Archive for the ‘Appetizers’ Category

Corn & Blueberry Salad

Update: This is one of my most-pinned recipes, and since we all know I’m not whipping up tons of recipes, and bringing them to my backyard for a photoshoot, I’m re-posting and re-pinning. This salad really is delicious, and a departure from the traditional backyard BBQ fare. 

Well…what a strange combination. Corn and…blueberries? Yep, totally weird – but quite possibly the most unique, amazing, refreshing summer salad…ever? I actually made this for the first time last summer after finding the recipe on Better Homes & Gardens.  I was VERY excited to tell people after I made it – I told people at work, I told my Mom, I told my friends…I even told my gynecologist. I mean, seriously, corn and BLUEBERRIES? Everyone needed to know about this.

But alas, last summer I had a dumbphone that could barely text let alone take fancy photos, I didn’t even know what Pinterest was, and I was totally unversed in the art of backyard photo shoots. Of course, this may have been my first backyard photo shoot, but still.

So today, on quite possibly the hottest day of the year, I whipped up this salad and took it to my backyard and proceeded to arrange my food in an artful and pleasing manner, when I noticed my neighbor on her second floor deck. I felt like what I was doing needed some explanation, so I explained to her that I was a mediocre food blogger just trying to make my way in the world, artfully arranging food on my neighbor’s patio furniture in a pleasing manner and taking pictures of it with my fancy phone. She seemed interested, but one thing led to another, and soon we were talking about more interesting things – like the evolution of Bucktown’s streetwalker population over the years. …I wonder if they would like this salad. But I digress.

There really is something so refreshing about this salad. The corn and blueberries are accented by the cilantro, jalapeno and lime juice, and even the cucumber (not a really a fan, but coming around) has a place here. The end result is something light and unique to be enjoyed on the hottest of summer days. And if you chopped up or omitted the cucumbers and added a little more heat, I could see this being a great fruit and corn salsa.

Without further ado, I give you this Summer Blueberry & Corn Salad:

Chilled Corn & Blueberry Salad

Summer Blueberry & Corn Salad*


  • 6 ears fresh sweet corn, husked
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries
  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped


  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt (or more to taste)
1. Cook sweet corn to desired tenderness in large pot of boiling water (usually around 10 minutes).

2. In a serving bowl combine corn, blueberries, cucumber, red onion, cilantro, and jalapeno. In a screw-top jar (I used a water bottle) combine lime juice, oil, honey, cumin, and 1/2 tsp. garlic salt. Cover; shake well to combine. Add to salad; toss. Cover and refrigerate overnight (up to 24 hours). Makes 6 to 8 servings. Weight Watchers Points+ = 4/serving

*Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens

Corn and Blueberry Salad: Dining at my Desk

Corn and Blueberry Salad: Dining at my Desk

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In tribute to my roommate, who flew around the kitchen in a flurry of awesomeness making a “Mexican Casserole” in the crockpot this morning, I’ve decided to make today’s recipe a slow cooker favorite. While searching for crockpot recipes, I stumbled on the Snappy Gourmet’s recipe for Spicy Sausage & Beer Cheese Dip. I’ve not actually tried this, but I love cheese and beer together, so there’s actually a good possibility that this could be on tap during the holidays. If I make it, I’ll update and let you know how it was!

Crockpot Beer Cheese Dip

Slow Cooker Spicy Sausage Beer Cheese Dip from The Snappy Gourmet

Slow Cooker Spicy Sausage & Beer Cheese Dip

1 (16oz.) roll Hot Sausage (any variety), crumbled
1 small green pepper; seeds removed & finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1(12oz.) can beer
6 cups [or 3 (8oz.) packages] shredded cheese (such as Monterrey Jack)
1 (8oz.) block cream cheese, cut into cubes
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons Tabasco
Salt & Pepper to taste

In a large skillet cook sausage, green pepper, onion, and garlic over medium-high heat for about 5-7 minutes or until meat is cooked through and vegetables start to soften. Drain any excess fat, then pour sausage and vegetables into bottom of slow cooker.

Add beer, shredded cheese, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, and salt and pepper to taste to slow cooker on top of sausage and vegetables. Stir everything to combine.

Cook dip on low for about 2 hours or until heated through and cheese has melted. Stir well. Remove cover and keep on low to serve warm.

Makes about 6 cups

You can cook the dip longer than 2 hours, but if it may thin out a little due to the condensation dripping from the top of your slow cooker.

I used 16 ounces of Monterey Jack cheese and 8 ounces Italian Blend cheese only because that’s what I had in my fridge, but I’m sure many kinds of cheese would work although some varieties including lowfat may not melt well. You can also substitute other vegetables for the onion and/or pepper or omit one. Other peppers such as jalapenos would also be a good addition.

Slow Cooker Spicy Sausage Beer Cheese Dip from The Snappy Gourmet

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Well, this is going to take all day. That first makeup post took a solid hour. But, you deserve these recipes, so I’m going to keep plugging away at them.

For our next round of recipes, I’ll be taking a break from cookies and featuring savory recipes. Our first comes from David Lebovitz, living the sweet life in Paris. Wow, would I like his job. Food blogging in Paris would be my ultimate dream come true. Never going to happen, but definitely the stuff of dreams. He brings us this fantastic looking French Tomato Tart. The cheese is goat cheese, which I’m not a huge fan of, so I would substitute fresh mozzarella.

French Tomato Tart

French Tomato Tart

One 9- or 10-inch (23-25 cm) tart

Adapted from A Culinary Journey in Gascony

Because this is ‘country-style’ fare, this tart is open to lots of interpretation. For those of you with tart dough “issues”, you can make this either free-style or in a fluted tart ring with a removable bottom. Kate didn’t let the dough rest, but simply rolled it out, transferred it into the tart ring, and ran the rolling pin over the dough to neatly shear away the edges.

If you wish to make a free-style tart, roll the dough out to about 14-inches across, then transfer it to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat. Assemble the tart, leaving a 2-inch (5 cm) border, which you’ll then fold up to enclose the tart.

Depending on the size of your pan, you may have a bit of dough leftover. We used it to make a few mini-tartlets, which we enjoyed later than evening with our aperitifs.

Tart Filling

One unbaked tart dough (see recipe, below)

Dijon or whole-grain mustard

2-3 large ripe tomatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and freshly ground pepper

two generous tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as thyme, chives, chervil, or tarragon

8 ounces (250 g) fresh or slightly aged goat cheese, sliced into rounds

Optional: 1 1/2 tablespoons flavorful honey

Tart Dough

1 1/2 cups (210 g) flour
4 1/2 ounces (125 g) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into cubes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
2-3 tablespoons cold water

1. Make the dough by mixing the flour and salt in a bowl. Add the butter and use your hands, or a pastry blender, to break in the butter until the mixture has a crumbly, cornmeal-like texture.

2. Mix the egg with 2 tablespoons of the water. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the beaten egg mixture, stirring the mixture until the dough holds together. If it’s not coming together easily, add the additional tablespoon of ice water.

3. Gather the dough into a ball and roll the dough on a lightly floured surface, adding additional flour only as necessary to keep the dough from sticking to the counter.

4. Once the dough is large enough so that it will cover the bottom of the pan and go up the sides, roll the dough around the rolling pin then unroll it over the tart pan. “Dock” the bottom of the pastry firmly with your fingertips a few times, pressing in to make indentations.

If making a freestyle tart, simply transfer the dough to a prepared baking sheet (see headnote); no need to make indentations with your fingers.

5. Preheat the oven to 425ºF (218ºC). See note.

6. Spread an even layer of mustard over the bottom of the tart dough and let it sit a few minutes to dry out.

7. Slice the tomatoes and arrange them over the mustard in a single, even layer. Drizzle the olive oil over the top.

8. Sprinkle with some chopped fresh herbs, then arrange the slices of goat cheese on top. Add some more fresh herbs, then drizzle with some honey, if using.

(If baking a free-form tart, gather the edges when you’re done, to envelope the filling.)

9. Bake the tart for 30 minutes or so, until the dough is cooked, the tomatoes are tender, and the cheese on top is nicely browned. Depending on the heat of your oven, if the cheese doesn’t brown as much as you’d like it, you might want to pass it under the broiler until it’s just right.

Note: Kate indeed does cook her tart in a very hot oven. You might wish to check the tart midway through baking and turn it down a bit in case the top is getting too dark, before the crust and tomatoes appear to be cooked.

Southern Pecan Cheese Dip

Southern Pecan Cheese Dip

This isn’t actually a picture of this dip, but it looks similar to what one of the women in our office made for our Christmas party. This Southern Pecan Cheese Dip was the absolute hit of the night, and even though she advises serving it with crackers, I wouldn’t have minded her serving it with a spoon. I’d never tasted anything quite like it. Bacon, green onions, cream cheese, red pepper jelly and pecans…truly amazing. Here’s the recipe, courtesy of my friend Linda:

8oz. pkg. cream cheese

1 cup finely grated cheddar cheese

1/2 cup mayonnaise

3 chopped green onions

6 crumbled Ritz crackers

1/2 cup crumbled bacon (can use precooked or real bacon bits)

1/2 cup Red Pepper Jelly (Stonewall Kitchen makes a good one)

Finely chopped pecans

Mix the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, mayo and green onions together and spread in a baking dish. Top with Ritz crackers and bake in a 400 degree oven for 15 mins or  until bubbly. Take out of the oven and top with crumbled bacon. Drizzle the red pepper jelly over the mixture and top with finely chopped pecans.

Cream Cheese Pancakes with Smoked Salmon

Cream Cheese Pancakes with Salmon

Our third recipe is from Evil Shenanigans. Looks good for an appetizer or brunch.

Cream Cheese Pancakes with Smoked Salmon    Serves   10 to 12

For the pancakes:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon fresh chopped chives
1 ounce cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
8 ounces cold smoked salmon
Freshly chopped chives, for garnish

For the sour cream sauce:
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon horseradish
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Begin by making the pancakes. For the rest of the instructions, please visit the Evil Shenanigans blog, because it comes with step by step, including pictures, and I don’t have the time to post that before midnight!

Potato Stuffed Spicy Mushrooms

Potato Stuffed Spicy Mushrooms

Our last recipe of this post comes from Adding Zest to your Cooking. I love stuffed mushrooms, and I think this is a unique spin on them.

12-15 button mushrooms-large, washed and stemmed
1 large potato (boiled and mashed)
1/2 finely chopped onion
2 medium green chillies finely chopped
1 tsp finely chopped ginger
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp red chilli powder
Salt to taste
some cheese (i used pepperjack) to sprinkle.
some red chilli flakes, dried oregano, parsley and basil.
Some parmesan cheese flakes or you can use the shredded dried parmesan cheese.

1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degree F.
2. Make a mixture for the stuffing by adding potatoes, onions, green chillies, chopped ginger, garam masala, red chilli powder together in a bowl and mix well.
3. Now add the potato mixture filling to the top in each mushroom.
4. Now sprinkle some shredded pepperjack cheese on each mushroom. Then sprinkle some of red chilli flakes, oregano, parsley and basil. Finally top it off with some parmesan cheese.
5. Arrange the mushrooms on a greased baking sheet and bake the mushrooms for about 20-25 minutes.

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Every year around the holidays my mom always made these oyster crackers. They were so good, and I used to sneak handfuls of them when she wasn’t looking, thereby spoiling my appetite. She hasn’t made them for a long time, but maybe we’ll re-visit this recipe over the holidays. This recipe comes from Runs with Spatulas:

Seasoned Oyster Crackers

1 (12 ounce) package oyster crackers
1 package dry ranch dressing mix
3/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon fresh dill weed, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt-free lemon pepper seasoning (such as Mrs. Dash’s)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

In a large bowl, whisk together dressing mix, oil, dill, lemon pepper, and garlic powder. Add oyster crackers and toss to coat thoroughly.

Divide crackers between two baking sheets. Spread crackers out into a single layer. Bake at 200 degrees for 10 minutes. Allow crackers to cool on the pans, then transfer to an airtight container.

Makes: 12 servings (about 1 ounce each or roughly 70 crackers)

Read the recipe here.

Hot Chocolate Surprise Cookies

Hot Chocolate Cookies

From Macaroni & Cheesecake, adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cookies

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not dutch process)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
15 large marshmallows, halved crosswise

Chocolate Frosting:

3 cups confectioners’ sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder (not dutch process)
1/4 cup plus two tablespoons milk
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Slowly add flour mixture 1/2 cup at a time until combined.
Using a tablespoon or 1 3/4-inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, about 2 inches apart. Bake cookies, rotating half way through, until firm 8 to 10 minutes. Remove baking sheets from oven, and immediately place a marshmallow half in the center of each cookie, pressing down slightly. Return to oven, and continue baking until marshmallows begin to melt, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.


Place confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl.

In a saucepan, melt butter and cocoa powder over medium-low heat, stirring occassionally until butter melts. Add butter mixture to confectioners’ sugar. Whisk in milk and vanilla until smooth.

Spread about 1 tablespoon of frosting over the top of each cookie, until marshmallow is covered. Let stand until set, about 10 minutes. Store in single layers in airtight containers at room temperature for up to two days.

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Sausage & Cheese Meatballs

Once upon a time, my family and I were all home for the holidays. My parents had to go to a party for the evening, leaving us kids to fend for ourselves for dinner. Mom felt so bad for us that she made an entire crockpot of meatballs in bbq sauce, because children in their late 20’s are obviously unable to feed themselves. This led to us eating an entire crockpot full of meatballs in bbq sauce. What was such a happy day quickly took a turn for the worse, as I soon felt about as bad as one person with 2 quarts of meatballs in their stomach can feel. I spent the rest of the evening feeling terribly unpleasant and moaning softly from my fetal position on the couch, “Toooo many meeeeeaaatbaaaalllls….” I vowed then and there never to recreate that experience.

…until I found today’s recipe of the day. Ok, seriously, I would singlehandedly devour every cheesy meatball on that plate, smacking the hands of anyone that tried to get too close. They look positively delicious and the secret ingredient is Bisquick. Who knew?

In starting out with my recipe-a-day until the New Year, here is the recipe from The Cutting Edge of Ordinary (this is a great blog, read it!):

Cheese & Garlic Sausage Balls

– recipe from Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary
1 (7.75 ounces)package Bisquick Complete Cheese-Garlic Biscuit mix
1 pound ground pork sausage (I used sage flavored)
1 cup sharp shredded cheddar cheese
1 egg
2 tablespoons chopped chives (optional)

Oven to 350.

Let the sausage sit out for a half hour to come to room temperature. This makes it easier to mix. Combine the sausage and biscuit mix. Add in the egg and mix (with your fingers) to combine. Mix in the cheese and chives. Form into walnut size balls and place on a baking sheet lined with no-stick foil. Bake 20 – 25 minutes or until cooked through.

Serve with dipping sauce of your choice.

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