Grilled Veggie Kabobs

IMG_0355Summer is finally here!!! And with it comes grilling! We love to grill and have friends over for cook outs, especially at the pool. Some of our favorite things to grill are burgers, chicken wings, chicken thighs, steaks and of course these veggie kabobs! Stay tuned for the next recipe on the best steak marinade ever! I got the recipe for these veggie kabobs from my friend Irina, who is an awesome cook and always gives me amazing recipes and idea’s. These grilled veggie kabobs are great to pair with grilled steak. Super easy to prepare and of course absolutely delicious! You can get the ingredients anywhere, but I found all these fresh and yummy veggies at Aldi! Buying the packs of veggies in Aldi like I did, will give you enough to make this great recipe twice (you will only need to add 1onion, 1 pack mushrooms, 1 eggplant to make it the second time) and it will save you money. I promise you, these grilled veggie kabobs will be your new favorite thing to grill with meats this summer so give them a try! 🙂

Grilled Veggie Kabobs {Yields about 14-16 Veggie Kabob Sticks}

Ingredients:

  • 1 Small Eggplant
  • 1 Bell Pepper (Orange, Red, or Yellow)
  • 1 Onion
  • 2 Yellow Squash
  • 3 Zucchini
  • 1 Package White Mushrooms
  • 6 TBS Mayonnaise
  • 3 TBS Barbecue Sauce
  • 1.5 tsp Steak Seasoning
  • 1 tsp “Mrs.Dash” or any other Salt Free seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder

IMG_0359Directions:

1) Do all the prep work first. Wash and cut all of your veggies into kebab sized chunks.

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2) In a separate bowl mix the mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, and spices together until it it the consistency and look of a sauce.

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3) Mix the veggies with the marinade sauce and let stand to marinate for at least 4 hours. I usually marinate the morning of the day we grill them.

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4) 30 minutes before you grill, put the veggies on wooden skewer sticks. No particular order but I like to have a variety of all veggies on each stick for a pretty color combination and to get a taste of each veggie on each stick.

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5) Grill the veggie skewers on the grill along with meat or steak or anything else you are grilling. They take about 30 minutes to grill to perfection. You can just lay them down on the grill, or get a grill basket and grill the veggie kebabs in the grill basket. I have tried both ways and both work just fine.

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6) These are especially delicious with steak!

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Chicken & Turkey Cutlets

IMG_0237These chicken & turkey cutlets are so tender and delicious! They are made up of ground chicken & turkey, fresh bread rolls soaked in milk, grated onion, spices, lightly battered in flour and fried to perfection on a pan in some olive oil! They are hands down the best cutlets I have ever tried! I got the recipe from my dear friend Lidiya. After we tried these at her house, I knew I had to get this awesome recipe right away! We normally have enough left for 2 or 3 days but with this recipe, the cutlets were all gone in 1 day between my hubby, me, and our son. If you have a bigger crowd, make double, Trust me! These are great for a sandwich with some fresh bread and mayo, or make a perfect main dish paired with mashed potatoes, rice, or buckwheat. I paired these with buckwheat and a fresh salad and it was the perfect combination. This recipe was a big hit with my family and will be on our monthly rotation menu for sure! 🙂

Chicken & Turkey Cutlets {Serves 3-4}:

Ingredients:

  • 1 LB Ground Chicken
  • 1 LB Ground Turkey
  • 1 Onion (Grated)
  • 1/2 cup Whole Milk
  • 2-3 Fresh Bread Rolls
  • 3/4 Cup Flour
  • 3-4 Tablespoons Olive Oil (For frying)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder

IMG_0233Directions:

1) Break the fresh bread rolls into small pieces and put them into a bowl. Add about 1/2 cup whole milk. Wait a minute until the bread roll pieces become soaked through and soft. Transfer mixture into a big bowl.

2) Add the ground chicken and ground turkey into the big bowl with bread roll mixture. Add the grated onion. Add salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Mix very well.

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3) Pour about 3/4 cup of flour onto a disposable plate (or foil). Using a Tablespoon measure out a heaping Tablespoon of meat mixture into your hand. Roll it a bit into a round meatball/cutlet shape.

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4) Place into the flour and then flip it, to coat both sides of the cutlet with flour. Make at least 4 Cutlets and put them in a disposable plate or on a sheet of foil (you want to make some in advance so you wouldn’t be in a rush making them when it is time to fry them). Meanwhile set a big pan with 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil on Medium heat (I did 6.0).

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5) When the oil heats up, place cutlets into the pan. Fry until cooked well and golden on the bottom side, then flip and fry the top side also, until well done and golden. I use 2 forks or 2 spatulas to flip and transfer cutlets.

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6) Set up a big glass plate lined with napkins or paper towels. Put the cooked cutlets onto the napkins/paper towels to drain any excess hot oil. Reapeat the same process with all cutlets. When you make space on the pan by taking out the done ones, add more cutlets. Add about 2 Tablespoons more Olive Oil half way through to ensure enough fresh oil to fry on.

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Serve with mashed potatoes, buckwheat, or rice. To reheat, stick cutlets in the oven on a sheet with foil on 350 Degrees for about 10 minutes. These taste just as great on the second day if preheated!

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Empanada (Fried Tortilla With Meat Filling)

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Some call these empanada’s, some call these chebureki, either way these fried tortillas with a meat filling inside are a great appetizer and snack. Could also be eaten for dinner. I made a batch of these for a Super Bowl party this year and they were a big hit! These are convenient to bring to a get together/party, because they can be cooked in advance and you just pop them in the oven to preheat them. I do have another recipe for tortillas with meat filling on the blog, but this is a lighter recipe with mostly ground chicken for the meat filling and an easier version. These are best served hot, and reheat very well in the oven!

Empanada’s (Fried tortillas with meat filling) {Yields 18}

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 LB Ground Chicken
  • 1 LB Ground Beef
  • 1 Onion (pureed in food processor)
  • 1 pack of Raw, Uncooked, Tortilla’s (Can be bought in refrigerator section in Costco, Walmart, a few other grocery stores) Should be about 18 tortillas
  • Spices: 1 1/2 tsp Salt, 1/4 tsp Garlic Salt, 1/8 tsp Pepper, 1/2 tsp Mrs. Dash (Or any salt free seasoning of your choice)

unnamed-321123Directions:

1) Put ground chicken and ground beef in a big bowl. Puree 1 Onion in the food processor (or shred it using a shredder) and add to the bowl of ground meat. Add the spices and mix thoroughly.

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2) Set up an empanada making station. I set up a big sheet of foil on the counter with the tortillas, the bowl of meat filling, and a small cup with water and a brush (to stick the tortillas together).

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3) Lay each tortilla out and fill with meat mixture, one by one. I add about 2 TBS of meat filling to each tortilla. Brush the outside of the tortilla with water using the brush. Stick both sides of the tortilla together and seal tight by pressing on ends with a fork. This also makes a nice rigid design. Set the done emanada’s aside. Set a pan with enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan, on Medium heat (I did 5.5) and let the oil heat up.

 

4) Once oil heats up and starts fizzing a bit, add 2 empanada’s at a time to the pan. Fry on each side until golden (about 3 Minutes per side). Have a plate lined with paper towels or napkins to put the fried empanada’s on so the extra oil would drain off. Add a paper towel layer between each 2 empanada’s.

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Serve hot. To reheat place in the oven for 10 minutes on 350 Degrees until hot and crispy!

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Crock pot Meatballs In Tangy Sauce

dscn4419These crock pot meatballs are a great appetizer. I am posting these just in time for Christmas! I got this recipe from my friend Kendra, who got the recipe from a friend. These are absolutely delicious yet the easiest thing you can make! Great for a party as they stay hot and easy to bring. I made these meatballs for a Christmas party we attended last weekend and they were a big hit! We took an empty crock pot home. Minimal work and only 4 ingredients. I plan on making another batch for a Christmas party next week!

Crock pot Meatballs In Tangy Sauce {5 LB Meatballs, About 50 Meatballs}:

Ingredients: 

  • 1 (5 LB) Bag of Italian Style Meatballs
  • 1 (14 oz) Bottle of Ketchup
  • 1 Cup of Grape Jelly
  • 1/2 Bottle of Chili Sauce

Directions:

1) Set your crock pot on the Low setting. Throw in the frozen meatballs.

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2) In a big bowl, measure out and mix together the ketchup, grape jelly, and chili sauce.

3) Mix the sauces very well and pour into the crockpot over the meatballs and mix.

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4) Cover the crock pot with lid and cook on Low setting for 4 hours. Serve hot in crock pot and keep on Auto or Low setting to keep meatballs warm. Enjoy!

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Mini Baked Appetizer Sandwiches

dscn4126These mini baked appetizer sandwiches are loaded with cheese, and ham. These are quick and easy to make and one of the yummiest appetizers ever! I got the recipe from my friend Irina, when we were over their house for dinner and she made these. I couldn’t get enough! Of course I had to get the recipe to share with you guys! I wanted to post this recipe right on time before the Holidays, as we all need great appetizer recipes for entertaining. Enjoy!

Mini Baked Appetizer Sandwiches (Yields enough for a big party) :

Ingredients:

  • 1 long French Baguette
  • 1 Tomato
  • 1 Block Mozzarella Cheese (Grated)
  • Green Onion
  • Ketchup
  • Mayonnaise
  • Virginia Baked Ham ( .50 LB, cut into one thick slice)

dscn4101 dscn4106Directions:

1) Do the prep work first. Cut the tomato into little dice. Cut the Ham into little cubes. Shred the block of Mozzarella cheese. Finely chop 4 green onions (mostly green part). Using a butter knife, smear a little bit of Mayonnaise onto each piece of baguette bread.

2) Put everything on the baguette slices in this order; Ham, tomatoes, green onions, then squirt 2 small drops of ketchup on the baguette slices and cover with cheese on top.

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3) Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden to your desire! Best when served hot.

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Beef Puff Pastry Pockets Appetizer

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I posted a recipe similar to this one a few months ago. This is the easy version and the smaller, appetizer/snack size version of that same recipe. This is great as a main meal or an appetizer. This is a perfect recipe especially with the Holidays coming up in a few weeks. I will definitely be making some for Holiday parties and get together’s. These delicious little beef puff pastry pockets taste just like the frozen puff pastry Hors d’oeuvre appetizers that you would buy at grocery stores like Costco, BJ’s, or Sam’s Club that have a variety of different fillings inside, but of course these home made ones taste so much more superior and fresh and you can stuff them with any filling of your choice. I also like these with a mashed potato and mushroom filling, or a spinach and feta cheese filling, so you can get creative with these and make any filling of your choice.

Beef Puff Pastry Pockets {Yields 24}

Ingredients:

  • 1 LB Ground Beef
  • 1 Large Onion
  • 2 packs (4 sheets) Puff Pasty sheets (Thawed out)
  • Mrs.Dash Seasoning (to taste)
  • Salt/Pepper (to taste)

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Directions:

1) Cut the puff pastry sheets into 6 squares each sheet. Grate the onion on the grater. Mix the ground beef with spices and grated onion in a big bowl and set aside.

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2) Put a heaping spoonful of meat mixture onto each puff pastry square. Fold each puff pastry square up and tightly press to seal the sides. Using a fork, press down on the sides of each puff pastry pocket to make sure it is well sealed and looks neat.

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3) Bake at 350 Degrees for about 1 hour, until puff pastry pockets are golden and done.

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4) Serve immediately! Best when hot. Leftovers can be put in the refrigerator and warmed up in the oven when ready to eat.

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Shrimp Salad

DSCN4076This Shrimp Salad recipe was created by me but inspired by a salad I had at a restaurant called Canyon’s, in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. It was the perfect meal for me after a long, hot, exhausting day of exploring Tweetsie Railroad (a wild west theme park) in the beautiful mountains of Blowing Rock, North Carolina. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, so I had to recreate it at home and I did. The restaurant version was great but this home made recipe is even better, so much more flavor and you can add as much shrimp as you’d like. I love shrimp! And this shrimp salad takes it to a whole notha’ level (lol I know I’m corny). So fast and easy to prepare and definitely a summer favorite in our house now. I could literally eat this salad every single day! We ate it as a meal for dinner, but you could also make it as a side dish/salad. You can omit the shrimp if you are not a fan, and add anything else you want to it and get creative. Please don’t forget to share your idea’s with me, I would love to hear them!

Shrimp Salad {Serves 2 as meal, 4 as side}

Ingredients:

  • 1 head Romaine Lettuce
  • 1 package Grape Tomatoes
  • 2 Cucumbers or 1 long English Cucumber
  • 1 to 2 LB Shrimp, Raw (I used 2 LB as we love our shrimp!)
  • Dressing of choice (I used Marzetti Brand Classic Ranch Dressing)
  • Croutons of choice (I used Texas Toast Cheese & Garlic Croutons)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • Lawry’s Herb & Garlic marinade sauce

Directions:

1) Do the prep work first. Peel & devine the shrimp, rinse through with cold water and let dry. Wash all the veggies and chop everything up into one big bowl. I chopped the lettuce into small squares. The grape tomatoes in halves. The cucumber in fourths and then chopped into pieces.

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2) Set a pan on Med-High heat (I did a 6) add some olive oil. When the oil heats up, add the shrimp. Add salt/pepper to shrimp and mix. When the shrimp looks done, lower the heat to low (I did 2) and add some Lawry’s Herb & Garlic marinade sauce, I added about 2 tablespoons and 2 pressed garlic cloves. Simmer with the lid on for a few minutes until shrimp is well cooked through. Turn off heat and keep shrimp hot.

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3) When you are ready to eat, add the shrimp into the salad bowel. Mix gently. Each person can add dressing and croutons to salad individually to their liking. Enjoy!

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Puff Pastry Pockets (Samsa)

DSCN4020These Puff Pastry Pockets are a perfect appetizer or meal all in itself. Filled with meat and onion, or any filling of your choice, and baked to perfection! Growing up, my dad made these all the time. It was not until recently we were visiting our home town in Massachusetts that I got to try some again, at the Turkish store and it brought back sweet childhood memories of this yummy stuff. I decided to recreate this recipe at home so last week that is exactly what I did. My husband absolutely loved them! He gobbled 4 of them up for dinner that night and asked me to make more the next day before we were even done with dinner. Score! 😉 You can get creative with these. Make them any shape you would like, or fill them with whatever filling you would like. I have filled them with meat and onion, potatoes and onion, even squash and onion tastes great. I love that they are not greasy because they bake in the oven, no frying involved. Very simple and fast to make any time, and they also reheat very well in the oven. Enjoy!

Puff Pasty Pockets (Samsa) {Recipe Yields 16}

Ingredients: 

  • 4 Sheets (2 small boxes) Puff Pasty Dough
  • 2 Large Onions
  • 1.5 LB Beef (Boneless)
  • Pam Non-Stick Cooking Spray
  • Salt/Pepper (To Taste)

DSCN3994Directions:

1) Thaw the puff pasty sheets for about 40 minutes by laying them out on the table in room temperature. Meanwhile wash the Beef and cut it into small cubes. Set aside in a large bowl. Finely dice the onions and add to the bowl of beef. Season with Salt and Pepper (to your taste preference) and mix beef/onion mixture.

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2) Cut the puff pasty sheets into 4 squares. Preheat the oven to 350 Degrees.

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3) Add about 2 1/2 Tablespoons of the meat mixture to each square.

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4) Fold the ends of the square over to make triangular shaped pockets and seal the ends tightly, I do this using a fork.

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5) Put foil on a baking sheet, spray it with a Non-Stick cooking spray (or rub with a stick of butter if you don’t have the spray). Put the puff pastry pockets on the tray and place in the oven.

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6) Bake on 350 Degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the puff pasty pockets get golden brown in color. Let cool for a few minutes, and Dig in!

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Fried Calamari (Carrabba’s Italian Grill Recipe)

DSCN3770I hope you guys don’t mind, but I have really been into Italian food and Carrabba’s recipes lately, hence all my latest posts lol. This is another one of our favorites and Carrabba’s Italian Grill makes it the best, maybe that’s why it is actually their best selling appetizer. I have always wanted to make this dish at home, so I finally did. This is the exact Carrabba’s recipe. The fried calamari turns out perfect…tender and crisp with a light and delicate coating. We like to dip it in Marinara Sauce and Garlic Aioli sauce. I must admit that I had a hard time making this dish because it was my first time dealing with (and touching) raw squid, and I have a very weak stomach. So consider this a warning: Calamari is made from squid and you will have to touch it! I told my husband I was making it for him and that I wouldn’t eat it, but it turned out so delicious I ended up eating half lol. I was surprised at how fast and easy it is to make Fried Calamari, in the restuarant it looks so perfect and that makes it intimidating to cook but it’s actually very simple. If you are looking for a yummy new appetizer or if you love seafood, this recipe is for you! I made Marinara Sauce and Garlic Aioli Sauce for this appetizer and I highly recommend you make both sauces for dipping too, if you want to get the ultimate, restaurant, taste. 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 1 Pd. Calamari, cleaned
  • 1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • Vegetable Oil (For deep frying)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt (I used Sea Salt)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black Pepper
  • Lemon Wedges, for serving *Optional
  • Marinara Sauce or Garlic Aioli Sauce
  •  * (Ingredients and directions for Marinara sauce is on this page, below. Or you can use canned marinara sauce, heated up. The recipe for Garlic Aioli Sauce is posted on the recipe for Zucchini Fries here https://sofiesbestrecipes.com/2014/03/03/zucchini-fries-with-garlic-aioli-sauce/)*

DSCN3730Directions:

1) Wash the Calamari (Squid). Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Line 1 baking sheet with 2 layers of paper towels. Have a 2nd baking sheet ready nearby.

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2) Pour enough oil to come 1 inch up the side of a large, heavy saucepan. Heat over High heat to 350 Degrees (On a deep frying thermometer).

3) Cut the Calamari bodies (Sacs/Tubes) crosswise into 1/2 inch-wide rings. Cut each cluster of tentacles in halves or thirds. Season the Calamari with salt/pepper and mix.

4) Pour the flour into a bowl. Divide the calamari into 2 batches. Put the first batch of calamari into the bowl with flour and coat it with the flour, shaking off excess flour.

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5) Add the coated calamari into the saucepan with the hot oil. Cook over High heat until the calamari are golden brown, about 2-4 minutes.

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6) Using a slotted spoon transfer the calamari onto the baking sheet lined with paper towels to briefly drain.

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7) Move the calamari to the second baking sheet and place in the oven, to keep it warm and crisp. Repeat the same steps with the 2nd batch of calamari. Add more flour to the bowl if there is not enough, I did add a few spoons more of flour.

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8) Transfer the calamari to the serving plate. You can add lemon wedges to the plate, for decoration. Serve with marinara sauce and or garlic aioli sauce for dipping, if desired. I served with both sauces because we like our calamari with yummy sauces.

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Marinara Sauce:

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 small Yellow Onion, Finely chopped
  • 2 Scallions (white & green part) Finely chopped
  • 2 Anchovy Fillets in oil, drained and finely chopped (Optional*)
  • 4 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 Cup hearty Red Wine (Such as Citra Montepulciano)
  • 1 Can (28 oz.) Whole Tomatoes in juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon Hot, Crushed, Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper

1) Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the scallions, anchovies (if using), garlic, and cook. Stir occasionally until garlic is fragrant for about 1 minute.

2) Add the wine. Pour the tomatoes and their juices into a bowl. Crush the tomatoes between your fingers, and pour the mixture into the saucepan. Add the oregano, hot pepper flakes, and pepper and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to med.-low. Simmer, stirring often, until the tomato juices have thickened and the sauce has reduced slightly, about 30 minutes.  * The sauce can be cooled, covered, and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Or freeze for up to 2 months and thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.)

Bacon and Chive Cheese Ball

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Appetizer season is here, and this is definitely a great one! I got this recipe from my friend Boo Fields, this cheese ball is her creation and her idea the only things I did different was add real bacon bits and dry dill and adapt the exact amounts of every ingredient to come up with this awesome cheese ball dip.  Boo made this recipe for a Christmas party and I could not get enough of it, everyone loved it and it was the star of the party! I recreated this cheese ball dip last night for a movie night with our friends and brought it over their house, we really enjoyed it and it was a great snack for a movie night. I paired this cheese ball dip with flip sides pretzel crackers, let me tell you about this snack… It completes me. It is literally half side pretzel and half side cracker, baked into one and it sounds weird, even looks interesting, but it tastes AMAZING!!! This “pracker” as I call them, totally brings out the flavors of this cheese ball and goes so perfectly with it. I just recently discovered them and wanted to share them with the world, you must try them yourself, you just have to! After all crackers, pretzels, pita chips, potato chips and everything else is so yesterday. If you really want to impress your taste buds, this snack will do it! Okay, enough said, just take a look at these ingredients and you will understand. 😉

Bacon and Chive Cheese Ball {Serves 4-6}

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of Cream Cheese (8oz) *Softened about an hour*
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dried Dill
  • 1 heaping teaspoon McCormick Perfect Pinch (Spice) Bacon and Chive flavored *Pictured Below
  • 1 teaspoon Real Bacon Bits (+ 1 teaspoon to top/decorate the cheese ball)
  • 1-2 pressed Garlic Cloves, depending on your love of garlic (I like 1 clove)
  • Crackers or Snack or your choice. I used Town House Pretzel Crackers *Pictured Below*
  • Optional: Almonds or walnuts (I did NOT use any nuts)

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Directions:

1) Cut the cream cheese into about 1 inch squares (I cut 4 vertical lines from top to bottom, and 1 horizontal line, to make perfect cubes) and put it into a large bowl.

2) Add the dill, McCormick bacon and chive spice, bacon bits, and pressed garlic to the bowl with the cream cheese and press down with a fork, making the cream cheese soft then mix very well with a spoon.

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3) Put a piece of aluminum foil on the counter top. Using a spoon put the cream cheese mixture on the foil and using your hands, form the cream cheese mixture into a ball. You just kind of roll it with your hands, molding it until it becomes a perfect round cheese ball.

4) Carefully pick it up using your hands, and neatly place it into a little bowl that you want to serve it in. Then sprinkle 1 more teaspoon of the bacon bits all around on top of the cheese ball. This makes the cheese ball look extra pretty and gives it even more flavor.

5) Cover the cheese ball with foil and refrigerate until it is ready to serve, otherwise it will get too soft. *Optional: If you wish you can also cut almonds or walnuts into little tiny pieces and top the cheese ball with nuts instead or along with the bacon bits. I did not do that because I like to keep it simple and was not sure if the friends we were visiting had any nut allergies but my friend Boo used nuts to top her cheese ball at the Christmas party and it tasted great, if you are a nut lover definitely try it.*

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