Sausage Puff Pastries

Another week of football action meant that it was time to try some new game time snacks! I’d always wanted to try to make sausage wontons but when I went to the grocery store, there was not a wonton wrapper to be found. So I figured phyllo pastry cups would make a good substitute (plus make things a bit easier to put together).

Serve some crudités with a hummus dip on the side, and enjoy the game (or the party, or the afternoon – these are really good!)

2 boxes frozen phyllo mini-shells
1 pound spicy bulk Italian sausage
1 small green or red pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup ranch dressing

Preheat the over to 350 degrees. Cook the sausage (I added the pepper and onion right in there too) until no pink remains. Fold in 1 1/2 cups of the cheese and the ranch dressing, stirring until the cheese is melted.

Spoon the meat mixture into the cups, sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is melted and the filling is bubbly.

Are You Ready for Some Football (Food)?

Sorry, that was bad, but I couldn’t help it. We love this time of year – our favorite college teams play on Saturday, then all eyes turn to the NFL games to round out the weekend on Sunday. But what’s watching football without our favorite bites to enhance the day? Well, I don’t know and not sure I’d want to be watching that many games without some really great food! So I thought I’d kick off (ok, another bad pun) a post or two featuring our favorite football menus.

Call it charcuterie, call it small plates, in our house, this is perfect for a night kickoff because it’s flexible, adaptable, and gives everyone choices. And you don’t need to go wild preparing components – you can use what you have on hand. Yesterday, I grilled some smoked sausage (please don’t share it was turkey!), threw some frozen meatballs in the air fryer that had been tossed with BBQ sauce, and baked some prepared spanakopita triangles. Then of course, you need to have cheese! I like to include something with a bite (here an extra sharp Vermont cheddar), something milder (Swiss or Gouda always work), and something soft (this one was an Asiago spread we’d picked up on our adventures earlier in the day and was amazing!) Add your favorite crackers or baguette and enjoy!

But I will confess, I need something healthy on the side, so this cucumber, tomato salad fits the bill (and the small plates!)

Cut about a pound of cherry tomatoes in half (I love the brightness of having the different colors in the bowl) and toss with a pinch of salt, sugar and freshly ground pepper. Cut an English cucumber into thin slices and add to the bowl. Last step is to add half a red onion that’s been thinly sliced. Make the dressing in a mason jar by combining 1/2 cup Olive Oil, 1/2 cup red or white wine vinegar, 2 minced garlic cloves, freshly ground salt and pepper, 1 tsp sugar and 1 tsp dried oregano. Shake it all up to combine, then pour most of it on the veggies (I always save a bit in case I need it for serving). Mix in a little fresh parsley then let everything sit on the counter to marinade for a couple hours before serving.

Last but not least, we finished the weekend with sheet pan nachos. I always struggle with keeping these crispy, but a deep dive into Google today revealed the secret (strangely from the Cape Cod Times, not any cooking site). Preheat the oven to 375, spread the tortilla chips onto a baking sheet and cover the chips with about a cup and a half of cheese (I love a good Mexican blend). Bake for three minutes. Then they’re ready for topping. I always go with a meat (leftover chili, cooked chicken, ground beef or turkey cooked with taco seasoning), some salsa, and some diced jalapenos. Top with another half cup of so of cheese and return to the oven for 7 or 8 minutes till the cheese is melted. I top them with shredded lettuce, diced onion, and diced tomato (but choose your own adventure!). Serve with sour cream, guacamole, and/or pico de gallo.

That was a prefect menu to begin the first real weekend of football. What’s your go-to game day food? Whatever it is, I hope you enjoy it in the company of those you love and of course your favorite teams win!

Eat well my friends!

Pizza Dip

This is one of those recipes that when you make it for people once, you’ll be asked to make it all the time. It’s really simple to put together, but don’t let on to that!

8 ounces softened cream cheese
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 cups mozzarella cheese
1 cup cheddar cheese
1/2 cup pizza sauce
1/2 cup finely chopped green or red pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped onion

Combine cream cheese, Italian seasoning and garlic powder. Spread into the bottom of a greased 9 inch pie plate. Combine the shredded cheeses. Sprinkle half over the cream cheese layer. Top with sauce, pepper and onion. Top with remaining cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees until hot and bubbly (about 20 minutes).

Cool slightly (we’ve made the mistake of digging in too quickly after removing from the oven) and serve with tortilla chips or breadsticks for dipping.

Happy Fourth of July

It’s a bit challenging celebrating our independence this year but as I watched Hamilton this weekend, I was struck by these lyrics: “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…we fought for these ideals, we shouldn’t settle for less.” Personally, that gave me a bit of a reset.

So hopefully you all had a happy and safe weekend. And on the blog posts coming up, I’ll be sharing a few of my holiday favorites. Like the best baked beans, appetizers, and desserts. And they all work no matter the reason you’re celebrating!

Dilled Feta Ricotta Spread

I love quick appetizer/snack ideas. Especially ones that I feel a little healthier about instead of rummaging through the pantry for a bag of chips! This spread is easy to put together, can be made a few days in advance if you’re having a party, and works perfectly as a snack!

8 ounces of feta cheese (crumbled)
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup chopped scallions (whites and a bit of the green)
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts*
2 tsp dill
2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup finely chopped spinach

Mix the cheeses together then add in the scallion, spinach, and pine nuts until blended. Mix in the dill and lemon juice. That’s it. It’s that easy.

To serve, use toast points (I love pumpernickel toast squares), pita bread sliced into squares, or crackers.

* I discovered you can toast the pine nuts in the air fryer – just place them on foil to keep them from dropping into the bottom of the fryer and toast for about 5 minutes.

Beer Cheese Dip

I love an easy and wonderful appetizer that’s perfect for friends, game day, and honestly any time you want a decadent treat. And trust me when I tell you, this couldn’t be any easier! How easy? Three ingredient easy. Ready? Let’s do it!

OK, it wouldn’t be beer cheese dip without beer. This is the most important part: pick the right beer. In my area of the country, I’m partial to Hennepin from Brewery Ommegang. You want something that’s full body, will shine through with the cheeses, and (like cooking with wine) something you would drink if you had the opportunity to grab a glass.

Take one cup of beer and heat it to boiling (and enjoy the rest while you’re prepping), add in one 8 ounce block of cream cheese cut into cubes and stir until it’s melted into the beer. Add two cups of shredded cheddar, continuing to stir until everything is happily merged into one beautiful blend.

I know I said three ingredients, but if you want to kick things up a notch, add a couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce. But honestly, I think it’s perfect as it is!

Serve this amazing goodness with crostinis, soft pretzles, carrots… the choices are pretty much endless.

Have any left? Wait, that shouldn’t happen! You can spread any leftovers on crackers (because it will firm up once it sets) or it makes an amazing topping for baked potatoes.