Ranch Feta

I came across the idea for this spread from a cookbook dedicated to all things Ranch.

Important Note: I paid nowhere near the ridiculous price listed in the link. I mean, I, like most of us do like my ranch dressing, but not that much.

Anyway, in the book, they combine a home made ranch dressing with freshly crumbled Feta cheese, which is all well and good, but I already had my own fave bottled ranch dressing in the fridge, so…

INGREDIENTS
•10-1/2 oz Feta in brine, well drained
•3/8 cup ranch dressing
•1 tsp lemon juice
•1 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce – or your fave hot sauce, to taste
•Chopped fresh parsley

Note: at first, I thought to put this together using my trusty immersion blender.

Not a good idea at all. My mini food processor, however, worked a treat!

Combine the Feta and the ranch dressing until well and truly mixed in a mini-food processor fitted with the metal blade, then give it a taste.

Hmmm…

I thought it was good, but could use a little boost, so I added the lemon juice and the hot sauce, then pulsed the processor again to blend well.

Very nice.

I transferred to a small jar, stirred in some freshly chopped parsley, then stashed in the fridge for a few hours or (always more better) overnight, to allow the flavors to really mesh.

Remove from the fridge about 30 minutes before serving with crackers or bread slices.

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Ham, Peanut, & Pickle Spread

This is another one of those vintage recipes that looked kinda weird, but just interesting enough that I saved it to try when next we had folx over.

Wow.

What a fine and dandy little blast from the past for munchies!

Of course, I did make a few changes, adding some seasonings and using Ranch Pickles with added jalapeño to jazz things up.

INGREDIENTS
•1/3 cup chunky peanut butter
•1 can (4.25 oz) deviled ham
•1/4 cup mayonnaise
•3 tbsp chopped pickles
•1/2 tsp hot sauce
•1/2 tsp black pepper
•1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper
•Chopped parsley

Prep is dead simple…

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl until blended, then transfer to a covered jar and stash in the fridge until needed.

Note: the flavor will improve if you make this a day ahead, but even a couple of hours will work.

Serve as you would any munchie spread, on crackers or mebbe with celery sticks.

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Birch Syrup Roasted Cherries

Say what?

Birch syrup?

Yeah, you betcha! This little beauty from north of the border is a nice option, just mebbe not for pancakes.

Friends ordered a few bottles for me from Canadian Birch Company, because we enjoy a bit of Cod Roasted in Birch Syrup, but it turns out it also works a treat on cherries. Slightly spicy cherries at that.

INGREDIENTS
•4 cups of fresh or thawed frozen cherries (pitted)
•3 Tbsp Gold Birch Syrup
•1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
•1-1/2 tbsp orange zest

Heat your oven to 350º.

Note: if you can, use a glass 13×9 baking dish, if not, line your 13×9 baking pan with parchment paper.

Combine the cherries with the remaining ingredients (trust me on the Cayenne), and arrange in a single layer in your baking pan.

Give ’em all a stir, then bake (uncovered) for 15 minutes.

Pull the cherries out of the oven, and, if you are happy with their look and texture, set ’em aside to cool.

I gave mine another good stir and popped ’em back into the oven for another 15 minutes or so.

Lovely.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool before transferring to a large jar and stashing in the fridge until needed.

These were perfection over a Burnt Basque Cheesecake topped with whipped cream.

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Cherry Cosmo

We had some friends coming for a quick overnight at our place before we all briefly split up and then met again at our fave cabin in Door County, Wisconsin.

So…

Friends from back east who had never been to Door County had me thinking “cherries” and then Cosmos, and so, Cherry Cosmos!

And because they are on a big road trip, some sparkling rosé floated on top.

INGREDIENTS
Single:
•4 oz lemon vodka
•1 oz Gran Orange Liqueur*
•12 oz cran-cherry juice
•1 oz cup Key lime juice

Pitcher:
•1 cup lemon vodka
•1/4 cup Gran Orange Liqueur*
•3 cups cran-cherry juice
•1/4 cup Key lime juice

To Serve:
•Sparkling rosé wine
•Orange slices
•Ice

*You can use Cointreau, Grand Marnier, or triple sec, but I am really liking the orange and cognac combination.

If you are doing single drinks, combine the ingredients together in a cocktail shaker with ice, then shake well and serve in an elegant stemmed glass.

As for me, when we have folx over, I prefer to make up a pitcher so I can toss some ice in (also elegant) glasses, pour the chilled beverage o’ the evening over and, if I am using any, add your splash and any garnishes you feel in the mood for.

A nice, cheery, cherry start to a holiday adventure in one of our fave places with some of our fave people.

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Oven Barbecue Chicken Thighs

I have cook books.

I mean, a lot of cook books.

But, more and more, I’ve been finding cool recipes and inspiration in my email. Not a day goes by that I don’t get a “20 great ways to twaddle a turnip” or something very like.

That was how the nice folx at Southern Living told me about this pretty darned spiffy way to wrangle bone-in chicken thighs in the oven.

Is it an original concept?

Nope.

But it was a nice nudge to get me thinking about it, and so, here we are.

INGREDIENTS
Seasoned Flour:
•1/2 cup flour
•1/2 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1/2 tsp black pepper
•1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper

Chicken:
•4 bone-in chicken thighs
•1 pint Diana Garlic Sauce*

*No garlic barbecue sauce? No problem! Simply substitute your own fave barbecue sauce.

Heat your oven to 350º.

Whisk the seasoned flour ingredients together in the shallow bowl, then dredge each chicken thigh well.

Arrange the chicken thighs in a single layer in a roasting pan, then pour your sauce of choice over to completely cover the chicken.

Bake, uncovered, for 90 minutes, basting with the sauce in the pan every 30 minutes.

Tender, tasty chicken with very little muss or fuss. I served ours with smashed potatoes and garlic sautéed asparagus.

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Garlic Barbecue Sauce

If you’ve ever gone through a Canadian market, you have probably come across Diana Sauce. NOT named for Princess Di, this sauce is, nonetheless, wicked tasty.

And, they have flavours.

Thanks to our cousin, I discovered the joy that is Diana Sauce, and thanks to a blogger in Minnesota, I discovered a road map to make the original and the flavours!

This is the garlic one; and it is my fave.

INGREDIENTS
•29 oz canned tomato puree
•1-1/2 cup sugar
•1 cup honey
•1/2 cup hot honey*
•2-1/4 cups cider vinegar
•3 tbsp Dijon mustard
•3 tbsp molasses
•3 tbsp garlic powder
•3 tsp Worcestershire sauce
•1 tbsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce – or your fave hot sauce, to taste
•1-1/2 tsp onion powder
•1-1/2 tsp paprika
•1-1/2 tsp salt
•3/4 tsp turmeric
•3/4 tsp Cayenne
•3/4 tsp pepper
•3/4 tsp Aleppo pepper

*Feel free to use1-1/2 cup of regular honey if you are not loving the idea of adding a bit of heat. But it is a nice touch.

Stir all of the ingredients together in a large pot over medium heat.

Bring to a boil, then simmer, stirring often, for about 30 minutes, until the sauce has turned a darker red and thickened a bit.

Note: I was using my new fave non-stick pan to make this sauce. If you are using a regular pan, be certain to watch the sauce and stir really often, to keep it from burning.

Once the sauce is done, transfer to prepared canning jars and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

You will get about six half-pints.

I used some of ours on oven barbecued chicken thighs, which we totally loved, with mashed potatoes and garlic sautéed asparagus.

Next, I want to try it on pork.

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Air Fryer Scallops

I love scallops, so, when they go on sale, I always make it a point to pick up a pound or so, which is perfect for the two of us.

Even on sale, though, they are not inexpensive, a touch over $20 for that pound of tender tasties, so I try to make certain I treat them with the respect they deserve and prepare them simply.

And, I am always certain to soak them in milk for a few hours before cooking, which brings out their natural sweetness.

Note: the milk soak is my default for most any fish, except salmon and shrimp. And this soak works a treat on frozen, too!

INGREDIENTS
•1 lb scallops (thawed, if frozen)
•Milk (I  use whole milk for this)
•1 tbsp garlic-infused olive oil*
•1/2 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1/2 tsp black pepper

*If you prefer, use your fave plain olive oil.

Rinse the scallops and place in a bowl.

Pour milk over to cover the scallops, then cover the bowl and stash in the fridge for a few hours; three or four will be fine, but if you need to get things started in the morning, a longer soak will do no harm.

When ready to prepare the scallops, heat your air fryer to 400º, then drain the scallops (discard the milk), pat dry, and transfer to a bowl.

Drizzle the olive oil over the scallops, season with the salt and pepper, then give ’em a good toss to coat evenly.

Arrange in a single layer in the air fryer basket and cook for two minutes.

Turn the scallops over and pop back into the air fryer for four to five minutes, just until they are cooked through.

Serve as you will. We had asparagus risotto and sautéed broccolini.

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Johnny Mazetti Spaghetti

Ours is a small household – just the two of us and three critters – so when I make pasta sauce, we have leftovers.

Good thing, then, that I came across this recipe from the days of The Panama Canal Zone that is custom made for turning leftovers into a tasty dinner. Sometimes, I don’t even wait for leftovers, and just start out to make a batch.

If your household is small, you will have leftovers, but this freezes a treat, so…

INGREDIENTS
•1 lb linguini
Pork Amatriciana Sauce
•2 cups shredded cheddar cheese*
•1 cup sliced Kalamata olives
•Olive oil
•Bread crumbs

*I often use Pepper Jack, for a bit of a creamy kick.

Cook the pasta in salted water, then drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

Toss the pasta with the half cup of cooking water, then add the olives, one cup of the cheese, and three cups of the Pork Amatriciana sauce.

Note: feel free to use your own fave sauce.

Heat your oven to 350º,.

Lightly oil a 9×12 baking pan and layer the pasta and cheese mixture evenly into it.

Add another two to three cups of the sauce over the top.

Sprinkle the pasta evenly with the bread crumbs, then cover the pan with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the foil, scatter additional cheese over the top, and bake for another 30 minutes, until the cheese is nicely melted and the casserole is heated through.

Loosely cover with foil, let rest for ten minutes before serving.

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Rockefeller Cheese Spread

Chalk up another winning concept from the nice folx who do our weekly food kits!

This tasty spinach and cream cheese spread worked a treat as a burger topping, but you would also be well served to slather this on some crackers or crusty bread as munchie.

I took some liberties with the recipe, substituting spicy whipped cream cheese for the plain light cream cheese provided, and adding some zippy mustard barbecue sauce, tho’ hot sauce would be nice, too.

These amounts made more than enough cheese spread to comfortably slather two decently sized quarter-pound burgers.

INGREDIENTS
•4 oz baby spinach, chopped
•2 tbsp sour cream
•2 tbsp whipped cream cheese
•1 tbsp shredded Parmesan
•1 tbsp golden barbecue sauce*
•Crumbled bacon bits

*Or your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Note: I used one tablespoon each of Buffalo Seasoned and Garlic & Herb whipped cream cheese. If you like, go ahead and substitute Boursin cheese.

Stir the sour cream together with the cream cheese, Parmesan, barbecue or hot sauce, and bacon bits, then stir in the well chopped baby spinach.

If you feel it needs it, you could add a bit of salt and pepper, but I think that the flavored cream cheeses and the barbecue sauce added enough seasoning.

If you want to try it on a burger (it is really nice), cook your burgers in a large skillet and, when they are just about ready,turn off the heat, top with the cheese spread, cover the pan, and let rest for three minutes, until the cheese is slightly melted.

Hmmm… Burgers Rockefeller?

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Air Fryer Golden Shrimp

So…

this post is not so much as a recipe as it is a method. See that lovely, golden shrimp on that plate?

Well; it’s a bag of frozen beer battered shrimp that’s been air fried and then tossed in a bit of South Carolina-style mustard barbecue sauce (Golden Sauce).

The thing is, don’t care for (or have) shrimp? Try this with chicken nuggets.

INGREDIENTS
•Frozen beer battered shrimp
•South Carolina-style BBQ sauce
•1 tbsp garlic infused olive oil

Heat your air fryer to 400º.

Toss your shrimp in the garlic infused olive oil (plain olive oil is fine) in a large bowl, then arrange in a single layer on your air fryer rack.

Note: I do not like to use cooking spray in the air fryer, because it can leave a residue that is wicked hard to get off.

Air fry the shrimp for four minutes, then turn over and air fry for another six minutes.

Transfer the shrimp back to that large bowl and toss with three or four tablespoons of the sauce, enough to lightly coat the shrimp.

Return to the air fryer rack in a single layer and cook for another four minutes, until the shrimp is golden brown and lightly crispity.

Note: depending on the size of your air fryer and how much shrimp you are making, you may need to do this in stages, keeping the finished shrimp warm in the oven while you air fry the remaining.

We enjoyed ours with oven fried potato sticks and Waldorf Coleslaw and, you know what?

I did not miss getting in the car and driving to the fish shop one bit.

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