Thursday, August 18, 2011

Aps, anyone?

I could live on appetizers.

That might explain my everlasting battle with the scale...  Seriously, though, I love the whole "small plates" thing going on, and getting small portions of the good stuff!  So for today, since we're having a leftover night (we do this periodically to clear out the fridge, reduce food waste, and save a bit on the grocery bill), I thought I'd share some freezer-friendly appetizers. 

Football season is just around the corner, and it's so nice to have people over and have some snacks ready to rock!  I HATE how much those little boxes of frozen thingies are in the store, and they're just not super tasty.  Try and make up your own - be sure to share some of your faves, too.

Potato Skins


8 russet potatoes, scrubbed & dried
EVOO
1 c. shredded cheese (cheddar, a blend, whatever)
1/2 - 3/4 c. crisp-cooked bacon, diced (just use the real stuff - no turkey bacon, no Bacos, ok?)
1/2 c. chopped chives or scallions

Have on hand: sour cream (light, fat-free)

Bake the potatoes in the microwave (or oven), and allow to cool.  Cut in half lengthwise, and scoop out flesh, leaving a thin layer of potato (1/4"?) and the skin intact.  (You can use the scooped out potato to make some mashed potatoes, and freeze or eat those!)  Place skins cut-side down on a baking sheet, and brush or spritz with EVOO (seriously, get an oil mister!)  Turn over each skin, and fill with about 1 tbsp. shredded cheese, and 1 tbsp. of bacon.  Sprinkle with chives/scallions.

Stick these into the freezer on the baking sheet, and then place in a freezer storage bag when they're frozen, or place on an aluminum tray or pan, then cover with foil and freeze right away.

To prepare: preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place skins on a baking sheet, or unwrap foil pan, and bake in preheated oven about 15-20 minutes, or until heated through and cheese is melted.  Top with a little sour cream, and devour!


Spin Artichoke Dip


There are mixed messages out there about freezing dairy and cheese.  So I say, give it a whirl, and worst-case scenario, you've got a minor texture issue, but it should still taste great.  Here's another good recipe from Alton Brown - less cheese.


1 can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped (I like to chop them up fairly small, some like big chunks)
1 c. reduced fat mayo (I like Hellmann's)
1 c. Parmesan cheese, grated or shredded (please, not the green can), separated
1 8oz. package cream cheese (I like Neufchatel)
1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1 c. frozen, chopped spinach
1 tsp garlic powder

Have on hand: Things to eat it with!  Tortilla chips, crackers, pita crisps (make your own!), veggies, etc.

To prepare:  Thaw spinach, drain it well, and squeeze dry (get that water out!).  Save 1/4 c. Parm and the mozzarella, and mix all remaining ingredients.  Spread into an aluminum pan (pie pan, cake pan, square, whatever).  Top with remaining cheeses.  Spray foil with non-stick spray (so the cheese doesn't stick), then wrap with foil, and stick in a freezer bag, and freeze.

To serve: Thaw completely in the fridge.  Heat in a 375 oven until heated through and top is browned and bubbly.  I'd probably heat with the foil on for about 10 minutes, and then remove the  foil to brown the top for 5-10 more.

Mini Pizza Bagel Snacks
No need to buy frozen pizza snacks - make your own!

Either purchase mini bagels at the store, or try making your own!  Here's a bread machine recipe I'm trying: Bread Machine Bagels.  Arrange the bagel halves on a baking sheet, sprinkle with a little garlic powder and/or Italian seasoning, and spread on some of your favorite pizza sauce.  Top with your favorite pizza ingredients, such as:

shredded cheese (mozzarella, parm, etc.)
pepperoni, sausage, ham, bacon, etc.
minced veggies - bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, etc.

Stick the topped bagel halves in the freezer on the baking sheet, and then place in a freezer storage bag when they're frozen, or place on an aluminum tray or pan, then cover with foil and freeze right away.

To prepare: preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place skins on a baking sheet, or unwrap foil pan, and bake in preheated oven about 15-20 minutes, or until heated through and cheese is melted.  Let cool slightly, and serve.

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