Ham It Up Cheese Dip

Just because the holidays are over doesn’t mean we’re through–with appetizers that is. There is still the Super Bowl you know, and plenty of lazy Sundays when you don’t want to do a lot of cooking and would rather graze on a few crackers dipped in heaven.

I don’t much care for cheese balls per se, finding them pedestrian and rather 60’s.

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t add some lovely ingredients together and let your cracker or celery stick dance through something cheesy and spicy.

So take a look, and think about sitting and reading a book and dipping your chip in some of this:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pkg cream cheese, softened
  • 2 slices deli ham (smoky if possible)
  • 1-2 tsp finely chopped onion
  • 1 heaping TBSP roasted red pepper
  • 1 heaping TBSP jalapeño pickles
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 TBSP parsley (fresh if possible)
  • 1 c shredded cheddar cheese

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Put it all in a food processor and puree.
  2. Spoon into a nice serving dish, and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours, longer if you can.
  3. Serve with crackers and/or raw veggies.

 

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Si, Si, Cheese Enchiladas

What can be said about cheese enchiladas? They are simply sublime are they not? Unless they are not, and that usually comes from using inferior ingredients.

So do yourself a favor and make some Final Destination Enchilada Sauce first of all. It will simply make all the difference in the world between, American Enchiladas and real South of the Border ones.

You can make it all in one day, or make the sauce and freeze it for when you just have to have some cheese!

The rest of the ingredients are fairly easy. I will admit, construction is a mess. So my advice is to try to get all your ingredients set up and ready, and then, well, just accept the fact that it will be messy to put together.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Enchilada sauce, homemade or otherwise (about 1 1/2 c)
  • 10-12 corn tortillas
  • 1 c  onion, diced (the sweeter the better)
  • 2 cups of your favorite cheese–cheddar, Monterey jack, or a blend, grated
  • 1/2 of a package of cotija cheese (or similar crumbly Mexican cheese) grated
  • 1/4 c of oil, give or take

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Get everything diced, grated and so forth.
  2. Put your sauce is a broad saute pan and warm
  3. Put oil in a saute pan and heat to a sizzle
  4. Take a 13 x 9 baking dish and smear with a small amount of the sauce, just enough so the tortillas won’t stick.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 350°
  6. When everything is ready, using tongs, take a tortilla and lay it in the oil, and let it sizzle for NO MORE than 30 sec. Turn over and do the other side. Pick up and drain, and then lay it in the sauce, turning to coat both sides.
  7. Now comes the messy part. Place the tortilla on a plate, then place some diced onion and both kinds of cheese (a couple of TBSP of the cheese). Roll up carefully and place in the baking pan.
  8. Continue until the pan is filled. Mine generally holds 10.
  9. Ladle some of the sauce over the top of them all, and spread it around. You don’t want or need lots here, maybe a bit more than 1/2 a cup. Then spread lots of grated cheese over all of it. 
  10. Pop into the oven and leave only long enough to melt the cheese. About 10-15 min.
  11. Place on the table with sour cream, avocado, chopped scallions, and/or olives. I also placed a bowl of shredded lettuce on the table and scattered that on my enchiladas. It provides a nice crunch and cooling to the dish. Also nice served with “Spanish” rice and/or refried beans.

Eureka! That’s Mac & Cheese

Mac and cheese is easy. Make a bechamel sauce, add cheese, stir in the macaroni, dump in a baking dish, cover and cook until bubbly.

Except that it sucks pretty much. It’s okay when you first eat it, but when you reheat it, it’s tasteless, dry and just plain blech.

My husband has eaten (during periods in his life) a ton of mac and cheese. He pretty much could take it or leave it. Okay, honestly, mostly leave it.

Until I found this magic secret from Ms. Carla at The Chew. Add some cream cheese. And don’t bake it. (I guess you could if you wanted.)

And I did that, and added a bit of my own idea, and didn’t add some of hers, and well, I can tell you, my husband declared this to be “the best mac and cheese I’ve ever eaten.”

With Carla’s additions of onions and bacon, this is a main dish. I made it without and used it as a side dish to barbecued ribs. We feasted!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 1 1/2 – 1 3/4 c warmed milk
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (any combination of cheddar, sharp, medium, jack, pepper jack, Gruyère, etc.)
  • 4 oz cream cheese at room temperature
  • salt and pepper to taste (or any thing you might like such as a bit of chipotle powder or cayenne)
  • 1 c toasted bread crumbs (homemade or not as you choose)
  • 1 c caramelized onions
  • 6-8 slices bacon, cooked, and crumbled
  • 2 c elbow macaroni (or other pasta), cooked and drained

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Melt butter in a large sauce pan, add the flour and cook for one minute.
  2. Add the milk and continue heating until it boils and thickens.
  3. Take off the heat, and add the cheeses and stir until melted.
  4. Taste for saltiness, and add any needed salt and as much pepper as you like
  5. Add the cooked macaroni, and stir until combined.
  6. Add onions and bacon if using.
  7. Spoon into a serving dish and place a nice coating of bread crumbs over. Serve.

Serves: about 6 as a side, less if it’s the main dish obviously.