Flavorful Cheese Spread

Yesterday, I decided to get a little creative and make myself a cheese spread. I was checking out quite a few recipes, and the main ingredients that I saw over and over again were mayonnaise and cream cheese. Good options, to be sure, but I wanted to do things slightly different, and I did.

I started by finely chopping one vidalia onion, about 1/3 of a red bell pepper, 1/3 of a green bell pepper, and four cloves of garlic.

Next, I added in 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. I mixed those dry ingredients in, and then added the wet ingredients. 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon of hot sauce, 1/2 cup of sour cream (I used reduced fat), and 1 cup of plain yogurt (I used non-fat). If I left it at that, it would have made for a good dip, but I wanted a little something more.

I added in 8 ounces of shredded cheese. I used a block of extra sharp cheddar. After that all got mixed in together, I put it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.

At first, I had it as a dip with some pita chips. The flavors were nice, and there was a bit of a bite to it, which wasn’t overbearing. This was a tasty treat, and it worked pretty well.

Later on, I decided to amp things up and make a grilled cheese sandwich with the spread. Nothing else added to it, other than some butter on the outside of the bread to give it that nice crisp texture and buttery flavor. This worked well as a hot sandwich, but the bread cooked too quickly. I’ll have to work on ways to get the inside a bit hotter and the cheese slightly melty. The filling was hot, but I was hoping for a bit more. Maybe next time I will just leave the mixture out for a little to get to room temperature, instead of taking it directly from the refrigerator.

Overall, I was happy with the mixture. I think I would scale back on the peppers a bit in the future, or increase the amount of cheese in there. There is a good balance of flavor right now, but I would prefer that the cheese play a more prominent role. No matter what, this was a great way to get the weekend off to a positive start.

Creative Refresh – Bringing New Life to Leftover Food

Some people can eat the same meal over and over again, day after day, without wanting anything else. Some people don’t like leftovers and don’t like having the same meal twice in a row (or even twice in a week). They always want variety. I fall somewhere in between, but it really depends on the food. I could eat chocolate every day, but I would always want some sort of variety after awhile. When I make a big amount of food to eat during the week, I tend to eat the same thing over and over again. I think 7 meals (lunch and dinners) is usually about my breaking point for wanting variety. But that’s just me.

When you are running advertising, it’s always good to have a creative refresh. You don’t want to keep running the same ads over and over again, month after month, year after year. The viewers get tired of seeing the same old thing and their minds want something new. A creative refresh is a way to bring the same or similar content in a different way. I decided to bring that to this blog with leftover food. I had plenty of slow cooked pork leftover from last week. I made a huge portion of shells and cheese this week, and had plenty of leftovers from that as well (still do, but they’re almost finished). I thought I would share some of the different ways I used my leftovers.

First up is some modified chilaquiles. I heated up some of my leftover pork in a skillet and added in some of my leftover salsa verde. I had the bottom part of a bag of tortilla chips (all broken up into tiny pieces), so I added those as well. I wanted those to cook in the salsa verde for a while to get nice and soft. I then added in a couple of eggs and cheese, and it was ready in a few minutes. All the flavors came together really nicely. The tortilla chips were softened, but still had the nice flavor of a tortilla. The pork, salsa, and eggs all worked well together, providing a different flavor of some familiar ingredients.

Next was an old standard. Nothing too special about this. Took some of the pork, added some barbecue sauce and slopped it on a bun. Still good, though. It was a familiar way to have the leftover pork, but it did the job.

Since I had made shells and cheese, I was provided with an opportunity to add two different leftovers together. Again, it’s another old standard, but still really good. I added some barbecue sauce to this one, but not everyone is a fan of that. Even without the barbecue sauce, this was still good. The flavor of the meat works really well with the pasta. But that was the last of the pork, and I still had quite a bit of pasta leftover.

This may not look pretty, but it was easy to do and worked out really well. I had some lunch meat available, so I made myself a quick lunch. I heated up the shells and cheese, then I heated up the meat for about 10 seconds in the microwave (turkey and ham). Made an easy rollup and viola – fast lunch. I was not sure if this would taste good, but it surprisingly did. I thought the ham worked much better than the turkey. The saltiness gave it an extra bit of flavor that was really nice.

This one is probably my favorite. You probably can’t tell, but this is a fried shells and cheese “patty” with some Sweet Ginger Chili Sauce on a bun. It was not a perfectly fried patty, but I didn’t mind. I took out a chunk of the shells and cheese and tried to flatten it with my palms (unsuccessfully). I coated it in some flour, then in an egg wash (1 beaten egg with a smidgen of water), then in a mixture of crumbled up bacon flavored crispy-and-thin crackers. I fried that in a cast iron pan that had a small amount of oil. I flipped it once when it was smelling extra crispy (close to a burned smell). If I deep fried it, it might have looked better, but I care more about flavor than appearance. This tasted really good. I was surprised at how good the crunchy cracker exterior worked in terms of texture and flavor. It was a lot of food in each bite, but it was delicious. The sweet ginger chili sauce gave it a slight kick, but a lot of good flavor.

I don’t always get creative with my leftovers, but I’m glad I did. It can be fun trying to come up with new ways to enjoy leftovers, breaking the monotony. And when they taste good, it makes it even easier to stay positive (and to stay full)!