Category Archives: Appetizers

An Easy, Impressive & Delicious Starter

Like I said in my last post, I had some guests over for dinner. I wanted a quick & easy appetizer so I could spend time with my guests. What did I go to for help? My newest cookbook in my collection – Williams Sonoma Cooking For Friends. The one I got from Tim for my birthday!

This starter is a puff pastry pizza-like dish. It has pears, walnuts, rosemary and Gorgonzola cheese. Basically a combination that is mouthwatering before and after your first bite. To make it even better? Drizzle it with a little bit of honey. SO GOOD.

If you want to be adventurous, make your own puff pastry. I wouldn’t even bother though, because there’s great options in your grocery’s freezers. You just have to thaw it according to package directions beforehand.

The cookbook said to cut the sheet in half, roll out a bit and then score the edges. Did I do that? No. Not so much. All I did was lay the sheet out flat on a parchment lined baking sheet & flattened the dough a bit with my fingers. I bet it tasted the same. The directions called to fold over the edge of the puff pastry about 1/2″ to make a border. I think if I did this again (which I will!) I’m not going to make a border and just score 1/2″ of the edge with a fork. I don’t think it really needed the border.

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Puff Pastry Tart with Pears, Walnuts & Gorgonzola
(Serves 4-6)

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed according to package directions
1 Bosc pear
1/4 c. walnuts, chopped
1 sprig of rosemary, stripped from the stem, finely chopped
1/4 – 1/3 c. Gorgonzola cheese
Honey

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Lay out your thawed puff pastry sheet onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Using your fingers, flatten the dough out slightly, pushing towards the edges to thin out the dough slightly. Fold the edge over about 1/2″ to make a border (optional) then score the edges with a fork.

Cut your pear down the middle lengthwise, then cut in half again lengthwise. Angling your knife, cut out the center of your pear, this will get the core out. Then, slice into 1/4″ slices.

Lay your pear slices however you’d like onto your puff pastry sheet. Sprinkle with walnuts, cheese and rosemary.

Pop in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the edges of the pastry are browned and puffed up.

Let sit for about 5 minutes, drizzle with honey, slice into desired pieces and enjoy!

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Delicious App Made Easier

Who doesn’t love jalapeño poppers? Come on. Seriously.

But who wants to fill jalapenos and bread each one individually? Not me.

When my boyfriend and I have get-togethers with friends I love making homemade snacks. Jalapeño popper dip was my choice for the evening. It is best served warm. So, next time instead of baking it, I’m going to put the whole cheese mixture in my crock pot on warm, let it heat up, and then toast the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese in a teeny bit of olive oil or butter to toast them, and put on top. The repeated re-heating of the dip changed the texture a bit.

I’ve found lots of recipes via foodgawker for such a dip, but I wasn’t crazy about loading it with mayonnaise, butter and things of the like. So I attempted to make it healthier. I swapped out the mayonnaise for Greek yogurt – if you haven’t noticed I’m a huge fan of this – left out some of the butter. I also used Neufchatel cheese, which is cream cheese with less fat.

Needless to say, it was a huge hit! Serve with tortilla chips, pita chips, crackers, veggies, or whatever floats your boat.

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Jalapeño Popper Dip

16 oz. Neufchatel cheese, or low fat cream cheese, room temperature
1 c. plain non-fat, Greek yogurt
5 jalapeños, seeded and minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 c. 2% shredded cheddar cheese
1 c. Panko breadcrumbs
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp. butter, melted

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Combine the cream cheese, yogurt, jalapeño, garlic, cumin and cheddar cheese together in a bowl. Pour into a 9×13 baking dish.

In a small bowl, mix together the melted butter, Parmesan cheese and Panko breadcrumbs. Sprinkle over top of your mixture in the baking dish.

Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the dip becomes bubbly and brown. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Eat up!

Note: If you are going to have people lingering and eating the dip over a couple of hours, put the dip in a crock pot and cook on low for about 45 minutes then turn your crock pot down to warm. To get the breadcrumbs toasted, heat the butter, parm cheese, and breadcrumbs in a frying pan until browned. Sprinkle on top before serving. I did not try this method out, but I’m sure it will work perfectly and I plan to do it next time I make the dip.

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Tasty Bites

Need hors d’oeuvres for a get together? These are the perfect little bites!

I found the recipe on foodgawker…are you surprised? The recipe is from A Communal Table. The only thing I changed is that I used more cheese (and I used cheddar) and another egg yolk. I found that the 1 cup wasn’t enough.

I made this recipe for Christmas Eve at my boyfriend’s family’s get together. They were a hit! Cheese, bacon, and caramelized onions? How could it go wrong?

I absolutely love that this recipe uses premade pie dough, it adds a little sweet touch. It also makes it easy! Just grab a package of refrigerated pie crusts – they usually come with 2 in them which is all you need for this recipe.

And wait till you see my “cookie cutter” … I’m not someone who makes and rolls out sugar cookie dough to make shapes. Sometimes you have to improvise!

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Mini Bacon and Cheese Crostatas
(Makes about 3 dozen)

1 pkg. refrigerated pie dough (enough for 2 crusts)
6 slices of bacon, chopped into 1/4 bits (freeze it for an hour – it’s easier to chop!)
1 very large onion, cut into thin half moons
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
3 egg yolks
Salt and pepper

Take your pie crust out of the fridge to sit at room temperature.

In a frying pan over medium high heat, cook bacon until browned, but not crispy (it’ll cook more in the oven).

Meanwhile, slice the onion. When the bacon is done, let drain on a paper towel. Leave about 1-2 tbsp. of bacon grease in the pan and discard the rest. Cook the onions in the bacon grease on medium heat for about 20 minutes until the onions have melted down and turned a caramel color.

While the onions are cooking, line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Flour a clean work surface and place one of your pie crusts down. Roll out to about 1/8″ thick, basically almost thin enough to see through it. Then using a 3″ cookie cutter (or a drinking glass…) punch out circles, set the scraps aside and repeat with the other pie crust. Take the scraps, roll together and repeat until you’ve used all you can.

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Place the circles on your lined sheets. They won’t all fit, but one you crimp the sides you can put all of them on!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together your egg yolks and cheese. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Now, it’s time to assemble. Put about a teaspoon of cheese mixture in the center of the pie rounds, topped with a pinch of onions. Spread around the wealth and then if there’s leftovers, dish out accordingly.

To crimp the sides, fold up an edge, then take the corner of the fold, and fold that up. Make sure you pinch around the sides to seal it. Repeat until you get around the crostata and pinch the last side up. Repeat to the rest of the crostatas.

Place in the oven and bake about 10 minutes until just barely golden. Take out of the oven and top with bacon. Put back in the oven for 5-8 minutes until the crusts are a nice golden brown.

Serve warm or reheat before serving!

Not Your Average Quesadilla

So I made this recipe when I was running really low on food in the house AND I still had all that apple smoked Gruyere left from my French onion chicken.

I’ve seen grilled cheese sandwiches made with apple and mustard, but I didn’t have any bread left. I did, however, have a couple tortilla shells handy.

I thought, why not make it a quesadilla instead?

It was delicious for lunch or it would make a good snack.

And so goes the story of how the apple and cheese quesadilla was born!

Also, side note. I won’t be posting any new recipes until probably the weekend. I forgot the camera cord! So all of my lovely recent recipe pictures are sitting on it for just me to look at.

Apple & Cheese Quesadilla
(Serves 1)

1 whole grain tortilla, I used the smaller size
8-10 thin slices of apple, peeled or unpeeled, your preference
1-2 oz. apple smoked Gruyere or another cheese like it
2 tsps. Dijon mustard or a honey mustard

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Place the tortilla in the pan.

Grab your apple slices. They should be pretty thin. Like this:

On half of the tortilla shell, sprinkle with cheese and layer the apple slices over top. Spread the mustard over the other half.

Fold the mustard half over top of the apple half. Turn when the tortilla is golden brown on one side. It’s done when it gets golden brown on the other side!

Slice into pieces and enjoy!

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My Big Fat Greek Appetizer.

When life doesn’t give you mini phyllo cups you make little paper football-like spanakopitas.

Yesterday, I prepared a dinner for my parents and my boyfriend’s parents. The menu consisted of spanakopitas for an appetizer, french onion chicken with garlic bread for dessert, and an apple yogurt cake with cinnamon sugar whipped cream. Don’t you worry, I’ll be posting all the recipes in the next few days!

So I was planning to make spanakopita but instead of folding up the sheets, I wanted to use the pre-made mini phyllo cups. Of course, the store didn’t have them. If you can find them. USE THEM.

I had to do the unthinkable: work with phyllo sheets. Now, I honestly don’t have the patience to work with the sheets of phyllo, but I didn’t have other options at the time. You should really have a pastry brush to paint each sheet with butter; I did not have one. Oops! I used my hands. It got messy in a hurry.

The good news? They tasted amazing! Hooray!

Spanakopita
(Makes about 15)

1 pkg. of phyllo dough (in the frozen food section)
2 tbsp. melted butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 c. frozen spinach, thawed
1 small onion, diced into small pieces
2 large cloves garlic
¼ c. nonfat plain Greek yogurt
½ c. reduced fat feta cheese
1 lemon, juiced
½ tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
1 egg, beaten
Pinch of red pepper flake (optional)

In a frying pain over medium heat, saute the onion, garlic, oregano olive oil and red pepper flake until the onions become translucent.

Put your thawed spinach into a strainer and push out all the extra liquid with the back of a spoon until minimal moisture comes through. You do not want to skip this step! Spinach holds so much moisture, you don’t want to make your phyllo soggy.

In a mixing bowl, combine the sauteed onions, spinach, yogurt, feta, lemon, salt and pepper. Taste it to see if there is any more seasoning needed BEFORE you add the egg. Add the egg when the mixture has enough seasoning to bind it together.

On a clean surface or cutting board, take one piece of phyllo and lay it out. Cover the stack of dough with a clean towel to keep it from drying out. Brush the one sheet with butter. Layer another sheet on top. Brush with butter. Repeat until you have 4 sheets together.

Cut the dough in half width wise. Cut each half into 1/3 strips so you have 6 strips total.

Time to make phyllo footballs!

Grab a heaping tablespoon of filling and place it on one end of a strip. Fold one of the corners up and over the filling to the other side, making a triangle. Fold the triangle over at the edge of the filling, and repeat the folding until you have a nice little triangle package. Looks like a paper football, doesn’t it?

Repeat until you have made all of your spanakopita.

If you’re using them right away, pop in a 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until the spanakopita are golden brown.

If you’re making these ahead, place in the freezer on a single layer of a cookie sheet until frozen, about 2-3 hours. Then, place in a freezer safe container or ziploc bag. When you want to use them, cook from their frozen state, just up the cooking time.

Enjoy 🙂

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