Smoked Chili con Queso

Imagine a creamy, cheesy queso dip…and then add in a smoky grilled flavor!
This Smoked Chili con Queso is the perfect appetizer to enjoy during the big game!

Imagine a creamy, cheesy queso dip...and then add in a smoky grilled flavor!  This Smoked Chili con Queso is the perfect appetizer to enjoy during the big game!Well kiss my grits!  As I’ve mentioned many times before, I was born in the South.  I grew up all over the Carolinas, Texas, Louisiana and Georgia.  Although I now live in the frozen tundra upstate New York, my Southern roots run deep.  I’ve been known to pull out some crazy Southern sayings now and then…especially when watching college football!  But one Southern saying I’ve never quite figured out is “kiss my grits.”  Truthfully, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say “kiss my grits” in the South.  In fact, when I hear that saying, I think of these Jalapeno Cheddar Grits, and I don’t want to kiss them.  I want to put my face in them.Continue Reading »

Beer Cheese Dip

This Beer Cheese Dip features several favorite snack-time ingredients: bacon, cheese, beer…and more cheese!

Beer Cheese Dip | Spicedblog.com

I love a good beer.  Over the past several years, my wife and I have made it a habit of visiting craft breweries and brewpubs wherever we go.  Did you know that Vermont is home to 35+ breweries?  I didn’t until recently.  (I’ve only made it to 10 of them so far.)  Continue Reading »

Creamy Cranberry and Swiss Cheese Dip

This is PERFECT for the weekend after Thanksgiving! Can't have football games with a delicious cheese dip!! Creamy Cranberry Cheese DipThanksgiving is almost here, and if you’re anything like me, then you are busily planning out the Turkey Day menu.  I’ve always found it a bit funny how we scurry around making a delicious feast for Thanksgiving Day, but so little thought is put into the rest of the weekend.  Don’t get me wrong…I absolutely love turkey and all of the classic Thanksgiving side dishes and desserts!  But what do you do when the family arrives on Wednesday, and all of the food is planned for Thursday?  Uhhh….hmmmm.  Well, I can’t completely save you from this problem, but this Creamy Cranberry Cheese Dip is super-easy and super-delicious, so it’s the perfect snack to have on hand for the holidays!

This is PERFECT for the weekend after Thanksgiving! Can't have football games with a delicious cheese dip!! Creamy Cranberry Cheese DipThis Creamy Cranberry Cheese Dip is loaded with all sorts of Autumn goodness.  Chopped cranberries, toasted walnuts, and even a little bit of hard apple cider.  After all, it wouldn’t be a family gathering without a little bit of alcohol, right?  (If you are looking to make this cheese dip kid-friendly, then just use sparking apple cider instead of hard cider.)    This appetizer is great to serve when the family arrives on Wednesday afternoon, but it’s also a tasty snack to eat during the football games throughout the rest of the weekend.  (I’ve found that a mixture of Swiss and Gruyere cheeses works best for this recipe.  Both types of cheese should be available in your local grocery store, but you might need to check the cheese section near the deli rather than the cheeses in the dairy section.)  This dip is slightly sweet from the hard cider and cranberries, but the sweetness balances well with the bite from the Gruyere cheese.  Then throw in the occasional crunch from the toasted walnuts, and you’ve got a party!

This is PERFECT for the weekend after Thanksgiving! Can't have football games with a delicious cheese dip!! Creamy Cranberry Cheese Dip

One of the best things about this dip is that it works great when served with loads of fresh veggies.  I usually go with an assortment of carrot sticks, celery sticks, green apples, chips, and/or toasted bread cubes.  I don’t know about you, but I always seem to have extra celery floating around the refrigerator at Thanksgiving, and this dip is a great way to use it!  (Truth be told, this is a great appetizer for New Year’s Eve and the Super Bowl, too…I just always seem to make it during Thanksgiving.)

Creamy Cranberry and Swiss Cheese Dip

Ingredients

  • 8 oz Swiss cheese, shredded
  • 4 oz Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tbsp onion, finely minced
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup hard apple cider (I used Stella Cidre; use sparkling apple cider for a non-alcoholic version)
  • 3 tbsp dried cranberries, chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp walnuts, toasted and chopped

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the cheeses and flour; stir until fully combined.
  2. In a saucepan over medium heat, add the garlic, onion, and olive oil. Saute until onion begins to turn translucent and soft (about 5-6 minutes). Add the cider and heat until mixture begins to simmer.
  3. Stir the cheese into the saucepan (1 cup at a time) until fully melted. Once cheese has melted, stir in the dried cranberries, dry mustard, and black pepper.
  4. Garnish with toasted walnuts; serve hot.
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Spicy Cheddar Wafers

Spicy Cheddar Wafers

 

Honeycrisp.  Northern Spy.  Rubyfrost.  Jonagold.  Apple season has officially begun here in upstate New York.  To be honest, I had never heard of most of these varieties before moving here a couple of years ago.  When we lived in Atlanta, my wife and I would occasionally go up into the north Georgia mountains for an apple picking trip, but I guess I never paid much attention to the varieties.  Apples are serious business here in NY.  In fact, I would guess there are at least 20+ orchards within a 30-minute radius of my house.  And I definitely take advantage of the local produce…apples are in steady supply in our kitchen (and in my recipes) for almost the entire Fall.  Few things top the crisp sweetness of freshly picked apples!  I’m excited to say that I’ve also found an apple cider that tastes remarkably similar to freshly picked apples.  Stella Artois Cidre is made from hand-picked apples, so it makes sense that it should taste like biting into a crisp, juicy apple.  This tasty hard cider has found a permanent spot in my fridge…right next to my hoards of apples!

Autumn Cocktail Party Idea: Stella Artois Cidre & Spicy Cheese WafersYou may remember another Stella Artois Cidre post from about a month or so ago (click here to check it out).  On that occasion, I had the opportunity to attend a release party and sample this tasty, new cider.  In this post, however, I am sharing one of my favorite cocktail party recipes…and it also happens to pair quite well with the crisp, fresh apple flavors of Cidre.

Autumn Cocktail Party Idea: Stella Artois Cidre & Spicy Cheese WafersWhen I think of crisp, Autumn apples, my mind immediately jumps to the flavors of sharp cheddar cheese.  I remember my mother making these Spicy Cheddar Wafers as far back as I can recall.  There seemed to be an endless supply of them around the holidays, but I’ve grown quite fond of snacking on them on chilly Autumn days.  The wafers include a bit of cayenne, but I don’t find the spiciness to be overwhelming at all.  In fact, the cayenne is more of a “secret ingredient” that makes you want to keep going back for just one more!  I find that the sharp bite of cheddar along with the slight spiciness pairs perfectly with a glass of cold Cidre.  In fact, I just had this combination last night for a little impromptu happy hour before dinner!

Spicy Cheese WafersMy wife and I recently traveled to Scotland on vacation, and I was surprised to find how popular cider is over there.  Every bar offered a couple varieties of hard cider.  Heck, even the grocery store sold 12-packs and 2-liters of cider.  We might be a little slow on catching that trend here in America, but I think we’re getting there.  Unlike other ciders (most of which are overly sweet in my opinion), I find Stella Artois Cidre to be remarkably balanced.  Toss in a handful of these Spicy Cheddar Wafers, and you’ve got the perfect combination to toast the arrival of cooler days.  Cheers!

Autumn Cocktail Party Idea: Stella Artois Cidre & Spicy Cheese Wafers

Spicy Cheddar Wafers

Yield: 60 wafers

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 60 pecan halves

Instructions

  1. Add the cheese and butter to the bowl of a countertop mixer with the paddle attached. Cream together on medium speed until well blended.
  2. Add the flour, salt, and cayenne pepper. Continue mixing on medium speed until dough comes together and is uniformly mixed.
  3. Divide the mixture into 2 equal portions, and shape each into a log about 1.5" in diameter by 8" long.
  4. Wrap each roll in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a couple of hours. (Alternatively, you can freeze the wrapped logs for about 45 minutes.)
  5. Slice each log into 1/4" wafers. Place a pecan half on top of each wafer. Bake at 350°F for 18-22 minutes, or until wafers turn slightly golden in color.

Notes

Entertaining Tip: This dough can be made the day before and refrigerated wrapped until the next day. This dough also freezes very well, so it can be made several days or weeks in advance. Great to remember when hosting friends or family for seasonal parties!

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Cidre_Logo2

 

“It’s Cidre, not cider.”

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Stella Artois via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Stella Artois.