Mushroom Walnut and Pomegranate Spread with Serrano Chili

Photo of Mushroom Walnut and Pomegranate Spread with Serrano Chili in a bowl ready to serve

Turkey Day Tid Bits
There are a lot of good things about Thanksgiving. But, one of the best, in my opinion, is that the menu is basically set. Sure, you could change things up a bit and do a different side, but you pretty much know what you are going to get. Turkey. Mashed Potatoes. Stuffing. Gravy. Cranberry Sauce. Maybe yams.

The hardest thing about Thanksgiving—again according to me—is figuring out an appetizer for the folks who linger while waiting for the main event.

Not going to lie, I usually go the easy route and grab some dips from our cheese department and put those out with some nice crackers and a veggie platter. This year I am going to put a little more effort into it. At least that is what I am saying now when we are a week out. Talk to me next Thursday…

Our Mushroom Walnut and Pomegranate Spread recipe is the hors d’oeuvre of choice for this Thanksgiving. I am choosing to serve this with crostini rather than pita slices ’cause I prefer the crunch.

Mushroom Walnut and Pomegranate Spread with Serrano Chili Recipe
Yields 4 Servings
Adapted from Shroom by Becky Selengut Read more…

Grilled Chicken Satay

Photo of Grilled Chicken Satay Skewers with peanut sauceWord on The Street
I love to travel. With my kids getting older and moving out, I am looking forward to having more opportunities to explore what lies beyond our windows. Of course, for me, that means trying new foods as well as new cultures. The world is full of really great places to eat but not all of them include white tablecloths. To really get to experience a different culture you need to try the street food.

I am sure that there are people who will disagree with me when I say that the U.S. does not really have street food. We tend to bring other cultures’ street food to us. (Boba tea, anyone?) I mean, I guess we do have street food to a degree. The hot dog carts in New York for example. And sure, the folks selling cut fruit at the corner sprinkled with Tajin (so good!) count also. We have plenty of regional specialties but, in my opinion, and I would be pleased to be proven wrong, the closest we come to true street food culture here in the U.S. would be the rise of the food trucks.

Some of the best things I have tasted came from a vendor selling their fare on the side of the road. From Kabobs to Al Pastor Tacos to Churros to Yada Pav there is a world of flavor waiting to tempt your taste buds.

Not all street food is on the street though. The hawker centers of Singapore are world-renowned and have been on my travel bucket list for some time. Remember that food scene in the movie Crazy Rich Asians? That’s my idea of heaven. And, since my calendar seems to be opening up, hopefully, we’ll get there soon. I’ve heard you can find almost anything you could desire in Singapore, though my first stop would be the grilled chicken satay as a warmup for later rounds. You can never go wrong with grilled meat on a stick.

Grilled Chicken Satay Recipe
Adapted from recipetineats
Yields 13 to 16 skewers Read more…

French Onion Soup Dip

Photo fo a bowl of French Onion Soup Dip with a slice of toasted baguetteWhen I Dip, You Dip, We Dip
December is here and the holiday party season has officially begun. This time of year, the parties come in all sorts of flavors. There’s the classic office party in the conference room down the hall. OR, if you’re lucky, at the local favorite lunch spot. The cocktail party with heavy appetizers at a friend’s house is a personal favorite—mainly because it could go festive and dressy or casual with lots of wine. Either way, it’s fun to get together with the people you love to spend time with. Though I admit the parties have changed as the years have gone by.

When I was in my twenties, live bands, high heels, martinis, and girly dresses were the standard. As was getting home in the wee early hours. My 30s were the family-friendly years and involved a lot of cookie exchanges or mid-afternoon get-togethers because we were all exhausted and in bed by 9. Then came the themed parties of my forties that could be anything from a tequila tasting, to a Cajun Christmas feast, to gathering around the fire for S’mores.

As I approach my fifties, I have come to realize that the get-togethers I enjoy the most are the ones when everyone brings something sweet or savory for the crowd and we spend the time just talking and enjoying each other’s company. We may or may not be wearing stretchy pants. These are the events that, to me, require something hot and cheesy. Though honestly, when is anything hot and cheesy a bad idea?

Hot dips are the water cooler of potlucks. They are always a hit and tend to be where guests gather to catch up. I am a big fan of anything with spinach or artichokes, be they spicy or not. But, at times you want something different.

This recipe for French Onion Soup Dip is for those of you who are fans of French onion soup. I like it not so much for the soup but for the cheesy crouton on top… Hence, this dip. Serve it with toasted baguette slices or crackers…

French Onion Soup Dip Recipe
Yields approximately 5 cups Read more…

Fresh Ricotta Cheese

Photo of Fresh Ricotta Cheese on a knifeEasy Cheesy
Many moons ago I took a cheese-making class. It was great fun and much easier than you would think. Granted, I am not currently aging my handmade cheese in my own mountain caves, nor do I plan to be. But, that would be very cool…no pun intended.

I will, however, make some of the easier cheeses from time to time to add to recipes where freshness matters. By far, the easiest to make is fresh ricotta. The first time I ever made the cheese outside of class, I used it in a lasagna that I made totally from scratch—noodles and everything. The results were ridiculously good. But, I was exhausted.

You don’t need to get quite as nerdy as I did to try making fresh ricotta. For one thing, who really has that time? And second, you will get great results using good quality pre-made pasta and sauce.

Or, forget the pasta altogether and slather this fresh ricotta cheese on some crostini. Yum!

Fresh Ricotta Cheese Recipe
Yields about 1-1/2 cups of cheese Read more…