All posts tagged appetizer

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!


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?


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.


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!


Rosemary Focaccia with Tomatoes and Caramelized Onion

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


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)


  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.

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


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


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.

Kimmy JJ’s Sun-Dried Tomato Guacamole

Published June 5, 2013 by jenmatteson

Serendipity.  Did anyone ever really know what that meant until Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack starred in the movie?  Well, I didn’t, but I was also in high school.  So maybe I should have known what it meant…?  This guacamole recipe comes to you courtesy of my good friend, Kimmy JJ.  Just before I tried her guacamole, she informed me that she made it with sun-dried tomatoes.  I love sun-dried tomatoes, but in guacamole??  No, thank you.  Or so I thought.  As I scarfed down this lovely concoction, she told me the story of how this recipe came to be.  It was short and sweet.  She was making guacamole and went to add tomatoes, and realized she didn’t have any.  But she did have sun-dried tomatoes, so she thought, what the heck, and threw them in there.  At least, that’s how I remember the story.

Sun-Dried Tomato Guacamole

I know it sounds unusual, but it is so good!  The sweetness from the sun-dried tomatoes paired with the spiciness from the jalapenos is out of this world.  Using the sun-dried tomatoes that are oil packed really allows the sweetness of the tomatoes to seep into the rest of the dip making it taste even more rich and creamy.  I’m not sure about the rest of the ingredients Kim uses – I just made guac how I usually do, but with the exception of the tomatoes.  Take a risk and try this out next time you’re making guacamole!

Sun-Dried Tomato Guacamole

Sun-Dried Tomato Guacamole

Source: Kimmy JJ
Servings: Makes about 1 1/2 cups


3 avocados, halved, pitted and chopped
1/2 onion (I used white, but red is suggested)
3 tbsp cilantro, chopped
2 jalapenos, seeded and minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
1/2 lime, juiced
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
Kosher salt


1. In a large mixing bowl, combine avocado, onion, cilantro, jalapenos, garlic and cumin.  Add lime juice and mash with the back of a fork to desired consistency.  Add sun-dried tomatoes and salt to taste.

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


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


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


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


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.

Cornmeal Fried Onion Rings with Chipotle Mayo Dipping Sauce

Published April 16, 2013 by jenmatteson

I love a good onion ring.  And I’m quite finicky about how I like them.  I don’t want them too crispy, but certainly not soggy or limp.  The outside needs to be salty with a good crunch, but the onion inside should be cooked all the way through, but still have a slight bite to it.  Furthermore, the breading must have some flavor, not just any old gooey batter or breading.  And last, I need a good dip with my onion rings.  I do not accept ketchup or marinara.  I like a spicy mayo to dip these golden rings into.

Onion Rings

That being said, I have had a hard time choosing an onion ring recipe to fulfill my 30 Before 30 item.  Last week, there was a new member on my What’s Cooking board, Courtney, so I headed over to her blog, Cook Like a Champion, to see what kind of cool stuff she had.  So many things looked amazing, but her Cornmeal Fried Onion Rings caught my eye right away.  The cayenne and thyme in the breading paired with the cornmeal sounded like a great fit for my onion ring ramifications!

Onion Rings

Turns out, they were awesome!  Not too heavy, the breading stuck to the onions, and just one large yellow onion was more than enough rings for 4 people.  Sadly, I had to keep them in the oven longer than 30 minutes (while we were waiting for Nate’s ribs to be done – post soon to come), so when I finally served them, they were cracker crumbly.  When I test made them earlier in the day, Nate basically tried to eat the entire plate in one handful after his first bit.  Even when I did get to serving them before dinner, they were gone like hot cakes.  I’ll have to make it up to my future parent’s-in-law for round two of onion rings.  Can that ever be a bad thing?  I served them with my chipotle mayo, which was the perfect dip for these rings.  A wonderful first taste of Cook Like a Champion.  Thanks Courtney!

Onion Rings

Cornmeal Fried Onion Rings with Chipotle Mayonnaise

Source: Adapted from Cook Like a Champion
Servings: 6-8


1 large yellow or spanish onion
2 cups buttermilk
kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
1-2 tsp hot sauce
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
4-6 cups vegetable oil or peanut oil


1. Slice of the top and root end of the onion and carefully peel off the brown skin.  Slice into 1/2 – 3/4 inch slices, and separate into rings.

2. In a large bowl, combine buttermilk, 1 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, and hot sauce.  Add onions to buttermilk and toss well to coat all onions.  Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes, up to several hours.

3. In a shallow dish, combine flour, cornmeal, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, cayenne and thyme.  Whisk together so all ingredients are evenly incorporated.

4. Heat oil in large dutch oven or large pot to 350 degrees.  Meanwhile, prepare baking sheet with foil.  One at a time, remove onions from the buttermilk, and dredge in flour/cornmeal mixture.  Completely coat outside and inside of ring and tap off any excess.  Place ring on prepared baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining onions.

5. Prepare another baking sheet with paper towels and place next to oil.  Once oil is heated to 350, drop in a few onion rings at a time, making sure not to crowd the pot.  Fry until rings are golden brown, flipping over every so often.  They should take about 3-4 minutes.  Remove from oil and place on paper towel lined baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt immediately.  If you are not serving these right away, place in oven at 200 degrees.  They should remain crisp for about 30 minutes.  I don’t suggest any longer because mine were cracker crisp and crumbly…just a little too crispy.  Serve with chipotle mayonnaise, or other desired dipping sauce.

Pesto Chicken Pockets

Published October 17, 2012 by jenmatteson

I didn’t have a lot of time to make an appetizer for our latest drink tasting party (see French 75 for winning drink recipe :)), so I conjured up this quick and easy recipe with ingredients I already had in my fridge, minus the crescent rolls.  There is an unlimited number of appetizers, snacks and desserts you can make using crescent rolls, and this is the first time I’ve purchased them in as long as I can remember.  Finally General Mills figured out that we don’t always want seams in our Pillsbury Crescent rolls, so they have “seamless” sheets.  I’m not sure how long they’ve had these (please reference my earlier statement regarding how long it’s been since I’ve made them) but I absolutely found it brilliant.

I assembled and baked these little cuties before leaving for the party, and just reheated them in the oven before serving.  We actually forgot about them and they got a little extra crispy, but they were still awesome and vanished quickly.  They seemed to be quite a hit!

Pesto Chicken Pockets

Source: Pigzilla Original
Servings: Makes 24 pockets


12 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup basil pesto
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 can chicken breast
2-8 oz cans Pillsbury Seamless Dough Sheets


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium-sized bowl, combine cream cheese, pesto and sun-dried tomatoes.  Incorporate chicken until all ingredients are well combined.

2. Roll out dough sheets.  Using a pizza cutter, cut each piece twice across the length and three times across the width, making 12 small squares.  Scoop 1-2 tbsp of chicken mixture in the center of each square.  Carefully stretch the corners of each square up and around the mixture, matching all four corners on top.  Pinch corners together tightly.  This will probably leave four small holes, which is fine, or you can choose to press the seams together.

3. Place prepared pockets on a greased baking sheet.  Be sure to leave space between them as they will expand a bit.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown and puffy.  Serve immediately.

Pesto Chicken Pinwheels

Published July 7, 2012 by jenmatteson

I made these along with turkey bacon pinwheels for a day at the beach.  They were awesome.  We had a handful left over after the beach, and they came out late night when everyone was starting to get hungry again.  These are wonderful to have as appetizers since they are an excellent finger food.  You could even just wrap them up and cut in half to take as a fresh, fun lunch.  Anyway you roll it, this is a super excellent combination.

Pesto Chicken Pinwheels

Source: Pigzilla Original
Servings: 4


1/2 cup onions, diced small
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup basil pesto
3 tortilla wraps (I like Mission brand, and used the Tomato Basil kind)
12 slices mozzarella cheese
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked and chopped small
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup lettuce, chopped fine


1. In a small skillet, heat 1 tsp of olive oil over medium heat.  Reduce heat to low and add onions.  Cook on low for 8-10 minutes, until onions are translucent and tender.

2. In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise and basil pesto.  Spread mixture evenly on each wrap, leaving just 1/4-inch around the edges.  Add 4 slices of cheese to each wrap.  Evenly layer the chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, lettuce and cooked onions.

3. Wrap tightly, being cautious not to tear it, and wrap in foil.  Refrigerate for at least one hour before slicing.

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