Come along with me as I journal about my latest cooking and gardening adventures. Discover what grows in my zone five garden, and see what new recipes I try from my cookbook collection each week.

As I share recipes and information from my kitchen, I invite readers to comment and share ideas along with me in this blog. I am looking to increase followers to my blog, so that I may learn more about cooking and gardening.

Since moving to Midland, Michigan, I have been reading and researching many cooking journals, cookbooks and collected recipes from the past thirty years. Organizing pictures of gardens I enjoy has also been a joy for me, as I continue to learn about garden design and horticulture.

angel food cakes

angel food cakes
this kitchen is seasoned with love

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

fresh fruit platter

since i have been thinking about super bowl sunday this week, i don't want to leave out a great healthy choice for any football party table.  having a nice tray of fresh fruit is always welcome alongside many of the other higher calorie appetizers.

even though super bowl is a special event when everyone seems to enjoy a few extra calories, it is nice to have fresh orange and pear slices, a few grapes, a sliced banana and even some berries to complement the other selections on the table.

don't be afraid to offer fresh fruit for any meal or gathering.  most often guests choose the fruit tray first and appreciate the healthy selection on the buffet table.

crunchy mozzarella sticks

i recently found this recipe online and just had to try this concept, based on the fact that most homemade mozzarella sticks are just not as tasty as restaurant quality.  although this is not a low fat recipe, i was able to change a few ingredients to reduce the overall calorie count.

these mozzarella sticks are made with won ton wrappers instead of a breading that is deep fried.  the won ton wrappers are just perfect and really serve as a nice crispy crust around the melting cheese.  the recipe from taste of home calls for egg roll wrappers, but i decreased the size and find that the won ton wrappers work well and are less calories.

using low fat mozzarella string cheese, slice each tube in half.  using one won ton wrapper per half, place the cheese at the bottom corner of the wrapper.  fold in the same manner as for egg rolls, using a small amount of water on the fingers to seal the edges.  repeat with each wrapper.

in an electric skillet, with a very small amount of canola oil, heated to 375 degrees, brown the sticks.  one minute on each side will heat and brown the sticks.  melted cheese will start to ooze from the sticks in a very short time, so these need to be watched.  serve with salsa, marinara sauce or a favorite pasta sauce.

i served these on a pretty platter, on a bed of shredded lettuce, sprinkled with parsley. these are perfect for your super bowl guests.

Bang Bang Shrimp

one of the best appetizers i have tried in past years happens to be the bang bang shrimp served at the bonefish grill restaurants. they have more than 150 locations throughout the country. we first tried this restaurant when visiting our son in greenville south carolina.  this shrimp recipe comes very close to the taste of the shrimp served at bonefish, as well as the Thai chili sauce served alongside the appetizer.

i made the copy cat recipe a couple of weeks ago and served it as a main course, since the shrimp is just that good to feature for an entree.  the whole preparation time is about 35 minutes, so it is a quick cook recipe for certain.

to begin, make the sauce first.  mix 1/2 cup low fat mayonnaise with 1 tablespoon Asian chili sauce, 2 teaspoons honey, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1 tablespoon water.  stir together and chill.

this brand of sweet chili sauce is exceptional and i use this sauce in many Asian dishes with great results.

next, prepare the shrimp. select large (26-30 count) peeled and cleaned shrimp. assemble the following ingredients:
a small amount of canola oil
2 large eggs
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
shredded romaine lettuce
fresh chopped chives or thinly sliced scallions

whisk eggs in a shallow bowl.  in a second bowl, whisk flour, cornstarch, salt and pepper.
heat oil in a heavy pot, wok, or electric skillet.  i use an electric skillet for this recipe.  bring temperature to 350 degrees.

dredge the shrimp in the flour mixture, then the egg, then return to the flour mixture again.  brown the shrimp in the oil about 1-2 minutes on each side. the shrimp will firm up and curl into a tight C when they are cooked.

serve on the bed of shredded lettuce with the dipping sauce.  top the shrimp with the shredded chives or scallions.

this is a wonderful appetizer or shrimp entree.  using very little oil and this light batter, the taste of fried shrimp has never been this good or light in calories.