Category Archives: Appetizer

Not Just for Vegans….Nutritional Yeast

Does Nutritional Yeast sound good to you? Me either. But, I was introduced to it recently, and guess what? It’s actually really good—and better yet, it’s good for you.

Sugar-free, dairy-free, & gluten-free, nutritional yeast is naturally low in fat and sodium. Since it has a cheesy, nutty flavor, it works as a cheese replacement in many recipes, making it a vegan’s best friend. Since it’s healthy and tasty, I’ve made friends with it too.

So, what the heck is it? Well, for the full scientific explanation, check it out on Wikipedia….but in short, it’s a deactivated yeast sold as powder or flakes. It’s a source of protein and vitamins, and it’s often available fortified with vitamin B12.  You can find nutritional yeast in health food stores….I bought it at Whole Foods. It’s not cheap, but neither is cheese, and a little goes a long way.

I’ve used nutritional yeast in pesto, I’ve breaded chicken cutlets with it, and I’ve sprinkled it and on pasta and salads. Nutritional yeast makes a really tasty topping for popcorn, too, plus you can really enjoy it knowing it’s good for you.

Not-So-Cheesey Popcorn

(makes eight 1-cup servings)

  • 8 cups air-popped popcorn
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • • 2 tablespoons of melted clarified butter, or 2 tablespoons of a vegan spread, melted
1. Place the popcorn in a large bowl.
2. Mix the nutritional yeast, italian seasoning mix and garlic powder together in a small bowl.
3. Drizzle the melted butter over the popcorn and toss it.
4. Sprinkle on the nutritional yeast mixture and toss again.
5. For a little extra zip, sprinkle on a little Cajun seasoning.
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Filed under Appetizer, Entertaining, Popcorn, Snacks, Vegetarian

Just Wing It !

There was a time in most of our lives when “take-out” was the rule of the day. Pizza, Chinese food, Buffalo wings, Mexican and more were often the meal of choice for my college friends and me. Back then “cooking-in” usually meant a dinner of Ramen noodles or scrambled eggs, and for some, even microwave popcorn was a meal.

It’s my impression that few “x-gens” and “baby boomers” today have ever attempted to cook their college “take-out” staples at home. Perhaps it’s been so ingrained in our psyches that these favorite foods are too time-consuming or difficult to prepare—and why bother when you’ll probably never achieve that perfect “take-out” flavor anyway?

My old college roommate Delton had no such fears. He was always willing to try his hand at something new, even Buffalo style chicken wings. As I recall, the kitchen looked like a bomb had gone off when he had finished preparing, but that hardly mattered once you took a bite of his wings. They were simply slammin’!

Now-a-days, I rarely see Delton, as he is usually off leading some white-water adventure in Africa. We caught up recently and he was good enough to share some of his best tips for making Buffalo style chicken wings at home.

You can deep fry ’em and go hot & spicy, or bake them up lite with some mild heat. Either way don’t fret it, skip the take-out, and just wing it!

Thanks “D”

Dj’s Buffalo Style Chicken Wings

  • 1 dozen wings
  • Canola oil for deep-frying
  • Cajun seasoning
  • (or make your own rub with 1/4 teaspoon each of garlic powder, paprika, & cayenne pepper; plus a dash of salt & pepper.
  • 1/2 cup Frank’s™ RedHot™ “Hot Buffalo Wings Sauce” (Frank’s™ was the secret ingredient used in the original Buffalo Wings created back in 1964).
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • celery salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
  • all-purpose flour
  1. If chicken wings are whole, divide them at the joints into three pieces, keeping the drumettes and wings, and discarding the wing tip.
  2. Rub your favorite Cajun seasoning onto wings, or prepare your own rub of garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt & ground black pepper.
  3. Cover and allow to season in fridge for at least an hour or so (very important)
  4. Heat canola oil to 375˚ in deep-fryer.
  5. Melt butter in small saucepan; stir in Franks’s™ RedHot™ sauce and a few shakes of celery salt. For a bit more tang, add 1/2 teaspoon of white vinegar (optional).
  6. Once seasoned, remove wings from fridge and deep-fry at 375˚ for 10 minutes.
  7. Place cooked wings in glass (or other non-porous) mixing bowl and stir in warm hot sauce.
  8. Serve immediately with celery sticks and blue cheese dressing.

Alternatively, dust seasoned wings with all-purpose flour and place on foil-lined tray. Bake at 500˚ for 20 minutes until fully cooked (lightly browned & slightly crispy). Mix wings with hot sauce and serve.

– Joe

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Filed under Appetizer, Chicken

Wait. What? Watermelon!

Take a close look at this picture. You’re right, that’s not chopped tomato; it’s fresh watermelon!

Last week Cathy was looking for a quick and easy summer appetizer that would take advantage of the season’s fresh produce. We think she scored a home run with this sweet ‘n tangy watermelon bruschetta. You’re gonna love it!

Watermelon Bruschetta

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

2 cups diced watermelon, drained on paper towel
1/3 cup diced yellow bell pepper
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 tablespoon diced red onion
1 teaspoon lime zest
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon snipped chives
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 baguette, thinly sliced

• Combine all ingredients except for the bread.

• Cover and chill at least 30 minutes. Serve with bread slices.

Tips

• Do not prepare more than an hour before serving or mixture will become too soft.

• Try the watermelon over grilled chicken or salmon. Yum!

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Filed under Appetizer, Breads, Cheese, Entertaining, Foodies, Fruit, Snacks, Vegetarian

25 Easy Holiday Appetizers

Need a quick holiday appetizer recipe?  We’ve compiled a list of easy, no-recipe-required appetizers that combine a little of this and a little of that to give you an arsenal of hors d’oeuvres that you can serve now and all through the year.  Print the list so it will be at your fingertips. You’ll be ready for anything!

mixed olives, roasted garlic & fresh rosemary (#16.)

1.  Spoon cranberry chutney over a block of cream cheese; sprinkle with chopped pistachio nuts.  Serve with crackers.

2. Wrap a cracked-pepper bread stick or lightly steamed asparagus spear with prosciutto.

3. Pipe your favorite hummus onto cucumber slices and sprinkle with chopped toasted nuts.

4. Pipe flavored cream cheese onto quartered pumpernickel bread slices or party rye slices; drizzle with warmed fig preserves.

5. Toss 2 cups of your favorite nuts with one beaten egg white; sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar and your favorite spice blend. Spread on baking sheet and bake 300°F for 25 minutes.

6. Spoon finely chopped pears tossed with small amount of chutney onto ends of endive leaves.  Sprinkle with gorgonzola cheese.

7. Cut your favorite store-bought pizza into bite-size pieces.

8. Brown sliced, fully cooked kielbasa in butter with a sprinkling of brown sugar; add drained, canned pineapple chunks.  Serve warm with toothpicks.

9. Toss mozzarella balls (bocconcini) and grape tomatoes with your favorite balsamic vinaigrette. Serve with toothpicks.

10. Stir chopped sun-dried tomatoes and a small amount of basil pesto into neufchatel cheese.  Serve with toasted bread slices.

11. Heat store-bought breaded chicken tenders. Serve with a dipping sauce made from warm apricot preserves combined with a dash or two of chili powder and a splash of BBQ sauce.

12. Sprinkle cooked baby back ribs with toasted sesame seeds; cut into individual ribs and serve with duck sauce.

13. Spread a large flour tortilla with store-bought salmon spread; sprinkle with capers and minced red onion; roll up, then cut crosswise into 3/4 inch slices to make spirals.

14. Stir chopped mango into your favorite salsa.  Serve with tortilla chips.

15. Split dried apricots. Fill each with a small piece of brie and drizzle with raspberry preserves.

16. Toss store-bought mixed olives with roasted garlic cloves, fresh rosemary sprigs, sea salt and red pepper flakes; heat, covered with foil, until warm. Serve with toothpicks.

17. Serve cooked, peeled shrimp with chipolte mayonnaise mixed with a splash of BBQ sauce and a spoonful of honey mustard.

18. Cut steamed tiny red or fingerling potatoes in half; top with a dab of sour cream, and sprinkle with finely chopped cooked bacon, minced chives, sea salt and cracked pepper.

19. Top a warmed brie wheel with a warm mixture of canned apple pie filling and a dash of balsamic vinegar; sprinkle with toasted pecans.

20. Spoon your favorite warmed chili into Tostitos Scoops; sprinkle with shredded Cheddar cheese and minced scallions.

21. On toothpick, thread a chunk of Black Forest Ham and a small cornichon. Serve with whole grain mustard for dipping.

22. Cook  frozen cocktail meatballs. Serve  with store-bought tzatziki sauce.

23. Toss chopped dried cherries and chopped pistachio nuts with enough honey to bind mixture.  Spoon over goat cheese log.  Serve with crackers.

24. Top a cucumber slice with a thin smoked salmon slice;  add a dab of sour cream, capers, and minced chives.

25. LAST BUT NOT LEAST!!!  Lightly brush frozen soft pretzels with water.  Sprinkle with your favorite seasoning.  Bake and cut into serving pieces.  Serve with mustard, or, if seasoning topping is sweet, caramel or chocolate sauce.

Cathy

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Filed under Appetizer, Entertaining, Holidays

Billy Jabour’s Breakfast in Bread

This past summer I visited dear friends of mine, Dorie and Ray, in the Albany, N.Y. area.  As soon as I entered their house, I encountered the fragrant aroma of fresh-baked bread.  Moments later, Dorie presented an array of absolutely delicious stuffed breads that she had sliced into appetizer portions. I had to know the source, and luckily Dorie gladly shared her secret. The fresh-baked breads had just been delivered by Billy Jabour, a friend of Dorie’s daughter.

Billy Jabour is founder and owner of The Whole Loaf in Troy, N.Y.  Experienced bread baker and creator of signature stuffed-bread loaves, Billy started his business about 5 years ago.  The loaves were a Jabour family tradition as far back as Billy can remember. Initially, Billy started with a menu of 10 loaves, and today The Whole Loaf’s menu boasts more than 30 mouth-watering choices including savory and sweet combinations perfect for anytime of day.

The Breakfast in Bread loaf is an inspiration—bacon, breakfast sausage, ham, maple syrup, mozzarella and Swiss cheeses make up this awesome creation. We think it would be perfect for brunch…just add a colorful fruit medley, juice and coffee!

We couldn’t resist photographing some of Billy’s other flavors, too. You can only imagine how good it smelled in the studio!

The Beefcake (lower right: bacon, ground beef, onions, Cheddar and Pepper Jack cheeses); The Big Red (upper right: chicken parmesan, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses); The Hamtastic (left: ham and Swiss cheese rolled in rye dough).

View the full menu by visiting wholeloaf.com.  You may order through the website, or email your request to orders@wholeloaf.com

Cathy

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Filed under Appetizer, Breads, Breakfast, Cheese, Reviews

Summertime Salsa Scoops

It’s August, and summertime entertaining is in full swing. Are you looking for an easy appetizer to bring to a party or barbecue? Perhaps one that does not require heating up the kitchen? Here’s a recipe that could not be easier—and it’s a crowd pleaser! Start with Tostito’s White Corn Scoops and fill them with our zesty black bean and corn salsa. Sure takes the risk out of any of your guests “double dipping!”

as photographed by our team, alacartepartners

Black Bean and Corn Salsa Scoops
(makes about 2 cups salsa)

1 can (15.5 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (7 oz.) corn, drained
1/2 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1/3 cup chopped red onion
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lime peel
salt and pepper to taste
Tostitos Scoops

– In medium bowl, stir together all ingredients except Scoops; cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

– Just before serving, and using a small spoon, fill Scoops with salsa or let guests scoop as they go!

Tips

-Other fillings include mango salsa, fresh tomato salsa or your most favorite salsa—as long as it is not too watery.

-Fill just before serving time; otherwise the “Scoops” will get soggy.

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Filed under Appetizer, Corn, Entertaining, Rice and Beans

Hot Artichoke Dip

(For all my PAWS friends)

Last week, PAWS (Pet Animal Welfare Society) had its annual wine tasting fundraiser.  I have been preparing the appetizers for the event for years, and  a mainstay dish that I serve is Hot Artichoke Dip.  It is a raving hit each time.  There are no surprises with the recipe—it is basically 4 ingredients, but for some reason the crowd goes wild for it.  For parties or events, I triple the basic recipe and bake it in a large casserole dish.

PAWS is a nonprofit no-kill animal shelter located in Norwalk, CT, that I have been volunteering with for the past 7 years.  PAWS uses a network of volunteers and paid staff who provide shelter, medical care and affection while finding loving homes for homeless or abused dogs and cats. I have to say it is the best thing I have done—both for me and the animals. Their website is www.pawsct.org. Feel free to send a donation if you are so inclined.  The animals will greatly appreciate it.

Now, for all my PAWS Artichoke Dip fans, here is the recipe!!

Hot Artichoke Dip
Makes 2 and 1/2 cups

1 can (14 ounces) artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
paprika
assorted crackers, bread cubes, cut up vegetables

– Preheat oven to 375°.  In medium bowl, stir together artichoke hearts, cheese, mayonnaise and garlic powder. Spoon into a 1-quart baking dish. Sprinkle lightly with paprika.
– Bake about 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Serve with crackers, bread cubes or vegetables.

Tips

– Recipe can easily be doubled or tripled for a crowd.

– Do not use marinated artichokes.

Cathy

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Filed under Appetizer, Artichokes, Dips, Entertaining