Cheesy Black-Eyed Pea Dip

January 10, 2013


Every year between New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day our family consumes a ginormous amount of black-eyed peas; but, I may have finally gone a little bit overboard.  This year my black-eyed pea eating marathon started around noon on New Year’s Eve when I started cooking them and ended late on New Year’s evening when I polished off what was left.

We’ve always said that you can never eat too many peas on New Year’s since they’re supposed to bring you good luck, but I’m sure that I probably consumed several hundred of those little black eyes. Is that overkill?

Don’t know yet. I guess time will tell.

Our Southern family tradition has always been to serve ham, black-eyed peas,  greens and cornbread at midnight on New Year’s Eve. We’ve done it for as long as I can remember and I continue to do it every year whether it’s for a large group of friends or just our family. This was last year’s dinner plate.


This year we were invited to a neighbor’s house for New Year’s Eve so I decided at the last minute to make this Cheesy Black-Eyed Pea Dip to share with our friends for some added good luck!

Cheesy Black-Eyed Pea Dip
(adapted from Recipe Girl)

1/2 cup butter
1/2 medium onion, chopped
16 ounces Mexican-style or regular Velveeta
3 (15-ounce) cans black-eyed peas, rinsed & drained
1 medium jalapeño pepper, seeded, ribs removed & diced
1 can stewed tomatoes, drained and chopped
2 (4-ounce) cans chopped green chilies, drained
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until golden brown. Turn heat to low, add the cheese and stir until melted. Add peas, peppers, chilies, tomatoes, and garlic salt. Continue to cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour into a crock pot or and serve hot with chips.

Note: I couldn’t find the Mexican Velveeta at my store so I used the regular instead and just added some chopped stewed tomatoes, an extra can of green chilies and an extra can of peas to make it a little chunkier. I also eliminated the green onions from the original recipe because I just don’t like them.

This dip is very similar to another family favorite and one of the guys’  most requested football watching snacks; the infamous Rotel Dip.  The main difference between the two dips is that this one uses the black-eyed peas instead of ground beef, which makes it perfect for vegetarians.

And, something tells me that BigSis knows exactly how to turn this recipe into a yummy vegan dip. :-)

BigSis’ Vegan Twist: You got that right, LilSis. No one loves a dip more than mwah, and I’ve probably eaten my weight in that Rotel dip over the pre-vegan years!

Blackeyed Pea Dip Chip Vegan

This is actually a pretty easy recipe to veganize. Just nix the Velveeta and substitute a vegan queso. You can find several brands on the shelves of Whole Foods and other grocers who carry natural foods. I prefer to make my own with just a few ingredients like flour, nooch, tomatoes with chiles, and a bunch of spices. It sounds weird/gross, but I even feed it to non-vegetarians and they eat it up.

I started with a bunch of sauteed garlic, jalapeno and onion then built my usual queso and tossed in the peas.

Blackeyed Pea Dip Vegan

My version of the black-eyed pea dip is thicker than the Velveeta version, and not that photogenic really, but I’m fine with that. It’s darn tasty, and now it’s gone. Happy new year, everyone!


Stuffed Mushrooms Italian

July 6, 2011

I mentioned this family favorite recipe for Stuffed Mushrooms Italian a couple of years ago around Christmas time and BigSis shared her veganized version with us last New Year’s Eve.

It’s always been a tradition of ours to make these yummy mushrooms for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years Eve, but these are also perfect for a summer cookout or barbeque. When I made these for our Father’s Day cookout, I decided to try to get a couple of photos before they were all gobbled up since I wasn’t able to get photos the first time around.

Try these the next time you need to take an appetizer to a ‘get-together’ with friends or family and I promise you won’t be disappointed. They’re easy enough to make ahead and then just put on the grill on some foil to stay warm until ready to serve.

Stuffed Mushrooms Italian

24 large mushrooms
1 pound hot Italian sausage
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 shallots, minced
1/4 c. Progresso Italian Breadcrumbs
1/2 stick plus 1 T. butter
1 c. or so seasoned dry stuffing mix (any flavor)

Wipe mushrooms clean, and remove stems. Saute very lightly (only about 30 seconds on each side) in 1/2 stick butter.

Remove sausage from casings and cook in skillet until brown. Drain. Saute shallot in 1 T. of butter until translucent. (I cheat sometimes and just saute the shallot with the sausage.)  In mixing bowl, combine cooked sausage, shallot, cream cheese, and breadcrumbs. Stuff generously into mushroom caps.

At some point after making these for years, we added this one ‘secret ingredient’ that wasn’t in the original recipe. After stuffed, turn the mushrooms upside down and gently press into the dry stuffing mix, just until the top is covered with a layer of stuffing mix. (The dry stuffing mix on top adds a nice crunch and wonderful texture to these mushrooms.) Put in a 13 x 9 casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees until hot. I like to keep them in a few extra minutes until the tops are browned a little.


Cheese and Chive Crisps

June 11, 2011

We had a great time last week while BigSis was here in California visiting and helping me prepare for the big baby shower! We ate Mexican food every single day during BigSis’ visit and may have over-indulged just a little bit, but that’s just what we do. It’s tradition.

Now, it’s back to the grindstone and the gym for both of us. BigSis is back to work in Texas and today was my first day back to work after several days off.

We shared a ‘sneak peak’ photo of these crackers the other day when we talked about the shower and we promised that we’d be back to share the recipe with you.

Crispy Cheese Crackers

Crispy, Cheesy, Yummy, Chive Crisps

This recipe is similar to one that SisMama has made for years; with only slight variations like the chives and the rice krispies. You can find this recipe for Cheese and Chive Crisps on

Cheese and Chive Crisps

These crackers were absolutely “melt in your mouth’ delicious and each and every one of them disappeared long before the end of the day.

I was a little skeptical about the rice krispies at first because I had always made the original recipe that didn’t include the cereal, but BigSis convinced me that they would be yummy and now I couldn’t imagine making them without the cereal. And the fresh chives made these cheesy crackers even more special.

The only thing that we both agreed on is that the next time we make these, we would at least double the amount of Frank’s Red Hot to give them just a little more kick!  :-)

These tasty little crackers would be great for any get-together – especially a cocktail party – so give them a try!


Deviled Dip

February 6, 2011

If the Bears had made it to the Super Bowl, we would definitely be having a huge party at our house today, but, since that’s not the case, we’ll be a little more low-key. The guys will still watch the game and I’ll probably pay some attention just because the game is in my home town and old stompin’ grounds, Arlington, Texas!

(It’ll be interesting because no one expected snow in Texas, in February, but Jerry got his Super Bowl!) :-)

I ran across this recipe while browsing Food Network’s site for some Super Bowl snack ideas and I thought it sounded quick, easy, a little different; and I had some eggs I needed to boil, so I decided to give it a try. I tested this out on my guys and a few friends and it got a thumbs up from everyone! It’s a little bit of a cross between a deviled egg and egg salad.

Deviled Dip
(adapted from Food Network)

8 hard boiled eggs
1/3 c. Vegenaise
1 T. mustard
3 T. dill relish
3 T. real bacon bits
1/2 t. Frank’s Red Hot (plus a few extra dashes)
1/4 t. Paprika
fresh ground pepper (to taste)
dash of salt
chopped chives
sliced baguette bread

Peel the eggs, chop them, place into a bowl. Add the Vegenaise, (or mayo/miracle whip), and puree til smooth. Add remaining ingredients and stir until blended well. Serve on sliced baguette bread and garnish with chives or bacon bits.

For the guys, this is obviously just a snack, but for us girls, this definitely could be a very satisfying lunch!

(Note: Since I can’t have dairy and I really wanted to try this, I substituted Vegenaise for the mayo and no one even noticed.) Shhhhh… :-)


Insalata ala Caprese

June 3, 2009


One of the many things I love about this time of the year is the amazing fresh produce. One of my most favorite salads to serve either as an appetizer or as a side salad is this Insalata ala Caprese.

We had a few friends over for dinner this past Friday night and I had some great tomatoes and loads of fresh basil, so it was a ‘no brainer’ when deciding what to serve as an appetizer. This is always a real crowd-pleaser! But, seriously, how can you go wrong with fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil?

I just can’t get enough of this salad! Unfortunately, this is a little bit of a splurge when you use the full fat fresh mozzarella. (Unless you’re disciplined enough to keep it to a slice or two of cheese, which I am NOT.) I’ve made it using the lower fat mozzarella and it’s fine, but not quite as good, so I always use the fresh mozzarella when we have guests.

We had eight people and these were the quantities that I used, but obviously, you can modify easily enough for more or less servings.


Insalata ala Caprese

5 medium size fresh tomatoes, sliced
1 1/2 lbs. fresh mozzarella, drained and sliced
fresh basil leaves
1-2 T olive oil
1-2 T. balsamic vinegar
Dash of sea salt

Layer the tomatoes, basil leaves, and mozzarella on a serving platter. Drizzle with the olive oil and the balsamic vinegar, to taste. I also julienne a few basil leaves to sprinkle on the top and put a sprig in the center. Top off with a grind or two of sea salt, if desired.

I’ve made several different versions of this recipe. It’s excellent if you have a variety of tomatoes. I’ve made it with a combination of yellow, orange, and red tomatoes and it turns out gorgeous. Also, if you don’t care for the balsamic vinegar, just use a little lemon juice instead.

Buon appetito!


Easy Last Minute Party Appetizers

December 31, 2008

Need a last minute appetizer to take to a New Year’s Eve Party?  Or maybe you’re hosting your own New Year’s Eve Party and have decided that you could use another appetizer?  If so, here are a few more very quick and easy last minute ideas.

This first one is a ‘Rachel Ray’ spin on the Insalata alla Caprese, which is a real favorite of mine.

Cherry Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella Skewers

I container cherry tomatoes
1 pound marinated mozzarella balls
Fresh basil
Short wooden skewers or the longer toothpicks

Take the skewers and just alternate a cherry tomato, a basil leaf, and a mozzarella ball. I’ve added a Kalamata olive, also.  Arrange on a festive plate or on a bed of lettuce leaves and you’re done!

It doesn’t get any easier than that and it’s better than taking a bag of Fritos and a can of bean dip!

Here’s one more simple, but festive, cheese spread. BigSis came up with this variation many moons ago!

Homemade Pimiento Cheese Spread

1 small jar chopped pimentos, drained
Kraft or Hellman’s mayo (not Miracle Whip!)
1 pound Sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 t. pepper
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. celery salt

Combine cheese with pimentos and seasonings, and enough mayonnaise to moisten mixture and hold it together. Serve in a festive bowl surrounded by crackers of your choice. This cheese is best if you can make it a few hours ahead so the flavors can blend, but don’t worry if you make it right before the party. It will still be fantastic!

If you still need a few more ideas, check out The Recipe Girl for a huge selection of hot and cold finger foods.

If you need an idea for a New Year’s Eve cocktail, Tyler Florence shows you how to make up two festive champagne cocktails.

Wishing you a safe, happy, and healthy New Year’s Eve!


New Year’s Eve Party Appetizers

December 30, 2008

Anyone need an idea for a New Year’s Eve Party Appetizer? I love New Year’s Eve Parties and I love appetizers, so this is right “up my alley”!  I’m a little more in my league talking about appetizers versus talking about pies, cakes, and cookies. I actually have several friends that call me ‘The Appetizer Queen’. (I’ll take it, I’ve been called worse.) Whether it’s a New Year’s Eve Party, Christmas Party, Halloween Party or just a Cocktail Party, you can bet that I’m bringing an appetizer.

I’ve always preferred to host a “Cocktails & Hors D’oeuvres” party versus a sit down dinner party. And, we all know that I’m not the one in the Progressive Dinner chosen to do the dessert! Nope, my house was always the Appetizer house!

Since the party is only a day away, I want to share these first three recipes because they are better if you make them ahead and refrigerate overnight.

(I wish I had photos of all of these to show you; but like Christmas and Thanksgiving, New Year’s snuck up on me too quickly to get all of these recipes made and photographed.)

Sun Dried Tomato Spread
Prize Tested Recipe from De Anne Pearson,
Austin, Texas, Winner in the Fresh Herb Ideas Category
for Better Homes and Gardens Contest 1997

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. Olive oil
1/3 c. dry white wine
1/2 c. dried tomatoes, snipped
1 8-oz. pkg cream cheese, softened
1/3 c. snipped fresh basil
3 T. grated Parmesan cheese
Baguette-style French bread slices, toasted

In medium skillet, cook garlic in oil til light brown. Add wine and dried tomatoes. Cook, uncovered, over low heat for 15 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes. Drain excess liquid. Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine cream cheese, basil, and Parmesan cheese. Cover and process till smooth. Add tomato mixture; process til almost smooth. Transfer to serving bowl. Cover and chill 4 to 24 hours. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving. Serve with toasted baguette slices.

(Note: I’ve never used a food processor for this recipe. I’ve always just mixed by hand and I like it because the tomatoes stay a little chunkier.)

HVR Cheese Ball
This recipe is from BigSis’ cookbook! She has always called this the HVR Cheese Ball. I’m telling you; no one can ever figure out these simple ingredients, but everyone loves this cheese ball!

(2) 8-oz pkgs cream cheese
1 package Hidden Valley Ranch Original Dressing Mix
2 T. dill pickle relish
1 package thin sliced beef, minced
1 c. pecans, chopped

Mix together all ingredients except pecans. Form into a ball and roll in pecans. Best if refrigerated 4 to 24 hours. Serve on a festive plate surrounded with crackers of your choice and your done! How easy was that?

I made this next one for a big New Year’s Eve Party we had in Texas several years ago and they were the hit of that party!

Grilled Shrimp Wrapped in Bacon
This recipe is from The Martha Stewart Cookbook

1/2 c. olive oil
2 T. champagne vinegar or good white wine vinegar
3 T. chopped fresh dill
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound large shrimps (13-15 per pound) peeled and deveined, with tails intact
5 slices very lean bacon, sliced very thin

Combine the oil, vinegar, dill, and garlic in a bowl. Add the shrimps and marinate overnight in the refrigerator. Cut each slice of bacon into thirds and wrap a piece around each shrimp, securing well with a toothpick. Grill over hot coals, or on a gas grill, until the bacon is crisp and the shrimps are cooked through, 7 to 8 minutes. You can also grill them under a hot broiler, 4 minutes on each side, being careful not to burn the bacon or overcook the shrimps. Serve warm.

And, I love a good artichoke spinach dip. This one uses Alfredo sauce instead of mayo and is a lot like some of the recipes served in restaurants.

Artichoke & Spinach Dip Restaurant Style
(You can find a printable version of this dip recipe on All Recipes)

4 cloves garlic
1 (10 oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 (10 oz) container Alfredo pasta sauce
1 c. shredded mozzarella
1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place garlic in a small baking dish. Bake in the preheated oven 20 to 30 minutes, until soft. Remove from heat. When cool to touch, squeeze softened garlic from skins. Mix the garlic, spinach, artichoke hearts, Alfredo sauce, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese and cream cheese and spread into an 8 x 8 inch baking dish. Cover and bake 30 minutes or until cheeses are melted and bubbly. Serve warm. This is so good on slices of toasted baguette bread or on Triscuit.

And, in case you missed one of these previous posts, BigSis and I both love to take the Cheesecake Crunchy to a party. (We can’t make it to keep at home or we’ll eat the whole thing ourselves.) And since BigSis is a vegetarian, these Stuffed Mushrooms aren’t her favorite any more. But, these are a crowd pleaser! I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve made these!

BigT does a version of stuffed peppers that have very similar ingredients to the Stuffed Mushrooms. These require a little prep work cleaning the peppers, but everyone loves them.

BigT’s Peppers

15 fresh jalapeno peppers
1 pound Italian sausage
1 (8 oz) cream cheese
1/2 pound bacon

Cut peppers in half lengthwise. Clean out seeds with spoon. Set aside on foiled lined cookie sheet. Saute sausage and drain. Add the cream cheese to the sausage and mix well.  Spoon into peppers and wrap 1/3 slice of bacon around each pepper. Bake at 350 for approximately 20 – 30 minutes. Put under the broiler for a few minutes to further brown the bacon, if desired. Drain on a paper towel, then serve warm.

Bo’s Version of Brie and Cranberries

1 (14 oz) Brie Wheel
3/4 c. Craisins (dried cranberries)
1/4 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. pecans
1 egg
1 T. water

(What I love about this type of recipe is that you can alter the quantities of these ingredients if you want. You want less pecans, put less pecans, like more craisins, put more craisins. These don’t have to be exact measurements.)

Take a warm knife and slice the Brie in half horizontally. Stuff the Craisins, pecans, and brown sugar in the middle of the Brie and enclose with the Puff Pastry. Cut off any excess pastry and brush all over with the egg wash made with the egg and 1 tablespoon of water.  Bake at 350 degrees til pastry is brown, about 30 minutes.

If you have time to be a little creative, you can make festive little cutouts out of the extra pastry to decorate the top of the Brie. For Christmas, Bo made holly and berries for the top of one brie and a wreath for the other. She said they turned out really cute! For New Year’s, you could try a martini glass or a some confetti.

Counting Down to 2009!!

Counting Down to 2009!!

So, those are just a few of our family favorite appetizer recipes. I hope that this may have given you an idea for something new to make this year. If not, stay tuned! I’m hoping to have one or two more really quick and easy appetizer recipes for you tomorrow.