Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Countdown To Christmas....Appetizers!!!

I think that I would rather have a table full of "Finger Foods" in front of me, than a Steamboat of Beef on a steam table, any day. Hold on....this is entirely my belief and I know that in my own household, I am alone in this opinion. Therefore, we have BOTH!! Don't get me wrong, I am in the middle of all of it, but I love the fun and playfulness of those great little savory snacks, that seems like everyone has a different recipe for. You can taste a dozen new things and go back for seconds (and thirds) on the particularly yummy "Oooh, I love that!" tidbit. What a great way to try out new tastes. My girlfriend Beverly and I are real culinary team mates in every sense of the word. She and I have the best little get togethers and our husbands just sit back and reap the delicious rewards. One of my favorite dishes of Bev's is her Hot Spinach and Artichoke dip. I always ask for it anytime we get together where food is involved. I am of the consensus, that cheese makes anything better, and if cream cheese is involved in anyway...I'm in. Some folks stuff celery with cream cheese, but my vessel of choice is a spoon. More than once in the middle of the night, a butter knife has also worked. I'll ask Bev to give us her recipe, but as far as I'm concerned, she will always be the one who makes it for me. "Shout out to Beverly!...email me the recipe" comfortcook@gmail.com . I'm gonna include her Quiche recipe this month soon, as it's a great brunch treat for the Holidays.

I'm going to share a couple of really easy and delicious favorite appetizers along with little lesson on Won Ton 101. The sausage ones were a big hit with Gerald's co-workers for their Halloween potluck and Connie from there has asked me for the recipe. It's taken me awhile as I literally was flying by the seat of my pants and came up with the filling from what I had available the day before. Getting this in a proper recipe format is not really my forte, but I'm not here to be graded...I'm here to share and have some fun. Let me just say that I do indeed have these ingredients on hand. I am a food nerd and like to be able to go to my pantry or fridge at anytime and find basic ingredients that are really a part of my food repertoire. I have a pkg of Won tons in my produce drawer as we speak and am never without ground pork, ginger or at least 5 kinds of cheese (in various colors and textures.) I realize this is not normal behavior, but I do keep an interesting pantry. Thanks for your patience Connie, this one's for you!!!

WON TON APPETIZERS

Preheat oven to 350
1 pkg Hidden Valley Ranch Drsg mix (mix as directed)
1 lb Chorizo Sausage uncooked bulk ( Kroger) or pork , Italian or Hot Italian sausage
(I used the Chorizo for my last batch)
3 Oz. softened cream cheese
1 C shredded sharp cheddar
1 C Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack ( I used Pepper Jack)
1 Tsp ground Cumin
1 TBS Chili Powder
1 Tsp Granulated Garlic powder
1 Tsp Salt/1 Tsp Ground Black pepper
1 Pkg Won Ton Wrappers ( or can substitute egg roll wrappers, cut into quarters)

Brown sausage and mix in all spices and seasonings. DRAIN well. Set aside. Spray muffin tin with non-stick spray ( I used the small sized cup muffin tin, but can certainly use larger one.)Put Won Ton squares in muffin cups, getting down to bottom of pan. Bake for about 5 minutes until a little golden. Remove and bake next pan. Watch as these can burn easily!

Mix together sausage, Ranch dressing, and cheeses. Spoon into Won Ton cups and return to oven till cheese just melts. I top off the Chorizo ones with a little dollop of Sour cream and a fresh cilantro leaf. The Italian or pork sausage ones, can be garnished with Green or Black olives slices (Italian) or dried cranberries or raisins on the pork. It's all up to you.
TIP!!
If you are going to travel with these ( for a potluck or whatever) line a crock pot with foil and place the Won Tons in layers (with foil between them) and turn on low when you arrive at your party. Always start out with a hot Crock pot from home, that way it doesn't take forever to heat up. Turn it off to travel and on low when you arrive. Wait to garnish till you set out your appetizers. These are a great room temperature food, so don't fret about keeping them piping hot. Remember this can be mixed and matched any way. You can also substitute Mozzarella for the Jack cheese for the Italian ones. That's what I do.

I hope you get a chance to try these out. I plan on making several batches this month. I also freeze the unfilled baked Won Ton cups to use for other fillings. I do a great Chicken Salad in them for my catering events. The empty baked cups can be frozen on a cookie sheet, removed and put into a moisture proof container and will keep in the freezer up to 6 months. Can be baked filled then frozen, same way and reheated in oven till hot. Will keep in freezer 3 months. Tomorrow, I've got a great Pot Sticker recipe that is an absolute favorite of mine.

Thanks to Linda and Amber for their comments on the fried turkey post. Linda, I will definately switch up on the oils to differentiate the poultry. And Amber, you are so right about the fried turkey being moist. Brining is also a great way to have a moist turkey, or chicken, too. Bev brined her turkey for the first time this year and is a convert. Just goes to show that we have so many more options today and how great it is that we can all share new and creative ways to enjoy old favorites.

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