Category Archives: appetizers

Roasted Red Pepper Dip




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Every good soft pretzel bite deserves something even better to dip it in or spread on it. There’s this awesome restaurant in town, POSH at The Scranton Club, which serves fresh-made soft pretzels accompanied by this incredible dip in lieu of your usual bread basket. Their food is fantastic, so even though I usually want to eat this whole basket, I try to show some self-control so I can still have room for dinner.  Then, I just make this soft pretzel bite/roasted red pepper dip at home.

I don’t even like roasted red peppers, but this – blended with cream cheese, feta, lemon and seasonings – is out of this world. I’ve taken this combo to a couple parties this year, and it quickly became my most-requested recipe.

ROASTED RED PEPPER DIP (inspired by POSH at The Scranton Club)

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Soft Pretzel Bites



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A confession:  I never made anything bread-related before this, and these (along with the feta and roasted red pepper dipping sauce) were one of the biggest hits of anything I’ve ever made. That’s how easy this recipe is. You can go full flour on this recipe, or half it with whole-wheat flour for a healthier version – they’re equally delicious (seriously.)

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Favorite Holiday Appetizers




Holiday Appetizers

Looking for some holiday appetizer ideas? Look no further. These are some of my very favorite, tried-and-true, crowd-pleasing apps. Get ready to be really popular and whatever party you’re going to. Happy Holidays!

Pear, Prosciutto and Honeyed Goat Cheese Apps with Thyme

Pear, Prosciutto and Honeyed Goat Cheese Apps with Thyme

 

Salmon and Avocado Apps with Lemon, Dill and Sesame Seeds

Not gonna lie, I felt pretty pleased with myself making these. The saltiness/savoriness of the salmon combined with the creamy avocado is perfect, they have 4 ingredients, tops, are chock full of Omega-3s – the “good for you fats” – which help with your cardiovascular health, eyesight, joints and a whole bunch of other things, have a hint of the bright flavor of lemon (which adds detox benefits) and if you use Wild for Salmon’s Dill and Orange Gravlax, you can skip the dill altogether. I did a couple of these with a light coating of toasted sesame seeds, but that’s up to you. These were ready in no time, and gone in about that same amount too.

SALMON AND AVOCADO APPS WITH LEMON AND DILL (makes about 30)
– 3 avocados, cut into approx. 3/4 inch chunks
Wild for Salmon’s Dill and Orange Gravlax (or smoked salmon if you can’t find this, but please try because this is amazing.)
– juice of 1 lemon
– pinch of kosher salt
– sesame seeds (optional)

1. Cut the avocados into approx. 3/4 inch chunks. 



2. Add to a bowl and toss with the lemon juice and the pinch of salt – this will keep the avocado from browning.

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Salmon Appetizers with Cucumber, Dill, Red Onion and Creme Fraiche

These little guys are our go-to appetizers for almost every gathering, and they’re also the first things that disappear. They’re fantastic. For these appetizers, I’m psyched to be working with Wild for Salmon, a Pennsylvania company run by Steve, a thirty-something who went from Penn State to Idaho to Alaska, where he (luckily for us) learned how to catch this amazing wild salmon, and then decided to bring that skill, and those products, back to his home state. I’ve been a fan of Wild for Salmon for a couple years now, always buying it at Hillside Farms, but getting to see the business itself was awesome – it’s a family-run operation (I met Steve, his mom, his wife Jenn and their adorable daughter Ava Jane while I was there) and they really care about what they produce, and where it comes from. Steve and Jenn either go on regular fishing trips to Alaska for Wild for Salmon’s products, or they personally know the fisherman who catch it for them, which is really impressive. I used their Dill & Orange Gravlax for this recipe, which was perfect – there is no mistaking the difference between this and the usual farm-raised salmon that you buy at the grocery store. Get in touch with Wild for Salmon and treat yourself to the real deal. 

Thanksgiving is this week – bring these apps to wherever you’re going and watch them disappear in no time flat.

SALMON APPETIZERS WITH CUCUMBER, DILL, RED ONION AND CREME FRAICHE (makes about 40)
– Sturdy Potato Chips (Kettle is good, but you can always make these yourself – & please do, because they’re awesome, simple & way healthier for you than the ones you buy at a store)
– 1/2 English Cucumber, chopped 
– 1/2 Red Onion, minced
– Fresh Dill
– Creme Fraiche – we used this Lemon-Dill sauce and that was terrific, or you could always just use cream cheese

1. Get everything grouped into little stations for quick assembling.

2. Chop the cucumber and mince the red onion.


3. Get out Wild for Salmon’s gorgeous Dill & Orange Gravlax. 

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Polenta Fries with Sage

Polenta fries. They’re healthier for you than traditional fries, about 100 times more delicious, and super simple to throw together, especially if you use pre-cooked polenta. You can mix up any sort of seasonings to dress them up, serve with any sort of dipping sauce, but for a little dinner party app, these – topped with sage and served alongside a little bowl of pasta sauce – were perfect. I had some of my girlfriends over for dinner and these were gone in about 10 minutes flat.

POLENTA FRIES WITH SAGE (serves 5)
– 1 package of polenta
– 2 tbsp. fresh chopped sage
– 2 tbsp. butter
– Kosher salt & pepper
– Pasta sauce (for dipping)

1. Preheat oven to 375.

2. Using a package of precooked polenta, cut into fry-shaped pieces. Place on one layer on a baking sheet.


3. Melt butter.  Add chopped sage to this, some kosher salt & pepper and mix well.


4. With a pastry brush, lightly coat both sides of the polenta fries.


5. Bake for about 20-30 minutes, flipping once or twice, until crispy.

6. Drain on paper towels, serve alongside a side of pasta sauce.

 

Four-Layer Mediterranean Dip

 

Last summer my friends and kids spent almost every weekend at Regina’s pool. Everyone would bring something, we’d have a couple cases of juice boxes (for the kids) and coronas (for the adults) and would just swim and eat and hang out. It was one of the best summers I’ve had in a long time…the little things, I know. My friend Adrienne would make this dip almost every weekend, and we’d devour it. It’s hummus, lemon-flavored greek yogurt, feta and then a blend of english cucumbers, red bell peppers, olives, tomatoes and scallions. You eat it with Carr’s water crackers and IT IS THE BOMB.  Ohhhh I’m so excited for pool season to start!!

FOUR-LAYER MEDITERRANEAN DIP (very slightly adapted from House Tweaking)
– 8 oz. plain hummus
– 1 tbsp. dill
– 2 tbsp. lemon juice, divided
– 1 regular size container plain Greek yogurt
– 1/2 tsp. pepper
– 1/3 english cucumber, chopped
– 1/2 small tomato, chopped
– 1/4 red bell pepper, chopped
– 1 scallion stalk, sliced thin (both whites and greens)
– 1/4 c. kalamata olives, chopped
– 1/2 c. crumbled feta

1. Add 1 tbsp. lemon juice and the dill to the hummus, mix well. Spread in 1 layer in a pie pan (clear is best since you can see the layers when it’s finished, but if you don’t have one, no worries).


2. Add the other tbsp. lemon juice and the pepper to the greek yogurt, mix well. Spread that in a thin layer on top of the hummus.


3. Crumble the feta in an even layer over the lemon greek yogurt mixture.


4. Add the english cucumber, tomato, bell pepper, scallions and kalamata olives (make sure these are all chopped in pretty much the same smallish size) over the top of the feta.


5. Serve with Carr’s Water Crackers and feel like Houdini as you watch this disappear.

— On another note, if Memorial Day Weekend was any indication of how this summer’s going to go, it’s going to be awesome. 

Modest Mouse at Ommegang – it poured but we had a blast

An unbelievable meal at the Red Caboose in Oneonta

“I’m always red.”

Brendan’s first Phillies game!! (He’s from Colorado)

Ommegang 
Otesaga Hotel – so so gorgeous 


Cucumber Roll-Ups stuffed with Avocado-Feta Mousse

My parents had a little dinner party at their house, and we all kind of went overboard with our contributions. I made these cucumber roll-ups and those pear, prosciutto & honeyed goat cheese apps, my dad made his incomparable filet mignon with merlot reduction sauce, and my sister made this insane blackberry, lime & olive oil cake. And my mom just made everything look beautiful, as always.  Anyway, these are super simple, really delicious and healthy too! Brendan helped me make them and he was all, “they’re like little cucumber burritos!” which…yup, I can see it. You can use just about anything as a filler, but you know how I looooves me some avocado & feta.

CUCUMBER ROLL-UPS STUFFED WITH AVOCADO-FETA MOUSSE (makes enough for 8 people as apps but only if you have a bunch of other little delicious apps, too)
– 1 english cucumber, washed, skin on
– 1 avocado
– 1/3 c. feta
– 1 tbsp. dill
– juice of 1/2 a lemon

1. Make the avocado-feta mousse. Dice the avocado, then mash it well.  Combine with the dill, lemon & feta. Taste, then adjust seasonings as needed.


2. With a vegetable peeler or a mandoline (I can’t use these, they truly truly freak me out), shave the cucumber into very thin slices. 


3. Take a small spoonful of the avocado-feta mousse and spread it over each slice of the cucumber. Roll and either secure with a toothpick, or leave as is.



4. Serve and watch your family enjoy. Make a mental note to try and make everything as beautiful as your mom always does. 


(Don’t worry. We went for a 7 mile waterfall hike the next day to burn this all off!)


Pear, Prosciutto & Honeyed Goat Cheese Appetizers with Fresh Thyme

Oh man, these were soooo good. I’ve really been trying to like goat cheese lately, and honey + goat cheese = deliciousness. Bartlett pear slices with a salty piece of prosciutto, topped with honey goat cheese and thyme…I made these for a dinner party at my parents’, and we tore through 2 trays in no time flat. Even my mom had one, and she’s a vegetarian!!

Pear, Prosciutto & Honeyed Goat Cheese Appetizers (adapted from southernliving.com, serves 8)
– 2 bartlett pears
– 5 oz. very thinly sliced prosciutto
– 3 oz. honeyed goat cheese (or, if you can’t find this, goat cheese blended with honey)
– fresh thyme
– freshly cracked black pepper

1. Heat the oven to 400.

2. When oven is ready, put the prosciutto on aluminum foil and bake until crispy, approx. 10 minutes.

3. Let prosciutto drain on paper towels while you assemble everything else.


4. Cut pears into thin slices/rounds. Top with prosciutto, honeyed goat cheese, fresh thyme and a tiny bit of freshly cracked black pepper.  Serve and enjoy.

Roasted Garlic Hummus


I eat so much hummus on a weekly basis that I finally decided to try to make it myself. It seems like a really impressive recipe, but is incredibly easy and tasty, and has become one of the most-requested things that I make (and not just in our house!). The roasted garlic adds a nice dimension of subtle flavor, and you can skip it if you want, but why not just try it once?  

—– You willllllll tryyyyyy the roastedddd gaaarrrllliiicccc ——

Omg weird, didn’t you just get the urge to break out a garlic bulb to roast??

ROASTED GARLIC HUMMUS (Serving size varies, depending on your house’s level of hummus consumption)
– 2 cans chickpeas (15.5 oz each), rinsed and drained
– 1 whole garlic bulb
– 1/3 C. tahini
– 1/3 C. EVOO
– Approx. 1 C. chicken broth (or vegetable broth for a full vegan side)
– 1/2 lemon, juiced
– 1 tsp. paprika
– 2 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley (flat leaf)
– 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
– 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 450. 

2. Lop the top off a full bulb of garlic, and discard.  Place garlic bulb in a muffin tin, drizzle with olive oil, and cover tightly with aluminum foil.  Bake for approx. 30 – 40 minutes, or until garlic is roasted.

 

3. Squeeze out the roasted cloves of garlic (or use a fork to extract) into a large mixing bowl.

4. Add chickpeas, EVOO, tahini, lemon juice, paprika, parsley, salt & pepper to the mixing bowl.  Stir well to combine.
 
5. Add mixture to a Food Processor, pulse to combine, then add the chicken or veggie stock little by little as you continue to blend the chickpea mixture.  The consistency will change from kind of chunky to fluffy and thick – keep adding the broth until you have the consistency you want.

6. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. The flavors will continue to combine and deepen over this time, so when you add seasonings after blending it, make sure to add a little less than what you think it really needs.

7. Serve with carrots, celery, the ever-popular pretzel chip, or use as a spread on sandwiches or apps.

Happy 12.12.12!