Categories
Appetizer Snack

Wow guests with an appetizer that’s a ‘tini’ bit fancy

Roasted Grapes with Blue Cheese Spread
It may seem like a strange combination, but a creamy blue cheese spread, combined with warm, roasted grapes on crunchy crostini is a fantastic, fancy snack or appetizer.

Joey and I aren’t normally Valentine’s Day people. Generally, romance on Feb. 14 is us hanging out at home and playing a board game or watching TV.

But when some good friends of ours asked us to go on a double date with them this year, we were ready to celebrate.

We ended up at the Coneburg Grill and Pub in Peabody for their Valentine’s dinner, which consisted of several courses and some specialty cocktails, too.

We had a fabulous time, and as has always been my experience at the Coneburg, we had a fantastic meal, even though it was far, far more upscale than the décor of the restaurant would’ve otherwise dictated.

Since we went, I haven’t been able to get the appetizer we were served out of my head. It was one of those dishes that looked super weird at first, but the flavor combinations were perfect, and I finally decided I just had to try it.

So I started Googling and found a recipe that seemed to fit the bill from the blog “Babaganosh.” You can find the original post at https://www.babaganosh.org/blue-cheese-spread-roasted-grapes/. I added to the instructions for making your own crostini and added a bit more thyme in my version.

Roasted Grapes with Blue Cheese Spread
Print

Roasted Grapes and Blue Cheese Spread

It may seem like a strange combination, but a creamy blue cheese spread, combined with warm, roasted grapes on crunchy crostini is a fantastic, fancy snack or appetizer.
Course Appetizer, Snack
Keyword baguette, blue cheese, crostini, fresh thyme, olive oil, red grapes, sour cream

Ingredients

Crostini Ingredients

  • 1 baguette
  • olive oil for brushing
  • fresh cracked pepper and salt to taste

Grapes Ingredients

  • 4 cups seedless red grapes rinsed and drained
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • cooking spray

Spread Ingredients

  • 4 ounces blue cheese crumbled
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 pinch nutmeg

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Slice the baguette into about one-quarter inch slices. Brush each slice with a light coating of olive oil and place them in a single layer on a large baking sheet (line it with parchment or foil for easy cleanup). Sprinkle the slices with salt and pepper, and bake for about 10 minutes, checking after 5, until the slices are at your desired crispiness.
  • For the grapes, spread the grapes out in a baking dish (an eight-by-eight-inch or a nine-by-13 would each work fine). Spray the grapes with cooking spray, and place the sprigs of thyme around the pan.
  • Roast the grapes at 375 for 15 to 25 minutes or until they are starting to burst. Stir them at around the 10-minute mark.
  • (You can roast your grapes and brown your crostini at the same time.)
  • Transfer the grapes to a serving dish, and serve warm.
  • For the spread, combine the blue cheese, sour cream, leaves of the thyme sprigs and nutmeg into a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a small serving dish and top with a few more thyme leaves for decoration.
  • To eat this dish, spread some of the blue cheese mixture on a crostini and then top with a few warm grapes.
  • Refrigerate any leftover spread or grapes, and store crostini in an airtight container.

So, yeah, I served roasted grapes, which sounds super weird, but it’s so, so good. Adding that fruitiness to blue cheese is a great combination, and who doesn’t like eating crispy crostini?

I wouldn’t say my version is better than the pros at the restaurant, but since I’ll probably have to wait another 11 months to have theirs again, this is a darn good substitute.

I never would have guessed you could learn about fine dining in a humble town like Peabody, but I am (and my tastebuds are) so glad I did.

This piece first appeared in print on March 10, 2022.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Appetizer Main Dish Snack

Don’t let delicious sandwiches slide by you

Turkey cheese sliders are easy and cheap to make with a package of Hawaiian rolls.

Being the good aunt that I am, when my niece came to spend the night with us this past week, I made sure to have a bag of chocolate mini donuts ready for breakfast.

When my sister and brother-in-law came to pick her up, I asked her if she wanted me to send the leftovers with her, and of course, she happily took them home.

Joey just shook his head.

“You’re such a pusher,” he said.

That’s when I held up the package of Hawaiian dinner rolls my mother had somehow weaseled us into taking back to our house on a recent visit.

“I learned from the best.”

So, what’s there to do with leftover Hawaiian rolls? Well, you could work yourself into a carb-induced food coma, or you can do what we did and make some delicious turkey and cheese sliders.

The recipe I used came from the blog “The Novice Chef.” You can find the original post at https://thenovicechefblog.com/cheesy-turkey-sliders/. I changed the ingredients and removed the sugar, figuring I’ve had enough sweets over the past couple months.

Print

Turkey Cheese Sliders

Turkey cheese sliders are easy and cheap to make with a package of Hawaiian rolls.
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Keyword baked, butter, cheese, deli turkey, dijon mustard, garlic, Hawaiian rolls, onion powder, sandwich, sliders, spinach, Worcestershire

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound deli turkey
  • 12 Hawaiian rolls
  • 6 to 8 slices cheese I used pepperjack
  • about 1/2 cup fresh spinach
  • 4 tablespoons butter melted
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • garlic salt and pepper to taste
  • sesame seeds to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a nine-by-nine-inch pan (or whatever size you have that can fit the entire package of Hawaiian rolls in it) by spraying it with cooking spray.
  • Leave the rolls all connected, and using bread knife, cut the Hawaiian rolls in half to create a top and bottom.
  • Place the bottom part into the prepared pan. Place the turkey evenly over the rolls, add the cheese, and then finish off with a layer of spinach leaves. Place the top layer of buns on top, and poke just a few holes in the buns with a sharp knife.
  • In a small bowl, combine the butter, garlic, dijon, onion powder, Worcestershire, garlic salt and pepper, and pour it evenly over top of the rolls, spreading it out with a spoon, if necessary to evenly coat the rolls.
  • Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 14 minutes.
  • Remove the foil and bake for another two minutes or until the tops brown.
  • Cut the sliders apart and serve immediately.

These were excellent. Joey and I ate them on New Year’s Eve while we played a board game, and it was the perfect, low-key night.

We recreated the recipe a couple days later (my mom actually gave us two packages of rolls) with deli-sliced pastrami, and it was excellent that way, too. I’m going to keep track of this one for when we’ll inevitably have folks over for the NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl. It would be great for the snack table.

And now we know what to do with leftover Hawaiian rolls. As far as mini donuts, find yourself a willing 4-year-old.

This piece first appeared in print on Jan. 6, 2022.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Air Fryer Appetizer Side Dish Snack

Air fryer rangoon can keep you from ‘wonton’ eating

Making crab rangoon is an easy process, and they’re a bit healthier when you make them in an air fryer rather than dunking them in oil.

An article on the website “Atlas Obscura” called “What the Heck Is Crab Rangoon Anyway?” lays out the history of the crispy little Chinese restaurant staple.

The article notes that while crab rangoon are not from China, they’re an invention by Chinese-Americans, who began serving Chinese dishes to Americans of other backgrounds when they came to the United States.

Apparently, the boom of Chinese restaurants in the States was due to a racist policy restricting Chinese immigrants, who were able to use a loophole for “merchant visas” if they owned a restaurant.

“Chinese food was the first Asian cuisine to take hold in the United States; it was unlike the more Eurocentric restaurant scene at the time, and that made it exciting to some Americans,” the article notes.

But as can be expected, some ingredients immigrants were used to in China weren’t available in the U.S., forcing them to get creative with new dishes and allowing items like crab rangoon—those crispy cream cheese and crab filled delicacies—to become a reality.

I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love crab rangoon. My love for the side dish came to a head this week when I found a package of wonton wrappers for sale at my local grocery store. The stars aligned, and I decided it was time to give them a try. Plus, I decided it was time to another recipe using my air fryer, which let me make these normally fat-filled little bundles in a much healthier way.

The recipe I used is from the Kansas-City-based blog “Stay Snatched.” You can find the original post at https://www.staysnatched.com/air-fryer-crispy-crab-rangoon/. I changed the cooking time/temperature in my version, because my first batch were a bit over crispy. You may need to adjust for your own air fryer.

Print

Air-Fryer Crab Rangoon

Making crab rangoon is an easy process, and they're a bit healthier when you make them in an air fryer rather than dunking them in oil.
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Chinese
Keyword air fryer, crab rangoon, cream cheese, garlic, wonton wrappers, Worcestershire

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 6 ounces lump crab meat drained
  • 2 green onions cut into small pieces (I left these out)
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • about 21 wonton wrappers
  • cooking spray

Instructions

  • Combine the cream cheese, crab meat, onions, garlic, Worcestershire and salt and pepper in a bowl.
  • To assemble, lay a wonton wrapper on your countertop. Using a pastry brush or your fingers, lightly brush water around the outside edges of the wrapper.
  • Place a heaping teaspoon of the filling in the middle of the wrapper. Bring two opposite corners up to meet in the middle, and then bring the other two opposite corners to meet them, pressing slightly to seal all of the seams of the wonton and pushing any air out. The wonton should look like a little bundle.
  • Place the wontons in the basket of your air fryer and spray lightly with cooking spray.
  • Fry at 350 degrees for eight minutes, turning the wontons halfway through for even cooking.
  • Serve immediately.

I adjusted my recipe to have a bit more cream cheese than the original. For me, I like the light flavor of crab along with the creaminess of the cheese. But the nice thing about this recipe is you can literally adjust any of these ingredients however you want to meet your personal tastes.

I also love that these are not deep fried, and it’s easy to substitute in fat-free cream cheese if you really want to make these a healthier treat.

I adore a good crab rangoon, and now that I know I have some cool Chinese immigrants who wouldn’t let jerks get the better of them to thank for this appetizer, I think I might like them even more.

This piece first appeared in print on Dec. 9, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Appetizer Side Dish

Sweet peppers are the stuff of dreams

Stuffed sweet peppers are a showstopper appetizer that are extremely simple to prepare and can be served warm or cold.

Joey and I tied the knot back in 2010, which meant our 10-year anniversary was pretty anticlimactic last summer with COVID in our backyard. 

No date night out on the town. No restaurant dinner.

We still enjoyed one another’s company (I mean, it’s not like we could be apart while quarantined in the same house.), but when our anniversary hit this summer, we decided we should have a night out for number 11.

We ended up going to Lola’s Bistro in Wichita, a favorite spot of Wichita food blogger “Wichita by E.B.” (Check out his site, if you never have. He does a great job and has visited a lot of mom and pop spots all over the state. It’s at wichitabyeb.com.)

The meal was fantastic, and one of the items we liked quite a bit was a palate starter our waiter brought out before our appetizer. They were bite-sized, delicious stuffed sweet peppers, and we decided the next time we needed an appetizer for a group, we were going to try to recreate the recipe.

The recipe I decided to try did not disappoint. It comes from the blog “From Which Things Grow.” You can find the original post at http://fromwhichthingsgrow.blogspot.com/2012/01/chew-on-this-stuffed-mini-sweet-peppers.html. I added extra garlic powder in my version.

Print

Stuffed Sweet Peppers

Stuffed sweet peppers are a showstopper appetizer that are extremely simple to prepare and can be served warm or cold.
Course Appetizer
Keyword bacon, cream cheese, garlic powder, seasoning salt, sharp cheddar cheese, sweet peppers

Ingredients

  • about 2 pounds mini sweet peppers
  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon seasoning salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese shredded
  • 5-6 strips bacon cooked and crumbled

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a muffin tin by spraying each well lightly with cooking spray.
  • Wash the peppers, and then cut off the tops. Scoop out the seeds and ribs to hollow them out.
  • Mix the rest of the ingredients together and fill each pepper with as much of the filling as you can (it’s OK if they’re overflowing just a bit).
  • Stand the peppers up, filling side up, in the wells of the muffin tin. The peppers can share wells to help them stand up. Crowding isn’t a problem.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, and then serve warm, or refrigerate them and serve them cold later on.

These were absolutely delicious. Our local grocery store didn’t have itty bitty sweet peppers like we tried at the restaurant, so these were more like two-bite appetizers, but they were fabulous. 

Personally, I like them better warmed up than cold, but they were good both ways, and they actually reheat out of the refrigerator pretty well, if you end up with leftovers.

I also had extra filling when I was done. It would be delicious on crackers, and I even tried it inside a quesadilla, which was pretty darn good.

I’m certainly not trying to claim that my cooking is anywhere near the quality of a fine dining restaurant, but if I can brag just a bit, I do think these stuffed peppers turned out extremely well.

Hopefully, when our 20th anniversary rolls around, Joey and I will be able to celebrate with someone else doing the cooking. But if the next decade repeats the last, at least I know what we can have for our first course.

This piece first appeared in print on Thursday, Aug. 12.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Appetizer Main Dish Side Dish

Grilling cheese is more than just o’queso’

Smoked queso with charcoal steaks can be made on the grill or modified to be served from your oven.

When it comes to cooking indoors, Joey and I share the load pretty evenly. We each take on lunch or dinner regularly, with both of us having our specialties.

But when it comes to cooking outside, I definitely fall far behind.

Joey has really perfected the use of his kamado-style grill, mostly opting to create delicious smoked chicken or pork, but he’s also branched out into briskets, pastrami, pizzas and more.

So I was a little nervous when I went to try my own grill creation this past weekend: smoked queso and steak nachos.

I do have to confess that Joey was still the one who got the fire started and got the temperature just right for me, but after that, it was my show, and thankfully, despite my extreme novice status with the grill, it turned out fabulous.

I didn’t use a recipe this week. Instead, I read probably 10 different versions of smoked queso that people have out there and ignored a lot of what they did, mostly because I just can’t handle the taste or texture of Velveeta cheese, and that’s what all of them used.

So this week’s recipe is an original, and it turned out great. We did this on our kamado grill, but you could also make this on a regular grill or in your oven (although you’ll want to probably cook your steaks on your stovetop, in that case).

Print

Smoked Queso with Charcoal Steaks

Smoked queso with charcoal steaks can be made on the grill or modified to be served from your oven.
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Keyword black beans, charcoal steak, cream cheese, grilled, pepperjack cheese, queso fresco, Rotel, sharp cheddar cheese, smoked, taco seasoning

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces pepperjack cheese
  • 16 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
  • 8 ounces cream cheese I used fat free
  • 20 ounces Rotel drained
  • 15.5 ounces black beans drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup taco seasoning
  • 8 cloves garlic minced
  • salt to taste
  • enough charcoal steaks to serve your guests
  • Your favorite steak seasoning

Instructions

  • Prepare your grill so that it is 250 to 300 degrees.
  • Cube the three types of cheese into about one-inch pieces. (Make sure to use blocks of cheese instead of shredded; it melts better.)
  • In a foil, eight-by-eight-inch pan, add the cheeses, Rotel, black beans, taco seasoning, garlic and salt, and stir to combine.
  • For the steaks, pound them to about one-half inch thick, and season them liberally on both sides with steak seasoning, pressing it into the meat.
  • Once your grill is ready, place your pan of queso on a lower rack (we’re going to cook the steaks above it). If you’re using a standard grill, place it so it’s getting indirect heat. Close the lid and let the queso cook for 20 minutes.
  • After the 20 minutes, stir the queso. It probably will only just be starting to melt together. Place the steaks on a grate over the queso so that the juices can add flavor to the queso. Again, close the lid.
  • Check the queso every 20 minutes, giving it a good stir, and turn the steaks when they have good grill marks on one side.
  • Once the queso is melted and the steaks are done (after about one hour), remove it all from the grill. Be careful not to let the cheese overcook; it will get lumpy and separate if you do. Let the steaks rest for five minutes, and then slice them.
  • Serve the queso and steak over chips with your favorite nacho toppings.

We went for a smaller batch of queso than I saw many people make online, and it still fed six people, so definitely plan accordingly, but if you have a crowd, you can easily double this into a nine-by-13-inch pan and feed them all.

You can also make this as spicy or as mild as you like, depending on which style of Rotel and taco seasoning you choose. You could also add a drained can of jalapenos or something spicier if you really wanted to take it up a notch. It could also be made with pre-cooked ground beef or sausage or chorizo, if you don’t want to mess with steaks.

I certainly wouldn’t claim to be a grill master yet, but Joey did seem impressed with my most recent accomplishment. That being said, I think I’ll leave the heavy lifting to him. It’s a lot nicer to be the one sitting in the Adirondack chair than the one next to the grill.

This piece first appeared in print on July 15, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Appetizer Side Dish Snack

Dip into something awesome for game day

Cheesy bean dip elevates boring canned ingredients into something truly spectacular for your snack table.

Until the Chiefs became a part of the post-season, the best part of Super Bowl Sunday for me over the years has been the snack table.

From the days when our church youth group would watch the games while playing a football-themed bingo game to ones with friends gathered in our living room, there has always been a fabulous spread of great food to eat along with the fellowship the game brings.

Of course, it goes without saying that this year’s game will be very different than last year’s Chiefs victory. Last year, our house was packed with people, everyone screaming and yelling when the final seconds ticked down on the game clock, and we all realized we were the Super Bowl champs.

This year, there will likely be more yelling and screaming, and hopefully that will come along with another Lombardi Trophy, but it will be a much quieter din without the crowd of friends and family around us.

Despite the lack of a crowd, Joey and I will still be enjoying some favorite snacks, though, and after I test-drove this one for the AFC Championship game, I have to share it with you.

This comes from Lauren Allen over at her blog, “Tastes Better From Scratch.” You can find the original post at https://tastesbetterfromscratch.com/cheesy-bean-dip/. I doubled the seasoning in my version below and substituted refried beans for whole pintos.

Print

Cheesy Bean Dip

Cheesy bean dip elevates boring canned ingredients into something truly spectacular for your snack table.
Course Appetizer
Keyword bean dip, cheese, cream cheese, Greek yogurt, salsa, sour cream, taco seasoning

Ingredients

  • 2, 15- ounce cans of refried beans
  • 4 ounces cream cheese softened (I used fat free)
  • 2/3 cup sour cream or plain non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 packets 1/4 cup taco seasoning
  • 1/4 cup salsa any kind. I used a tomatillo salsa.
  • 1 to 2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese divided

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • In an eight-by-eight-inch baking dish, combine the refried beans, cream cheese, sour cream, taco seasoning, salsa and about 1/4-cup shredded cheese.
  • Mix it well so that the ingredients are evenly distributed, and then spread it evenly in the dish.
  • Top with as much cheese as you like and bake for 25 minutes or until the cheese is melted and just starting to brown around the edges.
  • Serve with tortilla chips or as part of a taco bar.

This was absolutely amazing. I know it isn’t a health food by any stretch, but by using fat-free refried beans, fat-free cream cheese and non-fat Greek yogurt to make this, I felt a lot better about placing a big scoop on my plate during the game.

And it certainly did not taste low-fat, either. The variety of cheese gave it fantastic flavor, and the leftovers quickly disappeared over the next few days, as we integrated them into tacos for lunch.

It won’t be the same to watch the Super Bowl without a crowd of friends this year, but I’m hoping that a few fun dishes on the coffee table might make up for it. Of course, another Chiefs victory wouldn’t hurt, either.

This piece first appeared in print on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Air Fryer Appetizer Side Dish

Fryer lets you ‘air’ in the side of less oil

Air fryer potatoes are seasoned simply and made using very little oil.

When I first moved out on my own, one of the first items I acquired for my kitchen was a deep fat fryer.

I’m a sucker for anything fried, but I could eat French fries every day and never get sick of them. Joey makes fun of me, because if there is any kind of variation of fries on a menu, he knows I’m probably going to get it.

Philly cheesesteak fries? Yep. Chili cheese fries? Of course. Fajita steak fries? Yes, please.

Of course, using a deep fryer on the regular is a pretty terrible idea, so my well-loved appliance finally went in the donation pile in September. It was time to say goodbye and not give into deep frying temptation.

But then I got my hands on an air fryer, and while I have managed to stay away from the French fries for the most part, getting to make “fried” foods with very little oil has been extremely appealing.

This week, Joey and I were collaborating on a meal. He was cooking the main dish, and I took on our side. After glancing a few times at the bag of yellow potatoes on our counter, I decided it was time to use the air fryer, but since Joey was making pork chops, I figured fries weren’t quite fancy enough, so I turned to the Internet.

The recipe I tried comes from the blog “40 aprons” by Cheryl Malik. You can find the original at https://40aprons.com/air-fryer-potatoes/. I changed up her seasonings a bit.

Print

Air Fryer Potatoes

Air fryer potatoes are seasoned simply and made using very little oil.
Course Appetizer, Side Dish
Keyword air fryer, garlic salt, potatoes, rosemary

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary

Instructions

  • Cut the potatoes into about one-inch pieces. You don’t need to peel them unless that’s your preference.
  • Toss the potatoes in the oil and seasonings until they’re well coated and add them to the basket of the air fryer.
  • Cook the potatoes on the “fry” setting at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring the potatoes halfway through. Once the potatoes’ outsides are browned and they are fork tender, remove them from the air fryer and serve immediately.

Making these potatoes was really simple, and the flavors and texture were out of this world. The potatoes were soft and creamy on the inside and crispy on the outside. It was awesome. Plus, it was so much quicker than making them in the oven, and it didn’t heat up my whole kitchen in the process.

This recipe will definitely be going into my recipe box to make again sometime, and even though they weren’t French fries, they still earned my vote.

I guess I’ll just have to admit I don’t just have a French fries obsession—it’s probably just potatoes in general. But, just like with my deep fat fryer, I’ll have to keep myself in check to keep myself eating healthy.

This piece first appeared in print on July 23, 2020.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Appetizer Main Dish Side Dish

This will make you ‘patty’ yourself on the back for a dinner well done

Jamaican beef patties are full of authentic flavors without the hassle of traditional techniques.

A few weeks ago, I was a bridesmaid in a good friend’s socially distanced wedding, and in preparation for the big day, I did something I have never done before: get a manicure.

I opted for French tips—a layer of very light pink on the bottom and white for the ends of each nail. It ended up being a pretty decent experience, and I especially appreciated the level of cleanliness and mask wearing the nail salon used.

So, for the last few weeks, I’ve had fancy fingernails, something that’s definitely different for me. I’ve also been amazed at how well they’ve held up. Well, that is until this week’s recipe, when I gave them the ultimate test: exposure to turmeric.

I don’t know what the name for a manicure with light pink on the bottom and orange-ish yellow on the tips is, but I’m sure it isn’t French.

The good news? This recipe was so worth it.

This comes from the blog “Host the Toast.” You can find this recipe at https://hostthetoast.com/3-bite-jamaican-beef-patties/. I didn’t change much outside of using heaping spoonfuls of the listed spices.

Print

Jamaican Beef Patties

Jamaican beef patties are full of authentic flavors without the hassle of traditional techniques.
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine Caribbean, Jamaican
Keyword ground beef, habenero, onion, puff pastry, Scotch bonnet

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 green onion stalks chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 1 Scotch bonnet pepper or habenero pepper finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 rounded teaspoons thyme
  • 1 rounded teaspoon all spice
  • 1 rounded teaspoon curry powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry thawed
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon turmeric

Instructions

  • Set the puff pastry out about an hour before you’ll need it to let it thaw.
  • In a skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and cook the onions and pepper until everything is soft and cooked through.
  • Add the beef, thyme, all spice, curry powder, salt and pepper, stirring regularly until the beef is cooked through. If there is excess fat in the pan, drain it off before the next step.
  • Mix in the breadcrumbs and then pour in the beef stock. Mix to combine thoroughly. If the mixture is very wet, add more breadcrumbs, and if it is very dry, add a little more beef stock or water. The goal is for the mixture to hold together well but still be moist. Remove the beef mixture from the heat and set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and prepare a muffin tin by spraying it with cooking spray.
  • Place the pastry sheet on a floured surface and roll it out to expand it by a couple inches on all sides. Sprinkle the entire sheet with turmeric and rub the turmeric around on the sheet to get a good coating.
  • Cut the sheet into 12 even pieces, and place the pieces, turmeric side down, into the muffin cups. You’ll want to make sure there is some dough hanging over the edge of each cup so you can pull it around the filling and seal it.
  • Divide the meat evenly into each cup, and then seal each one by pulling the sides of the dough up and pinching them together. If it is not sticking well, try using a little water along the seams.
  • Flip the sealed beef patty over so the seam is on the bottom.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until the beef patties are golden brown.

I actually opted for two habenero peppers for my version, because the ones at my local grocery store were so small, and they were a perfect amount of heat.

We loved these, and the spice combination was fantastic. To go along with our Jamaican beef patties, I decided to slice up a ripe plantain, fry it in some oil and sprinkle it with salt. It was fantastic.

So, my days of fancy nails are over, I’m afraid, although it’s a slow process for me to figure out how one removes gel nail polish, which is apparently much different than the polish I grew up with.

But at least while one set of fingers soaks in acetone, the other can be holding onto a delicious treat.

This piece first appeared in print on July 9, 2020.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Appetizer Soup

This soup is clearly the best way to start a meal

Japanese clear onion soup is incredibly simple but an amazing way to start a meal.

The National Museum of American History notes that Americans started looking for different ways to enjoy outdoor grilling after World War II.

Part of the craze was impacted by people who traveled around the world and discovered they enjoyed the tropical flavors of the Caribbean and of Southeast Asia, which meant that the hibachi grill came into vogue, with some restaurants popping up that allowed diners to cook their own meals on the flat-top grills and people using the small cooktops in their backyards and even their apartments.

Personally, I love dishes that are in the “hibachi” style. They have a little char on them, and I adore the flavors of Japanese cooking.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been sharing the components of an Asian-inspired meal I made for Joey and myself, including a fried rice and orange chicken recipe, so this week, I wanted to share the final component, a soup we both love to get as an appetizer at our favorite Japanese restaurant: clear onion soup.

The recipe I tried comes from the blog “Living Chirpy,” which features gluten-free and sugar-free recipes, so you might give them a look if that interests you. It’s by Roche Woodworth, and you can find the original post at https://www.livingchirpy.com/japanese-clear-onion-soup/. I adjusted the ingredients and instructions a bit to suit our tastes.

Print

Japanese Clear Onion Soup

Japanese clear onion soup is incredibly simple but an amazing way to start a meal.
Course Appetizer, Soup
Cuisine Japanese
Keyword cream of mushroom, gluten-free, onion, soup, sugar-free, vegetarian

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tablespoon oil I used extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium-sized onion diced (I used yellow)
  • 6 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 large celery stalk cut into one-inch pieces
  • 1 large carrot peeled and cut into rounds
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 cup mushrooms sliced thinly (I used white mushrooms)
  • 1/2 cup green onions sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • In a pot with a lid, heat the oil over medium heat and add the diced onion. Saute until the onion is browned and soft.
  • Add broth, celery, carrot, garlic, ginger and sesame oil and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn the burner down to low and put the lid on the pot, simmering for about 30 minutes to let the flavors meld.
  • Strain the vegetables from the broth, and return the broth to the pot.
  • Add the mushrooms and green onions and let the soup cook for another five minutes or so.
  • Serve immediately as an appetizer for your favorite Asian-style dinner.

Joey and I discussed this soup a bit after our meal and agreed that it’s the perfect appetizer. There isn’t much to it, and it would never make a meal for someone (unless they were on a restricted diet or eating very little), but it’s a good way to get ready for your main course.

I used chicken broth in my version, but just a switch over to vegetable broth can make this recipe completely meat free, too. There’s a ton of flavor in this for such a simple recipe.

I recommend serving it in small bowls. It’s a fun way to start a meal, and now that you have all three of the components for the meal we tried, you can do it, too. It was definitely something different, and we enjoyed it immensely.

And, considering Americans have been enjoying the flavors of Asian cuisine for many, many decades, I suppose it’s a good way to celebrate our own history as well.

This piece first appeared in print on May 21, 2020.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Air Fryer Appetizer Main Dish

Try a recipe that’s ‘taquito’ happiness

Chicken taquitos are quick to make and can be cooked by frying, baking or using an air fryer.

As a general rule, I avoid a lot of specialty appliances in my kitchen.

While I’ve been tempted in the past to consider a rice cooker or a cake pop baker, I haven’t given in—mostly because I have no idea where I would store such contraptions.

But I do have a couple trendy pieces that make me feel like I fit right in on the food blogs, mainly an electric pressure cooker and most recently, an air fryer.

If you’re not familiar, air fryers are all the rage these days, making it possible to get crispy “fried” foods with little to no oil. Really, it’s just a mini convection oven, but it does seem to work as advertised.

With my new purchase on hand, I decided to try a recipe I’d been eyeballing for awhile: chicken taquitos. The recipe reminded me a lot of some chicken flautas my favorite Mexican restaurant makes, and I needed to see if I could recreate the experience at home.

If you don’t have an air fryer, don’t worry. You can still make these by frying them traditionally in oil or by baking them, and I’ll give you the details for all three methods.

This recipe comes from the blog “Chili Pepper Madness” by Mike Hultquist You can find the original post at https://www.chilipeppermadness.com/recipes/chicken-taquitos/. I added some seasonings to my version.

Print

Chicken Taquitos

Chicken taquitos are quick to make and can be cooked by frying, baking or using an air fryer.
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Snack
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword chicken, taquitos

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 1 large jalapeno diced (remove seeds and ribs if you want milder flavor)
  • 6-8 cloves garlic minced
  • 1.5 pounds chicken breast cooked and shredded
  • 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
  • 1 packet sazon seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup Monterrey Jack cheese
  • 20-24 small soft corn tortillas
  • 2 cups vegetable/canola oil if frying
  • vegetable/canola spray if air frying or baking

Instructions

  • In a saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onion and jalapeno, stirring regularly, until they are both soft, about six to eight minutes.
  • Add the garlic and saute for another two minutes or until it slightly browns and becomes fragrant. Remove the pan from heat.
  • In a large bowl, combine the contents of the saute pan with the shredded chicken, seasonings and cheese, and stir to coat the chicken evenly.
  • To properly heat the tortillas and make them pliable, wrap the stack in a damp paper towel and microwave for about 30 seconds. Keep them covered with the damp towel while you work.
  • If you are frying, heat your oil in a deep pan over medium heat to about 350 degrees. If you are baking, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. If you are air frying, you’ll set it to air fry at 400 degrees for about 8 minutes (you may have to experiment with the timing a bit).
  • To assemble the taquitos, place a spoonful of the chicken filling on the middle of each tortilla and then roll it up tightly, leaving the ends open. Secure it by placing a toothpick through the center of the taquito.
  • If frying or air frying, cook the taquitos in batches. If frying, fry them for about three minutes until they are golden brown. If air frying, mist the taquitos with cooking spray before frying them.
  • If baking, place the taquitos on a baking sheet and lightly spray them with cooking spray. Bake for 20 minutes, turning the taquitos halfway through.
  • Remove the toothpicks and serve hot taquitos with your favorite salsa and sour cream.

We loved these, and they were really easy. I ended up deboning a rotisserie chicken instead of cooking my own to make the process go even more quickly, and I paired these with some Mexican rice. They also reheated really nicely in the air fryer or the oven. They do reheat in the microwave, but they lose their crispiness.

Making this recipe solidified for me that the air fryer won’t be taking up unnecessary space in our house, and I’m looking forward to playing with it more.

Many people claim it’s a great way to cut a lot of extra oil and fat out of your diet. Of course, as Joey helpfully pointed out, if I keep buying frozen French fries now that I have the option, it may have the opposite effect.

This piece first appeared in print on Jan. 30, 2020.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.