Posts Tagged ‘appetizers’

Cheddar & Brown Rice Risotto Cakes

Friday, July 30th, 2010

We buy our brown rice from Costco, a 12.5 pound bag of short grain brown rice from Lundberg Family Farms. Recently, I checked out their website and was pleasantly surprised to find a whole slew of recipes for all of their rice products, including several for the short grain variety we buy.

Naturally, this cheesy recipe caught my eye. It was tasty AND healthy, which is a great combination. Kind of like a potato pancake–cheesy, crispy around the edges, with the nutty flavor of brown rice. We really enjoyed these, and I’m sure we’ll make them again. They’d be good with other kinds of cheese as well. If you weren’t worried about the health aspects, full fat cheese and butter or olive oil in place of the nonstick spray would be delicious, but honestly, they were great the healthy way too. 🙂

I used leftover brown rice to make these cakes, which makes it even better.

Cheddar & Brown Rice Risotto Cakes

  • 1 cup (4-ounces) shredded low-fat Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Vegetable cookin spray
  • Applesauce (optional)
  • Lowfat sour cream (optional)
  • 2 cups cooked Lundberg Organic Short Grain Brown RiceCombine rice, cheese, onion, flour, salt and pepper in medium bowl. Beat egg whites with cream of tartar in small bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold beaten egg whites into rice mixture.

    Coat large skillet with cooking spray and place over medium heat until hot. Spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons batter into skillet for each patty; push batter into diamond shape using spatula. Cook patties, turning once, until golden brown on both sides. Serve warm with applesauce or sour cream. Makes about 1 dozen patties.

Pioneer Woman’s Cheddar Puffs

Monday, April 12th, 2010

Warning: This is not a healthy recipe. We’re not even going to talk about Points today.

Now that that’s out of the way…

Yum!

These tasty little appetizers are cheesy bites of heaven. You make rich, gooey, melty cheese sauce, use it to coat bread chunks, then freeze them and bake them to puff them up. My favorite part of the recipe is that you can do all the work in advance–the prep work leaves you with a bag of frozen puffs that only require 10 minutes in the oven to finish. Perfect for parties or family get-togethers!

The Pioneer Woman’s Cheddar Puffs

  • 1 loaf Crusty French Bread, Cut Into 1-inch Cubes
  • ½ stick Butter
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1-½ teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • 8 ounces, weight Cream Cheese, Sliced
  • 1-½ cup Grated Cheddar Cheese
  • Salt And Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
  • 2 whole Egg Whites, Beaten
  1. Heat butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add Dijon and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low.
  2. Add cream cheese and stir until melted. Add grated cheddar and stir until melted. Turn off heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Fold in egg whites.
  3. Dunk bread cubes in cheese, coating thoroughly. Place on a nonstick baking mat or sheet of waxed paper and freeze for 20 minutes, uncovered. Remove frozen chunks from tray and place into a Ziploc bag. Store in the freezer.
  4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place frozen cheese puffs on a baking sheet with a nonstick baking mat or parchment paper, and bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

Toasted Ravioli

Monday, May 11th, 2009

When I was about 7 years old, an Olive Garden opened near our house. Of course, by “near our house,” I’m pretty sure I mean almost an hour away. Which to a 7 year old, seemed even longer.

When we got to the restaurant, there was the longest wait for a table that I had encountered in my young life. I didn’t really go out to dinner all that often, so that isn’t surprising. And a brand new restaurant, one that doesn’t take reservations? Of course, everyone should’ve seen that coming. I remember waiting impatiently with my parents and grandparents for our table. It felt like standing in line at Great America. I was hungry, and thirsty, and tired. My sister, who couldn’t have been older than 2 or 3 was of course eveb more crabby than I was. We waited and waited and waited.

The one bright spot in this endless wait was when the host brought out appetizers for the full lobby. They were just samples, a show of good faith, a thank you for sticking it out through the long delay. But I remember them, in part because I was starving, and in part because they were delicious.

Toasted Ravioli.

My mind boggled at the thought. I’m pretty sure the only ravioli I’d eaten actually came in a Chef Boyardee can. Maybe a frozen tray. Nothing against the food I grew up with (there are plenty of great cooks in my family) but ravioli wasn’t something that we ate with any regularity.

Toasted ravioli, though. That was something I could get excited about. They were hot and crispy, with spicy marinara sauce for dipping–just like a mozzarella stick. I don’t think we would have ever tried them if the host hadn’t been passing them around. It sounded too weird, and we didn’t really order appetizers back then. I’m glad we got the chance to try them though, because everyone liked them. My mom will still order them for her entree at the OG, and when I worked there as a server in college, they were a favorite of mine.

These days, though, I can make them at home. It’s super easy.

Toasted Ravioli

  • 1 package refrigerated bite-sized cheese ravioli (if you want, you can use frozen, but be sure to thaw them completely first. You can also use any flavor you like, but I like the cheese ones for this).
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Extra virgin olive oil

1. Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium high heat. You want the oil to shimmer, but not smoke. If it starts to smoke at all, turn off the heat and let it cool down before trying again.

2. Place beaten eggs in a shallow dish. Combine bread crumbs and cheese in a second shallow dish.

3. Dip ravioli in eggs to coat, and then dredge in bread crumb mixture until covered completely. I usually do this in three separate batches. Let the ravioli sit for about 5 minutes, to make sure the coating really sticks to the pasta.

4. Place ravioli into preheated oil in a single layer. Fry for 1-2 minutes per side, turning once, until golden brown. Remove to a large plate lined with paper towels. Repeat until all ravioli has been fried. If you’re making these for a large group (they’re great for that!), cooked ravioli can be held on a cookie sheet in a 300 degree oven to keep them warm and crisp. Serve with warm marinara sauce for dipping.

Deviled Eggs with Bacon

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

I can’t pretend to believe that I’m the first one to come up with this concept. It seems like a natural progression to me. Bacon and eggs? How easy is that? Still, I’m 99.9% sure that I had never eaten a deviled egg flavored with bacon before.

In a roundabout way, it was kind of my Aunt Cheryl’s potato salad that inspired these eggs. Her American style potato salad gets a sweet taste from the sweet pickles she uses, and a salty crunch from bacon. That’s roughly what I was trying to recreate with these deviled eggs. Plus, everything is better with bacon, right?

Deviled Eggs with Bacon
Serves 6

  • 3 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoons smoked paprika, plus additional for garnish
  • 6 pieces thick-cut bacon
  • 12 eggs
  • A few dashes hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons miracle whip
  • 1/2 teaspoon BaconSalt (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Put the eggs in a saucepan, fill it halfway with cold water and set over high heat.

2. When the water boils, turn off the heat, place a lid on the pot and let sit 10 minutes. Place the pot of cooked eggs in the sink and run some cold water over the eggs until both the water and the pan feel cool. When the eggs are cool enough to handle, take them out of the water, roll each egg on a work surface to crack the shell and carefully peel off the eggshells.

3. While the eggs are cooking, place a medium-size skillet over medium heat. Cook the bacon in the pan until crispy and golden brown. Remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Once cool, break two slices into 6 large-ish pieces each for a garnish. Chop the remaining bacon into very small pieces and reserve.

4. Slice each egg in half longways, and scoop the yolks out into a medium bowl. Place the egg white shells onto a plate for filling, with the holes pointing up.

5. Break the yolks up a little bit using a fork. Add in the chopped bacon, smoked paprika, mustard, sugar, hot sauce and mayo, and stir until the yolks have been smoothed out. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

6. Fill the eggs. If you don’t have a pastry bag, you can make your own by spooning the egg mixture into a Ziploc bag and squishing it all into one of the bottom corners. Snip off a small triangle from the bottom of the filled bag and squeeze out a bit of yolk mixture into each of the egg whites. Once all eggs are filled, dust them with a little of the smoked paprika and top each egg half with one of the reserved pieces of bacon, for an extra crunch.

Note: Miracle Whip is sweeter than regular mayonnaise, so if you use plain mayo instead, you might need a bit more sugar.

If you’ve never had Bacon Salt before, it’s exactly what it sounds like–a salty spice blend that adds the smoky taste of bacon. I like it on popcorn, scrambled eggs, and, obviously, deviled eggs. I’ve heard (though not seen) that it’s available on the shelves of Meijer stores, but we bought ours online.


Sausage Balls

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Nothing beautiful or fancy here, but these sausage balls are are a quick, satisfying crowd-pleasing appetizer. I made them at Thanksgiving  last year and again for Easter at my Grandma’s house, at the request of my little sister. Enjoy!

sausage-balls

Sausage Balls
Adapted from Paula Deen and Friends

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray or line with parchment paper. I like the parchment paper, because it makes clean-up extra easy.

Combine all ingredients in a large glass bowl. Mix well with your fingers. The mixture will be very crumbly. Form into 1 inch balls, squeezing the mixture so it holds together, then rolling it between the palms of your hands to form balls.

Place the balls on the baking sheet. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. To prevent sticking, move the balls with a spatula halfway through cooking.

Note: The end result is like a cheesy biscuit made of sausage. I know that doesn’t make sense, but once you’ve tasted them, I think you’ll understand.

Chive Risotto Cakes

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

A long time ago, David and I tried a delicious arancini at this little Italian restaurant by his old apartment. It inspired me to try my own version of the fried balls of rice. The restaurant version had tomato sauce and italian sausage at the center. I actually tried two takes on the same dish one with traditional Italian flavors and one with mexican flavors (this later grew into Mexican Risotto).

The results were delicious, but a lot of trouble since I had to make risotto in the first place before I could form it into balls, toss them with bread crumbs, and fry them. Ina Garten has found a better way.

Her Chive Risotto Cakes recipe, from the Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics cookbook, avoids the whole issue of needing leftover risotto by creating a substitute recipe that is much simpler, with none of the constant stirring and careful attention required by a traditional risotto.

The risotto cakes are creamy and cheesy on the inside, and crunchy on the outside. They were  very good. This recipe made about 20 3-inch cakes. Think of them as the best hashbrowns you’ve ever had.

Sure, these Risotto Cakes were delicious as is, but I’m more excited to try my hand at arancini again–with this little shortcut tucked in my back pocket, I know they’ll be worth the trouble.

Chive Risotto Cakes
Adapted from the Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics cookbook

  • kosher salt
  • 1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Italian Fontina cheese (about 5 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • good quality extra virgin olive oil

Bring a large pot of water to boil and add a half tablespoon salt and the rice. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. The grains of rice will be quite soft. Drain the rice and run under cold water until cool. Drain well.

Meanwhile, whisk together the yogurt, eggs, chives, Fontina, 1¼ teaspoons salt and the pepper in a medium bowl. Add the cooled rice and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight, until firm.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Spread the panko in a shallow dish. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Form balls of the rice mixture using a standard ice cream scoop or large spoon. Pat the balls into patties 3 inches in diameter and ¾ inches thick.

Place 4 to 6 patties in the panko, turning once to coat. Place the patties in the hot oil and cook, turning once, for about 3 minutes on each side until the risotto cakes are crisp and nicely browned. Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment and keep warm in the oven for up to 30 minutes.

Note: Don’t miss the step where you have to chill the rice mixture for at least 2 hours, and up to overnight. This isn’t a last-minute kind of dish!

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

This “recipe” for hummus is my own creation, though to be fair, hummus is pretty simple to throw together, and no cooking is required. Just mixing. This recipe makes awesome use of my food processor, though, the lack of which had been holding me back from making my own hummus. I limited the amount of oil I used to keep this bean dip on the healthy side of things. You can serve it with veggies (think baby carrots, bell pepper strips), chips, or pieces of bread (pita or otherwise), but my favorite is baked pita chips.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

  • 1 large can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 2-3 roasted red peppers, packed in water (from a jar)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons light sesame oil

1. Add first 6 ingredients to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 3 or 4 times to move the mixture around in the bowl, then turn on the food processor.

2. While the processor is running, drizzle the olive oil and sesame oil into the mixture through the lid of the food processor.

3. Enjoy!

Note: Leftovers can be kept in the fridge for about a week. You may want to add additional salt or even black pepper to taste. Go easy on the salt to start with, though, since the canned beans can sometimes be salty depending on which kind you buy. I like it as a dip, but it would be good as a sandwich spread also.

Pepperoni and Parmesan Pinweels

Monday, January 19th, 2009

While my friends were in town, we had a rather elaborate dinner on Saturday night. As is usually our way, by the time I started making dinner, everyone was already starving–and these quick & easy little appetizers were the perfect stop-gap. They were simple, tasty, and kept everyone happy while I made dinner. Exactly what you want from an appetizer!

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Pepperoni and Parmesan Pinwheels
Adapted from The Bon Appetit Cookbook.

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (half of 17.3-ounce package), thawed
  • 2 tablespoons honey-Dijon mustard
  • 2 ounces packaged sliced pepperoni (about twenty-four 1 1/2-inch-diameter slices)
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend
  • Nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray

1. Mix first 4 ingredients in medium bowl. Cut puff pastry crosswise in half to form 2 rectangles. Spread 1 tablespoon mustard over 1 puff pastry rectangle, leaving 1-inch plain border at 1 long edge. Place half of pepperoni in single layer atop mustard. Top pepperoni with half of cheese mixture. Brush plain border with egg.

2. Starting at side opposite plain border, roll up pastry, sealing at egg-coated edge. Transfer pastry roll, seam side down, to medium baking sheet. Repeat with remaining pastry rectangle, mustard, pepperoni, cheese mixture, and egg. Chill rolls until firm, about 30 minutes, or wrap and chill up to 1 day.

3. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line 2 baking sheets with foil. Lightly spray with vegetable oil spray. Cut each pastry roll into about thirty 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Transfer pinwheels to prepared sheets. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer to platter; serve.

Note: These were delicious, and as I’ve already said, very simple. I did not have any honey Dijon mustard on hand, so I mixed 2 tablespoons of the American Dijon mustard we had with a tablespoon of honey. The original recipe called for Asiago cheese, but Parmesan is what we had on hand, and it worked perfectly. Next time, I think I would double the layer of pepperoni–we put down a single layer of pepperoni on the puff pastry, but more would’ve been good. They might have turned out prettier if I had cut the slices a little thinner, but they turned out nice enough as it was.

I’ll definitely make these again sometime. It’s a great go-to appetizer for when you need to throw things together quickly. Also, a shout-out to Jeff, who did most of the assembly on these while I worked on actual dinner. Thanks!

Italian Chicken Sticks

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

Last night, while trying to scrounge up a dinner based on ingredients on hand, I remembered a recipe for chicken tenders that I had seen on the Food Network, and thought I would try it.

The recipe was for Paula Deen’s Italian Chicken Sticks. The recipe itself is nothing spectacular, not even the type of thing I would usually need a recipe for (I can bread chicken tenders with bread crumbs, thanks). The thing that stuck out in my mind was that in true Paula Deen fashion, the recipe starts with a stick of “buttah.” She dips the raw chicken in melted butter before dredging in the seasoned bread crumbs and then bakes the chicken fingers until crispy. It sounded just crazy enough to work. It also had a 5-Star rating on the Food Network website–I scanned the comments and didn’t find any complaints, so I went ahead and tried it.

The chicken fingers were fine, but not really enough bang for the butter-dipped caloric buck. The recipe was easy, and the chicken tenders were seasoned well and crispy, but I doubt I’ll make this recipe again. I can pull off a better “chicken stick” without the butter, thanks.

By the way, If you’re looking for a good chicken tenders recipe, I’d recommend Giada’s Crunchy Parmesan Chicken Tenders over these “sticks” any day.

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Paula Deen’s Italian Chicken Sticks

  • 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Pinch ground red pepper
  • 8 boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1/2-inch strips
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter
  • Marinara sauce or honey mustard, for dipping

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a pie plate or platter, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan, thyme, basil, oregano, salt, garlic powder, and red pepper. Dip the chicken strips in the melted butter, then dredge them in the bread crumb mixture. Place the chicken strips in a single layer on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Serve the chicken sticks hot with marinara sauce, or serve hot or cold with honey mustard.