I stumbled across this recipe on justapinch.com. They have some great recipes on their website and this one was no exception. This yummy, vegetarian appetizer is great to serve at a party or take to a potluck. You can substitute lowfat cream cheese if you want to cut down on the fat. These colorful rolls look so pretty arranged on a platter. And the best part is….. they’re super easy to make!
VEGGIE CREAM CHEESE ROLL-UPS
6 eight-inch flour tortillas (can use wheat, spinach, or tomato tortillas)
2 pkg. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1 envelope ranch dressing or dip mix
4 green onions, finely chopped
½ small can (4.25 oz.) chopped black olives
1 celery rib, finely chopped
½ cup finely chopped green bell pepper
½ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
Beat cream cheese and ranch mix together until smooth and well-blended.
Stir in chopped vegetables with a rubber spatula.
Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over tortillas.
Roll up tortillas into logs and wrap each log in plastic wrap.
Place tortilla logs in fridge to chill for at least 3 hours to set.
Slice tortillas into ½-inch rounds before serving.
Can be served with salsa as a dip.
I don’t like a lot of olives in these rolls so I only use half a small can. Feel free to use the whole can if you like.
This is an old recipe that I’ve had for many years. I got it from one of my old cookbooks, but sadly, I don’t remember which one. Probably a Junior League cookbook. Clam Dip is rich, creamy, and utterly delicious. I haven’t tried making it with low-fat cream cheese or mayo, but I don’t see why you couldn’t if you felt inclined to try cutting down on the calories. Let me tell you though, calories or not, this dip is worth every scrumptious bite!
HOT CLAM DIP IN BREAD BOWL
1 (1½-lb.) unsliced round bread bowl
2 (8-oz.) pkgs. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. worcestershire sauce
a couple of dashes tabasco sauce, or to taste (optional)
4 (6½-oz.) cans minced clams, drained
4 large green onions, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Slice top 2 inches off bread and reserve for lid.
Cut out insides of bread, leaving a 1-inch-thick shell.
Tear cut-out bread into pieces to use for dipping.
With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, mayonnaise, worcestershire sauce, and tabasco (if using) in large bowl until well-blended.
Stir in clams and green onions.
Season with salt and pepper.
Pour filling into bread bowl.
Place reserved lid on bread.
Wrap bread tightly in 2 layers of heavy-duty foil and place on cookie sheet.
Bake until filling is very hot and bread is crusty, about 1 hour.
Unwrap bread and place on serving tray.
Remove lid and lean lid against bread at angle for a pretty presentation.
Lid can later be cut into cubes for dipping.
NOTE: If you can’t find a bread bowl, or you just don’t feel like doing the whole bread bowl thing,you can skip it (like I did in the photo above). Just beat the cream cheese, mayonnaise, worcestershire sauce, and tabasco together in a microwave-safe bowl until smooth. Microwave for 3 minutes or until cream cheese mixture is hot, stopping to stir every 30 seconds or so. Mix in drained clams and green onions. Microwave 30 seconds more. Stir well and serve with sliced baguette bread for dipping.
The first time I tried artichoke dip was at a restaurant in San Francisco. It was to die for. They served it with thin, crispy tortilla chips. The dip was warm, cheesy, gooey, in short, everything you want in a dip. One bite and I was a fan for life.
This dip is easy to prepare. If you have a food processor, you could throw everything except the artichoke hearts in there and get it all blended together. Then add the artichoke hearts last and pulse them a few times so they’re chopped but not mush. Scrape it all into your gratin dish and bake.
HOT ARTICHOKE DIP
1 pkg. (8 ozs.) cream cheese, softened
½ cup mayonnaise
1 can (14 ozs.) artichoke hearts in water, drained and chopped
2 green onions, sliced thin
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup shredded mozzarella
½ cup grated parmesan
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth.
Beat in mayonnaise until well combined.
Add remaining ingredients and stir together well.
Transfer mixture to a pie plate or shallow gratin dish.
Bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until mixture is bubbling and top is golden brown.
Serve hot with bread, crackers, tortilla chips, or veggies.
This recipe is a play on traditional Nachos, except instead of tortilla chips, you use tater tots. It makes a hearty and delicious appetizer, or can be served for a yummy brunch dish. Try to have whatever toppings you’ve chosen all ready to go so that as soon as the cheese is melted over the tater tots, you can pile on your toppings and serve right away. The longer the tater tots sit with the toppings on them, the less crunchy they become. Not that that’s a bad thing. My family just prefers them crunchy.
1 bag (2 lbs.) frozen tater tots
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream, thinned with a little water or milk till pourable
fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
chorizo, removed from casing, crumbled and cooked
refried beans or black beans
diced red onion
sliced black olives
whole kernel corn
sliced pickled jalapeños
pico de gallo, or your favorite salsa
Line a jellyroll pan with foil.
Arrange tater tots in single layer on baking pan and bake according to package directions until brown and crispy.
Remove from oven and sprinkle cheese over tater tots.
If necessary, return to oven and bake just until cheese is all melted.
Remove from oven and top with any combination of the toppings listed above. You can use as much or as little as you like of the toppings.
I felt like having Chinese food for dinner tonight and started thinking about P.F. Chang’s restaurant. We haven’t eaten there in years, but I remember how much I loved their chicken lettuce wraps. Well, I didn’t have any chicken, but I did have some ground pork so I thought, why not? Couldn’t I create something using pork as a substitute? Here’s what I came up with. The family loved it! I called the dish “Asian” because it was inspired by the wraps from a Chinese restaurant, but teriyaki marinade is Japanese, the noodles are Filipino, the peanut sauce is Indonesian, and the Mae Ploy sauce is Thai. LOL! A delicious blend of Asian flavors!
ASIAN LETTUCE CUPS
Prepare the Meat:
1 lb. ground chicken or ground pork (I used ground pork)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 bottle Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki marinade & sauce (or use your favorite brand)
Brown ground meat and garlic in a medium saucepot.
Drain excess oil, if any.
Stir in 1/2 cup teriyaki marinade and let cook for 2-3 minutes, then taste the meat. If it seems lacking in flavor, add more teriyaki sauce, a tablespoon at a time, until the flavor is to your liking. Be careful not to add too much or it will be too salty! I like Soy Vay teriyaki marinade but you could really use whatever brand you like.
Stir in grated ginger, cook for a minute more, and then taste the meat again. Just like with the teriyaki sauce, you can add more grated ginger, a teaspoon at a time, till the flavor is to your liking.
Stir in the water chestnuts, green onion, shitake mushrooms and jalapeño. Depending on how big your shitake mushroom caps are, you can add more or less, or omit them entirely if you don’t like them at all. Same thing with the jalapeño. You can add more than one if you want the dish spicier, or omit it altogether.
Make the Peanut Sauce:
1 can coconut milk
1 cup creamy peanut butter
½ cup water
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1½ tbsp. fish sauce
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. lime juice
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tbsp. grated ginger
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepot and cook over medium heat, stirring with a wire whisk until well blended.
The sauce thickens as it cools. If it becomes too thick, add more water, a tablespoon at a time, till it reaches the consistency you want.
Prepare Remaining Ingredients:
1-2 heads butter lettuce
1 pkg. bean thread or cellophane noodles
1 carrot, julienned
1 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped
1 bunch basil leaves, chopped
1 bunch mint leaves, chopped
1 cup peanuts, finely chopped (optional)
Mae Ploy sweet chilli sauce
Carefully separate larger, outer lettuce leaves and wash and dry them well.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the noodles and let boil just until softened, about 2 minutes or so. Drain into a colander, run cold water over them, then allow to drain and cool completely.
Place all the condiments in separate little serving bowls.
Have everyone assemble their own wraps.
Place a lettuce leaf on your plate.
Top with some noodles, then meat, carrots, and herbs.
Pour a little peanut sauce over the top.
Add a little Mae Ploy sweet chilli sauce.
Then finally, sprinkle top with chopped peanuts if desired.
If your lettuce leaf is big enough, you can roll it into a little log and call it a lettuce wrap. If not, just serve it open-faced with a fork and knife and call it a lettuce cup like I did! A rose by any other name, right?
NOTE: If you don’t like ground chicken or ground pork, you can make this dish with whole boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Mix the teriyaki marinade and grated ginger together (omit the rest of the ingredients). Marinate the chicken in the teriyaki-ginger mixture for at least an hour, preferably overnight. Grill the chicken or bake it in the oven. Slice cooked chicken into thin strips. Then continue with the recipe.
Somehow, I’d forgotten all about this recipe until now. I was looking through my recipe box for an appetizer to make and came across my recipe for these crispy little nuggets of seafoody goodness. I used to make Shrimp Toast for parties all the time when I was newly married. Finding this recipe instantly brought back memories of parties past….. a baby shower for my first born….. a birthday party where we danced all night….. lots of good times.
The name “Shrimp Toast” usually brings to mind those little triangles of fried bread with a shrimp mixture mounded on top. This recipe is different in that the bread is flattened with a rolling pin, spread with the shrimp mixture, then rolled into logs. The logs are fried until golden brown and then each log is cut into four little bite-sized rolls. One loaf of bread makes a lot of little shrimp rolls. For example, if your loaf has 15 slices of bread, you’ll end up with 60 little appetizers. It sounds like a lot, but believe me, they go fast! Everytime I make these, the little rolls are completely wiped out!
1¼ lb. raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 stalks green onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tbsp. minced ginger
3 large egg whites
4 tsp. Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 tbsp. sesame oil
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground white pepper
1 loaf day-old white sandwich bread
canola oil for deep-frying
Place shrimp, green onion, ginger, egg whites, rice wine, sesame oil, cornstarch, salt, and pepper into the workbowl of a food processor.
Process until the mixture forms a paste, stopping a couple of times to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Trim the crusts from the bread.
With a rolling pin, roll each bread slice to a little less than ¼-inch thick.
Spread a layer of the shrimp mixture about ⅛-inch thick on each slice of bread, leaving about a half-inch of one side free.
Roll each bread slice into a little log and place seam side down on a plate. The shrimp mixture should squeeze out to reach the free edge as you roll. If the mixture doesn’t reach the free edge, just smear a thin layer of shrimp mixture on it and press it closed to seal.
Pour about 2 inches of oil into a wok or high-sided frying pan and heat to 350ºF.
Working with 3 or 4 rolls at a time, slide rolls into the oil and fry until golden brown.
Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
Cut each roll into 4 bite-sized pieces using a serrated knife.
Serve warm with sweet-and-sour sauce or with a sweet chili sauce like Mae Ploy.
NOTE: This recipe can be prepared a day or two in advance. Just follow the recipe all the way to Step 6, then stack the rolls in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to fry. I have never tried freezing the rolls, but I can’t imagine why that wouldn’t work if you needed to make them a week or two ahead of time for some reason. If you try freezing them, post a comment and let me know how they turned out.
I keep seeing recipes for pull-apart breads everywhere…. pull-apart cheese bread, pull-apart bacon ranch bread, pull-apart cinnamon bread….. Well, I had some leftover Costco pesto sauce and I wanted to use it up before it hit the expiration date so I thought, “why not pull-apart pesto bread?” It sounded like it would be good, don’t you think? So I made a quick stop at the store to buy a french bread boule and some provolone cheese. Here’s what I came up with.
PULL-APART PESTO CHEESE BREAD
1 round french boule (bread bowl)
1 lb. sliced white cheese, such as provolone, swiss, monterey jack, etc.
½ cup butter
⅓ cup basil pesto
Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Lay a sheet of aluminum foil on top of a cookie sheet and place the bread on it.
Slice the bread lengthwise being careful not to cut all the way to the bottom of the loaf.
Next slice the bread crosswise, again taking care not to cut all the way to the bottom, so you have little 3/4-inch squares.
Insert slices of cheese into the cuts between each bread cube, cutting cheese as necessary to fit.
Melt butter in a small bowl in microwave.
Add pesto to melted butter, stirring to combine well.
Spoon all over bread making sure pesto butter goes into the cuts.
Wrap foil closed over bread.
Bake for 15 minutes.
Open up foil and bake an additional 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and top is golden brown.
Transfer bread to a platter and serve immediately. To eat, everyone just pulls a little cube of bread out.
NOTE: This bread is best served warm out of the oven.
I love Gazpacho. It’s a filling and refreshing soup that’s perfect on a hot summer’s day. Gazpacho is a traditional Spanish dish. It’s popular all over Spain and is made from a mixture of fresh raw veggies that typically include tomatoes and cucumbers. The soup also includes oil and vinegar, and in many cases, stale bread is added. The ingredients are pureed into a soup which is then served cold.
I really like Ina Garten’s recipe from her classic Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. I usually make it when we want a light lunch, or when the weather outside erases my willingness to slave over a hot stove. Today I decided to serve the Gazpacho as an appetizer for a party. I poured it into shot glasses and balanced a little parmesan crouton on top of each glass. Don’t they look cute?
1 hothouse cucumber, halved, not peeled
2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded
4 medium tomatoes
½ red onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups (23 ozs.) tomato juice
¼ cup white wine vinegar
¼ cup good olive oil
½ tbsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Roughly chop the cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onions into 1-inch cubes.
Put each vegetable separately into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until coarsely chopped. Do not overprocess!
After each vegetable is processed, pour into a large bowl
Add the garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Mix well and chill before serving. The longer gazpacho sits, the more the flavors develop.
Pour into shot glasses.
Top each glass with a parmesan crouton on a small skewer.
NOTE: To make the parmesan croutons, slice some hearty French or Italian bread into cubes and place them in a ziploc bag. Pour in a little melted butter and some grated parmesan cheese. Zip the bag closed and shake until the bread cubes are well coated. Spread them out in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake at 350ºF until they’re crisp and golden brown.
I throw a Mother’s Day Tea Party every year. It started out as just a little tea party for my Mom and my sisters, but since then it has evolved to include other relatives, friends, neighbors, their husbands and children. It’s a lot of work, but is also a lot of fun and has quickly become a family tradition.
This year, Mother’s Day is on Sunday, May 12, so I decided to make some Mini Chess Pies to serve as part of my menu. They’re always a hit when I make them. Even better, they’re super easy to prepare and they’re delicious. In fact, the hardest part about these pies is stopping yourself from eating the whole bunch once you pull them out of the oven!
MINI CHESS PIES
2 boxes refrigerated rolled pie crust
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°.
Lightly grease the cups of two 24-cup miniature muffin pans. If using non-stick pans, no need to grease.
Unroll refrigerated pie dough onto a lightly floured surface and cut out 48 circles with a biscuit cutter in size needed to cover bottom and sides of each muffin cup. You will have some left-over pie dough which you can press into a ball, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for future use.
Place 1 dough circle into each cup of muffin pans and press into bottom and sides using fingers or a tart tamper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla.
Pour into pie crusts in muffin pans.
Bake 20 to 22 minutes or until filling is set.
Cool in pans for 5 minutes, then transfer each mini pie to wire rack and allow to cool completely before serving.
NOTE: If you would prefer to make your own pie crust from scratch instead of using ready-made refrigerated pie dough, here is a good recipe.
PIE CRUST FOR MINI CHESS PIES
1 pkg. (8-oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 cup butter, softened
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. You could also do this in a food processor.
Gradually add flour to butter mixture, beating at low speed until well combined.
Divide mixture into 48 balls and place one ball into each cup of muffin pans.
Press each ball into bottom and up sides of muffin cup using fingers or a tart tamper.
Cover and chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes before using.
This recipe comes from the January 2009 issue of Fine Cooking magazine. My sister, Helen, who is an excellent cook was the first one to try it. She decided to be adventurous, though, and substituted prosciutto for the bacon (which turned out equally delicious). When you first read the ingredients list, you think, “Endives and sweet potato? Ehh….” (said in the voice of Gru’s Mom from “Despicable Me”). It just doesn’t sound like a good combination at all. But prepare to be wowed. This recipe is surprising in its deliciousness. Everyone who’s tried it loves it. The bacon gives it just the right oomph! One bite and you’ll just have to have another one….. and another one….. and another one. Yes, it’s that good. And even better? It’s super easy to make!
ENDIVE SPEARS WITH SWEET POTATO, BACON AND CHIVES
3 slices bacon, thinly sliced crosswise
1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into ¼-inch dice (about 1½ cups)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp. thinly sliced fresh chives
2 medium heads Belgian endive
¼ cup crème fraîche or sour cream
Cook the bacon in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until it has rendered some of its fat, about 3 minutes.
Add the sweet potato and ¼ tsp. each salt and pepper.
Cook, stirring, until the sweet potato is tender and the bacon starts to crisp, 6 to 8 minutes.
Stir in 2 tbsp. of the chives and season with more salt and pepper to taste.
Let cool for a couple of minutes.
Slice the bottom ½ inch off the endives so some of the outer leaves break free. Cut another ½ inch off and break some more leaves free. Keep going until all the larger leaves are free. (You should have about 20.) If you like, trim the leaves so they’re all the same length. Save the remaining endive for a salad.
Set the endive leaves on a large platter.
Spoon the sweet potato mixture near the base of the leaves.
Top each with a dollop of the crème fraîche and then sprinkle with the remaining chives.
Serve immediately or let sit for up to 20 minutes before serving.