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Family Meals Matter: Appetizing

December 26th, 2013 12:58 pm by Staff Report

Family Meals Matter: Appetizing

This grilled salsa steak appetizer is fun as party food or a change of pace for your family dinner. (Jennifer Marx/California Beef Council/MCT)


Choosing several appetizer-size portions to share with a salad in place of one large entrée is a healthy eating strategy for dining out. So why not use the same strategy at home? Whether you’re planning a holiday party or looking for a fun change of pace for your family dinner, we’ve selected some of our favorite small plates to make an appetizing meal.

This week, we’ve combined Grilled Salsa Steak Appetizers, Chicken Quesadillas and Stuffed Portabellas with Gorgonzola and Balsamic-Rosemary Reduction into a family meal that’s small plate perfection. Add this week’s other recipes like Spinach Squares, Fig Pizza, Spanish Tortilla and Garlic Good Crab Cakes for an appetizingly healthy holiday party menu.



Total Preparation Time: 2 hours

Actual Cooking Time: 45 minutes

Number of Servings: 10 or more (59 calories/serving; serving is one appetizer)


2 beef shoulder top blade (flat iron) steaks (about 8 ounces each)

1 cup prepared thick-and-chunky salsa

1 to 2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro, divided

24 large corn tortilla chips

1/2 cup prepared guacamole

24 fresh cilantro leaves (optional)


1. Place beef steaks and one-half cup salsa in food-safe plastic bag; turn steaks to coat. Close bag securely and marinate in refrigerator 15 minutes to 2 hours. Combine remaining one-half cup salsa and chopped cilantro, as desired; cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

2. Remove steaks from marinade; discard marinade. Place steaks on grid over medium, ash-covered coals. Grill, covered, 10 to 14 minutes (over medium heat on preheated gas grill, covered, 12 to 16 minutes) for medium rare to medium doneness, turning occasionally.

3. Carve steaks into thin slices; cut slices into bite-size pieces. Arrange chips on platter. Top each chip evenly with reserved salsa mixture, beef and guacamole. Garnish with cilantro leaf, if desired. Serve immediately.

(For more delicious beef recipes, visit


Total Preparation Time: less than 15 minutes

Actual Cooking Time: 15 to 30 minutes

Number of Servings: 6 (185 calories/serving)

A homemade recipe of a favorite Mexican food. Can be frozen and reheated in the oven.


1/2 pound chicken, chopped very small

1/3 cup sour cream (can be lowfat)

1/3 cup salsa

1 cup shredded cheese, any type

12 small soft tortillas

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

Pepper to taste

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon cumin


1. Saute chicken with seasonings.

2. In medium bowl, combine chicken, sour cream, salsa and cheese.

3. Heat frying pan to medium.

4. Sandwich the mixture between two tortillas at a time. Place enough mixture so there is about an inch between the mixture and the edge of the tortilla.

5. Heat each quesadilla in the pan, and flip when the bottom is lightly browned. Serve with salsa and sour cream to dip.


Total Preparation Time: 15 to 30 minutes

Actual Cooking Time: 15 to 30 minutes

Number of Servings: 6 (211 calories/serving)

The balsamic vinegar when reduced forms a deep-crimson syrup that makes an aromatic sauce.


2 cups balsamic vinegar

3 portobello caps, washed and stems removed

4 ounces gorgonzola

2 ounces shredded parmesan

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced

1 large egg, beaten

1/2 tablespoon dried rosemary


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place balsamic vinegar in small pot and place on stove. Cook over low heat. The goal is to allow vinegar to cook until reduced to 1 cup, so note how far up the vinegar fills pot. This should take about 15 minutes.

2. While vinegar is reducing, place portobello caps, gill side up, in small baking dish.

3. In small bowl, mix gorgonzola, Parmesan, bread crumbs, parsley and egg until well-combined.

4. Spoon gorgonzola mixture into mushrooms. Cover and bake in preheated oven 20 minutes or until mixture is bubbly.

5. When vinegar is reduced, remove from stove and stir in rosemary.

Cook's Notes:

— Presentation: To serve, place stuffed mushrooms on a serving plate and spoon vinegar reduction over mushrooms. Serve hot.

— Substitution: This dish can be made with smaller mushrooms. Small sweet onions can be used in place of portabellos, as well.







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