Foodie Friday: Party Appetizer Round Up

Well, football playoffs and the coming Super Bowl season means it’s time to talk good appetizers. Since appetizers are my favorite food group (besides pizza and cookies), I would like to give you a list of some of my favorite easy peasy lemon squeezie appetizers.

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20130118-140726.jpg Baked Brie pre-oven and cheese football

I have referred to some of these recipes before, but there’s always time for a refresher course. A true shortcut girl likes to do things in the following manner:

1. At the last minute.

2. With little or no thought.

3. With little or no labor (no real cooking involved)

So, today I bring you six awesome treats that will win you friends, compliments and lots of extra time to watch your DVRed episodes of Nashville.

  • Wasabi cream cheese spread– Okay, I did not make up the recipe, but I have made it enough times to take some credit for it. Here’s my shortcut tips. Use a cheese slicer and do it in layers. Put soy sauce in the bottom of a shallow dish and also— serve it with rice crackers. It’s the only way to eat it. Powdered wasabi works just as well as bottled or jarred. Just be careful not to make it too spicy! Unless that’s what you are going for!
  • Brie Bites or Baked Brie Wheel– Brie, crescent dough and raspberry preserves is all you need here. It does not have to be puff pastry, but that works great too! Nothing too complicated. And very, very, very well recieved at parties. it looks beautiful too! The picture I have here is the brie wheel before it is baked with an egg wash, when it comes out of the oven it is so becautifully golden and— YUM!
  • Cheeseball– It sounds gross. But it’s not. It’s the best thing that you ever had. Vary it with fancy crackers, flatbread, Pita chips or veggies. It’s delectable.Baked Brie pre-oven
  • Proscuitto Wrapped Shrimp– Easy and impressive. Could be an entree or a passed appetizer. Make sure shrimp are big enough for wrapping, no mini-shrimp. Get the meat sliced thin at the deli. And use whole basil leaves. I didn’t use red pepper or lemon in this recipe. Serve with tartar sauce. Mmmmmm.
  • Fig, walnut and Goat Cheese Toasts, sprinkled with honey. Mini baguette slices, fig pieces, goat cheese. Heated on the broiler, drizzled with warm honey. I omitted orange and rosemary here. No need to be that fanciful.
  • Mini Shrimp with cocktail sauce and cream cheese– This reminds me of my childhood and therefore is only served with the most buttery buttery Ritz or Club crackers. Yum.

What? You noticed all but one of these has cheese in it? So what? It’s a PARTY treat, for God’s sake. EVERYone loves cheese!

Enjoy playoff weekend and even if you don’t care who wins, at least enjoy the snacks!

(Remember when I talked about eating low carb? Yeah, well, this post doesn’t count).

 

 

 

8 Shortcuts You Haven’t Tried Yet

1. Dry shampoo: For the girl on the go who does not want greasy hair!
2. Smooth shave: Smooth legs, no expensive shaving cream!
3. “Cheater” Homemade pizza: Thai Chicken. Make it for your friends, it’s better than delivery.
4. Dump cake: The birthday cake that you just didn’t have time to make!
5. Editing your own photos: The professional look without the professional cost.
6. A sock bun: For the days when you just can’t handle your hair.
7. Yoga for the mind: Generating gratitude to help center you.
8. At home highlights: Do-it-yourself make over, right at your bathroom sink.

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Blueberry Dump Cake, just when you thought I couldn’t possibly get any lazier

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Blueberry pancakes at Camp

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Parker and his buddy Declan just pickin’ berries

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Sugar covered berries

Well, we went blueberry picking this week and have been eating lots of berries ever since. Celia is an absolute blueberry-a-holic so it was a great idea. Day 1 we just snacked on them, Day 2 we made blueberry pancakes and day 3- Dump Cake!

I know what you are thinking- could there be a less appetizing name for something you eat? But once you taste it, you don’t so much care!

I first came across this when trying to come up with a cake recipe for my husband’s birthday. That time, I made a pineapple dump cake. Looks like dump cake can go with any berry or fruit you would like- fresh or frozen. Serve with vanilla ice cream– delicious!

The Goods:

1 box Yellow cake mix
1 stick melted butter
4 cups blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon (I used apple pie spice we had at camp and also a little all spice)

1. Mix berries with sugar and cinnamon.
2. Pour into the bottom of greased baking dish.
3. Pour yellow cake mix (dry) over berries.
4. Drizzle butter over top of dish.
5. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
6. Serve to only your favorite guest with vanilla ice cream.
7. Get ready to give out the recipe!

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Berry mixture half covered by yellow cake mix

20120805-142917.jpg Two dump cakes ready for our company tonight!

Foodie Friday: You’re such a cheeseball

I created this football shaped cheeseball for a superbowl party. The writing is green food coloring mixed with mayonnaise. We are Eagle fans here at Chez Shortcut Girl.

Ever since I wrote this post, I have been thinking about how many shortcuts I actually glean from from my girlfriends. So today I have for you installment #2 of our “My friends are so awesome they write posts for my blog” series here at Shortcut Girl and I think you will enjoy it. My good friend Arlene passes along her recipe of the best cheeseball you ever did taste. I have made it a couple times myself and it is always a hit. She’s definitely a qualified shortcutter. Have a read. You will love it!

Being my grandmother’s namesake is not a bad thing. However, when that name is Arlene and you can’t find barrettes, pencils, bicycle license plates, etc., with your name on them, you sometimes become bitter about your “old lady” name. As a girl, I wished night after night that I could change my name or that I would develop some cool nickname. Illogically, one of my preferred options was Snowflake. I really, really, really, wanted to change my name to Snowflake. I’m not sure how I thought this would solve the barrette/pencil/bicycle license plate issue, but I knew for certain it was MUCH cooler than Arlene. Fast forward several (*sigh*) Snowflake-free years later, I have an extensive list of nicknames that are both too embarrassing and inappropriate to mention here. Although I made peace with my name several years ago as a tribute to my grandmother, I still love when an opportunity comes along for a new nickname. As of a text I received from my good friend Shortcut Girl at 6:20 this morning requesting this post, I immediately began referring to myself as Shortcut Friend- but you can call me SF for short. (Did you see what I did there?)

I was super-excited when Bridgette asked me if I wanted to contribute to Foodie Friday. I’m pretty sure anyone who knows me would certainly consider me a foodie. I love to cook and am usually pretty successful throwing together dishes that get quickly cleaned out at gatherings and are then requested on later occasions.

So, at her request, here is my contribution to this week’s post: a homemade cheeseball recipe. Yes, you read that right- a homemade cheeseball. This is not an oxymoron and I promise if you give it a try, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

First of all, is cheeseball one word or two? According to spell check, it’s definitely not one word. But I feel it should be, and so it will be for this post.

Secondly, you might wonder, how is it a “shortcut” to make your own cheeseball when they can be so readily purchased at the grocery store? Well, strictly speaking, it isn’t. But seriously, who’s going to be impressed if you come to a party bearing one of those salty, day-glow orange, paste-like consistency balls covered in chewy, half-stale almond slices? I think this homemade version is a shortcut-esque way to throw together a delicious snack with minimal time and effort that is sure to impress. And, if your mindset is bigger is better (men), you can always make the cheeseball as big as the head of a small child. Any appetizer that big is sure to command attention and comments.

“Wow, what’s that?”

“Oh, I just brought a cheeseball.”

“That whole thing is cheese? Whoa!”

“Yeah, it’s great.”

You get the idea.

Here’s the “original” recipe…a friend’s adaptation of another recipe, then adapted by me, then adapted by Shortcut Girl herself. This recipe is your third cousin once removed, but it’s a freaking delicious one at that.

With the potential of countless simple variations, it can be customized to suit anyone’s particular food mood of the day, or even to fit the occasion (such as adding a few drops of green food coloring for a ghoulish looking treat at Halloween).

The Goods:

  • 16 oz. veggie cream cheese
  • 2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
  • Minced veggies

(Sorry- I don’t have exact amounts, but probably a couple tablespoons or so of each is a good estimate.)

  • green and red bell peppers
  • onions/scallions
  • carrots
  • celery

Season with 4 to 5 shakes of Worcestershire sauce, and a couple dashes of garlic powder and cayenne pepper

I usually mix all the ingredients together, but reserve about a half cup of the cheese. Form the mixture into a ball and then roll it in the reserved cheese. Refrigerate for a half hour or more. I recommend serving it with a variety of crackers. My personal favorites are in the Pepperidge Farm Quartet that includes wheat, toasted sesame, butter, and water crackers. Mmmmmmm.

And that, my friends, is how to jazz up your standard cheese and crackers hors d’oeuvre with a simple hand-crafted cheeseball.

One Final Tip This cheeseball can be particularly satisfying to have on hand when an emergency snacking situation strikes. For instance, spending a girls’ getaway weekend with college friends in a remote ski cottage off season and unsuccessfully making late night calls to pizza places in hopes of convincing them to deliver outside their standard delivery zones. I remember vividly Shortcut Girl trying to bargain with the delivery guys, possibly offering a little help from Thomas Jefferson to change their mind. They just wouldn’t budge. At least we had the cheeseball, and for that, we are eternally grateful.

-SF

Other Posts like Foodie Friday : Shortcut Appetizers , Shortcut Happy Hour, Homemade Baby Food

Cheesecake Dip- The Dessert-y Appetizer!

I joke that my husband is Shortcut Boy but he argues that he often does things the long way. However, I have him to thank for this post. His innovation and ability to mimic recipes that he tastes is uncanny. For parties, he always has something up his sleeve that he wants to make and it ALWAYS goes off without a hitch. My mother visited this weekend and kept saying, “You guys, you guys are just so gourmet.” Michael has the ability to make an awesome dish in little or no time and impress the masses. So, thank you Michael for the loads of material you give me for Shortcut Girl. I don’t know what I would do without you!

The place this recipe made its debut was our engagement party in 2007. We did a party at the racetrack and then had everyone back to our house after. I have the best memories of my family circulating the party with the platter and people getting excited over the dish. We have made it dozens of times since and it’s always a hit.

Here’s the situation: You want an awesome dessert for a party and hope to impress everyone with your Betty Crocker prowess. You want something that isn’t too fancy but will be great no matter the crowd: young, old, big, small. What you want is this version of “Dessert Dip.”

It’s easier than easy. Here’s your ingredients.

  • Philadelphia prepared cheesecake filling (not the mix, they sell tubs of actual cheesecake next to the cream cheese)
  • Frozen berries
  • Stacy’s cinnamon and sugar Pita Chips (or make your own pita chips with Joseph’s pitas– sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar) If you couldn’t find these chips then graham crackers or Nilla wafers would definitely work.

You thaw the berries and serve them on top of the cheesecake filling with the chips. Any sweet treat will probably taste good dipped in this and any fruit on top will work as well. Be ready for the compliments and try to figure out a way to make the dish sound a little harder. Maybe berries from the Farmer’s market? Warm the chips? Make Nilla wafer cheesecake sandwiches? Now’s the time for some innovation to show your own ability to shortcut the heck out of something.

Extra Tip:One time I could not find the tub of cheesecake filling and just made a no-bake cheesecake mix instead, it worked just the same.

Enjoy this little slice of short cutting- one yummy cinnamon chip at a time.