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Archive for the ‘Appetizer’ Category

caesarwithpancetta

This is a lightened and eggless variation of one of my favorite Caesar salads from Ina Garten. I love Ina’s Caesar salad for entertaining. It’s great with home made croutons. We had Italian night last Sunday and I wanted to make this salad but was looking for something lighter and without the raw egg. I decided to take my favorite elements from her salad (the cherry tomatoes and crispy pancetta) and pair it with a Caesar dressing I found on Cooking Light.

I will admit that the dressing definitely doesn’t live up to Ina’s but it’s very easy and much lighter. I prefer to make my own dressings and I think it adds so much to a salad. And when it’s this easy…you really don’t have an excuse not to!

Lightened Caesar Salad with Pancetta and Cherry Tomatoes
(Recipe inspired by Ina Garten, dressing source Cooking Light)

Ingredients:

FOR THE SALAD
1-2 heads romaine lettuce (depending on size)
1/4 pound pancetta, sliced to a similar thickness to bacon
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Salt
Freshly ground pepper

FOR THE DRESSING
1/3  cup  plain fat-free yogurt
2  tablespoons  fresh lemon juice
1  tablespoon  olive oil
2  teaspoons  red wine vinegar
2  teaspoons  Worcestershire sauce
1  teaspoon  anchovy paste
1  teaspoon  Dijon mustard
1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground pepper
1  garlic clove, minced

Directions:

Cut pancetta into cubes. Place in a skillet over medium-high heat and cook for about 10-15 minutes, until browned and crispy. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.

Wash lettuce well and dry in a salad spinner. Cut into 1 1/2 inch slices. Place in a large bowl.

Whisk together dressing ingredients. Pour over salad greens and toss to coat. Top with tomatoes and pancetta. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Yield: 4 servings

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fruitskewers

These fruit skewers are one of my favorite things to serve at showers, parties and lunches. They only take a few minutes to put together, look beautiful on the plate and are easy to pick up. I vary the fruit depending on what is looking good and in season. The dip incorporates cream cheese, vanilla yogurt and powdered sugar and has just the right balance of sweetness and tang.

Try these out next time you need to bring something to a shower or luncheon! They will be a hit!

Fruit Skewers with Vanilla Cream Cheese Dip
(A Bakin’ and Eggs Original)

Ingredients:

1 cantaloupe, diced
1 pint strawberries, cut in half
1 pineapple, diced
Bamboo skewers
1 block reduced fat cream cheese (8 ounces), softened
1/2 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
3/4-1 cup powdered sugar (adjust amount to taste)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Place six pieces of fruit on each skewer, alternating fruits. Arrange on a platter.

Combine cream cheese, vanilla yogurt, powdered sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Mix on high speed with a hand mixer until combined and fluffy. Sample the dip and adjust ingredients to taste.

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freshfigbluepizza

I stopped by my in-law’s house today during my lunch break. Brandon was over there helping his mom cut some dead trees down to create extra sunlight for the garden she’s planning. So as he was doing back breaking labor, I was meandering around the yard and saw a fig tree I’d never noticed before – chock full of fresh, ready to pick figs. I left with a bag full of fresh figs and Brandon left sweaty and sore. Hey, fair trade for this super flavorful, delicious pizza we created tonight!

I came home and started looking for recipes to use my fresh figs. I saw tons of suggestions just to wrap them in prosciutto or stuff them with cheese. I decided to take those ideas and turn it into a pizza. One of our favorite grilled pizzas during the summer is this Gorgonzola, Walnut and Caramelized Onion Pizza from Gourmet. Using the preparation method from that recipe, I created this pizza. The flavors went together beautifully and it was a perfect light dish for this very hot summer day. I served it with a side of mixed greens.

Grilled Fig and Prosciutto Pizza
(Recipe inspired by Gourmet)

Ingredients:

1 ball pizza dough (homemade or store bought – we used Trader Joe’s) at room temperature
Extra virgin olive oil
2 ounces prosciutto
1/2 cup sliced fresh figs
1/2 cup caramelized onions
1 cup blue cheese, crumbled

Directions:

Preheat grill to medium. On a well-floured surface, stretch dough into about a 12 x 10 rectangle (we chose to divide our dough and make two smaller pizzas because they’re easier to handle on the grill).  Brush top with olive oil to lightly coat.

Create a platter and bring your dough and pizza toppings to the grill area. Oil grill rack and place dough olive oil side down on the grill (with no toppings on it at this point) and grill, covered, for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom.

Carefully remove dough from grill and turn over (grill side up). Layer toppings starting with prosciutto, followed by onions, figs and cheese. Return to grill and grill covered for another 3 minutes, until underside is golden and cheese is melted.

Let cool before slicing into squares.

Yield: 2-3 servings

figpizzaongrill

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corndip

While we were living in Birmingham, this corn dip seemed to pop up at a lot of parties. Who would think that a cold, creamy corn mixture would be delicious and addicting with Fritos Scoops? Yes, you heard me right…I said it – Fritos!  This dip is a cinch to put together and will bring people back to the dip bowl over and over…and over…and over.

This week I volunteered to bring appetizers to a family barbecue and I knew this dip was the perfect thing! My friend Lindsey from Birmingham sent me the recipe. As I expected, no one in the Charlotte crowd had tried the dip before but they all loved it.

Bring this dip to your next party!

Summer Corn Dip
(Recipe source my friend Lindsey)
Printable Recipe: Corn Dip

Ingredients:

1/2 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup light mayo
2 cans Mexi-corn, drained
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
1/4 cup red and green peppers, finely diced
Directions:

Mix together and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve with corn chips – recommended Fritos Scoops.

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easyspanakopita

I had some great feta in the fridge and ever since I starred a few spanakopita recipes in my Google Reader I had been craving it. I went back to read the recipes I starred and realized there was no way I would have time to make them on a weekday. Working with the phylo dough was going to be extremely time intesive. Not something I want to tackle when I don’t get home until 7 p.m. and it’s all I can do to feed us by 8 or 8:30.

So off I went in search of “easy” spanakopita recipes. I checked one of my favorite blogs for Greek inspired food, Elly Says Opa!, and sure enough she had a Cheater Spanakopita recipe. The real time saver is that this recipe uses puff pastry instead of the phylo dough.

We loved these spanakopitas. While they weren’t quite the real deal, they definitely got the job done for a quick dinner. I served them with a big Greek salad and it made a nice vegetarian meal. This recipe makes a ton of spanakopitas but the leftovers were great for lunch. During dinner we also talked about how great these would be for an appetizer at a party.

Easy Spanakopita
(Recipe source Elly Says Opa!)

Ingredients:

2 sheets puff pastry (one box), thawed
Olive oil
1/4 cup onion, diced
fresh dill, to taste (omitted, dill is my least favorite herb!)
2-3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 lb fresh spinach (about 1 bag)
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
2 eggs, divided
salt and pepper

Directions:

Remove puff pastry from freezer and follow directions on box for thawing. We let ours sit at room temperature for about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add onions and saute until they begin to get tender and translucent. Stir in the spinach and then turn off the heat. Let the spinach wilt down a bit (but not completely, you still want it to have a little life).

Roll the puff pastry dough into a square, making it slightly thinner. Cut each sheet into 9 equal squares by making 2 horizontal cuts and 2 vertical cuts.

Transfer spinach mixture to a bowl. Add in feta, dill, parsley and salt and pepper. Beat one egg and add to mixture. Stir well.

Spoon about 1 to 2 tablespoons of the spinach mixture in each puff pastry square. Bring the 2 opposite sides together to form a triangle and press with your fingers to seal. Place on a baking sheet. Beat the second egg and then brush the tops of the triangles with the egg. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until golden.

Yield: 18 spanakopita triangles

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tommozzsalad

We’re back from the cruise! We enjoyed a fun and relaxing week in the Caribbean. We spent every day exploring the best beaches on the islands we visited and enjoyed lunch and rum punch at beach bars. I went on a bit of a “tour de fish sandwich.” I must say the tastiest one I had was in Barbados at a little place called Carib Cafe. We’re going to attempt to recreate it at  home soon so be on the lookout!

My parents so kindly offered to keep Sullie while we were gone. Our flight got in Sunday evening and my dad had dinner waiting for us when we picked her up. He made an amazing pasta dish from Cook’s Illustrated. He sent me home with a ton of leftover fresh basil. One of Brandon’s favorites is Tomato, Fresh Mozzarella and Basil Salad so I decided to get all the ingredients for it on my weekly shopping trip. We’ve been able to enjoy it as an appetizer/salad this week. I thought I’d share this easy and flavorful dish.

Tomato, Fresh Mozzarella and Basil Salad
(Recipe source Bakin’ and Eggs)

Ingredients:

SALAD
Cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
Fresh mozzarella, diced
Sprig/bunch of fresh basil, julienned
Salt and pepper, to taste

BALSAMIC VINAIGRETTE
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil

Directions

You’ll notice I didn’t give quantities for the salad. You really can adjust the amounts to your hunger/taste. For example, I like a little more basil than Brandon and he probably likes more cheese (hey, he’s a man!).

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey and balsamic vinegar. Once incorporated, slowly whisk in the olive oil.

To assemble the salad. Layer the tomatoes, cheese and basil in a small dish/plate. Season with salt and pepper and then drizzle the balsamic vinagrette over it.

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