Our Favorite Party Appetizers

>> Monday, January 26, 2015

I'll be honest, we're not usually Superbowl fanatics, but we love a good commercial as well as anyone. One year, a friend of ours had a source that leaked the commercials to her a week ahead of time. At her Superbowl party, she gave us a little game sheet to play "Guess the Commercial?" Her clues were pretty hilarious, and nobody got up to use the bathroom in the breaks.

Elote (Creamy Corn) Dip

Elote (Creamy Corn) Dip

These appetizers aren't necessarily Superbowl party snacks, but any kind of party snacks. A lot of these have been well-loved by our monthly bible study group and our Cooking Party friends.

Roasted Red Pepper-Pine Nut Bruschetta


Joe has been making the roasted red pepper-pine nut bruschetta since I first met him, and if he ever starts wondering what he should make for the next get-together, I always suggest this one. There's some sort of magic that happens when you let the nuts, fresh roasted peppers, garlic, golden raisins, and herbs marinate together. I'd really like a bowl of that right now.

Salted Caramel Dreamboats


I learned how to make chocolates in my Grandma's cake and candy store, and I love throwing a candy-making party with my friends. These are truly addictive little bites, so you might want to make a big batch. They're super easy to make!

P.S. I call these "dreamboats" because once in a while my grandma would talk about the days when she dated grandpa, and he was a real dreamboat. That translates just fine over generations.

Hot Reuben Dip


We usually make this in the fall, because it kind of fits an Oktoberfest theme or maybe it's just a fall type of food. One time we showed up a day early for our friends' Oktoberfest party, then stayed to help them cook, including this dip which I immediately needed to make again. Awesome.

Seafood-Stuffed Portobella Caps


This may be a bold statement, but I believe you could stuff just about anything in a mushroom cap and I'd like it. Um, when I say "anything", I do, of course, mean any reasonable food item. That leaves out tripe and edible insects.

Ahem, This stuffed mushroom recipe will make you forget that people eat such things. In fact, let's pretend it never came up.

Eat well, my friends!


Stacked Crepes, Western Omelet-Style

>> Monday, January 19, 2015

Crepes, Denver Omelette-Style

My first crepe experience was at the Magic Pan restaurant in the brand-new Renaissance Center in Detroit, where my Grandpa Williams took us after its grand opening. I remember the world singing hallelujah that Detroit was being revitalized and the pain of having to choose just one crepe entree from the giant Magic Pan creperie.

Magic Pan had sugar lumps wrapped in paper, and my cousin Scott and I ate as many as we could without getting caught, and stuffed our pockets full on the way out the door. While my parents chatted, Scott and I dropped the sugar cubes down through the open courtyard, trying to tag a shopper. I can say this now, because the statute of limitations on that crime has now run out.

I also remember a lecture from my mom that has lasted to this day: I am physically unable to pronounce them "crapes" (which rhymes with grapes) but must always say creps, which rhymes with preps. This means I confuse a lot of Americans when I order them from a menu.

First Born developed a passion for crepes early. She loved them so much that her Aunt and Uncle gave her a crepe machine when she was about twelve. Now that she's on her own, her miniscule Chicago kitchen doesn't have room for many appliances, so we've had the benefit of unlimited crepe-making for years. If you don't have a crepe-maker, the instructions below use a little skillet.

Joe and I came up with this recipe one day while looking for something new to cook for Sunday brunch. Since crepes are such a classic French dish, we turned to Julia Child's cookbook for inspiration. After some reasonably simple directions (especially short for Julia), she went on to describe stacked crepes with fillings in between the layers - kind of like a crepe lasagna.

I adore those pretty little crepe rolls full of juicy berries and jam, and if you top them with a bit of mascarpone you'll be pretty close to heaven on a plate. But rolled crepes are a bit of work and if you're clutzy like me, they can also be messy. Crepes stacked up without any rolling tend to eliminate both problems.

This recipe is great for using up leftovers, which is why it is Western omelet (or Denver omelet) style. We had ham, peppers, onions, and a few other things to throw in the filling. Like always, use whatever makes you happy.


For the crepes
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons melted butter

For the filling/sauce
1 tbsp oil
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped mushroom
1/4 cup chopped tomato
1/3 cup chopped ham
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated

For the sauce
2 eggs
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp Lousiana hot sauce
1 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
4 tbsp butter, melted and cooled


Add all of the crepe ingredients to the blender or food processor and pulse for 10 seconds. Put the batter in the refrigerator while preparing the other ingredients. This will let some of the bubbles rise out of the batter so your crepes are less likely to tear.

Heat the oil in a skillet and saute the vegetables. Add the ham, then keep warm while making the crepes.

Heat a small non-stick pan. Pour 1 ounce of batter into the center of the pan and quickly swirl it until the pan is evenly covered. Slide a spatula around the edges to release them. Cook for 30 seconds and flip. Cook for another 10 seconds and then flip onto a plate.

Layer crepes with the vegetable mixture and cheese until it is as high as you like.Vigorously whisk together all sauce ingredients until it is frothy, and pour over the stack of crepes. Serve by cutting it into slices like a cake.

If you have leftover crepes, let them cool, then store them in a plastic bag in the fridge or freezer.

Serves 4-6.


Twisted Cuisine, Kenosha, Wisconsin

>> Thursday, January 15, 2015

One of our most exciting experiences is finding a restaurant that is exciting, affordable, and near. Kenosha is a blue-collar town that has been hoisting itself back on its feet since the car industry crash and the demise of the AMC motor plant on the lake. This city didn't used to be a place where you'd find innovative big-city chefs, but Twisted Cuisine is one of best we've found in the last few years. And luckily, it's close enough for us to enjoy more than once.

You know you're on to something good when you mention you just found a Restaurant.com coupon for "this place called Twisted Cuisine", and people moan with delight. The restaurant calls itself "Casual Cuisine with a Twist" - a serious twist. For example, the tilapia rolled in crumbled Apple Jacks celeral, or the Prime Flat-Iron steak with popcorn brittle and chipotle. If you feel like dessert, one of them is Oreo Donuts with Vodka Icing. Hmmm.

The surprisingly young chef brings a playful attitude to the food and squeezes in between the overflowing tables to greet her customers. The place is busy every time we go there, but we've never had a wait for a table and the servers are quick and friendly. This is Wisconsin, after all, and "Wisconsin Nice" is a special kind sweetness that treats every newcomer as a friend.

Twisted Cuisine owners, Rhonda Bell & Heid Neff
Twisted Cuisine owners, Rhonda Bell & Heid Neff

So last weekend we went with a pair of our closest friends to the Lemon Street Art Gallery where (I can hardly believe it!) I was showing some of my art photography. That night I sold three photographs and had a heart-shaking conversation with a Wisconsin Nice woman who nudged into my soul the idea that my art is a gift; I do not have the right to turn off my talent because it's not as good as the art I imagined making. Ouch! But after actually selling art (!!!), I was in a great frame of mind to hear that message.

Well, then we were off to Twisted Cuisine. One of the continual draws for us is the rotating menu of game and unusual meats. Since I haven't eaten pheasant (or seen one) since I lived in rural Michigan, I ordered the pheasant with Sweet Pepper Bacon, Panko Beer Batter, and Cranberry Glaze. The beer batter actually tasted a bit like pancake batter, and it tenderly enfolded this juicy breast of pheasant. My dinner came with a sweet potato the size of Pluto and I had the leftovers for lunch.

Joe had the Long-Bone pork chop with blueberry, molasses, and scallion. If you've never tried a pork chop with blueberry syrup, you really should. And where has molasses been all my life?

Peggy ordered Harvest Chicken with Pumpkin Butter, Bourbon and Pecans, a dish we were all considering. It was spectacular and heavy with flavor, but I thought the chicken was a little overwhelmed by the other flavors. Joe and I are going to play around with that recipe concept and see what we come up with. 

John had the venison stroganoff with Kale Flower and Wild Mushroom Crème. I usually have trouble with gamy venison, but one bite of his dinner made me want to snatch the plate off his side of the table. I don't even know what a cook does to make a sauce so buttery-creamy. This was my favorite dish of the evening.

Make reservations - Twisted Cuisine is a busy restaurant, especially during the summer tourist season. Then order the lobster mac'n'cheese, and tell me how utterly wonderful it is.

Twisted Cuisine is at 7546 Sheridan Road   |   Kenosha Wi 53143
Call for reservations: 262-564-0220

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