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Category Archives: Appetizer

Herbed Cream Cheese Log

I found this recipe in my trusty “Finger Foods” cook book.  I made it for a friends house warming/ graduation party over the weekend.  It was very tasty.  I was pleasantly surprised with how easy actually making the log was, but if you want to go with an even easier appetizer you could mix in the parsley, tarragon and dill with the cream cheese form a ball and roll in the chives.  The log did make a very presentation though!

2 blocks cream cheese

2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 clove garlic

1 container fresh chives

2 tablespoons fresh parsley

2 tablespoons fresh tarragon

2 teaspoons dill (I used dried, but fresh would be better)

Make a paste with the garlic.  I used minced garlic and then pulled a knife sideways across the garlic until it breaks down.  This helps spread the flavor throughout the whole thing and eliminate a potent bite.

Mix the cream cheese (dong this at room temperature is best), lemon juice and garlic with an electric mixer.

Cover a jelly roll pan with tin foil.

Snip the chives in small pieces and spread evenly over the foil.  Spread the cream cheese over the chives.  I ended up using my hands, because it kept sticking to the spatula and knife.  Chop the parsley and tarragon.  Sprinkle the herbs (including the dill) across the top of the cream cheese.

Pull the short end of the foil up and fold the cheese a few inches in.  Keep rolling into a log with the help of the foil.  Use your fingers to smooth any sections.  Once you reach the other end and it’s a lovely log.  Cover and refrigerate for several hours or over night.

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Scallop Burgers with Cilantro Lime Mayonaise

I am a huge food nerd.  I admit I spend hours a week flipping through my cook books and reading other food blogs and recipes sites.  When I found this recipe on http://www.food.com, I knew I had to try it as soon as possible because I really like scallops and like absolutely LOVE cilantro!  It has been long been a running joke in my family about how much I love scallops, because years and years (perhaps even a decade <gross!>) my grandpa had made scallops for us for dinner and I mentioned how good they were and how much I liked scallops.  Since he is the sweetest and kindest guy in the world, scallops were also on the menu the next time we went for dinner.  While we were eating them, he asked if I liked them and I of course replied that I did (because I honestly did!).  The next few times we were there he either made them or asked which of us liked them, and my family would all reply that we all did but I was the one who REALLY loved them.  If you mention scallops to my family, they will vouch for how much I love them 🙂  I would happily have my grandpa cook me scallops for many more years to come!

Phew, got a bit off subject!  Anyways, luckily I was able to convince my friend and taste tester Mandy to come over for dinner on Tuesday to give this a whirl.  Overall, we were both fans of the burgers.  In the future I would take the advice of using the food processor to chop the scallops and other ingredients (I did this by hand, trying to avoid another dirty dish!).  I think having the scallops diced a bit finer would have helped them stay together a little bit better.  I would reserve a bit of the scallops and roughly chop so you still had some bigger chunks in some bites.  Also, the recipe said to make them into little sliders which would be cute for a party, but since it was just Mandy and I, we made them burger size.

Scallop Burgers                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 medium vidalia onion, finely diced

2 TBS butter

2 lbs fresh sea scallops (since we were just making burgers for us, I used 3/4 of a pound)

3 TBS flour

3 TBS panko breadcrumbs

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 TBS fresh lime juice

1 TBS freshly grated ginger

2 TBS oil

12 mini buns (or a few large buns)

Cilantro Lime Mayonnaise

4 TBS fresh lime juice (I used about 2 1/2 limes, but honestly didn’t measure)

1/2 tsp hot sauce

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

salt and pepper to taste

Finely the dice the onion and then saute in butter until translucent.  Remove from the heat and set to the side to cool.

While the onions are cooking, chop the finely chop the cilantro.  Mix the mayonnaise with the remaining ingredients until combined.  Put the mayo in the fridge to let the flavors meld.

Chop scallops (or chop in the food processor) until coarsely chopped.  Transfer to large bowl and mix with the remaining ingredients, except the vegetable oil.  I had to use slightly more flour and a bit extra of the bread crumbs.  Add the onions (which we forgot, so they were a topping on the burger).    If the mixture seems to lose add either more egg or flour.

Shape the mixture into little “slider” size or larger patties and place on lined dish.  Put the patties in the fridge to cool for about 1 hour or in the freezer for about 15 or 20 minutes.

Heat the oil in the skillet and place the patties or sliders in the pan until the scallops appear translucent and the patties are golden brown.

Place the burgers in the buns and top with the cilantro lime mayo and enjoy!  I served the burgers with a mixed greens salad with tomatoes, avocado and grilled corn kernels with a cilantro lime vinaigrette.

Cheddar Cheese, Bacon and Chive Dip

We had a little reunion of sorts a couple of weeks ago with some friends from college, so I made a dip to take over to munch on before we went out for the night.  It was really simple, and though I used light where I could, this can not be classified in any way shape or form as figure friendly.  But hey, isn’t that what Friday nights are for?!

1 block 1/3 less fat cream cheese

1/2 cup light sour cream

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 TBS Onion Onion! seasoning from Tastefully Simple

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

4 slices cooked bacon

1/2 TBS fresh chives

Cook the bacon, then chop.  Mix the ingredients all together and chill.  The longer the dip has to chill the better it will be, because all of the flavors will really meld.  Would be great served with Tastefully Simple’s beer bread (which I also made), tortilla chips, chips, crackers…  really limitless!

Salmon Cakes with Herb Mayonnaise

This recipe also came from my new “Finger Foods” cookbook!  It was really delicious, and could be made in the mini size like we did or easily into a larger patty for a salmon cake burger.

1 lb salmon fillet, skin and bones removed, cut into 1/4 inch cubes (I used a can of salmon, but sadly did not look closely enough at the can and it was not boneless and skinless, so there was still a good bit of dirty work to get it ready to use)

3 TBS dry breadcrumbs (I used panko)

1 TBS lightly beaten egg

1/2 tsp finely grated lime zest

3 1/2 tsp lime juice

3 tsp fresh dill, chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

2 TBS extra virgin olive oil

Place the salmon, breadcrumbs, egg, lime zest, 3 tsp lime juice and 2 tsp dill in a bowl.  Stir until the mixture comes together and the ingredients are evenly distributed.  Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

With wet hands, form small balls of the mixture (about 2 heaping tsp each).  It should form about 36 balls.  Please on a baking sheet lined with foil.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

For the herb mayonnaise, mix the remaining lime juice and dill with the mayonnaise and garlic in a bowl.

Heat the olive oil in a large, nonstick frying pan.  Cook the salmon cakes in batches over medium heat for 2 minutes per side or until golden and cooked through.  Be careful not to over cook.  Drain on paper towels.  Top each with some herb mayonnaise and season well.  Serve immediately.

I placed each salmon cake ball in a little tasting spoon.  They looked so cute!  I wasn’t very good at taking pics while we were making that, but it’s very simple to put together!

Warm Crab and Lemon Dip

I got this recipe from a new “Finger Food” cookbook.  It took slightly more time to prep than anticipated, but luckily I had extra hands in the kitchen to be able get everything done (thanks Mandy, Sarah and Heather!).

1/3 cup butter

2 cloves garlic, crushed

3 shallots, thinly sliced

1 tsp ground mustard

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (I didn’t have cayenne, so I used chili powder)

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

2/3 cup cream cheese

1/2 cup cheddar cheese

11 oz crabmeat, drained

2 TBS lemon juice

2 TSP Worcestershire sauce

3 tsp chopped tarragon (I omitted this)

1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs (I used panko)

1 TBS chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 350.

Melt half the butter in a sauce pan, then cook the garlic and shallots for 2-3 minutes or just until softened.  Add the mustard powder, cayenne or chili powder, and whipping cream.  Bring to a simmer and slowly whisk in the cream cheese, a little at a time.  When the cream cheese is completely incorporated, whisk in the cheddar and allow to cook , stirring constantly, over very low heat for 1-2 minutes or until smooth.  We had to add a bit more whipping cream, because the mixture was too thick.  Remove from the heat and add the crabmeat, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and 2 tsp of the tarragon.   Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Mix then transfer to a small baking dish.

Melt the remaining butter in a small saucepan, add the breadcrumbs, chopped parsley and remaining tarragon, and stir until just combined.  Sprinkle over the crab mixture and bake for 15 minutes or until golden.  It wasn’t getting golden enough for me, so I put the dish under the broiler for a few minutes.

Serve warm.

Corn Bread Mini Muffins

I wanted to plan the menu with a bit of a southern flair, so corn bread muffins were an obvious decision!  I kept it pretty simple by using a package of just about ready to go corn bread from Trader Joe’s

1 package Trader Joe’s corn bread (prepared according to instructions on the box)

3 slices cooked bacon

1/2 – 3/4 cup cheddar cheese

1/2 TBS fresh chives

2 TBS canned corn

I prepared the corn bread according to the package directions then added about 2 TBS of canned corn (which I crushed a bit with the back of a ladle), a handful of shredded cheddar cheese, 3 slices of bacon, crumbled, and about 1/2 TBS of fresh sliced chives.

I used mini muffin pans, and scooped each opening about half full.  If you are going to use the mini muffin pans, reduce the cooking time down to about 15 minutes.

Very yummy!

Kentucky Derby Party!

Yesterday a few of my girlfriends and I enjoyed the most exciting few minutes of horse racing together.  I can find any excuse to throw a party,and the derby not only provides a great party theme but also the chance to wear big hats!

I tried to keep the menu for the derby party  a bit southern.  The menu included a hot lemon and crab dip, salmon balls with herbed mayonnaise,  cream cheese wrapped in crescent, cantaloupe wrapped with prosciutto, and mini corn bread muffins with bacon, cheddar cheese and chives.  And of course, mint juleps were the drink of choice (ok, so we had to add some Sprite and let the ice melt down haha!).

Jalepeno Popper Dip

If you love jalapeno poppers, you will absolutely love this simple dip!

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

1 cup mayonnaise

1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chilies, drained

2 ounces canned diced jalapeno peppers, drained

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs

Stir together cream cheese and mayonnaise in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in green chiles and jalapeno peppers. Mix the cheese and breadcrumbs in a bowl.  Pour mixture into a oven safe serving dish, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and breadcrumb mixtures.  Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes at 350 then place under the broiler under the topping is golden brown and crisp (about 3-5 minutes, but as with anything under the broiler, keep a close eye on it!)

Serve with baguettes, crackers or even tortillas chips (my favorite is mini toast crackers).

The bowl will be licked clean when serving this at a party!

Guacamole

I love avocado.  I love it by itself.  I love it in salads.  I love it on sandwiches.  I love avocado.  I cringe when I am looking for a nice ripe avocado and notice a guacamole “mix” to make your own.  I don’t understand how fresh from scratch guacamole is any more difficult than using a processed packet mix.  Gross.  Don’t do it, it’s the simplest thing in the world!  So, here’s how to do it.

To make sure you get a nice ripe one, give them a light squeeze.  You don’t want to put a lot of pressure and bruise it, but it should have a little give to it.  If it feels soft, it’s past it’s prime and it’s not for you.  If it’s really firm, just give it a couple of days and it’ll be perfect.  If they are all a little under ripe, but you need it ripe by the next day, put it in a paper bag, it helps speed up the ripening process.  When you cut into it, it should be a vivid greenish yellow.  Delish!  Oh and a simple way to get the pit out is to just cut it in half long ways (when you cut into it you will feel the pit, so just rotate the whole way around it).  Once you separate the 2 halves, hit the pit with your knife with a little force then just rotate the knife.  If the avocado is nice and ripe, the pit will release from the fruit easily and you can lift it right out!  Easy peasy 🙂

2 ripe avocados

fresh lime juice (pbly 1/2 – 1 whole lemon) I used lemon juice this time, because I had it

1 tomato (I used plum) diced

about 1 TBS red onion diced very small (to taste)

about 1/4 cup fresh cilantro chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Dice the tomato and onion and chop the cilantro.  In a bowl, mash avocado with some lime juice and salt (the salt helps it break down) with a fork.  Once it is chunky, add the tomato, onion and cilantro.  This (as pretty much every recipe) is a guideline, adjust to your taste with salt and pepper and lime juice.

Serve with tortilla chips or with tacos on scrambled eggs.  Endless possibilities!  Any way you serve it though, I promise you will get an empty bowl back!

Crescent Cream Cheese Appetizers

This is seriously one of the simplest appetizers to put together EVER (I know I have said that a few times already in just a handful of posts, but I’m serious!)  I love simple, delicious options that you can put together quickly when you have people over.  I love entertaining and cooking, but I hate to be stuck in the kitchen and miss any part of a party.  This appetizers solves that completely.  I’m not sure where this recipe come from for sure, but my sister found it years ago and it has been a staple for get togethers ever since!

1 block cream cheese

1 canister crescent dough

dill (I usually just use dried, but I’m sure fresh would be amazing also)

Preheat the over to 350.  Unroll crescent dough and press seems together.  You will actually only need about half of the dough.  Sprinkle the entire block of cream cheese with dill.  Please cream cheese block in center of the dough and wrap placing on the baking sheet seem side down.  You can definitely jazz this up by adding a cut out made with cookie cutters (or a creative person and a knife) and the left over dough.  Cook for about 12-15 minutes until the dough is golden brown.

Serve with crackers and/ or veggies and/ or apple slices.  I promise people will be fighting to scrap up the last bits of this!

This is also an incredible recipe to adapt; you could definitely use your favorite herb in place of dill.  I’m sure it would even be delicious if you would garden vegetable cream cheese!