A Week of Summer Snacks – Veggie Bites

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Have you noticed that food is a lot like fashion?  On the one hand, you have all this new, cutting edge stuff.  Like those crazy, couture “Who-the-heck-wears-that?” dresses.  In food, that translates to making ice cream with liquid nitrogen!  Cooking brussels sprouts using a sous vide!  Using foods that were previously unknown to our country like the ultra-stinky and scary-looking Durian  (Don’t be impressed. I really only know about this stuff because I watch Chopped religiously.).  On the other hand, you have the classics.  Khakis and button-downs.  The perfect string of pearls.  The little black dress.   These are like our comfort foods that have been around for decades. Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, pot roast, red velvet cake, buttered green beans.  They never really go out of style.  Then there are the things that were once hot and then went away and now they’re back again.  Like capri pants – which my mom’s generation referred to as “pedal pushers.”

So when I make a dish that I haven’t made in years, I can proudly say that I’m retro!

This snack is one of those dishes.  In the early 90’s, you couldn’t go to a baby or bridal shower or to a party without seeing these.  They had lots of names: Veggie Squares, Veggie Bars, or (my favorite) Veggie Bites.

It’s really a can’t-miss combination.  Crescent roll dough, cream cheese, ranch dressing, finely-chopped vegetables, and shredded cheese.  They were always the first things to disappear from the table at any gathering.  And, Lord knows, I made my share!  I never minded being asked to bring them because they are super-simple to make and the recipe makes a ton!

A few important things to tell you:  I make these on a BIG cookie sheet.  The ladies in my school cafeteria sell commercial-grade cooking pans once a year at school.  It’s basically the same stuff they use in the cafeteria.  I bought my cookie sheets from them. My big ones are actually what they refer to as “half-sheets” because they are half the size of the giant ones they use to cook for 800 kids.  My small ones are called “quarter-sheets.”  I’m not going to get up and go measure them right now because…well, I’m lazy.  But the big ones are big enough that I have to turn them sideways to get them in my oven.

Okay, I feel bad about that.  I’m going to go measure them.

Talk amongst yourselves while I’m gone.  Here.  I’ll give you a subject.  In Louisiana, we have a lot of Spanish moss hanging from our trees.  However, Spanish moss is neither Spanish nor moss.  Discuss.

Or just count to 167.  And I’ll be right back.

 

Okay, I’m back. Bonus points if you actually found someone with which you could discuss Spanish moss (which I’ve read is actually a member of the same plant family as the pineapple!) or if you actually counted to 167.  Very good!

The pan has a rough measurement of 18X13.  I say “rough measurement” because the only thing I could find to measure with was Michael’s 100-foot Stanley FatMax measuring tape!

Okay, so I spray the pan and then I lay out 2 cans of crescent roll dough, slightly overlapping.  Then you just use your fingers to press the dough together and start to press it out until it reaches the edges of the pan. It really will stretch that much.  Just be patient.

I use this awesome tool that I’ve had for years.

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It’s a baker’s roller – a tiny, little rolling pin (actually two of them) just the right size for rolling dough inside a pan.  I bought mine YEARS ago at a Pampered Chef party.  They don’t make this wooden one anymore, but they do make one with silicone rollers and a black handle.  It’s around $20 and you can order it from their website: new.PamperedChef.com

Okay, that was definitely an unpaid advertisement!

Anyway, once you’ve got the dough pressed out, you bake it.  Once it’s done, take it out and let it cool!  Do not spread it with cream cheese while it’s hot or even warm.  Let it cool completely.  I usually wait until I take it out of the oven before I start making the cream cheese mixture and chopping the vegetables.

I’m a really slow chopper though.  If you’re a fast chopper, you may need to go watch an episode of something while it cools.

My point is that the crust needs to be cool to the touch before you proceed.

Then you’re going to spread the cream cheese mixture (I just can’t stay away from the stuff, can I?) from edge to edge, sprinkle on the chopped veggies and cheese, and slice it into 2-inch squares.  If you can really cut 2-inch squares, you’ll end up with 50-60 of these!  It’s really best to put the squares into a sealed container and put it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.  In our house, however, at least a few squares are sniggled before refrigeration!

I just love the buttery chew of the crust, the tangy, creaminess of the cream cheese, and the fresh crunch of the vegetables.  It’s just a perfect summertime snack!

Veggie Squares

  • 2 cans of crescent roll dough
  • 2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1 package of dry ranch dressing mix
  • 2-3 cups of finely chopped vegetables (I prefer broccoli, carrots, and green onions)
  • 1 cup of finely-shredded Colby Jack or cheddar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick spray.  Place crescent roll dough in the pan, leaving rectangles together and slightly overlapping.  Use your fingers or a small roller to press dough together and all the way out to the edges of the pan.  Bake for 15 minutes, or until crust is slightly browned.  Remove from the oven to cool completely.

In a large bowl, combine softened cream cheese, mayonnaise, and ranch dressing mix.  Stir until creamy.  Spread this mixture over the cooled crust, covering the crust from edge to edge.

Sprinkle finely-chopped vegetables over the cream cheese mixture and press down slightly so that the vegetables stick in the cream cheese.  Sprinkle with shredded cheese.

Cut into 2-inch squares.  Squares should be stored in a sealable container in the refrigerator.

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Note:  Yesterday a lady on Facebook posted under one of my recipes saying that the recipe looked full of fat and calories and not very good for the heart, for weightloss, or for a diabetic.  She’s absolutely right!  And this brings up an excellent point:  I have never claimed to be creating these recipes for any of those purposes.  This is not a weightloss blog.  This is not a healthy eating blog.  This is a fun, quick, and easy cooking blog.  I will say, however, that I usually use the lower-fat cream cheese, almost always use 2% cheese, and I haven’t bought full-fat mayonnaise for years.  That said, these snack recipes are not intended to be enjoyed every day.  They are a one-in-a-while treat.  It’s really all about moderation.  And you can almost always adjust a recipe to make it healthier.

Okay, public service message over.

I have this face to contend with now:

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Brees has been standing here with his chin on my knee and his bone right beside him for 15 minutes, wanting me to play with him.  Is that pitiful or what?  Mama, why are you ignoring me?  Please come play!  How can I say no?

Have a great day!

 

 

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