Monday, August 15, 2011

Jersey Shore & Apps

One of my favorite parts of being a young-er adult is the excuse to watch brutally intellectually useless television, such as Jersey Shore. This past week my Roomie, Foodie Friend, and I got together for some delicious apps, cocktails, and Snookie Meets Firenze...

One of the many lessons we learned; when everybody brings an app-it quickly becomes dinner...

My contributions to the night were;
  • Caprese Salad with garden-fresh tomatoes and basil and some serious slices of Mozzarella, doused liberally in Aged Balsamic Vinegar and "EVOO" (c/o Rachel Ray-the Tele-Chef I hate to love and love to hate).
    • Seriously, Caprese Salad is my favorite part of summer. Even here in the bipolar weather of the Midwest we can find beautiful vine-ripened tomatoes this time of year and they add the extra juice that makes a Caprese Salad really GO!

  • Hummus Deviled Eggs these were my experiment of the evening and turned out GREAT! Foodie Friend even compared them to some Truffle Deviled Eggs she'd had on her honeymoon last year-one of my proudest moments! My Roomie even took a second to break from her Buffalo Chicken Dip to have a bite...or three!
    • I wanted something easy and healthy to bring to the table, since Summer is winding down-I'm trying to walk away from my Chili Cheese Dip eating habits...not completely though!

  • Lemon-Basil Mohito Basil? In a cocktail? YES! Foodie and I attended a happy hour just over a year ago where we tried a Strawberry Basil Martini for the first time, it.was.amazing! Now we put basil in just about any cocktail we make. It instantly "classes" up any run-of-the-mill libation!

  • Buffalo Chicken Dip ok, ok, I already mentioned that it was the genius of my Roommate that provided us with this beloved favorite, but I do have a killer recipe for the dip that I wanted to as they say-Without Further Ado...
                The Recipes

          Caprese Salad (pronounced ka-PRAY-zay) 2-3 appetizer servings

             Elegant, but super simple...
                  - 1 Large Beefsteak Tomato, sliced   (can also use two good-sized Plum Tomatoes)
                  - Basil leaves, whole-one per tomato slice
                  - FRESH Mozzarella Balls- one thick (1/4"-1/2") slice per Tomato slice
                  - Extra Virgin Olive Oil, enough to drizzle over each Caprese
                  - Aged Balsamic Vinegar, a generous drizzle over the Olive Oil.

            To assemble, layout tomato slices on serving plate, cover each with a basil leaf, follow each basil leaf with a slice of Mozz. Drizzle Olive Oil over every assembled piece and then generous douse with Balsamic Vinegar. Freshly ground pepper and some sea salt, even some dried oregano make excellent additions.
             Alternatively, you may use 3/4" cubes of tomato and mozzarella and chop the basil into ribbons to toss into an actual salad bowl. Dress with Balsamic Vinegar and Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

          Easy Hummus makes about 2.5 cups
           - 15oz can Chick Peas/Garbonzo Beans
           - 1/4c Tahini (crushed sesame seeds, found in the ethnic isle-or with capers and olives)
           - 1-2 garlic cloves, crushed (I used 2 large as I love garlic)
           - 2 Tbsp capers
           - 1/4c Extra Virgin Olive Oil
           - Salt and Pepper to taste

        Combine all ingredients except olive oil in food processor and blend until a thick paste is formed. Drizzle in olive oil, or add a little at  a time, processing between additions until paste has become a smooth dip-consistency. Serve with veggies, pita chips, or soft pita for dipping. Also incredible in a pita pocket with fresh veggies and bean sprouts as a healthy sandwich option.

          Hummus Deviled Eggs makes 24 deviled egg halves

             - 1/2c Hummus
             - 1/4c Mayo
             - 12 eggs
             - 2 tsp capers, chopped very fine, for garnish
           Place eggs in large pot and cover with water, bring water and eggs to a boil. Remove pot from heat, cover, and let sit for 10-12 min. Drain water, gently jostle eggs to crack shells, fill with cold water and let sit 3-5 min. Peel eggs carefully, then slice each peeled egg in half lengthwise. Scoop out hard boiled yolk and arrange egg whites on serving dish.

          Mix yolks, hummus, and mayo thoroughly. Place a spoonful of hummus mixture into each egg white, garnish with a small pinch of chopped capers. These do not stay beautiful long when exposed to the air, so make them right before serving and keep leftovers wrapped tightly in plastic.

          Lemon-Basil Mohito serves 1

          - 1-2 Basil Leaves, bruised (just rub them around between your fingers)
          - 1-2 berries (we had some frozen strawberries that we popped in)
          - 1 oz white rum (we used Bacardi)
          - Ice cubes
          - Lemonade made from powdered mix (we used Crystal Light)

    Muddle the bruised basil leaves and berries in a glass, if you dont have a muddler I've found the back of a large spoon works well. Add rum, may add more later "to taste." Fill glass with ice, Finish with lemonade. May garnish with lemon slice on glass. If you're really wanting to go the distance, dip the glass rims in lemon juice, followed by superfine sugar.

          Buffalo Chicken Dip serves about 15

          - 2 Boiled chicken breasts, shredded (or ~2c shredded, cooked chicken)
          - 2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
          - 1c Ranch Dressing  (may also use blue cheese dressing)
          - 3/4c Frank's Red Hot pepper sauce
          - 1 1/2c shredded Cheddar Cheese
          - Tortilla dipping chips

     Preheat over 350F. Mix all ingredients except 1/2c cheese together in casserole dish thoroughly. Top with reserved 1/2c cheese. Place in 350F oven for 20-25 min. This is a hiigh calorie snack, using lower fat versions of all ingredients will still taste delish, but cut down on some of those calories!