Archived entries for Appetizer

Creamy Tapenade

I love cheese and I love tapenade, so I decided to put them together.  Delicious!

Creamy Tapenade

  • 8 0z. cream cheese
  • 4 oz. feta cheese
  • 1/2 c. roasted red peppers, diced
  • 1/4 c. diced olives
  • 1 Tbs honey

Dice olives and red peppers.  Mix cream cheese, feta and honey.  Mix in olives and red peppers, reserving a few for a garnish.  Easy and yummerz.

The Eye of Sauron: The Great Eye Deviled Eggs

The Great Eye is ever watchful.  Hey, Sauron, eat this!

These deviled eggs were supposed to look like the Great Eye of Sauron from the Lord of the Rings.  Can you tell which is which.

I know; it’s a hard boiled situation. Te he.

Evil Eye Deviled Eggs
makes 4 dozen

  • 2 dozen eggs
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup honey mustard
  • 1/4 cup spicy mustard
  • 2 tsp of paprika
  • 1-2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp horseradish
  • Red food coloring
  • yellow food coloring
  • black food coloring
  • cake decorating piping bag and with decorative tip
  • black olives sliced into slivers

Place 24 eggs in a bowl of water and bring to a boil. Allow to boil for about 10 minutes and then turn burner off. Leave eggs in water until water has cooled a bit. Drain eggs and sit.

When the eggs are cool to the touch, peel shells of the eggs and discard.  Cut eggs in half and remove yolks.  Place yolks in an air tight container and refrigerate until needed.  Place eggs in a large  jar and fill with water until eggs are covered.  Place 1 Tbs of red dye and 1 Tbs of yellow dye in water and stir until water is a nice orange color.  Allow eggs to soak for 12-24 hours.

Remove orange egg whites halves from dye and set aside to dry.  Using a hand or stand mixer, blend yolks with mayonnaise, mustard, horseradish and spices.   Taste your mixture and season according to taste.  Blend thoroughly to get rid of all the lumps.  If the color of the yolks isn’t dark enough, add a few drops of red or yellow dye to the mixture to give it more of a bright yellow/orange color.

Now, we’re ready to start filling the egg whites.  Put your egg halves on a platter.  Put your yolk in a piping bag with the large star decorative tip.  Put 1/4 tsp or so of black dye into a glass bowl or glass and dilute with a few drops of water.  Practice pipping the egg yolk in one of the egg halves, try to make the edges of the star tip to look like lines in the eye.  I say practice a few before you start working with the dye, because you can scoop up any that don’t work and it won’t matter, but once you start with the black dye, you can’t go back.    Once your ready to do one for real, dip the tip of the decorative tip into the black dye ad then pipe the egg yolk into the egg white halves.  The black should look like the lines in the iris of the eye.  You can experiment using a bit of red in there too.  It helps to spoon a small amount of dye around the edges of the yolk so the black spreads into the egg white.  Experiment to see what works best.

Slice your black olives into slivers and place a sliver at the center of each egg to act as a pupil.  Now eat up.  Yum!

How To Make Stuffed Grape Leaves

Stuffed grape leaves, also known as dolmades are some of my favorite finger food for parties.  Although assembling each of these tart Mediteranean treats can be time consuming, they’re really easy to do.  Once you start making them, you can get on a roll and the process can become quite meditative.  People love the salty tangy taste of the pickled grape leaves, tempered by the sticky dill and rice filling, and they’re always impressed you made them.  So let me help you impress your friends with some stuffed deliciousness.

Stuffed Grape Leaves

  • 2 c. dry rice
  • 4 c. vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c. chopped dill
  • 1-2 lemons, juiced
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1-2 Tbs pomegranate syrup**
  • 1 8 oz. jar of pickled grape leaves*

* Grape leaves can easily be found at any Middle Eastern or Mediterranean market.  You can also check the ethnic isle of your local grocery store.

** Pomegranate syrup can also be found at your local Middle Eastern market as well.  If you don’t have any or can’t find it, you can substitute a fruit jam as a sweetener for your filling.

Prepare filling: Mix the dry rice with the vegetble or chicken stock and salt and cook.  Chop red onion and dill.  Once cooked, mix rice, red onion, dill, pommegranate syrup and lemon juice.  Taste and season according to taste.  If bland, add more salt, lemon and/or onion.  You can add more pomegranate syprup if it needs a bit more sweetener.

Wrap Grape Leaves:  Remove grape leaves from jar, unfold and allow to drain in a colander for 5-10 minutes. Clip any stems off grape leaves.  To assmeble the grape leaves follow these steps:

1.  Place a single grape leave on a wooden board with the veiny side face up.  Place 1 Tbs of filling onto the leaf, at the center of the base near the stems.

2.  Fold the bottom of the leaf up until it just covers the filling.

3.  Fold both sides of the leaf inward, around the filling.

4.  Roll forward over the remainder of the leaf to complete the stuffed grape leaf.

Repeat process until you run out of leaves, filling or both.

Poach Dolmades: the final step to completing your stuffed grape leaves is to poach them to soften the leaves and consolidate the filling.  Place the stuffed grape leaves in the bottom of a pan.  Add water until grape leaves are almost covered submerged in water but not covered.  Weigh down with a few heavy plates.  Over high heat, bring water to a boil and then reduce water to a simmer.  Simmer for 25 minutes.

Chill completed dolmades over night:  Remove grape leaves from the pan and place in a sealed container.  Chill overnight to allow the flavors to mature.

Serve cold.  Yum!

Dilly Green Beans!

Dill pickles= dilly pleasure. Crunch cruch. I love dill pickles. But pickles doesn’t just mean cucumbers. Pickles can be anything that’s pickled! For the first post in our canning series, check out this crowd pleasing recipe (in instructable form) for dill pickles made of green beans. These are always a crowd favorite. Don’t believe me. Try them out for yourself.

Canning Dilly Green Bean PicklesMore DIY How To Projects

Scotch Eggs: A How To

“In a quest for foods which pair well with whiskey, I have become obsessed with the Scotch Egg. Concentric spheres of protein and fat form the cradle in which within my stomach, hardwood-aged corn liquor will rest.” -From Scotch eggs, an ode

I love how this lyrical quote from Ira’s blog, Being Totally Sweet In Chicago, is talking about how eating meat wrapped eggs is a great way to prevent a hangover. Its like lace curtains in the trailer. But these meat wrapped eggs made the perfect snack for the whiskey tasting Ira hosted here at the house last night. It was awesome! Ira got a bunch of people to bring tons of whiskey for me to drink, and he made all the food. I could get used to this!

I came home from work yesterday to an aproned Ira, hard at work in the kitchen. He had been busy researching scotch egg recipes, and was actively putting his knowledge to the test. Here’s the recipe he came up with:

Ira’s Scotch Eggs

  • 1 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1/4 c. fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 small onion, grated
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp powdered sage
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp Cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp – 1 tsp salt
  • 8 hard boiled eggs
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1 c. bread crumbs

Mix pork with herbs and spices.

Rolling out a patty of the spiced sausage, wrap around hard boiled egg.

Roll sausage wrapped eggs in flour, then egg, and finally in the bread crumbs.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

They were successful at absorbing lots of alcohol because today I feel great. And, they were yummers!

**Notes: The eggs needed a bit of salt. I added in the recipe above some salt to the sausage. I might roll the egg in a bit of salt before I wrap in the sausage in an attempt to salt the egg a bit. I also think wrapping the eggs in bacon or prosciutto would be a great addition.

New Years Eve: A Resolution to Eat Hor D’oeuvres

I’ve been avoiding writing this post because the thought of figuring out to spell hor d’oeuvres was too much for my post Christmas lethargy. 2009 is almost upon us, so I had to get my butt in gear and I think I’ve transcribed the proper letters in all the appropriate places. Since our traditional New Years eve snacking is filled with an endless list of tried and true finger foods here are some suggestions which I hope will help out any of you last minute party planners suffering from the same yule end sluggishness.

New Years Eve Snackies and Treats:

Click here for links to my dip recipes including:

  • 7 layer Taco Dip
  • Spinach and Artichoke Dip
  • Mushroom Walnut Pate
  • Hummus

Here are more suggestions for your menu.


Like Shrimp Cocktail? You’ll Love Shrimp Cocktail Dip!

I love this shrimp dip because it gives you shrimp cocktail plus cream cheese. Say no more. Plus, this dip is as easy to make as it is to eat! Great for you last minute party planners!

Shrimp Cocktail Dip

  • 1-2 packages cream cheese
  • 1/2 c. sour cream
  • 1/2 c. salad shrimp
  • 1 c. of cocktail sauce -or- 1 c. ketchup and 2 Tbl shredded horseradish (drained)

Using a hand mixer, blend cream cheese (packages depending on the size of your dish) and sour cream. Your looking for a constancy which will be less stiff and be easily scooped by a cracker without cracking it.

Spread cream cheese on bottom of your chosen dish. I always use a glass pie pan.

Spread cocktail sauce over cream cheese.

Place shrimp in a strainer and allow all excess shrimp juice to drip out.

Scatter shrimp over cocktail sauce and you are done.

Presto: Shrimp Dip!

Fire In the Hole! Jalapeno Poppers.

Pretty much anything wrapped in bacon becomes a million times better. If you add cheese, your recipe will be UNSTOPPABLE!

When my sister Emily and her husband Jason were visiting his family in Texas, they were served whole jalapenos stuffed with cheese, wrapped in bacon and BBQ’d until nice and crispy. They were blown away, but my sister’s gringo taste buds were burnin! When they got back to Michigan, they wanted to figure out a way to make the poppers year round, without the BBQ and without so much pop. Here is the recipe they came up with.

Jalapeno Poppers

Slice 15-20 Jalapenos in half, seed, and allow to soak in water for 30 minutes. By removing seeds and soaking you can remove a lot of the spiciness from the raw Jalapenos.

Tip: Use latex gloves when handling raw jalapenos to keep the oil off your hands. Always wash your hands with soap to remove any oil which may have gotten on your skin. If you don’t, and touch your eyes or the inside of your nose, you will be in a world of pain!

Mix 1 cup of shredded cheddar and 1 package of cream cheese. Spread cheese on each Jalapeno half.

Take 1 package of bacon, and cut in half or in thirds to have enough for all your jalapeno halves. Individually, wrap bacon around each jalapeno half.

Preheat broiler. When all halves are wrapped, place tray under the broiler until bacon is brown and crispy.

By de-seeding and soaking and cooking the peppers, much of the killer spiciness is reduced. (Don’t worry, these are still very fiery). Emily and Jason came up with substituting broiling instead of using a BBQ so you can do them quickly year round without firing up the charcoals.

This is the perfect time of year for this snack as peppers are popping off the vine. So wrap ‘em in bacon stuffed with cheese and really let it pop.

Check out my Jalapeno Poppers Instructable which has supplemental info and great readers comments.

Holy Guacamole

Guacamole is easy to make and even easier to eat.

There are a million different ways to make this classic green dish. There are those who like it subtle, using it as more of a condiment, and others prefer it to kick ass like a solo zapatista. Some like to jazz up the flavor by adding exotic ingredients like mango and papaya, while others’ priority is to protect the integrity of the avocado, a subtle flavor easily muddied. Whatever style you prefer, one absolute must ingredient which is usually the determining factor of good vs. evil in my guacamole guide is LIME!

Whenever I try a guacamole I don’t like, it is usually because it lacks the lime. The Guacamole at Chipotle is a prime example. They make you pay something like $1 extra for a small side, and when you taste it, it basically tastes like nothing. Plain avocado tastes better. I don’t know what they do to it, but it just stinks. However, if they were to amp up the lime, they could really boost themselves in my book (which is the last word in the matter, of course).

In my last post, I detailed how to peel an avocado. Click here for my Guacamole Recipe. Of course, I always make it a little differently, but I use this recipe for my basic structure.

If that isn’t enough, and you need more fun, try this…

Ahh! Grinch sandwich.

Check out for some more crazy guacamole ideas!

Deviled Eggs: Devilishly Easy

Deviled Eggs are always a hit at any party. They’re easy to make and lots of fun to eat. Here is a quick recipe to help you egg it up at your next party.

Deviled Eggs:
makes 48

Place 24 eggs in a bowl of water and bring to a boil. Allow to boil for about 10 minutes and then turn burner off. Leave eggs in water until water has cooled a bit. Drain eggs and sit.

When the eggs are cool to the touch, peel shells of the eggs and discard. Egg shells are great for the compost pile or can also be used to sharpen blades in your garbage disposal. If you have neither of these just discard.

Check out this guy, its a twin!

Cut hard boiled eggs in half. Scoop out the yolks and place in mixing bowl. With a blender mix into the eggs:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup honey mustard
  • 1/4 cup spicy mustard
  • 2 tsp of paprika
  • 1-2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp horseradish

Egg yolk filling in my mixer.

These measurements are approximated. Taste the filling as you go along. If you like it more spicy, add more paprika or hot sauce. Make sure your filling is nice and smooth with no lumps.

Decorative tip on my pastry bag makes the filling so attractive!

I like to use a pastry bag with a decorative tip to add filling to the egg whites, but you can just spoon it in. Once the egg whites are filled, you can garnish with paprika, olives, capers or whatever you wish.

And you’re done. Eat up!

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