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Bacon Wrapped Maple Brussels Sprouts

This is one of the recipes I made for the 2016 Holiday Appetizer Pot-Luck and it is a winner any time of year. It only has four ingredients and can be made well in advance, then thrown in the oven at the last-minute.

I’d love to be able to tell you that these are just as good reheated the next day, but I’ve never had even one left any time I’ve made them to test that theory.

Of course, in my opinion, anything wrapped in bacon is the perfect appetizer for any occasion!

Bacon Wrapped Maple Brussels Sprouts

  • 15 Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed
  • 15 pieces bacon (regular cut, not thick cut)
  • 5 tablespoons maple syrup, divided
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a small pot of water to a simmer. Add the sprouts and cook for 8 minutes. Drain and set aside. Cut in half through then stem end when they are cool enough to handle.

Fry bacon, in batches, in a large skillet until it is just beginning to brown but still pliable. Drain on paper towels.

What you’re looking for here is the exact opposite of what you ever what to have served at breakfast – you’re looking for limp bacon.

Place the Brussels sprouts to the same skillet, in the bacon drippings, that you cooked the bacon in, add 2 tablespoons of the maple syrup and sauté for 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels.

Cut each slice of bacon in half crosswise and then wrap each sprout half with a half piece of bacon. Secure with a toothpick. At this point the wrapped sprouts may be either cooked or covered and refrigerated for up to 12 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place sprouts on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes or until bacon is crisp.

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January 13, 2017   No Comments

Peggy’s Greek Quesadillas

This fun spin on quesadillas is what Peggy chose to make for the Holiday Appetizer Pot-Luck. They were a big hit!

Greek Quesadillas with Tzatziki Sauce

Tzatziki Sauce

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 English cucumber, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Quesadillas

  • 8 flour tortillas (8-inch)
  • 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1/2 cup julienned sun dried tomatoes in olive oil, drained
  • 1/2 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill, plus more for garnish

Tzatziki Sauce: Combine Greek yogurt, cucumber, garlic, dill, lemon juice, lemon zest and mint in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Drizzle with olive oil. Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld.

Quesadillas: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil.

Top a tortilla with spinach, sun dried tomatoes, olives and cheeses, and then top with another tortilla. Repeat with remaining tortillas to make 4 quesadillas.

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January 11, 2017   1 Comment

Michelle’s Antipasto Skewers

The first appetizer from the 2016 Holiday Appetizer Pot-Luck was made by my cousin (and friend!) Michelle. They are super easy and colorful little skewers.

As you know, most of the recipes from the party are ones I found online and sent out to the guest to choose from. If you would like to see the original post for this recipe, with many more photos, go HERE.

Antipasto Skewers

  • Bamboo skewers
  • 24 mini fresh mozzarella balls
  • 24 small basil leaves
  • 12 slices of salami, cut in half
  • 1/2 pound fresh tortellini, cooked
  • 1 jar roasted red peppers, sliced
  • 1 jar artichoke hearts
  • 24 olives

Using bamboo skewers layer your ingredients in the order shown, starting with the mozzarella balls and ending with the olives.

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January 9, 2017   2 Comments

Holiday Appetizer Pot-Luck 2016

On Christmas Eve eve, December 23rd, I hosted my annual Holiday Appetizer Pot-Luck party. It’s a great format for a fun stress-free holiday party. To find out exactly how it works, go to This Post from the 2015 party and get all the “How To” details.

In the days to follow, I’ll post the recipe for each. As an added bonus – at the end of today’s post you’ll find my signature cocktail for the evening.

Here is a rundown of the dishes made and brought by the guests … with a few contributed by me.

Antipasto Skewers

Greek Quesadillas

Bacon Wrapped Maple Brussels Sprouts

Smoked Salmon-Cucumber Bites

Spicy Chicken Cheeseballs

Caesar Dip and Crudités

Bacon Crack

Shrimp Scampi Dip

Holiday Brie en Croute

I’m calling my signature cocktail “winter berry” but in all honesty, these are summer berries. Oh well, summer or winter, it’s a keeper!

Winter Berry-Rosemary Cocktail

  • 1 pint fresh raspberries
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries
  • 1 pint fresh blackberries
  • 1 cup fresh small rosemary sprigs
  • 6 limes, cut into wedges
  • 3 cups simple syrup *
  • 4 cup vodka
  • Juice of 8 more large limes
  • Ginger ale, chilled
  • Garnish
  • 16 small fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 8 lime slices, cut in half
  • Reserved berries

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January 6, 2017   2 Comments

Merry Christmas

Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas…

… From our home …

… to yours.

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December 25, 2016   2 Comments

a cheat for one of my favorites

One of my favorite recipes on this site is courtesy of Chef Robert McGrath. Robert’s Green Chile Macaroni is the most delicious mac and cheese I’ve ever had.

With the hustle and bustle of Christmas, car issues, computer issues and life in general, the very last thing I want to do is cook dinner. After picking my car up from the shop yesterday, during rush hour, the only option to get back into traffic was to make a detour past Costco. I decided to go in and brave the insanity since I needed a couple of last minute gift cards anyway.

I decided to pick up a package of the prepared macaroni and cheese. In general, I like Costco’s prepared food, but the mac and cheese isn’t all that special. The only reason I chose it was because I knew I had two poblano peppers and a partial bag of frozen corn at home.

From the moment it hit my cart and all the way home, all I could think about was jazzing up this prepackaged mac and cheese.

It was delicious! Not as delicious of Robert’s version, but pretty darn fabulous for a cheat!

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December 21, 2016   5 Comments

skillet meal

I found a version of this “dump, sauté & bake skillet dinner” on Pinterest and decided to make my own take on it using “everything Trader Joe’s.”

Of course, you can spin it any way you want whether you have a Trader Joe’s in your neighborhood or not.

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December 20, 2016   2 Comments

gingerbread houses

pretty-houses

I made these pretty little gingerbread house bundt cakes for our family Christmas party last weekend. I found the Bundt cake pans at Home Goods and for once, the cakes came out clean as a whistle.

burnt-mess

I did have an issue with the larger cake overflowing all over the bottom of my oven and my house smelling like a forest fire for a couple of days, but you can’t win them all!

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December 19, 2016   1 Comment

Holiday Moscow Mules

hostesses-with-moscow-mules

This is the cocktail that, Cay, the hostess of the gourmet group that I am now a member of, served for the December gathering at her gorgeous home. Co-host, Susie is on the left and Cay is on the right, as we toast ourselves for a job well-done. To be honest, this selfie was taken before the party began, but once we had cocktails in-hand, we knew it would be a success!

mule-setup

Pomegranate Moscow Mules

Candied Mint Leaves

  • Water
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

Mule

  • Crushed ice
  • 1 ½ cups ginger beer
  • 2/3 cup pomegranate juice
  • 4 ounces vodka
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Garnish

  • Fresh pomegranate arils
  • Candied Mint Leaves

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December 15, 2016   2 Comments

Easy Christmas Treats: Part 2

before-the-storm-copy

I was invited to the December gathering of a gourmet group that I had once been the cooking instructor for. When I initially received the call, I assumed I was going to be asked to lead the group in a cooking class again, but instead I was invited to be the group’s newest member. Fun!

chocolate-covered

The hostess had originally asked someone to lead the group in the making of holiday treats, but the woman backed out, so I became a co-hostess and we made the Oreo Truffles from yesterday’s post and this sweet treat.

We’ve all see these pretty candied pretzel rods around during the holidays. They are a snap to make and serve at parties or give as gifts.

the-mess

I will admit that having a group of nine fun and rowdy women making them at the same time was a bit of a mess, but a very fun mess. Especially because there were holiday Moscow Mules involved! You’ll find the recipe for those in tomorrow’s post.

These keep really well, so you can make them a week or so ahead for holiday gift giving!

yuck

One important note – depending on the brand and flavor of melts, the coating may need to set up some before heavier decorations and candies are sprinkled on. As you can see from the photo above, we learned the hard way.

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December 14, 2016   No Comments