Great Northern and Sun-Dried Tomato Spread

This company-friendly, quick, flavorful spread is a wonderful appetizer, especially when paired with some fresh, crusty bread and a bowl of marinated olives. The Great Northern (also known as cannellini) is a rich and creamy bean and pairs beautifully with the grassiness from the fresh thyme, the deep, citrusy flavor of the lemon infused olive oil and the acidity from the lemon juice.

Serve the spread with warm pita bread cut into triangles.

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Not Your Grandmas Deviled Eggs

One of my favorite childhood memories is coloring Easter eggs.  Even today years later, whenever I smell white distilled vinegar, my mind instantly goes back to Easter eggs.  The next logical progression for our beautifully colored eggs was either egg salad or deviled eggs.  When you’re a kid, stuffing half of a deviled egg into your mouth was fun and totally expected.  When you’re a grown up not so much.  So this version is a bit more mature and refined, however, you still get those wonderful flavors of rich egg yolks, spicy mustard, and creamy mayonnaise, but then there’s just a hint of heat from the Sriracha followed by the salty brine of the pickle juice.

And when no one is looking, you can stuff as many of these in your mouth as you can and still feel like a kid!

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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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