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August 2017

The 'Living on Appetizers Challenge': A Salmon Log for Dinner

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

Can a guy live on just appetizers alone? I'm on day five of preparing, eating and, 'surviving' on appetizers, nothing but.

20170901_182238Tonight, it's a salmon log and crackers for dinner.  I'm taking a 1960's era recipe, updating it to 2017 and making it my own.

A classic salmon log consists of canned salmon, cream cheese, a little lemon juice and a bit of horseradish.  'Fancy' logs back in the day were rolled in pecans or walnuts.  When I saw this at parties as a young'n, I said to myself, "Yuck!"  I ate crackers plain rather than dip into that stuff!

Tastes change as you grow older though, I have to admit I missed out on some new flavor experiences by denying that back in the day salmon log a try, so updating that old school recipe with some more modern ingredients is a must.... 

A Modern Salmon Party Log

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of salmon
  • 1 package of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons dried, minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flake
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • A healthy squirt of Sriracha
  • 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame seed for wrapping

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine canned salmon with all ingredients except the sesame seed, mix thoroughly in a food processor to make all the goodness nice and creamy (they didn't have food processors back in the day, probably another reason the 'chunky' variety of log didn't appeal to me).  Lay out a large stretch of plastic wrap, layer with the sesame seed.  Spoon the salmon mixture onto the wrap.  Roll and wrap into a log shape.  Chill for several hours.  Serve with crackers or toasted bread rounds.

This meal cost me about $3 to prepare, VERY Bachelor on the Cheap friendly and I've got plenty of leftovers for a snack later!


The 'Living on Appetizers' Challenge: Pickled Mushrooms & Onions

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

Can a guy live on just appetizers alone? I'm on day five of preparing, eating and, 'surviving' on appetizers, nothing but. 

20170831_190739Needing something a little bit different, not fried, not typical bar food, but still an appetizer, I decided on pickled mushrooms and red onion for lunch.  I've pickled onions in the past for sandwiches, but never mushrooms.  The recipe is from my mother's Better Homes & Garden cook book with a few twists from yours truly.

In a small sauce pan, combine 1/3 cup red wine vinegar (I used balsamic), 1/3 cup salad oil (I used olive oil), 1 small white onion (I used red), thinly sliced and separated in rings, 1 teaspoon salt (I used Kosher), 2 teaspoons dried parsley flake, 1 teaspoon prepared mustard (I used brown) and 1 Tablespoon brown sugar (I used light brown).  Bring to a boil, add two 6 ounce cans mushroom crowns (I used fresh, stems removed).  Simmer 5 to 6 minutes (I simmered for 10 minutes in using fresh mushrooms and then let them steep for another 10 minutes).  Chill in a covered bowl for several hours, stirring occasionally (Use a medium sized Tupperware bowl and just shake it, no stirring necessary).  Drain and serve.

20170831_194805These are excellent served with deli sliced roast beef on a Triscuit cracker!  The crunch of the cracker, the savory beef, the slightly sweet yet tart pickled mushroom and onion is another dose of YUM!

This appetizer meal cost me around $4 to prepare, making it Bachelor on the Cheap friendly!  Did it fill me up?  Yes, five nicely topped crackers did the trick just fine, keeping me full for the rest of the work day.

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The 'Living on Appetizers' Challenge: Little Smokies in a Blanket

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

Can a guy live on just appetizers alone? I'm on day five of preparing, eating and, 'surviving' on appetizers, nothing but.

If you love Little Smokies, crescent rolls and/or pigs in a blanket, this recipe is for you!

20170901_123822-1This is pigs in a blanket kicked up a notch, for breakfast!

Smokies in a Blanket

Ingredients:

  • One package of crescent rolls
  • 8 - 12 Little Smokies (enough to equal the number of crescent rolls)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 8-12 spinach leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon roasted red pepper, minced
  • 3 - 4 slices of Havarti cheese, quartered
  • A pinch of Kosher salt
  • A dash of black pepper
  • A dash of garlic powder
  • A shake or two of red pepper flake
  • A generous shake of dried, minced onion

Directions:

20170901_123929-1Preheat your oven to 375 degrees or suggested temperature according to the crescent roll package instructions.  Separate the rolls, placing them on an ungreased baking tray.  In a small bowl, mix the egg, salt, pepper, garlic powder, red pepper flake and onion.  Brush the crescent rolls with the egg mixture.  Layer the rolls with quartered Havarti cheese, a leaf or two of spinach, a smokie and the roasted red pepper.  Roll up the crescents, brush with the remaining egg mixture and bake for 15 minutes or until golden, brown and delicious.

What a great breakfast!  This meal cost me about $5 to prepare and I've got plenty of leftover ingredients to make something else.  These Smokies in a Blanket pack a lot of flavor and they are a true 'to-go' food to boot!  It's sausage, egg, cheese and toast, all in one great bite! 


The 'Living on Appetizers' Challenge: Bacon Wrapped Crab Cakes

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

Can a guy live on just appetizers alone? I'm going to find out. Over the next couple weeks, I'm preparing, eating and, 'surviving' on appetizers alone.

Everything is better with bacon and tonight for dinner it's crab cakes - wrapped in bacon!

20170830_191055Let me tell you, this is the best appetizer I've done in this challenge (so far)!

Bacon Wrapped Crab Cakes

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup tomato juice
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup crab meat
  • 1/2 cup seasoned Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Louisiana Hot Sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 6 slices of bacon (set aside for wrapping)

Directions:

20170830_195718Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  In a large bowl, mix all ingredients until well incorporated.   Lay out the bacon slices on a baking tray, side by side, along the width of the tray.  Gently spread the crab mixture onto the bacon, but not too close to the edges.  Wrap the bacon around the crab mixture, gently shaping everything into a log until completely wrapped, with the ends of the bacon slices meeting on the underside of the log.  Bake for about 30 minutes or until the bacon is done to your desired level of crispiness.  After removing from the oven, let the log rest for about five minutes.  Slice the log between each slice of bacon to create individual crab cake pieces for serving.

This recipe rocks!  This meal was a tad expensive with the Bachelor on the Cheap budget in mind, costing about $8 to prepare but boy was it worth it!  I had two cakes for dinner and even though I was quite full, I found myself looking forward to the great leftovers of bacon wrapped crab cakes in a future meal.


The 'Living on Appetizers' Challenge - Teriyaki Meatballs

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

Can a guy live on just appetizers alone? I'm going to find out. Over the next couple weeks, I'm preparing, eating and, 'surviving' on appetizers alone.

20170831_181601The beauty of meatballs is that you can insert any number of flavors into ground meat, you can go traditional with Italian seasoning, you can simply add some bbq sauce like I did for a meal earlier in this challenge, or you can go Mexican by adding chilies and cumin.  For my lunch today, I went Asian.

Teriyaki Meatballs

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon Terriyaki sauce
  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried, minced onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 pound 80/20 ground beef
  • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs

Directions:

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together until well incorporated.  Chill in the fridge for at least one hour.  Using an ice cream scoop, form the meatballs and place on an ungreased baking tray.  Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes.  Serve with a little dish of Terriyaki sauce on the side for dipping.

This appetizer meal cost me about $2 to prepare, that's Bachelor on the Cheap friendly and I've got A LOT of meatballs remaining for another meal!


The 'Living on Appetizers' Challenge - Breakfast Puffs

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer    

Can a guy live on just appetizers alone? I'm going to find out. Over the next couple weeks, I'm preparing, eating and, 'surviving' on appetizers alone.

20170831_130515-1For breakfast on this day, I decided to go with "Breakfast Puffs."

What the hell is a breakfast puff you ask?  It's a bite sized pastry filled with meat and cheese and let me tell you, that bite is AWESOME!

Breakfast Puffs

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • dash of garlic powder
  • dash of black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flake
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 pound pork sausage
  • 1/4 cup roasted red pepper, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons bourbon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Brown sausage in a small frying pan over medium heat.  Add roasted red pepper, black pepper, pepper flake and bourbon, stir until incorporated and once browned, set aside.  In a separate pan, melt butter in 1/4 cup boiling water and a pinch of salt.  Add flour, stir vigorously.  Stir until the mixture forms a ball that does not separate.  Remove from heat and cool.   Add egg, Parmesan cheese and garlic powder, beat vigorously to incorporate.  Drop dough onto greased cookie sheet, using 1 level teaspoon of dough for each puff.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.  Remove puffs from oven, cool and split.  Fill each puff with the sausage filling and serve. Serving Option:  Drizzle with melted Velveeta cheese. 

This appetizer 'meal' cost me about $3 to prepare which is VERY Bachelor on the Cheap friendly!  Did it fill me up?  Yes!  But I must admit there are no leftover puffs these were so good!  I did have more than enough filling however, which will refrigerate nicely for another application.


The Living on Appetizers Challenge: Bean Dip & Chips

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

Can a guy live on just appetizers alone? I'm going to find out. Over the next couple weeks, I'm preparing, eating and, 'surviving' on appetizers alone.

20170828_142844I've pulled out the crock pot again for this one, a pork, bean and cheese dip for dinner!

While I was enjoying those bacon, cheese and veggie finger sandwiches for lunch, I prepared dinner, easy peasy.  This dip is simple to throw together and in four hours when you get home from work, dinner is ready!

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/4 cup onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 can (16 oz.) of refried beans
  • 4-6 ounces of any leftover meat, in this case, pulled pork
  • 1 can (4.5 oz.) of green chilies
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1 jar of your favorite cheese sauce
  • A bag of tortilla chips

Directions:

Turn the crock on the low setting.  Add the canola oil and onion to the pot.  Add the beans, leftover meat, green chilies and seasoning.  Let all those flavors marry for about four hours.  Serve topped with the cheese sauce and chips on the side!  Serving Options:  On top of the cheese, sliced green onion or jalapeno pepper

This 'appetizer' dinner cost me about $7 to prepare and I had plenty leftover for another meal so this was very Bachelor on the Cheap friendly!  It was friendly in all categories, budget, taste and easy to prepare! 


The Living on Appetizers Challenge: Finger Sandwiches for Lunch

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

20170827_192540Can a guy live on just appetizers alone? I'm going to find out. Over the next couple weeks, I'm preparing, eating and, 'surviving' on appetizers alone.

Today for lunch it's all about finger sandwiches......  (Dramatic pause....)  I know what you're thinking, finger sandwiches, those little tiny things made with cucumber, with the crusts cut off and served with tea......   Nope, these babies are made with bacon and melted cheese! 

These particular finger sandwiches are perfect for this appetizer challenge, because they're pretty much a balanced meal all packed into that little finger sandwich bite.

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 large handful of fresh spinach
  • 1 Tablespoon onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon celery, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 slice American cheese
  • 2 slices of bread
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

After you've cooked up the bacon and set aside, drain off the excess fat and sweat the onion, celery and carrot.  After the veggies are tender crisp, add the spinach, Cayenne pepper and garlic powder, stir until the spinach is wilted.  Assemble the sandwiches by putting the cheese on the bottom slice of bread, the crumbled bacon and veggie mixture, top with the other slice of bread and toast in the pan you cooked the veggies in, about a minute on each side or until the cheese melts.  Slice the sandwich into four slices.  You can remove the crusts if you want, but I like the texture myself....  And there you have it, a balanced meal in a finger sandwich!

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The Living on Appetizers Challenge: Ham Croquettes for Breakfast

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

Can a guy live on just appetizers alone? I'm going to find out. Over the next couple weeks, I'm preparing, eating and, 'surviving' on appetizers alone.

Today for breakfast it's Ham Croquettes.

I love these things!  I pulled the recipe from my Mom's old Better Homes & Garden cookbook awhile back and added a few tweaks.  The first time I ever made them I wondered why my Mom never fixed these for us kids growing up....  Then it hit me.  The recipe calls for mustard and at the time, 3 out of us 4 kids didn't do mustard.  Mom knew what she was doing, but what a shame, because Ham Croquettes rock!

Ham Croquettes

Melt three tabs of butter over medium low heat and blend in 1/4 cup flour to make a rue.  Add 3/4 cup heavy cream all at once.  Stir until thick and bubbly, about 1 minute.  Remove from heat and let cool.  In a large bowl, dump in the cream and add 2 cups coarsely ground cooked ham (Spam works well here), 1 Tablespoon dried minced onion, 1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper, 2 heaping teaspoons yellow mustard, mix until well incorporated and chill.   Shape the mixture into 8 to 10 balls.  Roll in 3/4 cup fine bread crumbs.  Dip into a mixture of 1 beaten egg and 2 Tablespoons milk, roll in the crumbs again.  Fry in a deep cast iron skillet or similar vessel for about 2 minutes or until cooked through. Serve with a creamy egg sauce - DELICIOUS!

Creamy Egg Sauce

Melt 2 tabs of butter and blend in 2 Tablespoons flour, a pinch of salt and pepper over medium low heat.  Add 1 cup heavy cream, stir until thick and bubbly.  Add 1 hard-boiled egg, chopped, and a dash of Cayenne pepper.  Stir until the egg is warmed through and serve over the croquettes.