Category Archives: Appetizers

Cajun Empanadas (Boudin-Stuffed Empanadas)

We really do not go out to eat often.  There was a time when we did, but now with a child, a mortgage, tuition…well there are just more important things to spend money on!  When we do go out to eat we like to go somewhere GOOD.  A local restaurant serves food made from local ingredients, and we love going there.  Not only is it delicious and a fun night out, but we also like supporting local businesses.

As food nerds, we like to try to figure out how they make things and try to recreate them at home.  One thing we did that with recently was the Cajun empanadas.  It was one of those meals that just made you go “mmmmm” with your first bite.  They were made of puff pastry filled with smoked boudin, and you dipped it in buffalo queso.  I never would have thought to combine those things but oh my, was it amazing!  We bought two different boudins from Guillory’s, the regular smoked and jalapeno smoked.  The regular smoked were just kind of plain tasting, but the jalapeno ones were just right, without being too spicy.  These would be fantastic if you made them smaller as an appetizer I think.  Here is what we created:

Cajun Empanadas

Cajun Empanadas

Cajun Empanadas


1 pkg. frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 lb. GOOD smoked boudin (the best locally is the jalapeno smoked boudin at Guillory’s in Pineville), removed from casing
1 egg
queso for dipping


Preheat oven to temperature recommended on the puff pastry box.  On a floured surface, roll the thawed pastry out to thin it out.  Using a bowl, cut out round shapes, whatever size you want.  Fill halfway with boudin, then fold one half over the other and seal.  You may need to rub a little water on the dough to make it seal properly.  Take a fork and crimp the edges.  Place on a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining ingredients.  Before baking, whisk egg and a little water together and lightly brush on top of each empanada.  Bake until golden brown and flaky.  Serve warm with warmed queso to dip it in.


Pimiento Cheese-Stuffed Squash Blossoms

I’ve been seeing pictures of stuffed squash blossoms in the foodie world for a while now, and I’ve been intrigued.  I love squash and really had no idea what in the world this might taste like.  So when my brother-in-law planted a ton of squash, I kept my fingers crossed that I could persuade him to let me have some blossoms.  And he did!

I found a recipe in Cooking Light for the stuffed blossoms, and that magazine has never steered me wrong so I went with it.  They are stuffed with a homemade pimiento cheese, how yum!  I love pimiento cheese, but only if it’s homemade.  The store-bought junk is awful so if you think you don’t like it, and that’s all you ever had, then try again.  This recipe was pretty easy to make, I think it makes a difference to roast the peppers yourself, rather than the jarred kind.  The blossoms themselves really didn’t have much of a taste, they were primarily a vehicle for serving up that delicious pimiento cheese!  This would be a great (visually impressive) appetizer for a small dinner party.

Pimiento Cheese-Stuffed Squash Blossoms

Pimiento Cheese-Stuffed Squash Blossoms

Pimiento Cheese-Stuffed Squash Blossoms
Recipe from Cooking Light, June 2013

1 small red bell pepper, halved and seeded
1/2 cup fat-free cream cheese, softened
3 tbsp. minced green onions
1 tbsp. mayo
1/2 tsp hot sauce (I used Tabasco garlic flavor)
dash of ground red pepper
2.5 oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (I used a Cabot Vermont white)
1 slice bacon, cooked and crumbled
8 fresh squash blossoms, thoroughly washed


Set the broiler to high and place the bell pepper halves skin side up on a pan covered with foil and sprayed with nonstick spray.  Broil until they are blackened, then place in a paper bag, closed well for five minutes.  (I had never heard of this approach but it worked well!)  Peel the blackened skin off and dice the bell pepper.

In a bowl, combine the diced bell pepper and all of the rest of the ingredients (except the squash blossoms) until well-mixed.  VERY carefully (use a very small spoon) stuff the mixture into the squash blossoms and serve.

Boudin Dip

A while back I was texting with my friend Amy about different appetizers and she mentioned that she had made a boudin dip. Well I love boudin and you know I love dip so I was intrigued and HAD to know more! She told me what all went into it and I couldn’t wait to try it.

Unfortunately I did have to wait a while, I just didn’t have anything to make a dip for. Then came Mardi Gras. I was so excited to make it and let me tell you, it didn’t disappoint! This dip is delicious and SO easy! But be forewarned, it makes a LOT. I ended up letting the guys eat the leftovers at their poker night. Problem solved. But before I did that, I was brainstorming and was thinking this would be great stuffed in chicken breasts. Just a thought.  Alternately, if you want to make a smaller amount, maybe just buy one of those small tubs of dip (if you’re a dip junkie you know what I mean) and just use three links of boudin.

I served the dip with the Town House crackers that are pretzel on one side.

Boudin Dip

Boudin Dip

Boudin Dip
Recipe from Amy D./Kim M.

Six links boudin
One large tub French Onion Dip (get a good one, no cheap junk)
green onions
crackers for serving

In a large skillet/pot, boil the boudin as per package instructions. Remove from water and allow to cool a few minutes until okay to handle. Cut a slit in each link and scrape the filling into a large bowl. Mix with one tub of onion dip and green onions. Taste for seasonings (it will depend on your boudin if you will need to add additional seasonings or not). Serve warm.

Cracklin’ Stuffed Jalapeno Peppers

This recipe is actually my husbands’ brainchild.  He went hunting this weekend and planned on cooking duck wraps, but due to too many hands in the kitchen, his duck was boiled instead of defrosted.  The duck ended up going in the gumbo and he was left with a bunch of jalapenos and cream cheese and nothing to do with it.

Down the road from the camp is a store that sells fresh boudin and cracklins.  He had some “cracklin crumbs” which are basically what is left after all the big chunks of cracklins are gone.  He likes to put it in cornbread.  He took those and created something so delicious that when he came home from hunting, he had to go buy the stuff to make more!  These were phenomenal and would be a huge hit for a Super Bowl Party.  Just sayin’.  ;)

Cracklin' Stuffed Jalapeno Peppers

Cracklin’ Stuffed Jalapeno Peppers

Cracklin’ Stuffed Jalapeno Peppers
A Cooking With Christen original recipe


1 dozen jalapeno peppers, halved and seeded
1 block cream cheese, softened
3/4 crushed FRESH cracklin’ crumbs
1 tbsp hot sauce of your choice
sharp cheddar cheese to top


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix the cream cheese, cracklin’ crumbs and hot sauce until evenly distributed.  Spread onto each jalapeno half, top with shredded cheese and place on a baking sheet.  Bake until the cheese is melted and starting to turn golden.    Serve warm.

Shrimp Butter

I was recently one of the hosts for a baby shower for one of my best friends, Morgan.  I was in charge of food, really it was just snacks since it was mid-day.  I wanted the food to be a little “nicer” than the done-to-death cheese trays and frozen and defrosted appetizers.  Morgan loves shrimp so when I saw a recipe for shrimp butter, I was intrigued and knew she would like it.

I had no idea what this would taste like, so it was a bit of a gamble making it for the first time to serve to a bunch of people.  But it was great, and it tasted just like what it is – butter with shrimp in it.  I know that doesn’t SOUND good, but trust me.  It was good stuff!

Shrimp Butter

Shrimp Butter
Recipe from Elizabeth’s Edible Experience

2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 lb unsalted butter, softened
1 pound shrimp, peeled, cooked and finely chopped
3 tbsp grated onion
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp mayonnaise
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp pepper


In an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together until fluffy and well-mixed.  Add the rest of the ingredients and beat until combined.  Serve either on pieces of toast points or in a bowl for people to serve themselves.  (Note:  don’t use butter crackers, as they mask the flavor too much.  I used Melba Toast.)

Quick and Easy Salsa

I love chips and dip, it’s one of my favorite snacks.  Every time I would go to my friend Kelly’s house, she would have this super yummy salsa.  Finally I asked her to send me the recipe and it was a link to a blog.  I made it.  And the next day I made it again.

This recipe really IS quick and easy.  The ingredients are inexpensive, something you can keep in your pantry to pull out for a last-minute appetizer.  It takes literally minutes to make.  And it’s quite tasty.  It says it’s a copycat recipe for the Chili’s salsa, and it may be.  I don’t eat there often enough these days to compare, but I do love this one!  Thanks for sharing, Kelly!

Quick and Easy Salsa

Quick and Easy Salsa
Recipe from:  Six Sisters Stuff

1 (28 oz) can whole tomatoes, drained
1 small can (4 oz.) diced jalapenos
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp salt (or 1/2, depending on taste)
1 tsp cumin
juice from 1/2 lime
1/2 tsp sugar


Add all ingredients to a medium-sized bowl.  Using an immersion blender, puree until the consistency is to your liking.  Alternately, you could put all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until it is to your liking.

Serve with tortilla chips.

Caesar Salad Dressing

In the MOM’s  Club I’m in, we do lots of potlucks.  It sometimes gets hard to think of something new to bring, often I just end up doing pigs in a blanket or something, things that the kids will eat too.  But frankly, the kids rarely eat anyway, they are too busy playing.  So when my friend Tiffani hosted the April potluck, I decided to bring one of her favorites, caesar salad!

This was really easy to make, though I did make some adaptations to the recipe I followed.  I added one egg yolk, a splash of milk and some parmesan cheese.  Just because it isn’t Caesar without it!  It came out really good.  I do have one piece of advice.  If you do use the anchovies, you will not use them all.  Just throw the rest away, do not try to make another batch of dressing days later.  Trust me.  ;)  But everyone seemed to really like it and asked if I would post the recipe, so here ya go, ladies!

Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad Dressing
Recipe adapted from The Food Network

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp vinegar
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
fresh ground black pepper
juice of 1/2 lemon
4 anchovy fillets
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup milk


Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until finely puree’d.  Pour into a tupperware and keep cold.  When making a salad, place romaine lettuce, parmesan cheese, croutons and some dressing in a ziploc bag and shake until  well mixed.  You can also add chicken to make it a meal.

BLT Bites

Last month my brother-in-law and his fiancée got married.  I’m sure Michelle got lots of advice on wedding related things, but I told her my most important piece of advice is to make sure she gets a plate of food set aside for her to bring home!  I didn’t get to eat anything at my wedding reception, though I hear the food was fabulous!

Well this time I wasn’t the bride, just a bridesmaid.  So I got to eat!  There were many yummy things but there was one thing that stood out.  It was so unassuming, these little tomatoes on a platter.  I didn’t get one because I wasn’t sure what they were stuffed with and my plate was already full!  My mom got a few though and she told me to try one.  Heavenly! They taste exactly like little bite-sized BLTs, full of creamy bacon flavor.  I went back for more for myself and they were all gone :(  A few days later I went off in search of a recipe to make them and found it on Taste of Home’s website.   It was a huge hit at a jewelry party I had, I can’t wait to make them (and eat them!) again!

BLT Bites

BLT Bites
Recipe adapted from Taste of Home

1 package grape or cherry tomatoes, washed
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup green onions, chopped
3 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated


  • Carefully cut off the tops of the tomatoes and very carefully scoop out the insides.  Give a little thought beforehand to how you’re going to scoop them out – I used the round part on a jalapeno corer.  You don’t want to tear the outside of the tomato and you don’t want to scoop all the way through.
  • Place all the tomatoes on a plate and put the rest of the ingredients in a food processor, and pulse until finely chopped and mixed.  If the filling is too “firm” then add a little more mayonnaise and mix well.
  • Scoop into a ziploc bag fitted with an icing piping attachment (or just make a small hole in the tip of the bag) and gently squeeze the filling into the tomatoes.
  • Cover the tray and place in the refrigerator a few hours to firm up.
  • Serve cold.

Scooped-out tomatoes

Grilled Chicken & Pineapple Quesadillas

The weather here has been really beautiful lately.  We’d love if it were a little cooler, but hey after temps over 100 for months, we’ll take it!  When its beautiful out, we like to grill, so we decided to do these quesadillas.

I apologize in advance, my picture doesn’t look great.  Looks like I can add quesadillas to the “Hard to Photograph” category.  I tried, I really did.  But don’t worry about the picture because these were really great!  We really liked the flavor combination and the extra zip of the bbq sauce.  We used our old standby for the bbq sauce, Stubbs.  Great stuff, you should try it.  Anyway, these were slightly involved, since you had to grill the chicken first.  But you could easily cheat and head over to a bbq joint and just pick up some bbq chicken!  ;)

Grilled Chicken & Pineapple Quesadillas
Recipe from The Pioneer Woman

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
8 flour tortillas
1 pineapple, cut into long strips (see Pioneer Woman’s website for pictures of how to cut it)
seasonings to taste (we used Tony’s)
3 cups Monterey Jack Cheese (shred your own, it melts better)
1 whole jalapeno, sliced (optional)
BBQ Sauce – we used Stubbs


  • Prepare grill, make sure coals are ready.
  • Season chicken with desired seasoning, grill until no longer pink in the middle.  When the chicken is almost done, baste with bbq sauce and allow to finish cooking.
  • Thread pineapple onto long skewers and grill just until warmed and grill marks appear.
  • Cut the chicken into slices, cut the pineapple into chunks.
  • Inside:  heat a skillet over medium heat, melt a little butter.  Add 1 tortilla and on one half of it, layer the chicken, pineapple, jalapeno, cheese and a little drizzle of bbq sauce if desired.  Fold the empty side over the filled side and cook until cheese melts.  Repeat with remaining ingredients.
  • Cut into wedges and serve with your favorite quesadilla condiments.

Grilled Chicken and Pineapple Quesadilla


Andouille and Swiss Chard Turnovers

I don’t know what it is, but I really love Swiss chard!  When flipping through Louisiana Life magazine, I spotted a recipe for andouille and Swiss chard turnovers and couldn’t wait to make them.

I decided to make them to go along with our vegetable tortellini soup.  My 3-year-old daughter “helped” me (and I use that term loosely) and they were surprisingly easy to make.  I had never made any sort of hand pie but the process wasn’t bad at all.  They were a great accompaniment to our soup and the rest my husband enjoyed for his breakfast!

Andouille and Swiss Chard Turnovers

Andouille and Swiss Chard Turnovers
Recipe from Louisiana Life, May/June 2011

2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 lb. andouille, chopped
1 bunch Swiss Chard
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
coarse salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
cayenne pepper, to taste

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup shortening – I used the butter flavor one
7-8 tbsp cold water
2 tbsp milk (for the glaze)



  • In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onions and garlic.  Saute’ until soft and beginning to brown – about five minutes.  Add the andouille.
  • Discard the large stems from the Swiss chard and chop the leaves into large chunks.  Wash in a colander and add the wet chard to the skillet, cover and cook until wilted, about five minutes.
  • Remove cover and cook until the liquid has evaporated.  Add the cheese and seasoning and remove from heat to let the filling cool.


  • Mix the flour and salt in a bowl.  With your fingers or a pastry cutter, mix in the shortening until you have a coarse mixture.
  • Drizzle in water, mixing with a fork until it forms a dough.  Knead a few times and cut the dough in half.  Form each half into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least thirty minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 425.  Roll the dough out onto a floured surface until it is 1/8 inch thick.  Cut 4-inch rounds, rolling out the scraps when needed.  You need at least 18.
  • Place a spoonful of filling onto a round.  Lightly moisten the edges of the dough, then fold over and press the seams together.  You can also press with the tines of a fork to create a crimped edge.  Place on a baking sheet and repeat with the other rounds.
  • Before baking, lightly brush milk on top of the dough.  Bake 15-18 minutes, until golden.

Andouille and Swiss Chard Turnovers