Browsing articles in "Starters"

Great Eggspectations

Dec 15, 2011   //   by marymeals   //   Starters  //  No Comments

There are the best of noggs… There are the worst of noggs…
My friend Adam got me thinking about eggnog the other day, and the way he was talking, I don’t think he’s ever had the pleasure. Shocking I know! Well, when I introduce something to someone for the first time, it has to be the best version possible. The best eggnog is traditionally made, from scratch. Eggs whipped with sugar, and cream into a frothy and delicious drink. Once you see how easy and amazingly delicious it is to make your own, you’ll never be able to love those commercialized cartons of nogg flavored milk that have ingredients you can’t even begin to pronounce. Like many recipes we’ve adopted from over the pond, eggnog started out as a drink that only aristocrats could afford. Since most colonists owned their own chickens and dairy cows it became no big thing for them to whip up a glass of eggnog whenever they got the whim. Replacing the expensive sherry with cheaper rum imports from the Caribbean, also aided in spreading this delicious drink to the American masses. Nogg, in fact was on George Washington’s menu every night! Because of the insane amount of calories associated with a glass of eggnog, I would not recommend more then the occasional indulgence. My Grandma adapted this recipe from a Good House Keeping magazine a million years ago, it brings back so many holiday memories, and I think its a delicious way for you, and Adam, to start your family eggnog traditions. Rum Optional.

Grandma Nancy’s Nogg

3 eggs beaten
1/3 cup sugar
2-1/2 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla paste
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 cup rum (optional), or 1 teaspoon rum extract
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg or cinnamon

Combine beaten eggs and sugar in a saucepan, whisking together. Add milk. Cook mixture over medium heat, do not let oil or simmer and stir constantly, for about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Place the saucepan inside a large bowl filled with iced water and stir until mixture is cool. Refrigerate.

Next, use a mixer(or whisk) to combine heavy cream and powdered sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form. Stir in rum or rum extract, then fold this whipped cream mixture into the cooled custard. Pour eggnog into serving bowl, or ladle into individual glasses and sprinkle with nutmeg,(or cinnamon)

Dip it! Dip it Good!

Feb 3, 2011   //   by marymeals   //   Starters  //  1 Comment

I learned how to make this delicious dip from my roommate back in college. It was a recipe passed around in her family, and after the first time she made it for me (yes, we ate it for our dinner!) I had to know how to make it. Today it’s become one of my most requested party recipes. If I’m having a party, taco dip better be served, or I’m in some serious trouble. It’s an easy to assemble layered dip so feel free to modify the layers with whatever you have on hand at the time. If I have guacamole, I’ll add it in however, it’s still great without it. The secret to the dip is a layer of seasoned sour cream that tastes out of this world! I must warn you, its addicting…

Taco Dip

16oz refried beans
10oz guacamole
16oz sour cream
1 pkg taco seasoning
16oz shredded Mexican cheese blend
1lb cherry tomatoes diced
3 green onions chopped

Combine sour cream and taco seasoning and set aside for a few minutes. On a serving platter spread the refried beans. build a layer of guacamole, the seasoned sour cream, and top with shredded cheese. Sprinkle the top with diced tomatoes and green onions. Serve with your favorite tortilla chips.

Just Wing It

Jan 21, 2011   //   by marymeals   //   Starters  //  3 Comments

baked hot wings

Like many signature dishes, this tasty treat was served up by an industrious chef, looking for a new way to cook up ingredients already on hand. Before the legendary invention, chicken wings were designated scrap for soup stock. An alleged over shipment created one of the greatest bar foods known to man, and catapulted the little Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY into history books. While the actual details of the fated night remain in question, one thing’s for sure, it was a darn delicious idea.

To make it Mary, and a little better for your heart, try my baked recipe instead of breaking out the deep fryer. I guarantee you won’t miss any of that saturated fat with flavor like this! You can also cut even more calories by making your own low fat ranch to dip and cool off those wings.

Baked Hot Wings

3lbs chicken wings
Cajun seasoning
salt and pepper
olive oil
1/2 cup Franks Red Hot
2 tbsp margarine

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking dish with foil to make it easier to clean and arrange chicken wings. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and apply liberal amounts of Cajun seasoning, salt, and pepper. Turn to coat on both sides. Bake in oven for 45 minutes. While the wings are baking, melt 2 tbsp margarine in a small saucepan and mix in hot sauce. Once wings are done place in a metal bowl, pour hot sauce mixture over and toss together.

Low fat Ranch dip

1/2 cup low fat Greek style yogurt
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp dill
1/4 tsp pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and serve with hot wings

Holy Guacamole!

Jan 14, 2011   //   by marymeals   //   Soups and salads, Starters  //  3 Comments

Avocado Salad

I made my first avocado salad for a Mexican cooking show filmed for extra credit in my high school Spanish class. It was called Maria’s Kitchen and it was a complete disaster! Midwesterners back then did not have much experience with the ins and outs of guacamole making, and the avocados that I painstakingly selected for my cooking show masterpiece were rock hard, and took an extreme amount of effort to peel and dice! I had no idea that avocados had to be soft and ripe in order to be eaten! I wish i knew then what I know now! Hilarious! The best way to tell if an avocado is ready for immediate use is to hold it in your hand and give it a gentle squeeze, ready to eat fruit will be firm but give to gentle pressure. So go get your ripe avocados and join me in making this creamy and delicious salad. Don’t feel guilty because it tastes so good! Each serving gives you more then 20 vitamins and minerals that your body needs, and the fat in avocado is the heart healthy kind proven to lower bad cholesterol. I eat this as a salad inside of a whole wheat pita, but you can easily turn this into guacamole dip by mashing the avocado instead of leaving it in bite size pieces.

MaryMeals’ recipe is on the 30th edition of Monday Mania

Avocado Salad

3 ripe avocado cubed
2 large tomatoes diced
1 small red onion diced
2 garlic cloves minced
3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 half jalapeno seeded and chopped
juice from 1 lemon
1 tbsp garlic salt

Combine all produce in a large bowl and toss with lemon juice and garlic salt. Simple, and so amazingly delicious.

It’s All Greek to Me

Sep 3, 2010   //   by marymeals   //   Main course, Sides, Soups and salads, Starters  //  1 Comment

Mini Burgers with mint and tzaziki

It was in ancient Greece that the first cookbook was recorded into history. With such a rich culinary history dating back thousands of years, the Greeks have had plenty of opportunity to perfect those amazing dishes. One of the main things that makes Greek food into such great party food, is the many meze or “small plates”. They’ll make perfect sides for your end of summer BBQ. Here are some great Mediterranean ideas for your next grill fest.

Mini Burgers with Mint and Tzatziki sauce.

2 lb ground beef
1 small onion diced
3 cloves garlic minced
1 tbsp mint chopped
1 tbsp garlic salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce mixed with 2 tbsp honey for basting
16 mini French dinner rolls.
Tzatziki sauce (recipe follows)

16 slices of roasted red pepper(grill w the other side veggies)
Mix first 8 ingredients together in a large bowl. Shape into patties the size of an ice cream scoop. Should make about 16 mini burgers. Place on a hot grill. Brush with honey mixture on both sides as you grill to your desired done-ness. To assemble: slice open French rolls. Place a slice of roasted pepper (you can grill veggies at the same time as the meat) place the burger, a dollop of tzatziki sauce, and top with the other bun.

Grilled Vegetables

2 zucchini
2 yellow squash
6 small Roma tomatoes
2 red peppers cut into 16 pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
Corse salt

Slice zucchini and squash into quarters and then in half. Slice each red pepper into 8 pieces for a total of 16. Leave tomatoes whole. Place on a baking sheet, toss with oil, salt and pepper. Place veggies directly on the grill, turning occasionally. They cook in about 10 to 15 min.


Tzatziki is a classic Greek yogurt dip that is super delish. Garlicky flavor blended with cucumbers and thick Greek style yogurt, its great as a dip on its own served with veggies, chips, crackers, or bread. Here its makes a great topping for the Mediterranean burgers.
16 oz of Greek style yogurt (the thicker, the better)
1 large English cucumber quartered (if u have only regular you’ll need to remove the seeds and peel)
3 cloves garlic
1 1/2 tsp garlic salt
Some paper towels or cheese cloth for draining the cucumber.

Chop garlic and cucumber in food processor. Since cucumbers contain a lot of water it is important to place them in towels or cheesecloth so you can squeeze as much of the extra water out of them as possible. Do this over the sink. Once you have made them as dry as you can, remove them from the towels and place them in a bowl. Add yogurt, and garlic salt and mix together. Remember to always test for seasoning you may need more. Top with paprika.

Greek Potato Salad

1 1/2 lbs potatoes
6 eggs
1 small red onion diced
1 piece celery diced
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp garlic salt
1 tbsp dill

Boil potatoes and eggs. Potatoes are ready when you can easily insert a fork in them. Eggs should boil 12 min. Drain both and run under cold water in order to cool. Once they have cooled, shell eggs and dice along with the potatoes into a large bowl. Add all ingredients and stir to combine. Test for seasoning. Top with a dusting of paprika.

Hummus with kalamata olives

1 can garbanzo beans drained
3 heaping tbsp of Tahini
Juice from one lemon
3 cloves garlic
1 1/2 tsp garlic salt
Pitted kalamata olives
Pita bread or crackers to dip

Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Blend until smooth. Check for seasoning and add more garlic salt it needed. Top with kalamata olives. Serve with pita bread or crackers.

a greek feast

Yo quiero un ensalada Caesar!

Aug 16, 2010   //   by marymeals   //   Soups and salads, Starters  //  No Comments

Caesar Salad

With its distinctive garlic bite and salted lemony goodness the Caesar is one of the best tasting salads ever invented. Despite its Roman sounding name this delicious side dish actually hails from south of the border. I’m not clear on exact details, but legend has it that it was some time during the prohibition when Hollywood starlets had to escape to Mexico to party. Caesar Cardini’s restaurant ran out of foodstuffs on the menu during a busy dinner rush. He pulled the ingredients together out of the kitchen, and tossed it table side. The rest is history. Whether or not his original salad contained anchovy is still subject to debate. My version doesn’t but still achieves that classic Caesar flavor with a pantry staple: Worcestershire sauce. Feel free to take this dish from appetizer to main course by adding some grilled chicken.

Caesar Salad

For the croutons:
5 slices of sourdough
Olive oil
Garlic salt
Dried oregano
Dried rosemary
Slice bread into cubes arrange on a baking sheet. Coat with oil, herbs, and garlic salt. Mix with hands and place under broiler til golden. About 10 min. Set aside.

Caesar dressing:

1tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
4 cloves garlic
Garlic salt to taste

This dressing comes together in seconds in the food processor or blender but is also easily whisked together by hand. Make sure to chop garlic if whisking by hand. Place Dijon, garlic cloves, lemon,vinegar, and Worcestershire, in the processor or bowl. Begin processing or whisking and slowly add in olive oil in very slow even stream. The dressing will thicken as the oil combines with the other ingredients. Add garlic salt to taste.

The Salad:

1 head romaine lettuce chopped
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese shredded

Place lettuce in large bowl. Add croutons and dressing and toss salad. Top with Parmesan. Ole!