Newlyweds navigating their way through married life – and the kitchen

Tag Archives: Appetizers

Pumpkin Arancini Balls
You know that saying “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans”?  Well, same goes for cooking I think -sometimes really good stuff can come from a recipe that you really didn’t plan.

Last year, I had pumpkin risotto for the first time, and man was it good! Lord Hobo is a bar in Cambridge, MA that you’d probably walk right by and not give a second thought.  But their craft beer selection is beyond amazing, and their dishes are just as unique.

So I decided to make this Pumpkin Risotto, in the spirit of fall.  Risotto takes a bit of time – all the stirring and adding of the chicken stock – it’s a dish that really needs to be baby sat.  So when it’s ready, you can’t WAIT to dig in!  Dave and I paired it with Maple Garlic Marinated Pork Tips, which were out of this world.  But the risotto just didn’t taste quite as good as I remembered.  I strongly believe that thing always taste just a little bit better when you don’t have to make them yourself, but this wasn’t quite the level of delish that I experienced at Lord Hobo.

There was a lot left over, and I toiled back and forth as to whether or not I wanted to photograph and blog about it.  Because I wasn’t fully supportive of it. But I didn’t want to waste it either, because it did take so much effort to make.  Then the invisible lightbulb turned on and shined bright – ARANCINI BALLS!

I think the first Arancini Ball I ever ate was a frozen one from Trader Joe’s – and even that was so tasty that I wondered how I had never known about this genius concoction of cheese and risotto, rolled into a ball, and fried.  I’ve never made them myself, and have heard from others that they’re a lot of work, but the work was well worth it.

Pumpkin Arancini Balls
*Adapted from Epicurious & Food Network

*yields about 16-20 arancini balls

For Pumpkin Risotto

1 cup pumpkin puree

2 cups chicken stock

2 cups water

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

3/4 cup Arborio rice

1/3 cup grated parmesean cheese

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

For Arancini Balls

1 cup + 1/2 cup Italian-style seasoned bread crumbs

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan

2 eggs, at room temperature, beaten

2-3 mozzarella string cheese sticks, cut into 1/2″ pieces

Vegetable oil, for frying

To prepare the risotto:

1) Bring stock and 2 cups water to a simmer in a small saucepan and keep at a bare simmer.

2) Cook onion in oil in a 2- to 2 1/2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes.

3) Add rice and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add 1 cup simmering stock and cook at a strong simmer, stirring constantly, until stock is absorbed. Continue simmering, adding stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next, until rice is tender and creamy-looking but still al dente, about 18 minutes total. (There may be broth left over.)

4) Remove from heat and stir in pumpkin, cheese, and butter, stirring until butter is melted. Season with salt and pepper.  Set aside and be sure to let cool before preparing the arancini balls.

To prepare Arancini Balls:

1) Put 1 cup bread crumbs in a shallow dish and set aside.

2) In a medium bowl, combine 2 cups of pumpkin risotto, bread crumbs, parmesan, and eggs.

3) With damp hands, using about 2 tablespoons of the risotto mixture, form the mixture into 1 3/4-inch diameter balls.

4) Make a hole in the center of each ball and insert a piece of the mozzarella in the center, covering the hole to enclose the cheese.

5) Roll the balls in the breading to coat.

6) In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, pour in enough oil to fill the pan about 1/3 of the way. Heat over medium heat until a deep-frying thermometer inserted in the oil reaches 350 degrees F. (about 5 minutes).

7) In batches, fry the risotto balls, turning occasionally, until golden, about 4 to 5 minutes.

8) Drain on paper towels and serve.

Pumpkin Arancini Balls

I know you’re thinking ‘WOW – that’s a LOT of steps and a lot of time!’ But I swear, they’re worth every bite, especially served hot, when the cheese is still all gooey and stretchy.  The perfect combination of saltiness and sweetness from the pumpkin.  And you could probably experiment with the cheese as well – I just happened to have mozzarella (I am 30 going on 5 and still LOVE string cheese!) but I bet goat cheese or feta would be equally as good.  And if you didn’t want a big ball of cheese right in the center, you could use a shredded version to make the cheese distribution more uniform throughout.

These would be the perfect appetizer for Thanksgiving dinner or any Fall gathering you’re heading to – and everyone will say “AUGH, these are amazing! It must have taken you hours!” – and you lie and tell them “Nahhh – it was easy” 🙂


Buffalo Chicken Dip

What is it about babies and buffalo chicken that go hand in hand?  Probably nothing, but it seems lately that they go together like peas and carrots.

Back in April, it was Becky’s Having a Baby Buffalo Chicken Eggrolls – in an effort to push baby Lane along, I brought these to a pre-baby ladies lunch at Becky’s house, hoping that a little spiciness would have Lane saying “Man it’s hot in here – I gotta get out!” – and while they didn’t send Becky into labor, they were still pretty tasty.

Buffalo Chicken DipAnd yesterday, Buffalo Chicken Dip was a celebratory snack for my other college gal pal Lauren and her husband Steve.  They welcomed their first baby girl, Dylan Olivia, into the world on August 30th.  Lauren was a trooper, practically going through full labor and THEN after all of that, having to get an emergency C-Section – oye.  So I imagined showing up to Lauren and Steve’s front door, and Lauren being sprawled out on the couch, buried under blankets with a cold-compress on her head, looking faint and exhausted.  Silly me – Lauren greeted us at the door, perfectly put together with the most stylish of ‘post-baby’ outfits, with Little Dyllie Doo-Doo in one arm, and the other arm open for a hug. Dylan is the cutest little nugget – and while I was a little disappointed at the super dark hair she was sporting the first few days, in person, the faintest hint of red hair (just like her mom’s)  is starting to show through – so I’m really hoping that next time we see her, she’s a full blown ginger!

Lauren looooves Buffalo Chicken Dip, so while I wasn’t there in the hospital to hold her hand or feed her ice chips, I was there yesterday with a massive bowl of Buffalo Chicken Dip with her name written all over it 🙂

Dyllie’ Doo-Doo’s Buffalo Chicken Dip


2 – 8oz blocks of cream cheese
(I used 1/3 fat version)

1 – 16 oz. bottle of Ranch dressing
(or you could use Blue Cheese)

2-3 stalks of celery, chopped

5-6 cooked chicken tenders, chopped into small pieces

1 bottle of Frank’s Hot Sauce
(you can use more or less, depending on how spicy you like it)

1 – 8oz bag of cheddar cheese

crumbled blue cheese for garnish

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2) In a saucepan, melt cream cheese and ranch dressing together over medium heat until most lumps have disappeared (it’s ok to still have some lumps).

3) Place the chopped celery, chopped chicken and hot sauce in a 9×13″ baking dish and mix together.  Pour the cream cheese and ranch dressing mixture in and mix until combined.

4) Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes.

5) After 20 minutes, take the dip out of the oven and add the cheddar cheese.  You can either sprinkle it on the top, or mix it all together (I like to mix it).

6) Bake for another 10 minutes, uncovered, until bubbly on top.  Sprinkle with a little blue cheese and serve hot!

The finished product is can be served with tortilla chips, carrot and celery sticks, or just stick a spoon in there and go to town!  This is one of those dips that once you start, it’s really hard to stop, so brace yourselves.

Congrats to Lauren and Steve and welcome to the world Dylan! Sure hope you like Buffalo Chicken 🙂

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Fried Goat Cheese Balls

It’s installment numero dos of Goat Cheese Week, and apon exploring the world of Goat Cheese Recipes, I’ve realized that it’s gonna be a tough week picking from so many delicious looking ones!

Although, I gotta say this 2nd one was pretty darn easy –

Step 1:

Step 2: Enter ‘Goat Cheese’ in search bar

Step 3: Behold a recipe for ‘Fried Goat Cheese’ – DING DING DING we have a winner!

This recipe from The Hungry Mouse has been liked, pinned and repinned over and over again –  that + the word ‘fried’ was good enough for me.

Fried Goat Cheese Balls

I added just a couple touches of my own – instead of slices of goat cheese, I rolled each slice into a small ball instead.  Another thing I did, which I really think made a delicious difference is to mix the Panko Breadcrumbs with crumbled Funyuns – yes – Funyuns – the salty, dried onion ring from Frito Lay that is a snack that I believe is often overlooked, but everytime I revisit it, I think to myself “man, I gotta eat these more often”.

Fried Goat Cheese Balls
*Adapted slightly from The Hungry Mouse

*yields about 16 goat cheese balls

1 – 8oz log of goat cheese

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

1/2 cup crumbled Funyuns
(you could pulse in the food processor for a few minutes for a fine crumb, or just crumble w/ your hands)

1 tsp. dried parsley

1 tsp. dried thyme

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. ground ground black pepper

pinch of kosher salt

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup of flour

olive oil

1) In a small mixing bowl, combine the panko, crumbled funyuns, parsley, tyme, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Set aside.

2) In another small mixing bowl, beat the two eggs and set aside.

3) Put the flour on a small plate or shallow bowl.  Set aside.

4) Slice your goat cheese into 1/4″-1/2″ thick slices.  Take each slice between the palms of your hands and roll into a small ball.  This will get pretty sticky so you could put some flour on your hands to try to decrease the stickiness.  Place each goat cheese ball on a wax or parchment paper lined cookie sheet.

5) Fill a non-stick skillet with about an inch or so of olive oil.  (Since the goat cheese is in balls vs. slices, the thicker your oil, the easier it is to get an even ‘fry’ on all sides).  Once the oil is heated, drop each goat cheese ball gently into the olive oil, turning occasionally with a pair of tongs or spoon, until golden brown on all sides.  Try not to crowd the balls – I’d say maybe put about 6-8 in at a time.  If they’re too crowded, you’ll get more of a ‘steamed’ cheese ball vs. a ‘fried’.

6) Remove each ball from oil and place on a paper towel-lined plate and let cool for a couple minutes.  Best served warm!

Fried Goat Cheese Balls

Pretty sure you’re going to love these 🙂 Perfect appetizer that’s easy, delicious and made with FUNYUNS!

Goat Cheese Week

We’re baaaaack – boy what a week it’s been! I feel like I’ve been to China and back (or maybe just the west coast) but in the last week, Dave and I flew to San Fran, drove to Sacramento, then drove to Lake Tahoe, then drove back to San Fran and then flew home!  It was a whirlwind trip, but there were several things that made all the travel well worth it.

1)  The Riehls and Little Joey – great hosts – who knew you could sample beer and parent at the same time?

Goat Cheese Week

2) The Sierra Nevada Brewery – delicious food and even more delicious beer!

Goat Cheese Week

3) Lake Tahoe Wedding celebration for my step-sister Samantha and her husband Scott! Pictures could never do it justice – absolutely gorrrrrge!

Goat Cheese Week

Goat Cheese Week

4)  Golden Gate bridge = most awesome bridge ever (terrible shot of us – instead of asking one of the 92484905840594 people there to take a pic of us, we took our own!)

Goat Cheese Week

So we’re back to life, back to reality, back to cooking!

This week, I thought it might be fun to do a series of recipes with one common ingredient, and this week’s ingredient ladies and gents isssss……(drum roll) GOAT CHEESE! I used to think “If it comes from a goat, I’m not eatin’ it” but now, goat cheese is one of my favorite cheeses – like a tangier cream cheese.  And I’ve just come to realize how versatile an ingredient it really is.

We got home from CA, and after picking up Hairy and spending lots of time playing with him to make sure he didn’t forget us, there was little time to grocery shop.  So last night’s dinner was a ‘cabinet creation’.  After not watering our herbs for almost a week, we were pleasantly surprised to find out that not only were they alive and well, but growing like weeds! Especially the basil!  I had found this recipe from Prevention RD for Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese pasta and thought “Yum” – and luckily, we had all the makings of it in our seemingly bare cabinets!

Modified a smidgen, here’s part 1 of goat cheese week:  Roasted Red Pepper, Goat Cheese and Basil Pasta, adapted from Prevention RD’s recipe.

Roasted Red Pepper, Goat Cheese and Basil Pasta
*Adapted from Prevention RD


2 tbsp. olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 small onion, chopped

1 – 7oz bottle of Roasted Red Peppers, rinsed and drained and then chopped into small pieces

1 cup of crushed tomatoes
(I used the basil flavored kind)

4 oz goat cheese

1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

1) In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and onion and sautee until fragrant (about 2 minutes) stirring constantly to make sure the garlic doesn’t burn (burnt garlic = yuck)

2) Add the chopped roasted red pepper and tomatoes and simmer over low heat for about five minutes.

3)  Add the goat cheese and stir until it’s completely melted into the sauce.

4)  Take the sauce mixture and transfer to the food processor.  Add the fresh basil, salt and pepper, and pulse until it becomes a sauce-like consistency.

5) Serve over cooked pasta!

Usually, cabinet creations aren’t my favorite, but this particular time, I think we have a winner!  This sauce was so easy to make and a complete departure from your run of the mill tomato sauce.  The goat cheese added a rich and creamy texture and the roasted red peppers a bit of sweetness.  So good.  And as I was stuffing my face, I started thinking of all the things you could do with it!  You could serve it as a hot dip, with sliced baguette and veggies, or even use it as the base for a pizza (although Dave thinks it would be too watery on a pizza – one more challenge I’ll be happy to take him up on) But all in all, a definite keeper!

Stay tuned for more delicious goat cheese installments this week!

Kate, Becky and Baby Lane

My friend Becky has a bun in the oven – and this bun is COOKED!  She’s the first of my college friends to be having a little cherrub, so naturally, all of us gals have a zillion questions – “What’s that weird line down your belly button?” “Are you using Cocoa butter to avoid stretch marks?” “Are you scared $hitless?” – all the standards!  Becky couldn’t be any more perfectly pregnant – she’s all belly – and when little Lane comes down the shoot, I’m sure it will only take her about a week or so to snap back to pre-pregnancy perfection! (hate her :))

Today, we’re having a ‘pre-lane’ ladies lunch – and nautrally I thought to ask what foods may induce labor, hopefully staying away from them – and Becky replied by saying “No….PLEASE…I need all the help I can get!” hence these delicious Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls, with enough spice to prompt any cooked bun to emerge from the oven (I think she ate about 6 of them haha – no Lane yet though! We’re all anxiously awaiting!)

 Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls


Egg Roll Wrappers
(can be purchased in the produce section, near the tofu and cole slaw mixes)

2 cups of cooked, shredded chicken

1 large tub of light cream cheese, at room temperature

1 cup light ranch dressing

1 cup Frank’s hot sauce

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees

2) In a mixing bowl with an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and ranch dressing until combined.  Then mix the hot sauce, shredded chicken and shredded cheese.  Combine the two mixtures.

I put that $@#% on everything

3) Take egg roll wrapper – wet the edges with warm water, using a pastry brush.

4) Take about 2 tablespoons of the buffalo chicken mixture and spread in a thin line diagonally down the center of the egg roll wrapper.

5)  Roll the edges in and fold like a little burrito.

6) Place on a foil lined baking sheet coated with non-stick cooking spray. Baste the tops lightly with olive oil.

7) Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 20 minutes, turning over half way through.

8) Take out and let cool on a cooling rack for about ten minutes.

9) Serve with celery and ranch dressing! YUM!

While these may not have induced labor, they were still the perfect lunch side/appetizer that would be great for any occasion, especially a pre-baby ladies lunch.

Can’t wait to meet you Lane! Maybe Gerber can start making a ‘Buffalo Chicken Egg Roll’ puree 🙂 


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