Wedding Dip

One thing both Laura and Steven wanted for their wedding was a relaxed and informal reception.

They didn’t want a cake.

They didn’t want a bridal table.

They didn’t want a big meal.

They didn’t want speeches.

All they wanted was ice cream, dancing under twinkle lights, and a sparkler send off surrounded by their family and close friends.

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And they got it!

The dancing under the twinkle lights and the sparkler send-off’s we’re pretty straight forward! (Hint – the key to a successful sparkler send-off at a wedding is to put a pyromaniac brother and brothers-in-law in charge of lighting them with propane torches just ahead of the bridal couple – then taking a series of pictures as they walk through!)

But the food had me stymied for awhile.

The ice cream and toppings were easy – but not enough. We added veggies and my homemade ranch dip, but we still needed more.

We finally settled on queso dip and chips.

Yes, I know it sounds odd – queso and weddings just don’t seem to go together. I knew we needed a step up from the typical Velveeta cheese and salsa dip – a little fancier version without the vivid yellow color.

And we found it – a simple queso dip without processed foods that was a beautiful wedding white color with small specks of the deep red tomatoes! We made it fancy by served it from a large chafing dish with the chips in a large basket beside it.

It helped make the reception relaxed, fun and more of a party!

And since so many guests have asked for the recipe – here it is!

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Wedding Dip

1 can Rotel tomatoes and green chilies
8 ounces cream cheese, full fat
1 pound pepper jack cheese
8 ounces sour cream, full fat
3/4 cup whole milk (or half & half)

Melt together, stirring well and serve warm with tortilla chips or crackers.

We made it ahead of time in large batches on the stove, stirring and stirring, thinking it was always going to be a big stringy, gooey mess and and then there was a magical moment when it all came together into amazing dip!

Then we stored it in the fridge and reheated in crock pots.

You could probably dump all the ingredients in the crock pot and let it heat on low until melted or zap it in the microwave to melt, just remember that stirring is your friend.

It refrigerates well and can be frozen (although it does get just slightly grainy in the freezer).

Enjoy!

Buddy’s Taco Popcorn

taco popcornI think it’s safe to say that Buddy is addicted to popcorn.

He has some at least once a day – some days twice.

There are even days when he pops popcorn before the dishes from the last meal are dried. But then – he is a teen age boy and thus – a bottomless pit.

Good thing popcorn is cheap and filling.

Most days he tops his freshly popped popcorn simply with salt and butter. But at some point this last winter he started to experiment a little.

He was like a mad scientist with all kinds of spices in front of him.

Multiple batches of popcorn later he had a winning combination.

The result was this yummy snack with a Mexican kick.

And I do mean a kick!  You may wish to up your popcorn to spice mixture and maybe skip the dash of cayenne. 🙂

Taco Popcorn

1/3 cup unpopped popcorn (8 cups popped)
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic
1/8 teaspoon paprika
dash cayenne
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon cheddar cheese

Pop popcorn. (Buddy always uses the brown bag in the microwave method.)

Mix the seasonings together.

Melt the butter. Add the cheese and stir till melted. Pour over the popped popcorn and sprinkle the seasoning over the top. Toss together.

Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Fries

DSC_0004Please don’t tell my boys that sweet potatoes are a vegetable!

Why?

Because I’ve tricked them into eating them.

How?

I bake them up as fries.

Super easy. Super yummy. And -since we bake them and don’t fry them – they are super good for you.

Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamins, are a slow burning carb, and (here’s the kicker) –  they are full of beta carotene which the experts say will help ward of the effects of aging.

Sounds good to me – bring ’em on!

Sweet Potato Fries

2 medium sweet potatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil

Scrub the sweet potatoes well; then slice them into wedges. (The smaller your wedges – they faster they bake.) Place in a mixing bowl.

In a small bowl mix together the salt, cumin, chili powder, paprika, and black pepper.

Drizzle the olive oil and spice mix over the potatoes and toss to coat.

Place in a single layer on a greased baking dish and bake at 400 degrees till you get the desired crispness. We usually figure about 30 minutes to make a softer fry; 45 minutes or more if you want it crispier.

This should serve 2 people, unless one is really hungry.

But if you’re like me and are serving a family, or have people who eat meals at odd hours – you may appreciate a short cut.

We make the spice mix up in bulk and store it in a container in the cupboard. Then we can whip up a batch of fries without having to haul out all the spice jars.

Master Spice Mix

6 teaspoons salt
6 teaspoons cumin
6 teaspoons chili powder
6 teaspoons paprika
3 teaspoons black pepper

We figure about a teaspoon of spice mix per sweet potato – but if you like it spicy – add more!

Enjoy!

Pickle Wrap Dip

pickle dipI hear that the big game is Sunday.

Not that I even know which teams are playing.

Or care.

Actually – I wouldn’t even know the game was happening if it wasn’t for all the yummy “big game” foods on Pinterest.

And they all look so good!

Which leads me to a dilemma.

Is it be legal to make amazing game day foods and eat them – without actually watching the game?!

Could I sit quietly on my couch partaking of amazing Pickle Wrap Dip while rereading the Mitford series and listening to my favorite Andrew Peterson CD?

Would anyone know?

Or even care?

Perhaps it is legal to not watch the game – but it is definitely not morally right to keep the amazing Pickle Wrap Dip from you.

So I will share our favorite variation of the recipe and you can all make your own. 🙂

Amazing Pickle Wrap Dip

8 ounces of cream cheese
8 ounces sour cream
1 package dried beef
1/2 jar dill pickles

Cut the dried beef and the pickles into bite size pieces.

Combine the cream cheese and sour cream.. Add the pickles and dried beef.  Mix together and refrigerate for an hour for the flavors to mingle. (But honestly – we never do that – we just dig in!)

Recipe can be doubled – or tripled – if you are sharing.

Perfect with bagel chips, or crackers of any kind.

There.

Now I have no guilt on Sunday night.

No game either.

Just Pickle Wrap Dip and Mitford.

Perfect.

Spiced Nuts

spiced nutsMatt’s coming home today!

Isn’t it interesting that we say he’s “coming home” when he comes and that he’s “going home” when he leaves?

I guess that’s the blessing of a beloved child.

You will always have two homes – one where you live  – and Mom and Dad’s where you will always be welcome.

To get this beloved firstborn of ours home requires a trip to the airport in the big city. So Jan and I plan to do some Christmas shopping in route.

Since we will be without children for the first part of the trip – it definitely qualifies as a “date”. 😉 So I whipped up a batch of these yummy spicy nuts to munch on in the car.

With so many sweets around during the holidays – sometimes a little spice just hits the spot.

They are super fast to make – and disappear almost as quickly!

Spiced Nuts

1 cup raw nuts (I used almonds, but cashews, pecans, walnuts, or even peanuts would also work – just make sure they are raw!)
1 teaspoon olive or coconut oil
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss all the ingredients together and bake until lightly toasted – about 15- 20 minutes. Watch them carefully – some nuts toast faster than others!

This recipe easily doubles, or triples.

Enjoy!

For all you THMer’s – this is a solid and very satisfying S.

I’ve linked this post with Trim Healthy Tuesday on Gwen’s Nest.

Jalapeno Cilantro Dip

DSC_0006 The peppers in the garden are coming at full speed ahead!

I have a jalapeno (or two) in my egg every morning, fresh salsa with a jalapeno (or two) at lunch and then in the evening – as many jalapeno poppers as I can get away from the children!

I think it’s safe to say that we’re a little obsessed with our Tam jalapenos!

So when I tried this recipe I found on Pinterest – it was love at first bite!

It was smooth and creamy – with a touch of heat at the very end. Perfection!

If you don’t like cilantro (you poor souls!) you could probably substitute parsley. I will say that even my non-cilantro eaters ate some and liked it!

And if the heat of the jalapenos is worrying you – just put fewer in and make sure you remove the seeds and the white (that’s where the heat lives.)

The original recipe calls for one packet of dry Ranch dressing mix – but I always make my own. I guesstimate I used about a heaping tablespoon or two.

Jalapeno Cilantro Dip

6-8 jalapenos (or less)
a handful of cilantro
1 packet of dry Ranch dressing mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise

Slice the jalapenos and remove the white and seeds. Puree the jalapenos and cilantro in a food processor until it looks like a paste.

Add the Ranch dressing mix, sour cream, and mayonnaise. Mix until well combined.

Chill for an hour and serve – or eat it immediately because you just can’t wait!

This is fabulous on veggies, chips, or crackers, or even as a topper on chicken or a burger.

Enjoy!

Paper Bag Popcorn

brown bag popcornI love popcorn. I mean, I really, really love popcorn.

I could eat it every day and sometimes do!

My favorite way to make it is on the stove in coconut oil with my vintage white mountain popcorn popper. Then I cover it in melted butter and popcorn salt and indulge.

Sometimes I even share. 😉

But – let’s admit – this way of popping popcorn does leave a bit of a mess and is slightly caloric. 🙂

While we love the ease of microwave popcorn – they are pretty expensive and I’ve heard some talk about unhealthy preservatives.

My solution? Brown bag popcorn.

I saw this on Pinterest and was skeptical – but trust me – it really works.

And it’s so simple!

Just take a brown, lunch size paper bag and pour 1/4 cup of popcorn in it. Fold over the end and put it in your microwave on high for 3-4 minutes. Just listen carefully for the popcorn to stop popping.

Done.

I told you it was easy!

Of course my kids always pour their popcorn into a bowl and cover it with melted butter and salt And then they pass the bag on to the next kid in line – because one bag can pop multiple batches of popcorn.

I just bought 100 brown paper bags for less than $2.00. With several batches per bag – that sure beats the price of regular microwave popcorn! And there’s no popcorn popper to wash.

And that my friends is a winner!

Enjoy!

Sunflower Pesto

sunflower pestoHaving our first guests of the season last week meant making lots of fun food!

Dagmar made the menus for the time.

And since she was still recovering from oral surgery and dry sockets and was living on tapioca pudding and mashed potatoes – they were quite creative!

Our evening meal included grilled chicken pesto pizza.

Oh yeah!

The only problem was that one of our guests, my soon-to-be-niece-in-law, has a deadly nut allergy.  Pesto has nuts.

Enter – the lovely sunflower seed! Not a nut, but with enough nut-like qualities to be a great substitute.

Three stripped basil plants and a few buzzes later – we had us some delicious nut-free pesto!

Sunflower Pesto

2 cups fresh basil, packed
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup sunflower seeds, roasted and salted
3 medium garlic cloves
salt and black pepper

Put the sunflower seeds, garlic cloves, and Parmesan cheese in a food processor and process until chopped. Add the basil and process.

While the food processor is running, slowly dribble in the olive oil until you reach the desired consistency.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Voila!

Just spread that lusciousness on a pizza crust, top it with some grilled chicken and mozzarella cheese and bake it for a fabulous treat!

Or spread it on crackers, pita chips, or your fingers!

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Hot Chili Dip

ChiliI know that a “dip” is usually considered an appetizer or maybe even a snack.

But I have to confess that this is one dip we eat as a main dish!

My sister-in-law shared the recipe with me years ago and it’s been a family staple ever since.

The original recipe calls for a can of chili – but my favorite way to make it is using left-over homemade chili. Sometimes I’ll even freeze that little bit left in a batch just to make this dip.

You can bake it, layer it in a crock pot or even pop it in the microwave.  Don’t worry too much about exact measurements – just use what you have. It’s an easy recipe to double or triple if you’re feeding a crowd.

Chili Dip

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 can refried beans
8 ounces sour cream
1 can Hormel chili (or homemade)
8 ounces cheddar cheese

Spread the cream cheese in the bottom of a greased 8 x 8 baking dish. Layer the remaining ingredients in order.  Bake at 350 degrees until the cheese is melted.

Serve with tortilla chips and – if you want to be fancy – peppers, onions, black olives, tomatoes, lettuce, and salsa.

Enjoy!

Kettle Corn

Kettle CornWhat do you serve a crew of hungry 4H kids who have just walked over a mile along the highway and through the ditches picking up trash for a community service project?

It needs to be cheap, portable, filling, and appeal to all ages.

How about kettle corn – bagged with peanuts, M&M’s and candy corn?!

Served with pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies and a juice box, these snack bags were a hit with my road crew this weekend!

And the left-over bags were so handy in throw in lunch boxes this morning!

Kettle Corn

1 tablespoon oil (we love coconut oil for popping corn)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup unpopped popcorn
salt to taste

Place in the oil and sugar in your popcorn popper. Add the popcorn and pop according to directions.

The sugar will melt with the oil and coat the popcorn as it pops. Toss the popped corn into a bowl and salt to taste. Let sit for a few minutes to cool before breaking it apart.

This stuff is fabulous when hot – and holds up well for 3-5 days depending on the humidity.

Let the kettle corn cool completely before you mix in the candy corn and M&M’s so there is no melting.

When we mixed in all the extras, they fell to the bottom of the bag leaving the popcorn on top – but no one seemed to mind. They just shook the bags until their favorites were on top.

Enjoy!