Category Archives: Sugar-free recipes

Appetizers VII-Potatoes and Rice/Leftovers

Easy potato-based appetizers

Easy potato-based appetizers

Appetizers from left-overs? It’s possible. What you need to start are mashed potatoes.
(If you don’t know how to make your own, please see You Can Do It, December 10, 2012 Archive)

Many are vegetarian, many can be made as vegan. All can be made gluten-free.

Sautée sweet peppers, (multicolored are nice but not necessary), and a little onion, green onion, leeks or shallots. Add paprika and parsley. If you have a favorite herb, you can use it sparingly. Add a little flour,(may use rice flour), and an egg, to help make them firm enough to be picked-up. But the egg is optional if you want to ‘go vegan’. A little more flour and a little longer cooking time will be necessary. Or you can place them on a cracker, a piece of fresh endive, romaine or spinach.

To make them hold their shape, form the potatoes into small, flat patties and fry them slowly on medium-low heat until they are lightly browned on each side and are very firm.

Top them with anything you’d  like.

Examples are :
Bacon or Tofurkey
Grape or cherry tomatoes
Herbed cream cheese, sour cream  or vegan sour cream; (may add nuts)
More sautéed or pickled peppers
Any left-over vegetable dish,(above has Spinach Bake

These are hearty, more party-food fare,but  they will keep your guests satisfied if the night is long or the meal delayed.

Spinach Bake

2 packages frozen spinach, thawed and well-drained  or
equivalent in fresh spinach which has been blanched,(Submerged in boiling water until limp)
4-6 eggs
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
Optional:
2Tbsp. sautéed onions
1 Tbsp Parsley

Mix well. Place in buttered casserole dish.

OPTIONAL TOPPING: [Omit if going Gulten-free or to avoid carbohydrates]
4 oz melted butter
1 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs(I prefer half-Italian and half-plain mixed)
or
plain breadcrumbs with
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp. basil
1tsp marjoram
1 tsp. oregano (optional)

Mix butter and crumbs. Spread over the top of the spinach mix and bake at 375F  just until  set.(A knife inserted into the middle will come out clean)

I developed this recipe one day at my bakery/restaurant when we ran low on vegetable dishes during a Sunday dinner carry-out rush.I have had many requests for it.It was popular with my clients when I was a personal chef and is big with my family.  Served hot, it makes a great side dish, but cold and cubed, it makes a great appetizer.

Sampling of Spinach Bake and  Mixed Rice appetizers

Sampling of Spinach Bake and Mixed Rice appetizers

On the plate above, we have not only,chilled, cubed Spinach Bake topped with lightly herbed  mashed potatoes, but it is also stuffed into halved grape tomatoes.

Some of the gape tomatoes are filled with the mashed potato mixture recipe above, of course, without the eggs.

One of the white mixtures pictured is a quick chicken salad made with left over chicken breast,(baked, rotisserie or roasted).A little grated onion and celery,or just onion powder and celery salt with paprika. Mix into mayonnaise or veganaise and add to shredded chicken; it works beautifully .Add pecan pieces, hazelnuts, pistachios or walnuts and you have a truly special filling for tomatoes, olives or to be rolled into romaine leaves.

 

The other white mixture is cooked rice mixed with paprika, turmeric and celery salt. You can add parsley and, again, nuts,to add a spark. (Roasted or wasabi almonds add a bigger spark.) Mix with a slight amount of cream, coconut or almond milk enough to make it stick together somewhat.

You should always have a can or jar of black olives in your cabinet, and possibly some pre-made filo cups,(more with them next time), but they aren’t necessary. Tomatoes may not be in season or just not in your refrigerator . A slice of cucumber will work, as will an inch-and-a- half piece of celery or leaves of any lettuce or bok choy. And you can always use  bread or toast squares/triangles using any type: white, wheat, pumpernickel, rye, oat…whatever you have,
plus any type of cracker. You can even use chips, if they are big enough and curved enough to hold filling and be picked up.

Just be certain that your left-overs are fresh and your offerings kept cold.

Any questions? Just a few more posts to go in the series of appetizers.

I hope you have found some among them that you can use.

 

 

 

Appetizers IV-Stuffed Mini-Peppers/Hummus/Fresh Fruit

Colorful Stuffed Mini-peppers are as delicious as they are cute

Colorful Stuffed Mini-peppers are as delicious as they are cute

 
Colorful Stuffed Mini-peppers are as delicious as they are cute
Mini-peppers are now readily available in most supermarkets in the U.S. I find them in bags of red, yellow and orange mixed. They have a very sweet and gentle flavor and are beautiful in salads or sautéed in butter or oil and added to any vegetable, pasta, grain or rice dish. Roasted gently in the oven, they can be slit and seeded, then stuffed and made into lovely, somewhat heartier, appetizers. Fresh fruit served with these is a bit of a respite from the heaviness of them.
[TIP: To keep non-citrus fruit fresh,dip them in citrus-fruit juice,(lemon or lime are very tart; I like to use pineapple or grapefruit juice), or any citrus-based soda, such as lemon-line (Sprite) or Mountain Dew.]

The peppers above are just a tiny example of what one can do with the darling vegetables.
Above I have some meat-filled with taco-ground beef and cheddar cheese. Others are filled with cream cheese with parsley chives, onion powder and topped with crumbled bacon.
One has spiced pork, (cooked pork ground with a hint of cloves and nutmeg, or you can do herbed pork with fennel, parsley and chives). You can use finely chopped beef mixed with prepared horseradish; top with a cherry tomato half.

Sauté tiny shrimp with leeks, (shallots or chives), thinly sliced celery and cooked spinach and use the mix to stuff some.

The others are stuffed with Roasted Chickpeas [Garbanzo beans], or hummus.
You may use canned, cooked chickpeas, (or to cook your own, see my August 24, 2012 post: You Know Beans.)

Place cooked beans on a baking sheet and roast in a 375F oven for approximately 10 minutes, stir to turn and cook for about 8 more. Crush these and mix with crushed pistachios, almonds, preferably smoked…or my new obsession, wasabi almonds. Fill the roasted peppers.

If you don’t know hummus, it is a food made from ground chickpeas and usually tahini, which is a roasted sesame-seed paste. You may use any of the prepared bands, as hummus has become quite common as a dip in the U.S., and much of the rest of the Western parts or the world, (the East always knew its glory.) There are many brands,(beware, one does not mix as well with other foods as it contains a great deal of chili powder in its ‘regular’ formula).Many types are to be found with roasted garlic, tomatoes, etc. You can use these, but I make my own with a slight change; I use sesame seeds instead of tahini. Feel free to try this using canned chickpeas.

My Hummus [Vegan, gluten-free]
½ pound of chickpeas cooked in a slow-cooker with
1 Tbsp. of Olive oil
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp. finely diced onion
½ tsp white pepper
3X water to cover the chickpeas
When the chickpeas are soft, reserve some water and drain the rest. I run them through a food processor, then add:
2 Tbsp olive oil,
salt to taste
2 tsp. crushed garlic
½-2/3 cup white sesame seeds
I process them again until completely smooth, and add more of the reserved cooking water if too dry.
For the peppers in the photo, I added chopped, sautéed vegetable mixed, as described in “Appetizers II”.

I do hope that you try any of the above combinations, or any of your own.

 

Appetizers III Savory Fruit/ Gluten-free, Vegetarian, Vegan-optional

“Savory” and “Fruit” may not come to mind as being compatible, but when it comes to appetizers,the combination is perfect. Sweet and spicy or tart, plus pairing of textures, give a surprise spark to the taste buds and leave  guests wanting to experience more.

Stuffed dates, figs  and grilled pineapple make wonderfully surprising  appetizers

Stuffed dates, figs and grilled pineapple make wonderfully surprising appetizers

The stuffed dates, figs, apricots and grilled fruits above are quite easy and quite eye-catching.

To start, the easiest:

Grilled fruit:
Heat butter in a frying pan until slightly brown. Add slices of firm fruit, such as pineapple, peach, pear, plum,  apple, apricot.

On high heat, brown quickly on each side.You may sprinkle with spices, such as nutmeg or cloves, or you can go  hot, with a little white pepper, ginger, Indian  hot pepper, (be careful!) or paprika. Sugar is unnecessary as the caramelization of the fruit sugar in the pan-frying makes them particularly sweet.

Skewer with a toothpick.

Stuffed Dried Mission figs: slit, filled with hazelnut-chocolate spread,(Nutella), a smoked or wasabi almond, glazed walnut or any of the suggestions below.

 Stuffed Dates and Apricots
With a short,sharp knife, slit the fruit and open the cavity gently with a dull knife, (or a clean finger!), and insert any of the following:

sweet coconut, with or without nuts, or dried fruit bits,(mango, pineapple, crasins, cherries,(dried or Maraschino),

or with sweet cheese [ricotta, mascarpone or Neufchatel mixed with honey, sugar, stevia or other sweetener, plain or with the options of  nuts and/or spices, such as nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, allspice, etc. Silken tofu or “vegan cream cheese” can be used as well.]

Top these with a piece of dried fruit or  nuts.

These will also have to be skewered or placed in candy paper cups, or , easier, mini cupcake papers.

 

Note: Pre-made sweet coconut can be used or prepared with stevia or other sweetener as I suggested in the NuNaturals promo post of September 11, 2014.  Although I developed those recipes with  the product  in mind, ANY stevia product or sweetener of choice can be used. (I found that wasabi almonds are a fantastic mix with sweet coconut…I can’t get enough of the combination!)

Please see all of the September 11 post for more (sugar free)  sweet appetizer ideas.
Again, please feel free to use
  ANY sweetener of your choice.

It’s crunch-time for the holidays.I will post again in a day or two to get in as many appetizers as I can before most of the holiday season.