This weekend, I had a surprise party at my house for my awesome sister-in-law, Anne, who is one of TWELVE children, and hadn't had a birthday party to call her own before. Heavens knows I had to remedy that! Anyway, being the Southern girl I am, most of the recipes in my party arsenal are fairly heavy, and/or deep fried. Fried chicken, sausage balls, rigatoni and meatballs, biscuits, all kinds of deliciousness that are very filling, and very HOT! Being that it was going to be almost 90* on Saturday, and we were going to be spending a lot of time outside, I wanted to do some lighter items, that wouldn't have us sweating all afternoon. Looking through my recipe files, I realized that I was severely lacking in appetizer and/or finger food recipes that don't involve hot oil, or copious amounts of sauce. So, I took to my good ole friend, Google (what did people DO before the internet, anyway? Perhaps this is the reason for the abomination masquerading as an appetizer that is 'pigs in a blanket,' seriously, what IS that?!), and came up with a new idea, or two.
The recipe that caught my eye right off the bat is especially interesting because I don't actually like 90% of the ingredients (are you noticing a theme here? I'm probably pickier than your children!), but it just looked so BEAUTIFUL in pictures, that I absolutely HAD to try it. Add to the fact that it's a play on The Family's favorite food (the ubiquitous chips & salsa), and it was a winner in my book! It was obscenely easy to put together, and the results were delicious, winning rave reviews from the Mexican loving crowd! Fruit Salsa with Homemade Cinnamon Tortilla Chips is definitely a winner to add to your appetizer arsenal, in case yours is as lacking as mine was.
For some reason, I didn't take any photos of the process of this recipe (could be that it was 10:00 at night, and I still had WAY too much to do), but the final product was so beautiful, I had to share two!
And, marrying into an absolutely FABULOUS Mormon family means that my drink repertoire is even more limited than my appetizer arsenal. Seriously, it's been so long since I've seen a cocktail that I could probably get tipsy off a SNIFF! And the ubiquitous Mormon "mocktail" of Sprite and Sherbet just doesn't do it for me (sorry, Utah, I drank it at my wedding, but it's just not my cup of tea!). As such, I make a LOT of lemonade, embarrassingly enough, not even homemade lemonade, plain old Country Time lemonade. And I LIKE it! But, I was feeling a little bit bored of lemonade, and looking for something with a bit more pizazz, reminiscent of a good, bubbly Mimosa, or Bellini. What I came up with, Sparkling Berry Lemonade is so easy, and tasted so good, that on a good day, it's even a substitute for a good, strong cocktail. On a bad day? Well, let's just not go there! ;) Again, this is an original recipe, so there aren't any official measurements, I just filled my new pitcher ($4.00 from Wal-Mart, the evil giant I love to hate), half way full of water, and half way full of club soda, and then enough lemonade mix to acheive the flavor I like (slightly tart, but mostly sweet). The addition of frozen berries turns the whole thing a beautiful orange color as the fruit thaws, and mingles with the lemonade (no photos of that, sorry!), and let's just face it, bubbles (from the club soda) make EVERYTHING better!
Sparkling Berry Lemonade
Country Time Lemonade Mix (or your favorite mix, this just happens to be the brand I'm loyal to)
Frozen Mixed Berries
-Fill your pitcher half way full with water (Tap, or filtered, whatever floats your boat, I use filtered, because I'm anal like that, but I won't tell if you don't!)
-Then fill the rest of the way with Club Soda.
*Note, leave a little room at the top of your pitcher, as the club soda and lemonade fizz a fair amount when mixed! This is chemistry in action, folks!*
-Add your lemonade mix, and stir well, until you achieve the flavor you like best! Some people like their lemonade uber sweet, and others extremely tangy, I think I'm somewhere in the middle, leaning more toward the sweet side.
-Add some frozen berries and stir.
*I'm sure you could also use fresh berries, but I use the frozen because they act as my ice cubes. This is extra great for me, because one of my biggest pet peeves in the kitchen is making lemonade with ice cubes in the water. Because when they melt, it dilutes the lemonade, and ruins the whole batch. My husband and I disagree on this, and he makes lemonade WITH ice cubes just to get my goat, and I make them without just to get his, but TRUST ME ON THIS, do NOT put ice cubes in your water when making lemonade. Put some thought into it, make the lemonade early, and stick it in the fridge. Or, put ice cubes in your individual glass if you don't find diluted lemonade to be as big of a tragedy as I do, but whatever you do, DON'T rain on everyone else's parade! (or as we say in my house, "don't poop on my parade," but I wasn't sure exactly how appropriate that would be on a food blog!)
Hallelujahs: Fast, Delicious, BUBBLY, and nutritious? (hey, there's fruit in there, which is already an improvement for me!)
Hellfires: Not sure if there are any, maybe that it's non-alcoholic, if you're looking for a nice, stiff drink.
Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Tortilla Chips
-Note, I doubled the original recipe (except for the pineapple), and added a fair amount more sugar, as well
For the Cinnamon Chips
16 Flour Tortillas (these are on my list of things I want to learn to make from scratch, but for this, I was pressed for time, and used store bough tortillas, and they STILL turned out DELICIOUS!)
1 stick of butter
Cinnamon/Sugar Mixture (I always have this hanging around for my cinnamon toast, which is God's gift to breakfast!)
-Preheat oven to 350*
-Using a pastry brush (or a BBQ sauce brush, or a paint brush, or a spoon, or even the tools God gave ya-your hands!), spread melted butter on all of the tortillas.
-After buttering, sprinkle each tortilla with cinnamon/sugar in whatever ratio you like. It's important to make the cinnamon sugar mixture ahead of time, though, you don't want to have big streaks of cinnamon on your chips.
-Stack the tortillas (4-6 at a time) and cut into 8 wedges.
-Place tortilla chips in one layer on a greased baking sheet, and bake for 5-10 minutes until crisp. It will take several batches, but no matter how tempted you may be to stack them, especially if it's 10:00 pm, place them in a SINGLE LAYER on your baking sheet. It's important for the crisping. Also, they will continue to crisp after you take them out of the oven, so don't wait until they feel like the tortilla chips you get in the store. Mine took closer to 10 minutes, than 5.
-After removing from oven, place in bowl, and allow to cool COMPLETELY before sealing in Ziploc bag (otherwise they'll get soggy)
For the fruit salsa
-1 pound of strawberries, rinsed, and chopped fine
-2 Navel Oranges, rinsed, and chopped fine
*Incidentally, it's not so easy to dice an orange, and it hurts when you squirt the juice in your eye!
-6 kiwis, peeled, and chopped fine
-1 large can of crushed pineapple, drained
-2 tablespoons of lemon juice
-Sugar to taste
*The originally recipe would call for 2 tsp here, but you know how I feel about measuring. I did several heavy turns of the bowl. Just start small, and taste as you go!
-Chop your fruit, and place in large bowl.
-Add Lemon Juice, and Sugar
-Serve with cinnamon chips
Hallelujahs: Easy as pie (which actually ain't easy), delicious, light, fresh, beautiful
Hellfires: There's a lot of liquid in this, as it sits, which makes it look less beautiful, maybe strain it in collander first?
Original Recipe, and nutrition info can be found at: http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Fruit-Salsa-with-Cinnamon-Chips
Okay, now you have some fantastic new summer recipes, you've got no excuse here, GO HAVE A PARTY! Have some fun with it, go a little crazy (if you're a non-LDS reader, throw some Vodka in with the lemonade), and report back to me! Also, if you have some great summer appetizers, share them with me, I could use a few more!