Roasted Garlic and Sweet Onion Jam

Savory jams are great as an appetizer, and adding a thick, rich layer of your favorite cream cheese turns an ordinary piece of toasted bread into a delectable bite.

I first made this jam for Thanksgiving, but everyone enjoyed it so much, I made it again to give as gifts to my friends at Christmas.  The sweet components of the roasted garlic, onions and brown sugar perfectly balance the acid from the vinegar and the heat in the chili flakes.

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Smoked Lobster Shot

Fresh lobster meat can get a little pricey. However, there are times when you just need to throw that budget out the window and allow yourself the indulgence (and the decadent feeling of naughtiness) that comes with eating it!

Imagine the look of surprise on your Christmas or New Year’s party guests faces this year when they see these luxuriant hors d-oeuvre/cocktails!  They’re the perfect combination of sweet, tender lobster, followed by the smooth, spicy, smoky sauce.   And any left-over sauce makes a fantastic bloody Mary!

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Roasted Garlic and Habanero Dusted Pub Sticks

These pub sticks are a fun and unique snack to offer your guests at your next party, especially when served with a stout, dark lager. Infusing the dough with the roasted garlic flavors the breadstick with a deep, nutty flavor, and the coarse salt on top gives it a little bit of crunch. Serve the pub sticks with thick stone-ground mustard or rich, cheesy sauce and watch them disappear!

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Shrimp Cakes with Papaya and Mango Salsa

I love seafood cakes but find many restaurants add too much breadcrumbs in the mix and they end up dry and closer to a fishy hush puppy.  So for this recipe, I chose panko breadcrumbs which is a Japanese-style breadcrumb made from bread without crusts.  Using the interior of the dried bread results in airy, large flakes that give fried foods a light, crunchy coating without absorbing as much oil.   So when you take your first bite of these shrimp cakes, you’ll taste the sweet, tender shrimp first, not the breading.

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Rosemary and Gruyere Croissants

rosemary-and-gruyere-croissants

Looking for something different to serve with your holiday dinner this year other than boring crescent rolls or hot cross buns? These rosemary and gruyere croissants have delicate puff pastry swirled with creamy butter, melted gruyere cheese and just a hint of rosemary and black pepper. They literally melt in your mouth and present beautifully. They would even be great as an appetizer for your New Year’s Eve party!

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Habanero Pico de Salsa

habanero-pico-de-salsa

I’ve been making this “salsa” for about fifteen years and the bowl is always empty at the end of the night. I’ve heard some of my friends call it a salsa, a salsa fresco, and others call it a Pico de Gallo. I finally decided to name it a Pico de Salsa so everyone would be happy! Regardless of what we all call it, when I tell my friends, “Buy a bag of tortilla chips on your way home from work tonight,” they instantly know I’m going to be giving them a jar of the salsa the next day. The anticipated smile on their faces is always worth it!

So even though this isn’t a ‘secret recipe’ (I always share it when asked), it’s one I guarantee you’ll enjoy the simplicity of making and the joy of sharing. And seriously, it only takes twenty minutes from your cutting board to tortilla chip.

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Salmon Pillows with Basil Cream Sauce

Salmon Pillows with Basil Cream Sauce

I love the ease of using puff pastry dough. It bakes up crisp and flakey every time without fail, and can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. These salmon pillows are light and flaky on the outside and delicate and silky on the inside. Plus they’re super easy to make. You can also control the ratio of salmon to cream cheese depending on your palate. The fresh basil cream sauce has a bright, nutty flavor, and pairs beautifully with the salmon. Give one a dip, take a bite and be prepared for a ‘yum’ moment!
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Leek and Gruyere Tartlets

Leek and Gruyere Tartlets

I was giggling all the way through preparing this post because of the movie ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2,’ where everyone screams because there’s a leek in the boat. Ever since my family saw that movie, anytime I return from the grocery store with leeks as one of the items, someone inevitably exclaims, “There’s a leek in the car!” or “There’s a leek in that bag!” or “The fridge has a leek!”

Another reason for my giddiness is due to an old Friends episode featuring John Lovitz where he has a marijuana-induced case of the munchies for a batch of tartlets Monica prepares, and he repeats the word tartlet over and over and over in classic Lovitz-style. It still cracks me up thinking about it!

But there’s nothing funny about these tartlets. They’re a seriously great appetizer with a filling of smoky/cheesy/custardy/oniony goodness, and a flaky phyllo cup that melts in your mouth as you chew. Pair the tartlets with a bottle of your favorite chilled French Vouvray Chenin Blanc or buttery Chardonnay.

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Quick Pickle

Quick Pickle

I love pickles. Not the rubbery ones you buy room temperature from the grocery shelf, the cold, crunchy ones that snap when you bite into them.

One day, I had a craving for a cold crunchy treat and when I went to the fridge for my jar of pickles, it was gone. Now I was in a pickle!  Fortunately, I had several cucumbers in the crisper, so an hour later, I had another fresh jar of pickles in the fridge!

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