Archive of ‘Appetizers’ category

The Ultimate Cheese Bread

cheese-bread2A few months back I went with some friends to Oregano’s here in Phoenix for the first time.  I’ve been hearing about how good they are for years, but with all of their locations on the opposite side of town, I had never gotten to eat there.  Now they have two locations near us.  Yeah!!  One of my friends, who has lots of experience eating there, suggested that we try the KickBUTT Garlic Bread with cheese.  Good suggestion!  It was buttery and garlicky and cheesy and perfect!  I decided that I need to make a copycat version and I have to say that I’m pretty proud of how it turned out.  I love having it for a change of pace with a pasta dinner and it is always impressive when we have guests over for dinner.  I mean really, who isn’t going to love bread, butter and cheese?

AnneOpinion

cheese-breadThis recipe uses Our Best Bites Garlic Bread Seasoning  It is key to bringing in the right balance of flavor.  I use it both in the butter and sprinkled on top because, as far as I’m concerned, you can’t use too much garlic bread seasoning.  I don’t specify an amount because how much garlic I think is a personal preference.

After brushing the garlic butter over both halves (be generous!) add your cheese.  I like a mix of mozzarella and cheddar.  Colby Jack would also work well.  If you want your cheese to be nicely melted and gooey, use cheese that you have to grate yourself.  Pre-grated cheese has a coating on it to prevent it from sticking together.  This also affects it in the melting process.

After it come out of the oven add a light sprinkling of the garlic bread seasoning and dried parsley.  Cut and watch it get devoured!  * this is very rich so don’t be surprised if most people only have 1-2 pieces.

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The Ultimate Cheese Bread
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The Ultimate Cheese Bread
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Instructions
  1. Cut the French bread in half, horizontally. Mix the melted butter and garlic bread seasoning. Brush on French bread. Spread both cheeses on the bread. Cook under the broiler until melted and bubbly; about 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle garlic bread seasoning, garnish with parsley for added color and cut into pieces to serve.
Recipe Notes

AnneOpinion

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Fried Lemon Ricotta Ravioli with Strawberry Sauce

lemon-ravioliI had a plan.  I was going to review this recipe for a copycat Oliver Garden Toasted Ravioli from Frugal Coupon Living.  I went to the store to pick up the needed meat filled ravioli.  Just for fun I looked to see what other kinds of ravioli they carried and low and behold they (Trader Joe’s)  had a lemon zest and ricotta ravioli and suddenly everything changed.  They sounded so good that I knew that had to try them.  I decided that I would try the lemon ravioli two different ways, a savory and a sweet.  They both were good, but one was decidedly better.

AnneOpinion

The first thing that I tried was the savory.  I made a Parmesan sauce to dip them in because I knew that it would pair well with the lemon. (it did)  I used the same process as  Ashley from Frugal Coupon Living  with the meat ravioli except that I used Italian breadcrumbs so I didn’t need to add any seasonings.  Everyone agreed that these were good, but no one felt like they were anything to get excited about.

I then made some with breadcrumbs (plain), cinnamon and a touch of nutmeg.  We tried dipping the sweet ravioli in strawberry jam and icing.  Everyone preferred the strawberry jam.  The strawberry and the lemon worked together so well!  It was like a match made in heaven.

I started out dipping each one in the ravioli the flour but I didn’t like how it was working.  I then took all of the ravioli and the flour and put it all in a Ziploc bag and shook it around.  This made things much faster and I liked the way they were floured.

I’m sure that the meat filled ravioli with marinara sauce from Frugal Coupon Living is great.  I’ll have to pick up some next time. 😉

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Fried Lemon Ricotta Ravioli with Strawberry Sauce
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Fried Lemon Ricotta Ravioli with Strawberry Sauce
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Instructions
  1. Beat water with eggs together. In another bowl, combine cinnamon, nutmeg and bread crumbs. Heat oil to 350 degrees. Put ravioli in a gallon bag with flour. Shake lightly. Dip individually in egg wash and finally in bread crumbs and set on plate for 3-5 minutes. Carefully place in oil and fry until golden. Place on paper towels on a plate to drain. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with you strawberry sauce.
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Crab Rangoon

crab-ragoonAs I established in my Ham Fried Rice post on Monday, I did not eat very much Chinese food growing up.  Lucky for me, I got a job my senior year working at a Chinese restaurant as a waitress.  At the end of each shift we were allowed to order whatever we wanted to take home.  I normally would get an entrée (garlic chicken was my favorite) and an order of Crab Rangoon.  This was something new to me and was an instant love.  Crab Rangoon is a fried Chinese dumpling filled with a cream cheese and crab mixture, served with a dipping sauce and is crazy good!  I’m afraid that I never really shared with anyone else, keeping the order of 4 to myself, and it’s something that never grows old to me.  I’m always excited to get to have it.  I’ve dreamed of making it for myself and I have tried a few times over the years, but none of the recipes were ever quit right.  My husband, who knows all too well of my love for this appetizer, saw a recipe in the local paper a couple of months back and brought it home for me to try.  It was good, but needed a little tweaking.  I think that you’ll enjoy the results!

AnneOpinion

The basics in all recipes that I’ve tried over the years include cream cheese, green onion, and crab.  While they were good, I always felt like they were missing something (including the base recipe I used).  After reading around I found what I was missing: sugar.  That is the secret ingredient missing in most homemade recipes and it makes a big difference.  It takes the edge off of the flavors which tend to come off too strong in most made at home recipes.  The sugar helps to soften the flavors so that they work together well. Normally you would deep fat fry these, but I didn’t feel like using that much oil so I pan fried them and that worked great!  Just make sure and turn them over so that they cook evenly. You can shape them into a triangle or into a flower shape (see picture above).  Both are fairly easy to do and it’s really personal preference.  I normally make the flower because that’s what they did at the Chinese restaurant that I worked at and that’s how my mind thinks that they should look. In a restaurant you are normally served sweet and sour sauce to dip them in.  At home, I like to use sweet chili sauce that comes in a bottle.  Sweet chili sauce is a condiment that I didn’t discover until a few years ago and now my home will never be without it.  It’s perfect for dipping most Asian appetizers in and it’s also tasty with plain chicken or veggies.  I feel like I’m always finding new ways that I want to use it. If you enjoy this appetizeer as much as I do, you’ll need to try making this version for yourself, and if you’ve never had it, first of all I’m sorry.  You really have been missing out in life, and you really need to try this! post-closer

Crab Rangoon
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Crab Rangoon
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Mix together cream cheese, crab, green onion, garlic and powdered sugar. Fold 1 teaspoon of the filling in the center of a wonton paper. Paint a line of water on the edges with your finger. Either fold paper into a triangle, pressing the edges together to seal or fold up the middle of each side and pinch together. Meanwhile, fill a wok or large skillet with several inches of canola oil and heat on high. The oil is ready when a stream of tiny bubbles rises from the tip of a chopstick dipped into the oil. Begin gently sliding the puff's into the oil, cooking not more than six at a time. Cook for several minutes, turning when the bottom turns golden brown. Remove when both sides are golden. Serve with sweet chili sauce or sweet and sour sauce.
Recipe Notes

AnneOpinion adapted from The Arizona Republic

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Pepperoni Pizza Waffles

pizza-wafflesDoes anyone in your house like pepperoni pizza?  Is that a silly question?  I’m going to assume that you answered “yes” and that, like me, pizza is guaranteed winner 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  I was intrigued when I saw a pin for Pepperoni Pizza Waffles last week and started to investigate.  Apparently I’m a little bit late to the idea as there are many, many blogs that have posted variations of this idea.  Some I rejected very quickly because they used a canned biscuit for the dough and I’m pretty sure that a canned biscuit would still taste like a canned biscuit after going through my waffle iron.  I’m not saying I have anything against said biscuits, but if I’m making pizza, it’s not the dough of choice. After reading how several others made them I settled on my own method and was very happy with the results.

AnneOpinion

One thing that I really like about these waffles is that they are easy to have the ingredients on hand for and perfect for a teenager to make for themselves as an afterschool snack or lunch.

I chose to use a garlic and herb pizza dough that I bought at the store.  I’m sure that homemade would work great too.  I also liked using the mini pepperonis instead of full sized.  If you use the regular sized ones I’d cut them into quarters.

I tried making it like a calzone, where I built a pizza on half of the dough, folded it in half and sealed it.  I also made some made like a regular pizza and then covered it with a piece of dough of similar size and sealed it.   Both cooked the same in the waffle iron.  I found that I preferred the calzone method.

None of the recipes that I saw had you use sauce in the waffle.  I tried it and I liked the flavor that it added.  We also really liked dipping the waffles in the pizza sauce.

You will have cheese escape no matter how well you seal it.  Just think of those crispy pieces of cheese as an added bonus and be prepared for people to fight over them.

The waffle iron will need to be cleaned after you get done, but this really wasn’t hard to do.  That was unlike the last time tried a Pinterest idea in my waffle iron and made cinnamon roll waffles with canned cinnamon rolls.  The sugar stuck to my waffle iron and was a nightmare to clean off. (you have been warned!)

These also are a great alternative to a sandwich in a lunch.  My kids get pretty sick of eating  sandwiches everyday and were excited to see something new in their lunches.  My boys were trying to let me to send them pizza sauce in their lunch so they could dip them at school.  I told them they’d be fine with out it.  They were. 🙂

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Pepperoni Pizza Waffles
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Pepperoni Pizza Waffles
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Take a small ball of pizza dough (about the size of a plum) and flatten it out as thin as you would for pizza. Spread a small amount of pizza sauce over half of the dough leaving a lip around the outer edge like you would for a pizza. Top the sauce with pepperoni and cheese. Fold in half and seal the two sides together making sure to get all of the air out before completely sealing. Place in a waffle iron and press closed for 20 seconds. Let it cook for an additional 3 minutes. Remove and eat immediately with pizza sauce as a dip or save it for later in the refrigerator as a quick pick me up, a midnight snack or tomorrow's lunch.
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Cuban Sliders

cuban-slidersI love everything in miniature. Slinkys, cupcakes, and babies to name a few.  Sliders have always had a place in my heart for that reason.  The little round buns, the cute little hamburger patties.  What’s not to love?

There’s only been one time that I remember not being impressed by sliders. For a number of years date night, for my husband and myself, consisted of one of us putting kids to bed and the other going and picking up take out and a movie.  On one such night I had ordered the sliders from Chili’s, which always looked adorable in their commercials.  When I got home I was dismayed to find that I had gotten a full size hamburger, cut into quarters, with a toothpick in each quarter.  Oh, and I got to pay a couple of dollars more than a regular hamburger for the privilege of having them do that.  Just for the record Chili’s, I was not impressed.

Alright, rant over.  So, I found these Cuban sliders from House of Yumm and they looked so good (and cute) I knew I had to try them.  They reminded me of the fabulous Ham and Cheese Sliders on The Girl Who Ate Everything with a little bit of a twist, and I’m always up for a good twist on a recipe.

AnneOpinion

The original recipe looked delicious but I couldn’t figure out what made it a Cuban. It seemed like it was just a ham and cheese sandwich with pickles and Dijon mustard. Really good, but nothing special.  Since I’d never had one, I did some research and found that a traditional Cuban has ham, salami, pork (prepared with a special blend of spices), Swiss cheese, pickles and Dijon.

I immediately knew I could add the salami.  The pork presented the harder part.  The point of making this is that it’s something easy to assemble and takes little prep work.  I didn’t feel like making a pork that had to cook for 24 hrs qualified. 😉  I decided that the simplest thing to do would be to forgo the pork and add the spices to the melted butter and mustard mixture that you pour over the top of the sliders.  I found a recipe on The Fork ran away with the Spoon that was for “sazon complete,” a Cuban seasoning mix.  I referred to this as a guideline for what to use and what ratio to keep things in.  The results were pretty darn good, if I do say so myself.

I used baby Swiss cheese because I don’t like the strong flavor of Swiss.  I also decided to make my Hawaiian rolls because I had some pineapple juice on hand and needed to use it.  The rolls were perfect with it, but you can buy them just as easy.  The store bought ones are about half the size so adjust the recipe accordingly if you use them.

Everyone in my family loved them!  They were also great the next day in lunches and as after school snacks.  They can be eaten cold or reheated in the microwave for about 30 seconds. They also would make a great party or buffet food.

So, make some of these, crank up the Will Smith, and “Let’s go to Miami!” (did I just really date myself)

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Cuban Sliders
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These cute little sliders are bursting the flavors of Miami. Perfect for a crowd, but can easily be scaled down.
Cuban Sliders
Print Recipe
These cute little sliders are bursting the flavors of Miami. Perfect for a crowd, but can easily be scaled down.
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to Cut rolls in half, horizontally, and place in 2 9x13 pans. Cut ham slices in half. Fold each slice in half and place one on each roll. Cut slices of cheese in half and place one half on each roll. Place one slice of salami and one pickle in the center of each roll. Replace top on each roll. Whisk together remaining ingredients. Slowly pour over sliders, making sure to cover each with the mixture. Cover with foil and cook in the oven for 15 minutes. Uncover the pans and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
Recipe Notes

This recipe was made using homemade King's Hawaiian Rolls.  If using store bought, they will all fit in one 9x13 pan and some adjusting of ingredients may be needed.

Recipe from AnneOpinion adapted from House of Yumm

 

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Chocolate Fruit Dip

chocolate-fruit-dipwebWelcome to my new site!! I’m so excited for you to check everything out.  Please take a look around and if you find something that you love, I’d love to hear about it; or if there is something that you don’t love, just leave a comment and I’ll make sure and take care of it.

To celebrate my new look, I’m sharing one of my own favorite recipes, Chocolate Fruit Dip.  I love this Chocolate Fruit Dip because it is so versatile, semi-healthy, and it is so very good. Like, lick the bowl and use a spatula to get every last bite good.   The chocolate has a strong, deep flavor blends perfectly with all kinds of fruit.  I’ve made this to go with our family’s dinner, a baby shower, a football party, and Thanksgiving dinner; the possibilities are endless.  I made it most recently for my friend’s surprise birthday party.  For this event I made fruit kabobs with strawberries and bananas. If you choose to make cute little kabobs like this, and don’t want to mess with shortening traditional kabob skewers, use candy apple sticks that you can find in the candy making section on your local department store or craft store.  They are the perfect size and work great!

AnneOpinion

  • This dip comes together in a snap with only 3 ingredients: yogurt, cocoa powder, and maple syrup.
  • It’s thick like a pudding.  Our favorite things to dip in it is fresh pineapple, strawberries and bananas.  We’ve also enjoyed graham crackers and vanilla wafers.
  • I like using Dannon Light and Fit Vanilla Yogurt, but any vanilla or plain yogurt will work.  I’ve also made it with plain Greek yogurt.  The Greek yogurt makes it very thick.
  • The recipe calls for pure maple syrup, but I’ll be honest, I’ve used the fake stuff plenty of times.  Taste wise, it makes no difference.
  • If you are using a fruit that will start to brown, dip the pieces into lemon juice before placing them on your serving plate.  This will help keep them looking pretty for longer.

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Chocolate Fruit Dip
Print Recipe
This chocolate dip is perfect for dinner with the family, or the next party that you host.
Prep Time
5 minutes
Prep Time
5 minutes
Chocolate Fruit Dip
Print Recipe
This chocolate dip is perfect for dinner with the family, or the next party that you host.
Prep Time
5 minutes
Prep Time
5 minutes
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Places all ingredients in a bowl and stir until fully combined. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until needed. Serve with fresh fruit.
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Cheddar Cheese Ball

Wow.  Getting this post ready for today has been a lot harder than it should have been.  I was busy this morning with going to the “Thanksgiving Feast” at my kids school and then trying to get things cleaned around my house. (my in-laws, parents, brother and sister’s family are all coming for Thanksgiving next week, so excited, but lots of cleaning)  So I had given myself just enough time to make the cheese ball and photograph it before it got dark and then, life happened.  I  found I was out of green onions and had to run to the store, and then I tried to “hurry” the process by putting the mixture in the freezer instead of the refrigerator and that worked too well.  When it came time to make the mixture into a ball and photograph it, it was frozen solid.  But I am committed to getting you guys this recipe because it is perfect to have out while people are wanting to munch on something before “the big meal,” or to bring as an appetizer to a holiday party.
I started making cheese balls after buying one for a work party years ago and realizing that there had to be something better out there.  It was waxy and very artificial in flavor.  I was told that cheese balls were easy to make, so I gave it a try and they are!  You can make one, I promise.

AnneOpinion

I like this particular recipe because it has lots of bright, fresh flavors.  It also is really pretty with the red, orange, and green specks throughout it.
If you’ve never bought pimientos before, they come in a clear glass jar, they look like little red squares and are by the artichokes, most of the time.  When I first wanted to make this, I had no idea what a pimiento was and ended up with pimiento cheese.
After the mixture has been refrigerated (don’t be dumb like me and stick it in the freezer) for a minimum of 4 hours, it comes together beautifully.  Just take the entire mixture, in your nice, clean hands, and shape it into a ball.  Then immediately drop it in to a bowl, that you’ve already prepared, with nuts.  Roll the nuts onto all sides of it and, bam!  you’re cheese ball is done!  See, I told you it was easy.

Cheddar Cheese Ball                                                    Printable Recipe

AnneOpinion- from Better Homes and Gardens
1 C grated cheddar cheese
3 oz cream cheese
2 T butter
2 T milk
1 T finely chopped green onion
1 T diced pimiento
1 t Worcestershire sauce
Dash Tabasco sauce (I do 3 shakes)
1/2 C finely chopped pecans or walnuts
Put cheddar cheese, cream cheese and butter in a bowl and allow to come to room temperature. (for me, I normally have it out for about 2 hours)  Add milk, onion, pimiento, Worcestershire sauce, and Tabasco.  Beat with hand mixer until combined.  (don’t do this too long or you’ll break down the green onion and pimiento too much)  Cover and chill 4 to 24 hours.  Shape mixture into a ball.  Roll in nuts.  Let stand 15 minutes or wrap in plastic wrap and return to refrigerator until ready to serve.  Serve with crackers. 

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