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194 posts categorized " 01) Hors D'Oeuvres, Appetizers & Starters"

09/04/2019

~ Nacho Mama's Buffalo Chicken Sheet-Pan Nachos ~

Research has revealed that nachos made their debut in Northern Mexico in the 1940's when a large group of hungry servicemen wandered into a restaurant where Ignacio Anaya was cooking. The savvy chef quickly threw some cheese over a big pan of leftover tortillas. When it emerged from the broiler, he scattered his creation with jalapeño peppers. When he presented the soldiers with his group-sized appetizer, after devouring it, they took it upon themselves to spread the word. Popularity came fast, and, along the way, nachos acquired an assortment of toppings. Nowadays, the tortilla chip, just like the pizza crust,...... View full recipe for "~ Nacho Mama's Buffalo Chicken Sheet-Pan Nachos ~"

07/31/2019

~ Deep-Fried Chicken Wings w/RedHot-Ranch Slaw ~

There's nothing earth-shatteringly new about deep-frying chicken wings in a vat of oil for 14 minutes a batch. In fact, this post doesn't even include a pictorial recipe for deep-frying chicken wings -- or oven-roasted wings if that floats your boat. If you and yours love wings, you already have your favorite method for preparing them. This post is about transitioning your wing-fest from a pub grub bar nosh to a kid-friendly family-style sit-in-front-of-the-TV movie-night meal. Back in the 1980's and '90's, our three sons frequently wanted chicken wings for dinner, which, in my mind, didn't constitute a proper dinner....... View full recipe for "~ Deep-Fried Chicken Wings w/RedHot-Ranch Slaw ~"

07/13/2019

~ Adding Olives to Mexican or Mexican-Style Dishes ~

Olives in Mexican food? It's controversial. So-called experts will flatly state that olives in Mexican food make the dish Spanish, not Mexican, meaning "don't". That said, with some of the largest concentrations of green olive trees in the world being located in regions throughout Mexico, areas bordering Texas, and, the Guadalupe Valley in Northern Baja California, common sense would and should lead one (it did me) to a different conclusion, meaning, if you are an olive lover, "go for it". Just know, a Mexican dish you added olives to can't be peddled as "authentic" or "classic" Mexican" -- olives render...... View full recipe for "~ Adding Olives to Mexican or Mexican-Style Dishes ~"

06/26/2019

~Grilled Shrimp and Asparagus Cocktail w/Lemon Dip~

How much would you pay for this in an upscale restaurant? About $8.00 as an appetizer? Perhaps $12.00 as a lunch entrée? Both sound fare to me, but, truth told, this small plate of happiness is so good I'd happily pay more. 'Tis true, rake my shrimp cocktail over some hot coals and I'll follow you anywhere -- and pay a tidy sum for it too. Add a few slices of grilled bread, uncork a bottle of white wine, and invite a few guests to join you too -- it's that impressive. For the pucker-up lemon sauce for seafood or...... View full recipe for "~Grilled Shrimp and Asparagus Cocktail w/Lemon Dip~"

06/20/2019

~ Amazingly-Lemony and Perfectly-Grilled Asparagus ~

Asparagus, served hot off the grill grids, drizzled with a bit of lemon-infused EVOO and white balsamic vinaigrette, is one of my favorite Summer side-dishes. Name it -- grilled steak, chicken or seafood, it plays well with them all. Interestingly, I sometimes serve it as an hors d'oeuvre too -- it pairs perfectly with melon wrapped in prosciutto. There's just something downright delightful about picking up a medium-to-fat, crunch-tender asparagus spear in my fingertips, politely swishing it a pucker-up, creamy, lemon sauce and savoring the lightly-charred flavor. Just eat. It's too simple for words, hence this short post. Grilling asparagus...... View full recipe for "~ Amazingly-Lemony and Perfectly-Grilled Asparagus ~"

05/12/2019

~ Briny, Garlicy & Herbaceous Greek-Olive Tapenade ~

My pantry and/or refrigerator are never without a can or two of inexpensive, mild-flavored ripe, black olives and a big jar of tangy green pimiento-stuffed olives too. Throughout the year, I toss either one or both, whole into garden salads, or, slice and use them to top an occasional pizza. That said, at the end of a long Summer's day, there is nothing like a well-chilled cocktail out on the deck with a salty snack to nibble on. A cracker or two with a slather of soft brie or chèvre topped with a dollop of tapenade is a favorite, but,...... View full recipe for "~ Briny, Garlicy & Herbaceous Greek-Olive Tapenade ~"

03/05/2019

~ Na-Cho Mama's Fully-Loaded Sheet-Pan Nachos ~

Undercover nacho tester. I suppose it could get boring, but, because every eatery I've ever been to makes this Tex-Mex pub-grub staple a bit different, I'd be willing to risk running into some occasional repetition and hard-earned heartburn. From nibbling on basic nachos consisting of deep-fried corn tortillas topped with melty cheese sauce, to digging-into nachos-grande, nachos-supreme, fully-loaded nachos or ultimate-nachos piled high with a plethora of enough savory stuff to qualify for full-meal status, yes, I think undercover nacho tester could be my dream job. Research has revealed that nachos made their debut in Northern Mexico in the 1940's...... View full recipe for "~ Na-Cho Mama's Fully-Loaded Sheet-Pan Nachos ~"

02/17/2019

~ Perfectly-Prepared Chicken and Mushroom Risotto ~

Risotto is traditional Italian cooking at its best. Risotto is more of a method than a recipe, and it requires respect. There are no two ways to make risotto. Make it right or it's not risotto. Don't deviate from the method, don't take shortcuts and don't make substitutions. Risotto cannot be rushed -- it requires patience. It cannot be made in advance, it needs to be carefully watched, methodically stirred, and served immediately. Risotto is done when it is done, and only the cook knows when it is done, but, when it is done right, it's a meal fit for...... View full recipe for "~ Perfectly-Prepared Chicken and Mushroom Risotto ~"

02/09/2019

~ A Great Garlic Bread Spread for Great Garlic Bread ~

Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead. A double-whammy of calories and carbohydrates are going on our dinner table tonight. Why? Because eating spaghetti and meatballs without a great big basket of garlic bread on the table is, gulp, culinarily criminal. We'll have a salad too, because it too goes great with this meal (not because it's healthy or to make me feel less guilty). Everybody knows spaghetti and meatballs require garlic bread, a salad and a bottle of red wine. Garlic bread isn't Italian. Neither is spaghetti & meatballs. While many regard spaghetti & meatballs as quintessential Italian, the...... View full recipe for "~ A Great Garlic Bread Spread for Great Garlic Bread ~"

01/17/2019

~ Du Pain, du Vin, du Cinq Boursin Cheese Recipes ~

Boursin cheese has been the star of KE the past ten days, and, it has enjoyed a delicious run. While some might question, or find themselves bored with, my little foray into Boursin (a most delicious form of French cheesefeed), there is always a reason behind one of my obsessions. In the case of the plethora of Boursin recipes, there are three reasons. #1. When someone asks, I always answer, and, I did -- with my recipe for Boursin mashed potatoes. #2. In our food world, food is expensive -- if I'm going to recommend purchasing a special or pricey...... View full recipe for "~ Du Pain, du Vin, du Cinq Boursin Cheese Recipes ~"

01/09/2019

~ Buttery-Rich and Cream-Cheesy Copycat Boursin ~

Hospitality at-the-drop-of-a-hat -- it's the name-of-the-game friends, and no self-respecting cook gets caught without a block of semi-soft-, wedge of soft-, or a spreadable-cheese on-hand. Get out the cheese board, the corkscrew, and voila, instant hospitality. A little effort and as little as thirty short minutes of spirited conversation (tick, tock) can build friendships that last a lifetime. Next to the port wine cheese, you'll find Boursin in my refrigerator -- both have relatively long shelf lives. That said, given enough time and/or notice I make my own copycat versions*. *Note: Making a case for making your own port wine...... View full recipe for "~ Buttery-Rich and Cream-Cheesy Copycat Boursin ~"

12/12/2018

~ Wing-Night with Oven-Baked Jamaican-Jerk Wings ~

In our house, chicken wings appear on our table or cocktail table on a regular basis -- like pizza, my kids crave them often, Joe and I do our best to eat them in moderation, and, while each one of us has his or her personal favorite, there is unanimous agreement that once I've agreed to make pizza or wings for supper or snacks, compromise on the type can quickly be achieved -- and many times, the decision simply comes down to how much time I've got to quell their cravings. How we cook 'em & country of origin is...... View full recipe for "~ Wing-Night with Oven-Baked Jamaican-Jerk Wings ~ "

12/09/2018

~Cool & Creamy Island-Style Jamaican-Jerk Wing Dip~

Wander into a bar anywhere in America. Buffalo wings are on the pub grub menu. No description is necessary. You know you're getting deep-fried wingettes and drumettes coated in a vivid-red vinegar-based cayenne pepper and melted butter sauce. They'll arrive with celery and carrot sticks, and blue cheese or ranch dressing. You'll likely be asked to specify if you want your wings tossed in a mild, medium or hot version of the sauce. Buffalo wing sauce is a classic. Chicken wings have come a long way baby. What started as a late-night snack served by Frank and Teresa Bellisimo in...... View full recipe for "~Cool & Creamy Island-Style Jamaican-Jerk Wing Dip~"

11/26/2018

~ Stick a Chip in It: Mel's Ultimate French Onion Dip ~

Stir a packet of Lipton's dehydrated French Onion Soup mix into a cup of sour cream and you will get no complaints from me -- zero. I love the stuff. I grew up watching TV shows (Bewitched, the Beverly Hillbillies, Andy of Mayberry, Gilligan's Island, Patty Duke, the Flintstones, etc.), to the crackling sound of a bag of Ruffles as I readied each chip for a copious glop of this beloved stuff. Those were good times. There were obviously no calories in it, because I was a stick figure. Nostalgic memories. We all have them. That said, times change, people...... View full recipe for "~ Stick a Chip in It: Mel's Ultimate French Onion Dip ~"

10/09/2018

~The Crispy Bits about Bruschetta, Crostini and Panini~

Bread comes in many forms. I am of the opinion that bread IS the staff of life, and, I average one serving of bread per day. Sans the occasional requisite soft-textured grilled-cheese sliced white, the hot-dog roll and the hamburger bun, any humble flatbread or pita pocket, along with the breakfast-y bagel and English muffin, the display here represents a sampling of my personal artisanal favorites. Except for one, the delicate croissant, they are all firm-textured, and, by choosing the correct shape, I can make make one of three crispy Italian-style specialties. Bruschetta (broo-skeh-tah) means "oiled slice" and comes from...... View full recipe for "~The Crispy Bits about Bruschetta, Crostini and Panini~"

10/07/2018

~ Grillmarked: Italian-Style Panini-Croissant-Crostini ~

Panini-croissant-crostini. That's a lot to digest, and if you're of Italian-heritage, simmer down, lighten up, and read on before criticizing my fun-loving play on mouth-watering words. Sandwich-press-grilled panini, full of cured Italian meats and cheese, substituting mini-croissants for the traditional rustic Italian bread (I've affectionately added the word crostini to describe them, because I serve them, crostini-style, as 3-4 bite appetizers), are crowd-pleasing snacks that get gobbled up at a tailgate party faster than beer flows at a fraternity house. While crusty, firm-textured rustic-type breads make marvelous panini, I am here to tell you, if you've never made a panini...... View full recipe for "~ Grillmarked: Italian-Style Panini-Croissant-Crostini ~"

10/03/2018

~ Time for Tapas: Spanish-Style Garlic-Lovers Shrimp ~

A small portion of any hot or cold, savory edible that can be eaten in just a few bites, forkfuls or slurps. Here in America, we call them "snacks". In Spain they're called "tapas". Like the American snack, anything can be a tapas if eaten in a small enough portion. In Spain, tapas is a style of eating, and going out for tapas is one of their most popular activities. When going out for tapas, you're not going out for dinner (although, if you eat enough tapas, they can be the equivalent of a meal). You start out eating tapas...... View full recipe for "~ Time for Tapas: Spanish-Style Garlic-Lovers Shrimp ~"

09/19/2018

~Lo & Slow-Cooker Jerk-Style Baby-Back Spare-Ribs~

Jerk seasoning was/is the dry spice blend used to season jerky, and Jamaican jerk seasoning, known for the flavors of allspice, cinnamon, cloves, thyme and Scotch bonnet pepper, is perhaps the most famous. Throughout the Caribbean, islanders preserved/cured their spice-rubbed meats by drying them in the intense sun or over a slow fire -- this allowed the meat to be taken on long journeys and eaten as is or reconstituted in boiling water. The word most likely transitioned to the verb, "jerking", in reference to the way the meat gets "jerked" around on the grill as it cooks. The machinations...... View full recipe for "~Lo & Slow-Cooker Jerk-Style Baby-Back Spare-Ribs~"

08/21/2018

~Crunchy Crabmeat Crostini w/Secret Seafood Sauce~

There's nothing like driving back from a trip to the Maryland shore with a few pounds of sweet blue crabmeat in a cooler in the back seat. The mind races with all the mouthwatering options to enjoy after you pull in the driveway. While fresh crab is best, happily, high-quality pasteurized crabmeat is available to us all all-year long, which makes my food world a kinder, gentler place. Beer-steaming live crabs and hand-cracking them to pick their meat, is, not a sport I partake in. Ugh. I don't even enjoy sitting at a crab shack in front of a newspaper-covered...... View full recipe for "~Crunchy Crabmeat Crostini w/Secret Seafood Sauce~"

08/09/2018

~ Sweet & Hot Chili-Sauced Thai-Style Fried Chicken ~

Oh-My-Thai-style snacky-type appetizers. Truth told, I could easily make a meal out of these, and, frankly so could every person I've ever served them to -- every sweet-heat-seeking man, woman and child (every last one of them). Every now and then I get a hankering for fried-chicken -- the good old-fashioned batter-dipped and deep-fried kind -- crunchy on the outside, juicy and tender on the inside. When the hankering hits, I've just gotta have it. What could be better? Fried chicken with all the bold, bright flavors of Thailand. Winner, winner Thai-style sweet & hot red chili sauce. Simply irresistible...... View full recipe for "~ Sweet & Hot Chili-Sauced Thai-Style Fried Chicken ~"

05/28/2018

~ Happy Valley Spinach Dip for Your Vegetable Tray ~

In the mid-1950's and throughout the '60's, everybody who entertained was serving French onion dip with their celery and carrot sticks. This simple concoction of Lipton dehydrated onion soup mix and sour cream was a year-round staple on picnic and cocktail tables. Said to have been created by an unknown French cook somewhere in Los Angeles in 1954, as a kid, I loved the stuff. In the 1970's, due to the invention of dehydrated ranch-dressing packets, another dip began appearing at gatherings all across America: Hidden Valley Ranch spinach dip. As a young bride, I loved the stuff. Throughout the...... View full recipe for "~ Happy Valley Spinach Dip for Your Vegetable Tray ~"

05/12/2018

~ The Perfectly-Broiled 22-Minute Pork Blade Steak ~

The pork blade steak is my new-to-me muse -- in my own words, it's a bone-fide kick-butt man-sized pork chop. Known as pork steak, pork butt steak or pork blade steak, these bone-in steaks are cut from the shoulder of the pig -- the same part of the porcine used to make pulled pork. Similar in taste and texture to close-kin country-style spareribs*, they were invented in St. Louis, MO, and are a Midwest staple. As a country-style spare-rib lover living in central Pennsylvania, I ask the Sam's Club butcher to custom-cut these inexpensive, lesser-to-unknown-to-our-locale steaks for me. Perhaps this...... View full recipe for "~ The Perfectly-Broiled 22-Minute Pork Blade Steak ~"

05/09/2018

~Creamy, Cheesy & E-Z Chile-Lime Refried Bean Dip~

I love a starry night. Sitting outside in the warm Summer air, watching the sun set and listening to my next-door neighbors, the dairy cows, lowing in the pasture -- it's peaceful. That said, on some Summer nights, Thursdays during June, July and August, a band plays "up on the mountain" (the ski slope to the other side of the cow pasture). Weather permitting, on those toe-tapping evenings, if you stop by, you'll find a snack or three on the table next to the cooler of Corona. My neighbors, music on the mountain, &, bean dip. This easy bean dip...... View full recipe for "~Creamy, Cheesy & E-Z Chile-Lime Refried Bean Dip~"

04/24/2018

~ Mexican-Style Shrimp Cocktail (a Salad in a Glass) ~

Cóctel de camarónes. That's Spanish for cocktail of shrimp. If you're a fan of Southwestern spice, but never tasted a shrimp cocktail prepared Mexican-style, I recommend giving this Southwestern perfect-for-Summer twist on the classic a try -- plenty of plump, tender, poached (sometimes lightly-grilled) shrimp, swimming around in a citrusy, tomato, cilantro and spicy-hot sauce, containing pieces of diced avocado, cucumber, onion and jalapeño. It's a snazzy fork-friendly salad in a glass, not to be confused with its cousin, ceviche, which contains raw, cooked-via-marination fish and/or shellfish mixed with spices, citrus juice, vegetables and/or peppers. Traditional shrimp cocktail, as we...... View full recipe for "~ Mexican-Style Shrimp Cocktail (a Salad in a Glass) ~"

04/07/2018

~ Melanie's Perfectly-Cooked 18-Minute Flank Steak ~

When I want a perfectly-cooked, rare- to medium-rare steak, one that gets cooked indoors, next to the elegant filet mignon, the rustic flank steak is my choice. That said, in terms of taste, texture, versatility and price, without compromise, hands-down the flank steak wins on all points -- which is why I purchase one or two almost every week. In my food world, there's plenty of room for premium Delmonicos, NY strips, porterhouse and T-bones too, but, in terms of cooking steak indoors vs. grilling steak outdoors, those cuts typically "just don't do it" for me like filet or flank....... View full recipe for "~ Melanie's Perfectly-Cooked 18-Minute Flank Steak ~"

03/19/2018

~ Teriyaki-Style Slow-Cooker Baby-Back Spare-Ribs ~

How you cook spare-ribs is your business. Here in Happy Valley, sometimes we smoke 'em, sometimes we grill 'em, occasionally I make them in the oven, and, recently, I've started experimenting with slow-cooking them. Past that, even if you aren't a fan of crocket science, it might interest you to know that Japanese-seven-spice blend and teriyaki sauce, when substituted for traditional Tex-Mex rubs-and-mops is a delicious alternative to typical ribs -- give 'em a try. Do not confuse spicy "Japanese-seven-spice" powder with aromatic Chinese five-spice powder. They are completely different. "Shichimi togarashi", originated in Japanese apothecaries in the 17th century...... View full recipe for "~ Teriyaki-Style Slow-Cooker Baby-Back Spare-Ribs ~"

03/12/2018

~Greek Hummus, Steak & Arugula-Salad Pita-Pizzas~

Everyone knows anything one can sandwich between two slices of bread can be tucked into a pita pocket to eat on the run. Almost everyone knows that the flat round pita (or any flatbread) is a great foil for all sorts open-face knife-and-fork sandwich meals too. What all busy moms know is: if the ingredients on the pita are amicable to being baked in the oven, and you refer to it as pizza, it's a sure-fire way to get children to venture into trying just about anything. It's called "bending the rules for the common good", and, when my kids...... View full recipe for "~Greek Hummus, Steak & Arugula-Salad Pita-Pizzas~"

02/22/2018

~ Japanese Teriyaki Meets American Chicken Wings ~

Chicken wings are all-American and teriyaki is an all-Japanese method of cooking. Trust me when I tell you, if you walk into a restaurant in Japan, you aren't likely to find teriyaki chicken wings on their menu. That said, Japanese teriyaki sure does turn out a really good version of American chicken wings, however, unlike our traditionally-prepared wings, which are typically plunged into the hot oil of a deep fryer, teriyaki wings, in order to render their signature fall-off-the-bone tender interior with a slightly-crispy, sticky exterior, they require a kinder, gentler treatment. As a lover of Asian fare, teriyaki-in-general is...... View full recipe for "~ Japanese Teriyaki Meets American Chicken Wings ~"

02/20/2018

~Japanese-Style Oven-Broiled Teriyaki-Style Cod Fish~

Eat more fish. I've heard it too many times to count, and, I've preached it too many times to count. Joe and I love fish, especially white fish, so, for me, keeping it in our weekly meal rotation is easy. That said, serving it to people who've determined they dislike fish, or worse, trying to entice children to try fish, can be a tricky, fishy business. On such occasions, teriyaki fish fillets or fish skewers, served with a veggie stir-fry and some rice, is my go-to "just try it" fish dinner. As a lover of Asian fare, teriyaki-in-general is one...... View full recipe for "~Japanese-Style Oven-Broiled Teriyaki-Style Cod Fish~"

01/29/2018

~ Open Sesame: Japanese Teriyaki Steak Skewers ~

Place a platter of these appetizers on the cocktail table and I'll bet they disappear before bets can be taken on how long it will take them to disappear. Put a platter of them on the dinner table alongside a fresh vegetable stir-fry and some steamed white rice, and, when served as a family-friendly dinner, they won't last any longer. A bottle of teriyaki sauce has been a staple condiment in my pantry for as long as I've had a pantry, standing right next to the elites: Heinz ketchup, French's mustard, Hellman's mayonnaise and Lee & Perrin's worcestershire sauce. That...... View full recipe for "~ Open Sesame: Japanese Teriyaki Steak Skewers ~"

01/18/2018

~ Bone-Suckin' Slow-Cooker Baby-Back Spare-Ribs ~

The machinations of making ribs in a slow cooker never seemed right to me -- kind of like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. I've seen people bend entire racks, slice and stack sections, even cut them into individual riblets That type of rib abuse is why I never attempted it, but, as a person who likes my ribs fall-of-the-bone tender, there was never a doubt the slow cooker could achieve that. After all, just like a Dutch oven placed on the stovetop or in the oven, it's what slow cookers do, tenderize meat -- especially...... View full recipe for "~ Bone-Suckin' Slow-Cooker Baby-Back Spare-Ribs ~"

01/04/2018

~ Filling, Braiding & Baking Store-Bought Puff Pastry ~

Everyone loves a home-baked sweet or savory pie or quiche, but, for those times when you are out of time, or, just don't want to take the time, from appetizers to entrées to desserts, making a puff pastry braid using store-bought puff pastry is a valuable skill to have. As long as you play by the rules, they bake up perfectly 100% of the time. What are the rules? I'm glad you asked. My three basic rules/guidelines for filling a pastry braid: 1) With the exception of the obvious (any liquid or liquid concoction that pours or flows), any solid...... View full recipe for "~ Filling, Braiding & Baking Store-Bought Puff Pastry ~"

01/02/2018

~Swiss Chocolate, Cherry & Almond Puff Pastry Braid~

Imagine eating a freshly-baked, still-warm chocolate croissant at your favorite coffee shop. Just thinking about one of those divinely decadent indulgences makes me happy. Now imagine it super-sized, more than enough to feed four, with sweet cherries and crunchy almonds added to it too. Need I say more? Valentine's Day will be here before we know it, and, if you're looking to surprise the chocolate lover in your life with something truly sweet, stash the ingredients on this list in your pantry and freezer, then, start counting the days to February 14th. Tick, tock. From appetizers to entrées to desserts......... View full recipe for "~Swiss Chocolate, Cherry & Almond Puff Pastry Braid~"

12/31/2017

~ Sweet Sausage, Apple & Cheddar Puff Pastry Braid ~

We all have our favorite breakfast and brunch casserole recipes -- I'd be lost without mine. They taste great, they're easy to prepare, and, some can even be made ahead, but, let's face it: casseroles aren't elegant. They're low-key, family-style, comfort food -- the blue jeans of the food world. Newsflash: Occasionally, it's necessary to dress up -- and that extends to the food. If I told you I have a small repertoire of AM meals that make a stunning presentation, taste as good as they look, and, are relatively easy to prepare, would you want the recipes? I thought...... View full recipe for "~ Sweet Sausage, Apple & Cheddar Puff Pastry Braid ~"

12/28/2017

~ Cloudberry Jam, Brie, Almond & Puff Pastry Braid ~

Circa 1980-1985 -- better known as the cloudberry jam period of my life. One of Joe's business associates (a man from Norway temporarily working here in Happy Valley) introduced us to a Norwegian specialty: small squares of grilled bread cheese topped with cloudberry jam. It was served as an appetizer at a cocktail hosted by Rolf and his Swedish wife. I fell in love with this cheesy treat immediately -- and said so. When I reciprocated the invitation, I was gifted a jar of the jam, a small brick of bread cheese and a package of stroopwaffes as a hostess...... View full recipe for "~ Cloudberry Jam, Brie, Almond & Puff Pastry Braid ~"

11/20/2017

~ Thanksgiving to Tailgate: Stuffing Stuffed 'Shrooms ~

For the family cook, entertaining for Thanksgiving is a labor of love, but, if he or she is a college football fan too, that can mean entertaining for a tailgate party as well, which can be overwhelming. That said, if you've got a game plan in place in advance, transitioning your formal Turkey Day feast into a relaxing tailgate on your coffee table, can be almost effortless. One of my gameday-after-the-holiday tailgate menus is: stuffing stuffed mushrooms with turkey-club sliders. Any leftover stuffing* recipe can be used to stuff mushrooms. I Love My Mom's Cracker Stuffing Casserole. It's lightly and...... View full recipe for "~ Thanksgiving to Tailgate: Stuffing Stuffed 'Shrooms ~"

10/28/2017

~Crostini w/Bacon, Pickles, Chicken & Honey Mustard~

Write this list of five ingredients down. Why? Because together, they make for some stellar snack sandwiches. Lightly-toasted French baguette slices, crisply-fried bacon, crunchy bread and butter pickles, roasted chicken breast, and, a drizzle of tangy honey-mustard salad dressing (which pulls it all together and complements each and every component perfectly). Feel free to put a thin slice or two of soft, mellow French Brie underneath the bacon, but, no ooey-gooey melted cheese please. These sandwiches are best with everything at room temperature. That said, "you only get out of something what you put into", so, for the best experience...... View full recipe for "~Crostini w/Bacon, Pickles, Chicken & Honey Mustard~"

10/05/2017

~ Caprese: Tomato, Basil and Fresh Mozzarella Bites ~

I'm crazy for caprese, and, while these caprese bite appetizers are a bit fussy to make, they're fussy in a fun way. That said, when armed with a serrated knife and a grapefruit knife and spoon, I can hollow out the centers from about two dozen, 1" cherry tomatoes in about ten minutes (it's not rocket science). They're fun to eat too. Just pop the entire thing into your mouth -- all things caprese are compacted into one bite, and, there's no toothpick to throw away afterward. That said, we all have our quirks. I'm no exception. Today's example: I...... View full recipe for "~ Caprese: Tomato, Basil and Fresh Mozzarella Bites ~"

09/26/2017

~Grillmarked: Thai-Inspired Hot & Sticky Honey Wings~

Wings and tailgate. Tailgate and wings. If two words ever went hand-in-hand onto the gridiron, yep, it would be those two. If I say tailgate, you say wings, and, if there is one thing we tailgaters can't resist, it's a new wing-flavor-profile to experiment with. I came across this one in the Parade Magazine insert of our local newspaper back in August. Parade credits the recipe to Michael Gulotta, chef-owner of MoPho and Maypop restaurants in New Orleans. Thank-you chef Gulotta. The moment I read through the ingredients list, I knew I was gonna love this recipe. For starters the...... View full recipe for "~Grillmarked: Thai-Inspired Hot & Sticky Honey Wings~"

09/23/2017

~ My Thai-Inspired Sesame Chicken Thigh Paillards ~

Once upon a time there was a woman in Happy Valley Pennsylvania who was planning to make chicken Milanese for dinner. "In the style of Milan", it refers to a thinly-sliced and lightly-pounded protein dredged in flour, dipped in egg, then coated with breadcrumbs. It's quickly-sautéed in butter and/or olive oil until golden. It's crispy outside, juicy and fork-tender inside, and, after squirt of lemon and a parsley garnish it's served the moment it comes out of the skillet. It couldn't be easier, especially when cooking for just two. I refer to it as one of my flash-in-the-pan dinners. (Italian...... View full recipe for "~ My Thai-Inspired Sesame Chicken Thigh Paillards ~"

08/31/2017

~ Say Cheese: How to Make Velveeta from Scratch ~

Scrootch over homemade mozzarella and ricotta -- make some extra space in the cheese section of the refrigerator. Two days ago, my friend Teresa shared "a link to a link" for today's recipe on Facebook. I could barely compose myself. I, Melanie Preschutti, almost always being of sound mind, always have, and always will be: a Velveeta cheese lover. Everything from its pale-orange color to its squeaky-smooth texture and tangy American-processed flavor appeals to me. Teresa's Facebook share couldn't have been more timely for me. The college football season started this week, and, living in one of our nation's premier...... View full recipe for "~ Say Cheese: How to Make Velveeta from Scratch ~"

08/28/2017

~ Creamy Old English and Pimento Cheese Crab Dip ~

During the college football season, I add a few staples to my pantry and refrigerator lineup. When you live in a college town, you never (and I mean never) know when you're going to need to fix a quick appetizer. I make sure I'm never without pasteurized crabmeat in my refrigerator and Kraft Old English and Pimento Cheese spreads in my pantry. If the doorbell rings or the fans on the couch run out of wings, I can have crab dip on the cocktail table in about five minutes. Give me five minutes, I'll make you some great crab dip:...... View full recipe for "~ Creamy Old English and Pimento Cheese Crab Dip ~"

08/25/2017

~ Old English Cheese Spread & Crabmeat Canapés ~

These appetizers were one of our Happy Valley tailgate traditions. I fondly remember one of our members, Joan Reilly, making them for our early AM pre-tailgate tailgates -- prior to leaving for the stadium. She and her husband Joe lived close to Beaver Stadium, and, it was not unusual for us to meet, as a group, on the cul-de-sac in front of their house, to wait for our friend with the RV to arrive from Harrisburg. While we were all chatting and sipping Stan's Bloody Mary's, Joan would pass around a baking sheet full of her cheesy English-muffin-based crabmeat canapés....... View full recipe for "~ Old English Cheese Spread & Crabmeat Canapés ~"

08/22/2017

~ Southern Comfort: Classic Pimento Cheese Spread ~

When I was a little kid, pimento cheese spread was a staple in our refrigerator -- right next to the Old English cheese spread. I had absolutely no idea it was Southern. I thought it was Kraft. To this day, if someone puts a jar on of the store-bought stuff on the table next to a box of Ritz crackers, I'm more than happy to sit down and dig right in. Slather it between two slices of white bread and make me a pimento-cheese grilled-cheese sandwich and I'll follow you anywhere. Known as "the caviar of the South, or, "Southern...... View full recipe for "~ Southern Comfort: Classic Pimento Cheese Spread ~"

07/29/2017

~ Beefy, Cheesy, Fully-Loaded Mexican Tortilla Pizza ~

I haven't eaten at a Taco Bell in years, but, it's worth mentioning the first time I ate a Mexican pizza was the first time I ate at a Taco Bell -- and I liked it a lot. My personal-sized snack pizza came as a pleasant surprise. It contained refried beans, nicely-seasoned ground beef, cheddar cheese, a few small-diced tomatoes and red enchilada sauce -- all sandwiched between two slightly-crispy flour tortillas. It wasn't my choice to stop at their drive-thru window on that day, but, I must admit, it indeed inspired me to make many a Mexican snack pizza...... View full recipe for "~ Beefy, Cheesy, Fully-Loaded Mexican Tortilla Pizza ~"

05/12/2017

~ Easy Chinese Dipping Sauce for Dumplings & Such ~

An easy, all-purpose dipping sauce for dumplings and such. If you love Chinese dim sum, you know the one. It sits alongside the shumai (steamed dumplings), jiaozi (potstickers) and congyoubing (scallion pancakes) -- small-bite, appetizer-type items made with Chinese hot water dough. It's light, bright, bold and well-balanced -- slightly salty from soy sauce, pleasingly sweet from sugar, and, pungent from rice vinegar. Hints of ginger and/or garlic and a splash of sesame are easily identified. There are usually a few thin-sliced scallions floating around in it, and, sometimes, a minced hot pepper is added to heat things up. If...... View full recipe for "~ Easy Chinese Dipping Sauce for Dumplings & Such ~"

05/10/2017

~ Savory Chinese-Style Scallion Pancakes (Flatbread)~

Crispy and flaky on the outside, tender and ever-so-slightly chewy on the inside, served hot out of the skillet or reheated in the toaster oven the next day, scallion pancakes are one of my favorite Chinese appetizers. Unlike our Western pancake, which is made by pouring a thickened batter into a skillet, the scallion pancake is made with an unleavened bread dough -- a kneaded mixture of flour, very hot water and salt which gets rolled into the shape of a pancake. In China, scallion pancakes are both a street food and a restaurant item. They are on the menus...... View full recipe for "~ Savory Chinese-Style Scallion Pancakes (Flatbread)~"

04/23/2017

~ Poaching Bone-In Skin-On Real Chicken Breasts ~

Leftover shredded or chopped chicken. It's an ingredient we all come across on a regular basis in a wide variety of recipes for appetizers, salads, sandwiches and casseroles -- I've even seen it called for in some throw-together soup and stew meals. That said, I rarely use true "leftover" chicken to prepare any of them. Here's why: Most times, when I have leftover chicken, it's been seasoned and cooked to suit a specific recipe. Nine out of ten times, the flavor profile doesn't align with the recipe du jour. Example: The grilled chicken breast rubbed with fajita seasoning leftover from...... View full recipe for "~ Poaching Bone-In Skin-On Real Chicken Breasts ~ "

03/21/2017

~Bierock: A Savory Meat, Cabbage & Onion Turnover~

In the case of the Eastern European bierock, a picture is indeed worth a thousand words. Unlike pizza, hot dog, hamburger and taco, the word bierock conjures up no image in the mind of many foodies. It's worth mention there is no mention of it in The Food Lover's Companion or The Oxford Companion to Food. There's more. Even if you did grow up in or around an Eastern European household or community (I did), there is a good chance you have no idea if a bierock is animal, vegetable or mineral (I didn't). The reason is: the rather obscure...... View full recipe for "~Bierock: A Savory Meat, Cabbage & Onion Turnover~"

02/04/2017

~Cold & Creamy Crab Rangoon Dip w/Wonton Cups~

Crab meat. I love it. Fresh, frozen or pasteurized, it's an ingredient that has rocked my food world. With it, I make an array of hot and cold appetizers and hors d'oeuvres. I use it to make steamy crab bisque and add it to several seafood soups and stews too. I adore an ice-cold crab salad or crab salad sandwich, and, I can't resist a well-made crab cake or crab cake sandwich. There's more. I can't count the of number classic main-course meals I make with crab. If you've eaten in a Chinese-American restaurant you know what crab Rangoon is...... View full recipe for "~Cold & Creamy Crab Rangoon Dip w/Wonton Cups~"