Saturday, January 30, 2010

Rice Paper Roll Ups with Shrimp and Herbs

Remember the Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet challenge? Well, my dad, who actually spent some time in Vietnam, spent a lot of time looking at my book, lovingly reminising about Fish Sauce, and I got the impression he REALLY wanted me to make this recipe. Unfortuately, I was newly pregnant. I think I did well with this challenge, but I wasn't really into it. I never got around to making this. I always felt bad that I never made my dad's one request. With this new challenge, I had a second chance. So, I invited my parents to dinner. I told my dad what was on the menu and he seemed really excited.

Making these were a little time consuming, but it really wasn't that bad. You just had to get everything ready in advance.


That was almost everything. You soak the rice paper wrapper in water for like 20-30 seconds until it was soft and then place on a damp towel. Then take some cooked rice noodles (about 2T), some blanced bean sprouts (also 2T), and then a little grated carrot salad (grated carrots, rive vinegar, and sugar - 1tsp). Sprinkle on a few mint leaves.

Then start folding the rice paper over the filling. Add 2 shrimp that have been split in half lengthwise. Contine folding.

Add some chives into the crease and then some cilantro. Continue folding.

I got about 12 which I cut in half.


I served it with the Vietnamese must have table sauce.

I served it with the Vietamese Beef Ball Soup from the same book. My dad liked it, but it turns out he wanted to FRIED spring rolls. Oops. Hey, it is the thought that counts.


I thought these were awesome: so fresh and tasty! Not sure how this will go over at a party until you know your guest well. I think I may skip the shrimp next time and just add more rice noodles.

Oh, and James wanted me to take a picture of his plate. He has been eating SO GOOD lately.


Friday, January 29, 2010

Bean Tostadas

More of a 'whole hand' food than a finger food, but you do eat it without utensils. Does that count?

I used leftover beans and cooked them with a little oil, mashed and cooked out some liquid. Then I chopped up lettuce, tomatoes and avocado and shredded some cheese. I heated the tostada shells in the oven to crisp 'em up and then let everyone make their own. My 4 year old enjoyed the autonomy and was very particular about how she spread the beans.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sorbet Balls


13 oz sorbet
8 oz dark chocolate melts or buttons

What I used
1 pint strawberry sorbet(All I could find)
6 oz semisweet baking squares

1. Soften the sorbet slightly(if you do this step as soon as you get home from the store, you will be fine:) spread into a shallow container to 2.5 cm deep. Put in freezer until solid.

- I just scooped out of the pint container.

2. With a melon scooped, scoop out sorbet balls and place a cocktail stick or toothpick in each. Place in a dish covered with wax paper, or like me, just put in a Tupperware container. Cover and allow to freeze over night.

3. In a double oven melt chocolate.

4. The next part is quite tricky so you need to be careful. Ladle some chocolate into a separate bowl so that if anything goes wrong you won't ruin the whole batch. Work with just a few balls at a time so they don't melt. Dip each in the chocolate , then place back on the tray and return to freezer. Reheat chocolate if necessary, but if it seizes, start with a new bowl and new batch. (I believe that this is when the chocolate won't stick to the sorbet ball) Freeze until ready to serve.

5. Serve in an ice bowl. I even made the ice bowl by filling a large bowl with water and then placing a smaller bowl in the water to float, but weight it down so it sits in the water. Allow to freeze completely overnight. Use a cloth dipped in hot water to loosed the smaller bowl once frozen.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Chicken strips for grown ups

Robin posted this recipe like 2 years ago. Can you believe this blog has been around for that long?

Tonight I gave my husband two options for dinner. He didn't like either of them. Due to time constraints I ended up going with this one. I guess when I first read this recipe, I thought it suppose to be healthy, but no, you fry them. I guess that is what makes it good.

It worked though, they came out nice and brown and crunchy.

When we sat down for dinner, Mark was SO excited. I don't know why it turned out better than he thought. I think he liked the sesame seeds and the chili sauce. He actually asked for extra chili sauce to dip. I know it was suppose to be finger foods, but we did use a fork and a knife. I served it with baked sweet potatoes and apple sliced.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mini Meat Pies

Mini Meat Pies

6 sheets ready-rolled shortcut pastry
2 small tomatoes sliced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

1 T oil
1 onion chopped
2 cloves garlic crushed
1 lbs ground beef
2 T flour
1 1/2 C beef stock
1/3 C tomato sauce
2 t worcestershire sauce
1/2 t dried mixed herbs

1. Preheat the oven to 400. Cut pastry into circles. Press half the circles into greased muffin tins.
2. Heat oil and add the onion and garlic. Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes until onions are soft. Add beef ande stir over high heat for 3 min. Break up lumps.
3. Add flour, stir and cook for 1 minute. Add stock and sauces and herbs and stire until boiling. Redice heat and simmer for 5 min or until mixture has reduced and thickened. Allow to cool.
4. Divide filling among the pastry circles. Top each with slice of tomatoes and sprinkle with oregano and place remaining pastry on top. Seal edges with beaten egg before baking. Bake 25 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Serve hot.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cheese Fritters

These were good, but I am NOT a fan of frying things. I don't really like frying...don't get me wrong, fried things are tasty, but the act of frying... :(
6 oz block feta
4 oz mozzarella cheese
1/3 C plain flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 C dry breadcrumbs
oil for frying
1. Cut the feta and mozzarella into 2 cm cubes. Combine the flour and pepper on a sheet of foil. Toss the cheese lightly in the seasoned flour and shake off excess.
2. Dip the cheese into the egg a few pieces at a time. Coat with breadcrumbs and shake off the excess. Repeat with remaining cheese. Refrigerate, covered, for 25 minutes.
3. Heat 3 cm of oil. the oil is ready when a cube of bread browns in 15 seconds. Cook a few pieces of cheese at a time over medium hear for 2-3 minutes each. Drain and serve.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Zucchini Boats

What is that you say? Is it a finger food? It it a boat? No, IT'S BOTH!!! The picture is blurry...sorry, I guess they were steamy hot out of the oven? Zucchini Boats

5 large zucchini
1 tomato finely chopped
2 springs onions finely chopped
1 T parsley chopped
2 sliced salami, finely chopped
1/2 grated cheddar cheese

1- Cut each zucchini into 3 equal parts. Then cut lengthwise.
2- Hollow each piece using a teaspoon. Add zucchini to a pan of simmering water for about 3 minutes or until tender, drain. Refresh under cool water, them pat dry with a paper towel
3- Combine the tomato, onion , parley, salami, and Cheddar cheese . Spoon the filling into each zucchini boat. Cook under preheated grill until the cheese is melted and the boats are warmed. Serve immediately.

These were GREAT!! Highly recommend! (that is what nice students say about me..."highly recommend")

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Baby Back Ribs ..... with Lemon Confit Marinade

Sorry, I couldn't get a great shot of these ... the picture doesn't do it justice. This was a great recipe ... if you can get past the fact that your ribs won't be smothered in BBQ sauce, you should try this one. I have to admit I was worried the whole time because it is definitely a time commitment so I didn't want it to be ruined. I thought it would have a much stronger lemon taste but it doesn't at all ... the strongest taste that stood out was the fennel seed.

The only changes I would make next time is to let the meat cook in the oven a little longer than the recipe states to make the meat a little more tender. I also finished them off on the grill for about 5-6 min. to get that nice BBQ look.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Kalamata-Red Pepper Bruchetta?

I don't know why my pictures came out so blurry :( At any rate, this was kind of a side recipe in the cook book. It was after a recipe for Olive Oil Biscuits!

1 roasted pepper chopped (I used Jarred:)
8-10 Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
2T flat leaf parsley chopped
3T olive oil
1T red wine vinegar

Combine. Salt and Pepper. I put it on this delicious sweet bread we had made earlier in the!!

Chicken Sate

One more!


This one really counts. I have always wanted to make chicken sate (satay). For a party food, it would be easy to make, but impressive. And who (besides my husband) doesn't like a peanut sauce? I made this for a fun Saturday night dinner. The boys loved first.



They really thought it was cool. I mean, they didn't really eat it, or anything else on their plate, but it was fun.

I served it with my sweet potato fries to maintain the finger free theme. Those fries were GREAT with that peanut sauce. I hope to make this again.


Corn Muffins


Ok, maybe some of my posts are stretching it, but it is my blog and I can interpret how I want to.

I really like to serve cornbread with dinner a lot, but we would never finish all the cornbread. That stuff doesn't keep! So, I started making corn muffins instead and I would freeze the remainder. However, you can't just take a cornbread recipe and put it into a muffin pan. It gets kind of dry. Last time I made them, I found a recipe from barefoot contessa for corn muffins. Wow, really good! Now, it does call for a cup of butter. I want to say I didn't use that much, but it is a lot of butter. Also, I used half the sugar...glad I did!


Cranberry bread


I hosted playgroup last week, and I think how I mentioned that there is the one mom named Suzi who upped the bar on playgroup snacks. The night before I was really trying to come up with something to make. I had bought a bag of cranberrys like I always do, and then couldn't come up with something to make with them, like I always do, so found this recipe for cranberry bread.

I did really like this. It is similar to a scone because it is really not all that sweet (even though there is 2 cups of sugar), but is very moist (even though there is only 1/4 cup butter). It made 2 loaves, so I froze one for later. I think the other moms liked least some of them did. I did have leftovers...not usually a good size.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Bocconcini Tomato Skewers

Now, do you know what Bocconcini is? I didn't and I went ahead and bought some mozzarella that wasn't mushy because I only look at the picture to help make the decision to try this. Turns out Boccocini are small balls of fresh mozzarella cheese The smaller ones are called ovolini or cherry boccocini. Whatever, right? I think that is what I bought?

Prep: 20 minutes and chilling

20 ovolini
2 T olive oil
2 T fresh parsley
1 T fresh chives
20 cherry tomatoes
40 basil leaves

1. Put ovolini in a bowl with the oil, parsley, chives, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.
2. Cut each cherry tomato in half and thread on toothpick, followed by a basil leaf, then bocconcini, another basil leaf and then the other half of the tomato. Repeat.
3. This can be served immediately or chilled for 8 hours.

I made 9. They were delicious. I like that they were a relatively healthy party appetizer. They are impressive as well. Only time consuming threading them all:)

Saturday, January 9, 2010


This book that our Grandmother got us is great!! I started with a staple around our house, quesadillas. The book included the phonetic pronunciation so the chef could "impress their guests!" Now we usually butter the tortillas and make them just like a grilled cheese sandwich, but the book said to fry them...interesting.
Lay out 3 tortillas and top each with cheese, plus whatever you like: jalapenos, meat, etc. We just stick with cheese. Then, top with 3 more tortillas. Cut out circles with a cookie cutter. I used a star:) Heat a small amount of oil and cook 1 to 2 minutes per side. You can also serve with sour cream, avocados, guacamole, etc...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Holiday Fare - Black Eyed Peas for New Years

Sorry this is a couple of days late.

We eat Black Eyed Peas every New Years Day for good luck. I have high hopes for this year, so I ate a lot...

I made this recipe from Cooking Light and used kale instead of mustard greens. Everyone in the family loved it. I served it over brown rice to make it a bit more filling.

Friday, January 1, 2010

January challenge - finger foods

My grandmother got me a finger foods cookbook for this challenge and that is the inspiration for this challenge. The definition of finger food would be anything that does not require a utensil to eat it: cookies, sandwiches, appetizers....All courses are fair game.

New Year's Eve

Well, we kept on the Italian theme for New Year's Eve and I made my first Cioppino, a seafood stew. I kind of winged this one ... here is what I used for a generous 2 servings.

1/2 lb. halibut, skinned and cut into large cubes
1/2 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 large scallops
1/2 lb. mussels or clams

For the broth:
Chopped a leek up and used it to flavor the broth (remember to clean it really well ... they are really dirty vegs)
Peeled and chopped 2 large carrots
Chopped 2 celery ribs
2 garlic cloves cracked

Put the veggies with a swig of olive oil and a bay leaf and saute on low for a couple of minutes. Next I added 1.5 c. of dry white wine and 3 c. of seafood broth (I used Penzeys Seafood base dissolved in water), and a 28 oz. can of plum tomatoes with the juices. I added a pinch of oregano, a couple of Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, salt and pepper to taste and let the broth stew for about 30 minutes.

Now you are ready to add your seafood. I did the mussels first and cooked them a couple of minutes until they opened then removed them to a plate. Next I added the fish, shrimp and scallops and cooked for about 5 minutes (the shrimp were done before then so we removed them to the plate as well. Once everything was cooked I removed the seafood to a plate and pureed the broth (removing the large pieces of veggies & bay leaf first). Then I added all the seafood back in and served in soup bowls with a crusty bread to mop up the great tomato broth.

This turned out so incredible. The only thing I might not do next time is the scallops ... I prefer them grilled and they turned a blah color when they cooked in the broth this way. I would save them for a different occasion.

For dessert we had Chocolate Souffles from the Cooking Light Dec. Holiday issue. These turned out great as well.

Christmas Eve - Polenta Coniglio

Whenever we are in Italy for Christmas, our traditional family dinner is Polenta Coniglio. Well, we were not in Italy this Christmas but decided to give it a try ourselves. Coniglio is rabbit. Yes, that's right ... when everyone here is having their Christmas turkey ... we are feasting on a Christmas Bunny. Say what you will ... but, it's really tasty braised with some wine and rosemary and supposedly even leaner than chicken. Do I even need to post the recipe ... or is everyone pretty much horrified? I will give you one polenta tip, however, the copper pot that every Italian cook & cookbook swears by for polenta making really does improve the quality of your polenta. I think the copper keeps the water temp high as you add your cornmeal so you don't end up with lumps ... I was impressed ... I received this as a gift last year and love it!