Archive for the ‘Appetizer’ Category

One of our favorite (and easiest) appetizers are what we call smoked salmon soldiers. 

(My guy Joe calls the toast points soldiers because they stand so straight!)

  • 4 pieces of dark pumpernickel – toasted and cut into ‘soldiers’
  • smoked salmon
  • mascarpone cheese
  • dill

Lightly spread each toast piece (you can use any kind of bread you like, or rye crackers are good too!) with a dollop of marscapone, top with a thin slice of salmon and sprinkle with dill.

It’s quick, easy and they fly off the table!  They are great for a dinner party or even a brunch!  Enjoy!



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  • 4 large artichokes
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 cups Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup olive oil

Using a sharp knife, carefully level the bottom of each artichoke and cut about 1” from the tops.  Then with kitchen shears, snip tips from remaining outer leaves.  Stand artichokes in large pot.  Add 2 inches of water and ¼ cup of lemon juice.  Combine cheese and breadcrumbs.  Spread leaves as much as possible, generously fill with breadcrumb/cheese mixture.  Drizzle tops of artichokes generously with olive oil.

Cover pot.  Put on medium heat until liquid comes to a boil, then reduce to low and simmer for 40 minutes, checking frequently on liquid level.  Add additional water if necessary.

Artichokes are done when leaves pull easily from base.  I garnish with fresh lemon slices and everyone fights over the artichoke hearts! 😉  Enjoy!

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Perfect for over pork, fish or chicken!  We love this fresh and tangy treat piled high over our pork tenderloin!  Would be perfect for fish tacos, as a side to margarita chicken, or topping your favorite salad!


  • 1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted & diced
  • 1 large peach, pitted, peeled & diced
  • 1 small red onion, chopped fine
  • 1 Jalapeño pepper, minced (remove seeds & ribs for milder taste)
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 3 Tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 3 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. Salt & pepper to taste!   If you pineapple, you can toss dice up a little of that and put it in this as well – nectarines will work just as well as peaches – or add both peaches and nectarines for a variety of flavors!


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  • 1 can black beans – rinsed and drained
  • 2 ears of fresh corn, shucked, rinsed and cut from cob
  • 1 small red onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • Juice of one lime
  • Little lime zest
  • 2 ripe mangoes, diced
  • 1 large ripe tomatoes diced
  • Handful of fresh cilantro – chopped

Mix it all up and enjoy!  Great with fish, salad, chicken – even a mango margarita!  Thanks Jen!

Some other add-in’s you may want to try:

  • 1 small can chopped green chilis
  • 1 large peach –peeled, pitted and diced

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I love portabello mushrooms.  They add a meaty, amazing flavor to so many recipes.  Tasted a version of this the other day and wanted to try them ourselves-so here’s my twist with some ideas for variations as well.  We’re going to make these today!  Mmmm…..

  • 4 whole portabello mushrooms
  • 1 small onion-diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley – chopped
  • ¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup whipped cream cheese
  • ½ cup shaved parmesan
  • 3 links sweet Italian sausage
  • ¼ cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 cup pre-cooked brown rice
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt/pepper
  • 2 cups of your favorite marinara sauce
  • ¼ cup white wine

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Remove stems and gills from mushrooms CAREFULLY – these guys are big but very delicate!  Clean and chop the stems.

Remove sausage from casing and crumble in large skillet – brown until no longer pink, add garlic powder, onion and mushroom stems and sauté for 2-3 minutes longer.  Remove from heat.

Add cheeses, panko crumbs, parsley and rice and mix well.  Stuff mushroom caps gently and place on baking sheet. In the bottom of baking sheet add white wine.  Bake 10-15 minutes until hot and bubbly.  If you like, put the broiler on for 1-3 minutes just to crisp up the top – be careful – with all that cheese it will brown fast (so don’t do what I do and forget to watch it!).

Serve with the marinara and a sprinkle of additional shaved parmesan.

Can be a main dish or cut the recipe in half and serve as an appetizer!

Variations:  I may have to post these as separate recipes!

  • Fill with crabcake mixture – brown according to the rest of the recipe.
  • Add ¼ cup bacon and change out the parmesan for Gorgonzola (mmm)
  • Want spicier – change out the sweet sausage for a med-hot variety or even a Andouille if you’re feeling a little Cajun – if you’re using any of the Cajun or Cuban sausages though – they tend to have more oil – so be sure to drain the sausage and remove oil before adding the cheeses and other ingredients.

I’m thinking of ways to make a vegetarian variety – Hmmm…maybe black beans, onion, cilantro and tomato?  What do you think?  I’ll have to try it and let you know!

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We LOVE olives around here– straight from the jar — no problem.  But sometimes, when company’s coming or it’s a holiday or you just want a little extra savory in your snack — marinated olives are the way to go!  They’re easy – and they store well in a jar for a week or two.  They are the perfect compliment to a cheese and fruit tray as well if you’re invited for dinner and want to bring an appetizer!

  • 1 cup of mixed olives (I like large green Spanish and black Kalamata olives)

    Marinated Olives

  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • juice & zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 4 tablespoons chardonnay or pinot grigio
  • pinch of red chili pepper flakes
  • cracked pepper and sea salt

Pull herbs from stem – toss all ingredients in a bowl and then place in a tightly sealed jar at room temperature and let marinate for at least 4 hours before serving.   You can then store the jar in the refrigerator for a week or so (if there’s any left!)  If you like, directly before serving, toss in a skillet with a little more olive oil for just a couple of minutes and serve warm.  They are oh-my-goodness good!

Want to switch things up?

You can also try using orange juice and orange zest and star anise.  Sundried tomatoes are always welcome at my table (love those little guys!)  Roasted red pepper or pimento can be added in.  If you like it HOT – add a 1-2 scored cayenne peppers or scored jalapenos!  They can heat things up pretty quick though – so make sure your guests like SPICY!  If you go with the peppers – consider changing the herbs to cilantro, the citrus to lime and add a dash of smoked paprika and peppercorns.

Make serving them fun – you can skewer them, or serve in a big martini glass or in a long boat dish or just in a pretty bowl next to your other appetizers!

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½ lb. bacon, chopped
– 1 small sweet onion, chopped
– 8 oz. package of soft cream cheese
– 4 oz. shredded mozzarella
– 4 oz. fresh shredded Parmesan cheese
– 1½ cups Italian bread crumbs
– 1 lb. medium-large, white button or baby bella  mushrooms

Cap and clean mushrooms. Set caps in shallow baking dish. Clean and chop the stems. In a skillet, brown bacon until crispy then drain well on paper towels. Drain excess bacon grease from the pan then add chopped onions and stems and sauté until onions are translucent. Turn heat off and allow pan to cool for 3-5 minutes. Add bacon and remaining ingredients to warm pan and stir until well blended. Stuff each cap. Place ¼  cup of water in the bottom of a baking dish and bake mushrooms at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until brown and bubbly!

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