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Feta Cheese Ball Sticks with Cashews and Honey


My family loves cheese balls which are usually cheddar, blue and cream cheese rolled in walnuts and spread on crackers. 

This recipe has a Middle Eastern edge to it made with feta cheese and a Greek cream cheese and yogurt blend, rolled in cashews and drizzled with honey and sprinkled with flaked sea salt.  Plus these are individual bites stuck on a pretzel stick. Like a cake pop!

  • First thing is to blend with a mixer

8 ounces of cream cheese or Greek cream cheese and yogurt 

8 ounces feta cheese

  • Roll into bite size balls with your hands and place on a wax paper or parchment paper covered flat pan
  • Chill in the frig for 10 minutes
  • This recipe can be prepared in advance up to this point. The rest should be done just before serving or the nuts may get soggy.

Raw unsalted cashews have a real nutty flavor I crave!

If you have a source of home grown honey as I do, that’s the best! You’ll get the flavors of the local plants the bees polinate! Thank you Peachie Martin!

Flaked sea salt from Cypress is what I use. I purchase it at our local Mercato Di O & V, an olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt shop in Midland MI. This salt adds a little crunch and potent flavor.

Any brand of pretzel sticks will do. Just a bit of gluten here.

  • Roll the balls in

1 and 1/2 cups chopped raw unsalted cashews

  • Place on your serving platter
  • Drizzle heavily with 

1/4 – 1/2 cup honey

  • Sprinkle with

1/2 – 1 teaspoon flaked sea salt

  • Skewer each ball with

A 2 and a 1/2 inch pretzel stick

Voila! Finger food is the preferred party food!

Roasted Carrot and Ginger Soup

This is a recipe I found at The Mediterranean Dish! It’s similar to pumpkin or squash soup, but for those who don’t like pumpkin or squash, it’s super! Very easy with a food processor or stick blender.

Roasted carrots get a caramelized glow


Puree the carrots with grated ginger and minced garlic, adding some of the stock.


Pureed mix is quite thick at this point 


Ground coriander and allspice ready to be added to the pot


The puree is poured into a cooking pot. Then more stock is added with the allspice, coriander and finally the half and half.


A bit of chopped parsley or mint is layered on the bowl of soup. Voila!

  • On a large baking sheet, drizzle some olive oil. Then place 4 pounds peeled whole carrots and drizzle with more olive oil. 
  • Sprinkle with salt and pepper
  • Roast at 425 degrees. Turn the carrots after 20 minutes. Bake another 20-30 minutes or until carrots are browning and fork tender.
  • Cut into 1/3s and place in the food processor, scraping the oil from the baking sheet
  • Add

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

2 cups warm chicken, turkey or vegetable stock

  • Puree until silky smooth
  • Scrape into a medium saucepan
  • Add

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon ground coriander

2-3 cups stock

  • Whisk together and bring to a simmer
  • Add slowly

1-2 cups half and half 

  • I give the range of stock and half and half. If you want a stronger carrot flavor add less liquid.
  • This makes about 8 cups. 

Isn’t it pretty in my Ball canning jars! I love to store food in these containers.


Goat Cheese and Cashews with Honey and Lemon Salt


This mix of fresh favors was made with memories of Turkey and Sicily. Snack food, dessert, lunch….

  • Goats milk feta cheese is centered on a platter.
  •  Then my addicting raw unsalted cashews are poured around it. 
  • Local Michigan honey from my friend Peachie Martin is then drizzled over the cheese and nuts, as much as you like in a few layers.
  • Sprinkle over it all a sea salt. Mine is from the salt pans of western Sicily which was mixed with dried bits of lemon. These salt pans and windmills of western Sicily, north of Marsala were one of our most favorite memories of travel. Part of the tour were the Phoenician islands, a salt tasting and the windmill museum.

We stayed in Erice, a hill town high above the Trapani region. With our car we took day trips to Segusta and Selinunte, the Greek ruins and to the ancient tuna fishing village Castellammare del Golfo and nearby Scopello. Took a boat tour of the Egadi Islands and had private tours of a cheese manufacturing facility and their local sheep farm and milking barn! Look for more video and pics under “travel” here at NinaintheKitchen.

Quick Thai Spicy Coconut Shrimp 


We’ve made this dish several times this year. It’s a New York Times recipe. I hope you love it too!

In a medium bowl combine:

2 tablespoons red curry paste

2-4 tablespoons fish sauce

1/4 cup sambal

1/4 cup sweet chili sauce

2 pounds medium raw, deveined, shelled shrimp

  • Place a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat until hot. 
  • Add

3 tablespoons light sesame oil

  • Heat just until smoking.
  • Add the shrimp mixture and sauté 2 minutes.
  • Add

1 cup scallions

2 cups steamed broccoli pieces

  • Cover and simmer for 3 minutes until heated through.
  • Stir in

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1-14 ounce can coconut milk

  • Simmer 3 minutes or until cooked through
  • Add 

1 bunch cilantro, chopped coursely

  • Serve over brown rice

Three Bean Salads

This cold marinated salad became popular in the 1960’s and was commonly served at picnics, BBQs and as a side salad. I’ve adapted the original recipe by using fresh rather than canned green beans and yellow wax beans. I’ve also cut the sugar way back and used no added salt canned kidney beans and garbanzo beans.
Here is the green, yellow and kidney bean salad.

This is another version made with sugar snap peas, dark red kidney beans and garbanzo beans! Everything else is the same as the above 3 bean salad.

Snap peas are peas with an edible pod. The pod and peas are very tender and sweet and easier to prepare than peas. All you have to do is break off the stem end and in one continuous motion, tear off the string from one side of the pod. Voila!



Beans are trimmed and cut in thirds

Beans have been blanched for a minute and then rinsed with cold water and tossed with ice

Diced green pepper and onion 


Recipe:

5 cups yellow and wax beans, approximately, trimmed, cut in thirds and blanched for 1 minute and quickly cooled

1- 15 oz can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 green pepper, diced

1/2 cup onion, diced

  • Marinade: Whisk together in a large bowl:

1/3 cup sunflower oil or other vegetable oil, not olive oil

1/3 cup white vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon sugar

  • Add the prepared vegetables to the marinade.
  • Mix well.
  • Pour into a container with a tight fitting lid.
  • Refrigerate overnight.
  • Invert the container a few times every so often to distribute the marinade.

The other recipe is made the same, except instead of the green and yellow beans, use:

3 cups sugar snap peas, approximately, strings removed and blanched 1 minute and quickly cooled

1-15 ounce can garbanzo beans

Mrs. Field’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies are said to be the secret recipe of the Mrs. Field’s Cookie Company. My friend Lisa Williams gave the recipe to me in 1988. It’s been our favorite chocolate chip cookie ever since! I’ve added a bit more salt and I usually omit the walnuts. My cookies are also smaller than Mrs. Field’s huge 4 inch cookies. I make 7 dozen cookies from this recipe.

All my ingredients, ready to go!

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  • In a mixer cream together:

1/2 pound softened butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed 

  • Add:

2 large eggs

3/4 teaspoon vanilla

  • In a medium size bowl whisk together:

3 cups flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 to 1 teaspoon salt

  • Add flour mix to the butter mixture.
  • Mix only just until barely combined. Don’t beat the dough or the cookies won’t be tender.
  • Add and mix only a few seconds:

12 oz chocolate chips or chocolate chunks (I prefer Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate)

1 cup chopped walnuts, optional

  • Drop by a teaspoon on a baking sheet with at least 2 inches apart.

  • Bake at 350 degrees F for 8-9 minutes. Don’t over bake! They will crisp up when cooling.
  • Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
  • Remove from baking sheet when slightly cooled, after about 4 minutes, and place on cooling racks until crisp and firm.


Enjoy!

Paella on the Grill

Last night Dave made his best paella yet! This is a Cook’s Illustrated recipe for Paella on the Grill, found in the July/August 2016 issue or online at CooksIllustrated.com.

Paella is a Spanish rice dish with many variations. We enjoyed paella in Albufera, a town near Valencia in southern Spain. They are known for growing rice and making their paella with a dry caramelized crust of rice that is the most prized part of the dish!  It’s called the socarrat. Traditional paella is made on the grill which provides a large cooking surface to develop the socarrat and a charcoal heat that gives the smokey flavor. The amount of shrimp, chicken and chorizo you see here is more generous than the traditional Valencia style. It’s all about the rice!

Notice the paella pan is thin, has impressions hammered on the bottom and is not covered with a non-stick surface.


Dave uses a 17 inch traditional paella pan we bought online. It does NOT have a Teflon-like coating. We coat it with oil after using to prevent rusting. He has a Weber charcoal grill with a gas starter. 

This is a great recipe to serve for family and friends!