Archive for the 'Appetizers' Category

Tex-Mex Corn Dip

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Tex-Mex Corn Dip

A good dip makes a party!

When I first tasted this dip at a party thrown by my friend Jenny Vergos, I knew I needed the recipe!

Jenny is always whipping up something yummy. This simple dip is no exception. Made with pantry staples, it is packed with flavor. I decided to feature it in my cookbook “The Southern Pantry Cookbook” because it was so good.

I can guarantee folks at your next party will be asking you for the recipe just like I asked Jenny.

Enjoy!

Tex-Mex Corn Dip

1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3 cups corn kernels, thawed if using frozen
1 jar (4-ounce) diced pimientos, drained
1 can (4-ounce) chopped green chilies
3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the sour cream, mayonnaise, and garlic powder. Add the corn, pimentos, green chilies, and cheddar cheese. Stir until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Place the mixture in a 2-quart baking dish. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Serve warm.

Serves 6.

Cooking Tip: For a spicier dip, add a 1/4 cup diced jalapeños.

Do-Ahead: This dip can be assembled one day in advance. Store covered in the refrigerator until ready to bake.

 

Excerpted from The Southern Pantry Cookbook by Jennifer Chandler

Photo by the talented Justin Fox Burks. Food styling by Jennifer Chandler.

 

Phyllo Cups with Chicken Salad

 

The point of having a party is getting to spend time with your friends … not be slaving away in the kitchen.  Your guests will appreciate all the time you spend preparing for their arrival … but I can guarantee that they will appreciate spending time with you more.

When designing a menu, always look for items that can be prepared ahead of time.  And remember, just because a dish can be prepared in advance, doesn’t mean it can’t be impressive.

Phyllo cups can help make a simple dish look extraordinary on your table.

What is phyllo you may ask?  It is the flaky, paper-like dough most of know from baklava. Phyllo is very easy to work with and can be found in the frozen food section of most supermarkets.

The phyllo cups in this recipe can be made up to a day in advance.  Just store them at room temperature until ready to use.

You can fill your phyllo cups with just about anything. Chicken salad, crab salad, shrimp salad … even chocolate ganache … are tasty options.

To take the stress out of entertaining, I usually just pick up my favorite chicken salad from a local cafe. (I normally use the Curried Walnut Chicken Salad from Cheffie’s Cafe.) I assemble the appetizers a couple of hours before serving (stored in the refrigerator of course to keep the salads fresh) and my work is done. It’s a bite-size treat that is infinitely easier than it looks.

Enjoy!

Phyllo Cups stuffed with Chicken Salad

2 cups chicken salad (store-bought or homemade)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
20 sheets frozen phyllo dough (9”x14”), thawed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter with oil. Lightly brush mini-muffin pans with butter-oil mixture.

Layer 5 phyllo sheets, brushing each with the butter-oil mixture. Cut four, 4-inch squares from phyllo stack. Place phyllo squares in the pan. Carefully push phyllo into pan, leaving the points sticking up. Repeat process to make 24 shells.

Bake empty phyllo shells in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes. Remove shells from pans.

Spoon about 2 tablespoons of filling into each shell.

Makes 24 appetizer portions.

 

 

Pimento Cheese Tartlets with Pepper Jelly and Crispy Bacon

Ok!  These cute little tartlets may be these easiest appetizers ever!

The secret is using store-bought ingredients to help you take the stress out of entertaining.

This simple appetizer was inspired by a amuse buche I had at one of my favorite restaurants … Felicia Suzanne’s in downtown Memphis, Tennessee.  Chef Felicia Willett not only makes her own signature pimento cheese using Tennessee sharp cheddar, but she also makes her own Five Pepper Jelly from peppers she procured at the local Farmers Market. Even her tartlet shells are made from scratch using locally sourced cornmeal.  It is a heavenly little bite of all things Southern.

Recently, I decided to have friends over for cocktails before dinner at the last minute.  I made an emergency run to the grocery store to see what munchies I could whip up … and I remembered the little bites of goodness I had enjoyed from Felicia. My local grocery had all the ingredients I needed to quickly pull this appetizer together.  The only cooking that would be needed was to fry up some bacon … the rest would be just assembly.

It took me minutes to assemble these little tartlets … and even less time for them to be devoured by my friends!  They were the easiest to prepare item on my menu … and probably the most popular.

Hope your friends enjoy them as much as mine did!

Enjoy!

Pimento Cheese Tartlets

1 cup pimento cheese (store-bought or homemade)
16 dozen mini tart shells (store-bought or homemade)
1/2 cup pepper jelly
1/2 cup crumbled cooked bacon

Spoon pimento cheese into the tart shell. Top with a dollop of pepper jelly and crumbled bacon.

Makes 16 bite-size tarts.

 

Crunchy Coconut Shrimp


What’s not to love about Crunchy Coconut Shrimp?!

It’s always been a favorite of mine at restaurants.  But I had never made it at home assuming it was too much work. (I am not a fan of deep frying at home.) Then I found this recipe on French’s website!

I was shocked at how easy … and tasty … this baked version was.  The French’s French Fried Onions not only add flavor but give this coconut shrimp the desired crunchy coating without deep frying.

This is one of those appetizers that you should always have the ingredients on hand, if you don’t already.  (Remember my mantra: Well Stocked Kitchen = Always Being Able to Whip Up Something Delicious!)

I keep frozen shrimp in my freezer for last minute suppers … or, in this case, appetizers. I also keep French’s French Fried Onions in my pantry since they are good in so many dishes.  And if you didn’t know it, coconut stores beautifully in the freezer.  I keep a stash primarily to throw in muffins or Seven Layer Bars, or for dishes like this.

Dipping sauces are an easy fix too.  Just look in your fridge! I always have good quality condiments on hand to dress up my meals. For this appetizer, I’d probably serve a ramekin of  a Sweet & Sour sauce like Frank’s RedHot Chili Sauce or a sweet mustard like French’s Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce.

Enjoy!

Crunchy Coconut Shrimp

From www.Frenchs.com

1 1/3 cups French’s French fried onions
1/3 cup flaked, sweetened coconut
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 lb. large shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 egg whites, beaten

Place the French fried onions and coconut in a plastic bag. Lightly crush the mixture with your hands or a rolling pin. Transfer to a pie plate or waxed paper.

Place the flour in another plastic bag. Add the shrimp and shake to coat.

Dip the shrimp in the egg whites. Coat with the onion mixture, pressing firmly to adhere.

Bake the shrimp at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, or until the shrimp are fully cooked and crispy.

Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

Serves 4.

Chicken Satays with Peanut Sauce

This quick and easy appetizer is sure to be favorite at your next party!

If you have my cookbook Simply Salads, you may recognize the Peanut Sauce.  In Simply Salads, it is a dressing served with dishes such as my Chinese Chicken Salad and my Asian Noodle Salad.  I always joke that it is so good that you will want to drink it!

I have found that this yummy sauce made from Peanut Butter makes an equally delicious dipping sauce for satays (chicken or beef) or spring rolls.

For parties, satays are a great idea because they are simple to prepare yet make a dramatic presentation.  (Plus I don’t think I have ever found a food on a stick I didn’t love!)

Enjoy!

Chicken Satays with Peanut Sauce

Recipe adapted from Simply Salads by Jennifer Chandler

For the Chicken Satays:
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh peeled ginger
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

For the Peanut Sauce:
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh peeled ginger
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup canola oil
A pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup chopped peanuts, for garnish

To prepare the Chicken Satays: In a shallow mixing bowl, combine the sesame oil, soy sauce, vegetable oil, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes. Place the chicken strips in the marinade and gently toss until well coated. Cover and let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for at up to 1 hour.

To prepare the Peanut Sauce: In a small bowl whisk together the vinegar, peanut butter, ginger, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, canola oil, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the sauce into a nice serving bowl and garnish with the chopped peanuts.

To finish the Chicken Satays: Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Thread each chicken strip lengthwise onto a skewer.

Place a grill pan over medium heat and brush it with oil to prevent the meat from sticking. Grill the chicken satays for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, until nicely seared and cooked through. Serve the satays with a small bowl of peanut sauce on the side.

Serves 8

Cooking Tips:

Be sure you soak your wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes prior to cooking to prevent burning.

This dish can also be prepared on an outside grill.

Sliced Apricot Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches with Apricot Mustard

This is a great appetizer for a dinner cocktail party. The pork tenderloin cooks quickly and the apricot preserves with Honey Dijon mustard add just the perfect touch of sweetness.

Sliced Apricot Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches with Apricot Mustard
Adapted from Simply Suppers by Jennifer Chandler

For the Pork Tenderloin:
1 pork tenderloin (about 1 1/4 pounds), trimmed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup apricot preserves
2 dozen yeast rolls

For the Apricot Mustard:
3/4 cup apricot preserves
2 tablespoons French’s Honey Dijon Mustard

To prepare the Pork Tenderloin: Preheat the oven to 395 degrees.

Rinse the pork tenderloin and pat it dry with paper towels. Generously season with salt and pepper. In a large cast-iron or oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil until a few droplets of water sizzle when carefully sprinkled in the skillet. Sear the tenderloin until well-browned on all sides, about 3 minutes per side. Brush 3/4 cup of apricot preserves over the top and place the tenderloin in the oven to finish cooking, about 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the tenderloin to a cutting board with a well. Cover loosely with foil and let the pork rest about 5 minutes before thinly slicing.

To make the Apricot Mustard: In a small bowl whisk together the apricot preserves and Honey Dijon mustard until well combined. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

To assemble: Place a slice of pork tenderloin garnished with a spoonful of Apricot Mustard on each roll.

Serves 10 to 12.

Cooking Tip: If you are unsure if the pork (or any other meat) is fully cooked, use a meat thermometer. Pork is safe to eat when it is cooked to an internal temperature of 155 to 160 degrees.

Halloween Monster Bash

My motto for Halloween … “Don’t let the little werewolves go home hungry!”

At our annual Halloween party, I serve up treats like “Spider” PB and J sandwiches, “Skeleton” rib bones, and “Mummy” hot dogs.  Not sure who enjoys the menu more, the kids or the adults! To wash it all down, we make “Worm” Punch or serve apple cider with cinnamon “twigs.

It’s all about fun foods for the whole family. My kids love to get in on the action and help prepare our ghoulishly good feast!

Devilishly Good Halloween Menu
Spider Sandwiches
Rib Bones
Mummy Dogs
Worm Punch

Go all out this All Hallows’ Eve and fill your table with these frighteningly fun party foods.

Happy Halloween!!!

Spider Sandwiches

Serves 12

24 slices wheat sandwich bread
2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 ½ cups grape or strawberry jelly
24 raisins
2 cups Cheetos

Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut a circle from each bread slice.  Discard the edges. Spread about 2 tablespoons peanut butter and 1 tablespoon jelly on half of the bread rounds. Lay three Cheeto “legs” on each side of the bread rounds. Top with the remaining bread slices.  Make 2 small indentions on the top of each sandwich for the “eyes.”  Press a raisin into each. 

Mummy Dogs

Serves 10

1 can (11 oz.) refrigerated bread sticks
10 hot dogs
20 capers
French’s Yellow Mustard

Heat oven to 375°F.

Unroll the dough. Using 1 dough strip for each, wrap hot dogs to look like mummies. Place on ungreased baking sheet.  Press 2 capers on each for “eyes.”

Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until light golden brown.  Serve warm or at room temperature with French’s Yellow Mustard on the side.

Worm Punch

Serves 12

1 0.13-oz. package lemon-lime Kool-Aid
1 cup sugar
8 cups water
1 6 oz. can frozen orange juice concentrate, defrosted
4 cups ginger ale
Worm cubes (ice cubes with gummy worms frozen inside)

Empty the Kool-Aid package into a punch bowl. Add the sugar, then the water and stir until dissolved. Stir in the orange juice. Just before serving, add the ginger ale and worm cubes.  Garnish each cup with a gummy worm.

Adult variation: Add vodka to taste to turn this worm infested beverage into a “grown-up” libation.

***Photos by the talented Jay Adkins.  Food Styling by Jennifer Chandler.

Grilled Okra

“Grilled okra?!”  you may ask with a hint of disdain. I agree.  It’s the same response I had when I was first introduced to this dish.

“But okra is slimy when cooked anyway but battered and fried … won’t this be gross?” was the first thought that went through my mind. But as she basically forced me to take a bite, my friend Lucia Heros assured me that this would become a favorite. And you know what?  She was right!

Grilled okra is simply delicious!

I like to grill it until it is slightly charred on the outside … giving it a crispy exterior with a soft interior.  (Note I said soft interior … no sliminess in sight!)

It is yummy as a quick and easy appetizer right off the grill … or served as a side.  On the rare occasion that there have been leftovers, I have thrown chilled grilled okra on a salad for a delicious twist.

Everyone … including my kids … have loved it!

My friend Lucia likes to season hers with Paul Prudhomme’s Magic Salmon Seasoning Blend®. I love the spicy kick that Tony Chachere’s® Creole Seasoning  gives.  Feel free to use your favorite seasoning blend.  For an extra kick, try a Blackening Seasoning Blend … or if watching your sodium, try one of those Mrs. Dash’s herb blends. Even just plain old salt and pepper gives delish results.

Enjoy!

Grilled Okra

1 lb. fresh okra
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup Tony Chachere’s® Creole Seasoning  (or your favorite seasoning blend)

Heat a clean grill to medium-high.

Place the okra on skewers.  Drizzle with olive oil until lightly coated. Season to taste with the seasoning blend.

Grill the okra until nicely browned, about 2 to 4 minutes per side, turning with tongs as needed. Transfer the grilled okra to a platter or plates and serve immediately.

Cooking Tip: No skewers in the house? No worries.  The skewers are used to help make the cooking process simple. Instead, just place the okra pods perpendicular to the grill grates to prevent them from falling through.

Tomato Tart

This quick and easy Tomato Tart is one of my favorite summer-time treats.  It is so easy to make and so tasty.

I like to mix it up and use both red and yellow tomatoes as well as cherry tomatoes.

Enjoy!

Tomato Tart

1 9-inch tart pan lined with pie crust (store-bought is a great shortcut)
3 large tomatoes, cut into 1/2 -inch thick slices
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 cup coarsely grated Gruyere cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Bake until the crust is light golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

While the crust is baking, sprinkle the tomatoes with salt and drain in a colander for 10 to 15 minutes.

Spread the mustard over the bottom of the pie crust and sprinkle the cheese over it. Arrange the tomatoes over the cheese in 1 overlapping layer. Bake until the pastry is golden brown and the tomatoes are very soft, 35 to 40 minutes.

In a small bowl, stir together the basil, garlic and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the pie with this mixture while hot and spread out gently with the back of a spoon. Serve the pie hot or at room temperature.

Serves 6 to 8.

Cooking Tip: Sharp white cheddar is an acceptable substitute for the Gruyere cheese.

White Bean Chicken Chili

With most of the country in a deep freeze, we all need something warm and satisfying when we sit down to the dinner table.  This easy-to-make Chili fits that tall order.

This hearty soup was a favorite at my restaurant Cheffie’s Market and More.  We sold out of it every time we put it on the menu.

Most people think that dishes served at a restaurant are too complicated to make it home.  Well, the truth be told, many dishes are easier than you think.  And this one is no exception.  Other than chopping up the onion and poblano pepper…the only other prep-work involves opening a few cans and shredding that rotisserie chicken the grocery so nicely cooked for you.

You can serve this tasty chili on its own or garnish it with your favorite Tex-Mex toppings. I like to add sour cream, cilantro, and diced jalapenos. For a little more kick, add a few dashes of hot sauce.  For a vegetarian chili, just omit the chicken and substitute vegetable stock.

Stay warm! Enjoy!

White Bean Chicken Chili

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup small-diced yellow onion (1 small onion)
1/3 cup seeded and small-diced poblano pepper (1/2 pepper)
1 can (4.5-ounce) diced green chilies
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
4 cans (15-ounce) cannellini beans (do not drain or rinse)
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 cups chicken stock
Sour cream, sliced jalapenos and fresh cilantro, optional garnishes

In a large stockpot over medium–high heat, warm the oil until a few droplets of water sizzle in the pot. Add the onion and poblano pepper and sauté until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the green chilies and sauté for 1 minute more. Stir in the chicken and the beans. Season with the thyme, cumin, salt, and pepper.

Cover the mixture with the chicken stock, bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes. (Stir frequently to keep the solids from burning on the bottom.) Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve hot, garnished with a dollop of sour cream, diced jalapenos, and fresh cilantro if desired.

Serves 6.

Cooking Tip: A flavorful staple of Mexican cuisine, poblano peppers are chile peppers that are spicy but not extremely fiery. They look similar to bell peppers in shape but they are much darker green. Most markets now carry fresh poblanos but if you cannot find them at your neighborhood store, just substitute bell peppers if you prefer a milder chili or jalapenos if your prefer more heat.

Freezes well.


Jennifer Chandler

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