Thursday, May 26, 2016

Chicken & Waffles Appetizer

A couple of months ago as we were traveling home from Florida, we stopped in Charleston, South Carolina for a few days.  We enjoyed seeing many of the historic sites in the area (visit this post on the RV blog to see where we went!). Of course, I loved the regional food! When I got back home, I needed to bring an appetizer to a gathering but I didn't have much time to put it together. I got a flash of inspiration from my southern food sampling and with the help of convenience food, was able to put together these yummy morsels very, very quickly. All of the ingredients could be made from scratch and if there were, I imagine the results would be spectacular. But I didn't have time to make 10 waffles from scratch of fry up a batch of homemade chicken! Instead I used frozen waffles, boneless chicken wings from the grocery deli, and store bought pimento cheese spread. I have included a recipe for pimento cheese in this post just in case someone was curious, but if pre-made is used, this appetizer is a snap to put together!

Ingredients for 40 Appetizers

10 pre-made frozen waffles such as Eggo brand
Enough popcorn chicken to cut into 40 (1/4 of waffle size) pieces, Tyson brand or from deli
1 1//2 cups pimento cheese spread, recipe below or from local grocery store deli
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon maple syrup

Pimento Cheese Spread

Pimento Cheese Recipe from Cook's Illustrated Magazine - yields three cups

2/3 cup mayonnaise
1 (4 oz.) jar pimentos
1 (8 oz.) package finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 (8 oz.) Package regular shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 (or less) teaspoon cayenne pepper

With an electric mixer, gently combine all ingredients together just until spreadable.
Use as a sandwich filling or cracker spread.

Procedure for Assembling Chicken & Waffles Appetizer:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. If using pre-made frozen popcorn chicken such as Tyson's, follow the package directions for cooking except cut off five minutes of the baking time. Set aside. If using pre-made chicken from the grocery store deli, just set aside. Line baking sheet with foil. Cut each waffle into fourths and place on baking sheet. Spread each waffle piece with two teaspoons of pimento cheese. Top with a chicken piece and bake for 5 minutes. The cheese spread on the waffles should be melted, bubbly, and beginning to brown. Remove from oven and place on serving platter. Drizzle each appetizer with 1/4 teaspoon of maple syrup and serve.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Fruit Tabbouleh

It's the time of the year when every organization, sports team, and club has "The End of the Year Final Celebratory Banquet."  Back when the girls were in high school, I remember how terribly busy we were as we struggled to fit them all into our schedule. This week I attended a last meeting of the year luncheon for the organization I volunteer for. It was held at the same place where Allison had prom, an event center converted from a building that used to be a grocery store. All seemed well during the business meeting portion; everyone admired the crystal chandeliers that hung from the ceiling and commented on the lovely centerpieces in the middle of each table. Then it was time for lunch. The menu on the reservation form had read: "Choice of Chinese Chicken Salad or Caprese Salmon; Hot Rolls and Butter; Oreo Cookie Pie; Iced Tea." One of the ladies at my table asked our server, a college aged guy, for an unsweet tea with lemon. He said, "Sorry, but tea is not on the order for your group." Then someone else said, "We haven't gotten our rolls yet." Once again the poor waiter had to tell us that there weren't going to be any rolls for our group. At this point I asked him, "But you have dessert coming - right?" He looked like he wanted a trap door to open underneath him as he told us there wasn't any dessert "back there". I started laughing and said, "Telling 230 women at a ladies' lunch that there isn't going to be dessert isn't going to go over very well!" At that moment the member in charge of planning the event stood up and spoke over the microphone. She said she was so sorry and felt awful, but the contact person from the facility that she had dealt with was in Las Vegas and communication must have been compromised. We had a good laugh and didn't care at all; it was just wonderful to be together until meetings starting up again in the fall. This experience made me think back on other group gatherings I had been to in the past. For me, the best ones were pitch-ins. Everyone brought their special dish and it was fun to ask for recipes and hear the stories behind them. Of course, the best recipes were the ones that were quick and easy! The salad posted here is a variation of tabbouleh, a traditional middle eastern salad with cucumbers and tomatoes. It's a different alternative to the usual fruit salad and consumes little time to put it together.

Ingredients for Fruit Tabbouleh Salad - Serves 12 at a Pitch-in Celebration

1/2 cup Bulgar (I used Bob's Red Mill)
1 cup boiling water
pinch salt
6 to 8 cups cubed fresh fruit (any kind, even melons if desired)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh ginger root minced
2 tablespoons lime juice


Place the bulgur and salt in a medium sized bowl. Pour boiling water over the bulgur and let it sit for at least 20 minutes while the fruit is being cut up.
Whisk honey, mint, lime juice, and ginger together.
Place fruit and soaked bulgur (discard any water not absorbed) in a large serving bowl. Add dressing and toss to coat. Store covered in the refrigerator.