Let me see you say no to these perfect bites of spicy, melty, bacony heaven…
This quick and easy appetizer/hors d’oeuvre is perfect for holiday entertaining.
1/2 cup cream cheese
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
12 jalapeños, halved lengthwise, seeds and membranes removed
12 slices bacon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Mix cream cheese and cheddar cheese together in a bowl. Fill each jalapeño half with the cheese mixture. Put halves back together and wrap each stuffed pepper with a slice of bacon. Arrange bacon-wrapped peppers on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake in the preheated oven until bacon is crispy (about 15 minutes).
My sister has never been one to follow any directions closely. Including Bisquik pancakes and Betty Crocker brownies, she estimates accurately following recipes perhaps a dozen times . . . in her entire life.
Despite all that, she fearlessly took charge of Christmas Eve Dinner. And in so doing, she illustrated what I love most about my family: unconventional, unpretentious, and bucking any but the bits of tradition that truly hold value.
Her inspiration was this recipe, given to her by a coworker (a dietitian). The original garnishes the soup with pumpkin seeds, but true to form, she took a vegan recipe and topped it with ham. The seeds would have added texture and crunch, but the spicy sausage was undeniably awesome.
Split Pea & Sweet Potato Soup
4 1/2 cups water
4 cups chicken broth
1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
2 cups dried split peas
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 lb spicy sausage
salt & pepper, to taste
Bring 1/2 cup chicken broth to a simmer in a large saucepot over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook about 5 minutes or until translucent, adding more broth, butter, or olive oil as needed to keep from sticking to the pan. Stir in ginger and cook 1 minute, stirring. Add remaining broth and water, peas and sweet potato cubes, and additional seasonings. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.
Uncover and purée soup with a hand held immersion blender or in batches in a food processor until smooth. Taste for sea and garnish with pan-fried sausage cubes.
3 cloves garlic, or to taste (oh, go ahead and do the entire head, you will find a use for the extra)
1/2 stick butter, warmed to room temperature
Wrap cloves of garlic in aluminum foil and roast at ~350° for ~20 minutes. Unwrap, peal, and mash garlic cloves. Mix with softened butter.
In between cramming cardboard boxes full of my belongings, I made a big pot of chili and a double batch of pico de gallo the day before moving. After the long day that followed, I threw a housewarming party that featured a homemade meal. Hearty, satisfying, and personal, it was the perfect way to feed my the friends who volunteered to help and introduce myself to my new roommates. And it doesn’t get more PRACTICAL: easy to make, the flavor only improves after a night in the fridge, economical, vegetarian, gluten-free, and interactive (bowls of mix-ins like cheese, sour cream, and bacon pieces allow every palate to be satisfied). Another bit of gold: mix pico de gallo into some mashed avocado and presto, fresh guacamole.
My cousin and I broke out some entertaining show stoppers in honor of some lovely ladies visiting this past weekend. One of these amazing women was passing through on her way back home from Africa after spending a month volunteering with Mothers Without Borders. This organization provides safe shelter, food, and education to orphans, whose abandonment is predominantly due to the death of HIV-infected parents. Ultimate luxury (in this case, fresh peaches!) is most enjoyed in such loving company.
1 pint ginger ale (I suggest a good quality micro-brewed soda)
candied ginger for garnish
In a blender, puree the pitted peach, the juice of the lemon, a bit of finely chopped ginger and enough soda or water to make a syrup. Chill and just before serving, pour into cocktail glasses garnished with a piece of candied ginger. Alternately, muddle peach slices and lemon juice in a tall glass (with whiskey if you are feeling boozy!). Fill the glass to the top with ice then with ginger ale.
Other fabulous combos I HIGHLY recommend are:
No Fuss Classy Cheese Plate
1 wedge high quality blue cheese
1 dozen ripe fresh figs, halved