Archive | Appetizer RSS feed for this section

Homemade Pickled Jalapenos

28 Jan

I make a batch of these every couple of weeks. They’re so awesome you’ll never go back to the store-bought stuff again. These are pickled in the refrigerator, so they are NOT shelf-stable. Keep them in the fridge and they’ll last as long as you’ll need them to. While they’re awesome right away, I recommend that you let them hang out in the fridge for a week or two before eating. They just get better with time.

– 16 medium-to-large fresh jalapenos
– 1 1/4 cups white vinegar
– 1 1/4 cups filtered or distilled water
– 4 large garlic cloves, lightly crushed and peeled
– 4 TBSP granulated sugar
– 2 TBSP kosher salt

Yield: Two pint jars

Wash the jalapenos and cut into “bottle caps”, or rings. Discard stems.


Fill a large bowl with very warm water. Remove the lids from two pint jars (mine are purple!), and submerge them in the water. This will bring the jars up to temperature prior to filling them with hot jalapenos and liquid.


Combine water, vinegar, garlic, sugar and salt in a large saucepan. Stir until salt and sugar are dissolved, and bring to a boil. Add the jalapenos, pushing them down to submerge them in the liquid. Remove them from the heat and allow to sit, uncovered, for fifteen minutes. You’ll notice that the color will go from bright green to a duller green color.



Remove the jars from the warm water. Using tongs, transfer the jalapenos from the saucepan into the jars, evenly distributing them between the two. I usually start by digging out the four cloves of garlic and making sure each jar gets two apiece.


Next, ladle the liquid into each jar until the liquid reaches near the top of the jar. Attach the lids and bands and allow to sit on the counter until completely cooled. Store in the refrigerator – the jalapenos can be eaten right away but we’ve found that they taste best after sitting in the refrigerator for a week.



We use these in and on everything. Omelettes, cheeseburgers, salads, crackers and cheese, marinades, deviled eggs, tuna salad, sandwiches, soups and stews, baked salmon, pretty much anything going in the crock pot… we’re a little obsessed.


A Cheese Sauce for Everything

17 May

This is a great, flexible recipe for cheese sauce that goes with, well, just about anything. Pour it over vegetables, mix it with refried beans for a great dip, pour it over pasta. It’s very cheesy without being too thick or overpowering. And, as you can tell by how everything is “two”, it’s WICKED easy to double or halve.

Makes about four cups.

– Two cups shredded cheese – a cheddar or cheddar/colby/jack mix is good. Basically, you want a hard cheese, not a soft cheese
– Two cups milk – whole or 2% is fine. Heck, you could even use half-and-half if you’re feeling especially decadent. I usually use 2%. I wouldn’t recommend skim.
– Two tablespoons salted butter
– Two tablespoons flour
– Two egg yolks, lightly beaten (discard the whites or use them for another purpose)
– Two tablespoons Worcestershire
– A dash or two of paprika
– Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Once the butter is melted, add the flour a little bit at a time, whisking constantly until the flour and butter are completely mixed, creating a roux.

Very slowly add the milk, a little bit at a time, whisking constantly until the flour/butter mixture is completely dissolved into the milk. Allow the mixture to warm and thicken for about one minute, then gradually whisk in the egg yolks (you don’t want the milk to be too hot or the egg will cook upon contacting the hot liquid, which is, well, gross). Keep whisking and allow the mixture to get hot, about two minutes.

Gradually add in the cheese a little at a time, whisking constantly, until it’s all incorporated and melted. Add the Worcestershire, paprika, salt and pepper, whisk and allow the mixture to become hot, but not simmering or boiling, which will curdle the milk.

If the mixture is too thin, add another handful of cheese. If it’s too thick, add a little bit of milk. You can also add other spices – cayenne pepper works well, for instance.

Pour over whatever needs some extra cheesy goodness, and enjoy!

Buffalo Chicken Dip

4 Jan

This is a hot chicken dip recipe, modified from the one that I got from my sister-in-law Karen. It’s AWESOME with celery sticks, tortilla chips, or triangles of flatbread.

– 3 cups shredded cooked chicken (I like to get a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store)
– 1/2 to 1 cup Frank’s buffalo wing sauce or other hot sauce of choice (depending on how spicy you want it)
– 1/2 to 1 cup ranch salad dressing (depending on how “wet” you want it)
– 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
– 1 block cream cheese (8 oz)

– 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the cream cheese until smooth (about 2 minutes). Mix in remaining ingredients (except shredded cheddar) and spread evenly into a casserole dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Bake for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Top with shredded cheese, and bake 5 more minutes, until cheese is melted. Serve hot.

Bleu Cheese Spread

25 Jan

8 oz. cream cheese, room temp
6 oz. bleu cheese
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. grated onion
1-2 tbsp. mayonnaise (to taste)

Mix all ingredients together, adding the mayo 1/2 tbsp at a time until mixture is creamy. Serve over crackers or use to stuff celery stalks.

This stuff was a fixture during holidays at Grandma’s. I will be the only person in my household who will eat it, and I COULDN’T BE HAPPIER.

Spinach Artichoke Dip

25 Jan

1 cup cream
1 tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
4 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1 16oz pkg frozen chopped spinach, cooked in microwave and drained well
1 cup shredded asiago cheese
1 14oz can artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed, drained again, and chopped
1/4 cup slivered rehydrated sun-dried tomatoes, cut into pieces

In a large bowl, whisk cream, flour, garlic powder, pepper, and 2 tbsp. parmesan until well blended. Heat in microwave 2-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until very hot and slightly thickened. Stir in spinach, asiago cheese, artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes until well mixed. Spread evenly into serving or casserole dish. Sprinkle top with remaining parmesan. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until hot and bubbly. Serve with crackers or toast rounds.

Stuffed Mushrooms

25 Jan

1.5 to 2 lbs fresh mushrooms (look for ones with large caps)
1 onion, chopped
1/4 lb butter
1/4 – 1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1.5 cups grated parmesan cheese
1 – 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 6 oz. can crabmeat
chopped parsley

Clean mushrooms. Remove stems and chop. Melt butter, add onions and chopped mushroom stems, saute until tender. Add breadcrumbs, cheese, Worcestershire, and crabmeat. Spoon mixture into mushrooms. Sprinkle with paprika and parsley. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Serve hot.


25 Jan

Six roma tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp. Italian seasonings
salt and pepper
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. water
Shredded mozzarella cheese
1 loaf crusty bread

Mix tomatoes, garlic, seasonings, salt and pepper, olive oil, and water in a small bowl. Slice bread into 1-inch thick slices, then cut each slice in half. Top each piece of bread with a sprinkling of mozzarella, and place under broiler until cheese is melted and bread is slightly browned. Remove from oven and top with tomato mixture.

Refried Bean Dip

25 Jan

1 32 oz can of refried beans (or two 16 oz cans! Woo! I am a Math Goddess!)
1 4 oz can chopped green chilies
1 1/2 cups salsa
1/2 lb prepared taco meat (browned hamburger with taco seasoning)
jalapeno slices to taste (I usually put about 8 in)
3 tbsp. of the jalapeno “juice” from the jar
two big handfuls of shredded cheddar cheese, or a jack/cheddar combo
1/2 cup water
salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Heat in microwave until warm (about 5 minutes on High, stir halfway). Serve with tortilla chips, beer, and a football game or sporting event of choice. The beer is very important. Sporting event optional.