Steak Crostini with Scallion Cream Cheese Spread

Another “fancy” party food, but so easy to prepare, is this steak crostini I came up with for our last boutique private party. When you think about finger food that you can walk-and-go with, you want savory, creamy, crunchy and a little intense on flavor. I purposely make the spread heavy on flavor to stand up to the crostini and red meat. Wait until you try these!

STEAK CROSTINI WITH SCALLION CREAM CHEESE SPREAD

Ingredients

  • 8-10 Ounce Strip Steak
  • 1/2 French Baguette
  • 8 Ounces Cream Cheese
  • 5-6 Green Onions, Sliced
  • 1 Tsp. Minced Garlic
  • 1 Tbs. Grain Mustard
  • 1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 Tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste
  • Olive Oil

Instructions

  • Preheat oven on broil setting.
  • Slice baguette into 1/2″ slices and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle lightly with olive oil.
  • Place under the broiler for 4-6 minutes until lightly brown and crispy.
  • Remove from oven and set aside.
  • Season strip steak with garlic salt and pepper or your favorite seaoning. Grill or sear in cast iron to desired doneness. 5-6 minutes per side for medium-rare depending on the thickness of the steak.
  • Remove from heat/grill and allow steak to rest. Once cooled, place in fridge to cool completely.
  • In a food processor, place cream cheese, scallions, garlic, mustard, parmesan and Worcestershire sauce. Pulse until combined well and completely smooth. Let your cream cheese come to room temperature first for best results!.
  • **All of the above steps can be done the same day or a day ahead of time.
  • When ready to assemble, slice steak into as thin slices as possible.
  • Spread each crostini with a spoonful of cream cheese mixture and top with steak. This should make 20-24 pieces.
  • Assemble these only 1-2 hours before serving to ensure crostini remain crisp!

Serve these immediately for best results. Feel like you want to mix it up? Try different seasonings on your steak or in your cream cheese mixture – you could easily take this in a latin direction or cajun direction, etc. What I am sure of is that everyone will devour this recipe and flood you with compliments for the diversion from the typical. Dig in!!

Pimento Cheese Pinwheels

We’ve had a few private events at my wife’s boutique lately and we’re getting a little tired of charcuterie boards. OK, maybe making them, but I’ll eat one any day for breakfast lunch or dinner! I was looking for easy finger food that was easy to make, was a little salty and still looked great on a table. Enter, the pimento cheese pinwheels. Check out the easiest “fancy” recipe below.

PIMENTO CHEESE PINWHEELS

Ingredients

  • 1 Tube Crescent Rolls
  • 8 oz. Pimento Cheese Spread (or jalapeno version)
  • Fresh Cracked Black Pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Open crescent rolls and unroll into a single sheet. You used to be able to just buy them as a sheet, but I haven’t seen them in the store lately. Pinch all seams to make one solid sheet. Use your hands to even out roll to an even layer.
  • Spread pimento cheese in a thin layer all the way to the edge closest to you and sides. Leave about a half inch at the far end of the sheet. You can use store-bought pimento cheese, jalapeno pimento cheese or my homemade version: https://knifeandforkliving.com/2016/05/27/pimento-cheese-dip-and-blt-dip/
  • Starting with edge closest to you, roll crescent sheet tightly. Put into fridge for 15-30 minutes to firm up.
  • Remove roll from fridge. Using a sharp serrated knife, slice thinly – about 1/2″ slices.
  • Place each slice on a parchment-lined baking sheet about an inch apart. Sprinkle slices with fresh cracked black pepper – more or less to taste.
  • Bake 8-10 minutes until edges are golden brown.
  • Serve immediately or store for up to 24 hours in an air-tight container before serving.

These salty/spicy snacks are super easy and go great with your favorite cocktail! While not a ton of effort, you may be short on time for the big game or other event. Bake them in the morning or even the day before. Anything longer than that and the texture changed and they’re just not as good. Either way, dig in!

Bacon Parmesan Stuffed Mushrooms

I’m constantly looking for and creating new small bites for holidays, parties, Sunday suppers, tailgates, etc.  Who doesn’t love an afternoon or evening of cocktails, cold beer and appetizers??  I like to make things that don’t require a ton of work, but taste like a million bucks with the convenience of friends/guests being able to grab-and-go with something.  Think of it as “what can I pick up and eat while never putting my drink down”!  Behold, the best stuffed mushrooms below…

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BACON PARMESAN STUFFED MUSHROOMS

Ingredients

  • 2 Quarts White Button Mushrooms
  • 2 8-ounce Bricks Cream Cheese
  • 6 Ounces Real Bacon Bits
  • 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 Tbs. Parsley Flakes
  • 1 1/2 Tsp. Garlic Powder

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Instructions

  • Lay out cream cheese to bring to room temperature.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Wash and stem mushroom.  If there are thick ribs on the underside, scoop out with a spoon.  Place on paper towels and blot dry.
  • In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer to mix cream cheese, bacon bits, parmesan and garlic powder until well combined.
  • Using a spoon, fill and smooth a teaspoon or more of filling in each mushroom.  These should be mounded, but not overfilled.  A good rule of thumb is that the filling should be about 1/3 to 1/2 the size of the mushroom cap.
  • Continue filling and place mushrooms on a large foil-lined baking sheet.
  • Bake mushrooms at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes until the mushrooms are cooked and the filling has browned on top.
  • Remove from oven and serve immediately.  These can also be transported but place a few paper towels in the bottom of your contained as they will seep liquid as they cool.

You’re going to love the earthy, creamy and salty bite of these mushrooms!  The recipe above will fill a large cookie sheet, but you can easily cut this recipe in half or double it depending on your event.  Oh, and if you have any filling left over, it’s ridiculously good on a toasted everything bagel.  Now go get that party started.  Dig in!

Sticky Chinese Ribs

Have you ever had sticky ribs from your favorite Chinese takeout or local restaurant?  While I’m a purist most times about BBQ, I have to admit my latest creation for oven ribs is near the top of my all-time favorites.  From the citrusy marinade to the rich tangy sauce, there’s enough going on to forget that these never touched a grill or smoker!

 

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STICKY CHINESE RIBS

Ingredients

  • 3-4 Lbs. Rack of Baby Back Ribs

Marinade

  • 6-8 Slices Fresh Ginger
  • 2-3 Cloves Chopped Garlic
  • 1/2 Cup Orange Juice
  • 1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tbs. Canola Oil
  • 1 Tsp. Toasted Sesame Oil

 

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Sticky Sauce

  • 3 Tbs. Light Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tbs. Hoisin Sauce
  • 1 Tbs. Ketchup
  • 1 Tbs. Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbs. Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 2 Tsp. Sriracha
  • 1 Tsp. Chinese Five Spice Powder

Instructions

  • Remove silver skin from the back side of ribs and cut rack in half.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together all marinade ingredients.
  • Place ribs in a gallon zipper bag and pour marinade over them.  Remove as much air as possible and seal.
  • Marinate for 2-6 hours, turning occasionally to ensure marinade penetrates all of the meat.

To Cook

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  • Remove ribs from marinate and shake off excess liquid.  Place in a glass 13×9 baking dish.
  • Add a half cup water, cover tightly with foil and bake at 300 degrees for 3 hours.
  • With 20 minutes left of cooking time, place all of the sticky sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over medium-low heat.  Stir frequently and cook for 15 minutes until sauce thickens slightly.
  • Remove ribs from oven.  Turn your oven’s broiler to low.
  • Transfer ribs to a foil-lined baking sheet.  Spoon 1/2 half of sticky sauce over ribs and place under broiler for 3-4 minutes.
  • Spoon the remaining sauce over the ribs and place back under the broiler for an additional 3-4 minutes.
  • Remove ribs from oven, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve immediately.

The sticky sauce and warm spices cut through the fat of the ribs while enhancing the flavor of the pork.  You’ll be amazed how much these remind you of versions you’ve had from restaurants – only it’s better!  I know we’ll use this sticky Chinese-inspired sauce on wings in the near future too – I think a little sliced scallion would be the perfect finish.  Give them a try and I guarantee you’ll want to make them for your friends and family during these NFL playoff weekends.  Dig in!

Sweet & Savory Party Nuts

The holiday season is fast approaching and that means plenty of entertaining.  It’s always good to keep some homemade snacks on hand for company or to take along as a hostess gift when visiting family and friends.  This recipe is a simple way to dress up mixed nuts for a salty, sweet and savory snack you can make over and over again.  A surprising hint of rosemary provides a contrasting flavor and slightly piney aroma that’s reminiscent of the holidays.

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SWEET & SAVORY PARTY NUTS

Ingredients

  • 4 Cups Salted Mixed Nuts
  • 1/4 Cup Sugar
  • 3 Tbs. Packed Light Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tsp. Fresh Rosemary, Finely Chopped
  • 1 Tsp. Onion Powder
  • 1 Tsp. Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp. Ground Ginger
  • 1/2 Tsp. Fresh Grated Nutmeg
  • 1/4 Tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 Egg White
  • 2 Tsp. Water

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
  • In a medium bowl, combine sugar, brown sugar, rosemary, onion powder, salt, ginger, nutmeg and pepper.  Mix well with a spoon.
  • In a separate bowl whisk together egg white and water until frothy.
  • Add nuts to the egg white mixture and toss well to evenly coat.
  • Pour nuts into spice mixture and mix well to evenly coat nuts with sugar and spices.
  • Spray a 12-inch cast iron pan with cooking spray and pour nut mixture into it.
  • Bake at 275 for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
  • Remove nuts from oven and pour out onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Allow to cool fully.
  • Break up nuts and store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

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These nuts were a huge hit at trivia night recently.  I know we’ll make them often over the next few months with all we have going on.  Don’t have a cast iron pan?  Shame on you!  But you can definitely make these on a heavy non-stick baking sheet.  Also think about varying the herbs and/or nuts to your liking.  I’ve seen similar receipts with just pecans or cashews.  The addition of a little citrus zest would also bring another great flavor element.  Give them a try and tell me what you think.  Dig in!

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Football season is in full swing and we’re constantly making snacks for a Saturday or Sunday game while we cheer on our favorite teams.  And while I love trying new things, it’s sometimes the old standby that makes for the perfect appetizer to watch a winner.  This recipe for Buffalo Chicken Dip is hot and spicy and perfect to feed a crowd.  While I’ve had many variations, this is the one I like most.

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BUFFALO CHICKEN DIP

Ingredients

  • 2 8-Ounce Bricks Cream Cheese
  • 1 16-Ounce Bottle Buffalo Wing Sauce
  • 2 12-Ounce Cans White Meat Chicken or 1 1/2 Lbs. Pulled Rotisserie Chicken
  • 1 16-Ounce Bottle Ranch Dressing
  • 1 Tbs. Garlic Powder
  • 2 Cups Cheddar Jack Cheese

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a 13×9 baking dish, spread cream cheese into an even layer.
  • Pour a thin layer of buffalo sauce over the cream cheese to completely cover.  Use your favorite brand here.  You will only need half to three-fourths of the bottle to cover.  Add more or use a hot version for spicier dip.
  • Cover buffalo sauce with a single layer of chicken.  Canned works fine here, but a store-bought rotisserie chicken is even better for more flavor and a mixture of white and dark meat.
  • Pour the entire bottle of ranch dressing over chicken in an even layer.
  • Sprinkle ranch dressing with garlic powder.
  • Top with cheese and bake for 30-40 minutes uncovered until cheese is melted and it’s bubbling on the sides.
  • Serve immediately with tortilla chips, Fritos and/or celery sticks for dipping.

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Yes, that’s all there is to it.  And it’s easy to change it up with different flavors of buffalo dip or blue cheese dressing instead of ranch.  Tailgating, on the sofa or by the pool, you’ll make this again and again for the big game – or even the not-so-important game.  It’s just that good.  Dig in!

Veggie Pizza

What a great Memorial Day weekend we had!  Perfect weather, swimming, grilling and fantastic food from friends and family made it a great three days.  One of the many dishes I made for one of the celebrations was veggie pizza.  A soft-baked crust, creamy ranch spread and fresh cut veggies, and a little optional bacon, make this a tasty grab-and-go snack.

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VEGGIE PIZZA

Ingredients

  • 2 Rolls Crescent Sheets
  • 8 Ounces Cream Cheese, Softened
  • 1 Cup Mayonnaise
  • 1 Envelope Ranch Dressing Mix
  • 1 Cup Shredded Carrots
  • 1 Cup Broccoli Florets, Chopped
  • 1 Cup Cherry Tomatoes, Halved
  • 1 1/2 Cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 3 Green Onions, Chopped
  • 6 Strips Crispy Bacon, Chopped (optional)

Instructions

  • Spread crescent sheets on a large baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake according to package instructions and allow to cool.
  • In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, mayonnaise and ranch dressing mix until smooth.
  • Spread mixture evenly over baked crescent crust.
  • Top the mixture evenly, and all the way to the edge, with each of the toppings.
  • Finish pizza by sprinkling bacon on top.  Of course, this is completely optional if you would rather it be meat-free.
  • Refrigerate for 2 hours and serve.  Do not make this a day ahead as the crust will get  soggy if it sits too long.

This recipe is delicious and versatile.  The crust and spread make a great base for any seasonal vegetables.  Think about using crispy radish slices or a variety of peppers.  Utilize your herb garden and sprinkle some fresh parsley or chives on as well.  I hope you give it a try and share any of your ideas with me.  Dig in!

Tangy Blue Cheese Dip

Prepping for more holiday festivities I decided to make a new dip to go with some fantastic spicy buffalo ranch nacho chips we found at the supermarket.  And what better accompaniment to spicy buffalo than blue cheese?  This creamy rich recipe provides the right combo of cool and tanginess that’ll keep you dipping all night long!

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TANGY BLUE CHEESE DIP

Ingredients

  • 8 Ounces Cream Cheese, Softened
  • 1/2 Cup Miracle Whip
  • 4 Ounces Blue Cheese Crumbles
  • 1 Tsp. Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 Tsp. Celery Seed
  • 1/2 Tsp. Salt

Instructions

  • In a medium mixing bowl, stir together softened cream cheese, Miracle Whip and lemon juice until smooth.
  • Add Worcestershire, celery seed and salt and stir to combine.
  • Fold in blue cheese crumbles and transfer to a serving bowl.
  • Refrigerate for 4 hours before serving.  Serve with chips, vegetables or chicken wings.

Try finding Paqui Chips in your local grocer or super store as the Buffalo Ranch or Grilled Habanero are awesome with this dip!  Corn chips are also great at a crispy dipper.  You can thin this recipe out by adding whole milk until you get your desired consistency – this makes a tasty salad dressing too.  Dig in!

Creamy Chive Bacon Bites

We’re approaching the first big picnic weekend of the year and that means a lot of requests for side dishes, desserts and appetizers.  For a little something unique, easy to pick up and eat and not too tough to make, try these bacon bites.  Salty crispy bacon surrounds soft bread rolled with chive cream cheese provide the perfect balanced bite with a cold beer or chilled rose on a sunny afternoon!

CREAMY CHIVE BACON BITES

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Ingredients

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Remove bread from bag and cut off all crusts using a serrated knife.  I like to use this specific brand of bread because it’s thin-cut, but still sturdy enough to hold up to this recipe.  Plain white bread tends to turn to mush so don’t skimp here.
  • Allow cream cheese to soften or microwave for 20 seconds to make spreadable.  You can certainly make your own by adding 2 Tbs. fresh-chopped chives to 8 ounces plain cream cheese.  I just bought the stuff flavored at the store to keep it easy this time.
  • Spread a thin layer of cream cheese on a slice of bread and roll tightly.  You can push down slightly and roll with your palm to make sure it’s tight.  Continue until you’ve used all of the bread.
  • Cut bread rolls in half.
  • Using kitchen shears, cut bacon slices into thirds.
  • Wrap a third of a bacon slice around each bread roll and secure with a toothpick.
  • Place all finished rolls onto a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 30-45 minutes turning once through the cooking process.  The bacon should be rendered, brown and crispy.  Be careful not to overcrowd the pan or they won’t crisp nicely.
  • Remove from oven and serve immediately.  These also hold up well in an insulated baking dish to take somewhere.

Your family and friends will love these tasty bites!  The bread soaks up some of the bacon grease and browns on each end to give you a little crouton texture along with the creamy middle.  With the toothpicks already inserted they’re a great grab-and-go snack for Memorial Day picnics or any other entertaining you’d like to do.  Dig in!

Spring Radish Toast

Spring brings a multitude of fresh vegetables and one of my favorites is spicy radishes.  As a snack, on a salad or in this simple recipe, the crunch and sharp bite are something I crave!  Here, they are the star of the show and a different preparation than you may have tried.  I know you’ll love it as much as I do though!

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SPRING RADISH TOAST

Ingredients

  • French Country White Bread or Baguette
  • 8-10 Spring Radishes
  • 1 Stick Unsalted Butter, Softened
  • Fleur de Sel

Instructions

  • Cut bread into 1/2-inch thick slices.  Place on a baking sheet and toast lightly under a broiler.
  • Remove from oven when light golden brown and allow to cool.
  • Wash, trim and slice radishes into 1/4-inch slices.  Set aside.
  • Use a knife or spatula to spread a visible layer of butter on each toast.  You’ll want the toast cool so the butter doesn’t melt.
  • Arrange radish slices in a single layer on top of each slice.
  • Sprinkle with fleur de sel and serve immediately.

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There’s just something about the crusty bread, creamy butter, spicy crisp radishes and crunchy salt that makes the perfect bite!  This is a wonderful appetizer or finger sandwich for a shower or party.  Elegant and rustic at the same time, you’ll want to make them again and again.  Dig in!