I realized it’s been awhile since I’ve posted a recipe so I decided to post two of my favorites! These are not really meant to be served at the same time; however, my harp students will be getting them both at group lessons tomorrow so I guess they can tell me what they think!
The marinated cheese recipe comes from my best friend, Heather, and I’m not sure where she got it. There are several variations of it online but in my opinion, this is the best one! This is NOT a low-calorie, low-fat, healthy appetizer so it should probably be eaten in moderation. But it’s okay to splurge once in awhile! We serve it with various types of crackers…my favorites are garlic bagel chips, everything pretzel crackers, and those boring little water biscuits.
1 (0.7 oz) envelope Italian dressing mix
1/2 cup vegetable or olive oil
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tbs minced green onion (I almost never use these simply because I don’t like green onions)
2 tbs water
1 1/2 tsps sugar
1 (8-oz.) block Monterey Jack cheese, chilled
1 (8-oz.) block sharp Cheddar cheese, chilled
1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, chilled
1 (4-oz.) jar chopped pimientos, drained
Whisk the first 6 ingredients together. Set aside.
Cut Monterey Jack cheese in half lengthwise. Cut each half crosswise into 1/4 inch thick slices. Repeat with Cheddar cheese and cream cheese.
Arrange cheese in 4 rows in shallow 2-qt. baking dish, alternating Monterey Jack cheese, Cheddar cheese, and cream cheese. Pour marinade over cheese. Cover and chill at least 8 hours or overnight.
Drain marinade (or reuse on chicken breasts!). Arrange cheese on a platter in rows. Top with pimientos and serve with assorted crackers.
There are also several recipes floating around for Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars and I’ve tried several of them. My favorite recipe still comes from Martha Stewart. Her bars turn out crispy on the very bottom, chewy and dense in the middle, and crunchy on top with just the right amount of jelly. These are fantastic and a little square goes a LONG way as they’re very rich and dense. Best served with a cold glass of milk!
Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/2 cups smooth peanut butter
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups strawberry jam, room temperature (I also recommend trying raspberry)
2/3 cup salted peanuts, roughly chopped (I always use honey roasted and not chopped)
Heat oven to 350. Grease a 9×13 pan with butter and line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper and dust with flour to coat. Set aside.
Place butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. On medium speed, add eggs, vanilla, and peanut butter. Beat until combined, about 2 minutes.
Whisk together salt, baking powder, and flour. Add to bowl of mixer on low speed and combine. It will be VERY thick at this point. Resist the urge to eat it straight out of the bowl as it does contain raw eggs.
Transfer two-thirds of mixture to prepared pan and spread evenly. I find it’s easiest to use damp fingers to spread the mixture to the edges. Using spatula, spread jam on top of peanut-butter dough. Dollop remaining third of peanut butter mixture on top of jam. I just break off little quarter sized pieces and try to evenly cover the top. You should be able to see the jam through the topping. Sprinkle with peanuts.
Bake until golden, about 45 minutes (usually takes me 50) minutes). Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
Be careful to only bake it until it turns a nice golden brown. If you wait too long, the edges will burn and the bottom layer will be hard and not soft and chewy.
Again, neither of these recipes are remotely healthy but if you’re looking to indulge, I highly recommend giving them a try!
I am so blessed to work where you give harp lessons. Why, you ask?! Because I get treated to the most delicious foods – ever! I thought the PB&J bars were so good…but then when I tried the cheese and crackers – wow! Absolutely fantastic!!! Thanks, Jessica, for always sharing your special cooking talents with me. 🙂
Hey Shannon, glad you enjoyed them! 🙂