Appetizers, Recipes

Sweet and Spicy Pretzel Snack Mix

Sweet and spicy snack mix--a delightful blend of pretzels, honey roasted peanuts, cheese crackers, cereal, and dried cranberries. Everyone will love this addictive snack!

Sweet and spicy snack mix–a delightful blend of pretzels, honey roasted peanuts, cheese crackers, cereal, and dried cranberries. Everyone will love this addictive snack!

Sweet and spicy snack mix--a delightful blend of pretzels, honey roasted peanuts, cheese crackers, cereal, and dried cranberries. Everyone will love this addictive snack!

As much as I would have liked to, this is just not the year to make alllll the Christmas treats. Traveling, sickness, having a toddler, working… spending hours and hours making a bunch of Christmas recipes just wasn’t going to happen this year. And while that IS a bummer, I’m trying to make the best of it and maybe even make some of my faves after Christmas or at other times of the year. One of the ways I decided to “make the best of it” was to use a couple gift-giving occasions to try new recipes! I chose super easy recipes to make this as low-stress as possible.

Sweet and spicy snack mix--a delightful blend of pretzels, honey roasted peanuts, cheese crackers, cereal, and dried cranberries. Everyone will love this addictive snack!

As some of you may know, I’m an academic librarian. We have great student workers in our library, and we like to celebrate them when we can. For their Christmas gift this year, I was tempted to buy some candy and call it a day, but instead I bought a few easy ingredients at Aldi (my new grocery love! Look for more about Aldi in a new meal planning series I’m starting on my blog in 2018!!) to whip up this easy snack mix. It’s similar to Chex Mix, but with a great sweet and spicy kick.

Sweet and spicy snack mix--a delightful blend of pretzels, honey roasted peanuts, cheese crackers, cereal, and dried cranberries. Everyone will love this addictive snack!

My son and I made this together on a rainy Sunday afternoon and it took maybe 10 minutes to mix and measure everything (and that’s with a toddler helping!!). The vast majority of the hour-long prep time is for baking. If you’re packaging this up in cute little treat bags like I did, you’ll need to allow extra time for cooling. But if not, this is a super quick snack that is fun to make and even better to eat. It’s a little weird but I love eating hot snack mix, fresh out of the oven. No idea why, because who eats hot cereal, pretzels, or crackers? Ha. Ben and I were so sad to give almost all of this away but at least it’s easy enough to make another batch. I might have to do that again soon! Enjoy! 🙂

one year ago: Hassleback Pork Tenderloin Stuffed with Cranberries, Pears, and Goat Cheese
two years ago: Cranberry Crumb Bars
three years ago: Art Smith’s Macaroni and Cheese
four years ago: Cranberry-Pistachio Citrus Butter Cookies
five years ago: Streuseled Cran-Apple Sweet Potato Casserole
six years ago: Cranberry-Pineapple Sauce
seven years ago: Peppermint Sugar Cookies

Sweet and Spicy Pretzel Snack Mix

  • Servings: 24 (1-1.5 cup) servings
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adapted from The Lean Green Bean

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounce bag mini pretzels
  • 16 ounces honey roasted peanuts
  • 1 box cheese crackers (like Cheez-Its, approximately 13.7 ounces)
  • 6 cups rice or corn Chex cereal (about half of a 12-13 ounce box)
  • 2 cups Cheerios cereal
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup canola oil (or an extra 4 tablespoons butter)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 cups dried cranberries

Directions:

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

In a large roasting pan, combine pretzels, peanuts, cheese crackers, Chex, and Cheerios.

In a small bowl, whisk together melted butter, canola oil, and honey. Stir in brown sugar, paprika, cayenne, and garlic powder.

Pour over pretzel mixture, and stir until evenly coated.

Bake for 45 minutes, tossing every 15 minutes.

Allow to cool completely before stirring in dried cranberries.

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This cool and creamy fresh vegetable dip is easy to make. It's a great appetizer or side dish!
Appetizers, Recipes, Sides, Vegetables

Our Favorite Fresh Vegetable Dip

This cool and creamy fresh vegetable dip is easy to make. It’s a great appetizer or side dish!

This cool and creamy fresh vegetable dip is easy to make. It's a great appetizer or side dish!

At my house, the best way to make sure we eat our veggies is to always have some prepped and ready to snack on. I think that’s why those bagged salads, precut baby carrots, and ready-made vegetable trays at the grocery store are so popular. Preparing vegetables can be so time consuming! On the weekends, I like to spend some time cutting bell peppers and cucumbers, then portioning them into little containers to pull out of the fridge for my lunchbox all week long. Wait. I just reread that sentence. I’m not sure I like to do that… but I sure like the results. And you know when I like the results even more? When I’ve thought ahead enough to make some veggie dip like this one!

This cool and creamy fresh vegetable dip is easy to make. It's a great appetizer or side dish!

It’s not that veggies aren’t tasty enough on their own, but sometimes we need some extra motivation, ya know? 🙂 My husband can testify to that, haha! Some people just like dipping their veggies in ranch dressing, but since my husband isn’t a ranch sort of guy, I have to be a little more creative. This fresh veggie dip meets both of our needs: it has a cool and creamy base with tons of flavor, but not that unmistakable ranch flavor. The ingredients are somewhat similar since it uses onion and garlic as the base flavors along with some herbs like dill and parsley, but what makes this vegetable dip stand out from the crowd is the addition of Worcestershire sauce! This adds a complex salty depth to the herby goodness.

This cool and creamy fresh vegetable dip is easy to make. It's a great appetizer or side dish!

Like most dips, this comes together in a flash but I do recommend making it ahead of time so it can chill in the fridge for about an hour before serving. This allows the flavors to marry and taste even better! 🙂 If you want to healthify the dip, you could substitute some plain yogurt for part of the sour cream. I think the recipe is amazing as-is though! Hope you enjoy!

one year ago: Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake
two years ago: Pumpkin Cranberry Bread
three years ago: Cranberry and Cream Cheese Muffins
four years ago: Pumpkin Graham Muffins
five years ago: Roasted Chicken
six years ago: Homemade Maple & Brown Sugar Almond Butter
seven years ago: Pumpkin Soup and Homemade Croutons

This cool and creamy fresh vegetable dip is easy to make. It's a great appetizer or side dish!

Fresh Vegetable Dip

  • Servings: ~ 2 cups
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from Taste of Home

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) sour cream
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried dill
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • a few cracks freshly ground black pepper
  • fresh vegetables, for serving

Directions:

In a medium bowl, stir together sour cream and mayonnaise. Add seasonings: onion powder, dill, garlic powder, parsley, and Worcestershire sauce and stir well. Taste and season with black pepper as desired.

Cover and chill for one hour in the refrigerator.

Serve with fresh vegetables!

Notes: You can also substitute some of the sour cream for plain yogurt (Greek or regular).

Appetizers, Recipes

Copycat Chuy’s Creamy Jalapeno Dip

This creamy, addictive jalapeno dip is famous… and for good reason! I don’t make very many copycat recipes, but I can’t get enough of this Chuy’s classic!

This creamy, addictive jalapeno dip is famous... and for good reason! I don't make very many copycat recipes, but I can't get enough of this Chuy's classic!

Can I be honest? I’ve only been to Chuy’s once… I don’t remember what I had to eat for dinner, but what I DO remember is this awesomely creamy and slightly spicy jalapeno dip. I ate my weight in tortilla chips absolutely covered in this dip, and then I slathered it all over my food. Ridiculous.

This creamy, addictive jalapeno dip is famous... and for good reason! I don't make very many copycat recipes, but I can't get enough of this Chuy's classic!

When you hear “jalapeno dip” you probably think spicy, right? But it’s really not, especially if you de-seed the jalapenos. All you have is the wonderful, creamy dip full of zesty lime and cilantro, garlic and ranch. It is to die for, like nothing you’ve ever tasted.

This creamy, addictive jalapeno dip is famous... and for good reason! I don't make very many copycat recipes, but I can't get enough of this Chuy's classic!

If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to put this dip on anything and everything. I loooove it with tortilla chips, and it’s also excellent when served with carnitas or barbacoa. I suspect it would be good with any Mexican/Tex-Mex dinner. How do I know? Because I also like eating it by the spoonful! I’m sure you will too–enjoy! 🙂

one year ago: Baked Tilapia with Coconut-Cilantro Sauce 
two years ago: Southwestern Cilantro Mac and Cheese
three years ago: Dark Chocolate Double Coconut Macaroons
four years ago: Blueberry Burgers
five years ago: Orange-Glazed Chicken Stir-Fry
six years ago: Lemony Kale Pasta

Copycat Chuy’s Creamy Jalapeno Dip

  • Servings: ~2 1/2 cups
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from Macaroni and Cheesecake

Ingredients:

  • 2 large jalapenos, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup cilantro
  • 16 ounces sour cream
  • 1 packet ranch dressing mix (1 ounce), storebought or homemade
  • zest and juice of one lime
  • 2-4 tablespoons milk

Directions:

In a food processor, pulse together jalapenos, garlic, and cilantro until finely chopped. Add sour cream, ranch seasoning, and zest and juice of one lime. Process until smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl, then whisk in milk in one tablespoon increments until the dip is pourable.

Serve with tortilla chips, on tacos, with grilled chicken, steak, or pork, etc. The possibilities are endless! Enjoy!

Appetizers, Recipes

Jalapeno Beer Cheese Spread

Spicy, spreadable cheese dip… what could be a better way to eat your veggies? 🙂 This Jalapeno Beer Cheese Spread is a great make-ahead holiday appetizer!

Jalapeno Beer Cheese Spread--spicy and spreadable cheese dip is a great addition to your holiday table!

One of our favorite Trader Joe’s finds is their Jalapeno Pub Cheese. We first tried it at their sample station with corn chips and totally walked out of the store with both items. Suckers! Haha. All their pub cheese options are good, actually, but the jalapeno flavor is our fave. Last year for New Year’s Day [I know… I am so behind], we whipped up an appetizers feast, and this was one of our favorite snacks from the day! I know we could have gone to Trader Joe’s and bought the real deal, but what’s the fun in that? And the Trader Joe’s in Nashville is smack dab in the middle of a busy shopping area that I avoid like the plague during peak times. So clearly, this was the best option even though it was a little work. But honestly? It’s not really that much work and it’s totally delicious and SO worth it.

Jalapeno Beer Cheese Spread--spicy and spreadable cheese dip is a great addition to your holiday table!

Basically, all you do to make this delectable spread/dip of the goddesses is throw some ingredients in your food processor [hope yours isn’t part of the Cuisinart recall 😦 –I have my grandma’s 1980s food processor, fortunately… or a blender would work fine too] and pulse away! Just a few minutes to deliciousness!

Jalapeno Beer Cheese Spread--spicy and spreadable cheese dip is a great addition to your holiday table!

We enjoy this beer cheese spread with corn chips the most. There’s just something about those salty chips with the spicy spread… but if you want to be a little healthier, you can use it as a veggie dip too. The snap peas were surprisingly good with the spicy dip! Now, I know I’ve been going on and on about how spicy and wonderful this beer cheese spread is, and if you use jalapeno–it is going to be spicy! But fear not–if spice isn’t your thing [no shame! I didn’t start delving into the spice world at ALL until I met my husband]–just leave out the jalapeno! It’ll be equally flavorful and delicious without the jalapeno. I mean, who can resist cheese!??!

one year ago: Cranberry Crumb Bars
two years ago: Crockpot Minestrone Soup
three years ago: Dark Chocolate Ginger Squares
four years ago: Streuseled Cran-Apple Sweet Potato Casserole
five years ago: Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies
six years ago: Sweet-Spicy Pretzel Mix

Jalapeno Beer Cheese Spread

  • Servings: 8
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adapted slightly from The Fresh Market

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup liquid – beer is preferable to make this spread more “authentic” but for serving to children, non-drinkers, pregnant ladies, etc. you can use water, cooking wine, chicken broth, etc. Some people who make this bring the beer to a boil on the stovetop, then reduce it to a simmer and cook it down over an hour or so to reduce the alcohol content. Then you can add extra water/broth to make a 1/2 cup of liquid. Use whatever liquid you feel comfortable with!
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 jalapeno, finely minced – most of the seeds removed
  • corn chips, crackers, pretzels, crudites for serving

Directions:

Combine liquid, cheddar cheese, cream cheese, dry mustard, cayenne pepper, and parsley in a food processor. Pulse until blended. Add jalapeno and pulse again–mixture may have some lumps.

Serve with corn chips, crackers, pretzels, or crudites. Jalapeno Beer Cheese Spread can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge. Letting it sit for awhile before serving helps the flavors marry but it’s addictive no matter when you break into it! Enjoy!

Appetizers, Chicken, Main Dishes, Recipes

SRC: Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Fancy up your buffalo chicken by serving it in some cool, crisp lettuce wraps! This is the perfect game day appetizer or light dinner option. Mmmm!

Fancy up your buffalo chicken by serving it in some cool, crisp lettuce wraps! This is the perfect game day appetizer or light dinner option. Mmmm! #secretrecipeclub

This month for Secret Recipe Club I was assigned to The Avid Appetite, a fun blog written by Rachel. Rachel lives in Jersey City with her family and shares her love of family, fun, and food through her wonderful blog that she’s maintained for 5+ years. So many of her recipes sounded so delicious that it was hard to just pick one! After checking out my options, I narrowed it down to Pepperjack Pimento Cheese Dip, her favorite Iced Coffee recipe, Spicy Sweet Potato Wedges, and Berry Baked Oatmeal… and my final pick, Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps. I wish I had time to try everything!

Fancy up your buffalo chicken by serving it in some cool, crisp lettuce wraps! This is the perfect game day appetizer or light dinner option. Mmmm! #secretrecipeclub These buffalo chicken lettuce wraps certainly hit the spot! They were the perfect blend of spicy, creamy, cheesy, and cool. We enjoyed them during Selection Sunday last week [go Hoosiers!], but they’d be equally good during any sporting event, party, or get together. To be honest, buffalo chicken isn’t always my favorite–some versions are too spicy, and most versions are too messy–but this recipe may make me a diehard fan. 🙂 If you like buffalo chicken, you’ll love this recipe!

Fancy up your buffalo chicken by serving it in some cool, crisp lettuce wraps! This is the perfect game day appetizer or light dinner option. Mmmm! #secretrecipeclub

I changed a few things with Rachel’s original recipe–namely, using feta cheese and ranch dressing in place of bleu cheese and bleu cheese dressing, but the heart of the recipe is still there. If you’re a bleu cheese fan, knock yourself out, haha. I also added celery on top for some crunch! Yum! Thanks, Rachel, for this tasty treat!

one year ago: French Toast Casserole
two years ago: Tasty Mexican Lentils

three years ago: Quick Chocolate Pudding
four years ago: Alice’s Vanilla Tea-Infused Granola
five years ago: Roasted Tomato and Black Bean Soup

Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps

  • Servings: 8 as an appetizer, 4 as a meal
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from The Avid Appetite

Ingredients:

  • 3 chicken breasts or 4-5 chicken thighs – I used bone in, skin on chicken thighs but boneless skinless would work too
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • extra virgin olive oil, if using boneless skinless chicken
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup Frank’s red hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta or bleu cheese
  • 1 head Boston or iceberg lettuce, washed and dried, then separated into individual leaves
  • 1/3 cup ranch or bleu cheese dressing
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place chicken on a large baking sheet lined with foil. [If using boneless skinless chicken, brush chicken with olive oil.] Sprinkle chicken with pepper, paprika, and thyme. Bake for 20-25 minutes until cooked through. Let rest for about 10 minutes to cool, then remove skin and bones and chop into bite size pieces.

Meanwhile, place cream cheese, hot sauce, and feta in a large mixing bowl. Stir together and add chicken. Transfer mixture to an oven safe baking dish to heat through, or place in a skillet set over low heat. Cook until cheese has melted, about 10 minutes.

When ready to serve, spoon buffalo chicken into prepared lettuce leaves. Drizzle with ranch dressing and top with celery.

Enjoy!

Be sure to check out all the other recipes made by my SRC friends this week at the link below!