Thursday, August 29, 2013

Simple but Delicious Appetizers

A few months ago I had a wine and appetizer function at my home on a Sunday afternoon . I prepared a lot of simply delicious appetizers and wanted to share some of the recipes .

It was a beautiful day and the appetizers were served in my dining room buffet style . I always open the French doors that leads out to the screened porch when the weather is just right and it also leads to my patio for a lovely garden experience . This was one of those delightful days when I could do that . Right now with our heat and humidity that is not possible but soon hopefully when the autumn breezes begin I will once again be able to utilize entertaining in this way .

I love having the option of this flow for entertaining . As you can see I have appetizer plates ready to fill with some scrumptious appetizers .
This is one of my favorites and one that even my grand children just love . I am careful not to put too much horseradish when serving to the grand's . I love the fact that this recipe does not use tahini but horseradish instead . It is a delicious hummus and my all time favorite .
Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
3 ounces reduced fat cream cheese
1 ounce sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, minced
1/4 cup sliced green onion (white and pale green parts only), sliced thin
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth . Check taste and add additional salt , pepper and horseradish, to taste .
My Notes: I almost always add more sun-dried tomatoes and if the consistency needs to be moistened I add some of the olive oil from the sun-dried tomatoes . I usually do have to add additional salt . 
Another favorite appetizer of mine is Ina Garten's Roasted Shrimp . We are so fortunate here in our area close to the Gulf of Mexico to have plentiful shrimp year round and I dearly love them . This is the recipe that appears in Ina Garten's book , Barefoot Contessa, Back to Basics .
Roasted Shrimp Cocktail
For the shrimp
2 pounds (12 to 15 count) shrimp (I use extra large)
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce
1/2 cup Heinz chili sauce
1/2 cup Heinz ketchup
3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees .
Peel and devein the shrimp , leaving the tails on . Place them on a sheet pan with the olive oil , salt , and pepper and spread them in one layer . Roast for 8 to 10 minutes , just until pink and firm and cooked through . Set aside to cool .
For the sauce, combine the chili sauce , ketchup , horseradish , lemon juice , Worcestershire sauce , and Tabasco . Serve as a dip with the shrimp .
My Notes: I always use a salt that is not as fine as kosher but is a sea salt when using on seafood . It is a French Herbed Salt. I use to be able to get it here locally but now I have to order it on Amazon and I do order it , I am never without it . It is wonderful .
This company also makes a Gardener's Salt that I am never without . I use it when salting pasta and most vegetables that I prepare . The dried herbs work perfectly with veggies as does the Fisherman's Salt , it works perfectly with any seafood . The dried herbs in the Fisherman's Salt are Marjoram , Fennel , Thyme , Savory , and Sage . It is a delightful mix of herbs with the Sea Sal t. Another thing I wanted to mention, using the chili sauce makes this sauce a little different and this is my go to recipe all the time for seafood .
The other appetizer I would like to share with you is a recipe that was originally posted on a food message board by a dear friend . I have made this recipe many times and I am always asked for the recipe . It is delightful and very addictive not to mention that it makes for a pretty presentation .
Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salsa
1 pound package frozen niblet corn, thawed
3 tablespoons oil, (canola or olive oil)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon cumin powder
6 tablespoons fresh lime juice
5 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup chopped red onion
3 plum tomatoes, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 large ripened avocados, chopped
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss corn with 3 tablespoons oil on a baking sheet . Bake for 18 to 22 minutes until golden brown stirring frequently . Cool completely .
Combine salt, cumin, lime juice, oil and vinegar . Shake well in a jar .
In a large bowl, combine the rest of the chopped ingredients . Add beans and corn. Add avocado, and dressing last and toss gently . 
Refrigerate for up to 6 hours. Serve the same day you make it .
Serves 16 easily!
I did serve other appetizers but these three were my favorites that I wanted to share . I also love having the option to open my French doors in my dining room which leads to the screened porch and serve wine and champagne from there .
The screened porch then opens up to my patio and garden area which makes for a lovely place to entertain when the weather is co-operative .
I am sharing this post at Michael Lees blogging party, Foodie Friday . You can see other wonderful recipes shared by clicking HERE . I hope you enjoy your weekend and I hope you will try some of these delicious but yet simple appetizers .

Friday, August 23, 2013

Our newest Grand Baby

Yesterday our daughter , our youngest , gifted us with a new Grand Baby . This is our seventh , my daughter's second . She also has a little girl that is two years old and she now has a baby sister . They wanted to be surprised and it was definitely a surprise because everyone thought it would be a little boy . She is healthy and gorgeous and that is the ONLY thing that matters . My daughter had to have a C-section and they took the baby three weeks before the actual due date because mommy had developed some health issues but everyone is just fine , mommy and baby .

Please welcome our newest grand baby , Turner Elizabeth . The name Turner is a family name , it was my mother in laws maiden name .

I'm sure you know that other pictures will follow soon . The two year old is staying with me . This morning she is at her play group but before I pick her up this afternoon I am headed up to the hospital to take some more pictures .
I hope each of you have a wonderful weekend .

Friday, August 9, 2013

Reprise~South of the Border Squash

Recently I saw on one of my favorite blogs, Lindaraxa , a recipe using Summer Squash , Cheesy Summer Squash Casserole .  I thought it would be a good time to reprint  this recipe that has been a family favorite of ours for years using yellow squash . I most often prepare this recipe during the holidays but there is no reason not to prepare it anytime especially when yellow squash is so plentiful during the summer . It is a most unusual recipe for yellow squash and men just love it even if they don't usually eat yellow squash .

South of the Border Squash Casserole
 Serves 6

1 cup chopped onion
2 to 2 1/2 pounds yellow squash, sliced
2 tablespoons butter
1 4-ounce can chopped green chilies
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
1 ½ cup Monterey Jack cheese, grated
1 egg
1 cup cottage cheese, small curd
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees . Butter a 9x13 inch pan or 2-quart casserole dish . In a skillet , sauté onion and squash in butter until tender . Stir in chilies , flour , salt and pepper . Pour into casserole . Sprinkle Monterey Jack cheese on top . Stir together the egg , cottage cheese , and parsley . Spread this mixture over the Monterey Jack cheese .
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese . Bake for 25 to 30 minutes .

My Notes : The cottage cheese mixture is a little difficult to spread but be patient , it will spread over the entire pan . Depending on the oven it sometimes needs to be cooked a little longer . A nice light browning on the top .

I use a 12-inch sauté pan to sauté the squash and onions .

It goes together very quickly and can be put together the day before to this point and ready to pop in the oven when needed . I always use parsley from my herb garden and it gives a nice green color to the dish and also a special freshness .
Try this one , I am quite certain you will come to love it as well . A different take on most Yellow Squash casserole's .
I am sharing this recipe at Michael Lee's blogging party, Foodie Friday . You can see other shared recipes by clicking HERE .
Enjoy your weekend !

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Penne Alla Betsy

We are so fortunate living close to the Gulf Coast that we always have delicious fresh caught shrimp year round . I do love shrimp and when I saw on Ree Drummond 's program, The Pioneer Woman when she prepared this dish I thought it sounded really good . I do love a good pasta dish as well so I knew it had to be good with two of my favorites , shrimp and pasta .

Ree named this recipe Penne Alla Betsy because the recipe was given to her by a dear friend . She printed the recipe in her first cookbook .

Penne Alla Betsy

1 pound penne pasta
1 pound large shrimp
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
One 14.5-ounce tomato sauce
1 cup heavy cream
Milk for thinning
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
6 basil leaves, cut in chiffonade
Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil . Cook the penne until al dente (firm yet tender) . Drain and set aside .

Begin by peeling and deveining the shrimp and rinsing them under cold water .

In a small skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of the butter and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil . When the pan is hot, add the shrimp . Stir and cook on both sides until it is just starting to turn opaque, about 2 minutes . Remove to a plate and allow to cool slightly .

Next , finely chop the onion. In a large skillet over medium heat add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil . Add the garlic and onion . Stir to combine and cook , stirring occasionally , until the onion is translucent , about 3 minutes . Pour the wine into the pan . Stir and allow it to evaporate, about 45 seconds . Pour in the tomato sauce and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low . Pour in the cream and stir well to combine ; reduce the heat to simmer .

Add the shrimp to the sauce and stir gently to combine .

My Notes : I added to the sauce about 3/4 cups of freshly grated Parmesan cheese . Also , after adding the shrimp and pasta I placed the entire mixture into a 13 X 9 serving dish , topped it with a little more Parmesan cheese and placed it in a 350 degree oven just until it browned a little on top . I also think the white wine is essential to this dish . I did not cook the onion and garlic at the same time but let the onion cook for a little while first and then added the garlic for the last couple of minutes so as not to let the garlic burn . I cooked the dish all in the same sauce pan , a 10-inch deep saucepan . I wanted to have the flavor from cooking the shrimp that I thought would add so much to it and it did .

I thought this was an amazingly delicious dish and one I will prepare over and over again .
If I were to rewrite this recipe with just a couple of minor changes I would simply call it Shrimp and Pasta with Béchamel Sauce . It was sooooooooo yummy .
 Pared with a simple Mixed Green Salad it made for an excellent summer dinner . It isn't exactly light in calories but it does not taste so very heavy and another plus was that it went together effortlessly but yet delicious .

I hope you will try this recipe , you won't be disappointed .

I am linking this post to Foodie Friday, you can click HERE to see other wonderful recipes shared .