Tasty Bites for Cozy Nights

Gathering to watch a game or cozying up for some binge-watching? Here are recipes for a cheese spread with hot pepper jelly and bacon, jazzed-up deviled eggs, easy Super Loaded Sheet-Pan Nachos, and more to make your night even better.
Goat Cheese with Hot Pepper Jelly and Bacon

PHOTOGRAPHY TERRY BRENNAN, FOOD STYLING LARA MIKLASEVICS

We are in prime hunkering-down season. Whether you are gathering a few friends to watch football playoffs, cozying up with a movie or your favorite show, or getting together for a game night, you’re going to need some tasty food to go with your activity—or inactivity!

This week I have gathered recipes for a cheese spread gilded with hot pepper jelly and bacon and a jazzed-up variation on deviled eggs, which cookbook author Kristin Donnelly created for Real Food. Nachos are always an easy-to-make crowd pleaser, and in the following recipe, courtesy of Wisconsin Cheese, they have added some heat with spicy cheese and toppings to keep you warm on cold nights. Also, check out their tips below for serving spicy cheese and using it in recipes, and my roundup of a selection of recipes I have highlighted on this site. You’re bound to find something tempting.

Tips to Turn Up the Cheesy Heat

Find spicy success with these simple tips from the folks with Wisconsin Cheese. Less is more when serving and cooking with spicy cheeses.

  • Cut cheeses into small slices for serving on a cheese board. Consider making bite-size appetizers, which allow the spiciness of the cheeses to build with each portion.
  • Gradually add spicy cheeses to recipes and taste-test in between additions.
  • Create a blend of shredded hot and mild cheeses to top nachos or pizza.
  • Stir fiery cheeses into dips or soups for added creaminess and spicy heat.
  • Crank up the heat in warm dips with spicy cheeses. Or mix them with “cooling” sour cream or milk in cold dips, as these dairy products help neutralize the capsaicin in chili peppers.
  • Ease into things by customizing pairings. Dot your favorite mild cheeses like Gouda and blue with hot pepper jams and jellies, such as peach habanero or raspberry chipotle.

Goat Cheese with Hot Pepper Jelly and Bacon

Makes 8 to 12 Servings

Cream cheese with hot pepper jelly is a classic snack in the South. Here, a similar combination comes together with fresh goat cheese. (If you’re not a fan of goat cheese, you can use cream cheese, of course!) And bacon “gilds the lily.”  —Kristin Donnelly

8 ounces bacon, preferably not thick-cut
1 (8-ounce) log fresh goat cheese
1 cup hot or sweet pepper jelly
Crackers or crostini, for serving

  1. Thinly slice the bacon crosswise into ¼-inch-thick pieces. Spread them out in a skillet and set the skillet over medium-low heat. Cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, until a lot of the fat has rendered and the bacon is crisp, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon pieces to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
  2. Arrange the goat cheese on a platter. Pour the hot pepper jelly over the top, allowing it to run and pool down the sides. (If the jelly is stiff and you’d like to loosen it, microwave it for 20 seconds.) Just before serving, sprinkle with bacon and serve with crackers.

Cook’s Notes:
• You can cook the bacon a day in advance and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.
• If you’d like to create a tidier presentation, you can press the goat cheese into a small dish and pour the jelly over, so it forms a layer on top.

Nutrition info Goat Cheese with Pepper Jelly (per serving): Calories: 250, Fat: 13g (Sat: 6g), Cholesterol: 35mg, Sodium: 490mg, Carb: 20g, Fiber: 0g, Sugar: 20g, Protein: 12g

Michelada Deviled Eggs

PHOTOGRAPHY TERRY BRENNAN, FOOD STYLING LARA MIKLASEVICS

Michelada Deviled Eggs

Makes 8 to 12 Servings

Inspired by the Mexican beer cocktail, these eggs are a punchy riff on classic deviled eggs. While the filling should be a bit spicy, you can always adjust the amount of hot sauce to your taste. That said, it’s the hot sauce that really makes these. —Kristin Donnelly

8 large eggs
¼ cup mayonnaise
Zest of ½ lime plus 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1½ teaspoons red Mexican hot sauce, plus more for serving
Small pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. When it boils, reduce the heat to medium, so the water simmers, and carefully lower the eggs into the pot. Simmer the eggs uncovered for 11 minutes, then drain and return to the pot. Immediately cover with ice water and let the eggs cool to room temperature, then carefully peel the eggs and cut them in half lengthwise.
  2. Using a small spoon, pop the yolks out of the eggs into a bowl or the bowl of a food processor. Using a fork or the food processor, blend the egg yolks with the mayonnaise, lime juice, Worcestershire, 1½ teaspoons hot sauce, and cayenne pepper. Season with salt and ground black pepper to taste.
  3. Using a spoon or a piping bag, fill the egg whites with the filling. Add a dash of hot sauce to each and serve.

Cook’s Note: The filling can be made up to a day in advance and refrigerated separately from the whites. You can either fill the eggs just before you leave for a party and set them in muffin tins to transport or bring the eggs and filling separately and fill them at the party.

Nutrition info Michelda Deviled Eggs (per serving): Calories: 90, Fat: 7g (Sat: 1.5g), Cholesterol: 140mg, Sodium: 140mg, Carb: 0g, Fiber: 0g, Sugar: 0g, Protein: 5g

Super Loaded Sheet-Pan Nachos

Photo: Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin

Super Loaded Sheet-Pan Nachos

Makes 6 to 8 Servings | Recipe courtesy Wisconsin Cheese

1 bag (13 ounces) tortilla chips
4 ounces Cedar Grove Mild Cheddar cheese, shredded (1 cup)
4 ounces Cedar Grove Pepper Jack cheese, shredded (1 cup)
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (2.25 ounces) sliced ripe olives, drained
½ cup diced sweet red bell pepper
4 ounces (1 cup) Cedar Grove Havarti cheese, shredded

Optional toppings: minced fresh cilantro, chopped green onions, pickled banana pepper rings, diced tomato, cubed avocado, sour cream and salsa

Heat oven to 400°F. Line a 15×10-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Arrange tortilla chips in a single layer on prepared pan. Sprinkle with cheddar and pepper jack. Layer with black beans, olives, red bell pepper, and Havarti. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until cheeses are melted. Garnish with toppings as desired. Serve immediately.

Cheesemonger Tip: Havarti is a semi-soft, Danish-style cheese with a washed curd. It’s mild, buttery, and creamy with tiny, irregular eyes or holes. A wonderful melting and table cheese, it pairs well with Riesling or a pilsner.

Hungry for More?

Here is a roundup of appetizers and more that I have highlighted for various occasions, but they can also work for any get-together or binge-watching session. Also, check out the search feature on this site to find hundreds of recipes.

Jerked Pork in the Slow Cooker

PHOTOGRAPHY TERRY BRENNAN, FOOD STYLING LARA MIKLASEVICS

Jerked Pork in the Slow Cooker

Heat things up with Jamaican-spiced pork in an easy make-ahead recipe for the slow cooker.

For the Love of Cheese Recipes

Celebrate cheese with deliciously cheesy recipes from apps, a cheese board, and mac-and-cheese to a sweet strawberry bite, courtesy of Wisconsin Cheese.

Bacon-Wrapped Brussels Sprouts and Spiced Caramelized Nuts Recipes

These simple yet sumptuous appetizers are sure to win the “best bites” category at your party.

Crab Cakes with Old Bay Remoulade Recipe

These crab cakes dish up Mid-Atlantic shore flavor for an elegant appetizer or light dinner.

Chipotle Pear Quesadillas

Pears and cheese are natural partners to begin with, but the marriage is much livelier if you add heat, both from chilies and from the oven.

Beef and Bacon Meatballs in a Bacon-Flavored Barbecue Sauce Recipe

Bacon. Bacon in meatballs. Bacon-y barbecue sauce atop said meatballs. Need we say more? These tasty little gems by meat expert Bruce Aidells make an ideal appetizer—for meat-eaters.

Thai Turkey Meatballs

These easy-to-make exotic-flavored meatballs (also by meat expert Bruce Aidells) work equally well atop rice for a main dish or as hors d’oeuvres—with optional green curry or Asian dipping sauce.

5 Globally Spiced Meatball Recipes

Roll out delicious takes on the ever-popular savory spheres.

Take a Dip: Classic Smooth Hummus Recipe with Variations

Enjoy a traditional hummus blend or easily change it up with peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and more

Chocolate Hummus Recipe

Take a dip into a surprising, protein-rich sweet companion for fruit and more

Mediterranean White Bean Hummus Recipe

A different savory dip for veggies, crackers, or bread will be a welcome change of pace in this season of sweets.

Facebook Comments

Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.