Recipe—Bacon Jalapeño Poppers Wrapped in Puff Pastry

Bacon Jalapeño Poppers Wrapped in Puff Pastry

Any recipe that has bacon, cheese, and jalapeños is a home run in my book. Wrap that up in a flaky delicate layer of puff pastry and it is a grand slam baby! These look like they would be heavy because they are good sized but the puff pastry is actually really light. These are the perfect appetizers for any occasion. The puff pastry takes what is an average appetizer and glamorizes them. Delicate enough for girl’s night in or macho enough for a guy’s night of watching sports. Either way, everyone will love them!

Bacon Jalapeño Poppers Wrapped in Puff Pastry

INGREDIENTS
9 jalapeños, halved lengthwise, deseeded, and deveined
1 package puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed
8 oz cream cheese softened
1/2 c bacon, cooked and chopped
1 c cheddar cheese, shredded
2 tsp garlic, minced
salt and pepper
1 egg
1 tbsp water

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 400º.
  • In a medium-mixing bowl combine the cream cheese, bacon, cheddar cheese, garlic, and some salt and pepper.
  • Stuff each pepper half with a heaping mound of the cheese filling and set aside.
  • Unfold the thawed puff pastry and cut each sheet into 9 squares.
  • Wrap each stuffed pepper in one of the pastry squares and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet as you finish them, making sure they are about an inch apart.
  • Whisk together the egg and water and brush the egg wash over the top of each popper.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until the poppers are golden brown on top.
  • Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe adapted from Reclaiming Your Castle.

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Recipe—Italian Pasta Salad

Italian Pasta Salad

My husband and I grew up in a very small town so on the weekends it was not out of the norm for us to drive an hour to go to the closest mall or to go find some entertainment outside of town. On our way back home we frequently passed this wonderful little Italian deli. They had the BEST sandwiches and side salads. One of the side salads, which my husband absolutely loved, was their Italian pasta salad. I did my best to recreate this salad just for him. This makes a party sized batch, so if you are just making it for the family I recommend halving it. This is a perfect salad for a bbq or potluck and is sure to be a hit with all partygoers.

Note: This pasta salad will last approximately 4 days in the fridge. It gets better each and every day as the Italian dressing soaks into the pasta and veggies.

INGREDIENTS
1 lb rotini noodles
2 tbsp salt
1 1/2 c Newman’s Family Recipe Italian dressing
2 tsp garlic, minced
1/2 c red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 c red onion, chopped
1/2 c celery, sliced
2-6 oz jars artichoke hearts. drained
1 1/2 c cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 c mozzarella cheese, cut into squares
2.25 oz can black olives, sliced
salt and pepper

STEPS

  • Bring a large pot of water and the 2 tbsp of salt to a boil.
  • Add noodles and cook per package instructions.
  • Drain the cooked pasta and rinse with cold water.
  • Transfer the cooked pasta to a large bow.
  • Add the Italian dressing, garlic, red bell pepper, red onion, celery, artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, and olives.
  • Stir to combine.
  • Season with additional salt and pepper if desired.
  • Refrigerate the pasta for 3 or more hours.  The longer the better.
  • Stir well before serving.

Recipe—Patty Melt

Patty Melt

Whenever I am getting ready to go on my bi-annual cleanse I allow myself one binge day and of course that includes my “last meal.” (It’s not really a last meal per say, but my last “bad” meal for 11 days.) This round I knew I needed something completely indulgent. I decided on one of my favorite types of burgers, a classic patty melt. A juicy ground beef patty smothered in cheddar and Swiss cheeses, some caramelized onions, and of course some 1000 island dressing. Heaven between two toasted slices of buttered sourdough toast. Go big or go home right? Well if you are looking for one of the best burger recipes ever give this a try. It is totally basic and completely wonderful!

INGREDIENTS
1 lb ground beef
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper
4 tbsp butter, divided
1 large yellow onion thinly sliced
4 slices cheddar cheese
4 slices Swiss cheese
8 slices sourdough bread
1000 island dressing

STEPS

  • Mix together the ground beef, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper.
  • Form the meet into four thin patties.
  • Melt two tablespoons of the butter in a skillet over medium high heat.
  • Add the sliced onions and cook stirring frequently until they are a nice golden brown color, about 15 minutes.
  • While the onions are cooking heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the patties.
  • Cook the patties for 5 minutes and then flip over.
  • Add a slice of Swiss and a slice of cheddar to each patty.
  • Continue cooking the burgers for another 5 minutes or until cooked through.
  • Toast the slices of sourdough bread and spread one side of each slice with butter.
  • Spread the opposite side of each slice with a generous amount of 1000 island and keep them dressing side up.
  • Place a heap of the caramelized onions on 4 slices of the bread.
  • Add the cooked patty to the piles of onions and place the remaining slices of bread on top, dressing side down.
  • Binge!

Recipe—Individual Blueberry Cheesecakes

Individual Blueberry Cheesecakes

Last weekend we went to another summer BBQ. This one was about two hours away and would be a long windy drive. I needed a dessert that would transport well. Pies seem to always end up squished and most of my Pyrex dishes wont fit in my ice chest. I have seen individual desserts in mason jars trending on Pinterest and I thought to myself, “I bet something like that would transport wonderfully.” And they did! Now what to put in them? Hmm…

If you have been following my blog for a while now then you may know that I love my cheesecake. I am not picky about my desserts but if it has the word “cheesecake” in the name I will lack all self control. So I knew I wanted some sort of cheesecake in a jar. (I know, pretty self-serving right?) Blueberries were on sale at the grocery store and so my decision was made. I would be taking individual blueberry cheesecakes in mason jars. They made a great presentation, were out of this world good, could not have been easier to serve, and they were fun to eat. In other words, they were amazing!

Note: I was able to fill six 8 ounce mason jars. You can get also get 4 ounce jars for smaller servings.

BLUEBERRY FILLING INGREDIENTS
2 tbsp butter
4 c blueberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 c sugar
1/2 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp cornstarch
4 tbsp water

CHEESECAKE INGREDIENTS
1 c graham cracker crumbs
1/3 c butter, melted
1 1/4 c sugar, divided
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/3 c milk
8 oz tub of Cool Whip
mason jars (see note above regarding sizes)

BLUEBERRY FILLING STEPS

  • Melt the 2 tbsp of butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add in the blueberries, sugar, and lemon juice.
  • Whisk together the cornstarch and water in a small bowl and pour into the pot.
  • Lightly mash the blueberries with a hand held masher making sure to leave about half of the berries in tact.
  • Bring the blueberry filling to a boil and then reduce the heat to low.
  • Cook the filling for 6–8 minutes stirring frequently.
  • Remove from heat.

CHEESECAKE STEPS

  • While the blueberry filling is cooling, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and 1/4 c of the sugar.
  • Distribute the graham cracker crumb mixture into the bottom of each jar saving a couple of spoonfuls for garnish.
  • Using a hand held mixer, beat together the cream cheese and remaining cup of sugar until well combined. Gradually add in the milk until it is nice and creamy.
  • Distribute the cream cheese filling among the jars. (I transferred my filling into a Ziploc bag, cut of the corner, and piped it into each jar.)
  • Add a layer of the blueberry filling to each jar.
  • Fill the rest of the jar with Cool Whip and sprinkle with remaining graham cracker crumbs.
  • Add lids if you will be transporting your dessert.
  • Chill for at least one hour before serving.
  • Enjoy!

Recipe—Crunchy Pea Salad

Crunchy Pea Salad

Whenever you go to a BBQ there is typically the classic macaroni and potato salad. Don’t get me wrong I LOVE both of those dishes but with back-to-back BBQs throughout the summer I sometimes am looking for a way to mix things up a bit. This pea salad was a welcome addition to a BBQ I went to last weekend. It was very refreshing and light. There is a nice sweet flavor to this salad similar to a coleslaw. If you are looking for a tasty summer salad for lunch or dinner give this a try. You can have the whole thing thrown together in 5 minutes. You will find the hard part is just waiting for it to chill. The unique combination of flavors go together incredibly well. This is one of those salads that you may not quite be sure of, but once you give it a try you and your guests will keep going back for more of it.

Note: I made this a day ahead of time and it was awesome! Feel free to make it a day in advance if you need to.

INGREDIENTS
12 oz bag frozen sweet peas, thawed
1 c peanuts
1/4 c green onions, chopped
1 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 c craisins
1/2 c mayonnaise
1 1/2 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper

STEPS

  • In a large mixing bowl combine sweet peas, peanuts, green onions, bacon pieces, and craisins.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper.
  • Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients and toss to combine.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

Recipe adapted from Sugar n’ Spice Gals.

Recipe—Cracked Corn and Cheese Cornbread Muffins

Cracked Corn and Cheese Cornbread Muffins

I am not one to just make something out of the box without tinkering with it. I’m sort of like a dog, I want to make my mark, make it my own. I love the convenience of those little boxes of the Jiffy corn muffin mix but it’s fun to add a little pizzazz. This recipe takes a plain old-fashioned corn muffin and gives it a little extra oomph. I add some corn kernels, pepper jack cheese, and a handful of green onions. This gives them a nice texture with the bits of corn, a nice little bite, and the cheese is like a gooey surprise in the middle. The kids will flip over these!

Note: If you are concerned about the spice of pepper jack cheese just use regular jack. 

INGREDIENTS
8.5 oz package of Jiffy corn muffin mix
1/2 c pepper jack cheese cut into 1/4” cubes
1/2 c corn (frozen or canned will work)
2 green onions, chopped

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 400º.
  • Prepare corn muffin mix per package instructions.
  • Stir in cheese, corn, and green onions.
  • Prepare muffin pan with liner cups and evenly distribute the muffin mix in each cup filling up about 2/3 of the way.
  • Bake for 18–20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool for a couple of minutes before serving.

Love this idea for corn muffins? Then perhaps you will like these!

Jalapeño Cheddar Corn Bread Muffins

Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread Muffins

Recipe—Creamy Chicken Enchilada Roll Ups

Creamy Chicken Enchilada Rollups

This is actually a recipe adapted from one my mother-in-law made back around the holidays. They seemed like such a great idea and were absolutely delicious. She brought her Mexican inspired wraps over all rolled up in Saran wrap and then just sliced them when she got to our house. They traveled great! When she put them out I could not stop eating them. They were so yummy! So when I was invited to a summer pool party a couple weeks back I knew these would be a hit! Me being the tinkerer I am I had to put my own twist on them. I added in the chicken, olives, and cilantro to help bulk up the filling. They were wonderful additions. If you have any parties coming up definitely keep these in mind. They are relatively easy to assemble and are the perfect finger food for a party of any kind.

Note: You can use a couple of tablespoons of my homemade taco seasoning or just part of an envelope of taco seasoning you would pick up at the store. If you like a little heat add in a chopped jalapeño.

INGREDIENTS
2-8 ox packages cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 c shredded Mexican cheese blend
1 tsp garlic, minced
2 tbsp taco seasoning
10 oz can Rotel tomatoes and chilies, drained
rotisserie chicken, skinned and chopped
1/2 c cilantro, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
4.25 oz chopped black olives
1 package burrito sized tortillas

STEPS

  • Using an electric mixer beat together cream cheese, shredded cheese, garlic, and taco seasoning until well blended.
  • Fold in the canned tomatoes, chicken, cilantro, green onions, and chopped olives.
  • Lay a tortilla out flat and place a heaping spoonful of the creamy mixture in the center.
  • Use a rubber spatula and spread an even layer of the filling out to the edges of the tortilla.
  • Roll up the tortilla and as you finish each place on a cutting board or plate.
  • Continue until the filling is gone.
  • Place the rolls in the freezer for 30–45 minutes allowing them to firm up. (I do this step so that when I slice them they keep their round shape.)
  • Slice the rolls into 1 inch thick pieces and arrange on a plate.
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Recipe—Orzo Pesto Pasta

Orzo Pesto Pasta

In my office we all have a habit of bringing in various treats to share with each other throughout the year. (I know rough environment to be working in right?) Several years back we had an awesome (student assistant named Sarah. One day Sarah brought in this incredible orzo pesto pasta salad. I was in love! (With both Sarah and her pasta. Sarah was awesome.) She made her own pesto from scratch and I will not lie, I was impressed. This is the perfect summer salad. You have the seasonally fresh tomatoes and zucchini mixed with tangy vinegar and pesto giving it a wonderfully light and refreshing flavor. I make it several times of year and whenever I am generous enough to share with my friends I am asked for the recipe. It is definitely a favorite in our household. My son was even eating it by the bowlful when he was 1 1/2 years old. If you are looking for a tasty recipe for any summer cookouts or BBQs then search no further. This is perfect. While that little box of orzo may not look like much, it expands a great deal so this makes a very decent sized bowl of the tasty pasta salad.

Note: I save a couple of tablespoons of the feta and pine nuts to garnish the top of the salad with.

INGREDIENTS
1 lb box of orzo pasta, uncooked
1 tbsp olive oil
2 medium zucchini, cut into quarters lengthwise and then sliced
salt and pepper
4 oz feta cheese crumbles (see above note)
2 c pesto (make your own or get some from the market to save time)
3/4 c white vinegar
2 c cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 c pine nuts

STEPS

  • Cook orzo pasta per package instructions.
  • While the orzo is cooking, heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium high heat.
  • Add zucchini and season with salt and pepper.
  • Cook the zucchini for 3–4 minutes just slightly cooking it and then remove from heat.
  • Drain the orzo and place in a large mixing bowl.
  • Add the feta and pesto stirring to combine.
  • Drizzle the vinegar while stirring.
  • Stir in the cooked zucchini, tomatoes, and pine nuts.
  • Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with extra feta and pine nuts if you saved any.
  • Refrigerate for at least 2–3 hours before serving.

Recipe—Summertime White Sangria

Summertime White Sangria

So I have this incredible friend named Brandy. We have many things in common. One of which is our fabulous taste in refreshing adult beverages. A few weeks back I was at her home for a summer birthday party, and she made this white wine sangria. It was incredible! I would define it as being the perfect summer drink. I have had red sangria before but found it to be a bit heavy for a warm summer day. (I’m more of a white wine gal anyways.) This could not be further from the traditional sangria. It is light and super refreshing. I decided to make Brandy’s recipe for 4th of July for my aunt who says she doesn’t like sangria. (She had a bad experience.) Well guess what, my aunt could not get enough. Who am I kidding? No one could get enough! We had the pitcher wiped out within an hour. It could have been the 100º+ day that had us drinking glasses hand over fist, but either way every drop was enjoyed. This is the perfect drink for a summer party or just a lazy day by the pool. And don’t forget to eat the fruit. That is one of the best parts! Gotta get in your vitamins.

Note: For the white wine I used Pomelo’s sauvignon blanc (one of my favorite summer wines). It has a nice refreshing grapefruit flavor. Anything with citrus notes will give you wonderful results. I recommend using a pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc. I actually bought two bottles and made ice cubes with one of them. This way rather than get watered down as the ice melted, the sangria just got better. 😉

INGREDIENTS
750 ml bottle of sweet white wine (see above note)
2/3 c peach schnapps
1 peach, sliced
1 mango, sliced
1 orange, sliced
1 lime, sliced
1 1/2 c raspberries
2 c ginger ale

STEPS

  • In a large pitcher combine together the wine, peach schnapps, and all the fruit.
  • Place the pitcher in the fridge and allow it to set overnight. (This step is not necessarily but it is highly recommended. Sitting overnight will allow the fruit to soak up some of the boozy goodness and allow the fruit flavors to infuse into the wine.)
  • Add the ginger ale to the pitcher right before serving.
  • Top off the pitcher with ice.
  • Pour. Relax. Enjoy.

Recipe—Summer Squash with Cheese Tortellini in a Lemon Garlic Cream Sauce

Summer Squash with Cheese Tortellini in a Lemon Garlic Cream Sauce

Many pasta dishes have a certain heaviness to them, which makes them great comfort foods for fall and winter. This is a pasta dish that defies that logic. The lemon zest and fresh summer squash gives this dish a wonderful light and refreshing quality that will have your taste buds tingling all summer long. The sauce is what I would call a grownup version of alfredo sauce. It has that wonderful creamy quality but with more flavor. This recipe is great for many other reasons. It is incredibly cheap to make, it’s super easy, it’s delicious, and it took me under 15 minutes from start to completion, making it the perfect dinner for a busy night.

Note: You can also substitute ravioli for the tortellini.

INGREDIENTS
16–18 oz cheese tortellini (fresh or frozen)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
2 tsp garlic, minced
3 summer squash (zucchini and/or yellow squash), thinly sliced
salt and pepper
1 1/2 c heavy cream
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/2 c grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp green onions or chives, chopped

STEPS

  • Cook the pasta per package instructions.
  • While the pasta water is coming to a boil, heat the olive oil in a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add the shallot s and garlic and cook for 3–4 minutes.
  • Add the squash and season with salt and pepper.
  • Cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 4–5 minutes.
  • Add the cream and lemon zest and cook until the cream begins to simmer and thicken.
  • Add in the grated parmesan and stir to combine.
  • Drain the pasta.
  • Once the sauce is the desired thickness, add the cooked tortellini to the pan.
  • Transfer to serving dishes and top with extra parmesan and a sprinkling of the green onions.

Recipe adapted from Real Simple.