Bacon Jalapeno Cheese Ball

I’ve said it before, but I love snacking.  There’s something so satisfying about watching a game surrounded by yummy things to munch on, and this was no exception.  I found myself adding this to my plate many, many times throughout the night, and everyone else was as well.  Suffice to say, there were no leftovers of this one!

Bacon Jalapeno Cheese Ball {peasandcues}

Bacon Jalapeno Cheese Ball

Makes 12 servings

15 minutes to prep, plus an hour to refrigerate!

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded (2 ounces)
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked until crisp, chopped, and divided
  • 2 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped, divided
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans, toasted

In a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, cheddar cheese, half of the bacon, half of the jalapenos, garlic, parsley, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, ground cumin and cayenne pepper until well combined.

On a plate, combine remaining bacon, jalapenos, and toasted pecans until evenly mixed. Shape cream cheese mixture into a ball, and roll the ball in the pecan mixture until coated on all sides.

Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.  Serve with your favorite crackers.

Recipe found at Brown Eyed Baker adapted from The Homesick Texan; originally seen on Tracey’s Culinary Adventures


Chocolate Peanut Butter Surprise Cookies

Initially these cookies are very unassuming.  In fact, they kind of look just like brown lumps until you take a bite.  Then, you discover that they contain quite a tasty surprise, especially when eaten while still just slightly warm!
Chocolate Peanut Butter Surprises {peasandcues}
Chocolate Peanut Butter Surprise Cookies
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup granulated sugar, plus more for dipping
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter, divided into 1/4 cup and 3/4 cup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Stir together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugars, butter and 1/4 cup of the peanut butter until light and smooth. Add in the vanilla and egg, beating to combine. Gradually stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Remove the dough from the bowl and set aside.

For the filling, cream together the powdered sugar and remaining 3/4 cup of peanut butter until smooth.

For the cookies, put some additional granulated sugar in a small bowl.  Portion out a generous tablespoon of chocolate cookie dough and flatten into a circle with your hands. Scoop a small amount of peanut butter filling mixture and place in the center of the chocolate dough. Wrap the chocolate dough around the peanut butter filling, pinching ends together to seal. Roll the cookie to smooth into a ball then roll it in the bowl of granulated sugar and place on the cookie sheet.

Use the bottom of a glass to slightly flatten the cookies. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes being careful not to over bake.  Move to a wire rack to cool.

Recipe sourceLiv Life found at Pennies on a Platter

Rusty Bucket Chili

Why will this weather not get warm!!! Over it.  The one thing cold weather is good for is chili. I’m always in search of a good chili but find that usually they’re an unfavorful mix of watery tomato broth and unseasoned ground beef. Ick.

Rusty Bucket, however, has fabulous chili.  Although there’s other stuff on their menu I’d love to try, I have a chance to eat it so infrequently that I always have to get a cup of chili and their double-nickel salad when I’m there.  Unfortunately, there’s not one where we’re currently living in Ohio, nor was there one in Knoxville, so extensive internet searching led me to this recipe.  Although we’ve tweaked it some, it’s getting closer and I’ll post an updates of “permanent” changes we make.  If you have any suggestions, let me know!

Copycat Rusty Bucket Chili {peasandcues}

Rusty Bucket Chili  – we usually 1/2 this recipe, but I’ve left it as original quantities in case you want to freeze it!
Makes 8 Servings  
  • 4 pounds chili grind ground beef
  • 2 large white onions, diced
  • 4 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano leaves
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 (15 ounce) cans tomatoes – diced in juice
  • 4 beef bouillon cubes
  • 2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce we usually start with less as you can always add more to your own bowl to taste
  • 3 (15 ounce) cans dark red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 cup water
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
In a large pot, cook the ground beef over medium heat until evenly browned. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes. Add spices and mix until well blended.  Add flour, mix until flour is absorbed.  Then add vinegar, tomatoes with juice, and bouillon cubes. Mix well and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes covered, stirring
Add hot sauce, drained kidney beans, and water.  Simmer for another 45 minutes covered, stirring as needed.  Thin with more water if desired at end of cooking.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with shredded cheddar, corn chips and a dollop of sour cream, if desired.
Recipe found here

Spinach Artichoke Dip



With March Madness, we’re in the midst of prime “dip” events.  I actually first made this dip for a previous Superbowl, and then made it again to take to a friend’s house to watch a boxing event.  Honestly, I don’t understand the enjoyment of watching boxing.  Watching men cause each other permanent brain damage just doesn’t excite me.   At least I enjoyed the dip though!


Spinach Artichoke Dip

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic salt
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 (14 ounce) can or jar artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 2 handfuls fresh baby spinach, chopped
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a small baking dish.

In a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, Romano cheese, garlic, basil, garlic salt, salt and pepper. Stir in artichoke hearts and spinach.

Transfer the mixture to baking dish. Top with mozzarella cheese. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, until bubbly and lightly browned.

Recipe found at Your Homebased Mom





This is Corrie’s favorite Lebanese dish.  Since he loves Lebanese women err…I mean food, that’s saying a lot.  I honestly typically don’t care for eggplant, and I happily eat this.  My mom pretty much either always makes this when we’re home or has a dish of this in the freezer to send back with us for him.  See, I’m not the only one who thinks it’s fun to spoil him rotten!

Sheikh-el-Mahshi {peasandcues}


Meat and Onion Stuffing

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts (or blanched, slivered almonds)
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cinnamon, to taste

In a small saute pan, fry pine nuts in 1 Tbsp. of butter.

In a non-stick skillet, melt butter over medium heat.  Saute onions over medium-high heat.  Add meat and saute until brown.  Add pine nuts, salt, pepper, and cinnamon and mix well.  Set mixture aside.


  • 1 large eggplant
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 – 28 oz. can whole tomatoes
  • 1 – 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • Allspice, to taste
  • 1 recipe sauteed meat and onion stuffing (recipe above)

Recipe from my Mommy!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and pull out a 13 x 9 baking dish.

Remove stem and hulls from eggplant.  Partially peel eggplant (from top to bottom) so that you have alternating purple and white strips.  Cut eggplant horizontally into 1/2″ discs.

Heat butter and olive oil in a skillet.  Meanwhile, line a plate with paper towels.  When hot, saute eggplant on each side until they are golden brown.  Place the eggplant on the paper towel-lined plate to absorb any excess grease.  When finished sauteing all the eggplant, place each slice of eggplant side by side in the 13 x 9 dish.  Top each eggplant slice with approximately 2-3 Tbsp. of the meat and onion stuffing mixture.

On top of the meat, on each slice, place 1 whole canned tomato.  Pour the remaining tomato juice over the eggplant evenly, and then cover with the tomato sauce.  Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and add allspice to taste.

Bake for 20 minutes and serve on top of Lebanese rice.

Pan-Roasted Lemon Potatoes

Another Cook’s Illustrated winner.  This was a recipe I had been searching for since we moved.  I always find side dishes the biggest challenge, because you want something easy that doesn’t take forever to prepare.  These fit the bill, and with that crispy exterior I love, will easily become a go-to option for us!

Pan-Roasted Lemon Potatoes {peasandcues}

Pan-Roasted Lemon Potatoes

  • 12 ounces small red potatoes (about 4), halved, rinsed, and drained
  • 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Salt
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
  • Pepper

1. Bring the potatoes, broth, lemon juice, smashed garlic clove, and 1/4 tsp. salt to a simmer in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over high heat.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until the potatoes are just tender, 12 to 15 minutes.

2. Uncover, increase heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes.  Remove and discard the smashed garlic clove and add the oil to the pan.  Arrange all the potatoes cut side down and continue to cook until deep golden brown, about 5 minutes longer.

3. Transfer the potatoes to a bowl and gently toss with the lemon zest, minced garlic, and parsley.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

Recipe from Cooking for Two 2010– Cook’s Illustrated

Spaghetti with Red Pepper-Toasted Almond Pesto

I know I’ve said it before, but I am a big pesto fan.  They’re just so flavorful.  This was another easy weeknight dinner from The Best Simple Recipes cookbook.


Spaghetti with Red Pepper-Toasted Almond Pesto

  • 1 cup drained jarred roasted red peppers, patted dry with paper towels
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound spaghetti

1. Bring water to boil in a large pot for the pasta.  In a food processor, combine red peppers, Parmesan, almonds, basil, garlic, and lemon juice and process until smooth.  With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until its all incorporated in the pesto.  Season with salt and pepper.

2. Add spaghetti and 1 Tbsp. salt to boiling water and cook until al dente according to the package directions.  Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water, drain the pasta, and return it to the pot.  Add pesto to the pasta and toss to combine, adding reserved pasta water as needed to thin out the sauce.  Season with salt and pepper and enjoy!

Recipe from The Best Simple Recipes – Cook’s Illustrated

Peanut Butter Surprises!


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These are the cookies you take as your contribution to a get together, because they never fail to please.  I’ve made several times since first making them a couple years ago and honestly can’t believe I haven’t shared them yet.  The likely culprit is there aren’t usually any left for picture taking!  These generate requests from friends (Hi, Dan!), cause awkward comments when brought to other people’s homes (“these are the best thing here!” – it’s okay…that whole day was awkward), and basically, you should make them immediately.

Peanut Butter Surprises {}

Peanut Butter Cup Surprises

Makes 24 cookies

  • 2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 24 mini Reeses peanut butter cups, unwrapped
  • Mini marshmallows
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (original recipe called for 1/2 cup but I usually find it’s more liquidy than I like)
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. water (original recipe calls for 2 Tbsp.)
  • mini M&Ms

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  In a stand mixer or using a hand mixer, beat together peanut butter, sugar and eggs until well combined.  Divide dough evenly between 24 wells of a mini-muffin pan.  Make an indentation in the center of each dough ball.  Bake for 13-15 minutes, until almost done.

Remove from the oven and press a peanut butter cup into the center of each cookie until the peanut butter cup is flush with the top of the dough.  Top each cookie with 3-4 mini marshmallows.  Return the pan to the oven and bake another 2-3 minutes, until marshmallows have puffed up.  Transfer pan to a wire cooling rack and allow the cookies to cool completely in the pan before removing them.  They will fall apart if you try to remove them while still warm.

Once the cookies are completely cooled, transfer them to a wire rack over a sheet of wax paper or aluminum foil.  Place the chopped chocolate in a small bowl.  Bring the cream, sugar and water to a boil, then pour the liquid over the chocolate and let sit for 30 seconds.  Gently whisk the mixture together until smooth.  Leave ganache to sit until it thickens to your desired consistency, then drizzle over the tops of the cookies.  Sprinkle with mini M&Ms before it hardens.

Recipe Source: slightly adapted from Annie’s Eats; cookies adapted from Picky Palate, ganache from Baking: From My Home to Yours 

Udon Noodles with Edamame Pesto

After our success with some of the America’s Test Kitchen cookbooks I mentioned, I still have a backlog of recipes from my first round of trying.  However, true to form, I couldn’t help but put holds on every one I thought interesting at the library.  I tend to go a bit overboard on these kind of things.  So,  now we have even more to delightfully consume and share.  This was a great vegetarian option although you could easily add some chicken or even fish (if you’re into that sort of thing…).  I generally am quite pleased with anything pesto-related, and this wasn’t any different.

As you can see, we were a little lazy about cutting our asparagus down prior to eating, but it would have cut down on having to do that pesky stop and cut into manageable bites thing had we done it in advance.  Our only change for next time was that our package of Udon noodles were thin and came with 3 “bundles” of noodles, and so following the recipe, we only used two.  Nevertheless, we both felt there was enough pesto to actually cover all three bundles which would just make for a delicious lunch for Corrie the next day.

Udon Noodles with Edamame Pesto

Udon Noodles with Edamame Pesto

  • 8 ounces frozen edamame, thawed
  • 1 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 (9-ounce) packages fresh udon noodles
  • 1 pound thin, asparagus, trimmed and cut on bias into 1 1/2-inch lengths

Bring 4 quarts of water (no salt) to boil in large pot.  Process edamame, parsley, cilantro, basil, pine nuts, Parmesan, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic in food processor until smooth, about 20 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed.  Transfer to small bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add noodles and asparagus to boiling water and cook, stirring occasionally, until noodles and asparagus are tender, about 4 minutes.  Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain pasta and asparagus and return them to pot.

Stir pesto into pot with noodles.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and add reserved cooking water as necessary to adjust consistency.  Serve.

Recipe Source: America’s Test Kitchen Simple Weeknight Favorites

Buttermilk Drop Biscuits



At Corrie’s birthday family get together, I made these biscuits to go along with our meal.  Since we were making other dishes, I was looking for something easier than rolling out and cutting biscuits and stumbled upon these.  While I would say I probably enjoy traditional biscuits a little more, these are a great alternative when you need something a little simpler – just mix and drop!


Buttermilk Drop Biscuits

Yields about 12 biscuits

  • 2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, chilled
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted and slightly cooled

Heat oven to 475 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or a silpat liner.

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In a 2-cup liquid measure, stir together the chilled buttermilk and melted butter until the butter forms small clumps. Stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture with a rubber spatula just until the ingredients are incorporated and the mixture slightly pulls away from the edges of the bowl.

Using a 1/4 cup ice cream scoop or a greased ¼-cup measure, scoop out biscuit dough and drop onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing about 1 ½ inches apart. Bake the biscuits until the tops are golden brown and crisp, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from the oven, brush with additional melted butter. Serve warm.

Recipe Source: America’s Test Kitchen, found at Mel’s Kitchen Cafe