Cherry Pistachio Brie

I used to make something similar but in puff pastry, but I think the puff pastry was unnecessary, and this is prettier. I served it at the inaugural book club for my neighborhood, and it was all GONE!

1/2 cup  snipped dried cherries (ideally chopped with scissors in a little bowl)
1/4 cup  cherry preserves
1 tablespoon  Cognac or brandy
1 round  Brie cheese
1/2 cup  pistachios or walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

Put brie on a piece of parchment paper and put on low for 3 hours or high for 1 1/4 hours. (This makes the brie soft but not melted – fabulous tip!)

In a bowl combine cherries, preserves, and Cognac or brandy. (You can do this early in the day too.)

Transfer brie to a serving platter. Spoon the cherry mixture on top of cheese.

Just before serving, sprinkle pistachios on top of cherries. Serve with crackers.

Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens

Tailgate Homemade Salsa

No tailgate is complete without an overachieving fan! This recipe is the exception. Homemade is a loose term. We use canned petite diced tomatoes. If you prefer to use fresh tomatoes, knock yourself out. We have tested many salsas over the years. We have Julie to thank for her winning recipe. Game on! This salsa is a touchdown…with the extra point.

2-28 oz. cans of petite diced tomatoes
2-3 fresh jalapenos, removed seeds and chop fine (add more if you like it hot)
1/8 cup of lime juice or the juice of 2 limes
1-2 teaspoons of salt
1/2 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped
3/4 of a medium white onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic
1 pinch of cayenne pepper, optional

Boil this ingredients for 5 minutes on med-high. Cool. Next, pour into a blender and blend according to your likes. If you like it “chunkier,” blend it less. Chill. Keep in fridge for several days.

Bacon Wrapped Cocktail Weiners

For the serious football fans in your household. Three ingredients, done. Bacon, enough said.
Make ahead, I’m in. Always a hit. Game on!

1 package of cocktail wieners
1 cup of brown sugar (or so)
1 package of bacon

Cover a cookie sheet with foil. Wrap 1/3 slice of bacon around cocktail wiener and secure with a toothpick. Sprinkle weenies with brown sugar….using approx a cup of brown sugar until they are lightly coated.
Baste a couple times with the juice/sugar mixture, spooning over the weenies.

Bake 350 for 40-50 minutes.

Make plenty. Your guests will lose count of how many they eat. Sometimes I make assemble the wieners/bacon the night before…and just add the sugar and bake at game time.

Sugared Cranberries


  • After three people told me about this sweet treat this week, I couldn’t wait  to try them.  Each friend had a slightly different variation.  The recipe I used comes from an old edition of Cooking Light.  They taste as good as they look.  The chrystallized cranberries will stand alone on a pretty plate or one friend served them with cheesecake.  They are my favorite treat of this holiday season.
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 3/4 cup superfine sugar (this can be purchased or simply run regular sugar through a food processor until super fine)
  • Combine granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring mixture until sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer; remove from heat. (Do not boil or the cranberries may pop when added.) Stir in cranberries; pour mixture into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
  • Drain cranberries in a colander over a bowl, reserving steeping liquid, if desired. Place superfine sugar in a shallow dish. Add the cranberries, rolling to coat with sugar. Spread sugared cranberries in a single layer on a baking sheet; let stand at room temperature 1 hour or until dry.
  • Note: The steeping liquid clings to the berries and helps the sugar adhere. Store in an airtight container in a cool place for up to a week.

Warm Blue Cheese, Bacon and Garlic Dip

This recipe is an oldie but a goodie – adapted from the fabulous and beautiful Jr. League of Houston cookbook, Stop and Smell the Rosemary. I have a bunch of smoked almonds, so suddenly I was reminded of this dip. It’s great if you love strong flavors, particularly with a glass of red wine. Oh and if you want to pull out all the stops, serve it in a hollowed out bread bowl. Enjoy!

7 slices bacon, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
¼ cup half and half
4 oz. blue cheese, crumbled (1 cup)
2 T. chopped chives
3 T. chopped smoked almonds (1 oz)

Cook bacon over medium high heat until almost crisp, about 7 minutes. Drain excess fat, and add garlic. Cook until bacon is crisp, about 3 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add half and half, and mix until combined. Stir in bacon mixture, blue cheese and chives. Transfer to a 2-cup ovenproof serving dish and cover with foil.

Bake until thoroughly heated, about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped almonds. Serve with sliced apples, toasted pita chips or French bread.

Raspberry Cheese Spread

We have staple appetizers at my house.  Ones that are made without glancing at the recipe and also, made over and over.  I can count on a request for this recipe from several friends if they are coming over.  I first learned of this recipe from a friend in Victoria, Texas.  BJ and her mom shared this with me close to 15 years ago.   This recipe takes a cheese dip to a whole new level.  Enjoy a small amount on a Friday afternoon happy hour, yet it has a great look for parties and showers.   You will love appearance of this dip.  However, the taste is full of flavor…cheese, spice, and sweet.  Enjoy!

6 1/2  inch springform pan

1 1/2 lbs. of grated cheddar cheese  (half mild, half sharp)   I prefer the regular grated, not the finely grated.

1 1/2 cups mayo (yes, I have used fat free and also light)

3 green onions, diced

dash of tabasco (give the bottle a good 3-5 shakes)

3/4 cup pecans, optional

1 jar raspberry preserves (I prefer Smuckers)

Wheat Thins/Ritz crackers

Let cheese stand a room temperature for 30 minutes.  Add the rest of the ingredients, minus the pecans.  Blend well with wooden spoon.  If you aren’t using a springform pan, mold and wrap in saran wrap.  I like to mold mine in a round mound with the top flat using the palm of my hand, and about 2 to 3 inches thick.   Chill for 3-4 hours. 

Put the chilled cheese ball (again, keep the top of the ball flat) out on a pretty plate.  Spread raspberry preserves over the top of the cheese, covering completely with the preserves.  Let the preserves drizzle down the sides. I typically use about half a jar of the preserves.  Sprinkle the top with pecans.  If you are a pecan lover, the pecans can be added in the mixture when mixing all the ingredients together. 

Serve with Wheat Thins or Ritz, or a combination of both.

Marinated Green Beans

Healthy can be yummy!  Lyn served these at a party as an appetizer.  She was gracious enough to share her recipe about a year ago and it has been a great addition to several menus.  I love the color, the crunch, and the simplicity.    Green beans a finger food?  Why not.  

Using a wire wisk, mix the 4 ingredients well.

1/2 cup sugar  (you can use sweetener)
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 tsp pepper flakes (I add a little extra)
1 clove garlic – chopped (I use 1 large or 2 if they are small)

Mix above early in the day and refrigerate.

Cook 1 lb. green beans for 3 minutes in boiling water. Remove and plunge in ice
water. Refrigerate beans.

About an hour before serving, pour marinade over green beans and allow to reach
room temperature. Serve. It makes a great appetizer or a side dish.

Bacon Wrapped Apricot Almond

Parties and bacon go together like,  well…..bacon goes with everything.   We love people like Caren that bring the new and different.   Put on a pretty plate with a nice pottery bowl for the sauce and wa-la,  an appetizer that will have people asking, “what is this, yum?”   These can be assembled the night before which is an added bonus!


Bacon Wrapped Apricot Almond

1 pkg of dried apricots

1/2 c. whole almonds

1 lb of bacon

1/4 c. plum/apple jelly for sayce

2 T soy sauce  for sauce

Fold the apricot around each almond .  Cut the bacon slice into thirds.  Using one third of the bacon slice,   wrap the bacon around the apricot/almond and secure with a toothpick.  Bake at 375 for 25 minutes  on a foil lined cookie sheet til crisp-turning once.  Cook jelly and soy sauce for 5 minutes over medium heat in a saucepan.  Drain apricot on a paper towel.  Serve with dipping suace.