Mardi Gras Recipe Round Up!

  Our office tries to do fun potluck meals on occasion. One idea that we came up with last year was to try a combined Fat Tuesday/Valentine potluck. We originally called it Beads and Beaux but decided to change it to Beads and Bows after a couple confused looks. We’d been collecting recipes on Pinterest for a year so we were definitely prepared. I’ve decided to do a round up of the recipe links rather than a recipe post. For one thing, I want to be able to capture several of the recipes at one time, and second, my dish (Cajun Shrimp Dip) wasn’t very photogenic.

In choosing recipes, we joked that to make something Cajun just add Cajun seasoning and to make something Valentine themed, add red food color or cut it in a heart shape.

Here’s what we came up with:

I made Cajun Shrimp Dip. To me, it was just ok. The recipe calls for a pound of salad shrimp and the biggest bag I could find was 11 ounces. And honestly, I felt that was too much shrimp. If I were to make this again, I’d probably use an even smaller bag and cut the shrimp flavor down a bit. Or maybe use shredded or canned chicken.

Candace made Red Beans and Rice Salad. She would be the first to tell you that she overcooked her rice. Slow cookers can be fickle. Nonetheless, I thought this was a really tasty dish. I had an extra container on hand so I boxed up a portion for the next day’s lunch and I think it was even better because everything a chance to blend together.

Shelia brought in Valentine Blondies. She cut hers in a heart shape. They were very yummy and my 2 year old very much enjoyed the one I brought home to him. He loves chocolate chip cookies and these were like a thick cookie. Yum!

Rita made Maque Choux which was a new experience for all of us.  She made two versions: one with sausage and one without for the vegetarians. I liked it a lot and I think it would be really good in summer when there’s fresh corn available.

And last but not least, Sherry provided Southern Pecan Praline Cake. As one taster said, “Lord have mercy!”. I think that sums it up pretty well.

It was a good meal and gave us a chance to step out of our culinary comfort zones and try some new recipes.



Aunt T’s 3 Cheese Cheese Ball

I love cheese ball. It is a strong weakness of mine. Cheese ball is very popular in this area and shows up often at get togethers of all sorts. It’s especially likely to be seen during the holidays. This particular recipe is one that my sister-in-law (known as Aunt T to my son) makes each year for our Christmas Eve festivities. It’s vegetarian which makes it a good office option. You can roll it in nuts or extra cheese, or you could divide in half and roll one ball in each for some variety. Either way, get the ball rolling and make one for your holiday get together!

 3 Cheese Cheese Ball

2 8 0z packages of cream cheese, softened

1 cup of shredded Cheddar cheese

1 cup of shredded American cheese (Velveeta shreds)

1 tablespoon of Worstershire sauce

1 teaspoon of lemon juice

Nuts or extra cheese for rolling

Combine all ingredients (you’ll have to use your hands and it will get messy) and form into a ball. Roll in either nuts or extra cheese. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serve with choice of crackers. I like Ritz or Socialables (my mother in law’s pick).

Ham and Cheese Sliders

These sliders are all over social media, and there are dozens of variations of them. I love a good hot ham and cheese sandwich so I felt the odds were pretty good that I would enjoy these. My husband doesn’t eat ham so I had been waiting for an occasion to fix these. Such an occasion came in the form of my son’s birthday party. These sliders were a huge hit with our guests (and me!). I think they were maybe even better when they had cooled a bit. There were two left over, and they reheated marvelously the next day. I have my fingers crossed that this is something my son might enjoy one day because I could totally see me making a pan of these and eating them as grab n go snacks and lunches.

The great thing about this recipe is that you can mix it up however you want. I looked at a couple of recipes on the King’s Hawaiian rolls website, and also looked at this recipe. I ended up making a couple of modifications.


Ham and Cheese Sliders

1 stick butter, melted
1 tablespoon honey mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
15 King’s Hawaiian rolls
1 pound thinly sliced deli ham (I like Boar’s Head or Kroger’s Private Selection)
8-10 slices of Provolone cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.

Melt butter then whisk in mustard,and Worcestershire sauce.

Slice the rolls in half and place the bottoms in your prepared pan. I tried cutting the entire sheet of rolls together as suggested by some on the interwebs and didn’t really find that very sucessful. Once you have all of your roll bottoms in the pan, layer a piece of ham on each roll. I folded my slices in half then folded again to make them fit. Follow this up with a layer of cheese. I folded the cheese in similiar manner. It was round so I folded in half, then in half again but I only put one quarter of the slice for each layer. Follow this up with another layer of ham, then another layer of cheese. Each sandwich will have two pieces of ham and two sections of cheese.

Drizzle your butter mixture on top of each sandwich using a teaspoon. You will likely have leftover butter so you can either make more sandwiches or just pour the rest into the pan for extra butter loving.

Bake for about 20 minutes until your sliders are warmed through, the cheese is melted and the tops of the rolls are lightly browned. Enjoy warm, room temperature or cold!

Magic Meatballs

Throughout my childhood, my mom had a subscription to Good Housekeeping magazine. My love of magazines and reading probably developed in part from me thumbing through her copy each month. We would look at the recipes together to see if there was anything we wanted to try. When I was really small, she would give me the old copies and I’d cut out pictures of things and make little collages and scrapbooks.

Some of the best recipes-in my opinion-were the ones that were part of product advertisements. (Remember my Chinese Chicken Pasta Salad?) This recipe for cocktail meatballs came from a Heinz Chili Sauce ad. The original recipe called for you to make your meatballs from scratch but when I moved to a town with an actual supermarket and realized you could buy meatballs already made, well, there was no more making of a homemade meatball for me.

The recipe is super simple, and there are several variations of it floating around. A few years ago, I read a not very good novel called Single Wife. One of the subplots to the story was a woman’s “secret” meatball recipe which turned out to be this one. I found that really funny.

The toughest food critics-my husband, my niece, and my dad-all love these meatballs and I’m sort of the designated meatball maker for Christmas Eve gatherings. I’ve also made these for a lot of office potlucks. They keep warm well in a slow cooker.

Magic Meatballs
2lbs frozen meatballs
1 cup Heinz Chili Sauce
1 cup Grape Jelly

In a small saucepan, combine chili sauce and jelly. I like to put the sauce on for about a minute or two before the jelly so that it warms the jelly faster. Keep the heat on medium and stir occasionally until melted. Turn the heat down if the sauce should start to boil. The high sugar content of the jelly can cause a scorch in the bat of an eye.

While your sauce is coming together, thaw your meatballs in the microwave according to package directions.

Put thawed meatballs into a large two handle saucepan if you plan to use the stovetop or into a slow cooker sprayed with cooking spray if you choose that route. When sauce is smooth and the jelly is melted, pour it over the meatballs and stir gently to cover all of the meatballs. For stovetop: let simmer on low until the meatballs are warmed through. For slow cooker: I cook on low for about 2 hours then switch to warm. Again, you have to be mindful that the high sugar content can cause the sauce to burn.

I’ve had people tell me that they toss the frozen meatballs, jelly, and sauce into a slow cooker with no prior heating and it works just as well. I haven’t tried that but I’m sure it would be fine, it would just take longer cooking. I’ve also seen variations of the recipe that use cranberry sauce rather than chili sauce.

Found on Pinterest: Neiman Marcus Dip

A few weeks ago, I was invited to bring a “snack” to a small retirement party at work. Being 9 months pregnant, I wanted something easy and quick. I decided to scroll through my Pinterest pins and see what I could find. I’d had this recipe pinned for a long time. As I usually do, I Googled the recipe to look for other versions and comments. There are several out there but none of them really explained WHY it’s called Neiman Marcus dip. I ended up going with the recipe that I’d pinned although I did take another recipe’s advice and toast the almonds slightly.

So how was it? It was delicious! It reminded me a lot of the old traditional cheese ball recipe with cream cheese, green onion, and dried beef. It was a huge hit at the party…not a bite was left. Good thing that I kept myself a small stash at home!

I would definitely make this again but I think I’ll call it “Cheese Ball Dip” instead of Neiman Marcus Dip. Rolls off the tongue easier…

Neiman Marcus Dip


5 or 6 green onions
8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1 jar real bacon bits
1 pkg. slivered almonds

Chop the green onions. Mix onions, cheese, mayo, bacon bits, and
slivered almonds together. Chill for a couple of hours.

I served with Club Crackers.

Minda’s Notes: As I mentioned earlier, I toasted the almonds slightly in a hot skillet just to bring out the flavor a bit. I let them cool before adding to the dip. Also, I normally would not use jarred bacon bits but due to being pregnant and tired I took a short cut…and they were actually quite good. I used the Meijer brand.

Mexican Corn and Black Bean Dip

If this isn’t my favorite party dip, it sure is a front runner. I love anything with a hint of Tex-Mex flavor and this dip delivers. It’s also super easy to lighten this recipe up by using reduced fat cheese (I like Sargento), reduced fat sour cream and light mayonaise.

I once saw this dip in a church cookbook under the name “Ugly Dip”. While it isn’t the prettiest dish on the buffet table, don’t be put off by it’s less than polished look. It’s insanely delicious and highly addictive. I suggest making it a couple of hours before serving so that the flavors have plenty of time to blend together.

Mexican Corn and Black Bean Dip
2 8oz bags of Mexican Shredded Cheese

1 can diced tomatoes with green chiles

1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)

2 cans of corn (drained)

1 bunch of green onions (chopped)

8 oz sour cream

1 and 1/2 cups of mayo
Mix it all up and refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving. Serve with tortilla chips or Scoops.