Fondue!

My mom and I decided to make fondue for dinner one night while I was visiting for Thanksgiving. I hadn’t made it in years so I sounded like fun. It’s so easy and a fun for a casual dinner or cocktail party.

Fondue

Ingredients:

3 cups shredded Swiss cheese (12 oz)

3 cups shredded Gruyère cheese (12 oz)

4 tsp cornstarch

1 clove garlic, minced

1 3/4 cups dry white wine

1 TBSP Kirsch or Sherry

1/8 tsp ground black pepper

1/8 tsp nutmeg

Dippers:

Crusty baguette, cubed or torn

Sliced apples

Blanched broccoli and/or cauliflower

Grape tomatoes

Directions:

  1. Shred cheeses. Place in a large bowl and mix with cornstarch to coat.
  2. In a large saucepan heat wine until just simmering. Reduce heat to low.
  3. Begin adding cheese slowly, allowing to melt before adding more. Stir until mixture is completely melted and bubbly.
  4. Add Kirsch or Sherry if using, pepper and nutmeg.
  5. Transfer to fondue pot with low heat. Serve with dippers.

 

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Mexican Cabbage Salad

mexican cabbage salad

I’m calling this dish Mexican cabbage Salad because I don’t know what the real name is (if there is one). When Paul and I lived in the San Joaquin Valley of California (in the center of the state, away from the coast) the Mexican restaurants there would serve this type of dish. It’s normally served in a little bowl in addition to the salsa for dipping with chips. We never see it here on the Central Coast. We did a little experimenting and came up with a mixture that comes pretty close.

This cabbage mix is great as a dip for chips, a topping on carne asada tacos, or filling in burritos. It’s best to allow the mixture to chill at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the full flavor to develop.

Ingredients

1 small cabbage, finely chopped or grated

1-2 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced

1-2 jalapenos, finely chopped

1/4 cup lime juice

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp salt

Directions

  1. Chop or grate cabbage (I like to use the food processor with the grater blade) into fine pieces.
  2. Add chopped tomato, jalapeno, lime juice, salt and pepper.
  3. Mix well to combine and allow to chill 30 minutes before serving. Leftovers will keep a short time (1-2 days) in the refrigerator.

Broiled Tomatoes With Basil & Mozzarella (No-Bread Bruschetta)

broiled tomatoes with basil & mozzarella

I love the flavor combination of tomato, basil and mozzarella. It’s a classic for a reason! When I needed a quick no-carb lunch last week I turned this classic combo into a five-minute treat. It really satisfied that craving for bruschetta without any bread!

Ingredients:

1 large ripe tomato, stem and core removed, sliced  1/4 ” thick

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1-2 TBSP fresh basil herb paste (found in the produce section of the market)

Directions:

  1. Wash, stem, core and slice tomato. Place on non-reactive cookie sheet
    or dish.
  2. In a small bowl combine cheese with basil paste.
  3. Spread evenly over tomatoes.
  4. Place under broiler for 2-3 minutes, until cheese is lightly browned.
  5. Serve immediately.

This makes a great quick lunch or a nice side dish on a hot summer night since the broiler won’t heat up the house. For extra pizzaz try adding a little salt and pepper to the tomatoes or drizzle with olive oil before broiling.

Spicy Picked Carrots & Peppers

spicy pickled carrots

This is a recipe for my husband. He was craving spicy carrots so we found a recipe and made them together. Personally, I am a wimp when it comes to spicy foods, so I never would have made this without his suggestion.

Ingredients:

2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced

2 TBSP vegetable oil

5 cloves garlic, diced

2 cups white vinegar

2 cups water

6 bay leaves

1 tsp. salt

12 whole peppercorns

8-12 oz jarred sliced jalapeño peppers (the more, the hotter your end result)

Directions:

  1. Peel carrots and slice into stick or cut on bias into 1/4 inch pieces.
  2. Heat oil in a large (10-12″) skillet on medium heat.
  3. Add garlic and carrots. Saute for 2 minutes.
  4. Add vinegar, peppercorns, salt, bay leaves. Bring to a simmer for 2 minutes.
  5. Add water and jalapeños (with liquid from jar). Return to a simmer and cook 5 minutes.
  6. Remove bay leaves.
  7. Place in air-tight container including liquid and refrigerate overnight.
  8. To serve remove carrot and jalapeño pieces with a slotted spoon.

Makes 2 quarts of carrots and liquid.

This recipe is adapted from About.com’s Mexican Food Section

Guacamole

chip and guacamole

Avocados are in season in California from June through October. Now is a great time to mix up a batch of guacamole!

I prefer Hass variety avocados over the green-skinned kind. Hass are the smaller, dark green fruit with bumpy skin that turns black when ripe. Hass have a higher oil content making them creamier and richer than other varieties.

 

Green-skin (Zutano variety) on the left, Hass on the right

 

For this batch of guacamole I’m using both because that’s what I was given. Hey, never turn down free avocados!

INGREDIENTS:

For a party-size batch of guacamole:

5-6 avocados, pit and peel removed

1-2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced

2 TBSP minced onion

2 cloves minced garlic

2 TBSP lemon or lime juice

1 TBSP chopped fresh cilantro

Salt & Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Smash avocados mix in lemon or lime juice
  2. Add remaining ingredients.
  3. Serve immediately or chill with plastic wrap pressed to surface of guacamole up to 2 hours.

Alternate Prep (QUICK & EASY)

3 ripe avocados, pit and peel removed

2 TBSP prepared salsa

Mash the avocados and mix in salsa for instant guacamole!

Restaurant Style Salsa

smooth homemade salsaThis is my new favorite thing to make! I love the smooth, spicy salsa that’s served in most Mexican restaurants in our area. It’s a lot different from the jarred salsa that lines the grocery store shelves.

Most of this recipe is pantry staples, so it’s easy to throw this together – just need a little fresh cilantro. I would call the heat  “medium to hot” based on using the original Rotel. Try the mild Rotel for less heat, or if you like it extra spicy add some fresh jalapeno. Here is the recipe, adapted from Mountain Mama Cooks.

1 can RO*TEL Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies

1 can diced tomatoes

1/2 cup diced yellow onion

1/4 cup fresh cilantro

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tsp of sugar or honey

2 TBSP lime juice (fresh preferred)

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cumin

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth.  Taste and adjust spices if needed. That’s it. You should try this, it’s so good! And for a special treat, make some fresh oven-baked tortilla chips to go with it.

Broccoli Salad Snacks

Broccoli Salad Snack appetizerMy husband got home from a business trip tonight so I decided to make his favorite thing for dinner – appetizers! Along with salami, cheese, crackers, carrots and dip, I made these tasty broccoli salad squares. They are one of his favorite things I make.

This recipe is based on a recipe I got from Pampered Chef about 15 years ago. I haven’t been able to find that slip of paper for a while, but luckily there’s not much to it so I just wing it!

Ingredients

2 crowns of broccoli, chopped

2-3 TBSP chopped red onion

1/4 cup roasted sunflower seeds

1/4 cup golden raisins

1/4 cup real bacon bits

1/2 cup mayonnaise

3 TBSP apple cider vinegar

1 TBSP sugar

1 can refrigerated crescent rolls

Directions:

  1. Roll out the crescent dough in a sheet (don’t break up into triangles) onto a rectangular baking stone
    or cookie sheet. Bake according to package directions, checking for it to reach a nice golden brown color. Allow to cool completely.
  2. While dough is baking, chop broccoli and onion. In a small bowl mix mayo, vinegar and sugar until smooth.
  3. Spread mayo dressing onto the bread. Sprinkle with broccoli, onion, bacon, raisins and sunflower seeds.
  4. Cut into squares with a pizza cutter or knife.

This makes an excellent dish to bring as an appetizer for potlucks.  I like to make a batch and just split it between the two of us for dinner! The kids turned up their noses at it. That’s OK, more for us!