Category Archives: Party Fare

Sun Dried Tomato Appetizers

As promised!  Yet another thing you can do with all the Sun Dried Tomatoes we made last week.

I made these delightful little appetizers for brunch last Sunday.  I wished after the fact that I had made twice as many because they were gone almost immediately.

That may have been partially because I ate at least four of them.  C’est la vie.  Anyway.

I wanted to be able to call these little beauties “Sun Dried Tomato Crostini” but sadly I did not have a baguette (GF or otherwise) sitting around.  But if you wanted to impress your friends you could use little toasted slices of baguette and call it crostini.  Because that just sounds so much more sophisticated than “appetizers”.

Or we could go the French route and call them “Sun Dried Tomato Hors D’oeuvres”.  (Yes, I had to look up the spelling.)  Or, my favorite, “Sun Dried Tomato Amuse-Bouche”.  But since most of us are not running French bistros I guess “appetizers” will do.

(Note to self:  Someday open a French bistro so you can use fancy words like “amuse-bouche” and not feel ridiculous.)

This recipe makes just enough for 12 but you can easily double, triple, or quadruple the amounts listed to make more.  These come together in under5 minutes and are super yummy and impressive on a buffet table.

Sun Dried Tomato Appetizers

12 of your favorite crackers

2 oz goat cheese

2 oz cream cheese, room temperature

a splash of heavy cream (to get the mixture to spreading consistency)

2 tsp minced fresh chives

1/4 tsp minced garlic

Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste

12 Sun Dried Tomatoes


Mix goat cheese, cream cheese, heavy cream, chives, garlic, and salt and pepper until smooth and spreadable.

Spread a thick layer of cheese on each cracker.  Top with a Sun Dried Tomato.

Makes 12 appetizers.


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Filed under Appetizers, Party Fare

Mango Salsa

I don’t think I ever had a mango until about five years ago.  And if you would have asked me then I would have said something to the effect of, “Mangoes are a love it or hate it kind of food.”  Wegmans says on their signs that mangoes taste like a cross between a peach and a pineapple.  I remember thinking, “Yep.  That pretty much says it all.”

I wasn’t a fan.

But over the years I kept coming across recipes calling for mangoes.  They’re actually the most popular fruit in the world.  Did you know that?  Not here in the U.S., certainly.  But there are a whole lotta people around the globe that love these peculiar, sweet, large-pitted fruits.

I first fell in love with them when I had some Mango Sticky Rice at a block party downtown a few years ago.  A very simple Thai dish of sweetened coconutty rice with slices of mango served on top – it’s one of my favorite side dishes to bring to a party for it’s ease of prep and “wow” factor.

I had actually planned on doing a whole bunch of recipes with mango since I bought a crate of beautiful Champagne Mangoes at Sam’s Club last week.  Also known as Atualfo Mangoes, they are smaller and have a softer, less fibrous texture than the regular ones.

(I just wiktionaried the plural of “mango”.  Apparently both “mangos” and “mangoes” are correct but I have always intuitively spelled it the British English way.  I was so tickled by this mundane bit of info I had to share :p)

So anyway, here is my new favorite thing to do with them.  Great for parties, healthy, easy to prepare, and impressive to folks used to eating boring old tomato salsa out of a jar.

Here are the elements – 3 ripe Champagne Mangoes (or 2 of the bigger ones), pitted and chopped (we’re just going to pretend that my mangoes are not on the verge of going bad…), some finely chopped red onion (about 1/3 cup – not a whole onion), a handful of fresh cilantro, half of a jalapeno pepper (or a whole one if you like things really hot), seeded and finely minced, 1 Tbsp lime juice (or the juice of one fresh lime), and a good size pinch of salt.

Here is a video showing one method for cutting a mango.  Also – remember to handle jalapenos with great care.  Wear gloves if you have them.  Just a little bit of juice in the eye will burn for hours.

Chop and mix it all up and you have a fresh, wonderfully flavorful salsa.  It’s sweet, spicy, refreshing, and goes magnificently with salty tortilla chips.  It may just make a mango convert out of you.


Mango Salsa

3 ripe Champagne Mangoes (or 2 regular ones), pitted, skinned, and chopped

1/3 cup finely chopped red onion

1/2 jalapeno, membranes and seeds removed, finely minced

a handful of fresh cilantro, chopped

1 Tbsp lime juice (or the juice of 1 fresh lime if you have it on hand)

a pinch of salt


Mix and serve at room temperature with tortilla chips.

Makes about 2 cups of salsa

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Filed under Party Fare, Sauces, Condiments, Dips etc.

Red Chile Beef Nachos

Some nights all you want is a huge plate of nachos to call it a day.

These nachos are not a last minute fix but they are not even comparable to the slop you’d get in the drive through at Taco Bell.

Ick.  Do you guys go there?  We went there in high school occasionally.  But now?  Now that I know what real food is supposed to taste like?  No, thanks.

The last two times I went there were when I was pregnant.  First trimester, sick as a dog, and it was the closest drive thru to Wegmans.  Why, I can hear you asking, if I had a car full of groceries did I not just park and grab something to eat out of the back?

Anyone who has ever been pregnant already knows the answer to this.  Because I was pregnant and if I didn’t eat something in the next few seconds  I was either going to vomit, pass out, or DIE.  I remember feeling like I couldn’t even breathe and if I didn’t eat something NOW I was going to have to pull the car over and lie down until whatsoever time I felt okay enough to drive again.

That is one aspect of pregnancy I do not miss.

So anyway, what were we talking about?  Oh yeah, really GREAT nachos.  Now, I have to give major credit to Bobby Flay on this one.  This recipe is a conversion of a conversion of a taco recipe of his that I’ve used and abused for a couple years now.  I’ve switched around a couple of the more expensive ingredients and made the whole process a bit less complicated.  I also usually use a pork shoulder for the meat but this night I had a chuck roast that needed to fulfill it’s destiny so beef it is.  (So if you have a 3 lb pork shoulder on hand you could totally use that)

Let’s start by browning a chuck roast on all sides.  I used my Dutch oven for this, the same one we’ll use again in a minute – that way we don’t have to make everything in the kitchen dirty.  Just a few minutes over medium-high heat will do it.

Next, chop up 6 cloves of garlic and a large sweet onion (like a Spanish or a Mayan).  These are actually shallots.  Because for some reason I had no onions.  Only shallots.  Who knows.  Anyway.

Now, using that same pot, over medium-high heat warm a couple tablespoons of canola oil and saute the onions until opaque (about 5 minutes).  This is when you get to scrape up all the little brown bits in the pan.  Mmmm.  Add the garlic and cook another minute more.  No longer or the garlic will burn and then you’d have to start over.

And cry.

Behold!  The world’s cheapest wine!

No, seriously, this bottle costs like $1.99.  I know they say you’re supposed to use wine that you would drink on it’s own but who can afford that???  And more to the point, I don’t even drink wine so Goya it is.  Pour a cup and a half of wine into the onions and let it reduce down almost completely.  I set a timer for 12 minutes.  Works every time.


While that’s reducing down, grab a can of chipotle chile peppers in adobo and chop up two of them.  (Two peppers.  Not two cans worth.)

Add the chopped up chipotles and 1 Tablespoon Ancho Chile Powder to the wine-soaked onions.

This looks like I’m adding water.  I am.  And I’m not.  At this point we’re going to add 3 cups of chicken broth along with a teaspoon of dried thyme.  I use bouillon which is why we have a completely useless shot of me pouring water into the pot.  Bring it to a boil, add the meat back in, COVER IT, and stick it in the oven at 350 degrees.  We’re gonna leave it there for about 2 1/2 hours, until the meat is pull-apart tender.  (I’ve also done this in the crockpot a number of times.  In this case you only need about 1 1/2 cups chicken broth and 4 hours on high)

Meanwhile, we’re going to make our green chile salsa.

Pull out your food processor, we’re gonna use it a couple times here.  Grab a big handful of cilantro and pulse it until it’s chopped up evenly.

Then add in the can of Roasted Green Chiles, the juice of 1 lime, salt and pepper to taste, and about 10 cherry tomatoes (or equivalent amount of whatever kind of tomatoes you have on hand).  Pulse until your salsa looks something like this.

Remove the salsa from the food processor and wipe it down quickly.  Using the shredding attachment, shred 3 cups of cheese.  You could use Monterrey Jack, Pepper Jack, Colby Jack, Colby, or Cheddar.  Pretty sure this was Colby.

Or you could just grab a bag of pre-shredded “Mexican” cheese out of your cheese drawer.  Whatev.

Now let’s make our cheese sauce.  Melt 1 Tablespoon butter in a medium saucepan and whisk in 1 Tablespoon cornstarch.  Cook it for just a minute.

Next, gradually whisk in 1 1/4 cups whole milk, whisking continuously so you don’t end up with lumps.  This whole process goes so much faster and easier if you heat up the milk in the microwave first.

Bring it up to a full boil (still whisking) until it’s thick and glossy.

Remove from the heat and stir in the grated cheese.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Okay, so it’s two and a half hours later and our beef is falling apart tender.  It’s on a plate right now, being shredded with my extra arms (don’t I wish).

Anyway, I have removed it from the pot and all this goodness is what’s left over.  Now, my roast was not terribly fatty so I found using a degreasing cup to be unnecessary but if you want to you can skim out the fat.  We’re gonna put this back on the burner over medium-high heat for about 15 minutes, just letting it boil away until it’s reduced and thick and saucy and wonderful.  Taste it.  Give it what it needs (salt/pepper/nothing).

Oh, there’s the money shot.  Look at all that meat in our thick, rich sauce.  Heeeeeaven.

And here it is all together!  I put it on a baking sheet because…I don’t remember why.  I honestly have no idea.  Wait, I think maybe I warmed the chips in the oven for a minute first.  Maybe.  Anyway.  Layer of chips.  Layer of meat.  Drizzle of cheese sauce.  Scatterings of salsa.  To.  Die.  For.

Oh, and an electric blue Margarita on the side can’t hurt.


Red Chile Beef Nachos

(adapted from Bobby Flay)

3 lb chuck roast, trimmed

2 Tbsp canola oil

1 large sweet onion (Spanish/Mayan), chopped

6 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 1/2 cups red wine

2 chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped

1 Tbsp Ancho Chile Powder

1 tsp dried thyme

3 cups chicken broth

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

tortilla chips

For the green chile salsa

1 (4.5 oz) can Roasted Green Chiles

10 cherry tomatoes

juice of 1 lime

large handful of fresh cilantro

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the Cheese Sauce

1 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp cornstarch

1 1/4 cups whole milk

3 cups shredded cheese such as Monterrey Jack or Colby

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a dutch oven over medium-high heat, brown the chuck roast on all sides (about 5 minutes).  Set aside.

In the same pan, still over medium-high heat, add canola oil and saute onions until opaque and soft (about 5 minutes).  Scrape up the brown bits during this time.  Add the garlic and cook one minute more.

Pour wine into onions and set a timer for 12 minutes.  Allow to reduce down almost completely.  There will be almost no freely moving liquid after 12 minutes.

Add chicken broth, chipotle chiles, ancho chile powder, and thyme and bring to a boil.  Add the meat back into the pot, cover, and place in the oven for about 2 1/2 hours or until meat is falling apart tender.  (Alternately, you can do this in the crockpot on high for 4 hours.  Just reduce the chicken broth to 1 1/2 cups)

While meat is cooking, make salsa and cheese sauce.  Add cilantro, tomatoes, green chiles, lime juice, salt, and pepper to food processor.  Pulse until your salsa is chunky.  This will not take long so don’t overdo it or you’ll end up with soup.

In a medium saucepan, melt 1 Tbsp butter.  Whisk in 1 Tbsp cornstarch.  Cook for a minute then gradually whisk in whole milk.  Bring to a full boil, whisking constantly.  Remove from heat and stir in cheese.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

When meat can be easily shredded with a fork remove it from the oven, set it on a platter and let it rest 10 minutes.  Shred.

Meanwhile, on the stovetop, set the meat juices over medium-high and bring to a boil.  Let it reduce down for about 15 minutes, until what’s left is thick and saucy.  Add the shredded meat and toss to coat.

Assemble.  Chips, meat, cheese, salsa.   If you like, you can warm the tortilla chips in the oven before assembling.


Serves a crowd.

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Filed under Main Dishes, Party Fare