Skinny Deli Veggie Roll Ups (No Carbs, Less than 100 Calories)

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1 Skinny Roll-Up, cut in half to better show you the stuffing.(But you may prefer to eat it without cutting it in half, as it is less messy)

(Becky, the Mama)    You know those times when you want “just a little somethin’-somethin’’” to tide you over to until the next meal, or give your foggy brain an energy boost?  Something good for you, tasty, without lots of calories or carbs?  But  you want more than a few carrot or celery sticks.  Or maybe you want a light lunch in a hurry, but you aren’t crazy about the idea of sandwiches or wraps with all that bread?

           Here’s my favorite pick-me-up-in-a-hurry snack and it is less than 100 calories per Skinny Roll Up.  No carbs. No gluten (as long as the meat and cheese you use is gluten free.)  Plus there are a thousand variations to this basic “recipe”:   you can choose whatever thinly sliced sandwich meat you like (or substitute a vegan version), then chose a small bit of cheese (your choice, or leave it out),  whatever veggies you have on hand (cooked or raw or a combination), and any sauce that floats your Roll Up Boat from honey mustard (as I used here), to a little dollop of Ranch Dressing with Buffalo Sauce, to Teriyaki Sauce with Sriracha, to Bar-b-que sauce… and on and on.  They are surprisingly filling, two of them with a piece of fruit works as a great light lunch, and the calories are such that you can enjoy another snack or small dessert with a cup of tea or coffee at mid-day and not break your calorie bank.

            When your kids claim they are famished and dinner is till an hour away, you can teach your kids how to build-their-own Roll Ups, letting their imagination lead the way.  Just one Roll Up will tide them over until dinner, but won’t spoil their appetite.   You can also wrap their favorite “roll-ups” in Saran Wrap, leave off the sauce, and send them a little “dipping sauce” in a small container for some variety in their lunch box. (You may want to use 2 slices of deli meat for these so they are easier for the kids to handle.  A half slice of American cheese also helps it “stick” and stay together better.)

            Vegetarian or Vegans can substitute ToFurky Roasted Deli Slices, which have excellent taster reviews.  Or skip the meat layer, use a large soft piece of lettuce instead, and spread the lettuce with humus or refried beans for the protein.

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I used thin deli Honey Ham, a slice of Romaine, a slice of Roasted Red Pepper, some white cheddar cheese strips, sweet pickles and honey mustard. Yummmm….

Skinny Deli Veggie Roll Ups

Thin Sliced Deli Meat (Your choice, I used Honey Ham.  Vegans can use ToFurky Deli Slices)

1 t. or more  of your favorite sauce or dressing (I used Honey Mustard)

1/2 to 1 oz. of cheese, sliced or cut in small strips (1/2 slice of American Cheese, or 2 or 3 small thin strips of any hard cheese)

Small pieces l of lettuce

Pickles, Roasted Peppers (Anything pickled you like that adds a “bite” — pepperocinis, sliced olives or jalapenos are yummy too. I used midget sweet pickles)

 1 or 2 T.  Veggies, cooked or raw (thinly sliced carrots, cucumber, celery, tomato, avocado, raw pepper sticks, sliced green onions, mashed beans, humus  or leftover cooked veggies of any kind)

Directions

Lay a thin slice of deli meat on a plate (you can double this if you want more protein and sturdiness).   Stack lettuce, cheese, pickles and veggies down the middle of the deli slice.  Squeeze your favorite dressing over this. Roll up like a burrito and enjoy.  If making a bunch of them to serve later or to pack in a lunch, you may want to secure them with a toothpick.   (Also if they are to be served later or eaten for lunch, you may prefer to leave off the dressing and keep it separate to use as a dipping sauce.)

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One Skinny Roll Up, Cut in 1/2 on Diagonal (to show inside stuffing)

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Cheesy Garlic, Fresh Tomato Bread with Oil & Balsamic Drizzle

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Cheesy Hot Garlic Bread with Tomatoes, Drizzled with Olive OIl and Vinegar

(Becky, the Mama.)

What fun  Rachel and I are having hearing back from readers enjoying We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook. Here’s one I got a kick out of today from Linda: “Becky I’m only on page 18 and I’m laughing out loud like a nutcase. You really have made a career out of telling on yourself! OMG, too funny and you’re not exaggerating, not even a little? Starting with misplacing your car keys in Nashville, your suitcase exploding at the airport, you can’t find your car once you arrive in Fort Worth, then when you do, the battery is dead? I’m dying over here.”

grunge image of a field

People often ask my daughter (now co-author), my friends, my husband, “Come on, tell the truth. Is Becky making this stuff up?” All they can say, with a slow head shake is, “We only wish she were.”

As I read the fun note above, I was in the middle of posting this episode on Facebook:
Leaving hotel room today. Close door, get 4 big suitcases in hall.
Me: “Uh I took my glasses off again.”
Greg: “Did you leave them in the room?”
Me: “I might have.”
All four  of our keys are behind locked doors so Greg goes to get new ones. Upon his return, I say, “I also can’t seem to find my cell phone.” He enters the room and turns it upside down. I look on the carpet, I’ve been sitting on the phone in the hall. I find my glasses, in the case where I put them in my suitcase. I don’t remember doing that AT ALL. We close the door pick up our things and go on. Greg never gets mad, not even testy. No matter how many times we exit a hotel room this way.

Life has been so busy lately with the book’s release and travel and finding things I have lost,  that when I do cook I want it to be fast and easy and delicious. One of the things I enjoy the most at some of the great Italian restaurants we’ve visited on our trip to Oregon this week, is fresh homemade bread dipped in a little plate of olive oil, good aged balsamic vinegar and a little garlic. Heaven.

Recently I found a way to turn Heaven into a quick snacky meal or a wonderfully easy appetizer for a bunch. Cutting a nice fresh loaf of French bread lengthwise, I sprinkled it with cheese, then layered sliced fresh garden tomatoes, followed  tiny pinches of salt, pepper, basil or oregano (fresh or dried, whatever you have on hand), a little fresh grated garlic. Pop this in the oven until the cheese melts and tomatoes are sizzling. Then, here’s the fun part: drizzle it all with good olive oil and balsamic, cut in slices and serve with plenty of napkins.

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Cheesy, Garlic, Fresh Tomato Bread with Oil & Balsamic

1 French baguette, sliced in half lengthwise

1 cup grated cheese (I used mozzarella, some white cheddar and feta. Use any combination you like.)

2-3 tomatoes (my baguette was small so Roma tomatoes were perfect size), sliced

Pinch fresh salt

Several turns of fresh pepper

1 t. dried oregano, or 2 t. minced fresh basil

1 clove fresh garlic, grated

¼ cup olive oil, approximate

2 T. good aged balsamic vinegar

Directions:

Preheat Oven to  400 degrees

Put both baguette halves on a baking sheet, cut side up.  Sprinkle about ½ cup grated cheese on each side.  Slice tomatoes and place atop both pieces of bread, overlapping slightly as shown.  Sprinkle each half with a little fresh salt, some turns of fresh pepper, the herbs and garlic.

Place in oven for about 5 minutes or until baguettes are hot, cheese is melted and tomatoes are sizzling.

Drizzle the baguettes with oil and vinegar, slice in 3 inch pieces and serve hot.  (With plenty of napkins.)

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Skillet Cheesy Italian Squash Casserole

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(Becky, the Mama.)

In my home state of Texas zucchini grows in backyard gardens with such profusion that almost everyone I knew had a steady pile of it sitting on the kitchen counter waiting to be washed, diced, sliced, grated, grilled baked, steamed, frozen — or ignored until it grew mildew and could finally be thrown away without guilt. My mother remembers having to remove a bunch of zucchini from my kitchen sink in order to make room to give one of my newborn babies their first bath. During Texas summers it is almost impossible to walk to or from your car without at least one neighbor strong-arming you into accepting a bag or bucket of ever present green squash. Everywhere you turn, zucchini lurks.

To get my children to eat their share of it, I invented Skillet Italian Squash Casserole. By cooking the squash until just crisp tender, then topping it with an Italian style tomato sauce, gooey cheese, and buttery crackers, I had a winner! It was a family favorite for many years.

Soon after we married, nine years ago,  my husband Greg let me know, “I’m not really a squash kind of guy.” So I avoided serving him squash in any form. But the other day, I threw caution to the wind and made this casserole anyway, since I liked it so much. He graciously agreed to try it. To my surprise, he loved it, too.  Ate every bite. I made it again tonight, and there was not a speck of squash left on his plate,

One day we came home from some errands to find a grocery sack of [zucchini] hanging on our mailbox. The perpetrator, of course, was nowhere in sight … Garrison Keillor says July is the only time of year when country people lock our cars in the church parking lot, so people won’t put squash on the front seat. I used to think that was a joke …” Barbara Kingsolver in Animal, Vegetable, Mineral

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Skillet Cheesy Italian Squash Casserole

5 smallish to medium squash, yellow or zucchini or a mixture of both
Salt & Pepper
1 T. olive oil
1 large clove grated garlic
1 cup crushed canned tomatoes (preferably the kind with basil)
½ t. oregano
2 t. brown sugar
1 c. grated cheese (I like mozzarella but really, any cheese you like & have on hand will be yummy)
3 T. butter
20 buttery crackers, such Ritz or Townhouse (I used Ritz wheat crackers)
2 T. grated Parmesan Cheese

Directions:
Heat oven to 400 degrees

Slice squash about ¼ inch thick. Sprinkle all with salt and pepper. Heat oil in an 10-12 inch iron skillet on high flame until very hot. Put squash and garlic into pan and saute until many of the pieces are golden on the outside and cooked until just crisp-tender.

Remove from stove top and pour crushed tomatoes evenly over the top of the squash. Sprinkle the tomatoes with oregano and brown sugar. Top with grated cheese. Melt butter in a medium-sized bowl in the microwave. Crumble crackers into the melted butter, add Parmesan and mix. Pour this crumb mixture on top of the cheese, then place the skillet in hot oven. Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes or until squash is tender, cheese melted, and cracker crumb topping is golden.

Veganize This: Substitute vegan ‘Mozzarella” and “Parmesan” cheese and dairy-free butter and you are good to go on this one.  Simple to do!

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Marinated Portobello Pizzas

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(Becky, the Mama.)

As long as I can remember I have wanted to be Italian. I look Italian. I FEEL the inner, fiery passions of an Italian. I love the way every little word in Italian sounds like music, or a romantic flirtation.

I met a beautiful grandmother from Sicily a few years ago, at a friend’s house in Denver, and after chatting a bit, she asked me if I was Italian. Be still il mio cuore (my heart).

I said, “No, but I really, really want to be.” What I didn’t say, but what I wanted to say was, “I want to live under the Tuscan sun by day, and I want the moon to hit my eye like a big pizza pie at night. I want to eat gelato and drink café in a piazza.” (And I want an excuse to use words “gelato,” “café” and “piazza” in a sentence every day.)

This lovely lady, immediately recognizing my Inner Sophia Loren said, with a wave of her hand, “No worries, I will make you Sicilian.”

“You will?”

“Yes,” she said, and then she ceremoniously took my face in her two cupped hands, looked in my eyes and said, “Now you are Sicilian.”

Poof!

So there ya go.

In honor of my bestowed-upon Sicilian-Italian-ness, I offer these beautiful little marinated Portobello pizzas for your eating and snacking pleasure today. You can fill them with anything you have on hand that you enjoy, the possibilities are endless: mozzarella, tomato and fresh basil; goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and pesto; chopped veggies and lentils in a marinara sauce with vegan cheeses; humus and olives and red roasted peppers; chicken, asparagus and Alfredo sauce. I could go on and on, as we Italians are prone to do.

I filled these Portobellos with a rich home-made marina sauce I mixed with some leftover diced roasted veggies. Then I sprinkled them with mozzarella and Parmesan and topped with a few slices of turkey pepperoni.

Muah! Easy, pretty and delizioso! If you think ahead, try to pop the mushrooms into the marinade as soon as you bring them home from the grocer. The longer they marinate the better they taste! I ended up marinating these for almost 3 days. They were so juicy and flavorful.

This recipe has almost no carbs, is gluten free, and can easily be adjusted to be vegan or vegetarian. If you have lots of people over for a party who are all on special diets (and who isn’t these days? ) you can even make them to order. (Or let your guests make their own.)

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Marinated Portobello Pizzas

Makes 2 Portobello Pizzas

Ingredients: 

1/3 cup of your favorite Italian or balsamic salad dressing

2 large Portobello mushrooms

½ cup of your favorite marinara or spaghetti sauce (mixed with any chopped leftover veggies you like)

2 T. grated mozzarella cheese (or a slice of fresh buffalo mozzarella)

2 T. Parmesan cheese

6 to 8 slices of turkey pepperoni (it has 70% less fat that regular pepperoni and the same amount of flavor)

Directions:

Marinate the mushrooms in the dressing for at least four hours or up to several days in a tightly covered container. (Put in fridge if you are marinating more than 4 hours. Otherwise you can leave the mushrooms to marinate on the counter top.)

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Next, broil or grill the mushroom on both sides until the get grill marks or start to brown. Turn stem side up and carefully cut off the stem. (I chopped the stem and added it to marinara.) Place a generous spoonful of chunky marinara sauce on the mushrooms (about 1/4 cup each) then sprinkle each with a tablespoon of mozzarella and Parmesan. Finally top with pepperoni. Bake or Broil (about 6 inches from heat) until cheese is melted and pizzas are heated through. Now THAT’S amore!

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Pesto Parmesan Chicken


(Becky, the Mama.)

I was famished after a gym workout this week, and decided to grab a bite to eat on my way home. Cruising through the drive-through lane at Taco Bell, I placed my order for a taco. The voice on the intercom sounded confused, so I repeated my order again, louder and with more clarity. And that is when I actually looked at the menu and realized…. I was in line at Starbucks.

One of my Facebook friends quipped, “So did you ask them to make you a Taco Frappucino?”

Granted, there is nothing appealing about the thought of a Taco Frappucino, but you’d be surprised at how many of my favorite recipes are created because of accidents. Or because I am hungry for a particular something, but out of an ingredient or two, so try to make due with substitutes. Time and again, the substitute often proves to be an improvement on the original recipe.

Such is the case with today’s recipe. Typically, when I make Chicken Parmesan, I use thin cutlets. What I had on hand was a couple of monster size breasts (Yes, my husband could not keep himself from making a few jokes about that) and I was in too much of a hurry to pound them thin.

Secondly, I often dip the cutlets in egg whites and grated garlic before rolling in Panko crumbs and Parmesan. Alas, nary an egg or a clove of garlic anywhere in the house.

That is when I spied a large jar of pesto that I’d purchased at Sam’s Club (it is surprisingly tasty, some of the best purchased pesto I’ve tried). One thing led to another and I ended up covering the breasts with pesto, then rolling them in Panko and grated Parmesan cheese. What we ended up with, eventually, was the best Chicken Parm I’ve ever made. In fact, it was the best Chicken Parmagiano I’ve ever eaten. The chicken inside stayed incredibly tender and when you cut through it, you could see the pretty layer of green pesto, golden Panko, red marinara and white cheese. Now that’s amore.

Pesto Parmesan Chicken

Serves 2 people (with big appetites)

Ingredients

2 large boneless chicken breasts

Salt & Pepper (to taste, to sprinkle lightly on chicken)

2 cups marinara sauce (your favorite bottled brand or homemade)

¼ cup fresh or grated mozzarella

1/4 cup olive oil

1 T. butter

1/2 cup Pesto

1 cup Panko bread crumbs

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

Heat Oven to 400 degrees

Instructions:

Heat the marina in a saucepan until hot.

Put olive oil and butter in a large oven proof skillet and heat to medium high.

Rinse and pat boneless chicken breasts dry. Sprinkle both sides lightly with salt and pepper. Put pesto in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl mix Panko and ½ c. Parmesan cheese. Lay chicken breasts, one at a time, into pesto first, coating both sides of breast and edges thoroughly, and then in Panko-Parm mixture, coating both sides and edges of breasts thoroughly again.

Saute the breasts on both sides until the coating is crispy and golden. You may have to add a little more oil depending on size of breasts and your pan.  (Drain off excess oil, if there is a lot of it, before putting in oven.)

Then put the entire skillet into the oven and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and ladle each breast with ¼ cup marinara, 2 T. mozzarella and 2 T. Parmesan cheese. Place back in the oven for 5 to 10 more minutes or until cheese is melted and chicken breast is cooked but not overly so. (A meat thermometer is helpful here, but if you don’t have one, just cut through the middle of one of the breasts to check for doneness.)


Before serving ladle each breast with more marinara and sprinkle with more Parmesan cheese. This dish is excellent served with a side of angel hair pasta that has been tossed in a little pesto.

Variation:  Use thinner chicken breasts or pound smaller chicken breasts thin.  Put sauce and cheese on immediately after pan frying, and cook in oven only until cheese melts.

Vegetarian or Vegan Variation:
Use a vegan chicken patty (such as Gardien brand frozen chick’n scallopini), tofu, tempeh or seitan instead of chicken breasts. Use or make a vegan pesto (omit the parm cheese in most pesto recipes). The cooking time in the oven following pan-frying may not be needed at all, or just cook for a few minutes with tomato sauce and cheese. Vegans can serve without cheese, or use vegan versions of mozzarella and Parm on top.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Pesto Parmesan Chicken
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-Jz
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Fiesta Tortilla “Flower” Pie

Becky’s Fiesta Flower Pie

(Becky, the Mama.)

Yesterday I heard a loud thump followed by a yell outside my kitchen window. I rushed out to see my husband Greg lying on the patio, telling me he twisted his ankle. “Don’t move!” I said, “I’m coming down there to help you.”

I really did mean to scoot down and cradle his head in my lap. I really did not mean to kick him hard in the temple with my knee in the process. Thankfully, Greg wasn’t so wounded that he lost his sense of humor: he pretended I knocked him unconscious. He was able to walk on the ankle in just a few minutes, but I still wonder if it was just a heroic attempt to save himself from my further attempts to help him.

My record for doing good, and no harm, in a medical emergency is a little bit uneven.  When my son Zeke was about thirteen, he cut his leg badly while we were in a shopping center parking lot.  I started throwing everything I could find in the car on his leg to stop the bleeding and then drove him to the emergency room.  As the nurse took off layer after layer: a towel, napkins from fast food restaurants, a clean diaper, and some grass clippings… she looked up at me quizzically and asked, “Becky, were you trying to smother the wound?”

On the other hand, I once expertly performed the Heimlich maneuver on a woman who was choking in the women’s restroom. Just as calm as you please, I walked into her stall where she had been coughing and banging on the door, and was now turning blue.I told her not to worry, that I was going to do the Heimlich (that I’d heretofore only seen done on TV). Somehow I did, and out popped a piece of pineapple from her mouth. As soon as she could breathe normally again,she announced to everyone around that I had saved her life.

Maybe I’m better in life-threatening situations than I am in more minor emergencies. A nurturing person at heart, I wonder sometimes if I could have made a good nurse. My husband says, “You would have been a wonderful nurse, Becky.  Your patients would have loved you and you would have kept them laughing and smiling…. right before you accidentally killed them.”  It is true. I can’t keep up with my own cell phone or purse on a daily basis, so keeping track of med dosing schedules for patients would have certainly been a crap shoot.

I’ve probably made better and safer use of my nurturing nature by caring for ailing folks through gifts of home cooking.  I woke up from a nap the other day with the idea for this dish dancing in my head.  It was even better than I imagined it would be.  It uses simple ingredients that most of us have on hand, but arranges them in a way that looks like big, colorful Mexican flower in a pie pan. It would be a wonderful dish to take to a friend who has twisted their ankle, cut their leg or been kneed in the head by a clumsy do-gooder.

Fiesta Tortilla Flower Pie

Fiesta Tortilla Flower Pie

Serves 6

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees

Ingredients

Shell:
1 t. olive oil
4 medium sized flour tortillas, cut 3 of them in half, leaving one whole

Beef-Bean Filling:

1 lb lean ground beef or buffalo meat
3 cloves garlic, minced

16 oz. can pinto beans drained (I had leftover home-cooked one) but not rinsed
½ cup thick salsa (I used “On the Border” brand)
¼ cup thick bbq sauce (I used “Sweet Baby Ray’s”)
1 t. grill or steak seasoning (or ½ t. salt and ½ t pepper)
½ t.Cajun seasoning (I like Tony’s brand.  Or use red pepper flakes or chili powder instead.)
3 quick dashes Tabasco or Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
1 t. brown sugar

Additional Layers (Before Cooking)
¾ c. Greek yogurt (I prefer 2%)  or sour cream (light is fine)
¾ c. bottled salsa
¾ c. grated cheese, any kind you like
½ c crushed corn chips (we like Fritos) or tortilla chips
Jalapeno slices – as many as you like for garnish

Fresh Salsa Topping for After Cooking
1/2 c. chopped tomato
½   c. diced avocado
½   c. drained corn or corn cut off a cob
Squeeze of fresh lime, dash salt, dash sugar

Directions:

Lightly oil a skillet or griddle and brown a whole one round tortilla and five halved tortillas in batches, until they are light golden brown in spots on both sides.   Line a deep dish pie pan with as shown in the photo below, slightly overlapping the “petals” of the tortilla flower.

In a large skillet brown the beef with the garlic.  Then  add the next seven ingredients, stir and heat through until simmered and thickened.Pour meat and bean mixture into “tortilla flower.”

Gently spread the sour cream or Greek Yogurt over the beef mixture.  Next spread on the salsa.

Then sprinkle the grated cheese over all, followed by an even sprinkling of crushed corn chips.  Finally decorate with a few jalapeno slices.Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes while you make a quick fresh salsa topping.  In a bowl, combine tomato, avocado and corn. Give this mixture a quick squeeze of fresh lime, a dash of salt and a pinch of sugar.  Toss.   Pile in the middle of the tortilla pie.

Use a very sharp serrated knife to cut pie shaped wedges.  It may be a little messy if the pie is still hot, so feel free to serve in a bowls if you prefer.

Vegetarian Version: Replace beef with 1 cup lentils or other beans (in addition to the ones in the recipe), 1/2 cup grain such as quinoa or rice, 1/4 cup chopped nuts such as walnuts, and 1 cup chopped mushrooms.

Vegan Version:
Follow Vegetarian Version above for meat replacement. Skip sour cream and cheese layers and cover the pie with fresh guacamole once comes out of the oven and has cooled for 5 minutes. Use just the tomatoes and corn for salsa topping.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Fiesta Tortilla Pie
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-Bv
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


5 Minute Apricot Thai Chili Cheese Spread

Becky’s 5 Minute Apricot Thai Chili Cheese Spread

If your life is like my life, t-i-m-e is at a premium.  And even when you carve out time for concentrated tasks, or cooking a great meal, there are life’s pesky interruptions.

Last night, while Greg was otherwise occupied, I stole away to the Corner Bakery in Highlands Ranch.  It has one of the most beautiful patios and views in Colorado!  Plus, it has WiFi and whoopie pies.  Need I say more?  My office away from home.  Vacation put me behind on writing and correspondence, so I was determined to fire up my lap top, away from the noise and demands of home, and get ‘er done!

Within minutes, four men in khakis with booming voices sat down inches from me, pulled out their legal pads and starting talking Geek: techy, nerdy, computery words flew at full volume, assaulting my quiet retreat.

I gave up, moved to another table, plugged in my computer at which point a family with a small child possessing a scream like a siren sat down behind me. The piercing screams were intermittent and so sharp, that patrons covered their ears and hurried to finish their meals. Still determined to get some work done, I moved for a second time, to a quiet corner protected on two sides by chest-high walls.  Ahhh….a little fortress.

Just then a waitress rounded the corner, hit her tray on the edge of my fortress wall sending a large glass cup of salsa flying, uncannily, perfectly in my direction.  My left side took the biggest hit, with salsa now dripping from my left cheek, arm, legs and sandaled feet. My computer screen looked like someone threw a tomato at my prose-in-progress.  I wiped myself and computer down, but the spots on my bare skin where I had been hit in the drive-by-salsa-ing, began to burn uncomfortably.  I called it a night, shut ‘er donw, and headed home. Later I regretted not asking for a free whoopee pie for my trouble, but alas, I was afraid the ceiling might cave in on me next.

Mama said there’d be days like this and on days like this, you need a fast, delicious, savory snack supper that you don’t have to spend hours cooking or preparing.   I offer you one of my favorite go-to snack or party foods: 5 minute Apricot Thai Chili Cheese Spread.  It’s a little like a soft cheese ball, with more interesting shape and toppings.  It has so many great tastes and textures: creamy, crunchy, sweet, hot.  Spread out on a plate, your guests also get a lot more of the sweet-spicy sauce and nuts with each bite than they do with a typical cheese ball.  Plus no refrigeration or clumsy rolling of the ball in nuts to deal with.  Add some fruit and veggies and wine, some hard Italian salami or roasted chick peas and its a great snack supper.

This recipe is fast,  impressive and beautiful on a table, and it will get you rave reviews and requests for recipe.  I never make it or bring it to a party that people don’t ask for the recipe.  In winter you can use the same toppings over warmed brie.

Variations:

Try this topping with warmed brie.  Vegans could make a “cheese spread” of Tofutti cream cheese mixed with white beans such as navy beans or butter beans in the food proceesor — add a little garlic salt and maybe some chives for extra flavor.
NOTE: I had some of this leftover and refrigerated it. Company was coming and so I put it in a small oven proof bowl and heated in the oven a few minutes, turning the broiler on for a minute at the end to caramelize the nuts and top of sauce. It was OVER THE TOP delicious.  Company devoured it in minutes.  So served cold or warm, this is a winner!

5 Minute Apricot Thai Chili Cheese Spread

Ingredients:

Cheese, cream cheese, almonds, sweet thai chili sauce and apricot preserves

1/2 cup cream cheese (I like the lower fat Neufchatel cheese)

1/3 cup cheese of your choice (I used a crumbly apricot white cheese with brandy this time)

1/4 cup apricot preserves

2 T. sweet Thai chili sauce

Finely chopped roasted salted almonds (pecans or walnuts are also delicious)

Assorted crackers

Directions:

In a food processor blend the cream cheese with the cheese until it forms a nice stiff creamy cheese spread.  (It should be thick.)

Process cream cheese with your choice other cheese

Spoon the mixture onto the center of a  pretty serving plate in a mound. Using the back of a large spoon pat the cheese into a round or oblong shape, about an inch thick.  This is going to be a rustic cheese spread so don’t worry about perfection.

Using back of spoon form into a rustic circle or oval

Mix the apricot preserves with the sweet Thai chili sauce and then spoon this on top of the cheese and spread it around, letting some of it drip prettily down the sides.

Finally, top with chopped nuts.  Serve with a pretty small cheese spreader knife and an assortment of your favorite crackers.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: 5 Minute Apricot Thai Chili Cheese Spread
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-ym