Category Archives: Appetizers

Buffalo Chicken Dip

This is a recipe from our friend Mary (aka Murrs) that has always been a big hit.  We tweaked it a bit and it was a big hit again because everyone loves buffalo and blue cheese!

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Homemade Onion Rings

Onion rings are a fun food you don’t often make at home. We were deep frying chicken (you’ll see that soon too!) and figured why not throw something else in there too for a tasty side dish. My mind immediately went to onion rings, so here you go.

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Crispy Fried Eggplant and Mozzarella Finger Sandwiches

I am sorry to say that most of these pictures are slightly out of focus. Our camera has a mind of it’s own sometimes and I just couldn’t get it to agree with me when I was cooking today. I was also running around the kitchen, cooking and trying to take pictures all at the same time. I apologize in advance, but hopefully that won’t deter you from enjoying this recipe!

Believe it or not, I found this recipe in a Suzanne Somer’s book several years ago. It has been a while since I made it, but I had a bunch of little eggplants and some fresh mozzarella in the fridge so I gave it a go.

These guys were little.  I got them from a farmer’s market (this is about half of what I got for $2.50).

The first step was to slice up the eggplant and roast the slices in the oven for about 20 minutes with a little olive oil and salt and pepper.

While the eggplant was cooking, I made the herb spread (aka pesto), which was comprised of garlic, basil, oregano (which I substituted for parsley), red pepper flakes, and olive oil. I used the bullet for this.

I also prepped my work station for the next steps of the recipe. I used fresh mozzarella for the sandwiches, but if you don’t have any on hand you can use shredded or sliced. There is something about the way fresh mozzarella melts though that makes it extra special, so I definitely recommend it for this dish.

After assembling the sandwiches, the next step is to dip them in egg and coat them with grated cheese. So I prepped my egg dip and cheese for that as well.

Now for the sandwich assembly…

Basically all you do is take a slice of eggplant and spoon the herb spread over it. Add the mozzarella and then put a second slice of eggplant on top. Easy peasy.

Next, dip the sandwich into the egg and then roll it around in the grated cheese to coat.

Once you have all of your sandwiches coated it’s time to fry ’em up. They just need a couple minutes per side. Enough time for the cheese in the center to melt and for the eggplant to turn a nice golden brown.

When they are done place them onto a paper towel covered plate to drain any excess oil. Serve ’em up nice and hot and feel free to add any fillings you like. I’ve added roasted red peppers before, for example. They are also good served with marinara sauce on the side for dipping if you’d like.

Yum! These are so good!

Recipe for Crispy Fried Eggplant and Mozzarella Finger Sandwiches

-Eileen

Tomato Panzanella Salad

Greg and I were invited to a family BBQ and knew we wanted to bring something good for a side dish. We remembered a great dish that Ash brought over one time, tomato panzanella salad, and decided it would be the perfect thing to make. You can find the recipe here on Ash’s site (I didn’t alter it much as you will see).

We bought the tomatoes at a local farmer’s market. Obviously for this dish the quality of the tomatoes can make or break it. I was so happy to get these tomatoes. As imperfect as they look, they tasted great!

I cut the tomatoes and added some thinly sliced red onion. I actually completed this step the night before the BBQ, as I knew I would be facing some time restrictions the following day.

Similar to the importance of using good tomatoes for this dish, the quality of the bread is also something to be mindful of. We picked up a french baguette from our favorite place on Earth, Pittsburgh’s strip district (wahoo!), the day before the BBQ. On the day of the BBQ I cut the bread into bite-sized cubes (slightly larger than croutons) and baked them for 20 minutes. 20 minutes was about 2-3 minutes too long and some of the pieces were a little too baked for my liking. I recommend keeping an eye on them after the 15 minute mark.

Sorry for the blurry pic! You can get a sense of the size though.

While the bread was baking I assembled the rest of the dish by adding fresh basil, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper to the tomatoes and red onion.

I just love all the colors in this dish!

Once the bread is done baking it gets added to the salad. You want it to absorb moisture from the dressing and tomatoes while still maintaining some of it’s crunch.

The final step in making this salad is to top it with ricotta cheese and a little olive oil. Since we were transporting this dish to another house I felt it would be best to keep the ricotta and olive oil in a separate container prior to serving. Before dinner was served the ricotta was placed on top of the salad.

Overall, this was a true crowd pleaser! I received several compliments on the dish and answered some questions about it too. People seemed to really enjoy it and want to recreate it themselves.

Take advantage of the Summer tomatoes while they last! Hope you like this one.

-Eileen 8)

Cold Crab Dip

This is the first of many leftover crab recipes.  A very simple cold dip that is mixed and let to sit refrigerated until ready to serve.

Just mix all of the ingredients and sprinkle a bit more old bay on top for extra taste and decoration.  Serve with sliced bread, toast, or crackers.

Recipe for Cold Crab Dip

Pork and Peach Spring Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce

This was another leftover use of the pulled pork.  We were invited to a gathering and thought of using the leftover pork in an appetizer. The intention was to make spring rolls, but they did not have spring roll wrappers at the grocery store and I was too lazy to go to the Asian store to get them so I used egg roll wrappers. The wrapper said they could also be used as spring roll wrappers.  They were not the consistency that I was looking for, so I ended up adjusting the plan half way through and it worked out.

First off was to prepare the filling which involved sending peaches, carrots, cucumber, and jalapenos through the food processor.

Then adding some of the leftover pulled pork.

I guess it works out that we don’t know how to cook for just 2 people (tons of leftover pork!)

I mixed the filling together.

Fillings are not meant to be pretty. That's why they are hidden.

Then I prepped the rice stick noodles.

Keep them in the water until you use them otherwise they will all stick together.

At the same time, I warmed water to just about as hot as I could put my hand into.  Then I would quickly dip the wrapper into the warm water to soften it up.

Just a real quick dip

Then to the assembly process which can be a bit tricky.

First add a small twirl of noodles.

Then a scoop of the filling.  It is hard to be disciplined enough to put in the right amount of filling.  Remember that less is better and easier to wrap up.

It's tempting to put so much filling in!

Then to the wrapping process.  Much the same as a burrito.  Over from one corner first.

Then the two outer corners over and try to pull the filling in a bit and tighten it into a roll.

Then flip it over onto the remaining flap and try to tighten it and round it.  You can do this by rolling it back and forth a bit.

Next onto the peanut topping and dipping sauce.

I followed this recipe from Ellie Krieger, which was first introduced to us by Ashley. This recipe is easy to follow- I just threw everything in the blender- and it is delicious! I doubled the recipe so we’d have some leftovers. Believe me, you’ll want some leftover!

I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

YUM!

Like I said, the original plan was to have spring rolls so I was not planning on cooking these at all. However, when it came down to it the egg rolls were really wet and sticky and needed to be cooked. We baked them in the oven for a few minutes, just enough to stiffen up a bit and this worked pretty well. We also ended up with a few of these leftover and later fried them in a skillet with a little sesame oil, which created a nice crunchy outer shell. Both cooking options worked well, so it’s really up to you and what type of consistency you want. Enjoy!

Edamame Hummus

I first ran into edamame hummus at Trader Joes, but I did not buy it. I left intrigued though and wondered if it was any good. A week or two later while I dined at Scion in DC I was able to try their version of edamame hummus. I was hooked. It was delicious and familiar enough (not a huge departure from the traditional chickpea version) and I wanted to take a stab at making it. I decided it would make good tailgating food with some cut up veggies and homemade pita chips and so I decided to go for it. I set forth in my research through various blogs and websites and it seemed there were two paths to go on: one oft-made version involving silken tofu and then countless other versions that essentially swapped edamame for chickpeas. Being that I don’t typically eat silken tofu and that I have a strong affinity for and familiarity with the traditional hummus flavors, I finally settled on the latter version from foodnetwork.com, which I changed slightly and doubled.

The recipe is relatively simple and a food processor or blender is a must. Essentially, all it takes are shelled edamame, tahini, lemon juice and zest, garlic, salt, cumin, coriander, and water. Throw all of those ingredients in the food processor and slowly drizzle in some olive oil and voila! It comes out a beautiful light green color and I dressed mine with a  few extra beans and some paprika.

I also made homemade pita chips- which are super easy to make and a true crowd pleaser. To make these, just cut up the pitas into chip size and place them on a baking sheet. I spray mine with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper (but you can add as many different spices as you like) and bake them for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees. I also served the hummus with cut up veggies, including broccoli, peppers, cucumbers, celery, and carrots, which were all great with the hummus.

This dish was fun and unique enough were people seemed excited to try it. I hope you like it!

Recipe for Edamame Hummus

‘dillas

There was a point in time when we would fantasize about opening a quesadilla fast food chain ala Chipotle where the consumer would come in and order their preferred filler and it would be made on the spot (”dillas’ would be the name of it, of course).  Quesadillas are one of those simple, but always good things you can eat. Mostly because they are filled with copious amounts of cheese. On the morning of the Superbowl we had such a treat for brunch.

Shrimp and banana pepper quesadillas, in fact.

Even in it’s absence, it’s beautiful.. haha… well these were quiet tasty! I had mine with low-carb tortillas which were as to be expected, weird. Still, this meal was highly enjoyable!

8-Layer Taco Dip

On Saturday, it snowed more than the predicted 1-inch and we were semi-snowed in for the night. I think we ended up getting closer to six inches, which was a pleasant surprise.  Though this ruined our plans to head into DC for the night, we reconciled by making a sinfully delicious taco dip and purchasing a rather large bottle of Crown Royal. All was good…

The making of the dip- all 8 layers:

1.

da beans

2.

no, this is not icing

3.

3.a,b,c

4 & 5.

meat/peppers/onions

6.

7.

8.

those are jalepenos on the right side

You can’t really go wrong with any of these ingredients individually let alone when combined into a super-dip! We served it with some tostitos chips and happily munched away. This dish is straight up junk food at it’s finest. Mmm…

Recipe for 8-layer taco dip