Category Archives: Starters

Appetizers, snacks

Grown Up Iced Coffee with Absolut

We had our first snow day this week. It was actually rather nice….everyone slept in—except Stella of course:) Snow days on a Monday are about as good as a Friday snow day:) When my kids were younger…snow days meant lots of work for me. The sleds…the wet clothes…the fourteen cups of coco…endless loop of Disney channel. Don’t get me wrong, I loved most of it…it is why I wouldn’t trade my job for any other job on earth. But these snow days ….that sometimes go on and on (like last winter thanks to the polar vortex)…at the end of the day…Momma may need a little way to relax. This little cocktail may be a nice way to end your day…next to a roaring fire…with your comfy pants on. grown up iced coffee #absolutWarhol @cleverlyinspired (3)


My friends at Absolut would love for you to take a look at their new Limited Edition Warhol bottle for your grown up parties this holiday. Have the moms in your neighborhood over after a long day of sledding and snow fun and pull out this cocktail to celebrate the season. (drink responsibly mates:)grown up iced coffee #absolutWarhol @cleverlyinspired (1)


This bottle is available now for a limited time. It is the perfect addition to your bar…and will get the conversation started;) It is the perfect Pop of color for your bar too! Search up #absolutWarhol for some fabulous inspiration!

grown up iced coffee #absolutWarhol @cleverlyinspired (7)

Grown Up Iced Coffee with Absolut
Prep time
Total time
Serves: 1
  • ¼ C strong brewed coffee
  • ½ C (or more to taste) of milk
  • 1 shot Absolut Vodka
  • dash of amaretto
  1. Brew coffee and set in fridge for 5 minutes.
  2. Fill rocks glass with ice.
  3. Pour in Coffee, vodka and amaretto.
  4. Top with milk. Stir and enjoy!


grown up iced coffee #absolutWarhol @cleverlyinspired (6)

Smooth, creamy and just the hint of naughty:) Stay warm friends!



I am a brand ambassador for companies that create products and services that target my readership.  I work with Social Spark and Clever Girls, along with individual companies. I will always be mindful of your time and needs…and keep with the mission of CleverlyInspired; which is to inspire you to be clever in your own home. I appreciate your understanding. I have been compensated for my time, however all opinions and thoughts , photos & errors are 100% mine;)

Thanksgiving Cheese Ball

We woke up to a few inches of snow here…and our first snow day from school. Seems a bit early, no? I don’t remember ever having a snow day this early in the school year. Check out instagram to see Stella’s first walk in the snow….hilarious. I hope you had a fabulous weekend. I know that many of you are getting ready for the big turkey day….and I wanted to share one more great appetizer to serve up to your guest….Have a great Monday friends:)

Realizing that this is my 2nd cheese post within the last couple weeks….love me some cheese:) Cheese ball & holiday’s….it’s like peanut butter and jelly….bacon & eggs….mac & cheese…you get the point…. I used to love going to the mall during the holidays and seeing that big Hickory Farms kiosk…..guarantee sausage sample….It doesn’t take much to make me happy. Sausage and cheese….hellllooooo:) So in the spirit of the big day of turkey…I thought I would create a turkey shaped cheese ball. It is so fun to play with food:) You can obviously make this into any shape you desire…..go play….Thanksgiving cheese ball @cleverlyinspired (2)

I bought a box of kitchen gloves…and I use them all the time for recipes like this….getting cheese out of nails=not fun at all…..


Thanksgiving cheese ball @cleverlyinspired (10)

Combine everything except the bacon. Make a basic turkey head by shaping the body and then a small ball for the head. Roll the entire thing in bacon….wax paper makes for  quick cleanup:)


Thanksgiving cheese ball @cleverlyinspired (9)

I used 3 kinds of crackers to create a “feather” effect.

Thanksgiving cheese ball @cleverlyinspired (3)

Thanksgiving Cheese Ball
Prep time
Total time
Serves: 16
  • 8oz cream cheese
  • 1 C shredded smoked gouda
  • 1 T chives
  • dash of tabasco
  • ⅓ C bacon chopped or bacon bits
  1. Combine all ingredients except bacon.
  2. Form into turkey head
  3. Roll in bacon (spread bacon on wax paper for easy clean up)
  4. When ready to serve, place crackers in "feather" shape and cheese in the center.


Thanksgiving cheese ball @cleverlyinspired (5)

You can make it ahead and then just place the crackers on before guest arrive:) Try not to say gobble gobble to much:) (recipe adapted from RachelRay)


Baked Cheese Appetizer (Easy Thanksgiving Snack)

Hey yall! We are in the beginnings of basketball season here! My buds is the manager of the freshman basketball team for his high school. He is so stinkin excited about it! We are thrilled he is meeting so many nice boys…and he loves being a part of the team. I am trying my darndest to get my holiday things organized. Figuring out where things go and what to decorate will be a challenge this year:) I am NOT one of those bloggers who has it all together and all the holiday stuff is out and looking fabulous:) As always….I blog in “real time”…I try to give you some things to work on ahead of time…like this recipe I am sharing today. It is a great one to have for Thanksgiving festivities….

Don’t you love a recipe that starts off with “3 ingredients”….it’s screaming “HEY YOU—seriously this is the easiest thing ever!!!” Make this for Thanksgiving….it will impress your guest…and it so easy you can have your 11 year old put it together. I made a couple for my party a few weeks back…and it is always gone.

Baked cheese appetizer (easy thanksgiving snack) @cleverlyinspired (5)

You can use any seasoning packet that you would like. I used dried onion soup and spinach garlic. Any of those dried dip mixes will work. If you need to make your own….here is a post I shared last year that would work perfectly.

Baked cheese appetizer (easy thanksgiving snack) @cleverlyinspired (1)



Baked cheese appetizer (easy thanksgiving snack) @cleverlyinspired (7)

Baked Cheese Appetizer (Easy Thanksgiving Snack)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 10
  • 1 can crescent rolls
  • 1 packet of dried dip of your choice
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  1. Heat oven to 375
  2. Roll out 4 crescent rolls into a rectangle. I roll it out on wax paper to prevent sticking.
  3. Sprinkle half of the season packet on crescent
  4. Place cream cheese on rectangle.
  5. Sprinkle the remaining seasoning.
  6. Gently wrap the crescent on top of cream cheese.
  7. Place seam sides down on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
  8. Bake for 25 minutes until browned.


Baked cheese appetizer (easy thanksgiving snack) @cleverlyinspired (6)

Monster Pasta Salad (Halloween Party Food)

Back from a weekend of good food, good drinks and good shopping in Chicago. We celebrated our 18th in style:) I am pulling some fun post together but is taking me a while to get my stuff together. It seems I am still trying to get us “settled” in our new house…September has been a a blur but at the same time a really long month. Hoping that I get that blogging mojo back soon. I have been concentrating on being creative…which usually pulls me back to center:) This week we are also preparing for our new baby Stella:) She will join our family on Saturday…and we are all so excited for the little ball of fur! I am busy baby proofing the house…and making sure we are set to go:) I shared this little Halloween snack over at my girl Jen’s a few weeks back but I like to share it here too in case you missed it the first go around….It is a great way to make a fun Halloween meal—without the sweet:)

With all the treats and sweets during Halloween time… is nice to have a healthy “fun” food dish to serve up your little monsters before they head out to all the parties. This grumpy monster pasta salad is full of veggies and pasta…and is sure to be a hit with your little gremlins. I was going for the “Bride of Frankenstein” look….what do ya think? Obviously feel free to substitute your families favorite veggies or cheeses…make it your own:)

Halloween Party Food @cleverlyinspired (10)


Halloween Party Food @cleverlyinspired (1)


I may have had a little bit too much fun putting this together…just sayin…When folks are ready to dig in…just place a large serving spoon beside the tray and little friends can grab their favorite things from the platter. A little container of ranch or dressing is perfect to drizzle on top. Easy!

Halloween Party Food @cleverlyinspired (11)


Use a large platter or even a cookie sheet to contain your veggies. A foil “template” may help to visualize your design. Get the kids involved and have them create with the food….win win:)

Here is what I used to create mine:

Monster Pasta Salad (Halloween Party Food)
Prep time
Total time
Serves: 10
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 1 red pepper (eyes and mouth)
  • 1 bunch of celery
  • dried sausage
  • a bit of green food coloring (for the eyebrows)
  • 1 small box bowtie paste cooked and cooled
  • bottle of favorite dressing
  1. Cook pasta and cool...set aside.
  2. Peel long pieces of cucumber.
  3. Cut celery into narrow pieces to arrange face.
  4. See picture to get clues for how to put your monster pasta salad together.

See picture above to get clues for how to begin your monster. I peeled about 7 long pieces of cucumber and set them in between the pasta to look like hair. I created the face with celery pieces, red pepper, cucumbers and a sausage nose. I found that it helped to dry the pasta a bit on a towel so that is wasn’t too slippery.

Halloween Party Food @cleverlyinspired (2)

It is a good idea to have some extra veggies on the side…and some pasta too—especially if you are feeding a crowd.

Halloween Party Food @cleverlyinspired (8)

Like I said….have fun with it…and get the kiddos involved—they may never look at red peppers the same again:)


Tomato Cobbler

Did you have a good weekend?Pretty low key here..we made it to the lake to clean up a few things and grab some furniture…Happy end to summer I guess. It seemed that this one kind of passes us by…although I am ready for fall. I kind of like the hibernation that fall brings. I am really an introvert about 8 months of the year….and I love the quiet that fall brings:) But, before we go all pumpkin…let’s use up those tomatoes from the garden ok….

I know….cobbler is usually sweet…but this easy tomato cobbler is the best use of all those tomatoes at the end of summer:) I have used this recipe forever…I think I tore it out of a Martha mag a long time ago. I bet you have everything you need to pull it together tonight….

tomato cobbler @cleverlyinspired (1)

Tomato Cobbler
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 6
  • pint cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • ⅓ C Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 T olive oil
  • ⅓ C fresh Parmesan
  • ¼ t salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • ¼ C dried parsley
  1. Spread some olive oil on bottom of baking dish.
  2. Toss in tomatoes
  3. In a small bowl combine remaining ingredients (salt and pepper to taste)
  4. Even spread on top of tomatoes
  5. Bake 400 for 20 minutes


tomato cobbler @cleverlyinspired (3)

It couldn’t be easier really…..and your payoff is huge:)


tomato cobbler @cleverlyinspired (2)


Have a wonderful week friends:)


Mini Hot Brown Appetizer (#triscuitsnackoff)

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine. The hot brown was invented in Louisville….at The Brown Hotel. I have never been there. A bit sad since I have lived within 15 minutes of the Brown Hotel for the past 20 years….I’ll get there someday. It’s on “the list”…I don’t feel awful about it since my hubs has lived here is entire life and has never had THEE Hot Brown at The Brown hotel. Basically, a hot brown is comprised of turkey, bacon, & Mornay sauce. It was invented in The Brown hotel for dinner guest that had a case of the munchies later in the evening (after dancing and a few bourbons I am sure…) In lieu of a standard ham and cheese, Chef Fred Schmidt created this unusual pairing to fill up the late night patrons. Ever since that evening in 1920…The Brown Hotel has been serving up the turkey goodness. The dish is synonymous with all things Bluegrass…here is my little take on this traditional southern classic…in bite size form:) mini hot brown appetizer #triscuitsummersnackoff (5)cv  

Mini Hot Brown Appetizer (Easy snack recipe)
Prep time
Total time
Serves: 16
  • Turkey sliced thin
  • prosciutto sliced thin
  • 4 oz. ⅓ fat cream cheese
  • ½ tsp. each nutmeg, salt and pepper
  • cherry tomatoes sliced in quarters
  • 1 T grated parmesan
  • parsley
  1. Combine softened cream cheese with nutmeg, salt, pepper, 1 T parmesan. Place one slice prosciutto on top one slice turkey. Spread dollop of cream cheese mixture on and roll up. Slice the roll into 3rds. Place a small dot of cream cheese on a Triscuit cracker. Place a slice of the rolled up turkey on top. Top with tomato Dust with parsley

mini hot brown Serve up a little Bluegrass tradition at your next party:) Yall will love it;)  mini hot brown appetizer #triscuitsummersnackoff (3)  Martha Stewart would love for you to come up with a snack bite that features Triscuit crackers. See the for more info!  And be sure and search up #triscuitsnackoff for more yummo ideas!! You could win a trip to NYC and meet up with Martha:)   mini hot brown appetizer #triscuitsummersnackoff (1)   Whip some up the next time your friends get the munchies:) Triscuit Summer Snackoff Visit Sponsor's Site

Cool Cucumber Bite Appetizer Recipe featuring Martha Stewart Collection

My first foodie post from our new house….feels so fun…and yet so weird. I am still figuring out the best way to use this space. Still a ton to do…lots to share…so excited to share it with all of you!! Here is a great lil recipe to try out this weekend….

I am pretty sure that cucumber is the official veggie of summertime (along with the beloved tomato of course.) Rightly so I suppose…it grows rampant all season long….taste fabulous on a hot summer day…and you can make it look so stinkin cool too. Doesn’t this look so chic?? And I am sooooo not chic! :) My friends over at Martha Stewart ( that’s right, Martha herself…insert sarcasm…) sent me these adorbs plates from the Martha Stewart Collection…available exclusively at Macy’s. These remind me of Madmen for some reason…a bit mid century modern with just a touch of cuteness. Sidenote: Have you watched Madmen??….oh my goodness. This year is the final season….and I am going to start the entire show over from the beginning….it is just that good. The costume and set design are incredible. I digress….The collection is called Poppy….very fun and summery….go check it out at your local Macy’s:)

So here is how you put together these easy cucumber bites….it really couldn’t be simpler. You could place them on a cracker instead of rye toast….up to you.

cool cucumber bite appetizer @cleverlyinspired (2)


cool cucumber bite appetizer @cleverlyinspired (7)

Cool Cucumber Bite Appetizer Recipe featuring Martha Stewart Collection
Prep time
Total time
Serves: 16
  • 4 pieces rye bread toasted (or 16 crackers)
  • 1 cucumber
  • package of boursin garlic herb cheese
  1. Peel one section on the cucumber.
  2. Continue to peel long ways and place peels on paper towel to dry off a bit.
  3. With a melonballer, scoop some cheese on the end of the peel and roll up.
  4. Cut up toast into 4 pieces.
  5. Place cucumber on toast.


cool cucumber bite appetizer @cleverlyinspired (5)


Summer on a plate:)

cool cucumber bite appetizer @cleverlyinspired (3)Have a terrific weekend!!



Easy Homemade Coleslaw Recipe

I posted my Dad’s coleslaw recipe a long time ago….about 4 years actually. I know my Dad will probably be shaking his head at me when he reads this…because I have tweaked the recipe a bit. I promise Dad…it is JUST as good as the original….but maybe just a little bit better for you:) This slaw is perfect to serve up with some ribs and corn on the cob….what a great summer meal—that is easy!!


easy homemade coleslaw recipe @cleverlyinspired (1)


It is great if you can make this slaw one day ahead….it is so good on the 2nd day when the flavors are all friends:) If you don’t have one of these juicers….go grab one. I saw a few very similar to mine at Homegoods last week. A little trick to get a ton of juice from the lemon….pop the whole lemon in the microwave for 30 seconds. Then cut in half and juice—one lemon will be plenty for this recipe.


easy homemade coleslaw recipe @cleverlyinspired (2)

So if you need something to bring to a picnic this summer….remember this recipe!!

Easy Homemade Coleslaw Recipe
Prep time
Total time
Serves: 6
  • One bag of slaw
  • 1 lemon (2 T juiced)
  • ½ tsp season all
  • 1 C Hellman's Mayo with olive oil
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  1. Combine slaw and lemon juice.
  2. Combine sugar, salt, season salt, pepper. Toss on cabbage until well coated.
  3. Stir in mayo.
  4. If you like your slaw a little wetter...add a bit more mayo.
  5. Refrigerate overnight and enjoy!




easy homemade coleslaw recipe @cleverlyinspired (3)


Hope you are having a great start to summer:)


Stuffed Jalapeño Popper Recipe

It is a love/hate relationship with me….they are so hot….but they are so good….ok, I’ll have one more…yes, my mouth is burning…BUT I DON’T CARE!! These stuffed poppers are a real crowd pleaser….plus, they are good even when they cool off a bit—so you can serve them up and not worry about them! Perfect for a Memorial Day picnic with friends:) I hope you look like as big of an idiot as I do when I eat them;)


puff pastry stuffed popper recipe @cleverlyinspired (4)



puff pastry stuffed popper recipe @cleverlyinspired (3)


Feel free to make them ahead:) Just cover them with a damp paper towel so that the pastry doesn’t dry out too much.


What’s more patriotic then a popper? Nothing I tell you….nothing:) #grabmybeer


puff pastry stuffed popper recipe @cleverlyinspired (1)


Stuffed Jalapeño Popper Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 30
  • 1 clove of garlic roasted
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbed
  • 1 c shredded cheddar
  • 15 jalapenos sliced down the center and seeded
  • 2 sheets puff pastry
  1. Roast garlic (cut off top of garlic bulb, place on foil, drizzle with olive oil, wrap foil around and bake for 45 min. at 425)
  2. Combine garlic pulp, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, bacon crumbs.
  3. Scoop 1 tablespoon of cheese mixture into pepper.
  4. Cut thawed puff pastry sheets into 12 squares.
  5. Wrap peppers with puff pastry piece. You can brush with egg wash if you want:)
  6. Bake 400 for about 15-20 min. until browned. Using parchment on the baking sheet will help peppers keep from sticking.


Bacon & Cheese Muffin Recipe

I recently shared these over at my girl Jen’s….but in case you haven’t clicked over there I wanted to share them here too. These muffins…oh my. Grab your coffee, cut up an orange…and warm up one of these Bacon Cheese muffins…done and done. If you are feeling extra naughty you could drizzle a tiny bit of warm maple syrup on the top….yeah….are you drooling yet?

Serve these up to your Easter brunch crowd…and they would love you that much more…but that would mean you would have to share them…and then there wouldn’t be any leftovers for just you. Do I sound selfish? That is probably not the Easter spirit…ok…I’ll share….

Seriously though, these bake up light and fluffy and have this gooeyness to them. Cheesy, chive-y and bacon-y…and completely yummy (my own adjectives….moving on…)


bacon and cheese muffins @cleverlyinspired (4)

The ingredients are simple and straightforward. Just be sure to combine all the wet ingredients first, then gently add in your dry ingredients. Do not over mix….or you are sure to have a tough muffin. Tough muffin= no bueno. :)

cheesy bacon muffin recipe (14)


cheesy bacon muffin recipe (12)


These muffins would be a perfect addition to your Easter table this year. Serve them up with an egg casserole, some fresh fruit and you are good to go!


bacon and cheese muffins @cleverlyinspired (2)


cheesy bacon muffin recipe (9)


Bacon & Cheese Muffin Recipe
  • 4 slices bacon crumbled
  • 2 T butter melted
  • 3 T chives
  • 2 C flour
  • 2 t baking powder
  • ½ t salt
  • 2 T sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C milk
  • 1 C sharp cheddar grated
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  1. Preheat oven 350
  2. Generously spray muffin tin
  3. Melt butter in microwave. Add in chives and let cool.
  4. Combine eggs and milk. Stir in butter, cheese, garlic and bacon.
  5. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt.
  6. Add dry ingredient to wet and stir till just combined.
  7. Use a ice cream scoop to place in muffin tin.
  8. Bake about 20 minutes. Test with toothpick.
  9. Makes 12 muffins.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...