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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Cheap, Easy, Frugal and Simple Appetizers and Dessert Plan

Need a simple yet "Foodie" type appetizer& Dessert menu AND on a tight budget? too! 

This menu was created on the fly this past weekend during a ladies retreat. We had a team builder where as a team we had to plan, shop, and create an appetizer and dessert for $40 or under.

While our team didn't stay on budget($2.50 over) nor did we win the competition...we did make an amazing trio of tempting tapenades that fed 15 people and we still had left overs!

First up from the fashionable streets of Milan:
Chicken Bruschetta-
3 loaves of GOOD crusty French Loaves
3-4 Plum tomatoes, diced
3-5 large grated garlic cloves (Depending on how much garlic you want)
1/2 Lb Chicken Tenders
1 C Shredded Mozzarella
1/2 Cup Shredded Fresh Parmesan Reggiano Cheese
1/2 red onion thinly diced
1-2 T + 2 t Basil
1-2 T Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 stick of butter- room temp.
2 T of garlic salt
Italian Dressing
  1. Place diced tomatoes in a medium bowl, season to taste. Add diced onion, basil, balsamic vinegar and mix well. Add Parmesan Reggiano Cheese and finally add the grated garlic. Season to taste again and cover setting aside in fridge.
  2. Coat Chicken in Italian Dressing and cover. Set in fridge for 30 or so to intensify the flavor. 
  3. Combine Garlic Salt, Basil, and softened butter. Slice the French bread lengthwise then coat with butter mixture and sprinkle with Mozzarella Cheese. Cut bread into 3-4" sections and lay on a cookie sheet that has been prepped with cooking spray.
  4. Bake in 350 degree oven until bread is toasted. 
  5. Meanwhile, saute chicken in a seasoned skillet until cooked through. Cool slightly then slice into thin pieces.
  6. Serve sliced bread with a generous topping of the tomato mixture, followed by a spoonful of chicken and drizzled with the Balsamic Vinegar- immediately serve
Next Up a Taste of the Balmy & Fragrant Isle of Greece-
Gyro Sliders
3 Lbs ground Beef
8 oz Greek Yogurt or Sour Cream
6 Oz Feta Cheese Crumbles
1/2 a large Cucumber, grated
pinch or 2 of sugar
1/2 Tomato
1/2 Red onion, Julienned
Package of 24 small buns
1-2 T dried & crushed Oregano
5-6 garlic cloves, grated or finely minced
1 Lemon, grated and minced
1-2 T dried & crushed Dill
Salt and Pepper

  1. Combine Greek yogurt w/grated cucumbers, 1 oz feta cheese, palm-full of dill and another of oregano, pinch or 2 of sugar, salt and pepper & juice of lemon to taste, set aside in covered container in fridge.
  2. Gently mix ground beef, 1-2 cloves of grated garlic, 2 oz of feta cheese, salt and pepper, oregano &  Dill. Spread across a prepped cookie sheet with a heavy-duty spatula to 2" thickness, making as smooth and flat as possible. Bake in 350 degree oven until cooked medium-well.
  3. Allow to cool to slightly above room temp and cut into squares the size of your mini buns. Toast one side of the buns until golden then top with the gyro seasoned meant. Add a dollop of Tzatziki sauce and garnish with the thinly sliced red onions, diced tomatoes, and feta crumbles.
We rounded out the culinary journey with a tasty trip to Mexico....
 Glueten-Free Chicken Tacos w/Salsa fresco:
1 package of Gluten-free Tortillas
1/2 Lb chicken thighs, bonesless & skinless
Mexican Blend of shredded cheese
Sour Cream
Bib Lettuce
Salsa Fresca
2-3 Plum Tomatoes, diced  
1/2 -3 whole Jalapeno pepper(s), thinly diced & ribs-seeds removed
2-3 T Cilantro, 
Salt and pepper to taste
Lime Juice 1-2 T
Medium Red Onion-diced
1-2 T Oregano, 
2 t Dried crushed Chipotle & Cumin

  1. Combine all of the salsa Fresca ingredients into a small bowl and set aside allowing to mingle for 3 hours-overnight.
  2. Meanwhile, Saute chicken tenders until cooked through a brown but not dried out! Dice the chicken into small pieces yet still leaving distinguishable. 
  3. This is what I would do in hindsight if wanting to make this an app. Arrange the chicken onto a Bib Lettuce Leave, will resemble a "bowl" and garnish with dollop of sour cream, top that with the salsa fresca, & sprinkle with shredded cheese. Omit the gluten-free tortillas all together. Or if serving as a taco arrange we did in the picture above.
Pie didn't have the full 3 hours to set :-(
The denouement of the evening's culinary journey concluded with a sumptuous and silky ice cream pie!

Peanut Butter Ice Cream Pie:
1 Gallon Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
1 Graham Cracker Crust in a pie tin
1 pint creamy peanut butter
1 container of caramel Syrup
1 bottle of Real Whipped Cream
8-16 Peanut Butter Cups

  1. Drizzle Caramel Syrup into the graham cracker crust and set aside.
  2. Allow Ice Cream to come to room temp and mix with entire jar of peanut butter. Mix until thoroughly combined and no visible clumps are seen!
  3. Ladle Ice Cream mixture onto Crust and immediately cover and freeze for at least 3 hours
  4. Drizzle Caramel onto plate is a pleasing pattern then cut pie into 8-10 pieces and lay on top of syrup. Pipe whip cream onto pie and crown with a peanut butter cup or 2.

There you have it! 

We did ALL of that for $42.50!! Amazing, yes? And it fed 15 ladies with left overs!!

 The best secret is finding GREAT food deals!! Luckily for us there was an Aldi right down the road and I got the all 3 of the homemade  
loaves for $1!


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