Archive for the ‘Quick bites’ Category


Pizza-making doesn’t have to mean mixing dough from scratch and tossing it out ala Luigi. Try a fresh, crusty French loaf for a twist! This is also an easy option for a fun, small dinner party with friends – people always go wild topping their own, which can be pretty entertaining.  I like to brush each half with a little olive oil and lightly toast it under the broiler before adding sauce, cheese and toppings. Then, load it up with whatever your heart desires, and after a few more minutes in the oven you’ll have a melted top, crunchy crust, and an explosion of awesome flavors.


Read Full Post »

Chewy on the outside and fresh, crisp and crunchy on the inside. Fresh spring rolls are a light and refreshing appetizer packed with flavor.

Turns out, they’re pretty easy to make at home! Preparing the rolls’ numerous elements is the hardest part; wrapping and rolling is all the fun.

These shrimp spring rolls included cilantro, seeded cucumber, carrots, green onion, mint leaves, cellophane noodles, and chopped peanuts.  You could also swap in basil for the mint or add lettuce or spinach to the mix. Some people like fresh bean sprouts in there as well. It’s up to you.

Start the assembly process by soaking a sheet of rice paper in a bowl of water until it gets limp.  Then pull it out and lay it on a damp cloth. Starting with the mint leaves or lettuce, top the wrapper with all the ingredients. Then, roll it up tight like you would a burrito.

I recommend two dipping sauces to dunk your rolls into: a spicy peanut sauce and a sweet garlic chili sauce. Both can be prepared in advance, and leftovers can be kept and used as a marinade or condiment.

Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon each of minced garlic and ginger

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 cup crushed peanuts

1 tablespoon peanut butter

*Bring all of the above ingredients to simmer over low heat, whisking to combine the peanut butter. Let it cool before serving.

Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce

4 tablespoons fish sauce

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon garlic chili sauce, or to taste

*Combine at least one hour before serving.

Read Full Post »

Among the memories I have of summertime visits to grandma’s house are the mounds of fresh-picked vegetables that would be piled on her kitchen counter. My mom, brother and I never left grandma’s house without a brown paper bag filled with an assortment of her goodies: Cucumbers, squash, green beans, rhubarb, carrots, tomatoes… If we were lucky, we also got a jar of her homemade pickled beets, tub of homemade apple sauce, or a container of refrigerator pickles.

I love dill pickles, and one of my favorite summer traditions is enjoying fresh, cold slices of cucumber that have been marinating in onion, sugar, salt, vinegar and garlic — in the fridge. These “refrigerator pickles” make a great accompaniment to any summer meal.

Last weekend, I got a tip from Diane on one quick way to “pickle” those cucumbers picked in the garden. She writes:

“To be honest, we were almost out of pickles, but we had cucumbers that I just picked from the garden. So, I sliced our fresh cucumbers and put them in the Vlasic jar that had the last pickles in it- the cukes soaked up some of that juice. I happen to like Vlasic flavoring, I think it has a perfect balance of tart, garlic and spice. I thought it would be good in a pinch, and actually, they came out tasting better than I hoped!”

Read Full Post »

A couple Saturdays ago, we were at the beach, soaking up the rays, watching the waves roll in, when I started to get a hankering for a Chicago-style hot dog. I’ve never really been a hot dog person, but in the past few years, I’ve come to appreciate the value of the hot dog as a mid-afternoon snack.  Unlike a cookie or a piece of fruit, I like that hot dogs are meaty – well, “meaty” enough – to curb the appetite without the sugar crash that sweets and carbs yield. Dogs have become good tide-me-overs until dinner.

And something about the Chicago-style mix of (healthy?) ingredients like tomatoes and pickles and peppers, makes me really begin to salivate. It’s a pure taste explosion.

Anyways, I had seen a little hot dog place along Coleman Boulevard, just off Sullivans Island, in Mt. Pleasant – called, Skoogies.  Much to my dismay, this particular Saturday, Skoogies closes at 3:00, and even though we walked through the door at 2:50, the place turned us away. Resigned to possibly stopping for an ice cream cone on the way home, we began the drive back – but my stomach pangs were not going to settle for a sugar fix. I wanted a hot dog!

So, I stopped at Harris Teeter and pixed up all the fixin’s to make the Chicago-style dogs myself. And boy was it worth it!  You should try it sometime.

Read Full Post »