Mexican Ceviche

Mexican Ceviche

Mexican Ceviche

Mexican Ceviche is out of this world!  It is usually served as an appetizer with tortilla chips but I think it would also be lovely served as a main dish salad on lettuce leaves.  I just returned from a trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and while I was there, I had the opportunity to take a Mexican Cooking Class.  This is a popular method of “cooking” fish and shellfish in Mexico by marinating it in either lemon or lime juice.  Mexican Ceviche is a very popular appetizer served everywhere in Mexico and it is gaining popularity here as well.  I have to admit that I did not think I would like Ceviche because I have tried Sushi many times and I just don’t like it.  However, Ceviche is totally different both in taste and texture.  It is quick to make, only has a few ingredients and makes a perfect addition to your next party!  Here is how we made it:

Mexican Ceviche
 
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Here is a quick and easy appetizer straight from Cabo San Lucas!
Author:
Recipe type: appetizer
Cuisine: Mexican
Ingredients
  • 4 fresh shrimp, cleaned, shelled and de-veined, and finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh tomato
  • ⅛ cup chopped fresh cucumber (peeled)
  • ⅛ cup chopped red onion
  • ⅛ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh chopped jalapeno pepper
Instructions
  1. Clean, shell and de-vein 4 large shrimp. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with 4 tablespoons of lemon juice. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. Add ¼ cup chopped tomatoes, ⅛ cup peeled and chopped fresh cucumber, ⅛ cup chopped fresh cilantro, ⅛ cup chopped red onion and 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh chopped jalapeno pepper (to taste).
  3. Marinate no longer than 30 minutes.

Villa del Arco Chef in Cabo

Villa del Arco Chef in Cabo

Here is the chef at Villa del Arco preparing for the Mexican Cooking Class.

Vickie and Jodi Weber…..ready for the cooking class

Vickie and Jodi at Cabo Cooking Class 2

Clean, peel and de-vein 4 fresh shrimp.

Cabo Cooking Class 4

 

Chop the shrimp and place in a bowl.  Sprinkle with 4 tablespoons of lemon juice and salt and pepper.

Cabo Cooking Class 8

 

 

Add chopped tomato, chopped peeled cucumber, chopped red onion and chopped fresh cilantro.

Cabo Cooking Class 12

Add chopped jalapeno to taste…

Cabo Cooking Class 13

Mexican Ceviche!

Mexican Ceviche!

Mexican Ceviche!

I would love to serve this as a first course for a dinner party — in martini glasses!

Here is a sampling of some of the other great appetizers we enjoyed on our trip:

Food at Wine Tasting 1 Food at wine Tasting 2

 

Remember, let’s share great food with our family and friends!  Enjoy! 

 

 

 

 

Southern Corn Fritters

Corn Fritters With Southern Flair

Southern Corn Fritters

Get set for these Southern Corn Fritters drizzled with honey!

I just returned from Charlotte, North Carolina where I did a TV appearance and made my Pina Colada Dip and a Pineapple Palm Tree.  I also was able to squeeze in a short visit with some old friends of mine who live in Greenville South Carolina.  You all know I LOVE the South.  My Mom was from the South and I always enjoy sharing my Southern recipes!  I saw this when I was in South Carolina and I had to share it with you:

THE SOUTH

(TH EE SAU TH)  NOUN

THE PLACE WHERE….TEA IS SWEET AND ACCENTS ARE SWEETER

SUMMER STARTS IN APRIL…

MACARONI AND CHEESE IS A VEGETABLE….

PECAN PIE IS A STAPLE….

Y’ALL IS THE ONLY PROPER NOUN…..

CHICKEN IS FRIED AND BISCUITS COME WITH GRAVY…….

EVERYTHING IS DARLIN’………..

SOMEONE’S HEART IS ALWAYS BEING BLESSED…..

Hope you enjoy my recipe for Southern Corn Fritters! 

Whether you serve these as an appetizer or along with your meal, these old-time Southern Corn Fritters are sure to bring a smile to your face.  The batter has 7 ingredients including corn muffin mix which makes these quick and easy to whip up.  

 

Southern Corn Fritters Ingedients

Southern Corn Fritters Ingredients

Southern Corn Fritters
 
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Get set for these Southern Corn Fritters drizzled with honey! You can serve these as an appetizer or along with your meal.
Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 8.5 oz box Jiffy corn muffin mix
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • ½ stick butter, melted
  • 1 cup corn
  • ½ cup chopped green onions
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Honey for serving
Instructions
  1. Whisk together the corn muffin mix and flour in a bowl.
  2. Whisk the ½ cup milk, 1 egg and ½ stick melted butter in another bowl. Stir this mixture into the corn muffin mix and flour.
  3. Stir in 1 cup of corn and ½ cup chopped green onions.
  4. Drop by tablespoonfuls into 2 inches of 365 degree vegetable oil and fry until golden brown, about 3 minutes.
  5. Serve drizzled with honey for a real Southern treat!

Southern Corn Fritters are so easy to mix up!  Just combine the corn muffin mix and the flour in one bowl.  Then combine the milk, egg and melted butter in another bowl.  Add the liquid mixture to the dry mixture and stir.  Stir in the corn and chopped green onions.

Adding onion to Southern Corn Fritters

Give it an easy stir to combine and you are ready to start frying these tasty morsels up!

Mixing up Southern Corn Fritters

Heat the oil to 365 degrees.  I use a candy/frying thermometer to make sure the oil stays at the right temperature.  

Drop the batter by rounded tablespoons into the hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 3 minutes.  Drain on paper towels.

Drop by Tablespoonfuls into hot oil

Frying the Southern Corn Fritters

Frying the Southern Corn Fritters

Video: Southern Corn Fritters


Get set for these Southern Corn Fritters drizzled with honey! Great served as an appetizer or a side dish.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pina Colada Fruit Dip

Serve the Pina Colada Dip in a Pineapple Boat

 

Do you like Pina Coladas?  Well, you  will LOVE this fast and easy Pina Colada Fruit Dip!

It’s summertime and everyone is starting to think about entertaining …and what a better way than with a fruit tray and this Pina Colada Dip.  Here you see my fruit tray with a Pineapple Palm Tree and this yummy dip.

Vickies Pineapple Palm Tree and Garden

Pina Colada Fruit Dip
 
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Get a taste of the tropics with this Pina Colada Fruit Dip!
Author:
Recipe type: appetizer
Ingredients
  • 1 small package instant coconut pudding mix
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 8 oz crushed pineapple with juice
  • ½ cup sour cream
Instructions
  1. whisk together the coconut instant pudding and the milk.
  2. Stir in the crushed pineapple with the juice and the sour cream.
  3. Enjoy!

Pina Colada Fruit Dip Ingredients

Pina Colada Fruit Dip Ingredients

Whisk together the coconut instant pudding and milk.  Stiur in the crushed pineapple with the juice and the sour cream.

Pina Colada Fruit Dip is fast and easy to make.

Mixing up the PIna Colada Fruit Dip

 

Fruit trays are a great way to entertain because they can be made ahead of time and and this Pineapple Palm Tree really adds some tropical whimsy to your party!  Check out my Video Tutorial on making this Pineapple Palm Tree:

This fruit tray has the pineapple from the cored pineapples I used for the Palm Tree, fresh strawberries, blueberries. and watermelon. You can use a cookie cutter to cut the watermelon into festive shapes.  I used a heart shaped cookie cutter for this fruit tray.  If you are cutting the watermelon into shapes, just cut any remaining watermelon into cubes and place at the back of the fruit tray.  Other great choices for fruit trays are honeydew melons, cantaloupes, white and red seedless grapes, and  sliced apples ( that have been dipped in orange juice).    

Remember, “Let’s Make Life Special by sharing great food with our family and friends!  Enjoy!” 

Mediterranean Appetizer Platter

Mediterranean Appetizer Platter

Mediterranean Appetizer Platter

Bring some exotic flavor to the table with my Mediterranean Appetizer Platter!

Enjoy a Mediterranean Appetizer Platter either as an appetizer or a meal in itself!  I’ve recently featured my Hummus Recipe, Oven Roasted Garlic and Toasted Pita Bread Triangles and they are all a part of this delicious and flavor-fully exotic  appetizer tray.  The beauty of this appetizer tray is that you can vary the items with a little bit of this and a little bit of that.  If you have time, make my Hummus Recipe a few hours or days ahead of time and just have it ready to go in the refrigerator.  However, if you don’t have 15 extra minutes to make the hummus, most grocery stores carry pre-made hummus.  The oven roasted garlic is optional but it really adds a great flavor to the party platter.  The oven roasted garlic takes 45 minutes in the oven and you can roast it while you are assembling the rest of the ingredients.  The rest of the ingredients are purchased at the grocery store.  

We enjoyed a Mediterranean Appetizer Platter at one of our favorite restaurants about a year ago.  Bruce and I had never had hummus before then and once we tasted the wonderful combination of flavors on the platter…I knew I had to recreate it at home.  There are a lot of variations of hummus and my recipe is fairly basic.  Hummus has been around for thousands of years and is a healthy snack.  

 

Mediterranean Appetizer Platter Ingredients

Mediterranean Appetizer Platter Ingredients

 My Mediterranean Platter included:

  • Homemade Hummus
  • A block of feta cheese that I cut into cubes
  • Oven roasted garlic
  • Marinated artichoke hearts
  • Kalamata olives ( with or without the pit) and
  • Roasted red peppers cut into slices.

I served the Mediterranean Appetizer Platter with toasted pita bread.  

Other options for the platter would include:

  • Cherry or grape tomatoes
  • English cucumber ( this is a seedless cucumber), cut into slices
  • Grape leaves ( packed in brine) These are found in the pickle section or International section of the grocery store.  Drain them and pat them dry.  Wrap one grape leaf around each chunk of feta cheese.

 

This Mediterranean Appetizer Platter can also be assembled ahead of time.  I like the oven roasted garlic and the pita bread to be served warm so I would bake those and add at the last minute.

Remember, “Let’s Make Life Special by sharing great food with our family and friends!  Enjoy!”  

 

Mediterranean Appetizer Platter
 
Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 cup hummus
  • Assorted Mediterranean olives OR Kalamata olives ( with or without the pit)
  • Feta cheese, cubed
  • Roasted garlic
  • Sliced roasted red peppers ( from a jar)
  • Marinated artichoke hearts
  • Other options: cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced English (seedless) cucumber, and pickled grape leaves
Instructions
  1. Arrange the ingredients on a platter and serve with Toasted Pita Bread Triangles
  2. Enjoy!

Hummus Recipe

"Homemade Hummus Spread"

“Homemade Hummus Spread”

 Here is my Make Life Special Hummus Recipe that is so good!  

This hummus recipe is easy for even the beginner cook to make.  Hummus  is a dip or spread made from chickpeas ( otherwise known as garbanzo beans). You can buy canned chickpeas in any grocery store.  Garbanzo hummus dates back to at least the 13th century with many foodies describing it as “ancient food”.  Certainly hummus has been around a LONG time!  I have heard Nicole and Luke rave about hummus for several years but my first experience with hummus just happened a year ago.  Bruce and I found a great restaurant that we love and one of their specialties is a Mediterranean Platter that features hummus.  As soon as I tasted it, I knew I had to recreate it at home. Be sure to check out my post on assembling the Mediterranean Platter!

How do you serve hummus?  As an appetizer, scoop hummus with a toasted flat bread such as pita.  My Toasted Pita Bread Triangles are perfect!  Garnish hummus very simply with a sprinkle of paprika as I did.  Other garnishes to “jazz it up” would be chopped tomato, chopped cucumber, parsley, a drizzle of olive oil, chopped hard boiled eggs,Kalamata olives or pine nuts.     

Once you start ordering  hummus in restaurants you will discover that hummus tastes different everywhere.  The basic ingredients are Chickpeas or garbanzo beans, lemon, garlic and Tahini.  Some types of hummus have a strong lemon flavor….others more spicy or garlicky.  When making your own hummus, you can vary the amounts of the ingredients to suit your own taste buds.

My hummus recipe is pretty basic, but I add parsley to the mix.  I like the freshness parsley brings to the table and the added burst of color.  The second thing I do to make my hummus recipe over the top is a recommendation from my daughter Nicole.  Use your fingertips and PEEL the garbanzo beans.  This is the most time sonsuming part of the recipe ( you will need about 10 minutes for this step) but I agree that it makes a smoother textured hummus.  Just remember, once you get the basic recipe mastered, you can add a little of this or a little of that to create your own masterpiece!  Try adding roasted garlic or sun dried tomatoes.  Be adventurous and enjoy your kitchen!  

Hummus Recipe
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • ½ cup chopped parsley
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced ( or add a couple of cloves of roasted garlic)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons Tahini ( sesame seed paste)
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 15½ oz can garbonzo beans, drained and peeled
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth.
  2. Refrigerate several hours before serving.
  3. Note: You can store hummus in the refrigerator up to a month but it probably won't last that long.

Ingredients for Hummus Recipe

Homemade Hummus Ingredients

Tahini is basically like peanut butter but it’s made from sesame seeds.  It is a sesame seed paste that’s available in most grocery stores or can be ordered online.

 

Tahini (Sesame Seed Paste)

Tahini (Sesame Seed Paste)

I refrigerate Tahini after opening to keep it fresh. 

 

Peeling Garbonzo Beans for Hummus Recipe

Peeling Garbonzo Beans for Hummus Recipe

I was really amazed at the peels in one can of garbanzo beans!  It’s no wonder the hummus is smoother when your remove all of these!

Garbanzo Beans Peels

Garbanzo Bean Peels

Homemade hummus is the star when served on a Mediterranean Platter.  

Mediterranean Platter

Mediterranean Platter

Remember, “Let’s Make Life Special by shraing great food with our family and friends!  Enjoy!” 

 

 

  

Toasted Pita Bread Triangles

 

 

Hot Out Of The Oven

 

 

Pita bread is used to make pita wraps and sandwiches, but it is also wonderful as a bread on an appetizer tray for dips.  I remember the first time I had toasted pita triangles and how simply delicious they were served with hummus.  To use it for appetizers, it does need to be toasted or crisped.  Toasted Pita Bread Triangles are one of many appetizer ideas I will be sharing over the next few weeks.  Start with a package of  pita bread or flatbread.

Flatbread

 

You can use either the flat bread as I have done here or the pocket pita type — it really doesn’t matter.  You can also use either the traditional white pita bread or whole wheat.  Try it plain the first time you make it to just enjoy the simple goodness of this bread.  Then, add some extra pizzazz the next time you make this by adding salt or different types of dried herbs before you bake it.  

Toasted Pita Bread Triangles
 
Toasted Pita Bread Triangles are wonderful served with dips...especially my Hummus Spread and Mediterranean Platter. These are quick to make and add a special touch to any appetizer.
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • Pita bread or Flatbread ( white or whole wheat)
  • Olive oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Brush both sides of the pita bread with olive oil.
  3. Cut the bread into quarters or smaller wedges. Use kitchen scissors to cut the pita.
  4. Place bread on cookie sheets and bake for 5 to 6 minutes.
  5. Turn bread over and bake for 3 to 5 minutes longer until a rich golden brown.
Notes
Use kitchen scissors to quickly cut the pita triangles.

Brush both sides of the pita bread with olive oil.

 Brush with Olive Oil

 

Cut into triangles

Cut into Triangles

 

Bake for 5 to 6 minutes, turn over and bake an additional 3 to 5 minutes.

Here you see the Toasted Pita Triangles served on my Mediterranean Hummus and Appetizer Platter – with hummus, cubes of feta cheese ( either marinated or plain), roasted garlic,artichokes, olives and roasted red pepper slices. Make ahead appetizers such as this are great for easy entertaining.  All of this can be made ahead and served when your guests arrive. 

Toasted Pita Trizngles Served With Mediterrean Platter

Remember, “Let’s make life special by sharing great food with our family and friends! Enjoy!”

 

SUPER Easy Bean Dip Recipe

This SUPER Easy Bean Dip Recipe is the second featured recipe from the Dove Chocolate Discoveries Chocolatiers.

SUPER Easy Bean Dip

This recipe showcases the Dove Chocolate Discoveries Cocoa Rub and the Dove Chocolate Discoveries Sweet ‘n’ Tangy Mole Sauce.  This is another example of how chocolate can be more than sweet — it can work in savory recipes as well.

This yummy appetizer was contributed by Oma Farmer, Dove Chocolate Discoveries Chocolatier and Team Leader.  “Discover a new way to experience Chocolate”

Oma Farmer with Vickie

 

Oma Farmer, DCD Team Leader pictured above with Vickie at a recent cooking demonstration.

 

SUPER Easy Bean Dip
 
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Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 15 oz jar Pinto beans ( refried beans will work in a pinch)
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon Dove Chocolate Discoveries Sweet 'n' Spicy Cocoa Rub
  • ½ cup Dove Chocolate Discoveries Sweet 'n' Tangy Mole Sauce
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 6 to 8 ounces Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blen until smooth ( approz 30 to 60 seconds)
  3. Taste, add salt is needed.
  4. Place in Pyrex baking dish. Top with shredded cheese and bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
  5. Serve with tortilla chips.
  6. Chef's Tip: If you like your bean dip more creamy, add an additional 4 oz of cream.

 The Dove Chocolate Discoveries products can be purchased online or from Oma Farmer’s Website:

www.MyDCDsite.com/OmaFarmer

 

 

Chocolate Chipotle BBQ Chicken Balls

Chocolate chipotle BBQ Chicken Balls

Chocolate Chipotle BBQ Chicken Balls  are a delicious appetizer that features Dove Chocolate Chipotle BBQ Sauce and Dove Sweet and Spicy Cocoa Rub.

I recently did a cooking demonstration for a group of Dove Chocolatiers and several of the Chocolatiers agreed to contribute their special recipes featuring Dove Chocolate…some are sweet, some are savory.

 This recipe was  contributed  to Make Life Special by  Pam Reimann with Dove Chocolate Discoveries.

 The Dove Chocolate Chipotle BBQ Sauce and Dove Sweet and Spicy Cocoa Rub can be ordered from Dove Chocolate Discoveries.  Pam’s website is:

Dove Chocolate Discoveries:  Independent Chocolatier/Pam Reimann 

 

Pam Reimann, DCD Chocolatier pictured with Vickie at recent cooking demonstration.

Vickie and Pam Reimann, DCD Chocolatier

Here is Pam’s recipe:

Chocolate Chipotle BBQ Chicken Balls
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 egg
  • 4 oz gorgonzola cheese
  • ½ t cumin
  • ½ t garlic salt
  • 1 bottle Dove Chocolate Chipotle BBQ Sauce
  • 1 T Dove Sweet and Spicy Cocoa Rub
  • 2 medium fresh mushrooms, diced
  • 1 cup Italian bread crumbs
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Combine chicken, cheese, egg, cumin, garlic salt, mushrooms, and bread crumbs in mixing bowl. Add ½ cup of the Dove Chipotle BBQ Sauce and mix thoroughly with hands until well blended. Roll mixture into 16 golf ball size balls and place on cookie sheet. Dust each ball with the Cocoa Rub.
  3. Bake for 45 minutes.
  4. Heat remaining BBQ sauce and pour over the Chicken Balls.
  5. Serve hot.
  6. Makes 16 meatballs.

These are DELISH!!!

 

Little Cheesy Bites

Little Cheesy Bites are hard to resist! I always make a double batch of Little Cheesy Bites because 10 of these is just not enough at our house!

 

Little Cheesy Bites are great to serve as a appetizer or with your meal.  Enjoy!

Little Cheesy Bites
 
Recipe type: appetizer, bread
Ingredients
  • 5 oz jar Old English Cheese Spread
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • ½ cup flour
  • dash of salt (optional)
Instructions
  1. Combine the cheese spread and melted butter in a bowl and mix well.
  2. Add flour and a dash of salt. Mix well.
  3. Roll into small balls and refrigerate for one hour or longer.
  4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place balls on a greased baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes. Balls will flatten as they cook. Serve hot.
  6. Makes about 10 Little Cheesy Bites.

 Little cheesy Bites Ingredients

Note:  The Kraft Old English Cheese Spread is found in the pasta section or the deli section of your grocery store.

 

 

Hickory Farms Features Vickies Baked Potato Bar Ideas

Baked Potato Bar

Looking for some baked potato bar ideas?

I recently posted  baked potato bar ideas and how to bake the perfect baked potato.  You can check out my post here:  Perfect Baked Potatoes and a Baked Potato Bar.  This is an easy way to entertain because your guests help themselves.  The baked potato bar is great any time of year.  It would be perfect at a BBQ on the patio or for a Super Bowl Party as suggested by Hickory Farms.  It is fun to combine different options on the baked potato bar – depending on the season.  Add piping hot chili as a topper in the cold winter months.  Add fresh chopped tomatoes or green onions when the garden is busting with fresh vegetables.  Hickory Farms suggested adding chopped summer sausage as a topper and I like that idea too.   There are really countless options..just use your imagination for creative flavor combinations. 

My recipe for the perfect baked potato is also easy.  You can bake as many potatoes as your oven will hold!  I love to add the sea salt or kosher salt to the outside of the potato skin before baking because it adds a nice salty flavor and some crunch to the potato.   And, potatoes are loaded with nutrition!   

 

Hickory Farms just featured our Make Life Special Baked Potato Bar ideas in their “Winning Super Bowl Party Foods” post.  In addition to the toppings I suggested, they added their chopped summer sausage — what a great idea!

Check out the Hickory Farms post on Super Bowl Party Foods for some great entertaining ideas:

Hickory Farms Winning Super Bowl Party Foods

Thank you Hickory Farms for the great shout out!

Remember, “Let’s Make Life Special by sharing great food with our family and friends!  Enjoy!”

 

   

Make Life Special
2 Cypress Rd Litchfield, IL 62056 US
Phone: 217-556-8297 Website: http://www.makelifespecial.com