Olive Oil Poached Tuna Rolls

I’ve always been intrigued by authentic poke, however, sushi-grade tuna in St. Louis, Missouri can be a roll of the dice unless you’re a sushi restaurant.  So for this light yet filling dish, I elected to first poach the tuna in olive oil until it was just pink in the center, then I finished the ‘cooking’ ceviche-style using rice wine vinegar and lemon juice along with aromatic and bold flavors like shallots, jalapeno, pickled ginger, oyster sauce, and sesame oil.  The delicate rice paper was the perfect vehicle to pull all of those wonderful flavors together.

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Chorizo Jalapeño Popper Mummies

Halloween for me always means spooky decorations and playful food.  I decided this year’s theme was going to be mummies so I took traditional jalapeño poppers, added spicy chorizo sausage meatballs and replaced the bacon wrapping with pizza dough.  The combination of the heat from the jalapeño and sausage with the cool creamy cheeses and savory pizza dough made these the perfect spicy Halloween party appetizer!

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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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Nova Lox with a Schmear

After the holidays, I got into this binge craving for lox and schmear, which is a mixture of softened vegan cream cheese mixed with fresh dill, spicy red onion, briny capers, a dash of pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Imagine chewy, fresh warm bagels, thick, rich, amped up softened cream cheese, and tender, slightly smoky, silky lox. Dang! There I go adding the ingredients to our grocery list again!

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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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Butterflied Cilantro-Lime Baked Shrimp with Salted Margarita Aioli

My favorite cocktail during the summer is a generous pour of silver tequila, fresh lime juice, a pinch of salt and a few ice cubes. It’s a tart drink, but it’s very refreshing. In fact, I just happened to be sipping on one of those delicious drinks while preparing this dish.

I had already planned to use the lime zest and cilantro to mix in with the panko coating but I hadn’t yet decided what to serve with the shrimp. Then I saw the bottle of tequila and the fresh limes and I had an epiphany. I was going to turn my drink into an aioli!

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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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