Archive for ‘Appetizers’

June 14, 2011

Shrimp Salad in a Cup

This year has been pretty big for my husband and me. I graduated medical school and am starting my first real job. We moved into our first house, and my husband graduated his Weekend MBA program. I am so incredibly proud of him for being able to accomplish this (and do extremely well in the program) while having a full time job. In celebration of this,  a couple weeks ago, I threw him a graduation party at our home.It was an open house and had mostly appetizers and finger foods. This was one of the finger foods that went over extremely well. This shrimp salad in a cup is extremely easy to make and is perfect for summer get togethers. It’s light and refreshing and looks impressive as well.

Shrimp Salad in a Cup


15 Mini phyllo cups

1 cup finely chopped pineapple
1 cup finely chopped green apple
1 tbs finely chopped cilantro
white head less shrimp, one for each cup (keep the shrimp tail)
1 tsp dry parsley leaves
In a bowl, mix the shrimp with salt, pepper and dry parley leaves.
Line the shrimps in a baking pan and roast them for 10 minutes at 400 F.
In another bowl, mix pineapple, green apple and cilantro with some salt and pepper.
Pour a spoon of salad mix into the cup and then, place the shrimp on top.

Source: Adapted from Sunshine & Simple

May 13, 2011

Potato and Leek Soup with Buttermilk and Lemon Oil

Potato Soup

I know it’s been a while, but it’s hard to cook without a kitchen….and when you’re living out of three homes. Last weekend, we finally made the move into our house! Prior to this, we were living partly out of my parents home, partly out of the home we just bought, and partly out of our townhome (an hour and a half away). Since I haven’t really been able to cook in the new kitchen yet due to appliance issues that have made my kitchen nonfunctional (will be  resolved asap), this recipe is one I made while living part-time at my parents house.

My dad gets the Wall Street Journal every morning. While I’m not very business savvy, I always enjoy the Personal Journal section. Part of the reason is that they always have intriguing health and cooking articles (my two passions). This recipe came from the Personal Journal section of the Wall Street Journal and was a request by my dad. It was  a bit of a shame that I could not find green garlic in the grocery store, but I think the recipe worked out just as well with leeks (and I love the smell of leeks cooking). It was definitely a great comfort food recipe, one that doesn’t take very much time at all and one that I will be returning to many times when the weather gets cold again.

Potato and Leek (originally Green Garlic)  Soup with Buttermilk and Lemon Oil

4 Tbsp butter
2 cups thinly sliced green garlic (one pound) or 3 cups thinlly sliced leeks
1 cup diced yellow onion
1 tsp salt
4 large waxy potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
4 cups water
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup chopped parsley
2 Tbsp creme fraiche
T Tbsp lemon olive oil or extra virgin olive oil

Set a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add butter, green garlic or leeks and onions and season with salt. Cover and cook until soft, about 8 minutes.
Stir in the potatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes to warm.
Add water and buttermilk. Bring to a boil and simmir until potatoes are completely soft, about 25-30 minutes.
Mash soup with potato masher or a strong wire whisk until chunky.
Thin soup with additional awter or buttermilk if needed. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and garlic salt.
Stir in parsley.
Serve soup with dollop of creme fraiche if available and drizzle of oil.

Source: Chef Naomi Pomeroy of Beast in Portland restaurant via the Wall Street Journal

April 20, 2011



It’s cold. It’s rainy. It doesn’t feel like spring at all. Welcome to the Midwest. On weeks like these, I turn up the thermostat to 80, put on shorts, turn up the reggae  and dance around my house while cooking up something summery and pretending it’s sunny and beautiful outside. During one particular occasion, I decided to be ‘Italian’ and make a beautiful Panzanella. This light summery salad is a perfect way to forget a cold rainy day. The thing I love most about it is that it’s different. It’s not your typical ‘lettuce and tomato’ salad (though there’s nothing wrong with typical salads when you’re craving them), and the  fact that it has the toasted bread makes it able to be a meal all in itself. This salad is definitely a keeper in my salad repertoire.



3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 small French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2 inch thick
2 bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes (I like to use a combination of purple or yellow or orange, to nicely colorize the dish)
20 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons capers, drained

For the vinaigrette

1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1/3 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.
For the vinaigrette, whisk together the ingredients.
In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper.
Serve immediately, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.

Source: Adapted from: Smitten Kitchen

March 8, 2011

Homemade Hummus

Homemade Hummus

Last weekend, my sister-in-law welcomed her first baby, my fifth niece, Clara. I haven’t gotten to meet her yet, but from the pictures, she looks precious. Knowing that as new parents, my sister-in-law and her husband are likely not getting much sleep and definitely not having much time to cook, I decided to make them a couple easy dishes (homemade hummus and chicken enchiladas that will be posted soon) that they can enjoy. Since I spent the weekend working in the emergency department, I wanted to make them something that wouldn’t take a whole lot of time to put together. Taking only a few minutes to make, but tasting gourmet, this hummus was the perfect solution. The wonderful thing about this recipe is that you can really alter it to please your palate by changing the amount of lemon and garlic you add. My only regret was that I didn’t triple the recipe to have enough for myself for the week.

Homemade Hummus


2 cups canned chickpeas
1/4 cup tahini
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
2 lemons, juiced
1 tablespoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup or more water


In a food processor, add 2 cups of chickpeas, 1/4 cup tahini, 2 cloves of garlic, 1/4 cup olive oil, the juice of 2 lemons, 1 tablespoon cumin, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, several pinches of salt, and some fresh ground. Pulse until roughly chopped.
Turn the food processor to on and pour about 1/2 cup of water in a steady stream until the hummus is blended nicely. You may need to add a little more water and olive oil to get the desired consistency
Taste and adjust flavors to your liking.
Serve with pita or fresh vegetables.

Source: A Couple Cooks

February 16, 2011

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms


Grilled Portobello Mushrooms

So, do you have cavities yet from all of the sweet posts?

Now that Valentine’s Day is past, I thought I would start posting “real” food posts again…not that dessert isn’t ‘real’ food but I think I’m in the minority when I claim that dessert should be the bottom of the food pyramid.

I’m not a red meat eater, so whenever I make my husband steak, I usually scavenge around the kitchen trying to find something for myself to eat…and that ‘something’ usually ends up being a Boca burger. Well, one night, I got tired of doing  that so I decided to actually make a gourmet meal and make grilled portobello mushrooms for myself. I had only had portobellos in sandwiches before but let me tell you, these were incredible! They were juicy and flavorful, and I didn’t feel at all like I was missing out by not eating steak that night.

This recipe would probably work well with the whole portobello caps too, but I used what was on sale (pre-sliced stems) and it was so delicious. I highly recommend this recipe for any vegetarian or non-vegetarian willing to be adventurous.


Grilled Portobello Mushrooms


4 large portobello mushrooms, washed, stems cut off and caps cut into slices
1 1/2 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
black pepper, to taste


Melt the butter, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic & pepper together in a small saucepan.
Brush the mushrooms generously with the melted butter and olive oil mixture.
On a grill pan, grill the portobello mushrooms for about 8 minutes. Turn and grill the tops of the portobello mushrooms for 6 to 8 minutes longer. The grilled portobello mushrooms should be tender and nicely browned.

Source: Adapted from: Southern Food About dot com

February 2, 2011

Red Pepper and Leek Mini-Quiches


Leek and Red Pepper Mini Quiches

This is one of the last recipes  that I plan on posting from my sister-in-law’s baby shower…but I just had to post it. These were so delicious that my husband even ate a few and he absolutely refuses to eat quiche usually. Truth be told, I have never cooked with leeks but that has now changed since making these. Smelling the leeks while cooking the quiches, I knew that this was going to be good.

These would be perfect as a fancy brunch dish or just a good start to a weekend. I’m looking forward to trying out different combination of vegetables in them.

Leek and Red Pepper Mini Quiches


For the cheddar pastry

1/4 lb. white cheddar cheese, cut into chunks
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1/4 tsp. salt
8 Tbs. (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 to 3 Tbs. cold water

For the filling:
1 1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 leek, white portion only, or 2 large shallots, finely chopped
1/2 small red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/4 lb. dry-aged white cheddar cheese, grated
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3/4 tsp. Dijon mustard
3/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper


To make the cheddar pastry, in a food processor, pulse the cheese until crumbly. Add the flour and salt and pulse until the cheese is finely crumbled. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles fluffy bread crumbs. Drizzle the egg over the mixture and pulse twice. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Sprinkle 2 Tbs. water over the mixture and pulse until a rough mass forms. If the mixture doesn’t come together, add another 1 Tbs. water.

Place the pastry on a lightly floured work surface and shape into a smooth ball. Divide in half. Roll out half the pastry into a large round 1/8 inch thick, pushing the dough outward from the center and rotating it about a quarter turn each time you roll, sprinkling more flour underneath as needed.

Using a 2-inch cookie cutter, cut out as many pastry rounds as possible and ease them very gently into the cups of a mini-muffin pan. The bottoms should remain rounded and the dough edges flush with the rims. Gather up the scraps, reroll, cut out additional rounds and line additional cups. Repeat with the remaining dough half, working in batches if necessary. You should have a total of 48 lined cups.

Preheat an oven to 400°F.

To make the filling, in a small sauté pan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the leek and sauté gently, stirring occasionally, until tender but not browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and add the bell pepper and cheese. In another bowl or large measuring cup, whisk the eggs until blended, then whisk in the cream, mustard, salt and cayenne. Add the egg mixture to the leek mixture and whisk to combine. Pour 1 Tbs. of the filling into each of the pastry shells, evenly distributing the solids and liquid.

Bake the quiches until they are puffy and golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer the muffin pan to a wire rack and cool for 5 to 10 minutes (the quiches will sink a little as they cool). To loosen them from the muffin cups, run a thin-bladed knife around the sides, then carefully lift the quiches out of the cups. Arrange on a platter and serve.
Makes 48 warm bites.

Source: Williams Sonoma

January 31, 2011

Three-Cheese Mini Mac and Cheese Bites


Mac and Cheese Bites

It is my true belief that mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food.  Who wouldn’t be comforted by creamy, cheesy warm noodles?  When I was looking for a comforting warm appetizer that I could make for Superbowl Sunday, these little bites of comfort popped into my head (because whether you’re cheering for the Steelers or the Packers, who doesn’t want to be comforted when the opposing team runs for a touchdown?).

This recipe is simple but makes A LOT of mac and cheese  bites…about sixty…which is great for a big party, but for those of you who aren’t having a huge party, you might want to consider halving the recipe.

Mac and Cheese Bites


1/2 lb elbow macaroni
1 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons unbleached all-pupose flour
1 cup whole milk
4 oz aged white cheddar cheese, grated
4 oz Gruyère, grated
2 extra large egg yolks
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese
1/4 cup Panko crumbs
pinch of Kosher salt


Preheat the oven to 425º F.
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook according to the manufacturer’s directions. Drain the macaroni completely and set aside.
Spray mini muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray.
In a small bowl combine the Parmigiano-Reggiano and Panko. Set aside.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and cook the mixture for 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Add the milk and continue whisking until the mixture is thick, about 5 minutes. Add the cheddar and Gruyère and whisk until the cheeses are completely melted. Remove from the heat and whisk in the egg yolks. Fold in the macaroni and season with salt.
Evenly fill the prepared muffin tins with the macaroni and cheese, about 3/4 full. Sprinkle the Panko and cheese mixture evenly over the tops.
Bake the mini macs until they are sizzling and golden on top, about 10-12 minutes rotating the pans halfway through baking.
Remove from the oven and let the mini macs cool for 5 minutes.
Using a the edge of a small offset spatula, carefully remove the mini macs abd transfer to a platter and serve.

Source: The Galley Gourmet

January 24, 2011

Pepperoni Pizza Puffs


Pizza Bites

We’re a month past Christmas and not quite to Valentine’s day…so what’s there to celebrate? Well…football of course! The Superbowl is coming up quick so if you’re anything like me, you’re scavenging the internet for easy to make appetizers for ‘the big game’. These pizza puffs were a part of my ‘mini-food’ for the baby shower (more of that food is still to come) but they are probably more fitting for a football Sunday.

Since I don’t eat pepperoni, I left the taste-testing to the party-goers at the baby shower and the pizza expert himself–my husband…and they definitely passed the test. Pizza in one bite? Who wouldn’t like it?

Pepperoni Pizza Puffs


3/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup whole milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
4 ounces pepperoni, cut into small cubes (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup pizza sauce
1 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped finely


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Grease a 24-cup mini muffin pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder; whisk in the milk and egg. Stir in the mozzarella and pepperoni; let stand for 10 minutes.

Stir the batter and divide among the mini-muffin cups. Bake until puffed and golden, 20 to 25 minutes.

Microwave the pizza sauce until warmed through, then stir in 1 Tablespoon basil. Serve the puffs with the pizza sauce for dipping.

Source: Adapted from: Noble Pig

January 20, 2011

Spinach and Artichoke Dip


Spinach and Artichoke Dip

I absolutely adore spinach artichoke dip. As does my sister-in-law. So when I was planning the menu for her baby shower, I just knew this had to be on the menu, even though it didn’t fit the “miniature-food” theme.

This dip is absolutely delicious and so easy to make. I fancied it up a bit by putting it in a breadbowl, but the dip is glorious by itself in a bowl as well. It’s rich and creamy and perfect for Superbowl Sunday as well as the Sunday baby shower.


Spinach  Artichoke Dip


4 cloves garlic
1 (10 oz) package frozen spinach, thawed, chopped and drained
1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 (10 ounce) container Alfredo-style pasta sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
Pumpernickel loaf


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Place garlic in a small baking dish. Bake in the preheated oven 20 to 30 minutes, until soft. Remove from heat. When cool enough to touch, squeeze softened garlic from skins.
In an 8×8 inch baking dish, spread the roasted garlic, spinach, artichoke hearts, Alfredo-style pasta sauce, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese and cream cheese.
Cover and bake in the preheated oven 30 minutes, or until cheeses are melted and bubbly.
Cut out top of Pumpernickel loaf and rip out inside of breadbowl to use as dipping pieces for the dip.
Once the dip is slightly cooled, fill the inside of the breadbowl.

Source: Adapted from All Recipes