Bacon Parmesan Stuffed Mushrooms

I’m constantly looking for and creating new small bites for holidays, parties, Sunday suppers, tailgates, etc.  Who doesn’t love an afternoon or evening of cocktails, cold beer and appetizers??  I like to make things that don’t require a ton of work, but taste like a million bucks with the convenience of friends/guests being able to grab-and-go with something.  Think of it as “what can I pick up and eat while never putting my drink down”!  Behold, the best stuffed mushrooms below…

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BACON PARMESAN STUFFED MUSHROOMS

Ingredients

  • 2 Quarts White Button Mushrooms
  • 2 8-ounce Bricks Cream Cheese
  • 6 Ounces Real Bacon Bits
  • 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 Tbs. Parsley Flakes
  • 1 1/2 Tsp. Garlic Powder

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Instructions

  • Lay out cream cheese to bring to room temperature.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Wash and stem mushroom.  If there are thick ribs on the underside, scoop out with a spoon.  Place on paper towels and blot dry.
  • In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer to mix cream cheese, bacon bits, parmesan and garlic powder until well combined.
  • Using a spoon, fill and smooth a teaspoon or more of filling in each mushroom.  These should be mounded, but not overfilled.  A good rule of thumb is that the filling should be about 1/3 to 1/2 the size of the mushroom cap.
  • Continue filling and place mushrooms on a large foil-lined baking sheet.
  • Bake mushrooms at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes until the mushrooms are cooked and the filling has browned on top.
  • Remove from oven and serve immediately.  These can also be transported but place a few paper towels in the bottom of your contained as they will seep liquid as they cool.

You’re going to love the earthy, creamy and salty bite of these mushrooms!  The recipe above will fill a large cookie sheet, but you can easily cut this recipe in half or double it depending on your event.  Oh, and if you have any filling left over, it’s ridiculously good on a toasted everything bagel.  Now go get that party started.  Dig in!

Cheesy Twice Baked Potatoes

I was fixing beef filet and shrimp for my wife’s birthday dinner last weekend and wanted to have potatoes as a side.  And while I love loaded baked potatoes, it’s sometimes easier and requires less stuff on your dinner table if you stir all the toppings into twice baked potatoes.  These turned out to be a family favorite in a hurry!

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CHEESY TWICE BAKED POTATOES

Ingredients

  • 5 Medium Russet Potatoes
  • 6-8 Strips Crispy Cooked Bacon
  • 2 Cups Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 3/4 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 Tsp. Salt
  • 1 Tsp Black Pepper

Instructions

  • Throughly wash your potatoes and bake directly on the top rack of your oven for 60-75 minutes at 425 degrees.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool enough to handle.
  • Cut potatoes in half lengthwise.  Scoop out center leaving just enough potato in the skin to hold it together.  Place scooped potato into a medium size mixing bowl.
  • Place the skins on a baking sheet.
  • Add heavy cream to potatoes and use a hand mixer to combine until mixture is fairly smooth.  There will be some lumps – like all delicious mashed potatoes!
  • Chop cooked bacon and add to the potato mixture along with half of the cheddar cheese, salt and pepper.  Stir together with a wooden spoon to prevent the mixture from becoming too gummy.
  • Fill each potato skin with a scoop of the mixture until all of it is used.  They should be filled just to the edge, but not heaping.
  • Top each potato with remaining cheddar cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes until cheese is brown and bubbly.
  • Serve immediately.

You can definitely make these ahead of time and bake in the evening or the next day.  You’ll need to extend to the baking time though to allow them to warm through.  Serve these on their own or with sour cream and chopped green onion as garnish.  Maybe you’ll whip up a batch for your picnic this weekend – try using 10 small russets instead to make 20 halves.  I know you’ll love these and your guests will too.  Dig in!

Creamy Chive Bacon Bites

We’re approaching the first big picnic weekend of the year and that means a lot of requests for side dishes, desserts and appetizers.  For a little something unique, easy to pick up and eat and not too tough to make, try these bacon bites.  Salty crispy bacon surrounds soft bread rolled with chive cream cheese provide the perfect balanced bite with a cold beer or chilled rose on a sunny afternoon!

CREAMY CHIVE BACON BITES

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Ingredients

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Remove bread from bag and cut off all crusts using a serrated knife.  I like to use this specific brand of bread because it’s thin-cut, but still sturdy enough to hold up to this recipe.  Plain white bread tends to turn to mush so don’t skimp here.
  • Allow cream cheese to soften or microwave for 20 seconds to make spreadable.  You can certainly make your own by adding 2 Tbs. fresh-chopped chives to 8 ounces plain cream cheese.  I just bought the stuff flavored at the store to keep it easy this time.
  • Spread a thin layer of cream cheese on a slice of bread and roll tightly.  You can push down slightly and roll with your palm to make sure it’s tight.  Continue until you’ve used all of the bread.
  • Cut bread rolls in half.
  • Using kitchen shears, cut bacon slices into thirds.
  • Wrap a third of a bacon slice around each bread roll and secure with a toothpick.
  • Place all finished rolls onto a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 30-45 minutes turning once through the cooking process.  The bacon should be rendered, brown and crispy.  Be careful not to overcrowd the pan or they won’t crisp nicely.
  • Remove from oven and serve immediately.  These also hold up well in an insulated baking dish to take somewhere.

Your family and friends will love these tasty bites!  The bread soaks up some of the bacon grease and browns on each end to give you a little crouton texture along with the creamy middle.  With the toothpicks already inserted they’re a great grab-and-go snack for Memorial Day picnics or any other entertaining you’d like to do.  Dig in!

Breakfast Quesadillas

Feel like heading a little south of the border for breakfast?  In honor of Cinco de Mayo last weekend, I made these simple quesadillas.  Gooey cheese, salty bacon and creamy scrambled eggs are the perfect filling for a crispy tortilla.  The filling possibilities are endless – try these next weekend and change up your morning routine.

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BREAKFAST QUESADILLAS

Ingredients

  • 4 8-inch Flour Tortillas
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1/4 Cup Milk
  • 8 Strips Crispy Bacon, Crumbled
  • 2 Cups Shredded Cheddar-Jack Cheese
  • 3 Green Onions, Chopped
  • Salsa, Hot Sauce and/or Sour Cream For Garnish

Instructions

  • Place eggs and milk in a bowl and whisk until combined.
  • Scramble in a non-stick skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly.
  • Cook eggs until almost dry, remove from heat and set aside in a bowl.
  • Wipe skillet clean and spray liberally with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Place a single tortilla in the skillet over medium-low heat.  Sprinkle entire tortilla with 1/2 cup shredded cheese.
  • On 1/2 of the tortilla, spread out 1/4 of the scrambled eggs, 1/4 of the bacon and green onion to taste.
  • When cheese begins to melt, use a spatula to fold half of the tortilla over onto the side covered in the eggs/bacon.
  • When the bottom is golden brown, flip over entire tortilla to brown the other side.
  • Remove from heat, cut into thirds and serve with your favorite toppings/sides.

One of these is enough for one person so this recipe makes enough for four.  Like a little spice?  Try using chorizo, roasted poblanos and pepper jack cheese.  You can also use sausage and green peppers.  There’s really no limit, but keep the proportions right or it won’t close properly.  Do you have a brunch coming up?  Double this recipe and place wedges in a warming tray for a perfect buffet finger food.  Let me know what combinations you come up with – I’d love to hear your ideas!  Dig in!

Loaded Ranch Roasted Potatoes

Want to serve loaded baked potatoes to a crowd without everyone having to top their own spud?  This tasty recipe requires just a little prep and feeds a lot of people.  Delicious loaded crispy potatoes with a hint of ranch flavor will be sure to satisfy your family and friends at your next gathering.  They’re equally perfect with steaks on the grill or as appetizers for a party or the big game.

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LOADED RANCH ROASTED POTATOES

Ingredients

  • 6-8 Medium Russet Potatoes (depending on size)
  • 2 Tbs. Canola Oil
  • 1 Envelope Ranch Dressing Mix
  • 2 Cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 3/4 Cup Bacon Bits
  • 4 Green Onions, Chopped
  • Sour Cream (for topping)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Scrub potatoes thoroughly under cold water and set aside to dry.  Cut into 2-inch cubes, leaving skin on.
  • Place cut potatoes in a large bowl and drizzle with canola oil.  Toss to coat.
  • Sprinkle ranch dressing mix over potatoes and toss again to evenly coat.
  • Spread potatoes in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  The spray will prevent sticking due to the ranch mix – DON’T SKIP THIS STEP!
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender and lightly browned.  Remove from oven.
  • Sprinkle baked potatoes with cheddar cheese and bacon bits.  Return to oven for 5-10 minutes until cheese is fully melted.
  • Remove from oven and top with chopped green onion.
  • Serve immediately.

Every time we make these they are a huge hit!  Serve with sour cream for topping.  Want to mix it up a little bit?  Try substituting 3 Tbs. of taco seasoning for the ranch and use a combination of cheddar and pepper jack cheese.  Serve with jalapeños and hot sauce – instant fiesta!  I’d love to hear what combinations you come up with.  Try them for your next Sunday supper or for a Masters watch party this weekend.  Dig in!

Pimento Cheese Dip and BLT Dip

Memorial Day Weekend is always a blast whether you’re cooking out at home, sitting by the pool or camping with family – like we are this weekend!  There’s plenty of time to eat healthy all year long, so take the holiday opportunity to dive into these fantastic dips.  They are both fatty, decadent and will absolutely make you a hit at any party you pop in on!

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PIMENTO CHEESE DIP

Ingredients

  • 1 Lb Block Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 Cup Mayonnaise
  • 1 4 Oz Jar Pimentos

Directions

  • Use the largest holes on a box grater and shred cheddar cheese.  DO NOT buy shredded cheese.  The anti-caking agent and shape will not give you the right taste or consistency.
  • In a bowl, mix together shredded cheese, mayonnaise and drained pimentos.
  • This dip tastes best if you let it chill for at least 2 hours.

Serve this dip with your favorite crackers, crusty bread, celery or other veggies.  It is also delicious on top of a burger or as the filling for a grilled cheese!

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BLT DIP

Ingredients

  • 2 Lbs Hickory Smoked Bacon
  • 16 Oz Sour Cream
  • 16 Oz Mayonnaise
  • 2 Large Ripe Tomatoes

Directions

  • Dice bacon into small pieces and render until brown and crispy in a non-stick pan.  DO NOT use thick cut bacon here as it doesn’t provide the right consistency.  Cutting the bacon raw and then rendering makes it really easy vs. frying strips and then crumbling.
  • Remove bacon from grease and drain on paper towels.  Allow to cool completely.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine mayonnaise and sour cream.
  • Seed and cut tomatoes into 1/2-inch dice.  Add to mayo mixture.
  • Stir in cooled bacon pieces and allow to chill for 2 hours before serving.

OK, so there’s no lettuce, but BLT is what we’ve always called this dip!  It’s fantastic with Fritos, Triscuits or butter crackers.  Any way you try it, you’ll love it…and your friends/family will love you for bringing it!  Happy Memorial Day all!