APPETIZERS

Ultimate Hummus

March 3, 2013

Snack time, or “nack” time as Ruthie calls it, can be the hardest meal of the day to eat healthy. Because this hummus is so amazing, it makes eating a healthy snack easy. Go ahead and double the recipe because it keeps in the fridge and just fits in a regular size Cuisinart. This is in my top ten favorite/most used recipe list.

HUMMUS

Best Ever Hummus
from Cooks Illustrated

Ingredients:
½ cup dried chickpeas*
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1-2 lemons (3 tablespoons of juice)
6 tablespoons tahini*, stirred well
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small garlic clove, pressed or minced
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cumin
pinch cayenne

Preparation:

Pick through and rinse ½ cup dried chickpeas. Place beans in a large bowl, cover with 1 quart of water, and soak overnight. Alternatively, follow directions on chickpea package for “quick soak”.

After soaking, drain chickpeas. Bring peas, baking soda, and 1 quart of water to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to low and simmer gently until peas are tender (about 1 hour). Stir occasionally. Reserve ¼ cup cooking water. Drain chickpeas and COOL.

Combine lemon juice and cooking water in a small bowl. Whisk together tahini and olive oil in a second small bowl.

Process chickpeas, garlic, salt, cumin and cayenne in a food processor until almost fully ground. Scrape down the sides. With the machine running, add the lemon juice/cooking liquid mixture in a steady stream. Scrape down the sides and then process for 1 minute. With the machine running, add the tahini/olive oil mixture in a steady stream. Process until hummus is creamy- about 15 seconds.

Follow these steps exactly and you will have amazing hummus. I double the recipe and it fits perfectly in a regular size Cuisinart.

* you can use canned chickpeas but for “best-ever” hummus, you should use dried.
*Krinos brand tahini is the best. Second best is Joya.

Here is a printable version of the recipe- Hummus

{ 0 comments }

Super Bowl Snack

January 27, 2012

These little sausage tarts are the perfect combination of feminine and football. They are pretty enough to entice the females but filled with enough sausage goodness to keep the guys asking for more.


Some how I don’t have a photo of the cooked tarts, but I promise they are delicious and attractive.

If these aren’t up your ally then these apps would be good super bowl snack options-
Shrimp Nachos
Jalapeno Thingies
Skinny Dip

SALLY’S SAUSAGE TARTS
recipe from Leslie Worthington

You will need:
5 boxes mini Filo shells (found in freezer section)
1 pound sausage, brown and drain
1.5 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1.5 cups monterey jack cheese, shredded
1 cup ranch dressing
1 tsp cayenne pepper

Mix the above ingredients together. Fill the shells with sausage mixture. Put the shells back in the box to store. These babies can be frozen or refrigerated in the original packaging until ready to bake. Bake 12 minutes if frozen and 8-10 minutes if thawed. Awesome.

{ 0 comments }

PARTYING FIGS

August 31, 2011

You might be catching on to the fact that I love goat cheese, figs, pizza and peaches. While perusing (and shivering) in the Costco produce room, a box of 24 ripe figs caught my eye. $6 for 24 big figs! They immediately entered my buggy. I’ve consumed many figs over the past month both in my home and at local restaurants (Cibo y Beve & Café Jonah). The result of these fig experiences lead me to create “The Party Fig” for you to make for an upcoming social event.

PARTY FIGS
Makes 24

You Will Need:
12 big figs
6-8 ounces goat cheese
2-4 tablespoons apricot preserves
6 basil leaves, cut into 24 small pieces
6 ounces prosciutto
toothpicks

Wipe the figs clean with a damp cloth.
Slice the figs in half.
Stuff with goat cheese, a dot of jam, and little piece of basil.
Wrap the stuffed fig in prosciutto.
Secure with a party pick.

{ 1 comment }

AN HOMAGE TO PUNTA BALLENA

August 28, 2011

I finally fulfilled my promise (to you and my husband) from a few months back to recreate some of our favorite Cabo dishes. Shrimp Nachos were top on the list. With lots of guidance from the Mexican food connoisseur in my house, we came pretty darn close to Punta Ballena’s Shrimp Nachos. The key was finding the right kind of Mexican melting cheese. This recipe is just in time for football season!

SHRIMP NACHOS
You Will Need:
1/2 pound little shrimp
1 lime, juiced
1 garlic clove, minced
several leaves basil or other herb, chopped
3 slugs olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
Chips- not too thin or too salty. We used “On The Border” brand.
1 can refried beans
1-2 cups mexican melting cheese or “quesadilla” cheese
1 can sliced jalapeno

For the shrimp-
Rinse little shrimp and pat dry.
Place in a plastic bag with lime juice, garlic, basil, olive oil, s&p.
Marinate for an hour. (the lime juice will begin to “cook” the little shrimp)
Lay on a sheet pan.
Broil in the oven for a couple minutes on each side.

To assemble the nachos-
Heat refried beans in a pan with a little water.
Start with a good foundation of chips on a sheet pan.
Shred the cheese with a box grater.
Slice up jalapeno if necessary.
Spoon warmed and slightly thinned beans onto chips.
Sprinkle with grated cheese.
Broil for a couple minutes- chips should be a little brown and cheese melted.
Scatter with jalapenos and shrimp.
Enjoy!


{ 4 comments }

FIGGY FIGGY TREATS

August 15, 2011

This basket of figs turned into a simple, delicious, and slightly sweet pizza. I only know figs from my grandmother’s trees and honestly have never bought them at the store, so I guess that makes me a fig snob. If you’ve never tasted a fig, then please hunt some down quickly! Figs are savory with goat cheese, gorgonzola, balsamic, prosciutto, or straight off the tree. They have a sweet side too; think Fig Newtons but better. You can make fig preserves, top ice cream with sweetened figs, fig cookies, cakes pies…

But for now, here is a fig pizza for all to enjoy. This would be an awesome appetizer!

FIG AND GOAT CHEESE PIZZA

You Will Need:
pizza dough (I like Publix)
6-10 figs, quartered
10 ounces goat cheese (gorgonzola is also good)
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
olive oil
kosher salt
basil leaves, chopped
Optional:
Prosciutto

Preheat oven according to dough directions.
Roll dough out to desired thickness.
Place dough on lightly oiled pan.
Top dough with figs and cheese.
Smear crust lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
Bake according to dough directions.
While the dough cooks, heat balsamic vinegar over medium/low heat.
Cook until balsamic thickens to a syrup.
(Feel free to add a little water if it gets too thick)
Drizzle pizza with balsamic and top with basil.

{ 4 comments }

MUSSEL BOUND

February 17, 2011

Rustic and romantic was the theme of our anniversary weekend menus. I used french cookbooks as my inspiration and of course got stuck on Ina’s Barefoot in Paris. Her Mussels in White Wine Sauce felt very rustic; eating them requires no utensils. And the mussels felt romantic; what’s more intimate than two people sharing a single bowl of shellfish? The best part of this meal, besides enjoying it with my husband, is soaking toasted french bread in the buttery wine broth- sinful.

MUSSELS IN WHITE WINE SAUCE
adapted from Barefoot in Paris

You Will Need:
2 pounds of mussels and/or clams
1/3 cup flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
8 cloves of garlic, minced
8 ounces canned plum tomatoes
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons thyme leaves, chopped
1 cup white wine
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Note: I combined mussels and clams because the store only had 1 pound of mussels. It was the perfect combo!

Soak mussels and flour in a bowl full of water for 30 minutes. This lets them disgorge any sand.
Drain the mussels.
Remove the “beard” from each with your hands.
Scrub the mussels under running water if they are dirty.
Discard any mussels that are open or whose shells are not tightly shut.

Heat butter and oil in a stockpot over medium heat.
Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook for 3 more minutes or until the onions are translucent.
Add the tomatoes, parsley, thyme, wine, salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil.

Add the mussels to the boiling broth.
Cover the pot.
Cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes, until all the mussels are opened.
Shake the pot, with the lid on, a couple times during cooking to prevent burning.
Discard any mussels that didn’t open.
Toast your bread (drizzle with some olive oil or butter)!

Pour mussels and broth in to a shallow bowl.
Serve with the toasted baguette and a glass of white wine.


{ 3 comments }

Welcome Home Morgan

September 14, 2010

We hosted our first official family dinner on Sunday to welcome home my sister from school. The menu was an ode to the end of summer and beginning of fall. I would cook every dish again and therefore want to share each recipe with you.


For the menu….drum roll please…..
Appetizer-Jalapeno Thingies (a la Colleen)
Supper- Grilled Marinated Lemon Chicken, Mayonnaise Biscuits, Roasted Caprese Salad
Dessert- Peach Cobbler

JALAPENO THINGIES
-Colleen Williams
(These were gone in .5 seconds and would be perfect for a football party where there are lots of hungry males.)

You will need:

20 fresh whole jalapenos
2 cubes of cream cheese, softened
1 pound bacon, sliced into thirds

Cut jalapenos in half, lengthwise (use gloves if you have them!)
Remove seeds and white membrane- leave a little if you want to leave some spiciness.
Smear softened cream cheese into the scooped out jalapeno.
Wrap with bacon piece.
Secure thingies with a toothpick.
*You can freeze them at this point if needed
Bake at 375 degrees on a pan with a rack for 20-25 minutes or
Broil for a couple of minutes if the bacon isn’t brown or crispy enough for you.

GRILLED MARINATED LEMON CHICKEN

You will need:
1 whole chicken, spatchcocked *I’ll explain
1/3 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
black pepper, freshly ground
1 lemon, halved

How to Spatchcock a Chicken
According to Martha Stewart, this technique is “similar to butterflying but is specific to preparing a whole chicken for grilling or broiling”.

1. Rinse the chicken and remove insides.
2. Set the chicken, breast side down, and use a sharp knife or kitchen shears to cut along the backbone to remove it.
3. Flip the chicken over, then press down firmly on the breastbone with you palm to flatten (or break the breastbone.

Now that your chicken is spatchocked (awesome word), you may proceed with the next steps.
Sprinkle the chicken with kosher salt on each side.
Combine the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, rosemary and 1 teaspoon of pepper in a ceramic baking dish large enough to hold the chicken.
Add the chicken and turn to coat.
Cover the dish and refrigerate for at least 4 hours but as long as over night.
Turn chicken once or twice.
Time to Grill-
Heat grill as hot as it will go but make sure to create an indirect heat source (ceramic plate or move coals to one side).
Place chicken skin side up and grill for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
Weigh down the chicken with a ceramic dish (the one you used to marinate).
Turn chicken skin side down and cook for another 12-15 minutes.
Throw some lemon on the grill just before chicken is ready.
Move chicken to a cutting board and let rest under aluminum foil for 5 minutes.
Cut chicken in quarters.
Sprinkle with coarse salt.
Serve rustically on a cutting board with grilled lemon halves.
*Please note: These photos don’t do this chicken justice.
So, I LOVE homegrown tomatoes in the summer. Not sure what is going on around the south but I have not had a single good tomato this summer- not from my house, farmers market, Publix anywhere! Thankfully my mom turned me onto this recipe that makes use mediocre tomatoes. The dish is so yummy that I would make it even when tomatoes are at their best!
ROASTED TOMATO CAPRESE SALAD

You will need:
12 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, seeds (not cores) removed
1/4 cup olive oil
1-1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 teaspoons sugar
Kosher salt and fresh pepper
16 ounces fresh salted mozzarella
12 fresh basil leaves
Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
Arrange tomatoes on a sheet pan, cut side up.
Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Sprinkle with garlic, sugar, salt and pepper.
Roast for 2 hours or until the tomatoes are caramelized and concentrated.
Layer cooled tomatoes on a tray with sliced mozzarella.
Julienned the basil and sprinkle on top.
And we are still eating…
If you want to serve hot homemade bread for your family or friends but don’t have time to yeast rolls or biscuits that need hours of kneading, whip up these EASY and yummy biscuits. They are more fluffy then dense but satisfy the need for hot bread on the dinner table.
FLUFFY MAYONNAISE BISCUITS

You will need:
1 table spoon oil
2 cups self-rising flour
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Brush muffin tin with oil.
Combine flour, mayonnaise, milk and sugar in a bowl.
Spoon into muffin cups, filling about 1/2 way.
(You can spoon directly onto an oiled sheet pan)
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve warm with butter.
As Ina would say, “How easy is that?”
For the grand finale…

Tomatoes may have been a let down this summer but the peaches pulled through. What to do with an abundance of ripe summer fruit? Make a cobbler!
PEACH COBBLER
You will need:
5-6 ripe peaches, peeled and sliced
1-1/4 cups sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3/4 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Place peaches in 9×9-ish dish.
Mix together 3/4 cup of the sugar, flour, baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Add milk and melted butter and mix well.
Pour batter over peaches.
Mix remaining 1/4 cup sugar, cornstarch and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in small bowl.
Sprinkle over the batter.
Evenly pour the boiling water all over.
Bake for 50 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve with vanilla ice cream.

{ 2 comments }

Skinny Dip

July 19, 2010

All weekend I struggled to come up with a new and creative appetizer for a party of 40. After much deliberation, I decided on my tried and true bean dip. Per usual, the dip was a hit. This simple recipe gets rave reviews and recipe requests from all party-goers every time. The bean-corn-feta dip is my easiest recipe on file. The flavors are much more complex and yummy than the photos portray. Try it soon!

Da Dip

Mix together…
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can white shoepeg corn, drained
4 oz. feta, crumbled
6 scallions, minced
Whisk together…
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup sugar (start with less and add full amount if needed)
3 shakes garlic powder
Pour dressing over bean mixture.
Refrigerate until chilled, stirring every 30 minutes or so.
Note: If you make it many hours in advance, wait to add the feta until just before serving.

{ 2 comments }

When its cold outside and friend gets engaged, baked brie is is just the hors d’oeuvre to bring to the party.

Warm Baked Brie

Thaw a sheet of puffed pastry dough (found in frozen food aisle)
Roll out a bit, still keeping a square shape
Spread apricot preserves in the center of the square
Place a wheel of your favorite Brie cheese

At this point you can get creative and add what ever your heart desires-
various fruit preserves, brown sugar, dried fruit, nuts. Just make sure the dough is thick enough to not break.

Wrap the brie and filling. * I fold in the four corners so you are left with four more corners. Trim some of the dough to reduce bulk and use for decoration on top.

Flip the wrapped Brie over and onto a baking sheet with parchment
Cut out leaves or other designs out of trimmed dough and place on top
Bake for 20-25 minutes according to your puff pastry directions
Serve with sliced Granny Smith apples and crackers

* I use Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets, 400 degrees.

{ 1 comment }

Figs and Eggs

September 20, 2009

I am lucky enough to have a grandmother with an abundance of fruitful fig trees and a chicken coop. Justin and I recently picked buckets full of ripe figs and enough fresh eggs to fill a carton. I love figs. I love there purplie green color, curvy plump shape, delicate texture and opulent inside. I love roasted figs, fig preserves and baked figs and sugar over ice cream. Many of my friends want to like figs but just don’t. I have found that the following recipe will get just about anyone to appreciate figs.

Slice figs in half and place in a baking dish*
Reduce balsamic vinegar in a sauce pan until think, sweet and syrupy
Stuff the fig halves with goat cheese
Drizzle with balsamic syrup
Sprinkle with finely chopped fresh herbs and salt

*You can serve this appetizer cold or if you don’t like the rawness of figs, place them in the oven for 10 minutes or until desired taste and texture.

As for the fresh eggs, we had breakfast for dinner- fresh eggs, bacon and cheese toast.

{ 2 comments }