Roasted Red Pepper Cheese Ball

February 12th, 2019

 

IMG_8866

It would appear that I am on a roll with recipes with “ball” in the title.  While searching for a new appetizer to serve to company, I found this tasty cheese ball recipe on Cafe Sucre Farine’s website.  Chris always has terrific ideas for what to serve.  When I made it for friends everyone said it was a winner.  I have a confession to make.  Not sure if I have mentioned it before but I am not a cheese lover.  I love melted cheese but usually avoid cheese boards.

IMG_8869

But that doesn’t mean I don’t serve cheese to my guests.  This cheese ball is filled with goat cheese, cheddar, cream cheese, roasted red peppers and garlic.  The pecan and rosemary coating makes it interesting.  It is easy to mix all of the ingredients by hand if you don’t have a food processor. But I do miss my stand mixer here in Florida.

IMG_8871

We have many occasions for get togethers while in the Sunshine State.  High School friends from Michigan are in New Smyrna Beach for Race Week.  The beginning of Nascar’s Daytona Five Hundred is coming up this weekend.  After that New Smyrna Beach celebrates Mardi Gras with a parade on Fat Tuesday.  Then in March, Bike Week will bring our motorcycle group to our house for the event.  Lots of entertaining is in our future.  Glad I have this cheese ball recipe in my repertoire.

ROASTED RED PEPPER CHEESE BALL  (Cafe Sucre Farine)

Ingredients
For the cheese filling:
  • 4 ounces cream cheese regular or lower fat, not fat-free)
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 1 ½ cups shredded medium cheddar cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 4 ounce jar roasted red peppers
For the pecan coating:
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces fairly finely chopped pecans or pecan chips
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
Instructions
  1. Drain roasted red pepper well and then roll in several thicknesses of paper toweling to remove any excess liquid.

  2. Combine cream cheese, goat cheese, cheddar cheese, roasted red peppers, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder and crushed red pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Blend until smooth and creamy.
  3. Line a medium-size bowl with plastic wrap then add the cheese mixture and pull plastic wrap over the top of the cheese. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours or place in the freezer for 30-45 minutes.
  4. While the cheeseball is chilling, prepare the pecan coating by melting butter in a small non-sticking sauté pan until bubbly and beginning to brown a bit. It will have a nutty aroma. Add olive oil and pecans and stir to coat pecans. Cook, stirring frequently, for 4-6 minutes until pecans turn golden. Remove from heat and set aside to cool then add the 2 teaspoons chopped rosemary and stir to combine.

  5. Pull the cheese out of the bowl with the plastic wrap and use the wrap to help you shape the cheese mixture into a ball. Roll the ball in the pecan mixture and shape again by gently pushing the sides to form a rounded ball. Place on a serving tray and sprinkle with a bit more chopped fresh rosemary, for garnish, if desired. Serve with crackers and/or celery.

Printable Recipe

Sausage, Cheese Balls (Lower Carb)

January 30th, 2019

IMG_8860

With the Super Bowl approaching, I wanted to make an appetizer that my husband would enjoy on his low Carb diet.  Over Christmas I made sausage cheese balls the way most people make them with Bisquick, sausage and cheese.  We both love this old standby.  I decided to experiment with lessoning the carbs by using almond flour.  But almond flour does not have a leavening agent like Bisquick.  After several attempts, I settled on a combination of almond flour, baking powder and Bisquick.  I halved the amount of Bisquick and combined the baking powder with the almond flour for the other half of the dry ingredients.

IMG_8862I loved the results.  Another tip for mixing the ingredients is to bring the grated cheese and sausage to room temperature before mixing them together.  Then add the dry ingredients.  All of this should be done by hand.

Deland ShoppingA friend and I spent a day in DeLand, Florida, a small inland community about 20 miles from New Smyrna Beach.  It is a vibrant community with lots of shops and restaurants.  One of my favorite shops is Anna Bananas. The subheading of the shop is Recycled, Repurposed and Reclaimed.

Anna Bananas

The owners build furniture using antique elements and creative uses of old wood.

Deland Lunch

We had lunch al fresco at a delightful restaurant (BakeChop) in a spiffed up alley.  It was a warm and sunny day; one of few that we have had in Florida lately.   The BLT on sourdough bread was great, but the chickpea salad with Brussel sprout leaves, tomatoes and red onions was a real winner.  The chickpeas were crispy and the dressing light.  I will have to experiment with duplicating this take on three bean salad.

IMG_8853

Enjoy the Super Bowl.  Hope you give this adaptation of Sausage Cheese Balls a try.

SAUSAGE CHEESE BALLS (LOWER CARB)

1 Pound Breakfast Sausage (Hot or Mild or a combination)
8 Oz. Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 cup Bisquick Baking Mix
1 cup Almond Flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder

Grate the cheese into a large bowl and bring to room temperature.  At the same time, bring the sausage to room temperature.

While cheese and sausage are resting, combine the Bisquick, almond flour and baking powder in a small bowl.

With your hands, combine the cheese and sausage until well blended.  Add the dry ingredients and roll and squeeze until the flour is fully combined with the cheese mixture.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper or use a non-stick baking sheet.

Form mixture into about 1 inch balls and line baking sheet with them.  I can get 24 balls unto the pan.  The recipe makes about 48 balls.

Bake for 15-17 minutes.

Printable Recipe

P.F. Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps

January 22nd, 2019

IMG_8846

There are several recipes on the internet for this copycat recipe for Chicken Lettuce Wraps from P.F. Chang’s.  I used the recipe from Averie Cooks.  David is trying to reduce carbohydrates in his diet so anything wrapped in a lettuce leaf is a winner in my book.  Crispy butter (Boston) lettuce is the perfect vessel to hold this flavorful mixture.

IMG_8847

The ground chicken is paired with hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and chili garlic sauce.  Crunch is provided by water chestnuts.  I served it with roasted butternut squash.  It was a quick and easy meal.

P.F. CHANG’S CHICKEN LETTUCE WRAPS

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 pound ground chicken (I’ve also used ground turkey with good results)
  • 1 medium/large sweet Vidalia or yellow onion, diced small
  • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Asian chili garlic sauce, or to taste
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger or 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger, or to taste
  • one 8-ounce can water chestnut, drained and diced small
  • 2 to 3 green onions, sliced into thin rounds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • butter lettuce leaves, for serving

DIRECTIONS:

    1. To a large skillet, add the oils, chicken, and cook over medium-high heat until chicken is cooked through; stir intermittently to crumbly while cooking.
    2. Add the onion, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, chili garlic sauce, stir to combine, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until onion is soft and translucent and most of the liquid has been absorbed; stir intermittently.
    3. Add the garlic, ginger, stir to combine, and cook for about 1 minute, or until fragrant.
    4. Add the water chestnuts, green onions, salt and pepper to taste, and cook for about 2 minutes, or until tender. Taste filling and make any necessary flavor adjustments, i.e. more soy sauce, hoisin, pepper, etc.
    5.  Spoon about 1/4 cup of the mixture into the lettuce leaves to serve. Recipe is best warm and fresh but filling will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Printable Recipe

Crock-Pot Tuscan Garlic Chicken with Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

January 13th, 2019

IMG_8843

Even though we are not feeling the numbing cold of the North, this hearty slow cooker chicken dish hits all of the comfort notes associated with cold weather.  So for a short while I will indulge my fantasies of snow and enjoy this flavor-filled dish. We have been in Florida for two weeks.  So far the weather has been lovely.  I have enjoyed the local New Smyrna Beach farmers’ market and being able to walk to town for a quick bite at the local restaurants.
IMG_8844  When I saw this recipe on-line for this Tuscan chicken dish, it brought back memories of our trip to Italy.  Part of the beauty of Tuscan recipes is the simplicity of the ingredient.  Simple chicken thighs are paired with a creamy Parmesan sauce and enhanced with lots of garlic, Italian herbs, sun-dried tomatoes and baby spinach.

Tuscany Countryside

The rolling hills of Tuscany produce wines, garden fresh vegetables, cheeses and pasture raised poultry.

Tuscany-Kitchen

We were fortunate to find a lovely villa in the Tuscan countryside.  I have fond memories of cooking in this kitchen.

IMG_8836

The crock-pot in my Florida rental house is old and smaller than what I have at home.  But it was just big enough for four chicken thighs to bubble away in the creamy sauce.  On a January day, I was warmed by both this hearty chicken dish and by memories of the Tuscan countryside.  Recipe came from eatwell 101.

CROCK-POT TUSCAN GARLIC CHICKEN WITH SPINACH AND SUN-DRIED TOMATOES

6 -8 skinless, bone-in chicken thighs
1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper flakes, optional
Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
1/2 cup Sun-dried tomatoes (chopped)
2 cups Spinach (chopped, packed)

Heat oil or butter in medium sauce pan over medium heat.  Add garlic and saute for about a minute, until fragrant.

Add the cream and chicken broth.  Bring to a gentle simmer, then set heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes.  The sauce should thicken enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Meanwhile, place the chicken at the bottom of your slow cooker.  Season lightly with Italian seasoning, crushed red chili pepper flakes, sea salt, and black pepper.  Top with sun-dried tomatoes.

When the cream sauce is ready, lower the heat and whisk in the Parmesan cheese, little by little until smooth.  Adjust seasoning as needed.

Pour the cream sauce evenly over the chicken thighs in the slow cooker.  Try to get as much sauce as possible on top of the chicken and less on the bottom.

Cook for 3-4 hours on HIGH or 6-8 hours on LOW.  When cooking time is over, remove the chicken from the slow cooker and set aside.

Turn the slow cooker on HIGH, if it sin’t already.  Add the chopped spinach and stir for a few minutes, until the spinach wilts.

Return the chicken to the slow cooker, and spoon the liquid, spinach and sun-dried tomatoes on top, or just pour them over the chicken when serving.

Printable Recipe

Beef and Bacon Stew

December 19th, 2018

IMG_8825

With the holidays fast approaching, thoughts turn to warming comfort food.  I would even consider this Beef and Bacon Stew a worthy meal for Christmas Eve or Day.  It has been a challenging week.  We were hit by a freak snowstorm that normally would not occur in North Carolina.  Five days without power tested our coping capacity.

Snow in 2018

It was a test of our capacity to get along without things we all take for granted.  We stayed warm because our home is well insulated and  we have a gas fireplace and a wood burning fireplace.  We stayed well fed because we have a gas stove and oven, plus the grill grate in the fireplace.  We stayed hydrated with jugs of water and other drinks.  The only thing missing was a shower.  That’s why we have friends.  Thank you to Ron and Jackie for a much needed clean up and a delicious dinner.  But next year we are getting a whole house generator.  Weather in our area seems to have taken a more violent and unpredictable bent.

 

IMG_8832

David is actually responsible for this delicious stew.  Over the years he has been cooking more of our meals with creativity and elan.  While I was finishing my wonderful new book in the series from Louis Penny, Kingdom of the Blindhe was chopping and assembling this flavorful dish.  It did require a new ingredient.  Miso Paste.  I found it at Whole Foods in the refrigerator section near the cellophane boxed lettuces.  Do not leave it out as it adds a great depth of flavor to the sauce.

Chistmas silliness

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.  I couldn’t resist including this outtake of our Christmas card photo shoot.

BEEF AND BACON STEW (BON APPETIT)

1 Bottle of dry red wine
1 2 1/2 boneless beef chuck roast
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. kosher salt, plus more
8 oz. bacon
3 medium red onions
3 medium carrots
8 coves garlic
4 large sprigs thyme
2 Tbsp. white miso paste
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 cup parsley leaves and tender stems
Crusty bread (for serving)

Complete recipe here.

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.