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Posts Tagged ‘appetizer’

For some reason sardines have acquired a bad reputation…but they shouldn’t have!  They actually taste good and are really good for you!

What to look for in the store...in water, oil, flavored oils--it's your choice!

Yummy....don't be afraid! This is what they'll look like inside the can 🙂

This may sound like an odd combination of foods, but for fish lovers…and sardine skeptics this recipe is worth a try. Eating canned sardines is something I have been enjoying since a little girl. I was first introduced to them by my father, who I am pretty sure is where I inherited my adventurous taste buds from. The classic snack was sardines on a saltine cracker with Parmesan cheese on top and a dash of Tabasco sauce. A quick bump in the microwave, and all of the flavors would meld together. Cheap, simple, and actually quite tasty!

The recipe provided here is somewhat of a fancier version that adds a couple of different ingredients. These sardine crostini are perfect little bites to get any meal started. They would also make a great party food for those who want to get their omega-3’s on a budget. Another plus to these little fishy bites–sardines are low in mercury, so no worries there either!

Sardine Crostini

1 baguette–sliced into 1/4-1/2 in slices on a bias

Olive oil

1 can sardines

1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

dash of cayenne pepper

grated fresh Parmesan (optional)

whole grain spicy mustard (optional)

To make:

Coat one side of the bread with olive oil (use a pastry brush or light drizzle). Toast in oven at 425 degrees until crispy (approx 5 min). Place the sardines, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and cayenne in a bowl; roughly mix together with a fork.  A note on the sardines: There will be bones in the sardines that are actually edible, but if that gives you the creeps feel free to remove the bones prior to mashing).  Place the mixture on the toasts, top with Parmesan cheese and return to the oven for another 5 min or so…just to heat slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.  Optional: to give an extra texture and kick, lightly spread spicy whole grain mustard on the toasts first.

Cheap, easy, delicious--sardine crostini

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Pimento cheese sandwiches are a classic Southern food that you often see a picnics, cookouts, and other casual dining venues. Pimento cheese itself is great spread on crackers (my favorite), celery, or a variety of breads to make an easy bit to eat with no cooking needed. There are several recipes that combine different cheeses, relishes, or spices. This recipe here is the basics: mayo, cheese, pimento, and pepper. I don’t add extra salt to my recipe because I find between the mayo and sharp cheddar there is enough salt. Another variation is smooth vs. chunky–I go for chunky. I like the texture of the cheese and it makes a better consistency if you want to make a grilled sandwich. Making the smoother texture just requires combining and mixing in a food processor rather than by hand, or using a finer grate level when shredding the cheese.

Pimento Cheese Spread

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (approx 8 oz.)

All the ingredients you need for the perfect bite!

3/4 cup light mayonnaise

1 tsp lemon juice

1 (4 oz) jar of pimento, chopped

dash of dry mustard

ground pepper to taste (I like using ground white pepper, which give a nice pepper taste without the black specks)

To make:

Mix mayo, lemon juice, and dash of dry mustard in a medium sized bowl. Add shredded cheese and pimento–mix together. Taste…add pepper to your liking (and salt if you’d like).  Cover spread and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (if you can wait). The flavors will meld together. Cover the cheese in an airtight container (I like to also place plastic wrap direction on the spread to keep air out) and it will keep refrigerated for up to a week–do not freeze.

The ultimate cheesy perfect bite!

Serving options: on crackers, on celery sticks, on a sandwich (try with raisin bread–this it really good) cold or toasted, or just grab a spoon and eat plain!

Enjoy 🙂

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Another simple, quick, food I love to make and love to eat even more is a steamed artichoke. Fresh artichokes are usually available in most supermarkets year round, but the peak season (and best prices) are spring, summer, and fall. You want to look for even green color with as little brown coloration as possible, tight leaves, and feel each to be firm and weighty. The typical artichoke that I cook is the green globe variety–one large is enough to make a tasty appetizer for two, but can easily be consumed by one 🙂 There is a little work involved with the preparation and eating but that is part of the fun!

Steamed Globe Artichokes

Fresh artichokes

couple inches of water in cooking vessel

1-2 cloves of garlic

2-3 dry bay leaves

3 Tbsp lemon juice

To prepare the artichokes: Cut the top about 1 inch down, use scissors to snip the prickly tips of the remaining leaves. Cut the stem to your liking (some people cut the entire stem, but I leave some on–about 50% of the time it gets tender enough to enjoy) and peel rough outer layer off any remaining stem. Remove the bottom few leaf layers, these are usually small and don’t really have much “meat” on them. The artichokes will brown when they are exposed to air. You can use an acid based water (mix lemon juice and water) to prevent this, or work quickly and don’t worry about it–you’ll be steaming them soon and they will get kind of brownish anyway when cooked.

To cook the artichokes: In  a medium to large pot (size appropriate for fitting the artichokes), fill pot with a couple of inches of water, insert steaming basket if using. Add lemon juice, bay leaves, and garlic to the water–this adds a very subtle, nice flavor to the artichokes. Place  artichokes, top side down in a steam basket (or just place directly in water, top side down if using more of a boiling method). Bring water to a boil, cover and steam artichokes for  approximately 30 minutes or until a knife can inserted in bottom with no resistance, or the first few leaves are removed very easily.

To eat the artichoke: There are two main phases of artichoke eating 1. leaves and 2. heart. Pull off a leaf and scrape the meat off the tender end with your front teeth**–the leaf itself is inedible but the meat of the leaf is delicious! Dip the ends of the leaves in melted butter, olive oil, spiced olive oil, or a balsamic vinegar aioli (just balsamic vinegar and mayonnaise mixed). When you get to the middle purple’ish, prickly leaves that make up center cone shape, remove it. This is the choke that protects the heart. Using a spoon, scrape away the thistle fuzz covering the artichoke heart. The heart is the meaty part of the artichoke–and most people’s favorite part to eat!

**Note on technique of ‘teeth scraping’ when eating artichoke leaves: This issue is kind of big deal among artichoke lovers like myself. The question becomes “Do you use your top teeth to scrape or bottom teeth to scrape?”  Some say you can hold more dip if the leaf cup shape is up–using top teeth; others say you can get more flavor with the dip hitting your tongue first–using bottom teeth scrape. My personal recommendation–bottom teeth scrape. I don’t think there is a real ‘rule’ the main rule is to scrape the leaves clean and enjoy…you can decide for yourself!

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I must admit I’ve never been a big fan of eggs, but somehow deviled eggs are in a category of their own. Being that Easter is just around the corner–I figured now is the time of the egg! Forget the bright-colored boiled eggs that are pretty to look at and fun to make, but lacking in any flavor whatsoever and not really safe to eat once they sit around at room temperature for very long. I have experimented with several herbs, spices, and add-ins for making deviled eggs and this is by far my best deviled egg recipe–the bacon adds an irresistible crunch and saltiness that keeps you coming back for more. I made this recipe using 5 eggs, but it can easily be doubled or even tripled to feed a crowd!

Deviled Easter Eggs

Ingredients

5 hard-boiled eggs (see note below)

1/4 cup crumbled bacon, plus a few larger pieces for garnish

1/2 Tbsp dry mustard powder

2 Tbsp sweet relish

dash of cayenne pepper

1/8 tsp paprika

ground black pepper to taste

4 Tbsp mayonnaise (more or less depending on the consistency you want)

To make:

Slice the boiled eggs in half and remove the yolk,being careful not to tear the whites. Place the yolks in a medium mixing bowl and set aside whites on separate dish for serving. Mix the crumbled bacon, dried mustard powder, black pepper, sweet relish, mayonnaise, cayenne and paprika into the yolks. Place a heaping spoonful back into each egg white half and garnish each egg with a small piece of the reserved crispy cooked bacon. Serve immediately–leftovers (if there are any) can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge to enjoy the next day (or a late night snack) 🙂

Foodie Tip: The key is taste as you go–keep a small spoon on the side to taste the mixture an add any of the seasonings that will balance out the flavors to your liking–this is the key to making any dish have perfect bites, every bite! All of these seasonings are safe to try alone, so feel free to taste each ingredient and really understand the different flavors you are combining to make the yolk mixture.

Cooking Note:

Boiling eggs–place eggs in cold water (covering eggs about 1-2 inches), bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn off the heat and cover. Let sit for about 12-20 minutes covered. Place eggs in a bowl of cool water–once they are cool enough to handle gently peel the eggs and, voila–hard boiled eggs!

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One of my favorite snacks is chips and dip. And the dip of all dips…..Guacamole! Here is a pretty basic and delicious recipe for Guacamole that will be a hit every time. Try this dip with Food Should Taste Good, Jalapeno flavored tortilla chips to add an extra kick!

Guacamole Dip:

Ingredients:

2 ripe Hass avocados (ripe = should give slightly at the ends when pressed with fingers)

1 small shallot, finely chopped (or 1/2 red onion chopped)

Dash of garlic powder (or to taste)

1 tbsp olive oil (optional, but adds a velvety richness to the dip)

Dash of your favorite hot sauce Delicious, healthy snack to enjoy anytime!

2 Tbsp fresh chopped cilantro (or a pinch  of dried if fresh not available)

Juice from one small lime

1 tbsp Kosher salt

2 plum tomatoes chopped

fresh ground pepper to taste

Directions:

Cut the avocados in half, remove the pit carefully, then spoon out the flesh and put into a medium-sized mixing bowl (or if you want to be fancy a mortar and pestle).  Mash the avocados slightly (will still be pretty chunky). Add the remainder of the ingredients and mix until well blended.

Alternatively: Leave the tomatoes out of the mix and use as a garnish

Feel free to leave the dip chunky if you like, just make sure all the ingredients are well blended so that each bite is the perfect bite!

Pair with your favorite dipping vessel (chips, veggies, etc.) and enjoy! Recipe serves 1, 2, up to 4–depending on how hungry you are and how much will power you have.

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