Maple-Glazed Rosemary Pecans

So I guess I’m not the only person who has no-recipe recipes. I was a little concerned with this, as it is a little vague, but it turned out quite smashing.

D&D_2677I love sugared nuts and fresh rosemary goes so very well with the slight sweetness of fresh, fat pecans – great pairing. Now you do have to spend the dead presidents on the maple syrup and I do that anyway, but this is an application where you want top quality everything. Don’t skimp. The pecans are locals – Renfroe – the best available around here and are always stored in the refrigerator. The Maldon is from SaltWorks – affordable, easy shipping costs, and lots of other salt options to try.  Rosemary has to be freshly cut from whatever little/big plant you have.

I start a rosemary every early spring in a pot and then move it to a strange little place in our yard. There is no watering going on there, it is bordered by our driveway and is backed by a brick way – oh, and it it west-facing. That is prime real estate for rosemary. Hot and dry makes excellent rosemary. The first one I planted there went from a 4 inch pot to a 4 foot wide plant. I miss that thing – garden remodel and stupid mistake. But I now have a new little plant in a pot to start again.

2 cups raw pecan halves
Maple syrup
Flakey salt – Maldon
Fresh rosemary leaves, minced
Zest of a lemon

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lay pecans on single layer on parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle a few rosemary leaves on top. Add lemon zest. Drizzle with maple syrup, enough to coat with more for pecans to sizzle in. Sprinkle with a few pinches of sea salt. Mix it all together with a spatula.

Bake 5 – 7 minutes, checking regularly. Remove when syrup is bubbling and the nuts are beginning to just brown. Let cool, turning to coat with any maple, rosemary, and salt. Check for salt and make sure it is where you like to balance the maple syrup and accent the rosemary.


Notes: Next time I make these I will add some heat, probably cayenne, but maybe a dash or two of hot sauce in the maple syrup would be good. Next time, and there will be a next time, I will squeeze the lemon juice over the hot pecans as they come out of the oven.

If a recipe calls for flakey salt, I always use Maldon. Worth every penny and every pinch.

Christmas Eve Buffet Cheese Ball

So I think this year, I might subject friends and family to my odd sense of nostalgia and hope I, the one who has this in my memory, am not disappointed.

For some reason, known only to herself (she never did explain it), my mother left me in charge of deciding the food for Christmas Eve. Not the making in all, or even most, cases, but the deciding. In our family which was rather large even though is was just my 3 siblings, me, my parents, and our older siblings kids, we opened presents from each other on Christmas Eve, so it was a night of perpetual snacking and in my case eating enough vanilla taffy to almost (almost, but not quite), make myself sick. Oh, and fudge too. And I don’t even like fudge (Groundhog Day.)

D&D_1499This was one of the things that I wanted every year and also made myself – not exactly difficult even though we had no food processor or mini chopper. You just did it the old fashioned way, by hand – no harm in that. I have no idea where this came from, but in my made-up back-story for it, it was a contribution to a local newspaper from some woman who would call herself by her husband’s name, you know what I mean. Instead of Mary Smith, she would be Mrs. John Smith, like she didn’t have an existence outside of him – yes, going off the rails here a bit, but that kind of thing just makes me slightly crazy.

Here for posterity’s sake.

8 ozs  cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar, room temperature
3 Tbs well-drained horseradish
1/4 cup finely chopped dried beef

Combine cream cheese, cheddar, horseradish until well blended. Make into a ball and chill. Roll in dried beef until covered. Chill several hours. Let sit at room temperature before serving. Serve with Triscuits or whatever crackers you like, but when I was 12, Triscuits is what I did. And everyone else did too.

Several questions arise – the first being do they still make dried beef in those odd little jars (not that I could tell, and I looked), where is it in the store if they do and what are my other options? I’m thinking pan fried proscuitto minced.
Also – only 1/2 cup of sharp cheddar. First, must be Cabot seriously sharp, but needs to be orange for color contrast and it will most certainly be more than 1/2 a measly cup. Please.
I will taste and check the horseradish level, but must be careful not to blow everyone’s palate. I tend to like just a click more horseradish than most people.

What I did make –

8 ozs cream cheese, softened
1 cup extra sharp cheddar, shredded at room temperature
3 Tbs well drained horseradish
1 cup minced dried cranberries
3 scallions minced
1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 Tbs chives, minced
3 scallions, minced
1/2 cup dried cranberries, minced

Combine cream cheese, cheddar, and horseradish until well combined. Add in cranberries, scallions, and pecans. Roll into a ball and cover with plastic and chill until firm.

When ready to serve, mix coating ingredients in a wide bowl, and roll cheese ball in to cover, pressing in as necessary. Serve with crackers or toasted bread.

23 December 2017 – for Christmas Eve.
Never hurts to try something new, esp. if it is really good – and um, it was.

Mini Cheese Ball Bites

So this was a new appetizer for Thanksgiving  but for me it plays into my holiday thing. Holidays call for cheese balls – yes, they do, because I used to make a cheese ball when I was all of 12 years-old for our Christmas smorgasbord – my name for our Christmas Eve feast thing. I have tried to advance my cheese ball experience to go way beyond my immature 12 year-old self. I mean dried beef was involved.* Ugh.  But now that I think about it – what would it be like to try that recipe several decades later? Would it be good or would the food snob in me completely revolt. I am not sure and little scared to try to be honest. I still have that recipe, so who knows what might happen.

This recipe has lots of my favorite flavors: bleu cheese, cranberries, pecans. Those flavors are holidays to me. Especially with our local pecans, just harvested this fall – they are so sweet and totally set off the saltiness of the bleu cheese. Also, I am hard pressed to ever turn down a dried cranberry. [See: Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies]dd_1693

I do love that the base of this can be made ahead – the cream cheese, bleu cheese, cranberry part. Then the day of, make the mini cheese bites, roll in top quality local pecans and add that little pretzel skewer. Excellent. This will also make this recipe in a regular sized cheese ball to go with bread or crackers. May have to do this for the next pot luck at work. We shall see.

8 ozs cream cheese, room temperature
4 ozs bleu cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup dried cranberries, finely minced
1 1/2 cup pecans, minced
pretzel sticks

In a bowl, mix together bleu cheese and cream cheese until smooth. Mix in cranberries. Refrigerate until firm. Using a spoon, scoop into tablespoon sized balls. Refrigerate again until firm.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast pecan pieces in oven for 7 – 10 minutes, until fragrant. Allow pecans to cool. Roll chilled cheese balls in pecans. Keep balls refrigerated.

Just before serving, skewer each cheese ball with a pretzel stick. 

Do Ahead: Make the cream cheese, bleu cheese, cranberry mixture and cover, and refrigerate. When ready to serve, toast the pecans, roll the cheese balls in them, and add the pretzel sticks.

* Here it is for posterity’s sake.

8 ozs  cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar, room temperature
3 Tbs well-drained horseradish
1/4 cup finely chopped dried beef

Combine cream cheese, cheddar, horseradish until well blended. Make into a ball and chill. Roll in dried beef until covered. Chill several hours. Let sit at room temperature before serving. Serve with Triscuits or whatever crackers you like, but when I was 12, Triscuits is what I did. And everyone else did too.

2016 – A Year Ago – Cheddar Stuffed Mushrooms


January – March 2016 – Food “Holidays” Recap

Super Bowl – February 7

Spiced Pecans * Roast Beef Horseradish Sandwich * Bacon-wrapped Fruit Bites * Buffalo Rolls * Proscuitto Fontina Pinwheels * Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Torte *

Mardi Gras Pot Luck – February 9

Mardi Gras Sugar Cookies *  Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Torte *

Margarita Day – February 22

Leap Day – February 29

Apple Carrot Cupcakes *


Apple Carrot Muffins – slightly amazing. And, no. I’m not bragging.

Pi Day – March 14

Apple Walnut Pie *

Butter Pie Crust *

St Patrick’s Day – March 17

Guinness Brownies *

Easter – March 27

Not sure yet, but I have a few days to sort it out. Yikes.

Cheddar Pecan Crisps


Cheddar Pecan Crisps

Cheddar crackers are some of my favorite things in the world. I make them year round, eat the for breakfast (yep totally), lunch, snack, or dinner. There are several things though, that I require of my cheddar crackers. First, nuts of some kind, then heat, typically cayenne because the heat comes a little late so you get to taste the cheese/nuts first. After that, I have things I enjoy, such as some herbal components, particularly rosemary, sometimes a little dried fruit – it makes sense on a cheese board it should make sense in a cracker.

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
8 ozs cheddar, grated, big holes on the box grater
1 large egg yolk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup pecans, finely chopped

Sift together salt, cayenne, and all-purpose flour over a sheet of waxed paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat together butter and cheddar in the bowl of a stand mixer until smooth, then add in the dry ingredients. Add in the pecans.

Roll into rounded teaspoons of dough and arrange on a parchment lined baking sheet inches apart. Flatten into 1 1/2″ disk with the bottom of a glass or the back of a spoon and bake until golden, 15 – 18 minutes.

Yield: 50 crackers sort of…. well, not really.

No idea where this recipe came from, and it is pretty much altered from the original recipe.

I think you can substitute walnuts for pecans in this recipe. This isn’t always the case, but in this instance, it would work. Pecans are a little sweeter and they are local and so fresh, so that’s what I go with. I don’t typically substitute red pepper flakes for cayenne. But I might try Aleppo pepper next time.

10 Nov 2002
10 May 2009 – Mom’s Day
14 Nov 2015 – cheese crackers for me and there it is.

Fall / Thanksgiving planning

I guess it is time to start thinking about the fall baking/cooking season and, dum dum dum … Thanksgiving. It seems that Thanksgiving always sneaks up on me. Because it does not get cold here, really, until after January. I’m still wearing opened toe sandals for heavens’ sake.  I can’t imagine doing Canadian Thanksgiving – October 12th. Too soon for us in the South, but not too soon for them, I suppose. Good on you!

And here are the things I am thinking about:

Down-sizing recipes – for a few of us that is what will happen. How do you scale down cornbread dressing? I have no idea. Depending on what family stays, what family and friends are coming into town, and what family goes to others out of town, it makes a difference in planning. But there are certain things that just must happen for Thanksgiving. Cranberry relish – yes!

Why not biscuits for Thanksgiving? Hello, we are in the south – yep. Drop biscuits are my favorite. Sour Cream drop biscuits instead of my usual Parker House rolls.


Sweet Potato Biscuits with ham and horseradish cream

I think I need a new filling for my sweet potato biscuits. I love them the way they are, (with ham and horseradish cream} but I think I must come up with something new. But I do think horseradish will be involved. It is a stupidly great combination.

Something with corn – I’m thinking a corn soufflé which could be really cool.

Some kind of apple dessert – slab pie, maybe? Or this apple cake “Tatin” thing?  Did that this month, and … so amazing. You can read about here.

A Fall Salad – with apples, pecans, some spinach and, in my perfect world, mandarin oranges. Yep.

Do hate all the pumpkin crap,,, Guess that is, mostly, because everyone goes all pumpkin crazy beginning in August. It is just way over kill. And the taste is largely meh. But apparently I’m in the minority on this one. I just don’t get it.

Another cheeseball experiment …


Pineapple Cheeseball Excellent photo – yep! That’s the MotH!

I think I have a cheeseball problem. But I don’t think that is a bad thing. Growing up, we had a cheeseball always at Christmas, but no other time. That seems a shame really because they are great year-round. Especially now in the awful heat of summer – easy dinner with crackers. Right? Yep.

Pineapple Cheese Ball
8 ozs cream cheese, softened
8 ozs onion & chive cream cheese, softened
8 ozs crushed pineapple, drained
1 tsp garlic powder
1 scallion, finely diced
1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped
2 cups extra sharp cheddar, shredded

Mix together cream cheese, onion & chive cream cheese, crushed pineapple, and garlic powder. Stir in the scallion, pecans, and 1/2 cup shredded cheddar. Shape into one or two balls and roll in remaining cheddar cheese.* Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm.

*You may need extra cheddar if making two cheeseballs. You can also roll the cheeseball in pecans instead, but you will need more pecans.

I think I love these new Triscuit crackers – fire roasted tomatoes and olive oil – love them! Yep, I said love twice — so Triscuit you need to sponsor me because one of my favorite things is a Triscuit with cream cheese and hot pepper jelly – homemade hot pepper jelly, of course.

Is cheeseball one word or two? Me and spell check have differences on this and it is funny. Many thanks to for the recipe. I think next time I will try pineapple tidbits – strange word – tidbits. But there it is. And a minced onion and chives instead of the flavored creamed cheese – I think it will work and will make my friends happy because I always share my cheese balls