Sunday, March 4, 2012

Appetizer book offers more recipes than days in the year

Cucumbers with mint and orange will round out an antipasto platter, a fried banana spring roll will start your morning with gourmet flavor and a coffee shooter with chocolate hazelnuts will make your “dessertizer” party memorable. If I shared a recipe every day for a year, I still have weeks of temptations to go from “750 Best Appetizers.” Judith Finlayson and Jordan Wagman take readers from dips and salsas to spreads and shooters. The recipes are pretty short and the degree of difficulty could lie mostly in finding some exotic-by-some-standards ingredients over any particular method of cooking. As Culinary Thrillseeker, I’ve heard of most ingredients these authors use and have many in the pantry, but I’m confident I can substitute here and there. Titles pretty much say it all: Potato and Smoked Bacon Pate, Cornmeal-Crusted Black Bean Cakes and Just the Best Feta, served with grilled pita and Champagne and Raspberry Dip.

Here’s a quickie from nearly the back of the 500 plus pages:

Green Tea Salt:

In a mortar or spice grinder, combine 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt and t teaspoons loose leaf green teal. Grind to desired consistency.

Breakfast tips add flavor, antioxidants

I never get bored with breakfast. There are more ways to play with your food than days in the month. McCormick Kitchens has a few ideas:

* Spread this on your morning toast instead of sugary jams and jellies. Mix 1 package (8 ounces) Neufchâtel cheese (1/3 less fat than cream cheese), softened, 2 tablespoons honey and 1/2 teaspoon McCormick Ground Cinnamon until well blended. (Serves 8)

Antioxidant Bonus: One serving of Ground Cinnamon flavored spread adds more antioxidants than 1/3 cup of fresh spinach.

* Perk up your morning coffee by sprinkling McCormick Ground Cinnamon over coffee grounds before brewing.

Antioxidant Bonus: 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon adds more antioxidants than 1/4 cup raspberries.

* Place 1 small ripe banana, sliced, 1 cup frozen strawberries or blueberries, 1 container (6 ounces) vanilla Greek-style yogurt, 1/2 cup orange juice, 1 tablespoon honey and 1/2 teaspoon McCormick Ground Cinnamon in blender. Blend on high speed until smooth.

Antioxidant Bonus: 1/2 teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon adds more antioxidants than 4 medium carrots.

* Sprinkle McCormick Ground Cinnamon on your morning oatmeal to perk up your day. For an extra flavor twist, try adding dried cherries with sliced almonds or walnuts.

Antioxidant Bonus: 1/4 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon adds more antioxidants than 1/2 cup sliced kiwi.

* For a fresh pick-me-up, sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon McCormick Ground Ginger on store-bought fruit cups or homemade fruit salad.

Antioxidant Bonus: 1/4 teaspoon of Ground Ginger adds more antioxidants than 3/4 cup chopped watermelon.

* Beat 4 eggs, 1/4 cup reduced-fat milk, 1/2 teaspoon McCormick Oregano Leaves and 1/4 teaspoon each McCormick Garlic Powder and McCormick Ground Black Pepper. Sauté 1 cup chopped vegetables in 1 tablespoon hot olive oil in nonstick skillet. Add egg mixture; scramble. Stir in 1 cup shredded reduced fat cheese. Spoon into 4 whole wheat tortillas.

Antioxidant Bonus: 1/4 teaspoon Rosemary adds more antioxidants than 1/2 cup pineapple. 1/4 teaspoon Oregano adds more antioxidants than 1 cup eggplant.

Visit for additional tips and recipes.

10 million can’t be wrong

Turbana Plantain Chips sent out a press release from Coral Gables, Fla., announcing pride in producing 10 million servings. One of those came to me and I’m on board with a bag of sweet, crispy plantain chips that make a flavorful pick over greasy potato chips. You get a unique flavor in a chip that’s free of trans fats, GMO, cholesterol, gluten, preservatives and additives. Try them in chili, chili-lime, lime, sweet, lightly salted and garlic. I just saw a plantain for sale in a local Vietnamese market , and I don’t know how Turbana got one of those to turn into something so thin and crunchy. A bag of these will sure jazz up your peanut butter sandwich. For more info, visit

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