Whenever I can, I absolutely love to have dinner parties. Or I’ll just show up to your house with groceries asking if I can cook for you (just ask Dave and Tae). Either way – not only do I love to make large meals for friends and/or family, but I also love anything bite size. There are times when I feel like something ‘sophisticated’ (like prosciutto-wrapped asparagus) or something comforting like spinach-artichoke dip. Since I’m always finding or coming up with new ideas, I thought I’d start another section to my blog just for this.
Hope you enjoy!
CROSTINI WITH PEAR, TURKEY, SPROUTS, CREAM CHEESE
I know this sounds a bit strange, but it was absolutely delicious. It’s also a great combination for a sandwich! For those of you who may not be sure, crostini’s are little toasts. They can be made with a variety of breads. My favorites are ciabatta and french baguettes. If you have the time, sprinkle olive oil and black pepper all over and bake them until golden brown. This combination of ingredients is also great as a small wrap (any tortilla will do). Add some avocado for additional creaminess!
- Cream cheese (I used chive because it’s what I had, plain would work also)
- Alfalfa sprouts
- Deli roasted turkey
- Pear, thinly sliced
CROSTINI WITH RICOTTA, CHERRY TOMATO, PESTO
If you live in the US, Trader Joe’s (or any grocery store I think) sells these adorable little mini toasts. You’ll know what I mean when you see them. They are about 1-2″ wide. Absolutely adorable! Stack the below ingredients in the order they’re listed.
- Ricotta, seasoned with a little salt, black pepper and olive oil
- Cherry or grape tomato, cut in half (the long way) and placed cut side up
- Pesto, just a little dot on top (homemade or store-bought is fine)
- Optional – freshly grated parmesan cheese
SPINACH, RICOTTA, PARMESAN DIP
This is basically the leftover filling from my stuffed chicken recipe. It’s great with chips/crisps or crostini’s!
- Spinach, easiest if frozen but if fresh, must saute or steam/wilt first
- Garlic powder or garlic salt
- Black pepper
- Olive oil
- Combine all the ingredients, sprinkle some fresh parmesan on top and bake until golden brown and bubbly!
CROSTINI WITH PROSCIUTTO, PARMESAN AND PEAR
My sister just made this for her birthday dinner party and she said they were a hit! She drizzled a specialty Italian honey on top, but you could also use a balsamic glaze (I have a bottled one at home). Or just serve it on its own! For this crostini, I would just drizzle olive oil on the bread before baking (no black pepper or garlic). As usual, the ingredients are listed in the order that I would stack them. But you can always mix it up a little
- Piece of arugula (aka rocket)
- Thin slice of pear
- Thin slice of fresh parmesan cheese (just use a vegetable peeler if you don’t have a cheese one)
- Optional topping – honey or balsamic glaze
SAUSAGE WITH TZATZIKI SAUCE
I have recently fallen in love with greek yogurt. Not only is it a great, healthy alternative to mayo or sour cream, but it also tastes delicious! So even though my boyfriend calls it poo-cumber, I absolutely love tzatziki (pronounced dza-DZEE-kee) which is a traditional Greek yogurt, cucumber and garlic dip. It’s incredibly versatile since it can be served as an appetizer (maybe with pita chips), dip, spread or condiment. I recently served it as a condiment to Middle Eastern flat bread wraps with grilled chicken Andouille sausages from Trader Joe’s, grilled portobellos and red onion, and mixed greens. I found that the spicy Andouille sausage went well with the coolness of the tzatziki. But lamb koftas are also a good alternative. Try serving on top of a lamb or turkey burger!
- 2 cups (16 oz) Greek yogurt – I highly recommend the FAGE brand, the 2% low fat is still super creamy
- 1 tbspn olive oil
- 2 tspn lemon juice – if you like the lemon flavor, add some lemon zest
- 1/2 cup diced or grated English cucumber (if not available, be sure to peel and seed)
- 1-2 cloves of garlic grated with a microplane (I found this to be the best way to minimize the garlicy after taste but still get garlic essence. You could very finely mince as an alternative)
- Optional – finely chopped mint or dill
- Yield – 2 1/2 cups
THE EASIEST GARLIC BREAD
I can’t remember what chef it was, but I learned this trick watching the Food Network and have been using it ever since. It’s great for those who don’t like to eat chuncks of garlic, but love garlic “essence”.
- Slice a fresh baguette – French is always best, but you can do this with any bread really
- Lay out on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and bake until golden
- Optional – season lightly with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Meanwhile, cut a couple garlic cloves in half (width-wise will be easier) and as soon as you remove the bread from the oven, rub the garlic onto the bread. The heat will extract all the garlic juices and voila you have garlic bread! If you don’t want it too garlicky, just don’t press as hard.
- This is perfect for a simple Bruschetta – chopped tomato, fresh basil, pinch of kosher salt and black pepper
PEAR, BRIE AND BALSAMIC SYRUP CROSTINI
This one is super straightforward. Cut up a fresh baguette and toast if possible. Slice pear and brie and drizzle some reduced balsamic syrup!
STEAK, ROASTED RED ONION, ARUGULA/ROCKET, CROUTON
“Easy peesy” this one is! Tenderize a steak by poking it with a fork, rub with olive oil and salt and pepper and bring to room temperature. Roast red onion wedges with balsamic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Cut up day old bread into cubes and fry in butter (clarified if possible). Grill your steak on a hot griddle (few min each side) and let rest. Chop into cubes and using toothpicks/cocktail sticks – layer a roasted onion first, arugula next, steak and last the crouton. Serve with a roasted garlic mayo dip!
BACON, FIGS, HONEY, BLUE CHEESE
Preheat the oven to 350F. Trim the tops of fresh figs. Push small piece of blue cheese into center. Cut (American) bacon strips in half or thirds depending on length. Wrap each bacon strip around the fig. Optional: seal bacon by piercing toothpick (previously soaked in water) through. Place on foil-lined baking tray. Drizzle well with honey. Roast for about 40 minutes or until bacon is crispy. Let cool before digging in!