Category Archives: appetizer

Kitchen Fun

DSC_8900 (1600x1060)While we were at the store yesterday looking for cake ingredients we went ahead and bought some ground beef for a couple of quick burgers.  Hard to beat burgers grilled over a flame.  There was a fair amount of beef leftover so we bounced a few ideas around.  Mrs J mentioned sloppy joes and that sounded pretty good.  I went to the patio to grab some sweet peppers to go into the dish and brought in a few.  As I was breaking them down I thought it a waste to let those cute little peppers go unstuffed.DSC_8914 (1600x1060)Before long I had them filled with a mix of taco seasoned beef and nacho cheese sauce and topped with shredded cheddar and Monterey jack.  They went into a 350 oven for about 15 to 20 minutes.DSC_8916 (1600x1060)We had settled on a Nacho centered meal by this time what with the ground beef seasonings and cheeses already to hand.  We needed another dish to round out the menu, Mrs J suggested making more of the black bean and corn salsa:DSC_8925 (1600x1060)We have cherry tomatoes ripe again so they went in, as did 3 ears of sweet corn with the kernels shaved off the cob.  There are several varieties of peppers chopped up in there, a few green onions, a can of rinsed black beans, salt, black pepper, and a dash of lime juice in with a rice vinegar dressing.  It’s pretty good.DSC_8921 (1600x1060)Everything came together nicely on a platter.  I piled the chips on a toaster oven tray and sprinkled them with a good handful of the shredded cheeses and then popped it into the toaster oven under the broiler to melt the cheeses.  The whole pile slid right onto the platter and then I really piled on the extras:  the taco seasoned beef, some of that corn salsa, sliced jalapenos, nacho cheese sauce, sour cream, guacamole, New Mexico green chili salsa, more green onions, and a good grind of dried chili seasonings.

Enjoy!DSC_8923 (1600x1060)

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Mushrooms Stuffed with Wild Rice

Stuffed Mushroom AppetizersStuffed Mushrooms ready to go into the oven just before company arrives – if I manage to get a photo after baking, before they’re snarfed up, I’ll update.

I wanted to try something different for an appetizer for tonight’s dinner. Stuffed mushrooms sounded like it would fit the bill. I searched around for recipes, but I had an idea that I wanted to use wild rice, so I just went from there. Who needs a recipe? I used large button mushrooms because they were appetizers, but I think it would work with portobello mushrooms for a main course or nice side.

Pop Quiz: Is wild rice actually rice? Answer: Nope, it’s a grass.

The best way to cook wild rice, is to bring a saucepan filled with water to a boil add salt and (well washed) wild rice, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 60 minutes, or until the rice is cooked. You’ll want it chewy, try not to overcook it, because then it just gets mushy. Drain as you would pasta, don’t rinse.

Wild Rice Stuffed Mushrooms

  • 12 large white mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup or more of cooked wild rice
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to .

Butter a shallow baking dish.

Snap stems off mushrooms and chop. Place the mushroom tops, bottom up, in the baking dish.

Melt butter in a medium size skillet. Add garlic and mushroom stems. Cook over medium heat, stirring, 3 minutes. Add rice and mix well. Salt and pepper to taste.  Remove from heat and add Parmesan cheese. Spoon wild rice mixture into the mushroom caps. Top each with two or three leaves of rosemary.

Bake in  in a 400°F oven for 10-15 minutes or until hot.  Serve warm.

You can put the mushrooms together ahead of time (I did it the night before), cover and refrigerate and bake just before company arrives.

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Christmas Eve Party

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Once again I am hosting Christmas Eve dinner. I try and keep the menu simple because I have a small kitchen and I like to spend time with my guests. I’m actually doing much of what I did last year, because it worked so well.  The menu will serve as tonight’s recipe exchange.  Thanks to JeffreyW for making lasagna this week so that I had an awesome photo to use tonight.

Christmas Eve Menu:

Appetizers –  Herbed Tomato Crostini (recipe here), vegetable tray

Main Event – Spinach Lasagna (recipe here), Salad, Cheesy Garlic Bread

Dessert - Truffles (featured recipe below), Peanut Butter Cookies (recipe here) and everyone’s favorite, a Sundae Bar

With the exception of the garlic bread, because I’m using gluten free noodles, the entire evening is gluten free and vegetarian. Everyone should be happy.

Dinner is at 6 pm, bring the wine.

That takes care of Christmas Eve, but what about Christmas day? How does this sound:

German Pancakes with Walnut Syrup (both recipes here) for breakfast and a Roast, Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Glazed Carrots for dinner (all those recipes are here and tips for perfect mashed potatoes are here).

How are your holiday plans coming along? Do you have a crowd coming? Share your favorite holiday recipes in the comments, I’d love to see what you prepare.

Now about those truffles. This was the first time I’d made them, though I’d thought about it for a while. How hard could it be? It’s basically ganache, right? That was very simple to make. The pain was making the actual truffles, a bit of work and very messy. But I think it was worth it and I’m sure the guests will enjoy them.

Truffles

Here’s the basic recipe, I then added pieces of walnut to the center of some, hazelnut to others and rolled them in either crushed walnut or hazelnut. The rest are rolled in either dark cocoa and powdered sugar. The powdered sugar kind of melted into them, so I’ll probably dust them quickly right before I serve them.

Chocolate Truffles

  • 1/2 pound good bittersweet chocolate (I use 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate)
  • 1/2 pound good semisweet chocolate
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp Grand Marnier, (optional)
  • 1 tbsp prepared coffee
  • 1/2 tsp good vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar
  • Cocoa powder (I used dark)
  • Nuts, whole and finely chopped (optional)

baking sheet, parchment paper

Heat the cream in a double boiler until it’s hot, not boiling, and then add chocolate chips. Whisk together until fully melted, then remove from heat.  Whisk in the optional Grand Marnier, coffee, and vanilla. Set aside at room temperature for 1 hour.

Spoon a dollop of the chocolate mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, until firm. Roll each dollop of chocolate in your hands to roughly make a round ball. Roll in powdered’ sugar, cocoa powder, or both.

Makes about 48.

These will keep refrigerated for weeks, but serve at room temperature.

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Christmas Recipes – Breakfast, Dinner and Gifts

Ok, just like with Thanksgiving, I thought I’d put together the search for you. These recipes are good for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, holiday get-togethers and holiday gifts.

So if you’re looking for ideas, start here, and unfortunately you’ll have to wade through the Christmas carols because I tagged them as Christmas, so they show up. But you’ll find many recipes while you, hopefully, listen to the music.

If you need something specific, search on the ingredient in the Search W4DS box in the upper right corner. And you’ll probably find something that sounds good.

As always, you can ask me questions in the comment or send me an email. I’ll do my best.

And stay tuned, on Thursday the recipe exchange has three more ideas for holiday meals.

I hope you have a lovely holiday season, full of peace and love and zero stress.

-TaMara

Guest Recipe: Stuffed Dates Wrapped in Bacon

I hope you had a fun holiday. Mid-week kind of took some of the fun out of it for me, hopefully you were lucky enough to have an extra day or two off. I’ve definitely been taking time off from blogging as it is the busy season at work. That’s why I’m always so grateful when someone sends in a recipe. It is always fun to see what someone else is cooking and makes my life as a blogger just a bit easier.

This one turned up in a conversation during last week’s recipe exchange thread, from Valdivia. As soon as I saw her talking about these, I requested the recipe. It sounds amazing and I can’t wait to try it. So thank you Valdivia for sending this along:

Stuffed Dates Wrapped in Bacon

Ingredients

  • 30-40 medjool dates
  • Spanish chorizo for slicing (I use this one, but in a pinch you can use any sausage, just not too spiced up and spicy), sliced into portions that will to fit into the date, exact thickness will depend on the size of your dates (I often split each chorizo slice into two)
  • one package of bacon, cut bacon slices into two
  • toothpicks/woodpicks to hold the date together

Preparation

  1. Open up the date by cutting along the side, enough to take out the pit and open the date to stuff it with chorizo
  2. insert a portion of chorizo, close the date around it
  3. wrap stuffed date with slice of bacon (depending on length of the bacon slice, it should wrap around the stuffed date one and a half times)
  4. keep the bacon-wrapped stuffed date together by inserting a toothpick
  5. once all the dates are assembled, put a frying pan large enough to hold at least half of the dates in the fire with enough oil (I use canola, but it can be anything that does not have a strong flavor) at high temperature. when the oil starts to bubble, place the dates and fry them until the bacon becomes crisp
  6. remove and place on a plate with some paper towels (to remove some of the oil) and before transferring to a serving platter.

Be prepared to die once you taste them :D

Variations

1) If you don’t want to have a pork overload, you can stuff the dates with Cabrales (or any other blue cheese) or Manchego or Roncal cheese for a sturdier assembly

2) you can also prepare this in the oven. Oven preheated to 400F, place dates in a baking sheet and cook between 10-15 minutes until bacon is crisp (might be more time)

Again thanks Valdivia and remember you can send me recipes to post whats4dinnersolutions@live.com (or just click on the email TaMara link on the right).  Pictures are welcome, too.

Super Bowl Sunday

It’s the big day and all I want is tomato soup (homemade naturally) and orange juice.  Still nursing this cold and the weather nicely cooperated – a big snow storm closed down everything on Friday so I could work at home.  Under a big comforter.  In sweats.

The sun is shining today, so I will probably try to get out a bit.  But no super bowl party for me.  If you still need recipes, we got a few right here:

Super Bowl Recipes 

I particularly like the Drunken Chicken skewers

Have fun.  Enjoy the game.  Go Patriots!

I’ll be watching Downton Abbey.    

Super Bowl Recipes: Chili Pizza

My Aunt June takes my brother Gary’s Chili recipe one step further.  I think this would also be awesome on a cornmeal crust.

Chili Pizza

  • Pizza dough
  • Chili
  • Shredded Cheddar

Roll out on pizza pan, spoon chili on top, try to use less of the liquid.  Add shredded cheddar cheese on top.   450 oven, for 10-15 minutes, until cheese is bubbly.

I’m going to add another favorite here, too.  Layer tortilla chips in a single layer in a baking sheet, add layer of shredded cheddar, layer chili, another layer of chips and top with shredded cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees until cheese is bubbly.

Super Bowl Recipes: Buffalo Chicken Dip

Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

No secret I have friends in Patriot-land and it seems in the last few years Colorado/Denver and Boston/New England have gone against each other in various sporting events and I’m forced to fall back on my original upbringing – New England all the way.  Although I will admit I was truly torn between the Red Sox/Rockies World Series match-up.  I alternated between my Rox gear and my BoSox gear.  This year, no such dilemma as the Patriots face off with the Giants.

So from the land of the Patriots comes another Super Bowl recipe from my friend Butch Maier.  Take it away, Butch:

Now that the Patriots are in the SuperBowl I will reveal my winning dip that I have been making. by the way the Pats record is 7-0 when I make ths dip,Alabama won a national championship with this dip so here goes………….(btw)NO GIANTS FANS can use this weekend.

BUFFALO (not bills) CHICKEN DIP…..

  • 8oz pkg of cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup of blue cheese or ranch dressing
  • 1/2 cup of Texas Pete hot sauce or Franks Hot Sauce will do
  • 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • I use 2-12oz cans of chicken or use 2 boneless breasts
  • plenty of scooping chips.

Stir is softened cream cheese,dressing,hot sauce,cheese,and chicken mix it all around in a big bowl then put in a 9 inch pie plate smooth out and I bake 20 mins at 350 until its bubbling…..

In the interest of blog equity, I’m willing to post a Giant’s fan recipe.  Email me with it or hit the comments with it.  :-D

Please Don’t, I Beg of You….

Really, if you need dip ideas, email me, I’ll find you something less…festive gruesome.

The recipe alone is awful.  If you want Velveeta, throw some in a bowl with Ro*Tel and be done with it.  Everyone loves a little easy queso and chips.  Why butcher a snowman in the process?

Tes’ Makes Gorgeous Spring Rolls

I love spring rolls, the freshness and flavors make it a favorite.  So I was thrilled to see that our friend Tes at Home put up a delicious looking recipe yesterday.  It looks simple and full of flavor (love the ground peanuts).  I can’t wait to try.  I thought I’d tantalize you with them this morning:

Tes at Home

Chicken and Peanut Spring Roll

Ingredients: (4 servings)

For the filling

  • 2 cup minced chicken
  • 3/4 cup roughly ground roasted peanut
  • 3 shallots- chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic- minced
  • 1 red chili- minced
  • 3 coriander roots- minced
  • 2 1/2 tbsp palm sugar
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp fish sauce or to taste
  • 2 tbsp oil

For rolls

  • 8-10 rice wrapper/spring roll wrapper
  • Carrot- julienned
  • Cucumber- julienned
  • Fresh coriander leaves

(you can use any kind of vegetable salad you prefer)

For the complete recipe head on over to Tes’ place.

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