Archive for Appetizer

Strawberry Gazpacho

Wednesday, July 5th, 2017

As strawberries are in season,  try this refreshing version of the classic Spanish chilled vegetable soup.

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 1/2  cucumber, peeled 
  • 1/2  red bell pepper, cored and seeded
  • 1 tomato 
  • 1 shallot or 1/4 red onion
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic  vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon or lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt  
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Optional garnish:  diced strawberries and mint 

Directions

Roughly chop cucumber, bell pepper, tomato, red onion  and strawberries. 

Add  vegetables and strawberries into a food processor or blender and pulse a few times to mix. 

Add in balsamic vinegar, oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper  Process/blend mixture until pureed into desired consistency. 

Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.

Chill before serving. The longer the gazpacho sits, the more flavor it develops. Can be refrigerated overnight.

Before serving, garnish with diced strawberries and mint, if desired. 

Mini Pull Apart Party Breads

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

Using smaller rolls with different toppings not only adds variety but makes it easier for guests with food restrictions.

Use your favorite rolls or sourdough bread. The toppings used for this recipe included:  Basil, parsley, red onions, mushrooms, jalapeno, pepperoncini, olives, salami,  pancetta,  chorizo, roasted peppers and capers. Have fun and create your favorite toppings!

Tip: Placing all your ingredients on a cutting board or baking tray makes it easier for assembly / pre prep and you can also place in the refrigerator until ready to use.  Another idea to have your guests build their own rolls.  Have the bread sliced, meat cooked, vegetables chopped. Not only will your guests  have  fun making their own creations but the bread will be served right out of the oven.

Makes 12 

Ingredients 

  • 12 rolls or your favorite bread 
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted 
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Cheese: mozzarella, cheddar, gorgonzola, pepper jack, etc
  • Toppings: bacon, sausage, chorizo, pancetta, herbs, olives, mushrooms, roasted peppers, capers, etc

Directions

Heat oven to 350°F.

Using a serrated knife, slice rolls in one direction, then turn it 90 degrees and slice the other direction,  making sure not to cut through the bottom crust. (If the bread is too soft to cut through, place in the freezer for 15-20 minutes before cutting). Place rolls on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. 

In a bowl or cup, mix together the melted butter, minced garlic and salt.  Using a spoon or turkey baster,  drizzle melted butter over rolls making sure to drizzle between the cut areas.

Add cheese and toppings into the cut areas of the bread. If using raw meat, cook before adding to the bread. 

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Wrap foil loosely over the rolls and bake for 10 minutes.  Remove foil and continue to bake for 5 minutes or until golden brown and cheese is melted  Serve immediately.

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To make ahead: assemble rolls with toppings and place in the refrigerator. Bake when your guests arrive. 

Southwestern Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

You won’t miss any of the flavors of a traditional taco. This recipe has got it all except the carbs!   Perfect as an appetizer, lunch or dinner.

Feel free to change the spice levels to suite your own taste.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 2 Chicken breasts ( can use ground chicken)
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1-2 bell peppers, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Lettuce leaves ( romaine, napa, iceberg, etc)
  • Optional garnish: tomato, red onion, green onion, avocado, cilantro

Avocado Cilantro Dressing

  • 1 avocado, pit removed
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 Tablespoon cilantro
  • 3 Tablespoons water ( more as needed)
  • Pinch of salt

Directions

In a bowl, combine salt, pepper,  oregano, garlic powder,  turmeric, cumin, chili powder and coriander.  Rub chicken breasts with oil and coat with spice mixture on both sides.

Heat 2 Tablespoons of oil in a large skillet and cook chicken until no longer pink in the middle. Set aside. When cool, cut into small strips or bite size pieces.

Heat 1 Tablespoon of oil in the same skillet.  Sauté bell peppers, onions and garlic for a few minutes.  Add in chicken and sauté until  chicken is cooked through.

To assemble: Place chicken and vegetables on top of lettuce leaves.  Top with desired garnish and drizzle avocado cilantro dressing on top.

Dressing: Combine all ingredients together a blender and process until smooth, adding more water as needed.

Bacon Jalapeño Poppers

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

A crowd favorite for your Super Bowl party.   You can assemble the poppers in advance and refrigerate until ready to bake. If you have kids or want a milder version, substitute with mini sweet peppers ( sold in bags).

Makes 24

Ingredients

  • 8oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese ( or Mexican blend)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 12 jalapeño chiles,  halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 8 slices bacon, cut in thirds
  • Paprika or chili powder ( optional)

Directions
Heat oven to 375°F.

Cut jalapeños in half, length-wise and remove seeds. In a bowl, mix  together the cream cheese, cheddar cheese and garlic.

Spoon filling into each jalapeño half. Cut each bacon slice into thirds and wrap 1 piece of bacon around each pepper and secure with a toothpick.

Place on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper.  Sprinkle spice desired on top of peppers.

Bake 25 minutes or until bacon is crispy.

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Pizza Bites

Monday, January 20th, 2014

These addictive pizza bites are perfect for the big game. Not only are they easy to make but great to serve for a crowd.  Adjust the ingredients to the number of guests or your favorite pizza toppings.  The baking time will be same.  

Makes 16-20  (8-10 biscuits in a can)

Ingredients

  • 2 cans refrigerated biscuits
  • Pepperoni or salami
  • Marinara or pizza sauce
  • Cheese cut into cubes (mozzarella, monterey jack, etc)
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon water
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Flatten out biscuits. Place pepperoni slice, marinara sauce and cheese on top of biscuits.

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Gather up the edges to create a ball.

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Place biscuits seam side down on a baking pan. In a bowl, mix together parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning and garlic powder. Brush biscuits with egg mixture and sprinkle top with parmesan cheese mixture.

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Bake 18-22 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve with sauce on the side so guests can add more  as needed.

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Baked Brie in Puff Pastry

Monday, December 16th, 2013

Brie wrapped in puff pastry with pecans, brown sugar and cranberries and baked until the cheese is gooey! The perfect appetizer for your holiday gathering!

Serves 6-8

 Ingredients:

  • 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 wheel brie cheese ( about 7-8 inches round)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 Tablespoon of water
  • crackers or fruit for serving

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Place puff pastry on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place brie in the middle of the pastry sheet and top with brown sugar, nuts and cranberries.

Wrap pastry sheet around brie, trimming off any excess,  if needed.  (Reserve excess pieces for decoration).

Optional: cutout  decorations from remaining pastry using a knife or pizza cutter and arrange on top. Get creative!

Brush top and sides of pastry sheet with egg and bake 20-25  minutes or until golden brown. Let stand about 20 minutes to allow cheese to set. Serve with crackers or sliced fruit such as apples or pears.

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin Cheese Ball

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Serve this easy, crowd pleasing appetizer for your Halloween or Thanksgiving gathering. Feel free to add your favorite spices or omit any of the spices I used based on your taste.   I rolled the cheese ball in Ritz crackers for texture but you can use crushed nacho flavored tortilla chips or just leave it plain. Make one big cheese ball or make small individual cheese balls. This can be made a day ahead but do not roll in the crackers until ready to serve.

 

Ingredients

  • 2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 green onion, sliced
  • Ritz crackers, crushed (optional)

 

Directions

In a bowl, beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until blended.  Stir in cheddar cheese, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, black pepper and green onion until blended. Place on a plastic wrap and shape into a ball.  Refrigerate until firm, about 2-3 hours.

 

 

When ready to serve, roll cheese in the  crushed Ritz crackers. With a knife, add vertical lines to resemble a pumpkin.

 

For the top, place a bell pepper stem, celery stalk or pretzel stick. Serve with  crackers, sliced fruit and vegetables. Enjoy!

 

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Sun Dried Tomato Hummus with Pita Chips

Monday, February 18th, 2013

Hummus is a healthy alternative for snacks or appetizers and very simple to make.   While there are many variations, the basis of a hummus recipe is garbanzo beans and Tahini, which is sesame paste  found in most grocery stores. If you don’t like sun dried tomato, you can omit it or can substitute with any other ingredient.   Hummus is usually served with pita bread, fresh or baked. Below is a recipe for baked  pita chips. I prefer my chips seasoned, but you can make plain pita chips by omitting the spices or substituting with other spices or herbs.

Yield about 1 cup

Ingredients: 

  • 1 (15 oz) can garbanzo beans ( aka chickpeas), drained and rinsed
  • ¼  cup of the liquid from garbanzo beans
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • ¼ cup sundried tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons Tahini ( sesame paste)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, or more as needed, plus more for garnish

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and mix until creamy and smooth. If the mixture seems dry or does not blend well, add few more tablespoons of olive oil. Taste and add more seasoning, as needed.

Transfer hummus to a serving bowl. Sprinkle paprika over top and drizzle some olive oil.   Serve with pita chips

Serves 6

Pita Chips 

Ingredients:

  • 6 pita bread
  • ¼  cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried herbs (oregano, basil, etc)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut each pita in half then into wedges and arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer.  Drizzle olive oil evenly over pita wedges.  Sprinkle rest of the ingredients over pita and mix together.

Bake in preheated oven for about 10-15 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.

 

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Categories : Appetizer, Entertaining

Salmon Tartare

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Tuna tartare is one of my favorite appetizers. Since I had extra salmon and avocado from a sushi class, I decided to make salmon tartare instead.  I also served these in individual  wonton wrappers so it will be easier for guests to eat.

When purchasing fish, the best choice is sushi/sashimi grade which is specifically meant to be eaten raw.  It’s usually packaged in a rectangle shape ready to be eaten and may not be in the same area as the fish intended to be cooked.   Asian markets are your best source for sushi grade fish but if you don’t have Asian markets in your area, ask someone in your grocery store if you’re unsure or make sure all bones are removed in the salmon you purchase.

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 8 oz salmon fillet, skin and any bones removed, (can use tuna)
  • Wonton wrappers
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 mango, diced into cubes
  • 1 avocado, diced into cubes
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice and zest of 1 lime
  • 2 teaspoons cilantro, minced
  • 2 teaspoons chives or green onions, minced
  • 1 small jalapeno, minced (optional)
  • 2  teaspoons shallot, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Salmon roe for garnish ( optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Freeze salmon for about 20-30 minutes to make it easier to dice.

Meanwhile, spray both sides of wonton wrappers with cooking spray and place in muffin cups to shape into cups. Bake for about 15 minutes or until they are golden brown. When done, transfer to a rack or plate to cool. I usually make more wrappers than needed in case some breaks or the shape doesn’t form correctly. ( I end up snacking on those!)

 

Cut salmon into small cubes and place in a large bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients and toss to combine. Transfer tartare to individual wonton wrappers.  I topped mine with salmon roe for color but that’s optional. You can top with cilantro or chives.

If you don’t want to serve these in wonton wrappers, the other option is to serve in lettuce, cabbage or endive leaves.

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Thai Lettuce Wraps

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

This is a great appetizer to serve at a party. I provided 2 options to serve this dish depending on the need for “finger food” or “make your own”. I used ground chicken but you can substitute with any other ground meat. If you have access to an Asian grocery store, you can find minced lemongrass in the frozen section.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:  

  • 1 carrot, diced in small cubes (can use a grater)
  • 1 bell pepper, diced in small cubes
  • 2 green onions, sliced thinly
  • 2 Tablespoons Thai basil (regular basil will work if you can’t find Thai basil)
  • 2 Tablespoons mint, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons cilantro, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoons ginger, minced or grated
  • 3 Tablespoons lemongrass, very finely chopped (can use frozen)
  • Juice and zest of 1 lime
  • 4 Tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons sweet chili sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons fish sauce
  • Romaine lettuce or Endive leaves

Directions: 

Chop carrots, bell pepper, green onions, basil, mint and cilantro. Mix together in a bowl and set aside.

Heat oil in a wok or large frying pan and cook chicken for about 5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink, stirring frequently.  Add the rest of the ingredients (except for lettuce)  and continue to stir until chicken is cooked through.

Turn off the heat and stir in the reserved chopped vegetables/herbs set aside.

To serve:

Transfer to a bowl and place in the middle of a large plate. Place lettuce leaves around the plate and have your guests make their own wraps. The other option is to serve in individual endive leaves.

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