Archive for the ‘Appetizers’ Category

Chicken Salad with Red Grapes and Walnuts

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This chicken salad is surprisingly delicious with a unique flavor combination of sweet red grapes and walnuts. Think of Waldorf salad, but instead of apples, use grapes. And add chicken. Ok, so the only thing this has in common with Waldorf is the walnuts. But you get the idea. It is delicious on a bed of salad greens, or in a sandwich, or on crackers. Use a croissant if you’re not afraid of a heart attack.

Chicken Salad with Red Grapes and Walnuts (serves 8)

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. onion, minced
  • 1 small bunch of red grapes, chopped
  • 1 handful of walnuts, chopped
  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1) If you have the time, to get really juicy chicken breasts, cook on medium low heat in a pot of half chicken broth/half water for 1.5 – 2 hours. Take out of pot and let rest for few minutes, then chop. Or, use cooked leftover chicken chunks. Place chicken cubes in bowl.

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2) Trim bottom of 2 washed stalks of celery. Cut thin vertical strips.

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3) Finely chop. Add to bowl.

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4) Add minced onion to bowl.

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5) I’m not being accurate with saying ’1 small bunch of grapes’. But this is how much I used. Chop into quarter slices. Add into bowl.

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6) Add walnuts to bowl.

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You can see the bottom of my wine glass in this picture. Yes, please drink wine when you make something as simple as chicken salad.

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7) Add one cup mayonnaise to salad. I used Hellmann’s made with Canola, it tastes just as good as regular, and about half the calories. Or you can use the mayo of your preference.

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8) Squeeze half a lemon into salad. Mix with spoon, and salt/pepper to taste.

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9) Serve as a sandwich, on a bed of salad, on crackers, etc. Refrigerate unused portions in airtight container.

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Soooooooooooooooo gooooooooooooood. I will never make chicken salad without grapes again.

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Chocolate covered strawberries

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I wish I had some better pictures, but I had to use a flash, and I don’t like using a flash on food photos. These chocolate covered strawberries were so easy to make, I don’t even want to write down directions. I found recipes on-line that stated the level of difficulty as INTERMEDIATE! Intermediate to what, boiling water? I didn’t know what made it intermediate, and I started to panic thinking I did something terribly wrong, maybe I was missing a step that involved doing a hand-stand as I dipped the strawberry into the chocolate. I don’t know. They tasted the same as any other chocolate dipped strawberry I overpaid for at a fancy supermarket.

My husband helped me dip these, and as you can see, he likes his chocolate to cover his strawberries like a conservative turtleneck rather than a formal tuxedo.  But I guess he wanted the chocolate to strawberry ratio equal.

Level: BEGINNER-IF YOU CAN BOIL WATER YOU CAN DO THIS.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pints of strawberries
  • 8 oz. dark chocolate chips

Directions:

1) Wash and completely dry each strawberry with a paper towel.

2) Line a dish/pan with parchment or wax paper.

2) In a liquid measuring cup, melt chocolate chips in the microwave, about a 1 – 1.5 minutes. Take out of microwave, stir until top surface of chips are completely melted.

3) Holding stem of strawberry, dip into cup of chocolate. Twist the strawberry out of chocolate, place on wax paper.

4) Let cool for an hour.

Stuffed Tomatoes

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These roasted tomatoes stuffed with cheesy rice, peppers and sausage were as good as they look. I figured I’d make a non-vegetarian dish for once, since it almost looked like I was eating too healthy lately. I had some spicy Italian sausage in the freezer, and figured I needed a reason to use them.

Cheesy Stuffed Tomatoes (serves 2-4)

Ingredients:

  • 4 large beefsteak tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped peppers (green, orange, yellow, or a mixture of all 3)
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • 2/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked rice
  • 2 Italian sausages, casing removed
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 Tbsp bread crumbs
  • olive oil

Directions:

1) Use a knife to carefully cut and remove the top of each washed tomato.

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2) After cutting the top with a knife, I used a grapefruit spoon to carefully dig its guts out. Save the tomato guts in a bowl for later, you will need it to cook with.

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Tomato guts! I just like saying tomato guts…

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3) In a pan, melt a tsp. of butter on medium high. Add onions and peppers, cook until translucent.

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4) Add sausage, cook until browned.

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5) Add tomato guts! Turn heat down to low, cook for 10-15 minutes. Preheat oven at 425 degrees.

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6) Add rice, salt and pepper to taste.

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7) Stir 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese into rice mixture.

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8) Using a spoon, stuff rice into tomatoes, packing it firmly. In casserole dish, wedge tomatoes in so they are holding each other upright. I could only get 3 to fit into my largest casserole dish, and used a smaller dish for a loner tomato. Top with remaining cheese, sprinkle with bread crumbs and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Pour a tiny bit of water into bottom of casserole dishes to prevent burning/sticking.

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9) My Macgyver skills led me to create this aluminum foil contraption to wedge the single tomato in securely.

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10) Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes until tomatoes are tender. Should come out like this.

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Breaded Zucchini

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Breaded zucchini. Be sure not to over fry them, or they get all soggy and limp.

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • oil
  • salt

Directions:

1) Slice zucchini into quarter inch slices.  Whisk egg into bowl, dip zucchini slices into egg. Pour bread crumbs into dish, cover egg dipped slices into bread crumbs.

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 2) Pour oil to coat bottom of pan, heat at medium high. Place zucchini slices in pan for one minute until brown, flip and cook for another minute. Remove and place on paper towels to soak up excess oil. Sprinkle salt, serve.

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Kimbap (korean sushi rolls)

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Kimbap (or gimbap, or Gim-Bahp) is basically korean sushi, but without the raw fish.  It consists of rice, meat and vegetable rolled in a seaweed wrapper. They are incredibly addictive (probably because of the naturally occurring MSG in the seaweed?).  The ones I had at a friend’s house consisted of vienna sausage, egg and pickled radish.  You can use other forms of protein, like canned tuna, or strips of  bbq beef.  My husband had a craving for kimbap this past weekend and we couldn’t buy pickled radish, so we sliced regular pickles instead. It sounds like an odd combination, but the taste actually works.  They require some time and effort; we probably made these a total of 10 times in the past couple years before we mastered rolling something that resembled sushi. But practice does make perfect. In the picture above, I rolled the big ones (my husband jokingly nicknamed them ‘fat boys’), and my husband rolled the smaller ones (I didn’t nickname his because it’s not a competition for me).

Kimbap (makes roughly 10 rolls)

Ingredients:

  • 3 cooked eggs, cut into strips (directions below)
  • 2 cans vienna sausage, cut lengthwise into 4 strips each
  • 5 pickles, cut lengthwise into 4 strips each
  • 6 cups cooked sushi rice (2 cups uncooked)
  • 1/4 cup sushi vinegar
  • 3 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 10-12 seaweed sheets
  • bamboo mat for rolling sushi

Directions:

1) Whisk 3 eggs with 1 tsp. oil. On medium-high heat, pour egg mixture into wok, cook for 1 minute, then flip and cook another 1-2 minutes. Do not scramble. Cool on cutting board, then cut into strips.

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2) Prepare ‘sushi making station’ with 3 bowls for egg strips, slices of meat, and slices of pickles, all roughly the same thickness/size as shown below. Don’t worry about the lengths, you can tear them to fit the rolls later on. Have bamboo mat(s) and seaweed sheets ready.

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 3) Cook 2 cups sushi rice in rice cooker. As rice is cooking, have vinegar, sesame oil, salt and sugar ready.

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4) Leave rice to steam in rice cooker for 10 minutes after it is finished cooking.  Then scoop the rice into a bowl, and mix the ingredients (above)  into the rice.  Immediately begin making rolls while rice is still hot.

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Step by step directions on how to roll sushi:

1) Using a spoon, quickly spread a thin layer of rice onto seaweed sheet. Leave a bit of clearance on all sides, as shown. Put strips of egg, meat and pickle on top of rice an inch above bottom of sheet.

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2) Roll bamboo to cover ingredients with seaweed, squeezing bamboo tightly with hands. 

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3) You don’t need the bamboo for this part, so take bamboo off the roll as shown below.

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4) Finish rolling the sushi by hand.

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5) Place rolls seam side down on cutting board.

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6) Wait for them to cool for a couple minutes, then cut pieces with a sharp knife.

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Below: the ‘rejects’. These are the odds ‘n ends, we usually eat these rejects first because we’re perfectionists, and we don’t like seeing them on the table for long, so they go fast.

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They go really well with beer.  I think all korean food goes well with beer. I wish we had banchan….

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Pa jun (korean pancakes)

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Pa jun is a korean pancake that is usually served as a snack, appetizer, or side dish.  It’s crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, with fillings consisting of vegetables and/or seafood. The pa jun I usually order out at restaurants consist of scallions, squid, oysters, scallops and shrimp. I made mine with chopped scallions and shrimp, but you make it to your own preference.  I also split my batter into two parts for two pancakes, so it would cook faster, and so my husband and I wouldn’t have to fight for the one dish. You can make one whole pancake if you’d like, but it is very tricky flipping the pancake over in the pan when it’s so big, especially with splattering oil.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of scallions, chopped
  • 10-12 shrimp, chopped
  • 3/4 cup korean pancake batter
  • 1 cup water
  • oil

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Directions:

1) Mix batter and water in bowl.  The consistency should be of very thin american pancake batter.  Add scallions and shrimp.

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 2) Coat skillet with thin layer of oil on medium high heat.  Pour half the batter into skillet. Wait 2-3 minutes, gently lift pancake to see if the bottom is golden.  If it is, use 2 spatulas (or 1) to flip pancake over.

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3) Let it cook until it’s golden on the other side, around 4-5 minutes.

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4) Slide it off the pan onto a plate. Serve.

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Guacamole

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 This is my husband’s recipe for guacamole.  It’s his prized recipe.  I’m exploiting it.  He’s not Mexican, but it’s better than guacamole from Mexico.  Everyone loves it, including Mexicans.  We eat bowls and bowls of it. It’s wonderful.  Serves 6.

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe avocados
  • 8 oz. Jack’s Special Salsa (whatever flavor you wish, we use mild or medium)
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • salt

Directions:

  1. In food processor, blend avocados, salsa, and onion together.  Pour into bowl.
  2. Stir in lime juice, and add salt to taste.  Serve with tortilla chips.

* Guacamole will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days if well sealed in container.

Strawberries and Cream on Sliced Baguette

 

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I couldn’t decide which picture to use, so I used them all.  They just look so pretty.  To get my cheesecake fix without spending hours baking one, I had some cream cheese, strawberries, and half a baguette left.  If you don’t have a spare artisan baguette laying around that you purchased at the  fancy gourmet section of your supermarket, use crackers.

Ingredients:

  • 12 in. baguette, sliced (16 pieces)
  • 1/2 block cream cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 3 Tbsp yogurt (vanilla or plain)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 8 strawberries, sliced in half
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar

Directions:

  1. Toast baguette slices if they are stale, in the toaster oven. 
  2. In small bowl, mix cream cheese, honey, yogurt, vanilla extract, sugar and cinnamon and nutmeg.
  3. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp. sugar onto strawberries, mix gently until strawberries looked glazed.
  4. Spoon cream cheese onto bread, garnish with slice of strawberry.

Coconut and Panko Fried Shrimp

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 This recipe was pretty easy but in order to get that crispy breaded coating you need to follow the steps.  I use to combine or skip steps because I was lazy and they never turned out quite right.  You will need a bowl of tempura flour (or regular flour), a bowl with one whisked egg, and a plate with a mixture of coconut flakes and panko bread crumbs.  I also won’t tell you how to serve it as a side dish, main dish, appetizer, or something.  If it were up to me, I’d just make a pound of shrimp and eat that for dinner.

Coconut & Panko Fried Shrimp (serves 2-4)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of de-veined, butterflied shrimp
  • 1 cup of tempura flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of panko bread crumbs
  • 1 cup of coconut flakes
  • 3 cups oil 

Directions:

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  1. De-vein and butterfly 1 pound of shrimp. Basically that means slitting both sides of the shrimp, one side should have the poop tract and the other side would butterfly the shrimp in half.  Pour 1 cup of tempura flour in bowl, whisk one egg into another bowl, and combine 1 cup of panko crumbs with 1 cup coconut flakes on a plate.
  2. Dredge shrimp in tempura flour. Shake off excess flour, coat with egg mixture. Shake off excess egg, coat in panko/coconut mixture, set aside.  Halfway through this process, heat 3 cups of oil on medium high on your stove.  Use a small pot deep enough so the shrimp are fully covered in oil, assuming you don’t own a deep fryer.  If your stove knob goes up to 10, set it to 8.
  3. Place 4-5 shrimp in at a time.  Too many will cause the oil to either bubble over or the oil temp to go down, something bad always happens when I do too much too fast.  When shrimp is golden brown, use tongs or wire mesh to scoop up onto plate lined with paper towel to drain.

This is how I served mine, with a side salad:

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