This was one of those recipes made up on the spot that ended up being a hit. I wanted to make a cheese ball but I didn't want to go to the store so I thought about the things I had on hand: cream cheese, bacon, Country Bob's ....jalapeno jelly...and that's about it but that's about all you need!
All we really need here are two words: "bacon" and "cheese".
If pushed, I could probably say a few more words: like yummy to the tummy Milton's snack crackers. I've been a fan of their gourmet line for many years but the beauty of the snack cracker line is that that crackers are smaller so you get the crunch, the whole graininess, and the slight sweet in a smaller version so you also get bacon and cheese with every bite--that's a win every way there is to win!
Out of the six flavors Gene and I, and lots of other family members, tried these were our favorite flavors: Original Multi-Grain, Honey Multi-Grain, and Honey & Corn, all yummy on their own or as a great base for chips or chicken and tuna salad.
In this area, southwest Missouri, they can be found at Wal-mart, Target, and Sam's Club.
I know that in some circles "ranch" dressing or dip is considered passe' but, to me, it ranks up there will all my favorite comfort foods like mashed potatoes, mac & cheese, chicken pot pie, and all the rest of the delicious, non-pretensious things that are so lovely and comforting to eat. I do admit, though, that ranch dressing out a bottle from a grocer's shelf doesn't thrill me but making it home-made with fresh herbs is definitely the ticket!
It's also much better for you. Think about it. Sure, it's a little more work to put the ingredients together but when you make it from scratch, including the mayo, you're talking about eating eggs, cold-pressed oil, buttermilk, dill, parsley, garlic, etc., all whole foods not tons of chemicals and preservatives. That, and the fresh creamy herby taste make it worth every one of those 15 minute spent preparing it.
Gene and I first had caviar at the Petrossian piano/martini bar inside the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas. We'd walked by the little bistro several times and one day we just decided to stop in for a drink and a nosh. Neither of us had ever eaten caviar before so we decided to splurge and give this new-to-us delicacy a try. Delicious!
I think it was one of the first times we've ever tried something we didn't know how to eat that we simply asked the waitress to tell us what to do. That seems like a simple concept but it. was a learning experience for us in several ways. I don't know why I thought the waitress might be snooty, my own insecurity, I guess. As Auntie Miranda said, only a stupid server wouldn't make sure a patron had a great experience with new food or they'd be burning their own tip money up.
Since then we've been very loyal to Petrossian and splurge on caviar and fois gras every other New Year's Eve or so. We've been building up quite the tradition: a good pasta, home-made bread, and a fresh salad, followed by poker or other family games, and a midnight caviar, a good bottle of champagne, and/or dessert buffet with Auntie Miranda, James and Lynn, and Corbin and Jenn.
The Petrossian caviar is overnighted from New York inside cold packs. To serve, all you have to do is open the tin it comes in, place over crushed ice in a secondary bowl to keep it chilled, and dip it with a non-metallic (to avoid the metal giving the caviar a weird taste) spoon. Ours happens to be mother of pearl, ordered from Petrossian our first year. Caviar can be served on soft (our preference) or toasted baguette or regular bread toast points, blinis, or crackers of any kind. Toppings are a personal choice but common sides are chopped hard-boiled egg, sweet gherkins, dill gherkins, capers, minced red onion, scallions, or chives, kalamata olives, and creme fraiche--a type of sour cream with a higher fat content and less acidity.
We served this little mini buffet on a lazy Susan to keep us, lazy celebrators that we are, from having to pass everything around a million times. I made home-made baguette and bought two kinds of crackers: one light and crispy and the other more toothy and whole-grained. Along with the caviar, we also ordered a duck fois gras pate and a pheasant, fig, and cognac pate. Everybody tried many different combinations of toppings with the caviar but it seemed like the favorites were either simply the caviar on a thin slice of baguette or any of the breads topped with caviar, creme fraiche, capers, and chopped sweet gherkins. There is something about that combination that meets the magic taste combination of salty, sour, sweet, and savory. Mmmm... I'm already looking forward to next year even though this year has barely begun.
Our friend, Jenn, brought these to our annual New Year's Eve party and they were a huge hit: the perfect combination of crunchy, salty, sweet, nutty, and chocolate. They're a quick and easy addition to any dessert table that will disappear faster than any other treat.
We tried out a new-to-me tortilla chip brand at our Halloween Party. They're from Garden of Eatin' made from several varieties of organic corn (or sweet potatoes!) with no transfats or preservatives.
We ate them alone, with guacamole, with spinach dip, and crushed on top of our chili. The official feedback? Everyone liked them both but everyone (except Dave, haha) LOVED the sweet potato chips the best. That hint of sweet combined really well with everything we ate them with from the avocado to the chili. They are delicious. These chips come in 20 varieties, will be my choice from now on, particularly the sweet potato variety. So yummy.
Easy to find, they're available in most local grocery stores, including the Price Cutters, Dillon's, Target, and Mama Jeans, here in our town.
These Spider Eggs were a huge Halloween hit. They're easy to make but they do take a little time so if you're making a couple dozen, be sure to allow yourself and hour to place the spiders. A tiny bit tedious but very cute and a great appetizer table showstopper! Worth it!
To make: Make Devilled Eggs, adding any food paste coloring you want.
Using a small can of small whole olives, cut olive in half to make spider bodies. Then for the legs, cut olives in half and the cut the halfs into thin slivers. Place by hand or using tweezers. Chill 1-2 hours before serving.
Other fun stuff from the evening:
Mini jack-o-lanters "puking" Spinach Dip. Gross, but fun for Halloween!
Monster Cookies from Aunti Miranda. So cute. So...sugary! Niece Sydney and I split one towards the end of the night and, boy howdy, were our tongues bright red and green for an hour!
Fruit Rice Krispy Squares--follow the regular recipe using Fruity rice krispy. So yummy!
The spread...well...part of it. The part you don't see is the huge crockpot of chili with all the fixin's on the stove and the jack-o-lanter pepperoni pizzas from Papa Murphy's coming out of the oven every 20 minutes. I don't think anyone left hungry or without a smile.
Ham & Provolone roll up is one of my favorite weekend night meals. Even though it takes a couple of hours to make, there's relatively little hands-on time so I can lay the dough out to defrost in the early afternoon, run errands, make the roll-up, and then do laundry or other household chores for the next hour while it raises again. After that, it's only a matter of baking. By the time we eat, usually serving only a simple salad on the side, I barely feel like I've spent any time at all in the kitchen. Magic!
It, and its pepperoni cousin, also make great party appetizers, almost always found on my family holiday menu list.
A couple of weeks ago, my cousin, Colleen, made salmon patties for her family for dinner and let me blog them. They were so inviting in the photo I suddenly had a craving. Fish patties is one of those things that are quick, easy, and tasty, but I usually I forget to make them unless something reminds me.
I do have a can of salmon in the cupboard, along with a few cans of tuna and crab, but I also had some cod fillets in the freezer that sounded yummy too. This is my recipe for fish patties or fish cakes as they're also called. Mine has a few more bells and whistles than Colleen's but only because I was playing with a much milder fish that needed a little kick in the gill to rev the flavor up.
Thanks to my cousin, Colleen for this recipe and great food pic. I love cod/haddock/tuna/salmon patties. Don't know why I don't make them more. I think it's easy, at least in mind, to get stuck in the beef/pork/chicken-centered dinner mode. But fish patties are a great alternative meal. These can be baked or fried. To me, Colleen's method of baking them is easier, less calories, and they all come out done at the same time, no frying and trying to keep warm while waiting for the rest to finish.