These are a cute, refreshing little appetizer. Someone brought them to a barbeque over Labor Day weekend, and I thought they would be perfect to make for my book club.
8 oz. bocconcini (small balls of fresh mozzarella), drained
8 oz. cherry tomatoes
20-30 leaves of basil
1 clove garlic
2 T olive oil
2 T balsamic
On a toothpick or small skewer, thread a cherry tomato, a basil leaf (rip in half if the leaves are huge), then a bocconcini. Continue for the rest of the tomatoes and bocconicini.
To make the dressing, smash a clove of garlic with a knife, then place in a microwaveable bowl. Add the olive oil, then heat in the microwave for 20 seconds. Remove the garlic clove and allow the oil to cool. Add the balsamic vinegar, then season generously with salt and pepper.
Drizzle over the skewers before serving.
I was trying to think of a quick appetizer that I haven’t made before, and I decided to try using premade naan as a base for flatbreads. There isn’t really a recipe for these, you can add whatever ingredients you’d like in any amounts.
Mushroom, Chive, and Goat Cheese Flatbreads
1 lb mushrooms, mixed (I used shitake and crimini), thickly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 T butter
2 sprigs fresh thyme, removed from the stems
3 pieces garlic naan
2 T chives
4 oz of goat cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Saute mushrooms and garlic in a little bit of butter or olive oil. Once the mushrooms have started to brown, season with salt, pepper, and thyme.
Spread each piece of naan with a little bit of goat cheese and top with the sauteed mushrooms and chives. Bake for 7 minutes, or until the naan is toasted.
Cut each piece of naan into four pieces to serve.
I bought a bunch of red bell peppers on a whim because they were three for a dollar at Sprouts. I roasted all of them, then use some to make a simple dip.
Roasting peppers is easy. Just place the whole peppers on a baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees F for an hour, turning every 15 minutes.
Once they are charred on all sides, put them in a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap. The steam will help you to remove the skins from the peppers. After the peppers have cooled down, remove the plastic wrap, then remove the skin and seeds from the peppers. Slice to the desired size, and add olive oil, salt, and pepper.
To make the dip, I googled a few recipes and decided on Ellie Krieger’s recipe. It surpassed my expectations in terms of deliciousness!
Roasted Red Pepper Dip
Adapted from Ellie Krieger
3 roasted red bell peppers
1/3 c toasted almonds
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T red onion, chopped
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 T olive oil
Grind the almonds in a food processor. Add the bell peppers, vinegar, garlic, onion, and red pepper flakes and process until smooth. Drizzle the olive oil into the processor while it’s running, then season with salt and pepper.
Serve with pita chips (I used garlic and parmesan kind).
Stuffed mushrooms are really easy to make, and you can stuff them with almost anything you have on hand. They are definitely one of my go-to hors d’oeuvres. This version is vegetarian, but I often incorporate sausage or bacon.
Emmentaler Stuffed Mushrooms
15 large button or crimini mushrooms
1 T butter
1 T olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/3 c bread crumbs
1/4 c parsley, finely chopped
1/2 c grated emmentaler
1/4 c red wine (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Remove the stems from the mushrooms and chop the stems pretty finely.
3. Heat a small skillet over medium heat with the butter and olive oil. Add the garlic and mushrooms, and saute until the mushrooms are soft. Season with thyme, salt, and pepper, then pour the red wine in and allow it to reduce.
4. While the mushroom stems are cooking, add the egg, bread crumbs, parsley, and emmentaler to a small mixing bowl.
5. Allow the mushroom stems to cool. Once they are room temperature, add them to the bowl with the bread crumbs and egg. Stir everything to combine.
6. Put a spoon of filling into each mushroom cap. Rest them face up on a baking sheet, and bake for 25 minutes or until the mushrooms have released a little bit of liquid and the filling is golden brown.
If you are going to take these somewhere, they are good room temperature as well.
I love latkes, and what better excuse to make them than Hanukkah! Paco is “half” Jewish, so this is our main/only form of celebrating the holiday. (I put “half” in quotes because I have heard it both ways. Some say you are 100% Jewish if your mother is Jewish, as religion is passed through the mother. I have also been told that Judaism is an ethnicity/culture as well as a religion, in which case you can certainly be half!)
The New York Times had a recipe for apple – potato latkes, which sounded delicious to me, as I always pair latkes with apple sauce. I didn’t make the cinnamon sour cream topping, instead we just topped them with unsweetened apple sauce.
We drank Trader Joe’s holiday ale out of our fancy wedding crystal, just to be festive.
And we watched Love Actually, my favorite Christmas movie these days. It definitely felt like the holidays!