Tag Archives: Appetizers

Greek Seven Layer Dip

Greek 7 Layer Dip 1

Seven Layer Dip gets a fresh summertime make-over. Or make it with eight layers (pictured above) if you want to really get fancy.

This is a great way to dress up plain hummus. Similar to the traditional Mexican 7-Layer Dip, but lighter and with fresher ingredients. With the huge variety of hummus available these days, you can adapt this recipe to suit your taste. My favorite hummus (after homemade) is the Supremely Spicy Hummus: it has a real kick!

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Start with layers of hummus and tzatziki, and then add whatever fresh ingredients you are in the mood for. I usually include most or all of the following layers:

    • Hummus
    • Tzatziki (Homemade recipe HERE)
    • Thinly sliced mini cucumbers
    • Sliced Kalamata olives
    • Chopped artichokes
    • Sliced sun-dried tomatoes (or use fresh tomatoes)
    • Sliced green onions
    • Feta cheese, crumbled

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Serve with pita chips, crackers, fresh-cut vegetables, or wedges of homemade Pita Bread. (Pita Bread recipe HERE)

 

RECIPE:

Greek 7 Layer Dip 1

Greek Seven Layer Dip

In a glass pie plate, tart dish or bowl, layer the following:

    • Hummus
    • Tzatziki
    • Thinly sliced mini cucumbers
    • Sliced Kalamata olives
    • Chopped artichokes
    • Sliced sun-dried tomatoes (or use fresh tomatoes)
    • Sliced green onions
    • Feta cheese, crumbled

Serve with pita chips, crackers, fresh-cut vegetables, or wedges of homemade Pita Bread.

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Caramelized Onion Dip

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Like everyone else, we are preparing ourselves for a day of snacking tomorrow. We don’t feel particularly attached to either football team, so for most of the family it is all about the food and the commercials.

Caramelized onion dip is a nice alternative to the traditional onion soup mix chip dip. You can serve it with either potato chips or a vegetable tray.

RECIPE:

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Caramelized Onion Dip

2 Tbs unsalted butter
2 large onions, halved and thinly sliced (3-4 cups)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp dried parsley (or 1 Tbs chopped fresh)
½ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp fresh ground pepper
4 oz cream cheese
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
2 Tbs fresh chives, optional
Potato chips or sliced vegetables for dipping

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 30 minutes. If the onions begin to stick to the bottom of the pan, add 1-2 Tbs water and lower heat slightly; continue to cook until onions are golden brown. Add minced garlic and cook 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat.

Stir balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, parsley, onion and garlic powders, salt and pepper into the onions in the skillet. Stir to loosen any caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan.

Place cream cheese in a large bowl. Stir onion mixture into the bowl with the cream cheese. Let onions cool slightly, and then stir in the sour cream. Garnish with chopped chives, if desired and serve at room temperature with potato chips or sliced vegetables.

Dip can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator. Allow to sit at room temperature for about 1 hour before serving.

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Indian Samosa with Mint Cilantro Chutney

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Indian Samosa are delicious, but I find the homemade dough a little bit difficult to work with. So these are “Cheater Samosa” made with wonton wrappers. Be sure to use the small sized wrappers, about 4” squares.

Samosa are a fried Indian pastry, filled with everything from minced chicken or lamb, lentils, vegetables, or potatoes. The most common ones in the United States are Aloo Samosa, stuffed with a spiced potato and green pea filling.

The traditional triangular shape of samosa is easy to make when using wonton wrappers:

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Working with one wonton wrapper at a time (keep remaining wrappers covered or they will dry out and become brittle), place about 1 Tbs of potato filling in the center of the dough.

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Use your fingers to shape filling into a triangle shape.

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Use your finger to slightly dampen all of the edges of the wonton wrapper with water. Fold the bottom edge of the dough up over the filling (it should overlap the filling by about 1 cm).  3711 090-1

Fold the two sides of the dough down over the filling, creating a triangle (the top corners should meet, slightly overlapping, in the center of the bottom folded edge). The two sides should overlap about 2 mm in the center of the samosa and where they meet the bottom edge of the dough. Pinch corners to keep filling from leaking during cooking. Repeat with remaining wonton wrappers.

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Stand each samosa triangle up on their bottom edge and press down slightly so that the samosa are self-standing.

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To keep the samosa from sputtering while cooking and to help keep the edges sealed, let the water on the edges of the dough dry before cooking. This should only take 2-3 minutes. If you fry them in the order that you made them, the first samosa should be ready to cook by the time you have finished making the rest of the batch of samosa.

To cook, heat 1-2 inches of cooking oil in a skillet until hot. Reduce heat to medium and carefully place several samosa in the hot oil. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until golden brown, turning once.

Use tongs to remove cooked samosa from oil. To keep samosa from getting soggy while draining excess oil, place a wire baking rack (like you use to cool cookies) over a double layer of paper towels. Place samosa on the baking rack while cooking remaining samosa.

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Serve hot with mint or other flavored chutney.

Unfortunately, I did not get a picture of the samosa with the mint cilantro chutney, but you can see it HERE served with grilled chicken. Samosa are best eaten just after cooking, but they can be prepared ahead and reheated just before serving.

TO PREPARE AHEAD: Prepare and cook samosa as directed. Cool and refrigerate. Reheat in a single layer on a baking sheet in a 350°F oven for 10 minutes, or until hot. (You can also refry the cooked and refrigerated samosa for 1-2 minutes to reheat.)

RECIPE:

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Indian Samosa

2 potatoes, peeled and diced (about 1 cup diced potatoes)
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1 Tbs oil
1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp Ancho chili powder
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp kasuri methi (fenugreek)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 Tbs green peas
1 tsp lemon juice
1 Tbs finely chopped cilantro (optional)
1 package small (about 4” square) wonton wrappers (12-18 squares)
Cooking oil
Mint Cilantro Chutney (or other flavored chutney), for serving

Cook diced potatoes in a small amount of salted water until cooked through. Drain.

In a small skillet, heat oil until hot. Sauté onion until soft. Stir ginger, Ancho chili powder, coriander, garam masala, kasuri methi, salt, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne pepper into onions in the skillet. Cook for 1 minute. Add cooked potatoes to the skillet. Use the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher to coarsely crush the potatoes. Mixture should be mashed enough to hold together, but not smooth. Stir in peas, lemon juice and cilantro. Remove pan from heat. If potato mixture is too dry to hold together, add about 1 Tbs of water and stir into the potatoes.

Working with one wonton wrapper at a time (keep remaining wrappers covered or they will dry out and become brittle), place about 1 Tbs of potato filling in the center of the dough. Use your fingers to shape filling into a triangle shape. Use your finger to slightly dampen all of the edges of the wonton wrapper with water. Fold the bottom edge of the dough up over the filling (it should overlap the filling by about 1 cm). Fold the two sides of the dough down over the filling, creating a triangle (the top corners should meet, slightly overlapping, in the center of the bottom folded edge). The two sides should overlap about 2 mm in the center of the samosa and where they meet the bottom edge of the dough. Pinch corners to keep filling from leaking during cooking. Repeat with remaining wonton wrappers. Stand each samosa triangle up on their bottom edge and press down slightly so that the samosa are self-standing. Let samosa sit for 2-3 minutes while heating cooking oil. This will allow the water to dry so that the samosa do not sputter when cooking.

Heat 1-2 inches of cooking oil in a skillet until hot. Reduce heat to medium and carefully place several samosa in the hot oil. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until golden brown, turning once.

Use tongs to remove samosa to a wire baking rack (placed over a layer of paper towels) after cooking. Serve hot with mint or other flavored chutney.

TO PREPARE AHEAD: Prepare and cook samosa as directed. Cool and refrigerate. Reheat in a single layer on a baking sheet in a 350°F oven for 10 minutes, or until hot. (You can also refry the cooked and refrigerated samosa for 1-2 minutes to reheat.)

Makes 12-18 Samosa

Mint Cilantro Chutney

1 cup packed fresh mint leaves
1 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 of a small onion
1/2 – 1 fresh hot chili pepper (remove seeds if desired)
6 cloves garlic
1 tsp fresh ground ginger
3 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp ground cumin (or 1 tsp whole cumin seeds)

Using a blender, food processor, or mortar & pestle, blend all ingredients until finely chopped. Add water 1 Tbs at a time (usually about 2-3 Tbs total) until chutney is desired consistency.

Makes about 1 cup chutney

 

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Baked Chicken Taquitos with Cilantro Ranch Dressing

041811 073-1Finger foods with dip are always popular around here. These chicken taquitos can be served with sour cream, salsa, guacamole, or our favorite is this creamy Cilantro Ranch Dressing. It is hard to say whether it is the chicken taquitos or the dip that is most popular. We use this dressing for all kinds of things: on taco salads or tostadas, for dipping quesadillas, as a regular salad dressing, over grilled chicken. Some little people around here have even been known to eat a vegetable or two if I serve this dip along side. It is also great as a dip for raw vegetables. The recipe below makes a dressing that is pourable, like a creamy salad dressing. If you want a thicker dip, substitute sour cream for half of the mayo, and use a little less buttermilk.

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I prefer to use flour tortillas for these, but you can also use corn tortillas. If you are using corn tortillas, place 2-3 tortillas between damp paper towels and microwave for 20-30 seconds to soften them before filling with chicken mixture. Corn tortillas tend to crack easily, so only work with a few at a time. Flour tortillas can be rolled easily at room temperature. Try to use the small fajita-sized tortillas; it is easier to get a tighter roll.

Brush the filled and tightly rolled tortillas with a small amount of olive or vegetable oil and then sprinkle lightly with a coarse salt (like kosher salt). Bake for 15-20 minutes and serve with your favorite dip.

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These make a great main dish or appetizer. Cut in half on an angle for a nice appetizer-sized portion.

RECIPES:

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Baked Chicken Taquitos
—————-(adapted from OurBestBites)

4 oz (1/2 pkg) cream cheese
1/4 C green salsa
1 lime, juiced (about 2 Tbs)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbs chili powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 green onions, sliced
3 cups cooked, shredded chicken
1 1/2 cups grated Pepper Jack or Monterey Jack cheese

12-18 small flour or corn tortillas
kosher salt
olive oil or vegetable oil

sour cream, salsa, guacamole or Cilantro Ranch Dressing (for dipping)

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray (or use non-stick foil).

Heat cream cheese in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds, until soft. Add green salsa, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, onion and garlic powders. Stir to combine and then add cilantro and green onions. Add chicken and cheese and combine well. (You can prepare this mixture ahead of time and keep it in the fridge until you are ready to cook.)

If you are using corn tortillas: Work with a few tortillas at a time and heat in the microwave between damp paper towels for about 20-30 seconds until they are soft enough to roll without cracking. Flour tortillas can be worked with at room temperature.

Place about 3 Tbs of chicken mixture on the lower third of a tortilla, keeping it about 1/2 inch from the edges. Roll it up as tightly as you can. Place seam side down on the baking sheet. Lay all of the taquitos on the baking sheet and make sure they are not touching each other.

Using a pastry brush, brush the tops of the uncooked taquitos lightly with oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake at 425°F for 15-20 minutes or until crisp and the ends just begin to brown.

Serve whole, or cut taquitos in half on an angle (this is a nicer size for appetizers).

Serve with sour cream, salsa, guacamole or Cilantro Ranch Dressing for dipping.

Makes about 12-18 taquitos (using small flour tortillas); amount will vary depending on the size of the tortillas

Cilantro Ranch Dressing

1 package ranch dressing mix
1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup kefir or buttermilk (or regular milk)
2 tomatillos** or 4 Tbs green salsa
½ bunch of cilantro (about 1 cup chopped)
2 cloves garlic
1 lime, juiced
1-2 jalapenos (with or without the seeds; with seeds=spicier)

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until well mixed. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours before serving for optimal flavor.

**Optional: Roast tomatillos for 20 mins at 400°F before adding them to the blender. If you are using a spicy green salsa instead of the tomatillos, go easy on the jalapenos.

FOR A THICKER DIP: Use 1/2 cup mayo and 1/2 cup sour cream, and reduce the kefir/buttermilk to 1/4 cup.

 

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Four Fun Fondues

Continuing with our All-Dipping-All-Day Christmas menu, for dinner/dessert we made four fondues:

Kid-Friendly Cheese Fondue
Pizza Fondue
Dark Chocolate Fondue
Vanilla Custard Fondue
– specifically for the non-chocolate eating Little A, but it was definitely enjoyed by all!

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Today I will share our savory fondues: the cheese and pizza fondues, and then tomorrow everyone’s favorites: the dessert fondues.

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The Kid Friendly Cheese Fondue was a pretty standard cheese fondue recipe, but I substituted chicken broth for most of the wine (which I completely boiled down to remove the alcohol) and used a combination of Gruyere and Muenster cheeses, for a slightly milder taste than an all Gruyere/Swiss combination.

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The Pizza Fondue was a super fun kid favorite. The dip was an easy-to-assemble “pizza sauce” full of sausage and chopped pepperoni. We then dipped bread cubes, mozzarella cubes, and other “pizza toppings” (olives, mushrooms, peppers, broccoli-you can get creative here!) in the sauce. If you let the cheese cubes sit in the fondue for a little while (on your stick), it gets wonderfully melted and gooey! Or try putting two or three pizza items on a fondue stick for the full pizza experience.

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The bread and vegetable trays were shared between the two fondues.

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The cheese cubes were just for the pizza fondue-cheese on cheese is a little too much for even a cheese-lover like me.

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What to do with leftover pizza fondue? Make a real pizza, of course! Make (or buy) a crust, use the fondue for the sauce, top with the chunks of mozzarella and slice up your favorite toppings from the dipping plate. I love getting two family-friendly meals from one day of food prep!

And how about that leftover cheese fondue? Heat it up again with some heavy cream or half-and-half, pour it over some sliced potatoes (add some onions and diced red peppers, if you want) and bake until tender. Then pretend you slaved all day over these fabulous Au Gratin Potatoes.

What to do if you don’t own a fondue pot? Or don’t have enough fondue pots for an all-out fondue party? Here are a few alternatives for fondue pots:

  • Crock-pots: these are a fabulous way to keep things warm, without burning your delicate cheese or chocolate
  • Double boiler: heat water in the bottom pot of a double boiler, set on a trivet and put your top pot with your fondue mixture over the hot water. The water should stay hot enough to keep your fondue from solidifying while you eat. You can “make your own” double boiler by using a saucepan (one with small side handles is best) for the water and a glass or ceramic mixing bowl to hold your fondue.
  • Single-burner tabletop butane/propane stove (camp stove). Just be sure to keep the flame on low, and on a secure surface. These work really well for broth or oil fondues where you are actually cooking things (as opposed to just dipping them) and need to maintain a higher temperature.

Recipes:

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Kid-Friendly Cheese Fondue

12 oz shredded cheese (I used 8 oz Gruyere and 4 oz Muenster)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 Tbs sherry, optional
Dash white pepper
1 clove garlic, halved
Dipping items: French bread cubes, fresh vegetables, cooked and cubed meats (sausage, chicken, shrimp)

Combine shredded cheeses and cornstarch. Set aside.

In a saucepan, heat wine to a boil. Boil and reduce wine until there is only 1-2 tablespoons of liquid remaining (watch pot carefully, or you will end up with a very burned saucepan). Add chicken broth and sherry and bring mixture just barely to the boiling point. Reduce heat and stir in cheese/cornstarch mixture, a handful at a time. Stir in each handful of cheese until melted. Stir in pepper. Cook until mixture bubbles gently and cheese is completely melted.

Fill bottom portion of a fondue pot with very hot water. Place over flame. Rub your  ceramic fondue pot insert* with the garlic clove halves. Discard garlic. Pour cheese mixture into ceramic fondue pot insert and place over hot water. Use skewers or fondue forks to dip bread, vegetables or meats in cheese.

*NOTE: Cheese fondues should not be placed directly over a flame. They will burn or clump easily. If your fondue pot does not have a ceramic insert (allowing you to create a double boiler), use a glass or ceramic bowl that fits just over the lip of your fondue pot.

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Pizza Fondue

1/2 lb sausage, mild or spicy
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 jar meatless pasta sauce
6 oz pepperoni slices, finely chopped
1 Tbs chopped fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp (or more) crushed red pepper flakes
Cubed crusty French bread
Fresh mozzarella balls or cubed mozzarella
Vegetables: mushrooms, red or green peppers, whole olives, broccoli, pineapple-any of your favorite pizza toppings!

Cook sausage and onion; drain. Stir in sauce, pepperoni, oregano and red pepper flakes. Simmer for at least 30 minutes. Or put into a crock pot and cook for 3-4 hours on low.

Serve in a fondue pot or crock pot with skewers to dip cubed bread, cheese and vegetables.

Hint: leave your cheese in the sauce (on its skewer) for a few minutes and it will be nice and melted- just don’t overdo it or you will lose your cheese completely!


 

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A Day of Dipping

With five children I quickly discovered that all food tastes better when it is dipped! So for Christmas day, after a post-present-opening brunch, the rest of the day was spent dipping food. The day was roughly divided into an early afternoon snack of:  Hot Artichoke dip, Veges and Dip, Hummus and pita, Tortilla chips and salsa, and a cheese, sausage and crackers plate (I know, the cheese&crackers kind of ruins the whole all-dipping-all-day concept, but we ate them anyway), and then for dinner: Four Fun Fondues! It makes for a nice grazing atmosphere, and if you choose to do so, you can eat constantly all-day-long.

As this would also be fun  for New Year’s, I thought I would share a few of the recipes.

Hot Artichoke Dip
with Crispy Bread Rounds

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Artichoke dip is definitely one of the favorites around here. But only if it is accompanied by Crispy Bread. They will consent to eat it with crackers once they have inhaled all of the bread, but only when I assure them that I really don’t have any more bread in the house to make more crispy bread. And don’t let this get out, but I have also seen my children dip carrots and raw broccoli in the artichoke dip, so be sure to also have a vege tray on hand, as well.

The bread is easy to make- so buy much more than you think you will need. Start with a long, thin baguette (or 2 or 3).

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Cut the baguette into thin slices. Pour a couple of tablespoons of olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet.

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Place bread slices on the oiled baking sheet. Turn each slice over to get a small amount of oil on each side. Bake at 350°F for about 10-15 minutes, turning once.  These can be made several days ahead of time-just be sure to hide them or your children (yes, you can blame them) will eat them all before you get a chance to set them out with your dips.

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Our favorite artichoke dip is a simple mixture of artichokes, green onions, garlic, mayo and cheeses.

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A food processor makes it quick and easy to whip up a batch at the last minute.

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Or prepare it the day before, keep it in the fridge and bake it just before serving.

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Tomorrow (hopefully-I am finding it very hard to get time on the one family computer with everyone home from school!), I will share our fondue recipes.

Recipe:

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Hot Artichoke Dip with Crispy Bread Rounds

Artichoke Dip:
1 can artichoke hearts, drained
2 cloves garlic
1/2 bunch green onions
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper
Crispy Bread Rounds, Crackers, Fresh Vegetables

Combine artichokes, garlic and green onions in a food processor. Pulse until coarsely chopped. Stir in mayonnaise, cheeses, salt and pepper. Spread in a baking dish. Bake at 35o°F for 30 minutes.

Serve with bread, crackers and/or fresh vegetables.

Note: Dip can be prepared ahead (unbaked), refrigerated and then baked just before serving.

Crispy Bread Rounds:
long, thin baguette(s)
olive oil

Cut baguette into thin slices. Pour about 2 Tbs olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet. Place bread slices, in a single layer, on baking sheet. Turn bread slices over to get a small amount of oil on both sides of bread.

Bake at 350°F for 10-15 minutes, turning once, until bread is crispy.

Store at room temperature.

NOTE: This is also a good way to make croutons: Add some seasonings to the olive oil (garlic powder, dry salad dressing mix, dried herbs, etc), spread it out on the baking pan and stir in some cubed bread. Bake until crispy.

 

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