Category Archives: Appetizer

Summer Rolls

Summer Rolls are one of my very favorite foods. I love them and could eat them all the time. That being said, I had never made them before because they seemed intimidating.  Now, that I have, I will be making them all the time.  They are not hard at all, but they are a bit time-consuming. I would make these when you are not super pressed for time or are just enjoying a lazy day. Ok, stop laughing. I realize that we, especially parents,  don’t have a lot of those kind of days, but these are so worth making. Also, there really isn’t a recipe, per se. It is more of a technique. Then, you can fill the summer rolls with whatever you like. If you want to add some shrimp, go for it. I really just like to keep mine vegetarian and then stuff my face with Chicken Satay. Be sure and whip up the peanut sauce (recipe here on the blog) to go with it.

Summer Rolls

I am not going to list any quantities because you can just make how many ever you want. Also, we had the best luck with using 2 of the rice paper wrappers at a time even though it made the outside a bit thicker. When we only used one, they seemed to tear and fall apart more. You can try one at a time and maybe yours will do better.

Here is what you need:

Round Rice Paper Wrappers

Rice Vermicelli

Romaine, green leaf or Bibb lettuce (shredded)

Carrots (shredded)

Cucumbers (peeled and cut into strips)

Fresh Basil (shredded or left whole, if desired. I prefer shredded.)

Fresh Mint

  1. Cook rice vermicelli according to the package directions (in boiling water for about 4 mins). Set aside.
  2. Combine lettuce, shredded carrots and the shredded basil. Have a little place with your lettuce mixture, cucumbers, mint and noodles all set up.
  3. Spread a clean, damp towel on work surface. Fill a pie plate or shallow skillet with about an inch of tepid water. Working 2 at a time (or 1 if you are brave), immerse the wrappers into the water until just pliable enough to work with. Lay the wrapper on the towel. Place a little bit of all your veggies onto the wrapper in this order: Vermicelli, lettuce mixture, cucumbers and ending with the fresh mint. Take care not to over stuff them or they won’t wrap properly. Wrap up the summer roll like you would a burrito. Take the ends and fold together and then roll.
  4. Cut in half on the bias. Serve with peanut sauce.



Filed under Appetizer, Vegetarian, Veggie, Warm Weather Food

Fried Pickles

Yes, you read that right. If you are reading this and you aren’t from the South, you are probably thinking, “Ewwww, why would someone fry a pickle????” Well, we here in the South fry all manor of things, but fried pickles are the BEST. We even have a restaurant near here called the Fickle Pickle that is famous for their fried pickles. These are pretty much as good as those. The sauce recipe comes from another restaurant called Smokejack that also has awesome fried pickles with a spicy sauce. I have made that recipe before, but it is a bit more involved than these and I think these are just as good. So, if you are having friends over and are feeling adventurous, make these pickles. They will LOVE you for it.

Fried Dill Pickles

from Food Network

  • 1 pint sliced dill pickles, undrained
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, plus 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons ground red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ c. yellow cornmeal (this is my addition and I love it!)
  • Vegetable oil
  1. Drain pickles, reserving 2/3-cup pickle juice. Press pickles between paper towels. Combine 2/3 cup pickle juice, egg, 1 tablespoon flour, and hot sauce. Stir well and set aside.

2. Combine 1 1/2 cups flour with ground red pepper, garlic powder, salt, and paprika.       Blend   well.

3. Dip pickles in egg mixture, then dredge in flour mixture. Fry coated pickles in 375-degree oil until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.

Hot Pink Dipping Sauce

Recipe from Smokejack Restaurant

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tablespoon Sriracha hot chili sauce (We used WAY more than 1/2 TBS)

In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise and the Sriracha and mix well.

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Filed under Appetizer, Sauce, Spicy

Awesome Chicken Satay

Last night, Ren and I had one of the most awesome dinners we have had in a long time. I absolutely adore Chicken Satay and I could probably drink the peanut sauce that it is served with. I have had this countless times at different Thai restaurants, but for some reason, never made it at home. But, I can assure you, this won’t be the last time we make this. It was outstanding and pretty easy to do. I served this with a wonderful Asian slaw that Ren devoured. I mean, he seriously devoured it. So, if you want a yummy meal to serve your family over Spring Break, try this one. You will be happy you did.

Chicken Satay

From Everyday Food

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6 to 8 ounces each), thinly sliced lengthwise into 12 strips

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes

  1. In a bowl, toss chicken with sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, and teaspoon red-pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper. Thread each chicken strip lengthwise onto a skewer.
  2. Grill chicken on a grill pan or grill for 1 to 2 minutes per side. Serve with spicy peanut dipping sauce.

Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

½  C. smooth peanut butter

¼ C. hot water, plus more if needed

2 TBS soy sauce

2 TBS lime juice (I should tell you to use fresh, but I didn’t)

2 TBS Asian chili sauce (Sriracha sauce)

1 TBS dark sesame oil (I probably used more than this since the original recipe didn’t even call for it, but I LOVE IT)

1 TBS dark brown sugar

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1. Whisk the peanut butter and hot water together in a medium bowl.

2. Stir in remaining ingredients.

**The original recipe only called for ¼ cup of hot water, but I like  my sauce a little more thinned out, so I added a little bit more.

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Filed under Appetizer, Chicken, Sauce, Spicy

Loaded French Fries

Holy crap. If you are into healthy food, please look away or try my Oven Baked Brown Rice recipe. If you occasionally love to eat delicious bar food with friends, then look no further. The fries part isn’t really rocket science or even a recipe, but it is the homemade Ranch dressing that makes these fries stupid good. I didn’t think I liked Ranch dressing, but what I don’t like is bottled Ranch. Yuck. This dressing is so fresh and yummy tasting. It is nothing at all like bottled Ranch. We made a mountain of these to nibble on during the hockey game and they were devoured. I halved the recipe for the Ranch because it makes a lot, but if your family loves Ranch, make the whole batch. It keeps very well in the fridge in a glass jar.

Loaded French Fries

1 bag of crinkle cut French fries (we fried ours, feel free to bake yours)

Shredded Cheddar cheese

7 slices of bacon, cooked crispy

2 green onions, chopped

Ranch dressing for serving, recipe follows

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  If you are frying your fries in batches, keep cooked fries on baking sheet in the oven to keep them crispy and warm.
  2. After cooking all the fries, place them on a baking sheet and cover with cheese, bacon and more cheese. Bake until the cheese is all melty and gooey.
  3. Sprinkle with green onions. Serve with Ranch dressing.

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

From the Agnes and Muriel’s Café Cookbook

2 C. mayonnaise

½ C. sour cream

1 C. buttermilk

1 TBS plus 2 tsp. onion powder

1 ½ tsp. garlic powder

1 ½ tsp. black pepper

1 ½ tsp. dried parsley flakes (I added more parsley)

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk mayo and sour cream together until smooth.
  2. Gradually add in the buttermilk and continue to whisk until smooth.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk to blend.
  4. Chill one hour and stir well before serving. (This is important.)

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Filed under Appetizer, Bacon, Cheese, Potatoes

Spicy Havarti Cups

This is one of my favorite appetizer recipes. It is a big payoff for very little effort. My friend who gave me the recipe warned, “Be careful with these, they are so good you might make an ass of yourself eating them”. She wasn’t lying. They are so small and tasty, you have no idea that you have consumed so many of them. Of course, that didn’t happen to me. I never overindulge. 🙂 So, if you want a super easy appetizer that will impress your friends, try these.

Spicy Havarti Cups

2 packages of Athens Filo Cups (These can be found in the frozen section of most grocery stores)

1/3 lb of deli Havarti cheese (At the deli counter, tell them you want a big hunk and not slices)

Hot Pepper Jelly (DO NOT use green or red pepper jelly. You must use HOT jalapeno jelly)

  1. Preheat the oven 350 degrees. Grate the cheese and set aside.
  2. Place the pastry cups on a cookie sheet and fill with some cheese. Do not put too much cheese in the cups. Spoon about ½ tsp of pepper jelly on the cheese.
  3. Bake for about 15-20 mins or until cheese is melted and cups are lightly browned.

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Filed under Appetizer, Cheese, Spicy


We had dinner with the Bourne clan last night and I was in charge of an appetizer and side dish. I made one of our favorites, BLT dip, as the appetizer. This dip is so incredibly good. Well, anything with bacon is good, but this is especially awesome. In fact, between 4 adults, we consumed pretty much the whole damn bowl of it. We all made big pigs of ourselves. 🙂 This is easy to make. The hardest part is frying all the bacon up but once you finish that, it is smooth sailing. This is a Paula Deen recipe, so you know it is great. I served ours with Stacey’s Sea Salt Pita Chips.  You could use light mayo, sour cream and turkey bacon, but seriously, it’s BLT Dip. Just eat the real thing.


Recipe courtesy Phyllis Curlee as adapted by Paula Deen


  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • 2 large vine-ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 pound lean bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled-I used thick cut bacon and it was wonderful
  • Sea salt bagel chips-Stacey’s Pita Chips are far superior


1. Combine the mayonnaise and sour cream in a small bowl with a snap-on lid. When well mixed, refrigerate until serving time.

2. When ready to serve, place the mayonnaise mixture in a large serving bowl. Combine with half of the bacon.  Top with the lettuce, tomatoes and remaining  bacon. Serve pita chips.

The picture below is not an accurate representation of what happened last night. We did not put ours on a plate all pretty like this. We were shoveling this dip in like it was our last meal on earth. But, I still like this picture.

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Goat Cheese Marinara

Saturday Ren and I got a chance to go to the DeKalb Farmer’s Market by ourselves. We had a great time just looking around unencumbered by our whining, I mean,  delightful children. We didn’t eat lunch before we left, so by the time we got home we were starving. So, I made Goat Cheese Marinara for us to snack on before dinner. I am almost embarrassed to put this on the blog since it is so simple that Lily could probably make it. But, it is so yummy that I had to share.  There really isn’t a recipe, but here is the basics:

Goat Cheese Marinara

1 bottle of Marinara sauce-We like Whole Foods 365 Marinara or Trader Joe’s Marinara

1 log (8 oz) goat cheese

1. Preheat oven 350 degrees.

2.Put the marinara sauce in the bottom of a Pyrex dish. Slice the goat cheese into rounds and put on top of the marinara sauce.

3. Bake in the oven for about 30 mins or until the cheese is slightly browned.

4. Serve with slices of French bread. We also like to serve it with sea salt and hot pepper flakes.

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Filed under Appetizer, Cheese