Grilled Corn Guacamole

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, on behalf of Amaize Sweet Corn/Golden Sun Marketing. I was compensated for this post, and all opinions are 100% my own.

Grilled Corn Guacamole

Confession time. For the longest time, the types of corn I was familiar with was canned corn and frozen corn on a cob. I never thought to buy fresh corn from the grocery store, since those other types were what I really knew. I was pretty intimidated by fresh corn for a while, but after having freshly grilled corn a couple of years ago, I got hooked!

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Cranberry Salsa

Cranberry Salsa

When I went to Fresh Summit, I was introduced to fruits taking on a more savory note in recipes. I really didn’t think I’d like it, but oh boy, it got the creative juices flowing. One thing I sampled was at the Ocean Spray booth…while I didn’t get to speak anyone there (the summit was super busy with 20k people there), I was immediately intrigued by their cranberry salsa recipe. They were handing out samples with tortilla chips, but when I tasted this, my first thought was TURKEY. How fabulous would this be on turkey instead of the normal cranberry sauce?!

So, when we smoked the turkey this past weekend, I also whipped up a batch of this cranberry salsa. It was fantastic on the turkey! In fact, my husband (who isn’t much of a cranberry fan), loved this salsa. :-) It’s definitely going to be a part of our holiday menu, and I think I’m going to bring a batch to my family’s Thanksgiving when we go. It was just SO good, and very simple to make.

Cranberry Salsa
Source: Ocean Spray

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 12 oz. fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 2 tbsp. chopped pickled jalapeno peppers
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 green onion, white and green parts, sliced
  • 1 tsp. lime juice

Directions:

  1. In a medium-sized pot, add the water and sugar. Stir the mixture, and heat it on medium heat until it comes to a boil. Add the cranberries to the mixture, and return the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat and gently boil the cranberry mixture for 10 minutes, being mindful not to stir during those 10 minutes.
  2. Pour the mixture into a medium heat-proof mixing bowl, and fold in the remaining ingredients. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature, and cover with plastic wrap. It’s best served at room temperature, but you can refrigerate it overnight and serve the next day (it’s actually even better the next day, in my opinion).

Microwave Queso Blanco

Microwave Queso Blanco

Whenever I cook any mexican cuisine in our home, it’s really hard not to grab some chips and queso to go along with it. It just feels right. Of course, whenever we go to our favorite mexican restaurant, we snack on chips and queso. Bonus points if the restaurant serves queso blanco. That’s my absolute favorite.

We’ve always wanted to recreate the queso blanco that we love in our own home, and while we LOVE this recipe, I was curious about this particular recipe that I saw, since it seemed so much quicker to throw together. You just throw the ingredients in a bowl and nuke it. And for those of you who aren’t fans of Velveeta, no worries…there’s no Velveeta in this recipe!

Microwave Queso Blanco
Source: Pennies on a Platter

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 lb. block White American Cheese (commonly found at the deli counter), cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup diced green chiles
  • 2 pickled jalapenos, chopped
  • 1 oz. pickled jalapeno juice
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • pinch of cumin (optional)

Directions:

  1. Place all the ingredients in a large bowl, that is safe for the microwave. Microwave the mixture for 5 minutes, stopping to stir the cheese every minute. Don’t worry if the mixture doesn’t look like it’s going to come together at first. Eventually, it will.
  2. Stir the cheese well again and serve. If you have leftover queso, just stick it in the fridge and reheat in 30 second intervals in the microwave until the cheese is hot again.

 

 

 

Pesto

pesto

When we moved to a new house this year, one of the main things that I wanted was a raised bed for our vegetable and herb garden. I haven’t had much success in the past, so this year I was optimistic. We put in three basil plants, and they just blew up! The thing with herbs is that if you want them to grow more, you need to pick them. So, I picked most of the leaves off of the plants, and realized that I had more than enough to make some pesto happen.

Pesto is something that I’m fairly new to. I really didn’t know what pesto was until I started reading food blogs. Once I learned, I thought that pesto couldn’t be an everyday meal. It just looked and sounded SO fancy. I was REALLY missing out here, y’all. All you need to do is throw your ingredients in a food processor, and let it go. It’s just really easy, and adds such wonderful flavor to whatever you add it to. Heck, you don’t need to add it to anything…eat it by the spoonful. :-)

A trick that I learned from a few Twitter friends that pesto doesn’t NEED pine nuts (who knew those things were so dang pricey?!). Walnuts were the perfect substitution to pine nuts, and I totally couldn’t tell the difference!

Pesto
Source: Ina Garten

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 1.5 tbsp. fresh chopped garlic (about 5 cloves)
  • 2 1/2 cups of fresh, packed basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Place the walnuts and garlic in a food processor and pulse the ingredients for about 15 seconds. Add the basil, salt and pepper to the food processor, and turn on the food processor. While everything is chopping, slowly add the olive oil in through the top of the food processor until everything is well pureed. Add in the parmesan cheese, and pulse for about another minute to make sure it’s well incorporated.
  2. Serve immediately or place in a container with a small amount of olive oil on top to prevent the pesto from browning.

 

 

Spicy Spinach Artichoke Dip


Spinach Artichoke Dip

I love hosting big family holidays. I have a blast choosing a menu, shopping and waking up early to start the cooking festivities. It’s really rewarding when you see all of your loved ones gathered around and enjoying the food that YOU made! Never in my college day Lean Cuisine eating dreams did I think I could ever host a family holiday, but we have…quite a few times.

One of the big perks to cooking up a huge holiday meals is that you can sneak a taste or two of a few dishes as you’re cooking them up without getting smacked on the wrist by your momma. Sadly, I actually end up filling up on appetizers and taking small tastes before serving everyone! (whoops!) By the time everyone has their huge plates of food, I find myself sitting down and struggling to eat one plate. Oh well…

This past Christmas and Easter, I had this spinach artichoke dip to blame for the pre-meal full feeling. My friend, who blogs at Wine and Shoes, gave me this recipe after trying this dip at a party, and it’s just fabulous! I like to have this in a crockpot (to help the dip stay warm) where the appetizers are, which is sadly my kitchen island. All I have to do is take a step or two to sneak a cracker full of this stuff every couple of minutes. I’m not the only one who found it dangerous, either. As people started arriving, I noticed a little crowd was forming, and it certainly wasn’t for the cheese tray. :-P

I especially love this dip, because there is no mayo. 90% of you will disagree with me, but I think mayo is gross. It smells terrible, looks nasty and because of that, I just can’t stomach the idea of eating ANYTHING containing mayo. Sorry to the mayo lovers…

Spicy Spinach Artichoke Dip
Source: Wine and Shoes (originally from Tabasco)

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 med onion, chopped finely
  • 2-10 oz packs frozen spinach, thawed and well drained
  • 1-14 oz can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • 1 cup Monterey jack cheese, shredded & divided
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated & divided
  • 2 tbsp. Tabasco sauce
  • salt, to taste

Directions:

  1. Melt the butter in large saucepan on medium-low heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté the butter and onions until they are translucent and soft, about 5 minutes.  Add in the spinach, artichokes, cream cheese, sour cream, ¾ cup of the parmesan and ¾ cup of the Monterey jack, Tabasco and salt (to taste).  Cook until well mixed.
  2. Pour the mixture into a smaller crockpot and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
  3. Add the lid to the crockpot and heat on low for about 20 minutes, until the cheese is just melted. Then, keep the crockpot on low throughout serving.

 

 

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Tomatillo Salsa

Man y’all. The past couple of weeks have been crazy. I haven’t really gotten sick in a few years, and on Valentine’s Day, as luck would have it, I caught some sort of cold-like virus. Ugh. Lesson learned…do not stop taking Vitamin C gummies. (yup, I totally take gummy vitamins) I’ve recently started feeling better, which means I’m back in the kitchen! It felt so weird not cooking for two weeks, but thankfully, my husband is pretty darn awesome in the kitchen, which helped immensely when I didn’t feel like getting off the sofa.

I made this salsa one night to try a green salsa with the chicken taquitos that we fairly regularly make, which is actually the salsa intended for this recipe. However, usually I just throw in some red salsa when I’m in a hurry, but I had some time to make this. I have a confession, though…I’ve never worked with or even had tomatillos before this. I remember being in the produce section, overwhelmed by how to tell a good tomatillo from a bad one (I’m a worry worm…what can I say?), but I think I survived haha! I was very surprised at how flavorful this salsa was. I was worried I’d hate tomatillos, but it was quite the opposite! This salsa was fantastic, and really wasn’t that bad to make either!

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
Source: Pink Parsley, originally from Rick Bayless Mexican Everyday

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 medium tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and halved (about 8 ounces)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1/3 cup loosely packed, roughly chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 small white onion, chopped
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • salt

Directions:

  1. Heat a large, nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Place the tomatillos (with the cut-side down), garlic and jalapeno in the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes, until the tomatillos are well-browned. Also, watch the garlic to ensure that you don’t burn it…it will taste bitter once burned. Flip the ingredients in the pan and take a couple of minutes to brown the other side of the vegetables.
  2. Remove the tomatillos and garlic and add them to a food processor or blender. Brown the jalapeno on all sides and then move it to a cutting board to cool.
  3. Once cooled, peel off the burned skin (which should happen very easily) and scoop out the ribs and seeds (unless you REALLY like spicy). Chop the jalapeno and add to the food processor or blender with the tomatillos and garlic.
  4. Add 1/4 cup of water, the chopped onion and chopped cilantro to the food processor/blender until it’s a coarse puree. Feel free to add a little water if the salsa is too thick. Add lime juice and salt to taste and serve.

 

Favorite Party Recipes

Part of me cannot believe that the Superbowl is Sunday. I mean, that’s the end of football season until next Fall. I have to wait at least six months to watch another game after this. Sad.  (If you know me, you know I’m being dead serious about how sad this is to me. Crazy football fan here!) A perk of Superbowl Sunday? Watching Millie run up to the TV when I randomly switch over to the Puppy Bowl.

To mourn celebrate the end of another football season, here’s some great recipes that will definitely disappear if you serve them at your Superbowl parties.

Queso Blanco
Restaurant Style Queso Blanco

Restaurant Style Salsa
Restaurant Style Salsa


Crawfish Pies


Crawfish Cheesecake

Jambalaya
Pork and Sausage Jambalaya

Berry Mash Bruschetta
Berry Mash Bruschetta

Sugar Cookie Bars
Sugar Cookie Bars

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownies
Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownies

IMG_4426
Oreo Cupcakes

Oh, and if you have an occasional puppy bowl break, I’m pretty sure the dogs at your party would love you for these!

Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Dog Treats

Pumpkin PB Treats

Top 10 Recipes of 2011

Am I the only person who is shocked that Christmas just passed? I can’t believe it. Neighbors are taking down lights, and our tree looks SO empty without gifts under it. My favorite holiday is over, and crazy enough, it’s time for a new year. 2012.

Time to take the shrink wrap off of the new planner and get used to writing “2012” on papers/emails/etc. This is just crazy.

Also crazy…sometime in 2012, my 4 year blogiversary is happening and my 3 year wedding anniversary is happening too. WHAT?

It’s a lot to look forward to, but before everyone rings in the new year, I just wanted to share with y’all the top 10 posts of 2011. :-)

Yellow Cupcakes w/ Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

10. Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream – This was my first time making SMBC, and I swear, if you haven’t tried SMBC before, just do it. Please?

Pecan Pie Macarons

9. Pecan Pie Macarons – Gotta love macarons. These were really a huge favorite for Thanksgiving, and the star shape (which was a happy accident) made them super cute and festive!

Queso Blanco

8. Restaurant Style Queso Blanco – This is it. The ultimate queso blanco. If you’re as addicted to queso as me, you’d understand how wonderful it is to FINALLY have a recipe for this!

Strawberry Cream Cake

7. Strawberry Cream Cake – I’m actually glad I compiled this top 10, because I sort of forgot about this cake. Since it’s currently strawberry season in Louisiana, I think I MUST make this cake again. Yum!

Peppermint Bark Cheesecake Truffles

6. Peppermint Bark Cheesecake Truffles – This is the recipe that made my year, basically. I still can’t believe I won that recipe contest, and I’ve been told by a few friends who made this that these little truffles were a hit at their holiday parties! So happy to hear that!

Banana Nutella "Ice Cream"

5. Banana Nutella “Ice Cream” – Two ingredient “ice cream”. It’s basically awesome and couldn’t be any easier. Your food processor does all the work!

Corn Grits

4. Grilled Corn Grits – I can’t be from the South, and not have a post about grits. I promise you if you make this, your hips may never be the same again, but your taste buds will tell you it’s completely worth it!

3. Easy Pasta Salad – My first (and so far, only) vlog. I might get the courage to make one again, since you guys seemed to like it so much!

Diet Cupcakes

2. Cooking For Kids – The infamous post. Yup, who’da thought that a soda cupcake would get so much response from you guys (both good and bad)…yikes!

Homemade S'mores

1. S’mores for a Shower – Nutella S’mores. I can see why you guys loved this one so much. I’m sort of craving s’mores right now, actually. :-P

I hope you have a wonderful New Year with your family and friends, and thank you so much for reading The Nifty Foodie! See y’all in 2012!

Salted Butter Caramel Sauce + Winners

Salted Caramel Sauce

When I made my first batch of caramel, I was so surprised at the taste. I was ready to taste a more flavorful Kraft caramel, but instead, homemade caramels tasted completely different. Completely. Homemade caramels are in a league of their own.

The same goes for caramel sauce. The homemade stuff tastes NOTHING like Smucker’s, and this stuff is much easier to make than caramel candy. No thermometer needed (Wahoo!), and it comes together fairly quickly. There’s still some of this precious sauce left in the refrigerator, and it’s taking everything in me not to finish that jar with a spoon. Diet be darned!

Salted Butter Caramel Sauce
Source: Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 tbsp. salted butter (in tbsp.-sized slices)
  • 1/2 cup + two tbsp. heavy cream, at room temperature

Directions:

    1. Add the sugar to a 2-3 qt. sized pot, and melt over medium to medium high heat. As the sugar starts to melt, whisk or stir to ensure that the sugar doesn’t burn and heats evenly.
    2. Cook the sugar until it melts to a dark caramel color. Add the butter tbsps. at the same time and stir it in. Then, pour in the heavy cream. You’ll notice that the pot is going to foam up so do these steps carefully to avoid burning yourself.
    3. Remove the pot immediately from heat and whisk it until you get a smooth sauce.

Note: You can either use it right away or store it in the fridge up to two weeks. Popping it in the microwave for about a minute will make it it’s original consistency again.

I’ve chosen the two winners of the Butterball turkey gift certificates. Thanks to all of you who entered!

EDITED:

Due to the lack of response from the original winners, I had to re-draw for the Turkey gift cards!

cara….who said:

I try to get as much done as I can the night before and we rent an extra fridge!

AND

Kayla…who said:

My tip is to make your SIL host so you can just show up with your pecan pie and call it a day. :P 

For the two of you who won, to redeem your prize, please email me within 48 hours at niftyfoodie@gmail.com! Congratulations!

 

Restaurant Style Salsa

Restaurant Style Salsa

Greetings from our new kitchen! We’re still unpacking boxes around the house, but the kitchen is completely set-up! The kitchen was definitely a priority for us when it came to unpacking, because take out was definitely starting to get boring. Since we moved a little further from the city, our choices are VERY limited. So yeah, it was time to turn on that stove!

Since I was in the mood to make tex-mex (and H didn’t really mind that craving either), we made chicken enchiladas one night and then chicken taquitos with this salsa the next night. Tex-mex two nights in a week? Heck yes!

This salsa is really a big favorite in our house, and I’m really not sure why I haven’t shared this recipe with y’all until now! We’ve made it quite a few times, because it’s ridiculously easy to throw together and way tastier than anything you can buy in a jar! While this salsa makes a lot (and I mean A LOT), it’s really not difficult to go through this stuff fairly quickly. :-) It’s addictive, for sure!

Restaurant Style Salsa
Source: Pioneer Woman

Ingredients:

  • 1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes with juice
  • 2 10 oz cans of Rotel
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 whole jalapeno, quartered and sliced thin (remove seeds if you don’t want as much heat)
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1/2 of a lime’s juice

Directions:

  1. Take all ingredients and put them in a blender.
  2. Pulse the blender until you reach your desired consistency.
  3. Enjoy!