Friday, July 6, 2012

Great Party-Time Appetizers


What sort of gatherings do you host at your house? Normally summer is the time for cookouts with my friends. Great appetizer and entree recipes are a staple of our lives. However, seeing as the temperatures have averaged in the high 90s for the past two weeks, we're going to be spending as little time outside as possible. Oh, well. That doesn't mean you can't still have the awesome food! Here are a couple of my favorite 'get together' recipes.

Potato skins
4 medium-sized baking potatoes
½ cup sour cream (my friends prefer fat-free)
½ cup shredded cheese (we use cheddar or a colby/Monterrey Jack mix)
3 scallions, sliced
Olive or canola oil
Fresh cracked pepper, to taste

First, prepare the potatoes. You can microwave them on high for 7-10 minutes, but I like to bake them for 40-50 minutes at 425 degrees. However you bake them, be sure to poke them with a fork first! Trust me on this one...

Once they're baked and cool, cut the potatoes lengthwise in half. Scoop out the 'meat' until you have a thin border (maybe 1/4”) next to the skin. Brush the skins with the oil or spray with cooking spray. Bake the skins for 20 more minutes until the edges are crisp. Add the cheese, crack some pepper and put them back into the oven until the cheese is golden and bubbly.

Some people put the sour cream and chives on, but I think it might be a good idea to put the 'toppings' in separate bowls so your guests can fix their potatoes the way they like them. Some freshly-cooked applewood bacon always works!

Here's another favorite of mine that goes great with ranch dressing or salsa.

Southwestern-Style Egg Rolls
1 14-oz package of egg roll wrappers (found at most grocery stores or Asian markets)
1 cup frozen corn
1 15-oz can black beans (drain them first)
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup chopped green onion
8 cups baby spinach, fresh
6 oz. Shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 tablespoon lime juice (fresh if you have it)
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Vegetable oil (for frying)

First, heat the olive oil in a skillet using medium heat. Stir in onions and cook until tender. Then, add the corn, spinach, black beans, and lime juice. Stir and season with salt and cumin. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese.

Place ¼ cup of the filling in the center of each egg roll wrapper. Fold in the sides and roll like...well, like an egg roll. To seal them, put a little bit of water on the edges.
Now, take a large skillet and use medium- high heat to warm up just enough oil to cover the egg rolls. Place each egg roll in the oil and cook until golden brown. You can work in batches rather than just by one if your pan is big enough. Place finished rolls on paper towels to drain.

Like I said before, these are great with ranch dressing. If you want a little twist, here's a recipe for avocado ranch dressing.

1 medium ripe avocado, peeled and mashed
1 cup ranch dressing
1 teaspoon grated lime peel
1 tablespoon minced cilantro

All you need to do is just mix it in a bowl, and you're set! Whatever gathering you serve these at-be it movie night or 'everybody-sit-around-the-computer-and-watch-my-husband-play-Oblivion' night*-these are sure to be a hit!

*which is what I've been doing lately. Save me! :)

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