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Enjoy These Spicy Saltines With Sausage and Cheese

Saltines

Sometimes you just don’t want a whole meal. You’re not that hungry, or you’re about to go to bed or something. You want to eat a bit, though, maybe what used to be called supper, and you want something that’s flavorful and tasty. Not fattening would be nice too, this time of year.

Have I got a deal for you! (No, no, no, not THAT deal. Will you quit harping on that little misunderstanding? So the land in question was momentarily flooded; we got back to shore okay. No need to be small-minded about it; let’s just let bygones be bygones.)

How about some sausage, like some dried venison link or a nice summer sausage. With some white cheese. (Low-fat is okay if you’re watching that sort of thing.) A glass of red wine, like a Merlot, would be good too. And to go with it all, the world’s best flavored saltines! If that sounds good to you, then all you need to do is prepare the crackers. And it’s so easy you’ll be amazed. (Shoot, it almost amazed me, and I’ve been two three hog-callings and two county fairs.)

Here’s how you make the crackers. Get a box of regular saltines; not the unsalted type, and not any of those funky whole-wheat flavored ones. Just everyday saltines, that come in the rectangular box, four sleeves to a box. Next, collect the following ingredients: Canola oil; red pepper flakes; 1 package of Ranch dressing powder; garlic powder (or finely granulated, dried garlic); and some Mrs. Dash Extra Spicy Seasoning Blend. First, make up the seasoning payload: 3/4 cup oil, the Ranch powder, 2 tablespoons of red pepper flakes, 1-3 teaspoons of garlic powder (to your taste; consider this item optional) and 1/2-1 tablespoon of the Mrs. Dash. Don’t worry about making it a consistent slurry yet.

Lay out a sleeve of crackers on a large cookie sheet. You don’t need to cover the sheet with anything, and you won’t be cooking the crackers. Make sure the crackers are all touching, edge-to-edge. Now whisk the oil and spice mix until it’s an even consistency, then drizzle the oil over the crackers. You want to use about 1/4 of the oil mix, or about a scant 1/4 cup. Don’t worry about covering everything evenly! It’s not that exacting a method, and as you’ll see, it’s not necessary.

Now, take the saltines up carefully and place them in a large, plastic bin with a sealable top. Something like a Tupperware box. Rectangular will work best, of course. Repeat the coating process for the remaining three sleeves of saltines. When you have all the crackers in the box, drizzle in the remaining oil and spices (if there’s any left). Seal the box and let it stand on your kitchen counter.

Here’s the magic part: For the first day, every time you see the box (or about once per hour or so), gently turn the box over, or onto a side. By turning the bin you let the oil and spices coat the saltines more evenly. Don’t worry if you forget for a time or two, just turn it when you think of it. Then let them stand aside for a few days. Your spicy crackers are ready! They’ll keep 2-3 weeks on the counter, although I bet they hang around that long only if you’re hospitalized in the interim, or something equally dire.

Take one of the saltines, put on a piece of cheese or sausage (or both, if you’re the bold sort) and much down! These little mouth-watering bites make a great light meal, and are outstanding as party canapés. (I’d say hors d’ourves, but I don’t know how to spell that.) You can experiment to your heart’s delight about what to eat these snack crackers with. You like deli ham? Got some! Lacy Swiss or earthy Manchego cheese? Delightful. Salami? Wonderful. Tuna paté or fois gras? Knock yourself out. I personally draw the line at Limburger cheese, But I know some of you don’t have my restraint.

If you’re hosting a Superbowl party (coming soon!), make a couple pounds of these crunchy tongue-tinglers a week in advance. I find that dill pickle slices are great on there too. Use some squeeze cheese to make the snacks look great, and you’ll be the talk of the town in 2010. (Yeah, even more than Paris Hilton. Woohoo!) Just don’t blame me when the marriage proposals come rolling in…

Enjoy the (Crunchy Zesty Cracker) Heat!

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