Appetizer

Game day fare

So today is the big day! The San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs should be a pretty good game I think most of us New Englander’s are rooting for the 49ers since there quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo used to be a Patriot though I am torn because last year I thought and said out loud that Patrick Mahomes from the Chiefs is someone to watch and here we are – just saying!

Are you already preparing for the game later today? I haven’t started yet but I do have a plan and will be starting some Crockpot Chicken Chili once I finish writing this blog. The only thing my husband asked for was some wings. I am going to be doing some name dropping here. Franks Hot Sauce is our families favorite hot sauce. Which is saying something, we are not really hot sauce kinda people. We all like a little heat but there is a fine line and we all tend to stay away from ordering anything spicy out just in case their fine line is much higher than ours.

Last Friday at the office we had a tailgating party of sorts in preparing for the Super Bowl – yes even though the Patriots are not in it this year; not to say that everyone at work is a Pats fan but the majority is but we all like food so there’s that! I brought Espinaca dip which is always a hit. We will be having the rest of it a little later today.

I haven’t shared this dip recipe before so here it is. 32 ounce brick of Velveta, 1 brick of cream cheese, 2 cans of Rotel, 1 block of frozen spinach, thawed and drained. Add everything to a pot for the stove top or a slow cooker and heat until everything is melted and mixed together.

Here are a few other items I think would be awesome to share with your football fans, or the people who like to socialize with the people who like football fans. Or the ones that just show up to watch the halftime and commercials. Spam Bacon Bites would be a perfect fit for a party as well as Chicken-Parm Sliders to name a few. If there were more than just a few us I would make the seven layer dip Huevos Rancheros and 7 Layer Mexican Dip but since there isn’t I will just make some Guacamole & Sweet and Salty Wings for the big game

I do hope JLO and Shakira rock the house this year!

Charcuterie board

I hope your 2020 has started out as well as you had hoped! If you are one of those that makes resolutions I hope you are staying on track; if you are not there’s always next year wink wink! I am just hoping for this damn cough/cold to go away! It is getting better but I am SO done with it!

79308896_10215817075404524_7214955233716207616_o

My daughter assembled this beauty!

I’m writing this Saturday morning because the family is gathering for a wedding later today. My beautiful niece is marrying her best friend tonight surrounded by family and friends. I can’t wait to see everyone and share a tear or two. I’m an old softy when it comes to weddings. Who am I kidding I am just an old softy period!

680389_4108538156483_1401923410_o

my husbands idea of a light dinner!

A few weeks ago we had our annual Christmas party; which is always so much fun and this year did not disappoint. I recreated our song booklets, while the old ones were great, they were pretty impossible to navigate and I won’t miss the binder clips. The new booklets are numbered and bound all neat and orderly plus I added some of the non Christmas songs we usually sing. I think we had the most singers this year, I would like to think it was because of the new books.

12248065_10205354519287160_4299938529188857644_o

less glamorous but still very tasty!

 

My dining room table is almost 12 feet long; my husband made it for the room which is why it is not a standard size. Anyway for the Christmas party I try to make sure it is covered with all kinds of different pick up and go or grab a plate and chill type items. I have this pretty cool board I found in the garage and I usually just add my fall decorations onto it and place it in the middle of the table. I decided to put it to another use for the party this year. I hope you like it!

Charcuterie board

What is a Charcuterie board? The wikipedia definition is. Charcuterie is a branch of cooking involving prepared meats, such as ham, sausage, bacon, confit, or other pork products. The word originated in France, and it translates to “pork-butcher shop.” … The correct French pronunciation of charcuterie is “shar-coo-tree.”

A typical board has the following on it. The amount depends on the size of the board and the number of people. 

  • Cured meats.
  • Cheese.
  • Olives.
  • Nuts.
  • Dried Fruit.
  • Crackers or baguette bread.
  • Jelly or jam.

 How to assemble a cheese board:

  • Add your cheeses spaced around your board.
  • Add your salami or other meat in a few different places.
  • Place bowls of olives or honey or jam down the middle.
  • Add crackers and vegetables in large open spaces.
  • Place bunches of grapes, nuts, and chocolate in all the cracks.

Spam Bacon Bites


Just curious if you take a look and judge what’s in other people’s grocery carts? I can’t help myself and when I buy what I would consider “questionable” items I wonder who is judging me? 

believe it or not I did not have any garlic in the house, I did have garlic scapes in the garden so I chopped up a few of those and added them to the mustard and syrup

 

I remember the first time I used a shopping cart at the liquor store I was mortified. It was for a New Years Eve party I was throwing – I just needed to clear that up. A few years ago I was behind someone who was clearly having some sort of function one where they needed like 6 or more 30 packs of Bud Light? I have NO idea when that much of the same beer is necessary but who am I to judge?
Last weekend I was asked to bring an appetizer and I came across one in a magazine that I ripped out and wanted to give it a try. It looked easy and sounded like it would be quite tasty even though it’s main ingredient was one of those items I would classify as “questionable” in my book. This would be the second time in my adult like that I was standing in line at the grocery store with a can of spam in my cart.
I recall when I was younger my Father would chop it up very small and make a western omelette with Spam and I am not positive but I believe my Mother chopped it up for ham salad finger sandwiches? At least I know I have had finger sandwiches that were definitely made with Spam.
I am going to say even if Spam is one of your no no’s these little bites are quite delicious and very easy to make. When I brought them to the party they were gone within the first 15-20 minutes and I will be making them again!

Spam Bacon Bites

Donna Clark - Cooking at Clark Towers
a tasty little bite
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 35 mins

Ingredients
  

  • 16 strips of bacon cut in half
  • 1 can reduced sodium spam 12 ounces
  • 1/3 cup yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup
  • 1 garlic clove minced

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 400'F
  • cube spam into 32 pieces.
  • in a saute pan cook bacon till partially cooked, make sure not to cook them to far they should not be crispy. remove to some paper towels to drain.
  • wrap a piece of bacon around a cube of spam and secure with a toothpick.
  • place each piece on a sheet pan and bake for 10 minutes.
  • combine the mustard, syrup and garlic and drizzle over each bite.
  • return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes. Till the bacon is crisp.

Notes

You can use cubed ham if you are afraid to add spam to your shopping cart
Adapted from Taste of Home test kitchen

Thanksgiving Leftover Egg Roll

I hope you had a wonderful day/weekend however you spent your time! We had 9 for Thanksgiving dinner and today (Saturday) will be 11 for homemade pasta (another personal cooking class for my sister-in-law) and Bolognese.
IMG_3665.JPG
For as far back as I can remember my family took all the leftovers from Thanksgiving and made them into a casserole of sorts. Basically take a 9×13 container and fill it or several of them with a little bit of everything and then top it with gravy. I still love doing this but this year when the family was cleaning up after eating I asked them to put everything in their own containers. I wanted to try making a thanksgiving leftover egg roll after seeing something similar floating around on FB.

IMG_3658And I had recently had an appetizer couples cooking class and I had them making a typical egg roll; pork, cabbage, carrot and scallions; except I had them air fry them, for the only reason being that there were 6 of them and we had made a lot app’s and it was the last one we made. I was a little worried about all of us being around hot oil. Did I mention that they bring wine with them. Just didn’t think it would be a good idea.
IMG_3659They were good air fried but we all were in agreement that we should have fried them in oil especially since the definition of a egg roll is “a Chinese-style snack consisting of diced meat or shrimp and shredded vegetables wrapped in a dough made with egg and deep-fried.” So egg rolls have been on my mind.
IMG_3661The ones I made were super easy and a big hit with everyone. I made 20 egg rolls and there were 7 of us that made them basically disappear. There were 2 left and my daughter brought them to one of her co-workers who also thought they were awesome. I wasn’t too sure about dipping sauces but they are a must. They just add another level of flavor. I always have thai sweet chili sauce in the fridge, I wanted to use the leftover cranberry sauce I made but my husband threw it away grrrrr. Thankfully I had a can of whole berry sauce that I added some orange juice and sriracha too that made a really nice tart sauce with a little heat. And of course there is always leftover gravy that I didn’t get a picture of but everyone gobbled up all 3 sauces.
IMG_3663Thanksgiving Leftover Egg Roll

Egg roll wrappers
Leftover turkey chopped up
Leftover stuffing chopped up
Cranberry sauce
1 egg – beaten

Oil for frying
Yes it was that simple

Cranberry dipping sauce
whole berry cranberry sauce
splash of orange juice
sriracha to taste
place everything in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil for about a 2-3 minutes

A few comments from the crowd
“what a fun way to eat leftovers”, “you are just amazing”, “these are SO good”

IMG_3662On the back of the package of egg roll wrappers will tell you how to fill, wrap, seal  and fry.

Prosciutto Mascarpone bites

I am sitting here this morning drinking my tea and trying to figure out what to say. Which is kinda funny for me, as most of my friends and family will gladly tell you; I always have something to say.  Just sharing –  It took me longer to write this than it did to make a platter of these the other night. 
IMG_3590Today is our first frost, last night my Red Sox lost the first game of the series. I used up the last of my balsamic that I brought home from Italy. And I think I might have worn my flip flops for the last time this year. The day has nowhere to go but up – I hope.
IMG_3583I do have a quick and simple appetizer that I probably paid at least 12 euros for 3 little bites in Greece. But I will be adding these to my list of go too App. I have some friends that have been asking me to come up with an appetizer class. They say they always make the same things every time they are asked to bring something. Which I totally understand. You make something that everyone likes why wouldn’t you make it over and over again. I get a sense that I have to bring something different every time I am invited to someone’s home. I am sure I bring most of it on to myself, I write a food blog I can’t disappoint my people LOL.
IMG_3584This recipe is so simple I am almost embarrassed to write a blog about it. But if you want a new app to bring to a party or just make a light snack for yourself; I won’t judge you.

Prosciutto Mascarpone bites

Prosciutto, thinly sliced
Mascarpone, room temperature
Balsamic vinegar
Greens for decoration

There are packages by the deli with pre-sliced prosciutto, slice each one lengthwise down the middle.
IMG_3585I found it easier to work with the Mascarpone when it got warmer. I put mine in a pastry bag. You can use a ziploc bag or skip the bag and use a couple of spoons to dollop some on the end of each piece of Prosciutto.

Roll each piece and stand them on end, drizzle with the balsamic. Adding some greenery finishes off the simple plate nicely. When I make these again I might roll the meat and then fill with the mascarpone using my pastry bag. I think they would look much nicer. 
IMG_3586
Mascarpone, Cream Cheese
Mascarpone simply put is less tangy than Cream cheese

Bacon, Pancetta, Prosciutto – I love all three
Now a quick little lesson in the differences between Bacon, pancetta, prosciutto
Three pork products that look alike, taste somewhat similar, and even get regularly substituted for each other.

All three are cured meat products Bacon (usually found sliced) and Pancetta (can be sliced thin or cubed) are from the pork belly and need to be cooked before eating. Bacon is put through a smoking process where Pancetta is unsmoked. Prosciutto (sliced and cubed) is from the hind leg and does not have to be cooked to be eaten.
I hope this simple explanation clears things up a little for you.
IMG_3589

Turkey Lettuce Wraps – give them a try

Why I love lettuce wraps – I believe my first taste was about 5 or 6 years ago and our waiter said it was his favorite app at PF Changs. If we are trying a new place we tend to ask our waiter/waitress what their favorite is and maybe not every time but majority of the time we will take their recommendation. We all really loved their chicken lettuce wraps so much so I actually made a recipe I found online that someone came up with that said they were the ones from PF Changs. They too were delicious but a little time consuming so I have only made them a couple of times.
IMG_2883.JPGThere is an added bonus to lettuce wraps; if you are watching your carb intake you can eat 2 or 3 lettuce wraps without any guilt. Not that I have anything against carbs I mean if you saw me you would be like “oh yeah she eats carbs” but it is nice to know there are other ways to have a tasty filling without having a bun of some sort to hold it together.
IMG_2866This comes together very quickly and would be a great weeknight meal on some hot summer night when you want something quick, light and delicious!
IMG_2873.JPGTurkey Lettuce Wraps

1 package of ground turkey
Olive oil for the pan
Package of white mushrooms – cleaned and chopped
3-4 scallions, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 can water chestnuts, chopped
¼ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
Boston or Bibb lettuce, romaine and iceberg work too
Shredded carrots
Bean Sprouts
IMG_2878.JPGSauce
3 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ tablespoon sriracha sauce
½ teaspoon sesame oil
¼ cup water

Thai chili sauce works awesome too
IMG_2867IMG_2868IMG_2870Brown the turkey in a large saute pan until cooked through. Add the mushrooms, scallions, garlic and water chestnuts cook until the mushrooms are soften. In a small bowl mix the soy sauce, brown sugar and rice wine vinegar and then add to the turkey mixture. Cook for about a minute or so. Remove from the heat.
IMG_2879.JPGCreate the sauce by whisking all of the ingredients together. Once you make your lettuce wrap drizzle a little over the top of the turkey and veggies. Add a little thai chili sauce if you like a little more love.
IMG_2883.JPG
Recipe adapted from Melissa d’Arabian Food Network

Cucumber red onion dip

Memorial Day weekend is first most here in the US a day to remember our fallen soldiers. There is usually a parade or two or even three or more within 20 miles of us. Thoughts and Thanks for all who serve!
IMG_2780
Secondly it is the start of summer, the end of black flies the official start of cookouts and camping for some.  I can throw a mean cookout but I am not a great camper; my idea of camping would be a bed and breakfast with a shared bathroom down the hall. My husband grew up camping across the country from California to Massachusetts every summer with his mother and siblings. I can share with you that he doesn’t miss it. He likes my version better.
IMG_2790
At a friends house a month or so ago she had made a light, bright and tasty little dip that I couldn’t eating. I hope she doesn’t mind me sharing the recipe because I think it would be a nice addition to everyone’s table over the summer. Especially when the cucumbers start ripening from the garden.
IMG_2781
I hope everyone is able to get outside to pay their respects and enjoy a parade or two and maybe an afternoon BBQ.  
IMG_2785
Cucumber Red Onion Dip

1 cup plain Greek yogurt
½ cup sour cream
½ cup crumbled blue cheese
¼ finely chopped red onion
1 Tbs lemon juice
2 cups finely chopped english cucumber – remove any seeds
Salt and Pepper to taste
IMG_2786
Add everything into a bowl and stir.  Let it set up for about an hour.
Serve alongside plain bagel chips, wheat thins or something  

Marinated tomato whipped feta crostini

So how do you Super Bowl?
Image
This year we will be chilling at home even though we don’t have plans to have anyone over I will still be making a few super bowl staples like wings, guacamole and chili. I have also been craving 7 layer dip so I made sure to have those ingredients on hand. While not everything has to be heavy and well filling I also made some marinated tomatoes with some whipped feta that you smear on a crostini. Sounds like we will be enjoying some leftovers this week.
IMG_5749

I find it pretty funny that being from New England of course there are a ridiculous amount of Patriot fans around and then there are people who become fans of whoever is playing against the Patriots. Not sure why there are so many haters out there but I sure do enjoy watching the entire game halftime show, commercials and all and even more so when we are in it. Go Pats!

Marinated tomato whipped feta crostini

6 ounces crumbled feta
2 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)
2/3 cup olive oil – divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2-3 different type/color pints of cherry tomatoes (sliced in half or quartered)
3 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves, plus extra for serving
2 tablespoons pine nuts
French baguette (sliced and baked till lightly browned)

Add feta and cream cheese in bowl of a food processor, pulse until they are mixed. Add 1/3 cup olive oil, the lemon juice, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper and process until smooth.
IMG_5750.JPG

Combine shallots, garlic, and vinegar in a medium bowl, set aside for 5 minutes.  Whisk in the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon pepper. Add the tomatoes, stir gently, set aside for 10 minutes. Stir in the basil and taste for seasoning.

To assemble the crostini, spread each slice of toast with a generous amount of whipped feta. With a slotted spoon, place the tomatoes on top. Top with pine nuts and extra basil.

Healthier Blooming Onion – Air Fry

So something pretty exciting for little ole me happened this week. I was enjoying my morning cup of tea; yeah sorry not a coffee drinker; and I was playing either Sudoku or Words with friends on my phone and it flashed a tweet “Congrats your blog has been selected as one the Top 100 Home Cooking Blogs on the web by Feedspot Blog” me not being super savvy with social media I was initially confused, then suspect than thrilled and honored.

IMG_5689.JPG

Confused to how me just being me and sharing a little about what I have been making could get acknowledged. Suspect, just because I am wary of anything that could potentially be a scam, you know the one you won a free trip around the world, just give me you CC for the deport taxes or something like that. And then thrilled that my daughter confirmed that yeah this was VERY cool!  So thank you for stopping by and supporting me and this blog. I really enjoy writing it for all who don’t mind me sharing a little of me.
IMG_5668So who else got an air fryer for Christmas? I have mentioned trying to be a little healthier but also finding the balance with healthy that tastes good and it helps a lot if it is something that we would normally want to eat. There is still a ton I need to learn about air frying but I at least have it in the house now, so let the games begin.
IMG_5684.JPGI have only made a few things so far, Chicken Tenders, simply salted, peppered and then some seasoned breadcrumbs. And then I tried turkey cutlets seasoned with some Jamaican spice rub that I brought back from vacation. Both were successful! But then I thought blooming onion. A healthier blooming onion why not? Healthier by air frying, using egg substitute and a little less flour than the recipes I found online. 

Ingredients

1 Large white onion
2 tablespoons nonfat Milk
½ cup egg substitute
3/4 cup Panko
1 1/2 teaspoons Paprika
1 teaspoon Garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
3 teaspoons Olive oil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2 cup Flour

Instructions – Onion should soak for at least 2 hours or overnight

Mix breadcrumbs with olive oil, cajun seasoning, garlic powder and paprika. In a separate dish, mix salt & pepper into the flour. In a bowl, mix milk with egg.
IMG_5678cut off the pointy top (the non hairy end – those who have taken one of my cooking classes knows this) Place cut side down onto a cutting board. Starting 1/2 inch from the root, cut downward, all the way to the cutting board. Repeat to make 4 evenly spaced cuts around the onion. Continue slicing between each section until you have made 12 to 16 cuts total.
IMG_5670IMG_5671Place sliced onion in ice water for at least 2 hours / overnight. Remove from water, pat dry.
IMG_5673

Beat eggs with milk. Open onion to expose petals. Place onion on a tray or in a bowl. Sprinkle onion generously with flour mixture. Make sure to get in between all the petals, turn upside down to remove the excess.
IMG_5681Spoon or ladle, the egg mixture into every crevice. Turn over to make sure excess egg drips off.
IMG_5682Sprinkle onion very generously with bread crumb mixture. Press into place.
IMG_5683Preheat the air fryer to 360F. Then place the onion in the basket cover with a tinfoil tent and cook for 10 minutes.

When timer is done, check crispness of the onion. Cook 5-10 more minutes to desired crispness. Cut out the middle core with a sharp knife so you can add a bowl of dipping sauce. I used ranch dressing for this one.
IMG_5684
What would I do differently next time – I would make 16 slices, I would like a smaller bite. I am going to try doing a tempura batter next time, just to see the difference.

Macros = 4 servings per onion without the dressing
187 Calories – 6g Fat – 26g Carbs – 7g Protein

Buffalo Chicken Boats

I wish you all a very happy healthy new year! Even though I do not make verbal resolutions; I do hope that I try harder to get in shape. Ya I know that doesn’t really scream diet and exercise but I do THINK about it so that’s something right?

IMG_5655

They are so cute!

OK so we spent New Years weekend in Quebec City with a bunch of friends and froze our asses off. Not literally but 11 degrees Fahrenheit below zero is just plain crazy to hang around outside. And that is without the wind which was whipping. We had a great time and the city is beautiful; I would like to go back; when it warms up about 60 degrees.

R - D quebec

Thought I would share how cold it was, and this was during the day


IMG_5652With the fridge and pantry being filled with holiday food from last month and us being away I haven’t been grocery shopping in a few weeks. We were invited over to some friends for dinner and I was to bring an appetizer. Not having time to run to a store, I needed to come up with something with what I had on hand. I was also thinking it should be something a little on the healthy side since its a new year and I was THINKING about being healthier.
IMG_5646I thawed a couple of boneless skinless chicken breasts. Chopped, seasoned, cooked and shredded them. I had a few sticks of celery and a little bleu cheese and voila appetizer.
IMG_5648IMG_5649IMG_5651
Ingredients
1 cup boneless skinless chicken breasts – shredded
Salt
Pepper
Adobo seasoning
¼ cup franks hot sauce
2 Tbs mayo
3-4 celery sticks
Chives

Directions
Season, chop and cook the chicken pieces, once cooled shred the chicken. Mix together the hot sauce and mayo and cover the shredded chicken.  Wash and remove the strings from your celery. I use a potato peeler to remove the strings on my celery. Slice into bite size pieces fill each piece with the buffalo chicken. Drizzle a little bleu cheese or ranch dressing. Dice up a few chives and sprinkle over the boats.
IMG_5656If you are already healthy wink wink than instead of the celery they would taste great as nachos or in a quesadilla – just saying