Who needs a main course when there are appetizers and side dishes?

Artichoke Dip

This is the BEST dip you will ever have. Everyone I've made it for has absolutely loved it.

8 oz. Cream Cheese
1½ cups Mozzarella Cheese, grated
1 cup Mayonnaise (DON'T use Miracle Whip!!!)
1 cup Parmesan
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can Artichoke Hearts, water drained

Tear up the artichoke hearts and mix with all other ingredients. Mash everything together, a mixer works well. Bake, uncovered, at 350° in a casserole dish for about 30 minutes.

Serve hot with baked pita chips or vegetables.

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto

This is a little something that I pulled out of my head and made for a party one day. It was an instant hit. I didn't measure anything or pay close attention to the ingredients so every time I make it, it tastes a little different.

oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
fresh basil, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
red pepper flakes
extra-virgin olive oil

Drain the sun-dried tomatoes, put in food processor along with all other ingredients, except olive oil. Process until finely chopped. Add a bit of olive oil and stir. Refrigerate a couple of hours before serving to let the flavours meld.

Serve with canapes or baked pita chips. Also really good as a pasta sauce with a bit of parmesan.

Capanese Chicken Wings

This recipe is time consuming, but if you're not worried about deep-frying, it's well worth the effort.

3 lbs chicken wings
1 egg, beaten
1 cup flour
1 cup vegetable oil

6 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp water
½ cup vinegar
1 cup white sugar
½ tsp salt

Cut wings in half. Dip in egg and then in flour. Fry in oil until deep brown and crisp. Put in a shallow roasting pan and pour sauce over wings.

Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Spoon sauce over wings while cooking.

Couscous with Feta & Olives

A very easy, tasty side dish!

1 cup instant couscous
1 cup boiling water
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp pepper
¾ cup crumbled Feta cheese
1/3 cup black olives, sliced
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes
3 tbsp olive oil
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped

Put couscous and sun-dried tomatoes in a heat-proof bowl. Add boiling water, stir and cover. Let stand 10 minutes and fluff with fork. Mix together lemon juice, olive oil, oregano and pepper. Add to warm couscous and stir. Add feta cheese, parsley and olives. Serve.

Larry's Caesar Salad

This is my Uncle Larry's famous Caesar Salad! He describes it as: "this is the real thing, from properly crisping the romaine to sautéing your own croutons (optional). This one will remind you of the ones they used to make beside your table at 4-star restaurants. Enjoy."

1 large head romaine, trimmed & crisped
2+ cloves garlic (more or less to taste)
¼ tsp coarse salt, ground
½ tsp fresh ground 'telicherry black' pepper
½ tsp balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 finely chopped anchovies, or about a 6" squeeze of anchovy paste
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
4 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 egg
1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
6+oz fresh grated parmesan reggiano

1. Rinse & trim & dry the romaine. Wrap in paper towels & put in fridge for at least an hour. Do not tear into bite sized pieces yet...that comes later;
2. Crush garlic & put in the olive oil for at least an hour;
3. If you wish to make your own croutons, simply cut slices of day old rye or brown bread into crouton sized cubes. With olive oil, lightly sauté these over low heat in a heavy skillet... these can be done anytime up to serving.
4. Now the trick is to have all ingredients measured & put in mise en place bowls ready to reach, as the rest is going to happen fairly quickly. In a very large stainless steel mixing bowl, combine the Dijon, Worcestershire, salt and pepper, anchovies and balsamic vinegar. Mix well with a flat whisk. Now add the oil/garlic mixture & again mix well.
5. Take the lettuce out of the fridge, cut into bites & toss in the bowl (I never use the rib, but some people like to...your choice). Using long salad tongs, toss well. Break the egg over the salad & toss. Add the grated parmesan & toss. Add the croutons, toss & serve!

Servings: usually 4 but 6 with a larger head of romaine.

Roasted Potatoes

Very easy to make and a really good side dish.

½ cup of mayonnaise or whipped salad dressing
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp seasoning salt
1 tbsp water
2 pound of potatoes, cut into bite size pieces

Heat oven to 425ºF. Mix dressing, herbs and seasoning, and water in a large bowl. Add the potatoes and toss to coat. Put potatoes on greased baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes, turning once, or until crisp.

Cheddar Olives

Party favourite!!

1 cup grated sharp Cheddar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
a 3-ounce jar small pimiento-stuffed green olives (about 24), drained and patted dry

In a bowl combine the Cheddar and the butter, add the flour and the cayenne, and blend the dough until it is combined well.

Drop the dough by tablespoons onto wax paper and wrap or mold each tablespoon around each of the olives, covering each olive completely.

Bake the wrapped olives on a baking sheet in the middle of a preheated 400°F. oven for 15 minutes, or until the pastry is golden, and serve them warm.

Artichoke Squares

2 6oz jars marinated artichoke hearts (3 cups)
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
4 eggs
¼ cup fine bread crumbs
¼ tsp each of salt, pepper, oregano, Tabasco
½ lb sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 Tbsp fresh minced parsley

Drain marinade from one jar of artichokes into a skillet – reserve remaining marinade in case you need it. Chop artichokes and set aside. Saute onions and garlic in marinade until transparent. Beat egg, add crumbs, seasoning, cheese, parsley, artichokes, and onion and garlic mixture.

Bake in 7x11 pan in a 350 oven for 30 minutes or until set when lightly touched.

Guinness Beer Bread

An accompaniment to my Guinness Stew.

4 cups flour
2 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
¼ cup sugar
12 oz Guinness draught beer
2 eggs, slightly beaten

Preheat oven to 375. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add Guinness and eggs. Stir until just blended. Pour into greased loaf pan.

Bake at 375 for about 70 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.

Spicy Shrimp Appetizer

½ cup olive oil
½ cup chopped basil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 ½ tsp hot pepper sauce
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper

1 lb raw shrimp, peeled

Mix together all marinade ingredients. Marinate shrimp in all but ¼ cup of the marinade for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Broil shrimp. Serve with reserved marinade.

Mango Chutney

3 cups mangos, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 ¼ cup sugar
2/3 cup cider vinegar
1 medium onion, chopped
½ c raisins
2 or 3 small dried hot red pepper, crushed
2 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ tsp each of coriander and turmeric
¼ tsp each of cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves

In a heavy saucepan, bring vinegar and sugar to a boil. Add balance of ingredients, bring to a boil, remove from heat and let sit for ½ hour. Return to heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until mixture has thickened.