Have you ever found yourself needing appetizers in a pinch? Most of the time I whip up an Italian meat, cheese, and olive tray. My go-to tray not only pairs perfectly with the drinks, which most often accompany my need for appetizers, but is also super easy to create because the ingredients are always in my refrigerator!
Spring into entertaining in the warmer months and winter appetizer choices seem overused. Spring clean your recipes and replace the winter palate with sweet and savory small bites, with a ton of color of course! Easy and delicious are equally important qualities of these quick appetizers. Seasonal fruits and herbs are absolutely scrumptious with cheeses. What cheese works best? A solid but creamy cheese with a strong taste is always on point.
Don’t forget the finishing drizzles. I am currently obsessing over Vincotto’s Fig. A sweet and smooth vinegar, made from fig juice aged in oak barrels. It is versatile, tasty, and totally addicting! So here is my latest creation…enjoy!
Strawberry Basil Fontina Bites
12 strawberries, washed and destemmed
12 medium basil leaves
4 oz. fontina cheese, cut into 2 inch squares
Vincotto Fig vinegar for drizzle
Stack one piece of cheese, one basil leaf, and one strawberry stem side down.
Spear with a toothpick.
Drizzle vinegar to taste.
Use up your leftover hard boiled eggs and transform them into a creamy egg salad you can slather on some fresh bread. The flavor is bold, but very comforting. I totally forget about egg salad! With Easter right around the corner, you have the eggs already made, so….
Of course you could just mix the eggs with mayonnaise, but that is totally boring. Channel the flavors of your favorite deviled eggs, the spicy, the sweet, the savory. By savory I absolutely mean BACON! First, you need my perfect hard boiled eggs recipe. Now, the egg salad…
The Best Egg Salad Ever
6 hard boiled eggs
1 cup chopped bacon, cooked
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tbsp. spicy mustard
fresh dill, finely chopped
your favorite soft bread
Add hard boiled eggs to a large bowl.
Mash with a fork or coarsely chop into squares.
Add mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper to taste.
Mix in chopped bacon.
Squeeze 1/2 lemon.
Top with fresh dill.
Spoon a heaping pile of egg salad between two slices of fresh bread.
Hard boiled egg perfection. It can totally happen. The process requires us to filter out the bad habits and shortcuts we have collected over the years. Most of us will hard boil eggs to color for Easter, unless we happen to stubble upon lovely, already pastel-ed eggs. Good luck! Blue eggs are really just that, a regular egg with a beautiful, light blue shell. Most are laid by the Araucana, also known as an Easter Egg chicken. Nope, unfortunately they are not blue and don’t sport cute bunny ears. No problem, we will make our own. So cool though, right?
Here are the
5 , ok 6, most important hard boiled egg tips:
- Don’t use fresh eggs. Seems counterintuitive, I know, but older eggs have a weaker hold on the shell, making them easier to peel. We will add salt, too. Just in case.
- Don’t crowd the eggs in the pot. Overcrowding a pan or a pot in any cooking situation is never a good thing. Give the eggs some room to absorb heat slowly and evenly.
- Cover with COLD water. You might think adding hot water is speeding up the time-to-boil, but thats not what we want! Start with cold water and inch or two above the tops of the eggs.
- Turn off the heat when the eggs start boiling. But don’t jump the gun. Let the rapid boil begin before killing the heat. The start of tiny bubbles is just the beginning, wait until things get crazy.
- Cover for 10 minutes. 10 is my lucky number for the perfect hard boil. Depending on pan temperature and surface area this could vary. Experiment and max out at 15 to avoid overcooked yolks.
- Treat the eggs to a nice cold ice bath. We want to stop the cooking and make a last attempt at easy peeling.
Now that we know why we are doing what we are doing, Here is the recipe…
Hard Boiled Eggs:
6 eggs, not super fresh
dash of salt
water, to cover eggs
Cover eggs with water until 1 inch above tops of eggs.
On high heat, bring to a boil.
Turn off heat and Cover for 10 mins.
Transfer eggs to an ice bath.
Dry with a towel, color, or peel and eat.
Happy Spring! As the weather warms up it is time for easy one pan dinners showcasing colorful Spring vegetables.
When I am in the mood for glazed chicken I love a skin-on cut of chicken. The skin crisps up really nice and holds the flavors so well. Spring brings out the spicy, sweet in me. My favorite combination is always a honey sriracha glaze, and this time I added lemon to the mix. Enjoy this Spring chicken dinner! Here is the recipe…
Roasted Chicken and Spring Vegetables
2 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. sriracha
2 lemons, quartered.
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. rosemary
1 tbsp. onion powder
1 tbsp. basil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1-1/2 cups fingerling potatoes
1 small onion chopped
2 cups brussels sprouts, halved
1 cup carrot, chopped, or left long cut in half
1/2 lb. fresh green beans
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
Rinse the chicken and pat dry.
Season with salt and pepper.
Place skin side up on a rimmed baking sheet.
Mix honey, sriracha and brush onto chicken skin.
Squeeze one quarter of lemon.
Roast chicken for 15 minutes.
Add vegetables and potatoes to a Ziploc bag.
Add olive oil, rosemary, onion powder, basil, and garlic. Gently coat.
Remove the chicken from the oven.
Add vegetables to pan surrounding chicken.
Put pan back in the oven for 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is golden and cooked through. Squeeze the remaining 1/2 lemon over the chicken- extra glaze to taste and more lemon over the vegetables.
Top with the dill and serve.
Garlic and parmesan make a beautiful couple. My absolute favorite chicken wing toppings, the combo enhances simple french fries or a succulent lobster tail. When adding garlic and parmesan, we cannot forget the vehicle for ease of use…butter! Or olive oil if you want a slightly less salty, less buttery alternative. For easy coating, I use a pastry brush and always top with extra fresh grated Parmesan.
Garlic Parmesan Knots are a huge hit when served with fish, or a substitute for bread on Italian night!
Here is the recipe…
Garlic Parmesan Knots
2 cups pizza dough, from your favorite pizza shop or homemade
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon rosemary, chopped
1/2 teaspoon parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese + 1/4 cup or a block of parmesan for topping.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together butter, garlic powder, spices and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.
Preheat oven 375 degrees.
Cut off 2 inches of dough.
Roll into a cigar shape.
Place onto parchment covered cookie sheet.
Brush with butter mixture.
Bake 8-12 minutes until golden brown and center is cooked through.
Remove and brush with excess butter mixture and top with fresh grated parmesan cheese.