap your cheese ball tightly in saran wrap so that it holds its shape and no air gets to it. If you made mini's keep the flavors seperate when you wrap a tray of them (put sticks in just before serving).  You don't want flavors blending with their neighbors while they chill. Refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours then serve.  Accompany with crackers, breads or veggies of your choice and say "CHEESE"!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Kick Off K-Bobs

If I never see another football shaped cheese ball and a Super Bowl party....I'd be okay with it!  I'm bored with the same old and want something NEW~Kick Off K-Bobs!

2-3 lbs lean steak (use your favorite cut...I like Sirloin)
1 bottle Allegro brand marinade (made only in my hometown, Paris, TN:)
pepper to season (no salt used in this as the marinade does that for you)
sesame seeds (if you want to garnish it up a bit)
1 large red sweet pepper
1 large green bell pepper
1 large sweet onion
cherry tomatoes

Cube steak into chunks (about 1-2").  Place steak in a heavy duty gallon zip lock bag.  Pour in Allegro and let meat marinate at least 3-4 hours (even overnight is fine) in the fridge .  Clean and cut peppers and onion into chunks (1-2" so that they are close to the size of your meat squares). 

If you use wooden skewers, soak them in a baking dish of water for 15 minutes before you use them.  They won't burn and will hold up better for serving.  If you have metal skewers, no prep needed.  I found some really cool circular skewers at the grocery a while back, makes a cool loop of food on the plate - the presentation is fantastic!

Remove steak and discard marinade. 

Now you have options, I like to brown my steak on the grill for just a few minutes before assembling the k-bobs.  You do not have to but I like my steak well done and this helps it get there without burning my veggies.  If you like a medium steak, skip the pre-grill and go ahead with k-bob assembly.

Slide your k-bob fixings onto the skewers alternating one meat for two veggies.  Try to make your sturdiest veggie (probably a pepper chunk) the top and the bottom so that they hold the rest of the crew intact with no runaways. 

Lightly season with fresh ground pepper, grill for 4 minutes and make 4 turns to keep the food cooked evenly on each side.  Look at the "done-ness" of of your meat to gage how long you grill each side.  The time will vary depending on your taste.

You can change the veggies to whatever you like, mushrooms, yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant, I've even used the root end of green onions and they were yummy!

Sprinkle with sesame seeds (lightly) and serve hot right off the grill.

If you tailgate, you can assemble these at home, transport in a zip lock bag and cook at the stadium.  Still wow your friends with little to no clean up.

Makes 6-8 big skewers.  Use smaller skewers if serving this with several other appetizers.  Most guests will eat two small or one large skewer.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Geez-Us Dip

Playoff Sunday tomorrow - Super Bowl comin' up! The family favorite when it comes to game time is this Sausage Queso Dip, affectionately known as Geez-Us Dip (please don't take offense, I certainly don't mean any disrespect but you really will say "Geez-Us...this is good dip") Phase stolen from a dear friend from college - thanks Elaine!

1 lb sausage cooked. crumbled and drained (I only use Tennessee Pride)
1/2 to 2/3 box of Velveeta cheese (cubed, light or regular, either is fine)
1 large jar of salsa (your favorite brand)
or 2 -3 cans of Rotel brand tomatoes (hot, regular or mild depending on your taste)
chopped red or green peppers, sliced scallions (optional)
Add cubed cheese, salsa or Rotel and sausage to your crock pot on low heat. Allow cheese to melt and stir about every 15 minutes for the first hour. In an hour or s, if the mixture is too thick in consistency, you may want to add more salsa or Rotel to thin the mixture. If it is too thin, add more cheese and it will thicken up nicely.

Serve with tortilla scoops or Frito scoops. You'll need a sturdy chip - this is seriously good dip! Geez-Us!!!!!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Turkey Casserole

This is for my "other" hubs...the new way doesn't have to taste bad :)

Just when I thought I'd finished with our Thanksgiving turkey...ANOTHER bag of frozen bird appeared in my freezer! What to do, What to do??? = CASSEROLE!!!

1 pkg long grain wild rice (prepared - I like the microwave kind)
1 container (10 oz) reduced-fat Alfredo pasta sauce
1 cup fat-free sour cream
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth (I like the cartons not the cans)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning (just a pinch)
1/4 teaspoon pepper (pepper only - do NOT add salt)
4 cups cut-up cooked turkey
1 bag frozen mixed vegetables (thaw them first, they bake more evenly)
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1 teaspoon olive oil (not too much or your topping will be soggy)

Prepare rice and set aside. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray your casserole dish with cooking spray. In a big bowl, mix pasta sauce, sour cream, broth, Parmesan cheese, poultry seasoning and pepper until well mixed. Stir in rice mixture, turkey and vegetables. Spoon into baking dish.

In small bowl, mix bread crumbs and oil; sprinkle over turkey mixture. Bake uncovered 45 minutes or so - until edges are bubbly and bread crumbs are lightly browned.

Voila' Casserole is heart healthy and that dang bird is FINALLY out of my freezer!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Coconut Cake

Tomorrow is the Hubs Birthday and he opted for a Coconut Cake this year (he's normally a Red Velvet guy)! I took a new twist on this today and tried some things that I've not done before. I must say, this is the BEST Coconut Cake I've ever made!

I went for a three layer 7 inch cake as it's just the two of us. You can easily double this for a three layer 9 inch if you're feeding a crowd.

1 box White Cake Mix
(mix as directed, I use an extra egg white to make the cake more moist)
1 can Cream de Coconut
1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk
3 cups Sweetened Coconut
1 large tub of Cool Whip (2 for a larger cake)
(I used the fat free, as if that makes a difference with a cake this sweet:)

Bake cake and allow all three layers to cool completely. Place the first layer on your cake plate, pierce it liberally with a cooking skewer or sharp knife point. Pour 1/8 cup of Cream de Coconut on the layer, then pour 1/8 cup Sweetened Condensed Milk on the layer. Use a pastry brush (or the back of a spoon) to spread this mixture over the cake layer (it will soak right into the cake). Spread 1/2 cup Cool Whip then add next layer and repeat until all three layers are assembled. Frost the edges with the remaining Cool Whip and press Sweetened Coconut onto the sides and sprinkle the top. Store in refrigerator for at least 3 hours before serving.

I've seen some variations on this such as adding Sour Cream and Sugar filling instead of using the milk and coconut cream. That sounds yummy too and I may try that next time.

I've also used traditional frosting or even glaze with the coconut. I didn't toast my coconut this year as I wanted the cake to be pure white. You can take any twist or turn that you like...just bake some love into it as you go!

I hope that Jerry has a wonderful birthday and if you're in the neighborhood, stop by for cake after dinner tomorrow evening!