Cheese, it’s not just for plain snacking anymore – HaliPawz

appetizer cheese

Do you like a nice protein filled snack throughout the day?  Tired of snacking on just a plain cube of cheese?  Here is a great recipe to take your cheese cubes to a whole new level.


Cheese Cubes – I prefer Colby Jack cubes and Sharp Cheddar cubes

Extra Virgin Olive Oil



In a container with a lid, drop your Cheese cubes in.  I tend to only put in the number of cubes I want to eat within a 24 – 48 hour time period

Drizzle with olive oil.

Sprinkle with some Rosemary and Thyme

Put the lid on it and shake shake shake

Remove the lid and enjoy!

appetizer cheese

Colby Jack Cheese Cubes with Olive Oil, Rosemary, and Thyme

Makes an attractive, unique appetizer when hosting a gathering as well.


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Crouton Cups gone awry, sorta – HaliPawz

I am not one of those beautiful hostess types. You know, the ones whom, when you walk in their house, you ooh and ahh over the splendor of everything? Yeah, I’m lucky if I get the house cleaned and food prepared before the guests arrive.  I love to host gatherings in my home though.  My friends know the house might not be picture perfect but they will get enough to eat and drink…isn’t that all that really matters?

I was having a wine tasting in my home this past Saturday.  I’ve never been much of a wine drinker, but went to a wine tasting at a friend’s house a few years ago and fell in love with a couple of PRP International wines! I went from not drinking wine EVER to ordering a case of red wine.  I still can’t go to a restaurant and order a glass, I won’t like it, but I do love some of theirs.  I will have friends and family say they aren’t much of a wine drinker, I tell them my story, they try it, like it, and we laugh about it.  I should probably start selling it as it is the only wine I buy.

As I was planning my menu, I decided I wanted cheese of course, but I wanted appetizer type food.  I had considered meatballs, but decided I wanted cooler foods. It is June after all! Pasta Salad!

Italian Dressing, Rotini, Colby Jack

Simple, Fresh, Pasta Salad with Bacon, Cucumber, and Cheese

I really wanted pasta salad.  Wait, pasta salad isn’t exactly “finger food”. My thoughts start spinning.  I know! What if I made an edible cup to put them in? I had made Parmesan cups for Caesar Salad before but they were pretty time consuming. They were good. I was thinking about putting in the recipe I used, went to look for it, and came across this one! I HAVE NOT tried this, but it makes sense and is a LOT easier than the ones I made, so try it. Let me know if you like it or not.  If I try it, I’ll update this post.

Back to my edible cup dilemma.  I’m racking my brain and it comes to me, crouton cups! What a great idea.  Except I have no idea how to even make regular croutons, let alone a cup.  Would it be big enough? Would it even work? I’m patting myself on the back for such a great idea.  Off to Google to look for crouton recipes.  I put in “crouton cups” and site after site pops up. I realize I’m not so inventive after all.  Cooks, real cooks, have already thought of them.  I decided to not to reinvent the wheel, so I read through a few to find one I think I can manage.  This is the one I chose to work make, never planning on making any changes. Now I had no expectation of mine turning out as pretty as hers did in the photo. She recommended to use a firm bread, nothing airy.  Off to Google again to find out which bread is densest. The problem with that search is I kept finding out how to make bread less dense instead of which bread would be the densest.  I wasn’t going to bake my bread, so I had to make do with what I picked up.

I settled on Sara Lee Honey Wheat Bread. I wish I could tell you why, but no clue.  It just sounded the best for my pasta salad.

I get home and as I’m about to start making it, I’m trying to think of what seasonings to use to complement my pasta salad…and then it hits me.  The olive oil or butter from the recipe are both liquids.  The Italian dressing is a liquid. Why not change the recipe a little! It made sense to me until I put the pan in the oven.  Then I panicked as I started smelling the Italian dressing.  Can you cook dressing? Will it start on fire?!?! Am I ruining my oven?!?? All these thoughts! Now you see why I say I’m a messy cook, I normally follow recipes to avoid scares like this!

They were done!

Italian Dressing

Baked Italian Dressing Crouton Cups

And they looked croutonish! Success! Well, at least in appearance.

They didn’t look anything like the beautiful picture In the original recipe I used for a base. They looked edible, which is a start.

I let them cool while I finished preparing my other items.

I ended up serving gourmet cheese,

Gourmet Cheeses on Michigan Chalkboard Serving Tray

my pasta salad with crouton cups, deli spiral sandwiches, assorted melons, strawberries, and for my chocolate; brownie bites with cream cheese frosting available and peanut butter / Hershey kiss cookies.  As you can see, I rely on Sam’s Club for many of my hostessing items! It’s easier and less time consuming.

Now, full disclosure, my guests opted for putting my Italian Crouton Cups on their plate and then putting the pasta salad over top, they didn’t really use them in the finger food style I had imagined….but they would have worked and they tasted great!

Great food, great wine, great friends….roll it up and you have success!

For the recipe for the Pasta Salad, click here

For the recipe for the Italian Crouton Cups, click here

If you like this and want to stay up to date with my posts, follow me on Twitter @HaliPawz  or Like me on 

Crouton Cups for Pasta Salad – HaliPawz

Italian Dressing

I shared my crazy steps to get to this recipe here, but I figured I would make it easy to navigate by putting it in simple form for those interested in JUST the recipe and not the story!


12 slices of bread (I used Sara Lee Honey Wheat Bread but any regular bread would work)

Italian Dressing

Set the oven to 375 degrees

Trim the crusts off the bread slices. You want them somewhat square in shape, but mine were definitely not even!

Flatten the slice.  You can use a rolling pin for evenness if you prefer. I just used my hand.

Baste the bread on both sides with the Italian dressing, don’t over saturate! That was my mistake with my first batch.  Make sure you get all the way to the edge.

italian dressing

Trimmed Bread Slices for Crouton Cups

Next, pick the slices up and carefully place in a muffin / cupcake tin.  They will be slightly soggy, so the weight will pull them to the bottom with little help from you.  Let them slide in, then position the corners so they are up, out of the tin.  Be careful not to tear the bread

bread in muffin tin for crouton cups

Place in the oven 13-16 minutes, making sure not to burn them, but you want them to be crisp.

They will come out nice and brown, let them cool about 5-10 minutes, then pop then out of the tin and place in a flat surface to finish cooling.

Baked Italian Dressing Crouton Cups

When ready to serve, carefully fill cups with pasta salad and serve! Nice way to have pasta salad as an appetizer.

If you like this and want to stay up to date with my posts, follow me on Twitter @HaliPawz  or Like me on