Tag Archives: appetizer

Mac n’ Cheese Bites… A Tailgate Favorite

3 Oct

Macaroni and Cheese is the ultimate comfort food. Most of us remember mac n’ cheese from the blue box as one of our first culinary triumphs. I remember helping when I was little and having such a feeling of accomplishment when the yellow powder melted into a creamy cheese-ish topping.

Have you had the blue box as an adult? Not as a college kid alternating between that and Ramen Noodles, but as a  real working adult? You probably think I’m going to say that in retrospect, the blue box isn’t that great and our palates should be much more sophisticated by now, but I’m not. The blue box is still pretty awesome. Nothing beats a little nostalgia here and there…

But in all seriousness, homemade mac n’ cheese is super easy and takes only a few minutes longer than the boxed stuff. Not to mention it isn’t full of ingredients you can’t pronounce and you use real cheese as opposed to a weird smelling cheese-ish powder.

Don’t let homemade mac n’ cheese intimidate you. If you whisk your sauce constantly and don’t let it burn, you’re golden.

You can make this recipe as little bites, like I’ve done, or you can just throw it all into a casserole dish and make it a family style side dish. Little bites make for the perfect party food. They are even good room temperature. Yum!

Mac N’ Cheese Bites

Time: 20-25 min.
Level: Medium
Servings: 48 mini macs

1/2 lb. elbow macaroni
1 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter, plus more for brushing
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. milk
1 c. cheddar cheese, shredded
1 c. deli-sliced American cheese, chopped
1  egg yolk
1/4 tsp. paprika

Preheat the oven to 425°. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the macaroni about 5 minutes. Drain pasta. Spray mini muffin tins with non-stick spray. Sprinkle muffin cups with 2 tbsp. of the Parmesan.  In a large saucepan, melt butter. Whisk in  flour over medium heat for 2 minutes. Whisk in milk and cook, whisking constantly, until boiling, about 5 minutes. Add cheddar and American cheeses and whisk until melted. Take the saucepan off the heat and whisk in the egg yolk and paprika. Fold in the drained macaroni.

Spoon macaroni into muffin cups.

Sprinkle the remaining 2 tbsp. of Parmesan on top. Bake the mini macs in the oven for about 10 minutes, until golden. Let cool for 5 minutes. Yum!

– After sprinkling the cups with  Parmesan, add a small crumble of bacon for extra flavor. Ham would work well, too!
– You can make the mac n’ cheese the day before and leave it in the fridge until you are ready to bake.


Simple Sabroso Salsa

7 Jul

Sabroso means tasty in Spanish… I’m not sure if I used it in the right context or not, but hey, I only have a minor in the language so I’m not expected to know, right?

This salsa is called Sabroso Salsa because it is simply that, a tasty sauce… especially the next day, once all of the flavors sit and have a chance to mingle with each other.

If you have any leftover grilled corn, use it! If not, no worries! Canned corn will do just fine.

I served this salsa with tortilla chips but it would also be delicious served on crackers or bite sized baguette slices topped a little avocado and cheese. Appetizers, anyone?

Don’t forget to check the tips section for 2 great ideas for using up leftovers!

Simple Sabroso Salsa

Time: 5 minutes
Servings: A lot! It made about 3 -4 cups of salsa.
Level: Easy

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can whole kernel corn, drained and rinsed
1 can Rotel, drained
1 tbsp. jalapeños, diced
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. lime juice

Mix all ingredients together and let sit in the fridge until ready to serve. Yum!

– Play with the spices. You can add as little or as much of each as you’d like!
– I spooned leftover salsa over grilled chicken for dinner the next day. Yum!
– Another idea for leftovers!!!! I used the rest of the leftover salsa to make a simple pasta dish. I heated the salsa in the microwave and mixed it with cooked, drained pasta shell noodles and leftover shredded chicken. It was so yummy!!

Okie Dokie Artichokie Dip

12 Jun

I love artichokes. They are delicious on pizzas, amazing in pasta dishes, and great in salads. I love this artichoke dip recipe because it really brings out the bite that artichokes naturally have. Using a little citrus and tangy yogurt makes the artichoke come alive.

Having a can of artichoke hearts in the pantry can be a life saver when you need a last minute appetizer for impromptu company or for those lovely nights when your husband forgets to tell you, until you’re brushing your teeth for bed, that he signed up to bring something for the potluck at work the next day.  🙂

Artichoke Dip

Servings: 8
Time: 5 minutes
Level: Easy

1 can artichoke hearts
1/2 c. plain yogurt
1/2 c. mayo
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire
1 tsp. lemon or lime juice
1 c. Parmesan cheese, shredded

Drain artichoke hearts and chop them into bite sized pieces.

Mix all ingredients together and chill in the fridge until ready to serve.


– Making this ahead of time will help enhance the flavor. Honestly, it’s not that great immediately. Let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour if you can.
– I used non-fat yogurt and low-fat mayo.
– Try using Greek yogurt instead.
– Don’t have yogurt? Use  1/2 c. of extra mayo or 1/2 c. of sour cream.
– Serve dip with crackers or veggies.

In Honor of Cinco de Mayo…

3 May

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Cinco de Mayo… Ahh, what a delicious holiday. Yeah, yeah, I know. It’s a holiday that celebrates  Mexico’s victory over the French on May 5, 1862.  But, dang, celebrating  their victory with a delicious dinner is just fine by me. Our neighbors to the south know what their doing when it comes to their amazing cuisine and I’m not ashamed of how much I love it!

If your going to be staying in this Cinco de Mayo or if you are planning on having a blow out fiesta with friends, check out these recipes below. I took a look back at my recipe collection and my love is clearly evident… I can’t say that ANY of these recipes are even slightly  authentic but they are definitely inspired by south of the border flavors.

Grab yourself a basket of chips and a bowl of salsa, maybe a margarita or two, and celebrate!

Enchilada Pie 

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas (vegetarian and vegan)

Steak Fajitas

Mexican Cornbread

Quinoa Salsa Side Dish

Gringa Tostada

Fiesta Fritata

Baja Shrimp Tacos with a Corn and Radish Salad

BBQ Chicken and Bacon Mini Tarts

25 Apr

These little appetizers are delicious hot out of the oven and at room temperature so they are perfect for tailgating or entertaining. You can switch up the filling to include anything you want. I once used pizza sauce and pepperoni instead of BBQ sauce and chicken. The options are truly endless.

One filling I would like to try is cream cheese mixed with a little sugar and lemon juice topped with sliced fruit. Doesn’t that sound great?

BBQ Chicken and Bacon Mini Tarts

Servings: This recipe made 24 tarts
Time: 20 minutes
Level: Medium

1 tube crescent rolls
6 chicken strips, cooked and cut into tiny bite sized pieces (I used Tyson 100% white meat chicken nuggets… I keep them around to throw on salads)
3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (I used turkey bacon)
1/4 c. BBQ sauce
jalapeños, sliced
1/3 c. cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 375°. Grease a mini muffin tin. Unroll crescent rolls and smoosh together to make one big rectangle of dough. Cut into 24 small squares.

Stretch each square a little and press down into each muffin cup.

Bake for 5 minutes.

Remove from oven and fill each cup with a tiny amount of BBQ sauce, a piece of chicken, a few bacon crumbles, a piece of a jalapeño slice, and a little shredded cheese.

Bake for 2 more minutes. Yum!

– Jason likes to dip his in ranch dressing. Go figure.

Perfectly Hard Boiled Eggs – Deviled Eggs

24 Apr

Ever since I could eat solid foods, I have had a love affair with deviled eggs, well, boiled eggs in general. I used to call them doubled eggs and I thought they were the most delicious side item on the planet. I still really love them but I don’t make them as often as I should.

Big Family gatherings and deviled eggs just seem to go together. When I was younger, I would fill my plate with Brown and Serve Rolls, with Ketchup to dip them in… of course, a dollop of cornbread dressing, and a few (as many as I could get away with) deviled eggs. Easter/Thanksgiving/Christmas meal of champions, in my opinion.

My sweet brother, who is 9 years older than me, would always give me a lecture on my cholesterol intake. Can’t you just imagine? Sitting at the dinner table with the whole family and my 13 year old brother hollering at me because all I will eat are eggs. Ah, the wonderful memories are flooding back to me…

I missed my family on Easter this year. It’s hard to be away. But, good news! My plate won’t be filled with little ketchup sandwiches this year. My tastes are all grown up… but one thing is for sure, my love of deviled eggs still remains and I hope my family enjoyed theirs together today.

You can’t really read the bible verse but how appropriate for Easter! Thanks Goldenhen. “This is the Day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” – Psalm 118:24

Perfectly Boiled Eggs

Time: 15 minutes
Level: Easy


Put eggs in a pot. Fill the pot with cold water until the eggs are covered, with about 1 in. of water above them. Add enough salt to make the water taste salty.

Put the lid on the pot. Over high heat, bring the water to a boil. As soon as it boils, cut off the heat. Leave the pot on the warmed burner and don’t take off the lid. Let sit of 12 minutes. Remove eggs from pot and place in a bowl of ice water.

Once cool, peel the eggs under running water. Yum!

– The salt can make the eggs easier to peel because the proteins coagulate and firm up, making the white easier to separate from the shell.
– Peeling under running water isn’t necessary but it seems to make things easier to me.
– These are great for breakfast with a side of fruit and maybe a piece of toast.

Deviled Eggs

Time: 5 minutes
Level: Easy

eggs, boiled and peeled
various other toppings and mixtures, see tips below

Cut eggs in half, lengthwise. Remove yellow yolk.

Mix yolks with a little mayo and mustard, just enough to make the mixture creamy.

Spoon or pipe yolk mixture back into egg whites.

Refrigerate until ready to serve. Yum!

– The options for deviled eggs are endless. You can add any combination of the following and they are all delish!!!
– pickle relish, salt, pepper, and paprika
– crumbled bacon or turkey bacon, chives, and shredded cheddar
– Sriracha, salt, pepper, a touch of curry powder
– switch the regular yellow mustard with hot  mustard or spicy brown                mustard and top with a slice of a pimento stuffed green olive
– celery, onion, and hot sauce

As you can see, the options are endless… and delicious! If you have leftover deviled eggs, boil some potatoes and make a deviled egg potato salad. That’s really yummy, too!

Ham and Cheese Tart with Homemade Honey Mustard

22 Mar

Woah gracious, I’m grabbing at straws and pulling from the bottom of the barrel on these next few. I am in DESPERATE need of my monthly trip to the grocery store. I haven’t been since February 2nd. Can you believe it? Granted, we were gone for Spring Break and February is a short month but STILL! It has almost been TWO months… I love it.

I’m sort of delaying the trip a little to see how long I can last and how cleaned out my fridge and pantry can get. My husband opened the fridge tonight to fix a drink and was shocked by how empty it was!

This recipe is truly a scroungers recipe. I am down to next to nothing so I grabbed what I could and went for it. Jason said it was delicious so I reckon it wasn’t too random!

Ham and Cheese Tart

Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 2-4
Level: Easy

1 tube refrigerated crescent rolls
3 tbsp. honey mustard (see recipe below)
a few slices of ham
1/3 c. Italian Blend or Mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 375°. On an ungreased cookie sheet, roll out crescent rolls. Smoosh creases together to make one big rectangle. Spread honey mustard all over dough.

Top with ham and then sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until dough is done in the middle. Slice and serve. Yum!

I didn’t have any honey mustard in the fridge or pantry so I whipped up my own. I’m not typically a fan, but had a random craving,  so I tweaked it for my taste. Any measurement will probably work. If you like it sweeter, add more honey. Spicier? Add more cayenne. Just taste it as you make it and add ingredients accordingly.

Honey Mustard

Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 4
Level: Easy

3 tbsp. low fat mayonnaise
2 tbsp. yellow mustard
1 tbsp. honey
dash or two of cayenne

Mix all ingredients together. Yum!

– Use this dressing on sandwiches or wraps. It’s really good!
– I served this tart along side tomato soup. It made for a pretty decent meal.

Black and Bleu Sliders

18 Mar

Hawaiian rolls, Bleu cheese, and ground beef… all I can say is yum. These are not only delicious, they are easy to make ahead, and super fun to eat! I don’t know why but miniature versions of familiar foods always makes them taste better. I love adding a little whimsy to a weeknight dinner, especially when it doesn’t take any extra time or effort.

Black and Bleu Sliders

Time: 30 minutes
Level: Easy
Servings: 4-6

2 tbsp. ketchup
1/4 c. bread crumbs
1 egg
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
1/4 c. bleu cheese
1 lb. ground beef
Hawaiian rolls, as many as you need

Preheat oven to 350°. Mix all ingredients together then add beef. Handle the beef as little as possible to keep it from becoming tough. Roll beef mixture into golf ball sized balls and bake until no longer pink inside.

Pinch out a little piece of the bottom of each roll, just enough to nestle the meatball.


– Serve with desired condiments. Mayo, ketchup, and mustard are good choices but thousand island or ranch dressing is also good!
– Don’t like bleu cheese? No big deal! You can use any cheese you like.
– These also make a great appetizer.

– Make the meatballs ahead and freeze them to bake at a later date.

Strawberry Salad

14 Mar

My mom and dad, for their 35th anniversary dinner (congrats to them!), ate at a Zagat top rated restaurant called Beach Bistro on Holmes Beach in Santa Maria, Florida. The tables are on the beach! Can’t you just imagine? How romantic! Your toes in the sand, the sound of gentle crashing waves, and an amazing dinner all in one. Yes, please! This salad isn’t on the menu. You have to ask for it… It just keeps getting more romantic, doesnt it?

My mom liked the salad so much she decided to go home and make it herself. Wonder where I get it? Guess the apple doesn’t fall far… Anyway, you have to try this salad. You won’t regret it. It’s delicious.

Strawberry Salad

Time: 5 minutes
Level: Easy
Servings: 4-6

1-2 c. fresh strawberries, sliced
1/2 c. pecans, toasted or glazed
2 oz. bleu cheese
8 oz. fresh spinach leaves

1/4 c. oil
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. tarragon
1/8 tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
dash dry mustard

Put all salad ingredients  in a large serving bowl.


Whisk all dressing ingredients together. Toss salad with dressing to coat. Serve immediately. Yum!

– Add grilled chicken or shrimp to make this salad a full meal.
– Use fresh blueberries or canned madarine oranges instead of strawberries for a spin. But try the strawberries first. Soooo good.

Sausage Balls

10 Mar

Are sausage balls a Southern thing? I’m guessing they are… but I’m not really sure. Southern or not, sausage balls are amazing. Typically, they are made around the holidays and served as an hors devour.

But, I make them all year round… and I eat them for breakfast. You will change your mind altogether about these little delights when you add the condiment that screams sausage ball’s name. JAM!

You have to try it. Sausage balls freeze incredibly well so they make for a great quick breakfast when you are on the run. Just grab a few from the freezer, pop them in the microwave for 1 minute, slather on some jam, and you’re done. Breakfast is done in under 2 minutes. Can’t beat that.

Make some this weekend. You’ll have a few breakfasts lined up for awhile. These balls save in the freezer for up to 3 months. WORTH IT!

Sausage Balls

Time: 15 minutes
Level: Easy
Servings: 2 – 2 1/2 dozen balls

1 pkg. Black Label cheese
2 c. Bisquick
1 roll hot breakfast sausage

Preheat oven to 375°. In a medium sized bowl, melt the cheese in the microwave. Put it in 1 minute at a time. Keep checking on the cheese until it is gooey enough to stir. Add all other ingredients to the melted cheese and combine.  Roll the mixture into 1 1/2 in. balls and place on a cookie sheet about 1 in. apart. Bake until slightly golden brown, about 10 minutes. Yum!

– Seriously, try the jam. Blackberry is my favorite complement but all others taste just as good.
– If you want to freeze these guys, put them back on the cookie sheet once they have cooled and then put the cookie sheet in the freezer for about 20 minutes. Transfer the slightly frozen balls to a zip-loc bag for easier storage. Freezing them a little before bagging will help them not stick together in the bag. This will help you out tremendously when you only need to thaw out a few at a time.
– The breakfast sausage in the recipe is the kind that comes in a roll/tube type thing. You can find it next to the bacon.
– Black Label cheese can be hard to find sometimes. You can buy the Cracker Barrel brand from the grocery store or you can buy any brand of good sharp cheddar.
– If you want to add a little water to the recipe (maybe 1/4 c. or so) it will make your sausage balls a but lighter and fluffier. Mine are very dense and solid and some people like theirs a bit airier. Either way, they are great!

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