Dips and Appetizers


I’m not sure how it started but my sons and and their grandmother  have a running joke about eyeballs.  The boys will throw the word “eyeball” into a conversation and Grammy pretends to be totally grossed out (although sometimes it’s not an act!).

Eyeball (un) Appetizers (lesson learned: use a black or red plate if you want your eyeballs to really stand out!)

The boys love this joke so much, I thought it would be fun to really gross Grammy out with some creepy Halloween appetizers.  So here’s your warning:  If the thought of eating an eyeball makes your stomach turn, this is not the post for you.  But if you crave a little  fun with your food, here’s a sure-fire Halloween party hit for your little ghouls and goblins.  Eyeball (un)Appletizers!

My boys thought these were fabulous!  They had a lot of fun making the eyeballs and even more fun serving them.  They chopped the crab with plastic knifes, made the salad, stuffed a few egg while mommy stuffed the rest, and added the sliced olive pupils.  We served the eyeballs on a plate with a lid, so when Grammy lifted the lid she would see two eyes staring back at her.  Success!  Grammy was totally grossed out by these!  She managed to choke down one before she gagged and couldn’t continue, but the  boys (and their Papa) laughed like crazy and ate a lot! I had two and they weren’t bad (although I admit I took the black olive off the second one–very cool looking but not the best taste combination!).

Hope you have fun making and eating your own disgusting Halloween (un)appetizers!

Eyeball (un)Appetizers

8 – 12 hardboiled eggs
4 – 6 ounces crab or chicken salad (see salad suggestions below)
Sliced black olives or raisins

Shell the eggs and slice them in half.  Remove the egg yolks and save them for something else (egg salad is a yummy low oxalate lunch).  Arrange the egg halves on a serving plate.  Spoon 1 – 2 teaspoons of crab salad into the hollow of each egg half.  Top each egg with a slice of black olive.  Enjoy!

Makes 16 – 24 appetizers.

"Ewwww!"

Salad Suggestions:  I wanted my eyeballs to really be gross with a somewhat realistic texture and a blood-shot appearance.  The easiest way to do this is to use real or imitation crab, separated or cut into chunks.  Add enough mayonnaise to hold it together and maybe a dash of salt and pepper or Old Bay seasoning, and Voila!  You have a crab salad that will make your eyeballs look bloodshot (and really gross!).  Another way to do this is to use shredded or finely chopped chicken or turkey.  Again add a little mayo, pepper, and salt, but this time you might want to add some thin strips of red bell pepper to achieve the blood-shot look.  I used 8 ounces of crab meat to make my salad and had at least a third of it left over after stuffing the eyeballs (which my sons ate as their snack that day without any add-ins).  You can always make a bigger batch of salad than you need.  After stuffing your eggs, add your favorite veggies, fruits, or seasonings and lunch is served!

My boys and I love hummus on almost anything.  In fact, last year when I asked what special treats they wanted to serve at their 2nd birthday party, my boys chose roasted garlic hummus and actually got upset when I suggested cake.  Okay, I admit they had never eaten cake before and actually loved the fire truck cake I made them, but we still served three types of hummus at their party complete with a veggie and cheese platter.

Hummus is a Middle Eastern bean dip that is traditionally made with garbanzo beans (chick peas).  It often, but not always, includes garlic, tahini, and a dusting of paprika at the end. I started to skip the tahini a few years ago for dietary reasons and found that I like hummus better without it.  It seems smoother to me, and much tastier, especially with fresh vegetables.  I’ve left tahini in my basic recipe, but try hummus without it some time and see what you think.

Here’s a basic hummus recipe to get you started and three of my boys’ favorite variations. If you want to experiment yourself, try adding herbs like parsley, cilantro, or dill; sundried tomatoes; lime in place of lemon juice; or other roasted vegetables like eggplant.  Have fun!

Hummus

1 ½ cup garbanzo beans, cooked (one 15 oz. can, rinsed and drained)
1 tablespoon tahini (optional)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
Salt to taste (try ¼ teaspoon at first)
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup water

Put about half of the garbanzo beans and the rest of the ingredients in your blender or food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.  Slowly add the rest of the garbanzo beans, blending after each addition.  If you have trouble blending or the consistency seems too dry, add a little more of the magic hummus ingredient—water!  I use up to a cup of water to get a smooth, creamy hummus.

Yield: Makes about 1 cup hummus (this recipe can be doubled easily)

Get the Kids to Help:  Kids can measure and pour the ingredients into the blender.  My boys also love to take turns pushing the button to blend the hummus.

Roasted Garlic Hummus: For a mellower, richer garlic taste, substitute roasted garlic for the raw garlic.  The easiest way to roast garlic is to put two or three heads of garlic in a small ceramic or glass cooking dish with just enough water to submerge the heads about ¼ of the way. Cover the dish and cook the garlic in a 350-oven for for about an hour until the individual cloves are soft (I use the toaster oven).  Let the garlic cool for at least 30 minutes, then squeeze the individual cloves out of their papery skins (it should have a consistency like toothpaste—a fun job for the kids!).  Note: You can blend roasted garlic with olive oil and add it to mashed potatoes, meats, eggs, or vegetables in the last minute or two of cooking.  Roasted garlic and olive oil will keep for weeks, but be sure to keep it refrigerated!  Unrefrigerated roasted garlic with olive oil is a fabulous breeding ground for botulism.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus: For an amazing taste treat, add roasted red pepper to your hummus.  The easiest way to roast a red pepper is to place the pepper on a baking sheet and roast in a 400 degree oven (or toaster oven) for about 20 minutes until the outer skin turns black.  Let the pepper cool and remove the skin.  Cut the pepper in half and remove the seeds and ribs.  I use about half of a medium pepper in one batch of hummus.

Lemon Hummus: For a lighter, more lemony taste, increase the lemon juice to 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon and use the lower amount of garlic.  You may also need to decrease the amount of water.  Start with ¼ cup water and add water as necessary as you are blending to achieve the desired consistency.

Meal Planner:  We eat hummus a lot for lunch in the summer and occasionally for a quick dinner.  I often serve it with cheese, crackers and veges for dipping, although sometimes I actually have whole wheat pita bread on hand.  Right now I’m getting cucumbers and sungold cherry tomatoes from the garden.  I spread hummus over cucumber slices then add a cherry tomato on top for a fabulous low-carb summer treat. Yum!  Even Cameron thinks this is pretty tasty.