Category Archives: Appetizers

Jalapeno Popper Egg Rolls

Do you ever get that craving for something but don’t have the urge to make them, or heck even purchase any store bought brands? I recently had that craving, and it was for jalapeño poppers. I have never found a frozen, store bought jalapeño popper that I even came close to liking, and that is why I have made my own in the past.  But I will admit, they take a bit of time to make and that’s when I decided to take a different approach and come up with a new idea around the whole thought of jalapeño poppers.  I decided to take all that I loved in that appetizer, and turn it into an egg roll style. Man were these ever awesome.

Jalapeno Popper Egg Rolls

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 4 large jalapeno peppers, stems and seeds removed
  • Egg Roll wrappers
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp canola oil
  • 3 cups Canola oil
  • 1 egg, beaten

Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees.

Take each jalapeno pepper, and slice it in half, lengthwise. Remove the seeds and ribs, and place it on a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining jalapeno peppers.

Drizzle a bit of canola oil over the peppers, and season with a bit of salt. Place in the oven, and roast the peppers for about 10 minutes. You will want a bit of texture to the peppers.

Remove from the oven, and let them cool. During this time, heat a pot on the stove over medium heat. Add in the remaining canola oil and bring it to 350 degrees.

How to make Jalapeno Popper Egg Rolls

Fill each jalapeno with a generous amount of cream cheese.

Take an egg roll wrapper, and lay on a plate with the points facing you, and away from you as pictured above. Add the stuffed jalapeno to the center, then fold over the bottom, gently pulling in towards you to tighten the fold.

Roll about a 1/2 inch, then fold over each side. Brush the exposed, top part of the egg roll wrapper with the beaten egg, and continue to fold to seal the egg roll. Repeat.

Once your oil is heated and the egg rolls are rolled, carefully drop about 3-4 into the pot, or as many that can comfortably fit, and cook for about 5 minutes or until they are golden brown. Remove with some tongs and place onto a paper lined sheet to let any excess oil drain.  Repeat.

When you are ready to serve, just dig in and take a bite. It’s everything you love about a jalapeno popper, but in my opinion a heck of a lot better. I think the egg roll wrapper is actually a much better vehicle instead of the cornmeal exterior.

If you are looking for a great appetizer, or some great game day grub, give these shot. Hope you enjoy!

Bruschetta

We are up to our ears with fresh tomatoes, and that is never a bad thing. What I love about planting tomatoes, is really the excitement I see when I bring a large bowl into the kitchen and watching my wife’s expression. See, she is really the one who loves tomatoes. I stepped in my grandfather’s shoes where I’m not the biggest fan, but I do eat them. It took me years to actually love eating tomatoes, and when I say that, I mean in my late twenties when my wife and I were together. She is the one who gave me the nudge, and I probably started to really enjoy them when she turned me on to serving sliced tomatoes with a bit of soy sauce, and cracked black pepper, along with rice. With that said, we are sitting on a load of tomatoes, and it has been my goal to create recipes with them. That’s where bruschetta comes into play.

Bruschetta Recipe

I know people who simply love bruschetta, pronounced as Brusketta, and it is some of the simplest and pure things to make. Perfect for this time of year when you have an abundance of tomatoes. You can go as far as you want when making bruschetta, but to me, it’s the simple route. Tomatoes, a bit of basil, garlic, salt, and pepper, all topped on a crostini.

I am not adding amounts here as you basically want to have a substantial amount of tomatoes on each crostini. You could make 3 or you can make 20 if you know what I am saying. I fed a party of 8 adults and used about 12 small tomatoes, and 5 leaves of fresh garden basil.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Italian loaf of bread, sliced into 1 1/2 inch rounds
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 12 whole medium sized tomatoes, diced, seeds removed
  • 5 leaves of fresh basil, torn
  • salt, to taste
  • cracked black pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese, optional

Start by heating a skillet on low heat. Add the butter, olive oil, and garlic. Melt and simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes. The goal is to infuse the butter and oil with great garlic flavor. Now you can skip this step if you want, and simply rub some of the toasted bread with fresh garlic, but I really enjoy the butter and oil combination, with just a hint of great garlic.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

To a parchment lined baking sheet, add the sliced bread. Brush both sides with the garlic butter and oil mixture. Sprinkle with some parmesan cheese. Place in the oven and toast for about 12-15 minutes, or until lightly golden.

How to make bruschetta

During this time, quarter the tomatoes, and then chop into a small dice. Add the tomatoes to a bowl, and add in the torn basil, not chopped basil. Season with a pinch or two of salt and pepper, and stir. Cover and place in the refrigerator for about one hour.

You will notice juices extract from the tomatoes. That’s fine. Reserve that if you want and use it in some sauce, or bloody mary’s. Your call.

Take a crostini, and using a slotted spoon, add the tomato and basil mixture on the top of each crostini.

Plate and serve.

The result is nothing more that pure greatness. It’s simple. It’s fresh, and delicious, and you get everything you could ever want in fresh garden ingredients. Are you a fan of brushcetta? Do you ever change it up from the basics? Hope you enjoy!

Chicago Style Hot Dog Pizza

Lately I have been obsessed with mastering pizza dough. It know, it sounds nerdy, but to me pizza is one of the best vehicles for delivering an amazing meal. I should also state that my wife purchased a Kettle Pizza for me for Father’s day, and that is another reason I have been tinkering with the ultimate pizza. It has really never been that uncommon for me to make a least a few pizzas during the week. I used to make batches of dough and have my kids create their own pizza, and for the most part that was always cheese and pepperoni. I would then create another ‘family-friendly’ pizza, and then I would always create one for myself, typically with hot peppers of some sort. But this time around I created something pretty darn amazing; the Chicago style hot dog pizza.

Chicago Style Hot Dog Pizza

I love a great Chicago hot dog. I love the snap of the weiner, and the combination of pickle, peppers, tomato, and the great sesame seed bun. That’s when it came to me that I have never seen nor tried making a pizza in that style, and I knew that would be a real winner. It was.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • One batch of your favorite pizza dough
  • 2 Weiners, sliced into 1 inch rounds
  • 3 slices of dill pickle
  • 1 cup of shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • Sport peppers, as many as you desire
  • 3 cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/2 tbsp dark sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp yellow mustard
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp celery salt
  • Medium grind corn meal

Start by shaping your pizza dough onto your bread board.

Sprinkle the corn meal onto your pizza wheel and then transfer the shaped pizza dough onto the wheel.

How to make a Chicago Style Hot Dog Pizza

Brush the olive oil onto the pizza dough. Drizzle the yellow mustard over the pizza dough, then top with your celery salt, cheese, shallots, sesame seeds, sport peppers, and hot dogs.

Slide the pizza into your oven, grill, or pizza kettle. My Kettle Pizza was about 680 degrees, which I find to be just perfect for cooking pizza in about 5 minutes or less, otherwise cook in a preheated 500 degree oven until cooked through and crisp.

Once cooked, remove the pizza onto your pizza tray and top with the cherry tomatoes, and sliced pickles. If you want the neon green relish, go for it, however the pickles did the trick for me.

This pizza was totally awesome. It was everything you would expect in a great Chicago hot dog, but served pizza style. What’s not to love about that! Have you tried a Chicago style hot dog pizza yet? What were your thoughts? Hope you enjoy!

Trader Joe’s – Poutine Review

I’ll be the first to admit that I was never a fan of Trader Joe’s. I remember when family members would make a trek to one store, nearby downtown Milwaukee, and as we recently had one built not too far from where we currently live. I’ve been there, once, and bought random frozen products, only to be nearly disappointed every time I tried one of their products. I’ve asked my coworkers who live near the downtown location, and they also did not believe the hype. They’ve stated (and others) there are a couple of things that they did like about some of their stuff, including some of the jarred salsas, frozen Indian food, and wine specials. That is about it. Regardless, during last year’s Christmas season, my colleague gave me and my coworker a bag of Trader Joe’s poutine, yep, that’s how we roll in our office. Months later, I figured I would give these a try. As much as I love poutine, and I’ve made it before back in 2007, as well as put a twist on a chicken satay poutine (which rocked  by the way), who could go wrong, right?

Trader Joe's Poutine - Product Review

While looking at the bag, I had to somewhat drool. If you never had poutine, you are essentially getting french fries, drizzled or soaked in great gravy, and smothered with cheese curds. It’s pretty awesome. So when I opened the bag, I got a frozen packet of gravy, a frozen packet of cheese curds, and frozen french fries. Directions were simple, bake the fries until done, and simmer the two packets in hot water until cooked through.

Trader Joe's Poutine

When everything is ready, go ahead and assemble. I laid out the cooked fries, which looked good, onto a serving plate, then cut open the bag of gravy and curds. I squeezed the gravy all over the fries, and layered on the curds.

I then dug in. My first bite was just OK, second bite, less then OK, and it seemed to hang at that point from there on out. In all honesty, I was tasting every bite as though I was doing a product review. The fries were just OK, maybe slightly less than OK. I had to add salt, even though there was gravy and curds to be dealt with. The cheese curds kind of freaked me out to the point where I no longer wanted to eat them. Granted, the cheese curds had a great squeak to them, as every good cheese curd should, but the texture was totally off, and that is when the squeak freaked me out. I did not even want to look at the ingredients, or better yet what the hell that squeak was.

Overall, I would not purchase a bag of Trader Joe’s Poutine again, but I was appreciative of my colleague giving us the bag as a gift during that time. It really confirmed why I do not shop at Trader Joe’s, and I will continue to not believe the hype. If you are wanting poutine, make your own. You know what you are getting, and putting into your dish. Have you tried this product, and if so, what were your thoughts?