Archive for the ‘Appetizers’ Category


Do you have a favorite game day appetizer, casserole, or crowd-pleaser recipe? If so, head on over to Stir It Up! to enter a fun recipe challenge. If your entry is chosen as the winner you will receive a signed copy of ESPN‘s cookbook “Taste of the Town” by Todd Blacklege, a former quarterback for Penn State and the Kansas City Chiefs, and current college football analyst.



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If you are hosting a crowd to watch the game this Sunday, here are a few ideas from my recipe list to consider for your spread. You’ll need some good snacking items to last the game and one dish meals like chili, chowder, or lasagna will make for easy handling in front of the TV. Same goes for dessert, keep it simple and sweet so the focus can stay on the gridiron and not whether you are making a mess!

May the best team win…


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The Nov. 5 cover story for The Christian Science Monitor weekly edition shares the voices of voters in swing states. In addition to the resounding chorus of “Washington, get something done!,” the sentiment from these towns, which may be deeply divided politically and with serious concerns about our individual and collective future, is that neighbors and friends are still able to get along.

“My best friend in the world is a super-left-wing liberal,” Anne Wanke, an unswerving Republican, from Janesville, Wis., told the Monitor. “I mean, she’s pro-abortion. I’m pro-life. She’s very Democrat. But we’ve worked on projects for 30-something years in this town and love each other dearly. I wish our politicians did the same thing.” Read the full story here.

If you are watching the election returns tonight with friends who may or may not share your political persuasion, maybe you should break out a bag of blue and a bag of red tortilla chips (and maybe a plain corn one for Third Party fans) and dig into this delicious, warm artichoke and spinach dip.


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There is a lot to do before Sunday, Feb. 5 6:30 p.m. ET when the rematch of Super Bowl XLII kicks offs. Remember, in 2008 the Giants ended New England’s bid for a perfect season with a 17-14 upset victory. Here in Boston we didn’t appreciate that very much.

To prepare for Super Bowl XLVI, there are hundreds of details fans will need to pay attention to: trivia questions to brush up on, decisions on where to watch the game, what to serve if you are hosting a party.

If you have somehow won the party bid and you’ve got people coming over to your house to watch the Patriots win I recommend some no-fuss appetizers that will keep you out of the kitchen and parked in front of the TV with everyone else.


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The next time you get a crunchy, salty craving you might try making kale chips.

They are so easy to make and tasty it’s almost ridiculous. You simply tear a bunch of kale into bite sized pieces, coat in oil and seasoning, and bake for about 15 minutes. If you’ve signed up for a CSA (community supported agriculture) share this summer you’ll thank me in a few weeks when kale starts to arrive by the bagful.

The great thing about kale chips is you can play around with flavorings. Try adding a dash of cumin or garlic salt. Or you can use a seasoned oil. I have some Australian macadamia nut oil in my cupboard and this ended up being a delicious choice. I also toasted some sesame seeds and sprinkled them on top. I recommend a crunchy salt like sea salt or kosher salt for added texture. (more…)

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It’s getting really complicated around here. Our next storm is on the way and conversations at work are beginning to take on new levels of strategic intricacy:

I’m planning on driving in after rush hour and get a snow pass for my car to leave it in the garage over night and then I’ll take the early train home because the snow storm is supposed to hit just as the evening rush hour begins. If I can’t make it in tomorrow on the train then I’ll have to work from home and hope the power doesn’t go out again.

When you work for a news organization that doesn’t recognize “snow days,” surrendering to the weather is not an option. Ever. This is why I keep wading through blizzards wearing my ski goggles on my way to the train. (Strangely, whenever I wear my goggles walking down the sidewalk neighbors out shoveling always say hello to me and tell me what good idea I had to wear my goggles. These are people I don’t know. I’m not making this up. Try it sometime.)

So. Since we have no control over the complicated weather, this calls for simple food. Really, really simple food. Like blue cheese melted on sourdough toast, slabs of thick bacon, drizzled with honey, and sprinkled with cracked pepper. If you want to get fancy, you can brush each side of the sourdough bread with olive oil and broil it for 2 minutes a side in the oven. Or just toast it in your toaster. Whatever you want. Do I need to say more? No, I do not.

I found this recipe in “Harvest to Heat” by Darryl Estrine and Kelly Kochendorfer. It is a wonderful cookbook that tells you where your food came from, how it was grown, and who loved it before it arrived on your plate. Their Blue Cheese Tartine (a fancy French word for open-faced sandwich) is the first recipe and says hello just the way it should. (more…)

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Last winter I hit a rough patch. Nothing huge, just a few disappointments compounded by dark days and cold nights. At that time my friend Jenna was scheming her annual getaway adventure where she hardly plans and just packs up and goes (Peace Corps volunteers tend to do this, I’ve noticed). Last year, she had tackled surfing in Costa Rica.

“Where should I go this year?” she had asked me. My big wave surfer friend, Rick, had mentioned that Panama was the next up-and-coming destination for surfers. “Panama,” I said to Jenna. In hindsight, this is hilarious because she is still just learning how to surf. But that didn’t stop me from getting online and “researching” places to surf in Panama, after all, I had one surf lesson under my belt myself. This lead to researching flights and within 12 hours I announced, “I’m coming with you.”


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Sarah Beth Glicksteen/The Christian Science Monitor

Sarah Beth Glicksteen/The Christian Science Monitor

When it comes to vegetables, even urban “locavores” can get their hands dirty in the effort to eat only local foods. All you need is a bit of sun and a patch of soil, and by summer’s end you can decorate salads with your own “locally grown” produce.

Meat, on the other hand, is another challenge completely. That’s best left to farmers and ranchers.

Local meat – livestock consumed within 150 miles of the place where it was humanely raised – is still a relatively small industry. However, more farmers’ markets, mail-order companies, and stores that specialize in organic or local foods are featuring local meats. (To find a store near you, visit www.localharvest.org.) Proponents are quick to point to the benefits: Local meats aren’t exposed to the same stresses commonly found in feedlots, and there is a noticeable difference in taste, too.

“Grass-fed meat tends to be leaner overall, but I would contend far more flavorful,” says Kurt Friese, a chef from Iowa City, Iowa, whose restaurant, Devotay, serves mainly local produce, including meat from area farms. “For beef to taste like beef, cows need to eat what they are built to eat.”

Kurt Friese’s Devotay restaurant in Iowa City is primarily a tapas bar. Since 1996, one item that has never left the seasonally changing menu is albondigas, or meatballs. Devotay uses local bison meat from Bill Leefer’s ranch near Solon, Iowa, for this popular dish.

Bison Albondigas (Buffalo meatballs)

This recipe serves a crowd, but it can be halved or quartered (quartered recipe serves 4).

1 onion, minced

2 tablespoons garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons salt

1/4 cup herbs, chopped (consider equal parts parsley, thyme, oregano, basil, and rosemary)

1/2 cup cooking sherry

4 pounds ground bison

6 eggs

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Enough bread crumbs for desired consistency

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil until tender with salt, herbs, and garlic. Deglaze by adding sherry, then reduce liquid 50 percent by simmering, and cool.

Mix the bison with eggs and Worcestershire sauce, then add cooked, cooled onion mixture and bread crumbs until proper consistency is reached. To test the consistency, portion with a sorbet-size scoop, and form the meat mixture into balls a little smaller than golf balls. If they hold up well, you have the right consistency.

Flatten a small amount into a patty and fry it quickly on the stove top, then adjust the mixture’s seasoning to taste.

Form the rest into balls and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake about 15 minutes or until firm. Serve plain or with your favorite tomato-sauce recipe.

– Adapted from ‘A Cook’s Journey: Slow Food in the Heartland,’ by Chef Kurt Michael Friese.

To read the full article on CSMonitor.com, click here.

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