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Category Archives: Holiday Recipe Club

Watermelon Black Bean Salsa

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For the Holiday Recipe Club‘s Memorial Day blog hop, the secret ingredients to choose from were watermelon, beer, and pork.  I think I’m on a salsa kick because my last recipe for the HRC on Cinco de Mayo was for Fresh Mild Salsa, and the first thing I thought of when I saw that watermelon was one of the ingredients for Memorial Day was the salsa recipe my hair dresser gave me back in February.  I have been craving it ever since I read the recipe, imagining how wonderful it must taste, and I was trying to wait until watermelon were truly in season here in Wichita to try it (that happens in August for us), but with the added incentive of the Holiday Recipe Club blog hop, I knew the time had come.

This stuff is the bomb, yo!  The only change I made was to add in some lime juice, which I feel was essential to achieve the salsa flavor and balance the sweetness of the watermelon.  The beans, which may seem strange, are somehow a perfect fit with the flavors & textures.  I could eat this as a meal, it is so good!  It is juicy, and seriously addictive.  It is, however, best if eaten within four hours of making it as the watermelon leaks more and more water and becomes mushy after a while.  To serve this at your Memorial day barbecue or another gathering,  just have the watermelon prepped in a separate container than the other ingredients, then stir them all together and refrigerate an hour before serving and you’ll have a bowl of salsa perfection ready to wow your guests.

Watermelon Black Bean Salsa

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

2 cups diced seedless watermelon
3/4 cup finely diced sweet onion
3/4 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely diced
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
Juice from 1/2 a lime
2 teaspoons brown sugar, packed
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
Tortilla chips

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients but the chips. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Drain if necessary before serving. Serve with chips within 2-3 hours of making.

Yield: 3-1/2 cups.

Veronica’s Note: I advise wearing latex gloves when handling and dicing the jalapenos, as the oils can burn your skin.

Recipe source: Jennifer L.

A big thank you to Erin for creating this club!  I’m having a lot of fun with it.  If you’d like to join or find out more, check out the Holiday Recipe Club website.  And don’t forget to check out the other Memorial Day recipes by clicking the linky frog below.



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Fresh Mild Salsa

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The secret ingredients chosen for the Holiday Recipe Club‘s Cinco de Mayo blog hop were dulce de leche, tomatoes, and chorizo.  For last month’s Easter blog hop, I went crazy and put a lot of effort into creating something with all three secret ingredients (carrot cracker treats with carrots, spinach, and eggs).  This month, I’m totally cheating and taking the easy route by using this as an excuse to finally post my fresh salsa recipe that I won third place for at the fair last year.

My inspiration for the recipe came from my sister, Danielle, who usually only makes recipes that turn out things like soap, lip balm, or bath fizzies.  But one edible thing she does make, and well, is fresh salsa.  Her secret ingredient is orange juice, and while I didn’t follow her original recipe to a T, I did make sure to use some fresh orange juice in it. I also replaced the jalapeño with poblano, which is a mild pepper, sort of like a bell pepper with just a bit of kick to it.  (I love spicy food but I was making this salsa for the “mild” category.  The salsa also had to use fresh ingredients, which is why I didn’t just make my favorite salsa.)  If you’d like a hotter salsa, dice up some seeded jalapeño instead!

The judges loved my salsa, but said it had a bit too much garlic, so I’ve adjusted the recipe to up it to blue ribbon status by cutting the garlic from four cloves (hey, what can I say, I love garlic!) to two (the amount in Dani’s original recipe–I should have listened to the expert!).  But as with all recipes, just add amounts to suit your own tastes!

Fresh Mild Salsa

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

6 medium fresh tomatoes on the vine
1 poblano pepper, seeded and finely diced
½ large red onion, finely diced
½ a bunch of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1-2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
Juice from ½ a lime, ½ a lemon, and ½ an orange
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly grated pepper

Finely dice the tomatoes, removing the seeded pulp as you go, and place them in a wire mesh sieve set over a bowl to drain for five minutes. Discard juice, then stir the tomatoes and all other ingredients together in a large bowl. Store in the refrigerator.

Makes 2 pints.

Recipe source: adapted from Danielle Davis

Check out the other Cinco de Mayo recipes in the blog hop by clicking below!



Carrot Cracker Treats

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Note: Thankful Thursdays is a no-go this week as I joined the Holiday Recipe Club and the posting date for Easter is today.  I’ll be back with more thanksgivings next week!

I ran across this adorable idea for a non-sugary Easter-basket treat on Pinterest and went nuts:

Source: saraspartyperfect.com via Veronica on Pinterest

Cheetos in cone shaped bags with green curly ribbon to look like carrots!  Come on, now. Is that not adorable? While this certainly isn’t a healthy treat, I thought it would be a nice balance to all the sugar that usually fills an Easter basket, and I knew I was going to make these for our family get-together this year.

Then I signed up for a new club on Eliot’s recommendation: the Holiday Recipe Club. For Easter, the recipe ingredients Erin gave us to choose from (we have to use at least one in our recipe) were spinach, eggs, and carrots. I considered making a recipe with just one of the ingredients, but ultimately, the idea of using all three won me over.

Remembering those “carrot” treats I saw on Pinterest, I decided to incorporate a homemade recipe into it and made Cheddar-Carrot crackers to make up the “carrot,” topped with some Parmesan-Spinach Crackers to make the “stem,” and made sure my recipes included eggs.

OK, confession time.  Honestly, my recipes are not absolutely perfect.  They look and taste great.  The Cheddar-Carrot crackers are really close to Cheez-Its in flavor, with just a subtle spiciness, and I was able to get a really nice orange color  for them using only natural ingredients.  The Parmesan-Spinach ones taste a lot like the Cheddar Bay biscuits you get at Red Lobster, which is totally weird because those biscuits do not contain spinach or Parmesan, but what can I tell you?  They just do!  Something about them really makes me want to dunk them in crab dip, too.  You will have some leftover since you use less of them in the treat bags, and I think that’s what I’m going to do with mine.

Anyway, I was trying to tell you these aren’t perfect and got caught up in proclaiming all their good qualities.   Despite the flavor and appearance,  I couldn’t achieve the level of crispiness I wanted.  The ones that are more brown are almost perfect, but even those aren’t quite as crisp as I’d like.  I was afraid of browning them too much since the color was pretty important to the look of the treat bags, but I think the recipe must be flawed if I’d have to over-brown them to get them crispy-crunchy.  Perhaps it was the fault of the vegetable additions (excess moisture and not enough flour to compensate).  In any case, the crackers are delicious, but if you want them to have a crispy texture, you’re going to have to get them fairly brown.  I just wanted to warn you in case you make these, and if you tinker with the recipes and do get a perfectly crispy cracker, let me know what you did so I can try it!

Word to the lazy wise: fill your cone-shaped bags with Cheetos, Goldfish, or Cheez-Its, and forget making your own crackers!!  This was such a huge pain in the tookus!  But here’s the recipe, if you insist.

Carrot Cracker Treats

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

Cheddar-Carrot Crackers
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
8 oz. sharp cheddar, shredded (3 cups)
1 medium-large carrot, peeled and finely shredded
1 large egg
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
¾ teaspoon red-pepper flakes (optional)
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)

Parmesan-Spinach Crackers
2 cups lightly packed baby spinach
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)

Make the cheddar-carrot crackers: In a food processor, pulse together butter, cheese, carrot, egg, mustard, salt, , paprika, turmeric, and red-pepper flakes if using, until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add flour and pulse until combined. Shape dough into two discs, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate 30 minutes-1 hour.

While cheddar-carrot dough is chilling, wash out the food processor & blade (you don’t want the orange color interfering with your green color), and prepare the parmesan-spinach dough: place the spinach in the food processor and pulse until finely minced, about 5-10 times. Add the butter, Parmesan, egg, garlic powder, and salt. Pulse to combine, scraping down bowl as needed. Add the flour and pulse to combine. Shape dough into two discs and refrigerate for 30 minutes-1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350F, with racks in upper and lower thirds. Once the first batch of dough is chilled, divide each disc in two and place each quarter, one at a time, on a floured surface and roll out until thin, about 1/8” thick or less. Using a pastry wheel or pizza cutter, cut dough into ½” squares, and arrange squares on two parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until edges are golden, about 12 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let cool completely on racks.

Prepare the Parmesan-Spinach crackers the same way and cool completely.

To make the “carrots,” Fill cone-shaped cellophane bags half full with cheddar-carrot crackers, then top with an inch of Parmesan-spinach crackers. Tie bags with green curling ribbon and curl with scissors.

Makes 8-10 carrot treat bags, with leftover spinach crackers for crab dip-dipping. :)

Recipe source: Cracker recipes adapted from Everyday Food’s “Cheese Crackers,” November 2011

*Note: I bought my cone-shaped cello bags on eBay (this seller is super-fast–I got them within two days of ordering!), but you should also be able to find them at cake/candy supply stores and hobby stores.

Be sure to click Mr. Linky below to see the other Easter recipes!



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