Chicken Parmesan Bites

It’s around this time of year when I start thinking about what appetizers I want to make. Who’s with me???
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Holiday party and get together season is coming up rapidly fast and the invites for us have already started with a Halloween party, next up will be Thanksgiving, Christmas and ending with New Years oh and I also need to throw a few birthdays in there.
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Most people; when planning a party will take care of a few of the main dishes; then rely on their guests to fill in the gaps. I am curious to know if you spend as much time as I do trying to figure out something that is not only easy to make it needs to be easy to transport. But on top of all of that it HAS to taste delicious!
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I am still in my wrist brace from my carpal tunnel surgery a few weeks ago, I think I should be able to take it off sometime next week; I know it’s still going to take some time to get my strength back but I haven’t stopped cooking this whole time. Though I have decided to use a few shortcut staples that I knew about but honestly can’t recall using before. Pre-chopped frozen onions and minced garlic while not my favorite has come in quite handy! Get it “handy” yeah I know not funny! I also found a garlic mashed potato that you heat up in the microwave which are surprisingly creamy, garlicky and the entire family felt they were pretty darn good!

I have actually shared this recipe in a slider form awhile back but I thought it would make a great little pick up and go kind of app.

Ingredients

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 ½ tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground chicken
1 ounce parmesan reggiano cheese, grated
1 cup marinara sauce
⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
Mozzarella balls, sliced in half
Few sprigs of small leaf basil

Directions

Saute the onions, garlic, salt, pepper, red pepper and oregano just until the onions are translucent. Place mixture in a large bowl and allow to cool for about 5 minutes. Add chicken and parmesan plus ½ cup of the marinara sauce.
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Mix well and then using a small scoop, which helps keep them all the same size; makes approximately 24 meatballs. Preheat oven to 400’F for 15 minutes. I turned my to broil for another 4 minutes. Trying to get a little color on them, even though they will be covered with a small mozzarella ball and some basil.    
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Heat the remaining marinara sauce and cover and sit the meatballs in the sauce
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Macros = 2 Meatball
54 Calories – 3 g Fat – 3.5 g Carbs – 4 g Protein

BBQ Marinated Shrimp

I am writing this week’s blog on Friday morning before my house becomes so busy and full of a lot of people. A girlfriend of mine is coming over to help me prep for an anniversary party we are hosting for my in-laws. My feeling was that it needed to be a step up or so from the normal backyard BBQ I throw since it is their 60th wedding anniversary BBQ and that is quite the accomplishment in my book and deserves something a little special.
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In a little bit a couple of my sister-in-laws will be here along with my girlfriend JC oh and did I mention that JC is a trained chef; no pressure for me to be prepping along side her ugh!  I even felt obligated to clean my oven last week just because I wanted everything “perfect” for her. I doubt she would judge me for a dirty oven, but I wanted to make cooking in my kitchen a pleasant experience.
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When deciding what we were having I wanted some of my favorite sides. Potato Salad, Pasta Salad, Baked beans and BBQ Shrimp.  So I well I guess we are all going to work on cooking the pasta & potatoes. I cheated on the beans and doctored up a large can I had on hand already. We’ll need to marinate the shrimp and decorate some cupcakes that I made up yesterday. JC is going to be in charge of the chicken and steak tips. She mentioned making up a few for us to taste, I have no doubt that they will be delicious.
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The BBQ shrimp is a recipe a friend brought to a party many years ago and has been a staple at my parties ever since. I have shared it with many people over the years but I have never blogged about it before. Funny thing is I tell everyone where I got it but they still refer to it as my recipe. When I make it I still bring out the same page that on the top says Jack’s family recipe, it has many stains and blotches on it but it is still excellent and a crowd pleaser!
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BBQ Marinated Shrimp

1 cup olive oil
¼ cup chopped parsley
1 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce
3 cloves garlic minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
2 pounds large, peeled and deveined shrimp with tails on

In a large bowl or ziploc bag, add all the ingredients except the shrimp, mix well and then add your shrimp. Let them marinate for a minimum of 2 hours or best overnight.
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Skewer them and cook on your grill just till pink which means they are done. They cook quick but also depends on how hot you have your grill.

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The cook gets to get at least a skewer to themselves. At least that is how it works at my house.

Cannoli Dip

I have been sitting here for the last 2 hours trying to come up with an appetizer that I can bring to a party that we are attending tonight. Some of you might think since I have a weekly food blog that this wouldn’t be such a hard thing to figure out. It probably wouldn’t be had I not put so many; I guess I will call them restrictions; well that might be kind of a harsh word for it. It’s more like guidelines or parameters. Firstly because I do blog about food there is this expectation that what I bring is going to be simply delicious and it better not be store bought. I was also hoping that maybe it would be something worth blogging about.

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Here were my parameters.  I am not bringing a crockpot, It has to be able to be served at room temperature. It has to be pick up and go, It cannot be “messy” as in I wanted it to be self-contained; meaning no tail to throw away as in shrimp cocktail. No bones plate for wings you get the drift. I also wanted it to be on a plate or tray that I can leave and not care about if I never see it again; I have plenty of these from my parties. Oh and I also mentioned to my daughter, that just came down, that I am fairly certain that there will be plenty of chips, dips and salsas to go around so you can see my dilema!

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In talking it out with my daughter I confirmed that it would be “legal” to bring something sweet instead of a savory app. When I think of apps I think don’t usually think of sweets. The invites were through FB and the only thing I saw posted as what to bring was to bring an app. I figured if the 50+/- people all saw the same thing and think along the same lines as I do; most will be savory and only a small few might be sweet.

Well I have decided to make the biscotti I blogged about last week. I wanted to make it again anyway and I feel everyone needs to try it; it is amazing and what better way to share it than to bring it to a potluck party filled with mostly people I know and care about. Since I already blogged/bragged about them I needed to come up with a recipe to share with all of you so I am bringing back a simple but yummy and a crowd pleaser.  

Cannoli Dip

1 brick cream cheese softened
2 cups ricotta
1 ½ cups confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup + (some for sprinkling on top) mini chocolate chips

Cannoli chips I found mine at my local grocery store – you can substitute waffle cones or sugar cones

Beat together the ricotta and cream cheese till smooth; add the vanilla and sugar and mix well.  Add the cup of chips and sprinkle a little on top.

Let it set up in the fridge for an hour or so.  You can leave out the chips and add them as you want them,  The chips will get softer the longer it takes you to eat the dip. That’s if you and your guests don’t finish it off. 

Zucchini Chips and Zucchini Boats

If there were an Olympic event for harvesting the most cucumbers from just a few plants or growing the largest cabbage in a raised bed or even who can find and pick the best shaped squash; I think we could be in the running. Despite the drought and thanking my personal “water boy” my gardens are looking pretty damn good!

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look how adorable my butternut squash are!!!

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Now comes the task of what to do with everything. Yesterday I spent the day baking zucchini bread that will last probably till next year, I actually did have to rotate last years bread to the front. I have also been kind of obsessed with fried Parmesan zucchini chips. I think I have made them at least 3 times in the last month; I also made a couple of zucchini hasselback packets for out on the grill. Last night I decided to use up some items I had in the fridge. When I was going through my freezer I noticed a container of last years processed tomatoes that I made into a nice Italian sausage marinara sauce, and there was a small container of ricotta cheese and yes many squashes to choose from.

The ingredients screamed zucchini boats; ya don’t ask me why that is what they said but I personally think it was because I didn’t want to make a full fledged lasagna out of them so I took the easy way out.

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Zucchini Boats

1-2 medium sized zucchini
15 oz. container of ricotta cheese
1 egg
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Handful of fresh parsley chopped
1-2 sweet Italian sausage casings removed; crumbled and cooked
Homemade or jarred marinara sauce
Mozzarella for the top

IMG_4493Zucchini cleaned, trimmed and sliced in half lengthwise

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Using a spoon scoop out the flesh making sure to leave enough to hold the cheese and sauce.

Mix the ricotta, egg, parmesan and fresh parsley

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Fill the zucchini with the ricotta mixture then cover with marinara sauce. Cover with mozzarella and bake at 350’F for 30-45 minutes.

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Zucchini Parmesan Crisps

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1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup Panko*
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 zucchinis, thinly sliced to 1/4-inch thick rounds
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, beaten

Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.

In a large bowl, combine Panko and Parmesan; set aside.

Working in batches, dredge zucchini rounds in flour, dip into eggs, then dredge in Panko mixture, pressing to coat.

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Add zucchini rounds to the skillet, 5 or 6 at a time, and cook until evenly golden and crispy, about 1 minute on each side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.

 

Serve immediately.

Asian Lettuce Wraps

My garden is looking pretty good so far, the first thing we harvested besides the strawberries I wrote about recently were some radishes. I shared them with my Dad and he loved them, saying they were the spiciest ones he’s ever had. The ones I ate were cut up super small for my salad and I also sliced some really thin and pickled them so I didn’t notice the spice.  I heard you can roast them so that is on my list of things to try. This week we also got our first zucchini and summer squash and so far one cucumber though most all the plants look great except my peppers and eggplant not sure what happened to those guys?  

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We planted some bibb lettuce this year; mostly because we have the perfect spot for it in the corner of one of the beds; it doesn’t get enough sunshine for anything else to grow there so I would either leave it empty or plant lettuce. I should have staggered the plants so they all didn’t mature at the same time. You can only eat so much lettuce, or at least we can; 6 plants are a little much even for a family of 4.

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The leaves looked perfect for a lettuce wrap; which we all do love but don’t eat very often. Especially at home, which since they are so easy, we totally could have them as part of our dinner rotation. Plus I have an arsenal of Asian spices and oils; probably since my daughter spent 2 years living in Japan. Or maybe because you only use a teaspoon here and a tablespoon there. I also think it is because of the Asian market I like visiting. I love the owner, she is super sweet and very helpful and you can’t beat the prices.

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Asian Lettuce Wraps

Bibb or Butter Lettuce
1 lb of lean ground beef
1 Tbs canola oil
1 large onion chopped
¼ cup hoisin sauce
2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs rice wine vinegar
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 dash of your favorite Asian chili pepper sauce
1 8oz can of water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 tsp Asian (dark) sesame oil

Rinse whole lettuce leaves and pat them dry, being careful not to tear them and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat; add the oil and beef cooking until browned. Drain and discard the grease. Transfer beef to a bowl. Cook and stir onion in the same skillet until tender; add in the hoisin sauce, garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, and chili pepper sauce. Stir to combine and add the water chestnuts, green onions, sesame oil, and the cooked beef; cook for 2-4 minutes longer.  

Arrange lettuce leaves around the outer edge of a large serving platter and pile the meat mixture in the center of each leaf.

Add a small bowl of the sweet chili sauce for those who want a little more kick

Strawberry cheesecake love bites

Who else has a large bowl full of fresh strawberries from their garden that they need to do something with?13442327_10206663286565524_7175707329866589239_n

June is strawberry season around here in NH and our plants have been pretty busy this year. We have hulled washed and eaten many of them but then what? On Father’s day my daughter made up some Jell-o cheesecake pudding and she was going to hull out the strawberries and dip them in a graham cracker crumb. The day got away from us and it never happened. The next day my husband decided to take things into his own hands and he sliced the strawberries in half, put some of the cheesecake filling and roll in the crumbs. While they tasted good, they were a pain to pick up and the proportions were all off.

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With larger berries you could scoop out some of the inside flesh to make room for the filling. My berries are not that large so I was playing with a few ideas, my final decision was to take the crumbs and put them on a plate. Take my cleaned berries and put a dollop of the cheesecake filling on the top and then place them upside down in the crumb mixture – BRILLIANT!
Proportions were perfect and everyone loved them and talk about easy; not sure why it took me so long to make these little nuggets of love bites. Try them you won’t be disappointed.

Make as many as you want to eat or serve
Strawberries
Jell-o cheesecake package – make as directed
box of Honey Maid Graham Cracker Crumbs

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Cover the bottom of you plate with the crumbs, put a small dollop of cheesecake on top of the strawberry and place it cheesecake side down on to the crumbs and enjoy!

 

 

 

Pork Spring Rolls – Baked not Fried

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you mom’s out there who have baked brownies or cupcakes at the last minute for a class bake sale their kids forgot to tell the about. For all the mom’s who make dinners that their kids won’t eat for one reason or another. For all the mom’s who spend many hours in the kitchen and around the table sharing food and stories. I raise a glass to you all! Mom is a tough job but I am proud to do it!

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Even though my kids are young adults now, if they are home we all sit down at the table for dinner together. One of the many proud Mom traditions I started when they were born. Our meals have definitely evolved over the years and have become not only a meal to fill the void, it has become a journey of food and ingredient discovery.

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My daughter just came back from a weeks long trip to Iceland. She brought back native hot dogs and mustard for us to try; she said she never had a better hot dog. After making one of her favorites last week, it seems that there is more to a hot dog than ketchup, mustard and relish. This one had potato salad, fried onions, Icelandic mustard; which is kind of a sweet mustard, and some BBQ sauce layered in a hoagie bun. It truly was delicious and piqued my interest in hot dogs, which I didn’t think was possible.

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I have also been intrigued by egg rolls, spring rolls and dumplings. A few weeks ago I made egg rolls that I shared with you; last week I pulled some spring roll wrappers out of the freezer and while I love the fried version, I found a baked recipe I thought looked promising and a little better for us. See still being a Mom and wanting better for my family.

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Bake Pork Spring Rolls

1 pound ground pork
½ head finely shredded cabbage
½ cup finely shredded carrot
3 green onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
3 teaspoons fresh grated ginger root
2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoon chile sauce

2 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoon water
12 – 7 inch square spring roll wrappers
4 teaspoon vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 425’ F

In a medium saucepan over medium heat brown the pork, remove from heat and drain.

In a medium bowl, mix together pork, cabbage, carrot, green onion, cilantro, sesame oil, oyster sauce, ginger, garlic and chile sauce.  Make sure to taste the mixture and adjust seasonings if needed.

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Mix cornstarch and water in a small bowl

Place a large tablespoon of the pork mixture in the center of the spring roll. Roll wrappers around the mixture, folding edges inward to close. Moisten fingers in the cornstarch water mixture, and brush wrapper seams to seal.

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Arrange spring rolls in a single layer on a medium baking sheet. Brush with vegetable oil. Bake in the preheated oven 20 minutes, until hot and lightly browned. For crispier spring rolls, turn 10 minutes.

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Recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com by Rayna