Thursday, January 22, 2015

Marinated Cheese and Olives ~ Game Night Snack

This was our Thanksgiving night snack as we were all gathered around the dining table, playing Taboo, which has recently become my new favorite old game. We all enjoyed the briny-cheesy-carby goodness so much I'm thinking this may make an encore appearance as part of the 2015 Super Bowl spread.

Do you even know who's playing? I don't and honestly, I don't care. I watch football one day a year and that day is Super Bowl Sunday. And even then, I'm really only interested in the food and the half-time show. And of course, the commercials but I'm not sure they're as good as they used to be.

1 - 8 ounce pkg. cream cheese, chilled and sliced
10 ounces sharp white Cheddar cheese, sliced
10 ounces Muenster cheese, sliced
1 cup green olives
1 cup black olives
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
1 Tablespoon fresh basil, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons chopped pimiento peppers
1 medium size baguette

1. Prepare the marinade: In a small bowl, combine the white balsamic vinegar, olive oil, parsley, basil, and garlic.

2. On a round, medial size serving platter, arrange cheeses, in an alternating pattern, in a ring.

3. Place green and black knives in the center of the ring.

4. Drizzle marinade over the cheeses and olives. Sprinkle with pimento peppers.

If you are preparing this in advance, stop here. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve before moving on to the next step.

5. Slice baguette and place around the outer edge of the serving platter.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Slow Cooked Black Beans and Rice

My slow cooker quit on me over a year ago and I just never bothered to replace it. It was like the time our microwave gave out - it was convenient to have around but not necessary. Eventually I got used to it being gone but then we bought a new one and I was all excited about it.  Same thing here.

My husband decided to give me a new slow cooker for Christmas and I can't quite tell if it was out of his sensing I was beginning to miss having one around or if there may have been a bit of self-interest there. ;) Either way, we're both happy. And the first thing I made in it definitely made our youngest happy - slow cooked mac & cheese, more on that another day.

This black beans and rice dish is what I made for last night's dinner and I couldn't be happier with the way it turned out! While we enjoyed this as a taco filling, it would also make an excellent side dish or filling for enchiladas.

2 - 15 ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup long-grain white rice, uncooked
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup salsa
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 package crunchy taco shells

Suggested toppings:
cheddar, mozzarella, Pepper Jack cheeses
salsa, sour cream, guacamole, cilantro, jalapeƱo slices

1. Prep a medium size slow cooker with cooking spray or liner.

2. Add all ingredients and stir briefly, just to combine.

3. Cover, cook on low heat for 3 hours. 
Leave it alone - do not stir during this time or you will risk of ending up with mushy rice. 

4. When the cooking time is up, remove lid and then stir. Season to taste.

To serve:

Spoon bean and rice mixture into warm taco shells. Add favorite toppings and serve warm.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Green Beans with Pesto

Don't you love how sometimes the simplest dishes can be so tasty? Our youngest turned three yesterday so I made some of her favorites for dinner last night.  Slow cooker mac & cheese (more on that another day), honey drizzled carrot fries (another big hit) , and these pesto green beans were on the menu and she was so happy - that kid will eat anything with pesto on it! But it's got to be the good stuff - homemade or store bought fresh.  She's a definite foodie in the making already. ;)

1 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed
1 tsp. olive oil or butter
1 - 2 TBSP your favorite pesto, or to taste
Parmesan cheese, grated - optional

Bring a large pot of water to boil and add green beans.  Allow to cook 3-4 minutes.

Remove from heat, drain beans, and immediately rinse with cold water.  Pat dry.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tsp. olive oil over medium high heat.  Add the green beans and toss to coat a minute or so, until heated through.

Remove from heat and toss with as little or as much pesto as you like.  Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve warm.

Or refrigerate and serve cold.  It's good either way.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Easy Beer and Cheddar Dip

This dip is amazing with pretzels!  Don't think about the calories, just eat it!  But wait a day or so, if you can.  While the dip is good right away, it's even better the next day so it's a great make-ahead appetizer or snack.

The first time I made this, I used Guinness.  Today, I used a pale ale.  Both are good, which just goes to show, whatever you have on hand is probably fine.  Also, this is one of those recipes that can be very easily adapted to suit personal taste.

1 (8oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 of 10z. pkg. Ranch dressing mix
1/4c beer
1 1/4c Cheddar cheese
1/8 tsp. seasoned salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8c green onions, chopped

1.  Mix everything together in a small bowl and adjust seasoning to taste. 

2.  Cover and refrigerate. Give it a few hours for the flavors to really blend before serving.


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