This is a favorite appetizer of ours – we serve this both hot and at room temperature (grill and keep warm in the oven, if you prefer). I haven’t tried it, but I bet this would be fantastic in a taco, topped with a light, fresh salsa.
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced (less to cut the heat)
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. light brown sugar or honey (I’ve made it with both)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 lime, juiced
2 lbs. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
If using bamboo skewers during grilling, soak skewers for 30 minutes, prior to threading the shrimp. You may also skip the skewers and place the shrimp directly on the grill.
In a large ziplock bag, combine all ingredients except for the shrimp. Once thoroughly mixed together, add shrimp and toss to coat. Preheat grill, if serving immediately. Otherwise, refrigerate marinating shrimp until ready to grill.
Grill shrimp / shrimp skewers until pink and lightly charred on both sides, about 3 minutes per side.
These quiche are billed as appetizers but are also perfect for breakfasts. They can be made ahead of time and heat up prior to serving, or may be served at room temperature. They can also be assembled and frozen, and baked right before serving.
Bacon, Leek & Cheddar Mini Quiches
Source: Fine Cooking (issue no. 82)
3/4 lb. bacon, cut into medium dice
3 c. diced leeks (3 leeks, white and light green parts only)
1-1/4 c. half-and-half
1 c. grated extra-sharp Cheddar (4 oz.)
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 (1 lb.) pkg frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed according to package directions (FC actually calls for two packages, but I use 1 package, reusing the scraps)
Flour as needed for rolling out the dough
Brown bacon until crispy, 6-8 minutes. Remove bacon from skillet and put on a plate lined with a paper towel. Pour off all but a tablespoon of bacon fat and return skillet to stove. Cook leeks until soft.
While leeks cool, mix half-and-half, cheese, eggs & egg yolks, and spices. When slightly cooled, add leeks and bacon and combine.
Lightly spray mini-muffin tins… you’ll need 4 12-muffin tins. If you’re short, don’t worry, make half, refrigerate the rest of the dough and filling, bake or freeze a batch, and then finish the rest.
On a floured surface, roll out one sheet of puff pastry at a time. Per FC, you should get a 10×18 rectangle. I didn’t measure, just thinned the dough out a bit. Use a cookie cutter (or juice glass) to cut out 3-inch circles. Place dough circles into the muffin tins. Fill each cup with 1 Tbs. of filling, to the top of the dough. Repeat until done with filling & dough.
To Freeze: If you’re going to freeze the quiches, now’s the point to do so. Place the muffin tins in the freezer for 30-45 minutes, or until frozen. Pop out of muffin tins (I had to use a butter knife to pry them out) and place into a sealable bag or tupperware. (FC says these will keep frozen for up to a month.)
To Bake: Bake at 400°F, with quiches at top and bottom thirds of the oven. Bake about 20 minutes (switching tins halfway through if using two oven racks) or until filling is puffed up and crust is browned.
If using frozen quiches, return to muffin tins to cook. Cooking time will be 30-35 minutes.
Dec. 2010 Editorial Note: Added photos since original post did not have any.
This recipe is from one of my favorite cooking magazines, Fine Cooking (issue no. 82). Other than skipping the recommended 2/3 c. dried cranberries, I followed the recipe pretty closely. I made the recipe ahead, stopping after I boiled the green beans – removed green beans from boiling water and plunged in an ice bath to stop the cooking. Drained, and set aside until just prior to dinner.
2/3 c. (about 3 oz.) dried cranberries
1-1/4 c. fresh orange juice
2/3 c. walnut halves, toasted
3/4 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/4 c. maple syrup
1/2 tsp. plus 1/4 c. kosher salt; more as needed
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper; more as needed
1 to 1-1/4 lb. fresh green beans, rinsed well, stem ends trimmed
6 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh sage
If using the cranberries, place cranberries and 1 c. of the orange juice into a bowl. Let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Otherwise, simply let orange juice come to room temperature.
Heat oven to 450. Combine the sweet potatoes, maple syrup, 1/4 cup orange juice, 1/2 tsp. salt, and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and roast until potatoes are tender, 10-15 minutes.
Boil 4 quarts water and the remaining 1/4 c. salt. When boiling, add green beans, stir, and cook until tender, 4-5 minutes. Drain.
When ready to serve, melt butter in a large skillet (until bubbling but not browned). Add chopped sage. Stir. Allow sage to crisp slightly and season butter. Add green beans. Cook for 2-3 minute. Add sweet potatoes, walnuts, and if desired, cranberries (strained, with juice set aside). Toss and continue cooking for another few minutes. Add remaining 1 c. orange juice (or remaining juice from strained cranberries) and cook until most of the juice has evaporated, about 1 minutes.
This summer, I found a fantastic recipe (and photo) for a chocolate ganache, by Kraft Foods. It’s as easy as a dessert can get, and tastes absolutely decadent. It takes about 15 minutes to make (no oven!), and then chills for a couple hours. I’ve included the original recipe below, a Raspberry Chocolate Ganache, as well as my variations at the bottom.
8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 c. whipping cream
6 Tbs. seedless raspberry jam, divided
1 Oreo pie crust, premade or homemade
2 c. fresh raspberries
1 Tbs. water
Make the Chocolate Ganache: Put chocolate and whipping cream in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir and continue microwaving for 30 seconds until chocolate is completely melted. Remove from microwave and whisk together to combine. Whisk in 2 Tbs. of the raspberry jam. Pour into prepared crust and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Top the Ganache: Arrange berries on top of ganache. In a small bowl, microwave remaining 4 Tbs. jam and 1 Tbs. water for 30 seconds. Stir until combined. Drizzle over raspberries.
Store in the fridge until serving.
My (Tested) Variations:
Blackberry / blueberry jam with fresh blueberries on top
Kahlua Chocolate Ganache: A couple tablespoons of Kahlua baked into the ganache instead of the jam. Instead of fruit on top, a Kahlua whipped cream. (I’d also like to try this with Bailey’s.)
I recently threw my husband a birthday party. Usually I don’t have problems with the menu, but this one has been a pain. I won’t be serving dinner, but need to have some substantial options to balance out any drinking that will be going on. I also had to keep the menu easy for me to make after a busy week while keeping it tasty.
I had gotten a variety of feedback on the menu and had a whole range of opinions. Some said not to order chicken tenders from a local restaurant because it was childish, while others liked the idea. Some said to go with a soup while others thought it would create too many dishes, and recommended cocktail meatballs or sloppy joes instead. After much deliberation, here’s what I ended up with:
Crock-Pot Turkey Chili (Chili has gone over well at past parties, but I thought I’d try out a new one. Though it was a bit spicy for our taste, our guests made a serious dent in the double batch), served with tortilla chips and corn fritters
I also kept a stash of crackers & cheese and frozen mini-quiches in case I need to pull anything out, but we had more than enough food thanks to a couple friends who brought an extra appetizer and lots more cookies.