Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Instant Appetizer: Peppadews Stuffed with Mozzarella Fresca

This is an appetizer for the last minute party or the one you've just remembered was "bring-a-dish" and it's already time to go. Stock your fridge with just a couple of items and you'll be ready in minutes:

Sweet, piquant Peppadews (sometime labelled Sweet Piquante Peppers) were a novelty a few years ago but are available with other pickled items in almost any grocery these days. The same goes for Mozzarella Fresca. Check the specialty cheese area of the grocery and you'll probably find several options; I like this marinated one best which has a few pretty flecks of herbs. 

Drain the peppadews and spread them out to find the largest first which will be the easiest to stuff. I used the smaller ones too, but that takes an extra minute of effort to cut the cheese balls down to fit. Since this is such a simple appetizer it seems a bit ridiculous to mention that, but if the party's waiting on you...well, just saying those skimpy peppers take a little extra time. 

If you're lucky enough to have some fresh rosemary in a pot grab a few sprigs for decoration. If you don't grow your own, it's very durable in the fridge, so not a bad idea to pick up one of the plastic packs of fresh herbs at the grocery too and it will probably make it through the entire month of December if you might be making these as a red and green Christmas take-along. And that's it! You're ready to go!

Try these great appetizers from our other friends and family at the Food Network. And come back next week when we'll all be blogging about Christmas Cookies!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Perfect Deviled Eggs 5 Ways

Printable Recipe
This is a master recipe that can be used for Deviled Eggs fifty ways if your imagination takes fire! All you need is this basic start and the sky's the limit. I'm that girl who shows up for holidays with dozens of deviled eggs in at least 3 or 4 different incarnations, usually topped off with a little clue about what lies beneath. A jalapeno ring for the hot ones, a piece of candied bacon for you know what kind, a sprig of dill for the dilly relish variety, the options are endless so let's get started. And first of all, if you despair over eggs that will not peel without tearing apart, here is tip #1: Start with rapidly boiling water and THEN slide in the ice cold eggs. Don't ever bring eggs up to a boil unless you're looking for shells that stubbornly refuse to peel off.
Lower the eggs in gently and return to a boil for 11 minutes.

Use a timer and you'll get perfectly yellow eggs, no green ring around the equator. That was tip #2. See how easy this is? Run them under cold water and when you can handle them roll each egg around on the counter or sink to gently crush the shell all over and it will peel away in mostly large easy peices.
Halve each and toss the yolks into a bowl. There are just four ingredients in the basic mix: 
Mayo or Miracle Whip, Honey Mustard, Salt, and Sugar.
For one dozen eggs I used about 1/4 cup mayo, 1 tsp h mustard, 1 tsp sugar, shake of salt. It may seem a bit stiff and dry, but the additions to the mix will make it creamier. Here are some possibilities for those additions!

 Jalapeno? Vidalia Onion Relish? 

ChowChow? Green Salsa? Pesto?
What's your pleasure?
If there is a relish or spread or pickled something in your fridge, it's probably a good companion for a deviled egg. Try it! Taste it. I've chopped olives, added capers, candied bacon (get it here), considered name it. Everything goes with an egg.
Once you've decided on the extras, divide the master mix evenly between bowls and start with a spoonful of add ins for each. Mix and taste, adding more if needed. I like to fill eggs fast and pretty, so I use a pastry press with the largest rosette tip so nothing gets stuck as I pipe.
Either garnish as you go or use separate plates so you can remember which is which! Certain people LOVE the hot spicy ones and I find they often are gone first. If there are any left to take after we've taste-tested them, that is.

This spring we're all blogging together with the Food Network and we'll be doing lots of Sensational Sides. Check out these other great ideas for Easter Sides:

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Mashed NotPotatoes Cauliflower

(Printable recipe)

There are just a few secrets to making a great flavored alternative to Mashed Potatoes if you're trying to avoid all the starch and carbs and get a few more cruciferous vegetables into your day. Cauliflower, like broccoli, brussels sprouts, bok choy, and cabbage falls into that category of cancer fighting highly detoxifying vegetables. But, as a member of the cabbage family it can turn pretty stinky if not cooked correctly. One of the biggies with cauliflower is to rescue it from the heat as soon as it has cooked through but before it becomes soft or mushy. Another little flavor helper is this: simmer it in chicken broth instead of water. All you need to add is a some low fat cream cheese or Laughing Cow in your favorite flavor and your whole family will be digging in without complaint.

Add just enough broth to mostly cover the cauliflower and reduce the heat as soon as it comes to a boil. An easy simmer instead of hard boil keeps the flavor good! Check in 10-15 minutes and as soon as a knife slides easily into a floret take it off the heat.

Using a slotted spoon transfer the cauliflower to food processor (draining it well). Any extra liquid makes the final mash too soupy. However, add some of the cooking broth and a 1/2 cup of grated cheddar and you'll have a very tasty cream soup without the explosion of carbs and calories in real cream soups.  Back to Mashed NotPotatoes:
Add 3 or 4 Laughing Cow cheese wedges or 3 or 4 Tbs of low fat cream cheese, flavored type if you like.

Process until smooth and finish with salt and pepper or a blend you like such as my all-purpose favorite used here: salt, pepper, garlic powder. (Always out on my counter.) This is ready to serve now or holds well in the fridge for days.

This spring we're all blogging together with the Food Network and we'll be doing lots of Sensational Sides. Check out these other great ideas for mashin' it up:

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Grilled Cheese Italian Style: Pepperoni and Parmesan Crust

Printable Recipe
I'll admit it, I love grilled cheese, any kind of grilled cheese, with every combination of savory, spicy, hot, sweet, cheese, meat, jam, sauce, mustard - you name it. This one: Think pizza flavors of mozza and pepperoni and sauce with a crispy outer crust of parmesan. Mmmmmmmm, yeah!

I cut diagonal slices of Italian Bread. Spread each one with your favorite pizza sauce. (I used spaghetti sauce because I like it better.)
Now fire up the skillet with a thin film of olive oil and just warm up the pepperoni slices to help with the melting of all that cheesey cheese. This is thin sliced, very tender pepperoni, labelled Old World Pepperoni in my store, but you could try a good brand such as Boar's Head and have it sliced very thin if you can't find something pre-packaged.
When they start to bubble just a bit, get them out and layer on both pieces of bread. Then pile on the cheese. I mean pile it on, lots 'o cheese. And slap on the lid. Carefully transfer to the skillet and slide it around in the hot oil a little then press down for good contact.
After the flip, I know it looks done, but Wait! There's more!
When I mentioned that parmesan crust, I do mean a solid crispy layer over the entire surface of the bread. We're going to make that happen with some grated parmesan delivered straight to the skillet in an Italian Grilled Cheese sandwich shape, just like this. Now press your sammy right on top of that.
Now let it sizzle 1 minute and carefully lift the edge of the bread with a metal spatula. You may have to scrape under it persistently to make it lift off in one piece. If you do it right you'll have a beautiful golden crunchy crust. Now, repeat on the other side because two is better than one.
Bravo! Feel free to load this little pizza-like sandwich with all your favorites. Peppers and green olives? Of course. Sauteed mushrooms and onions? Sure. Anchovies? Whatever floats your boat. Just pile on the extras under the cheese layer and press down the top before you gently move your loaded sandwich to the griller-skillet. Have fun, y'all.

All winter it's Comfort Food Feast at the Food Network, so check out these other great ideas and don't miss our Pinterest page each week!

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