I’ve mentioned before in posts that usually, the easiest recipes are the most beloved. And I’m not talking about the one doing the cooking. I’m talking the peeps doing the eating!
I’ve never had a huge repertoire of appetizers, but they all tend to be easy. Lil Smokies in “homemade” barbecue sauce, lots of dips with just a handful of ingredients, etc. Yet, my maturing taste buds sometimes crave something a little more…fancy. Luckily, thanks mostly to Pinterest, I’ve found some really great appetizers that only seem to have taken hours to prepare :)
Here we go:
My friend in San Francisco found this gem to serve us as a starter to a delicious Italian dinner last summer. They have some great heat to them thanks to the red pepper (which, obviously, is easy enough to omit). Another great thing about this recipe – they don’t call for bread crumbs, so they are gluten-free. They are highly requested among my friends out here :)
The most time consuming step in this recipe is probably washing the mushrooms and dicing up the stems. Remember – never submerge mushrooms in water. Don’t even spray them in a colander. They’ll absorb the moisture and get all mushy and weird. Just dampen a paper towel and wipe each one down!
Also – 12 mushrooms is 1) not enough to use up all the cream cheese stuffing and 2) not enough to keep your friends happy. I can usually stuff about a pound (I like creminis) with one batch of stuffing.
Yep, we like mushrooms around here :) Ali, Chris and I are big fans of the olive bar at Whole Foods (though we don’t really partake in any olives, the mushrooms, artichokes, mozzarella and other offerings are quite delicious). But at something like $10/pound, it’s easy to really blow through some cash. I tried these last night and they were delicious. And simple. And cheap, since all I had to buy were the mushrooms. (We always have red wine vinegar and Worcestershire around, turns out).
I used just under 2 pounds of fresh creminis, and doubled the amount of marinade (1 cup of oil total). I stirred them up a couple of times before I went to bed, and by noon today they looked perfect. What I like about this recipe is that you can basically experiment with any combination of dried herbs and spices. I added red pepper flakes and left out the fresh parsley. They are probably not the healthiest finger food around, as they have been bathed in oil…but who am I kidding? If I’m making an actual appetizer, I plan on eating many, MANY calories.
3.) Bacon-Wrapped Dates
I picked up this recipe from a close friend’s roommate who happens to be gluten-free. There are a lot of foods I never ate much of (or even liked) before I moved to California. Artichokes, avocados, quinoa….dates…I was a little skeptical the first time I tried them. I don’t know why. They were amazing. AMAZING! Slightly time-consuming, but they don’t take any real cooking skill.
Pick up some dried, pitted dates (I used about 1 1/2 small bags to one package of bacon. Luckily, they are tasty to snack on plain, so if you have extras, it’s no big deal.) You don’t need a really thick cut of bacon, but quality bacon is key. Wrap a small slice of bacon around a date and secure with a toothpick. Then roll this in a combination of brown sugar and red pepper (or, if you’re a wuss, leave out the red pepper). Bake at about 375 until the bacon starts to crisp up. You will probably have to drain off some bacon grease halfway through baking, or said bacon will never actually crisp. This is one of those recipes that is difficult to screw up. Bake them at 350 or 400. Finish them in a frying pan. Who cares. The recipe involves bacon, and that automatically makes probably 90% of your guests happy!
I’ve ordered this combo a few times at restaurants. It’s pretty freaking delicious served up with some crostini or French bread slices.
Everybody should know of the glory that is roasted garlic. Garlic gets surprisingly mellow once roasted, which means it isn’t overpowering to spread an entire clove on a slice of bread with some gooey Brie. When I made baked Brie at home I didn’t even sprinkle it with wine, fresh ground pepper was perfect. This is one of those things that basically involves putting a pan in the oven for an hour, but seems so sophisticated (it tastes pretty sophisticated too).
I hope these help you impress crowds this summer!