Jalapeño Cilantro Hummus – Takes only seconds to make this healthy, nutritious treat!

Was there life before hummus?

I don’t know about you, but I barely remember life before hummus.  I’m not even sure when this delicious, nutritious food came on the scene but I’m glad it did.  It is so popular it shows up on restaurant offerings as well as almost every pot luck and party.  It comes in a variety of flavors and is very versatile.  In addition to being served as a dip with pita chips or veggies it can be used as a spread on wraps and sandwiches too!

So what exactly is thing called “Hummus”?  It is made from garbanzo beans.  Yep, garbanzo beans blended with some seasonings.  That’s it.  It is that simple.  So why would anyone want to make their own hummus when you can just buy it already made in almost any grocery store?  That is a great question and my answer is…because it is so easy and you can whip it up on a moments notice using ingredients you have on hand (providing of course you have them on hand).  Another reason is that you can control what you put in it and adjust the seasonings to your preference.  And…not to mention…it is fun and impressive to say you made it yourself.  Right?  Sometimes it is just fun to say you made something yourself.

I hope you will give this recipe a try.  The recipe is more of a guideline than anything.  Feel free to add more jalapeños if you like it hotter.  You may want to add some lemon or lime juice and a sprinkle of oregano would taste great too.  Have fun with it and make it your own.  Oh, and please let me know how it works out for you.  I love to hear from you!

Jalapeño Cilantro Hummus - serve with tortilla chips!

 Jalapeño Cilantro Hummus - serve with tortilla chips!

Ingredients

  • I 15oz. can garbanzo beans (aka chick peas)
  • 2 cubes crushed garlic or 2 fresh garlic cloves crushed
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon jalapeño slices from a jar
  • 1 teaspoon juice from the jar
  • 2 green onions cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and whirl until smooth! That's it!
  2. May be served immediately or refrigerated for up to a week.
  3. It is great served with tortilla chips!
  4. May also be served with fresh veggies or your favorite crispy chip or cracker.
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How to host an easy, unique and FUN dinner party for under $10!

What can you do with some broccoli, a box of refrigerated pie crust and an egg?

Before I tell you the answer….Have you ever noticed how much everyone loves a mystery?  Right? The element of surprise is a necessary ingredient in almost every area of our lives.  We need mystery and fun and surprise to keep us from living a life of boredom.  Books and movies are perfect examples…there is always a PLOT TWIST!  And…if there isn’t?  Well, we know we can count on that book or movie being a flop.

This unique dinner party is just the thing for dinner party boredom.  It has mystery and fun written all over it.  And best of all you get to join in the fun instead of slaving away!

So…back to the broccoli, pie crust and egg question.  The mystery of this party is to have your guests bring the groceries.  Yep!  You read it right!  You give each guest a list of 3 or so items that should cost no more than $10 total.  You mix up the items so they are wondering “what the heck?”  For example:  broccoli, pie crust and an egg.  Everyone is instructed to arrive with their groceries at a specific time so the party can get started.  This is where it gets even more fun and also where the creativity kicks in.  No matter how specific you are on the shopping lists you give out …and I do recommend that you be very specific…inevitably you get something that is different than you expected and you are forced to use creativity to come up with an alternative plan.  Other variables are… missing ingredients due to missing guests or other unforeseen or unplanned for things. Of course it doesn’t hurt to have a few key items in back up just in case and it is really important that you confirm with your guests that they will be there, be on time, and bring their items.

This particular party menu was an appetizer made of a block of cream cheese with pesto sauce poured over it served with baguette slices, followed by a mixed green salad and a create your own pasta bar. For dessert we made apple dumplings that we served with ice cream.  I chose items that could be used in multiple courses and dishes.  For example the store bought pesto was used for the appetizer and also in the pasta sauce, there were a few leftover crackers from our appetizer that I crumbled into the salad and the dried cranberries were served as part of our appetizer platter, in the salad and even as a garnish with the dessert!

The important part is to make a plan and then be flexible in how your plan plays out.  Make sure that everyone is involved doing something whether it be setting the table, stirring or chopping etc. You can even let them find the dishes, silverware, platters etc. If you see someone standing around give them a task even if they don’t ask!  I promise you everyone wants to be a part of the fun!  Remember it is all about the fun!

I really hope you will take this idea and run with it and if it sounds like fun yet is more than you want to take on…you are always welcome to hire me to plan and execute it for you!  I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do than have a party or help you with yours.

Oh and in case you are still wondering what we did with the broccoli, pie crust and egg…the broccoli was steamed and used as one of the ingredients for our pasta bar, the pie crust was used for the apple dumplings and the egg was beaten and used to “wash” the apple dumplings to give them a crackly glaze.  Mystery is now solved and it’s on to the next one.  What will your next mystery dinner menu be?

Here is to adding a dash of mystery and a bit of fun to your next dinner party,

Suzi 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stuffed Baked Artichokes – Omg…this is heaven

 

This is heaven…

I loooove all things artichokes!  I use artichoke hearts in salads and dips and pasta dishes. There is just mysterious and wonderful about this thing called an artichoke.  They are a bit like life…hard to read from the outside and yet once you’ve unsolved their mystery they are yours to do with as you wish.  You just have to get to know them at a deeper level than meets the eye.  Okay…perhaps I’m getting a little carried away and dramatic…all to drive the point of my passion for these wild creatures.

In truth, (more…)

Suzi’s – make it in seconds…tastes like you slaved all day…Secret Salsa Hack!

I’m not kidding when I say this is the easiest and best salsa ever!  It’s almost embarrassing to share the recipe but share I must.  I just can’t keep things like this to myself. AND I want you to get all the credit when you serve it!  It’s your recipe now…

Suzi’s – make it in seconds…tastes like you slaved all day…Secret Salsa Hack!

You can serve this salsa immediately or make ahead a few hours or even the day before to allow flavors to blend. Store covered, in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Ingredients

  • 1 8 oz. can Herdez brand Salsa Casera, come in mild, medium or hot (choice is yours)
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1-2 green onions chopped or 2 tablespoons or so of diced red onion

Instructions

  1. Open can
  2. Pour into a serving dish
  3. Add cilantro and green onion
  4. Stir and serve!
  5. Or...
  6. If you prefer you may put all ingredients in a blender or food processor
  7. The choice is yours!
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Cranberry Bleu Pecan Cheese Ball – faux pas and all!

 

 

Soooooo Easy…only 4 ingredients and it is awesome!

One night this flavor combination just popped in my head so I quickly wrote it down…a few weeks later I had the opportunity to try it out and serve it at a luncheon.  It was a hit!  I originally served it as a spread with crackers and also with celery sticks for a gluten-free option.  I’ve made it several times since and it is always well received.  I hope you’ll give try it out and taste for yourself.  Enjoy!

Cranberry Bleu Pecan Cheese Ball ~ AKA CBP Cheese Ball

Cranberry Bleu Pecan Cheese Ball ~ AKA CBP Cheese Ball

Quick and easy cheese ball or spread! Only 4 ingredients!

Ingredients

  • 1 8 oz. package cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup crumbled bleu cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • Additional 3/4 cup chopped pecans for rolling

Instructions

  1. Place cream cheese in microwave safe bowl
  2. Heat in microwave on 50% power for 1 minute to soften
  3. Add cranberries, bleu cheese, and pecans
  4. Use electric mixer to mix together
  5. Form into a ball and roll in chopped pecans or you can serve it as a spread
  6. You may serve immediately or even better make ahead and refrigerate for flavors to blend
  7. Before serving, remove from fridge 30 minutes or so to soften
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Easy Toffee Pretzel Bark – A fabulous gourmet snack!

 

Toffee Pretzel Bark

Toffee Pretzel Bark

This makes a great party snack. Serve in baskets or put in small treat bags tied with ribbons. You can also use colored candy melts to coordinate with the occasion. I sometimes use colored sprinkles in place of the toffee.

Ingredients

  • 5 cups mini pretzel twists
  • 1 1/2 white chocolate candy melts (approximately 10 oz.)
  • 2/3 cup toffee bits

Instructions

  1. Line a 1/2 sheet baking pan (13" x 18") with parchment
  2. Spread pretzels evenly over the parchment, they will overlap slightly
  3. Heat white chocolate candy melts in microwave on high for 1 minute, stir, heat for an additional 30 seconds, stir until smooth
  4. With a large spoon, drizzle the melted chocolate over the pretzels
  5. Sprinkle toffee bits evenly over the chocolate
  6. Allow to cool
  7. Break apart and serve or store in an airtight container or Ziploc bag
  8. Enjoy!
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How to make “Apple Dumplings” an Easy and Classy Dessert!

Don’t be fooled…these Apple Dumplings look difficult….. but they are soooooo easy!  Just watch and see….

Apple Dumplings close up

Apple Dumplings with Raspberry Sauce

*Raspberry Sauce In a small saucepan, mix 1 12 oz. package frozen raspberries (unsweetened) and 2/3 cup sugar. Cook over medium heat until boiling...mix 1/3 cup water and 1 Tablespoon corn starch together, stir into boiling raspberries and sugar, stir until thickened. Remove from heat. Allow to cool slightly. Mixture will continue to thicken as it cools.

Ingredients

  • 6 Rome Beauty Apples (or other)
  • 2 Packages refrigerated pie crust rolls (4 crusts total)
  • 1 cube (1/2 cup) softened butter
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg mixed with 1 Tablespoon water

Instructions

  1. Remove crusts from the refrigerator
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  3. Peel and core apples - cut the bottom of the apple about 1/4 inch so it will sit flat
  4. In a small bowl, mix together the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon
  5. Fill the hollowed cores with the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon mixture
  6. Cut 3 of the crusts in half, roll each into a ball, knead until until mixed together
  7. Using a rolling pin, on a lightly floured surface (granite counter works great), roll out to about 8 inches in diameter (so it will cover the apple completely)
  8. Cut 6 small pieces of the remaining crust, about 1 1/2 inches square, place on the top of each filled apple, covering the core
  9. Place apple upside down in center of dough circle
  10. Carefully wrap and pinch dough around the apple making sure dough overlaps a the bottom
  11. Place apples, pinched side down, on a baking sheet
  12. Using a pastry brush, brush with egg wash (egg/water mixture)
  13. Using a sharp knife, cut out 12 leaves, "score" each leaf with a line down the center and marks to resemble leaves
  14. Roll 6 small pieces of dough to resemble stems, pinch and flatten at one end
  15. On top of each apple, place a "stem" and 2 "leaves"
  16. Brush leaves and stem with egg wash
  17. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes
  18. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 20 minutes until apples are soft and crust is golden
  19. Serve with
  20. *Raspberry Sauce and vanilla ice cream, if desired
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I hope you will push out of your comfort zone and make these “Classy” Apple Dumplings!  Remember, if you can dream it… You can do it….and I just showed you how!  You can do this!  Confidence comes with practice!  You’ve heard the saying….If at first you don’t succeed….try, try, again!

Helping people gain confidence in the kitchen is my dream!  I’ve put off doing this because I was scared 🙁  I may look confident but to be honest….putting myself out there like this is SCARY!  I’m taking my own advice and just doing it!

My greatest desire is that you find your passion and “just do it”

Yours in living your passion,

Suzi

 

Caprese Skewers…Easiest and Classiest Appetizer Ever!

These are so easy and you can make them a day or two in advance.  If you do, be sure to add the balsamic vinaigrette just before serving.  

Another cost saving tip is to cut the mozzarella balls in half…..it is the perfect bite and you yield 50 appetizers instead of 25!  

Caprese Skewers - Easiest and Classiest Appetizer Ever!

Caprese Skewers - Easiest and Classiest Appetizer Ever!

Ingredients

  • 1 8 oz. container fresh mozzarella balls (25) - Can be cut in half to yield 50 appetizers!
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette - (a few tablespoons)
  • 4" wooden sandwich picks

Instructions

  1. Cut basil leaves in 1" strips
  2. Cut mozzarella balls in half, if desired
  3. Thread on wooden sandwich pick in following order:
  4. Mozzarella ball
  5. Basil
  6. tomato
  7. Place on serving tray...
  8. Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette
  9. Serve and enjoy!
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As always….I hope you will give this easy appetizer a try!

Yours in easy and classy,

Suzi

How to make…Homemade Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing

Milk, mayonnaise and Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix…It’s really that easy!  You will never buy the stuff in the bottle again!

1 pint (2 cups) Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 Tablespoons Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix
  • Will keep 1-2 weeks depending on the freshness of your milk.
  • Variations:
  • For Bleu Cheese Dressing: add 1/3 cup of crumbled bleu cheese
  • For Creamy Dill Dressing: add 1 tsp. dried dill weed or 1 Tablespoon of fresh dill weed
  • For Creamy Bacon Dressing: add 1/4 cup of crumbled bacon bits

Instructions

  1. In a 1 quart (4 cup) measuring/mixing bowl:
  2. Pour in milk up to the 1 cup line
  3. Add mayonnaise to the 2 cup line
  4. Add in the 3 Tablespoons of Ranch Dressing Mix
  5. Whisk until smooth.
  6. Add fresh ground pepper, if desired.
  7. Pour into a 1 pint mason jar, or other, and refrigerate until ready to use.
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