Recipe

Party Menu: Bruschetta Bar

With so many people going with the trend of tapas or “small plates”, what could be easier for entertaining than a Bruschetta Bar?  I resolve in 2018 to entertain more because I love it!  And this simple menu allows guests to informally relax and make their own bruschetta, or choose from the few baked varieties I include.

This idea came to me from What’s Gaby Cooking.  She’s got the goods on what you should put on your board, what is essential for the party and even recipes for some delicious toppings.  Just click the link to check her out.  This is her picture, doesn’t it look scrumptious?

In addition to Gaby’s bountiful spread, I’m sharing some of my favorite bruschetta recipes.  I love anything artichoke, and this first one is yummy.

ARTICHOKE BRUSCHETTA

INGREDIENTS

    • 1 (6 ounce) jars marinated artichoke hearts, drained
    • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
    • 1/3 cup minced onion
    • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    • mayonnaise
    • 16 -18 slices of a small baguette ( 1/3″ thick)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Chop artichokes well.
  2. Mix artichokes, onion, and Parmesan cheese.
  3. Add just enough mayonnaise to make spreadable.
  4. Add garlic powder, mix well.
  5. Spread baguette slices with artichoke spread and place on a cookie sheet.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until topping starts to bubble and brown.

 

Here’s another favorite of mine.  Originally it was from the Olive Garden website.  Really delicious and simple to make and keep in fridge ’til party time!

BRUSCHETTA CANNELLINI

INGREDIENTS

    • 0.5 (15 ounce) cans white cannellini beans, drained
    • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    • 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    • 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons sour cream
    • salt & pepper
    • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/2 loaf Italian bread
    • extra virgin olive oil ( to drizzle)
    • 1 garlic clove, cut in half
    • 1 small plum tomato, diced
    • 2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley ( to garnish)

DIRECTIONS

  1. MIX drained beans, lemon juice, mustard, vinegar and sour cream in blender or food processor until smooth. Add olive oil slowly with blender or processor on. Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate approximately one hour.
  2. DRIZZLE both sides of bread with extra virgin olive oil. Grill bread on both sides.
  3. RUB grilled bread with cut half of garlic to infuse with garlic flavor.
  4. PLACE bowl of chilled cannellini mixture in center of large platter. Stagger grilled bread slices around bowl. Garnish with tomatoes and parsley.

Now for the most traditional version.  I love this, and I’m not even a tomato lover.  That’s how yummy it is.  Another prepare-ahead marvel!

TOMATO AND BASIL BRUSCHETTA

INGREDIENTS

    • 6 Roma tomatoes, diced
    • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
    • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 1/4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
    • 8 slices Italian bread, cut about 1 inch thick
    • 2 tablespoons grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

DIRECTIONS

  1. Whisk together chopped garlic, vinegar, salt, pepper, and basil.
  2. When combined slowly drizzle in oil.
  3. Add tomatoes and let sit for 20 minutes at room temp.
  4. Meanwhile back at the bat cave, toast the bread.
  5. This can be done either in the toaster (if it’s got really wide slots) or under the broiler (if using this method watch closely so it doesn’t become a briquette).
  6. When the bread is toasted rub each piece, on one side, with the whole garlic pieces.
  7. Place the bread on a cookie sheet and top with tomato mixture.
  8. Sprinkle on a little cheese and broil till the cheese melts (you can skip that last broiling bit and it’s equally as wonderful).
  9. Serve immediately.
  10. The tomato mixture also makes a wonderful vinaigrette for an antipasto salad.
  11. Enjoy!

 

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Best of Restaurants: Appetizers

Appetizers are my very favorite part of the meal.  Not a big commitment, you can be adventurous and not break the bank.  Here is a list of my favorites:

Spinach and Artichoke Crostini from Crafted Southern Speakeasy in Lincolnton, NC

Caramelized Gnocchi from Aria Tuscan Grill

Fried Green Tomatoes at Huey’s Southern Eats in Isle of Palms

Mert’s Soul Rolls at Mert’s Heart and Soul in Charlotte

Homemade Lime Tortilla Chips served with Pineapple Mango Salsa from Caterer extraordinaire Food Junkie

Spinach and Artichoke Dip from Food Junkie

Filipino-style Pork Eggrolls with Spicy Apricot Dipping Sauce from Food Junkie

Funghi Repieni at Caruso’s in Mooresville

Peirogies from Twisted Oak Bar and Grill in Statesville, NC

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Manchego Skillet at Tybee Island Social Club in Tybee Island, GA

Warm Pimento Cheese & Jumbo Lump Crab Cake  from Tupelo Honey in Charlotte, NC

&

Oysters Rockefeller at the Oak Steakhouse in Charleston, SC

Shrimp Flatbread from 5 Church in Charlotte, NC

Stuffed Portabello Mushroom at Chillfire Grill in Denver, NC

Beggar’s Purse with Cream Cheese and Salmon, Rock Shrimp & Fried Calamari with Vegetables from Wasabi in Asheville

Smoked Tuna Dip from Louisiana Lagniappe

Prime Rib Stuffed Mushrooms from Alton’s Kitchen and Cocktails in Cornelius, NC

Escargot with Lemon and Sweet Pea Risotto from Flatiron Kitchen and Taphouse in Davidson

Crispy Pork Rinds with Pimiento Cheese and Valentina Hot Sauce from Root +Vine in Morganton

Shrimp Cocktail at the Pump House in Rock Hill, SC

Recipe

Carrabba’s Bread Dipping Spice

I usually refuse to go to chain restaurants.  There are so many choices out there, why waste your dining dollars on a chain where you know exactly what is on the menu and the masses will follow you there?  Well, one reason is because sometimes you just crave a dish.  And familiarity can be a comfort.  For me, those times are few and far between, but that is one reason you might see me dining at Carrabba’s.

They bring you a basket of piping hot fresh bread to your table with a scoop of herb mixture which is then mixed with olive oil.  Perfect for dipping.  I made mine for a dinner the other night and had some left over.  I mixed it with olive oil, marinated some chicken breasts with it and grilled them.  Wow!  Yum!

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Carrabba’s Bread Dipping Spice

  • 1 tablespoon minced basil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley (Italian is best)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/2 teaspoon ground sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

directions

1. Combine all of the ingredients, EXCEPT oil and lemon.

2. Put in a small food processor (I used my little food chopper). Chop briefly until all ingredients are about the same.

3. Stir in oil and lemon juice.

4. TO SERVE: Combine about 1 1/2 teaspoons spice blend to 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil on a small Dish.

5. Dip sliced bread in mixture.

Recipe

Cool Treats for Summer

I am so punished behind how hot it is outside.  We have been having temps in the high 80’s lately and it’s just a little too much for this former Florida girl to handle.  I choose to cool off with some refreshing treats, of course.

I whipped up a batch of Cherry Limeade I found from Pioneer Woman.  It was good, but add more cherry juice and don’t let your limes just sit in the pitcher of limeade.  It makes it very bitter.  Can you guess how I discovered this?  *pucker*

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Bottoms up Cherry Limeade

From Ree Drummond, Pioneer Woman

INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 liters lime-flavored soda water, chilled
  • 1/2 cup maraschino cherry juice
  • 8 maraschino cherries, with stems
  • 8 lime slices

DIRECTIONS

In a bowl, combine lime juice and sugar. Cover and refrigerate. Just before serving, stir carbonated water into lime juice mixture. For each serving, place 1 tablespoon cherry juice in a glass. Add crushed ice and about 1 cup of lime juice mixture. Garnish with a maraschino cherry and a lime slice.

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Is there any snack that says summer more than Guacamole?  I think not.  Fresh and fast, this is an awesome one:

 

Easy Guacamole photo EasyGuac_zps8dd5d1e5.jpg

Guacamole

Ingredients

  • 3 ripe Avocados, medium sized
  • 1 -2 jalapeno, seeded, stemmed and finely chopped
  • 1/2 medium white onion, diced
  • 4 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium tomato, cored, seeded and diced

directions

Cut avocado in quarters, discard pit and peel. Place in mixing bowl and mash minimally with a potato masher. Add remaining ingredients. Mix just until combined. Serve immediately, or store in fridge with pit in bowl to prevent browning.

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Another treat that I equate with summer is Cream Cheese Olive Spread.  Make ahead and pull out with crackers for a cool creamy treat while you are sitting by the lake watching then sunset with a glass of wine.

Cream Cheese Olive for blog

Cream Cheese-Olive Spread

Ingredients

  • 1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pimiento-stuffed Spanish olives
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

directions

Stir together cream cheese, Spanish olives, and 1 Tbsp. mayonnaise. Shape cream cheese mixture into 2 (6-inch) logs; wrap in plastic wrap, and chill at least 30 minutes, or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container up to 2 days.

Place pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan.  Bake pecans at 350° for 8 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring occasionally. Let cool 30 minutes or until completely cool.

Roll cream cheese log in chopped chives and toasted pecans just before serving.

 

 

Recipe

Bubblin’ Brown Artichoke Dip from Paula Deen, ya’ll

original

When I was in school at the University of Alabama, my husband and I lived down the street from the Capstone Inn restaurant that we’d walk to for lunch every now and then.  They had the most amazing artichoke dip I’ve ever had in my life, and served it with fresh-from-the-oven bread.  Since then, I’ve spent many years trying to recreate that awesome dip and this one comes as close as I’ve ever gotten.  Thanks, Paula!

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Bubblin’ Brown Artichoke and Cream Cheese Dip

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 3/4 cups grated parmesan cheese (about 7 ounces)
  • 1 (14 ounce) cans artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 3 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • crackers, tortilla chips or crusty bread, for dipping

directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until it is smooth. Beat in the mayonnaise until combined. Add 1 1/2 cups of the Parmesan, the artichoke hearts, scallions, garlic, hot sauce, black pepper, and salt and mix with a spatula until combined.

3. Scrape the mixture into a wide, shallow gratin or baking dish that’s pretty enough for serving and top with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan. Bake until the dip is bubbling and the top is golden, 30 to 40 minutes. Serve hot, with crackers, tortilla chips, or crusty bread for dipping.

Recipe

Snappy Strawberry Jalapeno Sauce

I have this weird obsession with collecting jars.  Like the Classico pasta jars?  They are so pretty, I hate to recycle them right away.  I also love the fancy smaller jars that olives or spreads come in…anything really, but if it has a different shape I’m in!  Unfortunately, the glass cupboard (that’s where I keep them) gets so full that I’ve had them come tumbling out.  So, when this happens, I set my mind to using a few of them up.  This snappy sauce was perfect!  Easy and when I needed a quick appetizer to take to Game Night at a friends, I grabbed my jar and headed out the door.  It was delicious!

 photo snappystrawberryjalapenosauce_zps443d1c72.jpg

Snappy Strawberry Jalapeno Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 (18 ounce) jars strawberry preserves
  • 1 (12 ounce) jars pickled jalapeno peppers, drained

For Dip

  • 8 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 8 ounces finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese

directions

  1. In the food processor, pulse preserves and peppers until finely chopped. Pour into 4 half pint jars and store in fridge until ready to serve.
  2. For Dip: Combine cheeses and spread on serving plate. Top with one cup of sauce and serve with crackers. (I like garlic wheat thins).

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Recipe

Recipe: Buttermilk Ranch Cheese Ball

Cheese balls show up on every Christmas sideboard, don’t they?  And no wonder.  They can be made ahead, kept in the fridge and just set out with absolutely no fuss…and they are delicious.  Truly one of the world’s perfect foods.  I enjoy them as a midnight snack with a few crackers, as well.  This one is so simple it is crazy, but yummy!

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Buttermilk Ranch Cheeseball

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • 1 (1 ounce) package Ranch dressing mix
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
  • 1/2 lb cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans

directions

  1. Mix the sour cream with ranch dressing mix in a bowl until smoothly combined. Add the cream cheese and Cheddar cheese to the bowl, and mix together with your hands until thoroughly blended. Chill the mixture for 5 minutes, then shape into a ball.
  2. Place the pecans into a shallow bowl, and roll all sides of the cheese ball in the pecans to coat. Serve immediately.