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SLOW COOKER WHITE QUESO DIP

SLOW COOKER WHITE QUESO DIP

Slow cooker white queso dip

Any queso fans out there?  Yeah… I thought so.  Queso has always been our family’s biggest weakness.  We just can’t say no to it.  I mean who can resist melty gooey cheese over a crunchy salty tortilla chip?  Over the years I’ve made tons of different queso recipes and I’ve always cringed at some of the ingredients that go in.  Cream of mushroom soup?  Yeah, once upon a time I was guilty of that, creamy yes, but it doesn’t belong in queso!  I’ve always had issues with Velveeta as well… I’m sorry to all the Velveeta fans out there but unwrapping that orange gelatinous brick of manufactured cheese just grosses me out… I mean it doesn’t even require refrigeration!

With this slow cooker white queso dip we’re getting back to the basics with real cheese!  It’s incredibly easy to make and I’m proud to say it’s our family’s new favorite queso recipe!

Slow cooker white queso dip

In this recipe we use pepper jack cheese, sharp white cheddar, and white American cheese.  I know american cheese is processed too but we’re using a small amount and it’s not artificially colored, so I consider that an overall improvement.

Crazy fact, did you know all cheese is naturally white and it’s colored orange to be more aesthetically pleasing?  We learned that while touring a cheese factory in Wisconsin years ago.

Slow cooker white queso dip

Along with the cubed cheese, we finish the recipe with a brick of cream cheese, garlic powder, milk, and mild verde salsa!  Yeah baby!  Herdez is our verde salsa of choice and the mild gives the perfect amount of heat.

Cream cheese will always be my guilty pleasure, I can eat it straight out of the wrapper!  I prefer full fat because that’s how I roll, feel free to use 2%, just not fat free.  Cook one hour on high or 2 hours on low.  Whisk until smooth and then devour it!

Slow cooker white queso dip

Slow Cooker White Creamy Queso

Servings: 6

Equipment

  • Slow cooker

Ingredients

  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 oz sharp white cheddar, cubed
  • 8 oz pepperjack cheese, cubed
  • 4 oz white American cheese (we used Kraft Deluxe Slices)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup mild salsa verde (we used Herdez)
  • 1-2 jalapeno peppers for garnish, chopped, with seeds removed

Instructions

  • Add all the ingredients to a slow cooker except for the jalapeno garnish.
  • Cover and cook on low 2 hours, or high for 1 hour, until melted. Stir until smooth.
  • Serve with chips and jalapeno garnish.

Slow cooker white queso dip

We love how this queso tastes like real cheese.  It’s smooth, creamy, and full of flavor but it still has the slightest bit of cheese grit… reminding us real cheese was used.  Don’t skip on the jalapeño garnish either, once seeded you remove most of the heat and it adds a burst of fresh flavor.

I always make a double batch since we’re queso addicts here.  You can refrigerate any leftovers, just microwave till hot, and add a little milk to thin it out if needed.  Another favorite is serving this queso over grilled chicken or broccoli, it’s seriously delicious!

BAKED SPINACH ARTICHOKE DIP

BAKED SPINACH ARTICHOKE DIP

We had a party over the weekend, well kinda… I made my favorite spinach artichoke dip,  we drank some wine, and did our taxes.  Hey, when you’re over 40 that’s a party!  I’m not sure what I’m more excited about, the fact that we finished our taxes or that I got to devour this delisih dip.  This is an old recipe from my file that’s probably 10 years old.  I can’t remember but odds are it’s adapted from an old church cookbook… aren’t those old church cookbooks just the best?

Baked spinach artichoke dip recipe

I’m not the only spinach artichoke dip fan in this household, Haley goes nuts for it.  She loves anything that combines cream cheese and spinach, and she loves it when I make this recipe.  Once the spinach is thawed and drained and the cream cheese is room temperature it’s really easy to throw together!

I like to buy a loaf of French bread, mostly for dipping, but also for making a delicious bread crumb topping with my food processor.  You can skip this step or always use store bought bread crumbs if you want.  I just love the texture of homemade bread crumbs.

Baked spinach artichoke dip recipe

Baked in a 7×9 pan, this recipe is the perfect size for a small gathering.  If you’re expecting a crowd you can easily double the recipe and bake it in a larger pan.

Easy appetizers

Those who are watching carbs or are gluten free you can eliminate the bread crumbs.  I usually eat this dip with sliced veggies to save carbs, my favorite combination is with sliced red bell peppers and celery, it’s so yummy!  Tortilla chips are also a win.

low carb appetizers

Spinach Artichoke Dip

Servings: 4 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 12 oz package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 2 6 1/2 oz jars of marinated artichoke hearts, drained & chopped
  • 12 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 1 loaf French bread, to make bread crumbs and for dipping
  • 1 cup freshly made bread crumbs
  • 1 tbs melted butter

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375°
  • Drain spinach and press between layers of paper towels to remove excess moisture.  Combine spinach, artichoke hearts, cream cheese, parmesan cheese, sour cream, garlic, and lemon juice and mix well. Spoon into an 8x8 or 7x9 casserole dish.  
  • Tear off a piece of French bread and pulse in food processor to make course crumbs.  Continue the process until you have 1 cup of bread crumbs, mix well with melted butter and sprinkle over the dip.
  • Bake uncovered for about 25 minutes or until heated through and bread crumbs are toasted.  
  • Serve with remaining toasted french bread, tortilla chips, or vegetables for dipping.

Easy appetizers

This is a great recipe to make ahead and just pop into the oven right before guests arrive.  Be sure to check out some of my other recipes, my Roasted Bell Pepper and Basil Salsa is another entertaining favorite of ours.  Happy eats!

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BROWN SUGAR CINNAMON SPICED NUTS

BROWN SUGAR CINNAMON SPICED NUTS

Oh how I love spiced nuts this time of year!  It took me a little bit to recover from Thanksgiving but I’m back in the spirit of cooking and baking.  So I thought I would share my Brown Sugar Cinnamon Spiced Nuts recipe.  It’s a great indulgent treat and you can whip up a batch in under 20 minutes!  It makes for great party snack food but they taste great on salads too.  This is one of those recipes that’s just fun to play around with, and with most of the recipe being made in the microwave it’s pretty much fool proof!

I like to roast my nuts a few minutes in the oven first, it’s not essential you do this, but it really brings out the flavor of the nuts.  You can play around with any variety of nuts you like, my favorite is definitely pecans.  I’m kinda weird about walnuts, sometimes I love them, and other times I can’t stand how bitter they are.

After roasting the nuts in the oven, the rest of the recipe quickly comes together in the microwave.  We like to add a pinch of chipotle pepper for just a hint of spice, you can add a big pinch though if you want!  Once the nuts are finished in the microwave I dry them on parchment paper.  About 10 minutes later they should be dried, with no sticky residue.  I could eat an entire bowl, especially while they’re still warm!  Store any leftovers in an airtight container, that is if you have any leftovers!

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Spiced Nuts

Servings: 4 cups

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • a pinch of chipotle or cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbs water
  • 4 cups pecan haves
  • parchment paper or wax paper

Instructions

  • Place nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and roast at 350 for 5-7 minutes.
  • Melt butter in a large microwave safe bowl.  Stir in the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, chipotle, salt, and water and microwave for 1 minute.  
  • Add the roasted nuts and stir until the nuts are thoroughly coated.  Microwave 4-5 more minutes, STIRRING HALF WAY THROUGH.  
  • Remove nuts from the microwave and stir for about a minute until all the liquid is gone from the bottom of the bowl.  
  • Spread the nuts to cool on parchment paper for 10 minutes.

It’s on my list of things to do to add a print function to my recipes, I’ll get to it eventually I promise.  I love to play around and experiment a lot with my recipes so if you come up with any interesting flavor combinations let me know.  Happy snacking!

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GLUTEN FREE 3 INGREDIENT SAUSAGE BALLS

GLUTEN FREE 3 INGREDIENT SAUSAGE BALLS

3 ingredient gluten free sausage balls

I thought I should share our super easy sausage ball recipe.  It’s simple, tastes great, and you can easily throw it together in minutes!  These make an easy breakfast or mid-day snack, and sometimes we’ll add a salad and make a dinner out of them.

I remember early in our marriage I discovered Bisquick and honestly I thought it was the best thing ever.  The Bisquick sausage ball recipe was definitely one of my favorites, that and those fluffy cheddar garlic biscuits!  This 3 ingredient sausage ball recipe still has the same great taste just without the gluten, and bonus, less carbs – plus it’s simple to make.  I usually keep the ingredients on hand, and it’s so easy that my kids can whip up a batch on their own.  Sometimes I hear the sound of the cheese shredder coming from the kitchen and I think… I guess they’re making sausage balls.  We never buy pre-shredded cheese, we always buy a block and shred our own with my trusty salad shooter, it tastes so much better!

gluten free breakfasts

The most important ingredient in this recipe is the sausage.  You want to start with 1 pound of the highest quality great tasting  sausage you can find.  We use Jimmy Dean All Natural Pork Sausage with great tasting results, another favorite when I can find it is Frans Fryers organic chicken sausage.  You can use whatever uncooked sausage you like, chicken or pork.  Just make sure you’re happy with the taste because that’s going to be the main flavor of your sausage balls.

gluten free sausage balls

This recipe is so simple, just add 1 cup almond flour, 1 cup sharp shredded cheese, and 1 pound bulk sausage to a bowl.  Just remember 1-1-1 to make this recipe and you’ll have it memorized in no time!  Nothing else is needed unless you feel like playing around and getting fancy.  If so then go for it!  If you hate almond flour you can still use this recipe with 1 cup bisquick or 1 cup of any alternative baking mix.

For the best results you really need to mix this together with your hands.  So wash your hands and get mixing!  Sharp cheddar compliments the flavor of the sausage nicely, but you can experiment with any kind of cheese.  The combinations are endless.  One of my favorite variations is to add 1-2 teaspoons of garlic powder and shredded parmesan cheese in place of the cheddar but shhh….that would be 4 ingredients so don’t tell on me.

I like to use a broiler pan or a baking sheet with an oven safe cookie cooling rack on top lightly sprayed with cooking spray.  Both pan methods produce great results and all the fat drips down nicely.  You’ll probably only need one pan for this recipe unless you double the recipe.

gluten free 3 ingredient sausage balls

Another favorite thing about this recipe is how freezer friendly it is.  You can freeze these before you cook them or after.  If you opt to freeze these uncooked then you would flash freeze the uncooked sausage balls on a pan for 2-3 hours until solid then place in a ziplock bag.

When your ready to cook just place the frozen sausage balls on the broiler pan or baking sheet and bake, adding about 5-7 minutes of cooking time.  Or if you prefer, freeze after they’ve been cooked and just microwave them for a quick meal or snack.

breakfast recipes

Gluten Free 3 Ingredient Sausage Balls

Servings: 24 sausage balls

Ingredients

  • 1 lb uncooked breakfast sausage
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees°
  • Spray a broiler pan, or a cooling rack on top of a rimmed sheet pan with cooking spray.  Place all 3 ingredients in a bowl and mix together with hands.  Shape mixture into one inch balls and place on pan.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

I hope you like this simple delicious recipe, if you’re like us you’ll be hooked on these in no time!

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ROASTED BELL PEPPER SALSA WITH BASIL

ROASTED BELL PEPPER SALSA WITH BASIL

roasted bell pepper and basil salsa

If you love salsa and Italian food then this salsa recipe is for you!   Bell peppers, or sometimes called sweet peppers, are just so heavenly amazing when roasted!   The flavor of basil is a fresh tasting fun alternative to cilantro.  I always have a ton of basil every spring and summer so I’m always looking for ways to use it up.

For this recipe you need roasted bell peppers.  Red roasted bell peppers are sold in jars at the grocery store and can be used in a bind, but I strongly recommend you roast your own peppers for incredible flavor.  If you aren’t sure how to do this read up on How to Roast Bell Peppers, it’s pretty simple.

Roasted Sweet Pepper Salsa Recipe

I used 2 red and 2 yellow peppers.  Orange peppers are also a good option, I don’t recommend green bell peppers for this recipe, as they aren’t as sweet.

Sweet Pepper Salsa

This recipe makes a little over 2 cups of salsa which is the perfect amount to serve over grilled meat or a serving of chips and salsa for a few people.  If you’re wanting chips and salsa for a crowd you better double the recipe.  Sometimes we use leftover salsa to make omelets or serve it over chicken or fish.  It taste amazing!  Below I have it served over baked tilapia but it also tastes great over my Grilled Rosemary Balsamic Chicken.

Italian Salsa Recipe

Roasted Bell Pepper Salsa with Basil

Servings: 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 red bell peppers, roasted and diced
  • 2 yellow bell peppers, roasted and diced
  • 3/4 cup diced onion
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 20 basil leaves, rolled and sliced or chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbs clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper

Instructions

  • In a medium size bowl, combine peppers, onion, and chopped basil.  In a small size bowl combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes, and fresh ground pepper and stir to combine.
  • Pour olive oil mixture into medium sized bowl and gently stir to combine.  Cover and refrigerate 2 hours to allow flavors to blend.  Salsa is at its best when eaten within 24 hours.

Sweet Pepper Salsa

I love how colorful this salsa is, it’s like a party in a bowl, happy eats!  You can shop some of my favorite kitchen items below.