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Mexican chocolate icebox cookies

Cakes are great, pies are good, anything gooey and sweet is fantastic. But cookies? So underrated. Cookies are, in my opinion, the best way to end a party. Put a big plate of cookies out at the end of a party and people will eat them up! I made these Mexican Chocolate Icebox cookies the first time a couple years ago, and they’ve been the sleeper hit in my repertoire.

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t cayenne
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 T (1 1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg

PREPARATION:
Sift together the flour, cocoa, cinnamon, cayenne, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Beat in vanilla extract and egg. Gradually add flour mixture until dough is uniform in color and no unmixed flour remains.

Shape into two 9” logs and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Make sure the wrap is airtight. Freeze overnight. The dough will keep up to six weeks in the freezer.

When ready to use, preheat oven to 375F and bake for 8-10 minutes. Cookies should feel a bit firm at the edges. Store in an airtight container when cool.

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Pico de Gallo recipe

Pico de gallo, spanish for “rooster’s beak,” is a great fresh condiment that is made from fresh ingredients and a little fruit juice. It’s also quick to make, and fits into an celebration.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 to a whole small onion
  • 1 or 2 seeded chopped jalapeño peppers
  • Chopped cilantro to taste
  • Lime juice to taste
  • Salt to taste

Preparation:
Put the tomatoes, onion, and peppers into a bowl. Add the cilantro and stir to combine. Sprinkle the lime juice and salt on top and stir again. Done!

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chorizo-c-quesoContinuing with the for , Chorizo con Queso is a classic.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound spicy chorizo
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 small can diced green chiles
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups cheddar
  • 1 cup Monterey jack
  • 1/4 cup milk (if desired)

Preparation:
Squeeze the chorizo out of its casing and fry on medium in a shallow pan. Once it’s done, remove it with a slotted spoon and set aside to drain, retaining as much of the rendered fat in the pan as possible. Pour the chicken broth into the pan to deglaze it - scrape the browned bits from the bottom. Add the chiles, tomatoes, onion and garlic and heat until bubbling. Add the chorizo back to the pan and stir until well incorporated. Add the cheese and stir until melted. If the dip is too thick for your taste, add the milk. Serve hot with chips or warmed tortillas.

PS - if you’re feeling crazy, you could always deglaze the pan with tequila instead of chicken broth for an extra kick of Mexican flavor.

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Basic guacamoleDips are a tasty way to get a party started. Today I have three dips for that taste great with veggies, chips, or warmed tortillas. Classic, customizable guacamole is a cool foil to a hot chorizo con queso dip, and pico de gallo is chunkier than a traditional salsa but still packs a ton of flavor. Also, it’s so incredibly simple that once the ingredients are chopped, you’re pretty much done with the entire thing. Let’s start with the guacamole:

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 Tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Preparation:
Scoop the flesh from the avocados into a bowl. Add the lime juice, salt and cilantro. Mash until creamy.

This is the most basic of recipes for guacamole, and there are plenty of ways to add to it. If you’re feeling a little kicky, add some pico de gallo or a little bit of salsa. Add more cilantro if you feel like it, or don’t add any at all. Maybe sprinkle some cumin on top or add some ancho chiles. The guac possibilities are literally endless.

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rl-biscuits

Seafood is not that big a thing around Gear Live’s virtual offices. And while I can’t speak for the other editors, I’ve been known to hit up the neighborhood Red Lobster solely for the biscuits. Unfortunately, the staff at the ol’ RL didn’t take kindly on a person who goes in alone and has nothing but biscuits, a side salad and water. That left me trying to recreate the little starchy wonders at home.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup margarine or butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 cups of baking mix (I use Bisquick)
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Click to continue reading Recipe: Copycat Red Lobster Biscuits


tzaziki

I can’t even come up with words to properly convey my feelings for tzaziki. Cool, creamy, and fantastic with everything from vegetables to steak. It’s incredibly easy to make, and incredibly easy to customize to your own taste.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups plain yogurt (this can be regular yogurt or Greek yogurt, fat free or as fatty as you’d like, as long as it’s plain)
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and seeded
  • 1 or 2 pinches of salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint
  • 3 cloves of fresh garlic or 1 tablespoon of pre-minced garlic from a jar

 

Click to continue reading Recipe: Tzaziki


sausage balls

These Sausage Ball appetizers are great for entertaining. They come together quickly, freeze well, and can be baked up in a snap.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups baking mix (I use Bisquick)
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 pound ground sausage (any kind), uncooked

Click to continue reading Sausage Ball Recipe


oystercrackers




Some people can take or leave oyster crackers. Often overlooked when they arrive with your soup or salad, I say that these little hexagonal nuggets of salty, starchy goodness are completely underrated. This recipe, passed to me by my mom via her godmother, has been not only a party hit but a comfort food when I’m craving something savory.

Click to continue reading Ranch Oyster Crackers Recipe


No Bake Oatmeal Cookies

Our family likes to make up a batch or two of these healthy to keep in the freezer, they work great for when we are feeling like something sweet but not wanting to be “bad.” They make a healthy for the whole family, and they are so easy to make. I make these cookies if I am wanting to do some cooking with the kids but don’t have time to make something that is really involved. Because you don’t have to bake these cookies, they make up in less than 30 minutes.

Vegan No-Bake Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (or other shortening of choice)
  • 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, less if you don’t like a really rich flavor
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. In a saucepan over medium heat combine the maple syrup, oil, cocoa and cinnamon. Boil for three minutes, stirring constantly.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in the peanut butter, rolled oats and vanilla until well blended.
  3. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto waxed paper (I used foil and sprayed it so they wouldn’t stick) and chill to set, about 30 minutes. Keep refrigerated.
Blueberry Pecan Whole Grain Muffins

I made these last night to go with our dinner and, wow, they were awesome! The kids loved them—in fact, I think they would have preferred to just have muffins for dinner! I got this recipe from All Recipes and altered it quite a bit. I was very happy with how they turned out, very moist and full of flavor. If you want a little sweeter muffin, add more honey, or just drizzle a little honey on your warm muffin. These were great, we will be trying them again soon.

Click to continue reading Recipe: Blueberry Pecan Whole Grain Muffins


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