Bacon Cheddar Dip

We were looking for quick, no cook dip to serve before dinner and someone mentioned the Neiman Marcus dip. That recipe made a good stepping off point but we decided it needed a little mixing up for our tastes. I’m not a fan of almonds, especially when there are pecans available and see no reason why actual bacon couldn’t be used in place of bacon bits. Finally, we felt that the taste of Sriracha would be an awesome addition.

Bacon Cheddar Dip

5 slices of bacon, cooked and cut into  1/2 inch pieces
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup mayonaise
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
2 teaspoons Sriracha

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and stir until combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days. Serve with tortilla chips or corn chips or Ritz crackers.

Gebrannte Pecannuss in the Slow Cooker

I’m an army brat and have very fond memories of the getting the still warm paper cones of Gebrannte Mandeln or Erdnuss while walking around the open air markets, like the Christkindlesmarkt  in Nuremberg, Germany. The almonds or peanuts cooked in sugar and cinnamon were a special treat and so very addictive.

I found a number of recipes to replicate them and was most pleased to even find some that could be done without chaining myself to the stove. Slow cooker to the rescue! Further, being a southerner through and through, I can attest pecans make the best gebrannte nuss.

pecans

Gebrannte Pecannuss in the Slow Cooker

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites
3 teaspoons vanilla
4 cups pecans
1/4 cup water

In large bowl, stir together sugars, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

In small bowl, beat egg whites and vanilla until a little frothy.

Coat the inside of your slow cooker with cooking spray. Add nuts to slow cooker. Pour egg white mixture over nuts, and stir until nuts are evenly coated. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over nuts, and stir until nuts are all coated well. Cover; cook on low heat setting 3.5 hours, stirring every 20 minutes.

For the 20 minutes, pour 1/4 cup water into slow cooker and stir. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the pecans onto the sheet to cool. The pecans should be pretty sticky so be sure to separate them the best that you can and let them cool.

For an added kick – add 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper to the cinnamon sugar.

Roasted Jalapeno Poppers

Michelle made 17 half pint jars of pepper jelly the other day and had some jalapeño peppers left over.  We didn’t want to have to fry anything so we looked for jalapeño popper recipes that roasted or baked them instead. One of the ones we found was this one from Rachel Ray. It provided a good stepping off point for the ones we ended up making and then enjoying out by the pool with our mojitos.

poppers

Roasted Jalapeño Poppers

12 jalapeno peppers
¼ cup onion, chopped very fine
5 strips of bacon, cooked and chopped pretty fine
1 package cream cheese, softened
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic salt

Cut one third off lengthwise from each jalapeño pepper. Scrape out all the seeds and ribs from each jalapeño with a spoon. Mince the small pieces of pepper. Coat the larger pieces (from here on out called jalapeño pepper boats) with olive oil and place on a baking sheet.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine minced jalapeño pepper, onion, bacon, cream cheese, ¾ cups cheddar cheese, cumin and garlic salt in a mixing bowl. Stir well. Taste for seasonings before spreading into jalapeño boats. Sprinkle a little extra cheddar cheese on top.

Roast for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the peppers are tender and the cheese is brown at the edges and bubbly. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes before eating or you’ll burn your mouth!

 

Provolone Fonduta

Cheese sauce. Oh, cheese sauce. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

This recipe is creamy indulgence to its core. I like to serve it with garlic knots but any crusty French or Italian bread will do. Also, try it poured over poached eggs at brunch or over fresh baby spinach leaves for a salad even I will eat.

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Provolone Fonduta

1 pound provolone cheese
1 cup milk
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup cream
salt and pepper

Finely dice the provolone cheese. Place the cheese and the milk together in a bowl and let sit for at least one hour.

Lightly roast the garlic in the butter and set aside.

In a double boiler, heat the cheese and milk on low heat heat until the cheese turns creamy. Whisk in egg yolks and cream and continue whisking until the mixture thickens. Stir in the garlic butter mix. Add salt and pepper to taste. Continue to cook and stir until it reaches the desired consistency.

For the garlic knots, use your favorite pizza dough recipe. After the second rise, divide the dough into 12 pieces and roll out into ropes. Dunk in melted butter and tie into a knot. Let rest on cookie sheet until doubled in size. Cook for 20-30 minutes in a 375 degrees F oven, until golden brown. Allow to cool slightly before tearing apart and dipping into fonduta.

Deviled Eggs

I look forward to Easter because it gives me an excuse to dye eggs which in turn gives me the perfect reason to make lots and lots of deviled eggs.

I like to add a whole avocado to turn the eggs slightly green. Besides tasting awesome, so many people have been conditioned against green eggs by Dr. Seuss that it means more for me.

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Like any proper Southern gal, I own a deviled egg plate 

Green Deviled Eggs


6 hardboiled eggs (egg dying optional)
1 avocado
2 tablespoons mayonaise
2 teaspoons prepared yellow mustard (I’m a fan of French’s)
1 teaspoon pickle juice (I prefer sweet pickle but dill works fine too)
dash of hot sauce, optional
salt and pepper, to taste
paprika, for sprinkling

Peel eggs. Slice in half and gently remove the yolk to a small bowl. Reserve the whites for filling.

Mash the egg yolks and avocado with a fork in a medium bowl. Add mayonaise, mustard, pickle juice and hot sauce. Sprinkle on salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Adjust mayo, mustard and seasonings to your taste. Use a piping bag or a spoon to mound the egg mixture into the egg whites. Sprinkle the tops lightly with paprika.

If not serving immediately, add a little lemon juice to the recipe to keep the avocado from turning brown. Wrap plastic wrap over the eggs and store in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

For your viewing pleasure, here is Rev. Jesse Jackson with a dramatic reading of Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham

Mardi Gras Cucumber Wraps

Getting up early for the parades (Zulu is at 8am and Rex is at 10am), means that I won’t really have the energy for making lunch. A great thing to do the night before is these cucumber wraps. I used Mission’s Sun Dried Tomato and Basil wraps but any large flatbread will work.

This recipe is a riff off the Benedictine Spread from Kentucky. NPR did a story on them a few years ago. I’m a bit of a heretic, though, for not making them on white bread (although I do love them that way during the summer).

cuc wrap

Cucumber Wraps


1 large cucumber, peeled and seeded
1 8 oz package of cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons grated onion
salt and pepper to taste
4 large flatbread wraps (flour tortillas, lavash, pita, etc)

Grate the seeded cucumber into a kitchen towel and wring out the liquid. Add the much drier cucumber to a bowl with the cream cheese, grated onion and salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

Spread in the center of the wrap. Fold in the side and roll up. Cut in half to serve as sandwiches or slice into pinwheels for appetizers or snacking.

Super Skillet Pretzels with Beer Cheese Dip

It is Superbowl Sunday and even if you find Debbie Reynolds as a dancing football more interesting than the actual game, here is an appetizer recipe that will score with everyone. Use your cast iron skillet to make these pretzels and definitely use the beer cheese dip with them. Oh, and if you want a cool crunch, cut up some slices of Granny Smith apple for dunking in the cheese sauce. Scrumptious!

pretzels and cheese sauce

Super Skillet Pretzels with Beer Cheese Dip

For the Skillet Pretzels:
1½ cups warm water
1 packet active dry yeast
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
4½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons salt
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted and let cool
¼ cup baking soda, for baking solution
8 cups water, for baking solution
1 whole egg, lightly beaten, for brushing
Kosher salt, for topping

For the Beer Cheese Dip:
1 bottle beer
3 cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese
2 tablespoon flour
8 oz cream cheese, diced and softened
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper

In a large bowl or bowl of a countertop stand mixer, combine the warm water, yeast, and sugar. Let sit 5 minutes to proof the yeast.

Stir in 3½ cups of the flour, the salt and the melted butter. Mix until well combined. Slowly add more flour, a bit at a time, until the dough is no longer sticky and pulls away from the edges of the bowl. You may use the entire 4½ cups, or you might need a bit less.

Knead for 5 minutes. Lift the dough from the bowl and spray the bowl with nonstick spray. Place the dough back down, cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

Line a pan with parchment paper and spray your skillet with nonstick spray.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and cut into 16 equal-sized pieces. Take each piece and shape into balls by pulling each corner toward the middle and pinching together. Place pinched-side down on the parchment paper lined sheet. Loosely cover again with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let rise again for 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Bring the 8 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Once the water is boiling, slowly add in the baking soda. Make sure you add it slowly or the water could boil over!

Put the rolls (1-3 at a time, depending on how big your pot is), in the water pinched side down. Boil for 30 seconds, then flip and boil the other side for another 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pretzel rolls from the water and place back on the baking sheet to cool. Continue until all of the pretzels have been boiled in the baking solution.

Arrange the pretzels around the outside of the prepared skillet. Squeeze them together so they fit snugly. You may not be able to fit all of the pretzels– if not, that’s okay. You can bake the remaining ones separately.

Cover once more and let sit for 5 minutes.

Brush the pretzels with the beaten egg, and then sprinkle with Kosher salt. Using a sharp knife, make X-shaped slices in the top of the pretzel rolls. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the pretzels are deep golden brown.

As they bake, prepare the Beer Cheese Dip. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the beer to a simmer. In a bowl, toss the cheese with the flour. Add the cheese mixture to the beer with the remaining ingredients. Stir until all the cheese has melted and the texture is smooth, about 5 minutes. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Go, Sports!