Polenta BLT Appetizers

These Polenta BLT Appetizers will be a hit at your next party!



Bite-sized BLT appetizers on fried polenta. Yep, that’s a tasty appetizer if I do say so myself.

Store bought polenta helps make these apps totally easy to put together. But you could make your own polenta if you want to…and if you do make your own you can add in your own twists like cheese or spicy seasonings. Up to you.

Also you can cut the polenta out in any shape you want to if you make your own. Any type of cookie cutters you have would work, or just in different shapes with a knife.

And I used pancetta instead of bacon here – but you could obviously use bacon if that’s what you have…




To make these just cut your polenta into whatever bite-sized shape you want to and then get them into some butter in a skillet. A couple of minutes on each side should get them crispy and brown.




In the same pan cook up your pancetta or bacon until it’s crispy and then get ready to make your apps!

Grab some cherry tomatoes, lettuce, the fried polenta and the pancetta. The fried polenta is the base, then top with a piece of lettuce followed by the pancetta and topped of with a tomato.

Stick a toothpick through the center and repeat. It’s a one bite BLT that’s perfect for your next party!




Polenta BLT Appetizers
Bite sized BLT appetizers on fried polenta.
  • 1 (18 oz.) tube of polenta or 1 recipe of homemade polenta, cooked and cooled
  • 4 oz. pancetta
  • boston bib lettuce, friseé or any type of leafy lettuce
  • 2 pints of cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 2 T. butter
  1. Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add in the sliced polenta and fry for 3 minutes on each side until golden brown.
  3. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to cool.
  4. To the same skillet add the pancetta and cook on both sides until crispy.
  5. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to cool.
  6. Assemble with the polenta on the bottom, a piece of lettuce next, then the pancetta and a tomato on top.
  7. Secure with a toothpick and serve.


My trip with Crown Royal at the #JeffKyle400

I can’t wait to tell you guys about my trip with Crown Royal at the #JeffKyle400 Brickyard race in Indianapolis, Indiana! The race was hosted by Crown Royal and all I can tell you is those guys throw one hell of a party. From the whiskey tasting at Georgia Reese’s Southern Table & Bar to the Capture the Crown race experience at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway…I was lucky enough to be one of twelve bloggers invited to participate this amazing weekend.

That’s Jeff Kyle, his wife and me hanging out having some food and drinks. Nicest guy ever, totally down to earth and absolutely deserving of his “Hero” title this weekend.




During the Capture the Crown contest, the Taylor Group split us up into four teams to begin tasks and answer questions about Crown Royal, Heroes & NASCAR. Examples of some tasks were to take a picture of a tailgate party that was “responsibly” enjoying Crown Royal, snap a picture from someone from the Crown Royal brand team, enjoy a Crown Royal cocktail with one of the finalists in the Crown Royal Suite, (nailed that one) purchase a T-shirt with the race logo on it and gift it to a veteran, take a photo of a military coin, get an autograph from Jeff Kyle, Capture a video of a team member singing the National Anthem, Capture a photo of three objects around the track in the shape of a crown, get an autograph from a NASCAR driver, take a photo of the car that won the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911…just to name a few. So as you can see this was no easy scavenger hunt. But we got some fun breaks in between like taking pace car rides around the Motor Speedway and touring the garage area where we could meet the drivers and crew members.

Here’s the pace car I rode in…we got up to about 140 mph.




My team tried our best to win the race, but the breaks at the Pagoda Club Suite with the open whisky bar seemed to distract us.




After the contest ended we where allowed to go and hang out at the Pagoda Club Suite on the eight floor which overlooked the finish line and also had two outside decks. Very cool.

But what was even more intense were the media passes that we were given that let us down to watch the race from about five feet from the pit crews. That is definitely something that every NASCAR fan should experience.




We we’re so close to the action it was insane. This is a video I shot of a tire being changed. You know it’s fast but when you see it live you almost can’t believe it.

During the last 10 laps we were all sent a text to meet at the winner circle and celebrate. We all started heading down and wouldn’t you know it – the M&M driver Kyle Busch took the checkered flag! The pit crew raced over to the winner circle throwing champagne and skittles around –  it was raining booze and candy.




After that the race team went out to the three foot wide brick finish line to keep with the tradition of the winner kissing the bricks.




I guess you know by now that the only way for me to end this fairy tale Crown Royal experience was to kneel down on the Crown Royal pillow and kiss the bricks too.




There was lots of whisky celebrating after the race. If you want to read about my favorites, you can check it out here.


This is all of us – all of us lucky bloggers that got picked to attend this weekend. Huge thanks goes out to Candice, Stephanie, Brianna, Joe and everyone from the Taylor Strategy team for making this such an amazing experience! Get your Crown on!



Whisky Tasting with Crown Royal

What does a guy get to do when he has a food and cocktail blog? If he’s lucky enough, he gets invited to a whole weekend of Whisky Tasting with Crown Royal.

Nascar racing, meeting hero Jeff Kyle, and hanging out with these guys. That’s Stephen Wilson on the right Master of Whiskey from Diageo (the company that owns Crown Royal – and many other premium liquor brands) whiskies for the past 7 years. The man on the left is Matt Pechman, the Crown Royal brand director. Am I in good company or what? Who better than to drink Crown Royal Whisky with all night than these guys?




So is it Whiskey or Whisky? If you’re talking about Crown Royal, it’s whisky – no “e”. It depends on the country where the whisky is made, Canada being one of them that drops the “e”. So that being said, I’m using the spelling “whisky” since we’re talking about Crown Royal here.

Being able to sample all of the best whisky that Crown Royal has to offer with two of the most knowledgable guys on the subject? It was definitely a crazy fun time. I’ve been a fan of Crown Royal for a while now, it’s Christie’s mom’s favorite of all time (that’s saying something for my in-laws) we’ve made drinks with it, cooked with it and sipped it on the deck.

I really can’t say that there was a whisky I met that weekend that I didn’t like, but my favorite by far was the Crown Royal XO. If you’re into all the tasting notes and stats, here’s a tasting sheet from Crown Royal that spells it all out.




Now I’m no expert in the “notes” and different blends of whisky but I can absolutely hold my own. This XO whisky was so smooth and had such and amazing finish…I just couldn’t get enough. You could totally pick up the vanilla and cherry notes in the XO whisky but what I loved so much about it was that it just went down so smooth.

Yep, it was smooth, glass after glass.

Another popular Crown Royal Whisky that weekend was the Crown Royal Regal Apple. I do have a couple of bottles of this at home and I like it – a lot. It’s a crisp apple flavor that’s not sweet as opposed to some apple flavored liquors that are. My favorite way to drink this one at home is shaken with ice and strained into a low ball glass. My one ingredient whisky apple martini recipe.

Here’s an example of the tastings that were going on that weekend…




To say that the weekend in Indianapolis was unbelievably fun is just putting it mildly, but it did also amp up my whisky knowledge which is always a good thing. A quote that I read from Stephen Wilson sums up the whole weekend.

“Good people, good conversation and great whisky”

Buffalo Shrimp and Blue Brie Polenta

We’re partnering with Castello cheese for a Summer of Blue! You’ll want to stock up on some cheese once taste this Buffalo Shrimp and Blue Brie Polenta!



There are things I definitely know now, a year and a half into cooking for our web site. It’s amazing how much you can learn in a short time, from simple recipes to more difficult ones. The difficult ones that I thought – man, I could never make that. But once I did I realized it wasn’t so hard after all.

This is one of those recipes. Those recipes you look at and say “Wow, that looks great but I couldn’t make that”.

Well, believe me, you can. This Buffalo Shrimp and Blue Brie Polenta is way easier to out together than it looks. You’ll be surprised, trust me.

Even if you think you don’t love blue cheese – I’ve got the right one for you. It’s Castello Saga Blue Brie. This Blue Brie is exactly what it sounds like. A creamy brie combined with blue cheese running all though it…It’ll change your mind about blue cheese. And if you love blue cheese I promise you’ve never tasted one like this.

Let’s grab some cheese and get started!

This is my twist on shrimp and grits. A spicy, cheesy version of shrimp and grits on baked polenta squares.

You start out by making the polenta. It’s really easy – just stir together chicken broth, water, milk, cornmeal and some salt and pepper in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.

Crumble in a whole package of Castello Saga Blue Brie and stir it into the polenta.




Once the cheese melts into the polenta, pour it into a greased 9″ x 13″ baking dish and bake for 30 minutes.




While the polenta is baking you can start putting together the buffalo shrimp.

Heat up some olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add in a pound of shrimp, season with garlic powder, salt and pepper and let cook for a minute or two on each side until they are just turning pink.

Pour in your favorite buffalo wing sauce, a couple tablespoons of butter – and another big piece of the blue brie to stir into the sauce and make it creamy.




When the polenta comes out of the oven, let it cool to room temperature and cut into large squares. The polenta can be done ahead of time too, cut into squares and then just warmed up in the oven before dinner time.

Spoon the buffalo shrimp over the top of a polenta square, making sure you get tons of the creamy buffalo sauce all over the top so that it soaks into the polenta.

Unbelievable. Having a dinner party? Done. Dinner for the family? Done. I’m not kidding when I tell you my kids went nuts for this so don’t be afraid to have them try it. You can even use a mild or extra mild wing sauce so it’s not blow your head off hot – it’s totally up to you!

Let’s dig in!



Buffalo Shrimp and Blue Brie Polenta
: 6
For the Polenta
  • 1½ cups cornmeal
  • 2 cups water
  • 1½ cups milk
  • 2¾ cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ t. salt
  • ½ t. ground black pepper
  • 1 5.11 oz. package Castello Saga Blue Brie
For the Buffalo Shrimp
  • 1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ t. garlic powder
  • ½ t. salt
  • ¼ t. ground black pepper
  • ½ cup buffalo wing sauce
  • 2 T. butter
  • 2 oz. Castello Saga Blue Brie cheese
  • 6 chopped scallions for garnish
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a medium saucepan, add the chicken broth, water, milk, cornmeal, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Stir and bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for 12-15 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Crumble in the blue brie cheese and stir until the cheese is completely melted.
  4. Pour into a greased 9" x 13" baking dish and place in the oven for 30 minutes. Let cool completely while you start the shrimp.
  5. Heat up the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add in the shrimp and season them withe the salt, pepper and garlic powder. Cook for 2 minuets on each side until they are just turning pink.
  6. Pour the buffalo wing sauce into the skillet and then add the butter and the 2 oz. of cheese. Stir until the sauce is warmed through and the cheese is melted.
  7. When the polenta is completely cooled, cut into 9 large squares.
  8. Place one square of polenta on a plate and spoon the shrimp and sauce over the top. Garnish with chopped scallions.


Italian Meatball Stuffed Mushrooms

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser but all opinions her are mine.
#BackYourSnack #CollectiveBias

If you need a quick and totally impressive appetizer, these Italian Meatball Stuffed Mushrooms are your answer!



I love apps. A whole meal consisting of all appetizers is totally up my alley. So when I heard about the Farm Rich Back Your Snack Contest, I knew it was something I had to try. What you have to do is use one #FarmRich frozen snack product plus one Walmart fresh item to make a snack or appetizer. You can get the details here…hurry and check it out, the contest starts August 1st.

Anyone can enter this contest – anyone – and you should all try because the prize is $10,000!

One of my absolute favorite appetizers to eat (and make) are stuffed mushrooms. So I thought of taking Farm Rich Italian Style meatballs as using that as the base of my stuffed mushroom filling.

One of the easiest ways to get my shopping done is to head out to Walmart. Especially when there’s a fresh section in your Walmart…you’ve got this.

I grabbed a couple boxes of mushrooms and some spinach and then ran over to the frozen section…




There were a lot more Farm Rich products to choose from than I thought there would be, but I saw the meatballs so I grabbed ’em and ran.




When you get home, cook the meatballs according to the package directions, let them cool, chop them into small pieces and set aside.

Next grab a skillet to start the filling. Add some chopped onion and red pepper to sauté for about 5 minuets.

Then get a ton of that fresh spinach, give it a rough chop and add it to the skillet. You’re going to need about 6 packed cups of spinach – It’s going to seem like a lot but it cooks down to nothing.

Add the meatballs to the skillet and stir together with the filling to combine. Remove the pan from the heat and get your mushrooms ready for stuffing!




If you’re a mushrooms washer – wash away. I’m a mushroom washer. I know you’re not “supposed” to because they say it does something horrible to the mushrooms but I really don’t find that it ever does. And it’s a heck of a lot quicker than trying to “brush” the dirt of all those mushrooms with a towel.

Totally up to you.

Snap the stems of and get them on a baking sheet.

Now that the filling has cooled a little, add in grated parmesan cheese and the cream cheese. Stir it all together and start filling your mushrooms…




Drizzle a little olive oil over the mushrooms and get them in the oven. They’ll only need about 15-20 minutes to get the filling warmed through and the mushrooms nice and soft.




Total knock out flavor here – the Farm Rich Italian Style Meatballs are perfectly seasoned already, then combined with the fresh spinach and cheeses – you really can’t go wrong. This is definitely an appetizer that will impress your friends and family…and go ahead…let them think that you spend hours in the kitchen cooking. I’ll won’t tell!




If you want to check out the demos of the contest finalists, from 9/19-9/20 and on 10/10 and 10/11 check out the list of stores here.


Italian Meatball Stuffed Mushrooms
makes about 30 stuffed mushrooms
  • (1) 24 oz. package white button mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed
  • (1) 28 oz. bag Farm Rich Italian Style Meatballs (you'll only use half of the bag)
  • 6 packed cups of Marketside Baby Spinach (from an 11 oz. package) roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup diced onion
  • ½ cup diced red bell pepper
  • ¼ cup cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese, plus 2 tablespoons for garnish
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  1. Bake ½ of the package of the meatballs according to the package directions and set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  3. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add in the onion and red pepper and cook for five minutes, stirring, until softened.
  4. Add the chopped spinach to the skillet, along with the salt, pepper and garlic powder. Stir and cook for another 3-4 minutes until the spinach has cooked down.
  5. Place the meatballs in the skillet and stir to combine with the filling. Remove from the heat to let cool for five minutes. After the filling has cooled you can add the cream cheese and the parmesan cheese to the skillet and stir.
  6. Put your mushrooms on a baking sheet and start stuffing with about a tablespoon of the filling.
  7. Drizzle the tops of the mushrooms with olive oil and bake for 15-20 minutes until the mushrooms have browned and the filling is bubbling.
  8. Garnish with the extra 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese.