Sunday, September 25, 2011

Cheese Ball

Every Christmas when I was growing up my parents made cheese balls. I remember the big balls of sticky cheese, that no longer resembled cheese, being rolled in nuts. In later years I was probably the one who chopped the nuts, not with a knife but in a jar that had 2 blades that crossed in the center and were attached to a plunger. You had to press the plunger down about 3 million times to get nuts that were so unevenly chopped that some nut pieces were pounded into powder and some were still whole. But that did not matter because the end results tasted so good.

Flash forward to this weekend. My wife was in the musical Godspell. If you have seen it you will realize all the cast is on stage most of the time and most of them have more than 1 part (at least when you are doing a small church production). They decided to have a cast party and each member would bring a dish to represent on of their characters. One of my wife's characters was from a parable about sowing seeds. Well I right away I thought I would make a multi grain bread with seeds on top. As the party got closer several people announced they were making bread. Time to change plans. Google seed recipes. What comes up...cheese balls. Time to engage the brain, what was in those sticky balls rolled in nuts? Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, onion salt, cream cheese and cheddar I think.

Cheese Ball
8 oz Sharp Cheddar, the sharper the better, shredded
8 oz Cream Cheese
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 tsp onion salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Enough chopped nuts and seeds to cover the ball of cheese, I used sunflower seeds and pecans I would guess about 1/2 cup total I did not measure.

Chop the nuts and place in a pie pan.
Put all ingredients except the nuts in a food processor. Mix until combined. I thought the cheese looked a little dry so I added a tablespoon of mayonnaise. Then roll the cheese mixture into a ball. After the cheese is rolled into a ball, take the ball and roll it in the nuts. Refrigerate the ball for a couple of hours. The cheese ball has more flavor when it is at room temperature so take it out of refrigerator at least 1/2 hour before serving.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Caramels with Nutella and Nuts

This is a recipe that looks like you spent a lot of time making, but reality in reality is quick and easy.

First I want to say that the microwave caramel recipe came from someone I follow on Foodbuzz. I printed the recipe and I thought I saved it to my recipe box, but now I can't find it. If the recipe is yours please let me know so I can give you credit. I added the Nutella and nuts to kick up the caramels.

Microwave Caramels
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped nuts or small pecan halves
enough Nutella to cover the caramel

Melt butter in microwave safe bowl. Stir in syrups, brown and white sugars and condensed milk. Mix until sugar dissolves. Microwave on high for 3 1/2 minutes. Remove from microwave and stir in vanilla. Spray a dish (I used a 9 inch x 13 inch dish which made this caramels, use 8 x 8 if you want thick caramels) with nonstick spray. Pour caramel mixture in pan and refrigerate until set. Spread Nutella over the caramel and sprinkle with nuts or place pecan halves. Cut into 1inch squares. I did not spread Nutella over whole dish.  I sprinkled sea salt on some and left some plain.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Roasted Pepper, Sun Dried Tomato & White Bean Soup

As the weather cools down and fall slowly creeps up on us our food thought turn to foods like soups. Why it dropped all the way down to the mid 80's this week.  My wife got out her insulated underwear. Although I am not really sure she ever put it away, I have never seen anybody who is as cold as she is. She wears a hoodie to the grocery store because she has to go in the refrigerated section.

Here is a a very simple soup I came up with that features pantry items Roasted red peppers, sun dried tomatoes, white beans and pasta. You can make this in 20 minutes.

Roasted Red Pepper, Sun Dried Tomato and White Bean Soup
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes finely chopped
1 tbs of oil from sun dried tomatoes (you can use olive oil)
1/2 jar (15 oz) jar Red Peppers, finely chopped (about 3 whole peppers)
1/3 cup of small pasta, like orzo
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
Fresh basil

Heat a pot with the oil in it. Add the garlic and heat until fragrant. Add the broth and the sun dried tomatoes. Let the broth come to a boil and leave it for a couple of minutes. Add the peppers and the pasta. Let it cook until the pasta is al dente. Put in bowl and heavily garnish with basil cut into ribbons. I originally just put some basil on as a garnish but we liked it so much that I added additional basil to the soup.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Cilantro Lime Shrimp

This Labor Day weekend my wife and I had something going on every day. At one of the parties we were at the host of a party we were going to later in the weekend said she had a cilantro fetish. Knowing that I had to make a dish for the second party I filed that away in my brain. There isn't much room but somehow it managed to stay there for 2 days. This is the recipe that I came up with. I made about 3 pounds of shrimp. You can make the sauce and drizzle over shrimp or use as a dip. If using as a dip you will want to make more.
Cilantro Lime Chicken
lime infused oil, enough to coat your shrimp about 1 tbs for 1 pound shrimp
Lime zest, about 1/2 lime per pound
1 tbs cilantro, finely chopped

3 pounds Shrimp

1/4 cup honey
juice of 1 1/2 limes
2 tsp lime zest
Hot Sauce to taste

Mix the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Add the shrimp and let it sit for 1/2 hour.

Heat grill to medium. Add the shrimp and grill until done about 1 1/2 minutes to 2 minutes per side.

Mix all of the sauce ingredients together except the hot sauce. After the other ingredients are mixed add the hot sauce to taste, testing as you add. 

Since we were making the shrimp for a crowd I opted to drizzle sauce over over shrimp instead of having them take it and dip the shrimp. If we dipped people would use more sauce and since this was for a grill out sauce and paper plates usually leads to some kind of accident. Pile the shrimp on a platter and sprinkle more cilantro on top.