caprese wontons


caprese wontons

People always talk about shedding pounds after the holidays.  Unfortunately in this household, the holiday weight gain period extends through to the Super Bowl.  It’s flattering to hear that there are people who look forward to the get-together at our house every year, so I must be doing something right, right?  Or is it the guilty pleasure of devouring a 7-layer dip and fried buffalo chicken balls that brings everyone back?  Whatever it is, I don’t care.  Unlike the orchestrated Thanksgiving or Easter meals, the Super Bowl is a nosh-worthy event.  I throw everything onto a table and I sit back and enjoy the game, (or in this year’s case, not enjoy the game so much, but more so my friends and David Beckham).  So this time, I made a concerted effort to try to incorporate some healthier dishes without going all vegan on my guests (not that there is anything wrong with vegan!)  What is funny, is that the couscous salad sat, so did the potato salad made healthier with greek yogurt.  Anything remotely like a taco-cheese-like substance is always a big seller.  So are the veggie dips and ranch dressing.  But all my energy wasn’t wasted in trying to tone down my frowny-faced caloric menu, because I found one healthy appetizer that sold….quickly.  Ok so it has cheese.  But still, it wasn’t fried or dripping with steak juice.  These little mozzarella, basil and tomato bites were a hit.  Plus they are easy to prepare and apparently don’t sit very long!  I love the fact that you can tailor the amount to what you feel like.  I made them one night for myself and a friend, so we just made six.  Ok so we also made three other appetizers and shrimp étouffée, oh and uh, a smoothie made with Bud Light and peanut butter, but that is another story for another time.  (Or maybe I’ll just let that one go…)

three ingredients

caprese wontons

non-stick spray
1  12 oz package square wonton wrappers
1  8 oz ball fresh mozzarella, diced small
1  TB extra virgin olive oil
6  TB fresh basil, Julienne
1  large ripe tomato, seeded and diced small
crushed red pepper
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper

get started on the wonton cups:

wonton wrappers

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Add your diced mozzarella and tomato in a medium bowl.  Add the olive oil and toss to coat. Add crushed red pepper, salt and pepper to taste.  Prepare two muffin tins by spraying with non-stick spray.  Taking two wrappers at a time, rotate the top one a quarter turn and press both wrappers into the muffin cup.  Continue to fill each muffin cup until all 24 cups are pressed in.
Equally spoon mozzarella mixture into each cup and top with sliced basil.  Bake in the oven for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and wrappers turn golden brown.

basil on topwontons done

note:  this makes 24 wonton cups – enough for me.  Ok enough for 8-12 people.

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crispy roasted potatoes


potato wedges

You know a side dish is good when your family asks you to make it with every meal.  We could be having spaghetti and they want these potato wedges.    It’s actually my husband who is doing most of the asking, but the kids certainly agree that these little guys are addictive.  I also like that it has basically replaced the bag of frozen fries.  Just like my rant earlier in the year about over-indulging in snack stand french fries during baseball season (bacon-wrapped potatoes), I was beginning to feel reluctant to buy those bags of steak fries at the store to accompany a meal.    We went through that stint of buying the sweet potato fries – trying to pass them off as healthier in our minds, but in the end it is still a bag of frozen fries.  These wedges are so much better for you and so easy to make.  I found the recipe in Cook’s Illustrated,  and I have learned that it is pretty hard to mess up.  So easy in fact, that my husband, not so innocently, said that I should make them for Thanksgiving this year.  Now, I know he loves them, but he was just conjuring up past Thanksgivings, and all of our mashed potato mishaps.  Cheap ricers gone wrong, burners not bringing the water to boil, vegetable peelers breaking, over salting, you name it.  But I had an industrial ricer sitting on top of my fridge, waiting to step in and save the day.  Plus, once I told my husband that he would have to share the wedges with 10 people instead of just three, he quickly changed his mind.  Mashed potatoes came back onto the Thanksgiving menu real fast.

golden potatoes

sliced potatoes

crispy roasted potatoes  (adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)

3  TB canola oil
cooking spray
2  (24 oz) bags small golden potatoes, each potato sliced into four wedges
4  TB cornstarch
1 1/2  tsp garlic powder
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
pinch crushed red pepper flakes

seasoned potatoes

get started on the crispy roasted potatoes:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Slice the potatoes.  On a large baking sheet lined with foil, coat with cooking spray.  Add oil to baking sheet and place in oven.  While pan is heating up, place potatoes in a large bowl and toss with cornstarch and remaining ingredients.  Carefully remove preheated baking sheet from the oven, and tilt sheet to evenly coat with oil.  Place potatoes, mostly cut side down in a single layer, and roast until browned on all edges, turning halfway through, for about 30 minutes.  Add kosher salt and pepper to taste if needed.

roasted potatoes

note:  potatoes feed 6-8 hungry people.  We like to add grated cheese to them when they come out of the oven.  Feel free to adjust the seasoning or add other spices to the cornstarch.  It’s all good.

red leaf lettuce salad with prosciutto and goat cheese spirals


Prosciutto & goat cheese spirals

I wasn’t going to serve a salad at Thanksgiving this year.  It’s unnecessary really, with the amount of food that gets served.  My husband would say that it just equals more plates to wash.    But there is a comfort level for me, of sitting down for a few minutes and gathering my thoughts before serving the whole meal.  This year was no different.  I was super organized given how late I shopped for everything.  Maybe it is because I have gotten more comfortable with hosting Thanksgiving over the years.  But inevitably, something goes awry, and this year it was my new oven.  At some point between heating up the cranberry sauce in the microwave (which doubles as a convection oven I have yet to use), and checking on the turkey in the regular oven, the display message on my oven panel decided to change.  It wanted to know what my probing temperature was.  The jokes ensued, but I wasn’t laughing.  We couldn’t shut it off or cancel out of it.  I mean really, now?  My husband and my sister were hovering over the panel, and if I kept hearing that damn beep one more time I was going to lose it.  It was like a button that said ‘press me‘ and that they did – over and over and over again.  So I tried the circuit breaker and shut the oven down, only to be faced with it remembering what it was doing prior to being shut down when I reset the circuit.  So I retreated to my office to look for the stupid user’s manual, but I couldn’t find anything on probing temperatures.  I went downstairs to find my husband and my sister now with their heads in the oven, cracking jokes about looking for probes and if the probe looked big enough….I think the exact term was “prob-y enough”…shoot me now.  I finally found one line in the manual – not on how to cancel out of this mess – but how to enter the non-existent probing temperature and hit bake, then off, and just like that, we were back to normal.  My side dishes then got to finish heating up, and so it was time to sit at the table.  I was so happy to just serve a nice salad that didn’t need to be heated or baked – just served.  And I had my two minutes of sanity back.

prosciutto and goat cheese spirals (adapted from Bon Appetit)

8  oz. plain goat cheese
2  TB, plus 1/2 cup hazelnut oil
1  tsp fresh rosemary, minced and divided
2  tsp freshly grated lemon peel, divided
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
red pepper flakes
10-12  imported prosciutto (aiming for nice 3 inch wide by 7 inches long slices), thinly sliced
1  cup stemmed baby spinach leaves
3  TB sherry wine vinegar
3  TB shallots, minced
1  tsp sugar
10  cups red leaf lettuce, coarsely chopped and cleaned

ingredients

get started on the salad:

note:  I wash my chopped lettuce in the salad spinner and divide onto the 8 plates.  I have been serving the dressing at the table so people can decide how much or how little they want.  The original recipe calls for you tear the lettuce and dress the salad before serving.  Either way is fine.

Coarsely chop the lettuce and clean in a salad spinner or colander.  Dry on paper towels if needed.  Divide lettuce onto 8 plates.
In a medium bowl, stir together the goat cheese, 2 TB hazelnut oil, 1/2 tsp of rosemary and 1 tsp of lemon peel.  Season with salt and pepper and red pepper flakes to taste.

rosemary

goat cheese mixture
Place a sheet of plastic wrap on the counter.  Place 1 slice of prosciutto in center of plastic wrap.  (If slices are torn or too thin, add a second slice to add stability to the roll – which is a good reason to get more prosciutto than you need).  Spread evenly, about 2 TB of goat cheese mixture over the prosciutto slice, covering as much as you can.  Add a single layer of stemmed baby spinach on top of the goat cheese mixture.  Place another slice of prosciutto on top of the layer of spinach.  Repeat the cheese and spinach and prosciutto layers twice more, ending with a prosciutto slice.  Starting at the long side, lift the plastic wrap up and over the layer to start rolling up jelly roll style.  This can be done with quarter turns.  Add a final slice of prosciutto, if needed, to cover the seam of exposed cheese and spinach.  Wrap up tightly in the plastic wrap.  Proceed with remaining prosciutto, cheese and spinach to make a second roll.  Chill until firm, about six hours.

layerswrapped roll

Whisk together the sherry vinegar, shallots, sugar and remaining rosemary, lemon peel and 1/2 cup hazelnut oil.  Season with salt and pepper.
Unwrap rolls and slice each of the rolls into twelve spirals, about 1/2 inch thick.  Place three rolls onto each of the eight plates of lettuce and serve with the dressing.