Monster Cheese Ball

If you’re planning to have a group of little ghouls over for a Halloween party and need an activity for them let them create this scary snack.  Starting with this savory cheese ball recipe, kids can create their own creature using everything from apple slices to zucchini!   Have them come up with wacky or ghostly names for their creations.  This is a fun way to incorporate veggies and calcium during a time of year when sweets seem to reign!

4 (8oz.)packages cream cheese, softened

2 packages of dry Ranch dressing mix

5 cups finely shredded Cheddar cheese

2 small packages of real bacon bits (not imitation)

In a large bowl, mash cream cheese.  Mix dressing into cream cheese until thoroughly incorporated.   Add bacon bits and Cheddar cheese.  Shape mixture into 6 two-inch balls.  Refrigerate until ready to decorate.  Decorate using toothpicks to secure food items on to cheese balls.  Have children create monster faces with food items. Suggested ingredients to decorate with:

-olives (black and green)

-mushroom slices

-celery sticks

-match stick carrots



-grape tomatoes

-pea pods

-water chestnuts

-pepper slices

-sliced almonds

-chow mein noodles

-dried parsley







Cajun Shrimp Casserole

2 lbs. large fresh shrimp, peeled and de-veined

1 /4 cup butter

1 small red onion, chopped

1 /2 cup chopped red bell pepper

1 /2 cup chopped yellow bell pepper

1 /2 cup chopped orange bell pepper

4 tsp. minced garlic

1 cup frozen sliced okra

1 T lemon juice

1 1 /2 tsp. salt

1 can of cream of shrimp soup

1 /2 cup dry white wine

1 T soy sauce

1 /2 tsp. cayenne pepper

3 cups cooked long-grain rice

1 /4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Garnish with parsley

Melt 1 /4 cup butter in large skillet over med-high heat.  Add onion and next 3 ingredients; sauté 7 minutes or until tender.  Add garlic, sauté 1 minute.  Stir in okra, lemon juice, and salt; sauté 5 minutes.  Add shrimp and cook 3 minutes or until shrimp turn pink. Stir in soup and next 4 ingredients until blended.  Pour into a lightly greased 11 x 7 -inch baking dish.  Sprinkle evenly with Parmesan cheese.   Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until casserole is bubbly and cheese is lightly browned.   NOTE: cooked shrimp may be used.  Add right before soup and do not continue to cook.



(Worth all the details!!!!  This is the recipe I used when I auditioned for Master Chef in 2009)



Beef Pepper and Pesto Kabobs

1  3 /4 lb. boneless beef sirloin steak, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 large red bell peppers, seeded, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 pkg. whole fresh mushrooms

3T olive oil

1 tsp. salt 8 oz dried linguine or fettuccine

1/3 cup prepared pesto

2/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Thread meat, peppers and mushrooms onto skewers and brush with 2 T oil. Season with salt.

Cook pasta.

Meanwhile, heat grill to medium high; oil grill grates and cook kabobs, turning frequently, until the meat is done, 7 to 9 min for medium. Remove from grill. Using a clean brush or spoon, coat meat generously with pesto.

Toss drained pasta with Parmesan, 1 T oil and black pepper; serve with kabobs. Approximately 6 servings.


Grilled Vegetable Kabobs

2 yellow squash in chunks 2 zucchini in chunks

1 large onion cut into wedges

2 large bell peppers cut in squares 16 large fresh mushrooms

16 cherry tomatoes

Garden Herb Marinade:

1/ 4 cup fresh lemon juice

3/ 4 cup olive oil

2 T red wine vinegar

1 T dried basil or fresh

1 T Dijon mustard

1/ 2 tsp. dried thyme

2 tsp minced garlic

2 T chopped fresh parsley

salt and pepper to taste

8 skewers

Blend all marinade ingredients and pour over vegetables.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.  After preparing grill, drain vegetables, reserve marinade.  Alternate vegetable pieces on skewers and grill until tender, basting frequently with marinade. Grill about 15 minutes.


Quick Shrimp Pasta

 1 cup fresh diced tomatoes

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil or T of dried

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided

1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/2 cup, plus 2 tbsp freshly grated Romano cheese

sea salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 lb penne pasta, prepared

In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, basil and 2 tbsp of the olive oil. Stir well, then set aside. Preheat your oven’s broiler for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, arrange the shrimp on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Then, sprinkle with 2 tbsp Romano cheese.

Broil the shrimp for 4-5 minutes per side, until cooked through and lightly browned. Remove the pan from the oven and set aside. Add the cooked penne pasta to the tomato mixture and stir well. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup Romano cheese, salt and pepper. Stir again. Taste, and adjust seasoning as necessary.  Spoon the pasta into bowls and top with 1/4 of the shrimp. Serve immediately.




Bacon Tomato Bites

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

2T of Mrs Dash garden herb seasoning

Real bacon bits

Small grape tomatoes,sliced in half

Package of phylo shells (freezer section)

Diced green onions for garnish

Perfect for Get Togethers

Perfect for Get Togethers

Combine soften cream cheese with seasoning.  Toast phylo shells briefly.  Fill each with cream cheese mixture.  Top with bacon bits, green onions, and top with tomato half.  Makes 16 appetizers.  Serve any leftover cream cheese as a spread for crackers.




Fresh Pico de Gallo

Fresh and Fast: Fresh Pico de Gallo

3 Roma tomatoes,diced

1/2 cup purple onion,diced

2 T diced jalapeño

1 diced avocado

Fiesta lime mrs dash to taste

Fresh cilantro to taste

Fresh lime juice to taste

Gently fold all together.  Serve with tortilla chips


Snack Time!

Bacon Tomato Pie

4 large firm tomatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

1 (9 inch) pie crust, baked

2 T chopped green onions

6 slices, bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

1 tsp. sugar

1 / 2 tsp. dried basil

Salt & pepper

1 / 2 cup light mayonnaise or less

2 cups shredded Cheddar or Mozzarella cheese (I use half-and-half)

Preheat oven to 350.

Spray crust with a mist of cooking spray.

Layer tomatoes in pre-baked pie crust.

Sprinkle green onion and bacon over tomatoes.

Mix sugar, basil, salt, and pepper.

Sprinkle over pie.

Combine mayonnaise and cheese.

Spread over top of pie.

Bake 30 minutes.

Let set 10 before serving.

In order to prevent pie from being soupy the tomatoes should be firm and laid on a paper towel before using.