Fresh Tomato Salsa

I made this salsa when I made the stovetop chicken fajitas. It was a fantastic condiment to serve with the fajitas and I was sad we had no salsa leftover. My husband is looking forward to me making it again and so am I. I’m not a jar salsa fan and would rather have something fresh and crisp to dip my tortilla chips in. It’s easy to put together and the longest part of the process is letting the tomatoes drain. Once that’s done, throw everything together and let sit for a few minutes so the flavors blend together. Enjoy!

Fresh Tomato Salsa:

  • 12 ounces tomatoes (about 2 medium) cored and chopped small
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion
  • 2 tbs minced fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 jalapeño chile, stemmed and seeded and minced finely (whole if you want it very hot)
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh lime juice, plus extra to taste
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • Sugar
  1. Toss the tomatoes and 1/2 tsp salt in a colander and let drain for 15 minutes.
  2. Transfer the drained tomatoes to a bowl and toss with the onion, cilantro, jalapeño, 1 1/2 tsp of the lime juice and garlic. Season with additional lime juice, salt, pepper and sugar to taste. let the salsa sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Source: America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook

Mediterranean Chopped Salad

As I sit here and watch the snow come down; I think about the summer and all the glorious fresh vegetables that come with it. Someday soon it’ll be summer and the fresh tomatoes will fill my house. Until then, I must find ways to make the icky winter tomatoes taste good. This salad is one of those ways. This recipe is not a throw together kinda salad. There are a few steps that must be done but it’s all worth it in the end. It’s very important to let the tomatoes and cucumbers sit for a good 15-30 minutes with a bit of salt. It helps drain the unnecessary liquid and gives it a great flavor. When I make this again, I will only add half a can of the chickpeas. I felt there were way too many and it sorta drowned out some of the other flavors. My husband on the other hand loved all the chick peas, so it’s up to you on what you want. Make this salad now while it’s bitter cold and snowy. It’ll make you smile knowing that summer is right around the corner. In the meantime, I might have to whip a batch of cinnamon rolls since the kids and I are stuck home.


Mediterranean Chopped Salad:

  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, stemmed and quartered
  • 1 cucumber (I used English and didn’t peel), peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbs red wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 (15oz) can chickpeas, rinsed (I’ll use half next time)
  • 1/3 cup kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1/4 cup  minced red onion
  • 1 romaine lettuce heart (about 6oz), cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 3oz)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian Parsley
  1. Toss the tomatoes, cucumber, and 1/2 tsp salt together in a colander and let drain for 15-30 minutes.
  2. Whisk the oil, vinegar and garlic together in a large bowl until well combined. Add the drained tomatoes and cucumber, chickpeas, olives, and onion and toss to combine. Let sit at room temperature until the flavors blend, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the lettuce, feta and parsley and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Source: America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook

Sausage, Bean, and Spinach Dip

We are in the middle of playoffs and soon the big game will be here. This dip would be perfect to serve at your next football party or any other party for that matter. When I first tasted it, I thought it was good. But as I continued to eating the dip got better and better. Everyone loved it and the only bad thing was that I didn’t  have enough corn chips to scoop up the dip. Do not make the mistake I did, make sure you buy 2 bags of the big corn chips scoops. Then you won’t have the grumbles coming from your family/friends like I did.

Aren’t those fingers so cute? Those are my baby girl’s.

Sausage, Bean, and Spinach Dip:

  • 1  sweet onion, diced
  • 1  red bell pepper, diced
  • 1  (1-lb.) package hot ground pork sausage
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1  teaspoon  chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2  cup  dry white wine
  • 1  (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1  (6-oz.) package fresh baby spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1  (15-oz.) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2  cup  (2 oz.) shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 bags corn chips or 1 bag Pretzel rods
  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Cook diced onion and next 2 ingredients in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring often, 8 to 10 minutes or until meat crumbles and is no longer pink. Drain. Stir in garlic and thyme; cook 1 minute. Stir in wine; cook 2 minutes or until liquid has almost completely evaporated.
  2. Add cream cheese, and cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes or until cream cheese is melted. Stir in spinach and salt, and cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes or until spinach is wilted. Gently stir in beans. Pour mixture into a 2-qt. baking dish; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  3. Bake at 375° for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with corn chip scoops and pretzel rods.

Source: January issue of Southern Living Magazine

Happy New Year…

Here are some party horns to get you started. I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year and I hope that 2011 brings everyone better things. What are some of your traditions for New Years? My husbands family traditional food is pork and sauerkraut. My families is black eye peas and collard greens. I love how we have a North and South thing going on in my house. Tomorrow I will be making a pork loin stuffed with hopping john stuffing (look for that this week). My mother-in-law will be making the pork and sauerkraut. I love that we are teaching my kids the different traditions from around the country. I’d love to hear what yours are.

Along with ringing in the New Year, I’ll be busy watching football. Our Penn State Nittany Lions will be taking on the Florida Gators in the Outback Bowl. That bowl brings back so many memories for me. Growing up in Florida and then meeting my husband, we have gone to many Outback Bowls to cheer on Penn State. I do miss Florida this time of year. But I’m in PA right now and will be watching it at home. But we won’t be alone, we will have family with us.

If you will be like me and will be watching football all weekend, I have some great recipes for you. I’m going to be trying some new ones along with some oldies. Here is a great list of things to make for either your New Years parties or Football parties.

This is a fabulous dip and I’ll be serving it tonight with our New Years get together. Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Baked Fontina is my new favorite.

Hot Corn Dip is a must for any football party

Football Sandwiches can be served as little sliders for New Years Eve parties or regular sandwiches for football watching. Either way, you will LOVE them.

We can’t forget about the sweet tooth. You could make these brownies without the white chocolate and candy canes. They would even be cute cut into football shapes.

What is better than good old fashioned chocolate chip cookies? These are amazing and you won’t make them any other way once you try them.

I have so many other great recipes that you would love. Take a look over on the right side of your screen and click on the categories to find more.

Again, I wish you all a Happy New Year!

Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Going to start off the week with one of my favorite dips, spinach and artichoke. We always end up ordering this when we go out to eat at a restaurant. The whole family enjoys it and it’s a fight for who will finish it off. Awhile back I decided I should try making this at home so we can enjoy it whenever we want. I finally found my go to recipe through Alton Brown. He is always spot-on with his recipes, but I did end up modifying this a little. The recipe is fast and easy, which I love. He had everything cooking on the stove and microwave, but I wanted to finish it off in the oven with melted cheese on top. That’s what took the dip to a whole new level. Serve this with tortilla chips or 1/2 inch sliced pieces of a French Baguette. You won’t miss your favorite restaurant dip again.

Hot Spinach and Artichoke Dip:

  • 1 cup thawed, chopped frozen spinach
  • 1 1/2 cups thawed, chopped frozen artichoke hearts
  • 6 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Boil spinach and artichokes in 1 cup of water until tender and drain. Discard liquid.
  3. Heat cream cheese in microwave for 1 minute or until hot and soft. Stir everything but the mozzarella together and place in a 9 inch pie plate. Sprinkle the mozzarella on top and bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown on top. Serve.

Source: Adapted from Alton Brow via Food Network

Goat and Cheddar Cheese Ball

Holidays are upon us and that means getting together with families and going to parties. One of the more popular things to serve at these gatherings are cheese balls. Instead of buying the processed kind at the store, make your own. It tastes better and doesn’t take long to make. This one combines some of my favorite cheeses, goat and sharp cheddar. You can use either the white or the orange cheddar, I used white. Make this at your next gathering, your guests or hosts will thank you.


Goat and Cheddar Cheese Ball:

  • 2 10oz blocks extra-sharp white Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 8oz package cream cheese, softened
  • 2 4oz goat cheese logs, softened
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  1. Stir together all ingredients. Shape mixture into a ball. You can then shape the ball into a pumpkin, if desired. Use your fingertips to make the vertical grooves of the pumpkin. To make the stem use a braided pretzel and flat leaf parsley works well for the leaves. Serve with crackers.

Source: Southern Living Magazine

Baked Fontina

I got the new Ina Garten “How Easy is That?” cookbook a couple weeks ago. When I saw this recipe I knew it would be perfect for the cheese party we were having with my sister-in-law and her husband. This would make a great appetizer for your Thanksgiving get together.

The next time I make this I might not add as much olive oil as the recipe calls for. We felt there was a bit too much. I will leave the recipe as is because some might be ok with that much oil. I used a shallow baking dish instead of a cast iron pan and it worked just fine. I don’t think there anything better than melted cheese and crusty bread to dip into it.

Baked Fontina:

  • 1 1/2 lbs Italian Fontina, rind removed and 1 inch diced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbs minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 crust French baguette
  1. Preheat broiler and position oven rack 5 inches from the heat.
  2. Distribute the cubes of Fontina evenly in a 12 inch cast iron pan or shallow baking dish. Drizzle on the olive oil.
  3. Combine the garlic, thyme, and rosemary and sprinkle it over the cheese and olive oil.
  4. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place the pan under the broiler for 6 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling and starts to turn brown.
  5. Serve with the crusty French baguette

Source: How Easy is That by Ina Garten