January 24, 2011

Sausage Balls

Sausage Balls

Over the Christmas holidays I was inspired to make some sausage balls. I've made them before, once with real sausage and once with a vegetarian sausage, but this time I wanted to make them completely from scratch. I started out with the dry mixture I make when I make buttermilk biscuits and went from there. They turned out perfect!

These sausage balls are a great appetizer. They also make a nice addition to breakfast or a pot luck dinner. They're simple, which is always a plus, not to mention delicious. You can't ask for more than that!

What You'll Need:
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 tablespoon of organic cane sugar
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup of shredded buttermilk cheese
1 pound of sausage
2-4 tablespoons of butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In the bowl of your mixer mix together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt until incorporated.

Next add cheese and mix until the cheese is throughout the flour mixture.

Next add the sausage and 2 tablespoons of butter. Mix until mixture is crumbly:

Sausage Balls: Mixed

If the mixture is too dry and you seem to be having trouble getting the mixture to look like the picture above add another tablespoon of butter. If that still doesn't do the trick add the last tablespoon. The amount of butter you use depends on the fattiness of the sausage. I use the same type of sausage each time and sometimes you need more butter regardless because the fat consistency is different from one batch of sausage to the next.

Shape mixture into walnut sized balls and place on a baking sheet that has been lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper:

Sausage Balls: Ready To Bake

Once you have them shaped bake for 30-35 minutes until slightly golden and done through.

Makes 40-50 sausage balls.

Notes: You can use any type of cheese you like. Colby would work. Monterrey Jack would be fabulous too. I like to use a hot variety of sausage, but that is up to you too. You could also use an Italian sausage and use Mozzarella and Parmesan for a different twist.

Posted by Dianne at 1:53 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 6, 2010

Dilly Deviled Eggs

Dilly Deviled Eggs

So I'm going to ease back in to this blogging thing today with a really simple recipe. I have a few more coming up over the next few days to share. I'm not sure when I'll post though....

Let's jump right in, shall we?

After Easter many of us have a bunch of boiled eggs sitting around, but what do you do with them? We color eggs, but we actually hide plastic eggs. I wouldn't recommend doing ANYTHING with eggs that have actually made it out to an Easter eggs hunt, especially in warm weather, there is just too much room for food poisoning issues, but if you're like me and just color eggs to let your little tea cup enjoy the process, then read on!

Egg salad is always a good choice, but so are deviled eggs! Deviled eggs can come in many forms and variations. For a while now I've thought it would be fun to add dill to the a basic deviled egg to kick it up a notch, so on Sunday for Easter dinner I thought I'd give it a whirl and they were perfect! If you're a fan of dill then this is the deviled egg for you!

What You'll Need:
12 boiled eggs, cut in half yolks removed
1/4 cup of light mayonnaise
1/4 cup of light sour cream
2 heaping tablespoons of yellow mustard
2 tablespoons of white vinegar
1-2 tablespoons of dried dill
A pinch of sea salt
A pinch of black pepper

First up let's talk about the perfect boiled egg....

Place your eggs in a large pot and cover with warm water. Generously salt the water and bring to a quick boil. Turn off heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Remove eggs from the pot and let cool. That is how you make the perfect boiled egg with none of those icky, green centers!

Crack and peel cooled eggs and slice in half. Lay egg white halves on a plate or platter and place egg yolks in the bowl of your food processor or in a large glass bowl along with mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, vinegar, dill, salt and black pepper and process or mash/stir until smooth.

Place a dollop of egg mixture onto each egg white half. Serve immediately or chill until ready to eat.

Dilly Deviled Eggs

How simple is that?

Notes: No notes for this one.

Posted by Dianne at 9:39 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 10, 2010

Egg Rolls: Baked or Fried? How About Both?

Egg Rolls: One Baked, One Fried

The other day I had the notion to make some egg rolls. I hadn't made them in a very long time and thought about making them for Chinese New Year, but time got away from me. Alexis became intrigued with the idea and wanted to help so one day last week we set out to make some egg rolls.

I decided to take the same basic egg roll and cook it two different ways to see what would happen. I have always been curious about baking an egg roll versus frying it, so this was the perfect time to do a little experiment to see what would happen. Curious? Check out the recipe below and see how it turned out!

What You'll Need:
Oil for frying
Sesame oil
1/2 a small head of cabbage, chopped
1/2 a large bunch of bok choy, chopped
1/2 a large red onion, cut into thin strips
1 large carrot, shredded
1 leek, cut into strips
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Brown rice vinegar
Egg roll wrappers
A small bowl of cold water
A pastry or basting brush

If you want to bake your egg rolls preheat oven to 400 F.

If you want to fry your egg rolls heat oil to 375 F.

While oven or oil is heating prepare your vegetables.

Thinly slice onion:

Egg Rolls: Red Onion

Shred carrot:

Egg Rolls: Carrots

Chop Bok Choy:

Egg Rolls: Bok Choy

And cabbage:

Egg Rolls: Cabbage

And finally cut leek into strips:

Egg Rolls: Leeks

In a large pot add a little sesame oil and then add all your vegetables, a sprinkle of sea salt, some freshly ground black pepper and a drizzle of brown rice vinegar, stirring to coat:

Egg Rolls: Filling Ready to Cook

Saute, stirring often, until vegetables are tender. Remove from heat and set aside. I actually moved the vegetables into another dish because Lex was going to be helping me and I didn't want to risk burning her hands or fingers on the hot pot:

Egg Rolls: Filling Cooked

This step is up to you depending on whether you have a little helper.

Now you are ready to start putting together your egg rolls!

First lay your egg roll wrapper on point:

Egg Rolls: Ready for Filling

For those of you who aren't sure what on point means, it means that your square looks like a diamond.

Place a spoonful of filling in the middle of your diamond:

Egg Rolls: Filling Ready

Bring the bottom point up to basically cover the filling:

Egg Rolls: Bringing Up the Point

Don't worry if every single piece of the filling is covered. It doesn't matter at this point.

Next bring in each side point and you'll end up with something that looks a lot like an envelope:

Egg Rolls: Ready to Brush and Roll

Gently brush the top of the "envelope flap" with a little water:

Egg Rolls: Brushing Top with Water

Lex got a little generous with her water brushing here, but hey she was having fun and it all works out in the end! ;oP

Gently roll the bottom of the "envelope" until a roll is formed:

Egg Rolls: Rolled

The water helps seal the "envelope" and make the roll stay put while cooking.

Now you decided if you want to bake or fry!

For baking place your rolls on a baking sheet that has been lined with a silicone baking sheet or parchment paper:

Egg Rolls: Ready to Bake or Fry

Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown:

Egg Rolls: Baked

And now a look at the inside:

Egg Rolls: Inside of the Baked Eggroll

You'll see in a moment that insides of the fried roll look much the same.

Now if you'd rather fry!

Place egg roll in the heated oil and cook for 2-3 minutes turning often until golden brown:

Egg Rolls: Fried

Place on a baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain:

Egg Rolls: Fried

And the insides?:

Egg Rolls: Inside of the Fried Egg Roll

And as you can see much the same as the baked.

So the verdict of which was better?

While both were really good, the frying really does add something to the flavor over all! However the oven baked version were good as well for when you want a slightly healthier option.

Notes: You can freeze these rolls after cooking for use later. You can also add in other veggies. Mushrooms would be fabulous! Or how about some bamboo shoots? The possibilities are endless!

Posted by Dianne at 9:38 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 9, 2010

Tater Tots (And Guess What? They're Gluten Free Too!)

Gluten Free Tater Tots

When I saw these tater (I hate that word!) tots a while back on Vanilla Sugar I immediately thought it would be fun to come up with a gluten free version for Jamison! Of course it seems to take me a while to get around to anything these days, so they sat there taunting me for a while until I finally got around to trying out my theories.

I've lately discovered potato flour, and let me tell you even if gluten isn't really an issue for you, you need to experiment with this versatile little flour! It's the perfect thickener for soups or macaroni and cheese, it just adds a little punch of flavor that is subtle, yet such a savory little bite. It also helps baked goods stay moist and things of that nature. It's really an all purpose little work horse in the kitchen!

Overall these tater tots might not be exactly what you would think of when you picture a tater tot from your youth, but they are really, really good! I still hate the word tater, but trust me you want to try these!

What You'll Need:
4 potatoes, peeled & cut into rounds
1 egg , beaten
1/2 stick of butter, softened
1/3 cup of potato flour
Sea salt
Finely ground black pepper
1-2 cups of gluten free bread crumbs (Note: I made my own with some gluten free bread, but you can purchase them if you like. I may or may not have set off the fire alarm during this step...That's up to you to figure out! ;oP)

Cover potatoes with water and bring to a boil. Cook until fork tender.

Heat oil to 375 F.

While potatoes are cooking gather your other ingredients and have them ready to go. Place bread crumbs into a shallow baking dish:

Gluten Free Tater Tots: Gluten Free Bread Crumbs

I find a pie dish works very well for this.

When potatoes are fork tender drain and place into a glass bowl with butter, salt and pepper and then mash:

Gluten Free Tater Tots: Mashed Potatoes

You can mash to whatever consistency you like.

Next add potato flour and egg and stir until incorporated:

Gluten Free Tater Tots: Ready to Shape

It will kind of look like a dough ball.

Shape 1 tablespoon of dough into a rough rounds:

Gluten Free Tater Tots: Ready to Roll

Repeat until you round out of potatoes.

Roll each round in bread crumbs and then fry 3 or 4 at a time for 2-3 minutes until golden brown:

Gluten Free Tater Tots

Place on a baking sheet that has been lined with paper towels to cool. Sprinkle generously with sea salt.

Repeat process until you run out of tots.

Gluten Free Tater Tots: The Inside

Notes: Jamison actually liked these, which really surprised me, but he would have preferred that they have more of the consistency of store bought tater tots. I on the other hand thought these were a thousand times better!

Posted by Dianne at 9:33 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 16, 2010

Sweet Potato Chips

Sweet Potato Chips

Want to hear some fabulous news? I mean really just stellar?

Do you?

Are you ready?

Sun! Melt, Baby! Melt!

We only got an inch of snow last night! An inch! Today the sun is shining and more importantly it's going to be above freezing mind you! And the most important part of my happiness today, and the part that might just save my sanity, is that as of the time that I'm writing this, there is no foreseeable snow accumulation in the 5 day forecast!

None!

Zip!

Nada!

Zilch!

And did I mention none? And did I mention the sun is shining? And did I mention the part about it being above freezing?? (This could change, but I'm going to be Pollyanna and looks for the joy instead! ;oP)

Seriously this makes me more than happy. Who ever thought that I, the Snow Queen, would be actively seeking no more snow! It just goes to show that too much of anything is not a good thing! A variation of The Law of Diminishing Return if you will. But the point is, no snow! (Let's hope Mother Nature doesn't curse me for that statement! ;oP)

(Update: 1:34 PM: Well that didn't last long. Now they are saying we might get snow tomorrow, but "less than a half inch possible". *sigh* It could be worse I suppose! ;oP)

So now that that is out of the way, let's talk some sweet potato chips!

I have a soft spot for sweet potatoes. I just love them! For a while now I've want to make an actual sweet potato chip. I'm not a fan of potato chips in general, but occasionally I do like a sweet potato chip. I've made baked vegetable chips before, which are divine by the way, but I've never made chips the "old fashioned way" until yesterday.

This is another one of those things I assumed was hard. You'd think after all the things I've assumed were hard, yet found out to be anything but I'd get past that, but well I'm stubborn. Yes I'm stubborn. There I said it. Most of us are, but isn't admitting it the first step?

So all of that to say I've thought about making sweet potato chips for a long time, yet I hadn't made them. Boy was I sorry I had not! They are even better homemade than any I've every tried out in the wide blue yonder!

So I'd say these were a huge success. Next time I'm going to play around with sea salt and vinegar chips, but I'm not going to wait as long! ;oP

What You'll Need:
Oil for frying (Note: Safflower, vegetable, olive oil, etc. You choose. I do not recommend using canola oil, for this or anything really.)
Sweet potato(es)
A big bowl of water
Sea salt

Heat your oil to 375 F. I use a fryer.

While your oil is heating set up your ingredients and the things you will need for your frying process:

Sweet Potato Chips: Set Up and Ready to Go

You'll need a big bowl of water, a sweet potato (or more if you want to make a big batch of chips), a potato peeler, a baking sheet lined with paper towels, a tool to remove the chips from the hot oil and sea salt.

You might also want to grab a cutting board and a very sharp knife if your sweet potato is big in diameter. We'll get to that in a few minutes.

Peel your sweet potato:

Sweet Potato Chips: Sweet Potato Peeled

Look for a long skinny potato. Also look for one that is relatively unblemished and with few "eyes".

Next you want to make your potato "chips":

Sweet Potato Chips: Ready to Put in Water

I like my chips to have a bit of a thickness to them, but you don't want them too thick or you'll end up with fried sweet potato chunks and not sweet potato chips.

You can use a mandolin if you have one (which I do, but I've never gotten it to work properly) or you can use a potato peeler (which I did).

Place "chips" in a bowl of water:

Sweet Potato Chips: Soaking in Water

This prevents the potatoes from turning brown while the oil heats and you're slicing the rest of the chips.

If your potato gets to be too cumbersome in the middle to make chips, cut the sweet potato in half:

Sweet Potato Chips: Cut in Half

Continue slicing with the potato halves.

It also helps as you're cutting your chips to rotate the potato on each slice so that you don't end up with a slanted edge and you keep your cutting surface relatively flat.

Once your oil is heated take a handful of chips out of the water and drain on a paper towel to remove excess moisture:

Sweet Potato Chips: Draining Before Frying

Place chips in a thin layer into the heated oil, stirring with a metal strainer occasionally until the chips begin to curl:

Sweet Potato Chips: Frying

Once the chips start to curl, continue to fry for another minute or two until they are slightly golden and continue to curl.

Remove chips from oil and place on a baking sheet that has been lined with paper towels. Add a generous sprinkle of sea salt immediately:

Sweet Potato Chips

Repeat process until you run out of potatoes.

Serve immediately, or let cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Notes: I always like to use organic ingredients when possible. This is especially true with potatoes who tend to store pesticides in them readily! Find a really good organic sweet potato or yam. You'll be glad you did!

Posted by Dianne at 12:53 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 11, 2009

Squash and Zucchini Fritters

Squash and Zucchini Fritters

Once in a while I think to myself "Self you haven't fried anything in a while!" and I make grand plans to start frying. Then I actually do start frying and I remember how much work it is! Yummy yes, but easy no! My fryer is one of the larger ones, but that still doesn't mean that the capacity is that great and things can go slowly. So on the rare occasions I do pull out the fryer it's fun for a few minutes anyway frying up tasty little treats.

When we first started getting zucchini and squash coming in I thought it might be interesting to combine the two and makes some fritters and let me tell you these did not disappoint! I froze most of these, so I have some for later, but the few I did enjoy really hit the spot! It's a relatively simple mix, but it definitely gives you bang for your buck!

What You'll Need:
1 cup of stone ground yellow corn meal
1 cup of unbleached all purpose flour (Note: You could also use white whole wheat flour.)
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 tablespoon of baking powder
2 tablespoons of organic cane sugar
2 eggs
1 cup of buttermilk
1 small sweet onion, chopped (Note: I used a Vidalia, but a yellow or white onion will be fine too.)
1 large zucchini, shredded
2 small yellow squash, shredded
Oil for frying

In a large bowl stir together corn meal, flour, sea salt, baking powder and sugar until well mixed. Add eggs and buttermilk and stir until incorporated. Add onion, zucchini and sqaush and stir to mix. Your mixture should look roughly like this:

Squash and Zucchini Fritters: Batter Before Resting

Set bowl aside for 25-35 minutes and let the batter "sweat" until it looks like this:

Squash and Zucchini Fritters: Batter After Resting

Preheat oil to 375 F.

Once oil is heated drop batter into the hot oil by the spoonful. (Note: I like to use a soup spoon.) Let brown on one side and the flip. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until golden brown all over.

Once browned remove the fritters from the oil and place on a baking sheet that has been lined with paper towels:

Squash and Zucchini Fritters

Repeat the process until all of the batter is used. You can keep the ones that are finished warm in a 200 F oven while the others are cooking.

These are really great as is, or dunked in a little ranch dressing!

Let's take a look at the inside:

Squash and Zucchini Fritters: The Inside

Little bits of zucchini, squash and onion throughout! Yum! The perfect fritter!

OR

I got bored with the frying thing toward the end (See told you above didn't I? ;oP) and started to wonder what the batter would be like in muffin form. I preheated the oven to 375 F and about 17 minutes later I ended up with this:

Squash and Zucchini Fritters Become a Muffin

So if you'd prefer a method other than frying, how about making them into muffins? Worked perfectly!

Notes: You could use only squash or only zucchini if you preferred. Shredded carrot might be nice too, or how about some fresh corn kernels?

Posted by Dianne at 1:16 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

July 22, 2009

Black Bean and Mango Salsa

Black Bean and Mango Salsa

I love mangoes, but I rarely eat them because they really are a pain in the rear to cut up. I've tried the tricks that supposedly make cutting them easier, but I have never really found one that I like. Often I buy frozen mango for smoothies, but once in a while I'll buy an actual mango to enjoy.

Mango is great all by itself, but it's really a fun component to add to salsa! This version is cool, fresh and really great to compliment a summer meal. Who says salsa has to be tomato based?

Black Bean and Mango Salsa: Ingredients

What You'll Need:
1 mango, chopped
1/2 a large red onion, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
1-3 jalapeños, chopped fine
2 cups of cooked black beans
1 teaspoon of coarse sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup of parsley, chopped (Note: I am not a fan of cilantro, in fact I despise cilantro, but if you're a fan you could substitute this if you desired. I won't vouch for the over all taste of the salsa though if you do choose this route.)

First chop a mango and add it to a large glass bowl:

Black Bean and Mango Salsa: Mango

Next add the chopped red onion:

Black Bean and Mango Salsa: Red Onion

Have I mentioned lately how these should be call purple onions instead? There is not red there! I haven't? Well there you go then! ;oP

Next add cucumber:

Black Bean and Mango Salsa: Cucumbers

Then jalapeños:

Black Bean and Mango Salsa: Jalapeño

And then the black beans, salt, pepper, olive oil and vinegar:

Black Bean and Mango Salsa: Salt, Pepper, Oil and Vinegar

Toss everything together until well mixed. Then add chopped parsley and stir until incorporated:

Black Bean and Mango Salsa

Serve immediately or chill for a couple of hours before serving.

Notes: This is great on fish or steaks. Also you'll want to use this within a day of making.

Posted by Dianne at 1:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 20, 2009

Cheesy Caramelized Onion Quesadillas

Cheesy Caramelized Onion Quesadillas

No Better Bites today...We'll be back to that next Monday!

Let's move on to something else for today...Shall we?

Quesadillas are very fun to play around with. You can go really simple, or really out there, and either way you've got a quick, easy appetizer or even full course depending on how you want to play it and the fabulous part is you can make several different combinations, for several different people all at once. How cool is that?

Today let's look at a version that takes two different cheeses and caramelized onions to a whole new level!

Cheesy Caramelized Onion Quesadillas: A Bite

What You'll Need:
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon of butter
1 large sweet onion, cut into strips
Sea salt
2 ounces of peppered goat cheese, crumbled (Note: If you can't find the peppered variety just add a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper.)
2 ounce of Dubliner Cheese, shredded fine (Note: If you can't find Dubliner you can use Parmesan.)
Extra virgin olive oil
2 tortillas (Note: You can use flour or whole grain. It's up to you.)

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and butter and stir until butter is melted. Add onion and lower the temperature to medium/low. Sauté the onion, stirring often, until caramelized. (Note: The secret to fabulous caramelized onions is low and slow!)

While onions are caramelized heat another large skillet or griddle over medium high heat until hot. Brush the pan/griddle with olive oil and cook each tortilla until browned. (Note: This takes about 20-30 seconds per side.) Set aside.

Once your onions are caramelized it's time to start assembling the quesadillas!

Lay on of the tortillas on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet. Top the tortilla with the caramelized onions:

Cheesy Caramelized Onion Quesadillas: Onions

Next add the peppered goat cheese and shredded Dubliner cheese:

Cheesy Caramelized Onion Quesadillas: Cheese

Next add the other tortilla on top and place in the oven for 3-5 minutes to melt the cheese. Remove from oven and let stand for 2-3 minutes and then cut into wedges.

Cheesy Caramelized Onion Quesadillas: Up Close

Serve plain or with a little sour cream

Notes: I think some cooked apple would be a fabulous addition to this!

Posted by Dianne at 1:46 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

April 2, 2009

Nachos

Nachos

As I've mentioned before I have an affinity for Mexican food. It's one of those things I could most likely eat for every meal from now until the end of time and still not get tired of the cuisine! Jamison and Alexis are that way with Pasta, my choice is Mexican! (And possibly sushi, but that's a tale for another time! ;oP)

As a result of this adoration I like to play around with Mexican inspired "meals" or even just snacks/appetizers. One of the really fun things to play around with (other than quesadillas, which I like to play around with too) are nachos! You can do so many things and have a familiar, yet slightly different dish, each time you make them. You can do an all veggie version, or use various ground meats, or even use textured vegetable or soy protein. The possibilities are endless and delicious!

Today's version utilized ground beef, along with some veggies and Mexican type spices to make a hearty nacho combination that could easily be a meal. The flavors meld perfectly and the result is a spicy, yet fresh, all while being a satisfying sort of dish. It's just perfect for a quick weeknight meal or even a weekend snack or appetizer. What's not to like about that?

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 pound of lean ground beef
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of chili powder
1 tablespoon of smoked paprika
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of ground chipolte chile powder
1/4-1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (Note: More if you like it spicy, less if you don't.)
1/2 cup of water
Tortilla chips
Refried beans
Shredded cheddar
Sour cream

Nachos: Veggies Ready To Go

In a large skillet over medium heat cook onions, bell peppers and ground beef in a little extra virgin olive oil with a pinch of sea salt and some freshly ground black pepper until veggies are tender and beef is cooked through.

Nachos: Meat Mixture

Next add spices and water and bring to a quick boil. Let water evaporate and seasonings will thicken slightly. Once this has happened you are ready to assemble your nachos!

Place a single layer of chips on a plate. Top with refried beans, meat mixture, cheddar and then sour cream. Serve immediately.

Notes: You can top this anyway you like. Sometimes I use guacamole, sometimes I like to add salsa, etc. You could also use a blend of cheeses or leave out cheddar all together and use Monterrey Jack instead.

Posted by Dianne at 11:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 7, 2008

Cheesy Sausage Rolls

Chessy Sausage Roll

As a kid from time to time my mom would make sausage rolls. I can't remember exactly how they were made, but I remember there was a dough of sorts, along with sausage. For a while now I've been thinking of making a sausage roll, but I decided to take it a step further and add some cheese, because seriously, how can you go wrong with sausage and cheese??!?!?

Note: It has come to my attention that my recipes/photos are being scraped from this site and posted on other sites without my permission. If you are not reading this through www.diannesdishes.com or the associated RSS feed then the content is stolen. I have not authorized my content to be posted anywhere else. Please e-mail me at diannesdishes at gmail dot com and let me know if you see things from my site that have been posted somewhere else. Thanks!

What You'll Need:
1 cup of warm water
1 tablespoon of yeast
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 pound of sausage, cooked and crumbled
1 to 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar or Colby cheese (Note: I used Colby Jack. You can use as much cheese as you like or as little. It's completely up to you.)

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Mix yeast and warm water and set aside until it foams.

In a large bowl stir together flour and salt. Slowly add water until dough ball forms. (Note: You may need all of the water, some of the water or even have to add a bit more. Humidity and flour...Such a strange relationship! ;oP You want this dough to be basically like pizza dough in consistency.) Once dough ball forms turn out and knead the dough on a floured surface for 1-2 minutes until elastic.

Once dough is kneaded shape it into a rough rectangle and roll the dough out until it is roughly 1/4 of an inch thick:

Chessy Sausage Roll: Dough

It doesn't have to be perfect so don't sweat it if it's not.

Next add sausage to the dough spreading it out relatively even layer:

Chessy Sausage Roll: Sausage

I cooked the sausage and had it in the fridge ready to go.

Next add the cheese:

Chessy Sausage Roll: Cheese

Again use as much or as little if you like. You could even just skip the cheese and have your basic sausage roll, but really who would want to do that! ;oP

Carefully roll the dough into a roll:

Chessy Sausage Roll: Rolled

I usually roll from the longer side to longer side making it a longer roll.

With a serrated knife carefully cut the roll into slices and place on a baking sheet:

Chessy Sausage Roll: Ready to Bake

This is basically the same principle you use when making cinnamon rolls.

Place baking sheet in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until slightly browned and cheese is melted.

Serve immediately.

Notes: You'll need to store these in the fridge. You can reheat them before serving by placing them on a baking sheet in the oven at 375 F for about 10 minutes.

Posted by Dianne at 7:43 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

October 3, 2008

Dill and Cheddar Potato Cakes

Dill and Cheddar Potato Cakes

Living in a house with Jamison mashed potatoes are often on his menu and most of the time that means left over mashed potatoes too. For a while now I've wanted to make some Potato Cakes. I've tried it in the past and never just quite got the process down. This time however they turned out great!

I decided to give the Potato Cakes a little kick and threw in some dill and cheddar. The flavors just melded so well! Topped with a little sour cream and it was the ultimate indulgence! True this is not something you would make and eat everyday, but it's just perfect for when you want something warm and scrumptious! If you like potatoes and cheese this is the ultimate comfort food!

What You'll Need:
2 cups of mashed potatoes
2 eggs
1/2 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
1 tablespoon of dill
A pinch of sea salt
1/2-3/4 a cup of shredded cheddar
Olive oil for frying

Dill and Cheddar Potato Cakes

Heat a pan over medium heat until hot. Spritz with some non-stick spray and then add about a tablespoon of olive oil. Place dollops of potato mixture into the pan. When side down has browned flip the dollop over and flatten it. Cook until both sides are golden brown and place on a plate with paper towels to drain. Add more oil between batches if needed.

Serve immediately plain or a dollop of sour cream.

Dill and Cheddar Potato Cakes

Notes: You could add in finely chopped onion if you liked. You could also leave out the cheese and dill.

P.S. If you haven't already be sure and sign up for your chance to win a $50 Williams Sonoma gift card! All you have to do is leave a comment on this entry. So what are you waiting for? Take the link and enter to win! ;o)

Posted by Dianne at 1:55 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 16, 2008

Spinach, Swiss and Vidalia Quesadillas

Spinach, Swiss and Viadalia Quesadillas

Yesterday for lunch I wanted something Mexican and the more I thought about it the more quesadillas kept popping into my head. I had some Swiss cheese, I had picked up some Vidalia onions the day before and I needed to thin out my spinach window box (you can't get more local than your own front porch!) so I decided to put them together, along with some whole wheat tortillas and make a quick lunch.

What You'll Need per Person:
2 whole wheat tortillas
1/4 of a Vidalia onion, cut into strips (Note: Any kind of onion will work.)
1-2 cups of baby spinach leaves, julienned
Extra virgin olive oil
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
A pinch of cayenne pepper
1 ounce of Swiss cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and sauté onion and spinach leaves in a little extra virgin olive oil with a pinch of sea salt, some freshly ground black pepper and some cayenne pepper until tender. Remove the sautéd veggies and set aside.

Wipe out the skillet and heat over high heat until hot. Spray with non stick spray and place a tortilla into the skillet. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the side down is golden browned and then remove from the skillet and place the browned side down on a cutting board. Give the skillet another spritz of non stick spray and repeat the procedure with the other tortilla.

While the second tortillas is cooking place the sautéd veggies on top of the tortilla that is resting on the cutting board. Top veggies with cheese. When the second tortilla is browned add it browned side up on top of the other tortillas. Carefully place the tortillas on a baking pan so as not to loose any of the filling and bake for 3-4 minutes to let the cheese melt and blend with the other ingredients.

Remove from the oven. Let sit for 2 minutes and then cut into wedges. Serve with sour cream and/or salsa.

Spinach, Swiss and Viadalia Quesadillas

Notes: You can add other things to the filling. Mushrooms work well, so do bell peppers. If you want you can add beef, chicken and/or shrimp. The filling is completely up to you.

Posted by Dianne at 12:15 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

March 26, 2008

Double Onion Dip

Double Onion Dip

For a while now I've been wanting to try and make some onion dip from scratch and the other night when we had some friends over for dinner I decided to test my theory. Most of us have had the onion dip that you make with onion soup mix and sour cream, but I thought about it for a while and wondered if you couldn't make a good dip without having to use the over processed soup mix and this is what resulted. It's creamy and has the illusion of being rich, all while packed with fresh onion and garlic. I actually ended up liking it better than the soup mix equivalent!

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 a large red onion, chopped
1/2 a large sweet onion, chopped
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
1 teaspoon of dried rosemary
A generous addition of freshly ground black pepper
A pinch of sea salt
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 - 16 ounce container of light sour cream (Note: As always you can use fat free, light or regular sour cream, though fat free would make this sickeningly sweet as the onions themselves give the dip a natural sweetness.)

Sauté onion with thyme, rosemary, pepper and salt until onions are tender and slightly caramelized:

Double Onion Dip: Onions, Garlic and Thyme

Add minced garlic and cook for an additional 2-4 minutes until garlic is done.

Remove onions from the stove and pour into sour cream. Stir to mix. Store dip in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving and stir before putting out to eat. Serve with vegetables and/or bagel or pita chips.

Notes: You could use any type of onion that you like. You could also switch up the herbs if thyme and rosemary aren't your thing.

Posted by Dianne at 7:13 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 5, 2008

Corn Fritters

Corn Fritters

I have to admit I had never tried corn fritters before Saturday on our "fry" day, but I was sold after one bite! This recipe is adapted from one from Paula Deen and I have to give Miss Paula props because she is most definitely the Queen of all things fried!

We ended up making some Ranch Dressing to dip them in and the combination was just wonderful together! If you've never had a corn fritter before they are similar to hush puppies, but they have corn kernels incorporated in the batter. The combination just goes so well together. I'll definitely be making these again in the future!

What You'll Need:
1 1/4 cups cornmeal
1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1/4 cup organic cane sugar
1 cup milk
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 package of frozen corn

Preheat oil to 325 F.

In a large bowl stir together cornmeal, flour, sugar and salt until well mixed. In a separate bowl beat together milk and eggs. Next add the egg mixture to the cornmeal mixture and stir to incorporate. Stir butter and corn into the batter and mix well.

Drop batter by the spoonful into the preheated oil. Cook the fritters until golden, turning once or twice to make sure it browns on all sides. Drain the fritters on paper towels and serve alone or with Ranch Dressing.

Corn Fritters

Notes: Leann and I talked about it and we think it might be nice to add some chopped onion into the mix as well. I think buttermilk would be a good addition in place of regular milk as well.

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March 4, 2008

Fried Dill Pickles

Fried Dill Pickles

When I first heard of fried dill pickles a few years ago my first reaction was "Why???" I mean I love dill pickles in and of themselves, but fried? Then I actually tried one I was extremely surprised that they were pretty good. My sister loves them. When we told her we were doing a "fry" day she immediately asked both of us "You're making fried dill pickles right?" So we made some fried dill pickles, because what the pregnant lady wants, the pregnant lady gets! (Pregnant and dill pickles...Oh the stereotypes! ;o))

The batter for this version came completely out of my head. When I was thinking about making them I thought it would be nice to add dill into the batter to amp up the dill flavor. Leann and I both were very pleased with the result! We nibbled on quite a few as they came out of the fryer. Katherine liked them dipped in Ranch Dressing, but Leann and I both thought they were best on their own without any sauce. The things people do with dill pickles! ;o)

What You'll Need:
Sliced dill pickles (or what they call "hamburger chips"...I actually just sliced whole dill pickles myself.)
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of dried dill
A pinch of black pepper
1 egg
1 cup of buttermilk

Preheat oil to around 350 F.

If you are using "hamburger chip" dill pickles drain them and set aside. If you're slicing them yourself slice and set aside.

Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl and stir to mix. Add egg and buttermilk and stir until a thick batter forms. If you need to add a bit more milk don't worry about it, it all depends on ambient humidity and such. If you need to add a bit more flour add it a tablespoon at a time until it's thick enough. You want the batter to be slightly thicker than pancake batter. When you insert a pickle into it it should stand up without really falling over.

Dip pickles into the batter and then place them in the fryer in a single layer. Turn them as they cook to ensure that they brown evenly on each side. You want them to be golden brown. Remove from the oil when they are slightly browned (they'll continue to brown a bit after you remove them from the oil) and drain on a paper towel. Serve alone or with Ranch dressing.

Notes: No notes for this one...It is a stand alone kind of thing!

Also today (and I'll have it up soon) this week's Tuesday with Dorie recipe! You'll get two recipes for the price of one today! ;o)

Posted by Dianne at 7:39 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

March 3, 2008

Let's Talk Some Fair Food or Otherwise Known as Leann and Dianne Have a "Fry" Day! Plus the Recipe for Vegtable Tempura and Soy Yogurt Dipping Sauce!

"Fry" Day Spread

I've had a fryer for several years now. My mom got me one of those new fangled covered Fry Daddys with the built in air filter and though I don't use it that often (in fact the last time I used it was two years ago after Alexis' birthday party when we had a fish fry) it's fun to pull it out and play with it from time to time. My friend Leann got a Rival fryer and we decided right then and there we needed to get together one Saturday and just fry the heck out of everything! That Saturday was this past weekend and we had a ball!

In my fryer we made chicken fingers, fried dill pickles, tempura, french fries and pineapple eggrolls. I decided to try frying in light olive oil, as I had always wanted to try this, and I was very pleased in the results. In Leann's fryer we made corn fritters, honey mustard chicken fingers and corn dogs. Then we even heated up some light olive oil on the stove top and made some funnel cakes too! We had fair food galore and we nibbled as we cooked, and whipped up some dips as we went, including a soy yogurt sauce for the tempura, some ranch dressing for the corn fritters and some honey mustard dipping sauce for the chicken fingers and the french fries. It's fun to create as you go!

Needless to say this isn't something you want to eat everyday, but it's fun to do this sort of thing every once in a while, especially when you've been really good all week! We had some natural brewed root beer, some homemade lemonade and some natural cream sodas, we chatted, laughed and munched along the way! It was a great day all in all and over the next few days I'll be sharing the recipes with you! (On Tuesday you'll get the Tuesdays with Dorie recipe AND a "fry" day recipe!) So sit back, relax and get ready to enjoy some good old fashioned fried up food! ;o)

Up today...Tempura and Soy Yogurt Sauce! (Oh and forgive the lack of quality of the picture below. We got busy eating and I didn't get a picture of the Tempura so I zoomed in the picture of the spread above.)

Tempura

What You'll Need for the Tempura:
1 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup of panko bread crumbs
1 egg
1 - 1 1/2 cups of ice water
Veggies of your choice (We did mushrooms, sweet onions, zucchini and squash. I had planned to do sweet potato and asparagus, but the process of frying everything we wanted to try took longer than we thought it would initially so we nixed those two as we went along.)

Preheat oil while you are preparing the batter and your veggies. I fried these around 350 F.

Wash mushrooms and dry them. Slice onions into rounds like you would for onion rings. Slice zucchini and squash into rounds. Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl mix all ingredients together until batter forms. Dip veggies into the batter and place in the hot oil. Turn several times while frying. Remove when they are slightly golden.

Notes: The dipping sauce for tempura usually is rather salty so salt is not added to the batter. If you need to add more water do. It's all about humidity and such when you're dealing with flour. You want a slightly thick batter like you would make for pancakes that isn't overly runny. You can also use this method to make shrimp tempura.

What You'll Need for the Dipping Sauce:
1/2 cup of less sodium soy sauce
1/4-1/3 cup of Greek yogurt (Note: I used the fat free version.)
2-3 tablespoons of sesame oil

Whisk together ingredients and serve immediately with tempura.

Notes: The sesame oil gives the sauce a nice, nutty flavor, but if you don't care for sesame oil you could use olive oil instead.

Posted by Dianne at 6:14 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 12, 2007

Sausage Balls

Sausage Balls

Who says a home baked gift has to be sweet? Why not cheesey and savory instead? These sausage balls are just that gift! If you've got a vegetarian on your list this year, you can even make a vegetarian version that is simply wonderful. This is an easy, quick recipe and after all this time of year what's better than just that?

What You'll Need:
1 - 16 ounce package of regular sausage (Note: This would probably work with other types of sausage. You could use Italian or Sage or whatever, but I think they are best with just the your basic breakfast sausage.)
1 - 8 ounce bar of cheddar, shredded
1 - 4 ounce bar of Fontina, shredded
2 cups of baking mix (Note: I like Bob's Red Mill products. I've used Bob's Buttermilk Biscuit Mix in the past and had intended to use that for this go round, but the store I went to didn't carry the mix. I ended up using Bob's Red Mill Wheat Free Biscuit and Baking Mix instead.)

Preheat oven to 350 F. (And yes I'm still using my toaster oven! ;o) But I normally bake these in a conventional oven.)

In the bowl of your mixer mix together the sausage and the cheese until incorporated. Add in baking mix and mix until dough forms. (Note: Depending on the fat content of your sausage and cheese the mix may be crumbly, but that's ok. You're going to form balls with the mixture so it will come together in the end. Don't panic if it looks dry, especially if you decide to go the vegetarian route.)

Sausage Balls Ready to Bake

Form roughly 1 tablespoon of the sausage mixture into a round ball and place on a baking sheet. Repeat that step until dough is gone. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until done through and slightly browned on top.

Sausage Ball

Notes: You could add in 1/3 cup of chives to the mix for an added taste sensation. You can also just use one type of cheese, or mix that up. It's all a matter of personal preference. This is another one of those recipes you can freeze for later too, so you can get a head start if want! ;o)

Posted by Dianne at 9:22 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

August 9, 2007

Whole Wheat Quesadillas

Whole Wheat Chicken Quesadillas

I'm a big fan of Mexican food, but if you eat it out, although it's highly scrumptious, it's also highly calorie and fat laden! It's one of those occasion things you like to splurge on, but there's no reason you can't slim it down at home and eat it more often! The result is yummy and is not so bad for you. Who can argue with that? ;o)

What amuses me about things such is quesadillas is that some people think it's a hard dish to make. When I've served them in the past I've had people comment about how they were amazed I had bothered, because they were so hard to make. That couldn't be farther from the truth! If you're nervous about making them just follow the step by step run down below. You can't go wrong!

What You'll Need Per Person:
2 whole wheat tortillas (Note: I usually use Tamixicos 100% Whole Wheat Tortillas. They have 300 mg calcium, 10 whole grains and 50 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids EPH/DHA. What's not to like?)
1/3 cup of chicken, shredded
1/4-1/3 cup of salsa
2 tablespoons of cheddar, Monterrey jack or Colby Cheese
Salsa and/or sour cream for dipping (Note: If you want to dip it in salsa you can leave it out of the quesadilla itself. I use medium salsa, but it's a matter of choice. Also light or fat free sour cream is what I usually use.)

Place a large skillet or griddle over medium to high heat to heat pan.

Step One:

Whole Wheat Chicken Quesadillas: Step One

Lay one of the tortillas on a large cutting board and layer with chicken.

Step Two:

Whole Wheat Chicken Quesadillas:Step Two

Add the salsa and distribute evenly.

Step Three:

Whole Wheat Chicken Quesadillas: Step Three

Sprinkle with cheese.

Step Four:

Whole Wheat Chicken Quesadillas:Step Four

Place the remaining tortilla on top and press down slightly.

Step Five:

Spray your preheated pan with non-stick spray. The pan should be hot! Place the quesadilla in the pan careful not to let any of the filling spill out. Press the top down with a spatula to help things stick. Don't walk away! Stay with the pan and check every 20-30 seconds to see if the bottom has browned. It usually takes no longer than 2 minutes per side. As soon as it has browned remove the quesadilla from the pan and place on a cutting board. (The cutting board makes it easier to flip the quesadilla to cook the other side.)

Step Six:

Use the cutting board and a spatula (or your hand if you're really tough ;o)) to flip the quesadilla over to brown the other side. Press the top again with the spatula and keep checking until browned and remove to cutting board again.

Step Seven:

Cut into wedges. (I've found that a bread knife works really well in cutting them into slices.) Cut the quesadilla in half and then cut each half in three or four individual peices depending on how large you want them.

Step Eight:

Garnish and enjoy!

Whole Wheat Chicken Quesadillas

Notes: You could leave out the chicken and add in cooked mushrooms for a vegetarian option. You could also just go with cheese for a Cheese Quesadilla. You can use a mix or cheese or just one. It's completely up to you! For an appetizer portion this would make two servings. For a main course it would make one serving.

Posted by Dianne at 10:08 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 3, 2007

Potato Skins

Potato Skins

Who hasn't had a Potato Skin now and then when out at a restaurant or grill? But most people don't realize they are super easy to make at home! It's most definitely not something you'd eat everyday, but it's nice to splurge every once in a while and these little babies go great with ribs!

What You'll Need:
Small russet potatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
Shredded cheese (Cheddar, Colby, Monterey Jack...What every you like or a mix of all three!)
Bacon, cooked and crumbled

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Cut potatoes in half and place on the baking sheet cut side up. Bake for 30-35 minutes until potatoes stick done. (Note: Depending on the size of your potato it may take more or less time for them to cook. After 20 minutes check them every 10 minutes or so until done.)

Remove potatoes from oven, brush with a little extra virgin olive to moisten oil and flip over so flat side is down. (Note: Be careful...The potatoes will be hot!) Let sit until potatoes cool.

Once potatoes are cooled preheat oven to 425 F.

Scoop flesh out of each potato leaving 1/8-1/4 of an inch of potato in the skin. Place scooped out potato into a bowl and set aside. (Note: The pulp can be used for Potato Cakes, Mashed Potatoes or even as a part of Potato Soup. I usually put them in the fridge or a freezer container and freeze them until I'm ready to use them in another recipe.)

Sprinkle each skin with the cheese(s) of your choice and sprinkle with crumbled bacon. Bake for 5-8 minutes or until cheese melts.

Serve with sour cream and/or scallions.

Posted by Dianne at 10:18 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 26, 2007

Dianne's Nachos

Dianne's Nachos

Sometimes it's fun to do Nacho's for dinner! This could be an appetizer or a main course, but either way it's delicious!

What You'll Need For the "Chili":
Extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon of chili powder
1 tablespoon of paprika
1 cup of salsa
1/4-1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (Note: More if you like it hot, less if you don't...If you really don't like heat then leave it out all together.)
1 - 5 ounce can of tomato sauce
1 - 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained
1 - 15.5 ounce can of black beans, drained
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup of textured soy (TSP) or vegetable (TVP) protein

In a medium sized pot sauté onion in a little extra virgin olive oil until tender. Stir in chili powder and paprika and stir to mix. Add salsa and stir until incorporated. Next add tomato sauce and diced tomatoes stirring to mix. Add beans and stir in carefully as not to mashed them. Add salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for at least an hour. 20 minutes before serving ad the TSP or TVP and cook until tender.

Notes: You can also use ground beef or chicken in place of the meat substitute if you like. Red beans could be used along with or in place of the black beans.

Freshly Baked Tortilla Chips

What You'll Need for the Tortilla Chips:
Corn tortillas
Oil (I usually use Safflower oil)
Sea salt

Preheat oven to 500 F.

Cut each tortilla in half (I usually do four at at time), then cut each half into 3 equal pieces. Place on a baking sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper. Brush each chip with oil (for a batch of 48 chips you would use roughly 1-2 tablespoons of oil...You just want a thin layer of oil on top to help them crisp and the salt stick, not a heavy layer that will make the chip soggy) and then sprinkle with sea salt.

Tortilla Chips Ready to Bake

Bake for 5-8 minutes until chips are golden and crisp. Remove from oven and let cool. Use as you would any store bought tortilla chip.

Notes: You can also use red or blue corn tortillas. You can even just spray the chips with non-stick spray instead of brushing them with oil, but they will be a bit chewier and less crisp, though they will not change in flavor. To make desert chips sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar instead of salt.

To Put Nachos Together:

Place a layer of tortilla chips on a plate or a platter. On top of the chips spread a layer of chili. Then sprinkle the chili with cheese and let the cheese melt. Top with guacamole and/or sour cream if desired.

Notes: I usually also top the nachos with diced tomato and scallions, but I was low on tomatoes and scallions (today is grocery day) and used the last of them in my guacamole instead. You coul also add a layer of salsa and/or Cheesy Salsa Dip.

Posted by Dianne at 10:37 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 26, 2007

Dill Onion Spread

Dill Onion Spread

I originally got this idea from a cream cheese spread that Whole Foods mixes up with three types of onion, but I decided it needed some dill and one less onion! This spread is great on bagels and it makes a heavenly cucumber sandwich! Just spread some onto a slice of bread and top with cucumbers for a scrumptious sandwich treat!

What You'll Need:
2 - 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup of dill chopped
1/3 cup of chives chopped
2 scallions, chopped
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Place your cream cheese in the bowl of a mixer and beat until smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until incorporated. Store mixture in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before use so it will spread easily.

Notes: You could add a little garlic if you like, but I wouldn't add too much as the chives and green onion already give it a little kick. Some red onion might also be nice, but again just a bit, don't go overboard.

Posted by Dianne at 7:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 21, 2007

Dianne's Spinach Artichoke Dip

Spinach Artichoke Dip

I love spinach artichoke dip so it's no surprise that I came up with my own. This dip has evolved over time and the latest rendition has goat cheese (surprise, surprise! ;o)), but every time I serve it it gets raves and I've even had people who thought they didn't like spinach try it and like it. It's one of my most requested dishes. It goes great with cut veggies, chips or other dip type scoopy foods.

What You'll Need:
1 cup of light sour cream
1/2 cup of light mayo
1 - 8 ounce package of light cream cheese
1 cup of Parmesan cheese, grated
1 - 5 ounce package of goat cheese, crumbled
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves of garlic, minced or 1 teaspoon of garlic salt with parsley (If you use the garlic salt, adjust sea salt accordingly)
1 jar of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
2 boxes of frozen spinach, thawed and drained (Note: I don't remember the exact ounce of the package here, but I used Cascadian Farms boxed frozen spinach if you want to compare it to other brands.)

In a medium sized pot melt cream cheese, Parmesan and goat cheese with sour cream and mayo until smooth. Stir in seasonings, artichokes and spinach until blended and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and serve immediately or let cool and store in the fridge until ready to use.

To serve from fridge remove from fridge and place in an oven preheat to 350 F for 20-25 minutes or until warmed through or place in a microwave safe container and microwave on high for 3-5 minutes or until heated through.

Notes: This was the first time I had made my dip with goat cheese and it definitely was a wonderful addition. It gave the dip a hidden depth that wasn't there before. You could leave out the goat cheese if you wanted, but I will be adding it from now on.

Posted by Dianne at 7:43 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 8, 2007

Hummus

Hummus

Hummus is one of those multi-purpose dishes that can be used in many ways! It can be used as a dip, as an accompaniment to salad or even as a sandwich spread. It's hearty, healthy and good in so many ways. It's easy to make and nutritious. What's not to like?

What You'll Need:
2 cups of cooked chickpeas
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4-1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic (optional)
1 teaspoon of cumin (optional)
2 tablespoons of tahini (optional...I actually don't like tahini so I don't usually add it unless I'm making it for someone else)

Hummus

Dump ingredients in the bowl of your food processor and process until smooth. Serve immediately with cut veggies, chips or even as a sandwich spread. The hummus can be chilled before serving (which I actually prefer). You can also store hummus in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

Posted by Dianne at 7:42 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 12, 2007

Mini Frittatas

Mini Frittatas

Frittatas are sort of like quiche without the crust. These little gems make perfect appetizers and they bake up in no time to boot!

What You'll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
4-6 mushrooms, chopped
1/2 a small red onion, chopped
6 large green olive, chopped
6 eggs
Parmesan cheese
Sea salt
Black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Sauté mushrooms and onion in a little extra virgin olive oil until tender. Set aside.

Beat eggs until mixed and fluffy.

In a muffin pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray put equal amounts of onion, mushroom and olives into each cup. Cover each cup with egg and sprinkle with a couple of teaspoons of Parmesan cheese on each cup. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until egg is set and slightly browned.

Note: You can use any veggies you like. Asparagus would be very nice in these little frittatas or even some sun dried tomatoes. Black olives could be substituted for the green olives or you could even use capers if you like them. (I happen to despise capers! But to each their own. ;o)) You can also switch up the cheese and use cheddar or even Feta.

Posted by Dianne at 12:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 11, 2007

Deviled Eggs Part Two: Wasabi Deviled Eggs

Deviled Eggs Part Two: Wasabi Deviled Eggs

I was surfing around the web today and saw a couple of different recipes For Wasabi Deviled eggs and thought I'd take my recipe for Deviled Eggs and add a little wasabi (1 tsp to 1 tablespoon depending on how spicy you like things) since I still had some Easter eggs in the fridge. They turned out great. If you like things with a little kick give it a try!

Posted by Dianne at 7:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 8, 2007

Deviled Eggs

Deviled Eggs

What's Easter without Deviled Eggs? Everyone has their own twist, this is mine.

What You'll Need:
12 boiled eggs, cut in half and remove yolks into the bowl of your food processor
1/4 cup of mayo
1/4 cup of sour cream
1 heaping tablespoon of yellow mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons of vinegar
A pinch of sea salt
A pinch of black pepper

In the bowl of your food processor mix boiled egg yolks, mayo, sour cream, mustard, vinegar (I sometimes use white vinegar and sometimes apple cider vinegar...today I went with white), salt and black pepper and process until smooth. Place egg mixture into a large pastry bag with a large star tip affixed. Squeeze egg mixture into the boiled egg whites and chill until serving.

Notes: You can add finely chopped blue cheese into the egg mixture or even Parmesan cheese for two nice variations. You can also sprinkle the tops of each egg with paprika and/or chopped parsley if desired.

Happy Easter Everyone!

Posted by Dianne at 3:10 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 6, 2007

Hush Puppies With Creamy Dill Dip

Hush Puppies With Creamy Dill Sauce

Hush puppies can be used as an appetizer or a side dish, while this creamy little dill sauce is also wonderful as a dip for veggies, on a veggie sandwich or even on a cucumber onion salad! Whether you're having fish, or would just like a good hush puppy by itself, this recipe is the one for you!

Hush Puppies

What You'll Need For The Hush Puppies:
2 cups of yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup of unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 eggs
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 1/2 to 2 cups of buttermilk (eye it as you go...depending on the humidity you may need more or less...you're looking for a sticky dough)
Safflower oil for frying (or your oil of choice)

Preheat oil to 350 F.

Mix ingredients and drop by the rounded tablespoon full into the hot oil turning to brown. (About 1-2 minutes depending on how brown you like them and the size you've made your hush puppy.) Remove from oil and drain. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve hot.

Note: You can add chopped bell pepper into the batter if you like, or a shot of hot sauce for a kick.

Creamy Dill Sauce

What You'll Need For The Dip:
1/2 cup of sour cream
1/2 cup of light mayo
1/2 cup of buttermilk
1/3 cup of freshly chopped dill
A pinch of sea salt
A pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder

Mix ingredients thoroughly and serve immediately. Store left over dip in the fridge.

Note: You could easily use low-fat or even fat-free components to make this dip healthier. (I tend to use fat free sour cream and low-fat mayo...buttermilk is usually low-fat or fat free to begin with.) You could also add some chopped scallions or shallots for a nice kick.

Hush Puppies With Creamy Dill Sauce

Posted by Dianne at 9:48 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 18, 2007

Irish Cheese

Irish Cheese

Yesterday we also sampled some Irish cheeses. I've used the Kerrygold Irish butter for several years now on special occasions and it truly is one of the best butters I have ever tasted, but this is the first time I had seen their cheese selection. It turns out their cheese is just as good! (But I figured it would be!)

We had the Aged Cheddar, the Blarney Castle (which is similar to gouda) and the Dubliner which reminded me of Parmesan, only softer. These cheeses (and the butter too!) are available at my local Giant and I know the butter (but I'm not sure about the cheeses) is also sold at Whole Foods and Safeway.

That's enough of a break for now! Back to the midterms I go! ;o)

Posted by Dianne at 4:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 23, 2007

Baked Salmon Dip

Baked Salmon Dip

I LOVE salmon! But I don't like it smoked and I don't like the stuff they put into a can. It's a waste of perfectly good salmon! Over the years most of the salmon dip recipes that I came across called for either smoked or canned salmon and that just wouldn't work. So I came up with this little recipe. I play with it from time to time, but it's delicious none the less!

What You'll Need:
1 - 8 ounce package of light cream cheese, softened
1/2 a red onion, chopped
4 scallions, chopped
1 teaspoon of dried dill (at least)
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 baked salmon filet, skin removed and flaked

In a bowl cream cream cheese until smooth and set aside.

Chop red onions and microwave for 1-2 minutes until tender, but the onions retain their color. (This helps take a little of the bite out of them.) Add chopped scallions to the bowl with red onions and microwave for 30 seconds to a minute. Stir cooked onions into the cream cheese mixture until mixed. Stir in seasonings and mix well. Last add flaked salmon and stir until just mixed so as not to completely tear apart the salmon pieces. Serve with crudités and/or bread and crackers.

Baked Salmon Dip

Note: Baking salmon is easy. Just take a salmon steak, drizzle it with a little olive oil, sea salt, black pepper and dill (optional) and bake for 15-20 minutes at 350 F or until done.

Posted by Dianne at 9:15 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 18, 2007

In Honor Of The Chinese New Year: Vegetable Egg Rolls

Veggie Egg Rolls

In honor of the Chinese New Year I thought it would be fun to make some egg rolls! I had never made them before, but I figured it wouldn't be too hard and I was right! They're fast, easy and delicious!

What You'll Need:
1 carrot, cut into matchstick pieces
1/8 of a head of cabagge, cut into strips
1 leek, cut into strips
A pinch of sea salt
A pinch of black pepper
2 teaspoons of rice wine vinegar
Egg roll wrappers
Oil for frying

Step One:

Heat oil to 350 F. (I used and usually use safflower oil when frying.)

Step Two:

While oil is heating, in a medium sized skillet saute veggies with salt, pepper and vinegar until just tender and remove from heat. The filing is now ready to fill the egg roll wrappers.

Egg Roll Filling: Cabage, Carrot And Leek Cooked

Step Three:

Lay an egg roll wrapper flat and place some filling in the middle.

Egg Roll Step One

Step Four:

Fold bottom corner to the middle and tuck under the filling.

Egg Roll Step Two

Step Five:

Fold and tuck corners. It will resemble an envelope at this point.

Egg Roll Step Three

Step Six:

Close and seal your "envelope" by rolling the egg rolls over. Dip your fingers in some water and run along the seam and gently press closed to seal.

Egg Roll Step Four

Step Seven:

Fry egg rolls for 45 secnds to 1 minute until brown. Once removed from oil the egg rolls will continue to brown. Don't over do them!

Egg Rolls Frying

Step Eight:

Remove from oil and drain on a paper towel. Serve immediately or you can reheat them later by placing them in a warm oven for 5 to 10 minutes.

Makes 6 egg rolls.

Posted by Dianne at 1:32 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 17, 2007

Cheesy Salsa Dip

Cheesy Salsa Dip

Back in the day we used to make dips with Velveeta, but that stuff is really nasty when you look at what it's made of! So I adapted the recipe and found some ingredients that were less offensive! This dip is tasty and it has none of the stuff you can't pronounce in the ingredients!

What You'll Need:
1 - 8 ounce block of cream cheese
1 cup of Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
1 cup of Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 - 16 ounce jar of salsa

Dump ingredients into a large glass Pyrex bowl and microwave for 2-5 minutes until completely melted.

Serve with tortilla chips or crudités.

Isn't that easy??

Note: I do not use preshredded cheese. They put weird stabilizers in them and they don't melt properly.

Posted by Dianne at 12:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 10, 2007

Vegetarian "Sausage" Balls

Vegetarian "Sausage" Balls

For the past few years when I've eaten meat (but not fish for some reason) it always has increasingly made me sick to my stomach. So in January I decided to do a little experiment and see if I could go an entire month meat (including fish) free. My experiment worked quite well and I haven't looked back! I have readded fish in the month of February, but the other stuff is gone for good!

When I made this change I was a bit hesitant. I will readily admit I LOVE bacon and sausage, though I didn't eat it very often. But the thought of never having it again was a bit, well, daunting. I've found mock "chicken" and "mock" meat that I like, but up to this point I had not found a "sausage" and still have not found a "bacon" that worked. Today I tried out a sausage substitute and adapted the old sausage ball recipe I used to use and it worked out PERFECTLY! Trust me, you'll never know the meat sausage is not there!

What You'll Need:
1 - 8 ounce bar of cheddar or Colby cheese, shredded
2 cups of baking mix (I used Bob's Red Mill Buttermilk Biscuit Mix)
1 package of Gimme Lean Sausage Style
2 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In the bowl of your mixer dump all the ingredients and mix until crumbly. It looks crumbly, but it will readily stick together when mashed. Form into small balls using roughly 1 tablespoon of crumbles and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

Makes about 3 dozen.

Note: The vegetarian sausage does have the fat content that meat sausage does so you have to add a little fat into them to get them to bind together.

Posted by Dianne at 1:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack