Appetizers & Snacks

Mini Caprese Bites
Prep: 20 min. Grape tomatoes vary in size from week to week at the grocery store; some pints we found had only 24 while others had more than 40. Good news, you should still have enough mozzarella balls because they are generally sold in 8-oz. containers that have more than enough.
Yield: Makes 8 appetizer servings
1pt. grape tomatoes, halved
10 to 14 fresh small mozzarella cheese balls, cut into thirds*
32 (4-inch) wooden skewers**
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
6 thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
Kosher salt and pepper to taste1. Thread 1 tomato half, 1 piece of cheese, and another tomato half onto each skewer. Place skewers in a shallow serving dish.
2. Whisk together oil and next 3 ingredients. Drizzle oil mixture over skewers; sprinkle with basil and salt and pepper to taste.
*1 (8-oz.) package fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, may be substituted.
**Wooden picks may be substituted.
Southern Living, MAY 2008

Sweet Basil Cheesecake Recipe : Giada De Laurentiis : Food Network'
Butter, for greasing the pan
1/2 cup (4 ounces) ricotta cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup (4 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup (3 ounces) goat cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
Pinch fine sea salt
1/2 packed cup chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, for serving
Serving suggestion: assorted crackers
Special equipment: 4 1/2-inch diameter springform pan, about 2 1/2 inches tall
Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 4 1/2-inch diameter springform pan. Line the bottom of the pan with a piece of parchment paper. Wrap the outside of the pan with a piece of heavy-duty foil.
Place the ricotta cheese, cream cheese, and goat cheese in a food processor. Pulse until mixed. Add the sugar, egg, egg yolk, and salt and blend until smooth. Add the basil and pulse until incorporated. Pour the cheese mixture into the prepared pan. Place the pan in an 8-inch by 8-inch square baking dish. Pour enough hot water in the baking dish to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake until the cheesecake is golden at the edges and the center of the cake moves slightly when the pan is gently shaken (the cheesecake will become firm when chilled), about 50 minutes. Turn off the oven and allow the cheesecake to cool in the oven for 1 hour. Remove the springform pan from the baking dish and remove the foil. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 3 hours and up to 2 days. Remove the cheesecake from the springform pan. Allow the cheesecake to come to room temperature before serving, about 30 minutes.
 Using a pastry brush, brush the top of the cheesecake with extra-virgin olive oil and serve with assorted crackers.

3/4 cup Chopped onions
3/4 cup Diced Tomatoes
1/2-1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
1 T Mayonnaise
Dash Garlic Powder
Dash Cumin
Dash Salt
Dash Pepper
Tabasco to taste (approx.7-8 drops)
3-4 Avocados (I like Haas myself)
Mash Avocados to creamy or kind of lumpy whatever consistency you like. Mix in all ingredients. Chill for about 2-4 hours to settle ingredients. (but I usually can't wait, I eat it immediately!) Serve that day for it doesn't keep to well.

               Baked Brie 

1 sheet frozen prepared puff pastry, 11 x 17 inches, defrosted ( This time I used Pillsbury Crescent Rolls, just roll out & make sure seams are pressed together )
1 wheel brie cheese, about 5-inches round
2 tablespoons raspberry jam
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted (we didn't do this, but in the future I will absolutely!)
1 box water crackers, recommended brand Carr's (we also used Nabisco Triscuitsand Nabisco Wheat Thins Flatbread in Tuscan Herb
Yields: 8 servings
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Slice brie in half across the middle.
Spread the puff pastry sheet onto a counter and roll it to an 1/8 of an inch thick. Place half of the brie onto the puff pastry. Spread the jam on top. Sprinkle the almonds(we did not sprinkle this time) on the jam.
Replace the top half of the brie. Wrap dough up and over the brie, starting at the corners.
Turn over so the sealed side is underneath.
Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve with crackers.

Williams Sonoma's Shrimp
3/4 cup Cider Vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon English style dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds, crushed
1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
1 cup Olive Oil
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 Bay leaf
1-1/2 lbs (24 to 30) large shrimp, shelled and deveined (I've also used the smaller shrimp too)
1 medium onion, halved lengthwise and sliced thin (this time I used red onion)
1 lemon, sliced thin
2 Tablespoons minced fresh dill or Italian parsley, or to taste ( sometimes I don't add, like this time)
Dill or Italian parsley sprigs for garnish (optional, I did not this time)
1 Baguette ( I like to use a Rosemary type)

In a bowl, whisk together the vinegar, pepper, salt, sugar, mustard, red pepper flakes, mustard seeds and coriander seeds and add the oil in a stream, whisking. Whisk the marinade until it is emulsified and stire in the garlic and bay leaf.
In a large pan of salted boiling water cook the shrimp for 1 minute, or until they are just cooked through, drain them well and add them to the marinade while warm. Let the mixture cool, stir in the onion and the lemon and let the shrimp mixture marinade, covered and chilled, stirring occasionally, for at least 12 hours and up to 1 day. But I've done this in shorter length also, about 1 hour and it turns out well also. Stir in the minced dill or Italian parsley, transfe the pickled shrimp to a bowl and garnish with dill or Italian parsley sprigs.
Makes 8 servings. Can be doubled easily.
Option: My Dad enjoys the leftovers (when there is some), he loves to top it on some salad greens and he's a happy man.

APPS of 3 Cheese Mini Macs


1/2 pound elbow macaroni
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for brushing
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (1 packed cup)
4 ounces deli-sliced American cheese, chopped
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika

Preheat the oven to 425°. In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the macaroni until al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain, shaking off the excess water.
Brush four 12-cup, nonstick mini muffin tins with butter. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the Parmigiano; tap out the excess.
In a large saucepan, melt the 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in the flour over moderate heat for 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk and cook, whisking, until boiling, about 5 minutes. Add the cheddar and American cheeses and whisk until melted. Off the heat, whisk in the egg yolk and paprika. Fold in the macaroni.
Spoon slightly rounded tablespoons of the macaroni into the prepared muffin cups, packing them gently. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmigiano on top.
Bake the mini macs in the upper and middle thirds of the oven for about 10 minutes, until golden and sizzling. Let cool for 5 min utes. Using a small spoon, carefully loosen the mini macs, transfer to a platter and serve.

MAKE AHEAD : The recipe can be prepared through Step 4 and refrigerated overnight.