Fig and Blue Cheese Tarts

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These cocktail tarts look like they just came from the pastry shoppe but guess what?  You made them yourself with a very few ingredients in a very short period of time…perfect for the holidays.  We have used dried figs and dates…try them both ways, they are delicious.

  • Three ounces of cream cheese
  • Two thirds of a cup of crumbled blue cheese
  • One cup of dried figs (or dates), chopped
  • One quarter cup of orange marmalade
  • Two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • One can of refrigerated crescent rolls
  • One half cup of pecans, toasted and chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and mix cheeses until well combined.  Heat vinegar and marmalade and add figs.  Cook about six minutes until the figs are softened.  Cut crescent roll dough into sixteen slices and place on cookie sheets, two inches apart.  Press with a teaspoon to make an indentation and fill with cheese mixture, top with fig mixture, the chopped pecans, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.  Cool for ten minutes and serve warm.

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Dilly Dip for Veggies

blooming dill

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

This is our go-to dip for crudities nowadays with so many people looking for vegetable alternatives at cocktail parties.  Pair this with a platter of cucumber  and celery sticks, sliced summer squash or zucchini, and bright red radishes and cherry tomatoes.

  • Two teaspoons of minced garlic
  • One half cup of grated red onion
  • Two cups of dill pickles, minced
  • One teaspoon of Old Bay seasoning
  • One teaspoon of dried dill
  • One teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
  • Two teaspoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • One eight ounce carton of sour cream (or liquify fat-free cottage cheese in a blender).

Combine all ingredients and if it is too thick, thin with dill pickle juice until preferred consistency is reached.

 

The Very Best Stuffed Grape Leaves

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We love Grecian stuffed grape leaves and they serve exceptionally well for a entree when made with rice, ground lamb and sauced in an egg and lemon bath.  But for an appetizer, and that is what we are all about, this recipe is spectacular:

  • One and a half cups of cream cheese
  • One half cup of ground almonds
  • Two tablespoon of dates, chopped
  • Two tablespoons of butter
  • One quarter cup of slivered almonds
  • Twelve to Eighteen Grape Leaves, prepared

Beat the cream cheese together with the ground almonds and dates.  Melt the butter and fry the almonds until golden brown.  Add to the cream cheese mixture.  Lay out grape leaves and spoon filling into each one, folding over to enclose.  Place in foil and heat eight to ten minutes before serving.

Italian Telephone Wires

Risotto translates as telephone wires due to the content of mozzarella in this dish…we love these as an appetizer or as a side dish with veal piccata.  The recipe looks complex but it comes together quickly.  

  • Two tablespoons of olive oil
  • One medium onion, minced
  • One garlic clove, minced
  • One half of a red bell pepper, diced
  • Three quarters of a cup of long grain rice
  • One teaspoon of oregano
  • One and half cups of chicken stock
  • One half cup of dry white wine
  • Three ounces of mozzarella divided into 12 teaspoon-sized pieces
  • Olive oil for frying

Heat the oil and add the next five ingredients, cooking for about three minutes.  Add the stock and wine by the spoonful, waiting for the rice to absorb the liquid.  After about fifteen minutes, all the liquid should be absorbed and the rice should be tender.  When cool enough to work with, form balls of rice around each of the twelve pieces of cheese.  Cook in batches of four in hot oil for two minutes or until golden.  Drain thoroughly on paper towels and serve hot.

Stuffed Baby Med Peppers

We have always loved to add pepperoncini to our Greek salads.  On our last visit to Rhodes we were served these simple but satisfying pre-prandial bites at a little sidewalk cafe near the gate to the port.  These pickled peppers, which are just as popular in Italian dishes, are so easily available in the United States and so overlooked when we think of savory appetizers.  Our chef simply soaked them for a time in icy water, slit them open, and filled each pepper with an equal amount of local cheese, what tasted like minced salami, and a generous helping of grated onion.  Dust this with Greek seasoning, squeeze a little lemon juice over all and warm in a 300 degree oven for ten minutes.  You may substitute minced, crispy bacon and Monterey Jack for a departure. 

Neighbor Nancy’s Cheesy Stuff

Don’t know how to describe this…is it a dip?  Is it a spread?  Is it an entree?  It really doesn’t matter once you taste it.  Just take my word for it and whip this up for your next gathering.

  • 8 ounces of old dependable cream cheese
  • 2 cups of shredded cheddar or whatever you have
  • 1 half cup of mayonnaise
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 dozen well-crumbled ginger snaps
  • 1 half cup of pepper jelly
  • 1 shot of rum

Combine first four and mix well.  Spread on a stoneware serving platter.  Sprinkle ginger snaps on top and bake at 350 for ten minutes.  Meanwhile, combine pepper jelly with an ounce of rum  in a pyrex cup and warm in a microwave.  Stir well and pour over cheese mixture, fresh from the oven.   Serve with your favorite crackers or more ginger snaps.

Cheddar, Ham, and Green Peppercorn Souffle

souffle

A kind and generous follower of But First sent this recipe on to us very recently.  We were blown away with its cheesy goodness and the ease with which it all goes together.  The punch of green peppercorns gives it an unexpected flavor.

  • Four green onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of green peppercorns
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • 3 cups of sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 cup of smoked ham, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon of fresh garlic, minced

Process the onion, peppercorns, and egg in a food processor until the onion is minced. Pour into a one quart  baking dish and add other ingredients, stirring well.   Bake at 325 degrees for about 30 minutes or until puffed and golden.  Serve while warm with crackers or thick potato chips.

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