Hurry Up Appetizers! Five Easy Ideas to Serve in a Hurry

We’ve all been there — a last minute, impromptu invitation extended before reality sets in, or your spouse has told their group of friends to come over and casually mentions it to you a few hours prior to their arrival.  No worries, I have the perfect spread that takes little effort and just a trip to the grocery store.

First, guacamole.  Everyone loves it.  You can make your favorite recipe, like Miss Bee prefers, or buy store bought from the deli. To up the level of store bought, just add a hand full of chopped cilantro.

Next, corn relish and cream cheese with Frito’s corn chips.  My sister-in-law gave me a jar of corn relish as a hostess gift.  I put an 80z block of cream cheese on a platter, poured the corn relish on top, slightly mixed it and arranged a bag of fritos around the platter. Yum.

Chips and salsa is always a winner.  Take two bowls and fill one with your favorite salsa and the other bowl with mango/pineapple pico de gallo.   They sell these in the deli of my grocery store.  Place the two bowls on a large platter, then fill in the base of the dish with tortilla chips.

For a sweet touch, add a bowl of cinnamon pecans.  Planters Peanuts sells cinnamon pecans that are delicious.  Just pick up a few bags and fill a bowl.  If you have time to make something, I have blogged about this recipe for Cheesy Jalapeno Thumbprint Cookies before here.  They are delicious!

Done.  Five easy appetizers.  Just add wine, beer and sodas and you are set for that party and your guests will never know the difference!

Cheesy Thumbprint Cookies with Hot Pepper Jelly

On a recent overnight stay at the Inn on Lake Granbury, during their evening happy hour, they served this delicious, savory appetizer. If you are looking for a nice getaway, this Inn is one of my favorite places to stay.  Only 40 minutes from Fort Worth, this boutique hotel sits right on Lake Granbury.  Even on the hottest day of the summer, the cool breeze from the lake makes it a restful place to relax and regroup.

When I asked for the recipe, they were nice enough to share it with me.  I love thumbprint cookies of the sweet variety with icing piled on top.  But, this savory option is buttery, cheesy and the hot/sweet of the pepper jelly makes for the perfect yum with wine.

Cheesy Thumbprint Cookies with Hot Pepper Jelly

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (shred your cheese, don’t use the pre-shredded bag cheese)

1 cup all-purpose flour

6 TBL. cold, chilled butter, chopped

1/2 cup hot pepper jelly

  1. Blend cheese, flour and butter in food processor until dough is a course-meal texture and forms into a ball.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 400.
  3. Shape dough into eleven, 1-inch balls and place 1 inch apart on baking sheet.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes.  Remove from oven, press thumb into top of each ball, creating an indentation.  Spoon about one tsp. pepper jelly into indentation.  Bake until edges are golden brown, about 5 minutes.

How to Build a Charcuterie Board: Advice from Meyer & Sage

Photo credit: Meyer & Sage

Hands down, the modern the twist on a cheese tray these days is the Charcuterie Board.  Pronounced shär-ˌkü-tə-ˈrē  by definition it’s a delicatessen specializing in dressed meats and meat dishes.  I decided to ask Callie Salls owner and Chef of Meyer & Sage to weigh in on the subject for a little Q&A:

What is Meyer & Sage and how did you get started?

Meyer & Sage is a chef-driven weekly meal delivery service. We also provide boutique catering services and custom grazing boards. We are in the process of a dual kitchen build-out and will have a storefront with dine-in options, culinary workshops and grab-and-go options in 2019 located in The Foundry District. Meyer & Sage was my husband Allan’s idea! I’ve owned a personal chef service, Linguine & Dirty Martinis, for the past 8 years and Allan brought up the idea that we could expand our services and work with a team of amazing professionally-trained chefs out of a commercial kitchen.

Photo credit: Meyer & Sage

What is a Charcuterie Board?

Charcuterie is French for meat—so as long as some type of meat is included, you have a charcuterie board. Easy peasy!

 What are the essential items that make up a Charcuterie board?

Of course, aesthetics are very important, but I also believe texture is crucial for a great board. Crunchy nuts, velvety brie, crumbly bleu, sticky-sugared citrus and chewy dried fruits give the palatte a very intriguing combination. I don’t think any items are essential necessarily, I would just choose items that you enjoy!

These are the items I’ve been adding to my custom charcuterie boards this winter: homemade pesto hummus, marinated fresh mozzarella, marinated castelvetrano olives, 4-5 cheeses, salami or prosciutto, rosemary nuts, fresh fruits, dried fruits, candied lemon slices, crackers and edible wildflowers. I usually always include one bleu cheese, a soft ripened cheese such as a brie, a hard aged cheese like manchego, a classic sharp Tillamook cheddar and then a couple fun finds that I switch out. This week, it was a Red Dragon with mustard seed and a very aromatic Truffled Sottocenere with some fennel and clove.

Photo credit: Meyer & Sage

How would you recommend a hostess styling the Charcuterie board — does it always have to be on a wooden board?  Are there other ways to present it.

I love the rustic look of wooden boards, but any platter would do. Make sure to lay down cheese papers or doilies and pre crumble or slice cheeses to avoid cheese knives scratching good silver or porcelain. I also love the idea of presenting straight on a wooden butcher block—perhaps my next purchase for our home!

Williams-Sonoma Blackberry Champagne Cocktail

What would be a good wine, or cocktail, selection that would best accompany a presentation like this?

I would keep it very simple with all the flavors, textures and visual appeal of the board. I would choose a simple grassy & citrus-y white wine such as a sauvignon blanc, an easy drinking red table blend or perhaps a crisp dry rosé in the spring. In terms of cocktails, gin has many herbal and floral notes and would pair nicely with charcuterie board components. I also love the idea of a classic champagne cocktail with a touch of bitters—that would be lovely with a charcuterie spread as well.

People always want just a little something sweet. What’s a good recommendation for the sweet to accompany a Charcuterie board?

I always include local honeycomb topped with dried lavender on my charcuterie boards—it’s incredible with aged manchego. I also usually include dried fruit and nut crackers, seasonal fresh fruit and even a bit of dark chocolate for my Valentine’s Week charcuterie boards.

Photo credit: Meyer & Sage

What’s the best way for someone to contact you for personal meals or party needs? 

Email [email protected]. Happy to help and spread charcuterie board love!

Perfect timing for upping your game for Superbowl parties this weekend.  Elevate your tailgate from onion dip and chips to a beautiful Charcuterie board that will make your guests say, “touchdown!”

Herbed Olive Tapenade with Goat Cheese Bruschetta

20161008_175421

Here is an easy appetizer idea perfect for a relaxed evening with friends or something pretty to take to a party.  You can purchase store bought Olive Tampenade at Costco.  It is really good and could easily be substituted for the tampenade step in this recipe.   Note:  Tampenade is a Provençal dish consisting of finely chopped or pureed olives.  It’s a popular food in the south of France and perfect eaten on slices of bread.

I found the recipe on Pinterest and it’s pinned to my Appetizers board here.

20161008_180538

Ingredients:

I cup of chopped Kalmata olives (pitted)

1 cup of chopped Manzanilla olives

3 large cloves of garlic diced

3 TBL of chopped fresh oregano

3 large basil leaves chopped

salt and pepper to taste

3 TBL extra virgin olive oil

2 TBL red wine vinegar

1 fresh squeezed lemon

4 oz cream cheese softened

4 oz of goat cheese

1 baguette

Preheat oven to 350.  Slice baguette into 1/2 inch slices and butter each side with real butter.  Bake for about 10 minutes until golden, flipping half way through so they toast evenly on each side.

Mix the cream cheese and goat cheese together in a bowl and set aside.

Combine all of the tampenade ingredients (olives, garlic, herbs, seasoning, oil, vinegar, and lemon juice) in a small bowl.

Spread cheese mixture onto each baguette slice and place on a platter. Top each toast slice with a tsp (or more) of tampenade.  Chill or serve right away.  If you have more tampenade left over you can save it for another day or eat as a snack with pita chips.  It’s great served on top of grilled chicken or salmon, too.

20161008_175536

Wednesday’s Weave — Watermelon Salsa

watermelon salsa with wildflowers

I made the most refreshing salsa with a twist this week — Watermelon Salsa.  I found the recipe on Pinterest.  It requires a little assembly with all the chopping, but the results are worth it.  We had it with sweet potato tortilla chips and there was enough leftover to serve it with grilled salmon later this week.

Here’s a tip from Earnie:  When you slice a melon, do it over a paper grocery bag.  It will catch all the juice, then roll up the rinds in the bag and toss in trash (or compost bin).  The bag helps contain the odor until trash day.  Earnie taught me this trick years ago and I am still doing it!

sliced watermelonHere’s the recipe:

1/2 a baby seedless watermelon (I got mine at Trader Joe’s)

One large mango, diced (do yourself a favor, buy mango already sliced by the grocer)

1/2 red onion, diced

1 jalapeño, diced (I seed mine to control the heat)

2 limes, zested and juiced

1 pinch of salt (I added 2 pinches, but salt it to taste for you)

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Slice one baby seedless watermelon in half lengthwise. Trim a little off of the rounded edge of the watermelon, so it sits up like a bowl without rolling around. Use a spoon to scoop out the watermelon flesh of one half—being careful not to scoop all the way through the trimmed bottom—forming a bowl with the watermelon rind. Dice the watermelon flesh into bite-sized pieces.

Pour the diced watermelon, mango, onion, jalapeño, lime juice, lime zest, salt and cilantro into a large mixing bowl, tossing to combine.

Spoon the salsa into the watermelon bowl. The salsa tastes better as the flavors sit, so if you can, refrigerate this for 20-30 minutes before serving.

Serve with tortilla chips.

watermelon salsa 2

watermelon salsa on table

Be sure to check out more recipes on my appetizer board on Pinterest.

A Ploughman’s Lunch

with floral

When we get the chance to travel, especially in Europe, I am always intrigued how different the food is presented.  In the U.S. we are accustomed to our plates overflowing with tons of food — meat, potato, vegetables, bread, and dessert.  When we traveled to Turkey last summer (you can read about here), the food was simple, fresh, delicious and just enough.  I never felt uncomfortably full, but simply satisfied.

Mr. Bee is English.  Raised in the U.S. by his English parents — Tony and Irene — he loves traditional Christmas dinners with yorkshire pudding, making Christmas pudding with Miss Bee and a good Ploughman’s Lunch.

with dougs hand

By definition, a Ploughman’s Lunch is an English cold meal which consists of cheese, pickle, and bread.  You can add other items like apples, boiled eggs, ham and pickled onions.  This was the farmer’s midday meal.  Quick and easy to eat often tucking the hunks of bread or apple into his pocket as he went back to work.

Really, it’s the perfect summer meal. No need to heat up the kitchen or cook. Easy to assemble on a platter, and great with a good glass of wine.

Deconstructed, traditionally you need a good hunk of cheddar and a hearty loaf of bread.  The Branston Pickle (which is a chutney made from a variety of pickled vegetables diced very small) and pickled onion were purchase from World Market and the rest of the cheeses — Brie, Apricot Stilton and blueberry goat cheese — came from Trader Joe’s. Add a few hearty crackers, honey crisp apples, and a small dish of olives.

full screen with platterWe sipped a new, to us, variety of wine from Blue Apron’s wine club, Las Canovas Tempranillo.  The bottles are 500 ml and sized for two people.  It was smooth and perfect with the hearty cheddar and the dark chocolate for dessert.

soft focus

up close 3

We have leftovers for the week to make grilled cheese sandwiches.  What’s your perfect summertime meal?

Easy, easy appetizer for spring

I helped host a bridal shower for a co-worker recently.  When I saw a recipe for Kale and Goat Cheese Empanadas, I knew she would love them.

They are super easy to make and very yummy.  Check out the latest issue of Oprah magazine for this and other recipes, including brownies made with just a jar of Nutella, eggs, flour and salt!

I doubled the recipe.  I took two bunches of Lacinato kale and washed and chopped the greens.  Mix in salt and pepper then saute them in olive oil, I didn’t measure but about 3 tablespoons would do it for doubling the recipe.  After about 4 minutes of sauteing, put the greens to the side to cool.  Once cooled, I added one cup of crumbled goat cheese.

Then you take refrigerated pie crust dough.  I didn’t do it like the recipe said because I needed more than 8 empanadas per recipe.  So I took my Martha Stewart biscuit cutters and made 16 cut outs from each disc of dough.  I took about a pinch full of the kale mixture, put it in the center of the dough circle, wet the edges with a little water and sealed the edges by pinching them off.  This method yielded 32 bite-sized empanadas.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until golden.

You can make these ahead, cover with a damp cloth and foil.  Then bake when you need them later in the day.  Easy. Easy.