Sweet Bacon Crackers

Sweet Bacon Crackers are an idea that have been running around the internet for quite some time.  Lord knows, I have looked at a few of them, so it is hard telling which onse was the first one I saw.  It is also hard to tell if there was any one recipe that I have used so I apologize to any other blogger out there who believes this recipe may belong to them.

This can be made any type of cracker that you would like.  I prefer the buttery small rectangles, only because I like the shape that this cracker becomes.  All of the cracker types will shrink somewhat in the general area the bacon is wrapped.

The key to keeping your crackers together is to keep the heat high in the oven.  If you cook these too slow, there is more time for the grease to absorb into the crackers and they will be soggy in the middle.  But if you like your pork fat, this might be the way you want to cook them.

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Bacon Wrapped Baby Potato Bites with Sriracha Sour Cream

Bacon Wrapped Baby Potato Bites with Sriracha Sour Cream are the perfect snack for football, holiday gatherings, or just hanging out at home having a lazy weekend watching TV.

I like to use baby yellow potatoes for this recipe, but any small potato will work.  I have even made these with regular sized potatoes, they just need to be cut into wedges.

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Sweet and Spicy Fried Pickles

If you’ve visited a restaurant while visiting the deep south, I’m sure you’ve seen fried pickles on the menu. Fried pickles are a southern favorite and a pretty easy to make. Most folks who’ve never had a fried pickles tend to think the combination of frying a pickles as a little weird. However, I can promise you that once you try a fried pickle, you’ll order them every time you see them on the menu.

I’m kind of a fried pickle snob. Fried pickles, while delicious, can be easily ruined by one ingredient. Salt… a fried pickle that is too salty is sometimes just too difficult to eat, no matter how much ranch you cover it in. Finding the right pickle is pretty critical to the final product, so you’ll have to do a little bit of experimentation with the pickles available at your grocery store.

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Even though you might experiment with pickle varieties, we have settled on our absolute favorite pickle. Pickles from Wickles are sweet, spicy, and just a little bit salty. Wickles are thicker than your average sliced pickle, so the pickle-to-crust ratio is great. However, some folks in the south prefer their pickles razor thin to maximize the amount of crust. I think this is just an excuse to eat more fried crust with ranch dressing. With Wickles, you can actually enjoy the great flavor of the pick itself. I find myself eating the pickles for a snack sometimes.

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Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts

I love bacon wrapped snacks and appetizers.  I have been making this bacon wrapped water chestnut for over 25 years.

Bacon wrapped water chestnuts are perfect for tailgating, game day parties, New Year’s parties, and just about any gathering of people.

I have been known to serve these at Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and even Christmas day while the holiday meal is cooking.

I am sure this came off of the back of a product, but it’s been a minute since I last saw it anywhere near a product package.  It could have been chestnuts, or soy sauce, or even Worcestershire sauce.

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Beef Salad

Beef Salad is perfect for elegant cocktail parties and casual get-togethers.  It’s all in the presentation with this one.

It is easy enough that even beginners should be able to pull off beef salad so long as they own a food processor or blender.  I might be possible to mince the meat with a knife, but I have never done it.  I am too lazy for all of that, and patience is NOT by strong suit.

This recipe can be scaled down to use leftover roast beef.  I used to make it this way until I discovered that so many people liked it that I actually needed to make a full roast just for beef salad.  This is another one of those dishes that I carry to others’ parties as an appetizer.

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Simple Guacamole

Guacamole is one of those things that is so simple to make you feel like most people already know how to make it.  But I am including it because there was a time that I did not know how to make it and had to ask Ron.  There are many beginner cooks out there who are trying to learn how to cook and many of my recipes are posted with them in mind.

I have never been a fan of avocados on my sandwiches or in my salads, so I assumed I would not like guacamole.  We know what people say about assuming right?

I had a friend who convinced me to try some at one of the gazillion Mexican restaurants in these parts.  It was actually pretty tasty.  So, anyone who knows me, knows I had to figure out to make it myself.  Besides, it is kind of pricey to get extra when eating out.

The first time I made guacamole at home it was a decent attempt.  But I suppose anything can be made to taste decent with enough lime juice and salt.  I mean come on, even tequila can be made to taste good with lime and salt right?  But it was missing that creamy texture.   Perhaps my avocados were not ripe enough, but they smashed up just fine.

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Hummus

The first time ever encountered hummus was in a Greek restaurant.  I don’t really remember which one or where it was.  I just remember thinking it might be time to think outside the box and try something besides a dolmades, stuffed chicken breast, or saganaki.  I was not disappointed and have loved it ever since.  Of course, I had to try to make it at home.

Hummus is easy enough to make at home if you own a blender or a food processor.  There is no need for packet mixes or buying it premade from the store.  Making it at home also allows you to control the fat content, flavors, and consistency of the finished product.

Garbanzo beans, aka chick peas, are fairly inexpensive and readily available at grocery stores.

Some people cook their own garbanzo beans, and I have tried without much success.  I can never seem to get my beans cooked well enough to avoid a lumpy and crunchy hummus so I stick to canned.  Bush’s does a great job of cooking garbanzo beans to perfection, so I’ll let them do the hard part.

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Party Cheese Spread

This addictive Party Cheese Spread is filled with cream cheese, meat, green onions, and cheddar cheese and can easily be adapted into a cheeseball or any shape to match the holiday.  It can be rolled into nuts, parsley, or any topping you prefer.  It can also be made thinned out with extra mayonnaise to make it more of a dip.

As with most of my recipes, you can add and subtract ingredients to fit your tastes and needs.  Sometimes I use boiled or baked deli ham in place of the Buddig beef.  I bet bacon would also be a great substitute or addition, I just have not tried it.

No matter which way you choose to make this, spread, dip, or cheeseball, it will soften more the longer it sits out being served.  The consistency you have will making it, will be the consistency you have when it has been at room temperature for an hour or so.  Plan accordingly when adding mayonnaise when making.

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Meatballs

Meatball subs are in the regular rotation during football season at our house.  They can be made with frozen meatballs and jars of marinara sauce, homemade meatballs with marinara sauce, frozen meatballs and homemade sauce, or homemade meatballs with homemade sauce.

I have made them in all of the combinations above and I am not ashamed.  Even if you tell me how great the sandwich was you just ate, I will let you know I used frozen meatballs and which brand of jarred sauce I used, if I did.

The secret to great meatball subs using frozen meatballs is the cooking method.  Slow, slow, slow.  You can cook them on a stovetop, in a crockpot, or in a low temperature oven.  You just need enough sauce to cover the meatballs and a little water.  If I am using a jarred sauce I add about a quarter cup of water to each jar, this normally takes 2 jars when I cook for a party, replace the lid and shake the water in the jar to get out the last of the sauce and pour it in.

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Basic Crab Cake

Crab cakes are perfect for spreading holiday cheer, ringing in the New Year, as well as serving up a light dinner during summer heat waves.  It’s kind of an all-around great dish!

Making crab cakes is fairly simple and generates very little kitchen heat.  I like to pair this with my $30 salad.  For one, it kind of reminds me of living in Florida.  Andy loves both of these so I know I will not get an eye roll or some weird noise he makes signaling to me he doesn’t really want whatever it is I had planned for dinner.

Planning for weekly menus is hard enough to do when you ask what someone wants for dinner this week and you get “I don’t care” as a response, especially when you know the eye rolls and snorts are forthcoming.  OBVIOUSLY you do care!

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