Blue Ribbon Chicken

Blue Ribbon Chicken

Blue Ribbon Chicken

This recipe is my super-basic take on the ever-so-delicous Chicken Cordon Bleu, which is typically breaded and fried.  I am trying to lighten up recipes and cut down on bad fats and carbs, so I got creative and simply increased the flavors and baked it!  You will fall in love with this recipe not only because it hits all the flavor notes: creamy, salty, and tangy; but also it does not take long to prep in the kitchen, as the ingredient list is short and sweet!  I lighten up the normally breaded chicken and throw in a flavor boost by substituting Dijon Mustard for the panko or breadcrumbs.  This adds a zippy coating to the outside of the chicken that is absolutely divine.  I also use Smoked Ham instead of regular to increase the flavor depth.  I considered using proscuitto instead of ham, but didn’t want to overpower the chicken with the saltiness of the proscuitto since I was using Swiss and Brie cheese.  This recipe should be easy to change up by trying a different type of meat and experimenting with various cheeses.  I knew I wanted to use the Swiss, because it pairs so well with Dijon, and I just happened to have some leftover brie I needed to use up, so I thought, Why the heck not?!?!  And the results were FANTASTIC!

I thought the most difficult part of this recipe was going to be butterflying the chicken.  I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out not to be as messy and disastrous as I had imagined.  The most important part when butterflying is to be sure you are using a nice, clean dry chicken breast and you have a well sharpened knife.  A good knife will slice through the chicken easily, and not tear or rip the meat apart.  So, just take your time and be careful and I’m sure you will be just as successful as I was!  Now I can’t wait to butterfly more chicken and stuff it with all types of different ingrendients and bake it!  Perfect for a Healthy Dinner!

Tomato, Basil, Mozzarella

Roasted Red Pepper & Goat Cheese

Spinach, Garlic & Feta

Artichoke, Sundried Tomato & Olive

Pepperocini, Salami & Provolone

All of these options sound like they need to be taste tested… But I digress…….those will have to be tried at a later date.  Now, back to my Blue Ribbon Chicken.


Yummmmmm, looks amazing, doesn’t it???  Ok, here’s how you make it!

First you grab these basic ingredients out of your fridge:

Smoked Ham, Sliced Brie, Sliced Swiss, Dijon Mustard and Black Pepper


Pretty Simple,  just as I promised!  Next, make sure your chicken breasts are clean and dry and give them a quick butterfly then season the inside with Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper.


Butterflied Chicken Breasts with Ingredients Ready!


How To Butterfly a Chicken Breast

Place your chicken breast on a cutting board and (with your hand flat on top of it) use a sharp knife to slice halfway into one side of the breast….starting at the thicker end and ending at the thin point. Be very careful not to cut all the way through to the other side! Then open the breast up so that it resembles a butterfly.  And voilà, a perfectly gorgeous butterflied chicken breast.  You can also pound it out a little bit now between wax paper to allow the chicken to cook evenly.

Layer the Ingredients inside the butterflied chicken breast.

Now, the chicken breasts are butterflied, opened and seasoned.  Next you start to layer.  First put a small dollop of Dijon Mustard on each breast.  Then layer a Slice of Swiss Cheese, 2 Slices of Smoked Ham and 2 Slices of Brie Cheese.

Coat the Chicken Breast Dijon Mustard and Fresh Ground Black Pepper


Lastly, close up the now stuffed chicken and coat the outside in Dijon Mustard and Fresh Ground Black Pepper.  You can use a bamboo toothpick to help keep the fillings in, but I was OK with some of it leaking out to help create a “sauce” so I actually skipped this step.  Depending on the ingredients,  you might need to use one to help with the seal.  Just be sure to SOAK WOODEN TOOTHPICKS IN WATER for 15 minutes before you use them so they won’t burn in the oven!


This isn’t a gorgeous picture, but here it is, fresh out of the oven. You can see the gorgeous juices  it made and allowed the chicken to stay nice and moist.


Bake 385º for 25-30 minutes or until chicken is done (the juices run clear or 160º) and the cheese is all melty and bubbly.  Serve with any green veggie!  I made  Roasted Brussel Sprouts, Mushrooms and Peppers with a little EVOO, Garlic Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper.


Blue Ribbon Chicken


Seriously, it doesn’t get much easier or tastier than this!  I hope you try it and fall in love.  This one with definitely be making its rounds in my weekly recipe rotation.  You can even make and stuff the chicken ahead of time and just pop it in the oven when you are ready!


Heat Oven to 385º.  Spray Casserole Dish or Pyrex  with nonstick spray.  Butterfly Chicken Breasts and season with salt and pepper.  Dollop a teaspoon of Dijon Mustard on each opened breast and smear.  Layer Swiss, Ham and Brie into butterflied chicken.  Close Chicken tightly keeping all ingredients inside and seal with a few toothpicks, if using.  Season outside of stuffed chicken with fresh pepper & salt.   Then coat entire outside of each chicken breast with 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard.  Put in preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the chicken is done!


The salty, smokey, creamy chicken is just oozing with flavor.

And here is a quick pic of my side!

Before Roasting:

Brussel Sprouts, Mushrooms and Peppers heading to the oven to roast!



We like a little bit of char on our Roasted Veggies!


And, I forgot I added a few torn pieces of leftover bacon that we had cooked that morning for breakfast.  I added it to the veggies the last 3-5 minutes of cooking.  The bacon was already cooked, so I just wanted to warm it up and let some of the grease get in those veggies for another pop of flavor!



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Baked Camembert Wreath

Happy Holidays!!!


The Tree is Trimmed…so it must be time for Prosecco, Pear Nectar, Ginger Liquor and Pomegranate Arils.…a delicious concoction….Try It IMMEDIATELY, you won’t be disappointed!


These Rudolph Pancakes for the kids Christmas Eve Breakfast were a hit!!!  And pretty simple to make.  Bacon Antlers, Banana and Blueberry Eyes and a cute Strawberry (or Raspberry) Nose <3

Happy New Year to You and Yours!!!

I don’t know about you, but my Holiday was a whirlwind of crazy, happy, exhausting fun.  We ate too much, we drank too much….but, lucky for you, I was constantly making cocktails, apps, food and desserts….it felt like,  24/7.  On the plus side, now I can share them with you!  First, my most requested recipe: Camembert Holiday Ring.  Not only is it stunningly gorgeous, it is simple to make and beyond delicious…… of my biggest party hits this season!  I hope y’all enjoy it as much as we did…a few times!!!  Feast your eyes upon this, and imagine the amazing smells……

Baked Camembert Wreath with Rosemary, Garlic, Honey and Pomegranate Arils

I mean, you have absolutely no idea what a hit and a super huge crowd pleaser this is!  Give it a shot.  The prep is super easy, but the rolls take a LONG time to rise.  Make sure you give yourself 3 HOURS to let the frozen rolls rise, or 2 HOURS if the rolls are thawed.

Trust me, it is worth the wait!!!



Camembert Cheese in box
Frozen Parkerhouse Style Yeast Rolls
Garlic Slivers
Honey to drizzle over the cheese
Fresh Pomegranate Arils

Organic Rosemary sprigs
Organic Cracked Black Pepper

Maldon Sea Salt

Cover a large baking pan with parchment paper (or use a baking or pizza stone). Place the Camembert IN THE BOX in the center of the baking pan. Arrange frozen dough balls into 2 Circles surrounding the Cheese….be sure to leave about a little space in between the rolls and between the circles.  Remove Cheese and Refrigerate until ready to bake. Thaw Rolls in a warm, draft-free area for a hour. Then, allow rolls to rise (double in size) for another 2 hours.
When the rolls are almost ready, its time to prepare the cheese!  Cut slivers into the cheese and stud with garlic slices. Poke small Rosemary branches into the cheese. Drizzle with honey, EVOO, and Fresh Black Pepper. When the rolls have risen and you are ready to bake, brush rolls gently with melted butter. Place Prepared Camembert into the middle of the wreath of Rolls in the cheese box it came in!  Bake 375° for 13 – 15 minutes or until Camembert is melted and Rolls are golden brown. Using parchment paper, slide wreath off onto serving platter, or go for the rustic look and serve as is!  To Serve: Brush Rolls with Butter (yes, again!!!) and sprinkle with Maldon Sea Salt, Pomegranate Arils, and Fresh Chopped Rosemary and a drizzle of fresh Honey (if desired).  TIP: Let Cool for at least 5 minutes before cutting into the cheese….so it has time to set back up a bit and is not too runny.


~ Impress Your Guests, Relax, pour some Prosecco and Enjoy ~


I hope you make this and knock it out of the park!  This does serve a bunch of people, so if it is a small dinner party or cocktail party, you can always use half the amount of rolls and cut the baking time a bit.  Don’t be fooled by the little bitty frozen rolls….they really proof and rise and turn into a generous sized yeast roll!


Can’t wait to share more with you all!

                Merry Merry & Happy Everything!!!


Eat, Drink & Be Kari


Kari’s Queso

Kari’s Queso

Gooey, Cheesy, Melted Deliciousness

Ooey, Gooey, Cheesy, Melted Deliciousness…with a Kick!!!


queso. Queso. QUESO!

This is NOT the recipe for Mexican Cheese Dip.

This is NOT the recipe for Rotel + Velveeta.

This is NOT your average Queso.

This is Queso.  Karified.

And  its ah-mazing.

I could go on and on and on and on and on (do ya get my drift!??!?!) about the absolutely outrageously scrumptiousness of this queso….but I don’t think I could do it justice. I’ll let the pics speak for themselves.

Gather Your Ingredients

Gather Your Ingredients (Blackberry Mint Mojito Optional!)

TIP: If you like a kick, a poblano would be absolute perfection! I only had these on hand, so that’s what I used.  Instead, I added some fresh jalapeño slices at the end to boost the heat!

First, Brown the Sausage

First, Brown Sausage & Drain.


Next, Saute Chopped Onion, Red Pepper & Orange Pepper in Cast Iron

Next, Sauté Onion & Peppers in the same Cast Iron Skillet in the delicious Sausage drippings!

Toss in a couple of diced garlic cloves the last 2-3 minutes of sautéing.

Shred your Cheeses of Choice

Oh, and Shred your Cheeses of Choice

You can use any cheese you’d like that melts nicely.  I think I used Mozzarella, Pepper Jack, and White Cheddar.  You don’t have to use 3 different cheeses, you can just use one!  Experiment around to find what you like! Good Options: Monterey Jack, White Cheddar, Havarti, Manchego, Fontina, Mozzarella, Queso Fresco, Asaigo.  TIP: Remember, if you go with a Stringy Cheese (mozza, queso fresco, etc) I DO recommend mixing it with another Creamier Cheese (havarti, jack, fontina) for a better melthing consistency in the end. No one wants a grainy mess at the end! To be extra safe, you could mix a few ounces of Cream Cheese in with the Veggies so the Queso will melt into creamy deliciousness. I just don’t like a cream cheese in my queso….it kinda feels like cheating! But, it will work if you’re worried about it! TIP: Also, and I can not reiterate this enough: Do NOT use Pre-Shredded Cheese!!! They contain anti-clumping agents that will prevent it from clumping, therefore ruining the texture of your queso! If you’ve had problems with melting cheese in the past, this might be your problem! Gross, right?!?!?!

Next, Layer!!!!

Next, Layer!!!!

Sausage & Veggies, Cheese, Sausage & Veggies, Cheese…..

End with a Cheese Layer

End with a Cheese Layer

Sprinkle some Aleppo Pepper on top!

Sprinkle some Crushed Aleppo Pepper on top and Bake!

TIP: You can also use Chili Powder or Smoked Paprika

Top with Fresh Jalapeños, Fresh Chopped Tomatoes & Cilantro

Top with Fresh Jalapeños, Fresh Chopped Tomatoes & Cilantro

After cooling for a few minutes, I added some more Fresh Cilantro because we love it! If you don't like it, don't add it!!!

After cooling for a few minutes, I added some more Fresh Cilantro because we love it! If you don’t like it, don’t add it!!!


Here's the Hubby going in for a dip!!!!!

Here’s the Hubby going in for a dip!!!!!

I served with Blue Corn Chips.

Kari’s Queso

  • 1 lb Sausage, Browned
  • Red Bell Pepper, Chopped
  • Orange Bell Pepper, Chopped
  • Large Onion, Chopped
  • 2-3 Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • @ 3 Cups Grated Cheese
  • Crushed Aleppo Pepper
  • Fresh Jalapeño, Sliced
  • Handful Fresh Cilantro, Chopped

Grate about 2 1/2- 3 cups of Cheese. Set aside. In Cast Iron Skillet, Brown Sausage. When browned, remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Sauté Peppers and Onion until almost translucent, about 5 mins on Med. Add Garlic and sauté 2-3 mins more. Remove about half of the sautéed veggies.  Add layer of Sausage, then a layer of cheese.  Add another layer of veggies & sausage, then another layer of cheese.  (you can do 2 or 3 layers….it really doesn’t matter…just make sure you are using the same amounts of veggies, sausage & cheese each time!)  Be sure to finish with a layer of cheese.  (any leftover veggies, sausage or cheese make a killer omelet or scrambled eggs the next morning!!!!)  Sprinkle with Crushed Aleppo Pepper and Bake 375 for 10-15 mins.  Be sure to check your Queso and make sure its not overcooked. You just want to MELT THE CHEESES TOGETHER. If you overcook it, it will become stringy!!!! Let it cool only 1-2 mins if not adding any toppings before you dig in.  Let the cheese settle for a minute, but not cool.  If topping with jalapeños, cilantro, and tomatoes, simply top and serve!!!!! ENJOY!


Skinny Baked Jalapeño Poppers


Skinny Baked Jalapeño Poppers

Skinny Baked Jalapeño Poppers

Gather Ingredients

Gather Ingredients

Make Cheddar Scallion Cream Cheese

Creamy Cheddar Scallion Cream Cheese

Creamy Cheddar Scallion Cream Cheese

Halve and Seed Jalapeños

Cut Jalapeños in half and remove Seeds and White Membrane

Cut Jalapeños in half and remove Seeds and White Membrane

Slice Jalapeños in Half.  TIP: Remove Seeds AND White Membrane. This is where the heat hides!!! 

Filled Jalapeños

Filled Jalapeños

 Stuff with cream cheese mixture using a small spoon or your fingers.  Be sure to press in firmly.Pop into fridge or freezer.

Toss gently to combine

Season Panko

Make Seasoned Panko.  Add Spices and Gently Toss to Combine.

Bath time!

Bath time!

Make Buttermilk/Egg Batter.  Dip Stuffed Pepper to coat.

Roll in Panko.  Tip: use a spoon

Awesome Panko Coating

Then, roll Pepper in Seasoned Panko.  One Pepper at a time.  TIP: Use a spoon to lightly spoon over pepper and roll to coat sides.   ****Now is when you can refrigerate or freeze for later.)****

Spray with Coconut Oil and Bake

Spray with Coconut Oil and Bake

Give a quick spritz of Coconut Oil and Bake.  350 for 20 mins.


Baked, not Fried!

Out come little perfect bites.  Spicy, Crispy, Gooey, Creamy….yummmmm….

Just look at that Crispy Coating!!!

Just look at that Crispy Coating!!!

TIP: Be sure not to over bake  or the cheese might explode and ooze out, or seemingly evaporate into thin air!

Plate it up with a creamy, cool dipping sauce

Plate it up with a creamy, cool dipping sauce

I served it with a Homemade Buttermilk Ranch.  Cool and creamy to combat the spiciness.

Seriously, healthy!?!?!  Wow!!!!

Seriously, healthy!?!?! Wow!!!!

Just one bite and you’ll be addicted.  And astounded in the huge amount of fat and calories you are saving!!!

Here's your new go-to recipe

Here’s your new go-to recipe

Perfect for Football Season.

The Perfect Skinny Popper

The Perfect Skinny Popper

Less Fat, Full Flavor

Less Fat, Full Flavor

The cool Ranch was the perfect compliment.

The cool Ranch was the perfect complement.

These will NOT disappoint!

These will NOT disappoint!

Skinny Baked Jalapeño Poppers

  • 6-12 Jalapeños, sliced and seeded


  • 4-8 oz. Low Fat Cream Cheese, softened
  • 4-6 oz. Cabot 50% Less Fat White Cheddar, shredded
  • 4-6 Scallions, chopped white and green parts
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste


  • 1 Cup Whole Wheat Panko (or regular, or gluten-free)
  • 2 T Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Dry Ground Mustard
  • 1/2 tsp Roasted Garlic
  • 1/2 tsp Crushed Urfa Chiles (or 1/2 tsp Chili Powder)
  • 1/2 tsp Crushed Aleppo Chiles (or 1/2 tsp Ancho Chili Powder)
  • 1/8 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/8 tsp Coarse Ground Pepper


  • 1/2 Cup Egg Whites (or 3 Egg Whites, or  2 Whole Eggs)
  • 1/4 Cup ButterMilk (or at least 2% Milk)

*Preheat Oven 340.  Cover 9 x 13 Baking Sheet with Parchment.

*Slice, seed and take out membrane of each jalapeño.

*Make Cream Cheese Mixture:  Combine Cream Cheese, Grated Cheddar, Chopped Scallions in small bowl.  Mix to combine.  Season with Salt and Pepper.

*Fill each jalapeño half with Cream Cheese Mixture.  Using a small spoon or your fingers, press filling FIRMLY in the pepper.  Pop in fridge or freezer for a quick chill until ready to batter.

*Make Seasoned Panko: Mix Panko with all listed spices and seasonings.  You can omit or substitute as needed.  The listed ones are the ones I chose.  You can also make your own variations.  If you don’t have either of the crazy dried chilies I used, you can always substitute 1 tsp Chili Powder and 1/8 tsp Cumin.  Or just use a  seasoning packet of Ranch or Italian Dressing!

*Make Batter: Mix 1/2 Cup Egg Whites with 1/4 Cup Buttermilk.  Season with Salt and Pepper.

*Take one pepper half at a time.  Dip into Batter.  Then, roll into Seasoned Panko.  Use a spoon to lightly coat the top and gently roll to coat the sides.  Place on pan.  ***This is where you would freeze if using later***  Lightly Spray with Coconut Oil, or cooking spray of choice, and bake for 20 mins or until brown and crispy on top.  Let cool for 5 mins.  Plate and Serve with Ranch.



Cheese Ballin’ & Jalapeño Poppin’

Cheese Ballin’


Jalapeño Poppin’


Ok, Folks!!! Today I’m giving you a 2 for 1. The EXACT SAME CheeseBall, also doubles as a kick ass Jalapeño Popper Filling. I’ve learned a few things along the way, so I’ll share and let you run free! This is a super easy recipe that I just threw together on the fly. I’ve never made Jalapeño Poppers before, but have always wanted to.  They were super tasty and…. pretty easy to assemble. So, here’s what you need:

Jalapeños & Ingredients Prepped

Jalapeño & Ingredient Prep

  • 8 oz. Organic Lower Fat Cream Cheese
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup diced Fresh Pineapple
  • 6-8 oz shredded Sharp Cheddar
  • Handful of Cilantro chopped (stems & leaves)
  • as many jalapeños as you want to make (seeds and membrane removed)
  • Applewood Bacon

TIPS: I used 9 LARGE Jalapeños. I mean, these suckers were HUGE!!!! We def had to use a knife and a fork for these bad boys! (You can also use the smaller jalapeños and make them more “popper” size. Instead of wrapping an entire piece of bacon around them, you would just use half. Easy Peasy!!!) Also, I recommend the Neufchatel Cream Cheese as it has 1/3 less fat than regular cream cheese. But, I would NOT Substitute Fat Free ANYTHING EVER!!!! Usually the Fat Free versions are chock full of other bad ingredients (sugars, calories, preservatives, natural flavor, etc). The small amount of added fat in the lower fat or even the full fat versions are in actuality better for you. The more natural and wholesome the product, the better! And, for the love of food, Do NOT use Fat Free Cheese. I mean, YUCK!!! That stuff doesn’t even melt right!!! Also, if you don’t like pineapple…leave it out! And if you hate cilantro, you can sub in another herb of choice. I’d recommend Parsley, Chives, Garlic Chives, or Thyme.


For the Filling/CheeseBall

Yeah, Yeah….I know this is a blurry pic, but I was working fast in the kitchen. I just wanted to show you what I did with the Pineapple. After dicing up, I placed it on a paper towel to drain off the excess water and juice while I prepped the rest of the ingredients. Nobody likes a soggy CheeseBall!!!

Cheese Mixture

Cheese Mixture

Now, the cheese mixture should look like this. Yes, that is a LOT of pineapple. We love pineapple and cilantro. I thought that the sweetness of the pineapple might counteract the spicy jalapeño. Here’s what I learned. Yes, you CAN taste the pineapple in the cheese ball. And, no, you can NOT taste the pineapple in the poppers. I’m not sure if its because we smoked them on the grill with apple wood, or if the heat of the jalapeño masked it. But, if I make poppers again, I will leave out the pineapple, I think.  Maybe it does do some undercover work making the mixture a little sweeter?  And, it IS a healthy addition!!!  In fact, it was delicious in the cheese ball…….until the next day. We had some leftover and ate it for a game day appetizer on Sunday. For some reason it tasted BITTER. Not very good. So, apparently the cheeseball is best eaten the day its prepared if you add pineapple. And, be sure not to roll it in the bacon and jalapeños until the day you serve. You want to bacon to be crispy, but once it is refrigerated, it becomes chewy.

Stuff the Jalapeños

Stuff the Jalapeños

I wasn’t sure how to go about the Jalapeños. I could either slice them lengthwise and try to clean out the seeds and some of the membrane (this is where the heat hides in peppers). I did that to my first Jalapeño, I started with 10. I ruined it. I think they were so large that this method was difficult to accomplish without splitting the pepper. Down to 9 peppers. This time I decided, Off With Their Heads!!!! This worked fabulously!!!! So, for smaller “popper” size jalapeños, I would use the slice down the middle method. For these Big Daddy Jalapeños, the Off With Their Heads method worked best. TIP: When stuffing the peppers, be sure to start with a small amount of filling and push it down to the tip of the pepper. Then go back for more filling for the upper half of the pepper. No bite left unfilled!!!

Put the Tops back on!

Put the Tops back on!

Now, secure with a toothpick. Not really sure what I was doing here since these guys were HUGE. I inserted 1 toothpick through the top “hat” of the pepper and tried to secure it to the base. Maybe next time I’ll use 2 toothpicks and secure them in a crisscross fashion??? I didn’t use 2 because I thought the bacon “wrapping” would help keep them intact.  Lesson Learned.



It gets kinda messy, but No Worries!!! The filling also acted as a sort of “glue” to let you put the tops back on the jalapeños and secure them with a toothpick. However, we lost some of the tops while grilling. Apparently, I should have used 2 toothpicks for these Big Daddys. I figure 1 toothpick would be sufficient for a normal size jalapeño. TOOTHPICK TIP: I used natural bamboo toothpicks that I had presoaked in a cup of water for about 20 mins. You don’t want them to burn! This will help.

Wrap Em' Up!

Wrap Em’ Up!

Next, take a whole slice of bacon and wrap it around the entire pepper, tucking the ends in. If you are using a “normal size” jalapeño, a half slice should be enough. I used a local applewood bacon for super flavor. We were also smoking these on the grill with applewood chips. Flavor Boost!!! You can also use regular bacon or turkey bacon!

Plate and Pop in Fridge until ready to cook!

Pop in Fridge until ready to cook!

Now, to put these on the grill and try to keep them easy to turn.  I skewered 3 poppers on 2 skewers before placing them on the grill. This helped keep them stabilized and easy to flip. Got to get all sides of that bacon CRISPY in this household, per the hubs.

Throw 'em on the Grill or in the Oven

Skewered Poppers

Throw ‘Em on the Grill.  Smoke ‘Em.  Put ‘Em in the Oven. Broil ‘Em.  Put ‘Em on a Grill Pan.  All sorts of cooking choices.  Use what works best for you.  We Popped ‘Em on the Grill and Smoked ‘Em over Apple Wood for #SUPERFLAVOR.  Yes, yes, YES….it was amazing.  I highly recommend it.  Now, let’s get Cheese Ballin’

Kicked Up Pineapple-Cilantro CheeseBall

Leftover Cheese Mixture

Leftover Cheese Mixture

Ok, so after stuffing all the jalapeños, I had some of the Cheese Mixture Leftover. Hence, the creation of the CheeseBall. Cheese Balls are simply cream cheese mixed with your choice of cheeses and herbs and fillings and rolled into a ball. I thought, what a quick app already made for me!  No waste, No worries. (I also debated using it for stuffed chicken).

Cheese Ballin'

Cheese Ballin’

Simply Roll the Mixture into a Ball and wrap in Saran Wrap.  Let chill in the fridge at least 30 mins or while you get the toppings ready to roll it in. Most people use a variety of nuts to roll their cheeseballs in. The Hubs is allergic to tree nuts, so instead I decided to crisp up some bacon and that naughty leftover jalapeño that I ruined earlier and use that as a crispy outer layer. Turned out DELISH!!!  Do It!!!!

Sautee Bacon & Jalapenos

Can you Smell the SIZZLE!?!?!

Drain the bacon and jalapeños on paper towels until cool.  Make sure they are pretty small.  I chopped mine up roughly with a knife.  You want your CheeseBall to be evenly coated in bacon deliciousness.  Tip: Again, you can sub turkey bacon.  It just won’t be as delicious.

Crispy Coating

Crispy Coating

Roll the chilled cheeseball in the bacon/jalapeño pieces.  Serve Immediately with Crackers, Bread, Crudités, Pita.



Cheese Ballin’ & Jalapeño Poppin’




Organic Herbed Cream Cheese

Serve with Rach's Rainbow Medley of Baby Tomatoes with Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper

Serve with a side of Rach’s Rainbow Medley of Baby Tomatoes  & Cucs w/ a dash of Sea Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper

Hello Friends!  I’m about to pass along a recipe my friend Rachel and I created, that is so simple…..YOU CAN MAKE IT IN A HOTEL ROOM!!!!  That’s right.  Literally.  We whipped up this tasty organic cream cheese in the mini-kitchen of our hotel room.  Who says you can’t enjoy healthy, fresh, delicious choices while traveling?  Not these Girls!!!  All you need is 2 Chicks & a Bowl, (that’s the name of our future cookbook collaboration, right Rach?!?!?! Cute, huh???)

Our Fancy Lunch in our Hotel Room

Our Fancy Homemade Lunch in Our Hotel Room

Rachel is a wonderful friend and amazing in the kitchen!  I learn so much from food to organic gardening from her!!!  I just wish she lived closer.  We met in Alpharetta, GA for few nights to go to a couple of Phish shows.  She knew I had just moved and didn’t really have a garden yet, so she brought along all sorts of goodies from her own!  Just because we were staying out of town in a hotel, did NOT mean that we had to sacrifice our love of cooking and eat out the whole time.  Actually, we cooked in the entire time for ALL OF OUR MEALS!!!  And we ate so, so, so, soooooo good.  So, take some goodies from home and liven’ up your road trips a little!  Rach even surprised me with a Fresh Picked Bouquet!  We like to travel in style….

Rach's Fresh Flowers from her Garden

Rach’s Fresh Flowers from her Garden

and a few Festive Decorations make a cheerful mood...the empty bottles by the end didn't hurt the cheerful mood any either!!!

Festive Decorations Make a Happy Hotel Room (TIP: Now you know what to do with your empty bottles)

Ok, I think I’ve forgotten the whole reason for this post now.  THE RECIPE!!!  Whoops, getting back on track….

Of course, this is just a basic recipe.  Herbed Cream Cheese can be changed up so many ways…leave something out, add something in, or just use 1 Simple Herb…Like Chives…and KISS (keep it simple stupid).  Look around and see what ingredients you have fresh and need to use, and go from there.  We compiled a variety of herbs in this particular recipe, because Rach had brought so much to choose from.  Maybe at the end I’ll try and give you a few suggestions…but basically: add or omit: Garlic, Lemon, Zest, Pepper, Jalapeños, Onions, Shallots etc to taste.  When you are cooking, you want to make something YOU LIKE!  If you hate Mint, and we do have it in this one, JUST LEAVE IT OUT.  It’s as simple as that to make something your own.  So here goes….

Beautiful Fresh Organic Herbs from Rach's Garden

Beautiful Fresh Organic Herbs from Rach’s Garden

1. Choose Your Herbs


ORGANIC: Dill, Thyme, Sage, Mint, Marjoram, Parsley & Chives

2. Chop Herbs and add to Softened Cream Cheese

Chop Herbs and add to Softened Cream Cheese

3. Add Chopped Organic Veggies of Choice

Add Organic Chopped: Red Onion, Garlic & Jalapeño

Red Onion, Garlic & Jalapeño

4. Add Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice & Zest

Mix to Combine

Mix to Combine

5. Refrigerate & Enjoy!

Use as a dip or Smear on a Local Everything Bagel.  Add Organic Avocado and Rach's Organic Cucs

Use as a dip or Smear on a Local Everything Bagel. Add Organic Avocado and Rach’s Organic Cucs

Add some Sprouts for a delicious Veggie Bagel

Add some Sprouts for a delicious Veggie Bagel

Fresh, Creamy, Crisp & Satisfying

Fresh, Creamy, Crisp & Satisfying


Organic Herbed Cream Cheese

  • 8 oz Organic Cream Cheese, softened
  • 2 T EACH chopped Organic Herbs of Choice (NOTE: Mint and Cilantro…a little goes a LONG way)
  • 2 T EACH chopped Veggies of Choice (garlic, red onion, jalapeño, shallots)
  • 1 T Fresh Organic Lemon Juice & Zest (can substitute lime)
  • Sea Salt
  • Fresh Ground Pepper
  • Mix to Combine all Ingredients

We went for a rustic, chunky cream cheese.  We wanted to be able to taste the bits of garlic and onion and spicy jalapeño, because we were going to use it right away instead of refrigerate it.  The longer it sits, the more time the flavors have to marry!  If you want a smoother consistency, you can always put into a food processor and chop the herbs and garlic finer and then pulse the cream cheese to combine.  You could also use a microplane grater for the garlic and onion and get smaller bits and lots of the juices for flavor.  That would work as well.  Like I said, we were in a hotel and did not have the foresight to bring along a good knife.   TIP: If going on a road trip, BRING A GOOD KNIFE!!!  Lesson Learned.  Lucky for us, all fingers remained intact!

Ring around the Sun

Ring around the Sun

It’s so fun to go on a road trip!  You never know what’s gonna happen.  But, you can be sure that you make good choices while traveling by making your own food.  And, it was so much fun for us to be able to cook together!  Not much we’d rather be doing!!! Although we did have some craziness, see above pics and below pics of the Ring Around the Sun, we sure had some good damn food for a hotel room!



For awhile I really thought I was the only one seeing least I got the pics for PROOF!!!

For awhile I really thought I was the only one seeing this….at least I got the pics for PROOF!!!

Some other ideas for Hotel Room Food

Alexia Onion Rings w MicroGreens & Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice.  Raw Plate (Beets, Carrots, Cu

Late Night Snack after Phish Show: Alexia Onion Rings w MicroGreens & Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice. Raw Plate (Beets, Carrots, Cucs & Whole Grain Mustard) and Homemade Guacamole



Late Lunch/Snack before Show

Late Lunch/Snack before Show: Cucs, Guacamole, Habanero Lime Tortillas & Bread

Totally worth it to decorate your hotel room if your staying a few days!

Totally worth it to decorate your hotel room if your staying a few days!



WIth Love & Safe Travels

2 Chicks & a Bowl

Kari & Rach


Easy Entertaining

~ Easy Entertaining ~

Beautiful & Delicious

Beautiful & Delicious

Now that the weather is warming up, we all want to entertain.  I am going through some old photos and finding some cute, easy ideas to pass along.  Enjoy!

Above: Roll a Log of Goat Cheese in fresh chopped herbs and lemon zest.  Garnish with Chive Flower (I believe I used fresh organic thyme, chives, parsley, lemon zest, s&p)


Table Display

Bright & Colorful Display Ideas

Starting Bottom to Left: Herbed Goat Cheese, Edamame Hummus & Fresh Veggies, Caprese Bites, Radish & Herbed Cream Cheese Tea Sandwiches, Crab Stuffed Mushrooms, Foraged Quinoa and Berry Salad, Drunken Pasta, Smothered Greek Hummus, Baked Brie with Grapes and Thyme

This was actually for another BookClub that I hosted.  I tried to use all my own produce and herbs and local ingredients.  I had chosen the book Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter.  I needed more lettuce than I had, so I even foraged dandelion greens from my yard!!!  Gotta keep with the spirit of the book!  I have some of the pics, so I’ll post them.  Not 100% of all the recipes, but I’ll do my best to remember what I can.


Veggie & Hummus

Veggie & Hummus

Just Slice Veggies of your choice and put a dip in the middle!


Edamame Hummus:

1 package Organic Edamame (cooked & drained)

1-2 T organic Tahini

2 Cloves Organic Garlic

1 Organic Lemon Zest & Juice (or lime)

1/2 – 1 Jalapeño (to taste)

1 T Organic Chili Powder

Put in Blender or Food Processor.  Blend.  Drizzle in GOOD, LIGHT ORGANIC EVOO until desired consistency (4-7 T)  I kept this one a bit more rustic rather than creamy.  Less EVOO….healthier.  Put in cute serving dish and sprinkle with Chili Powder or Paprika. Cilantro is also good in this!

Makes a great

Use a Variety of Veggies & Color Coordinate!

Caprese Bites

Caprese Bites

Pretty Basic:

Layer Basil, Mozzarella & Tomato on Fork

Drizzle with GOOD Balsamic Vinegar & EVOO

salt & pepper

Radish Tea Sammies

Herbed Radish Tea Sammies

Supereasy.  Bought Tea Sized Rye/Pumpernickel Bread.  Made a custom herb cream cheese to spread.  (soften 1 package organic cream cheese, blend herbs of choice, salt & pepper.  I think I used thyme, chives & parsley)  Slice Radishes.  Top with 2 Radish Slices and Sprinkle with Fresh Herbs (thyme & chives)


Foraged Quinoa & Berry Salad

Foraged Quinoa & Berry Salad

Variety of lettuce and foraged greens, Quinoa (cooked & cooled), My Fresh Raspberries, Local Blueberries, Local Goat Cheese (could substitute Feta or another creamy cheese….I like the tanginess the goat cheese) s&p.  Tossed with Lavender Balsamic and drizzled with EVOO.

Brie, Grapes, Thyme & Lavender Balsamic

Brie, Grapes, Thyme & Lavender Balsamic

Beautiful & Delicious!

Top Brie with Grapes, Lavender Balsamic, Fresh Thyme, s&p

Bake 400 7-10 mins.


Lemon, Cucumber, Mint

Lemon, Cucumber, Mint

So Refreshing!



Bustin’ Out BookClub

This is how I rock BOOKCLUB

Awesome Apps For Any Event!

I hosted BookClub last month. We read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. It was good. I highly recommend it! I wanted to serve light and healthy appetizers because I made a heavy main course, Baked Vodka Pasta with Fresh Arugula, Spinach & Caramelized Onions.

Here’s the deal. I LOVE to cook and entertain, but last month I was in a SERIOUS time crunch!!! Not to go into details, but I had to rock this out Sandra-Lee-Style…..Semi-Homemade, which is SO NOT MY STYLE! But, with a few twists on these apps, I was able to pull it off quick, fresh and full of flavor.

Organic Crudités


Organic Crudités

Broccoli Florets, Easter Egg Radish, Cucumber Rounds, Orange Pepper Julienne, Asparagus Spears, Fennel Half Moons, Red Pepper Julienne, Whole Snap Peas, Fresh Baby Carrots, Mix Baby Heirloom Tomatoes

Wash, rinse, and slice veggies. Arrange on Platter. Toss with dressing at least 4 hours before party! You can even do it ahead that morning!!

I was able to hit up the Fresh Market for some Fresh, Organic Produce…but I did have the time factor against me. So I used a bottled dressing. That’s right. Normally I would have made a vinaigrette from scratch, but I was not entertaining at my own house, so I had to bring everything with me. I think Kelly (my FAB friend who let me borrow her house and mess up her kitchen!!!) already thought I was crazy!!! 🙂 I think I did add in some fresh Organic Parsley and Organic Basil that I had brought with me. And some Himalayan Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper!



So, here’s what I used. Found it at the Fresh Market…all organic ingredients.      Light & Subtle Flavor. Perfect.

You could definitely used any of your favorite Italian or Balsamic Vinaigrettes. Add Herbs, Spices, Garlic etc to change it up. I was rockin’ the KISS Method again! 🙂 Now, just wrap and refrigerate or set it outside if its a cool day…and let it sit 2 hours to all day! Take wrap off and ENJOY! Raw & Delicious! Crisp & Crunchy! Fresh & Flavorful! Bright & Bursting with Color. A Vivid Rainbow for your viewing pleasure. We all know you eat with your eyes first!


Olives, Pickles & Cheese, Oh My!

Delicious from Start to Finish

Delicious from Start to Finish

Sharp Farmhouse Cheddar,Organic Sweet Gherkin Pickles, Emmentaler Swiss, Greek Feta, Olive Assortment

Again, here I was able to go to the Fresh Market. And it PAID OFF. Or, even better, support YOUR LOCAL CHEESE SHOP and FARMERS and BUY LOCAL!!!  You can go to Kroger or your local grocery and buy those Kraft Cheese Cubes (BOOOO KRAFT!!!!!! DO NOT SUPPORT THEM!!!!!)….or you can go the extra step and actually serve good cheese. That’s up to you. I bought real Greek Feta and cubed it myself….it was rich and creamy and almost tasted like goat cheese. Def worth the Upgrade. I also bought the Olives from the Fresh Market Olive Bar and just got a random assortment. From Stuffed to Pitted…just a nice variety. Again, douse it in the dressing (everything…even the pickles and olives!!!) and let it sit for a few hours or up to all day. Then hit it with fresh salt and pepper before serving.

TIP: I used the Fennel Fronds (leftover from the previous veggie platter) to dust the serving tray and use as garnish. So pretty. Try and use as much as the fresh, organic veggies that you can. Waste not, want not.

Fennel Frond Garnish

Fennel Frond Garnish


Simply Sweet

Chocolate Balsamic & Blood Orange Olive Oil make a Killer Combo!

Killer Combo!

This is about as delicious and easy as you can get.


Chocolate Balsamic & Blood Orange Olive Oil make this platter Unique!

For the Cookie Tray I bought Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons from the Fresh Market that were absolutely amazing. Then I used their Almond Pillow Cookies (took me back to my Grandma’s Pound Cake and was so utterly delicious, it brought tears to my eyes!) Then I used the FM French Vanilla Pound Cake. Cut it in cubes and lightly toasted it in the oven. WOW!!! Toasted Pound Cake is WAY BETTER than regular…and the perfect dipper for my Chocolate Balsamic and Blood Orange Olive Oil. Awesome Flavors!

Surprise Visitors!!

Surprise Visitors!!!

The Organic Strawberries were super easy. Wash, Core & Slice. 2 T Chocolate Balsamic and some Fresh Organic Chopped Mint. Let them masquerade for a bit….WOW. Tastetacular.

So, next time you are having a party or get-together or you need to take a dish, and are in a time crunch,…here are 3 delicious ideas that are quick, easy, enough for a crowd and super yummy!


Not-Yo-Mama’s Shepherd’s Pie



Fresh Outta the Oven!

Fresh Outta the Oven!

So, it is a SNOWDAY!!! And, I have a few cheeses left over from St. Patrick’s Day (and some organic red potatoes, organic carrots, organic onions & organic parsley).  Thus, Not-Yo-Mama’s Shepherd’s Pie was created!

Don’t forget My Motto:


Prosecco & Snow! Ain't Life Grand?!?!

Prosecco & Snow! Ain’t Life Grand?!?!

Irish Cheddar & Beer Cheese

Irish Cheddar & Beer Cheese

little BUBBLY,


Mommy’s Little Helper!!!!


Fresh Ingredients

Fresh Ingredients

Lookin Good!

Lookin Good!

Chop Carrots & Onion

Chop Carrots & Onion

Wash & Prep

Fresh Ingredients

Slice Mushrooms

Dice Onions

Slice Carrots

Mince Garlic





IRISH BUTTERSoften Irish Butter, Mix in Parsley, Chives, S&P

Another Leftover St. Patty’s Day Creation

Super easy to make, delicious, and versatile!

*Presentation: When I originally made it, I used this ramekin as a mold.

And, remember, when using the herbs:


Soften Irish ButterAdd herbs of choice (I used parsley, chives, s&p)Mix to combinePut in fridge to set!

Soften Irish Butter
Add herbs of choice (I used parsley, chives, s&p)
Mix to combine
Put in fridge to set!


Melt 2 T butter with a dash of  EVOO

Melt 2 T butter with a dash of EVOO

Add carrots, onions, and seasoned beef

Add carrots, onions, and seasoned beef

Break up beef & add mushrooms

Break up beef & add mushrooms

Brown and Soften Vegs

Brown and Soften Vegs

Add Spices

Add Spices: 4 Cloves Garlic, 1T Dry Mustard, 1T Garlic Powder, 1 T Onion Powder, 2 T Thyme, 1 T Rosemary

Add Beer & 3 T Worch


Add 2 T Worcestershire Sauce , 3/4 of a Beer, 2 T Tomato Paste, 2 T Chocolate Balsamic



Secret Ingerdient

Secret Ingredient & Flavor Booster!!!

Now, the mixture should look something like this

Now, the mixture should look something like this


I thought it was still missing something, so I added:

Prob about 1-2 T of each

Prob about 1-2 T of each

Dijon & Whole Grain Mustard

Dijon & Whole Grain Mustard

Now Add 1 Cup Frozen Organic Peas

Now Add 1 Cup Frozen Organic Peas

Mix and put into greased casserole dish

Mix and put into greased casserole dish (yes, I know, it doesn’t look too appetizing yet…..but it tastes DELISH!!!)
















Get your Potatoes Boiled & Ingredients Ready

Get your Potatoes Boiled & Ingredients Ready

Irish Cheddar, Beer Cheese, Peppercorn Gouda

Irish Cheddar, Beer Cheese, Peppercorn Gouda

*Homemade Buttermilk: Simply Add 1 T lemon juice to milk and let sit for 5 mins)

I had no butter milk

Horseradish, SourCream, Herbed Irish Butter,     *Homemade ButterMilk, Grated Cheeses

1 Cup ButterMilk

1 Cup Sour Cream

2-4 T Horseradish

1/4 Cup Irish Butter

start mashinAdd All Ingredients into Boiled Potatoes and Mash for a Second

Then Add Cheeses and S & P

Mash until Combined and Creamy

DO NOT OVERMASH! These are RUSTIC!!!!  Leave a little cheese for the top!

DO NOT OVERMASH! These are RUSTIC!!!! Leave a little cheese for the top!

Nice & Creamy! Rustic and keeping the nutrients by leaving the skins ON!

Nice & Creamy! Rustic and keeping the nutrients by leaving the skins ON!

Now, the easy part. Just Top the Meat Mixture with the Smashed Potatoes

Now, the easy part. Just Top the Meat Mixture with the Smashed Potatoes

Cover with Cheese and Bake 350 until brown & bubbly (45 mins to an hour)

Cover with Cheese


Place on a Baking Sheet covered in Foil in case of spillover!

Place on a Baking Sheet covered in Foil in case of spillover!

Bake Until Brown & Bubbly45 mins to an Hours

Bake Until Brown & Bubbly
45 mins to an Hours

Take Out of Oven and Let COOL for 10 Mins before Serving. Top with Fresh Parsley

Take Out of Oven and Let COOL for 10 Mins before Serving. Top with Fresh Parsley

Bon Appetit

Bon Appétit