Avocado Deviled Eggs

Avocado Deviled Eggs 3

I realize that Avocado Deviled Eggs have been “done” before by Martha and umpteen others (thanks for your inspiration!), however I give original credit to Dr. Suess’s Green Eggs and Ham. :)

Often the simplest things in life are the “funnest” (and tastiest) when you use your imagination.

There’s truly nothing new under the sun (Eccl. 1:9), so here’s I came up with:

Avocado Deviled Eggs

2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled & halved

1/2 ripe avocado, peeled & pitted (reserve the other half for pure pleasure)

1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice (yes, lemon,  not lime… I wasn’t goin’ for Tex-Mex at this point… do ya hear me, Adam Holland? tee hee!)

Several grinds of cracked black pepper & a pinch of smoked sea salt “to taste” (despised culinary term that it is — use your judgment and your taste buds!) I added Pepper Creek Farms Applewood Smoked Sea Salt, although  I don’t currently see it on their offerings — oh well… just picked up their Mayan salt the other day. I’ve been away from home 1/3 of this year…. whatever works!

1-2 green onion tops, thinly sliced diagonally (save some for garnish)

Remove yolks from hard-boiled eggs and place them in a small bowl; mash with a fork until crumbly. In a separate small bowl (I know, I know, more dishes….) mash the avocado with a fork until creamy. Sprinkle with lemon juice, pepper, and smoked sea salt. Add green onions and stir well to combine.

Transfer avocado mixture to the egg yolk “crumbles” and blend well. Using two teaspoons (or a piping bag), fill egg-halves with avocado-egg yolk mixture.

Garnish with green onion slivers. EAT! (I promise you won’t miss the mayo.)

Avocado Deviled Eggs

Enjoying simplifying things and “new” recipe creations” at The Lake,

~ Kim

Smoky Guacamole and a “Project”

Paint 1

It was a glorious day at the lake recently and I couldn’t help but tackle an outdoor “project” — with a snack, of course. (I’m soooooo not a chalk-painter, but I was inspired to try something new.) There’s also nothing like a lil’ premeditated “stress eating” appetizer to appease my angst. ;)

Some of you may recognize the bench in my bokeh background (praise God for photos that turn out, intentionally or not) as the antique beauty that once belonged to my sis, Laurie. I dickered long and hard about “altering” it — partly due to sentimentality and nostalgia, but mostly due to my Sis’s profound reverence for antiques.

Yet, somehow I knew she’d give me her heavenly nod for braving new frontiers and personalizing “my space.” The dull black finish just didn’t fit with my aqua-color-themed master bath and I was feeling feisty (and hungry), so out to the “veranda” I went — paint, brush, bench, and snack in hand. After the preliminary coat, it was time to indulge in some Smoky Guacamole. Ahhhh…

Smoky Guacamole

1 large avocado, peeled, pitted, & diced

Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lime

Freshly squeezed juice of 1/4 lemon

1 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper

1/2 tsp. smoked sea salt, divided (I used Pepper Creek Farms applewood smoked sea salt — Oklahoma-made!)

1/2 small fresh tomato, seeded & diced

1 small clove garlic, peeled & minced

3 small green onions, thinly sliced (reserve some tops for garnish)

Frank’s Red Hot or Louisiana Hot Sauce (optional — or not)

Blue corn tortilla chips

1. Place diced avocado in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle with lime juice, lemon juice, pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon smoked sea salt; mash together lightly with a fork.

2. Add diced tomato, minced garlic, and green onions. Give it another gentle stir.

3. Add a few drops of hot sauce if desired; stir again. (For me, hot sauce is not optional, and it’s usually more than a few drops!)

4. Adjust seasoning with remaining smoked sea salt. (You may not use all of it — or you may need more of it; depends on your taste buds and the size of the avocado.)

5. Garnish with reserved green onion tops and serve with blue corn tortilla chips.

Paint 2This is my project mid-progress. I still need to sand off some corners (for character) and highlight the exceptional woodworking “garnishes” (curls & scrolls) before I give it a topcoat — and a new seat cover. The original worn red velvet is covered by faded green corduroy (indicating that somebody else was inspired to “re-do” it along the way) and I’ve been on the lookout for a stunning, artsy, bold print worthy of past memories and future enjoyment.

Life is about moving on… and forward.

In the meantime, I’ll bolster my refinishing efforts with more Smoky Guacamole. ;)

Enjoying fun in the Autumn sun,

~ Kim

Have you “personalized” your space? If so, how? (Do tell!)

Ham Puffs

006

Back in my twenties (late 1970’s & early 80’s… yes, I’m that old…) I toted my “signature appetizer” to every potluck, picnic, and post-ball-game gathering: “Chicken Puffs.” Despite their unimaginative name, those bite-size lil’ pastries filled with delectable homemade chicken salad disappeared faster than Houdini. (David Copperfield for you young’uns.)

With an infallible choux pastry recipe (sorry, I can’t remember where it originated — but it doesn’t require milk or shortening, only the basics: butter, flour, salt, water, and eggs), I’d stir, split, and stuff to my heart’s content — a Julia Child wanna-be — decades before “Julie & Julia.”

Fast forward to present day and my hubby’s imminent arrival home…

I needed something to tide him over until dinner was ready, but a hurried forage through the fridge and pantry only yielded cubed ham and the aforementioned “basics.” Well, okay then! (Please pardon my “Minnesota speak” after my recent sojourn there… I’m still in withdrawal.) How ’bout ham puffs?!

The Man Of Few Words has a penchant for ham salad — it’s one of his favorite sandwich fillings. In fact, that’s what he requested for our wedding reception many a year ago. (And who am I to quibble when true love runs rampant and my fiance’ volunteers to help?!) TMOFW stood at the reception hall counter cranking out pound-after-pound of ground ham with my Grandma’s hand-operated grinder — for hours — while a dear friend & I whipped together “the filling” in large bowls. All told, we made over 300 sandwiches!

Thankfully, today’s effort was on a smaller scale. Wheeeeeee….

Ham Salad Pate a Choux 1HAM PUFFS (more elegantly known as “HAM SALAD PÂTE À CHOUX”)

For the “puffs”:

1/2 cup hot water

4 Tbsp. (1/4 cup) butter

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 eggs (at room temperature)

For the filling:

1 cup cubed cooked ham

1/4 cup salad dressing or mayonnaise (might need a lil’ more)

2 Tbsp. sweet pickle relish

Optional add in’s: grated onion, finely diced celery, chopped hard cooked eggs, minced pimento (for color), minced water chestnuts (for crunch), a smidge of Dijon mustard, and “what have you”

.  .  .  .  .  .  .

Preheat oven to 400° F.

In a medium-size saucepan bring water and butter to a boil; remove from heat.

Add the flour all at once, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon until a ball of dough forms around the spoon. Scrape off the spoon and cool dough slightly.

Beat in the eggs one at a time with an electric mixer. (Be quick about it or you’ll have scrambled eggs.) NOTE: The dough will be sticky! (Scrape the beaters, too.)

With two teaspoons, drop small balls of dough on a large un-greased baking sheet. (Bear in mind the “puffs” will double in size during baking, so make them smaller than you think you need or you’ll end up with gigantic appetizers.) Alternatively, you can shape them into artistic lil’ swirls with a pastry bag for “fancier” occasions. :)

Bake 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and immediately split each puff with a serrated knife. (My new steak knifes worked great for this.)

Place puffs on a wire rack with the “lids” open to cool completely.

Meanwhile prepare the filling.

In a food processor (gotta love modern day inventions) pulse the cubed ham until finely ground.

Stir in the mayonnaise (or salad dressing), pickle relish, and optional ingredients (if desired) until combined. Add more mayo or salad dressing only if needed to bind the mixture together. (You don’t want “soupy” filling.)

Fill each cooled puff with ham salad and serve immediately.

Ham Salad Pate a Choux 3Enjoying past and present memories, xoxo,

~ Kim

P.S. This choux pastry also makes fabulous “bite-sized éclairs”… just sayin’. :)

The Mad Dash ~ Smoked Salmon Canapes

Smoked Salmon

When I was a kid, one of my favorite games was Musical Chairs.

(Remember that one?)

There was something thrilling about circling those chairs — minus one — while trying to appear calm & in control, one ear tuned to perceive the slightest pause in the music. (The other was listening for covert plans by my circle-mates; elbowing and edging-out were entirely acceptable.) My eyes were constantly riveted on the passing prospects for my imminent future… a familiar tale.

Then, there was the inevitable mad dash. The scrambling and the squealing — the flailing of arms and legs (with more than a few nudges) — as everybody tried to find their place in this world, at least temporarily.

Minus one…

(I don’t recall if I was a winner or loser at musical chairs or not.)

More than likely I had a distinct advantage with my finely tuned auditory nerves. (Big fan of the Bionic Woman in later years!) My latent memory is rather fuzzy when it comes to traumatic childhood events masquerading under the guise of games.

Conclusion?

Shuffling between chairs (and piano benches) seems to be my lot in life.

I hadn’t really given much thought to that from a posterior perspective… in fact, this is the first time it even occurred to me. But (no pun intended), wherever I’m ‘parked’ is pretty much what I’m doing at any given moment.

At least it’s less random…

And I get to pick the music. ;)

My concert is finally behind me (no pun…) and I’m breathing a huge sigh of relief. Much as I love performing, rehearsals were taking a big bite out of my… time.

You don’t just whip off excerpts from Beethoven’s Sonata Pathetique or Debussy’s Clair de Lune or Schumann’s Concerto in A Minor (among others) without a lil’ preparation — or at least I don’t.

I’m tickled to report though that it was a resounding success. Fun, too!

I added a lighthearted segment at the end including such favorites as “Moon River,” “Over The Rainbow,” “Besame Mucho” and “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” — which seems to be my theme song these days. Ahem…

All in all, enough funds were raised to send ten teenagers to camp this summer (hallelujah!) and in appreciation, they presented me with this:

(Ain’t it gorgeous?)

Thank You Bouquet

And… notice any resemblance to this?

Smoked Salmon 2

Smoked Salmon & Lemon Pepper Avocado Creme Canapes

4 oz. smoked salmon, flaked
Crackers of your choice (I used Glutino gluten-free multi-grain crackers)
1 ripe avocado
Juice of half a lemon
2 T. butter, softened
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Pink Himalayan salt (or sea salt), to taste
Fresh thyme for garnish

Peel & seed the avocado; mash pulp in a small bowl. Add lemon juice and mix thoroughly to prevent discoloration. Stir in butter, pepper, and salt until creamy.

Place a dab of Lemon Butter Avocado Creme on each cracker. Top with smoked salmon and garnish with thyme. Easy, peasy!

(Believe me, I was ready for a lil’ “easy peasy” at this point!)

Life and fabulous food always have a way of coming around…

Like musical chairs.

Enjoying the mad dash,

~ Kim

© 2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch

Easiest Homemade Gluten Free Crackers on the Planet

Gluten Free Crackers

Midwinter is a monochromatic marvel to me — sort of a Trojan horse time of year when Spring is concealed beneath the earth’s muted shades of tan and brown, waiting to pack a wallop.

That’s how I feel about these crackers, too.

At first glance they appear as benign as January’s palette, but don’t let ’em fool you. They’re the perfect example of “more than meets the eye.” I like surprises and these surprisingly tasty lil’ crackers are my go-to snack, speaking of which…

GF Crax ready to bake

Generally I’m not a snack-y person, but winter seems to ignite my appetite. (Why is that? Something to do with storing energy for shivering?) Anyway, a few crackers with a swipe of tapenade or a smear of hummus appeases random cravings quite nicely.

In a previous post, I extolled the virtues of Rosemary Olive Oil Crackers and I love ’em to pieces. These days I make them gluten-free. Bonus points for being quick’n’easy — thirty minutes from start to finish. And, there’s nothing like a warm cracker fresh out of the oven to soothe the savage beast in your stomach.

GF Crax

Gluten Free Rosemary Olive Oil Crackers
(adapted from this recipe — thanks, Erin!)

1-1/2 c. gluten-free all purpose flour (I used King Arthur’s)

1/2 c. hazelnut flour

1 tsp. baking powder

2 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped

1/2 tsp. sea salt*

2/3 c. warm water

1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil

Garlic powder for dusting, if desired

*Note: The original recipe calls for a teaspoon of salt, but saltiness is subjective and it depends on what you’re going to dip, dunk, or dollop with later. Season to taste.

1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Lightly oil two large baking sheets.

2. Whisk dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

3. Measure oil and water into a liquid measuring cup and gradually add to dry ingredients. (Depending on the humidity, you may not use all of the liquid.) Stir with a fork until mixture comes together. Divide dough in two.

4. Pat each portion of dough as thinly as possible onto prepared baking sheets. (Use your hands — it’s fun!) Slice into cracker shapes with a pizza cutter or sharp knife.

5. Dust with garlic powder, if desired. (I do one batch “with” and one without.)

6. Bake 12-14 minutes, or until edges begin to brown and the crackers look “set.” (They’ll crisp up as they cool.) Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

7. Store in a zip-top bag or airtight container between snack attacks.

GF crax w Tapenade v

Does winter change your eating habits? Do tell.

Enjoying Spring in disguise,

~ Kim

Boxing Day Memories

Memories or Memorabilia

When I look at the mementos I’ve tucked away through the years — gifts from family and friends, or reminders of special occasions — I realize they aren’t the memories themselves. The process of remembering is aided by them, but memories are intangible — and some are clearer than others.

Boxing Day some thirty-odd years ago was one of those occasions that left an imprint on my heart more than my mind — an overall “feeling” rather than total recall. What I do remember is warmth… hospitality… generosity.

After my whirlwind tour of England and Scotland, I was ready to settle down for a long winter’s nap and assimilate everything I’d seen, heard, or done. The guest room was quiet, cozy, and adorned with knickknacks and objects d’art twice as old as America (a fact that still boggles my mind) and it didn’t take long to drift off to dreamland under a layer of quilts with a heater at the foot of the bed.

The next morning, I awoke to the sounds and smells of a bustling kitchen. (Don’t you just love that?) The aroma of potatoes and onions mingling with sausage and bacon prompted me to dress quickly and join the muted conversations below. Coffee, tea, scones, eggs — a veritable repast — awaited.

Boxing Day brunch was a tradition the host family relished. As guests arrived at the front door, they were greeted with a heartfelt “Merry Christmas!” and directed to the dining room to indulge and imbibe at will. Champagne corks began popping and lively conversational banter continued throughout the day. The conviviality of it has stayed with me for life.

I learned that Boxing Day is so named because gifts are “boxed” and dispatched to household staff members on their day off (December 26th), having worked Christmas Day. The very thought of it brings to mind the over-sized turkey Mr. Scrooge took great delight in delivering to Bob Cratchit’s home — a sincere thank you for services well-rendered. Boxing Day is also designated as a day to donate to the needy, a tradition that hearkens back centuries.

Meanwhile back at the brunch… one dish that stood out in my mind (funny how I can always remember food) was a cheese soufflé the hostess described as: “not your classical soufflé, but reliable.” I describe it as: “cheese-flavored air.” Sigh…

In between sips and bites, I fielded queries from guests wondering about “the young American woman in England at Christmastime.” Their candor and humor was refreshing and I had to smile when someone asked: “Are you one of those liberated women?” Traveling alone wasn’t as commonplace then as it is now and I guess my adventurous streak was showing.

Another appetizer I enjoyed tremendously (recipe graciously shared by the hostess and later adapted by me) were Cheese Straws. Perfect with champagne — and Christmas. Sometimes simplicity is the ideal backdrop for festivity.

Cheese Straws

Cheese Straws

1 1/3 c. flour
1/4 tsp. salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (or to taste)
3 oz. cold butter*
4 oz. grated cheese**
1 egg yolk, beaten
1/4 c. cold water, divided

*Grate the butter first, followed by the cheese. Easy clean up!

**Per original recipe: “Use a highly flavoured cheese such as aged sharp Cheddar.”

Preheat oven to 450° F. Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Rub in butter and cheese with your fingers until evenly distributed.

In a small bowl, mix the egg yolk with two tablespoons cold water. Work the liquid into the flour, then add enough remaining water (as needed) to make a stiff, yet pliable dough. (Best to do this with your hands so you can “feel” the consistency.)

Roll out dough thinly on a lightly floured surface; trim and cut into “straws.”

Bake on ungreased baking sheets until golden brown, about 7 minutes.

Note: I bake the trimmings as a “trial batch” to judge the amount of time. (They make a delicious snack with a glass of wine while you’re baking the rest.)

These can also be made in advance. Bake until just golden, about 5 minutes. Cool completely, then freeze. Reheat 2 to 3 minutes at 450° (watch closely) until browned.

Serve warm. Makes 4 dozen.

Boxing Day continues to be one of my favorite memories, and the lessons I learned about hospitality are ones I’m pleased to share in my own home.

 

Wishing you many delightful memories and a very Merry Christmas!

Enjoying reminiscing,

~ Kim

Finger Food (Zombie Halloween Party)

Finger Food

After five months of rehearsals, my concert came and went (successfully, whew!) but now there’s a huge vacuum in my brain where Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart previously took up residence.  Let’s just call it creative space.  The serious side of me was also in desperate need of fun.

Enter Catherine Hackman.

“Would you like to contribute a recipe to my Zombie Halloween Party?”

Of course!  It sounded quirky and amusing, plus I enjoy her stories tremendously.  (You can read her latest short story here.)

The last time I did anything Halloween-like was a few years back when we were invited to a party at a friend’s house.  My hubby preferred not to go.  When I showed up at the door all by my lonesome, the hostess inquired, “Where is he?”

I gestured to my side and replied, “Right here.  He’s The Invisible Man.”

In the spirit of fun, I’m bringing a few “no brainer” appetizers to Catherine’s party — food fit for zombies — or for folks who recently worked their fingers to the bone.

Finger Food

Bony Fingers (String Cheese Appetizers)

(Recipe credit:  Spoonful)

Mozzarella string cheese sticks

1 Tbsp. cream cheese, softened

1 yellow bell pepper, cored and seeded

Cut string cheese sticks in half.  With a paring knife, shape each stick to resemble fingers.  Cut an indentation for the fingernails and carve “knuckle wrinkles.”

Spread a small amount of cream cheese in each indent.

Cut fingernail shapes out of the bell pepper; affix a “nail” to each fingertip.  Chill, covered, until ready to serve.

These are yummy all by their lonesome, but if you’re feeling adventurous, try dunking them in Blood Curdling Scream Dip.

Blood Curdling Scream Dip (Roasted Red Pepper Pesto)

(Recipe credit goes to my Mom, who cut it out of a magazine and sent it to me.  Holler if it’s yours and I’ll give credit where it’s due.)

1 c. roasted red peppers (I used jarred ones due to my zombie-like state)

1/4 c. walnuts

1/2 tsp. cumin

1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (see note)

Drain peppers.  Place ingredients in a blender or food processor; pulse to desired consistency.

Note:  The original recipe didn’t call for cayenne, but in my opinion it’s a scream-worthy addition.

Chill, covered, until ready to serve.

For a spooky presentation, serve “fingers” and dip on a blood red plate… or in a ghoulish light.

As for the lil’ zombies lurking about, the credit goes to my Sis.  Her skill with a needle and thread rivals Dr. Frankenstein.  (Thanks, Sis!)  She credits her inspiration to Zombie Felties.

Zombie Halloween Party

For additional party ideas, please visit Catherine’s Zombie Halloween Party post… and while you’re there, be sure to haunt her latest short story.  It’s a thriller!

Catherine has a gift for connecting with teens and young adults through her writing.  She also throws a great Halloween party!  I guarantee the serious side of you will smile.

Enjoying creative space,

~ Kimby