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Quick, Simple, Fancy Appetizers

Hello Cooking Friends,

I don’t know about you, but I love quick and simple appetizers that everyone thinks took you forever to make, and are super complicated.

Baked Asparagus Citrus Habañero

Citrus Habañero Asparagus

I have two standbys that I used this weekend for a bring-appetizers-to-share event. I would like to share with you because I got so many “how did you make this?!?!” comments this weekend. I am going to share multiple variations for both just to be fair to all palates!

#1) ‘Fancy’ Asparagus

What you need: 1 bunch of asparagus, flavored olive oils, flavored balsamic vinegars, and various spices, as desired.

Preheat your oven to 350, and spray an 8×8 pan with cooking spray (I prefer aluminum ones to bake-and-take-and-toss when I’m going somewhere not at a house).

Keep the rubber bands on your asparagus and rinse the stems in cold water for a few seconds. Then, using a very sharp and long knife (i.e. not a paring knife), cut the bottom 1 inch off the asparagus stems. This is key to taste and keeping the rubber bands on is key to sanity. It also lets you cut your asparagus to mostly equal length quite simply!

So now we have our rinsed, prepped asparagus, remove the rubber bands and dump the stems into your pan (layers are perfectly fine). Over top of this you will drizzle and sprinkle your olive oils and spices. Bake for 12-18 minutes, until they’re to your desired tenderness (18) or crispness (12). I usually do about 15 minutes, to get it right in the middle!

A) Citrus-Habañero: pour about 3 tablespoons of Butter Olive Oil evenly over your asparagus. Drizzle about 2 teaspoons of Citrus Habañero Olive Oil evenly over top you asparagus. Bake.

B) Peppery Citrus: mix together 1 tablespoon orange juice and 1 teaspoon Lemon Pepper Olive Oil, and pour over top the asparagus. Using a peppermill or grinder, sprinkle about 2 teaspoons of fresh ground pepper over top the asparagus. Bake.

C) Garlicky Mushroom & Fig: mix together 2 teaspoons each Garlic Mushroom Olive Oil and Fig Balsamic Vinegar, 1 teaspoon of dill weed, and 1 teaspoon of fresh ground pepper. Pour over asparagus evenly. Bake.

D) Butter & Bacon: sprinkle about 2 teaspoons worth of Bacon!Bacon! over top, evenly. Pour 2 tablespoons of Butter Olive Oil evenly over asparagus & bacon. Bake.

E) Garden Veggie: sprinkle about 2 teaspoons each worth of Garden Veggie and Dried Tomato & Garlic Pesto mixes evenly over asparagus. Pour 2 tablespoons of Butter Olive Oil, OR pour 1 tablespoon melted butter plus 1 teaspoon Sun-dried Tomato Parmesan & Garlic Olive Oil, evenly over asparagus & spices. Bake.

**Note, 2 tablespoons butter olive oil is equivalent to just under 1/4 cup melted (unsalted) butter.

#2) Rumaki

BBQ Barbeque Rumaki Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts

BBQ Rumaki

What you need: toothpicks, 1 package bacon, 2 cans diced & drained water chestnuts, sauce as desired.

Preheat oven to 350, and either line a cookie sheet with foil or use an 11×7 pan – spray either one with cooking spray.

The basics of what you will do: cut your bacon strips into thirds, and then wrap 1 of these strips around 1 diced water chestnut. Stick a toothpick through starting where the wrap ends, and going through the water chestnut to the other side. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until bacon is to your taste (crisp or soft). This does 2 things for you: 1) this keeps the bacon from getting messy and going everywhere while baking, and 2) creates an instant ‘serving’ option for guests to enjoy these without getting more utensils dirty!

So here are some ways to flavor the rumaki!

A) BBQ Rumaki: Take a barbeque sauce of your choice, I used the Laurel Gray Crazy ‘Bout Butts BBQ Sauce, and pour about 1/4 cup into the bottom of your pan. Place your tooth-picked rumaki into the pan in rows, and then drizzle another 1/8 cup of the sauce over top of the rumaki. Bake.

B) Ginger-Soy Rumaki: Place your tooth-picked rumaki in the pan in rows. Meanwhile, mix together 1/8 cup low-sodium soy sauce, 1 tablespoon Butter Olive Oil (or 2 tbspn melted butter), dash of cumin, and 2 teaspoons ground ginger. For the ginger, if you happen to have pickled ginger on hand, you could substitute either 1 teaspoon of the pickled liquid OR 2 teaspoons of blended pickled ginger (solids only) for the ground ginger. Mix this well. Pour over rumaki and bake.

C) Garden Veggie Rumaki: Place your tooth-picked rumaki in the pan in rows. Sprinkle Garden Veggie and 2 tablespoons Garlic Mushroom Olive Oil over the asparagus, evenly. Bake.

So I sincerely hope that you enjoyed these, and if you try them, please let me know which version you tried (even if it’s your own) and how you liked them!

Craft You Later,
Beth

Quick Dinner Night: Easy BBQ Chicken and Rice

Hello Food Friends!

I was in the mood for a healthy, quick and easy dinner the other night, and had just purchased a BBQ sauce from a winery I stopped into – so I naturally decided I wanted to barbeque some chicken up. In the oven of course. I did say “quick”, and since the only grill I have is a charcoal grill, that would completely defeat the point of “quick”, now wouldn’t it? I thought so too. Thus I decided to make BBQ Chicken with Veggie Rice. Mmmmm.

Anyways, as I’m sure many of you reading my blog have learned, I typically add stuff to whatever I’m making even if it is using a prepared sauce of some kind. This sauce, however, I didn’t do anything except spray the pan with PAM before baking. I didn’t even add in water to the pan! I know, I know, contain your shock, it’s hot outside and I don’t want you to faint now…! tee hee hee.

So I used the Laurel Gray Crazy ‘Bout Butts BBQ Sauce, and doused the chicken (sliced thinly like chicken tenders) in it in a shallow 9×13 pan. I preheated the oven to 350, put the chicken in, and baked for 22 minutes. The chicken came out so tender that you could cut it with a fork, and it was incredibly yummy smelling.

BBQ Sauce!

For the rice dish to go with it, I bought 2 pouches of  Uncle Ben’s Original Ready Rice (the microwaveable kind), 15 oz can of Sweet Peas (drained), 11 oz can of Corn (drained), and a 15 oz can of Black Beans (rinsed & drained). I also had on-hand sampler bottles of Basil Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Chipotle Extra Virgin Olive Oil from True Olive Connection, of which I used about 2 teaspoons each. You can substitute regular Extra Virgin Olive Oil for those quite easily.

Rice Ingredients!

To compile the rice dish, I put the 2 pouches of rice in the microwave for 1 minute 40 seconds, then dumped into a microwavable dish. I drizzled the 2 teaspoons of each olive oil onto the rice (don’t mix). Finally I put peas, corn and black beans on top – then mixed the heck out of it! Put it back in the microwave for about 3 minutes, and then mix some more. This should be hot, fully cooked and ready to serve!

Making the Rice.

Now plate the rice, then add the chicken (once fully cooked) on top, and voilà, you have a tasty and very pretty presentation that was super simple! I was able to get 6 servings out of this!

Simple, Quick BBQ Chicken & Rice

Let me know how you like this, and hope you enjoy! Until next time….

Craft You Later,
Beth

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