Easy holiday cheese balls

Enjoy one of these classic appetizers this New Year’s Eve.

If you want to be a hit at your next party, or to serve up an appetizer that will make guests sing your praises, you’ve got to make a cheese ball. Even if you don’t like cream cheese, you could still like the cheese ball—I have family members who do this—and who says you have to eat your own cooking anyway? Just make it and bask in the praise.

A cheese ball is super simple, and you can alter it in any way you like to create custom snacks for any gathering. My mother always makes them for holidays—always using the same recipe—so I started making different flavors for family gatherings and both ideas remain a hit. People always want something to dip when they gather—what is it about dipping?—and a cheese ball gives them this pleasure without making a mess in your carpet.

All you need is some cream cheese and whatever flavors you want to put in it (I know this is vague; stay with me here!). My mom uses five to six sticks of cream cheese in her cheese balls since she likes to make big ones; I like to make different flavors of smaller ones, so I use two to three packages per ball.

You dump your cheese, rather unceremoniously but there you go, into a mixing bowl. Then add your flavoring agents. My mother likes to put chopped green onions, chopped corned beef, and Worcestershire sauce in hers. I like to splash some lemon in my cheese balls to brighten them up if I make them like this, and I usually skip the onions—we don’t like them!—and add in some onion powder and garlic.

I also like to make them with curry, and I had a really successful one a few years ago with diced up cucumber and dill in it. It was like a big cucumber sandwich! Once you have your ball made with whatever you like, you roll it up and serve it with crackers, celery sticks, or whatever else you’d like to serve it with.

For the holidays, you can always shape it into something else—like a Christmas tree, wreath, or star—to help set the mood and go with the décor, of course. Garnish it with some sliced fruit or tomatoes for a display that not only pops, but offers additional snacks in the process.

"The Story of Sushi" will make you hungry

Raw fish and rice have never been so fascinating!

Trevor Corson's book about sushi is enticing and fascinating enough that I would caution you not to read it unless you have a source of sushi nearby. Luckily, as he details in one chapter, there is sushi almost everywhere in America these days, with a crazy proliferation of sushi bars in even third and fourth tier towns. Not to mention the ready-made sushi which can often be found in the refrigerated case of your grocery store's deli section.

There are a lot of angles you can write about sushi, and Corson pursues them all. From the earliest history of sushi's origins as fermented fish, to the exacting formulas that sushi chefs use to season their rice, and the biological details of the bluefin and yellowfin tuna. Miso, proper knife technique, and the religious implications of rice in an animist culture are only a few of the disparate subjects that Corson lays out in fascinating detail. It reminds you how complex our world really is, how much is going on behind the scenes that culminates in the delicious wedge of rice and fish sitting on your plate.

Corson has a flair for researching and writing about these topics in an engrossing manner. However, The Story of Sushi employs a framing device with mixed results. The framing device is a "fly on the wall" series of courses at the California Sushi Academy, one of America's greatest sushi training centers. This framing device follows several students closely, again with mixed results.
Superficially, the passages which take place at the CSA lead into the historical and scientific discussions of minutia such how soy sauce is made. By detailing what the students learn (and the difficulties they face), the reader gains a new appreciation for the skills involved in making sushi. These passages at the CSA help to humanize the subject, to illustrate the misogyny and racism found in the sushi trade, and to bring home what a skilled profession it is to be a sushi chef.
Unfortunately, this portion of the narrative seems far too smitten with Kate, the worst student in class, cast here as the plucky underdog. The writing style in these passages feels overly indulgent. The author's presence is entirely erased from the scene, and the narrative voice sits inside the students' heads (detailing their thoughts, feelings, and internal reactions) to such an extent that I began to wonder if the entire thing was fictionalized. And yet, it seems that the students really do exist. 
Overall, though, this was a fun read, and any sushi lover will come away from the experience with a better appreciation for this amazing food.

Mini Cheesecakes!!

I don’t know about you guys but I absolutely love desserts! I love the rich taste they fill in my mouth. I’ve always been a fan of baking. Sometimes for my birthday instead of a birthday cake I like to mix it up a bit and make individual mini cheesecakes! You can make any kind you like. I’m going to tell you what you need.


1 cup of graham cracker crumbs

2 tablespoons of sugar

4 tablespoons of melted butter

1 cup sugar

3 packages (8-ounce each) of softened cream cheese

3 eggs

2 teaspoons of vanilla

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

1 (21 ounce) can of Comstock More Fruit (your choice of flavor)

First you should preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line your cupcake pan with paper liners. In a mixing bowl, combine the crumbs, butter, and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Next divide the crumb mix equally among the pans and press to form an equal layer. Bake 3 to 5 minutes. Let this cool completely. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees. With an electric mixture, beat the cream cheese until it is light and fluffy. Add the 1 cup of sugar and beat until smooth. Be sure to scrape the inside of the bowl. Put the speed on low and add the eggs, vanilla, and lemon juice. Then fill the liners 2/3 full with cheese mix. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until you can insert a toothpick and it will come out clean. Let them cool completely. Top each one with fruit filling. Then refrigerate until ready to serve.

Spinach Bean Dip

I absolutely love to cook! I have had a huge passion for cooking and baking since I was little. I can remember my mom and I always baking and cooking dinner together since I was a little tot. I honestly should have started my own catering service or bakery.

I’m always a huge fan of throwing parties and get-togethers. Whether it’s a birthday party, holiday party, or football party, I am always there to make delicious foods. One of my favorites is trying out new dips and appetizers.

Today I’m going to share one of my favorite dip recipes of all time! Oh and it’s healthy, which makes it ten times better! This dip is called Spinach Bean Dip.


Ingredients you need include:


1 box of frozen chopped spinach (you will want to thaw it before starting the dip)

1-cup sour cream

1 can (15-ounce) white beans (drain and rinse them)

1 vegetable sour mix (the 1.8 ounce pack)

¼ cup of milk

You will first want to drain the spinach of any excess water. Next, place the beans into a food processor to puree them until smooth. Next, add the sour cream, milk, and soup mix. Mix until well blended. Dump into a medium bowl and mix in the chopped spinach. Refrigerate the dip for 2 hours and then serve. I like to serve mine with Wheat Thins or Triscuits to keep it healthy!


This dip is only 94 calories per serving (1/4 cup.) Hope you enjoy it and share with your family and friends!

*Healthy Steak Fajitas!*

My husband and I have recently started a new diet this year. We are both trying to get healthier for our daughter and each other. To eat healthier nowadays it gets a little expensive. I’m always looking through magazines and cookbooks for new recipes and trying to give them a little bit of our flavoring. One of our favorite healthy recipes are steak fajitas.



1 pound of beef flank steak

2 medium green peppers

1 large onion

10-12 small tortillas

salt and pepper


For the marinade you need a package of fajita seasoning mix, two tablespoons of lime juice, and ¼ cup of water.


First you want to make your marinade. Combine water, lime juice, and seasoning mix into a small bowl. Place the steak and marinade into a Ziploc bag and coat the steak. Place the bag in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours, turning it occasionally. Next you remove the steak from the marinade and throw the bag away. Chop up your onions and bell peppers. Then cook the steak to your liking. While cooking the steak, sauté your onions and bell peppers. They should be crisp when done sautéing. You can do this is the same pan or a separate pan as your steak. When the steak is cooked, cut it into smaller chunks. Warm the tortillas in the microwave for 30 seconds. Put the steak on the tortilla and top with the vegetables.


You can add cheese or some sort of sauce but be sure to portion correctly to stay healthy.

*Delicious Chicken Enchilada Dip!!*

I don’t know about everyone else, but I am a huge Mexican cuisine fan! I’m also a huge fan of throwing parties and cooking and baking. I went to school for Hotel and Restaurant Management because I am a leader and do not like to take directions from anyone else. Personally, I should have gone to school for cooking and catering. I’m going to share one of my favorite dip recipes. I love party food and super bowl parties!

            This recipe is for my chicken enchilada dip. Just reading that made my mouth water. It consists of:

            1-pound skinless, boneless chicken breast

            1 8-ounce package of cream cheese

            1 8-ounce jar of mayonnaise

            1 8-ounce package of shredded cheddar cheese

            1 4-ounce can of diced green chile peppers

            1 Jalapeno pepper, finely diced (if you don’t like it really spicy, leave this out)

Now for the directions:

1)      Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cut chicken breasts into smaller pieces and place on medium baking sheet.

2)      Bake for 20 minutes or until no longer pink inside, remove and shred the chicken

3)      Place the shredded chicken in a medium bowl and mix with cream cheese, mayonnaise, cheddar cheese, and both peppers.

4)      After well mixed, transfer this mix into a medium baking dish and place in preheated oven where you will bake it uncovered for 30 minutes or until edges are golden brown.


This is a simple and fast recipe! It is certainly delicious also! Hope you enjoy it!

Cheesy Chicken Empanadas with Chili Con Queso Dip

A Mexican Delight

I have always been a big fan of Mexican food. Whether it’s burritos, tacos, enchiladas, whatever it is, I love it! I’m also a huge fan of cooking. I love finding new recipes anywhere I can and making them with my husband. We are always throwing parties and get-togethers with our families. One of my favorite recipes to make is a cheesy chicken empanada with some chili con queso dip! Its simple and fast and all you need is a deep fryer!


The recipe for the cheese chicken empanadas consists of:

3 cups of cooked chopped chicken

1 (8 ounce) package of shredded cheese

1 chopped jalapeno

4 ounces of cream cheese

1 (15 ounce) refrigerated piecrust

1 ½ teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon black pepper



First, in a large mixing bowl, combine the chicken, cream cheese, jalapeno, salt and pepper. Next, remove the piecrust from the tin. Lightly flour and roll into a 15-inch circle. Then cut out round circles using a 3 in cookie cutter. Repeat with the remaining piecrust. After that lightly brush the edges with water. Place 1 heaping teaspoons of mixture, fold over, and press edges with a fork. Place the empanada into a deep fryer for 3 to 5 minutes, or until golden brown.


For the chili con queso dip you will need 1 (16 ounce) package of shredded cheddar cheese, 1 (16 ounce) can of diced tomatoes, 1 (4 ounce) can of green chiles, and 2 teaspoons of hot sauce.


You slowing melt the cheddar cheese over low or medium heat. After it melts, add the tomatoes and chiles. That is your dip for the empanadas.


Two very simple recipes for one super delicious snack!

*Chicken Crescent Rolls*

Great appetizer for parties!

My husband and I have always been into cooking. It’s a good time for us to spend together doing something we both enjoy. We like to find random recipes and make them into our own creation. I’m always into throwing parties and serving many appetizers. One of our favorites is called chicken crescent rolls. It’s a simple recipe and anyone can make it. This recipe will make 16 filled rolls. If you want to make more you need to make the recipe accordingly. Ex. If you want to make 32 rolls, then you need to double the recipe.


The ingredients you need consist of:


2 packages of crescent rolls

1 ½ cups of cooked chicken, shredded

3 tablespoons chopped onion

¼ cup chicken stock or water

½ cup ricotta cheese

¼ teaspoon pepper

¼ teaspoon salt

Cook chicken on stove until it reaches 165 degrees. Let it cool. Combine chicken, onion, stock, ricotta cheese, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Mix together thoroughly. Open the packages of crescent rolls and separate the dough into triangles. Place on cookie sheet. Spoon the chicken mixture into each dough triangle. Roll the triangles around the chicken filling. Bake the rolls at 375 degrees for 14 minutes or until roll is golden brown.

 These are an awesome treat for your guests at any occasion. They are also quick and simple to make. You can even enjoy them as part of your meal. So if you find yourself running out of snack ideas for your guests, try something new and different. 

Homemade Buffalo Chicken Dip in Slow Cooker

This is a perfect dip for Super Bowl parties, birthday parties, Christmas parties, or any kind of get together. I was first introduced to it by my sister-in-law at a birthday party. It's super delicious and you can make it to your liking by adding more or less Frank's Red Hot. I also like to use my own thawed chicken breast. I cook it to 165 degrees and then shred it up myself in my blender. The can chicken taste alright though.

The recipe consists of:

2 (10 ounce) cans of chunk chicken, drained (I usually use my own chicken breast)

2 (8 ounce) packages of cream cheese, softened (Sit cream cheese out for an hour before using or it will be really hard to mix in mixture)

3/4 cup Frank's Red Hot (add more for hotter dip)

1 cup ranch (add more for milder dip)

1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I prefer monterey cheddar)

In a skillet you heat the canned chicken and mix it with the Frank's Red Hot. Next stir in the softened cream cheese and ranch dressing. Cook, stirring until blended well and warmed. Mix in half of the shredded cheese. Then transfer the mixture to a slow cooker. After that, sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese over the top. Cover and cook on low until hot and bubbly. 

Sometimes we add more Frank's Red Hot and less ranch or vise-versa. I would always start with minimum amount and add for taste.

Protein Power Life Plan

I guess one might not think of the Protein Power Life Plan Counter as a cookbook exactly. In fact, I certainly didn't buy it as a cookbook, I bought it for its intended purpose, to figure out what amounts of protein are in what foods. Since protein content is in some ways counter intuitive, especially when you're talking about non meat based foods, I needed some simple as well as moderately comprehensiveThe Protein Power Life Plan Counter, of course, does have the function of providing protein counts for common as well as not so common foods, organized by categories including beverages (their weakest section), breads cereals and grains, dairy products, fats and oils, fruit and fruit juices, meat (meaning non poultry meat), poultry, poultry and vegetables. The book includes information not just on protein, but also what they call “effective carbohydrate content” which is a fancy way of saying total number of grams of carbs minus the grams of fiber. Also included is information on the amount of saturated fat, the amount of monounsaturated fat and the presence of different types of omega fatty acids.

None of this makes the book a cookbook; it's the introduction that does that. It contains suggestions for working with your protein and carb goals for the day to design meals that are satisfying and palatable. Whether you consider a high protein low carb diet a healthful idea or not, you have to admit that after a while it gets both gross and weird. How much salami on a plate can you eat for lunch, really? This book has ideas that will help you think beyond the meat, meat, meat options of low carb diets.