Archive for APPETIZERS

Hannah’s Carne Asada Tacos

My daughter loves to cook as much as I do, and she loves to experiment with new dishes.  This is her take on Carne Asada Tacos, complete with her recipes for the Marinade, Guacamole, and Pico de Gallo.

Give her recipes a try.  I think you’ll like them. 🙂

Hannah’s Carne Asada Tacos

carne asada tacos


  • 4 pounds skirt steak, with excess fat trimmed off
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • Sour cream
  • Guacamole
  • Pico de gallo
  • Shredded Mexican cheese blend

Hannah’s Carne Asada Marinade:

  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • The juice of 2 oranges
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup of chopped cilantro

Hannah’s Pico de Gallo:

  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • The juice of 2 limes
  • Salt, to taste
  • Optional: chopped hot peppers

Hannah’s Guacamole:

  • 3 large avocados, peeled, seeded, and cut into small pieces
  • 1 small red onion, finely minced
  • The juice of 3-4 limes
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • Optional: 1 medium tomato, diced (the guac pictured here doesn’t have any tomatoes since I made pico de gallo)
  • Optional: diced hot peppers, like jalapenos


Mix all marinade ingredients together. Pour over the skirt steak (I recommend marinating the steak in a ziplock bag). Let the steak marinate for at least 2 hours. Grill until done to your liking. Slice the meat against the grain (so that it isn’t tough when you bite into it). 


Mix all the Pico de Gallo ingredients together. Let the mixture sit for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to develop. Serve with your carne asada tacos.


Mix all the guacamole ingredients together. I like to gently stir my guacamole so that you still have chunks of avocado. If you prefer, you can mash the avocados with a fork for a smooth texture. Serve with your carne asada tacos or with chips.


Grill a tortilla until warmed. Fill with slices of carne asada, some guacamole, pico de gallo, sour cream and cheese. Enjoy!

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Baked Brie

It’s a TV marathon night tonight! The lineup includes Survivor, Criminal Minds and CSI, three of my favorite shows.

To add to my TV-watching enjoyment, I baked a wheel of Brie (minus the puff pastry wrapping) topped with store-bought Pineapple Habanero sauce.

Baked Brie


To make this at home, you’ll need:

  • 1 wheel of good quality brie cheese
  • 1 cup of your favorite jelly or fruit compote
  • Optional:  1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed plus 1 egg, beaten


1.  Bake the entire wheel of Brie at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Optional: wrap the Brie in a sheet of puff pastry. Place the wrapped Brie on a pie plate, seam side down, then brush the entire surface with a beaten egg. Bake as stated above.

2.  After baking, top with your favorite jelly or compote–pepper jelly is delicious too.  I bought the pineapple habanero sauce at COSTCO.

3.  Serve with crackers or toasted bagel chips.




Depending on the brand of brie you buy, you can actually eat the rind (the white outer “crust” surrounding the brie).  The brand I buy actually has a very thin rind that is perfectly fine to eat.  Depending on the brand, the rind can taste quite bitter, however.  If you prefer not to eat the rind, use a sharp knife to cut the rind off before wrapping in puff pastry and baking.

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Ahi Tuna Poke

Poke is a Hawaiian dish traditionally served as an appetizer, but it can also be a main dish when served with rice or corn titiyas.

Modern versions of poke can vary depending on the ingredients you have on hand.  Poke is typically made with cubed ahi tuna marinated with soy sauce (some use sea salt), ground kukui nut (the meat in the inside, though, not the entire nut), sesame oil, ogo seaweed, and hot chili peppers.  You can also use fresh salmon or octopus instead of ahi.

Living in Colorado, I don’t have access to a lot of the traditional ingredients like ogo seaweed and kukui nuts, so I created a different version of poke that my family — especially my 11 year old daughter — loves.

It’s a simple recipe that you can take to entirely new levels by adding the other optional ingredients I listed below.

Give my recipe a try.  I think you’ll like it. 🙂


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  • 1 pound ahi tuna
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons kimchee base
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 6 stalks green onions, thinly sliced
  Optional Ingredients:
  • 1 small cucumber, diced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, diced
  • 1 small sweet onion (Maui onions are good), diced
  • 2 tablespoons furikake seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons ground macadamia nuts (if you can’t find or don’t have access to kukui nuts)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Hot chili peppers or Sambal Oelek chili sauce, to taste
  • You can also substitute the tuna with salmon or octopus


1.  Cut the ahi into small cubes.  I find it’s easier to slice the ahi when it’s partially frozen.

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2.  Add the sesame oil.

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3.  Add the kimchee base (you can use a chili sauce like Sambal Oelek if you can’t find kimchee base).

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4.  Add the soy sauce.

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5.  Add the green onions.

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6.  Stir to combine.  Let the poke sit for at least 30 minutes (refrigerated) to allow the flavors to meld.

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7.  Serve with hot white rice or freshly made corn titiyas (tortillas).  The photo below shows the ahi tuna poke (on the bottom right of the plate) and ahi tuna sashimi (that’s another recipe, to be posted soon) on the bottom left.


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Crab Stuffed Mushrooms

One our favorite appetizers when we eat out are crab-stuffed mushrooms.  Tender mushrooms, sweet crab meat, and melted cheese are sure to make these tasty morsels a hit at your dinner table.  With my easy recipe, you don’t have to wait until you eat out to enjoy them — now you can make these in your very own kitchen!

Don’t skimp on the crab meat and use that stringy imitation stuff.  Yes, I know real crab meat is pricey, but it’s worth it.  Trust me!  While imitation crab meat will do when you make sushi, you’ll do these stuffed mushrooms a great injustice if you don’t use the real thing.

Funny story…we made these for our appetizer for dinner tonight.  As my husband was popping a stuffed mushroom into his mouth, my daughter scolded him, stating that the mushrooms were a SIDE DISH, to be eaten with our meal.  “I thought they were appetizers!” exclaimed my husband.  “No…mushrooms are vegetables, and we’re having vegetables with our dinner” my daughter said, matter-of-factly.  Hahaha!  I love my kids! 😀

Give my recipe a try.  I KNOW you’ll LOVE it. 🙂

Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms



  • 1 pound lump crab meat
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (I like using Best Foods or Hellman’s)
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 stalks green onions, sliced
  • 15-20 fresh white mushrooms, more or less, depending on the size



1.  Place the crab meat in a small mixing bowl.  Pick out any stray crab shells.


2.  Add the mayonnaise to the bowl…


…and the Parmesan cheese…


…and the black pepper…


…and the garlic powder…


…and the green onions.


3.  Stir to combine all the ingredients.  At this stage, this is FANTASTIC as-is, as a dip or spread for crackers.  If you want to use it as a dip, place it into a microwave-safe bowl and heat it for about 90 seconds to 2 minutes, or just long enough to warm it and to get some of the cheese to melt.  Don’t microwave it too long or the mayo will break down and your mixture will be very oily.


4.  Pull off the stems of each mushroom.  If the mushrooms are dirty, wipe them GENTLY with a paper towel.  DO NOT rinse the mushrooms in water–the mushrooms will soak up the water and become almost slimy (yuck!).  Trust me–a paper towel is all you need to clean these babies.


5.  Stuff each mushroom cap with the crab mixture.  It’s okay to be generous.  You’ll have more than enough filling even if you overstuff the mushrooms.

This photo is just for comparison sake.  We bought rather large mushrooms at COSTCO. This shows one of the smaller mushrooms…it’s larger than a lime!


6.  Place each stuffed mushroom onto a baking pan.  Top each mushroom with more grated Parmesan cheese.



7.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes (for smaller mushrooms) and up to 30 minutes for the larger mushrooms.  These were rather large mushrooms, so 30 minutes was about right.  Bake until the cheese and mushrooms are nicely browned.

Note:  There is NO NEED to add a drizzle of butter over the mushrooms prior to baking.  The mushrooms brown up quite nicely on their own without the added fat.  AND I’m sure you DO NOT want these beauties to swim in a pool of melted fat, do you?  No, no you don’t.

The liquid you see in the pan is the natural water from the mushrooms.  After you take the tray out of the oven, remove the mushrooms to a serving dish so they don’t sit in this liquid.


Ahhhh….don’t you wish you had some of these delicious Crab Stuffed Mushrooms right now?  What are you waiting for?  Bake up a batch TODAY! 😀



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Shrimp Patties

Hi everyone!  This is Hannah, Annie’s daughter.

I made some delicious shrimp patties for lunch one day. My version is somewhat different from the “regular” recipe most people have.

What’s different about my version? I don’t use any eggs. It started out as a mistake one time when I was making shrimp patties and forgot to put eggs in the batter. However, I liked how it turned out. The inside was nice and fluffy, and my shrimp patties were nice and round (my neighbor called them “shrimp balls”) and not flat.

Give my recipe a try. Let me know how you like them. My family loves them; I hope you do too!


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  • 1 cup thinly sliced fresh green beans
  • 2 cups peas
  • 1 cup chopped onions (about 1/2 a medium onion)
  • 3 cups corn kernels (I love lots of corn in my shrimp patties)
  • 4 cups shrimp, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 cans evaporated milk
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 5 tablespoons Dashida seasoning (the seafood flavored kind)
  • 1 teaspoon Accent
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • Oil, for frying


1.  Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Do you know how to tell if the oil is hot enough and ready? My mom taught me a great trick.  Use the tip of a wooden spoon (I used a wooden chopstick) and dip it into the oil.  If little bubbles start to form around the wood, then the oil is hot and ready. Make sure the wood is clean and dry first; you don’t want hot oil to splatter and burn you.

Here is a short video clip. You can see all of the little bubbles form around the tip of the wooden chopstick. This tells you that the oil is hot and ready for frying.

2.  While you’re waiting for the oil to heat up, mix all of the ingredients (except for the oil, of course) in a large bowl.

3.  Drop spoonfuls of batter into the hot oil and fry until golden brown. Note: I used a small ice cream scoop that holds 1 1/2 tablespoons. This is also what makes the shrimp patties nice and round like doughnuts. (Maybe that’s why my neighbor calls them shrimp balls, LOL.)


I added a lot of photos below to show you the process.

Enjoy, and I hope you like them!

~ Hannah


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Place the shrimp and vegetables in a large mixing bowl.

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Place the flour and other dry ingredients in a smaller bowl.

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Add all of the dry ingredients to the bowl of shrimp and veggies.

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Pour the evaporated milk into the mixing bowl.

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Mix, mix, mix! 🙂

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Check to see if the oil is hot. Scroll up and watch my video that shows what to look for.

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When the oil is ready, use a small cookie scoop to drop the batter into the oil. This makes the shrimp patties nice and round.

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Don’t put too much into the oil. You want to leave enough room to allow the shrimp patties to cook evenly, plus overcrowding might make them stick together when you drop the batter into the oil.

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The shrimp patties usually turn on their own, but if they don’t, turn them occasionally to ensure even browning.

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Fry until nicely browned.

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Place in a colander or strainer to drain the excess oil.

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The small cookie scoop I use makes shrimp patties that are a little bit bigger than the size of a ping pong ball. I think it’s the perfect size — not too big, not too small.

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The inside is nice and fluffy.

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Pile on the goodness! 🙂









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