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Appetizers/ HotApp

Cheesy Bacon Caraway Toast

An old favorite!

Talk about quick, that’s this recipe. Talk about old, this was one of the first appetizers I made as a newlywed. Growing up I don’t ever remember having “appetizers” before a meal. I remember dips we had but they weren’t really appetizers before a meal.

For our December bunco get-together, our hostess, Gail, decided it would be a fun theme to bring some appetizers we remember making or having in our early years of being married. (I’ve been married going into 49 years now and still searching for new and interesting appetizers to make.)

So, we had a spinach madeline with crawfish and FRITOS (I still buy those things), a Yule Tide Log, rum balls, and a cheese ball I remember making with pineapple, green peppers etc. Didn’t we all love cheese balls back then. What happened to that trend I wonder. Someone brought deviled eggs too. I remember early on in catering a lady wanted me to make deviled eggs for a cocktail party and I thought that was not very trendy at the time. Guess what, they were the first things to be eaten. We also had a peach half salad and Cheesy olive balls (cheese pastry with an olive hiding inside) then baked. Yum. Mincemeat pie was brought by one friend. I remember my grandmother making mincemeat pie and I would not ever try it.

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Appetizers/ HotApp

Fontina and Mushroom Tarts

Little bites of puffed pastry and mushrooms.

With the holidays right around the corner this little appetizer will be a favorite of your guest.

Appetizers have always been one of my favorite things to make and when I catered most of the parties I did over the holidays were all appetizers. I would always have extras and they would be in my freezer at Christmas time and I could pull out so many different favorites for my family and it saved me a lot of time in the kitchen.

These days, since I’m not catering anymore, I have decide on some of my favorites to make or come up with something new to surprise my kids. I have a few special ones picked out already for Thanksgiving.

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Appetizers/ HotApp

Sausage Cheese Dip

Cheese, Sausage and lots of other good stuff.

How many different cheese dip recipes have you tried? How many grandmothers would drive over an hour to pick up her twin granddaughter’s favorite cheese dip from Poncho’s restaurant in Memphis? Ours did and it wasn’t anything like the above dip. Their dip was so good but like most cheese dips and had lots of cumin in it and thin enough you might want to drink it.

I made this cheese dip when we had company over for the superbowl and I was in such a hurry to get things on the table I didn’t get a picture of chips in my acrylic cowboy hat that looks great piled full of chips or snacks.

When it comes to cheese dip, most of my life I used Velvetta cheese and Rotel tomatoes and simply melted it and ate it. Then I started using a stick blender on it so there were no hunks of tomatoes and even later I would put it cold in my Vitamix and blend the cheese, Rotel and add some water, cumin, black pepper and garlic salt. I really like the taste that cumin gives to cheese dip and when I make it thin enough we don’t even like it heated like in the “old” days.

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Appetizers/ HotApp

Edamame with Garlic and Soy

Garlic Edamame, yum!

What a simple recipe I’m giving you today; so simple I’m doing it for myself tonight when my husband goes out with the guys.

How about some edamame to go with the Asian inspired dinner you are having or for the sushi you are making (or buying). Don’t just eat salted Edamame, you have to try the recipe I was first ate at Ozumo restaurant in San Francisco

So, read my “true confession – Edamame” here. and fine out more about the edamame saga. The restaurant that I went to and took my own garlic and mixed with their edamame now has Edamame in Roasted Garlic Butter on their menu for $4.50 a serving. I like doing the garlic in olive oil instead of butter and then I add a splash of soy sauce.

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Appetizers/ Bread/ HotApp/ Side dish

Crawfish Hushpuppies

My contribution to a cajun or Mardi Gras dinner.

Mardi Gras is almost here. I’ve never been to a Mardi Gras and I guess I don’t care if I ever go to one but I do love cajun cuisine. When we were in New Orleans last summer we had all kinds of cajun food and a few things I made after I got home.

I picked up these decorations/props at my craft circle. There’s a room bigger than my whole house (maybe twice over) full of supplies that we can go back and get for any project our group is working on. The little jester, mask and beads came from the floral department. And, since they weren’t using them for a few days, I thought I would borrow a few things and use for props. Just look at that little girl with her hand out, just waiting for a hushpuppy.

My local HEB had a guy out front last week with a big contraption that he was cooking crawfish in; so I decided to buy them and not fool with cooking such a small amount. I only bought a pound which didn’t make nearly enough meat. I’m putting 1 – 1 1/2 cups of crawfish tails in the recipe because that’s what it is going to take to make these delicious. At $5.99 a lb, and I bought only a pound and got 3/4 cup of meat, I’d go for the ones you cook yourself next time because they are going to be about $2.00 a pound, maybe less depending on where you live or you can buy crawfish tails in the freezer section.

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Appetizers/ HotApp

Walnut, Fig and Goat Cheese Phyllo Rolls

Crunchy and delicious!

I love just about every kind of sushi and even unagi which is freshwater eel. So, what does eel have to do with this recipe? Well, for years of watching cooking shows and hearing the word Umami I’ve been hearing “unagi” and thinking where’s the eel.

Over the last few years I’ve discovered how wrong I was and that the chefs are actually saying “umami” which is the fifth taste. We all know sweet, salty, bitter and sour but did you know there was a fifth taste called “umami” and it wasn’t a recent discovery.

I seems like a hundred years after Escoffier wrote his cookbook (where he identified this new flavor) scientist finally agreed with him on a new flavor “savory” or umami. Read this article called “Sweet,Sour, Salty, bitter and Umami” and you will find out everything you need to know about this new/old taste. There’s an article in The New Yorker you might be interested in reading; I don’t want to just copy what they said so go to their website and have a good read if you’re interested.

So, the umami part of this recipe would be the prosciutto which is a smoked meat and falls into the foods that have a lot of umami flavor. I’ve read also that if you crush up some dried seaweed (chips) into your hamburgers you will get a great tasting burger. Continue Reading…

Appetizers/ HotApp

Hot Spinach Dip with Tomatoes

Not your ordinary spinach dip. No Artichokes in this one and one of my favorites.

How many dips can you name from your years of cooking. Onion dip was on top of my list and way back when I used Lipton Onion Soup mix to make it. I can only imagine what a homemade version would taste like; will have to give that a try. Mexican Cheese Dip was always a favorite also. Adventurous wasn’t in my vocabulary back then. I knew onion and cheese dip, that’s about it.

Then one day someone tried putting spinach and artichokes together; who would have ever thought of that back in the day. Aren’t you tired of spinach artichoke dip? You will see it on just about every restaurant menu, but my Hot Spinach Dip with Tomatoes has a little different twist to it with jalapenos and some fresh chopped tomatoes; and I love the homemade pita chips made with butter, lemon pepper and cumin, baked until nice and crunchy.

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Appetizers/ Entree/ Fish/Seafood/ HotApp

Sugar Cane Skewered Shrimp with Bacon and Pineapple

I finally found some sugar cane and wanted to use it.

I’ve always wanted to make something on a sugar cane skewer and now I have. And now that I have I may just save it for drink skewers. This recipe would have been much faster using ordinary wooden skewers. That said, don’t worry about looking for sugar cane, just get out those long pics.

Many years ago before using the internet, I use to look up newspaper food pages (usually on a Wednesday or Thursday) to see what foods were popular (I guess now we would say “trending”) in that area. The Courier-Journal in Louisville’s food pages can still be accessed. If you have time, try typing in some of your favorite city’s newspapers. The Citizen-Times in Asheville offers a 30 day free look. The Post and Courier from Charleston has free access to their recipes. If you want to see what’s happening on the other side of the US (from me anyway) Napa Valley Register offers free access too.

I just read an article about what was the favorite foods from each state. Results were crazy. In almost all states, by far, the winning type of food was pizza. Of course, Texas had Mexican food winning out as did Colorado and California. Hawaii’s favorite food was bakery items.

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Appetizers/ HotApp/ Salads/ Side dish

BLT Stacked Tomatoes

One of my favorite foods from Savannah.

Do you find it hard to pass up a fried green tomato? Well I do and while visiting in Savannah back in April I saw them on every menu I looked at along with shrimp and grits and pimento cheese .

I grew up eating fried green tomatoes. My dad had the best garden ever and “organic” before most people even though of growing anything without a lot of pesticides. He made his own garlic spray that he would spray on his plants for bugs and he even hooked up a pump in the lake they lived on (after retirement) and use that water to water his garden.

Over the years of our gardening we would grow all types of tomatoes and I could not wait to see the first green tomatoes get big enough to pick and fry and believe me it was hard to pick them knowing in just a few days we would have beautiful vine ripen tomatoes. But, that was never a hard decision for me to make — pick or not pick.

Have you ever had fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese on top? I haven’t either but saw it on some menus in Savannah. I have posted a Fried Green Tomato with Black Eyed Pea Vinaigrette and a Fried Green Tomato with Ravigote Sauce.

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Appetizers/ HotApp

Elote Dip

If you like Mexican corn on the cob, you’ll love this dip.

Coming up blank for an idea for your next cookout? Sometimes I have problems putting together a menu; don’t know why because I have an endless supply of recipes I want to try or to recreate from places I have been or ideas that friends have told me about. Corn of some type is almost always on our menu as a side dish when we bbq.

Corn isn’t actually a vegetable, it’s a grain but I always called it a vegetable because it was one of the few so-called vegetables my kids would eat when they were young; green beans – sometimes, fried okra – of course, no on salads, no on broccoli, spinach etc. So I had to call corn a vegetable so I would feel like I was half-way getting my kids to eat healthy. Of course, now, they eat everything.

Elote Cafe in Sedona is famous for their Elote (corn) appetizer. A friend of mine went there a few years ago and loved the cafe so much they ate there three times.

Elote corn is sold by street food vendors in Mexico. Usually it will be cook in the husk, the husk will be pulled back and used for a handle to hold on to the corn and the corn will be smeared with butter, mayonnaise, lime juice, chili powder (I add some cayenne too when I make it this way), and sprinkled with some cojita cheese. It is delicious for any summer cookout and if you like that then make some Elote dip. All the same ingredients but cut off the cob and put in a bowl and baked for you to enjoy with some really good tortilla chips.

My favorite corn is yellow corn or even the peaches and cream variety which is yellow and while. The weekend I made this Elote Dip I could only find white corn. If you have a choice go with the yellow variety because it makes a prettier dip and I personally like the taste better.

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Appetizers/ HotApp

Avocado Lime Shrimp Cups

Beautiful, spicy, crunchy little appetizer for your next get together OR just because you want to make something new.

If you look at my appetizer index you will see that appetizers are probably my favorite things to cook/bake/make. I love little tidbits of food. You can graze on a table of appetizer and not feel overly stuffed. Plus, they are usually cute and interesting little pieces of food. And, I love anything made with shrimp.

Cocktail parties were always my favorite type of party to cater and I always prepared some of my all-time favorites. My Parmesan Bacon Wraps (we always referred to as a “heart attack” on a cracker) were sooo good and everyone loved them. Once someone referred to my Parmesan Shrimp Toast as sex on a cracker (have no idea how he came up with that description). Over 11,000 people have looked at that recipe. This little Avocado Bacon Sandwich is one of my favorite tea sandwiches and is perfect with a pot of Walnut Green tea.

I feel like my taste have changed over the years. I haven’t done those bacon wraps in a couple of years and I love appetizers that are a little more on the fussy side rather than making a big batch of dip or something I just dump in a pan. Back in the 70’s I had a friend (still a friend – hi Sally) who said she didn’t like sharing a particular appetizer recipe because she didn’t want to see it at someone else’s dinner party. After we moved away from each other, she did share the recipe. I never shared recipes when I catered for the same reason; but when I quit catering that was the point of this blog and that was (is) to share some of my favorite old and new recipes.

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Appetizers/ Beef/Veal/ Entree/ HotApp

Mini Corn Dogs with Mustard Dipping Sauce

Get them while they’re hot.

So, what’s so special about a corn dog? Nothing really but I’ve never been able to pass one up once that smell of a frying dog is in the wind and my hose catches the drift.

Use to be, back in the day, (maybe even before my day) one would go to a carnival or state fair and would be confronted with things like the Bearded Lady, the wolf man, person with two heads (ok, maybe that one was in an old movie I saw when I was a kid), the snake woman, sword swallower, little person, very big person, and probably things your mother would have never let you go in to take even a peek.

I would have been more concerned with what are they going to feed us. There are so many things that are fried at state fairs and I’m sure depending on where you live, there may even be some I haven’t heard of. Here are just a few I have seen and come across looking for the next “big” fried things on a stick. Chicken Fried Lobster with champagne gravy (sounds pretty good), Fried Butter, Fried Snicker Bars, Funnel Cakes, Fried Cheese Curds, Frog Legs (Now I would like that one.), Batter Dipped Deep Fried Twinkies (and I thought those were gone.), Fried Jalapeños, of course, and the list goes on and on for those artery clogging treats.

Personally, I don’t think you can beat a good hot dog turned into a corn dog. I’ve made these with plain yellow mustard but I have also made the dipping sauce recipe below to go with these. Cutting the dogs into thirds make such a cute little appetizer and ya don’t have to feel guilty about eating a couple. Ok, so who could stop at just a couple. And, these are the perfect size for the kids, that is if you let them have hot dogs.

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