Mom’s favorite way to use up leftover country ham was in a spread with cream cheese – just two ingredients, that’s it! While her simple method is delicious, I decided to jazz it up a bit by adding a whopping two more ingredients – a bit of mayonnaise and some chopped fresh chives. Instead of chives, I have added chopped green onions before and that was also quite tasty. If you don’t have any leftover country ham, you can substitute cooked ham from the deli that has been ground up in a food processor. Enjoy!
Country Ham Cheese Spread
(Makes around 2 cups)
Using a fork, mix together all ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper (may not need any salt, depending on the saltiness of your ham). Refrigerate for a few hours to let the flavors blend. Serve with crackers.
Note: I throw the leftover pieces from the country ham in the food processor and chop it into fine bits. In addition to this dish, the ground ham is great in salads, omelets – any dish where you might add cooked bacon bits.
Make ahead: spread can be made up to 2 days ahead, covered and refrigerated.
There are 4 exciting NFL playoff games coming up this weekend – go Denver Broncos! Looking for something to serve for game viewing that is both scrumptious and easy to prepare? Why not try our Taco Salad Dip. A variation of the well-known Seven Layer Dip, this dish has no refried beans and is a snap to put together. Enjoy!
Taco Salad Dip
(Serves 6 to 8)
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 package taco seasoning mix
3/4 cup salsa (we like Pace brand)
6 chopped green onions
3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (or to taste)
1 can (2.25 ounce) sliced black olives, drained
1 ripe avocado, chopped
1 small tomato, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup chopped lettuce
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the cream cheese, sour cream and taco seasoning. Spread evenly in the bottom of an 8 or 9-inch pie plate (or other shallow 4-cup dish). Spread salsa evenly over the top. Sprinkle remaining ingredients over the salsa in the order given. Serve with tortilla chips.
Note: this dip tastes best if you let the cream cheese mixture sit a bit before serving (around an hour or two) to allow the flavors to blend. Don’t worry if you don’t have time to do that – it also tastes great when served immediately!
I first made these cheese truffles for a cocktail party my husband Robert and I hosted a few months ago to bless our airstream. It was really an excuse for a party – and also a way for our friends to see our fun trailer! Everyone at the party loved these little mini cheese balls – they quickly disappeared. They are also part of the menu for my appetizer cooking class that I taught last week, and will be teaching again on November 28th at the Seasoned Chef Cooking School. You can make this recipe as is, or play around with it and make it your own, substituting other cheeses for the Cheddar and Gouda, and other toppings for the pecans and chives. Enjoy!
Cheddar-Pecan and Gouda-Chive Cheese Truffles
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Gouda cheese
1 cup chopped toasted pecans
1 cup chopped fresh chives
Place the cream cheese, Worcestershire sauce and lemon zest in the bowl of a food processor and process until well mixed. Take out half of the mixture and set aside. Add the Cheddar cheese to the mixture in the bowl; process until well mixed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Form into small balls (1-inch or less), place on a cookie sheet and chill until hard, around 4 hours.
Place the second half of the cream cheese mixture in the bowl of the food processor; add the Gouda cheese and process until well mixed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Form into 1-inch balls, place on a cookie sheet and chill until hard, around 1 to 2 hours. (You can speed up this process by putting them in the freezer for around 45 minutes.)
Roll the Cheddar truffles in the chopped pecans, and roll the Gouda truffles in the chopped chives. Place truffles in candy paper cups and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Make ahead: truffles can be made, covered and refrigerated up to 24 hours in advance.
Adapted from a Food Network recipe.
In a household with three fly fishermen – Dad, my brother Jim and me – there was always an abundance of it around (this was in the days before catch and release). Mom was always looking for interesting ways to fix it, and created this recipe – she even smoked the trout herself. It is still a family favorite although today we tend to make it with purchased smoked trout.
Sally’s Smoked Trout Pate Recipe
2 cups loosely packed, flaked smoked rainbow or brown trout, skin removed (around 10 to 12 ounces)
1/2 cup butter at room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
3 tablespoons heavy cream (use half and half as a substitute)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (or more to taste)
Mix all ingredients together in a blender or food processor. Season with salt and pepper (careful with the salt – you don’t need much due to the smoky flavor).
Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature for at least 15 minutes before serving. For a nice presentation, pack it into a pretty serving bowl or mound it in the middle of a small serving platter. Serve with crackers.
Variation: Bring pate to room temperature, until softened. Pipe onto toast rounds or stars; garnish with dill.
Make ahead: Paté can be made 2 to 3 days ahead, covered and stored in the refrigerator. Can also be frozen.
It’s that time of year when our gardens and farmer’s markets start to be full of delicious fresh tomatoes, and we are all looking for new and different recipes to try (especially my friend Dona Johnson!). Last fall I decided to do something I hadn’t done in years – can! Canning really isn’t all that difficult, once you understand the basic steps:
- Wash the jars, lids and rings with hot soapy water (or in the dishwasher). Keep warm in a pot of simmering water (or they should stay warm enough in the dishwasher).
- Select and make the recipe.
- Fill the jars; remove air bubbles.
- Wipe the rims of the jars clean, put on lids and screw on rings (but not overly tight, as air inside the jars needs to escape during processing).
- Place filled jars into canning rack and lower into simmering water that covers jars by 1 inch. Cover and boil jars for amount of time specified in recipe, adjusting for high altitude (+5 minutes for every 3000 feet above sea level).
- Turn off heat; let jars stand in water for 5 minutes. Remove and place on clean dish towel to cool at room temperature for at least 12 hours (or as specified in recipe). Do not tighten rings until after cooling.
- Press on center of cooled lid; if the lid does not flex up or down then it is sealed! If the jar didn’t seal properly, then refrigerate it.
My mom Sally, with whom I wrote “A Well-Seasoned Kitchen”, used to frequently make fabulous jams and chutneys, and she never liked this water bath method. She just followed the directions above through step 4, then left the jars on the kitchen counter. They make a fun popping sound as they seal. Note that both the water bath and self sealing methods are used for high acid foods, like tomatoes and most jams and jellies. For other foods you’ll need to use a pressure cooker.
Now, back to the recipe – I had a bunch of ripe plum tomatoes from the farmer’s market, and found a delicious sounding recipe for canned tomato bruschetta topping in Taste of the South magazine, so I decided to give it a try. It was great fun, all the jars sealed (yea!) and the result was scrumptious. And, I had several jars to give as a different and fun hostess gift!
Below is my adaption of the Taste of the South recipe. You can find their original recipe here.
Tomato Bruschetta Topping Recipe
(Makes around 7 1/2-pint jars)
1 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
6 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
5 cloves garlic
9 cups chopped cored plum tomatoes
1 cup finely chopped onion
Prepare boiling water canner, jars, rings and lids as described above.
In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine wine, vinegars, water, sugar, oregano, basil and garlic. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until sugar dissolves, around 2 to 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and onion; return to a boil and continue cooking at a boil for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Ladle hot tomato mixture into hot jars, leaving 1/2-inch space between the top of the food and the rim of the jar. Remove air bubbles; add more tomato mixture as needed to keep headspace at 1/2 inch. Wipe rims clean; place lids on jars and screw on rings. Place jars in canner covered by at least 1 inch of water. Bring water to a boil and process jars over high heat for 20 minutes from when the water begins to boil – remember high altitude adjustments if needed (see above). Turn off heat and let jars rest in canner for 5 minutes. Remove and place on a clean dish towel to cool. Let rest undisturbed for 24 hours.
When ready to serve, drain off some of the liquid (otherwise I found it to be a bit too runny) and serve over brie or goat cheese on toasted baguette slices.
What could be better – the ingredients in a BLT sandwich (minus the bread) in a bite size morsel! A wonderfully refreshing and delicious addition to any cocktail party menu.
BLT in a Cherry Tomato
(Serves 8 to 10)
8 slices bacon
20 cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
1/2 cup finely chopped romaine lettuce
1/4 cup mayonnaise
Cook bacon until crisp; drain and crumble.
Take the green stem off of the top of each tomato, cut a slice off the bottom and carefully scoop out seeds and discard. Lightly salt inside of tomato shells and invert on paper towels for 15 minutes.
Mix together the onion, bacon crumbles, lettuce and mayonnaise. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Fill each tomato with bacon mixture. Cover and chill. Place on a platter and garnish with chopped parsley.
Variation: Substitute 10 plum tomatoes for 20 cherry tomatoes. Slice plum tomatoes, season with salt and pepper. Place heaping teaspoonful of bacon mixture onto each tomato slice.
Make ahead: Tomatoes can be assembled, covered and chilled earlier in the day.
Having friends over to watch the Pro Bowl or the Super Bowl? This scrumptious cheese torte recipe, from mom’s home state of Kentucky, can be made up to one month ahead and frozen, allowing for stress-free entertaining.
Kentucky Cheese Torte
(Serves 20 or more)
16 ounces grated extra sharp Cheddar cheese
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1/4 to 1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 packages (8 ounce) cream cheese, at room temperature, separated
1/3 cup mango chutney, large mango pieces chopped
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/3 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and wrung dry
1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Line a 6-inch spring form pan with plastic wrap.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cheddar cheese, pecans, chopped onion and enough mayonnaise to hold the mixture together. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread half of mixture into prepared dish. Place the dish, but not the remaining cheese mixture, in the refrigerator.
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese with the chutney and cayenne pepper. Spread evenly over the cheese layer in the dish. Return to the refrigerator.
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the remaining package of cream cheese, bacon, spinach, garlic and oregano. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread evenly over chutney mixture. Top with remaining cheddar cheese mixture. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing down on top layer. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to serve. Serve with crackers.
Make ahead: torte can be made up to 1 month ahead and frozen. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then at room temperature for several hours.
This delicious and unusual dish comes from a friend of my childhood friend Katey Hartwell, who now lives in Mexico. It’s best if made at least 24 hours before serving to allow the flavors to blend.
(Serves 16 or more)
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Maggi “Jugo” seasoning sauce (see Note)
juice of 1/2 lemon
juice of 1/2 lime (or more to taste)
2 bunches fresh cilantro – around 4 to 5 cups (leaves only)
2 cups mayonnaise
1/2 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 to 5 tablespoons canned chopped jalapeno peppers
250 ml light cream (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons powdered chicken stock
1/2 cup cold water
2 envelopes gelatin
Put all ingredients except water and gelatin in blender or food processor and process until well blended. Set aside.
Place water in a small saucepan and sprinkle gelatin evenly over the top and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes, stir, and then cook over low heat until gelatin gets clear. Add to other ingredients. Pour mousse into oiled mold and refrigerate to set.
To unmold, dip mold briefly in hot water – for around 30 seconds. Place a large plate on top of the mold, hold together and carefully invert. Once the mousse plops out onto the plate, remove the mold. Serve with crackers.
Make ahead: Mousse can be made up to 3 days ahead, covered and stored in the refrigerator in its mold. Unmold just before serving.
Note: Maggi seasoning is available in Mexican markets and some larger grocery stores. The “Jugo” sauce is different from the Asian and European versions of Maggi seasoning sauce. Can substitute 1/2 teaspoon soy and 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce for 1 teaspoon Maggi Jugo.
Earlier this week, we were headed to the Denver Botanic Gardens for a concert. My favorite part of going to these concerts is the picnic! Unfortunately, this time I had very little time to prepare. I had some of our Sausage and Spinach Torte from A Well-Seasoned Kitchen in the freezer, so that could easily be thawed and serve as the main course:
I remembered there was a quick and delicious chilled pea soup recipe in the Junior League of Denver cookbook Colorado Collage, so I dug that out and fortunately had all the ingredients on hand. A key ingredient is mint, and we have tons in our garden that comes from a plant I transplanted from mom’s garden a few years ago:
It took about 5 minutes to make this no-cook soup (literally!), which was perfect since I didn’t have much more time. I put it in the refrigerator, quickly went to Whole Foods where I bought a French baguette, some delicious cheeses and Two-Bite Brownies. I added the fresh cherries and grapes we had in the refrigerator, along with some Dijon mustard to go with the Torte, and we had a scrumptious picnic!
Chilled Green Pea Soup
16 ounces frozen petite green peas (unthawed)
2 cups chicken broth
2 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
14 large fresh mint leaves (or more to taste)
1/2 cup sour cream
Place peas in a blender. Heat chicken broth to a boil (I like to heat it in the microwave), pour over the peas and puree. Add the green onions, lime juice, nutmeg, mint and sour cream. Blend until smooth. Add salt to taste. Chill. Garnish with mint leaf.
Make ahead: Soup can be made up to 2 days ahead, covered and refrigerated.
Getting ready for a weekend of watching college hoops and rooting for your favorite team? This quick and easy recipe, adapted from the Colt & Gray restaurant’s recipe featured in Bon Appétit magazine, is for you. Popcorn is the perfect snack while watching TV, and adding bacon, cashews and a tea-infused caramel sauce only makes it better. Starting with already cooked popcorn makes this recipe a snap to prepare.
6 ounces bacon, chopped
15 cups prepared popcorn
1 cup unsalted raw cashews
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt or coarse sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 oolong tea bag
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil; coat with nonstick spray
Cook bacon in large skillet over medium heat until almost crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain; cool.
In a large mixing bowl, using your hands toss together the cooked bacon, popcorn and cashews. Sprinkle with coarse salt and cayenne; toss again to coat.
Bring cream and tea bag just to boil over medium heat. Remove from heat; let steep 15 minutes, occasionally pressing on tea bag with back of spoon to release flavor. Discard tea bag.
Coat 2 wooden spoons or heat-resistant spatulas with nonstick spray; set aside. In a large saucepan, stir sugar, 1/4 cup water and corn syrup over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high; boil without stirring until syrup turns deep amber, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with wet pastry brush, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately add cream/tea (mixture will bubble up). Stir until blended. Immediately drizzle sauce over popcorn mixture; toss with sprayed spoons until evenly coated. Transfer to prepared baking sheet.
Place caramel corn in oven and bake, tossing mixture occasionally, about 15 minutes or until popcorn is well coated. Cool completely on baking sheet on a rack, occasionally breaking it up into clumps with your hands.
Makes 15 cups.
Make ahead: popcorn can be made up to 2 days ahead. Store airtight in the refrigerator.
[Photo courtesy of Bon Appetit magazine]