Archive for the ‘Appetizer’ Category

Waldorf Salad – GCC: Menu 30

04/25/2011 6 comments

It’s been so long since I’ve made a dish from the Gutsy Cooks Club, I feel like I’ve just joined for the first time.  Thankfully, Monica (our club founder) has been patient and kind enough not to boot me out :-).

The Waldorf Salad was first created between 1893 and 1896 at the Waldorf Hotel in New York City by Oscar Tschirky, who was the Waldorf’s maître d’hôtel.  This salad is traditionally made of fresh apples, celery and toasted walnuts, dressed in mayonnaise, and usually served on a bed of lettuce as an appetizer or a light meal. 

Hmm, I thought what a perfect (and super easy!) Spring dish and accompaniment to Easter dinner at the In-laws.

The recipe from The Illustrated Kitchen Bible consisted of apples, celery, mayonnaise, lemon juice and walnuts, along with some salt and pepper which I thought was a bit bland. 

Therefore, I searched around and found this Waldorf Salad recipe and added romaine lettuce, seedless green grapes, dried cherries and jazzed up the mayonnaise with some non-fat, plain greek yogurt, lemon juice and in lieu of sugar, I added my newfound friend agave nectar, a sweetener made from the Blue Agave plant (which tequila is made from).

Much to my delight, the sweet, tart and nutty flavors combined with the crispy, crunchy and juicy textures of all the ingredients made this salad a total hit with everyone.

Needless to say, I will make this again and I think next time I’ll add some goat cheese.

Ladies and Gentlemen…this concludes this week’s Edible Adventure.

“To remember a successful salad is generally to remember a successful dinner; at all events, the perfect dinner necessarily includes the perfect salad.” George Ellwanger (1848-1906) ‘Pleasures of the Table’ (1902)


Scallop & Pesto Crostini – GCC: Menu 20

02/14/2011 3 comments

As I perused the Illustrated Kitchen Bible cookbook looking for recipes to choose for this month’s Gutsy Cooks Club, the Scallop & Pesto Crostini immediately caught my attention.

Scallops, one of my favorite in seafood (particularly sea scallops), paired with basil pesto and a sun-dried tomato paste? Hmm, I thought this sounds yummy, don’t you think?

Not only is this dish simple to make, it’s great as an appetizer or light dinner with a salad.

Typically the scallops and pesto are served on toasted slices of Italian bread, such as Ciabatta.

However, my Sammy was busy working on our future herb & vegetable garden (he’s such a good guy), got hungry and ate half of the Ciabatta that I was supposed to use for not only this dish, but for the french toast I was LATE in making for breakfast…You can’t blame the guy, can you?

Therefore, I pan-fried some polenta until crispy, made my own basil pesto and sun-dried tomato paste.  Cooked the scallops in olive oil, with some lemon and salt & pepper and in no time we had these.

These are a winner for us both…though we liked it on the polenta, next time we’ll have it on Ciabatta.

“Scallops are expensive, so they should be treated with some class. But then, I suppose that every creature that gives his life for our table should be treated with class.”  Jeff Smith (The Frugal Gourmet)


  • 12 slices Italian bread, such as ciabatta, about ¾ in (2cm) thick
  • ½ garlic clove
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 sea scallops
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp store-bought pesto
  • 2 tbsp sun-dried tomato paste
  • 12 fresh basil leaves, to garnish


Prepare ahead

Step 1 can be done in advance.

1. Preheat the broiler and position the broiler rack about 6in (15cm) from the source of heat. Broil the bread slices in the broiler until toasted golden on both sides. Rub one side of each slice with the garlic clove. Brush the garlic side of each slice with about 2 tsp olive oil.

2. Heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the scallops, sprinkle with the lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 2 minutes on each side, or until cooked through and tender; keep hot.

3. Spread one half of each toasted bread slice with pesto and the other half with tomato paste.

4. Cut each scallop in half horizontally and put 1 scallop half on top of each crostini. Grind black pepper over the top. Serve hot, garnished with basil leaves.

Baked BBQ Wings & Potato Skins w/Cheddar and Bacon

10/03/2010 4 comments

Our first adventure from the Gutsy Cooks Club started with Baked BBQ Wings & Potato Skins w/Cheddar and Bacon, along with the butterflies in my tummy when it came down to writing about the experience …or should I say, the “writer’s block”.   We were looking forward to bringing the dishes (I doubled the recipes) to Sam’s family gathering to experience our creations and get their opinions. 

Thank God the recipes were simple, since I had to cook these dishes in the morning AND make grilled cheese french toast w/bacon (does that sound weird to anyone?) at the same exact time for my husband Sam and nephew Spencer.  I can’t tell you the pressure I was feeling and how messy my kitchen was…good thing I have the counter space to support the chaos and a husband that is willing to play sous chef/dishwasher.   I tell you, he’s a KEEPER! 

We have a preference for drummettes, so we used that instead.   I let the drummettes marinade for about 2.5 hours in the fridge, because I wanted the spices to sink in.   Per the recipe, I baked them for 20 minutes, turned them and baked for 15 minutes, then cranked up the heat to broil, to get them a little crisp for about 5 minutes.  As for the blue cheese dip, I try (really, I do) to be health/calorie conscious, so in lieu of  sour cream I made the dip with low-fat plain yogurt. 

The potatoes took about 1.5 hours to bake, which was simple enough.  However, upon preparing the bacon I found myself stumped (please don’t laugh) and not quite understanding what it means to have the rind removed and “cut into sticks”.  I’m sorry, am I missing something here?? Yes, I’m a novice and proving it, right here and now.  Why would you need to cut it into sticks? was this supposed to be done before or after cooking the bacon?? Shouldn’t the bacon just be chopped after it’s been cooked? because when I looked at the picture in the book, the bacon is in small squares.    Needless to say, I removed the excess fat, cooked the bacon and chopped up into little squares.  Sam spooned the mixture into the potatoe boats, we baked for 20 minutes at 350 and about 5 minutes on broil, to get the tops a bit browned.

So….what was the general consensus? we all agreed that the wings were good, but could have been and should have been a lot spicier/hotter, considering there is a blue cheese dip that accompanies the wings.  I don’t know, maybe I didn’t use the right type of hot pepper sauce? if you know of a good one please let me know.  Or maybe, I just didn’t use enough??  As for the potato skins, they were a hit! everyone, really liked them and agreed they are a keeper.

This concludes this Edible Adventure…

Categories: Appetizer, Baking, Dinner, Food