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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!

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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…


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