Easy Spinach and Cheese Bites

In my arsenal of recipes, I came across this recipe that is from my mom’s recipe box.  She was always the master of making delicious, quick to prepare recipes, from easy to find ingredients.  I am aware of all of the online ship-to-your-house websites that advertise easy to prepare meals in a box.  I am sure there are many that use these sites for their weekly meals and I know in certain situations they are a lifesaver of convenience.  I even purchased a gift card on one site for a couple expecting twins; I thought they would appreciate a few meals that were easy to prepare and did not require a trip to the store. But, on an every day basis, it is easy to prepare foods just like my mom made, with fresh and easy to find ingredients.  Easy Spinach and Cheese Bites are perfect when entertaining, a light lunch or along side a cup of soup.  

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Easy Spinach and Cheese Bites

Ingredients

  • 1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 cup grated cheese, mozzarella and cheddar mixed
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 4 English muffins
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • garlic salt
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cook the spinach as directed, drain and dry the spinach.   In a medium bowl mix the spinach, cheeses, and egg until well blended.  Split the muffins in half, spread each half with butter and sprinkle with garlic salt.  Spread spinach mixture on each half, top with Parmesan cheese.  Bake for 10 minutes, then put under the broiler to brown and get hot and bubbly (watch carefully).  Cut each muffin half into 4 pieces to serve.

Goat Cheese Mousse

Have you ever heard of goat cheese mousse?   I was one that had never heard of it or tasted it until I visited the farmers’ market in Durham, NC.  While shopping this lovely market,  I purchased a jar of goat cheese mousse topped with blueberry jam.  I wasn’t sure what it was, but with the reaction of shoppers all purchasing jars of Goat Cheese Mousse, I knew it had to be something good.  There was only one label on the jar that said Goat Cheese Mousse, no list of ingredients.  After a bit of research and experimentation, I think I have come up with the easiest appetizer recipe you can make.  I like to top the mousse with hot pepper jelly but you can be creative and top it with any of your preferred jams or chutneys.  Perfect on crackers, toast or bagels.

5 from 1 vote
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Goat Cheese Mousse

Ingredients

  • 4 oz. goat cheese
  • 5-6 tablespoons heavy cream

Instructions

  1. Put goat cheese into a mixing bowl, with an electric mixer beat until smooth, gradually add heavy cream, one tablespoon at a time.  Continue until goat cheese is smooth and fluffy.  Typically it will take 5 - 6 tablespoons of cream.  Once mixture is fluffy, spoon into a serving container. Top with preserves or chutney of choice.

    You can easily adjust the recipe according to the amount of goat cheese used.

Overnight Marinated Shrimp and Avocados

Have you ever been asked to bring an appetizer to a party?  This is the recipe that you will want to keep handy and prepare over and over again.  As you know from the majority of my posts, I love make ahead easy to prepare dishes.  Overnight Marinated Shrimp and Avocados is just that type of recipe.  Always a hit – serve with water crackers or over a bed of lettuce.  The perfect appetizer or first course.

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Overnight Marinated Shrimp and Avocados

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 2 avocados, firm and ripe, cubed
  • 1 red onion, sliced extremely thin
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice, fresh squeezed
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions

  1. Place the shrimp, avocados, and red onion in a large zip top bag.  Combine remaining ingredients and pour over shrimp mixture.  Toss to coat.  Refrigerate overnight, turn bag a few times.  Drain mixture, serve cold.  Serves 12 as an appetizer.

Orange Cucumber Mussels on the Half Shell

Mussels are one of our favorite dinners.  I typically cook a large pot of steaming mussels every Friday night.  They are perfect to cook after a busy week and there is nothing better than a pot of angry mussels, crusty bread and a great bottle of wine.  This time, I wanted to serve cold mussels as an appetizer.  Orange Cucumber Mussels on the Half Shell are so easy to make and a show stopper of an appetizer!  Steam the mussels in shallots and wine, remove the mussels from their shells, toss with orange and cucumber relish, load back into the shells and refrigerate until serving.  As a quick side note – when shopping for mussels, I always ask at the fish counter for the freshest bag of mussels they have, ask  ice to go and always keep the plastic bag open so they can breathe.

 

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Orange Cucumber Mussels on the Half Shell

Ingredients

  • 1 -2 pound bag mussels
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 orange, finely diced, save the juice
  • 1 seedless cucumber, finely diced
  • 1 tomato, finely diced, seeds removed
  • 1/2 cup Italian parsley, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. In a dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add shallot and garlic, cook 2 minutes stirring frequently.  Add white wine and bring mixture to a boil.  Add mussels and cook covered for approximately 5 minutes or until the mussels have opened.  Stir once or twice while the mussels are cooking.  Drain mussels in a colander.  Throw away any mussels that did not open. Remove mussels from their shells and place in a medium size mixing bowl.  Reserve shells.  Toss mussels with the orange, cucumber, tomato, and parsley.  Add the white wine vinegar and salt and pepper.  Refrigerate.  Rinse shells and place on a serving platter.  After the mussel mixture is chilled, approximately 2 hours, spoon one mussel into each shell half, top with some of the minced vegetables.  Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Cheese Wafers

When we lived in Texas, cheese wafers were extremely popular snacks.  I think they are perfect with a glass of wine or add Cheese Wafers to any cheese and fruit tray.  Making Cheese Wafers is similar to making slice and bake cookies. I often divide the dough; bake one now and freeze the other cheese log to bake at a later date.  The sharp cheddar and Parmesan cheese are just the perfect combination.  I like to add a bit of cayenne pepper, you can certainly adjust the amount if you like a cracker with spice.  These are best if stored in an airtight container.

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Cheese Wafers

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups flour

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.  Process until you have a smooth dough.  Turn dough out  onto 2 sheets of plastic wrap.  Form into two logs approximately 1 inch in diameter.  Refrigerate logs for 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Slice the logs into 1/4 inch slices.  Place on baking sheet and bake 30 minutes or until they begin to brown around the edges.  Cool.  Store in airtight container.  You can freeze the logs, just place in refrigerator to thaw overnight, slice and bake.

  

Chipotle Grilled Wings

On a recent trip to Fayetteville, NC we had dinner at a terrific bar/restaurant called Mac’s Speed Shop.  Their wings were hands down the best wings I have ever had.  They smoked their wings and tossed them in a wonderful chipotle sauce.  The thought of those wings made me think of grilling wings and then tossing them with a BBQ sauce with a hint of chipotles.  These wings are truly finger lickin’ good. Did you know the key to grilling wings is to have them touch each other while grilling to keep them moist and to turn them every 6-8 minutes.  It takes about 35-40 minutes for the wings to be crispy on the outside and fall-off the bone tender.  Serve them with your favorite blue cheese dressing or ranch dressing.  Keep plenty of napkins handy – you will need them!

 

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Chipotle Grilled Wings

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken wings, cut
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1//4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Instructions

  1. Cook wings over medium heat on the grill, turn every 6 - 8 minutes for approx. 35 minutes or until crispy and meat is falling off the bone.  When grilling, the wings should be touching each other as they cook to keep them moist.  While the wings are grilling, combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl.  Remove wings from grill when finished cooking, place in bowl with sauce and toss until all are coated.  Serve with blue cheese or ranch dressing on the side.

 

White Truffle Popcorn

You cannot pass by this recipe.  The elegant taste of truffles tossed with popcorn is a taste sensation.  When I was playing around with ingredients one day, I brought out my bottle of white truffle oil and I had just made my Cantaloupe Tomato Salad and fresh Italian parsley was still on my cutting board.  I thought it was time for a glass of wine and I needed a break from recipe writing.  Out came a bag of microwave popcorn and I tossed in a few other items.   Time to sit, relax and enjoy the fruits of my labor.

5 from 1 vote
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White Truffle Popcorn

Ingredients

  • 1 bag microwave popcorn, plain
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon white truffle oil
  • 1/3 cup parmigiano reggiano cheese finely grated
  • 2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley minced
  • kosher salt,

Instructions

  1. Pop corn as directed on package.  Pour popped corn into a large bowl.  Toss with white truffle oil, add melted butter, toss.  Add cheese and parsley, toss.  Salt to taste.  Enjoy!

Chicken Wings with Jalapeno Pepper Sauce

Are you game day ready with your Super Bowl menu?   If you are still looking for another great recipe to serve during the game – Chicken Wings with Jalapeno Pepper Sauce is the recipe for you.  Go Team!

chicken wings jalapeno 1

 

Chicken Wings with Jalapeno Pepper Sauce
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Ingredients
  1. 1 - 12 oz. bottle chili sauce
  2. 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  3. 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  4. 1/2 cup white vinegar
  5. 1/4 cup catsup
  6. 1 medium onion
  7. 5 jalapeno peppers, seeded
  8. 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  9. 2 teaspoons salt
  10. 32 chicken wings (approx. 5 - 6 pounds)
Instructions
  1. Combine first nine ingredients in container of an electric blender, process 30 seconds or until mixture is well blended.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a sheet pan with foil. Cut wings in half or purchase pre-cut wings. Place on foil lined sheet, spoon 1/2 of the sauce over wings. (Depending on number of wings you are cooking, you might need two sheet pans), Bake 30 minutes. Turn wings and top with the remaining sauce. If it appears to be too much sauce, reserve remaining sauce and refrigerate. Bake another 30 minutes or until fall of the bone tender.
  3. If you like your wings to be crispy, remove wings and place on a rack on a baking sheet, return to the oven and bake an additional 10 - 15 minutes, watch carefully. Serve warm with ranch dressing and celery sticks.
A Passion for Entertaining http://apassionforentertaining.com/

 

Bacon Pops

What I thought would be a great addition to brunch turned out to be so successful I would add this to any breakfast, brunch or tailgate.  I always knew cooking bacon in the oven when preparing large quantities was easy.  However,  this time I  wanted bacon to be finger food and decided to thread the bacon on a stick.  I cut each piece of thick cut bacon in half, then threaded each piece on a six inch wooden skewer.  Brushed them all with maple syrup (you will see the syrup on the first piece on the top row), then I sprinkled the bacon with a brown sugar,ground  nuts and cayenne mixture.  In the oven it went …

bacon pops 1

 

and out came the most delicious bacon pops…

Bacon pops 3

Bacon Pops
Yields 22
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Ingredients
  1. 18 oz. package, thick cut bacon
  2. 22 six-inch wooden skewers
  3. 1/3 cup brown sugar
  4. 1/3 walnuts or pecans, ground
  5. 4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  6. 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Soak skewers in water for 15 minutes. Cut bacon in half crosswise. Thread each piece of bacon on one skewer. Place skewers on rack in a foil lined cookie sheet. Combine brown sugar, nuts, and cayenne pepper. Brush each skewer of bacon with maple syrup. Try to avoid getting the end of the skewers coated (the skewers will be easier to serve when not sticky). Sprinkle each slice of bacon with brown sugar combination. Bake in preheated oven until the bacon is golden, approximately 35-45 minutes. Remove from rack when cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Notes
  1. These would also be a wonderful addition to a Bloody Mary bar.
A Passion for Entertaining http://apassionforentertaining.com/

 

 

 

 

 

Ten Minute Appetizer Tray

If you are like me, during this time of the year, it seems like each day brings a new and interesting kitchen challenge.  This time, I needed an appetizer and I needed it fast.  After leafing through my recipes, nothing really inspired me and time was running short.  Well, one quick trip to the store and my appetizer was almost done.  With a shopping list in hand, I dashed to my local store.  My list read like this – 3 dried fruits, 3 cheeses, 2 meats, olives, nuts, crackers, and jam.   Here is how I tackled my list at the market – first I headed to the dried fruits, in my cart went dried pineapple, dates, and cranberries,  Off to the cheese section – cheddar with cranberries, Stilton with ginger and mango, and a nice piece of gouda with the red wax. Stopped by the olive bar and picked up 8 oz. of assorted pitted olives, crackers – I looked for three distinctive shapes, sticks, squares, and rectangles.  Picked up a few roasted cashews, one package each; sliced dried chorizo and sliced prosciutto  and one jar of fig jam.  Quick, easy and out the door.  When I got home, out came my holiday tray and quickly layered the tray full of my finds.  My appetizer was ready – no cooking required and absolutely delicious.  

ten-minute-appetizer