Nutty Pimiento Cheese Balls because I’m a Nut!

G’day fellow cheese lovers! Remember how I told you how excited I was to attend a “Friendsgiving”  the other weekend? Well, obviously there was no way I was showing up empty handed to the party, and when the hostess with the mostess asked me to bring an appetizer, I had NO idea what I wanted to bring!

A couple of google searches led me to the following Nutty Pimiento Cheese Balls appetizer from Eating Well. This featured recipe on Eating Well is actually a recipe from Jamie and Bobby Deen, and it came together like this:

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Ingredients

  • 2 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchâtel), softened (generous 1/4 cup)
  • 8 ounces shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (about 2 cups)
  • 8 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese (about 2 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons drained chopped pimientos
  • 1 teaspoon grated onion
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped toasted pecans

Directions

Process cream cheese in a food processor until smooth. Add Cheddar, Monterey Jack, mayonnaise, pimientos, onion, garlic powder, salt and pepper and pulse to combine. Scrape into a bowl, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 2 days.

Toast pecans at 350 in oven about 7 minutes, or until fragrant, stirring once during the baking period.

Place pecans in a medium bowl. Roll the cheese mixture into 1-inch balls and coat each ball evenly with pecans.

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Serve the cheese balls at room temperature or chilled!

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I’m glad to say that there were hardly any pimiento cheese balls left when the party was over! Thanks Jamie and Bobby ; )

P.S. – How cute are the Ritz snowflake crackers I served with the cheese? I am obsessed.

Happy Hump Day!

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Turkey Trottin’ and Roasted Sweet Potato Salsa

Hi friends! How are you all doing?! I spent my whole vacation on cloud 9 –  I spent 2 straight days with my family, enjoyed the latter half  of my break in Atlanta with Derek’s family.

We had such a wonderful Thanksgiving that began with the Turkey Trot 5K that I mentioned earlier in the week. After waking up in the 6 o’clock hour and enjoying a pre-race cup of coffee, my dad, Derek and I ventured out into the 37 degree Florida weather for our Turkey Trot in Fishhawk, a neighborhood near our home.

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We went back and forth on whether or not we should keep our jackets on while we ran. That’s how I know it’s really cold – when Derek and my dad run in long sleeves. In the end, we all decided to be wimps and run with the layers. The run never seemed to warm me up so I’m sure glad I kept my jacket on.

We ran with my dad for about 1.5 miles , and then all met up at the finish line. I didn’t pay much attention to my Garmin, and instead just enjoyed running with Derek and my dad beside me. We are all usually focused on trying to do well in our age group, so this was a nice change to run together.

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We ran mile 1 in 8:48, mile 2 in 8:07 and the last 1.1 mile in 7:54.

It was such a fun race and the turnout was great –  I’d guess about 2,000+ came out! I love seeing races grow from year to year!

After our run, we made our traditional Starbucks stop, and I realized it was my first Starbucks red cup of the holiday season. I’m pretty sure this is pitiful, since this means I haven’t had Starbucks in about a month. What was I thinking???!!!

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We rounded out the morning by decorating the Christmas tree, watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, preparing my contribution for Thanksgiving dinner, and attempting to take a successful Christmas card photo.

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My family always celebrates Thanksgiving at my Aunt Suzanne and Tio Frankie’s home, and since they have the Thanksgiving meal perfected, I was asked to bring just an appetizer. I knew I wanted it to be something in the spirit of Thanksgiving, but couldn’t think of a dish for the life of me. That’s where Martha Stewart and Real Simple came into play. I found this recipe on their list of easy Thanksgiving appetizers, and it was definitely a hit at the get together (as much of a hit as an appetizer can be – we all know what we were really there for!)

Roasted Sweet Potato Salsa

1.5 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and diced small

1 large red onion, diced

1 ½ tbsp. olive oil

2 tomatoes, diced

2 avocados, diced

3 tbsp chopped cilantro

Lime juice from 1 lime

Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat your oven to 450 . Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray, and roast diced sweet and onions tossed in olive oil for 20-25 minutes, or until sweet potato is lightly browned. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool completely.

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Once roasted veggies have cooled, add in tomatoes, avocado, onion, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Serve with pita chips or toasted baguette.

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I hope you all had as lovely as a Thanksgiving break as I did, and I hope your week is just as great!

Zucchini Bites + My Tasty Week

Happy Hump Day, friends! I hope you are all having a great week thus far. I’m enjoying my time + food here in Atlanta (you’d think I came here just for the food with all I talk about it), but I’m looking forward to get home to my loved ones and Louie this weekend.

On Monday I took a break from working out – it was one of those days where I needed the break both mentally and physically. You ever feel that way? Anyways, to treat myself on this lovely rest day, I went to Tin Lizzy’s in Atlanta with three girlfriends from work, and it was delicious. I had an awesome salad topped with grilled shrimp, and loads of chips and guacamole. This made for one happy gal.
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I got back to the gym on Tuesday, and got a 4 mile interval run in, which coincided with our half marathon training plan! The run on Tuesday felt as good as the rest day on Monday did – funny how that happens, huh? Tuesday evening some friends and I went to eat at a seafood restaurant and all ordered the same seafood chopped salad and shrimp and grits. IT. WAS. DIVINE. We left feeling happy and full 🙂

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Now on to a recipe I promised you all! When I made this for my family last week, it was devoured in seconds. And the best part: this zucchini appetizer was as quick as it is healthy and tasty!

Ingredients

2 large zucchini

1/3 cup tomato sauce

1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

1 tbsp panko bread crumbs

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°and prepare a baking pan. Slice the zucchini into thin circular rounds. Place on baking pan and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and top each round with tomato sauce, panko bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Return to oven and bake for 15 more minutes. Serve hot! (Makes about 30 pieces)

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Zucchini are one of my favorite vegetables to cook with, and pack some great nutrients. They are a good source of Vitamin C, folate and potassium – this recipe is a great dish to make when entertaining guests, and they won’t even know they’re eating healthy!

Avocado Hummus Recipe

I have a story for you guys, it goes like this. One afternoon, I couldn’t choose between Guacamole or Hummus. So, I didn’t.

Avocado Hummus

Ingredients

2 small avocados (or 1 giant)

1 (15 oz.) can of cannellini beans or chickpeas (rinsed and drained)

1/4 cup cilantro

2 clove garlic

juice from 1 lemon

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp sesami tahini (optional)

1/2 tsp pepper

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The dip tasted more like avocado than it did hummus, which surprised me, given the tahini I added in. Still, it was refreshing, and exactly what I wanted to dip my carrots and pretzels in!

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Hope you guys enjoy this recipe should you try it! User beware: the dip turns brown after a couple of days, similar to the way guacamole does. So eat up!