Friday, August 22, 2014

Mexican Cheesecake - An Appetizer for a Crowd

As I shared earlier this week, I attended two back to back game nights which were both incredibly fun!  Friday night was Bunco with the ladies - I brought a easy, make ahead Blue Cheese Dip.  Saturday was Couples Euchre.

I kept seeing this recipe in my "Food for Thought" cookbook by the Junior League of Birmingham for years, and I never made it.  Unfortunately, the cookbook is no longer available, but this recipe was a success so I am here to share!

This is another make ahead dish, but takes more prep time than the Blue Cheese Dip - not difficult, just more time.  You will want to bring this for a crowd - it makes A LOT!  An alternative is to cut the recipe down and make it in a smaller springform pan - I am definitely going to see how that works in the future.

Give this one a try and let me know what you think!

Mexican Cheesecake
Serves 12-15
Recipe courtesy of Junior League of Birmingham in their cookbook:  "Food for Thought"

2/3 cup finely crushed tortilla chips
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup cottage cheese
3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
4 eggs
10 ounces grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1 (4 1/2 oz.) can chopped green chilies, drained
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco Sauce
1 (8 oz.) carton sour cream
1 (8 oz.) container jalapeno Cheddar cheese gourmet dip
Garnishes:  1 oz. chopped tomatoes, 1/2 cup chopped green onions, 1/4 cup pitted sliced ripe olives
Tortilla chips, for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine tortilla chips and butter.  Press mixture into bottom of a 9 inch springform pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Process cottage cheese in blender or food processor on high until smooth.  Transfer to large bowl and add cream cheese; beat at medium speed with an electric mixture until well blended.  Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Blend in Cheddar cheese, chilies, and Tabasco Sauce.  Pour the mixture over the baked crust, and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Combine sour cream and jalapeno Cheddar gourmet dip.  Spread sour cream mixture over the hot cheesecake, and bake 10 additional minutes.  Remove from oven, and let cool slightly.  Loosen the cake from the rim of the pan.

Cool completely before removing the rim.  Refrigerate cheesecake until ready to serve.  Garnish with tomatoes, green onions, and olives, if desired, before serving.  Serve with tortilla chips.

Cheesecake needs to be thoroughly cooled before serving, preferably for 12 hours.  Keep refrigerated, lightly covered.

Serve with tortilla chips.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Blue Cheese Dip - Easy Make Ahead Appetizer

This past weekend I attended back to back game nights on Friday and Saturday – so much fun!  Friday night was Bunco with girlfriends and Saturday night was our monthly Couples Euchre game night.  Both nights were a “bring an appetizer to share” type party and I was excited to prepare a couple of make ahead dishes for each one.  

Here is the recipe for a tried and true appetizer that is always a hit at any party - I brought this to the Bunco game.  A friend of mine brought this dish to many of the game nights and holiday parties within our neighborhood for years and was always willing to share the recipe {thank you!} 

This Blue Cheese Dip only requires a few ingredients, is easy to prepare, and is a little unexpected.  You’ll want to serve this at the next party you host...or attend - let me know what you think!

Blue Cheese Dip
Serves 10-12

2 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
8 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
1/2 – 1 cup olive oil (depends on the size of your dish – see below)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 - 1 teaspoon black pepper

Sprinkle blue cheese in shallow dish.  Mix garlic & oil, sprinkle on blue cheese.  If you are using a less shallow dish, you may need only about ½ cup of the olive oil.  Pour slowly, and make sure you are getting the garlic on the blue cheese.  You’ll want the olive oil to coat vs. drown.

Combine vinegar, lemon juice, and pepper in a bowl.  Stir in onion and parsley and spread over blue cheese and garlic layer.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

The original recipe suggests that this is served with Fritos.  I like to serve it with Tostitos Scoops (multi-grain of course).  

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Minecraft Birthday Party

This year my older son asked for a Minecraft themed birthday party - he was turning 8 and it is quite possibly his favorite game to play – I was in!

We talked about the cake and what he wanted.  I found some cute ideas on Pinterest that I thought we could work on together and really make it our own.  Building a cake with Rice Krispie squares, blue Jell-O squares, and chocolate brownies with green, grass-like frosting seemed like a great idea!  Don't get me wrong – it would make a pretty awesome cake, but apparently it wasn't what he had in mind.

He requested that the cake look JUST like the cake in the Minecraft game – so that’s what I made.  I believe I am starting to outsmart fondant too.  For those of you who have followed for me for a while, you know my history with fondant.  The end result was pretty good I thought - next time I would do it a little differently.  I would take 4 strips of tan fondant to wrap around the cake and then top it with the white fondant.  Then I would cutout the pieces so that the two pieces of fondant lined up in the middle of the cake. It was kind of a pain to frost the bottom half of the cake once the fondant was on the top!  Most importantly though, my boy loved it!

We ordered our invitations from OlivettaDesign – an Etsy store - as well as the “Happy Birthday” cubes to help decorate the cake and food table.  They were perfect!

The party was in the middle of the afternoon and I decided we could serve snacks to the guests instead of a full meal.  We enjoyed pretty kid friendly food including cheese (cubes of course) and crackers, fruit, chips and salsa - complete with a bowl of crazy hot Mrs. Renfro's Ghost Pepper Salsa (OK, that wasn't so kid friendly) - and some veggies with Delicious Dill Mix from the Women's Bean Project.  If you aren't familiar with this organization, it's worth checking out - pretty cool concept and awesome products.

What the birthday boy didn’t know was that I hired a video game truck from Gamez on Wheelz to entertain all of the boys for a couple of hours.  I knew they wouldn’t even be in the house for most of the party, so I tried to sneakily force them to eat upon arrival.   We streamed some Minecraft parody videos to the television as guests arrived and the game truck arrived shortly after the party started.  Needless to say, my son was very surprised when he walked out and saw the truck and couldn’t wait to run inside and tell the others!  

The parents who stuck around decided that this was quite possibly the best way to throw a birthday party.  We were in the comfort of our own home, yet we didn’t have boys running after each other with lightsabers, shields, and swords all over the place – it was perfect!

My son and I worked on what he wanted to give for party favors and decided upon a bag of miniature chocolate chip cookies for each guest.  We attached a Minecraft-looking “Cookies” label from another Etsy store called MinecraftPartySolved.  My son saw a big smile on each party guest as he passed them out. 

 Another successful birthday party in the books!  I’d love to hear your feedback on the party!