Appetizer · hospitality · summertime

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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!

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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.
Directions:
  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.

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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,

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Thanksgiving

Three Simple Ways To Keep Guests Happy

When the smell of the Thanksgiving turkey is wafting through the house and you have a boatload of people who are starving, it’s really helpful (and maybe even life-saving) to have some easy appetizers on hand to ward off their hunger pains and keep them from nibbling on the “real food!”  Hungry guests aren’t happy guests, so let’s fill them up!

A relish tray is pretty standard for an appetizer, but I thought I’d share some other ideas –  three easy, fast and inexpensive appetizer ideas with you today!  Oh, I forgot to mention these are all sooo yummy, which to most of us is the most important part of any recipe!  These recipes include sweet, salty and savory – wait aren’t those three of the food groups?  😉

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  1.  Candy corn and salted peanuts.  Mix half of each in a dish, stick in a spoon and you’re done!  You won’t believe how delicious this is!  I’m not really a candy corn fan, but mixed with peanuts, it’s just the right amount of sweetness!  Grab a bag of candy corn on sale in the post-Halloween candy deals right now!

    Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels:

  2. Sugar and spice pretzels.
    1 (16 oz) bag pretzel twists
    ⅔ cup vegetable oil
    ½ cup sugar
    2 tsp cinnamon
    Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Pour pretzels into a roasting pan. In a medium sized bowl mix together vegetable oil, cinnamon and sugar. Pour over pretzels and stir to coat. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes, removing twice to stir.

    Party Cheese Ball Image 1
    Picture from Kraft
  3. My Favorite Cheese Ball & Crackers
    8 oz. Cream cheese
    1 Cup grated Cheddar cheese
    2 Tbl. Worcestershire sauce
    1/2 tsp. Garlic powder
    1/4 Cup Green onions, diced
    Chopped Walnuts of Pecans

    Soften Cream cheese.  Add all ingredients, except nuts.  Stir to combine.  Place on waxed paper or saran wrap.  Wrap paper around to roll into a ball.  Refrigerate until firm.  Roll cheese ball in chopped nuts.  Serve with a variety of crackers.

Aldi’s has had cream cheese on sale for .89 the last several weeks.  Grab several and keep it on hand for the holiday season. You can be ready to whip up a cheese ball at a moment’s notice!

I hope this will help your Thanksgiving guests to be happy and satisfied while dinner’s cooking!

With love from my country kitchen,

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