Tag Archives: appetizer

Pork Wontons

I’ve been on quite the heath food blogging kick lately, and I think it’s time I that take it back a notch and prove I am still human and that I love fried food.  I try to stay away from deep fried food at home as much as possible, but there are just some foods that are better cooked using this method than any other.  For these pork wontons, I’m sure you could brush them slightly with oil and bake them, but I’ve never personally tried it that way.wontons3

The wontons I make are unlike most wontons you’ll find in restaurants.  First difference, I hand make them and they’re not a product conveniently purchased nearly cooked and just to be thrown in the deep fryer for a few seconds like you’d find at most restaurants.  Second, I fold mine differently than the traditional wonton.  I’m not sure if there is a perfect way to fold a wonton, but this is how my grandpa did it, so that’s how I do it.

I have strayed from the family recipe before and used ground chicken because someone I knew couldn’t eat pork, and they turned out just as good.  When I substituted the chicken I used a little bit of Panko breadcrumbs to help the wonton mixture retain moisture.  I liked it so much, that I’ve now incorporated that into my pork wontons as well.  It’s not a necessity in this recipe, but I think it makes them a little fluffier and not so dense in the middle.

Ingredients:
1 package round wonton wrappers (or gyoza wrappers)
½ lb ground pork
¼ c green onion (chopped fine)
1 can water chestnuts (chopped fine)
1 egg (beaten)
¼ c breadcrumbs (unseasoned)
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp white pepper
½ tsp sesame oil
Water or a 2nd beaten egg for sealing wontons

Directions:  Preheat frying oil at 375 degrees in fryer.  In a bowl, combine green onion, water chestnuts, beaten egg, breadcrumbs, soy sauce, white pepper and sesame oil.  Mix together.  Then add the pork and fold in.  *I like to get all my flavors together, then add the meat, if you mix the meat too long it can sometimes get tough.  Once meat mixture is combined you can assemble the wontons.  Place a small spoon full in the center of the wrapper and then seal the wonton by coating the edge with water or beaten egg.  Press the edges of the wonton together well, do not allow air into the wonton.

I’ve learned the hard way that it’s smart to have a cookie sheet prepared with parchment paper and plastic wrap on reserve to cover the made wontons.  If they dry out too much they can crack which then makes a mess when you deep fry.

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After you’ve assembled all the wontons, fry them just prior to serving.  In the fryer be sure to fry both sides, and when they are golden brown you know they’re fully cooked.

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Enjoy!  If someone has baked wontons, please share your experience with me because I’d like to know how they turn out.  Also, the Green Onion Condiment I made goes EXCELLENT with these wontons.

Have a great week!

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Roasted Broccoli

Yep, that’s right! I’m bringing you yet another roasted veggie with today’s blog post.

One of my favorite veggies is broccoli.  A great source of fiber and high in vitamins, see here for nutrition facts.  This is a great way to salvage some broccoli if it’s been sitting in your fridge too long.  It works wells with brand new, fresh broccoli as well.  It takes very little time to prep and not long cook time either.  This can be an easy side dish or snack when you’re running a little short on time.

This flavor combination is oddly addicting.  I’m sure this season combination would also be good on roasted cauliflower or brussel sprouts.

No need to keep building anticipation… here you go!

Ingredients:RoastBroc1
1 lb. broccoli florets
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. lemon pepper
1 tsp. Mrs. Dash Spicy Blend
1/2 tsp. turmeric
2 cloves garlic (fresh, finely chopped)

Directions: Preheat oven to 450.  Toss broccoli florets with spices and garlic.  Lay out evenly on a cookie sheet. (I lined mine with parchment paper to make clean up easier.) Roast for 8-10 minutes and serve.

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Too easy… what other veggies does this make you want to roast?

Grilled Artichokes with Lemon Dill Dipping Sauce

If you haven’t noticed by now, I really like grilling vegetables (see Grilled Sweet Bell Peppers and Grilled Romaine Salad with Bacon and Bleu Cheese).  I think I’m drawn to doing this because roasting and grilling gives veggies another dimension of flavor you can’t achieve in other cooking methods.  It also is a low fat way to give your veggie more flavors.  With very little seasoning (if any at all) you can transform a bland vegetable into a vegetable with slightly more flavor.

I’ve always been a fan of eating artichokes.  I know some people have never even picked one up at the grocery store because they wouldn’t know how to go about cooking it or eating it.   Hopefully if you’re an artichoke virgin, this blog post helps alleviate some of those fears about artichokes.

First things first – prepping the artichoke:

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Each leaf on the artichoke has a little thorn at the tip of it, which makes them undesirable to handle.  Before steaming the artichoke, these spiky tips should be removed.  I use a serrated knife to cut off the tops of the artichokes.  I recommend a serrated knife as opposed to a regular knife because the leaves are rather tough when raw, and the serration help cut through the leaves easier.  I also trim up the stem at this point.  My only motivation behind it is so that it fits in the pot easier when I steam them.  Next, you should use a pair a scissors to remove the remaining spiky tips around the rest of the artichoke.

Once that is completed, place them in a pot with some water and steam them anywhere from 20-30 minutes.  The artichoke is ready when you can easily pierce the stem with a fork.

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Grilling the artichokes:
I started doing this about a year ago, and now that I’ve tried it, it’s my preferred method of cooking.  The ‘chokes are ready after being steamed, but I like taking it one step further and grilling them.

To do this, cut the ‘chokes in half and remove the heart.  Drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper and make sure the flat surface of the ‘choke is covered (the part that will be touching the grill).  Put them on a grill with medium to medium-high heat for about 2-3 minutes.  This part is to your own preference on how grilled/charred you like them.

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Traditionally, artichokes are served with some sort of dipping sauce.  Usually it’s a mayonnaise or aioli of some sort, or melted butter.  I wanted to change it up and make a healthier dipping sauce with flavors that compliment the artichoke well.

Lemon Dill Dipping Sauce:
Plain Greek Yogurt
Juice from ½ lemon
1 tsp dill
salt & pepper

Mix the ingredients above to desired consistency.  The lemon juice is meant to add flavor as well as thin the yogurt a bit so it’s not so thick and easier to dip into.

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There you have it, I hope you enjoy.  What other veggies do you like grilling?

Habanero Cheddar Cauliflower Fritters with Avocado Cream Dipping Sauce

Have you ever eating something that tasted so good and made you so happy that you found yourself dancing?  No?  That’s just me?

Maybe fritters just do that to me.  A little, lightly fried morsel made of a vegetable so it MUST be healthy.  It’s such a simple concept for food, but so yummy.  It makes me wonder, where did fritters originate?

It was really the cheese that inspired me to make fritters.  It’s one of those ingredients where things really can’t go wrong.  Cheese makes everything better.  Habanero cheddar not only makes it better, but it makes it spicy too.  And that’s a win-win in my book.

The best thing about this fritter recipe is that you can really substitute any cheese that you want.  So many grocery stores are now carrying a nice variety of delicious, cleverly flavored specialty cheeses that the combination possibilities for this dish are mind-bottling.

I had an afterthought while I was inhaling one of these fritters, and that was to try my almond flour from the Almond Flour Debacle to see if they would bind the fritter well enough.  I suspect that it will, but you may run the chance of a slightly “nutty” flavor.  I still think it’s worth giving it a shot.

Ingredients:
1 small head cauliflower, cut into chunks
1 large egg
1 garlic clove, chopped
3 oz. habanero cheese, chopped (or 3 oz. of any cheese)
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil (for cooking)

Avocado Cream Sauce:
1 avocado, chopped
½-3/4 cup sour cream (depending on how thin you want the sauce)
1-2 tbsp. lime juice

Directions:  Cut cauliflower into 1-2 inch chunks.  Place in microwave safe bowl, lightly drizzle with water and microwave for 5-6 minutes until cauliflower is soft to mash up into pea size bits.  Mashed bits will not be consistent in size, but that’s perfectly OK.  Allow cauliflower to cool.  In a bowl combine, chopped garlic, egg, cauliflower (cooled, if you put it in hot, it could scramble your egg), cheese.  In a smaller separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt and pepper.  Mix well and then add this mixture to the cauliflower mixture.  Mix until combined.

Drizzle olive oil in the bottom of a nonstick skillet.  Scoop fritters into hot oil, and allow to brown on one side, then flip.  Prepare a plate with paper towel, or a cooling rack to rest completed fritters.

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Combine ingredients for avocado cream sauce.  Serve and enjoy!

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What cheese and dipping sauce combo would you come up with?

Hot Cheesy Artichoke Dip with Sweet Pepper Scoopers

There’s always a need for a good appetizer to whip together for when you’re having company come over.  This is an old recipe my family has been making for years, but ever so slightly adjusted by me to try to make it more healthy.

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This dip comes together fast then bakes its way to deliciousness in about 25 minutes.  While it can be served with any variety of chip, crostini, bread, or cracker, I chose to pair it with halved sweet peppers to help get you to that full vegetable serving for the day.  Carrots or celery are also a good choice if sweet peppers are not appealing or available to you.  Let’s be honest, the Cheesy Artichoke Dip is the superstar of this recipe.  Any vehicle to get it from the dish to your mouth will do the job.

I thought about posting the nutrition information for this recipe, but after I put it all together, it was a little depressing (mostly because of the fat and sodium content).  Be forewarned, this isn’t the healthiest of artichoke dips (note the mayo and cheese) but that’s what makes this dip oh so delicious.  This will just have to be one of those times where you try to exercise some will power and portion control.  If shared among six friends equally, it’s just over 200 calories per person.

Ingredients:
1 can artichoke hearts in water
1 can diced green chilies
½ cup mayo
1 tsp garlic powder
1 cup parmesan cheese

Directions:

Roughly chop the artichoke hearts.  In an oven safe dish, combine chopped artichoke hearts with the diced green chilies, mayo, garlic power and half of the parmesan cheese.  Mix until combined.  Smooth and sprinkle the other half of the parmesan cheese on top.

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes until cheese has melted, and the dip is bubbling on the edges.  Cool for 5 minutes and serve.

Tell me what you think of my take on artichoke dip.

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