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Category Archives: Snacks & Appetizers

Chewy No-Bake Granola Bars

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Are you a crunchy granola bar person, or a chewy granola bar person? I’m the latter.  My favorite granola bars are the Sunbelt Bakery ones. and it has been a quest of mine for a long time to find a recipe that would duplicate their soft, chewy texture.  I felt that baking them wasn’t the way to go, as all the ones I baked were just a little too firm, a little too dry, and not chewy enough.  I made lots of my own recipes in the search to find that perfect recipe, and never did find it.

Until Sarah.  She posted a recipe for Chewy Coconut Oil Granola Bars and my search ended there.  I’m tellin’ ya, coconut oil is such a good friend in the kitchen.  Makes great cookies, coffee, and granola bars!  These are exactly what I was looking for, and a little healthier than Sunbelt Bakery’s with the flaxseed, honey, coconut oil, and lack of processed/weird ingredients.  And totally crazy delicious!

Chewy No-Bake Granola Bars

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2 1/2 cups Rice Krispies cereal
1 3/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup ground flaxseed* (I used whole)
1/2 cup mix-ins of your choice (I used peanuts)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
dash of salt
1/3 cup unrefined virgin coconut oil
1/3 cup natural peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks (I used butterscotch chips)

*You can use wheat germ, wheat bran, or more rolled oats in place of the flaxseed.

Line a 9×13 pan with aluminum foil or wax paper, and grease well with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, stir together cereal, oats, flaxseed, and mix-ins. In a saucepan, stir together honey, brown sugar, and salt. Turn heat onto medium-low, then stir constantly until mixture comes to a boil. Boil for 60 seconds, then remove from heat and gently mix in coconut oil and peanut butter, careful not to splash. Stir in vanilla and cinnamon. Pour wet ingredients over the dry and mix to combine.

Press mixture into prepared pan, then evenly distribute chocolate chunks over top. If you mix the chocolate in, it will melt. Press into granola mixture with a spatula then cover and refrigerate for 2 hours to set. Cut into bars and wrap in aluminum foil or wax paper for easy transport.

Recipe source: The Pajama Chef


Neiman Marcus Dip

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I was perusing Minda’s Cooking after a long hiatus and I pinned everything I saw and then made it within a week.  OK, so it was three things, but that’s kind of epic for me. I pin tons of things (seriously, I’m almost at 8,000 pins), but rarely make them, let alone all at once. Minda’s blog was speaking my language, though.  First it was the  Frito Salad. Then it was this dip.  Then it was the Crockpot Chicken & Stuffing. Bring on the easy-to-make comfort food.

OK so we’ve already established that dip is my thing.  Dip is like majorly my thing.  If dip were a man, I would marry him and then eat all our dip babies. OK, maybe that’s going a little too far, but not by much.  And this dip is so, so good.  Totally meets my dip standards because it’s fat, plus more fat, plus some more x 2, with onions, which means it’s delicious. Can’t go wrong with quadruple fat plus onions.

All kidding aside, this dip is some serious goodness.  It’s creamy, crunchety, bacony goodness.  Make it, and you’ll be a superstar at your next potluck, game day, or to yourself as you spend some quality alone-time with it.

Neiman Marcus Dip

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5-6 green onions, sliced (both white and green parts)
1 (8 oz) package cheddar cheese, shredded
1 (3 oz) package real bacon bits
1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds, toasted & cooled completely
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise

Stir all ingredients together well in a mixing bowl.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Recipe source: Minda’s Cooking

Garlic & Chive Pumpkin Cheese Ball

I have shared a Pumpkin Cheese Ball recipe before, and this one is very similar but the few changes make it so much better and cuter, so I have to share!

As with the other Pumpkin Cheese Ball, there is no actual pumpkin in it, but there is paprika and cayenne (don’t worry, it’s not spicy at all) to color it orange and then you do a little extra to make it resemble a pumpkin, including rolling it in crushed Doritos and putting a pepper stem on top. Cuteness!  This would be a great addition to your Thanksgiving spread, or for next year’s Halloween festivities.  We served two of them at my Lil’ Pumpkin Baby Shower and they were a huge hit!

Garlic & Chive Pumpkin Cheese Ball

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2 packages (16 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup (2 ounces) sour cream
1 tablespoon dried chives
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups (8 ounces) finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups crushed nacho cheese chips
1 green pepper stem or celery rib with leaves
Assorted crackers

In a small bowl, beat cream cheese and sour cream until smooth. Beat in the chives, paprika, garlic powder, and cayenne until incorporated, then beat in the cheddar. Shape into a ball; wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 4 hours or until firm. Before serving, roll the cheese ball in crushed chips and press a green pepper stem (or celery rib, using some of the leaves for pumpkin vine leaves) into the top. Allow to sit at room temperature at least 1/2 hour before serving to soften. Serve with crackers.

Recipe source: a Veronica’s Cornucopia original, with inspiration from Family Fresh Meals

With the holidays upon us, you might be looking for more cheesy goodness to add to your spread. Why not try…

Pumpkin Cheese Ball

Pimiento Cheese Log

Dill, Cheddar, and Green Onion Cheese Ball


Sticky Sesame Chicken Legs or Wings

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Last month I defrosted a ginormous tray of frozen chicken legs and then had no idea what to do with it.  Usually I’m really independent when it comes to choosing the recipes I make (Pinterest is usually my favorite way to decide), but this time I sought help on Facebook, asking for ideas.  Being connected to many fabulous cooks, I got many, and I chose this one because I had every ingredient and making them wouldn’t require an extra trip to the store. Score!

The recipe is actually meant for chicken wings but it works great on legs (and would also work great on any other part of the chicken, for that matter).  I mean what part of chicken doesn’t taste great with some sticky-smoky-salty-sweet glaze on it, right?  So good!  And for those not firing up their ovens in the heat of summer, I really think these could be done on the grill, but I think you’d have to grill them naked and then brush the sauce on near the end of the cooking time so that it wouldn’t burn up.  If you try it with success, please let me know!

Sticky Sesame Chicken Legs or Wings

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1 large garlic clove
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons soy sauce (I use reduced sodium)
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons mild honey
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
Pinch of cayenne
3 lb chicken legs, wingettes or chicken wings*
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted
1 scallion (green part only), finely chopped

Put oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 425°F. Line a large shallow baking pan (17 by 12 inches) with foil and lightly oil foil.

Mince garlic and mash to a paste with salt using a large heavy knife. Transfer garlic paste to a large bowl and stir in soy sauce, hoisin, honey, oil, and cayenne. Add wingettes to sauce, stirring to coat.

Arrange legs or wingettes in 1 layer in baking pan and roast, turning over once, until cooked through, about 35 minutes (the time is for wingettes but I really don’t remember cooking my drumsticks any longer! Maybe 10 minutes more? Just start checking at 35 minutes). Transfer legs or wingettes to a large serving bowl and toss with sesame seeds and scallion.

*If using chicken wings instead of wingettes, cut off and discard tips from chicken wings with kitchen shears or a large heavy knife, then halve wings at joint.

Recipe source: Epicurious

The Masters Pimento Cheese

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Me and pimiento cheese go way back.  Although Mom fed us a very healthy diet growing up, cheese (and butter, thank God) was always present in our house and to this day, my favorite food in the whole world is a cheddar cheese sandwich with lettuce, tomato, and onion.  Mom would occasionally indulge in one of her favorite treats and buy a tub of pimiento cheese, and I was always more than OK with that.

But there’s quite a difference between store bought and homemade!  I didn’t try making it at home until a few years ago, and haven’t looked back.  I used to follow a Paula Deen recipe that’s quite good, but I have now found an even better recipe.  In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s the BEST, or at least the best I’ve tried.

This one includes Parmesan cheese, which I never would have thought to put in pimiento cheese, but it makes it so good!  You just gotta try it.

The Masters Pimento Cheese

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1/4 cup (2 oz) cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (4 oz) mayonnaise
1/2 cup (4 oz) sour cream
1/8 tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp minced dried onion
2 cups (8 oz) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup (1 ½ oz) shredded Parmesan cheese
1 (4 oz) jar diced pimientos, drained
Salt to taste (I don’t use any)

Using a mixer, whip the cream cheese until creamy, then beat in the remaining ingredients.  Beating them will help break down the cheese and pimientos.

Veronica’s note: I used reduced fat cream cheese, mayonnaise, and sour cream and you couldn’t tell – it was so good.

Recipe source: adapted from Plain Chicken

Spicy Ranch Crackers

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This is a twist on seasoned crackers for those that enjoy a spicy kick.  I make a triple batch of seasoned crackers every December to include in my goodie bags with assorted sweets, and this year I made a second spicy batch for those that like things on the spicy side.  They are great on their own as a snack, but as with the seasoned crackers, one of my favorite things to do with these crackers is to sprinkle them on soup as a garnish, especially tomato soup or chili.  And let’s not forget the Super Bowl is coming up, right?  These would be perfect for the heat-lovin’, snack-eatin’ guests at your party.

Spicy Ranch Crackers

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2 (12 oz) bags oyster crackers
1 (13.7 oz) box cheese crackers
1 (1 oz) envelope spicy ranch dressing mix
1 (1 oz) envelope ranch dressing mix
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried dill weed
½ teaspoon onion powder
1 cup vegetable oil

Mix crackers in a large bowl. Sprinkle dressing mix and spices over the crackers, then pour oil over it all. Mix until the oil is absorbed. Cover and store overnight for the flavors to develop.

A Veronica’s Cornucopia Original

Grandpa Hoho’s Shrimp Dip

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Secret Recipe Club

This month I was assigned to The Kitchen Witch‘s blog for The Secret Recipe Club, which was very exciting because this is the first time I was assigned a blog I already follow.  Knowing Rhonda likes to pick a heritage or family recipe from her assigned blog, I decided to pick a recipe from hers with the same criteria.  I came across Grandpa Hoho’s Shrimp Dip and at first thought I was in trouble because 1) I’m officially on a “getting healthy” plan, 2) Eating creamy dip is not part of that plan, and 3) I love dip more than anything else in the world.  Except God.  And maybe my husband.  But that’s the order of things in my world: God, Dennis, dip.

So I thought making this dip would spell big trouble for me, as in eating the entire batch by myself in one sitting with copious amounts of buttery crackers. Thankfully, Dennis informed me there was going to be a potluck at his work.  Saved by the potluck!  So while I did indulge in some of it, I had the incentive of knowing it also had to feed his co-workers to hold off on eating more than I should.  Otherwise, oh yes, this dip would have been history in less than ten minutes.

This dip is just sensational.  Dennis is the ultimate shrimp hater (in his world the worst things in the universe are 1) shrimp, 2) wiener dogs, and 3) any song by Poison), but he really loved this dip.  I added dill and garlic to the original recipe (sorry, Grandpa Hoho), which compliments the mild seafood flavor, and it turned out to be a real crowd-pleaser.  Dennis returned home from work with an empty dish, rave reviews, and a recipe request.  The ultimate compliment!

Thank you, Rhonda, for sharing Grandpa Hoho’s dip recipe and all your wonderful photography tips.  Thank you to Debbi, the SRC group C hostess, and to the other group hostesses and April, who runs the whole shebang.  I truly enjoy doing this every month and it never gets old for me!

Grandpa Hoho’s Shrimp Dip

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1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 (8 oz) tub sour cream
Juice of ½ a lemon
2 (4 oz) cans tiny shrimp, drained and rinsed
3 green onions, chopped
1 teaspoon dried dill
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
Salt & pepper to taste

Beat cream cheese with sour cream and lemon juice until smooth. Add shrimp, green onions, dill, and garlic powder and beat until the shrimp are beaten small and turn the mixture pink. Add salt and pepper to taste and mix well.  Refrigerate overnight or up to two days for best flavor. Serve cold with crackers.

Recipe source: The Kitchen Witch

To check out the other Group C recipes, click Mr. Linkyman below. :)

Side rant: So I’m not apologizing for my photos or anything, but seriously, what is with the winter light?  Can someone explain to me why all my photos are so blue in the winter, I can’t get rid of all the blue without turning my photos orange?  ARRRRG! Help me, Rhonda! lol

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

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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.

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

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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: 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

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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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