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More is More Mom Appearing Today on Chicago’s ABC 7, News at 11AM! Labor Day Appetizers…


Today I will be appearing on Chicago’s ABC-7, News at 11AM sharing my tips and inspirations for throwing for a great Labor Day party. As the More is More Mom®, I am thrilled to share these beautiful appetizers with you. I hope you can celebrate with your family along with ours!

I find that while the ladies like snicky snacks, the fellas prefer something a little heartier. To satisfy the tastes of everyone at your party, I have selected four recipes to share with you. Enjoy them one at a time, or all together, for a wonderful celebration with family and friends.

Steak Crostini’s:

The tender steaks and creamy topping are such tasty goodness! I love that this recipe is so simple and can be largely prepared in advance.

Please note that each strip steak will provide 12-15 appetizers.

Topping:

In a mixing bowl, combine;

¾ cup mayonnaise

3 heaping tsp horseradish

6 tsp Dijon mustard

2 cloves of garlic, minced

½ tsp salt

Mix well, until nice and creamy, cover and refrigerate until ready to use. This can be prepared a day in advance.

Crostini:

Slice nice crusty baguette bread approximately ½” thick for manageable, bite size pieces. Depending on how many appetizers you are making, you may need more than one loaf of bread. My preference is to slice the bread in advance and store it in an airtight container or a re-sealable baggie (Ziploc’s my favorite. This is not a paid advertisement…yet). Put aside until ready to toast and serve.  

 

Steaks:

The New York strip is a very nice cut of meat. The marbling gives it a little extra flavor.

Sprinkle steaks on both sides with salt (I love sea salt) and pepper (I am highly in favor of cracked black pepper on everything).

Depending on your preference, you have two choices.

Option 1: Pre-heat your grill to medium. Cook each side for approximately 4-5 minutes for medium-rare. Let stand for 10 minutes. Trim off any uneven edges before slicing ¼” pieces.

Option 2: In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the steaks and cook for 4-5 minutes per side for medium-rare. . Let stand for 10 minutes. Trim off any uneven edges before slicing ¼” pieces.

Toast Crostini while steaks cook.

Finely chop 1/3 cup flat leaf parsley.

Assembly:

Arrange toasted baguette slices on a platter.

Place a small dollop of topping on each slice of bread.

Put a slice of steak on each Crostini.

Top each slice of steak with another dollop of the creamy topping.

Generously sprinkle with parsley.

Serve.

Bacon, Chicken and Potato Salad Lettuce Wraps:

A delicious mouth full! Again, like the Boy Scouts, my motto is…Be Prepared. You can make everything in advance and assemble right before you are ready to serve. What could be more beautiful and easier than that?

This recipe will produce approximately 24 appetizers.

Bacon:

Who doesn’t love bacon? You’ll want to cook about 10 slices of your favorite flavor (I like a smoked bacon); 6 to mix in to the salad and 4 to chop and sprinkle on top when you’re ready to serve.

You can certainly fry the bacon in a skillet, but I love to bake it in the oven on 350° for about 30 minutes. You can cook a lot of bacon in a short amount of time that way. I make 2 lbs at a time and store in the fridge in an air tight container. Then you can just warm it up in the micro as needed. It’s so easy to simply line a lipped baking sheet with aluminum foil, evenly place the slices so they are close, but not quite touching, cook and toss the foil in the trash when you are finished. Wipe the baking sheet with paper towel and wash out the pan. Cinchy!

 

Chicken:

 

Place one 6 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer, cover slightly and poach until cooked completely through, approximately 15-20 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool until easy to handle. Cut chicken into bite size pieces.

Potatoes:

Pre-heat oven to 400°

In a large mixing bowl, toss;

 

4 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 Tbsp olive oil

¾ tsp salt (kosher or sea)

¾ tsp cracked black pepper

 

Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil

Evenly spread potatoes

Roast until golden and tender, approximately 30-40 minutes

Cool slightly and transfer to a large mixing bowl

Mix:

In the large mixing bowl with the potatoes, add;

6 slices of bacon, chopped

Chicken, cut into bite size pieces

1/3 cup diced celery

½ cup diced onion (your choice; red, Vidalia, scallions)

3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

Optional: 1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese (depends on how much you like cheese)

Dressing:

In a separate bowl, combine;

½ cup mayonnaise

2 Tbsp white wine vinegar

2 tsp Dijon Mustard

1 Tbsp paprika

2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

4 sage leaves chopped

Mix until smooth and creamy

 

Add:

Dressing to bacon, chicken and potato mixture. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Assemble:

In order to get 24 appetizer size portions of lettuce, you’ll need about 4 heads of Bibb lettuce. This doesn’t have to be a waste at all; chop or tear the leaves that are too big for the appetizers into bite size pieces. Store in a re-sealable baggie lined with paper towel and serve as a salad another day. Separate the leaves you are going to use, wash and store the appetizer portion size leaves in a re-sealable baggie lined with paper towel until ready to serve. 

 

On a decorative platter, arrange lettuce leaves.

Scoop a generous portion of salad mixture into each lettuce leaf.

Sprinkle portions with additional 4 slices of chopped, cooked bacon.

Serve.

Pork Tenderloin with Spiced Ginger Dipping Sauce:

There is sooooo much flavor packed into each cube of meat, not to mention the dipping sauce, it will leave your guests wanting more (and this is just an appetizer!).

One pound of pork tenderloin makes about 15 skewers (with 3 slices of meat on each).

Marinade:

In a re-sealable baggie (so much less mess), combine;

1 cup sliced green onion (green and white parts)

½ cup of vegetable oil

7-8 cloves of minced garlic

1 finely chopped jalapeno pepper (bring on the heat)

1 Tbsp chopped, fresh ginger (Heavenly aroma)

2 Tbsp sesame oil

3 Tbsp lime juice

1 large pork tenderloin (approximately 1 ½ lbs, cut into 1” cubes)

Marinade for at least 4 hours, or even better, overnight

Sauce:

Over medium heat, heat up a saucepan.

Add;

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

½ cup red onion, chopped

Cook until the onion is tender, approximately 4 minutes

Add;

1 heaping Tbsp chopped ginger (sooooo fragrant)

4 cloves of garlic, minced

Cook for a minute or so (until delightfully aromatic)

Add;

1 – 14 oz can of diced tomatoes, do not drain

¼ cup rice vinegar

2 Tbsp Soy Sauce

1 Tbsp sugar

¼ tsp red pepper flakes

Bring sauce to a simmer for 10 minutes, over medium-low heat.

Pour sauce into a blender, puree until smooth.

Keep warm until ready to serve.

Garnish with chopped scallions

Skewers:

Soak skewers for 30m minutes.

Remove pork cubes from marinade.

Thread 3 cubes on each skewer, allowing a little space between each cube, for even cooking. Discard marinade.

 

Option 1: Pre-heat grill to medium. Add cubed pork skewers and cook 5-8 minutes per side.

Option 2: Pre-heat grill pan on cook top over medium heat and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Add pork skewers and cook 3-5 minutes per side.

 

Arrange artfully on a platter and serve with the dipping sauce.

Roasted Red Pepper Dip:

This dip is delicious with veggies, pita chips, or perhaps even on a Panini sandwich…..

In a blender, place;

2 – 7 oz jars of roasted red sweet peppers, drained

½ cup oil packed, sun dried tomatoes, drained and snipped

 1 heaping tsp fresh thyme

2 tsp honey

1 tsp salt

2 cloves garlic minced

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

Blend until smooth

Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve

 

Blanch Vegetables:

Blanching brings out the beautiful color and flavors of your favorite veggies.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Add kosher salt.

Dunk;

1 lb trimmed green beans in boiling water for 2 minutes

Remove and immediately place in an ice bath

When cool, place on a paper towel to soak up the water

Dunk:

1 lb peeled, trimmed and sliced carrots in boiling water for 2 minutes

Remove and immediately place in an ice bath

When cool, place on a paper towel to soak up the water

Dunk:

1 lb trimmed asparagus in boiling water for 3 minutes

Remove and immediately place in an ice bath

When cool, place on a paper towel to soak up the water

Dunk:

3 squash, trimmed and sliced into spears in boiling water for 2 minutes

Remove and immediately place in an ice bath

When cool, place on a paper towel to soak up the water

Dunk:

3 zucchini, trimmed and sliced into spears in boiling water for 2 minutes

Remove and immediately place in an ice bath

When cool, place on a paper towel to soak up the water

Dunk:

1 lb of broccoli florettes in boiling water for 2 minutes

Remove and immediately place in an ice bath

When cool, place on a paper towel to soak up the water

 

When ready to serve, arrange veggies on a platter and dip in a bowl

Put pita chips (you can make your own or purchase the fantastic Stacy’s brand pita chips) in a bowl

Serve

 I hope you have had a great Labor Day with your family creating….more memories!

 

 

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More Cocktails and Appetizers on the Wild Side!


As the More is More Mom®, I’m always up for more fun with family and friends. We’ve barely scratched the surface of our Safari Cocktail and Appetizer Party. You may recall that the stage is all set to greet our guests with a cool and refreshing beverage (detailed 7/28/10).

 

As for the menu, the warm weather beckoned a selection of delicious, cold appetizers;

  • Prosciutto Wrapped Mango Slices (recipe revealed 7-28-10)
  • Shrimp Cocktail in a tangy homemade sauce
  • Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad Spears
  • Greek Salsa and Pita Chips

 

The beauty of all the recipes that I am sharing with you today is that they are largely prepared in advance, leaving a little bit of assembly just before your first guest arrives. 

Nothing says over the top indulgence better than Shrimp Cocktail (except maybe caviar, but who really wants to eat all of those little fish eggs anyway?) served in an elegant martini glass. Now that’s instant glamour.

 

Shrimp Cocktail in a tangy homemade sauce:

To serve 6;

 

2 lbs cooked peeled shrimp, tails cut off and chopped into chunks (any size will do)

½ – 1 lb cooked peeled Jumbo shrimp. We’re going to artfully arrange a few tails over the rim of the glass for each guest. Beautiful!

Note: For the sake of simplicity and my sanity, I defrost my shrimp the evening before I am going to serve it. I store them in a Ziploc Baggie, lined with a paper towel (I prefer Bounty, the quicker picker upper. This is not a paid advertisement, darn it. I just so happen to be fan!). Rarely do I serve shrimp cocktail individually. As a rule I serve it in a silver platter that I toss in the freezer before the party to help the shrimpies stay nice and cold, but not soggy as they tend to get when directly served on ice.

Tangy Sauce;

In a mix bowl, lightly whip;

 

4 Tbsp heavy cream

Mix in;

 

4 Tbsp mayonnaise (am I a looser for using Hellman’s when I could have made it from scratch? I like to think that I am being practical. As it is, I could be using store bought cocktails sauce!)

4 Tbsp ketchup (now you know it’s good)

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Juice of one lemon…..which in my mind translates to a few tablespoons of bottled real lemon juice

Add more lemon juice as needed to make the sauce super tangy.

 

Stir in the chopped shrimp. Transfer to a container with a lid if you are leaving it in the refrigerator over night.

To Assemble;

1 head of Romaine lettuce, rough chopped (or any other hearty, crisp lettuce)

Fill each glass about 1/3 of the way with the lettuce.

Spoon the shrimp mixture over the lettuce, evenly amongst the 6 glasses.

Drape a few jumbo shrimp over the side of each martini glass.

For maximum impact, I placed all 6 martini glasses on a leopard tray.

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad Spears:

I order a grilled chicken Caesar salad at nearly every establishment I patronize, so I’m kind of an expert. The individual spears were a party in your mouth! I tossed myself a little salad with the left over dressing a few days later and I’m telling you, there’s not a Caesar salad out there that rivaled it…..

This recipe makes approximately 20 spears.

Grill, on medium heat;

 

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into thin strips

Once the chicken cooled, I sliced each strip in half making it a more manageable serving size. As is my M.O., I placed the chicken in a Ziploc Baggie lined with a Bounty paper towel and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use.

The dressing was so tasty, you may want to double the recipe so you have more for later. In a bowl combine;

½ cup mayonnaise

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

3-4 cloves of garlic minced (there is nothing wrong with garlic, especially if we are all having it)

1 tsp anchovy paste (I don’t care for anchovies, but the paste is essential to achieving that classic Caesar status)

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce (and maybe a splash more)

1 tsp dry mustard

Mix well and store in a bowl with a lid overnight.

To assemble;

2-3 heads of small romaine lettuce leaves. I used endive instead because it was the perfect size.

Separate the lettuce leaves.

Place 2 strips of grilled chicken in the leaf (it makes a nice little cradle)

Plop a dollop of dressing on top of the chicken

Garnish with shaved Parmesan (use your vegetable peeler to create perfect shavings)

If it floats your boat, top with capers.

Artfully arrange the spears on a platter and serve to the “oohs and ahs” of your guests.

Greek Salsa with Pita Chips:

The Mediterranean flavors are a welcome respite from your more traditional salsa.

In a medium bowl, combine;

 

2 cups of crumbled feta cheese (Costco sells huge containers of feta, of course, because everything is huge at Costco)

2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped

5 scallions, whites and greens, chopped

1 cucumber peeled, seeded and chopped

1 cup Kalamata olives pitted and rough chopped

½ cup fresh, flat leaf parsley chopped (fresh just tastes like summer)

2 Tbsp fresh oregano chopped (fresh oregano is so flavorful)

2 Tbsp fresh dill chopped (okay, I know, enough with the fresh, but is just tastes so FRESH)

1-2 Tbsp lemon juice

1/3 -1/2 cup of olive oil (add slowly to see how much you really need. You just want a very light coating)

Cover and refrigerate for at least a few hours, but overnight is even better.

When you are ready to serve, transfer to a pretty bowl. I chose a lovely cut crystal to equal the formality of the martini glasses.

Serve with pita chips. I like Stacy’s in the jumbo bag from Costco, though you could certainly toast your own. Instead of tossing the chips in a predictable bowl, I served them in a cheetah patterned planter (that I only use for food service). I like the shape and whimsy of the planter.

Should you have any salsa left over, you might enjoy it spooned over a grilled chicken or fish on another night.

I hope you have as much fun with this menu as we did. What could be better than more time with friends on a beautiful summer night with more delectable dishes, more laughs, more good times and more memories? 

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