Category Archives: Appetizer

Slightly Spicy Cheese Straws – Mississippi

Winter in Chicagoland lasted approximately 21 eons this year and then summer weather began after about 12 minutes of spring. We have officially launched into patio cocktail season. And you need

Slighty Spicy Cheese Straws - Mississippisome nibbles to go with drinks, right? How about acting like a genteel Southerner and making these cheese straws? Add some olives and a few nuts and no one will cry if dinner is a little late.

We had never made these before and had the impression they were difficult. Au contraire, nothing could be easier. The dough comes together beautifully in the food processor and then you shape ‘em and bake ‘em. Don’t worry if you don’t have a cookie press, we broke ours in the course of making these and resorted to rolling them by hand which was fun and harkened back to our days playing with Play-Doh (this dough tasted a lot better though).

Can’t pass up an author’s house? Neither can we. Rowan Oak, in Oxford was home to William Faulkner. Purchased by the writer in 1930, he lived in this Greek revival with his family until his death in 1962.

 

Slightly Spicy Cheese Straws

  • Servings: 6-10
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 8 oz. grated yellow sharp Cheddar, room temperature
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature

Instructions

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the flour, pepper and paprika together. Add cheese and butter and process until a dough comes together. Taste and season with salt if necessary (you may not need any if your cheese and butter are quite salty). Place dough in a cookie press with the star attachment. Place long rows of dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Alternatively, dough may be rolled by hand into ropes, or shaped into a cylinder and sliced into buttons. Bake at 375 for about 13 minutes or until the edges just begin to brown. Dough or baked straws may be frozen.

Advertisements

Pears with Blue Cheese and Prosciutto – Iowa

Iowa’s most famous product, Maytag blue cheese has been in business since 1941. Still a family farm at its roots, the Maytags are in their fourth generation of making cheese.

If you need a quick and delicious appetizer you cannot go wrong with this recipe. If it takes you longer than 20 minutes to put

An easy and elegant appetizer made with Maytag blue cheese, Iowa's most famous product

together, you are doing something wrong. The sweet pears play nicely with the sharp cheese and the saltiness of the prosciutto. Molto bene!

Brucemore, in Cedar Rapids, was built in 1886 by the Sinclair family for their large brood. You can tour this 19th century mansion and learn about the lions (yes, lions in Iowa!) later families kept as pets.

Pears with Blue Cheese and Prosciutto

  • Servings: 16 pieces
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe pears
  • Maytag blue cheese
  • 8 slices prosciutto, sliced in half lengthwise
  • Arugula

Instructions

With a sharp paring knife, quarter each pear, removing stem and core. Cut each quarter in half. Slice cheese into 16 equal pieces. Place cheese on side of pear, add a few sprigs of arugula, then wrap prosciutto around the entire piece. Repeat with remaining pears. Serve immediately.    

Baked Potato Chips with Beer Cheese Dip – Idaho

The Gem State loooves their potatoes and who can blame them? Potatoes are like a warm, comforting hug. They are an excellent source of Vitamin C and a good source of potassium (even more

Baked Potato Chips with Beer Cheese Dip - Idaho than a banana), and the cost – cheap. Idaho’s most famous product is also versatile. Potatoes can be baked, mashed or fried, or made into soup, bread, cake, or candy.

If you are looking for something to serve for the Big Game next week, consider homemade Baked Potato Chips. Because they only use a little bit of canola oil, they are healthier than fried chips. The Beer Cheese Dip that we made to go along with the chips comes together very quickly and is tres delicious. Just play around with the amount of the seasonings until it tastes good.

For a fun and quirky experience, visit the Museum of Clean in Pocatello. See nearly 1,000 vacuums dating back to the mid-nineteenth century, as well as a Texas sized trash can, washing machines, brooms and tubs. Dedicated to “clean homes, clean minds, clean language, clean community, and a clean world.”

Baked Potato Chips with Beer Cheese Dip

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

For the chips:

  • 1 lb. small, gold potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin

For the dip:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup beer
  • Onion powder to taste
  • Garlic powder to taste
  • Paprika to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)
  • 2 green onions, diced, divided

Instructions

To make chips: Cut potatoes 1/4 inch thick. Take sliced potatoes and plunge them into a bowl filled with ice water. Let soak for 30 minutes. Drain and pat dry. In medium bowl, combine oil and seasonings. Add potatoes, tossing until well coated. Lay potatoes in a single layer on two baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees, then flip and bake another 10 minutes (watching carefully so the chips do not burn), or until potatoes are crisp and golden.

To make dip: In a medium bowl, combine softened cream cheese, half of the shredded cheddar, beer, spices, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce and half the green onions until well mixed. Transfer to serving bowl. Top mixture with the remaining cheddar, then remaining green onions.     

 

Crab Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers – Delaware

Blue crab is one of the most important products of the First State, with almost 4 million pounds landed in 2016. If you get a chance to visit Lewes or Rehoboth Beaches in the summer, there is nothing

Crab Stuffed Mini Peppers - Delaware

better than visiting a crab house, where they will lay out the butcher paper and mallets as you pick some crabs. Beer and Old Bay Seasoning are integral to this experience and if your hands aren’t covered with bits of shell and crab meat, you are being far too prim.

Canned crab, on the other hand, offers all the deliciousness of crab without any of the mess. We made this appetizer recently for a party and it was a huge hit. The flavor of the crab really shines, as it’s not masked by cream cheese or other dairy products.

Step back to the late eighteenth century when you visit the Old Statehouse in Dover. Completed in 1791, this beautiful example of Georgian architecture served as both the state and county capitol building until 1933.

Crab Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers

  • Servings: 12-16
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • Yellow, orange and red mini sweet peppers
  • 12 ounces crabmeat
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 scallions, chopped finely

 Instructions

Halve the mini sweet peppers. Remove seeds and membranes but leave steam intact. In a large bowl, mix crabmeat, mustard, mayo, Old Bay and scallions. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place  peppers on a baking sheet. Spoon crab into peppers. Bake for 15 minutes at 300 degrees, then broil to finish for 4-5 minutes or until crabmeat is golden brown.

 

Pig Candy – Wyoming

Fries dipped into a milkshake. Chocolate covered pretzels. Prosciutto wrapped melon. Sweet and salty pairings may seem incongruous (see our recent Fluffernutter post) but they are actually delicious. Now comes Pig Candy (a.k.a. candied bacon) made famous

Pig Candy (aka candied bacon)

 

by Café Genevieve in Jackson Hole. You could order this online for princely sum, or try our recipe. Just leave out the cayenne pepper if you don’t want the heat. You can also make this on the grill if you prefer.

The National Elk Refuge near Jackson Hole is a conservation area run by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Its mission is to provide, preserve, restore, and manage the winter habitat for the Jackson Elk Herd. The refuge is also habitat for endangered species, birds, fish, and other big game animals.

Pig Candy

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 8 slices thick cut bacon
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup

Instructions

With a fork, combine brown sugar and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Lay bacon on slotted broiler pan with foil underneath to catch drippings. Spread half the brown sugar mixture in an even layer on the bacon, making sure there are no clumps of sugar. Place pan in 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven and brush on half of the maple syrup. Turn the bacon over and spread on the remaining brown sugar mixture, followed by the rest of the maple syrup. Bake an additional 15-20 minutes or until bacon is crisp and browned. Let cool completely before serving.

Buffalo Cauliflower with Maytag Blue Cheese Dip – Iowa

Maytag Blue cheese is one of Iowa’s most famous products. First produced in 1941, this family run dairy (the same one associated with the appliances) is in its fourth generation of making cheese and

Buffalo Cauliflower with Maytag Blue Cheese Dip - Iowa

uses a small batch method. If you like the flavor of blue cheese, Maytag will knock your socks off. It’s that good.

We love a good blue cheese dip but man cannot live on dip alone so we bring you Buffalo Cauliflower. This alternative to Buffalo wings is much lower in fat but has plenty of flavor and is mighty spicy. You’ve been warned.

Maytag Dairy Farms in Newton, Iowa, offers daily tours focusing on the history and packaging (note: this is not a production tour), Monday through Friday 8:00 to 5:00 and Saturday 9:00 to 4:00.

Buffalo Cauliflower with Maytag Blue Cheese Dip

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

For cauliflower:

  • 4 cups cauliflower, cut into bite sized pieces
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 ½ teaspoons garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon butter

For dip:

  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 tablespoons crumbled Maytag blue cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

In a large bowl, combine milk, water, flour, and spices (garlic salt through pepper). Toss cauliflower into mixture and mix until it is completely coated. Place cauliflower on baking sheet covered with parchment paper, shaking off the excess batter. Cauliflower should be on a single layer and the pieces should not be touching. Bake at 425 degrees for approximately 20 minutes or until cauliflower just begins to brown.

In the meantime, in a large, microwave safe bowl, add butter to the hot sauce. Microwave for one minute or until butter melts. Stir until butter is incorporated. At the 20 minute mark, remove cauliflower and toss it in the hot sauce mixture. Return cauliflower to baking sheet and bake another 20 minutes.

In the meantime, make the blue cheese dip by combining all ingredients including salt and pepper to taste.

Cauliflower will be done when it is browned. Serve immediately with blue cheese dip.

Walla Walla Onion and Mango Salsa – Washington

The next time you cut a sweet onion and don’t cry, thank a soldier named Peter Pieri. Pieri is credited with bringing sweet onion seeds from the island of Corsica to Washington in the 1880s. Sweet onions

Walla Walla Onion and Mango Salsa - Washington

have a very low amount of pyruvic acid which is the compound that makes you cry and gives onions their pungent bite. Walla Walla sweet onions are Washington’s official state vegetable thanks to a persistent group of schoolkids who lobbied the state legislature.

Sweet onion season is fleeting, just like summer. This recipe, slightly adapted from the Walla Walla Sweet Onion Marketing Committee, pairs the allium with summer fruit stand-outs mango and kiwi to make a terrific fruit salsa that will be a hit at your next patio gathering.

Towering over 14,000 feet, Mount Rainier makes its presence known, just 64 miles southeast of Seattle. With over 27 major glaciers and countless smaller ones, this peak supplies six rivers and is also an active volcano.

Walla Walla Onion and Mango Salsa

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 Walla Walla onion, diced
  • 2 mangos, peeled and diced
  • 2 kiwis, peeled and diced
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • Juice from 1 lime

 Instructions

 In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients. Let stand 30 minutes before serving.

Crab Salad – Maryland

When you think of Maryland, you probably think of the Chesapeake Bay and if you think of the Chesapeake Bay, you probably think of blue crabs. The bay is an estuary (where saltwater and freshwater

Crab Salad - Maryland

mix) and the perfect environment for blue crab. In fact, the Chesapeake Bay produces 50 percent of the blue crab harvest in the United States.

If it’s hot where you are, you might welcome this no-cook crab salad recipe that does not involve an oven. We served this on endive boats for a lovely appetizer pre-concert, but you could put it on crackers or even a soft roll for a crab salad sammie.

Check out the wild horses on Assateague Island National Seashore, near Ocean City, where you can swim, hike the beach, kayak, fish or birdwatch.

Crab Salad

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon grainy mustard
  • 2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 8 oz. fresh crab meat
  • Old Bay seasoning, to taste

Instructions

In a medium bowl, add celery, scallion, mustard and mayo. Mix until well combined. Gently fold in crab meat, taking care not to break up large lumps or claw meat. Add Old Bay seasoning to taste. Let chill before serving.

Smoked Salmon Dip – Alaska

 We’ve talked before about Oncorhynchus tshawytscha, a.k.a. King Salmon, a.k.a Chinook salmon, the state fish of Alaska. Salmon is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids which may aid in heart health,

Smoked Salmon Dip - Alaska

 

reduce inflammation and reduce the risk of stroke.

We especially love the flavor of smoked salmon. We’ve been buying Costco’s Alaskan version for several years now (they also carry Norwegian smoked salmon). Wild caught, it contains no artificial colors or preservatives. We took a few liberties with Ina Garten’s

Smoked salmon dip Smoked Salmon Dip. Double this recipe if you’re having a party, otherwise, it’s the perfect amount for a pre-dinner nibble with some raw veggies and crackers.

Rising over 20,000 feet, Denali is North America’s tallest mountain. Sitting amid 9,400 square miles of parkland, this jewel in the national park system is bigger than the state of New Hampshire and contains only one road.

Smoked Salmon Dip

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon horseradish
  • 2 ounces smoked salmon, diced
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Instructions

 In a medium bowl with a hand mixer, mix cream cheese with yogurt until smooth. Add lemon juice and horseradish. Mix again. With a wooden spoon, add salmon and mix until incorporated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve chilled with crudité and crackers.

Mash Up Fun: Chile Relleno Eggrolls – Colorado

Everyone likes chile relleno and who doesn’t like eggrolls? Combine the two, and you’ve got a chile relleno eggroll. As ethnic foods go, it’s as mashed up as America. A traditional Tex-Mex dish, chile relleno is

Chile Relleno Eggrolls - Colorado

a usually a poblano pepper, stuffed with cheese, covered with an egg batter and then fried. The chile relleno eggroll, a Denver dish, features all of the cheesy goodness of chile relleno within the crispy confines of an eggroll wrapper. Chile Relleno EggrollsWe used sweet mini peppers as two of these fit nicely in the eggroll dough. We used Monterey Jack cheese but feel free to use cheddar, havarti or whatever is your favorite.

We thought these would be more challenging to make and were surprised by how easy they were. The trickiest part is wrapping the eggroll, but it’s a breeze if you follow our video tutorial (see our Instagram video here).

You only have a few more weeks to check out “Star Wars and the Power of Costume” exhibit at the Denver Art Museum, closing April 2, 2017.

Chile Relleno Eggrolls

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 8 sweet mini peppers, 2 inches or less
  • 4 eggroll wrappers
  • Monterey Jack cheese, cut into sticks
  • Water in a ramakin
  • Vegetable oil

Instructions

Cut stem from peppers. Make a small slice vertically down each pepper (do not cut in half) and remove seeds. Stuff with a chunk of Monterey Jack cheese, enough to fill the cavity of the pepper. Lay eggroll wrapper out like a diamond. Place two peppers on the dough horizontally, leaving a half inch of eggroll dough on either side. Apply water along the bottom two edges. Fold bottom point up. Fold in edges. Apply water so that edges adhere to dough. Roll rest of eggroll up tightly like a cigar and apply water to remaining point until it adheres to the dough. Repeat with remaining peppers. Cook in vegetable oil heated to 350 degrees until golden brown, approximately 8 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Eat as soon as eggrolls are cool enough to handle while cheese is still gooey.