Appetizer · hospitality · summertime

peppers 1a

My dream of being a gardener is happening slowly, but at the steady pace of a novice.  I really have not much of an idea what I’m doing.  My husband is becoming quite the green thumb, too, as he helps plant, water and harvest our little raised beds. We have three now, and I was so excited to receive my newest edition of Southern Living this weekend and find an article about raised bed gardening! I really want to expand each year.  There’s just something so special about growing herbs, flowers and vegetables that you get the pleasure of using in your home and cooking!

One plant that was producing quite well last week was our Banana pepper plant.  I like them pickled, but I wondered how I could use them fresh.  Wellllll, I found a special appetizer that was A.Maz.Ing!


These sweet peppers got filled with a little cream cheese mixture that had sweet red pepper, red onion, Cheddar Cheese, diced cherry tomatoes and a little salt and pepper.  I kept it mild.  There are some recipes that call for hot peppers, but we aren’t crazy about those spicy varieties.  So for our tastes, we kept it on the sweet and savory side, and it was wonderful!  I forgot to mention that the pepper gets wrapped in a little blanket of bacon before it’s popped under the broiler for a few minutes!  If you need a killer appetizer for a summer party, this is it!  Here’s the recipe and a little tip as to how I put mine together.

Cheese-Stuffed, Bacon-Wrapped Banana Peppers

  • 6 large banana peppers
  • 1/2 cup (2 oz) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 3 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup diced tomatoes – I used cherry tomatoes for sweetness!
  • ¼ cup diced red onion
  • ½ small sweet red bell pepper, diced
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
  • 3 thick cut bacon slices, cut in half – I found that 1/2 slice of bacon was plenty for each pepper,but if you want to go crazy with the bacon, use a slice for each pepper.
  1. Cut tops off banana peppers. Remove seeds.
  2. Combine cheddar cheese, cream cheese, tomato, onion, bell pepper, salt and pepper. Mix well.
  3. Fill a small plastic bag with the cheese mixture.  Cut a hole, about 1/2 inch in one corner.  Squeeze the cheese mixture into the peppers. (See picture below)
  4. Wrap with bacon slice. Secure with a toothpick. Place on a rack with broiler pan. Broil for 4-5 minutes per side until golden and oozing.

peppers 2

peppers 3

peppers 1

If you have access to banana peppers, you need to try these appetizers.  They’re so good you might want to make them the main course!

Who else is gardening this summer?  What are you growing?

With love from my country kitchen,

8e63c63ac0bc189bf1c68b03c74dbb5f (1)

Appetizer · dessert · entertaining · hospitality

(L)Oven Monday – Entertain with Appetizers


Last week I had a group of women over for a night of fellowship and I wanted to serve refreshments that were tasty, but not too heavy.  So I dug into my recipes (some I’ve share here on the blog) and pulled out three appetizer dips!  I had a couple that were sweet and one that was savory.  Appetizers are fun because you can make a little meal with them.  The ladies enjoyed them and it was fun to watch them go back for more.  Here are the ones I chose for our party.

Tex-Mex Black Bean Dip

Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips

S’mores Dip

bean dip

This Tex-Mex Black Bean Dip is great as an appetizer or served with a meal of Mexican foods!  It’s super good and really fast to put together!  You can make this ahead and pop it into the oven or microwave to warm up.

Tex-Mex Black Bean Dip
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained – I always use Bush’s Beans
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup diced tomato
1/3 cup mild picante sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice


Place beans in a bowl; partially mash until chunky. Set aside.

Heat oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Add beans, tomato, picante sauce, cumin, and chili powder; cook 5 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; add cheese, cilantro, and lime juice, stirring well. Serve warm or at room temperature with fat-free corn or flour tortilla chips.

*If you want to make this extra decadent, put softened cream cheese in the bottom of the dish and spread to cover, then pour the bean dip over top of it.  Yum!



Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips

If you want to do this ahead of time, mix up your fruit, but wait to add the sweet things into it right before your party.


  • Variety of fruits, diced – Strawberries, blueberries, fresh pineapple, etc.
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (more or less to taste)
  • 3 tablespoons fruit preserves, any flavor (I used strawberry)
  • 10 (10 inch) flour tortillas (or use Stacy’s cinnamon chips or cinnamon graham crackers)
  • melted butter or butter flavored cooking spray
Cinnamon sugar:
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cinnamon
  1. In a large bowl, thoroughly mix kiwis, apples, raspberries, strawberries, white sugar, brown sugar and fruit preserves. Cover and chill in the refrigerator at least 15 minutes. This is best made the same day and not too far ahead of time so your apples don’t start browning and the fruit gives off so too much juice and it gets runny.. This salsa can also be serve with cinnamon graham Crackers. Best when made and eaten the same day.

For the Cinnamon Chips:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Coat one side of each flour tortilla with melted butter or butter flavored cooking spray. Sprinkle tortillas with desired amount of cinnamon sugar. Cut into wedges and arrange in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Spray again with cooking spray (not necessary if using melted butter).
  3. Bake in the preheated oven 8 to 10 minutes. Repeat with any remaining tortilla wedges. Allow to cool approximately 15 minutes. Serve with chilled fruit mixture.



This dip is heavenly!  It literally takes less than ten minutes to make and have ready to serve!  It’s always a winner!!  And if you don’t leave the party with marshmallow or chocolate somewhere on your face, you did NOT have a good time!  Ha!!  I think it’s impossible to eat this dip and not wear it!!

S’mores Dip


  1.  In a cast iron skillet place two cups of chocolate chips.  Place in 400 degree oven for a couple of minutes, until chocolate begins to melt.  Smooth out chocolate with spatula.
  2. Cover completely with marshmallows.  Place back in oven and watch carefully until marshmallows turn a light golden brown.
  3. Serve dip immediately with Graham cracker squares.

All these dips are simple and so good!  A party like this would be great this summer!  You could even do your S’more dip on the fire pit!  I hope you’ll try these soon!

What is your favorite food to serve or to enjoy at a girl’s gathering?

With love from my country kitchen,

Denise Signature 150 px



Appetizer · Uncategorized

Party Ryes – A Family Tradition

A Couple weeks ago I shared with you that we had Party Ryes for our Christmas Eve dinner.  If they weren’t on the menu, we would have had a riot, I believe!  They are a tradition in our house, and the reason is because they are just YUMMY!  A few ingredients mixed together and spread on a piece of Pumpernickel bread and then toasted in the oven, and you have a fantastic appetizer or addition to your soup!  Here’s the simple recipe from Taste of Home:

Cheese Rye Appetizers Recipe

Party Ryes


  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 can (4-1/4 ounces) chopped ripe olives – ( Personal preference, We leave this out)
  • 8 Bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley or 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • 30 slices snack rye bread – (We use Pumpernickel bread)


    Preheat oven to 450°. In a small bowl, combine the first six ingredients. Spread a rounded tablespoonful over each slice of bread. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake 6-8 minutes or until cheese is melted. Yield: 2-1/2 dozen.

It doesn’t have to be Christmas to serve these!  Any time you need a scrumptious appetizer is the perfect time to whip this recipe up!


Denise Signature 150 px


Appetizer · entertaining

Cheesy Artichoke Appetizer

I failed to get a picture before I put this out for my guests.  I stepped out to snap a photo and this is all that was left!!!  That’s a good sign!  You need to make this!

Rarely ever do we order an appetizer when we go out to eat, but if there IS something we’ve ordered on those rare occasions, it is a Spinach Artichoke Dip. Served with warm tortillas, it’s easy to make a meal out of it!

When you find a recipe that tastes every bit as good as your restaurant favorite, and is super simple to assemble, you know you’ve hit on something dangerously wonderful. It’s dangerous because you know you shouldn’t eat it too often, but it’s wonderful because you have the chance to make it anyway!!
I served this last weekend at my Fall Party and it was a huge hit. If you’re going to be entertaining this fall, you really should add this to your menu.
I love having an appetizer for my guests when they arrive so they have something they can nibble on while I put the finishing touches on the meal. It just seems to make gathering together warmer and more inviting if there’s a hot, bubbly dip ready to greet everyone! The ingredients are few and simple! You can serve this with tortilla chips, crackers, or toasted bread.

Artichoke Dip

2 Cups grated Parmesan cheese

2 Cups Mozzarella cheese

1 Cup mayonnaise

2 cloves garlic, minced

16 oz can artichoke hearts, drained and finely chopped

¼ Cup green onion, chopped

Combine all ingredients, except onion. Mix thoroughly. Place in an 8×8 baking dish. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Sprinkle with green onion. Serve warm.


This is good stuff, folks! It even warms up great if you happen to have any left over (good luck with that one!).

With love from my country kitchen,



What’s Cookin’ in the Parsonage?

What a terrific Christmas we had!  We had the blessing of having our older daughter, Whitney and her husband Paul with us, as well as my mother-in-law.  How thankful we are to celebrate with family and share the joy of our Savior’s birth! 

What’s been cooking in the parsonage?  Well, on Christmas Eve I made:

Sausage Balls
Country Ham Biscuits
Avocado Dip
Corn Chips
Fresh Veggie Tray
Assorted Cookies

Christmas Day’s menu:

Country ham
Herbed Turkey breast
Mashed Potatoes
Sweet Potato Casserole
Green Bean Casserole
Corn Saute’
Pear/Blue Cheese Salad
Angel Biscuits
Peppermint Punch/Iced Tea
Kentucky Derby Pie
Custard Pie

I’m sure it’s the same at your house – everybody requests their favorite dishes or desserts.  My mother-in-law made the comment after we ate – “All that cooking and baking for days, and it’s over in an hour.”  But if you really love to cook, and you enjoy pleasing your family, it’s truly a blessing.  I enjoyed the preparation as much as sitting down with my family to share it together.  The other truth is that we’ve been enjoying the fruits of the work for many days now and we’ll enjoy the leftovers for many days to come! 

I ordered the ham from a special place in my hometown – Winchester, Kentucky.  It was sliced up in nice thin pieces, perfect for the ham biscuits on Christmas Eve, and also for serving as the second meat at Christmas dinner.  It’s not overly salty at all, but tender and delicious!

We had the added blessing, just as dinner started, of getting a quick phone call from Alli in Antigua!  How sweet to hear that she’s having a blessed Christmas day.  They were headed to the beach for a picnic!  Serving the Lord has many grace blessings along the way!  Whitney, who is missing her little sister very much, was the one that got to speak with her during dinner (we’d had our chance on Christmas Eve).  The phone call did not stop the rest of us from digging in!  =)  Her call reminded me of this verse:  As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country. Proverbs 25:25  How true.

The tablecloth on my table was given to me recently from my mom.  It’s been in our  family since the early 80’s when they lived in Georgetown, Kentucky.  Each Christmas, whoever was there for the meal would sign their name and draw a little something – kind of like a guest book.  Then my mom embroidered over it, and it now serves as a keepsake from year to year.  This was my first Christmas to possess it and we had a good time reading the guest’s names on the cloth.  Then we each took our turns writing and drawing for this year’s remembrance.  It’s up to me now to embroider over the pencil markings.  I love this and am thankful to keep the tradition going.  Thanks, Mom!

If you’re going to have a New Year’s Eve party and want an easy and yummy dip, try the Avocado Dip here.  It’s by Kraft and is so easy and so good!  Also, the sausage balls are an old recipe that I hadn’t made in years, but they are always a hit.  They’re great for breakfast, as well as an appetizer.

Avocado Dip

2 medium sized Avocados, peeled and mashed
1 8 oz pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 Tbl lemon juice
1 Tbl finely chopped onion
Dash Worcestershire sauce
pinch Salt

Mix cream cheese and avocado until creamy and smooth.  Add remaining ingredients.  Serve with tortilla chips.  Keep refrigerated.

Sausage Balls

1 lb sausage, room temperature
10 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded
3 Cups baking mix

Mix sausage and cheese.  Add baking mix, one cup at a time.  Make into golf ball-sized balls.  Bake at 325 degrees for 12 minutes or until browned.  Serve warm.

It was a blessed Christmas, indeed.  I’ll share some other photos with you on Wednesday.  Tell me about your Christmas.  What made it special this year?

From my parsonage Kitchen,