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Dash of Grace: Pass the nachos on game day

Brats and beer nachos are a great appetizer for holiday football games, but they are hearty enough to be called a meal.
Brats and beer nachos are a great appetizer for holiday football games, but they are hearty enough to be called a meal.

If you’re not cooking, you should be; it is so much fun to try new things in the kitchen. Sometimes they are giant flops, but occasionally we get a real winner like this week’s beer and brats nachos. What could be more perfect for watching all the big holiday-time football games with family and friends?

When we were making these nachos for the column, they looked and smelled out of this world. A few friends and family members have learned when the cooking is going on and sometimes they stop by to help us out with the tasting. We call them our “live studio audience.” On this day, the “tasters” would take a little of the food on a plastic fork and start to move on, tossing their forks into the trash. Then, they would stop in their tracks and fill up another plastic fork. Then, they would come back for another bite. Some just gave up and sat down at the table with a plate. 

So, here are the brats and beer nachos. Let me know if you like them as much as everyone around here did.

Brats and beer nachos

1 package (14 ounces) fully cooked, smoked, bratwurst links, sliced

2 1/4 cups frozen pepper and onion, stir-fry blend

3 cups (12 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

2 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour

1 cup chopped onions

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

3/4 cup beer or beef broth

12 cups tortilla chips

In a large skillet, saute bratwurst for 1 minute. Add stir-fry blend; cook 3 to 5 minutes longer or until vegetables are tender. Set aside and keep warm. 

In a large bowl, combine cheese and flour. In a large saucepan, saute onion in oil until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in beer. Heat over medium heat, until bubbles form around sides of the pan.

Reduce heat to medium-low; add a handful of the cheese mixture.

Stir constantly, using a figure-8 motion, until almost completely melted.

Continue adding cheese, one handful at a time, allowing cheese to almost completely melt between additions.

Arrange the tortilla chips on a large serving platter. Spoon the cheese mixture over the chips. Top with the bratwurst and serve immediately.

7-layer Mexican salad

There are all kinds of layered salads. They are very pretty if you put them in a clear trifle bowl so each layer shows.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Total time: (Includes cooling) 3 hours, 15 minutes

Servings: 2

Easy to double


1-1/2 cups torn fresh spinach

1 small tomato, seeded, chopped

2 green onions, chopped

3 tablespoons sliced black olives

1/2 cup rinsed canned kidney beans

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

2 tablespoons ranch dressing

3 tablespoons thick and chunky salsa

Chopped cilantro

Layer the first 6 ingredients in serving bowl.

Drizzle with dressing and salsa. Garnish with fresh cilantro if desired.

Refrigerate several hours or until chilled.

This salad makes a great filling for wrap sandwiches. Top each flour tortilla with 1/4 cup salad, then roll up.

Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Simple spuds

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 packet Ranch Salad Dressing & Seasoning mix

2 pounds small red potatoes, quartered

Place potatoes in a gallon-size food storage bag and add oil; seal bag. Toss to coat. Add salad dressing mix and toss again until coated. Bake in ungreased baking pan at 450 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until potatoes are brown and crisp.

Make your own party mix

6 cups rice Chex cereal

1 cup chopped pecans

1/3 cup butter or margarine

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons maple syrup

2 teaspoons vanilla

Measure Rice Chex cereal and pecans into a large microwaveable bowl. Line cookie sheet with waxed paper or foil.

In 2-cup microwaveable measuring cup, microwave butter, uncovered, on high, 30 seconds or until melted. 

Add sugar and maple syrup; microwave until mixture is boiling. Stir in vanilla. Pour over cereal and pecans, stirring until evenly coated.

Sapodilla cheesecake pie

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 45 minutes

Ready in 3 hours

Makes 1 (9-by-13-inch) cheesecake

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

1 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla extract (or regular)

2 (8-ounce) cans refrigerated crescent rolls

3/4 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

1/4 cup honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Beat the cream cheese with 1 cup of sugar and the vanilla extract in a bowl until smooth.

Unroll the cans of crescent roll dough, and use a rolling pin to shape each piece into 9-by-13-inch rectangles. Press one piece into the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Evenly spread the cream cheese mixture into the baking dish, then cover with the remaining piece of crescent dough. Stir together 3/4 cup of sugar, cinnamon, and butter. Dot the mixture over the top of the cheesecake.

Bake in preheated oven until the crescent dough has puffed and turned golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and drizzle with honey. Cool completely in the pan before cutting into 12 squares.

Tip of the week

Now that the holiday season is here, remember that the stuffing ingredients must be cool before they are put inside the raw turkey, chicken or other bird. Any increase in temperature before roasting increases the likelihood of bacterial growth. Happy Holidays! 

Readers corner

We have a reader in Amboy who wants a good recipe for tilapia. She had tilapia she liked at Circa 21 Dinner Theater in Rock Island. If any of you have a good recipe to share, please let us know. I had the cheese-crusted tilapia at Circa, and it was delicious.

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