Tag Archives: appetizers

Salads

Today’s post is dedicated to Salads. Salads are on our dinner table almost every night mostly because they are Healthy, Quick and Easy. Basic lettuce and tomato salads are a little too plain to make it on our table. I prefer adding various ingredients that touch on the five food groups which are vegetables, dairy, grains, fruit and protein.

I have to admit in my early days of cooking I made a lot of plain salads. I thought I was spicing it up if I added avocado or seasoned croutons. I didn’t start experimenting with making more robust salads until I expanded my dining choices from food chain restaurants (no offense) to downtown restaurants with new age names (again, no offense) like “Planet One Bistro” which featured out of this world meals. Cute right? Okay, I made the name up because I didn’t want my local restaurants to be mad at me for saying their name was “new age”.

Building a salad is like creating a work of art. Various colors, textures, shapes and sizes blend together into a beautiful edible piece of art both pleasing to the eyes and mouth. One of my signature salads is one made with a 50/50 mix of greens, bright red tomatoes, English cucumbers, deep blue blueberries, shaved parmesan cheese, croutons and crumbed bacon. I top it off with my favorite dressing Gazebo Room Greek Salad Dressing and Marinade. Yummy! My Big Salad is also a family favorite.

If you ask me, it is hard to make a bad salad. No matter what you add to a salad it is a reflection of you and your taste in food. So, go crazy and create your own master piece salad. It’s sure to get rave reviews.

Salads

Ingredients:

Fruity Salad:

1 bag 50/50 mixed greens

2 roma tomatoes cut into quarters then sliced

¼ English cucumber cut in half then sliced

¼ cup blueberries (sliced strawberries and raspberries optional)

¼ cup walnuts

¼ cup kalamata olives

¼ cup shaved parmesan cheese

parmesan flavored croutons

Gazebo Room Greek Salad Dressing and Marinade

Avocado Salad:

1 bag 50/50 mixed greens

2 roma tomatoes cut into quarters then sliced

1 ripe avocado cut half then sliced

¼ English cucumber cut in half then sliced

¼ cup walnuts

¼ cup kalamata olives

¼ cup shaved parmesan cheese

ranch flavored croutons

Gazebo Room Greek Salad Dressing and Marinade

Mushroom and Egg Salad:

1 bag 50/50 mixed greens

4 large baby bella mushrooms sliced

2 roma tomatoes cut into quarters then sliced

2 boiled eggs diced

2 slices bacon cooked and chopped

¼ English cucumber cut in half then sliced

¼ cup kalamata olives

¼ cup crumbled feta or goat cheese

seasoned croutons

Gazebo Room Greek Salad Dressing and Marinade

Layer the ingredients for each salad into two bowls. Top with Gazebo Room Greek Salad Dressing and Marinade or your favorite salad dressing.

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Tostadas

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Tostadas remind me of an open faced taco or a burrito. I know burritos are not crunchy like a taco but the ingredients I put inside of my burritos are similar to what I put on top of my Tostadas. Not long ago at one of our office celebrations I discovered packaged tostada shells. A co-worker brought in the tostada shells with pulled pork ( a recipe I will try later). I was so excited to see the corn tostada shells I had to find out where she bought them. Unfortunately, she had purchased them at a local store near her house which happens to be far from where I live. Needless to say, I would not be traveling over the state line just for tostada shells.

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Of course I started searching for packaged tostada shells in every grocery store I visited. I finally hit pay dirt at a neighborhood grocery store where I shop on occasion for certain types of foods.

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Like I said earlier, Tostadas remind me of an open-faced taco. The difference is that I top the Tostadas with brown rice and beans. The rest of the toppings are pretty much the same as my tacos. Check out the Latin section of your local grocery store and you may find the packaged tostada shells. These babies are a big time saver but if you like making your own tostada shells go for it!

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This recipe turned out to be a winner with my friends and family because everyone could build their own Tostada from the “fixins bar” I set up. Shredded chicken, beef, beans, rice, tomatoes, fresh avocado, my homemade Guacamole and more made dinner both fun and good to eat.

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Tostadas

Ingredients:

4 – 6 tostada shells

1 cup cooked brown rice

1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes

1 lb ground turkey or beef

1 ½ cup queso cheese shredded

1 4 oz can green chiles

1 4 oz can chopped jalapenos

1 pkg taco seasonings

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Brown the meat in a medium-sized frying pan over medium high heat. Drain off fat then reduce the heat to medium low. Sprinkle in taco seasoning, green chiles, jalapenos and water. Stir to blend everything together then add browned meat.

Lay out tostada shells on a baking sheet. Sprinkle each shell with a little cheese then layer rice, meat mixture, tomatoes and top with more cheese. Place in oven for 3 – 5 minutes until cheese melts. Remove from oven. Top with sour cream, fresh avocado slices or guacamole.

 

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Jalapeno Poppers with Bacon

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On a whim I thought I would try making Jalapeno Poppers. Not the type of poppers that are breaded and fried. I wanted to make oven baked poppers with a twist. I wrapped them in bacon. Yummy!

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Making the Jalapeno Poppers with Bacon was a quick and semi-easy task. I was a little gun shy in making them at first because I had recently tried making roasted stuffed poblano peppers and it was a disaster. But, I made lemonade out of those lemons by adding the collapsed roasted poblano peppers to a brown rice dish I decided to create. More on that one later.

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The most difficult task in preparing the poppers was cleaning the jalapeno peppers. After slicing off a little piece of the pepper I had to remove the seeds and membrane. Both are the hottest part of the jalapeno pepper just like any other hot pepper. Removing the seeds and membrane helped to tone down the heat of Jalapeno Poppers but they were still a little hot. I guess stuffing the peppers with pepper jack cheese may have contributed to the level of heat also (ya think !?!). Of course, if you are not a fan of really hot foods, you could use a milder cheese like cheddar or monterey cheese. However, if you are willing to make Jalapeno Poppers I doubt heat is really an issue for you.

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Bacon. Who besides non meat eaters does not like bacon? Bacon adds a lot of flavor to most dishes (even ice cream if you are truly adventurous) and it definitely adds another level of flavor to the Jalapeno Poppers.

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Fast, easy and tasty. Three words I like to hear whenever I have to cook. I think this recipe fits the bill for all three.

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Jalapeno Poppers with Bacon

Ingredients:
8 – 10 jalapeno peppers with stems
4 – 8 slices of bacon sliced in half
½ cup shredded pepper jack cheese
¼ cup whipped cream cheese
8 – 10 toothpicks

Optional Stuffing:
Crumbled browned Italian sausage and cheese
Sauteed veggies and cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine pepper jack cheese and cream cheese in a small bowl. Okay to use your fingers. Set aside.

Slice jalapeno peppers lengthwise to remove part of the pepper without removing the stem. Prepare only a few at a time so that you do not mix up the different sections of the peppers.

Stuff peppers with cheese then place cut slice over cheese. Wrap a slice of bacon and secure with a toothpick. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and back for 20 – 25 minutes until bacon is crispy. Drain on paper towels.

Optional:

To stretch the peppers just cut them in half and stuff each half then wrap in bacon.  The peppers are great whether you serve them whole or in halves.

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