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Archive for the ‘Appetizers’ Category

Looking for good luck in 2010? A Southern New Year’s Day food tradition, eating Black Eyed Peas will not only brings good luck, but you might also get rich if it’s eaten with collard greens. In the South it’s usually Hoppin’ John, a spicy bean dish made of black-eyed peas simmered with bacon, sausages or ham hocks, onions, spices and rice, which is made to bring in the New Year.  However, I’m not a fan of Hoppin’ John even though I am a Southern girl.  It’s very common that I call my mom on New Year’s to have her ask me if we’ve eaten our black eyed peas and collard greens.  I’m not a fan of collard greens.  Never have been and doubt I ever will.  The smell is just horrible!  Black Eyed Peas I can do but I had to find a way to eat them that didn’t incorporate ham, bacon, or sausage since I don’t eat any of those things either.  So for the past several years I have made this black eyed pea salsa, which has been perfect for New Year’s bowl game snack.  I on the other hand love it because I like to think it will bring good luck in the coming year.
So if you are a believer in the urban legend, it is said for the best good luck of the year, one must eat Black Eyed Peas on New Year’s Day, then try this alternative to Hoppin John.

Happy New Year!!

Black Eyed Pea Salsa with Chips

Print Recipe

Ingredients:

2 (15-ounce) cans black eyed peas

½ cup purple onion, finely diced (or green onion)

½ cup cilantro, chopped

2 Tbsp White Wine Vinegar

1 tsp cumin

2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped

 ¼ tsp salt

3 Tbsp fresh lime juice

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ cup olive oil

 1 yellow bell pepper, diced

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together.  Mix well.  Place in an airtight container and place in the refrigerator.  It is best if stored overnight before serving.
  2. Serve with pita chips or tortilla chips.

Cheers!  Happy 2010!

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Cinnamon Sugar Pecans

Here is 2 of 5 in the holiday gift idea series.  This recipe is one my mom taught me and this is a really easy recipe.  Growing up in Georgia, pecans are a favorite and every holiday my grandfather would give my mom a big container of pecans.  I’m not sure where he got them from but my mom used it for several things but these pecans were one of them.  My mom’s recipe is a mixture of sugar and salt and she likes them a little more salty then I prefer.  I added cinnamon to mine and used less salt.  As you can tell you can customize them to your preference.  These came to mind when I was trying to think of gift ideas because they are a favorite around my house.  I make them every Fall.  I remember making these before our road trip to Charleston for our wedding.  Due to a lot of money going to the wedding this was our go-to snack on our road trip, which meant less money spent on other things along the way.  I think Scott finished them all before we even got to the South Carolina boarder! 

I microwave the pecans in this recipe because that’s how my mom taught me, but you can also bake them in the oven at 350 till they are crunchy.  I even find that sometimes I don’t microwave them long enough and stick them in the oven to cook a little more till they are crunchy. 

For the packaging of the pecans I found these great frosted bags from My Own Labels.  For the label, I went back to a reliable source Paper Source who has several wonderful things.  I found these labels which were even better because they came with a template.  I just used Tempus Sans ITC for the font.  Very easy!

Enjoy!

Cinnamon Sugar Pecans

Print Recipe

1 1/2 cups whole pecans
3 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
Boiling Water
 
Place pecans in a colander.  In a saucepan bring water to a boil.  Once at a boil pour boiling water over pecans and drain.  Transfer pecans to a microwave safe dish.  Evenly sprinkle sugar, cinnamon, and salt over pecans and stir until all pecans are evenly coated.  Place dish in microwave and cook on high for 2 minutes.  Remove dish and stir pecans.  Microwave the pecans for another 2 minutes and remove and stir.  Then place the dish in the microwave again for 1 minute and remove to stir.  You want to make sure the pecans aren’t browning too much.  If they are browning too much then do not place them in the microwave the last minute.  If they aren’t brown place in the microwave again for another 1 minute.  Pour the pecans out on parchment paper and let cool.  Once cooled they should be crunchy.  If they aren’t you can always place in a oven preheated to 350 for a couple additional minutes.

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With Thanksgiving coming up this week I was looking for something easy to make this weekend.  I’m not sure how this idea came to me but I’m glad it did because it actually turned out pretty good.  What’s even better it was a perfect snack for the whole family.  I made two versions because I wasn’t sure which one would be best.  I made one version using pizza sauce and cheese with a little bit of spinach for the girls.  They still aren’t pesto fans.  With this version I rolled them up and cut them like you would cinnamon rolls.  Sprinkled with additional cheese and baked them.  I have to say these turned out “prettier” to me then the next version but they both tasted great.  On the second version I mixed a little bit of homemade pesto I had left-over with the tomato sauce and used that for the sauce.  I then used chicken, sundried tomatoes, and mozzarella for the filling.  I also used a little bit of parmesan for the topping which is where I went wrong because it browned too quickly.  So I omitted in the recipe here so you don’t make the same mistake.  Instead I would suggest using mozzarella sprinkled on top.  Another thing I did differently with these was after cutting them I placed them in a muffin tin.  Scott preferred these, but I preferred the rolled version.  They went over great with the girls too which is always great!  These would be great served warm with a little pizza sauce for dipping. 

Now I’m back to planning my Thanksgiving menu.  This year it’s just the four of us.  My parents are staying home.  For some reason this hasn’t changed the amount of food I’m planning to cook.  The thing is I know the leftovers will be eaten by Scott.  It’s the one time of the year he actually eats leftovers!

Also, stay tune till tomorrow’s winner for the cookbook giveaway.  Thanks everyone who left comments. I think the next cookbook I will have to indulge in is Ree’s cookbook.  I’ve actually been wanting it so now it will be a must! 

Enjoy the scrolls!!

 

Cheesy Pizza Scrolls

Print Recipe

 Dough:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup low fat buttermilk

For Cheese Filling:

  • ½ cup tomato sauce (I used Boboli pizza sauce)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 ½ cups grated cheddar cheese (I used 2%)
  • ½ to ¾  cup regular spinach, chopped

Preheat oven to 390 degrees.  In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.  Make a well in the center of flour mixture and place buttermilk in the well and mix to form a soft dough.  Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Roll out to a 12” square.  Place the tomato sauce and oregano in a bowl and mix to combine.

Spread the tomato sauce mixture over the dough and sprinkle with spinach and cheese.  Roll to enclose the filling.  Slice the roll into 9 to 10 pieces and place side-by-side in a lightly greased 8×8 pan lined with parchment paper.  You can sprinkle with additional cheese if you like. 

Bake the scrolls for 25-30 minutes or until golden.

 

 

Now for the 2nd version….Chicken Pesto Pizza Scrolls

 

 

Chicken Pesto Pizza Scrolls

Print Recipe

Dough:

  •   2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • 1 cup low fat buttermilk

For Filling:

  • ½ cup tomato sauce (I used Boboli pizza sauce)
  • 1 Tbsp pesto (homemade or store-bought)
  • 1 cup cooked chicken, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Sundried Tomatoes, diced (not oil packed sundried tomatoes)
  • 1 ½ cups grated mozzarella cheese (I used 2%)

Preheat oven to 390 degrees.  In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar, oregano and salt.  Make a well in the center of flour mixture and place buttermilk in the well and mix to form a soft dough.  Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth.  Roll out to a 12” square.

Mix together tomato sauce and pesto. Spread the tomato pesto sauce mixture over the dough and sprinkle with chicken, sundried tomatoes, and cheese.  Roll to enclose the filling.  Slice the roll into 10 pieces and place each piece into a lightly greased muffin tin.  Sprinkle the tops with cheese and bake for 15 minutes.

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Guac and Crab Dip

It’s football season!  Scott usually can’t wait for September 1st to arrive.  The start of college football!  So on Saturday and Sunday it’s pretty normal that football will be on the TV and if it’s not football it’s Dora or Wonder Pets.  I prefer Saturdays to Sundays because college football is so much more entertaining to me.  Scott’s a South Carolina fan and I really don’t have a team of choice.  I went to a Savannah College of Art and Design which didn’t have a football team and even though I grew up in Georgia I’m not a UGA fan or Georgia Tech fan.  I know many of my friends would be upset that with that comment as most of them went to UGA or GATech.  Either way college football is an exciting time and with that, comes a need for a snack while watching the game.  If your house is the same as mine around this time of the year and you need a game day idea here is a little twist to your traditional guacamole.  It’s guacamole with lump crab meat.  You can adjust the amount to how much you prefer the taste of the crab.  It’s fresh and super easy to make.  I’m addicted to Stacy’s Pita Chips so I paired mine with pita chips but choose the chip of your choice. 

Guacamole with Crab

 

Avocado and Crab Dip

Print Recipe

  • Two avocado
  • One tomato, diced
  • ½ cup to ¾ cup lump crab meat
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Place avocado, tomato, garlic, and cilantro in a food processer and process until well mixed.  Place avocado mix into a bowl and stir in the lump crab meat and season with salt and pepper.

Serve with chip of choice. 

Enjoy your weekend everyone and of course enjoy the football!  South Carolina is up against Arkansas.

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Spinach and Cheese Pinwheels

 

I decided this week I would stay away from the sweets since I have done a lot of them in the past weeks.  You will find I have a horrible sweet tooth and I love baking.  I think every woman has a sweet tooth!!  Luckily my husband has one too and usually eats a larger amount leaving me little.  This is also good for my hips and thighs.  I also love to cook so I guess it’s a good balance.

Ok, so….

I’m always looking for bite size ideas for the girls.  Or “sides” for their lunch and dinner.  It’s even better when I can incorporate veggies into these bite size ideas.  The combination of puff pastry, cheese, and spinach is really delicious in these treats.   Luckily, the girls have liked spinach since they were babies.  However, it’s always better when it’s combined with cheese.  Again, as I’ve stated the other times I’ve used puff pastry I prefer Dufour because it’s made with real ingredients.  These are really easy to make and are a hit with kids and adults.  As the holidays approach these would be great as appetizers also.   The colors would be perfect for a Christmas party, the green of the spinach and the red of the sundried tomatoes.  I promise these will be a hit!  Enjoy!

Spinach Cheese Puff

 

Spinach and Cheese Pinwheels

Print Recipe

  • I package puff pastry (I prefer Dufour puff pastry)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • ½ cup shredded mild cheddar (I used 2% cheese)
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 (about 2 Tbsp) green onion, finely chopped
  • 3 sundried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 package (10 ounce) frozen spinach, thawed and well drained

Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Beat the egg and water in a small bowl with a fork or whisk.

Stir the cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, onion and garlic powder in a medium bowl.

Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface.  Brush the pastry sheet with the egg mixture.  Top with the cheese mixture, spinach, and chopped sundried tomatoes.  Starting with a short side, roll up like a jelly roll. Cut into 20 (1/2-inch) slices.  Place the slices, cut-side down, onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  Brush the slices with the egg mixture.

Bake for 15 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown.  Remove the pastries from the baking sheets and let cool on wire racks for 10 minutes.

Tip: Make sure to remove as much liquid as you can from the spinach before adding it to the pastry. If it’s too wet, it may make the pastry soggy.

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Tomato Soup

I don’t know what it is about a nice warm bowl of tomato soup that makes me happy.  It always happens this time of the year that I crazy a nice bowl of soup.  Tomato soup is one of my favorites and I usually like a grilled cheese sandwich with it, but this time I decided to make cheese straws.  There are a lot of different recipes out there but I really liked The Lee Bros. version of cheese straws because they aren’t loaded down with butter.  I tried the red pepper that the recipe calls for but I think next time I would leave it out.  Just the little amount that the recipe called for has quite a bite.  It’s up to you and if you like spicy or not.  I also used white whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose and they turned out great.  Again, it’s what you prefer.  I like this tomato soup because it has just the right amount of milk/cream so it isn’t overly creamy.  This is a nice treat for a fall night.  Of course, you can always have a nice grilled cheese sandwich with your soup if that’s what you prefer and save the cheese straws for an appetizer for a dinner party.  I guarantee they will be gobbled up.

On another note, I hope everyone had a nice Halloween!  Here are my little munchkins in their first trick or treating outing around the neighborhood.  We went along with the other set of twins in our neighborhood.  Can you believe we have three sets of twins and another set on the way!  We only have about 30 homes in the neighborhood too!  Must be something in the water!!

Halloween 2009 130

 

Now for the recipe….enjoy!

Cream of Tomato Soup

Print Recipe

  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 to 2 carrots, peeled and finely diced.
  • 2 Tbsp flour (I used white whole wheat flour)
  • 2 lbs. fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped, or 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes, juices reserved
  • 2 cups reduce-sodium canned chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp fresh basil or ½ tsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme or ½ tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup light cream or milk (I used 1% milk)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

In a large nonreactive saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add onion and carrot and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes.  Add tomatoes with their juices, broth, tomato paste, basil, thyme and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low cover, and simmer stirring frequently, 15 minutes.  Remove and discard bay leaf.  In a food processor or blender, puree soup until smooth.  Return to pan and stir in cream.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer until heated through, 3 to 5 minutes.

 tomato soup 2

Cheese Straws

Adapted from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook

  • 1 ½ cups (6 ounces) grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 4 Tbsp (1/2 stick or 2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 4 pieces
  • ¾ cup flour, plus more for dusting (I used white whole wheat)
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp half-and-half

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, combine the cheese, butter, flour, salt and red pepper in five 5-second pulses, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Add the half-and-half and process until the dough forms a ball, about 10 seconds.

On a lightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough into an 8- by 10-inch rectangle that is 1/8 inch thick.  With a sharp knife (or a pizza or pastry wheel; both work), cut the dough into thin 8-inch strips, each ¼- to 1/3-inch wide.  Gently transfer the strips to an parchment lined baking sheet, leaving at least ¼ between the strips.  The dough may sag or may break occasionally in the transfer, but don’t worry.

Bake the straws on the middle rack for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the ends barley browned.  Remove from oven and set the cookie sheet on a rack to cool.

Serve at room temperature.  Cheese straws will keep in refrigerator in an airtight container for two to three days.

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Cinnamon Sugar Palmier

 

A few nights ago I decided to try something I have never tried before in my kitchen….palmiers.  I think I’ve never tried to make these pastries because I thought they might be too difficult.  Then I thought to myself how hard could it really be?  To answer that question for all of you out there…not hard at all!  I have to say having the right puff pastry makes these little delicious bites that much better.  I use Dufour Puff Pastry which I found at my local Whole Foods Market.  This pastry is quality stuff and it’s made with real butter and not those other hidden fats you see in other puff pastries.  If you can’t find it you can also order from their website.  On to my adventure with Palmiers!  Not only did I decide to try palmiers but I decided to try two kinds.  A sweet and a savory!  I’ll start off with the sweet since everyone loves a sweet.  At least in my house everyone loves a sweet.  These are super easy and absolutely delicious.  I have to remind you I made these at night so as we all know by now natural light is the best way to capture beautiful photography of food.  Instead I used my new Lowel Ego Digital lights that I’m still trying to figure out.  Some of the photos of the steps may be a little dark.  Bare with me as I try to get better.  On to the recipe but remember I did half savory and half sweet so if you only want to do one version double the recipe for the filling.

Cinnamon Pecan Palmier

  • Half of package all butter Puff Pastry (as mentioned above)
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 Tbsp Pecans, Toasted

Preheat oven to 400.  Line a pan with parchment paper, a silicone mat, or greased and floured.

Mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon and pecans.  Set aside.

Unfold the thawed puff pastry onto the floured worked surface.  The Dufour Puff Pastry unfolds out of the package just about the length and width you’re looking for.  You’ll just need to roll it to thin it a bit, extending it about 1/2 to 1-inch on all sides.  Your puff pastry should be roughly 8(to10) x 12-inches in size.  Now spread the cinnamon sugar mixture over the pastry. 

Filling

Once evenly spread on pastry start rolling.  Roll up the left vertical side towards the center seam.  Roll the right vertical side towards the center too.  Gently press together.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes to an hour until cold and firm.

Remove dough from the fridge and slice in 1/2-inch slices.  

on pan - palmiers

Place on lined baking sheet.  Bake in 400 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.  You may want to rotate the baking sheet halfway through baking.  Keep a close eye on the pastries after about 11 minutes.  They might burn quickly.

If using just a greased and floured baking pan instead of a parchment or silicone lined pan, remove the pastries from the pan immediately after they come out of the oven.  If you’ve lined you baking sheet, you’re fine to let the cookies cool on the sheet.

Now on to the savory….

Savory Palmier

Savory Sundried Tomato Pesto Palmier

  • One package all butter Puff Pastry (as mentioned above)
  • 2 cups spinach
  • ½ cup fresh basil
  • 4 to 5 sundried tomatoes (I used the ones packed in oil because that’s all I had, but I rinsed mine in water to get a lot of the oil off)
  • ½ tsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp Parmesan Cheese, plus more 2 to 3 more for sprinkling over pesto.

For filling:

Combine the spinach, basil, sundried tomatoes, olive oil and cheese in a food processor and pulse until mixture reaches a paste.

Using the other half of the pastry spread the pesto mixture over the pastry.  Once evenly spread on pastry sprinkle the pesto with the remaining parmesan cheese, then start rolling.  Roll up the left vertical side towards the center seam.  Roll the right vertical side towards the center too.  Gently press together. 

Savory Palmier rolled

Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes to an hour until cold and firm.

Remove dough from the fridge and slice in 1/2-inch slices.  Place on lined baking sheet.  

Pesto Palmier

Bake in 400 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.  You may want to rotate the baking sheet halfway through baking.  Keep a close eye on the pastries after about 11 minutes.  They might burn quickly.

If using just a greased and floured baking pan instead of a parchment or silicone lined pan, remove the pastries from the pan immediately after they come out of the oven.  If you’ve lined you baking sheet, you’re fine to let the cookies cool on the sheet.

If you have never stopped by Joy the Baker she has a great step by step direction on Palmiers.

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