Invest-less Entertaining

Don't tell my friends, at least not the ones from last Saturday, but bruschetta has to be the easiest, least costly way to start an event that I know. Use whatever you have for toppings. That's hummus on the left – homemade from an Ina Garten recipe, but store bought is good too. You can even use stale bread (I didn't). Who would know once it's toasted?!

Two brilliant ideas from my stepdaughter upped the game. We steeped 1/2 a cup olive oil with a few rosemary sprigs and a couple garlic cloves for the bread. Then she toasted the slices on the grill. Good for croutons too!

Tomato bruschetta

Chopped tomatoes, basil, a drizzle of oil, salt & pepper

Mushroom bruschetta

Olive oil for the pan, 3-4 chopped shallots, optional chopped garlic clove, sliced or chopped mushrooms, salt & pepper, shaved Parmesan & chives. Soften the shallots over medium heat first. Cook the mushrooms until liquid disappears. Assemble.

Hummus

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/hummus-recipe.html

**note: I use cayenne instead of hot sauce and halve the recipe unless it's a big crowd of hummus eaters.

 

 

Wings Take Flight

Funny thing happened over the weekend. My overzealous TYPE A nature bent enough to give the grocery list to the husband who offered. 3 pounds of wings (game day!) was on it. And 3 pounds were delivered…frozen. So we both learned something. I learned to write the word fresh if that's what I want. He learned I'm just as nuts as always. BTW the frozen wings work just fine as promised by the Perdue family – just use a sided baking sheet for the extra moisture.

Ingredients

3 lbs of wings, fresh or frozen, but cut into flats and drumsticks. If using fresh, save those little meatless extra pieces for stock.

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup ketchup

1/4 cup orange juice

2-3 cloves garlic, chopped fine

1 Tablespoon-ish Sesame seeds (optional)

2 pinches pepper flakes (optional)

Salt & pepper to taste

3 scallions, chopped (optional)

Pre-heat 400 degree oven. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil and lightly oiled.

Cook wings 15 minutes, flip and cook 15 minutes more (or less if they're browning and look almost done.

Meanwhile combine all the other ingredients minus scallions. Separate glaze equally in two. Toss the wings in half, return to oven. 10 minutes or until they start to crisp. Flip, glaze with other half and broil 2-3 minutes. Decorate with scallions.

Eat – B

 

 

The Perfect App For Gluten Avoiders…and the People That Love Them

 

Imitation = flattery. I stole this idea from a restaurant in Ohio, but riffed a bit. Start with a few basics and make it your own. Serve as an app, side salad or top chicken paillard.

Combine Ingredients:

1/2 colored pepper, finely diced

Large tomato or handful of cherries, diced

Pickling cucumber, peeled (or not) & diced

Feta to taste, crumbled

2-3 scallions, finely sliced

Fresh dill, finely chopped

A couple of dribbles of olive oil

Squeeze half a lemon

Salt pepper

Adjust all ingredient to taste & fill outer leaves from 2 heads of endive

Eat – B 🙂

*note: try replacing scallions and dill with your fave black olives and dried oregano

 

 

Mussel Mania

You don’t need much to make mussels delicious (and nutritious). Steaming them in water or throwing them on a hot grill would work.

BUT a few pantry staples up the game and make you look like a genius.

Ingredients:

De-bearded and clean mussels from the fishmonger (love that word). Ask if they’re good to go.They commonly come in bags that feed 6 as an app, 4 for dinner. Rinse.

2-3 shallots, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, chopped or sliced

White wine

Drop of olive oil

Pinch of pepper flakes

Chicken or fish stock or water

Mussels should be tightly closed. Before cooking toss any open ones. After cooking toss any closed ones – they’re past prime.

Slimly coat large heavy bottom pot that has a lid. Add shallots (or onion). Soften with a pinch of salt. Add garlic, stir a minute or two. Add pepper flakes. Add some big glugs of wine. Reduce by half. Add an equal amount of stock or water – I used H2O. Bring to boil. Throw in mussels. Slap a lid on it and reduce heat for simmering. Mussels should extend above the liquid for steaming. In a few minutes mussels are done.

Serve with grilled, or not, bread.

Can also be tossed with pasta (cook some chopped tomatoes in the broth before adding mussels – yum!

It doesn’t hurt to add chopped fresh parsley before serving.

Eat – B

 

 

Among the World’s Easiest Appetizers

Seriously, it's hard to make this one complicated. Also I love the jarred white beans from my Italian grocer and am always looking for ways to use them. It's gluten free! Vegan! Cheese lovers can add that too! Roasted peppers can replace the tomato! Am I shouting?!

Take one jar or can of your fave white bean (rinsed). Combine it with a big handful of chopped cherry tomatoes, a tablespoon-ish of chopped chive, a squeeze from a lemons half, a glug of olive oil, dash of white wine vinegar, salt and pepper.

Serve on fresh or grilled bread.

Note: any fresh green herb works in this – parsley, dill, scallions work too, or try spicy Arugula – it's super flex!

Buon appetite – B

 

All Purpose Condiment…and an Asian Slaw

 
I don't do yoghurt, but I make an exception for tzatziki (and a couple of chicken marinades and some dressings). Come to think of it, I don't do sweet or sweetened yoghurts or any of those overpriced “healthy” yolo style treats. I will do savory yoghurt. But I digress. Back to tzatziki.
I first ate this app, or dip, or dressing, in Greece with some seriously thick yoghurt. When I came home, I had to strain full fat yoghurt through a cheesecloth and a sieve overnight to get the same effect. Nowadays, Greek style yoghurt is readily available. Eat it with chicken, lamb, fish, or on sandwiches and salads. Seriously delicious.

The picture also has one of my fave no mayo slaws from Martha. That recipe is attached too.

Tzatziki

1 small Greek yoghurt, I use full fat

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Persian cucumber, or 6 inch seedless cucumber, shredded & pressed through a strainer to dry

Squeeze of lemon juice

Drizzle of olive oil

Salt & pepper to taste

Possible additions: dill, chives, (and I sometimes I like a little Coleman's dry mustard)

Mix all of the ingredients together and if you have time, let set in fridge. Enough to dress kebobs for four, but feel free to double down. Perfect for parties too!

Serve, eat – B

Mayo free slaw! (Click here for the recipe!)

 

Super Flexible Vegetarian Supper (or world’s easiest appetizer)

 

It takes no time and very little dough, but flatbread pizzas make you look like a genius. I'll give you the benchmarks on the condition you don't tell anyone in my family.

That's what I was thinking in the aisles of Trader Joe's when I saw the whole wheat Naan. Naan in its best form is a flatter bread that is both puffy and light, perfect for curry dipping, but equally well suited to hold toppings. I came away with a super simple trio of “pizzas” that pair with a salad for meat free Mondays, Sundays, or in my case Fridays.

For the first pizza, I topped ricotta with pesto. There are great store made options, but pesto takes 10 minutes with a food processor or Ninja. Leftovers from this recipe can dress a sandwich, be tossed with pasta for another meal or frozen for a later date. I subbed baby arugula for the basil. It definitely tickled the tonsils, but danced beautifully with the bland ricotta cheese.

Sautéed baby portabello mushrooms with garlic, onions, and gruyere make pizza number two. If you double down on the mushrooms, you'll have enough left over to doll up scrambled eggs or toss into a quick marina.

Last but not least, a simple ricotta pizza topped with a spicy Italian herb mix and olive oil – assembled in two minutes. EZ!

Ingredients:

Pesto (see recipe) or store bought

8-10 ounces Ricotta, part skim or whole (I bought 15 oz and ate some plain!)

10-ish oz. baby bello mushrooms or your fave

1/2 medium onion, sliced

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

Olive oil

Fresh or dried thyme

Pecorino romano or Parmesan

Gruyere

Mixed dry Italian seasonings (oregano, basil, crushed red pepper)

Arugula Pesto

1 bag baby arugula (several cups)

1/3 cup whole or chopped walnuts, toast @ 375 for ten minutes

2 cloves garlic

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup grated pecorino romano, at least 🙂

Squirt a lemon half

Heat oven to 375. Cool nuts and grind or process. Add garlic, process. Add greens but you may have to scrape and start adding oil in a stream to get the greens going. Blend in cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Dash of lemon juice. Blend.

Sautéed mushrooms

In small heavy bottom pan, warm 2 teaspoons olive oil. Sauté onions 5 minutes, add garlic and cook another minute. Combine with mushrooms, salt, pepper and several pinches of thyme. Cook until mushrooms are tender and liquid is gone.

Top 4 naan or any flatbread with ricotta. Top two with pesto, 2 with Italian spices and olive oil. Top remaining naan with mushroom mixture and thin slices of gruyere. Sprinkle all of them with pecorino romano. Bake about 10 minutes.

Cut, eat, enjoy – B