Category Archives: party food

Homemade Cheez-Its for Megan

Our two pals (Justen & Megan, nosy) are marrying each other next weekend and we have been celebrating! Most recently at Megan’s bachelorette party, held at a beautiful Minnesota winery.

Meg sometimes gets hangry and loves Cheez-Its (who doesn’t….) so I thought a nice part of her gift would be a homemade version that might soak up the wine the next day.

This recipe was harder than driving to the store and opening up a box of crackers, but barely. It has only a few ingredients and tastes fantastic. These are not a health food, but a fun gift or snack for a party.

I found many recipes but the one I went with, which was great, was America’s Test Kitchen inspired.  Homemade Cheez-Its
serves 1 Meg // recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen and Tracey 

6 oz (1 1/2 cups) grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper (or more, I put another shake in)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2-3 tablespoons water

1. Preheat oven to 375 F.

2. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

3. Add cheese, butter, salt, and pepper to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or add to a food processor. Mix on low speed until the mixture comes together and starts to stick to the sides of the bowl, about 30 seconds.

4. Add the flour and cornstarch, beating until incorporated – the mixture should look like coarse sand.

5. Mix in 2 tablespoons of water. (If the dough seems too dry, you can add up to 1 tablespoon of additional water to bring it together.)

6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and shape into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

7. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough into a rectangle with a rolling pin to about 1/16-inch thick. Using a pizza cutter or knife, cut the dough into 1-inch wide strips, then cut 1-inch squares from those strips. (If you have  fancy-edged-pastry cutter, use it! Also, the size of the cracker doesn’t have to be perfect.)

8. Transfer the squares to the prepared baking sheets – pack them in pretty tightly, they don’t spread very much!

9. Using the flat end of a wooden skewer (or something similar), poke a hole in the center of each dough square.

 10. Bake the crackers until the edges just begin to turn gold brown, which takes about 15-20 minutes. (Check them and turn the pan in the oven after ten minutes, then check again at 15 minutes, then every few minutes after until they are done.

11. Let the crackers cool on the baking sheet.

Pack them up in a mason jar, tie a bow around it and give it to your favorite bachelorette of the month. Or yourself. Or anyone else. Everyone will be jumping for joy.

Unfreeze your Pesto!!

Just to make these really quick, for your pals:I don’t know why, but I was calling them party pops. Two kinds!!

Ingredients needed:

  • Un-frozen pesto you made the other day(right!?)
  • 1 container of cherry or grape tomatoes (mine were from my CSA)
  • 1 container of mozzarella balls (not soaking in oil)
  • A few fresh basil leaves
  • Italian seasoning
  • Tiny bit of olive oil
  • Kosher salt
1. Split the containers of tomatoes and mozzarella balls into two separate bowls so each bowl has an equal amount of mozzarella balls + tomatoes.
2. In bowl one, add pesto to the tomatoes and mozzarella balls, mix well.
3. In bowl two, add a tiny bit of olive oil, dash of kosher salt, and shake of Italian seasoning.
4. From the pesto bowl, skew one mozzarella ball and one tomato on per stick.
5. From bowl #2, skew a mozzarella ball, then a basil leaf, then a tomato per toothpick…and repeat.
So easy, and secretly fancy.

Strategic Veggie Tray

I love going though my fridge and cabinets on a Saturdays, dreaming up recipes to take to a whatever party is happening that night. Yesterday, it was our pal Kate’s b-day! She loves veggies, it was so hot I didn’t feel like cooking  and as you may have seen in some previous posts I have tons of veggies to use, so I decided use some strategy and bring a veggie tray. 

The Tray: Cucumbers, celery, carrots, green beans, snow peas and another cucumber. I tried to fill this swanky tray with Kate’s favorites so I did pick up a few non-CSA items (celery + carrots).

I decided I needed some kind of dip to go with this so I googled “white bean dip” and a Giada De Laurentis recipe was the first thing that Google popped up. I had all of the ingredients, so I was sold. I modified the original recipe a bit.

White Bean Dip: The Recipe modified from this recipe:

  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • juice of one whole fresh lemon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (loosely packed) fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • Salt/Pepper to taste

Easiest Directions Ever:

1. Put the garlic and parsley in the food processor until all chopped up.

2. Add beans, lemon juice and pulse until the mixture is combined.

3. Stream in the 2 tablespoons of olive oil until it becomes a little fluffier than before. Taste the delicious mix, add some salt + pepper to taste, pulse again and transfer to a fancy bowl.

It is really delicious. And maybe what makes it even more delicious is that I photographed it on Oprah tissue paper.

It was a hit at the party, and tasted amazing with some multi-grain pita chips our pal Lezgan brought over. And, I realized while writing this that it was all accidently vegan.

Mexican Bean dip.

I wish I could say that I was in charge of an easter brunch and have some fancy delicious vegetarian recipes to share from this weekend, but I was not in charge! I sat back and played with babies and dogs all weekend. Rough life.

There was one night this weekend that I did get to step in the kitchen and take charge. Brent’s brother-in-law was craving guacamole, so Mexican food was the plan. Baby Thomas was getting bored of Easter food anyway. 

I decided to make a bean dip. This is a super easy vegetarian appetizer that is so delicious, awesome for parties and amazingly inexpensive. My friend in high school made this recipe up and I’ve made it often ever since.
Mexican Bean Dip: The Ingredient List
1 can of vegetarian refried beans
1 cup of your favorite salsa (not-chunky)
1 fresh jalapeño, seeded/diced
1 T diced onion
1/2 cup cheddar or mexican blend cheese, divided
1. Open the can of beans. Pour in an oven safe baking dish.
2. Add salsa, jalapeño (you can use more jalapeño or jarred ones if you’d rather), 1/4 cup cheese and onion to the beans. Stir well.
3. Pop the dish into the microwave for 2 minutes or until everything is heated through.
4. Pour the rest of the cheese  on top of the bean mixture. Add more than 1/4 cup if you’d like.
5. Place this in the oven at 400° for about 10 minutes or until cheese is golden brown. Feel free to broil as well.
This serves best with some tortilla chips or corn chips of some sort. To be honest, I’ve never tried this awesome recipe with anything else. I’m open to suggestions!
Along with my appetizer, the carnivores had grilled chicken tacos and I heated up a can of black beans for my taco filling.

vegetarian taco filling. delicious!

Most everyone decided to put a little black beans in their taco, so they were a hit. Also, no meal would be complete without a topping bar so we made a nice looking spread.
What would you make for a Meatless Mexican Meal?

Falafel + Greek-ish couscous

You get a twofer today! Not that Toofer, but two recipes in one!

Last night our pal Megan had a birthday potluck. Brent + I spent a large portion of the day doing exactly what we wanted… which was not much other than catching up on the DVR, complaining about where Spring went (it snowed Friday night) and looking around town at vintage shops for a birthday gift. After all that excitement, it was time to get cooking!

I love falafel, but it is often fried and gets a bad rap as being unhealthy. The recipe I made is very healthy, easy and best of all, a very inexpensive recipe!  I made a modified version of a Ellie Krieger’s falafel recipe which can be found here.

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, preferably low-sodium, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 squeeze lemon juice
1/4 cup parsley leaves
1 tablespoons olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 425°.
2. Combine all felafel ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process for 10 seconds. Stop motor and scrape down sides of bowl, then pulse for another 10 seconds, until all ingredients are well incorporated but mixture is still slightly coarse and grainy.

this mini chop rules. i'll upgrade to the full size food processor one day!

3. Form mixture into 12-16 falafel balls and spritz with Pam or brush with olive oil.

all in the oven

4. Bake on a cookie sheet for 20 minutes, flip falafel balls and bake an additional 20 minutes, until falafel balls are crisp and browned.

The recipe doesn’t make too many falafel balls, so I’d highly recommend doubling it if you are serving these at a party. To make up for the lack of falafel to go around, I decided to make one of my old staples. A couscous salad of sorts.

I had Israeli Couscous on hand, but this works awesome with quinoa, faro, orzo or regular couscous.

Greekish-Israeli Couscous Salad: The Ingredient List
1 box Israeli Couscous (Trader Joe’s brand is the best!)
3-4 T red onion, diced
2 T italian (flat-leaf) fresh parsley, chopped small
2-4oz crumbled feta cheese
1/2 a lemon’s juice
2-3 T red wine vinegar
Pinch of salt + pepper

1. Mix lemon juice, vinegar and a tad bit of salt and pepper together in a bowl. If you like olive oil, go ahead and add about a tablespoon to the mix.
2. Follow cooking instructions on the Israeli Couscous box.  Add cooked couscous to the bowl containing the dressing. Toss with the vinegar/lemon juice and let it cool down for about 20 minutes in the fridge. I like to stir it around a few times to make sure there is enough dressing on the thing as the couscous will absorb the dressing as it cools.
3. Add the onion, parsley, and feta cheese. Add more lemon juice/vinegar if needed. If you have any other veggies (tomatoes! cucumbers! olives!) that you like, throw them in!

I like to eat the falafel on top of this salad, or wrapped in a pita w/ some salad and lettuce for an awesome lunch or dinner.

Both of these recipes are very easy and are party hits! Feel free to leave out the cheese in the couscous to make it vegan. What’s your favorite thing to bring to a party?