Snacks/Appetizers

Guacamole Genua Style (revisited)

This post is from many years ago but since it is Cinco de Mayo I thought I’d repost it! Guacamole isn’t just for Cinco de Mayo either! Enjoy it every day if you want! Avocados are good for you! An update on the avocado “tree” I had all those years ago…It didn’t last. We don’t have the proper surroundings for it. Living with an extremely strict HOA we can’t have ANY kind of fruit trees outside our screen enclosure. So my little tree is no more. Very sad.

I love guacamole! (I think I’ll marry it!- inside joke) I always thought it was so hard to make until my cousins Linda and Kim showed me how when they were visiting me. Ever since then I was hooked on making it myself. I am always looking for the sale on the Hass avocados. They are the best to use. There are other larger avocados out there but they just don’t do it for me. The color is wrong too and the taste is bland. So stick to the Hass. They are usually from California but lately the ones I’ve bought have been from Mexico. Still really good. I make guacamole at least once a week! It goes great on so many things other than chips. Sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, chicken, steak, you name it. I also bought one of those avocado slicers to make the slicing easier, but it’s just as easy to score and then scoop out the avocado with a large spoon. Though it is actually good for getting the pit out without cutting open your hand and getting blood all over the guac.  But you can just cut open an avocado by slicing all the way around the long way and twist the two halves apart. Then take a sharp knife and whack the seed with it till it sticks in and twist. Just don’t whack your hand in the process! The seed should come right out. And I planted one recently, I had to see if I could actually grow it. It works! Just waiting for fruit! (See picture below) Though that might not happen but we will see! As soon as I finish writing this I am going to make another batch as well! And when you buy avocados pick ones that are a nice color and firm. If they are already soft you will have to use them right away. They take a day or so to soften on the counter, once they do put them in the fridge and use in few days. They should not be mushy! Mushy is bad. I also make mine half mashed and half chunky. But if you don’t like chunks mash away!

 

INGREDIENTS:

2 large Hass avocados

1 large plum tomato (halved, seeded and chopped)

¼ cup chopped red onion

1 tablespoon cilantro (or ½ cup fresh chopped)

juice of 1 lime or lemon

¼ cup jalapeños, chopped (I use the pickled ones in the jar but fresh is good too!) If this is too hot for you lessen or leave out.

2 cloves garlic, minced or chopped

1 teaspoon kosher salt (regular will be fine if you don’t have the Kosher)


DIRECTIONS:

1. Cut open the avocado and slice and chop one of them and place in a large bowl. Do the same with the second one but set aside.

2. Mash the avocado in the large bowl with a fork till all mashed up. Add the rest of the ingredients as well as the unmashed avocado and mix gently so you don’t mash all the chunks. (Unless you want it all mashed!)

3. Chill and serve in a few hours. If you will be waiting longer to serve place a piece of wax paper over the top of the guacamole in a container and cover tightly. It will start to turn brown from oxidation if you don’t do this. Also adding a little more lime juice will help. If it does start to turn just mix it up, there’s nothing wrong with it, just won’t look as pretty.

Regular Avocado

Non-Hass Avocado

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French Onion Soup Pizza

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Finished product

As promised I am posting the recipe for the French Onion Dip/Soup Pizza I posted pictures of the other day. This recipe came from Rachael Ray. It actually aired on her show back in 2009 but I just came across it now. If you want to see the video and original recipe click on French Onion Dip Pizza. 

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Ready for the oven!

When I first saw this recipe I was hooked. If you love french onion dip or french onion soup and pizza then you will love this recipe. My one word of caution is to give yourself time to make it. Caramelizing onions is NOT a quick process. I would say this recipe took me a good 90 minutes from start to finish with all the prep and cooking. It’s not complicated at all either. Just time-consuming. I also made the recipe as instructed, for the most part. I did add an extra clove of garlic (duh!) and an extra onion. I also added a bit more on the cheese. (again, duh!) She also calls for Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, but come on, I’m not made of gold. I used Locatelli Romano. The Gruyère cheese in this recipe was my big splurge. And don’t leave out the thyme leaves. I actually have never cooked with fresh thyme before, I know, hard to believe. What was I thinking? It totally made the pizza. The flavors just exploded in my mouth.

I will be making this pizza again for sure. Another thing I learned when pre-baking the crust, I will also poke tiny air holes in it with a fork before baking. I didn’t do that when I made this and it puffed up so big all I could think of was that Little Rascals episode with the cake that kept expanding on the sides. I was able to flatten it but I was nervous. Baking the crust prior is definitely  a must otherwise the pizza will be very soggy.

So if you like onions and cheese and pizza try this recipe. You will NOT be disappointed. If you don’t like any of those things then I feel sad for you. (Sorry Biz, way too many onions for you)

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Double Yummmm

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons (approximately) extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 large sweet onions, thinly sliced
  • 2-4 cloves garlic finely chopped or grated
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 ball/package fresh pizza dough (I buy mine at Wal-Mart in their deli section, $1!)
  • 1 cup sour cream or creme fraiche (I used sour cream)
  • 3/4 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup shredded Gruyère cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (I used Locatelli Romano, use what you have)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  2. Using a large skillet, on medium, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and gently cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are soft and deep golden brown. This takes about 25 minutes. Be careful not to let the onions get crispy.
  3. As the onions are cooking prep your pizza dough on your pizza pan, baking sheet or whatever you use. Poke tiny air holes with a fork through the dough. (remember we don’t want a balloon to appear!) Bake the dough until light golden brown, about 15 minutes. Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t get too brown.
  4. When the onions are done, season them with salt and pepper and stir in the sour cream or creme fraiche.
  5. Spread this mixture over the pre-baked crust. Sprinkle the cheeses over the onions. Sprinkle the thyme over the cheese.
  6. Bake until golden brown and bubbly about 10 minutes. Keep a watch on it so the cheese doesn’t burn. (I placed it on the middle rack because it was so dense. Normally my pizza is baked on the bottom rack)
  7. Remove from oven carefully and let sit for a couple of minutes. Slice it up and serve! Be careful it’s HOT! Enjoy!

Teriyaki Chicken Wings

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We love chicken wings in our house. I mean, really, who doesn’t? And after spending so much money on them in restaurants I now continue to make them fresh at home. This way I will know exactly what ingredients are used and I prefer to bake them, rather than frying,  in my oven on convection roast. (I have a convection option on my oven) The flavors are endless. From the old standby “buffalo” flavor to the unique flavors of garlic/parmesan to teriyaki. I keep experimenting.

I used to buy the giant frozen bag of cooked buffalo chicken wings and go from there. Realizing they were almost as expensive as eating them in a restaurant I then moved onto the giant bags of frozen uncooked wings. Still too pricey and the wings they used in these bags are what we started calling mutant wings. Most of them were either too small or the machines that cut them severed the bones leaving too many sharp edges and mutant looking wing pieces. Searching the supermarkets for fresh wings became my next challenge. Have you ever priced fresh chicken wings? They can be very expensive as well. $3.99/lb and up in most places. We found a few stores would have sales at $2.99/lb which wasn’t bad but still not good enough for my budget. And then grocery gods smiled upon us and opened an Aldi store in my neighborhood. There was much rejoicing when I saw the prices of their fresh chicken wings. $1.99/lb! At that price, I now buy two packages. Each package usually has about 10 wings, uncut, which comes out to 20 when I cut them myself. So for about $5-$7 we get 20 wings! (and yes, I leave the wing tips on as well, gives you a little handle!) And an even better deal when they have a sale on them at $1.79/lb. I stock up big time! I live in south Florida so the prices may vary depending on where you live.

This recipe is a no sugar added teriyaki. We try to avoid sugars in foods if we can and I use sucralose as a substitute. But if you prefer, just use regular sugar.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 10 fresh chicken wings, cut into 20 pieces
  • Teriyaki sauce (recipe below)
  • sesame seeds
  • 2 scallions chopped

DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat oven to convection roast at 400ºF. (or bake)
  • Place plain wings on large rimmed cookie sheet. (I use a ceramic cookie sheet so I don’t need foil or anything, but if using a regular cookie sheet use foil or spray pan as they may stick)
  • Roast for about 20 minutes and turn wings over. Roast another 20 minutes.
  • By now the wings should be crisping up pretty good, remove them to a large bowl and pour the teriyaki sauce all over them to make sure they’re coated completely.
  • Return wings to the cookie sheet and roast another 5-10 minutes, watching they don’t burn with the sauce. 
  • Remove from oven and sprinkle with sesame seeds and scallions. 
  • Serve with blue cheese or ranch dressing and celery/carrot sticks.

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Teriyaki Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sucralose (or sugar if you prefer)
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable/canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic minced

Directions

Mix all ingredients together.

Garlic Cheese Bites

Let me just start off by saying that if you don’t like garlic (you know who you are) then stop reading right here. This recipe is not for the faint of heart when it comes to garlic overload. I’m not joking so beware!! AND if you are lactose intolerant, take a pill or something if you want to eat these. LOTS of cheese. You’ve been warned…

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I found this recipe one day while on the King’s Hawaiian recipe pages. I did stick to it pretty closely but I think next time I will make a change to see if it makes a difference. The recipe calls for using the little fresh mozzarella balls. But I think I will try just cutting up a block of mozzarella into cubes of the same size and trying that. I LOVE the fresh mozzarella but I think it’s too delicate and melts too much for this. The original recipe (Cheesy Garlic Bites) comes from a great site called Zestuous. I did follow the recipe very closely except for the amount of garlic, which is odd for me! NOT! One of the ingredients is for buttermilk biscuits (in the can) and it’s VERY important to use the regular kind, NOT FLAKY. Another very important tidbit is to make sure when the dough balls are placed into the muffin pan they are placed open side UP. As I found out with a few that got turned around, all the cheese will ooze out into the pan. Still tastes good but not very appealing.IMG_4057IMG_4058

INGREDIENTS:

2 cans (any brand) buttermilk biscuits (not the flaky kind)

20 cherry-size balls of fresh mozzarella or regular mozzarella cut into cubes

3 tablespoons olive oil

8 cloves garlic, minced (use less if it’s too much for you)

1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons butter

¼ cup white wine

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

½ cup shredded parmesan cheese (any kind)

salt and basil to taste

mini muffin tins

 

DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat oven to 450ºF.
  • Open the can of biscuits and flatten each biscuit. 
  • Drain the liquid from the fresh mozzarella if you’re using fresh and place a ball in the center of the dough forming a ball around it. IMG_4046
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Sauté for 1-2 minutes, adding the butter and stir until completely melted.
  • Slowly pour in the white wine and salt and continue cooking for 1-2 minutes. IMG_4049
  • Carefully roll the dough balls into the garlic-wine-butter mixture.IMG_4050
  • Carefully place the balls in a mini muffin pan, OPEN SIDE UP!! Trust me!IMG_4051
  • Combine the shredded mozzarella/parmesan cheese and pile on top of each ball.

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  • Bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and brush with the leftover garlic butter.

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  • Sprinkle with salt and basil to taste. Serve warm!

Makes about 20 balls

Baked Chicken Salad Egg Rolls!

This recipe I just came up with tonight. Remember I’m obsessed with wonton wrappers and these are the big ones, the egg roll wrappers. Well I decided to make use of the leftover chicken breast I had in the fridge and came up with these gems. So easy to make. Baked not fried.

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The ingredients included: 1 chicken breast that had been roasted on the bone, removed and chopped up. About 2 cups chopped chicken. Julienned carrots, chopped celery (1 stem), 1 tablespoon minced red onion, garlic powder to taste, ¾ cup light sour cream and 2 blue cheese Laughing Cow wedges (softened). Also added about 3 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese to the mixture.

Mix all together. The recipe made 10 egg rolls. I buy the egg roll wrappers in the produce department of my supermarket. Walmart also sells them in their produce department. Look in the Asian food section. I laid a few carrots sliver in the center and then put about ½ cup of the chicken salad on top. Wet the edges of the wrapper and fold sides over, then bring bottom over the top and roll. Seal the edges with a bit of water.

I sprayed them with cooking spray and placed on a baking sheet. Baked for about 20-30 minutes at 400º, turning after 10 minutes till golden brown! That’s it!!

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The sauce I served with it was just light sour cream and Tabasco Buffalo sauce and a teaspoon of agave for sweetness.  Everything was delicious. I thought there would be leftovers. Nope! All gone!

Saucy Garlic Parmesan Chicken Wings

Well it has been much longer than I had anticipated for posting a new recipe. But as we all know, life can get pretty busy sometimes. But it’s no excuse. I have so many recipes I need to post so I’m starting with the one I made just last night. I posted the photo on Facebook and had a few requests for the recipe so here it is.

This recipe started out with me making my Buttery Garlic Parmesan Chicken Wings. Then I thought maybe I should try something slightly different. I had a bit of marinara sauce in the fridge, really it was only about 2 ounces, but I figured it would come in handy and it did. I added it to my recipe and tweaked it a bit and came up with a new flavor. They were delicious. No leftovers here!

Quick note about the chicken wings I use. In the past I have bought Tyson uncooked wings or Perdue. But they can be very pricey. Then I switched to Great Value (Walmart). Not bad. But now I am using only the wings I have purchased at a store we just discovered, Save-a-lot. A 4 lb bag costs about $6.00! And the wings are huge! Most of the other brands were have the size for more money! And they are delicious! 

Ingredients

20-24 chicken wings, frozen or thawed (flats/drumsticks)

4 tablespoons butter or butter substitute (I use I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter)

8-10 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more or less depending on how spicy you like it)

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

2 ounces marinara sauce or whatever red sauce you may have around. Plain tomato sauce is good too.

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese (we use Locatelli Romano)

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 400ºF. (I have a convection option on my oven and I use convection roast)
  2. On a large cookie sheet or shallow roasting pan lay out the wings. They can touch and crowd each other because they do shrink a little.
  3. Place in oven and bake for 30-45 minutes for frozen. Flip every 10-15 minutes or so. If using thawed, reduce cook time. Bake to desired crispness.
  4. Meanwhile in a food processor place garlic, olive oil, basil and oregano. Pulse until garlic is finely minced.
  5. Add butter to small saucepan and melt on low heat (careful not to burn). When melted add the garlic mixture and red pepper flakes and cook till heated.
  6. When wings are done remove from pan and place in a large mixing bowl. (You can blot up some of the chicken grease with paper towels if you like also)
  7. Add the cheese to the garlic mixture and add to the wings in bowl. Mix thoroughly.
  8. Return wings to pan, sauce and all and bake another 5-10 minutes but keep an eye on it. You don’t want all the sauce to dry up.
  9. Return to bowl you mixed them in and serve. Or if you want a pretty presentation put on a platter.

Serve with bleu cheese and celery/carrot sticks!

Shrimp Egg Rolls

Today is all about me venturing into the realm of the large wonton wrappers! Yes I have now graduated from the small ones to the big ones! I have to admit, I was a little scared of not rolling them right, or having the filling ooze all over the place. But my fears were for naught!

 I had seen this recipe on an episode of Hungry Girl and I figured it looked easy enough so I tried it! They were such a success I made them two nights in a row for dinner! Yes, they are usually an appetizer but who says they have to be? Now this recipe calls for scallions and bean sprouts. I was out of both of them so I left them out in this batch. Still came out awesome! The best part of this recipe is that they are baked, not fried! Saves a ton of calories (each roll is about 100 calories) and they still come out crispy and yummy! 

I ended up using the whole package in two days so I have to restock my supply of large wrappers. Remember you can find them in the produce department in the Asian section. Even Walmart’s produce section has them! They are so easy to make and you can substitute anything you want in them. Not a fan of shrimp? Use chopped cooked chicken or chopped cooked pork. These are great for getting rid of leftovers in the refrigerator! Just make them into an egg roll!

I doubled the original recipe (it was an accident actually so I made it work) therefore, this makes a lot of filling. I got about 20 egg rolls out of it. No leftovers!

INGREDIENTS:

1 bag coleslaw mix (12-16 oz.)

8 oz. cooked and chopped shrimp

1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained and chopped

½ cup bean sprouts, chopped

4 scallions, chopped (green and white parts)

2 stalks celery, thinly sliced widthwise

3-4 tablespoons reduced-sodium or lite soy sauce

2 teaspoons crushed garlic (I used 4 cloves)

½ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon salt

Several dashes black pepper

sesame seeds, optional

20 large square egg roll/wonton wrappers

Sauces for dipping

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
  2. Put slaw mix into a large microwave-safe bowl with 4 tablespoons of water. Cover and microwave on HIGH for 2 minutes. Drain any excess water. Add the rest of the ingredients (except for the wrappers of course). Mix well and set aside. You can set it in the fridge to marinate for about 20 minutes for a better flavor.
  3. Using a large baking sheet spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  4. Using a clean, dry surface place a wonton wrapper. Evenly distribute about ½ cup of the mixture onto the wrapper, just below center, in a row.
  5. Moisten all four edges of the wrapper by dabbing your fingers in water and running them around the edges smoothly. This will help the wrappers stick better.
  6. Fold the sides of the wrapper about 3/4 inch towards the center. This keeps the mixture from falling out of the sides. Next, roll the bottom of each wrapper up around the mixture and continue rolling until you reach the top. Seal the outside edge with another dab of water. Go slow at first till you get the hang of it. It’s actually pretty easy.
  7. Carefully transfer to prepared baking sheet. Repeat until you have made enough rolls. Keep the surface you are working on, dry and clean.
  8. Spray the tops of the egg rolls with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if you wish.
  9. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. I baked for 30 minutes. Allow to cool slightly and serve!

Be very careful as they will be extremely HOT! We cut them in half to let steam out before eating. I also made my own sauce using Mikoto ginger dressing and some soy sauce. Delish! Enjoy!

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