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Appetizers/ HotApp

Pork Fries with White Bar-B-Q Sauce

You say “white” bar-b-q sauce!

How do you like your fries? I like mine with mustard instead of ketchup. Some people eat cheese fries, chili fries, loaded fries or even milk gravy on their fries. While in France a few years ago, every afternoon we stopped for frites and wine.

Now, these are not your normal fries. Far from it because they are not even made from potatoes; they are made from pork and I guess, in a way they look like chicken-fried anything — but I’m calling them fries.

If you grew up where we did, pork was the king of bar-b-q meats and just about the only type of bar-b-q you ate was some kind of pork.

I’m sure these days there’s some chicken, sausage, and brisket thrown in now and then but never beef until we moved to Texas; and Texans do love their beef brisket. The last few years I’ve been seeing more and more pulled pork showing up on menus and it must be the influx of southerners moving to Texas that caused Texans to start lovin their pulled pork.

In our home town (Caruthersville, MO) you know where to find the good bar-b-q (Carmean’s). If you live anywhere close to me there’s only one place for bar-b-q and that’s my house with my husband at the smoker.

When it comes to sauce red sauce (bbq sauce) was the only type of sauce to go on bar-b-q or so I thought until eating these “fries” with white bbq sauce.

I love telling you (if there’s anybody out there listening) about restaurants we visit. WELL, here’s another one. While in Nashville a couple of years ago with my sister, we visited the Urban Grub restaurant. We loved it from the minute we walked in, but, I will have to say my shrimp and grits were better than their’s.

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Appetizers/ ColdApp/ HotApp

Spiced Glazed Nuts and Pretzel Mix

Looking for a new snack mix for the holidays?

Can you believe that Thanksgiving is just a week away. What’s happened the last few years that you blink and another year has gone by.

Thanksgiving happens to be my favorite holiday and if you’re like me, I’m always looking for new snack foods to serve during the T’day, Xmas or for that matter any time you have friends over OR just because you want a nice little munchy to go with that glass of wine in the evening.

I have been a follower of David Leibovitz Living the Sweet Life in Paris blog since before we went to France three years ago. As usual for that trip I was searching for places to eat while in Paris and then the week we were spending in Provence and I came across some recipes of David’s and have followed his site ever since. His cookbook My Paris Kitchen was voted best cookbook of the year in 2014 by Amazon.

Almonds, pecans and peanuts were already in my freezer so I decided to use a mix of all three. If you want a gluten free snack, substitute gluten free pretzels for the regular ones. I couldn’t wait to try this mix out on friends. I’m upping his 1 1/2 tablespoon of pure maple syrup to 2 tablespoons and changing the dark brown sugar the next time I make them to light brown sugar. Continue Reading…

Appetizers/ HotApp

Spicy Potato Samosas

Chunchy, potatoy, spicy.

I spend a lot of time on my computer looking around at recipes and other crafty things I might want to make in my spare time. I do have a lot of spare time and sometimes think I need to get out and get a job but then I pinch myself and say “are you nuts, what are you thinking”.

The day I sat down to write this post, I had checked about 6 errands off my list before noon and then I got this message from my husband saying our new warming drawer unit isn’t fitting into our outdoor kitchen. I was determined not to go home until they had the problem fixed but no such luck. I arrive home and they were still working on it and I’m determined to not even look at it until it is completed. It seems like an eternity since the project was started back in August.

So to get myself out of this mood I was getting myself into I started looking at some of the food pictures from our Indian dinner we cooked while in Chicago. This appetizer was part of our meal that night which consisted of Indian Chicken Kabobs, Spinach Dahl, garlic naan and these Spicy Potato Samosas we served with a mango chutney.

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Appetizers/ HotApp

Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus with Parmesan and Lemon

This was a nice little appetizer for night out at winery concert.

Summer is officially over but we’re still having warm (hot) days here in Texas. On an evening out at a local winery to hear a 60’s/70’s group play I made some homemade White Bean Hummus to go with vegetables and some Naan I picked up at the market. (I’ve made before but didn’t want to go to the trouble.). I packed a bunch of cheeses from Trader Joe’s, some crackers and we bought wine there. I thought these little (or big fat) asparagus spears would make the perfect finger food to go with the cheese.

I’m always looking for different recipes that pack easy for eating outside or on the go. Do you have any favorites? I remember vacations with our grandparents and how my grandmother would always fry the chicken and pack it in a shoe box lined with aluminum foil then put it in an old red Coke cooler for our trip and we would always stop at a road side table to eat. I can’t say I’ve seen anyone do that in quite a few years. Maybe, I’m just not looking.

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Appetizers/ HotApp/ Side dish

Grilled Shishito Peppers with Garlic Aioli

These are very tasty little peppers.

Several years ago we stopped in Vigo, Spain on a cruise. It was a very rainy day. How do I remember that? Well, I write down everything from trips we have taken, especially the food and restaurants. So, when we had the day to kill in Vigo, we walked, with our umbrellas and ponchos up and down the streets where all the restaurants and food vendors were located. I remember stopping at this particular place and we ordered frites and these fried green peppers. I never found out what peppers they were but I’m sure it was these shishito peppers. (Found out they are Padron peppers). The Shishito pepper is a Japanese pepper and a close relation to padrone.

Right before the 4th of July I saw were our “Veggie Lady” had some of these peppers, so I scooted up there to buy a bunch to do for the 4th. What would the 4th of July be without something hot and spicy. The Veggie Lady sold these for $12.00 a pound then I found at Whole Foods for $3.99 a pound. (So, I know where I will be buying these from now on.)

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Appetizers/ HotApp

Shrimp Wontons

Crispy and good!

My sister and I have always thought our “The Best Egg Rolls” are the best ever and are even by far better than any we have had out in a Chinese restaurant. Now that I feel I have “mastered” egg rolls, I’ve been wanting to try a different recipe using wonton and since there were some shrimp in my freezer and most of the other ingredients I needed to do this little wonton “kiss”, thought I would give it a try.

We were away from our pool for a couple of weeks back in May and when we arrived home it was just begging us to jump in. We had been heating it for a couple of months so get a head start on the swimming, floating, hanging out in the pool time. I love trying out new appetizers for when we hang out in the pool, float on a noodle and have a glass of wine and some munchies. Now, if I could just invent a floating table that would hold drinks and some food.

While in Chicago recently we went to a Japanese Izakaya bar. A Izakaya bar is like a pub or tavern with low tables and lots of small plate options to share. The menu is normally on the table, wall or in our case table and on a blackboard that the waitress brought to the table for us to choose from. You typically get a clean wet towel to clean your hands and we removed our shoes before sitting down. It was so much fun. Oliver and Charlie (our Chicago grandsons’s almost 5 and 3) love this place because they can sit on the floor. I loved all the small plates of food we had from pig cheeks to sweet potato fries to dumplings and it got me thinking that I want to do more of this type of food. I will definitely be trying the pancakes and a couple of dishes we tried that night and when I do I will be sure to share them with you. So dinner that night got me to thinking about making something Asian.

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Appetizers/ HotApp

Crunchy Firecracker Shrimp

Crunchy, quick phyllo appetizer.

These look just like the firecrackers we use to throw as kids — almost, but not quite.

I don’t think our parents had the same concerns of safety that parents have today. Maybe they just wanted us to go out and be kids but did they know we did the things we did while they weren’t looking. Like my twin sister and I trying to fly off the side of a half wall by our house or chasing each other around with a Davy Crocket knife in hand (I did get cut on the hand and still have the scar to prove it). We had a pony, Trixie, that got traded for a goKart and we use to race that little car up and down our driveway, and of course we blew up cans and other things with firecrackers and you know what, we’re still in one piece.

There is something about the word “crunch” in describing a tasty appetizer. Any appetizer that has crunch appeal just has to be good. Crunch could describe carrots, peppers, cucumbers, or cereals. But to me I’m thinking of salty things like potato chips, phyllo and these crunchy firecracker shrimp appetizers that are all rolled up and dipped in a fiery sauce.

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Appetizers/ Entree/ Fish/Seafood/ HotApp

Crispy Salt and Pepper Shrimp

And you can even eat the shells!

When I first saw this recipe I thought of my sister. She loves to eat the tails of fried shrimp and I thought she would love to try this recipe. We also love (maybe most people do) to eat the fried fins of fish when they are fried whole; that would be Crappie fish, of course, but I don’t get that anymore.

I have a closet full (not really) of Szechuan peppercorns that I ordered years ago and never really know what to use them in. Well this recipe calls for them and what better way to use some of them up.

While recovery from foot surgery I decided to spend some time at the computer before the pain finally set in (wow, it never did) and I found a blog with this recipe. The recipe looked so good and I loved the fried jalapeño pepper rings for garnish.

We can get all kinds of fresh shrimp all times of the year here in Texas so I can go tiny or all the way up to Tiger shrimp and I think there is even one bigger that I used to make Shrimp Kiev one time. Now that was really good.

Seems like I have more shrimp recipes than just about anything I cook. Here are some of my favorites (they all really are so good, look under “entrees”- “seafood” to see them all) Bang Bang Shrimp, New Orleans style BBQ Shrimp (a must try), Shrimp Corndogs with Blueberry Mustard Sauce (from Moonshine Grill in Austin), and Honey Walnut Shrimp that I also had at a restaurant in Austin and definitely worth a try.

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Appetizers/ HotApp

Bacon Wrapped Brussels Sprouts

Sprouts with a surprise.

As I’ve said in past post, it’s just been in recent years that I even tried Brussels Sprouts. I always thought it was too much trouble chasing these little balls of cabbage like vegetable around a plate before spearing it and trying to eat the whole thing in one bite.

Then along came my Brussels Sprouts Salad and my Fried Brussels Sprout leaves with raisins that changed my mine about this little golf ball like vegetable.

I happened upon Rick Souder’s website while looking for some food photography pictures and found the best of both worlds, food pictures and recipes all in one location. What a gold mine. His recipe for the sprouts looked interesting and the fact that they were wrapped in bacon made them even more appealing. I decided to add a little sweetness to his recipe though and added dried figs hiding under the bacon and they also got a drizzle of a good balsamic vinegar to finish them off.

If you are looking for a new appetizer to try out this Spring or Summer for a party, please give this a try and if you do leave a comment below and let me know what you think or if you have any changes. (The comment section is at the bottom of the recipe below the Facebook and Pinterest logos.) You can also use those buttons to post my recipes to Facebook or Pinterest.

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Appetizers/ Bread/ HotApp

Hushpuppies My Dad’s Way

My Dad — The Renaissance Man.

Maybe I should have saved this story for Father’s Day but after doing my Savory Pecan post, I started thinking about all the things I remember about my dad and his life. Growing up, my mother did most of the cooking unless it was bbq, fish or game and then that was my dad’s department. But, as they got older and retired, and my mother’s health declined, our dad started sharing the kitchen with our mother. He would experiment with all sorts of cooking and gardening techniques. At one point he came up with this hushpuppy recipe on his own and that’s the recipe I have decided to share.

Long before my parents got into cooking up their own recipes, they would buy frozen hushpuppies; the ones that looked like hard little football shaped things that seemed even harder once they were fried. Then my mother started making homemade hushpuppies which I always thought were the most delicious ones ever, especially with a little butter smeared on them. Then in my dad’s later years, he added some yeast to the recipe and the rest is history. Sometimes I might add a little corn or even jalapeño to the puppy mix but they stand alone without any of the extras as the best hushpuppies I’ve eaten.

I don’t know about you but I can shut my eyes (I really don’t have to do that) I can hear my dad laugh, picture my mother’s smile which she had for everyone, hear my grandfather clearing his throat when he came in the door for lunch (they lived next door to us) and hear my grandmother saying “you need to put t-shirts on those babies”; we never forget those who meant so much to us do we.

Hope you will enjoy reading some of my memories about my dad, The Renaissance Man. And, if you are not tired of reading, there are a few pictures of him at the bottom of this post.

THE RENAISSANCE MAN

Gardening and Cooking: He would try to grow just about anything; one year he grew Jerusalem artichokes just to see how he could use them. They pickled everything, made his own dry rub for years, grew, dried and ground his own peppers and he loved to talk about his garden. He dehydrated all kinds of fruits, veggies and made his own jerky. When it came to canning he even canned some fish once and used to make fish cakes (I never tried those).

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Appetizers/ ColdApp/ HotApp

Savory Pecans

Great with cocktails and a few other things.

When my parents were still living I always knew when we visited in the fall I would be taking home pecans; 200# was the most I ever took home. I would have them cracked while there and knew it would take me a couple of months of shelling them before I was done for the year and we would have a freezer full to last me through all the catering events. One year, I waited a little too long to finish shelling and the pecans were in plastic bags and not a breathable mess bag so I had to dump them outside. There were so many pecans that it took the squirrels about 2 months to take them away. Guess by the time they were finished they claimed me as a friend for life. Now, why do I still like those pesky little critters.

I will always remember when we were visiting at the right time of the year, with a yard full of pecans (they had about 6 trees), we would walk around the yard with my mother or dad picking up pecans. Now, to me, that is the most relaxing times I can remember. Picking up pecans are like searching for those hidden Easter eggs we looked for as kids. Walk, talk, stoop, pick up, talk, walk and it was a great way of finding out things going on in their lives. Way before, I’m sure, someone invented a pecan picker-upper. My dad took a pole and attached a “slinky” to it and he would push it down on the pecan and the slinky would pick it up and when the slinky was full enough it would get dumped in a bucket. I really miss those moments and I cannot look at a pecan in a shell and not think of their place in Tennessee. We always thought our dad was a renaissance man and one day I’m posting all the remarkable things I remember about him.

I no longer get those pecans so when I do have some given to me by my sister, I hoard them and use sparingly.

There are a lot of savory nut recipes out there and one of my favorites is The Best Bar Nuts in NYC that was printed in a Union Square Cookbook. I love those but the recipe below I use only pecans when making it and they are so easy to make. These can be eaten as is or chop and put in a salad. The original recipe I started with did not have the sugar; I decided to add it to add a little sweetness to use in my salad.

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Appetizers/ Bread/ HotApp

Cornbread Jalapeño Poppers

Great little poppers.

Only four days before Christmas and if you’re planning on doing a big pot of soup for Christmas Eve this will be a great little “go with” to serve.

Can you believe Christmas is here already. I’m so excited this year (excited every year) because all the kids will be together in Austin for Christmas and their Mema will be here with us too. And, I can’t imagine how exciting it is going to see all 5 little boys running around playing with each other. Of course, Thomas (almost 8 months old) will only be watching this year, but I know he will be wondering when he’s going to be chasing them around.

I made these little poppers a couple of years ago and took these pictures (which are not that great) and then forgot about posting about them. I found this recipe at Oh Bite It blog and one day when I was making my Mexican Cornbread recipe I decided to try filling some of the jalapeño peppers with the batter.

I have never been a fan of the Jiffy type cornbread mix because my mother always made homemade and for me to do anything but homemade seems like I’m cheating. After stuffing the peppers with my Mexican Cornbread mixture that has meat in it I decided that they would be much easier to follow her recipe and maybe the sweetness from her Honey variety of cornbread mix would counter the hotness from the peppers. You can really add whatever you want to these. You can throw in some cooked ground beef if you have it on hand.

My dad was always trying to figure out how to get the coating to stick to a jalapeño like the ones you get in a restaurant or from the frozen section of the grocery. He tried all sorts of things and then decided that maybe the peppers needed to be steamed to soften them up a little before doing the flour, egg, bread crumb coating that went on the outside of a traditional jalapeño popper. After researching this I found most popper recipes call for double dipping; do egg, crumbs, then egg, crumbs again to get a thick coating. I think he wold have liked these peppers for sure.

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