Party Popsicle Style

Did you know popsicles aren’t just for kids anymore?  Impress yourself and your friends with these homemade popsicle recipes for you to enhance your warm summer evening get togethers!

From ModClothBlog, a pina colada popsicle recipe:

From LilSugar, a YUMMY looking fresh fruit popsicle recipe (and these ARE ok for kiddos too!):

From HWTM blog, a quick and easy way to add popsicles to cocktails...

Endless Simmer has a HUGE list of “pop-tails” recipes… which are popsicle/cocktail combos.  I’m pretty sure my favorite will be Strawberry Peach Vodka Collins Popsicles… but you can click through the link and find YOUR favorite!

And finally, if you are really popsicle-ambitious, you need to check out IcyPops.com for a whole SITE-full of great popsicle ideas. There are DIY recipes for fun shapes, flavor combinations and more!

Bring on the POPS!!

Pepper Nuts – Bet You Can’t Eat Just One!

Be prepared that when you set these nuts out for your guests they are going to go fast.  They are absolutely addictive.  (I was warned about that from my friends at Eat.At/Swap that first told me about these!)  These black pepper nuts have a wonderful sweet, spicy and salty bite.  I made mine with cashews although you can make them with whatever type of nut(s) you’d like.  However, do use raw, unsalted nuts since you will be seasoning and roasting them.


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Naan Pizza

After making these naan pizzas I may never again order “delivery” pizza.  Because not only did these taste far better than delivery (heck – they tasted better than most pizzas I’ve had in a restaurant), they were embarrassingly easy to make. (Don’t let your guests know – they’ll think you slaved over the dough!)

Naan is a delicious Indian bread that resembles a flatbread.  It is now readily available in most supermarkets.  If you don’t know where to find it in your store (it is in the deli in one of the stores I shop in, in the bread section in another, and in the international aisle in yet another), just ask a salesperson for help finding it.

Below isn’t so much of a naan bread pizza recipe as much as a ‘how to’ guide.  I’m giving general ‘amounts’ of toppings per pizza.  However it is up to you as to how much sauce or cheese or toppings you like on yours (I’m an ‘extra cheese’ kinda gal).  When ready to serve, simply use a pizza cutter to cut into quarters.  These make great appetizers or can be served as the entree.

 

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Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms

Diva Entertains Stuff Mushrooms

Friends at the recipe swap that I belong to have long-raved about these spinach stuffed mushrooms.  I had been avoiding them because the last time I made baked stuffed mushrooms they were less than stellar.  But just the other day someone on the swap made them and then posted about how much her company had liked them.  That was the little kick start I needed to try again!

They certainly were good.  And rather easy to make.  What I loved about the recipe is that, if I wanted to, I could remove the spinach from the list of ingredients and then use it as an excellent base for stuffed baked mushrooms that are just screaming “doctor me up!”.  For example, the addition of lobster, crab meat or sausage would be delicious! (All need to be cooked before adding to the stuffing mixture.)

I also tinkered with the recipe a bit and swapped Panko breadcrumbs for regular breadcrumbs to give a bit more texture to the stuffing.  As well as added some wine to the topping mixture for flavor. Also, just before they went into the oven for baking, I topped them off with some grated Parmesan cheese.

 

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Mini Cherry-Heart Tarts…and More Valentine Party Bites!

As promised last week…even MORE Valentine Snacks and Valentines Party Food Bites…

Check out these adorable heart Valentine cake pops, and the easy-to-follow recipe from Mel’s Sweet Treats:

While the name isn’t very appealing, but I think the “Valentine’s Day Trash”, from Cooking with K would be a perfect addition to a kid’s Valentine’s Day party (adults too!:

From My Kitchen Addiction, a quick post with EASY instructions for making fab chocolate covered pretzels AND drizzled strawberries.  She explains how to inexpensively and easily recreate the drizzled look that professionals achieve.

AND, one more… a step-by-step tutorial from Big Red Kitchen, with instructions on how to make Chocolate Covered Strawberry Mallow Candies.  Did you get that?  Chocolate Covered Marshallow Candy with pink mallows!. Mmmhmm…yep!  And aren’t they pretty?

 

And now… a GUEST POST by Ashley, of Kitchen Meets Girl.

Cherry Tarts

Do you feel like you just got all of your Christmas decorations put away, and now the stores are bombarding you with Valentine’s stuff?

Yeah, me too.

In fact, I went into my local craft store last week and they already had out St. Patrick’s Day and Easter decór. Seriously, can’t we just slow down long enough and actually enjoy the season?

And by season, I mean the time of the year you’re encouraged to indulge in copious amounts of chocolate and other candies and treats. Umm, wait a minute, maybe that was the Christmas season? Or maybe it is Easter?  Never-mind, I’ll just keep eating to be on the safe side.

But if you’re feeling a bit overloaded on rich chocolate desserts, or just want something simple and small (read: guilt-free), try these mini cherry-heart tarts. These are perfect for kiddos and adults alike, and are so simple to make. You can certainly make your own filling, but I personally would rather spend the extra time doing a Zumba routine * eating these.

Cherry Tarts 2

Cherry-Heart Tarts

Ingredients:

  • 1 can cherry pie filling
  • 1 package refrigerated pie crust (2 crusts)
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400. Unfold your pie crusts onto a floured work surface. Using a 3″ round cookie cutter (or a small drinking glass), cut out 20 circles. With your remaining dough, use a small heart cutter to cut out 20 hearts. If you don’t have a heart cutter, just use scissors.
  2. Place heart cutouts on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush dough with milk and lightly sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 7 minutes, or until lightly golden. Cool on wire rack.
  3. Meanwhile, press your dough circles into a mini-muffin tin, fluting the edges. Spoon approximately 1 tablespoon pie filling into each cup.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes or until crust is golden and filling is bubbling. Cool tarts in pans for 5 minutes; then remove to wire rack to cool completely. Place a small heart cutout in the center of each tart.

 

* “Doing” a Zumba routine = shaking the Wii remote frantically in a desperate attempt to finish the song before collapsing face-first.

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Ashley is a full-time working outside the home mama to a busy 4-year old boy, and writes about her kitchen successes–and messes–on her blog Kitchen Meets Girl.  She enjoys spending her free time watching football with her husband and making more baked goodies than is good for her waist-line. She daydreams about coming home to a spotless house cleaned by a professional cleaning service, with steaming hot meals prepared by her own personal chef.  But because she wants her son to grow up healthy and nourished by good, wholesome food, she learned to cook.  And discovered she is living proof that anyone–absolutely anyone–can be successful in the kitchen. 

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Parmesan Salsa – A Great Topping For Pasta, Pizza and More!

parmesan salsa

Today’s recipe, Parmesan Salsa (Salsi di Parmigiano in Italian), is a great recipe to learn not only because it is so delicious (it is!!) but because it is so versatile.  As an appetizer, it’s wonderful spread on a piece of toasted baguette.  Or it’s perfect as a topping for almost any vegetable.  It’s also an incredibly easy pasta sauce that will impress any pasta lover.

The recipe, from Food Network’s Michael Chiarello, takes only minutes to make and you can easily cut the recipe in half.  Although it calls for using 1/2 each of Parmesan and Asiago cheese, I have made it several times with just Parmesan.

 

 

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Pan Fried Ravioli Appetizer

Diva Entertains Crisp Ravioli

About 15 years ago I tried a recipe for pan-fried ravioli that was such a disappointment that I swore that I would, from then on, stay clear of it.  And so was the case until I saw a recent recipe for it in Cooking Light.  The attraction?  The ravioli was first dipped in an egg and water mixture (so that the next layer would have something to adhere to) and then dipped into a panko-Parmesan mixture which would help the ravioli create a crisp, flavorful crust without deep frying.  (Not that deep fried ravioli isn’t delicious – but I’m leaving that to restaurant kitchens).

Panko is a dried, flaky bread crumb used extensively in Japanese cooking that has also risen in popularity here.  It makes for a wonderfully crisp crust.  It is found in the Asian section of most supermarkets.

There’s really only one key to success:  You will need to cook the ravioli in 2 batches.  Make sure, after the first batch, you take a wadded up paper towel and wipe the pan free of any (browned) panko-Parmesan crumbs.  Otherwise they will continue to cook and burn and ruin your next batch.  So wipe clean and then add more olive oil before you pan fry the final batch.  Wipe out the pan once again before you start cooking the tomato topping.

Also, the recipe calls for making a quick tomato sauce by sauteing grape tomatoes in the same pan used to cook the ravioli once they have been removed.  If grape tomatoes are pricey or aren’t available, you can also use a can of diced tomatoes, preferably one that is seasoned with onions and/or basil.  Simply drain the liquid from the can and then heat up the contents in the pan for a few minutes.  Once hot, spoon over the ravioli.

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Homemade Cheddar Cheese Crackers (Sort Of)

I absolutely love this homemade cracker recipe!  It’s embarrassingly easy to make yet the results tastes like  sophisticated cheddar cheese crackers.  And they keep for weeks in a air-tight container.  They remind me of cheese straws, however, with more of a crunch.  But I need to use the term ‘homemade’ a tad loosely since these start with store bought saltines.

After topping the saltines with shredded cheese, I sprinkled a bit of crushed red pepper flakes on top and then popped them in the oven.  You should, however, feel free to season them as you’d like .  A friend uses McCormicks’ Smoky Sweet Pepper Spice Blend when she makes them (unfortunately my supermarket doesn’t carry this brand so I couldn’t try it.  She recommends using 2 tsp).

This recipe is adapted from www.oregon.live and they adapted it from an original Shirley Corriher recipe .  Corriher is well known in food circles – she’s a biochemist and one of the leading authorities on food science.  It kind of makes sense that she figured out the surprising cooking method for this delicious cheese cracker recipe.

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Goat Cheese Tomato Tart – Divine!

Diva Entertains Tomato Goat Cheese Tart

When our dear friends, Vic and Scott, walked in on July 4th with this amazing Goat Cheese Tomato Tart, my eyes popped wide open.  It looked so gorgeous and I knew it would be divine.  After all – it’s made with puff pastry, goat cheese and roasted tomatoes!

If you’ve never roasted tomatoes before, I bet you will often after you try this recipe.  Roasting brings out the natural sugars in tomatoes and ups their flavor.  They are wonderful added to pasta or as a bruschetta topping.  And very simple to make.

Learning how to make the tart base will be an ‘ah-hah’ moment – you can use it over and over again with other sweet or savory fillings.

This tomato and goat cheese appetizer could also be served as “lunch” if paired with a salad dressed in a light vinaigrette.

Diva Entertains Tomato Goat Cheese Tart with Basil

Just before serving, top the tart with fresh herbs such as the Basil we showed above.  Chopped kalamata olives would also be a great addition to the tart (add before baking).

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Delicious Asparagus Appetizer – Bet You Can’t Eat Just One!

Diva Entertains Asparagus and Cheese Appetizer

To be honest, I was given this recipe 15 years ago by a close friend who raved about it.  But being a bit of a food snob back them (I’m way over that:) I disregarded it because it called for white sandwich bread, rolled thin, to wrap around the asparagus (along with cheese and Dijon mustard).   I am not too proud to admit that I was a fool to do so.  Because last week I gave it a try and it was absolutely delicious.  And I’m usually pretty careful about what I eat but I consumed 3 of these little appetizers within a matter of minutes.

The only true key to success for this is to monitor these wrapped asparagus appetizers as they bake.  Too little time and they are soggy from the melted butter, too long and they are burnt.  But if you watch them and turn them as needed, out of your oven will come these delightful, golden appetizers that will win rave reviews from family and friends.

Asparagus Appetizer

12 rolls, 4 to 6 portions

  • 12 pieces white sandwich bread
  • 12 asparagus spears, not too thin
  • Dijon mustard
  • 6 slices swiss cheese squares*
  • 3 Tbsp. melted butter, preferably unsalted.
  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Remove crusts from bread slices.  Using a rolling pin, roll as thin as possible. (They don’t roll out all that much.)  Cut cheese slices in half.
  3. Cut asparagus spears to approximately the length of a slice of bread.  Put spears in microwave on high for 35 seconds.
  4. Spread Dijon mustard very thinly to cover one side of bread slice.  Lay one piece of Swiss cheese atop the bread slice near an edge, then place one asparagus on top of the cheese. Roll the bread up firmly.  Brush all sides with the melted butter and lay, seam side down, on a baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 6 minutes and start checking for browning on the bread wrap.  Once golden, turn wrapped asparagus over so the that side browns.  Watch carefully – the second side takes much less time to brown than the first side.
  6. Serve and enjoy!

*The size of your Swiss cheese is usually dependent whether you buy it at the supermarket deli (squares) or refrigerated section (larger rectangle sized).  If the latter you will only need 3 slices.