I know you may be thinking “she’s crazy for stuffing those tiny little pods”, but they are always a hit a party.
When I started catering 20 years ago it seemed like everything idea I came up with involved a lot of time and handling of food. But, I have to say, those are usually the appetizers people go crazy for. Anyone can throw out a cheese tray or deli tray so I tend to like appetizers that people know you went to a little extra trouble making. I usually cringe when someone calls me and ask me if I do “trays”. What comes to mind when I think “trays” are piles of cheese or little hoagie sandwiches with those frilly little picks sticking out of the top.
I’ve stuffed black olives with pepperoni and then piped in a flavored cream cheese, I have stuffed rigatoni bites, and the Parmesan Bacon Wraps I make are to die for and they take a couple of hours almost in the oven.
This is a great little recipe I first tried about 10 years ago from “Come On In” cookbook. A few years ago I was catering a wedding and I had the menu all prepared for 75 guest. I had planned on doing these snow peas. Normally I would have done 150, which would have been 2 per person. Well, the guest list kept growing and growing and finally ended up at 225. So the night before the wedding I’m sitting (by myself) stuffing 450 snow peas. I think it took me about 4 hours just to do the peas. After that, I never put them on the menu for 50 or more people — they just takes way too long to do these for large parties.
Dijon Ham and Cream Cheese Biscuits for holiday brunch.
I can still smell my mother’s homemade biscuits baking away in the oven. She made the best from scratch biscuits. My sister and I use to have her bang the pan on the counter so the biscuits would flatten out and you would have two crunchy sides with no middles. These days, people want big fluffy biscuits and I think, now, I prefer that type of biscuit, but what I wouldn’t give to have one of my mother’s.
A couple of years ago I was flipping through one of my food magazines and saw an advertisement for a Cream Cheese Ham Biscuit. They were $24/dozen and the first thing I thought of was “I could make those”. I love the challenge to try and make something I have tried in a restaurant or seen in a magazine.
I found these biscuits at a local store, bought some, baked them and then baked mine. Mine were really close and after tweaking the recipe I think I would rather save my $24 and make my version.
A favorite at parties I have catered
These tiny little pieces of bacon, Parmesan and cracker are to die for. I have been making these for friends, family and catering clients for twenty years now. They are so easy to make. They may take a while in the oven, so that’s why if you want to make plenty and keep them in the freezer for last minute appetizers.
These are good with a glass of wine or even a glass of orange juice for breakfast.
Here’s what you are going to need. Bacon, Parmesan Cheese and Club Crackers. Depending on how many you want I usually calculate things this way. There are 11-12 pieces of bacon in a pound and you cut that into giving you somewhere between 22-24 bacon wraps per pound of bacon.
Start by putting a small amount of Parmesan cheese on top of the cracker. Take 1/2 piece of bacon and wrap it around the cracker enclosing the Parmesan cheese. Line these up on a broiler rack (this will catch the grease that cooks out of the bacon.
I usually bake these at 250° in my two convection ovens. I use all three racks. If you don’t have a convection oven, still use all three racks and bake at 250° for 1 1/2 -2 hours or until crisp and brown. If you only have one broiler rack you can also put a cookie cooling rack inside a sheet pan (with edge). Make sure you use the sheet pan because you don’t want grease spilling over in your oven.
If you are serving these immediately, drain on paper towels and then heap up on serving dish. If you will be eating these later, cool on racks, then put in ziplock bags and freeze. When ready to serve, thaw and heat in 350° for about 10-12 minutes. Drain on paper towels before serving.
These will be a hit.
Parmesan Bacon Wraps
- 1 box of club crackers*
- 1-2 lbs. bacon cut in half
- 1 c. finely grated parmesan cheese
Cut the bacon in half and sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of parmesan cheese on top of the cracker. Carefully wrap one half piece of bacon around the cracker and cheese and put cheese side up on a broiler tray or a cookie sheet with cooling rack on top. Repeat until you have made as many as you want.
Put the tray in a 250° oven and bake for at least an hour until they are brown and crisp. At this point I normally cool and freeze in bags until ready to serve. When ready to serve, put the bacon wraps on a rimmed cookie sheet and warm in 350 oven for about 5-8 minutes or until hot. I sometimes drain on paper towel if there is still a lot of grease.
Note: I have mades these for over 30 years and the last several years I started noticing that about every other cracker would break when I was trying to wrap the bacon. I wrote Kebler and they told me it was because the crackers are now 0 trans fat. So, if you can buy generic that still has the trans fat, they work a lot better. If not, then be very gentle wrapping them.
Ready for a margarita to go with this yummy spread.
Whether you are doing a south of the border meal or not, this appetizer is tasty, with a little crunch and spice.
One night at my sister’s house last week, in between tornado warnings, barbecuing ribs, and entertaining two babies, we whipped up this yummy appetizer.
You want a beautiful glass to serve this in and any kind of cracker will do.
Jalapeno Blue Cheese Spread
- 1 pkg. unflavored gelatin
- 1/4 c. water
- 3 oz. cream cheese
- 5 oz. blue cheese crumbled
- 16 oz. sour cream
- 2 jalapeno peppers chopped fine
- 2 Tbsp. vinegar
- 2 oz. pimientos chopped
- 1 c. pecans roasted
- Assorted crackers
Combine gelatin with water in a custard up, let stand. Place cream cheese and blue cheese in a 2 quart bowl. Microwave at 50% power 60-90 seconds until softened. Mix with sour cream until smooth, set aside. Microwave gelatin on high 30 seconds or until boiling. Stir in vinegar and blend into cheese mixture. Add the peppers, pecans and pimentos. Pour into mold (or margarita glass) and chill several hours. Turn onto red leaf lettuce line tray (if you have molded it in a dish) and garnish with jalapeno flower or slices of jalapenos. Serve with crackers on the side.
(Hint: have all ingredients ready before starting. The gelatin may set too quickly if you start adding cold ingredients and you don’t have everything else ready to fold in.) Also, anytime I use a mold, I line it with plastic wrap then all you have to do is flip it out and peel off the plastic wrap. I usually do this recipe in either small margarita glasses or one of the giant ones. I have substituted pistachio nuts for the pecans and then sprinkled pistachios on top. Either way, it’s unbelievably good. —
Memories of Napa Valley
I have been to Napa Valley 5 times. Each trip was enjoyable but so different from each other. The first trip I took with my husband was when we were thinking over a transfer to San Francisco. (Didn’t happen) We had one day to visit Napa so that was a rushed trip but we fit in as much as possible.
The second trip was after a family ski vacation to Lake Tahoe. We had a day and a half to see Napa, San Francisco (the wharf, China town and all other sites) plus Muir Woods. This was like a National Lampoon’s Family Vacation. We had very little time but wanted to see everything. We were like a bunch of little mice running all over the place. Kind of funny when I think of it now.
The third trip was with my twin sister and we went to celebrate our 50th birthday. We took two other friends along and tried to fit in every winery there in 3 days. Of course that didn’t happen but we did have loads of fun.
The fourth trip was with friends G & P and we went the week before 9/11. We had such a great time we had nicknames for each other – “superfly” (that was G) and P and me were “Thelma and Louise”. We drove a red Mustang convertible. We had some great food (always), great company (always), and wonderful wines.
The fifth trip was a mother/daughter trip with friend/daughter. I think this was the best. We saw Jersey Boys in San Francisco ate at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant, Postrio and the trip to Napa was more relaxed. We only went to the wineries that we were really interested in and had some wonderful dinners.
This recipe for Pecorino Cheese Pudding I first had at Tra Vigne restaurant there and I knew after tasting it that I had to come up with a recipe. I found a recipe for garlic pudding and from there came up with my own recipe. The restaurant baked theirs in small individual ramekins. I bake mine in a larger dish when trying to serve a crowd. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do. It always brings back memories of Napa for me.
Pecorino Cheese Pudding
- 6 eggs
- 3 egg whites
- 2 c. heavy cream
- salt and white pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 – 2 c. pecorino cheese grated
- 3-4 heads garlic peeled, sliced and lightly sauteed in olive oil
- 1/2 cup olive oil or more as needed
Spray mold/pan with cooking spray. Beat eggs and egg whites. Add the heavy cream. Mix well. Add the grated cheese. Pour into mold 3/4 full. Put in this into a water bath. Bake at 324° for 1 hour 15 minutes or knife inserted in center comes out clean. When it is done, run a knife around edge. Put a serving plate on top, and flip the dish over. Add the sauteed garlic to a little more oil and pour this arround pudding with. Serve with buttered toasted baguette slices.