Category Archives: Appetizers

A Super Bowl Recipe Roundup

So as you know, college football is the sport that really has the hearts of the folks in this house, so we don’t actually watch that much pro football throughout the year. But as it is true for most Americans, you will generally find us watching the big game ::ahem:: commercials ::ahem:: on Super Bowl Sunday. Basically, I can get on board with any big sporting event that traditionally calls for fun food and drink.

So here are some of my favorite football watching recipes.

If this were a sitcom, you would be watching the dreaded montage episode.

“Blah, blah, blah…hey man, remember that time Monkey Mode got in the way of you taking the nachos out of the oven?”

“Haha. Yeah. That was a good time.”

Cuban Nachos

Italian Sausage Balls

Sloppy Joe Cups

“Hahaha….it sure is fun thinking about old times…”

“Oh wow. How about that time you nearly got wasted face at 8:00 in the morning while baking up those Bourbon and Coke cookies?”

Bourbon and Coke Whoopie Pies

Kielbasa Cheddar Beer Scones

Roll Tide Rolls

Buffalo Chicken Potato Skins

“Oh man, we sure have had a lot of laughs, huh? So what about the time The Dude wore boy pajamas all day?”

Pizza Fritters

“And who could forget the time you pretended to be the Commissioner from the old Iron Chef show?”

Wasabi Pea Dip

Snickerdoodle Cheesecake Bites

“Well. I guess we can see from our memories together, that we have had a lot of delicious times.”

“Gosh. Food always tastes better with good friends.”

crowd says “Awwwww”

Happy Super Bowl everybody!


Saturday Selections: Pizza Fritter Bites

Here are a few fun facts about life at our house.

1. Sometimes The Dude wears jammies until nearly lunchtime.

2. Sometimes those jammies that she wears are boy jammies. (Hey! Girls like dinosaurs too! Can someone please make girlie dinosaur clothes? Thanks.)

3. Sometimes she likes to help cook up food for Mommy’s blog that would not be considered a normal snack for 9:00 in the morning.

4. Sometimes Mommy lets her eat those crazy snacks that she helped stir up and add “greadients” to.

5. Sometimes that is all we need to make a great day.

These are the little snacks  we were eating earlier this week.

It was as simple as mixing up a thick pancake batter.

Then we stirred in our pizza topping choice, and fried them up.

I would recommend only dropping in about half teaspoon sized balls though. They will puff up some as they cook and they get brown pretty fast, so you want them to be small enough to cook all the way on the inside without burning on the outside (…this never happened during my test runs…).

You have to serve them up with a little smooth marinara sauce. It really completes the whole pizza-esque experience.

I hoe you will have fun with these. The Dude and I kept it simple with pepperoni only, but you could add any of your favorite pizza ingredients. In fact, I think that the more you added, the better they would be.

Pizza Fritter Bites

Serves 8

1 cup Bisquick

1/3 cup mozzarella cheese

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

dash of cayenne pepper to taste

1/4 cup milk

1 egg

Add about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of oil to a large skillet and preheat on medium-high heat.

In a medium bowl stir together Bisquick, cheeses, Italian seasoning, and cayenne pepper.

Stir in milk and egg.

Fold in desired pizza “toppings”: pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, olives, tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc.

Drop 1/2 teaspoon sized balls into hot oil and fry for approximately 1 1/2 minutes per side.

Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese if desired.

Serve warm with marinara sauce.

Dinosaur jammies are optional.

Saturday Selections: Fruity Guacamole

Sometimes, we like to do things a little differently in this house.

Sometimes we like to do things that may seem a little crazy at first, but if you are willing to be open to the idea, you might just find that you like it a lot.

Take this example brought to us by The Dude.

Now here she is playing in a toy that is clearly made for her sister’s enjoyment. A little strange and weird. But when you stop and think about it, it’s pretty darn cute and funny. When she first saw me watching her, she totally froze like she thought she would get in trouble. And I’ll be honest, my first instinct was to get mad at her and tell her to get out of there. But after I thought about it for a second, I thought she certainly isn’t hurting anything. Why not just let her stay? She is just a little kid trying to mix things up a little bit and have a good time.

When I get in the mood to mix things up, I don’t usually contort myself into Monkey’s toys…usually.  No, if I’m feeling funky I will shake things up in the kitchen.

Take this sweet and fruity guacamole for instance.

The avocado gets all sweetened up with a banana and a touch of honey and vanilla. Then you fold in some strawberries and mangoes. Serve it up with some cinnamon sugar tortilla chips, and bam. Delicious.

It took no time to put together, and the chips are a no brainer too. You remember back when we made Cuban Nachos? Well I used the exact same method to make the chips only I sprinkled them with cinnamon sugar before I popped them in the oven. I used a two to one sugar/cinnamon ratio and put in just a pinch of salt.


So if you are in the mood to shake things up a little this Saturday, I suggest you try out this sweet and healthy dip… it’s only slightly more fun than playing in baby activity centers.

Fruity Guacamole

2 medium avocados

1 medium ripe banana

1 small lime

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup chopped strawberries

1/4 cup chopped mango

Mash avocados and bananas together with fork or in a food processor until smooth.

Stir in lime, honey, vanilla, and salt.

Fold in strawberries and mangoes.

Serve chilled with cinnamon sugar tortilla chips.

Saturday Selections: Crispy Fried Pepper Jack Wedges

Back a million years ago before The Hubs and I had kids, we used to enjoy fun things that normal people get to do. Things like going out to eat.

While today if we go to a restaurant, we have to go extra early to spare the large crowds from hungry child meltdowns, back then we would sometimes go early voluntarily and take advantage of happy hour specials. We would drink beers and order half priced appetizers while having uninterrupted conversations. It was an all around grand time.

One of the places we would sometimes go had these awesome little fried triangles of pepper jack cheese.

I randomly started craving these recently and thought not only would they be easy to whip up here at the house (where my food covered and screaming kids would bother nobody but us), but they would also be perfect for a Saturday Selection recipe.

I hope you guys will try these. They were silly easy to put together. I even managed to get these fried up while my Little Monkey was eating lunch.

See what I mean about food coverage? Sure, she’s cute now, but would you really like to sit next to that while trying to cut your $15 plate of chicken? Not exactly appetizing.

First you take a block of cheese and cut it into about 1/2 inch slices.

Then you lie them fat side down and cut them diagonally so that you have a cute little wedge.

Get out three bowls and fill one with seasoned flour, one with a couple of eggs and a splash of water, and another with plain breadcrumbs.

Now just dredge the wedges in each bowl, assembly line style.

But here is the big secret that I learned from my friend Giada De Laurentiis.  Dredge them twice! Once they have gone all the way through all of the dunking stations, take them through again. This gives you that thick crispy crust that you get in restaurant fried cheese.

See what kind of fun things you can learn by keeping the Food Network on all day?

Then fry them up in about a quarter inch of hot oil for about 1 minute per side.

Crispy. Crunchy. Hot. Melty. Pepper. Jack. Cheese.

Now if only we could figure out a way to keep my kids neat and quiet during dinner. Then we would be set.

Fried Pepper Jack Cheese Wedges

1 8 oz block of pepper jack cheese

3/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 eggs, lightly beaten with a splash of water

1 cup plain breadcrumbs

enough oil for frying

Heat 1/4 to 1/2 an inch of oil in a large skillet on medium high heat.

Cut cheese into 1/2 inch slices. Then lay on side and cut diagonally to make two wedges.

Pour flour with salt and pepper, eggs, and breadcrumbs into three separate bowls.

Starting with the flour, dredge each wedge through each bowl and then repeat the process again.

Place on a baking sheet until ready to fry. They may be refrigerated or frozen at this point, but I would strongly recommend letting them come to room temperature before going into the oil.

When oil is hot, cook wedges for about 1 minute on each side. Drain on a paper towel and serve immediately.

Saturday Selections: Buffalo Chicken Potato Skins

It looks like buffalo wings and potato skins had a love child, and it just showed up to watch the game with you.

Maybe you weren’t expecting to hang out with it today. Maybe you like watching the game with your usual friends.

But it’s cool, you get along great. The two of you feel like old friends.

You may even find yourself asking it back over for next Saturday’s game as well.

I can’t wait for you guys to try these.

So much flavor going on here: a little spicy, a little tangy, a little creamy, a little crunchy, and whole lotta cheesy.

And you are going to feel like such a rock star for making your own potato skins.

First things first, place your potatoes in the microwave for a few minutes, just to soften them up a little bit.

Once they have cooled down enough to handle, gently scoop out the insides, leaving about a 1/4 inch border of potatoes all around the edges. And don’t you dare throw that potato away!

Guess what I used mine for?

This. I sure did.

Now give the top and bottom of these potato skins a light spritz with cooking spray, and a little sprinkling of ranch seasoning. Then I gently rubbed it in to try and get it evenly spread around.

Bake them up until they start to get golden and crispy on the edges.

While your skins are toasting up, get out a medium sized bowl and mix up the filling.

Stir together some cream cheese, hot sauce, and ranch seasoning. Then microwave it for about 4 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds or so until it is pretty well smooth. Mine still had a few small lumps of cream cheese, but I didn’t stress out about it too much, and neither should you.

Now stir in your chicken and cheese, and quickly go hide your tortilla chips. The Hubs and I made the mistake of pulling out our chips for sampling purposes, and almost ate all of the filling before I had a chance to put them in the potato skins.

I used some leftover grilled chicken here, but breaded chicken fingers are also smashing in this recipe.

Fill each toasted potato skin with some filling and top it with cheese.

Then bake them up until they are melty and hot.

Buffalo Chicken Potato Skins

8 medium Yukon gold potatoes

4 oz cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup hot sauce

1/2 tablespoon dry ranch seasoning (plus additional for potato skins)

2 cups cooked chicken, chopped

1 cup grated cheddar cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 450.

Cook potatoes in the microwave for 8 minutes on high.

Cut in half and scoop out the centers.

Lightly spray both sides of potato skins with cooking spray, sprinkle with ranch seasoning, and gently rub it in.

Bake for 15 minutes.

Turn oven down to 350.

In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, hot sauce, and ranch seasoning.

Microwave for about 4 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until mixture is combined and smooth.

Stir in chicken and 1/2 of cheese.

Place a spoonful of filling into each potato skin and top with more cheddar cheese.

Bake in the oven at 350 for an additional 10 minutes, or until filling is hot and cheese is melted.

Saturday Selections: Italian Sausage Balls

“It’s game day! I do what I want!”

If you were to happen into our house in the fall, anywhere from Friday night until Saturday night, you might find I or The Hubs screaming this at each other in an outrageously dramatic fashion.

You know how you have friends from college who are sort of immortalized by the crazy things that they said or did? And how you still find yourself giggling over these things even close to a decade later?

Honestly, I have no idea of the context surrounding this quote, or even for that matter why it is so funny to us. I just know that it happened on a Friday night before an Alabama game. I can only imagine that there were copious amounts of certain beverages traditionally found in fraternity houses involved (…Gatorade?…yeah…must have been Gatorade…). All I know is that at some point late in the evening, one of The Hubs’ fraternity brothers said this to his girlfriend. And The Hubs and I are still to this day saying it to each other.

It pretty much applies in any situation.

Me: “Well, gosh Hubs, aren’t you special that you just got to sleep in until 8:30 this morning?”

Hubs: “It’s game day! I do what I want!”


Hubs: “Hey, Amy, are you sure you want to have that third cup of coffee this morning? You know how crazy jittery you get.”

Me: “It’s game day! I do what I want!”

See? It’s fun.

So how does this story tie in to today’s game day fare?

Well, it doesn’t really. Except that I am feeling a little defensive for tampering with something that is already super delicious.

You know those sausage balls that are always found at parties around the holidays? Bisquick, breakfast sausage, and cheese?

Yeah…those things….

Well, I kinda tried to fix something that wasn’t broke.

I decided to give them an Italian twist.

I kept feeling like somebody was going to come in the kitchen and try to tell me to just make the regular ones since they are already great. Then I would have to inform them, “It’s game day! I do what I want!”

And I think you are going to want to do what you want too. There are few things easier to whip up than sausage balls. They can totally be made ahead of time. I have made them as early as the night before I was going to serve them. I just wrapped some plastic wrap around the entire sheet pan and popped it in the fridge until I was ready to go.

And they probably taste just as you imagine. Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, cheesy, slightly sweet from the Italian seasonings, and slightly spicy.

Truth be told, The Dude, The Hubs, and I ate almost an entire pan for dinner one night.

You may wanna make a lot.

You start off with your favorite Italian sausage. I really like Jennie-O Hot Italian Turkey Sausage.

Since these come in a casing, I simply run a knife along the side of the sausage link and then peel it off. I did take some photos of this, but raw sausage links simply do not make an appetizing photo subject. And frankly (haha…see what I did there?), I’m not sure I’m really mature enough to go there.

Now on to a little Bisquick.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. But this is how you do traditional sausage balls so I decided to use it. But if you really want to do your own Bisquick type mix you can do this. (P.S. I used this recipe the first time I made these because I was out of Bisquick and it was just fine.)

Measure out some cheeses and dump everything into a mixer to blend them together, or just mix it up with a spoon and your hands.

Then get to forming about walnut sized balls.

Place them on a cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes.

Serve them up alongside your favorite smooth tomato sauce.

Italian Sausage Balls

1.22 lbs Italian sausage removed from casings

1 1/2 cups Bisquick

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375.

Combine all ingredients.

Form into walnut sized balls and place on a greased cookie sheet.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Yup….doing what I want. Happy Saturday.

Saturday Selections: Sloppy Joe Cups

I really have to give The Hubs credit for this one.

I was jotting down a recipe idea I had one afternoon when he said, “Why don’t you make sloppy joe cupcakes?” He was totally joking, but that immediately got me thinking.

What if I did make sloppy joe cupcakes?!

Then I remembered this recipe that I had made from Paula’s Best Dishes a while back.

I thought…hmmm why not use this same idea to make Sloppy Joes?

And why not serve them up on game day?


We start off with an easy little Sloppy Joe recipe. And because I think that it is one of those dishes that gets better the longer it sits, I decided to bust out the ol’ slow cooker to let it simmer all afternoon.

In a skillet, heat up about a tablespoon of olive oil.

Chop up a bell pepper and half of a medium to large onion. Toss them over into the hot oil. Cook them until the peppers are starting to soften and the onions are just starting to brown a little bit.

Then, add in the leanest ground beef you can find. I used a 96/4. Add in a tablespoon of Worcestershire Sauce and salt and pepper.

While that is browning, learn how to say Worcestershire.

As you practice saying your new favorite word to yourself, you can start throwing some stuff in your slow cooker.

Pour in ketchup, mustard, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, chili powder, Rotel, and water. Go ahead and turn on your slow cooker to low and stir up your ingredients.

I probably should have been taking pictures of these things as I was going along, but I got a little distracted by what was going on behind me.

The Dude was helping Monkey Mode play with Tupperware (and by helping her play, I of course mean, snatching them out of her hand and then sweetly telling her “No no!”…oh well).

Apparently, my little Monkey has inherited her Mom’s ability to look asleep in every picture that is taken of her.

But seriously. Does that smile not kill you??

ThenThe Dude announced, “Hey Mommmmyyyy, I’m going to the ice cream stoooore!”

Ohhhhh Kayyyy….

Monkey thought she was hiding though. So cute.

See what I mean about the closed eyes?? Poor kid….

But anywho, back to the stove…

By now, the beef should be nice and brown. If you used as lean of a cut as I did, then there really is no draining that needs to happen. I wadded up some paper towels and ran it around the bottom of the pan with my spatula just for good measure, but I don’t really think it even needed that. (I have issues with grease…ask The Hubs). Anyway, add your meat to the slow cooker and stir it all together. Taste it for salt and pepper, put the lid on it, and leave it for at least four hours, stirring it occasionally.

Now on to the “cups” part.

It is just a very basic little savory muffin recipe that I got from The Hubs’ grandmother back before we got married. I love them because they are quick and easy. And they kind of taste like pancakes to me. They just call for the usual stuff: flour, eggs, milk, oil…

Then bake them for 20 minutes.

When they come out of the oven, take a shot glass and press down into each one making a nice little nest for your Sloppy Joes.

Then, when you and your friends are ready, head on back over to that slow cooker and scoop out some of the goodness you have been smelling all afternoon. Garnish it with a sprinkling of chopped dill pickles.

This here is some good football watchin’ grub.

Tangy, sweet, and slightly spicy from the green chilies. Served up in a cute little muffin cup. Fun!

Sloppy Joe Cups

(inspired by BBQ Chicken in Cornbread Cups by Paula Deen)

Makes 9 cups

For the Sloppy Joes:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium green bell pepper, chopped

1/2 large onion, chopped

1 lb extra lean ground beef

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup ketchup

2 tablespoons mustard

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 10 oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies

1/2 cup water

In a medium sized skillet, heat up olive oil.

Add in peppers and onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook until soft and slightly brown.

Add in ground beef and Worcestershire sauce. Cook until brown and crumbly. Drain if necessary.

Combine ketchup, mustard, vinegar, sugar, chili powder, tomatoes, and water in slow cooker.

Stir in meat mixture.

Let simmer on low for at least 4 hours. Stirring occasionally.

For the muffin cups:

1 cup all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1/4 cup oil

1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 425.

In a medium sized bowl combine dry ingredients.

In a measuring cup, combine wet.

Add wet to dry and stir to combine (mine seemed a little dry, so I added in about 1 tablespoon more milk).

Fill greased muffin tin cups about 2/3 of the way full. Pour a little water into the remaining three cups.

Bake for 15 minutes.

While the muffins are still warm, firmly press in centers with a shot glass.

Fill centers with Sloppy Joes mixture and top with chopped dill pickles.