Tag Archives: aps

Hummus

Hummus definitely falls into that category of foods where you ask yourself, “Is it worth making this or should I just buy some?”  There are plenty of good brands of hummus to purchase, especially if you doctor it up with a drizzle of olive oil or a sprinkling of zatar spice.  The thing is you can never quite buy yourself the super smooth, fresh tasting, garlicy punch of your own homemade hummus.  There are a zillion of hummus recipes out there and once again I have practically tried them all to try and find the right combination of teqniques.  Most purists will tell you to start with dried chickpeas, soak them over night, cook them with baking soda etc etc but at that point, for me at least, the scales of why can’t I just buy this and dispense with the hassle starts to tilt into convince’s favor.  So canned chickpeas it is.  That doesn’t mean there won’t be some work involved.  I found the somewhat tedious task of taking the skins off of the canned chickpeas makes for a substantially smoother and better tasting hummus.  It’s not as easy as just dumping the can into the food processor but at least it’s not a multi day effort.  To peel them, drain and rinse the canned chickpeas.  Then take the chickpea between your fingers and gently squeeze – you will find the weird white casing comes right off.  For a can of chickpeas it took me about 15 minutes – just turn on your favorite cooking show and get lost in the mindless task.

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From my research I learned that the other benefit of cooking your own chickpeas was that when they are warm they take on the other ingredients better.  Well here we can easily cheat that by quickly nuking the skinned chickpeas in the microwave for a couple of seconds before adding them to the food processor.  After that its just a matter of taste with the amount of tahini, lemon juice and garlic.  The recipe below is how I like it but play around and see what you like best – some people really want more of that sesame tahini flavor, others really hate lemon juice and replace it with water.  The method is the key and once you have that down the sky’s the limit.  Hummus away!

Hummus (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  simple but not too simple method of making hummus
Special Equipment:  food processor

  • 15.5 ounce can of chickpeas, rinsed, drained with the skins removed (see above)
  • 5 -6 tablespoons warm water
  • 3 tablespoons tahini sauce
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • olive oil and zatar for serving (optional)

Once all the chickpeas are peeled (see above on how to remove the skins) place them in a  microwave safe bowl and microwave them on high for 20 seconds.  Add the warmed chickpeas to the food processor along with the rest of the ingredients.  Puree until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides.

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If its not as smooth as you would like add more warm water.  Chill for at least 1 hour to let the flavors meld – serve room temperature with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of zatar (optional).

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Hummus

  • Servings: 2 cups
  • Time: 2 minutes (plus 15 minutes to peel the chickpeas
  • Print

Special Equipment:  food processor

  • 15.5 ounce can of chickpeas, rinsed, drained with the skins removed (see above)
  • 5 -6 tablespoons warm water
  • 3 tablespoons tahini sauce
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • olive oil and zatar for serving (optional)

Once all the chickpeas are peeled (see above on how to remove the skins) place them in a  microwave safe bowl and microwave them on high for 20 seconds.  Add the warmed chickpeas to the food processor along with the rest of the ingredients.  Puree until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides.  If its not as smooth as you would like add more warm water.  Chill for at least 1 hour to let the flavors meld – serve room temperature with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of zatar (optional).

Chicken Salad Canapes

I often have a hard timing figuring out what sort of canapés I can serve at parties that are filling.  Most meat based appetizers require them to be warm or are really expensive (think lamb lollipops) but if you are going to be drinking all night I want my guests to have more in them than just cheese!  Here little mini phyllo cups really come into handy.  You buy them in the frozen section of your grocery store and they are already cooked so all you have to do is fill them.  I decided for a recent party to go with chicken salad, most specifically chicken salad veronique, which is a French version with grapes.  It is really delicious as a regular chicken salad served alone or in a sandwich but for this application I cut the chicken and the grapes really small so they would fit neatly in the cups and be easy to eat.  These things went like hot cakes and I am sure your friends will appreciate the “heavy ap” at your next party.

Chicken Salad Canapes (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  phyllo cups
Special Equipment: none

  • 2 rotisserie chicken breasts (or roast your own)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons white wine
  • 3 tablespoons chopped tarragon
  • 20 green grapes, quartered
  • 60 phyllo cups – I used the Athens brand

Cut the chicken breasts into small pieces and place in a large bowl.

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In a medium bowl wish together the mayo, sour cream, white wine, tarragon and salt and pepper.

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Add 3/4 of the mixture to the chicken along with the grapes.  Stir to combine and then add as much of the remaining dressing as necessary.  The salad can be made several days in advance and stored in the fridge.  When you are ready to serve, use a teaspoon to fill the cups with the salad.

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Chicken Salad Canapés

  • Servings: 60
  • Time: 5 minutes
  • Print

Special Equipment: none

  • 2 rotisserie chicken breasts (or roast your own)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons white wine
  • 3 tablespoons chopped tarragon
  • 20 green grapes, quartered
  • 60 phyllo cups – I used the Athens brand

Cut the chicken breasts into small pieces and place in a large bowl.  In a medium bowl wish together the mayo, sour cream, white wine, tarragon and salt and pepper.  Add 3/4 of the mixture to the chicken along with the grapes.  Stir to combine and then add as much of the remaining dressing as necessary.  The salad can be made several days in advance and stored in the fridge.  When you are ready to serve, use a teaspoon to fill the cups with the salad.

Blue Cheese Mascarpone Dip

 

If you read my post last week about my favorite items from Trader Joe’s, then you know I am a sucker for everything they make with pumpkin in it.  Last time I was there I saw these Pumpkin Cranberry Crisps (a seasonal cousin to their awesome Raisin Rosemary Crisps).  I grabbed a container of their mascarpone cheese knowing that the rich buttery flavor would make for a great base for a dip.  Once I got home I realized I just so happened to have a small piece of blue cheese that I got as a remnant at Righteous Cheese.  Whip them together with some cream and you have a super rich, unbelievably easy dip.  This is a great one to make if you happen to have a small piece of blue cheese left over – also any other pungent cheese would work, I was thinking Humboldt Fog would be even better.  Add as much or as little of the secondary cheese as you would like.  Since this isn’t a super flavorful dip you want to pair it with these crisps or something else like an everything bagel cracker, that has a lot of flavor.  This would be a great one to set out at Thanksgiving as you can make it several days ahead and will only take about 1 minute of your time to pull together.

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Blue Cheese Mascarpone Dip(printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  a cheesy pairing for my pumpkin crisps
Special Equipment:  none

  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  • 1 to 2 ounces blue cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • salt and pepper

In a medium size bowl combine the mascarpone and blue cheeses with the cream (I used a hand mixer, a spatula or food processor would work as well).

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Season with salt and pepper.  Can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days – take it out of the fridge 30 minutes before serving.  Pairs nicely with Trader Joe’s Pumpkin and Cranberry Crisps.

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Blue Cheese Mascarpone Dip

  • Servings: 1 1/2 cups
  • Time: 1 minute
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Special Equipment:  none

  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  • 1 to 2 ounces blue cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • salt and pepper

In a medium size bowl combine the mascarpone and blue cheeses with the cream (I used a hand mixer, a spatula or food processor would work as well).

Roasted Broccoli and Bacon Potato Skins

Now that order has been restored to the world with Tom Brady back at the helm of the Patriots I figured I would share a great football dish for this Sunday.  These potato skins are admittedly not as good as the deep fried ones (is anything baked as good as fried???) but they do the trick and even manage to sneak in a little broccoli as well.  I made these last week when we hosted some friends for football and they were all gone by halftime.  It’s usually tough to find a vegetarian bar snack but this is super easy to leave the bacon off and with all the other toppings you won’t be missing much.  Let’s go Pats!

Image result for free tom brady

Roasted Broccoli and Bacon Potato Skins (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  are you ready for some football??

Special Equipment:  none

  • 2 Russell potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small head of broccoli, cut down into small bite size florets
  • 3 slices of bacon
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Heat your oven to 400 degrees.  Make sure to scrub your potatoes clean then rub with a about a teaspoon of olive oil, prick several times over with the tines of a fork, and then put them directly into the oven onto the grate.

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Bake the potatoes for 1 hour, hour and 15 minutes if they are very large.  In the meantime toss the broccoli with a tablespoon of olive oil and salt and pepper and spread on a baking sheet.  In the last 15 minutes of baking the potatoes toss in the broccoli to roast.  Turn off your oven and turn on your broiler.  While the potatoes cool, cook the bacon in a large skillet until crispy (about 5 minutes) and then crumble and set to the side.  Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, carefully cut them in half and scoop out the insides, leaving about 1/4 inch of potato still in the skins.

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Be sure not to cut through the skin, the easiest way is with a teaspoon.  Using the remaining olive oil drizzle both sides of the skins and salt and pepper them.  Put them skin side up on a baking sheet and broil for 3 minutes.  Flip them and broil 3 minutes more.

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Pull out the baking sheet and fill the skins with as much cheddar and broccoli as you want/can fit.  Broil again for another 2 to 3 minutes until the cheese melts.  Top with sour cream and scallions.

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Roasted Broccoli and Bacon Potato Skins

  • Servings: 4 skins
  • Time: 1 1/2 hour
  • Print

Special Equipment:  none

  • 2 Russell potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small head of broccoli, cut down into small bite size florets
  • 3 slices of bacon
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Heat your oven to 400 degrees.  Make sure to scrub your potatoes clean then rub with a about a teaspoon of olive oil, prick several times over with the tines of a fork, and then put them directly into the oven onto the grate.  Bake the potatoes for 1 hour, hour and 15 minutes if they are very large.  In the meantime toss the broccoli with a tablespoon of olive oil and salt and pepper and spread on a baking sheet.  In the last 15 minutes of baking the potatoes toss in the broccoli to roast.  Turn off your oven and turn on your broiler.  While the potatoes cool, cook the bacon in a large skillet until crispy (about 5 minutes) and then crumble and set to the side.

Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, carefully cut them in half and scoop out the insides, leaving about 1/4 inch of potato still in the skins.  Be sure not to cut through the skin, the easiest way is with a teaspoon.  Using the remaining olive oil drizzle both sides of the skins and salt and pepper them.  Put them skin side up on a baking sheet and broil for 3 minutes.  Flip them and broil 3 minutes more.  Pull out the baking sheet and fill the skins with as much cheddar and broccoli as you want/can fit.  Broil again for another 2 to 3 minutes until the cheese melts.  Top with sour cream and scallions.

 

 

 

Portuguese Dinner Party

Patrick and I recently took an incredible class on Portuguese wine at our favorite local wine shop, DCanter.  Neither of us know a ton about wine, basically just what we like and don’t like, but wine classes are a great way to learn more about certain regions and what they are known for.  One you know you like certain varietals from a certain country it makes shopping a lot easier!  We love the classes at DCanter (what a cute name right??) and this one was no exception.  We stopped in Portugal over our honeymoon and drank some great wine while we were there so the class really helped us identify different labels that we like.  Of course we brought several bottles home that were part of the class (the Marcolino Sebo QP Colheita Seleccionada Red and the Quinta da Raza Grande Escolha Alvarinho white).  I decided that a dinner party was in order with Portuguese foods to match the wine.  I already had some great Portuguese olive oil on hand and Spanish chorizo sausage which is very close to the chorico that they serve in Lisbon.  I found these great almonds from a region called Douro (that also makes great wine) at Whole Foods so I was on my way to a menu!

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It was a lovely night out so we decided to do the first course out on the deck.  The chorizo thinly sliced served along with some Spanish cheeses (no luck on Portuguese cheese!) and those lovely Douro almonds.  I also marinated some green olives and set those out which went really nicely with the crisp white wine.

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Shrimp Mozambique

In addition to the cheese board I knew I wanted some seafood on the menu.  Portugal has gorgeous fish markets all over and the influence on their food from global trading is really evident.  These shrimp are the prefect example – they get their name and flavor profile from Mozambique which used to be a Portuguese colony.  This recipe is incredibly easy to make and actually comes from a restaurant in Fall River, Massachusetts where there is a huge Portuguese community.

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Portuguese Style Garlic Roasted Pork

Arguably the most famous person to come out of Fall River, MA is Emeril Lagasse.  Most people assume that he is from New Orleans but actually he is a proud son of Massachusetts.  Listen to his cooking shows and every once and a while you will hear his accent!  While he became famous for his Southern cooking, he has many family favorite Portuguese recipes that he has made very accessible.  This pork dish is unbelievably flavorful.  It takes forever to make but it’s really hands off and the smell of your house will be incredible.  Also the left overs made an amazing sandwich.  I served this along fluffy white rice.

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Sauteed Kale

Kale is ubiquitous in Portuguese cooking, especially their famous kale soup.  This quick side comes together at the last minute and is a good foil to the rich pork dish.

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Strawberry Marscapone Tart with Port Glaze

If you are having a Portuguese dinner party then you have to end it with port right?  We had a great time when we were in Lisbon trying out different ages and styles of port at their Solar do Vinho do Porto, an actual institute of port.  To serve with a nice glass of port this dessert also makes use of it in the sauce drizzled over the strawberries.  Absolutely delicious and the perfect way to end a tour of Portuguese wines and food.  Where to next??

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Spinach and Artichoke Dip

In honor of the University of Maryland Terrapins starting their football season 4-0 (Fear the Turtle!!!) I am posting one of my favorite snacks from college.  I have already spoken about my love for the wings at Cornerstone in College Park but another important component of those happy hours was the spinach and artichoke dip.  Just another “healthy” college snack (oh how I miss my 19 year old metabolism) to knock back with some cheap beer and good friends.  Cornerstone’s was fantastic, though I am sorry to say since graduation it seems like they have changed their recipe and not for the better.  Anyway it is way easier just to make it at home and that way I can class it up a bit with nutty grueye cheese.  I can assure you the College Park version didn’t include creme fraiche either.

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Because this version uses frozen spinach and canned artichokes it is extremely easy to pull together – just make sure to squeeze out as much water from the frozen spinach as you can otherwise it will end up soupy.  I like to make this ahead and then just pop it into the oven when folks get hungry.  LET’S GO MARYLAND!!!!!

Circa 2009 introducing my future husband to his mandated college football team!

Spinach and Artichoke Dip (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  college happy hour
Special Equipment:  none

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced or grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 10 ounces canned artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 6 ounces cream cheese – room temperature
  • 4 ounces creme fraiche – room temperature
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3/4 cup grated gruyere cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • tortilla chips and crudites to serve with

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat and cook the shallots and garlic until softened, about 5-7 minutes.  Add the spinach (make sure to really squeeze out all the water you can) as well as the nutmeg and red pepper flakes.  Cook for another 2 minutes or so until all the water is gone.

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Remove from heat.  In a large bowl combine the spinach mixture, artichoke hearts, cream cheese, creme fraiche, mayo and gruyere cheese.  Season with salt and pepper and pour into a baking dish (I used a 7 by 10 dish but 8 by 8 or really any medium to large size will do).  Top evenly with the grated Parmesan.

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If you are making this in advance let the dip cool then cover with saran wrap and store in the fridge for a couple of days until you are ready to bake.  Once ready to cook it, remove any covering and bake in the 400 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes (the length will depend on the size of pan you use and how brown you want it to get, just make sure its bubbling before you take it out).  Let cool for several minutes and serve.

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Spinach and Artichoke Dip

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 40 minutes
  • Print

Special Equipment:  none

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced or grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 10 ounces canned artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 6 ounces cream cheese – room temperature
  • 4 ounces creme fraiche – room temperature
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3/4 cup grated gruyere cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • tortilla chips and crudites to serve with

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat and cook the shallots and garlic until softened, about 5-7 minutes.  Add the spinach (make sure to really squeeze out all the water you can) as well as the nutmeg and red pepper flakes.  Cook for another 2 minutes or so until all the water is gone.  Remove from heat.  In a large bowl combine the spinach mixture, artichoke hearts, cream cheese, creme fraiche, mayo and gruyere cheese.  Season with salt and pepper and pour into a baking dish (I used a 7 by 10 dish but 8 by 8 or really any medium to large size will do).  Top evenly with the grated Parmesan.  If you are making this in advance let the dip cool then cover with saran wrap and store in the fridge for a couple of days until you are ready to bake.  Once ready to cook it, remove any covering and bake in the 400 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes (the length will depend on the size of pan you use and how brown you want it to get, just make sure its bubbling before you take it out).  Let cool for several minutes and serve.

Jalapeno Chips

Years ago I made my first visit to Texas to celebrate the wedding of two dear friends.  The wedding was held in rural Texas where the bride was from – a totally different kind of place than I have ever known.  A real “one horse town,” Cleburne, TX didn’t have a ton of dining options but one dish stands out, now almost 5 years since that trip.  Deep fried jalapeno chips – we ordered them with lunch, we went back and ordered more for a snack before the ceremony, and then we got them late night after the reception.  Super spicy and served with a ranch type dressing I could seriously have eaten these all day long.  When we got back from the wedding I set out to make these part of our lives.

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Cause you should definitely drink habanero beer alongside jalapeno chips!

Now if these were going to become part of our regular diet, then deep frying and dipping it into a fatty sauce wasnt going to do.  So I baked them and used my standard go to yogurt sauce (also seen here and here).  These are pretty spicy, even with the seeds taken out.  I find its best if you get the biggest jalapenos you can find as its easier to get most of the membrane and seeds out.  Look at these big boys!

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I serve these all the time as a healthy side with tacos or as an appetizer – they would be perfect for watching football this weekend and are totally guiltless.

Jalapeno Chips (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  A Texas Trip
Special Equipment:  plastic gloves (optional)

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • cooking spray
  • 8-10 large jalapenos
  • 6 ounces non fat Greek plain yogurt
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (I like chives, parsley, thyme, mint – anything works)
  • 1 garlic glove, minced or grated
  • salt and pepper

Put one cup of the buttermilk and the breadcrumbs in two separate bowls.  Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and coat a cookie sheet with cooking spray and set aside.  If you have plastic gloves don those now!  With a knife cut off both ends of the jalapenos and discard.  Then cut each pepper into 1/2 inch thick rings, I like to do it on a bit of a diagonal.

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Put the jalapeno rings into the buttermilk.  (I keep the gloves on for this part to keep my hands clean)

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Shake off the excess buttermilk and coat each ring in the breadcrumbs.  Once they are coated place on the cookie sheet.  Once they are all coated you can pop them in the fridge for up to 24 hours before baking them off or if you are ready to go, place them in the oven.  DSC03983

Bake for 8 minutes, then shake the cookie sheet or flip the chips over and bake for another 8 minutes.  While the chips are baking combine the yogurt, herbs, garlic and salt and pepper in a bowl.  Add the rest of the buttermilk until it is a good dipping consistency (the dip can be made days in advance and is great with pretty much anything).  When the chips are done sprinkle them with salt and serve with the yogurt sauce.

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Jalapeno Chips

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Print

Special Equipment:  plastic gloves (optional)

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • cooking spray
  • 8-10 large jalapenos
  • 6 ounces non fat Greek plain yogurt
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (I like chives, parsley, thyme, mint – anything works)
  • 1 garlic glove, minced or grated
  • salt and pepper

Put one cup of the buttermilk and the breadcrumbs in two separate bowls.  Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and coat a cookie sheet with cooking spray and set aside.  If you have plastic gloves don those now!  With a knife cut off both ends of the jalapenos and discard.  Then cut each pepper into 1/2 inch thick rings, I like to do it on a bit of a diagonal.  Once you have all the rings use your fingers to pop out the seeds and membranes in the middle.  Put the jalapeno rings into the buttermilk.  (I keep the gloves on for this part to keep my hands clean)  Shake off the excess buttermilk and coat each ring in the breadcrumbs.  Once they are coated place on the cookie sheet.

Once they are all coated you can pop them in the fridge for up to 24 hours before baking them off or if you are ready to go, place them in the oven.  Bake for 8 minutes, then shake the cookie sheet or flip the chips over and bake for another 8 minutes.  While the chips are baking combine the yogurt, herbs, garlic and salt and pepper in a bowl.  Add the rest of the buttermilk until it is a good dipping consistency (the dip can be made days in advance and is great with pretty much anything).  When the chips are done sprinkle them with salt and serve with the yogurt sauce.

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