Food from the Hart

Posts Tagged ‘easy’

Red Beans and Rice

In Recipes on March 1, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Yield: 8

Cooking Time: 30 Minutes

2 tablespoons canola oil

24 oz Andouille sausage, sliced in 1/2 inch pieces

1 yellow onion, diced

2 celery stalks, diced

1 green bell pepper, seeded, steam removed and diced

4 large garlic cloves, finely diced

2 15.5 oz cans of red kidney beans

2 teaspoons onion salt

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

2 tablespoons Tabasco sauce

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

1 cup water

1 cup white, long grain rice

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon parsley leaves


Heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil in a large sauce pan.  Add the sliced sausage and cook until the sausage is brown.  About 5 minutes. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add another 1 tablespoon of canola oil and sauté onion, celery, and green bell pepper for 3 minutes or until they begin to soften.  Add the garlic and cook for another 5 minutes.

Stir in the cooked sausage, beans, onion salt, pepper and Tabasco and simmer while cooking the rice.

Bring the chicken stock and water to a rapid boil.  Add the rice and butter and return to a boil.  Then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 20-25 minutes until the rice has absorbed all the liquid.

Fold the rice and beans together.  Garnish with parsley.


Ultimate No-Cook Cocktail Party

In Features on February 25, 2011 at 10:51 am

Having a party is fun but can also be a lot of work. The reality is most of us don’t have the time or space to organize an elaborate spread.  Don’t let that stop you from inviting friends and family over for a get together.  Here are some ideas for easy and delicious hors d’oeuvres that you can whip up in mere minutes – even in the smallest of kitchens.

Artichoke Dip

Drain a can of artichoke hearts and roughly chop. Mix with Boursin cheese.  Microwave in 45 second increments, stirring in between, until warm.  Serve with pita chips or tortilla chips.


Slice a baguette 1/2 inch thick pieces. Rub with a piece of garlic and brush with olive oil.  Toast in the oven on 250 degrees. Dice plum tomatoes and basil.  Mix with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Serve on top of the garlic toasts. Garnish with fresh parmesan cheese.

Caprese Skewers

Push a cherry tomato, boconccini (small ball of mozzarella), and a folded basil leave on a skewer.  Season with salt and pepper.  Drizzle with good extra-virgin olive oil.


Antipasto Skewers

Think antipasto platter favorites served on a skewer.  This is one of those hors d’oeuvres you can really customize.  Try a combination of roasted red pepper, provolone cheese, salami, and an olive. Or marinated artichoke, feta and proscuitto.  Whatever the combo might be, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and serve.

Cream Cheese Spread

Cover a 5 oz block of plain cream cheese with your favorite jelly or chutney. Serve with crackers or apple slices.


Cut a baguette in 1 inch slices.  Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Then toast in a 250 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Cover the pieces of bread with assorted toppings like salami and ricotta, pesto and mozzarella, white beans and capers, goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes. The possibilities are really endless so be creative!

Endive Leaves

Fill leaves with a store-bought olive tapenade, roquefort cheese, hummus or goat cheese and walnuts.

Tortellini Skewers

Cook fresh, store-bought tortellini according to the directions on the package. Drain and push one or two tortellini on skewers.  Serve with a warm Marinara or Alfredo sauce.


Heat store-bought sausage in a sauté or grill pan.  Slice and serve with spicy or Dijon mustard.

Salmon Pinwheels

Spread a thin layer of cream cheese over a piece of smoked salmon. Roll up – jelly roll style and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm then cut in 1/2 inch thick slices.  Serve on a toothpick or skewer with pieces of cucumber.

Prosciutto and Melon

Cut melon into 1 inch cubes and wrap a piece of prosciutto around each.  Serve with a toothpick.


Elevate this classic by adding some unique veggies to the usual suspects like carrots, celery, bell peppers, green beans, tomatoes, etc.  Try jicama, sugar snap peas, edamame, radishes, orange, green or purple cauliflower.  When putting together the tray, think about contrasting colors.  Put celery next to carrots and radishes next to purple cauliflower.  Avoid putting all the green veggies next to each other.  Serve with a dip of your choice.

Black and White Cookies

In Recipes on February 13, 2011 at 11:53 am

Yield: About 8 cookies

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

This is a great recipe that I adapted from Gourmet Magazine.  I think they look great and taste even better!

For Cookies

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1/3 cup well shaken buttermilk

½ teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened

½ cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

For icings

1 ½ cups confectioners sugar

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

1 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

¼ teaspoon vanilla

1 to 2 tablespoons water

¼ cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder


Make cookies:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.  Stir together buttermilk, and vanilla in a cup.

Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes, then add egg, beating until combined well.  Mix in flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternately in batches at low speed (scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally), beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Mix until smooth.

Spoon ¼ cups of batter about 2 inches apart onto a buttered large baking sheet.  Bake in middle of oven until tops are puffed and pale golden, and cookies spring back with touched, 15-17 minutes.  Transfer with a metal spatula to a rack and chill, about 5 minutes.

Make icings while cookies chill:

Stir together confectioners sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice, vanilla and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl until smooth.  Transfer half of the icing to another bowl and stir in cocoa, adding more water, ½ teaspoon at a time, to thin to same consistency as white icing.

Ice cookies:

Turn cookies flat sides up, then spread white icing over half of each and chocolate over half.

Pig-in-a-Blanket Lollipops

In Recipes on February 12, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Yield: 24 hors d’oeuvres

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Pigs-in-a-blanket are simple hors d’oeuvres that even the more sophisticated of guests will enjoy.  Adding the sesame seeds and the lollipop sticks turn these run of the mill bites into a more interesting culinary experience.

2 egg yolks

2 tablespoons of water

24 mini hot dogs

3 puff pastry sheet, defrosted

3 tablespoons black sesame seeds

24 lollipop sticks or skewers


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Beat the egg yolks in a small bowl.  Add the water and mix well.  Set aside.

Make a small cut in the top of each hot dog.

Cut the puff pastry sheet into 1/2 inch pieces. Carefully wrap 2 -3 of the puff pastry pieces around each mini hot dog.  You can wrap them an a criss-cross pattern or simply parallel.

Brush the top of each finished dog with the egg and water mix.  Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top.  Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the pastry crust is crispy and lightly browned.

Remove from the oven and push a stick into each of the hot dogs.  Serve with spicy mustard and ketchup.

Oven Fried Chicken Fingers

In Recipes on February 12, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Yield: 8 Servings

Cooking Time: 30 Minutes

These taste just like classic Chicken Fingers without all the calories.  They are perfect for a casual cocktail party or a children’s dinner.  Try with a honey mustard, chipotle mayo or simple ketchup.  I promise they won’t disappoint!

1 1/2 pounds chicken breast tenders, about 16-18 pieces

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup flour

2/3 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

Non-stick cooking spray


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Prepare a sheet pan by covering with parchment paper. Set aside.

Wash the chicken tenders and pat them dry with a paper towel.  Using three bowls, add the flour to one, buttermilk to one and mix the panko, bread crumbs, cayenne, paprika and pepper in the the other.  This will become your assembly line to make the chicken.

Salt the chicken liberally. Dredge the chicken in the flour so it is fully coated. Tap the chicken on the side of the bowl to remove any excess flour.

Give the chicken a bath in the buttermilk and move chicken to the breadcrumb mixture and coat fully. Transfer finished chicken to the prepared sheet pan.  Spray each piece of chicken liberally with the non-sticky spray on both sides.

Bake for 4 minutes and then turn the chicken and bake for an additional 4 minutes.

Queen of Hearts Sangria

In Recipes on February 2, 2011 at 11:37 am

Yield: 12 servings

Cooking Time: 15 minutes

1 cup brandy

1 cup Cointreau

1 -2 cups sparkling water

1-2 cups orange juice

2 bottles dry red wine

3 cups red grapes

2 apples, diced

2 oranges, sliced

3 limes, sliced


Mix brandy, Cointreau, sparkling water, orange juice and wine together in a large pitcher. Add in fruit and stir well.  Serve.

Tortellini with Wild Mushroom Sauce

In Recipes on February 2, 2011 at 10:45 am

Yield: 24 hors d’oeuvres

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

2 ounces dried wild mushrooms, such as porchini, morel or chanterelle

1 8 ounce package dried or fresh cheese tortellini

3 tablespoons butter

1 cup shallots, chopped

1 1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped

1/2 cup whipping cream

1 cup parmesan cheese, grated


Place the mushrooms in a bowl and cover with hot water.  Let sit for 20-30 minutes until the mushrooms are soft.  Drain the mushrooms and reserve the cooking liquid.  Give the mushrooms a rough chop and set aside.

Cook the tortellini in a pot of boiling, heavily salted water.  Cook until just al dente.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium saute pan.  Add the shallots and saute until translucent.  Add the mushrooms and 1 tablespoon of thyme, then saute for 3 minutes. Mix in one cup of mushroom liquid and heavy cream.  Bring to boil then reduce to simmer until the sauce has reached a light sauce consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

Drain the pasta.  Return to the cooking pot and add the mushroom sauce.  Stir in parmesan cheese and adjust seasoning as needed.

Serve in small bowls or shot glasses.  Garnish with chopped thyme.


Roasted Figs with Pancetta and Goat Cheese

In Recipes on February 2, 2011 at 10:18 am

Yield: 24 hors d’oeuvres

Cooking Time: 15 minutes

These are perfect bite-sized hors d’oeuvres for a cocktail party.  They might be small, but pack all the flavor punch and then some!

12 fresh figs, halved lenghtwise

6 slices pancetta, diced

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat a skillet over high heat.  Add the pancetta and cook until crispy. Transfer to a paper towel and set aside.

Place figs on a sheet pan and brush tops with balsamic vinegar.  Add a dollop of goat cheese and a few pieces of pancetta.  Bake until the figs are warm and goat cheese is slightly browned.  About 5-8 minutes. Serve warm.

Prosciutto Wrapped Cheese Straws

In Recipes on February 2, 2011 at 9:52 am

Yield: 12 hors d’oeuvres

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

This is the ultimate no cook hors d’oeuvre.  The saltiness of the prosciutto compliments the buttery texture of the straws.  Feel free to play here, you can substitute store bought cheese straws for grissini.


12 slices prosciutto, thinly sliced

12 cheese straws or grissini, store bought


Wrap a piece of prosciutto around the top portion of each straw.  Make sure you wrap it tightly so it stays intact.


Salmon Canapes

In Recipes on February 2, 2011 at 9:38 am


Yield: 24 Hors d’oeuvres

Cooking Time: 15 minutes

These a great to serve just as the picture illustrates.  You can purchase appetizer spoons at any party supply store or online.  If you don’t want to use the spoons, you can serve on slices of cucumber or a toasted baguette.

1/4 pound of sushi grade salmon or smoked salmon, finely chopped

1 shallot, finely diced

2 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 tablespoon lemon, fresh squeezed

Kosher Salt

1/2 avocado, medium dice


Mix salmon, shallots, olive oil, lemon, and salt in a bowl.  Let marinate for 10-15 minutes.

Using a tablespoon, plate the tartare on the spoons.  Garnish with a piece of avocado.





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