Avocado, Bacon, and Cheese {ABC} Puffs

Even though my Super Bowl dreams were crushed in the Wild Card game a few weeks ago (#lifeofabengalsfan), I still look forward to the game this weekend.  Of course, we love watching football (and it’s the one time of year I don’t mind commercials!) but more than that, it’s a great excuse to get together with friends and eat delicious food.

It was actually for the Super Bowl 2 years ago that I first made these delicious bites. Since then I’ve made a few tweaks (croissant rolls instead of biscuits and adding bacon) and they are now the perfect, bite-size, melt-in-your-mouth, one-handed, football-watching treat. You can serve them with ranch and/or salsa for dipping, but you might find that they’re so good you don’t even want to dip them!

If you’re still looking for more appetizer ideas, here are a few of my favorites!

Buffalo Chicken Bites
Cold Veggie Appetizer Pizza
Caramelized Onion Dip
Soft Pretzel Bites with Beer Cheese
Reuben Dip

Oh, and Go Niners!

 

 

Baked Reuben Dip

Unfortunately, this year Jesse and I are not able to fly home to Ohio for the holidays. It felt a little strange to not have ANY Christmas parties to attend this year, so we had to do something about that. In order to keep the Christmas spirit alive we decided to host our own party. When planning the party I thought there were 2 directions I could go in – fancy shmancy dinner party or classic family style, with lots of old stand-by favorite appetizers. Then I realized there was no real competition, classic family style won!

The party was on Saturday and we had a really great time. Just a few close friends gathered around a table full of my favorite appetizers, desserts, and of course a batch of egg nog. This dip was one of the big hits at the party. There’s something about this combination of ingredients that even non-sauerkraut fans can love. In fact, one of my guests had to change her seat because she was afraid she would eat all of the dip herself if she sat in front of it!

 

 

 

Buffalo Chicken Bites

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We landed back in San Diego late last night and I’m hoping that now that our holiday travels are coming to a close, I can get back to blogging a regular basis. More importantly I hope that I can get back in the kitchen and spend some quality time with my cutting board, skillet, and stove. 🙂

While we were in Ohio I really only had one chance to get in the kitchen and cook. I made these buffalo chicken bites for my dad’s family Christmas Eve party. I was lucky to get one decent picture before my dad swooped in and started stealing them, and they were totally gone not long after his first stolen bite.

With New Years Eve coming up and playoff/Super Bowl parties, you might find yourself looking for an appetizer, and I HIGHLY recommend these. Spicy and creamy on the inside, crispy on the outside. Also easy to grab, dunk, and eat while socializing or watching a football game. Win, win, win. And if you still need convincing, these can be made ahead of time and frozen or kept in the fridge.

Buffalo Chicken Bites

Ingredients
3 cups shredded cooked chicken (About 1 store-bought rotisserie chicken, skin discarded)
1/4 to 1/2 cup hot sauce – to taste (I used Frank’s Buffalo Sauce)
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp ranch or bleu cheese dressing
1 3/4 cups sharp or medium shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1 cup all-purpose flour*
3eggs, lightly beaten
2-3 cups Corn Flakes cereal, crushed

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl stir together the cream cheese, hot sauce, and ranch (or bleu cheese). Add the chicken, cheddar cheese, and green onions, stir to combine. For larger bites, use a medium cookie scoop to create even portions. For smaller bites roll 1 heaping tablespoon into a ball. Place the rounded portions on a cookie sheet. For easier coating, refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.

Place the flour, egg, and crushed corn flakes in three separate bowls. Roll each ball in the flour*, shake off any excess flour and dip in the egg, then roll the ball in the cornflake crumbs until evenly coated. Place back on the cookie sheet.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Serve warm with ranch or bleu cheese dipping sauce.

The coated balls can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours or frozen for later. To freeze, place the cookie sheet in the freezer for 30 minutes. Remove from the cookie sheet and place in a freezer bag for storage. When ready to use them, place the frozen balls on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

* I TOTALLY forgot to roll mine in the flour, they still came out just fine. The purpose of the flour is to help the corn flake coating adhere a little better. It’s your call to use the flour or to omit.

Yields 2 dozen larger bites or 3 dozen smaller bites

Slightly adapted from Pennies on a Platter, originally from The Food Network and as seen on Macaroni and Cheesecake and Made by Melissa

Cheddar and Ranch Cheese Ball

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Happy Halloween! As I promised yesterday, here is the recipe for the BRAINS!! If you’re still looking for an appetizer to take to a Halloween party tonight why not give this a try? It’s super simple, tasty, and will impress/gross out all of your friends! This would also be good for non-Halloween events, just skip the brain shaping and roll into a ball and then in sliced almonds instead!

Cheddar and Ranch Cheese Ball

Ingredients
3 1/2 cups shredder cheddar cheese (I used a mix of sharp, mild, and Vermont white)
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese (optional, I skipped)
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 (1 ounce) package Ranch-style dressing mix (Hidden Valley brand)
1 cup sliced almonds (Obviously omit if you’re making the brain)
2-3 drops of black food coloring, if you want a grayish hue
3-4 drops red gel food coloring, for “blood”

Directions
Add the cheese to the bowl of food processor*. Pulse a few times for 3 seconds each. Add the cream cheese and Ranch seasoning packet and process until smooth.

To make the brain, remove half of the mixture and form an egg shaped ball, place on a plate. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip, or a ziploc bag with the corner cut, with the remainder of the mixture. Starting in the middle of the formed ball pipe a straight line length wise to the edge of the egg shape. When you reach the edge start zigzagging your way back to the middle. Repeat on the 3 parts of the egg shape. I used the picture below as a model when I piped. If you have a lot left, try piping a second layer directly over top.

Place the brain in the refrigerator for about an hour. Before serving spread red food coloring on a knife and stick it cheese ball. Serve with crackers. (The left overs were also really good spread on a bagel!)

*If you don’t have a food processor this can also be done in a bowl with just a spoon (or a hand held mixer), but the food processor does make it extra smooth for piping.

Adapted from What’s Cookin, Chicago?