Category Archives: Appetizer

Picnic Time® Circo Cheese Board Giveaway


I am so excited to announce my first giveaway!! I have been waiting patiently and now seems like the perfect time! With the summer here and fall coming up in a few months, this is the perfect item to spruce up a picnic.  The hubby and I have one of these from our honeymoon and it is a great piece to use throughout the year, both inside and outside. 

The giveaway will go through August 3rd, 2011 at 11:59 PM (EST).  At that time the cold, heartless random number generator will pick the winner.  Leave a comment below with your favorite picnic food in order to be put in the drawing.


All entries must be received by 11:59 PM (EST) on August 3rd, 2011.

There are two ways to enter:

                       1.   Leave a comment below answering the question. 

                      2.  Follow baking_bad on twitter and also comment below that you are following on twitter.




And of course I could not leave you without a recipe for a picnic…..

Ham Cheese Ball Recipe



2 pkgs. 8 oz. cream cheese

2 pkgs. 2 oz pressed ham cut into fine pieces (small individual “skinny” meat packages)

6 long green onions cut up fine

1 teaspoon Accent seasoning

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce


Mix everything in a bowl.  Once mixed, form it into a ball and chill in the fridge on a platter.

***This giveaway is not endorsed by Circo.  I have no affliation with Circo.***



Green Bean Fries


My in-laws have an amazing garden, and every year I cannot wait for the bags of fresh veggies to start flying into our home.    This year the green beans seem to be growing non-stop! I was trying to think of fun ways to use them up and fried green beans came to mind.  Now I love my deep fryer don’t get me wrong, but the hubby and I are trying to eat healthier this summer.  Therefore, I looked for a fried green bean recipe and then adapted it to baking.  This was especially easy since my faux fried ingredient has definitely become panko crumbs.  Panko crumbs give such a crispy crust without have to deep fry anything.  These came out wonderful! Next time I am going to make a sauce similar to an onion dipping sauce to accompany the fries.  We will definitely be making them again in order to keep using all the fresh veggies we are receiving.


Green Bean Fries

from Prevention RD


1/2 lb green beans
1 cup  whole wheat flour
1 egg
1/2 cup skim milk
2 cups panko bread crumbs
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp onion powder
Kosher salt, pinch
pepper, pinch


Preheat oven to 425 F.  Fill a large pan with 2-3 inches of water and bring to a boil. While water comes to a boil, trim the green beans. Prepare a large bowl of ice water and set aside.  Blanch the beans for 3 minutes and immediately remove them to the ice bath.  To prepare beans, gather three bowls. In the first bowl, combine the flour and spices. In the second bowl, combine the egg and milk, whisking to combine. In the third and final bowl, place the panko and season with salt and pepper. Remove 2 tablespoons of the flour mixture and whisk into the egg/milk mixture.  Pat the beans dry and dredge in the flour mixture, then into the milk/egg mixture, and finally into the panko to coat. Arrange the beans in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil which has been sprayed with non-stick spray.  Prepare all of the beans in that manner. Lightly spray beans with olive oil spray. Bake beans at 425 F for 15 minutes, or until slightly browned.

Avocado, Tomato, and Mango Salsa


When Friday rolls around at 3 pm, most people are  just trying to get through the next couple hours to start their weekend.  I am sitting there instead thinking about all the amazing things that I want to make over the weekend and how I can incorporate them into our weekend plans.  This weekend is no exception.  We are going to our first Symphony on the Prairie  tomorrow night!  This is something the hubby and I absolutely love going to, and this time we are going with some good friends so I can make a larger amount of food then normal.  This made my mind race with recipes, and I was sitting at work reeling to get home so I could start my menu items for tomorrow.  I decided on a Mexican theme for the evening.  Our appetizer is going to be this delicious salsa. I have been in love with this salsa since the first time my mother-in-law made it for us.  Trust me once you make it, you will end up eating it with a spoon and forgetting about tortilla chips.

Avocado, Tomato, and Mango Salsa

from Allrecipes


1 mango – peeled, seeded and diced
1 avocado – peeled, pitted, and diced
4 medium tomatoes, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped red onion
3 tablespoons olive oil

In a medium bowl, combine the mango, avocado, tomatoes, jalapeno, cilantro, and garlic. Stir in the salt, lime juice, red onion, and olive oil. To blend the flavors, refrigerate for about 30 minutes before serving.

Stuffed Baby Bellas


I am from “The Region” in Indiana, and if you know anything about us region rats we have certain places that we all relate to a type of food.  If you are looking for stuffed mushroom caps, chances are you are going to go to Tiebel’s.  Now it is true I am partial to the coffee shop with their relish tray, mushroom caps, and perch.  I have no idea where to get the type of pan they use to cook the mushroom caps, but I hope to some day find one.  I tried to recreate the texture, flavor, and smell of the mushroom caps, and I think I achieved it.  I used a muffin tin to simulate the type of pan which is used, since each mushroom is cooked in a separate chamber.  The cheese blend and meat mixture were almost spot on.  The hubby enjoyed them  very much.  These are definitely going to be an appetizer in our house more regularly.


Stuffed Baby Bella Caps

1 package of baby bella caps

1/4 pound of lean ground sirloin

1/8 cup of breadcrumbs (I used homemade)

1/2 Tbs worchestershire sauce

1 Tbs of minced garlic

2 Tbs grated parmesan cheese

2 dashes of hot sauce

1/4 tsp of grey or sea salt

pinch of black pepper

1/2 cup shredded colby jack cheese


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Brown meat over medium heat in a small skillet.  While browning the meat, use the spatula to break the meat into small crumbles.  Do not drain the meat.  Add the remaining ingredients up to the colby jack cheese to pan and continue cooking for 2 minutes.  remove from the heat.  Clean the mushroom with a tea towel and take the stems out carefully.  Spray a muffin tin with nonstick spray.  Place a cap in each well.  Take a heaping teaspoon of the mixture and put in each of the caps.  Make sure to press down the mixture, so that it is flush with the top of the cap.  Sprinkle the cheese over each mushroom cap.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Take the mushroom out of each well and place on platter.  Enjoy!!


Buffalo Wings


Last year for Christmas my Baba (grandmother) bought us one of the coolest deep fryers ever.  Yes it is true, I refer to appliances, gadgets, and food items as “cool”.  As soon as we saw what she had bought us I knew what my first endeavor had to be, chicken wings.  But, not just any chicken wings, instead ones that mimic the breading as well as the sauce for Hooters.  I am a huge fan of their buffalo shrimp and my hubby’s favorite are the drumettes.  I have tried many iterations and finally have perfected the at home chicken wing.  It is all in the dredge and frying time.  Believe me it is an exact science, and if you follow the recipe you will have foolproof crispy wings every time.   They have just the right amount of spice and sweet that will leave you wanting to make this recipe over and over.

Buffalo Wings

2 lbs of chicken drummettes

3 cups all purpose flour

1 Tbs garlic powder

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp smoke paprika

1/2 tsp grey or sea salt

pinch of black pepper

Peanut oil for frying


Mix flour, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Place drummettes in bowl and work around so each is dredged with the flour mixture.  Cover and place in the refrigerator for 90 minutes (no more, no less).  Take drummettes out of the refrigerator and heat the oil in either a dutch oven or deep fryer to 350 degrees.  Once oil is up to temperature, depending on the size of the fryer vessel you may or may not want to work in batches.  Each batch should fry for exactly 13 minutes.  Then either lift the fryer basket or retrieve the wings with a bamboo spider to drain excess oil.  Toss in buffalo wing sauce (recipe below) and enjoy crispy delicious wings!

Buffalo Wing Sauce

2 Tbs of minced garlic

1 cup of buffalo wing hot sauce (my favorite is Frank’s buffalo wing hot sauce)

1/2 stick margarine

1/8-1/4 of splenda depending on heat preference

1 tsp worchestershire sauce

pinch of grey or sea salt

pinch of black pepper


Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat.  Simmer sauce for 5 minutes, then reduce to low.  Toss wings in sauce.



Rockin Shrimp


So not sure who is like us, but whenever we want a good drink and appetizer one of the first places that comes to mind is Bonefish Grill.  Now let me say for a chain their food is excellent, and one of the best items on the menu is the Bang Bang shrimp.  Now they even have Bang Bang tacos, which we have yet to try.  Don’t get me wrong it is delicious deep fried goodness, but since starting 10 minute trainer the other day I decided to try and make a healthier mock version of it.   I put together some of the same flavors I thought and cooked it until crispy.  I chilled some lettuce and red cabbage in a martini glass and then put the warm crisp shrimp over it.  This recipe was definitely one that I will be making again.

Rockin Shrimp

insprired by Bonefish Grill’s “Bang Bang Shrimp”

1/2 lb large peeled and deveined shrimp (tailed removed)

2 1/2 Tbs fat free mayonnaise

1 1/2 Tbs sweet chili sauce

1 tsp Siracha

1/2 cornstarch

2 Tbs canola oil

1 cup shredded lettuce

1/4 cup of shredded red cabbage

Cut the lettuce and red cabbage in 1 inch strips and put in two martini glasses.  Combine mayonnaise, sweet chili sauce, and Siracha with a whisk and set aside.  Put a skillet over medium high heat and put in the canola oil.  Pat the shrimp dry and put in a resealable bag.  Place cornstarch in bag and make sure each shrimp is completely coated.  Place shrimp in skillet and after 2 minutes turn, a light golden crust should have formed.  Cook the shrimp for an additional 2 minutes on the remaining side.  Toss shrimp in the sauce (I actually did this with my hands which worked really well).  Place on lettuce and serve immediately.

Pork Potstickers and Dipping Sauce


First, I am so excited to share with you my first iteration of my burger for Sutter Home’s Build a Better Burger Contest.  I am only going to share a picture and how each try goes until I submit the recipe.  This is only because it will change so many times over the next couple weeks I am sure!!! I was like a kid in a candy store just now shopping for the ingredients.

Second, on Wednesday the weather was so horrible all day outside. But , my hubby and I decided to go to see the midnight showing of Hangover II since we did not want to stay in all day and night.  I have never felt so old in my life watching all the teenagers at the movies! But, the movie was definitely worth braving the elements.  Waking up for work the next day was such a challenge, since I only had two hours of sleep.  I decided to cook a simple potsticker appetizer and make Trader Joe’s Orange chicken.  I never got to make the Orange Chicken since we both were so exhausted and fell asleep.  Having said that, I am so happy I made these potstickers for our dinner.   They were just like something you would get in a great restaurant, but much healthier.  This was my first attempt at potstickers, and that being said I will definitely be trying variations.

Pork Potstickers and Dipping Sauce

both from Confections of a Foodie Bride

1/2 lb ground pork
1 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/3 cup chives
2/3 cup green onions
1 cup Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Wonton wrappers (about 30)
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 recipe Orange Sesame dipping sauce, for serving (follows)

Cook the ground pork over medium heat until done. Add the remaining ingredients (through garlic) and cook until the greens are wilted nicely. Let mixture cool just a bit and add it to the bowl of a food processor. Process the filling until it reaches the desired consistency.

Lay a wrapper on a flat, dry surface put a Tbsp of mixture in the middle. Using your fingers or a pastry brush (save the dirty-dish sink space – use your fingers), wet the wonton wrapper surrounding the filling and fold the dumpling, pressing the seams together: bring two opposite corners to the center, bring the remaining corners to the center one at a time and press tightly( I made little fans out of them as you can tell from the picture they sealed very well).

Add oil to a skillet (a clean skillet) and add dumplings. Add 1/3 cup water to the pan and cover tightly. Remove from heat when the dumplings are golden brown on one side (about 4 minutes).

Orange Sesame dipping sauce (measurements are approximate)
1 tsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp lite soy sauce
2 Tbsp chives
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp orange juice

Whisk together all ingredients, adjust seasoning to taste.


Taquitos and Margarita Jello


So if any of you are Cubs fans like us, this is a big series. The Cubs returned to Fenway Park for the first time since 1918. To say the least, watching each game and snacking on delicious treats is the plan. I had a lot of leftover meat from the BEST taco meat recipe (which I will be sharing later), so I wanted to try my hand at taquitos. They turned out gooey and crisp, which was such a treat. Then for dessert, I could not pass up the margarita jello from Annie’s Eats. Both made such a delicious combination to cheer our Cubbies on!


makes 8 taquitos

2 cups of leftover taco meat

6 oz of queso fresco

8 corn tortillas

cooking spray

sea salt

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. If the meat is shredded, make sure all pieces are roughly 1 inch. Wrap the tortillas in a damp paper towel and microwave for 90 seconds. Take each tortillas and spread 1 Tablespoon of queso fresco crumbled down the center. Then, take 1 Tablespoon of meat and spread on top of cheese. Start at one end and roll the mixture tightly, placing seam side down on the baking sheet. Repeat for the remainder of tortillas. Spray the tops with cooking spray and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 25 minutes and serve with your favorite salsa for dipping.

Margarita Jello

from Annie’s Eats
1 tbsp. unflavored powdered gelatin
¾ cup water, divided
1 cup sugar
½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
¼ cup tequila
¼ cup orange-flavored liqueur (I used triple sec)

In a small saucepan, sprinkle the gelatin over ¼ cup of the water.  Allow to soften for 5 minutes.  Add the rest of the water and the sugar to the pan and heat, stirring, over medium-high heat until the sugar and gelatin are dissolved.  Remove from the heat and let cool.  Stir in the lime juice, tequila and orange liqueur.  Taste and adjust ingredients accordingly.  Pour into small serving glasses and refrigerate for several hours until set.  Serve cold.

Grilled Proscuitto-Wrapped Asparagus


If you are anything like me, the minute your farmer’s market is open you rush to see what goodies are in store for this year.  We are fortunate enough to have a great one a couple blocks away.  This last weekend, I found some great produce which included some beautiful asparagus.  I was searching for a different way to prepare it when I came across a proscuitto recipe.  My husband and I love proscuitto so I figured there was no way this recipe could fail.  I was completely shocked by the simplicity of the recipe, yet depth of flavors.  I did use balsamic glaze instead, which created a sweet crust over the smoky proscuitto. 

Grilled Proscuitto-Wrapped Asparagus

slightly adapted from Annie’s Eats

1 bunch of asparagus, thick or thin
5 slices of thinly sliced proscuitto
Olive oil
Balsamic glaze
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the grill or a grill pan to medium-high heat, and oil the grate.  Wash, dry and trim asparagus spears.  Lay out one piece of proscuitto on a work surface.  Bundle a few spears of asparagus together near one end of the proscuitto, and wrap them up tightly with the meat.  Lay seam side down on a plate.  Repeat with remaining asparagus and proscuitto.  Brush the bundles lightly with olive oil.  Drizzle with a few splashes of balsamic vinegar glaze.  Season with freshly ground pepper to taste.

Transfer the bundles to the heated grill, seam side down, and cook until nice grill marks have formed.  Flip gently with tongs, and repeat on the second side.  Cook until the asparagus has reached your desired doneness, testing it with a fork.  Remove from the grill, transfer to a platter, and serve.