Appetizers

All posts in the Appetizers category

Rosemary Focaccia with Tomatoes and Caramelized Onion

Published October 10, 2016 by jenmatteson

Have you seen that commercial with Oprah saying that she loves bread? Well, who doesn’t? If you say you, I know you’re lying. You’ve got to be. What’s wrong with it? It smells good, it’s filling, it tastes so light and fluffy, and it’s a perfect vehicle for…well, anything!

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I’ve been swimming in tomatoes from my garden these last few weeks, so I am trying not to overload the hubs with BLTs every night. You know what else I have a lot of, rosemary. Rosemary and bread are one of those classic duos, like peanut butter and chocolate, or tomatoes and basil. In light of that, what better than a rosemary focaccia with sliced tomatoes baked in?

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I had absolutely no reason in the world to make this outside of having all the ingredients, and I really wanted to get back in the kitchen after a very busy summer. Plus it was football Sunday, which means the other half is not leaving the couch all day – despite how nice it may be outside. But, it really would be a perfect thing to make as an appetizer for guests, or even to bring to a potluck.

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Oh, and did I mention caramelized onions? You can never have too many caramelized onions! I used yellow and red tomatoes, but either/or would work just fine on their own. Don’t be shy with the rosemary, because that is what really pulls everything together. The dough recipe itself was wonderful. It would make for a fantastic pizza crust, too!

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Rosemary Focaccia with Tomatoes and Caramelized Onion

Source: Adapted from Cookin’ Canuck
Servings: 6-8

Ingredients:

1 package active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp)
1 cup warm water
1 tsp honey
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup olive oil, separated
2 tsp kosher salt
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1-2 medium tomatoes, sliced
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
1/4 cup shredded cheese (I used gouda, but parmesan, Romano or mozzarella would work great)

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, gently stir together yeast, warm water and honey. Let the yeast proof, about 10 minutes, until bubbles form on top.
  2. Add flour, 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 tsp salt. Mix until dough is smooth, about 4-5 minutes. Place dough in lighted oiled bowl, cover with plastic or damp kitchen cloth, and let rest in warm place until dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Remove dough from bowl and press into a lightly oiled 9 x 13″ baking sheet, trying to keep an even layer, until it touches the edges. Using your finger, poke holes all over the dough. Drizzle the dough with 2 tbsp. olive oil and let rest until the dough becomes puffy.
  4. In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onion slices, cover and cook until onion is golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.
  5. Top the dough with tomato slices, onion, rosemary, cheese and salt. Drizzle with remaining olive oil.
  6. Bake until the focaccia is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Cut and serve.
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Baked Rosemary Beet Chips

Published October 3, 2016 by jenmatteson

There are a lot of closeted beet lovers out there, and this might be just what they are looking for. And if you aren’t a beet lover, you should still try these, because they do not have that “earthy” flavor, AKA dirt. Personally, I love beets in pretty much any form. However, I struggle to make them at home outside of roasted, so this was a fun new idea to get my beet fix, along with my chip fix!

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These are super quick and easy, with four ingredients. The hardest part is slicing them. I have a new fangled mandolin with one of those lame safety features, as if I’m going to cut myself. Okay, complete side story: The majority of my family would be sure I would cut myself. I’ve had two incidents using a box cutter which required stitches. One involved making a cat house out of cardboard boxes with my older brother when I was 6. I sliced the inside of my wrist right open – to the bone. He grabbed a wet washcloth and tried to quiet me so we wouldn’t wake up my parents that Saturday morning. Needless to say, they did hear me crying and took me to the emergency room. Not before my mom could get the camera to take a picture, though. She loves owie pictures!

Anyway, back to the beets. My mandolin doesn’t always slice to my liking, especially round objects, so I opted to do it by hand with a very sharp knife. Don’t worry, no digits were lost or even injured in the making of these chips.

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The beets have a surprising bright flavor, while the rosemary does give an earthy (and I really mean earthy and not dirt this time) aroma. A pinch of salt and you’ve got yourself an irresistible crunchy snack. Pairs well with wine, so perfect for a girls night!

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 Baked Rosemary Beet Chips

Source: Adapted from Minimalist Baker
Servings: One (if you’re me) or 2-4

Ingredients:

3 medium-large beets, rinsed and scrubbed
Olive oil
Kosher salt
2 sprigs rosemary, roughly chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Thinly slice beets with mandolin or sharp knife and place in large bowl.
  3. Drizzle beets with olive oil. Add salt and rosemary and toss to evenly cote.
  4. Arrange chips in a single layer on a baking sheet (or two if necessary), and bake for 15-20 minutes. Keep a close eye as they can burn quickly.
  5. Remove from oven, cool (if you can wait) and serve.

Rainbow Spring Rolls

Published February 22, 2016 by jenmatteson

Last weekend I hosted a ladies wine tasting party. We do this every year when the men go ice fishing. It’s a fantastic reason for us to get together, drink wine, and let loose. Very loose.

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The theme of the tasting was Sonoma County wines under $20. For food, we decided to go with spa cuisine type appetizers. What exactly is “spa cuisine” many asked? Well, I can’t be positive as there was a lot of different explanations on the ol’ Google. But here is what I took away from it. Fresh, whole, minimal preservatives, and simple ingredients.

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I made these neat wine glasses as favors for the ladies, which then inspired my table setting and food choices. Everyone got a different color, so I paired it with matching placemats and plates, birthing a rainbow color scheme. Now enter Rainbow Spring Rolls.

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I wasn’t even looking for “rainbow” themed foods, but I did run across these, and thought they’d be perfect. I’ve never made spring rolls, and was a little hesitant, but they really couldn’t have been easier. The hardest part was trying to not get the wrapper stuck to itself after soaking in warm water. I hesitated a bit with the herb mixture of cilantro and mint, and a healthy handful of each, but they paired perfectly together, and to finish off with the peanut sauce – wow. They were delicious! The peanut sauce alone would be an awesome salad dressing, which is what I plan to do with my leftovers. The original recipe called for mango, which I do think would have been a fun sweet addition, but it also mentioned that the acidity in the mango ate through the wrapper if they were made ahead, so I opted out. Didn’t even miss the mango! There were a hit and I plan to make them again!

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Rainbow Spring Rolls

Source: Adapted from Minimalist Baker
Servings: 10-12

Ingredients:

10-12 rice spring roll wrappers
2 beets, peeled and julienned
1/2 – 1 yellow bell pepper, julienned
1/2 – 1 red bell pepper, julienned
2-3 medium carrots, julienned
1 large bunch mint
1 large bunch cilantro

Ginger Peanut Sauce
1/2 cup salted natural peanut butter (almond butter would be great, too)
1 1/2 tbsp. soy sauce
2-3 tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 lime, juiced
1/2 tsp Sriracha or other chili sauce
1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
hot water

Directions:

  1. Fill a skillet (large enough to fit the spring roll wrapper) almost to the top with water, and bring to a boil. Set aside for a few minutes until cool enough to touch.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the peanut sauce by combining all ingredients except water. Whisk until well combined. Add hot water 1 tbsp. at a time until sauce reaches desired consistency. Set aside.
  3. Once the water is no longer hot but very warm, submerge one rice paper for about 10 seconds. You’ll know when it’s ready once very pliable, but if you let it for too long or the water is too warm, the paper becomes too fragile to work with.
  4. Once soft, transfer to a damp surface (I used a wet wooden cutting board which worked great!) and smooth out into a circle.
  5. Add carrots, peppers, beets and a healthy handful of each mint and cilantro. Fold the bottom over the fillings, then turn in each side. Finally, roll completely to seal. Place on serving plate and top with a damp towel until ready to serve. Repeat process with remaining ingredients.

Zucchini Fritters with Soy Dipping Sauce

Published January 4, 2014 by jenmatteson

I mentioned a few posts back that I lead a cooking-dinner party for a group of women a  few weeks ago.  I led the girls in cooking a meal, starting with these zucchini fritters.  I fell in love with these fritters the first time I test made them.  The ladies really liked them; so much so, they sorta forgot we had the rest of the meal to make and took a break to feast on these babies.

Zucchini Fritters with Soy Dipping Sauce

I even made these as an appetizer for my family’s Christmas dinner – and even my picky family, including my mom, liked them!  Not only are they good, but they are a great way to get your serving of vegetables in.  Plus, I have another way to use up the copious amounts zucchini that grows in my garden each summer.  YAY!

Zucchini Fritters with Soy Dipping Sauce

The fritters are simply seasoned with salt and pepper, and served along side a soy dipping sauce.  While I liked the soy dipping sauce, I thought they fritters were great on their own as well!  They are pretty hot when they come out of the pan, and cool off quickly, so I wouldn’t suggest these for a party, maybe a seated dinner would be best as they aren’t quite as good when they’re room temperature.

Zucchini Fritters with Soy Dipping Sauce

Zucchini Fritters with Soy Dipping Sauce

Source: Adapted from Bon Appétit
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

For the soy dipping sauce:
3 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 ½ tsp sugar
crushed red pepper

For the fritters:
3 ½ lb zucchini, grated
½ tsp kosher salt
1 large egg
¼ cup all-purpose flour
3 tbsp finely chopped chives
1 tbsp cornstarch
freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Directions:

1. Make soy dipping sauce: Mix vinegar, soy sauce, sugar and red pepper in small bowl until sugar is dissolved.  Set aside.

2. Make fritters: Place zucchini in colander set in the sink and toss with ½ tsp salt.  Let stand 10 minutes, and then wring zucchini dry in kitchen towel.  Place zucchini in large bowl and mix in egg, flour, chives and cornstarch; season with salt and pepper.

3. Heat oil in large deep skillet over medium heat.  Working in two batches, drop ¼ cupfuls of zucchini mixture into skillet, flattening slightly; cook until golden brown and crisp; about 3 minutes per side.  Transfer fritters to a paper-towel lined plate; season with salt.  Serve with soy dipping sauce.

DO AHEAD: Fritters can be made 30 minutes ahead and kept warm in 200⁰ oven.

Stuffin’ Muffins

Published November 18, 2013 by jenmatteson

Do you ever get your hopes up for some kind of leftovers, only to find out your sig other (or kids) have finished it off without your knowledge?  More on this in a minute.

Sausage and Apple Stuffing bites

Stuffing is my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner.  I generally prefer a vegetable stuffing, but I don’t mind stepping outside the box a little and adding a little sausage.  It’s Nate’s favorite…just ask Momma Marsha 😉  Unfortunately (and fortunately for my waistline) the only time of year that I eat stuffing is on (or near) Thanksgiving – and plus leftovers, if there are any!  I came across this stuffing appetizer recipe in Food and Wine and had to try it.  It’s basically stuffing in a muffin, hence “stuffin’ muffins”!  Lame, I know.

Sausage and Apple Stuffing Bites

I made these for my girlfriend and myself on Halloween to snack on before we enjoyed our spaghetti squash soup with mushrooms.  I loved them, and lucky for me, they didn’t all come out of the muffin pan in one piece.  Seeing as though I couldn’t possible serve non whole muffins, I got to have a small snack before she got there 😛  Between the two of us, we ate about 6 of these suckers, meaning there were ample amounts of leftovers.  I ate two.  Nate polished the rest of them off as a lunch over the weekend 😦  I was sorely disappointed as I counted on one or two on Sunday night, only to have my hopes and dreams dashed when he told me there were no more left.

Sausage and Apple Stuffing Bites

Long story short (too late), I loved these stuffing bites.  I thought the hot turkey sausage was a perfect complement to the sweet-tart apple.  Certainly any kind of sausage would work, pork, turkey, chicken – sweet or spicy.  These would be an excellent appetizer at any party over the holidays.  Everyone loves stuffing!!

Sausage and Apple Stuffing Bites

Sausage-and-Apple Stuffing Bites

Source: Adapted from Food and Wine
Servings: Makes 24 mini muffins

Ingredients:

cooking spray
4 oz white country bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
1/4 cup olive oil salt and pepper
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2/3 cup finely
chopped onion
2/3 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 pound hot Italian turkey sausage (use your favorite sweet or hot sausage, turkey or pork will be fine)
6 cloves garlic
3/4 tsp sage
1 small Granny Smith apple, peeled and finely chopped
4 large eggs, beaten
2 tbsp low-sodium chicken broth

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease mini-muffin pan with cooking spray.

2. On a baking sheet, toss the bread with 2 tbsp of olive oil; season with salt and pepper.  Bake for about 10  minutes, until bread is toasted.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

3. In a large skillet, melt the butter in the remaining 2 tbsp of oil.  Add onions and celery and cook over moderately  high heat, until golden, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add sausage, garlic and sage, stirring and breaking up the meat, until no pink remains, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Add sausage mixture, apple, eggs and broth to croutons and mix until all ingredients are evenly distributed; season with salt and pepper.  Let stand for 5 minutes.

4. Pack the stuffing into the muffin cups and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden and slightly crisp on the top.  Set pan on wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes.  Loosen the muffins with a sharp paring knife and left them out.  Serve warm.

Buffalo Wing Hummus

Published April 30, 2013 by jenmatteson

I know you read the title of this recipe, and thought that sounds kinda gross, right?  Well, I certainly did the first time I saw it, but I still saved it because I tend to love anything that includes buffalo sauce, especially Franks Red Hot.  Plus, I love hummus, it’s so versatile, easy to make, and pretty healthy.  I’ve been stuck making the same flavors of hummus for a while now, roasted garlic and roasted red pepper.  Of course both are fantastic, but some times you just need to spice it up a bit.  Literally.

Buffalo Wing Hummus

I saw this recipe right around the time NFL football was starting last year, but never got around to making it for a football event.  But I definitely should have.  This hummus satisfies the guilty pleasure of eating wings, minus all the added calories (and tendons and bones!).  I loved it and will be sure to break it out during the upcoming football season.  It might even make an appearance during the baseball season again!

Buffalo Wing Hummus

Buffalo Wing Hummus

Source: Adapted from Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
Servings: Makes 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients:

1 can chickpeas, drained
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup tahini
4 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp paprika, plus more for serving
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
5 tbsp Frank’s Red Hot
1 tbsp white vinegar
2 tsp olive oil, plus more for serving

Directions:

1. Combine all ingredients except olive oil in a food processor.  Process until smooth.

2. Gradually add olive oil while processing until hummus reaches desired consistency.

3. Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Sprinkle with paprika and drizzle with olive oil.  Serve with pita chips and celery sticks.

Roasted Garlic White Bean and Red Pepper Dip

Published April 21, 2013 by jenmatteson

Another recipe from Jaida at Sweet Beginnings.  That girl just makes so many yummy things!  I’ve had this in my “to try” list for awhile now, and had the perfect opporutniy to try it out.  We had Nate’s parents over for ribs (in Nate’s new smoker!) last weekend, and I didn’t want anything really heavy to set out as an appetizer before we ate dinner.  I figured we’d all be excited and trying to save room for the ribs!

Roasted Garlic White Bean and Red Pepper DIp

This white bean dip was the perfect snack before dinner.  I loved the fact that it had an entire head of roasted garlic – you can never go wrong with roasted garlic!  The original recipe calls for 1 cup of cannelini beans and 3 scallions.  After adding everything to the food processor, I thought the rosemary and scallions were far too over powering.  Good thing I got two cans of beans instead of one.  I ended up adding two cans of cannellini beans, but for me the scallion taste still was overpowering.  I did use fairly large scallions, so maybe that’s why.  Next time, I’ll only add a little at a time and taste as I go.  Lesson learned.  Overall, I still loved the dip, but I certainly wouldn’t plan to be making out with Adam Levine after noshing on it 😉  It’d be a great spread on a turkey or veggie sandwich, too!

Roasted Garlic White Bean and Red Pepper Dip

Roasted Garlic White Bean and Red Pepper Dip

Source: Adapted from Sweet Beginnings
Servings: Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients:

1 garlic bulb
2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1-2 scallions, rough chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, rough chopped
1 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut pointed end of the garlic bulb, exposing as many cloves as possible.  Drizzle generously with olive oil, wrap in foil, and roast until cloves are soft, about 40 minutes.

2. Remove from oven, open foil, and let cool slightly.  Squeeze cloves from skins into food processor.  Add beans, lemon juice, olive oil, red pepper, scallions rosemary and cayenne.  Puree until smooth.  (I suggest adding the scallions one at a time and testing the flavor as you add more).

3. Transfer to bowl and refrigerate until flavors have blended, at least one hour.

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