Now that Thanksgiving is over, it’s time to refocus on the remaining festival of eating that spans now through the New Year! There is more noshing and nibbling packed into the next 30 days than perhaps in the whole calendar year! With invited (and quite possible uninvited guests) dropping by with holiday cheer and hungry appetites, I like to have a few simple yet show-stopping appetizer recipes at my fingertips so that no one is disappointed.
My recipe for Blue Cheese, Pomegranate and Quinoa “Caviar” is an easy yet elegant addition to any gathering, whether you need sophisticated snacks to headline a cocktail party or as a prelude to a full-scale dinner party. Or, perhaps as an “I’m not cooking tonight” mini meal to enjoy with a bottle of wine in your fuzzy slippers after everyone heads home!
One of the treasures of this holiday hors d’oeuvres recipe is pomegranates. Pomegranates on their own are a quite festive fruit, the little arils inside resemble ruby-red jewels and taste decidedly more precious. When paired with a pleasingly pungent blue cheese and the almost nutty texture and taste of quinoa, you get a taste experience that I can describe no other way than Manheim steamroller for your Mouth – a modern orchestra of fa-la-la flavor!
While this holiday appetizer looks like it spent all day getting ready for a food glamour shot, it’s actually embarrassingly easy to make. All the ingredients are just tossed together in a bowl and then molded into a standard 6-ounce ramekin dish. If you’d like to do individual servings, mold with a mini melon baller or cookie dough scoop.
I’ve served this Christmas and New Year’s Eve party recipe on one of my favorite cracker; the nearly paper-thin wafers from 34º Crisps. However, you can use the cracker of your choice or even serve a dollop atop an apple or pear slice.
If you have leftovers, a big spoonful or two of Blue Cheese, Pomegranate and Quinoa “Caviar” is fantastic on a steak salad – especially with the Pomegranate Blueberry Vinaigrette. Enjoy!
I’d love to be in New York City this Labor Day weekend, binging out on fabulous foods and Broadway shows. The last trip I took to the Big Apple with my mom, we took in a show every night for nearly a week – such an entertaining escape from reality! Check out the sweepstakes at the end of my post sponsored by Stella® cheeses; the winner and a guest will enjoy a trip to NYC to take in a show, dinner and the sights – it could be you!
While I’m not doing a Broadway boondoggle this fall, the hubby and kids do what we can to take in the ample arts and events in Austin – last week we sat in jaw-dropped amazement at Kooza by Cirque de Soleil and tonight the family is just taking it easy with a movie at home. I’m trying to keep my diet cleaned up now that I’m deep into training for Spartan Beast and a subsequent marathon and have retooled my salty snacks too be less processed, gluten-free and more protein-oriented.
For tonight’s movie (Wild), I whipped up a batch of Gluten-Free Asiago Almond Crackers – bite-sized, crispy and filled with grain-free goodness. Not only to these herby crackers work for folks with gluten intolerances, they also fit into a Paleo (paleo-ish) diet that is willing to allow for a bit of cheese and butter.
Made with artisan cheeses, my Gluten-Free Asiago Almond Crackers are sophisticated enough for a fancy cocktail party – but the kids love them as well. They’re actually not at all difficult to make and a sensible snack option you can feel good about feeding your family with ingredients that include Stella® cheeses, gluten-free baking mix, almond meal, flax seed, thyme and butter. Simple goodness!
When rolling out the gluten-free crackers, it’s easiest to do so between parchment or wax paper – use your favorite little cookie cutter or use a pizza cutter to make squares, diamonds or other shapes. I would also strongly suggest baking on Silpat or a sheet of parchment to prevent sticking and burning. The crackers made using Italian-style cheeses can be frozen for up to six months, so make a couple extra batches!
I really loved using the Asiago from Stella® cheeses – it had a distinct, aged flavor and natural saltiness that added addictive yumminess to the recipe without having to add extra salt. I’m a little bit of a cheese snob and Stella® cheeses really rock – made with old world craftsmanship and a rich dairy heritage that dates back to 1923, this company makes all sorts of cheeses from shredded to crumbled and sharp to sweet. Some of the products I think you’ll love are the Asiago (used in recipe feature), Rosemary Medium Asiago, Fontina, Fontinella®, Italian Sharp, Mozzarella, Parmesan, Mediterranean Parmesan, Provolone, Ricotta, Romano and Black Pepper Romano.
So, back the sweepstakes I hinted at earlier – enter here for a chance to win a trip for two people to New York City with a $500 gift card, dinner for two, and two tickets to a Broadway show. You may enter once per e-mail address per day through October 31, 2015. For full rules, please visit Stella® cheeses. : #StellaTakesManhattan
Add flour, almond meal, flax seed thyme and cheese to work bowl of food processor. Pulse food processor to blend.
Add one tablespoon of butter at a time, pulsing between, until dough is crumbly.
Slowly drizzle about 4 tablespoons of ice water into dough while food processor is on. Stop adding water as soon as the dough is moist enough to start pulling off edges of work bowl.
Place ball of dough onto parchment paper. Flatten into a thick disk, wrap the dough up in the paper, and chill in the refrigerator one hour to overnight.
After chilling and ready to make, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Roll dough between two pieces of parchment paper until it is evenly 1/8 inch thick. Use pizza cutter to cut dough into squares or use small cookie cutters to punch out shapes. Place uncooked crackers on a parchment-lined baking sheet into top one-third of preheated oven (to prevent burning).
Cook for 8- 10 minutes until lightly golden brown. Let cook for 5 minutes. Store in air-tight container.
The end of summer is especially bittersweet this year, not just because our leisure time is coming to an end (well, the kiddos’ respite anyway), but my oldest is heading off to college. Yup, that’s right – this mama bear is letting go of a cub and even with my stoic sensibilities, I’m getting a little choked up just typing out the words. With the Big Boy literally leaving the den in 10 days, our family movie nights seem even more special this summer.
Movie night is a great excuse to hang out together (an increasing rarity in the teenage years), have some laughs, engage in some invaluable pre and post movie discussions – and, naturally, share some yummy Pop Secret popcorn and sensible snacks together!
Now, over these last 18 years of watching movies with my kids, I’ve learned a several things. First, my lone female vote in a house with four male people means I don’t have a say in what we watch – we’ve made the natural boy progression from non-princess Disney productions to action and shoot-em-up flicks. Not a lot of romantic comedies and historical fiction in the DVR queue – of all the guy movies we watch, I like the superhero stuff best – that’s why I’m pretty pumped to have just watched the 2005 version of “Fantastic Four” in preparations for the reboot coming to theaters. By the way, if you Buy any 3 Pop-Secret items between 7/31 – 8/31 and get a Free ticket to the Fantastic Four movie (up to $5) while supplies last
The second important thing I’ve learned is that no matter the age, boys are just messy – and this includes my husband to a degree. Sharing one big bowl of popcorn means crushed kernels left all over the floor and greasy finger being wiped off on the couch. Hello, napkin? And, of course there will always be a bit of sibling squabbling over who gets to hold the bowl, who’s hogging all the food and exactly what toppings are put on the popcorn. To resolve these irritating movie-time issues, I came up with this a great popcorn-eating hack that will rock your socks off – Popcorn Shakin’ Cups!
These Popcorn Shakin’ Cups allow 1) everyone to have their own portion of popcorn, 2) customizable “mix ins” to be added and neatly shaken up to combine, and 3) the popcorn to be eaten straight from the lid opening to mouth (meaning no messy fingers)! Yes, I know – GENIUS!
It’s easy to put together your own Popcorn Shakin’ Cups -purchase tall, clear plastic cups (mine are 20-ounce but I’ve seen them larger) and domed lids (usually found at an industry or party warehouse or sweet talk your convenience store for some shake/slurpee lids). Next fill with popcorn and your favorite mix-ins – I did almonds and chocolate chips, but Parmesan cheese and garlic salt, or cinnamon sugar and pecans are other yummy popcorn ideas. Add a cute label if you like –and that’s it! Eat, enjoy and toss – no clean up! Great for a party!
I picked up my mom-of-teenage-boys-sized haul of Pop Secret at Walmart – I got the Sea Salt flavor for movie night plus an extra box of the Pop Secret 100 Calorie Pop 94% Fat Free Kettle Corn for me to keep on hand for sensible snacking in the afternoon. Also, note to self – perhaps I should buy Pop Secret popcorn flavors by the cart full because a variety of boxes would be great to slip into oldest son’s college care packages since he has a dorm microwave.
It’s spring and my family has a lot of things to celebrate in the next couple months. Two of the landmark events we’ll be hosting shindigs for are my Dad’s 70th birthday and my oldest son graduating from high school! And, of course, there’s Cinco de Mayo sandwiched right between and we like to do that up big in Texas.
I need RO*TEL’s Rockin’ Guac and a Bud Light Lime-A-Rita to go with this taco!
I’m pretty low-key when it comes to entertaining, it’s a safe bet that I’ll be serving up burgers, brisket or tacos in my backyard. I have three super-hungry, carnivorous teen boys, for goodness sake! These casual meals always please crowds, are easy to scale up for a super-sized party, and can be mostly pre-prepped so I’m not stuck in the kitchen cooking while all the guests are having a good time. Nothing pairs better with any of these dishes than a creamy bowl of avocado goodness — hurray for guacamole!
I found this delicious recipe for RO*TEL’s Rockin’ Guac that will turn up the volume on your taste buds! The blend of tomatoes and green chilies in RO*TEL add a zesty (but not too spicy) twang to the dip that is to die for. It’s so simple to make you can delegate the job to your kids — you may want to chop the onion first, but they’ll love smashing the avocado. Serve this guacamole as a condiment or topping for the entrée or, better yet, as an appetizer – set out a big basket of tortilla chips and a bowl of RO*TEL’s Rockin’ Guac for a pleasing prelude to dinner.
Try mini bowls of RO*TEL’s Rockin’ Guac so guests can walk around and mingle – this way people won’t have to elbow their way in for a chip dunk or (eek) double dip into the community bowl! For easy clean up, you can even use those little plastic condiment cups. In addition to tortilla chips, I like to set out crunchy, fresh vegetables to dip into guacamole. I can’t help it, I’m a vegetable nerd.
Now, you can’t have guacamole without some sort of cool refreshing drink. I’ll serve up my watermelon ginger limeade or virgin mojito mint tea for the kids and the over 21-year-old grown-ups get Bud Light Lime-A-Ritas all the way around! I love these refreshing adult beverages, they totally remind me of a margarita yet aren’t quite as potent, which is a good thing for lightweight little me. Bud Light Lime-A-Ritas come conveniently in a can, meaning no breakable barware outside when things start to get wild– just throw these citrusy sippers into a tub full of ice as they await their ultimate fate. I’m ready to pop the top on one right now and get the party started!