Category: appetizers

Spinach Basil Hummus

My extended family has an annual summer picnic complete with swimming and bocce, and I was assigned to bring chip and dip.  There is some seriously good food at this picnic, including several traditional recipes like my favorite Zucchini Appetizer, my Mom’s Potato Salad and Lemon Squares, and even Pizzelles.

I wanted to bring something relatively simple but flavorful.  While I am definitely not the first person to put spinach in hummus, I threw this dip together without working from a specific recipe.  I think it came out pretty well, although it had to compete with a lot of other great appetizers.  But with fresh basil, this dip would be good for any summer party.




Spinach Basil Hummus

10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
2 (15 oz.) cans chick peas, rinsed and drained
1/2 c. olive oil
1/2 c. lemon juice
2 T minced garlic
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil
1/2 t salt
1/2 t black pepper

Puree all ingredients in a food processor.  Chill and serve.

Asparagus Wrapped in Prosciutto

Oh my, I fell off the blogging wagon again, thanks for being patient.  But I am getting pretty tired of eating cereal for dinner so I better find my cooking motivation!

I made this asparagus wrapped in prosciutto for my cooking club, and it turned out pretty well.  First, I blanched the asparagus spears in boiling water for about 3 minutes, and then rinsed them in cold water.  I’d recommend reducing the cooking time to keep the asparagus a little more crunchy.

Once the asparagus was cool, I spread a thin layer of herbed cheese (like alouette) on a slice of prosciutto, and used it to wrap 3 spears.  I saw some recipes online that called for wrapping each spear individually, but that seemed time intensive.  I think this ended up being the right amount.  It was a great make-ahead appetizer, and I’ll keep this one in my annual rotation for asparagus season!


Spicy Baked Potato Fries

All this rain makes me want comfort food, and these Spicy Baked Potato Fries from Budget Bytes really fit the bill!  This is the kind of thing you’d order at the dive bar down the street (at least the dive bar down my street!)  These are still french fries after all, but I did measure the oil and used reduced fat cheddar cheese and nonfat plain Greek yogurt.  The key here is the spice mixture with lots of chili powder which gives the fries so much flavor.  Who needs a dive bar when you can make these fries, serve them with cheap beer, and crank up the music?



Vegetable Egg Rolls

The last time I posted about egg rolls was over 2 years ago, when I made Hungry Girl’s Sassy Veggie Egg Rolls.  I’ve surely indulged in plenty of egg rolls since then, including some from the Chinese takeout place down the street.  But, I have been meaning to make these Vegetable Egg Rolls from Budget Bytes for ages.  The recipe promises that you can bake the egg rolls right away, or freeze them to bake later.

If you don’t have garlic ginger paste, feel free to substitute freshly minced garlic and ginger.  I found a jar of garlic ginger paste at an ethnic grocery store a while back, and it’s come in handy quite a few times.  I took one other shortcut and bought pre shredded carrots but as someone pointed out, a food processor could do all the dicing and shredding very easily.  After that, you just spend some time at the stove cooking the mixture.  If you’re intimidated by working with the egg roll wrappers, check out Budget Byte’s post with step by step instructions.  She also has some suggestions for turning the egg rolls in the oven to make sure they brown evenly but I threw caution to the wind and mine turned out fine.

I baked about half the egg rolls right away, and froze the other half in small batches to bake later.  Of course, I tried the filling before I made the rolls, so I knew I was going to like them a lot!  The rolls are crispy but not hard to chew, and the filling is quite tasty.  I can’t wait to bake some of the frozen ones to see how they turn out.




Vegetable Egg Rolls

1 T oil
1 T garlic ginger paste
1 bunch scallions, white and light green parts only, sliced
1 (8 oz.) package mushrooms, diced
1 (8 oz.) package shredded carrot
1 small head cabbage, shredded
2 t cornstarch
1/4 c. soy sauce
20 egg roll wrappers

Heat oil in a large frying pan.  Add garlic ginger paste and scallions.  Cook for 1-2 minutes.  Add mushrooms, and cook for 5 minutes.  Add carrots and cabbage.  Cook until mixture is fairly soft, about 20-30 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk cornstarch into soy sauce.  Pour into frying pan and stir well.  Remove pan from heat and allow filling to cool.

Place about 2-3 T of mixture in each wrapper, and roll.  Seal the edges with water.  Place on a cookie sheet coated with cooking spray.  Bake at 400F for 10-12 minutes, until lightly brown.

-Lightly adapted from Budget Bytes


Spinach Rice Balls

Sorry to leave you hanging last week, I was a bit under the weather.  I am feeling better now, but I still can’t deny that I’ve been cooking less than usual this year.  Or at least cooking fewer ‘blog-worthy’ dishes!  But I was invited to a dinner party on Saturday night and the host asked me to bring an appetizer.  I was instantly inspired to find something good, but I also knew the crowd was full of generally healthy eaters.

I found these Spinach Brown Rice Balls on the site Cooking with My Kid, and made just a few changes.  I used Garlic Gold toasted garlic bits in oil, but you can use regular olive oil and minced garlic.  I also used Parmesan cheese instead of mozzarella for a sharper flavor.  I think they turned out really well, and everyone seemed to enjoy them.  Even adults like finger food, and the Spinach Rice Balls were full of flavor.  Although they were an appetizer on this night, they will be making more appearances in my lunch bag.




Spinach Rice Balls

2 c. cooked brown rice
1 (10 oz.) package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 c. seasoned whole wheat breadcrumbs
1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 T Garlic Gold toasted garlic bits in oil
2 eggs
Dash of black pepper

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.  Form into balls, and place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.  Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes, until lightly browned.

-Lightly adapted from Cooking with My Kid


Roasted Cauliflower and Tahini Dip

I’ve been meaning to make this Roasted Cauliflower and Tahini Dip for weeks, but every time I bought cauliflower I ended up making something else.  Finally over New Year’s weekend, I had a fresh head of cauliflower and some time on my hands.  You begin by roasting the cauliflower with oil, loads of fresh ginger, and coriander.  Then you put it in the food processor with lemon juice and tahini, and season it with salt and pepper.  The end result is a fantastic dip that you’ll want to keep scooping up!

Molly from Cheap Beets noted that she kicked up the ginger, and I used over 2 tablespoons.  That’s what really makes this dip great.  The only thing I would change is to use less oil in roasting the cauliflower, simply because I don’t think it’s needed and the tahini adds plenty of fat later in the recipe.  The next time you have a head of cauliflower on your hands, consider this as a fun start to your meal.


Stilton Walnut Dip

The hardest work of the semester is done, and this weekend it was time to have some fun!  I made this Blue Cheese Walnut dip to take to a party back in November, but I wasn’t totally satisfied.  It tasted fine, but the texture wasn’t quite right.  So I changed a few more things and brought it to another party yesterday, where it was served with both apple slices and crackers.  I am happy to say that it went over well, and a couple of people even asked for the recipe.

I really like the White Cranberry Stilton from Trader Joe’s, and it has less ‘bite’ than traditional blue cheese.  Plus, cranberries fit with the holiday theme.  But if you like stronger cheeses, go for it and let me know how it turns out.




Cranberry Stilton Walnut Dip

8 oz. White Cranberry Stilton Cheese, crumbled
1 shallot, peeled and diced
1/3 c. chopped walnuts
1/2 c. light mayonnaise
1/3 c. skim milk
1 t white vinegar
Black Pepper

Mix all ingredients in a food processor.  Season to taste with black pepper.  Allow to chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before serving.

-Adapted from Food & Wine