Archive for the ‘Appetizers’ Category

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Baked Onion Blossom

April 21, 2016

Who hasn’t indulged in a deep fried, heavily breaded,  grease soaked at the end, onion? While they are absolutely delicious, they are most certainly an artery clogging, calorie crying “indulgence”. I was  craving one of these, but really am trying to eat clean. I had seen a baked version, but most of the reviews were not too kind. In an effort to simplify, improve and of course, satisfy “my” craving, I bring you my version of the baked onion blossom. It’s a bit awkward to make, but that will only improve in time, as this is most certainly something I will make again (and again!) I served it as a side rather than  an  appetizer, and long after my sesame seared tuna was gone …I was still sitting at the table picking away at the onion. I think it would be a lovely addition to a plate in a much  smaller  individual portion  as well…

1 giant Vidalia onion

1 egg, with 1 T. water added

1/2 C. panko breadcrumbs

1 T.Cajun seasoning, or any seasoning with a kick to it (unless you don’t like spice!)

1 t. teaspoon paprika

1 t. garlic pepper seasoning

Dipping sauce

1/4 C. yogurt

1/4 C. horseradish sauce

1/2 C. ketchup

1/8 t. each:paprika. garlic pepper, Cajun spice

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Pre-heat your oven to 400*.

Make your dipping sauce and season to taste. As it sits, it will get spicier.

Beat your eggs very well, and allow all the  foam to die down. This helps keep the crumbs on.

On a piece of wax paper, combine your panko and your seasoning.Really you can any seasoning “you” like. I didn’t have a Cajun seasoning so I used the Tabasco one you see above. I also cut out any additional salt. You don’t need it.

Peel your onion. Cut off about 1/4 off TOP of the onion. Do not cut the root end as this is what holds your “blossom” together. Starting about 1/4 inch from the root, cut down. Continue every 1/4 inch or so. Do not cut close to the  root, as your onion will immediately fall apart.. With a very large onion you should make about 14-16 cuts. You can see how  large my onion is compared to the egg in the picture.

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Open the petals gently….Pretty, isn’t it?

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The egg bath got a  little tricky. First of all I couldn’t find my pastry brush. That would have made things easier. I’m still not  sure mine was  the better way, as I did get a good amout of coverage. Using my hands I turned the onion  around several times in a bowl. Then I poured the rest of the egg over the onion.

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Ready to bread this bad boy, I placed him on a parchment covered baking sheet. I sprinkled the breading all over, and up the sides. Gently open the petals so that you get the crumb mixture all over the inside. Press down so it  holds.  Remember ..this is a lower carb and healthier version of that million calorie heart stopping one in the  restaurants. It’s not going to look exactly the same, but trust me the taste is every bit as satisfying.

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Into the oven for 30 minutes. If you want the onion softer, add 5-7 minutes. I prefer them not as limp as the restaurant version. You many have to use a small spoon to add crumbs to some of the pieces as you pull them ..Again, this is  about saving calories,  tasting onion and not a  greasy glob of breading,  and not having the mess of a vat of  oil..

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As delicious  as it is pretty. Enjoy.I surely did!

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Baked Feta

August 29, 2015

Not too far from our home, there is an area by the water called the Sponge Docks. It’s a special place for celebrations, or to take visiting family. Fairly self explanatory in that it’s a fishing town famous for the collection of sea sponges. We love going there as it’s a cultural experiences that satisfies all the senses. Quaint little stores line the streets,some carrying souvenirs, some emanating the scent of beautiful handmade soaps, and some  filled with things imported from Greece, as the area has a heavy Greek influence. Along these streets are some of the best Greek restaurants and pastry shops. When we go one of the things we always order is the flaming feta. I tried to think of a fancy name for this baked version which includes earthy Kalamata olives, and sweet little tomatoes…but nothing came to mind that really describes this melding of flavors. You’ll just have to try it for yourself! It’s simple and quick, from start to finish shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes. A lovely appetizer, served with a crusty bread, encased in a pita or just eaten right off of your fork.. mmmm…Opa!!

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1/2 cup marinara tomato sauce, so the cheese doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan and burn,

8 oz. block of feta cheese, drained

1/2 cup pitted and chopped Kalamata olives (I used my fingers to tear the pit out, then tore them in pieces to give a rustic look)

1 1/3 C.grape or cherry tomatoes,cut in half

2 cloves garlic,grated

1 t.dried oregano

2 T. fresh basil

fresh ground pepper, to taste

Pre heat the oven to 400 Degrees. Combine your sliced tomatoes, roughly chopped olives, basil, oregano and grated garlic in a small bowl and toss to combine. Let sit while you get the feta ready.

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Pour the tomato sauce on the bottom of a 6″ or so baking dish.Turn the feta on it’s side and cut in two equal pieces. .Place the slices side by side, with a bit of space in between.(This dish merits a reason to get a special pan for next time, something smaller and square….)

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Spread the tomato mixture evenly over the feta slices.

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Top with a few twists of fresh black pepper.Bake approximately 15 minutes.

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Tear off a hunk of crusty bread and prepare to enter feta heaven…..

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Eggplant Tapenade a la Izzy

November 2, 2014

Hands down this is my favorite way to make eggplant. It came from a very dear friend,that I don’t keep in touch with as often as I should. We  chatted via text last week, and it reminded me that I finally need to share and  blog this recipe. The olives are my addition.. You can eat this on crackers, scoop it up with pita, or serve it under or over a beautifully grilled chicken breast and top it with some fresh feta.. Addicting…simple but  elegant enough to be an appetizer  for your fanciest guests.. or for a lazy  football Sunday with friends… It is highly recommended that you at least double this recipe. I love you Izzy.. I hope you are more honored at my blogging your recipe than you were when I named the bearded dragon after you ❤

1 large eggplant

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 T. good red tomato sauce, or seasoned diced tomatoes, or one whole tomato diced

10-15 chopped black olives

1 T. Italian seasoning

1 t. black pepper

2t. Kosher salt

1/4 t. red pepper flakes (optional)

2 T. good olive oil

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Peel eggplant. Slice in 1/2 inch circles and then cut into cubes. Put about half of the eggplant in a sieve and sprinkle with one teaspoon of Kosher salt.Toss a bit to distribute. Top with remaining eggplant and sprinkle with another teaspoon of salt. Allow to drain for a minimum of one hour and preferably more.

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That is all the bitterness coming out of the eggplant.

I do not rinse the salt off the eggplant, which is why there is not additional salt in the recipe. Heat a large saucepan and add the oil and crushed garlic. Saute the garlic on low heat til fragrant. Do not try to rush this as the garlic will burn. There is no saving oil that garlic has burned in.

Pre heat oven to 350*

Taking handfuls squeeze as much liquid from the eggplant as you can. Add to the flavored oil.  Stir in Italian seasoning and pepper. Saute  the eggplant for about 5 minutes, and then put the pan in a pre heated oven for 20  minutes. Remember the handle is HOT! Use a pot holder to remove it!

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Add the olives and tomatoes or tomato sauce to the roasted eggplant cubes. Stir. Refrigerate.

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     Serve with crackers, as an appetizer, or light lunch on top  of Red leaf or Romaine lettuce.

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 Additionally,   you can reheat and serve on top of a grilled chicken breast. Crumble a bit of feta on top.

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I hope you enjoy this versatile recipe from my long time friend.

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Baked Brie with Cranberry Salsa

December 31, 2013

We often have a variation of baked Brie and a sweet jam or preserve on our holiday appetizer tray. This year I saw several recipes with cranberry toppings. One with a kick appealed to me as a nice change, but I wasn’t fond of it’s uncooked  texture. So, revamped  and cooked a bit, slathered on cold, atop bubbling brie that has been blanketed in, (of course) light and crisp puff pastry.. You will want to make room for this.

1 C. fresh cranberries
1 medium size  jalapeno pepper
2 clementine tangerines, or 1 orange peeled
1/4 C.  sugar
1/2 C. orange juice, or water
2  scallions
grated zest and juice of 2  limes
1 1/2 t.  grated fresh ginger

In  processor pulse  cranberries, jalapeno and oranges .
Do NOT over process. your cranberries should be grainy, not mush. You can also slice the oranges by hand, and add the small pieces to give more texture.

In a saucepan, add the pulsed fruit mixture, the juice and zest of  limes, sugar, scallions, ginger, and a few turns of Himalayan Sea Salt. Stir and add liquid. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes. Refrigerate.  Best made the day before so flavors can intensify, and less work for you on  the day of serving!

For the brie you will need:

1 sheet of puff pastry

1 16 0z. wheel of Brie

Roll your sheet of pastry  just enough to removed the crease marks. Place on a cookie sheet lined with  PARCHMENT paper (don’t use foil!) or in an oven proof casserole (make sure it is  large enough to allow for puffing, and then cutting on serving table). As you can see I used foil, and then was unable to transfer the Brie. The parchment will allow it to just slide onto your serving platter. Place your Brie in the center of the rectangle.

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Swaddle the Brie by bringing the ends of the pastry towards the edge of the wheel and giving it a little turn. Continue around the circle, leaving the center open.

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Bake  approximately 30-35 minutes, until pastry is browned and your Brie is bubbling around the edges … refrain from loading some onto a slice of French bread!

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Generously top with your cold salsa. Serve immediately,with very fresh French bread slices.

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~HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM OUR HOME TO YOURS ~

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Bacon Cheddar Spirals

December 31, 2013

I love anything and everything wrapped in puff pastry. The simplest of ingredients become a delicate amuse bouche, delicate enough to ring in the New Year, and rugged enough to please your hungriest football fan.

Ingredients:
1 sheet puff pastry , thawed and rolled to remove creases
1/2 C. very sharp cheddar, shredded
2 green onions, minced (about 1/4 cup)
5 strips bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled (I have used 6 strips of vegetarian bacon here)

Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface.  Roll the pastry sheet lightly to remove the fold marks.

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Cover in cheese. add top with bacon and onion. Go all the way to the ends of the pastry, or your first and last cut will be empty!

Starting at a short side, roll up like a jelly roll.  Place the pastry, seam-side down, onto a baking sheet.  Refrigerate for 15 minutes or until the pastry is firm.

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Cut the pastry crosswise into 1/2-inch slices.  Place the slices onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (I used foil- don’t you do that!)

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Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown.  Let the pastries cool for 10 minutes.

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~HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM OUR HOME TO YOURS~

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Asian Tuna Tartare

April 20, 2013

This recipe is courtesy of my friend Ev. I noticed the pics on her facebook page and knowing  what a good cook she is (meaning even though I have never made this *I* am sure it is delicious!),I asked if she would like to guest blog. So here it is, Asian Tuna Tartare a la Ev.

8-10 oz. sushi quality Ahi Tuna,finely chopped

Chopped Tuna

1 T.soy sauce

2  t. lemon juice

2 t. honey

2 t. finely grated ginger

1 1/2 t.wasabi paste

1 t. dark sesame oil

3 T. finely chopped chives

2 t. toasted sesame seeds

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Whisk soy sauce, lemon juice, honey,ginger, wasabi paste, and sesame oil in medium bowl.Combine tuna,scallions and sesame seeds.

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Pour Asian dressing over tuna and coat evenly. Eat immediately as Ev did right out of the serving bowl…

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or let it sit for about 3-4 hours, and serve with chips, or rice crackers.

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Baked Avocado

April 4, 2013

Avocado is the new wonder food. The health benefits are tenfold,along with it being  a  very versatile fruit. In a typical avocado, most of the calories you receive come from monounsaturated fat. The monounsaturated fat in an avocado is healthy for you. They  contain both insoluble and soluble fiber. Very few  foods can brag about containing both kinds of fiber.  Avocados are high in  B vitamins along with vitamin K and vitamin E.  It pairs well with foods that  are  sweet or savory. You can add it to shakes, make salsas  with it, add it to salads and make chocolate mousse` with it. Baking it  with hot pepper sauce and topping with a bit of  shaved parmesean is my new favorite way to eat it. It makes a great appetizer,side or have a whole one and  call it a meal!

1 medium avocado

1-2 T. of your  favorite hot sauce (mine is Moore’s)

2 T. shaved parmesean ( I like a dry  cheese but you can use any easy melting type)

2 wedges lemon (or lime)

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Slice the avocado in half. Having  trouble  removing that   slippery pit? Holding the  avocado in one   hand, hit the  pit with the  sharp  edge of  a knife.

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Twist the knife,keeping the avocado still, and out comes the pit.

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Score the flesh of the avocado, so that the hot sauce  seeps  down in it. Fill the center of each half, with a  tablespoon or so of hot sauce.The amount is up to you but  that should be more than  enough.You don’t want it overflowing, or overpowering.

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Sprinkle the  cheese on top and add some  fresh cracked black pepper if you like.

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Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes. Just enough to warm it and melt the cheese. Serve with lemon or lime wedges, to be squeezed on top right before eating.

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