Tag Archives: Appetizers

Stromboli or Rolled Calzone

A while back, I posted my SIL’s version of what she called Rolled Calzone, that I have now come to find is actually called Stromboli, I mean DE~LI~CIOUS~NESS!

We were invited to a St. Patrick’s Day celebration in our neighborhood, basically a block party, and I decided that this would go over well as an appetizer, so I made two.  One of our neighbors asked if I share my recipes, OF COURSE! so Debra, this is for you.

I got Trader Joe’s refrigerated Garlic and Herb Pizza dough and a plain one as well (I like this better than Pillsbury Pizza dough).  I rolled each out on a floured surface to about a 14” X 10” rectangle; I don’t like it doughy, yaknow? But if you do, make it smaller.  Now, of course you could make your own Pizza dough as we have discussed previously, but, in this instance, well, I wanted quick and easy.

I spread about 2 ounces of jarred Pesto out, leaving a 2 inch boarder on the top and bottom edge.

Preheat the oven, by the way, to 400⁰.

Now comes the goodies.

Take about a quarter pound each of your favorite cheese and Italian deli meats ( I use sharp Provolone, Boar’s Head brand Pesto Ham, Genoa Salami and Hot Capocollo) and layer each evenly, again leaving a two inch boarder on the top and bottom edge.

I also like to use jarred Roasted Red Peppers, cut into strips and diced Hot Cherry Peppers for some heat.

Here we go…

Starting from the edge closest to you, roll it up as tightly as you can, tucking as you go so that the fillings stay inside.

When you get to the end, pinch the edge to stick to the roll and seal it; tuck the ends under the log.

On a parchment lined half sheet pan, sprinkle some cornmeal and place the roll (I put both on one pan), seam side down.  *Edit: oops, I forgot, at this point brush the Stromboli with a beaten egg white.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until just browned.

Cool on a rack to room temperature and slice as desired.

Stromboli or Rolled Calzone

*note: this tray is less eight, yes 8 slices that my husband had to test taste!

This makes a great appetizer or a light lunch with a nice green salad.


Turkey Dinner All Over Again

I suppose you could refer to Thanksgiving leftovers any way that you like, but for me, it’s simply a repeat from last Thursday.


I know that we don’t need to have any appetizers, but why not. I had a couple of handfuls of those lovely fresh baby San Marzano tomatoes; they were begging me to make them into bruschetta with some basil, garlic, Olive Oil, balsamic vinegar and S&P.

TJ's Pita Bite cracker with goat cheese and roasted yellow pepper

Then just for fun, some goat cheese topped with roasted yellow pepper and basil.

TJ's Pita Bite Crackers

Both bites were assembled on a Trader Joe’s Pita Bite Cracker.

The main event

The Turkey, Gingered Carrots, Gravy, Stuffing, Rolls, Mashed Potatoes… YUM!

Since I break my bird down prior to roasting, the stuffing or dressing is made in a casserole dish and it can’t be simpler. I use Fresh Gourmet recipe, but with my own twist. I add diced, sautéed Hawaiian Portuguese sausage.

Happy Thanksgiving, Again

Let’s Eat, ALOHA!

Let’s Have A Snack

Snacks are part of our diet, well let me expand on that. We try to eat 5 small meals each day that are lower in calories and healthful (is that a word?). Our day consists of your typical B,L&D; then in between, 2 very small plates, the type that you may use for hors d’oeuvres at a party. I found a bunch of different ones at different kitchen stores, I told you all about my obsession for kitchen stores, right?  I like to get white dishes, that way you can mix and match without having to think about it. DH could care less about plating techniques, “It’s just food, put it on a paper plate and then throw it away, no cleanup!” NO! That’s why we now have an automatic dishwasher my friend. Gee whiz, I never thought about it before, but I have 5 sets of dishes, is that too much?

But I’m getting away from the topic today, snacks.

The other day, I was looking around the pantry and ‘fridge for our late afternoon snack; nothing was appealing to me, but the 3 dozen eggs I had kept calling me. Yeah, deviled eggs.

Deviled Eggs

The particular regime that we are following allows for 2 eggs a day, yeah, that’s it. This may sound pedestrian, but think about it, not very many people will pass up a deviled egg. At parties you’ll hear at least once, ‘ooh, I haven’t had one of these in awhile’. Wait just a minute, HAVE you every made deviled eggs, JUST for you?  They can be made in a multitude of ways, fancy or plain jane, this time, I went for middle of the road.

Deviled Eggs

I am of the Alton Brown camp on the hard cooking of eggs. Once the eggs are cooled in an ice water bath and peeled, CAREFULLY, I slice them in half from pole to pole (from the fat end to the skinnier end), let the cooked yolks fall into a small bowl.

For eye and tummy appeal, I place the hollowed out whites on to a small tray that has been lined with chopped greens, whatever is not nice enough for a salad, we’re not going to eat it anyways. To that small bowl, add a very small amount of fat-free salad dressing and a minuscule dash of spicy prepared mustard. Take a large spoon with a stout handle and mash away, until it’s very smooth. Add the flavorings of your liking, I went with dill pickle relish, grated sweet onion, dill weed, S&P, and cayenne.

The vehicle that I used to now get the yolk-mixture into the whites without a huge mess, a zip top baggie; spoon into a plastic bag and squeeze the mixture down towards one of the corners. Snip a small hole off of that corner, not too big, start small and then squeeze some out into the bowl first, this way I can gauge better how it with look as a finished product. Now, slowly start to fill each cooked white half, using a circular motion. Oops, if you don’t like the way one came out, that’s okay, very gently scoop the yolk-mixture back into the small bowl and start again.

I added a final flurry atop of each egg of more dill weed and smoked paprika, which I feel is an underutilized spice that should be in your cabinet.

Now, let’s have a snack.

Deviled Eggs

Maki Sushi For Dummies, Like ME!!

When we travel, I like to bring back very different things as souvenirs.

On our recent trip to Hawaii, I brought back a mold for Maki Sushi and powdered Sushi Seasoning mix. I had seen these the last time that we were back home, but passed it by at the time.

This morning I was clearing out the refrigerator and I was going to put a half of a pot of cooked white rice into the freezer. We eat steamed Calrose or sticky rice

(I think it’s a medium grain) with many of our meals.

DING! Why not try out my new toy?

Maki Sushi for Dummies

I heated the rice back up in the microwave and sprinkled some of the powdered Sushi Seasoning over it and gave it a mix. By using the powder instead of Seasoned Rice Vinegar, this keeps the Sushi Rice from getting too wet.

I had an English Cucumber that I julienned into lengths that were about the same as the sheets of Nori that I always have in the pantry.

Okay, let’s assemble.

sushi mold

sushi mold

The instructions on the back of the package of the Sushi press are in Japanese characters; fortunately, illustrations too, thank goodness.

This couldn’t be any easier.

sushi mold

The mold is a plastic sphere cut in two. I found after my first attempt that it was best to run the mold under water to insure non-stickage.

I just filled one half of the mold with the room temp rice, placed the sliced of veg on top.

sushi mold


I then put it into a third piece that has higher sides and fill to the top with more rice, pressing it down with moist fingers; with the other half of that spherical mold, press firmly.

Maki Sushi for Dummies 002

Lay a Nori Sheet, shiny side down, onto a piece of plastic wrap on the counter; unmold the now round rice-log out onto the edge of the sheet closest to you and roll the log up, like a cigar. I wet my finger again to moisten the farthest edge of the Nori so that it would adhere to itself.

Maki Sushi for Dummies

Slice and serve.

It’s probably at this point that you’re asking yourself, “Yeah, so what? Why didn’t she just use a sushi mat?”

I have tried for YEARS to roll Maki Sushi with horrible results. I’m not sure if it’s that I have such little hands; my husband teases me that our 13 year Niece is bigger than me. But, whatever the reason, I’ve tried and have found my solution.

I feel in the process, I’ve created a Sushi Monster. My husband wolfed down the two rolls that I finished and asked where the rest were. Well, that’s all the cooked rice that I had on hand, to which his retort was… PLEASE MAKE MORE!!

Maki Sushi for Dummies

Handheld Goodness

Many years back, my SIL made the food for her son’s College Graduation Party at their home. She passed around this lovely warm tidbit that was heavenly. She called it a Rolled Calzone. She said that this sandwich could be served at room temperature as well. It sounded fairly straight forward, so I asked her to e-mail me the recipe. WOW! It had a lot of ingredients and I knew that in my tiny kitchen back home in Hawaii, this would be difficult. So I set about to make it work, mostly because both my husband and I thought it was wonderful.

Whenever DH and I head out on a road trip, I like to take along a few pre-made meals. Now, I’m not talking about something that I picked up from the freezer case. My goal over the past 5 + years since retiring, is to cook as much of the things that we eat as possible. I was rifling through my recipe binder and saw this recipe and knew that it would be great road food, not messy, handheld goodness. One of the things that I found easier with this dish is to use premade Pizza dough. Whether you buy yours in the cold case or in a pop’n fresh tube is up to you; I usually have dough stashed in my freezer.

I gotta’ tell ya’ though, I was in the Mega-Mart the other day and I was pokin’ around and what did I spy? This same thing being sold for over $8 for only 6 meager slices. MAN! This is why I cook.

Rolled Calzone

1 recipe of Pizza dough (Pillsbury will do fine)

3-4 Tbsp. Pesto

4-6 slices Deli Ham (I buy Boar’s Head brand deli meats)

4-6 slices Sharp Provolone cheese (also Boar’s head)

6-8 slices Hot Coppacola

2-3 Roasted Bell Peppers (jarred is ok, I make my own)

1 Egg White, beaten


Preheat the oven to 400º

Roll out the Pizza dough into a rectangle 24″ X 12″, with the longer side closest to you

Spread the Pesto on the dough, stopping 2 inches from the edges

Place a layer of each meat, then the cheese and lastly the peppers, again stopping 2 inches from the edges

Start to roll the dough into a log with the edge closest to you

Roll as tightly as you can

Pinch the edge into the log as well as the ends

On a sheet pan, sprinkle some Cornmeal and place the log seam side down onto the pan. Brush with the beaten Egg White and bake for 20-25 minutes, it should be very firm. Allow to cool completely. Slice as desired.

I trimmed this recipe down, but you can do with it as you like. My SIL put in Pepperoncinis, we are not fans. You really could use any Deli meats that you prefer. Maybe Roast Beef or Turkey breast; Swiss cheese or Cheddar?

Remember, a recipe is just somebody’s idea, you run with it and make it your own.

Try This Seadfood Salad

Tako, Octopus, Pulpo, Krake, He’e, in any language, it’s wonderful.

Tako Poke

As a young person, I would go spear-fishing often and I sought out those shy creators. I’m not very good at cooking this cephalopod, so now, here in the middle of the desert, I find it already cooked. We have an Asian Market about a 45 minute drive from us and they carry all kinds of goodies that DH and I look for, like Tako. The Asian influence is very strong in Hawaii, so is fishing; there are many dishes that start with Octopus.

Poke, pronounced POO-KAY, is a salad or appetizer made of your choice of seafood, with or with any vegetables. You can use raw or cooked products. There are as many Poke recipes as there are people in kitchens. I’ve read some cookbooks that have any number of ingredients, but in my book, the simpler the better.

Tako Poke Ingredients

Tako Poke

1/4 lb. cooked Octopus, chopped or sliced thin

1/2 of a large Sweet White Onion, rough chopped

2-3 Green Onions, thinly sliced

3 Tbsp. Soy Sauce

1 tsp. Sesame Oil

1/8 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes

1/4 tsp. toasted Sesame Seeds

In a large bowl, add all of the above ingredients and mix well.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 1 hour to allow the flavors to marry.

Tako Poke

Try this at your next potluck or cocktail party. Don’t tell anyone what it is, other than it’s a Hawaiian dish that you found. I did this recently at a friend’s home. I wasn’t sure if I should do that, but DH said that if no one ate it, that’s okay, he would.

Here’s how I look at a new recipe that I want to try, I make a smaller portion of it. That way if we don’t care for it, no harm, no foul.

Party Food

DH and I spent Thanksgiving with friends in Prescott Arizona. 

My contribution to the meal was a platter of stuffed mushrooms; they were gone in a flash. 

Like Deviled Eggs.  Never fails, you’ll hear someone say, “ I haven’t had a Deviled Egg since …”

I adore a good appetizer, or as Missus Dear Friend called it party food, I like that better!  Finger foods make it festive. 


When I was single and cooked for myself, dinner sometimes would be a bunch of small plates, a little of this, a bite of that.  It seemed to fill me up faster, or maybe it was just my imagination.  Now, at some restaurants the thing is small plates.  I really like having an array of different dishes on the table for everyone to share.  Some of the best parties that we’ve been to were just that, an assortment of different nibbles set out in a lovely presentation.


Remember, every recipe is just an idea; you take it and make it your own.  If you see an ingredient that your family and friends don’t care for, or worse, they’re allergic to, change it up.  Do you prefer breakfast sausage?  Go with that instead.  What about turkey or chicken sausages.  Or what if it you used all veg and no meats at all.  You get the gist.

 sausage stuffed mushrooms 006

Stuffed Mushrooms


12 Crimini mushrooms, stems removed and finely minced

2 small cloves Garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. finely minced, each of:



Red Bell Pepper

Frozen Spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry in a clean Kitchen Towel

Grated Parmesan cheese

¼ C. Plain Bread Crumbs

A small pinch each of grated Nutmeg, Black Pepper and Red Pepper flakes

1 Sweet Italian Sausage link with the casing removed in a small bowl w/about 2 Tbsp white wine, smashed it all together, it crumbles better in the pan, tastes good too


Preheat oven to 500⁰

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat.

Add oil and mushroom caps, stem side up, sauté caps 5 to 7 minutes, until they are lightly browned (you want them to stay a bit firm so that you can pick them up and eat them).

Turn caps over and cook for a couple of minutes to brown the other side. Transfer caps to a small nonstick baking pan. **

Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel and return to heat.

Add a touch of oil and the sausage to the hot skillet.

Brown and crumble sausage for 3-5 minutes, season with the spices, turn out into a mixing bowl.

Add veggies along with the reserved stems and sauté 2-3 minutes.

Add spinach to the pan and stir.

Transfer mixture to the bowl with the sausage; add bread and cheese, toss to combine.

Taste for seasoning at this point, if it’s too dry and won’t hold together, add a little Olive Oil.

Fill caps with stuffing, I just use my hands, really squish it into the cap, mounding it up if you like; just make sure you have enough for all the mushrooms.  

If you’d like to guild the lily, sprinkle some cheese on top of the caps before you put them in the oven.  I like mozzarella or parmesan.

Place your tray in oven and reduce heat to 450⁰ and bake 6 to 8 minutes to crisp and set stuffing in the mushrooms.

Transfer stuffed mushrooms to a serving plate. **


**I found it easier to start out on an oven-proof serving dish and never mind the non-stick baking sheet, that’s one less pan to wash!  I have a couple of platters that can go into the oven, micro, dishwasher (a MUST) or under the broiler.  Look around in the different shops.  I have one for the dollar discount store, no really!