Pre-Thanksgiving Appetizer Night!

Well, Thanksgiving 2010 has come and gone, and I have much to blog about!  It was a wonderful few days spent taking a break from work, sleeping in, watching movies, spending quality time with Matt, the cats, and some friends, and of course – EATING!  There was much yumminess over the past weekend, so I’ll be sharing that over the next few days.

For us, Thanksgiving officially began at 5 pm on Wednesday afternoon. That night, we had some fun and just made some tasty, (perhaps not so healthy!) appetizers, put in a movie and just snacked the night away. It was really blissful! We made Rosemary-Garlic Fried Mozzarella Balls, plus Spinach Artichoke Ranch Dip. The fried mozz came from “Stirring the Pot” by Tyler Florence, and the dip came from Rachael Ray’s “Big Orange Book.” Both were quite good!  The dip combined two popular items: ranch dressing and spinach artichoke dip.  The ranch part is made from scratch, and it’s really good!  Make it that way once, and you will never buy the bottled stuff again.  Enjoy!!

ROSEMARY-GARLIC FRIED MOZZARELLA BALLS

Ingredients:
Mozzarella Balls:
3 cups focaccia bread
4 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves only
2 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 pound bocconcini, or a ball of fresh mozzarella that’s cut into bite-size balls
2 eggs, beaten
Vegetable or canola oil, for deep-frying
Tomato Dipping Sauce:
2 cups cherry tomatoes
1/2 medium onion, cut into wedges
1 garlic clove, peeled
EVOO
Kosher salt and black pepper

Directions:
For mozzarella balls, place bread pieces in a food processor and pulse until you have 2 cups of coarse bread crumbs. Stir in rosemary and garlic, season with salt and pepper. Place flour on a shallow plate, season with salt and pepper. Dip the mozz balls into the flour, shake off excess, then dip in egg, shake off excess, then roll in the bread crumbs until coated. Place on a tray, and set aside in the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 425 F. To make the dipping sauce, place tomatoes, onion and garlic on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with EVOO and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until tomatoes are slightly caramelized. Remove from oven and transfer everything to a blender. Puree until smooth. Pour mixture into a small pot and simmer over low heat until thick and creamy. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Taste it at this point, and add some sugar if your tomatoes are really acidic.
Pour 4 inches of oil into a large heavy pot and heat to 375 F. Fry a few mozz balls at a time for 3 to 4 minutes, until golden brown and the cheese is just starting to melt. Drain on paper towels. Season with salt, if needed. Serve with the tomato dipping sauce.

SPINACH ARTICHOKE RANCH DIP

Ingredients:
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup sour cream
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, finely minced
A few dashes of hot sauce
A handful of fresh parsley, chopped
A handful of fresh dill, chopped
A handful of fresh chives, chopped or snipped
Salt and pepper
1 (10 ounce) box of frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and artichokes quartered
1 (10 ounce) box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry in a clean kitchen towel
Shredded asiago cheese
1 package pita bread rounds, plain or whole-wheat
EVOO

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425 F. Cut each pita round into 8 wedges. Toss with EVOO, salt and pepper. Spread out evenly on a baking sheet. Bake for about 13 minutes, or until crispy.
Mix the buttermilk, sour cream, lemon juice, garlic, hot sauce, parsley, dill, and chives in a large bowl. Stir in the artichokes and the spinach (break up the spinach with your fingers if need be). Season to taste. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle the cheese over top. Serve with pita chips as dippers.

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About jwall915

I love to cook and I love to travel! This blog explores my love of both. I share recipes and restaurant reviews, and I blog the trips I take.
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