Category: Appetizers

Skewered Appetizers

Pinterest has infiltrated the minds of so many women ages 20-35 it’s almost scary.  I have even found the term pinteresting or pinterest-y come out of my mouth in reference to something in a mason jar, a chalkboard, or for example these two appetizers.  I have found the pinterest is both a really amazing revolution and also the most obnoxious site to waste time on, there are so many crafting, food, or outfit ideas that it can really be a great way to get ideas for a party but I also have realized that I don’t want to walk into a party and have the first person’s comment on my food be “oh did you get that from pinterest!?”

With all of that off my chest I really enjoyed making these, Watermelon feta skewer with a lemon mint dressing and a caprese skewer.  It started last January when I cooking all the food for my dad’s birthday, I made a mediterranean skewer that was quite enjoyable.  So when it came down to choosing something to bring to a graduation party I was going to with a friend, there was no question…it had to be skewers.  My favorite was definitely the watermelon feta combo, and since making it as a skewer, I have made it as a mixed serve yourself salad and it was just as much of a hit so tailor the presentation to your needs as you see fit.

I got the recipe for the Caprese Skewers from THIS blog and used the same concept for the watermelon combo.

Watermelon Feta Skewer 

Ingredients (makes about 40-50 skewers)

  • 1 medium watermelon cut into bite size (skewer size) squares, Cut as many squares as skewers you are making
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 bunch of mint
  • olive oil
  • 1 block of feta (crumbles will work if you are mixing it, but you need the block for the skewers)
  • toothpicks

Recipe 

  1. In a blender or food processer blend the mint, lemon juice and about 2 tbl olive oil until it is blended well.  Place about 1/4 c of the vinaigrette in a large bowl
  2. Add the watermelon squares to the
  3. If you are making the skewers, cut the feta into small cubes (smaller than the watermelon squares) Feta is pretty strong so a little square is plenty
  4. Assemble the skewers by stabbing a piece of feta and a piece of watermelon.  (you might have to figure out what works best for you, if the feta seems to be crumbling too much I would stab the watermelon first)

{The fixin’s}

{Not the prettiest picture but damn they tasted good}

Fried Goat Cheese Stuffed Squash Blossoms

So, there are few ingredients that I anticipate as much as squash blossoms.  With current farming and greenhouse practices there are many many ingredients that are available year round.  But squash blossoms are an ingredient that I know come towards the end of summer and only shows up briefly at the farmers market so I try to swoop on them whenever I can.

This was the first recipe I tried with these blossoms and since they were so freaking delicious I was an instant believer.  Since then, I have used them fresh in salads and of course again as fried squash blossoms. Since the batter for this recipe is so easy the whole process and end product seems much more complicated than in really is.

The recipe is from one of Giada de Laurentiis’s cookbooks that came out a couple summers ago.  I was living then in Santa Barbara and happened to see one day that at a local William Sonoma, she was going to come for a book signing!! Well, I’ve never been to a book signing let along a cookbook signing so therefore I HAD to go.  I went with a friend and waiting in the line around the store along with the fancy Santa Barbara housewives and got my cookbook signed by the one and only Giada. I’ve made a bunch of recipes from that cookbook so far and have some of them posted on this blog.  But whenever I feel like some italian I make a bee line for that bright pink cookbook.

This appetizer really just means summer to me, give me a crisp glass of white wine and I am in seventh heaven.  Give them a try and ENJOY!

I used this recipe from Giada 

{Me waiting in line for the signing!– 2010}

{Beautiful squash blossoms}

{All you have to do is slightly twist the tops and the cheese will stay in fine}

{Things I want to eat right now…these}

Baked Buffalo Wings and Fried Okra

I don’t really know how to explain it.  I kind of have a big thing for chicken wings. I can’t tell you how it started or when it started but there’s a fire burnin’. I originally intended to make this recipe for superbowl sunday as I was going to head over to a friends house and felt the need to come with gifts.  However in a change of events I had to work that day and wasn’t able to make it, but since I had already found the recipe it just wouldn’t leave my mind.  Luckily my friends are also pretty into wings so I’ve had the opportunity to make these a couple times.

In terms of the okra… well that was all Jessica. I’d heard of the stuff before, seen it at farmers markets, seen it pickled, but never purchased it or really looked up how one cooks okra.  The first time I had it was a couple months ago when we went out one night to a southern BBQ place where they had it offered as a side (which of course Jessica got).  Here’s my best stab at describing okra.  It’s pretty tasteless but has the consistency of a small squash inside. Tempting I know. But its actually delicious, especially when friend in cornmeal or just flour.  Add a pinch of salt and before you know it, you’ve eaten every last one of ’em!  So as convincing as my description was, I really do recommend trying them either in your own kitchen or if you find them on a menu.

Now here is my disclaimer about the chicken wings.  1.) We ended up getting a big back of raw frozen sings/ drummettes from smart & final for this recipe.  In hindsight it would have been worth shelling out a bit more to not have them frozen and also to have the skin removed already.  Because the recipe I followed involves baking the wings instead of frying them, the skin would never have crisped up enough to enjoy so I found myself skinning the wings before cooking them…not very appetizing and also very labor intensive.  2.) I didn’t take any pictures of the wings mid process because lets be honest…raw chicken isn’t very pretty.

THIS is the recipe that we used for the wings.  Jessica took over the okra but here is how we did it.

Fried Okra

Ingredients 

3/4 cup all purpose flour (you can also coat with cornmeal but the flour gives it a nice even breading)

salt and pepper to taste

1 bag frozen sliced okra (use as much as you want to serve)

oil for frying

Recipe

1. Heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat (I dont’t own an oil thermometer so I usually just splash a drop of water and if it crackles then I assume its ready..yup real official)

2. Place flour, salt and pepper and okra in a mixing bowl, toss to coat

3. When the oil is hot enough place one floured okra slice in the pan, if it sizzles and floats the oil is ready.  Add enough to fill the pan but not to crown the okra at one time.

4.  keep an eye on them, when they start to brown take them out and place them on a paper town to drain the excess oil.  (keep in mind that they will continue to brown/ fry when out of the pan so long as the oil is hot on them so pull them out right before they are too brown)

5. Enjoy!

{Sometimes you just have to take the spice into your own hands}

{The finished wings}

{Hello, meet Okra}

{Instagrammed}

“The big 6-oh”- Appetizers galore

So the milestone has passed…for my dad.  (Otherwise I would be one of those weirdos with a VERY outdated “about me” pic).  It is crazy how a decade can feel so long yet so short.  At my dads 50th I’m pretty sure my sister and I were sent to play at a friends house and now 10 years later I am cooking all the food for the party!  Needless to say, so much has happened in the past 10 years yet we all move forward regardless of the triumphs and tribulations.  So here we are today, and these are the recipes I made for the party.

Now, I am not a caterer.  I have really only hosted parties here and there but never with the added pressure of there being about 30 people over.  But overall it was a HUGE success, mainly because I purposely chose appetizers/ food that did not require heat.  I still have no idea how you would serve things like soup appetizers or even warm bruschetta and actually keep everything warm.  I guess that’s where dashing servers come into play.  Sadly, we didn’t have any.

In addition to the recipes below we also had:

  1. Vegetable Platter: bell pepper, carrots, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and broccoli.
  2. Marinated olives from the olive bar at the grocery store
  3. Assorted nut mix from Trader Joes
  4. Assorted crackers
  5. Meat and cheese platter: Prosciutto, Salami, Turkey, Gouda, Cheddar, Swiss

Appetizer #1: Chipotle Turkey Meatballs 

Now I know I have posted about a turkey meatball recipe before, and it’s a recipe that I found early on when I started cooking and I absolutely LOVE it.  It is from Ellie Krieger’s cookbook “The food you crave,” but HERE is the recipe.  This is how I amended it for the Chipotle kick,

Ingredients: 

  • Recipe for Turkey Meatballs
  • Substitute 3 chipotle peppers in adobo, seeded!, for the Carrot and onion
  • 1.5 tbl adobo sauce

Recipe: 

  1. Follow instructions for Turkey meatball recipe above.  However, I left out the carrot and onion.  Instead I added the chipotle peppers.
  2. Depending on how spicy you want them I would seed them. Especially if you are serving them to a large group.  I love my spice, but others can’t stand it. So I decided to be polite…this time.
  3. This was the only appetizer that really needed to stay warm, so we kept them on low in a crock pot, which worked well until it got unplugged.

{Sadly no pictures of this delicious appetizer, but I trust y’all know what meatballs are supposed to look like}

Appetizer #2: Dip 3 ways. Spinach, Roasted garlic white bean, Lemon dill yogurt. 

1. Spinach Dip 

  • I used THIS recipe however, from experience it is much easier to use frozen chopped spinach.  So I used that instead of the fresh spinach and basil.
  • The trick with frozen spinach is making sure you drain as much water out as you can so it is not liquid-y dip.

Cooking with frozen spinach 

  1. boil about a cup of water in a pot, then add the frozen spinach.  Keep the burner on low or turn off and cover to let the steam thaw the spinach.
  2. Place a strainer on top of a bowl (make sure the strainer is not sitting in the bowl).  Then line the strainer with strong paper towels or a cheesecloth to make sure you don’t loose any valuable spinach.
  3. Let the initial water escape then when its cooled off you can press down on the spinach to drain the rest of the liquid.

2. Roasted Garlic White Bean 

For thanksgiving I made a sundried tomato white bean puree over Brie.  Well, this is the same concept…but with roasted garlic instead.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can white kidney beans (Cannellini)
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 2 tbl olive oil plus 1/4 c olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Recipe: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice the top off the head of garlic so the cloves are just exposed
  3. Set the head of garlic on tin foil in a muffin tin or a souffle dish so it stands up straight.
  4. Drizzle with 2 tbl olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pinch the foil together over the garlic so its closed.
  5. Bake for about 1 hour or until the cloves are mushy and pop out easily.
  6. When the garlic has cooled, place the Cannellini beans in a food processor or blender and pulse. Stream in the olive oil until the mixture comes together.  (You with probably have to stop and scrape the sides down to make sure it blends evenly)
  7. Add about 2 or 3 cloves of roasted garlic, pulse until combined throughly.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

{Yummy roasted garlic}

3. Lemon Dill Yogurt 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups plain yogurt (I like greek better so it’s a thicker dip)
  • 3 tbl minced fresh dill
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Recipe: 

  1. Combine all the ingredients.  Let sit in the fridge 12-24 hours for best taste.

{In case you’re not aware…this is fresh dill}

{From top: Roasted garlic white bean, Lemon dill yogurt, spinach}

Appetizer # 3: Mediterranean Skewers 

Ingredients 

  • 2 blocks of feta (the blocks work better than crumbled)
  • 1 cucumber, peeled
  • 1 container (the larger one from trader joes) of cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 c white balsamic (Trader Joes)
  • Olive oil (enough to emulsify the marinade)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Recipe:

  1. (the day before) Make the marinade in a medium bowl by adding the white balsamic and streaming in the olive oil a little at a time while whisking so the mixture comes together.  Add salt and pepper and set the bowl aside.
  2. Cube the cucumber and halve the cherry tomatoes.  Add to the marinade, cover and let sit in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
  3. (The day of) Cube the feta and place on a platter.  On toothpicks place one cube of marinated cucumber and one half a cherry tomato, stick in the cube of feta so it stands up straight.

Appetizer #4: Grilled baguette with goat cheese, fresh thyme, and roasted red grape compote.

Ingredients: 

  • about 1 pound of red grapes
  • Olive oil to coat
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 regular sized baguettes or about 5 demi baguettes, sliced
  • about 8oz plain goat cheese
  • Chopped fresh thyme

Recipe: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Place about 1/3 of the grapes in a baking dish (off the stem), coat with olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Bake for about 20 min until bursting.
  3. Remove from oven and so the grapes wouldn’t roll off I lightly mashed them witha  potato masher to make more of a warm compote.
  4. Place the slices of bread on a grill pan and drizzle with olive oil, remove when brown on both sides.
  5. Place the bread slices on a serving tray, spread a thin layer of goat cheese on each piece, sprinkle with fresh thyme, top with grape compote.
  6. Repeat until you run out of ingredients or until people stop eating them.

Appetizer # 5: Cheese twists 

Ingredients:

  • 2 sheets of puff pastry
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan

Recipe: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Thaw the puff pastry and spread it out on a baking sheet.
  3. Take a rolling pin and roll it a little thinner to maximize the amount of cheese straws
  4. Sprinkle with parmesan, slice into thin strips, twist and place on a separate baking sheet.  Repeat with the other puff pastry sheet.
  5. Bake for about 20 min or until golden brown.

{Crispy delicious puff pastry twists}