Category: party foods

I ‘Cherry’ish You Rice Krispies Treats

Published in Carolina Country Magazine ~ February 2018

I do love cherries! Any kind of cherries, but most especially, maraschino cherries.  There’s just something about those bright red sweet little nuggets that take me back to my childhood in an instant.

I suppose my cherry affection is genetic. My Daddy Hocutt and Ma Hocutt, my mama’s mama and daddy, planted cherry trees in their back yard in Zebulon when they built their house back in the early 1950’s. It was only the 6th house built in the city limits best I remember them telling me. When I was born in 1958, they planted me a tree!  My Daddy Hocutt died when I was only 8 years old… he had a massive heart attack and they went off the side of a remote mountain road near Charlottesville, VA coming back from vacation in Washington, DC. He died then and there, and Ma Hocutt was torn all to pieces and was “invalid” the rest of her life until she died at 91.

Ok… so back to the story.  Every year, when the cherry trees would blossom, Daddy Hocutt would cover them with this gauze kinda cloth to keep the birds from eating our cherries!  He would let me help him do that. And I can remember waiting impatiently for “my” cherries to ripen so we could pull that cloth back and eat cherries until I had a stomach ache.  After he died, the trees all just wearied themselves away, but I do have a few short years of those memories.

We had a place in town called the Dairy Bar. One side served the BEST cheeseburgers, hot dogs… and milkshakes!  The other little room had a jukebox and bar stools where the cool teenagers would go hang out and dance. Daddy Hocutt would sometimes take me in there for burgers and a shake. 
Cherry Milkshakes!

Ma Hocutt loved a cherry milkshake too!  And after a few years of recovery from their accident, she was able to drive again. She would ride over the the Watkins Dairy Bar, just a few blocks from her house, and toot the horn. They knew she wasn’t able to get out and walk in to order, so they’d just make a cherry milkshake… and take it out to her!  If I went with her, I’d go in and order them… “2 cherry milkshakes please!”

They were in those big old waxed cups… white, with red lines around them and best I remember, hearts around the tops. And big ass straws! 
God I loved those things!  And to this day, still my favorite of all milkshakes, but it’s near’bout impossible to find a good cherry milkshake anymore!  

Did you know that Dairy Queen… yep, the Dairy Queen, doesn’t have cherries?
How in the hell can you have a proper sundae, or banana split, without a cherry on top?  Silliest thing I’ve ever heard tell of!  Cherries are a staple of such. 

Sooooo…  when coming up with ideas for the February issue of Carolina Country, my mind immediately went to cherries!  I also associate cherries with Valentine’s Day.  And I created some really yummy chocolate cherry truffles for Our State magazine years back too. I will have to throw those here on my blog soon too.

But for now, for my maraschino cherry brothers and sisters… I encourage you to make these rice krispie treats!  They are cherrylicious… fun to eat AND share. Grab some icing in those tubes and sprinkles and let your aspiring little culinarians get creative in decorating.
Y’all have a Happy Valentine’s Day too… I love you all for being here!

Wendy

I ‘Cherry’ish You Rice Krispies Treats
This twist on the tried-and-true Rice Krispies Treats® recipe is just in time to share with those you love on Valentine’s Day. It’s an easy recipe for the next generation of aspiring little chefs, too!
Course: Dessert, Fun Food!, Sweet Treats
Cuisine: American
Keyword: rice krispie treats
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 16 ounce bag mini marshmallows
  • 5 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 16 ounce jar maraschino cherries, drained & chopped (save juice)
  • 8 cup Rice Krispies® cereal
  • 1 cup toasted almonds, crumbled
  • decorating icing and sprinkles
  • heart shaped cookie cutters
Instructions
  1. Melt butter in a heavy pot over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until melted. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, cherries and cereal.
  2. Using a buttered spatula, fold together until well combined. Pour out onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet and spread to about 1-inch thickness. Cool.
  3. Cut, decorate and dust with toasted almonds.
Recipe Notes

VARIATIONS:
Very Cherry Vanilla Treats
Make basic recipe, stirring in 2 tablespoons of red cherry gelatin powder.

 

Black Forest Treats
Make basic recipe, substituting chocolate Rice Krispies cereal. Stir 1 cup of milk chocolate chips in with cereal.

 

Cherry Juice Goodness
Wait! Don’t pour out that delicious drained cherry juice leftover from this recipe. Use in frostings, whipped cream or cake batter. A splash makes your hot chocolate into “Chocolate Covered Cherry” hot chocolate and will turn your cola drinks into fun cherry ones. Use to make lemon or limeade cherry ice cubes, too. 

A southern girl’s PC… Creamy Swiss Pimento Cheese

We all have our personal favorite pimento cheese. I invite you to try mine… with nutty Swiss cheese and the creaminess of whipped cream cheese. I also use North Carolina’s Mt. Olive Pickles Roasted Red Peppers, to keep it local y’all. But if you’re not lucky to have where you live, just substitute!

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Popcorn & Vintage Candy Bar! Fun for all…

 

Guests both young and old will love this fun festive popcorn and vintage candy bar!


Over 3+ decades of catering, I did many a party of every description… for young and old alike!  When my friend Jim called me to throw a surprise 50th for his wife, we talked about several themes, and ended up doing a variety of fun stations and bars, each features local and NC products.  There was a hot dog bar, hot and cold corn on the cob station, pickle tub, pimento cheese and field pea caviar area and for dessert… a blueberry and strawberry shortcake bar too.  Since there was a bunch of kiddos coming, he wanted something fun for them, so I did a great big table of old fashioned candies, peanuts and all sorts of popcorns with spicy shakes for those who wanted theirs spiffed up a bit.

Shake your popcorn…

Since Sunday was “National Business of Popping Corn Day”  (and forgot to post this then), I figured this would be a good time to share this popcorn bar!  With the holidaZe on the way and gatherings of friends and family, this would be a fun, budget-friendly and quick idea for your entertaining… 

Folks of all ages love popcorn and vintage candies.  Just keep it simple… pop corn or buy it in a big old tin… add some kettle, caramel and candied corns.  See what you have in your spice cabinet, or pick up some fun salts and seasonings. I’m a big fan of Savory Spice Shop and shop often at the Raleigh location, but they have other stores all over.  Or you can just shop online and have goodies sent right to your door!

Throw a sheet of burlap or something festive over a table… sit boxes of various heights up under there so you can put your containers at different levels on your table!  If it’s in a dark corner, don’t forget to sit a lamp on the table.  The light will give your display a “pop” and draw folks to it. 

TIP:  Do that with all your tables!  Lighting creates beautiful ambiance for your food displays, not to mention, it helps your guests see what they are getting in dimly lit areas. 

It’s also helpful to make little folded cards to sit by your foods for that same reason.  You can make with stickers right onto notecards or any number of ways.

Pick up some festive “take home bags” for folks to take a goodie bag with them so you’re not stuck with leftovers…

Enjoy your holiday season, and have FUN!  If you do a popcorn (or any other) bar, please do snap a picture and send me!  I’d love to share your ideas here with others.

A fun way to enjoy an old favorite… Crab Rangoon Stuffed Mushrooms!

You won’t go wrong making up a bunch of these Crab Rangoon Stuffed Mushrooms for your next gathering. You can bake in small batches in your toaster oven, or do a great big pan for larger crowds in your oven.

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Steak Bites with Horseradish Whipped Cream

Steak Bites with Horseradish Whipped Cream

 

 

Who doesn’t love steak?  If you are looking for a “sure to please” appetizer for your holiday gatherings, you’ll surely want to add this one to your table.  They are quick and easy to make, yet really spiffs up the menu. The horseradish whipped cream on the side for dip’n is just right for these steak bites too.  

Keep an eye out and pick up your preferred cut when on sale. Go ahead and cut up the pieces, then freeze to have on hand for quick fix’n. Even better, go ahead and freeze in the marinade so that all those flavors can spend some time getting to know the steak making your bites even more better!

I do hope you will give these a try, and come to my facebook community and tell me what you think.  See the recipe where it first appeared in the December 2017 Carolina Country Magazine, or below where you can print.

Glazed Steak Bites with Horseradish Whipped Cream
Enjoy this simple addition to your holiday appetizer menu. Your crowd will love these flavorful steak bites, as is, or with a dollop of snazzy whipped cream on top! 
Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Snack
Cuisine: Grilling, Southern, Tailgating
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
STEAK
  • 4 lbs. lean beef (rib eye, filet or sirloin) cut into 3/4" cubes
  • 4 tablespoons oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
MARINADE
  • 1/2 cup grapeseed or olive oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
HORSERADISH WHIPPED CREAM
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise (Duke's preferred)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch sugar
  • minced chives
Instructions
  1. Combine marinade ingredients. Put beef into zippered bag. Pour marinade over, seal and toss to coat. Marinate, refrigerated, 30 minutes to overnight.
  2. Heat half the oil and butter in cast iron skillet to medium-high heat. Add steak pieces, making sure not to crowd (cook in batches adding oil and butter as needed). Sear until “crust” forms. 
  3. For whipped cream: Whip cream until stiff peaks form. Fold in remaining ingredients. Garnish with chives. Serve with steak bites.
Recipe Notes

Note: Be careful not to overcook as the meat will continue cooking after removing from heat.