Glazed Red Pepper-Fennel Almonds

August 18th, 2014

Glazed Amonds 2


Dorie Greenspan says that everyone should have a favorite flavored nut recipe; a specialite de la maison so to speak.  Nuts on their own are rather bland, but the possibilities are endless for flavoring them.  What would be your specialty of the house?  This combination that I found in Bon Appetit Magazine is certainly a contender in my house.  It starts with simple whole almonds.  They are combined with a sugar, fennel, red pepper and salt mixture.  A little water is added and the mixture is put in the oven so that the sugar will melt and coat the almonds.  I love the kick from the red pepper flakes and the unique flavor of the fennel seeds.

Here are a few of the nut recipes from food authorities.  Dorie adds sugar, salt, chili powder, cinnamon and cayenne to her nut recipe. Ina has a recipe using maple syrup, brown sugar, chipotle powder and rosemary.  Giada has a curried version of nuts that sounds very interesting.

Glazed Almonds 3


The next time you have people over for cocktails, why not put out a bowl of flavored nuts;  your specialty of the house .  I would be curious to hear what that might be.


Nonstick vegetable oil spray
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole almonds
1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Line a heavy baking sheet with foil; spray with nonstick spray.  Combine sugar, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper, and salt in medium bowl.  Mix in almonds and 1 tablespoon water.  Spread mixture on prepared baking sheet in single layer.  Bake until sugar melts and almonds are deep golden brown and glazed, stirring often, about 22 minutes.  Separate almonds with fork; cool completely on sheet.  Transfer almonds to bowl and serve.  Can be prepared 1 week ahead.  Store in plastic bag.

Printable Recipe


Appetizer Cheese and Jalapeno Bites

March 25th, 2014

Appetizer cheese and jalapeno bites 3


Bike week in Daytona Beach is an annual motorcycle invasion.  Bikers gather from all over the country to show-off their rides and participate in such activities as coleslaw wrestling and wet tee-shirt contests.  Our biking buddies always come to visit us during bike week.  But our antics are a little tamer.  The most outrageous thing that we did was to attend a David Allan Coe concert at The Iron Horse Saloon.

Motorcycle Gang


Pictured above are Ron (biker name, Pittstop), Jackie, Jim (biker name Diamond Jim), Barbara and Me.  David (biker name Snake) and I love having them visit.  We have a long history together with bike trips, visits to each others’ homes, lots of laughs and the enjoyment of good food.  Both Jackie and Barbara are good cooks.  While we were in the grocery store one day, Barbara picked up bags of shredded cheese and other ingredients and made this simple appetizer for one of our evening cocktail hours.  You can always count on her to turn simple ingredients into marvelous tasty treats.

Appetizer cheese and jalapeno bites 4


This is such an easy appetizer to pull together.  The only complication is that it should be done ahead of time.  Letting it rest for two hours after baking is recommended.  I like it even better refrigerated for a while after baking and then cut into precise squares before reheating.

Appetizer cheese and jalapeno squares 1


Simply dump half of the shredded cheese into casserole, top with jalapeno slices, top with remainder of the cheese and pour the flour, milk and egg mixture over it.  Bake until nicely browned.

Appetizer cheese and jalapeno bites 2

The hardest part is waiting to dig in.  This makes a lot of appetizer bites, so it is great for a crowd.  I am linking this to Tasty Tuesday at the The Comforts of Home.  Enjoy.


2 (8 oz.) packages shredded mild cheddar cheese
2 (8 oz.) packages shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 (8 oz.) package shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 (12 oz.) jar Jalapeno peppers, drained
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
2 eggs
1 cup self-rising flour

Mix 1 package of mild cheddar, 1 package of Monterey Jack and 1/2 of a package of sharp cheddar and spread evenly in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.

Spread jalapeno peppers over cheese.

Top with a mixture of the remaining cheeses.

In a mixing bowl slowly add the flour to the evaporated milk, blending well.  Add the two eggs and mix all together.  Pour mixture over the casserole.

Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for about an hour until lightly browned on top.  Let cool for two hours and cut into squares.

Printable recipe

Pumpkin Cheese Ball

September 24th, 2012

This was a fun idea that I picked up from Food Network Magazine.  Simply flavor cream cheese with shredded cheddar, salsa,  and nacho flavorings and then roll into a ball and refrigerate.

When it is firm, roll it in crushed nacho flavored chips to give it a pumpkin color.  The hardest part was finding a bell pepper stem to use on the top.  If you have peppers in your garden, this should not an issue, but my supermarket did not have a lot of pretty stems to choose from.  I was happy with the festive look anyway.

Happy Fall!


16 ounces room-temperature cream cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar
3 tablespoons minced onion
2 tablespoons salsa
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon minced jalapeno

Nacho-flavored tortilla chips, crushed
Bell pepper stem

With a mixer, blend the first 6 ingredients together.  Scoop into plastic wrap and use the wrap to form the mixture into a 5-inch pumpkin-shaped ball; chill at least 2 hours.  To serve, unwrap, roll in crushed nacho-flavored tortilla chips and press a bell pepper stem into the top.

Printable recipe

Red Pepper and Boursin Tarts

December 21st, 2010

If you are hosting get togethers during the holidays, this is a very easy and festive appetizer.  We have travelled to North Carolina to be with our family for Christmas so I have not had an opportunity to post much during the last week.  This afternoon I visited the Trader Joe’s in Cary and picked up a package of their store brand puff pastry.  It is made with all natural ingredients which is great, but if all you can find is the Pepperidge Farm puff pastry, it works just as well.  For appetizers for a crowd use both sheets in the package which will make 16 hors d’ oeuvres.

Simply cut each sheet into an 8″ or 9″ circle,  prick them, spread them with boursin cheese and sauteed red peppers, sprinkle with thyme and seasoning and bake until browned and puffed.  It could not be easier.


2 red bell peppers, quartered lenghtwise, seeded and thinly sliced crosswise
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (17 1/2 oz) package frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed
1/4 cup herbed Boursin cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Cook bell peppers in oil in a large nonstick skiller over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 8 minutes, then cool.

Unfold passtry sheets on a ligthly floured surface and cut out an 8″ or 9″ round from each.  Transfer rounds to a buttered large baking sheet and prick all over with a fork, leaving a 1/2 inch border around edges.

Spread 2 tablespoons cheese evenly over each round, then scatter with peppers and sprinkle with thyme, kosher salt, and pepper to taste.

Bake tarts in middle of oven until puffed and golden brown, about 15 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool slightly.  Cut each tart into 8 wedges and serve warm.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Printable recipe

Braised Beef in Polenta Cups with Plum Chipotle Sauce

August 4th, 2010

Once a month one of our local restaurants, Larkins on the Lake, hosts a wine tasting dinner.  We always attend.  The prices are reasonable ( $25.00 a person ), the sommelier is knowledgable, and the food is excellent.  If there is a wine that we are particularily fond of they are generous with the pours and we have never left feeling deprived of a good meal.  One of the food selections this month was Braised Beef in Polenta Cups with Plum Chipotle Sauce.  The chef has offered to share recipes with me, but I have been so busy that I have not asked him.  But I could not get this dish out of my mind.  I can just imagine it as an interesting appetizer at any get together.  It would also be adaptable to so many fillings.  If you were pressed for time you could get some barbecue from your local smokehouse or you could make it vegetarian with a black bean salsa.  The combinations are endless.  So I decided to experiment.

First I made polenta by following the directions on the package.  Once it was thick, I poured it on to a wax paper lined sheet pan with high sides.  I refrigerated it overnight.  Once it was cold, it was easy to cut out into 2 inch rounds.  Then using a 1/2 teaspoon measure or other spoon, you scoop out some of the center.  These will hold in the refrigerator until you are ready to warm and fill them.

Once heated you can fill them with anything that appeals to you.  Since I had a busy day yesterday shopping with my blogging buddy Penny of The Comforts of Home ( go to her website to see where we went),  I put a chuck roast in the crockpot with a little Barbecue sauce and beef broth and left it all day.  It was fork tender by the time I heated the polenta cups.

I shredded the beef and placed spoonfuls into the polenta cups and then topped them with a sauce that I made from plum jam, a little barbecue sauce and a bit of chipotle powder.

They were every bit as good as the polenta cups we had at the restaurant.  The recommended wine with this appetizer was a Southern Belle Shiraz, Australia, 2008.


For the Polenta: (Adapted from the Food Channel)
8 cups chicken stock
2 cups polenta
3 tablespoons butter

Note:  I halved the recipe for just the two of us and used a smaller sheet pan.  I got about 24 2-inch polenta rounds.

Bring chicken stock to a simmer and whisk in polenta.  Cook according to package directions until polenta is thick.  Add butter.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with wax paper.  Pour polenta onto tray and spread evely to 1-inch thickness.  Cool to room temperature and place in refrigerator, covered until ready to use.  (At least two hours).

When polenta is chilled and firm, remove it from the refrigerator and cut it into 2-inch rounds with a biscuit or cookie cutter.  Scoop out the centers with a 1/2 inch measuring spoon or any small spoon, being careful not to make a hole in the bottom.  These can be prepared a day or two in advance.  When you are ready to fill them you can warm them in a 250 degree oven until they are hot.

For the Beef:
3 to 4 pound Chuck roast
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1 cup beef broth

Brown the beef on both sides in a little olive oil.  Place in crockpot and add the barbecue sauce and the beef broth.  Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.  Remove from crockpot and shred with two forks.

For the Plum Sauce:
1/2 to 3/4 cups plum jam or preserves
1 to 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce
1/8 tsp. chipotle powder of chili powder

Heat the three ingredients together in a small saucepan until the jam is like a glaze.

Top the warmed polenta cups with the shredded beef.  Spoon the jam sauce on top and sprinkle with parsley.

I hope this has inspired you to get creative with this recipe.  I would love to hear some of your ideas.

Printable recipe

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