Fruity Nut Mix

Fruity Nut MixFruity Nut Mix 3

How many snacky, trail mixy, dried fruit and nut mixes are there?………hundreds, thousands……perhaps, I exaggerate, but there are plenty of them. The one thing they all seem to have in common……….raisins. I really do not like raisins. I am not sure why, but I just don’t.

Sorry California Raisins……..but I’m sure, you heard it through the grapevine that you are not my favorite thing. I dumped you for other dries fruits. I love, love, love dried cranberries. I will eat them on anything. I have the same feeling about dried pineapple, those sweet, chewy, nuggets……..hmmm.

Fruity Nut Mix 4

Tim and I look at all those mixes at the store, but have a hard time choosing because of my raisin aversion.  So, we usually don’t buy them, or if we do, I end up picking out the raisins….what a pain!

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Sage Polenta Bites

Sage Polenta Bites

Sage Polenta Bites 1

I have been all about appetizers lately. Tasty little bites that hold everyone over until the main event, or that something special for a party……….Sage Polenta Bites!

I love butternut squash……….it’s sweet and nutty flavor is perfect for this recipe. I have said it before, but I go through phases with food………I was having a butternut squash phase when fall came a calling. Something about fall and butternut squash and sage……..it speaks to me……..of course what food doesn’t ……….it all speaks to me!

Soooo much inspiration comes to me at the grocery store……..I love the grocery store……….I love to grocery shop…….I know crazy huh! Well, I am a little nut off plum…….tee hee! Anyway, I was doing my pursuing at the store and saw a tube of polenta. I have grilled it and fried it before, topped it with tomatoes……yummy. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it, but it went into the cart.

Fast forward a week or so…….I had a butternut squash that I wanted to do something with,out of the corner of my eye I caught the polenta…….it’s shelf stable, so you can keep it on hand. So, out came the polenta. Now what????? Well the best way to have the butternut squash is roasted so, into the oven with a little bit of oil and salt and pepper. While that was roasting I was looking at the polenta for some idea of how to cook it……crispy?……..panko crumbs, it makes everything crispy. So, three station dip for the polenta…….flour, egg, panko. Into some hot oil and crispy they were. Now to top them, although I could have eaten them as they were. At this point if you are making them for a party, you can hold them in a warm oven to keep them crisp.

Sage Polenta Bites

The squash was roasted, but I wanted to jazz it up some……walnuts, sage, and a touch of garlic. Cooked the walnuts, sage and garlic in a touch of oil and added it to the roasted squash. 

Still something missing…..some kind of creamy something…..maybe cheese……..goat cheese! Flavor for the goat cheese??? First I thought no, then maybe, finally yes……..not sure why I tried it, but I am sure glad I did……. maple syrup. It was perfect!

So, crispy polenta, a smear of maple goat cheese, and the squash walnut mixture. Looks real pretty……..take a bite………heaven……..it was one of those moments when Tim and I both said……thats the ticket!

One thing I have learned after a year of writing this blog, by the time you get the pictures taken the food is cold……in this case it did not matter, they still tasted awesome!

So, for that extra special party or just because try these Sage Polenta Bites you will be glad you did!

Sage Polenta Bites Collage

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Sage Polenta Bites

Sage Polenta Bites

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 24
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

  • Squash Mixture
  • 2 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/ cup toasted walnut,chopped
  • 1 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Polenta
  • 1 1/4 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1 (18-ounce) tube prepared polenta, cut into 12 (1/2-inch) slices
  • 1/4 cup peanut oil
  • Goat Cheese
  • 1 – 4oz package goat cheese
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

Instructions

  1. Squash Mixture
  2. Preheat the oven to 450ºF.
  3. In a medium bowl, toss the butternut squash cubes with 2 teaspoons oil. Spread out the butternut squash ona baking sheet sprayed with onon-stick spray.Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast the squash for 35 to 45 minutes, or until tender and startin gto caramelize.
  4. While the squash is roasting, in a small skillet, heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil over medium-low heat. Add the walnuts, sage and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until the nuts are lightly browned, and garlic is fragrant 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Scoop the butternut squash into a large bowl. Scrape the pine nut mixture onto the butternut squash and gently toss.
  6. Polenta
  7. Place bread crumbs, flour and egg into separate shallow bowls.
  8. Cut polenta slices in half.
  9. Dip each polenta piece into flour, then egg and then bread crumbs.
  10. Heat oil over medium heat. Place dipped polenta pieces into skillet careful not to over crowd. Cook 3-5 minutes or until golden brown.Turn polenta slices; cook again for 3-5 minutes or until golden brown. Remove polenta to parchement lined baking sheet; place in 250* oven to keep warm.
  11. Goat Cheese
  12. Mix together until smooth.
  13. To assemble
  14. Remove polenta from oven and allow to cool slightly.Just so you can handle them. Place a dollop of the goat cheese mixture on each polenta piece. Top with roasted butternut squash mixture. Garnish with small sage leaves if desired.

Keywords: appetizer, goat cheese, polenta, sage, walnuts, butternut squash

 

 

Italian Marinated Cheese

Italian Marinated Cheese

Italian Marinated Cheese

Cheese and crackers are an easy, go-to appetizer for any type of party, because after all who doesn’t like  cheese. No matter what type of event you go to, the traditional cheese and cracker plate is there……so how about making it something to remember……..???

Italian Marinated Cheese is several things:

  • Easy to make
  • Easy to take along
  • Stores for several weeks
  • Looks elegant
  • Is super tasty

With the holidays or anytime you  are in charge of bringing the cheese tray, make up a batch of this cheese.

I purchased cheese that was already cubed……..because, even with my cheese knife ……..one of my favorite tools…….its still a pain in the a#@ to cut cheese and make it all perfect little cubes. Let the people who make the cheese, cut the cheese….tee hee……….but seriously, it makes this recipe super easy. Place all the cubes in a single layer in a dish about 2 inches in depth.

The marinade  is a simple vinaigrette with Italian seasoning, red peppers, green onions, garlic, oil and vinegar. The green onions and red peppers give it a festive look and add a great taste to the marinade.

Once you have the cheese in the dish and the marinade made, pour the marinade over the cheese and let it set for at least 8 hours so the flavors really get into the cheese.

Italian Marinated Cheese

Then when cheese tray duty calls, just put the Italian  Marinated Cheese in a pretty container and serve with some nice crackers. Some fresh fruit on the side adds to the elegance, and you will be the talk of the party……..it will be our little secret about how easy it was……..;)

Italian Marinated Cheese Collage

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Italian Marinated Cheese

Italian Marinated Cheese

  • Author: Marty Boyd
  • Prep Time: 8 hours
  • Total Time: 8 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 cups
  • Category: Snack
  • Method: Marinade
  • Cuisine: Italian

Ingredients

  • 1-8-oz package of Colby and Monterey Jack cheese cubes (about 2 cups)
  • 1-8-oz package of Cheddar Cheese cubes (about 2 cups)
  • Marinade:
  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. white wine vinegar
  • 3 T. chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 T. minced green onions
  • 2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup minced red pepper
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Combine all marinade ingredients and whisk until the mixture is emulsified, set aside.
  2. Arrange cheese cubes in a single layer in a shallow baking dish.
  3. Pour marinade over cheese slices.  Cover and refrigerate at least eight hours.
  4. To serve, transfer cheese to a serving dish, spoon marinade over the cheese.  Serve with assorted crackers.

Keywords: cheese, appetizer, red pepper, spice, make ahead, easy