pictures, words, food, adventures and once in a while, something random

Appetizers

Homemade cheese crackers

I haven’t posted a recipe in a while, so I thought I’d share this with you. While I was cleaning out my refrigerator the other day, I saw some smoked gouda left over from last month’s party.  I was getting ready to throw it away but I checked it out and smelled it.  It was still ok.  So I decided to use the pie crust in my freezer (God knows how long it’s been there!) and experiment with the cheese.  I got lucky with this one!

Cheese crackers2   - Copyright Christine Sternfels

Ingredients:  1 box Pie crust dough (2 crusts) and 2 tbsp finely shredded cheese (I used smoked gouda).  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Use a standard cookie sheet to bake with.  Spray it with butter flavored cooking spray (or you can use parchment paper to line it with).

Cheese crackers   - Copyright Christine SternfelsCheese crackers3   - Copyright Christine SternfelsUnroll the pie crust dough and lay it on a flat surface.  Using a pizza cutter, I sliced it in 1.5 X 3.5 strips.  Carefully place the cut pieces on the cookie sheet,  it’s ok if the sides touch.  Sprinkle the cheese then place it in the oven.  Bake on the bottom rack for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Take it out of the oven when done and transfer the strips onto a wire cooling rack.  If you want to try it while it’s warm (which is what I did cause I couldn’t wait and it just smelled so good), just make sure to give it at least a couple of minutes to cool down.

Enjoy!  I was thinking next time, I should try sprinkling cinnamon and sugar!

About these ads

Chicken with asparagus in wine & butter

I love cooking with wine.  Most of it makes it in the pan.  Here’s another dish, great for entertaining or just dinner.  This took me about 20 minutes to make and five seconds to eat.  You can make a healthier version by grilling, but we’re talking spring in the Pacific Northwest people.  It’s in the 40’s out there!  For today, we are pan searing indoors.

Ingredients: 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, thawed.  2  cups white wine (I used pino grigio, but any white wine will work, even riesling). 4 tbsp butter.  1 tbsp olive oil.  1 bundle or about 1 lb. asparagus.  About 1 tsp salt.  About 1 tsp pepper.

Wash the asparagus, cut the bottom off.  To know how much to cut off, take the end of the asparagus between your thumb and forefinger and bend until it breaks.  Discard the bottoms and cut asparagus in half, place in a dish where you can soak it in 1/2 cup of wine.

Cut up chicken in strips.  Size and shape is up to you.  The smaller the pieces, the quicker it cooks.  Set heat to medium high.  Place chicken and 1 & 1/2 cups wine in pan and cover.  It should start boiling in about 5 minutes.  Mix it around and add salt and pepper.  I don’t measure.  I use rock salt and peppercorn and crank the grinder over the pan to sprinkle some on the chicken.  So 1 tsp. of each may not be enough, or too much.  Use your best judgement according to your taste and health requirements.

Mix, then cover for another 2 minutes.  Chicken should be cooked by now and wine should be almost gone (if the pan is dry and the chicken is not yet cooked, add another cup of wine for the chicken to cook in).

Increase heat to high.  Add the butter, olive oil and asparagus (with the wine it soaked in).  Mix around and cover for about 2 minutes.  Take lid off.  Sauté to mix flavors around and burn off the wine while charring parts of the chicken and asparagus (takes less than 5 minutes).  That’s it.  Plate, serve and manja!

I’ve used this as an appetizer, but I’ve also used it as a main dish with some pasta, pesto and marinara.  Either way, everyone enjoyed it.


“Make your own pizza” night

For last Friday’s girls’ night, we decided to get creative.

My guests brought their own toppings and drinks…

I provided glasses…

two dozens 8-inch pizza crust and a gallon of pizza sauce (both purchased at Cash & Carry) .  I had my oven set to 425 degrees and covered the bottom grill with foil.  We were able to cook 6 at a time (directly on the top grill, placed mid-high) and took about 12 minutes for each batch.  Keep it in an extra minute or two for a crunchy crust.  The cheese dripping to the foil was burning and produced smoke in my kitchen, which added a “wood fire” flavor so I just kept the vent on high and had the windows open to stop my fire alarms from screaming.  Here are the ones I was able to photograph (before the wine kicked in).  Drum roll please….

Margherita pizza – Pizza sauce, pesto, mozzarella, tomatoes, basil leaves, crushed garlic, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Chicken BBQ pizza – BBQ sauce, chicken sautéed with red onions in bbq sauce, 4 blend cheese and parsley.

Turkey pizza (Voted best) – Pizza sauce, ground turkey pre-cooked, turkey bacon, sliced smoked  gouda, shredded cheddar and cilantro.  I don’t like turkey that much, but I will eat this combo any day!

Classic Hawaiian – Pizza sauce, Canadian bacon, pineapple, Colby & jack cheese and green onions.

Garden Pizza – Marinara, Italian squash, zucchini, bell peppers, carrots and Asiago.

We ate, we drank and we were very merry!  Clean up didn’t take long.  At the end of the night, this was all that was left…


Caprese Skewers

Serving size
24 skewers

Ingredients
24 Mozzarella balls.  24 Grape tomatoes.  Basil leaves.  (Optional) Traditional Basil Pesto Sauce & Spread.

Tools
Bamboo skewers (Can be found in most groceries, at least 4 – 5 inches in length with a knot on one end.  You can use long toothpicks or regular 6 inch skewer sticks) and sauce brush.

To make
Take a skewer and stick one mozzarella ball, followed by a basil leaf (poke on one end of leaf, one tomato, the other end of the same basil leaf and a mozzarella ball.  Lightly salt with sea salt.  (See picture)

OPTIONAL:  If you do not use a basil leaf, brush with the pesto sauce (Enough that all surface is coated) and no need to salt.   Plate, serve and enjoy.  Best served cold.  You can prepare during your party or before your guests arrive.

Have balsamic & olive oil on the side.  This is so easy to make!  Great with my Garlic Cheese Bread and Bad Salad!


Filipino Pork Lumpia

Lumpia are pastries of Chinese origin similar to fresh popiah or fried spring rolls popular in Indonesia and the Philippines. The term lumpia derives from Hokkien lunpia (traditional Chinese: 潤餅; pinyin: rùnbǐng; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: jūn-piáⁿ, lūn-piáⁿ), which is an alternate term for popiah. The recipe, both fried and fresh versions, was brought by the Chinese immigrants from the Fujian province of China to Southeast Asia and became popular where they settled in Indonesia and the Philippines.

In the Netherlands and Flanders, it is spelled loempia which is the old Indonesian spelling for lumpia and has also become the generic name for “spring roll” in Dutch. A variant is the Vietnamese lumpia, wrapped in a thinner piece of pastry, in a size close to a spring roll though, the wrapping closes the ends off completely, which is typical for lumpia.  Taken directly from Wikipedia.

There are many ways to make lumpia.  You can get creative and use other meats, even fruits!  This is one of the easiest way I make mine.  Enjoy!

Makes 60 lumpias

Ingredients:  5 cloves garlic (crush).  1 whole yellow onion (dice).  1 pound ground pork.  3 tbsp. olive oil.  3 tbsp Magi seasoning.  1/2 cup oyster sauce.  2 cups Mung Bean Sprouts.  6 cups peas and carrots (About 32 oz).  1 tsp. black pepper. 2 packs Lumpia wrapper (I use Menlo 8X8 wrapper – see picture below).

How to cook the filling:  On high heat, use a frying pan and add oil.  Brown crushed garlic and diced onions.  Once browned, add pork and sauté until cooked.  Add Magi seasoning while sautéing.  On medium heat, add peas and carrots.  Mix every now and then while adding the oyster sauce, then cover for 5 minutes.  On low heat, add bean sprouts and black pepper.  Cover for 10 minutes.

Once the filling is cooked, either let it cool down completely before wrapping or  refrigerate for one day – which is what I do because the wrapper does not tear as easily.  If you wrap it the same day, drain the liquids from the filling first, then refrigerate for about an hour.

To wrap, follow the instructions on the back of Menlo’s packaging.  To cook, fry in 2 inches of oil at 375 degrees until golden brown.  For dipping sauce, the most popular in the United states is the Thai sweet chili sauce.  A true Filipino lumpia sauce (Called sawsawan) is made with vinegar, soy sauce, crushed black pepper and crushed garlic.  I use 1/4 cup soy sauce, 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 2 cloves crushed garlic, 1 tsp crushed black pepper.  Eat over steamed rice with adobo (CLICK HERE to check out my pork adobo recipe!)

Enjoy your meal… don’t forget to say grace.


Chicken Chutney Pita

Quick and easy.  Makes 6 servings. 5 minutes to prepare.

3 Breast Patties.
3 pieces Pita bread.
1 tomato
3 TBSP chutney
3 TBSP mayonnaise.

I purchased the cooked chicken breast at Wal-mart, but I’m sure it’s available at any grocery store in the frozen food section.  The Deshi chutney can be found in the Asian section by the Indian food, I got mine at a mediterranean grocery store.  There are several kinds of chutney, this is the green one (Coriander).  Hot is good, it gives a bit of a kick.  Pita you can get at the bread or frozen food section as well.

Heat up the chicken according to the product instruction.  While I had the 3 patties in the microwave for 3 minutes, I was heating up the pita bread on my non stick skillet, stove on high at 30 seconds each side.  Slice the tomatoes thinly.  In a bowl, mix mayo and chutney.

Spread the mayo and chutney mix on each pita bread.  Cut the pita and chicken patties in half.  On one half of the pita, place a layer of tomatoes, 2 half patties, then top it with another half pita, cut it in the middle and serve.

You can add cucumbers and lettuce if you want.  That’s it!  Easy to make and great for entertaining.


Empanadas

The Philippines has such a variety of foods, but the ones I favor most are those influenced by Spanish cuisine.  This is one of them.  I remember watching my mom make these when I was my daughter’s age.  While CJ and I were making them yesterday, memories came rushing back and it felt good.  I felt like a child again, but this time I was the mom cooking with my daughter.

An empanada is a stuffed bread or pastry baked or fried in many countries of Latin America and the south of Europe. The name comes from the verb empanar, meaning to wrap or coat in bread. Empanada is made by folding a dough or bread patty around the stuffing. The stuffing can consist of a variety of meats, cheese, huitlacoche, vegetables or fruits among others.  CLICK HERE to read more from Wikipedia.

I normally sauté  ground pork with raisins or olives for the filling.  This recipe is the “American Empanada”.  I used pre cooked Tyson chicken breast patties.  I cut each in half, placed it on the rolled dough, folded, sealed and cooked.  It’s like having your fried chicken and roll all in one.  The dough was pretty easy to make.

Ingredients:  3 cups all-purpose flour.  1 teaspoon salt.  1/4 cup lard, cut into small pieces.  1/4 cup butter, cut into small pieces.  2 eggs, lightly beaten with 1/2 cup water.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt. Work in the lard and butter, using your fingers. Work the egg mixture into the dough and knead until smooth. Form into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

While waiting, grab your yoga mat and do 100 sit ups and push ups.  If you’re too tired or lazy, grab a drink and the remote control and channel surf or watch Oprah.  Ok… now we’re ready to cook!

Take the pre-cooked chicken patties and cut in half.  Take the dough and roll into 1 1/2 inch balls, then place it on a floured surface and roll in 6 inch rounds.  Place the half patty on one side of each round (with the straight side facing the center – see picture),  fold it in half, and press the edges together. Crimp the edges of the pastry with a fork to seal.

In a deep-fryer or large skillet, heat the oil to 375 degrees F. Fry in batches until golden brown (About 4-5 minutes in the deep fryer). Drain on paper towels before serving.  Serve these chicken empanadas with dipping sauce like Bbq sauce, catsup or honey mustard.  Or you can eat it commando (naked – the empanada, not you).

Making honey mustard is so easy. The ingredients are 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon mustard, 1 tablespoon honey, 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice (Optional). Mix and refrigerate. You can play with the measurements as we all have different preference, some like more honey, some don’t add the lemon juice.

Before serving, you can cut it in half so you don’t get yelled at for double dipping!  So take a piece, dip, open mouth and take a big bite of crunchy, juicy goodness.  Then run five miles so you can have more.  Enjoy!


Mini Philly

What happens when you’re stuck at home, snowed in, starving and there’s nothing in the fridge because you’ve been procrastinating going to the grocery?  You check out the freezer!

So what happens if all you have is a bag of Brown & Serve French Bread Sticks, a pound of beef chuck and a bag of shredded four cheese blend that you forgot about?  You make Mini Phillies!  Thank goodness I stock up on those grill mate marinade spices, now I shall create some yummyness.

I boiled the pound of beef chuck just enough to be able to cut it up in thin slices, added half the packet of spices (Peppercorn & Garlic) in the pot with just enough water to make sure your meat is under water.  After a few minutes I took the meat out, cut it in half and put it back in for another three to five minutes before I sliced it thinly and set it to the side.  Turn the broiler on.

Get a skillet or frying pan out, set stove on high heat.  Add enough olive oil to sauté thinly sliced onions ( about 1/2 of a medium-sized yellow onion) and beef.  Add the onions when the oil is super hot, then once it’s golden brown, add the beef.  Sauté for a minute, add the rest of the grill mates packet and mix to coat all the meat with it.  Add a tsp. of balsamic vinegar, mix all of it around for a minute or two and set aside.

Place the bread sticks open-faced on a cookie sheet.  Put some beef on the bread and top it with cheese.  Broil it till the cheese melts and that’s it… fold the bread and chow down after letting it cool down a bit so you don’t burn yourself.

I don’t know how many servings this makes because it all depends on how much beef and cheese you put on your bread.  I was able to use the whole bag of bread (8 pcs).  It’s a pretty friendly recipe, just have fun with it.  To serve for appetizers, cut in half diagonally, sprinkle freshly chopped parsley before serving.  Enjoy!


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 484 other followers