Tag Archives: appetizer

The DIY Life: Habanero Pickled Eggs

2 Oct

Having backyard chickens means that there are times when we are buried in fresh eggs. Right now, the chickens are still laying pretty regularly, but the time is looming when the days get shorter and cooler and the girls will slow down production. So, while eggs are plentiful, I decided to pickle some. Beet eggs are usually the type that people are most familiar with. Since I’m limited in what I can do in the kitchen since I have no countertops, I decided to do a simple pickled egg and make it spicy. I made some jalapeno pickled eggs last year, but they really lacked the heat I was looking for. We grew habanero peppers in the garden this year, and they’ve done well. So I decided to use those for the heat factor. In 7 days, you’ll have nicely pickled eggs with a heat that varies. These are great to have on hand for a flavorful boost of protein, or to have out as a snack for guests with assorted meats and cheeses.

Habanero Pickled Eggs

Habanero Pickled Eggs

18 hard boiled eggs, peeled

3 cups vinegar

3 cups water

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon dill

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

1 tablespoon pickling spice

6 cloves of garlic, mashed and roughly chopped into chunks

4 habanero peppers, tops trimmed off

 

Add all your ingredients (except the eggs) to a large pot and bring to a boil. Once boiled, remove from heat, stir and let sit to cool slightly.

Add your eggs to a heat safe glass container – I used a 1/2 gallon mason jar.

Pour the brine over the eggs until the container is almost full. Be sure to get the peppers, garlic and any pickling spices from the brine into the jar so that they can continue to flavor. You will have extra brine, but that is ok.

Add the lid to your jar and let cool for about an hour, then place in the fridge for 7 days to allow the mixture to pickle. Shake the jar each day to get the seasonings, spices and peppers to move around and flavor your eggs evenly.

After 7 days, your eggs are pickled and you can enjoy them!

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Lighter Snack & Lunch Idea – Lightly Pickled Shrimp!

4 Mar

Every time a new year arrives, the gyms flood with people trying to set new goals with their brand new good intentions. The produce aisle and whole grain sections at the grocery stores are cleared of all things healthy as people embark on a quest for better eating habits. Then it dies off, at the latest, in early February and most people go back to their bad food choices and lazy ways. I never make healthy eating or fitness a new years resolution because it’s like setting yourself up for failure. Healthy eating, fitness, lifestyle changes – you can’t give them deadlines. You’ve got to be mentally ready for the challenge. YOU have to want to do it. I think I’m mentally ready to start getting back into shape again after too much good food & beer. I’m cutting back on the good beer, but not cutting it out. Cutting things out leads to binging on those things because you feel deprived. I need REAL life changes and choices, not a quick fix to drop some weight right now, just to gain it back when I get back to normal.

So for the first week I started getting a little more creative with my lunch choices. I wanted meals that would keep me full and give me the most bang for my buck calorie and nutrition wise. That’s why I started eating Spinach & Cheese Toasts – and I wanted to add in something that had some more protein than the mushrooms I was eating with it and it to be light, healthy & flavorful. So I decided to do a quick, light pickling of some medium sized shrimp. Don’t turn your nose up at the thought of “pickled” shrimp. These aren’t anything like eating a kosher dill pickle. These are brightly flavored without being too “pickled” tasting. They have zing from the apple cider vinegar and fresh lemon juice. There is a hint of spice from the red pepper flakes and garlic. They are just layered with flavor and I love it! I think these will be a great snack and lunch addition, as well as be a great option to take to a summertime picnic or BBQ as an appetizer to share! And the brine? Don’t let it go to waste. It’s lovely smeared on some crusty, whole grain french bread with a couple of the shrimp on top. I think it would also be great as a pasta salad, brining the shrimp overnight and then tossing the jar of ingredients into some pasta. Or quinoa. Next time I make this, I’m going to add in a couple extra shakes of the pepper flakes for a little more zing!

Feel free to double this recipe if you are making it for a group. I made this small batch because I wanted to only have what I would consume over a few days for lunches.

pickled shrimp

Lightly Pickled Shrimp

1/2 lb peeled and deveined shrimp, raw, tails off

1 tbsp old bay seasoning

1/2 tsp mustard seed

1/4 tsp celery seed

1/2 – 1 tsp kosher salt

1 whole lemon, juiced

1/2 cup olive oil

2-3 tbsp unfiltered apple cider vinegar

couple shakes of red pepper flakes

2 pinches parsley flakes

2 cloves garlic, mashed and minced

1/2 medium sweet onion, cut into half moons

Fill a small pot halfway with tap water and add the old bay seasoning. Bring to a boil and add shrimp, cooking until pink – about 2 minutes. Dump your shrimp into a fine mesh strainer and rinse with cold water until no longer hot. (you are using the mesh strainer so that you don’t lose much of the old bay seasoning!)

Take your mustard seed, celery seed & the couple shakes of red pepper flakes and pulse them through a food mill or grinder  a couple of times just to break them up a bit and release their flavors. Add your salt, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar and garlic, stirring well to combine. Give it a taste and add more salt or vinegar to get the desired tang and flavor you are looking for.

In a mason jar, put a layer of shrimp, then a layer of onions, and keep layering until you run out of shrimp and onions. Pour the marinade mixture over your shrimp and onions, top with a lid, and put in the fridge overnight to let all the flavors melt together.

Before serving, let the jar sit out for at least 30 minutes. This will let the olive oil easily mix back in with the vinegar and lemon juices. Right before eating, give the jar a good shake to get everything mixed back together. Enjoy as an appetizer, alongside a sandwich, add to pasta, quinoa, rice – whatever your heart desires! Consume within a few days.

Simple and tasty appetizer – GF Spicy Shrimp Cups

15 Oct

I love shrimp. And sushi. And cucumbers. And Sriracha hot sauce. Combine all those things and you have something FANTASTIC!!! I saw the idea for this appetizer over at Big Red Kitchen, where she puts everything and anything into jars. There are these little “grab a pint” mini meals to take on the go. She posted an option for spicy shrimp rolls. I drooled on the keyboard and wanted to eat the screen. I LOVE spicy shrimp rolls. When we go out for sushi, I get spicy tuna, spicy scallop, spicy lobster – you get the point. So I thought to myself, I’ve got to adapt this into an appetizer option for a larger crowd AND make sure it’s Gluten Free so my SIL can grub on it. Hence the cucumber “cups” – they are the perfect bite size option. They are a way healthier appetizer option since they are not fried and you are getting a veggie from the cukes and a nice bit of protein from the shrimp. I’m not going to lie. I could have eaten the whole tray of these by myself. And there was not one of these little cups left at the end of the night. They were being eaten like potato chips.

I ended up using 2 1/2 of the english cucumbers for my batch, so be sure to buy at least 3. Or buy 2, and then eat any leftover spicy shrimp mixture on a piece of bread. Or a cracker. Or just with a spoon shoving it straight into your pie hole. Whatever works for you!

After my shrimp mixture had sat in the fridge for an hour, there was what appeared to be a lot of liquid, like they had let a little more water out. So I put the mixture into a fine mesh colander and drained off the excess so I didn’t have soupy shrimp cups. This may not be an issue for you, but if it happens, you’ve just been given a solution!

Feel free to add more or less Sriracha to suit your tastes. I felt the heaping tablespoon was sufficient for the crowd I was feeding, but you might think it too spicy. Or not spicy enough!

While my adaptation was to make it an appetizer, this is also great as a lunch option for a couple of days, kind of like a shrimp salad but better. Healthier. I gave it a try as a twist on the lobster roll – whole wheat baguette, some baby spinach and arugula plus the spicy shrimp. It was a fantastic, healthy and filling lunch!

Enjoy!

Spicy Shrimp Cups

adapted from Big Red Kitchen

2-3 English cucumbers (long seedless cukes)

1 12oz bag frozen small shrimp – thawed and drained of excess water

3 tablespoons Hellman’s Olive Oil Mayo – see note

1 tablespoon Sriracha Hot Sauce

Black Sesame Seeds for garnish

Take your thawed small shrimp and add them to a food processor. Pulse a few times to chop up the shrimp.

Add chopped shrimp to a bowl along with the mayo and Sriracha. Stir to combine, refrigerate for 1 hour (or overnight).

Meanwhile, peel your cucumbers and cut into 1/2 inch slices. Using a melon baller, scoop out a portion of the seeded section, leaving a thin bit on the bottom to create a “cup”.

Add a scoop of the spicy shrimp mixture to each cup and top with sesame seeds for garnish. Keep chilled.

Note: Hellman’s mayonnaise is Gluten Free. If you are not concerned with the recipe being GF, feel free to use whatever you like. If you are following a GF diet and have other alternatives of GF mayo, you may substitute that for the Hellman’s Olive Oil mayo.

Trying new things: Cheesy Veggie Quinoa Bites

1 Oct

I try not to snub my nose at any foods unless I have tried them and KNOW with certainty that I don’t like them, as long as they smell appealing to  me and don’t contain any visible organ, lip or ass meat – hot dogs and bologna DO NOT count. I’ve been hearing about quinoa for at the very least, this past year. I’ve wanted to try it, but until recent months availability has been an issue. I didn’t want to have to special order a food item that could very well turn into a food staple in our house, which I thought this had the possibility of becoming. I picked some up at the local grocery recently and cooked it with just some sautéed onions and had it for dinner topped with eggplant, garlic, and more onions. It was fantastic. Cooked like you would rice, but with a slightly nutty flavor and it actually kept you full instead of hungry an hour later like rice. Hubs even liked it.

Enter in my sister-in-law and her attempt at a gluten-free lifestyle. I wanted to make an appetizer for a get-together she was having that she would actually be able to eat. Add in the fact that I’m on a newly started diet – not dieting where you only eat certain foods, more of a watching calories and trying to make healthier choices kind of thing – so I wanted something appetizer like without it being fried or laden with fats or mayo. I had a big fresh bag of quinoa and had seen recipes floating around where you use the grains to create an appetizer of some sort.

I stumbled upon Cheese and Vegetable Quinoa bites over at The Curvy Carrot. Sold.

With a few adaptations, I made it mine, gluten-free, and made enough to freeze some! Score. Hubs was digging this one too. Eating them kind of like they were potato chips. But with less guilt.

Cheesy Veggie Quinoa Bites

adapted from The Curvy Carrot

Makes 24 discs or “muffins”

Ingredients

2 cups quinoa, cooked to package directions

2 eggs – I used 3 since they were small fresh eggs

1/3 cup store-bought shredded carrot, microwaved to soften 60 seconds

1 ½ cups chopped baby spinach, fresh not frozen

1 shallot chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup Colby Jack cheese, freshly shredded

2 tablespoons cornmeal

kosher salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease or spray 2 – 12 count muffin pans. Add all ingredients but the cheese to a large bowl until combined. Add cheese and stir to distribute evenly through mixture.

Using a spoon or cookie scoop, fill muffin cups until 3/4 of the way full, pressing mixture down into pan.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until crispy and set. Remove from muffin pans and serve immediately.

You can reheat these for 10 minutes until warm. For freezing, let cool completely and place in freezer safe container or bags. To serve from frozen, let thaw overnight. Reheat under broiler for 5-10 minutes until tops are crispy and rounds are heated through.