Category Archives: Appetizers / Snacks

Asian Chicken Lettuce Cup-Rice-Bowl

Asian Chicken Lettuce Cup-Rice-Bowl

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Asian Chicken Lettuce Cup-Rice-Bowl
If you have followed me, you know I really like Asian Fusion foods and crave them several times a week. My lovely, on the other hand, doesn’t share my enthusiasm. She likes it but doesn’t crave it like I do. I’ve made chicken lettuce wraps more times than I can count and I love them. The cool lettuce with the spicy salty ground chicken It’s such a simple, flavorful, quick and fairly healthy depending on what you put into it (or don’t). My suspicion with jill’s tepid interest in the lettuce cup lies in the lettuce as a vehicle. It’s messy, or at least mine is messy.

As I mentioned in my last post, Jill bought me Chrissy Teigen’s cookbook at her book fair. As with all my cookbooks, I go through every page and tag the ones I want to try. So I took her base sauce and added some extra veggies and will toy with making a rice lettuce bowl like you would get at Chipotle and add the chicken on it to see if I can move Jill’s needle or determine if the lettuce cup is the culprit of indifference.

Results: So I made this recipe this week and used Chrissy Teigen’s sauce recipes but added some additional vegetables and instead of serving it atop a lettuce cup, I just added it to a bowl for my wife. Flavor was good but I like my recipe a little better due to the peanut sauce but I loved the spicy notes. I didn’t like the bowl idea and would go back to the lettuce wrap. I also didn’t like the mushroom addition and I thought there was too much ginger. But I will be making lettuce wraps in future but using my recipe with a few tips from Chrissy’s book on the sauce.

Ingredients:
Sauce
3 Tbsp. GF Thai sweet chili sauce
3 Tbsp. GF hoisin sauce
3 Tbsp. light GF soy sauce
2 Tbsp. Sriracha
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. sesame oil
1½ Tbsp. GF unseasoned rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger

Filling
1 lb. ground chicken
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
8 scallions, thinly sliced, whites and greens kept separate
3 cloves of minced garlic
1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
1 Tbsp. of minced jalapeno
4 tbs of minced carrots
4 tbs of diced mushrooms
½ cup finely diced water chestnuts
3 tbs finely diced red bell pepper
Fresh Cilantro
Prepared Rice
Butter Leaf Lettuce (torn)

Directions:
1. Prepare the sauce by mincing everything and then mixing with the wet ingredients. Set aside 2 tbs for browning the ground chicken. img_1051

2. As with most stir-fry type dishes, they go really quickly so go ahead and cut up all your veggies and put them into three different bowls. (hard= carrots, bell pepper, ginger, medium jalapeno, white parts of scallions, mushroom and garlic, soft= cilantro, green onion parts). img_1049

3. Mix in 2 tsp of the sauce into the ground chicken. In a medium heated wok or skillet add some oil and your ground chicken and cook until brown. 5-6 minutes. and remove from the pan.

4. Now for the veggies. Add some oil back to the pan and start by adding the “hard” veggies first and stir and cook for about a minute. Then add your medium and stir for another minute. img_1052

5. Add the chicken back into the pan with the “hard” and “medium” veggies and pour in the rest of the sauce.

6. Right before plating add the cilantro and green onions.
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7. Remove from heat and give it one more stir. To plate the dish, I tore up the lettuce and put it on the bottom of the bowl and then layered on the rice and topped it with the chicken mixture.
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Roasted Chicken Shawarma with Cosmic Hummus

Roasted Chicken Shawarma with Cosmic Hummus

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Time: 60mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Roasted Chicken Shawarma with Cosmic Hummus
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Apologies for the infrequent posts lately, but I have been traveling a lot so haven’t been able to cook much. The other night I was in the mood for some good Middle Eastern food. We have a place locally that makes this crave worthy shish tawook where the chicken is perfectly moist and full of flavor with little burnt parts from the flames.

I decided to roast mine in the oven versus over the flames on skewers. Roasting does allow you to keep it nice and moist because it simmers in the juices imparting more and more flavor as it cooks. Another note is I used chicken breast because my lovely wife hasn’t come around on the greatness of chicken thigh meet. When I make dishes where she can’t tell I will slide a few thighs in there.

I’ve made hummus several ways… garlic, roasted pepper, jalapeno etc..but I spotted a recipe from a local joint called the Cosmic Cafe that used cucumber and cilantro which sounded good due to the freshness they would add. It was different and a good compliment to the tangy and spicy schwarma. I used store bought Naan bread and also a box of Rice a Roni. The rice and pasta combo just works. Don’t use the package seasoning in those boxes but instead make your own mix with high quality spices.

Ingredients:
Chicken Schwarma
2 free range air chilled chicken breasts
1 white onion sliced
stems of cilantro (leftover from hummus)
4 cloves of smashed garlic
2-3 lemons juices
squirt of Sriracha
1/2 cup of olive oil
splash of pickle juice
1 tbs of paprika
1 tbs of turmeric
2 tsp of ground cumin
1 tsp of cayenne pepper
1 tsp of red pepper flakes
Kosher Salt and Pepper

Cosmic Hummus
2 cans of Garbanzo Beans
1 lemon juiced
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/2 pealed cucumber
handful of cilantro
2 tsp of garlic powder
1 tbs of paprika
Pinch of cumin
Kosher salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:
Prep: wash your cilantro, peel your cucumber, cut your onion, juice your lemon and smash your garlic. Score your chicken breast. Also for the cilantro rip off a handful for the hummus and put the rest in the marinade for the chicken.

1. Marinate your chicken. Add everything into a Zip-Lock bag and let it marinate over night or at least two hours. The lemon will help tenderize the chicken and the spices get an opportunity to be absorbed into the chicken.

2. Make your hummus but rinsing your garbanzo beans and pull out some of those shells you will find. Personal preference. Add the beans, cucumber, cilantro, garlic into a food processor and pulse. Slowly add your lemon juice and then your olive oil. I put 1/2 cup of olive oil in my ingredients but eyeball it and add as much as you like or until you get the hummus to the consistency you like (thick or thin). Add your spices and let it blend for 5 minutes more.

3. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. If you like dryer chicken use a larger pan like a 9 x 13 or go with a smaller dish or pan if you want it more juicy. Add all the contents into the pan and roast the chicken for about 40 minutes. Check on it about thirty minutes into the roasting and turn it or move things around. I flipped mine because I was going to a “wetter” chicken. When your chicken is cooked, remove the cilantro and discard, Remove your chicken and slice it into the bite sized pieces and add it back into the pan and move it around to coat it in the sauce. Serve the chicken and onions with your sides…

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Nutella Chocolate Stuffed Puffed Pastry

Nutella Chocolate Stuffed Puffed Pastry

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 30mins
  • Difficulty: super easy
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Nutella Chocolate Stuffed Puffed Pastry

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The other day I was watching Bobby Flay’s Brunch show and it was the day prior to Valentine’s Day. The whole morning line up was devoted to chocolate. Bobby created a puff pastry stuffed with Nutella and Chocolate. It comes together super fast and easy but tastes as if it was created by a Chocolatier. I made it for Valentine’s Day morning and was a little embarrassed because it was so simple but my wife thought it was the best thing ever.

You get the crusty outside with oozing warm chocolate with each bite. Pair it with a glass of cold milk or cup of coffee and you have a great start to your morning.

I must say the puff pastry game is pretty strong. They have really great quality dough and makes using it as a savory or sweet pocket of love super accessible. So when you are thinking of a sandwich, pie, pizza, hot pocket try a puff pastry every once in a while to change it up.

Ingredients:
I am not going to give measurements because you can use as much or as little as you like based upon your palate. For mine I didn’t use much filling but for Jill’s I packed it pretty full.

Store Bought Puff Pastry
Nutella
High Quality Chocolate Chips
Vanilla extract
Egg (egg wash)
Powdered Sugar (optional)

Directions:
1. Thaw and unroll your puff pastry. Cut them into whatever shape you want (square, rectangle, dumpling, triangle)
2. In a glass mixing bowl add Nutella, Chocolate Chips and Vanilla and warm it in the microwave for about 20 seconds to make it spreadable.
3. Beat an egg and wash the edges to help the dough stick. Fill the pastry and enclose it in dough and crimp the edges to make the two sides become “one”. Wash the top and cook in a pre-heated oven according to the package or until browned.
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Wedge Salad Bites

Wedge Salad Bites

  • Servings: 20
  • Time: 50mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Wedge Salad Bites
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This is a super easy and fun one-bite appetizer. We had several parties over the holiday’s and they were slanted towards men so I had a lot of heavy, cheesy, meaty dishes. Dude food. So I needed something that wasn’t so heavy so I came up with a little deconstructed salad bite on a stick.

My intention was for each bite to have lettuce, tomato, bacon topped with blue cheese and carrots. I roasted my bacon and it was too crispy to put on the stick so I crumbled it and used it as a topper along with the carrots.

Ingredients:
Iceberg Lettuce
Cherry tomatoes
Bacon
Carrot shreds
Blue Cheese Dressing
Blue Cheese crumbles

Directions:
1. Roast or cook your bacon. Cut your lettuce into little wedges big enough for one bite. Assemble, dress and serve

Chicken and Savory Waffle Bites

Chicken and Savory Waffle Bites

  • Servings: 14
  • Time: 30mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Chicken and Savory Waffle Bites
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I have made chicken and waffles before in various forms. My favorite waffle batter contains three ingredients that separate it… cornmeal, jalapenos and extra sharp cheddar cheese. The cheese in the batter caramelizes into that perfect chewy crunchy bite that we all love in casserole edges or pizza edges. Looks slightly burnt but doesn’t taste like it.

The idea of these is to have one bite that contains a chicken nugget shrouded in a waffle coat. Now you could do these by covering the nugget in batter and dropping them into a typical waffle iron and they will turn out like flat blobs. Tasty blobs but you may struggle with uniformity. I found this waffle iron pan online that shapes them into walnuts. Now it isn’t an electric waffle iron but rather a plan you place on the stove or fire. This worked well for me and made perfect little bites that you could drizzle maple syrup or a special sauce over them. Link to waffle maker Walnut Waffle Maker

For the chicken nuggets… I saved myself some time and just bought them from Chick-Fil-A. I mean how can I compete with their chicken anyway. I swear if I could own one franchise it would be a Chick-Fil-A. Cars are lined up at everyone I pass anytime of the day. I digress. Below is the waffle batter I used.

Ingredients:
1 1/4 AP Flour
3/4 Cornmeal (yellow)
4 tsp of baking powder
2 tbs of White Sugar
2 tsp of Kosher Salt
2 Eggs
1 1/2 cups of Buttermilk
5 tsp of melted non salted butter
2 splashes of Tabasco Sauce
2 cups of cheddar cheese
1/4 cup of diced jarred pickled jalapenos (I added an extra 2 tbs because I like the heat)

Directions:
1. About four hours before you serve them go buy your Chick-Fil-A nuggets. You can use another brand or even pick up some frozen in the store or search for a recipe and make your own.

2. Whip up your batter by putting all the ingredients in a bowl and stir until well combined. Set it fridge to set up for about 30 minutes.

3. Since I had my walnut waffle maker thing I coated the nuggets in the batter and dropped them into each walnut. I heated it over medium heat and cooked them about 3 minutes on each side. I turned the oven on 150 degrees and worked in batches dropping the cooked nuggets on a wire rack and popped them in the oven to keep warm.

I served them with maple syrup and made a mayo maple Dijon dipping sauce.

Bacon Jalapeno Popper Cheese Bites

  • Time: 1hr 15mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Bacon Jalapeno Popper Cheese Bites
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Jill had a party the other night and asked me to make some cocktail appetizers. I made some blue cheese filled dates topped with spicy pecans, pimento cheese atop of cheddar biscuit and then jalapeno popper bites. Now I failed to take a picture of them so I used a pic of my pimento cheese recipe as a stunt double to give you an idea of how they look. So instead of seeing the red pepper you would see bacon. When making stuff for parties I always forget to photograph my food and when I remember I feel stupid snapping photos when people are around.

So apparently these were a hit and Jill has been on me to post the recipe as people were asking about it. If you have seen those grilled jalapeno poppers that are filled with cream and cheddar cheese with bacon wrapped around the stuffed jalapeno this is basically the same thing but made as a one bite appetizer served on a Ritz cracker.

Ingredients:
Ritz Crackers
Candied Jalapenos http://woodys-smokehouse.com/product/sweet-fire/
3 Jalapenos diced (seeds and ribs removed)
1 package of cream cheese
2 cups of fresh shredded cheddar cheese
6 strips of roasted bacon
2 shots of Worcestershire Sauce
3-6 slugs of Tabasco

Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Layout your bacon on a wire rack and roast until crispy which will be about 40-50 minutes. Cool and then dice up.

2. In a mixer add your cheeses, diced jalapenos, Worcestershire and Tabasco with a half of the bacon bits.

3. Roll the cheese mixture into balls. The size should fit onto a Ritz cracker with room around the edges. Now roll a strip of the ball in the bacon so that it shows on the outside. My pic doesn’t show it because that is Pimento Cheese. Top with a candied Jalapeno. If you don’t fine them in your store/market I posted a link above to a place where I get mine. It’s a roadside joint in Madisonville, Texas called Woody’s Smokehouse.

Blue Cheese Stuffed Date

Blue Cheese Stuffed Date

  • Servings: 10-36
  • Time: 30mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Blue Cheese Stuffed Date
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My wife went to a party the other day and needed to take some one bite appetizer food. So I made three for her to take 1. Blue Cheese Stuffed Dates 2. Pimento Cheese topped biscuit crackers 3. Jalapeno Popper Cheese balls topped with candied jalapenos.

She said the biggest hits were these dates and the jalapeno poppers. Admittedly, I am not a fan of the date but also don’t hate them either. I went to party a few years ago and had an app that was blue cheese date wrapped in a bacon and served warm. I stuffed several and tried it various ways and think adding the pecan really turned out well and it also didn’t require bacon. First time I think I have said that line.

Sweet from the date, a punch of creamy blue cheese, crunch and heat from the pecan. Super one biter.

Ingredients:
A package of pitted dates
Blue Cheese that you have tried
Cream Cheese
Worcestershire Sauce
Trader Joe’s Sweet and Spicy Pecans

Directions:
1. The reason I don’t have measurements is because I don’t know how many you are making. I made 36 so I used 1/2 lbs of good blue cheese, 2-3 oz of cream cheese and a splash of Worcestershire. The mixing is better if the cheese are at room temperature.

2. Take a date and cut one side and open it like a taco. Stuff some of the cheese mixture in it and top with a candied pecan. Before you start making these in mass you need to taste it. If you are happy with it, commence the stuffing. This is the time to nail your blue cheese to cream cheese ratio. I was about a 2 to 1 ratio since making them for guests but if I knew the people I would have gone 3:1 because I really like blue cheese. The only reason I add the cream cheese it to make it more creamy and to make bind better. Lastly if you don’t have sweet and spicy pecans you can buy them or make them by melting some butter and brown sugar and adding Cayenne pepper. Put them on a sheet tray and cook in the oven to harden. 200 degrees.
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