Friday, September 19, 2014

Homemade Cheesy Goldfish Crackers

Those of you who have followed me for more than 5 minutes know that I have several kiddos in the house.  So suffice it to say that we have bought our fair share of goldfish snack crackers over the years.  A few weekends ago, Lily and I got the idea that it might be fun to make some goldfish from scratch.  Now if you ask Lily, she would say "from scrap." (LOL!!!)  Now no matter what age you are, cheesy crackers are pretty darned hard to resist! 

Do you have to make them into fish shapes?  Ummm.  No.  HaHa.  Make them into circles or squares or however you fancy them.  Sprinkle them with herbs at will and have with a nice glass of wine if the mood strikes you.  But for the shorter population running around, the fish were lots of fun.  These would be great for a classroom project, those snack helper days that come around so quickly, your Sunday School lessons about being "fishers of men," etc. :)

Print this Recipe!

Ingredients:
  • 8 oz (by weight) Extra sharp cheddar cheese, freshly shredded
  • 4 Tbsp butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup All purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp table salt
  • 2 Tbsp cold water
  • Garnishes
    • chili powder - optional
    • dried oregano - optional
    • black pepper and rosemary - optional

Written Method:
So.... it became apparent that I was going to need a template for these fish, right?   I saw on the internet where some genius girl used a soda can to make a dough cutter.  Well let me not be one to re-invent the wheel!  Let's do this!  I used my kitchen shears to cut right into the thin aluminum, cut and trim a strip, then tape it together with packing tape.  Of course I had to have a few fish crackers out to use as a visual guide.  HaHa.  My 6 year old son insisted that our goldfish be larger than the originals, so if you are wondering about that, there is your answer.


Prep.  Get it all ready.  All five ingredients.  Because that's all there is to it!
Pretty cool that I even have my own cheese grater.  Isn't she a cutie?  While Lily is grating the extra sharp cheddar, I can get out all the other ingredients that we will need.  This dough comes together in a snap!
Pulse everything (except for the water) together in a food processor until it resembles coarse sand.
pulse...
Here's the "coarse sand" look.
 Pulse in the water, 1 Tbsp at a time.  Here is Tablepoon #1.......
pulse.....
Second Tablespoon of water......
pulse.... and .... now suddenly we have a blob of dough!
Remove the dough from the processor, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.  While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Roll out the dough out (maybe to about 1/8"?).  For reference a penny is 1/16."  Use as little flour as possible.  The more flour you use, the softer (and less crispy) the crackers will be. Cut the dough into shapes with cookie cutters (or things you have around the house).  
If you are letting your Short Chefs help you, by all means let them cut their own.  I'm sure you have some common things around the house they can use.  Lily is cutting round crackers with a small medicine dosing cup that comes with cough medicine.  She also made her fair share of fish!  :)

I used a wooden skewer for the fish eye and a toothpick to make the smile.
To bake, place the fish on parchment paper or Silpat (silicone baking mat). 
 We sprinkled some with chili powder, some with dried oregano, and left some naked!  Just have fun! 
Makes a BUNCH!  But I can't tell you how many, because people were eating them as they were cooling.  Also, it depends on the size of the cutters you are using, obviously.

Some sources recommend that you put the rolled/cut out crackers back into the refrigerator so that the butter can firm up again before baking to achieve a crisper cracker.  We did not try that, but I am passing it along to you in case you would like to do so.  Ummmm.... I don't think a thing more could fit into our fridge at this point, especially not these sheet pans.
Bake at 350 degrees F for about 15 - 20 minutes or until crispy.  The baking time may depend on the type and color of your baking sheet, and how thinly you rolled them.  Allow them to cool on a wire rack, not on a sheet pan, where there could be condensation.   We did find that they were most crisp when they were freshly out of the oven, and softer the next day, so take that into consideration.
When we were originally making the crackers, my daughter was super upset that I wanted to add seasoning or herbs to some of the crackers.  She wanted them all to be plain.  I'm sure you noticed, however that she was quite "into" the sprinkling-of-the-herbs part of the recipe, despite her objections.  When they were cooked, she turned up her nose at the "naked" ones and said they didn't look as good as the "decorated" ones.  OH MY GOODNESS!!!!  The moral of this story, is that sometimes, you are just NOT going to win an argument with a 5 year old cook!

I hope you enjoyed this simple and delicious recipe!
There are hundreds more in my Recipe Index, just waiting to be chosen and cooked!  You can also visit my Film strips for pinning page, to see whole recipes at a glance, and to click-and-go right to the recipe.

The Menu Musings cookbook is sure to be a hit at your house, and will make great gifts!  For more information, here is a link!
Order your copy of the Menu Musings Cookbook! 


Also, Please be sure to visit my YouTube Channel for short video tutorials on selected videos.  Watch me explain the steps of the recipes in just a few minutes!  Just one more way that I'm giving you the tools to get in that kitchen!!! Aren't you curious?  Click and see how many there are!  :)

Here's just one example - Stuffed Zucchini! YUM!
Connect with me.    
If you are new to MenuMusings, click here to subscribe so you won't miss a thing!  I'll send you notifications of new posts to help you avoid that proverbial cooking rut.  You can also follow me on Pinterest and on the MenuMusings facebook page.

Here are some bonus recipes for you!
Oatmeal Banana Smoothies

Butterfly Snack Bags

Easy Meatball Sub Casserole

Ritzy Cheddar Baked Chicken

Blueberry Lemonade

Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake Minis

Written Method:
I used my kitchen shears to cut through the thin aluminum of a soda can, cut and trim a strip, then tape it together with packing tape to make my dough cutter.

Prep.  Get it all ready.  All five ingredients.  Because that's all there is to it!  Pulse everything (except for the water) together in a food processor until it resembles coarse sand.  Pulse in the water, 1 Tbsp at a time.  Remove the dough from the processor, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.  While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Roll out the dough out (maybe to about 1/8"?).  Use as little flour as possible.  The more flour you use, the softer (and less crispy) the crackers will be. Cut the dough into shapes with cookie cutters (or things you have around the house).  I used a wooden skewer for the fish eye and a toothpick to make the smile.  To bake, place the fish on parchment paper or Silpat (silicone baking mat).   We sprinkled some with chili powder, some with dried oregano, and left some naked!  Just have fun!  Makes a BUNCH!  But I can't tell you how many, because people were eating them as they were cooling.  Also, it depends on the size of the cutters you are using, obviously.   Bake at 350 degrees F for about 15 - 20 minutes or until crispy.  The baking time may depend on the type and color of your baking sheet, and how thinly you rolled them.  Allow them to cool on a wire rack.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Philly Cheesesteak Dip

Ever have leftover steak?  Random cheeses?  You know.... STUFF hanging around the fridge that just doesn't seem to have a place?  I know.  For some of you, the answer may be a resounding - NOPE!  But we have a large and diverse household populated by teenagers and "friends" who seem to materialize out of thin air around dinnertime.  So sometimes we aren't quite sure how many people we are making dinner for.  Some come via skateboard down the road, some by car or truck, and some just pull up to the boathouse on a jet ski and descend on the house from the lake... it's like being in our very own James Bond movie sometimes!  So often my husband will throw a few extra steaks or burgers on the grill "just in case," as we would rather know that everyone has enough.  

To get back to my point, this recipe is a great use for those leftover steaks!  And in case you were in that "nope" category, I'm including the quick and easy "grab some roast beef from the deli" version.  You can't get any easier than that!  Now all you need to do is pull out that little mini crock pot so you can use it to keep the dip all warm and melty.... because this dip will be SO PERFECT for watching all the football games that are starting now!  YEP!  You're welcome!!!

Print this Recipe!

Ingredients: 
  • 1 (8 oz) pkg reduced fat softened cream cheese 
    • feel free to use full fat
  • 1 (8 oz) container reduced fat sour cream
    • feel free to use full fat
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup diced mixed bell peppers, red and yellow
  • 1 lg clove of garlic (~ 1 Tbsp, finely minced)
  • 6 oz (~  1 1/4 cup) deli roast beef, chopped
    • feel free to use leftover cooked sirloin, thinly sliced seasoned flank/skirt steak cut across the grain, or other leftover steaks you may have!
  • 1 (8 oz) pkg provolone cheese, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 green onions, chopped.  2 for dip, 1 for garnish.
Step-by-Step:
Get your oven preheating to 375 degrees F so we can be ready to pop it in there.  If you are going to use a crock pot, well I suppose you can get that ready as well.  Then get everything chopped up.
6 oz (~  1 1/4 cup) deli roast beef, chopped
If you have leftover steak, you that here.  This alternate method is to chop up some deli roast beef.  How finely you chop it is completely up to you.  You don't want it to completely disappear in the dip.
Our cast of players!
The slow step in this recipe will be to caramelize the onions.  Add the thinly sliced onions to the butter in a heavy skillet over medium - low heat and cook low and slow until the onions are sweet and brown.  We will add the teaspoon of sugar to help them along.  I usually go from medium at the beginning, and then turn my heat down to low.  Expect this to take at least 15 minutes for the starches in the onions to turn to sugar.  If you try to do this too quickly, the onions will burn, not caramelize.  Remove from heat and then either leave "as is" or chop as finely as you would like once they have cooled.
1 small onion (about 1 cup)
1 tsp granulated sugar

After you remove the onions from the butter, add the peppers to the same butter.  There should be enough left from the onions.  After they have softened a few minutes on about medium heat, add the garlic and cook until fragrant and soft, but careful not to burn.  Remove from heat.
1/2 cup diced mixed bell peppers, red and yellow
1 lg clove of garlic (~ 1 Tbsp, finely minced)

In a bowl, combine everything except for about a 1/2 cup or so of cheese and one of the green onions, as we will use these for garnish at the end.
1 (8 oz) pkg softened cream cheese
Cooled, sauteed onions, peppers and garlic (remember to chop your onions if you wish before adding)
6 oz (~  1 1/4 cup) deli roast beef, chopped
1 (8 oz) pkg provolone cheese, finely chopped or grated
1 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp table salt (or to taste*)  Amount may depend on seasoning of meat.
Stir to combine.
Add the mixture to a greased oven proof baking vessel.  Top with the reserved cheese and bake 20 - 25 minutes at 375 degrees F.  Alternatively, add to your crock pot and heat until all melty and gooey! The advantage of using the crock pot is that it would keep the dip melted.  So... there's that to consider.  :)
I saved a bit of each of the cheeses to add to the top.  Just because I think all things "melted cheese" are wonderful!  

Serve with bread chunks, crackers, grilled French bread, celery sticks, etc.  Garnish with chopped green onions over the top.  I'm thinking this would be a great base layer for a grilled pizza!
I hope you enjoyed this simple and delicious recipe!
There are hundreds more in my Recipe Index, just waiting to be chosen and cooked!  You can also visit my Film strips for pinning page, to see whole recipes at a glance, and to click-and-go right to the recipe.

The Menu Musings cookbook is sure to be a hit at your house, and will make great gifts!  For more information, here is a link!
Order your copy of the Menu Musings Cookbook! 
Connect with me.    
If you are new to MenuMusings, click here to subscribe so you won't miss a thing!  I'll send you notifications of new posts to help you avoid that proverbial cooking rut.  You can also follow me on Pinterest and on the MenuMusings facebook page.

Also, Please be sure to visit my YouTube Channel for short video tutorials on selected videos.  Watch me explain the steps of the recipes in just a few minutes!  Just one more way that I'm giving you the tools to get in that kitchen!!! Aren't you curious?  Click and see how many there are!  :)

Here's just one example - Pumpkin Ravioli with Brown Butter and Crispy Sage.  YUM!!

Here are some bonus recipes for you!
Maple Mustard Glazed Chicken

Roasted Red Pepper and Basil Pesto Penne

Cornbread Cowboy Chili

Parmesan Zucchini Gratin

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Spicy Garlic Shrimp

Written Method:
Get your oven preheating to 375 degrees F so we can be ready to pop it in there.  If you are going to use a crock pot, well I suppose you can get that ready as well.  Then get everything chopped up.

The slow step in this recipe will be to caramelize the onions.  Add the thinly sliced onions to the butter in a heavy skillet over medium - low heat and cook low and slow until the onions are sweet and brown.  We will add the teaspoon of sugar to help them along.  I usually go from medium at the beginning, and then turn my heat down to low.  Expect this to take at least 15 minutes for the starches in the onions to turn to sugar.  If you try to do this too quickly, the onions will burn, not caramelize.  Remove from heat and then either leave "as is" or chop as finely as you would like once they have cooled.

After you remove the onions from the butter, add the peppers to the same butter.  There should be enough left from the onions.  After they have softened a few minutes on about medium heat, add the garlic and cook until fragrant and soft, but careful not to burn.  Remove from heat.

In a bowl, combine everything except for about a 1/2 cup or so of cheese and one of the green onions, as we will use these for garnish at the end.

Add the mixture to a greased oven proof baking vessel.  Top with the reserved cheese and bake 20 - 25 minutes or until golden.  Serve with bread chunks, crackers, grilled French bread, etc.  Alternatively, add to your crock pot and heat until all melty and gooey!   Garnish with chopped green onions over the top.

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