Category Archives: appetizers

Poutine Poppers, Butter Chicken Spring Rolls…Appetizers In 10 Minutes!

As we head towards the lazy days of summer,  I am always looking for ways to get out of the kitchen and outside to the deck to visit with my guests.  Trade in my spatula for a glass of wine and reeeeelax. I have always been a proponent of homemade appetizers since frozen appetizers are usually tasteless and boring. So I was pleasantly surprised to find Private Selection frozen appetizers at Kroger that are actually quite delicious.  http://www.privateselection.com/about-us/

The Poutine Poppers are cheese curds, shredded potato and rich gravy in a deliciously crispy potato breading.  These little pops of yummyness are inspired by the rich flavors of Quebec cuisine.

So what the heck is “Quebec Cuisine”? From Wikipedia:

In Quebec, Poutine are French Fries topped with gravy and cheese curds.

Quebec’s traditional cuisine is as rich and diverse as the province of Quebec itself. The historical context of ‘traditional’ Quebec cuisine is from the fur trade period, and many dishes have a high fat content. The strongest influences on traditional Quebec cuisine come from the cuisines of France and Ireland.  

Crispy without frying!

Butter Chicken Spring Rolls are inspired by the fragrant flavors of India and East Asia.  Beginning with chicken, vegetables and sweet and creamy Butter Chicken Sauce, this unexpected twist on the classic spring roll is a perfect way to add global flavor to your entertaining.

The Hatch Chili and Cheese Puffs (16 count) came in their own little bake-able tray (to help keep their shape) and took 25 minutes to bake. Buttery puff pastries filled with rich cream cheese and Monterrey Jack cheese blended with hot Hatch chilies and green chilies.  These little puffs do have a little bit of a bite to them!

This Notorious Pink Rosé wine was a very nice compliment to the Hatch Chili and Cheese Puffs.   The Notorious Pink is a Grenache Rosé with lovely strawberry notes.  I love the pink glass top and the wine has a very light pink tint as it is poured into the glass. $19 range.

And the Swan Song for the oven in my current kitchen before starting remodeling tomorrow…will it be Duck à l’Orange, Beef Wellington perhaps?  No…Tater Tots!  ( Alexia Garlic and Black Pepper Potato Puffs from Fresh Market which are actually yummy for a quick treat.)  http://www.alexiafoods.com/products/potatoes/crispy-seasoned-potato-puffs

Photo of the inside of a ruby-red tulip that greeted me on my walk this morning.

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Supernatural Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Paired With Raclette

smoked-trout

Saturday night was full of bubbly fun.  Our small plates dinner began with one of my favorite appetizers: Smoked Trout Dip With Sweet Onion Vinaigrette…here’s the recipe from Food and Wine Magazine:

http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/smoked-trout-dip-sweet-onion-vinaigrette

We paired the smoked trout dip with a rosé champagne ~ Champagne Louis De Sacy Brut Rosé Grand Cru and served the dip with rustic potato chips. This champagne is in the $60 range. Lovely salmon pink color. Notes of toasted almond and brioche. Creamy and balanced with the freshness of rich ripe fruit.

louis-champagne

 

And then a  pleasant surprise..Supernatural Sauvignon Blanc 2014…so different than traditional New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc…

Traditional New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc…wine aficionados either love it or hate it. Personally I hate it.  I usually find New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc to be grassy and green bell peppery and why would anyone put that in a glass?

But, the  Supernatural wine had such a cool label…I just had to try it!

supernatural-wine

supernatural-wine-label

The Supernatural (the name refers to the estate’s viticultural practices) is farmed organically, vinified naturally and estate grown in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Hawke’s Bay is one of New Zealand’s warmest, driest regions and this has made it one of the country’s leading producers of wine. $25 – $30 range.

 The smoky and spicy notes of this wine are characteristic of the sun-drenched south sea days Hawke’s Bay is famous for. The Supernatural is complex with layers of citrus, passion fruit and honeysuckle.

This lovely wine was a fabulous pairing with Raclette cheese melted over buttered “one bite” tiny Yukon Gold potatoes.

raclette-machine

 Pictured above ~ Raclette cheese melting in a Raclette broiler.

Raclette is an ancient Swiss dish that dates back to the time when Herdsmen would pasture their cows high in the Swiss Alps. Once they had set up camp they would cut open their wheels of cheese and warm them on a rock by the campfire, scraping the edge of the cheese as it melted over cooked potatoes, sour pickles and baked ham to create a hearty meal.  Raclette comes from the French verb racler, to scrape.

raclette

Accompaniments to Raclette included tiny Yukon Gold “one bite” potatoes, cornichons, watermelon radish pickles and pickled pearl onions, homemade hot sauce,  artichokes with sun-dried tomatoes and Parmesan cheese.  Served with my favorite Bok Choy Salad:  http://www.food.com/recipe/bok-choy-salad-184840

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Lovin’ Avocado Toast ~ Happy Healthy New Year!

avacado-toast

Lately I’ve been craving Avocado Toast…rich ripe mashed avocado on toasted baguette…it’s like butter baby!

Here’s “the rules” for making Avocado Toast which is an easy and healthy way to make dinner in a hurry:

  1.  Purchase a good quality baguette from your local bakery (Big box store baguette won’t give you the yummy toasty goodness required for this recipe).  Slice the baguette diagonally into 1/2 slices and place on baking sheet.  Broil the baguette slices in the oven until lightly toasted.  Remove from oven.  (No butter or oil required!)
  2. Spread toasted baguette slices with ripe avocado.  Keep avocado, tomatoes, red onion and other Avocado Toast ingredients in your refrigerator along with a baguette or two in your freezer so  you will always be ready to make Avocado Toast.
  3. Have fun being creative with toppings ~ my personal favorites are chopped fresh tomato, finely chopped red onion, arugula and freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Many more ideas for toppings include balsamic vinegar drizzle, crumbled bacon, finely chopped hard boiled egg, chiffonade of fresh basil, squirt of lime juice, fresh corn off the cob, chopped green onion, crumbled goat cheese and toasted pine nuts.  There are hundreds of ideas to top Avocado Toast on Pinterest too. https://www.pinterest.com/
  5. The important thing about the toppings for Avocado Toast is that they are fresh. I tried topping the avocado with a pre-made bruschetta topping instead of fresh tomatoes and it just tasted mushy. Embrace fresh for this toasty treat!
  6. Avocado Toast is easy to pair too…equally delicious with a chilled bubbly, red wine or fruity Sangria.

CHEERS TO A HAPPY AND HEALTHY NEW YEAR!

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Spicy Bacon Butter Recipe For The Holidays!

bacon-butter-on-rock

I am always looking for a fun delicious spread to serve on crackers or spread on hearty ridged potato chips during the holidays.  As a Chef friend of mine says…”Just add bacon and everyone will love it!”…so I added bacon to one of my favorite spreads to create “Spicy Bacon Butter”.

Spicy Bacon Butter

2 (2.52 ounces) packages pre-cooked bacon (microwave bacon until crisp), crumbled

8 ounces cream cheese

2 tablespoons butter

1 ounce ranch dressing and dip mix

2 cup finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 bunch green onions, white and some of the green part, chopped

2 ounce jar pimentos, drained

1 tablespoon medium peri-peri hot sauce (add a little more if you like super spicy!)

Cracker assortment for serving

Place cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl and bring to room temperature to soften.  Add ranch dressing and dip mix and mix until well combined.  Add cheddar cheese, green onions, bacon, pimentos and peri-peri sauce and mix until well combined. Chill in refrigerator until ready to serve. Serve on assorted crackers.

As we get ready to greet a new year…

 thought I would share some of my favorite signs from the past twelve months…Happy New Year!

cat-signkittycatcat with champagne

champagne-sign-dancestart-celebrating-sign

wag-more-sign

wine sign

chocolate-sign

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Mary Merry Mushrooms!

So happy to see my bubbly friend and her fabulous recipes featured in “A Taste of Lake Life” in the Roanoke Times  today: Fridge Magnet, sheripoore@roanoketimes.com.  She lives at Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia and is one of the best cooks I know…plus she has a gorgeous kitchen with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the lake. Oh la la!!!! Here’s her marvelous appetizer mushroom recipe just in time to enjoy during the holidays:

Baby Bella Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

Recipe courtesy of Mary Boyer.

16 oz. package baby Bella mushrooms

8 oz. package reduced-fat cream cheese

1 lb. Neeces extra sage sausage

1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top of mushrooms just before they are done

Start with a 16-ounce container of baby Bella mushrooms. Wash each mushroom, pop out the stems, set them on paper towels and let them dry.

While the mushrooms are drying on the paper towels, brown 1 pound sausage. Drain, rinse and return it to the pot, adding 8 ounces cream cheese and stirring until melted.

Use about a teaspoon of this mixture to fill the top of each mushroom. Layer into a casserole dish and bake 25 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Just before they are done, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and return them briefly to the oven.

Champagne To Serve With Stuffed Mushrooms…

The Food Lover’s Guide To Wine by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg suggests champagne blended with Pinot Meunier to pair with mushrooms.  Pinot Meunier along with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are the primary grapes in champagne.

I pick up earthy notes in champagne that is primarily blended with  Pinot Meunier grapes so it makes sense that Pinot Meunier champagne would pair well with earthy mushrooms.  The taste of Pinot Meunier is often described as “confected fruit with a touch of smoke”.

Here’s a link to champagne made with Pinot Meunier grapes plus one of my suggestions to pair with mushrooms:

Argyle Brut Rosé Willamette Valley 2011 is a blend of  70% pinot noir and 25% pinot meunier with a splash of chardonnay:

ArgyleRose kind of dayArgyle 2010 Brut Rose

Wine Spectator tasting notes:  Argyle Brut Rosé Willamette Valley 2011. Light and refreshing, a refined style, with finesse to the balance of fruit and savory notes as the finish dances. Rated 91.

My tasting notes:  My bottle of Argyle arrived as a special order from Mr. Bill’s Wine Cellar, Roanoke, Virginia. http://mrbillswinecellar.com

A lovely sparkling offering from Oregon. Tiny bubbles dance around the glass.  Pretty pale pink salmon color.  The first sip explodes with fresh ripe cherry flavors.  A blend of 70% pinot noir and 25% pinot meunier with a splash of chardonnay. The finish is creamy but with a little tingle on the tongue. This sparkly is well deserving of its 91 points. Cheers!

wine-saying

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Gloria Ferrer Glorious Bites ~ Enjoy My Recipe!

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Cheers! Toasts And Cheese

When toasting with bubbly it only makes sense to “say cheers!” in the language of the bubbly you are serving:

rose-champagne

French (Champagne):

Santé – pronounce “Sahn-tay”
A la votre – pronouce “Ah la vo-tre”

Toast

Italian (Prosecco):

Salute  – pronounce “Saw-lutay”
Cin cin – pronunce “Chin-Chin”

Cava Bella Conchi

Spanish (Cava):
Salud – pronounce “Sah-lud”

And to go with “toasts”…CHEESE!

burratta-cheese

I enjoyed this article about Burrata cheese in Bon Appétit Magazine so much that I could not wait to taste this creamy delight.  First I sourced it on Amazon.com because I wanted to find a consistent source (knowing I will want to serve it often) and then I found it at our local Tanglewood Kroger grocery (Roanoke, Virginia).

Mozzarella and Burrata Recipes, from Virtuous to Decadent

burratta-cheese-2I  prepared the Caprese Salad pictured above with Burrata cheese, fresh basil from my garden, slices of fresh tomato from the farmer’s market, balsamic vinegar reduction and roasted fresh corn on the cob (kernels removed from cob) and a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper.  You can make your own balsamic vinegar reduction, but it does tend to “stink up the house” with balsamic vinegar fumes or you can purchase balsamic vinegar reduction in a bottle or purchase very good quality balsamic vinegar that will be almost as thick as the balsamic vinegar reduction.

pimento-cheese

A fun way to serve pimento cheese ~ on a charred board topped with fun berries and pickled vegetables. Add bacon or chopped pecans for an extra flavorful flourish!  Serve with your favorite flatbread.

truffle-cheese

Pecorino With Truffles!

A fresh sheep’s milk cheese with whole pieces of black truffles. Buttery and intense with the aroma of damp pastures, lanolin and earthen fungi.  Smooth, buttery and intensely satisfying, permeated with the essence of truffles.  Serve with your favorite buttery cracker.  Fabulous accompaniment to brut champagne.

peppers-2

I love Ricotta Salata!  The words ‘Ricotta’ means re-cooked and ‘Salata’ means salted. Ricotta Salata is an Italian cheese made from the whey part of sheep milk, which is pressed, salted and aged for at least 90 days. It is milky white in colour with firm texture and salty taste. The cheese is often used in salads and ideal for slicing, crumbling and grating. (Source: cheese.com)

Shishito peppers are East Asian peppers that are finger-long, green (some turn red as they ripen) with a little dimple on the end.  Generally they are mild peppers but about every 10th pepper tastes hot and spicy.  Find them in your local farmers market in late summer.

 Sautéed Shishitos make a tasty, easy appetizer or side dish. Cut the stem end off of each pepper and discard stems.  Heat a little olive oil in a wide sauté pan until hot.  Add the peppers and cook them over medium heat, tossing and turning them frequently until they turn brown and blister a bit (about 10-15 minutes).  When they’re done, toss them with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and add a squeeze of fresh lemon. Place on a serving plate and sprinkle with grated ricotta salata cheese. To eat and enjoy – just pick up the whole pepper and take a bite or two.

I found that these peppers need to be salted to bring out their flavor, without it they taste bland but with the salt their flavor “pops”!

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