Peppers and Goat Cheese

We love stuffed peppers.  We’re especially fond of jalapenos stuffed with sausage, but this recipe really caught my eye.  Anything we can use as a nibble is a good thing.  And since the 4th of July is coming, I need some new nibbles to serve my people.

G is the goat cheese fan in the family, but I think everyone would find these appealing.  The tang of the goat cheese will really add a zing to the peppers.  Sometimes you need to keep quiet about the goat cheese though; people get weird about new ingredients.

  • 8-12 mini sweet peppers
  • 1/2 cup goat cheese, softened at room temp – unflavored chevre is best
  • herbs and spices of your choice
  • black pepper
  • salt
  • olive oil

If you can’t find mini peppers, you can always cut a bell pepper into wedges, too.  I’m also wanting to try these with jalapenos.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the peppers in half and pull out the membranes and the seeds. They won’t add any spice – they’ll just taste bitter.

Place them on a baking sheet and drizzle them with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix them so every single pepper is nice and coated.

I used several pinches of dried pepper flakes and a couple pinches dill. And then I added a little extra black pepper, because G and I have a black pepper problem.  Use more then you think you need; the flavors can disappear.

Mix it until well combined.

Add a small amount of cheese to each pepper – press it down with your fingers as you fill them so it gets in all the nooks and crannies. It’s best to use one hand to fill them and one hand to hold them – otherwise you’ll end up with cheese everywhere.

Put them in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the peppers start to soften and wrinkle. The cheese should be beginning to brown as well as the bottom of the peppers.

They were good hot and at room temperature.

*  From the Recipe Box:

These aren’t the spicy peppers, so you won’t have to worry about the pain.

We love the oozing cheese and plan on making cheese crisps that way.

and remember what Khalid Hossani said:  And that’s the thing about people who mean everything they say.  They think everyone else does too.  Big kiss, Lynn

Asparagus Cheese Tart

Another recipe from the Costco Magazine.  They had me at asparagus this time.  I’ve mentioned my 2 favorite foods are watermelon and asparagus, so you know I’m in.  This one looked totally la-di-da and yet super easy.  Our favorite nephew, his wife and daughter were here and it was voted a total winner.  Our 2 year old great niece even helped roll out the puff pastry dough and grate the cheese.

This is a really nummy nibble.  I will be making it all year, or at least as long as I can get fresh asparagus.  Look at the intensity on her face as she grates the cheese.  Isn’t it more important  than the squiggly cut puff pastry?  Yeah, I think so.  I wish you could have seen her piercing the pastry with a fork.  It sort of reminded me of the Psycho shower scene.  She was into it.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

1 tablespoon flour

1 sheet (about 8 ounces) frozen puff pastry, thawed

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup grated Gruyere Cheese

1 pound medium asparagus, trimmed

S and P to taste

Sprinkle flour onto the work surface, roll out the pastry dough to a 14 x 9 inch rectangle.  Trim the dough for neat edges, then transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet.  Score the pastry dough lightly with a 1-inch border on all sides.  Pierce the interior dough with a fork.  Bake until light golden, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Remove the pastry from the oven and sprinkle with the cheeses.  Place the trimmed asparagus on the interior of the tart, alternating with ends and tips.  Drizzle the asparagus with the olive oil, scattering thyme on top and season with salt and pepper.

Bake until puff pastry is golden and asparagus is tender, about 15 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  Makes about 6 servings.

*  From the Recipe Box:

This recipe was from the March 2020 Costco Connection.  I get really good recipes from that publication.

G would like to see twice the cheese on the tart.  We like our cheese.

Even with a 2 year old sous chef, it turned out fabulous.  Appearance isn’t everything.  Let these kids help people.

and remember:  Erin go Bragh my darlings.  Big kiss, Lynn

 

Cheese Balls

You know, I’m older than dirt per my children.  As a result, I have recipes that predate disco.  This one was in mom’s recipe box.  Cheese balls were a really big deal in the 80’s.  You could roll them into balls, logs or just serve them in a bowl (my personal choice).  I do like store bought cheese spreads, but this one is so creamy.  I also like that you can make it your own.  I like more garlic than the average person.  A dash of Sriracha totally changes the taste profile of this cheese.

This one calls for some ingredients you might not be able to find easily, but no matter, we can fake it.  I love having this in the freezer.  Whether you form it and roll it in nuts or keep it in a bowl, it’s so handy to have this.  I keep them in easy to defrost sizes.  You never know when someone is going to drop in and this makes a great nibble.  I like it on cheesy crackers or crustini, but it’s equally good on celery or sliced cucumbers.  You need to make some today.

 

1/2 pound butter

8 ounces cream cheese

1 5 ounce jar each Bacon, Roka, Olde English and Pimento cheese (Kraft makes these)

1 garlic clove

mix thoroughly and refrigerate overnight

Roll in into balls and then into finely chopped walnuts and parsley

Freeze until ready to use.

*  From the Recipe Box:

The Kraft cheese jars are becoming increasingly difficult to find.  I usually use what I can find and then replace the rest with a grated cheddar mix.  It still tastes wonderful.

I like a little more garlic than this, 2 to 3 cloves are my go to.

It really does freeze ever so well and keeps for several months.  Give it an hour or 2 to thaw out.

and remember:  You have to think anyway, so why not think big?  Big kiss, Lynn

Gougeres

G and I have spa days and drink the waters.  Basically, we’re having drinks and nibbles at an Island establishment every month or so.  We like making things special and we’ll go hither and yon to find new experiences.  We’ve been together a long time and you need to keep having new adventures or things go stale.  We were lucky enough to enjoy the gougeres at Prima Bistro recently.  I’m now a fan, so I needed a recipe.

If you want to get technical, we’re talking cream puffs with Gruyere cheese.  They’re light and very satisfying.  If you love cream puffs, you will love these even more.  The flavor of the Gruyere raises these to a whole new level.  Now picture your Martini in one hand and a gougeres in the other.  Life is good.

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) butter, cut into tablespoons
  • Large pinch of coarse salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 1/2 ounces shredded Gruyère cheese (1 cup), plus more for sprinkling
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg (I’m not a nutmeg fan, so you will have to decide)

*  From the Recipe Box:

I like Alain Ducasse’s recipe.  Picture a 5 star recipe with almost 5K reviews.

If you’re good with a piping bag, give it a try.  I’m not so hot, no hand strength.

I’d rather make approximately 18 per batch but still bake the same amount of time.  I like them a tad smaller and a bit firmer.  It’s all about holding the Martini.

and remember one of the best lines from the Princess Bride:  Who said life is fair; where is that written?   Big kiss, Lynn

Faux Deep Fried Cheese

This one is totally weird and totally easy.  I love having the kiddos help me with this one.  While it is not fried, it will taste like it.  Everyone seems to have cheese sticks in their refrigerators these days.  It does not matter what brand or flavor, they all work.  Someone always orders cheese sticks when we’re out and about, so this is a good one to try.

Cut string cheese into bite sized pieces, 3 to 4 from each stick.

Dip each piece in milk and then bread crumbs.  I use Panko, because I like Panko, but seasoned bread crumbs are equally nummy.

Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment.

Bake at 425 degrees for 5 to 7 minutes

Serve with Marinara sauce or a good chunky salsa.  I also like sweet chili sauce or a red pepper jelly.

You’re going whoa, these don’t look like cheese sticks.  I have to give you a heads up about this one.  I got a phone call, as can happen and instead of toasted rounds, I ended up with crispy flats.  They still taste good, but I couldn’t in good conscience not admit my error.  This one has sweet chili sauce on it and it was lip smacking good.  I still feel like a maroon, but I always make the recipe right before I post it, so what you see is what you get.

*  From the Recipe Box:

You can use any bread crumbs.  I originally used Italian seasoned bread crumbs and thought they were fabulous until Panko came into my life.

Leave them in the milk for a moment and then immediately roll them in the bread crumbs.

These aren’t going to stay soft for long, but if you have some hang around, they taste great in tomato soup.

and remember what Tom Bodett said:  “They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.”  I hope you get all 3.  Big kiss, Lynn

Stuffed Dates

I know what you’re thinking, ‘I needed this recipe before the holidays, not after’.  You’re wrong.  It’s never too early or too late for a good nibble.  We love this recipe.  I have to give G credit for the goat cheese.  He’s a big fan and it was his idea to start using it instead of cream cheese.  This is the complete combination of sweet and savory.

We usually approach this as a team effort.  It doesn’t take forever, it only seems that way if you’re doing it by yourself.  We are lucky enough to have a large bulk food department at our local grocery store here on the Island.  If you can get pitted date, by all means do so.  It’s hard enough making the slice for filling without going all the way through the date.  This is a sticky operation.  Also, if you’re a good Norwegian like me, the minute you start smelling dates, you want a date bar.  I’ll make some soon and share Grandma Olson’s recipe with you.

This much bacon will make about 24 stuffed dates.  G and I usually double this depending on how many people we plan on serving.

12 ounce package bacon (you don’t want the thick cut style)

1 pound of pitted dates

7 ounces goat cheese

Cut the bacon in half.  This will yield approximately 24 slices.  Slice the dates to give yourself cheese access.  Fill each date with about 1 teaspoon of goat cheese.  Wrap each one with a slice of bacon.  Skewer with a toothpick.  This will hold everything in place and give you a handle for when it’s time to eat them.  Place on a cookie sheet topped with parchment or a silpat.

Bake at 425 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes, turning them about half way through.

*  From the Recipe Box:

With a 7 ounce package you will have plenty of cheese to make a couple of batches.

We like to serve them warm or room temperature.

and remember:  You are the result of 4 billion years of evolution; act like it!  Big kiss, Lynn

Norwegian Seed Crackers

I think I may have OCD.  Once I get on topic, I can’t seem to shake it.  Currently, I’m totally committed to crackers.  I love, love, love crackers.  I always have and I always will.  Part of it is my deep love of soup and you have to have crackers if you have soup.

I’m also looking for things to cook with Gluten-free Girl.  She’s coming up this weekend and is always up for a new cooking experience.  Please don’t judge them until you taste them.  They are pretty good.  You simply can’t make everyone happy.

dry ingredients

  • 3 1/2 ounces pumpkin seeds (approximately 5/8 cup if you don’t have a scale)
  • 3 1/2 ounces sunflower seeds (5/8 cup)
  • 5 ounces sesame seeds (1 1/8 cups)  I used 50/50 black and regular sesame seeds.  This did affect the color of my crackers.  Next time, only a sprinkling of the black.
  • 5 ounces flax seed (1 1/8 cups)
  • 1 1/2 ounces chia seed (1/3 cup)
  • 1 ounce or 6 tablespoons psyllium husk powder
  • 1½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder

wet ingredients

  • 3 cups water
  •  a smidgen less than 1/2 cup oil (I use grape seed oil, without flavor)

Directions

Mix all the dry stuff and stir it together.

Mix the wet stuff and stir it all together.

Let it rest for half an hour until it becomes a solid dough.

Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces.

Put the dough onto a piece of baking paper. Add another piece of baking paper on top.

Flatten the dough with a baking roll or the like.

Put the dough on a baking pan while still inside the baking two papers.

Remove the top piece of baking paper.

Bake for approximately 30-45 minutes 350 degrees.  If the dough is not completely baked after 30 minutes, turn it over and remove the baking paper to make it easier for the steam to escape. The paper might stick a bit.

Take it out of the oven, remove the baking paper and allow it to cool. I use a cooling rack. If the paper sticks and is hard to remove, the crispbread is not fully baked.

Break it gently into bits the sizes you prefer.

*  From the Recipe Box:

Until you have tried the recipe a few times in your own oven, it’s a good idea to check the dough when it has gotten 20 minutes. It is so thin that it easily burns in the corners. For example, in my oven, I have to both turn the baking trays and switch the top and bottom trays after 20 minutes and then every 10 minutes.

Check out more Nordic Nut Breads at Kvalifood.com

and remember:  Pain makes you stronger; tears make you braver; a broken heart makes you wiser; and alcohol makes you not remember any of that crap.  Thank you alcohol.  Big kiss, Lynn

 

Scalloped Oysters

I’m not a fan of oysters.  I want to be, but I simply cannot get past the mouth feel.  Each summer I try to eat one.  The operative word here is try.  I live near some of the best oyster beds in the world.  I can’t get enough clams and mussels, so what’s the difference?  I can’t figure it out.

This dish is a holiday tradition in my family.  It was always on the buffet every Christmas eve and it was always eaten to the last crumb.  What I find amusing is my mother who originally made it would not eat it, I took over and do not eat it and this year C the MP made it and won’t eat it.  What a bunch of maroons!

We use oysters in a jar for this recipe.  Shellfish is very seasonal in our area and we’re total rule followers when it comes to fish and game regulations.  Since you will be baking them, you won’t notice the difference.

1 pint oysters

4 tablespoons oyster liquor

4 tablespoons cream

½ cup dry bread crumbs

1 cup cracker crumbs (Ritz or something equally light and buttery)

½ cup melted butter

S & P

Mix together bread and cracker crumbs.  Stir in butter.  Put a thin layer in the bottom of a shallow baking dish, approximately 8 x 8.

Mix together the cream and oyster liquor.

Put a layer of oysters on the crumbs.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Add ½ of the oyster liquor mixture.  Sprinkle with some of the bread crumbs.

Repeat layers and cover with the remaining crumb mixture.

Bake 30 minutes in a 400 degree oven.

*  from the Recipe Box:

Mom would make this every Christmas for Dad, P, and L once she joined our group.  You either love oysters or you don’t, but everyone who does loves this dish.

Oyster liquor is the liquid in the jar with the oysters.  Drain and save to use in the recipe.

and remember:  You are only going to be as good as the people you surround yourself with, so be brave enough to let go of those who keep weighing you down.  Big kiss, Lynn

Sausage Balls

You know by now how much I love a party.  And you simply can’t love a party without the love of a good nibble.  I’ve had this recipe forever, and I don’t know why I haven’t shared it.   Mom used to make these back in the day, only she always had a mustard dipping sauce.  I’m using a sweet chili dipping sauce, because G doesn’t like mustard.  I know, what a maroon.

Anytime you have a recipe that only calls for 4 ingredients, you are on the right track for the perfect hors d’ oeuvres.  These come together so easily.  I will warn you about the mess though.  I used my hand mixer.  The sausage mixture crawled up the beaters and did not want to leave.  My sous chef, the great and glorious G, cursed me for about 30 minutes while he was trying to clean the holes the beaters go in.  Next time I won’t be such a lazy butt and I’ll get out the Kitchen Aid.

So what makes these sausage balls so tender and moist?  Probably the cream cheese.  I know, who’d a thunk it?  The cheese does not ooze out while baking.   I don’t know why; I certainly thought it would.

1 pound Jimmy Dean’s Hot Sausage, uncooked

8 ounces cream cheese, softened (I usually use Neufchâtel cheese, because it always seems creamier)

1 to 1 1/4 cups Bisquick (I usually use Jiffy Baking Mix, I just prefer it for some reason)

4 ounces grated cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Mix all the ingredients until well combined.  Roll into approximately 1 inch balls.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes.

They can be frozen after forming and then thawed and cooked within the next few months.

*  from the Recipe Box:

Baking them on parchment paper means no sticking and no mess.

If you keep some water handy to splash on your hands during the shaping of the balls, they won’t stick to your hands as badly.

I usually add salt and pepper and a dash of pepper flakes.  I like them a little spicier.

Mom always served them on a platter with dipping sauce and toothpicks.

and remember:  Girls who love bourbon are not weird.  They are a rare gift from God.  Those girls get bigger diamonds.   Big kiss, Lynn

English Oat Crackers

G and I so enjoyed the Rosemary Crackers, we decided we should look for more cracker recipes.  And of course my hero, Ina Garten, came through for us.  These have a texture that is a whole different story.  These are much crisper and that hint of brown sugar, while subtle, is very enjoyable.

I would use these in the same way that I would use the Rosemary Crackers.  I love bread or crackers on a cheese tray.  These are so much sturdier than your average store bought cracker, you can actually spread cheese on them or build a mini sandwich without it crumbling all over the floor.

The best thing about them is the bragging rights.  In both cases, when people say they love the crackers and where did you get them.  You get to look demurely to the side and say, “I made them of course.  Doesn’t everyone?”  Holiday entertaining season is coming; start practicing.

3 cups old-fashioned oats

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, 1/2-inch-diced

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup lukewarm water

Fleur de Sel (I use Jacobsen’s because they are from Oregon and so am I)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
  2. Place the oats, flour, brown sugar, and kosher salt in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse for 45 to 60 seconds, until the oats are coarsely ground. Add the butter and pulse 15 to 20 times, until the butter is the size of peas.
  3. Dissolve the baking soda in the lukewarm water and drizzle it over the crumbs in the food processor. Pulse until the mixture is evenly moistened and can be pressed into balls that will hold together.
  4. With a medium (1 3/4-inch) ice cream scoop or two spoons, scoop the dough into your hands and roll them into round balls. Evenly space 12 balls on each of the prepared sheet pans. Flour the bottom of a flat-bottomed 3-inch-diameter drinking glass and use it to flatten each cracker to 1/8 inch thick and about 3 inches in diameter. The crackers will not be perfectly round.  Sprinkle with the Fleur de Sel and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown on the edges. Serve warm or at room temperature.

From the Recipe Box:

I love these.  I am going to disagree with Ina though.  Oh-oh, a large clap of thunder just sounded overhead.  I think the crackers could be smaller.  I’d aim for 30 to 36 next time and then adjust the cooking time to about 15 minutes.

I love mixing them up in the food processor.  Easy squeezy.

and remember what Jimmy Cliff sang:   You can get it if you really want it.  Big kiss, Lynn