Michigan Cheese Spread

03acheeseveggiesbzloTechnically, the very nice lady and former coworker who gave me this recipe – years ago, now – calls this a cheese ball; but it has always worked better for me as a spread.

Pretty frikkin’ fantastic with veggies, but you really need to try this spread on Wheat Thins crackers. It’s kinda magical.

Why is it called “Michigan?” No idea, Karen (the nice former coworker didn’t seem to know, either), but who cares? This is a seriously tasty cheese thing-y.

02acheesenutspineapplebzloMake it now!

•8 oz cream cheese, softened
02bmixbzlo•8 oz can pineapple slices, drained and chopped (or well drained crushed pineapple)
•1 cup chopped pecans
•1 tbsp diced red onion
•2 tbsp diced red or green pepper
•1/4 tsp Seasoned Salt

Place the softened cream cheese, pineapple, pecans, onion, and pepper in a mixing bowl and mix on medium speed until nicely blended.

Give it a taste and add a bit of seasoned salt, if you think it needs it – I thought 1/4 teaspoon worked nicely.

04ddatebzloTransfer to a container, cover, and stash in the fridge for at least couple of hours to allow the flavors to blend.

Serve with veggies or (always a good choice) Wheat Thins, or…

stuff a bit of the cheese spread into a pitted date, wrap it in bacon (cut each strip of bacon in half first) and secure with a toothpick, then season lightly with Gateway to the North Maple Garlic Seasoning (or your fave steak seasoning), roll in a bit of brown sugar, and finally bake at 375º for 30 minutes, until the bacon is cooked and a bit crispity and the cheese spread ooey gooey.

Hard to beat.

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Braised Barbecue Bone-In Beef Short Ribs

05bribsplatebzloI was looking for ideas.

Rich was out of town on bidness, and, in a weak moment, I’d picked up a small pack of bone-in beef short ribs. He prefers when I make the boneless short ribs, preferably with the Korean marinade, so this little packet kinda reached out to me saying “take me home and do something with me!”

But, what, exactly?

Then, I came across a recipe.

01aribsseasonedbzloSunny Anderson, on food network, had a braised barbecue recipe calling for an interesting mix of ingredients, including vinegar, ketchup, yellow mustard, and paprika – basically a braising barbecue sauce that you don’t have to cook first.


02bsauceingredientsbzloI made, of course, a few small changes, swapping out my own Steak and Chop Sauce for the ketchup, and adjusting the seasonings to suit my tastes and my spice cabinet; but that is the beauty of a simple recipe like this – you can make what you want of it, depending on what you have on hand, and it’ll more than likely be wicked tasty, as was this.

•1-1/2 lb beef short ribs
•Kosher salt
•Black pepper

•2/3 cup brown sugar*
•1 tsp sweet paprika
•1/2 tsp Back of the Yards Seasoning
•1/2 tsp Vadouvan French Masala Curry
•1 tbsp white vinegar
•1/2 tsp dried thyme
•3/4 cup Steak and Chop Sauce
•1 tsp dry mustard
•1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce

03bribssaucebzlo*I pulled out one tablespoon of the brown sugar and replaced it with one tablespoon of smoked brown sugar.

No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Feel free to add a dash of decent sherry and mebbe a bit of your fave hot sauce. As for the Steak and Chop Sauce, 04afoilpacketbzloBack of the Yards, and Vadouvan seasonings? Well, you could use your fave steak sauce or ketchup, and whichever seasoning blends you really like on beef.

Season all sides of the ribs with the Kosher salt and black pepper, then arrange the ribs in the middle of a large piece of heavy duty aluminum foil in a rimmed baking pan.

Note: I did not do it this time, but next, I will place some sliced onion, celery, and carrots under the ribs in the foil; to add flavor to the sauce, and to keep the ribs from sitting in the braising liquid.

04croastedbzloWhisk the sauce ingredients together in a bowl and pour over the ribs in the pan.

Fold the foil up and over the ribs to close, leaving some space on top for an air pocket.

Place the pan in a hot 300º oven and bake, with the foil tightly closed, for about 2-1/2 hours.

Open the foil and return the pan to the oven for another 30 minutes.

05aribsplatebzloYou now have wicked tender, and very tasty beef short ribs, but…

Do not toss that braising liquid!

I transferred mine to a bowl and let it cool before covering and stashing in the fridge overnight. The next day, I pulled off the plug of solid fat that had formed on the top and trashed it. The now clear sauce went back into the fridge to be used as a glaze for a future project.

But, enough about future pork tenderloin roasts; let us instead concentrate on enjoying these fine ribs with a salad and baked potato.

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Spaghetti Lasagna

05bspaghettilasagnabzloAt first glance, long time readers of this here food blog thing-y are gonna be saying:

“Wait! Isn’t that Johnny Mazetti Spaghetti? What’s it doing here on a Monday? Parfait! posts are on Fridays!”

But, no. This is not, in fact Johnny Mazetti Spaghetti; there are a few key differences. First, this is made from leftover spaghetti and pasta sauce, and, mebbe the biggest difference; there is a center layer of cottage cheese and sour cream.

02bleftoverspaghettibzloI know!

•Pasta sauce*
•Cooked spaghetti (about 1/2 pound)
•1 cup small curd cottage cheese
•1/2 cup sour cream
01bcherrypeppersbzlo•Shredded Mozzarella cheese
•Shredded Parmesan cheese
Aleppo pepper

•1 lb ground pork
•1/2 sweet onion, diced
•1/2 tsp garlic powder
•1/2 tsp dried parsley
•Sliced, pickled hot cherry peppers
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce

No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! You can, of course, skip this addition, or, consider adding a bit of good sherry and perhaps a bit of your favorite hot sauce, to taste.

01cmeatcookedbzlo*I had made a vegetarian version of my Best! Doctored Pasta Sauce for dinner one night and cooked a full pound of Dreamfields high fiber pasta to go with it. We obviously had leftovers, so used the sauce and pasta for this recipe, adding some additional cooked meat and stuff.

02cstirtogethertbzloCook the ground pork and sweet onion  in a large saucepan over medium high heat for ten minutes, until the onion is tender and the pork is mostly cooked through; breaking the pork up into small pieces.

Add the garlic powder, dried parsley, cherry pepper slices, and Sherry Peppers Sauce and continue cooking until the pork is well and truly cooked, a bit crispity in places, and most of the cooking liquid has been cooked off.

Drain well.

03apanoilbzloPop your leftover spaghetti into the ‘wave for 30 seconds to loosen it up.

Add the leftover pasta sauce to the pan you cooked the pork in and stir over low heat to loosen it up as well. Stir in the drained pork mixture and the leftover spaghetti until well combined.

Heat your oven to 400º and lightly brush a 2-1/2 quart baking pan with olive oil.

Stir the cottage cheese together with the sour cream in a bowl and set aside.

04bcheesebzloNote: pay attention to ingredient labels! The cottage cheese I buy is full (4%) fat; and the ingredients are: milk, cream, salt. Compare and contrast that list with a container of 2% or fat free cottage cheese.

Spread one half of your spaghetti mixture across the bottom of the oiled baking pan.

04dtopcheesebzloSpread the cottage cheese and sour cream mixture over the top of the spaghetti to cover in an even layer.

Top this with the remaining spaghetti mixture, patting it down to compress and even out the top of the casserole.

Top this with the Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, then, if you have any (you really should), sprinkle a good bit of Aleppo pepper over the top.

05aspaghettilasagnabzloPop this into your hot oven and bake, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes; until the casserole is hot and bubbly, and the cheese melted and brown.

Remove from the oven, let rest for ten minutes, then slice and serve with a nice salad and mebbe some hot garlic bread on the side.

Really; all leftovers should be this good!

By the way, if you like, fell free to further channel Johnny Mazetti Spaghetti and add sliced black olives to this dish as well.

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Parfait! Better Apple Pie Bars

04bslicedbzloA few weeks ago, I made a batch of Apple Pie Bars according to a recipe from the nice folk at Kraft foods; and they were quite good.


Tho’ I (for once) followed instructions and used the sized pan called for, I found it impossible to get the (rather lovely) dough to fit the pan,and a lot of the filling liquid ran out into the open pan space and turned into a solid sheet of cooked sugar; still tasty, but really kindofa waste.


The next time I made the bars, I switched from the called for 15x10x1 inch pan to a 13×9 glass baking pan.


I ended up with just-thick-enough dough, and the filling all stayed where it was meant to be – this is the way to make these apple pie bars!

Ermmm, I also eschewed peeling the apples in favor of thinly slice them with the skin on, and just punching out the core of each slice. Seemed to make the process go a whole lot quicker, and the end result seemed no worse for a bit of apple peel in the mix.

•8 oz. cream cheese, softened
•1 cup butter, softened
•3-1/4 cups flour, divided
•10 Granny Smith apples, peeled, sliced (about 9 cups)
•1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
•1 tsp. ground cinnamon
•1 tsp allspice

•1-1/2 cup powdered sugar
•2 tbsp water

01bsugarspicebzloHeat your oven to 400º.

Beat the cream cheese together with the butter in a mixing bowl until well blended and just a wee, tiny fit fluffy.

Add three cups of the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing on low speed after each bit of flour until it has just been worked into the dough. Shape into a ball or other regular shape and divide in two.

02abottomdoughapplesbzloSlice and core the apples, then toss in a large bowl with the remaining 1/4 cup of flour, the sugar, and the seasonings until all of the slices are coated.

Set aside while you roll out the dough.

Arrange a sheet of waxed paper on a flat surface and scatter a bit of flour over it.

Place one half of the dough on the waxed paper, flatten out a bit, then scatter with a bit more flour, and place another sheet of waxed paper on top.

03abakedbzloRoll the dough out into a rectangle a bit bigger than a 13×9 inch baking pan.

Apply a bit of cooking spray to that 13×9 inch baking pan, then remove the top layer of waxed paper from the dough and, using the bottom waxed paper sheet, flip to dough over and fit into the baking pan, pressing it lightly to fit into the edges and up the sides of the pan.

03cglazedbzloGive the apples another toss – you’ll notice a bit of that good, spicy liquid has formed – and pour them all into the dough in the pan.

I will confess, I started by arranging the apples slices oh, so prettily, but, that got real old, real fast, so after a layer or two, I just sorta spooned the rest into the pan.

Starting with new waxed paper sheets – sorry, but that’s the way this pastry stuff works, you try to reuse stuff, you crash and burn.

04aslicedbzloLay the top dough over the apples, tucking it into the sides, then cut about six thin slits in the top with a thin knife to allow steam to vent.

Bake for 40 minutes, until the crust is golden brown, then remove from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes.

Stir the water into the confectioners’ sugar until you have a thick liquid, then spoon over the partially cooled apple pie bars.

Slice and serve.

You’ll note how there isn’t a lot of filling that oozed out in baking; and the bars are still so tasty and, really, quite a bit easier to cut and serve, too.

See? Better!

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Sweet Potato Salad With Cranberries, Chipotles, and Feta

05aaddcheesebzloWho doesn’t like a potato salad?


c’mon, be honest, don’t you sometimes want to mix things up, just a wee, tiny bit?

Well, how’s this?

Roasted sweet potatoes and onion tossed with a cranberry, chipotle pepper, and honey sauce, then mixed with chopped parsley, feta cheese, and nuts?

01aoliveoilbzloYeh. I thought so.

•2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
•1/2 sweet onion coarsely chopped
•1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds
01fonionsbzlo•1/4 cup chopped pecans
•Freshly chopped parsley
•Crumbled feta cheese

•3/4 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
•1/4 cup water
•2 tsp honey
•1 tbsp chopped chipotle in adobo (2)
•1 tsp adobo sauce (from the can)
•1 tbsp good sherry

Heat your oven to 450º and line a rimmed baking pan with heavy duty foil.

01gpotatoesonionbzloArrange the sweet potatoes in a single layer on the prepared pan, drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Bake for 15 minutes, flip, add the chopped onion, and cook for another 15 minutes.

Note: I was happy with how these turned out, but Rich thought the texture a little soft; so next time I make this salad, I plan on roasting them all on a rack set into the baking pan. Or mebbe starting with frozen sweet potato fries (sneaky, no?).

02bsaucecookbzloWhile the potatoes are cooking, place the  cranberries, water, and honey in a sauce pan.

Chop two chipotles (or enough to measure one tablespoon) and add to the pan with one teaspoon of the adobo sauce from the can.

Bring to a boil over medium heat, then lower heat, cover, and cook for another ten minutes, stirring every now and then until the cranberries burst. Mash with a fork or potato masher until chunky, stir in the 03baddcranberrybzlotablespoon of sherry, and cook for another five minutes or so.

Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Toss the sweet potato and onion mixture together with the cranberry chipotle sauce, sunflower seeds and roasted pecans.

Add the chopped parsley, and crumbled feta and toss again to mix well.


Nice, different, take on potato salad!

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Mrs B’s Cocktail Sauce

02csauceshrimpwinebzlo‘Tis the season!

For planning for those food-laden holidays, or mebbe just tailgaiting or gathering for movies and munchies.

‘Tis also the season for beginning to get a bit overwhelmed by thoughts of hosting folk and mebbe stressing a bit over the food; so, yeh, you could buy one of those frozen rings of shrimp and cocktail sauce at the market.


01achilisaucebzloGo ahead and pick the pre-cooked, peeled shrimp and thaw according to package instructions, but take all of about five minutes to make this most excellent cocktail sauce!

01bcocktailsaucebzloMost excellent partially because I chose my ingredients with care; extra hot horseradish with four, basic, ingredients, and chili sauce made with no corn sweeteners and a rather short list of all natural, real ingredients.

Also most excellent because, as would Mrs. B, you can control how much horseradish and lemon juice to add to make your cocktail sauce the way you like it.

•Good quality chili sauce*
•Freshly squeezed lemon juice

01csauceshrimpbzlo*If you need one, I have this rather nice chili sauce recipe.

Add the chili sauce to a small mixing bowl then pour in a bit of the fresh squeezed lemon juice. I used about six ounces of the chili sauce, then added a couple of tablespoons each of the lemon juice and the horseradish.

I took a taste, then added a couple of more tablespoons each of lemon juice and horseradish.

One more taste and one more tablespoon of horseradish (I like a zippy cocktail sauce), and I was ready to serve.

See? Easy peasey!

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Pork and Beef NO FLOUR Meatballs

05bmeatballsricebzloThese meatballs are pretty terrific as a munchie and as amain course – served over yellow rice with Cherry Chipotle Barbecue Sauce, and freshly chopped parsley sprinkled over the top.

“Oh!” you say “I can’t eat meatballs, because I can’t eat anything with flour.”

Well, welcome back to meatballs, because, instead of bread crumbs, I used seasoned, ground oatmeal, and it all turned out very, very well.

01aoatcrumbsbzloNow, there is a bit of effort and planning involved. You have to prepare and bake the meatballs in the oven, then finish ’em off in the slow cooker.

Thing is; you can make the barbecue sauce in a slow cooker while you’re baking the meatballs; and then toss ’em all in the slow cooker for a couple of hours before dinner.


You could bake the meatballs a day or two ahead and freeze and stash in the freezer to have ’em on hand for an easy meal or munchie.

•1/2 cup Seasoned Oatmeal Crumbs
•1/4 cup milk
•1 lb extra-lean ground beef
02bporkbeefbzlo•1 lb ground pork
•1 egg, lightly beaten
•4 green onions, sliced (white and light green parts only)
•1/2 tsp Seasoned Salt
•One batch Cherry Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

Stir the milk into the oatmeal crumbs in a large mixing bowl and set aside to rest for five minutes.

Add the ground meats, the egg, the green onion, and seasoned salt and combine well.

03bmeatballsbakedbzloLine two rimmed baking pans with heavy duty foil and apply cooking spray.

Scoop the meat mixture into one inch meatballs (I got 62) and arrange on the prepared baking pans.

Place the racks on two shelves in a hot 375º oven and cook for ten minutes.

Flip the pans and cook for another ten minutes, until your instant read thermometer measures 160º.

04cmeatballsbzloRemove from the oven and transfer to a large slow cooker.

Pour the prepared Cherry Chipotle Barbecue Sauce over the meatballs, then cover and cook on high for two hours, or on low for four hours.

Dinner (or munchie) done!

And wicked tasty!

By the way, you can also save the chopped dark green bits of the scallions and sprinkle ’em over the top of the finished meatballs along with the parsley.

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Cherry Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

04ameatballsricebzloI came across a recipe for ground pork and beef meatballs that looked interesting, and it called for A.1. Spicy Chipotle Sauce and a bit of brown sugar.

Well… I already had an open jar of chipotles in adobo in the fridge, and wasn’t about to make a special trip for one condiment when I was pretty certain I could come up with a little sumpin sumpin on my own.

Starting with those chipotles and a small jar of cherry jam and my own barbecue sauce.


I could see it.

A plan formed…

•2 cups barbecue sauce
•5 oz cherry jam
•2 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce
•1 tbsp lower sodium tamari
•2 canned chipotles, chooped
•1 tsp adobo sauce from the chipotles
•1 tsp garlic powder

Note: I used MY barbecue sauce, which is already a bit spicy, use your own preferred and adjust the amount of chipotles and adobo sauce to suit your tastes.

Combine the sauce ingredients together in a small slow cooker, cover, and cook on high for a couple of hours, until thickened.

No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No problem! Try adding a couple of tablespoons of beer in stead.

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Parfait! Sherry Peppers Sauce

sherrypeppersemptybzloThe holidays are fast approaching, so now would probably be a good time to ensure that your pantry is up to date and stocked with the besics you’re gonna be needing for the heavy cooking season to come.

Even without the holidays, the sad image to the left – an empty jar of my Sherry Peppers Sauce – is a couple of times per month (at least) occurrence in the kitchen, because, I literally do add this stuff to just about everything I make; so, I figured that now would be a good time to reshare the recipe.

•32 oz (2 jars) hot sliced cherry peppers, drained
•1/2 cup juice from the peppers
•2 (11.3 oz) cans tamarind nectar*
•2 jalapeños, sliced
•3 cups water
01bsaucestartbzlo•2 cups white vinegar
•3-3/4 cups sugar
•4 tsp pickling salt
•1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
•2 tbsp hot sauce
•1-1/4 cup sherry
•1 (3 oz) pouch liquid pectin or 2 (1.75 oz) packages of dry pectin

*Check the Hispanic Foods section of your local market.

02bblendbzloNote: this sauce is always pretty terrific (and necessary, to my mind) but sometimes the pectin gives me a thicker sauce than others. I don’t fret it, but some web sites have suggested it is better to add the powdered pectin at the very beginning, but, if you’re using liquid pectin, bring everything else to a boil before adding it.

Combine all the ingredients (except the liquid pectin, if using) in a large non-reactive pot and bring to a roiling boil for three minutes.

sherrypeppersbzloReduce the heat, stir in the liquid pectin at this point if you’re using it, then simmer for 45 minutes, stirring every now and then.

Puree the mixture in the pot with an immersion blender, or transfer in stages to a blender and pulse until smooth.

Transfer to prepared canning jars and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

03bAddCheeseHerbsbzLORemove from the water and cool on a rack. The lids should “pop” meaning that the seal is good. Lightly press the center of each lid, once cooled, with your fingertip. If the lid stays down, your seal is good. If the lid pops up and down, you need to reprocess, or stash that jar in the fridge to use first.

I think it’s a function of the weather, but my yield varies from nine half pints or so to (my all-time biggest) 12 half pints.

What do I put it into?

Well, stuff like risotto and even plain rice, spaghetti sauce, soup, and, really, it is most excellent on chicken wings. Trust me, just make a batch and you’ll start adding it to just about everything you make, too.

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Cookie Dough Candy Bars

05acookiebarsbzloEvery so often, my husband comes across something on the interwebs that looks interesting. I know he’d like to bake them, but he really doesn’t have the time and, well, I do have this blog thingy, and I do like doing something nice for my very nice hubby, so…

He gets some pretty darned tasty cookie bars, I get a blog post, and our friends get to enjoy some of the leftovers.

‘Cause this is one seriously rich cookie bar.

02bsnickersbzloSeriously good, too, so thank you, nice folk at Betty Crocker, for sharing the recipe, and the cool tip to line the baking pan with heavy duty foil to make the cookie bars easy to pull out of the pan and cutting into neat little cookie squares.

02abutterbzloI should also note that, since it is from Betty Crocker and all, the cookie mix called for is thiers, but, I think it is kinda cool that they call out on the front of the package that their mixes contain no artificial flavors or stuff.

And besides, if you’re like me and misread your pantry, you’ve already made your own sweetened condensed milk, right?

•1 (1 lb 1.5 oz) bag chocolate chip cookie mix
•1/3 cup butter, softened*
•1 egg
02csnickerschopbzlo•1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
•1 cup finely chopped Snickers™ candy bars, about 8 fun-size
•1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp M&M’s™
•1/2 cup chopped pecans

*1/3 cup of butter equals 5-1/3 tablespoons. I used the remaining 2-2/3 tablespoons for the sweetened condensed milk and it worked a treat.

Heat your oven to 350º and line an eight inch square baking pan with heavy duty aluminum foil.

03baddmilkbzloPut the Snickers bars in the bowl of your food processor (a mini processor works great here) and pulse until nicely chopped.

Combine the cookie mix with the butter and egg in a mixing bowl until you have a soft dough. Shape the dough into a loaf, then cut 2/3 of the loaf off and press into the bottom of your foil lined baking pan.

Pop into the oven for 15 minutes.

03dcookiedoughbzloRemove the pan from the oven and pour the sweetened condensed milk over the partially baked cookie dough.

Top this with the Snickers, M&M’s, and pecans.

Take the remaining 1/3 of the cookie dough and crumble it over the top of the candy and nut layer.

04bcooledcutbzloSprinkle the remaining twp tablespoons of M&M’s over that (I may have used more M&M’s because, why wouldn’t I?), then return the pan to the oven for another 25 minutes or so, until the dough is cooked and the top a nice golden brown.

OK, here’s the bummer part of this recipe…

remove from the oven and allow to cool completely – the nice Betty Crocker folk said three hours (!)


It really was worth the wait, tho, and the foil made it a snap to lift the cookies out of the pan before cutting into squares with a mezzaluna – which is also wicked handy for slicing pizza.

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