Looking for some jazzed up appetizers to offer your guests? These seem really decadent, but by planning ahead you can cut the costs significantly. Watch for sales, be willing to make substitutions that don't limit the tastiness and balance the menu with some lower cost items such as popcorn. Here are two recipes, one for superior nachos, the other for baked brie, with possible ingredient substitutions and deletions.
1 pound lean ground beef (this can be omitted to become a vegetarian option, or to save $$)
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin (optional)
Pinch of salt
1 small can refried beans, if omitting the ground beef, add an additional can of refried beans
1 bag corn tortilla chips
1-1/4 pounds Monterey Jack or Mozzarella cheese, grated
1 large onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 6-ounce can black olives, chopped
- Brown the ground beef in a skillet. Drain. Add the chili powder, cumin and salt. Set aside. If you are omitting the ground beef, just add the chili powder, optional cumin and salt to refried beans.
- Spread a layer of refried beans over the bottom of a platter or shallow, heat-proof bowl.
- Spread a layer of chips over the beans, then top with layers of cheese, ground beef, onion, tomato and olives.
- Repeat until all the ingredients are used.
- Bake at 375° for 20-30 minutes.
Serve warm, with sour cream
3/4 cup raspberry or apricot jam (not jelly)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 8-inch wheel of Brie, about 2 pounds. Yes, this is costly, however, this appetizer will feed a lot of people and in turn can eliminate many different appetizers being offered.
3/4 cup slivered almonds or coarsely chopped pecans, optional (I typically omit the nuts due to cost and to avoid allergy restrictions of guests).
- Whisk the jam, honey and brown sugar together and set aside.
- Remove the Brie from its packaging and place on a baking sheet.
- Cut off only the top portion of the rind.
- Using a spoon or butter knife, scoop out the center of the Brie to within 3/4 of an inch of the sides and bottom, reserving the scooped out cheese.
- Spread half the jam mixture over the bottom of the scooped out center, replace the scooped-out cheese, and top with the remaining jam mixture.
- Sprinkle the optional nuts over the top, skip this step if not using nuts in recipe.
- Cover loosely with foil and bake in a preheated 350° oven just until melted, about 30 minutes.
- Remove the foil for the last 5 minutes of baking.
Transfer the Brie to a serving platter. Serve with a knife or spreader, with whole grain crackers or thin-sliced baguette.
Aldis grocery stores have good prices and by checking their ads on line, you can see what is going to be coming up on sale, 2 weeks ads at a time. This helps in planning, by looking ahead, you may find the Brie on sale, or a great price on veggies needed for superior nachos. With locations on both the east and west sides of Madison, the stores are convenient as well.
Here are the addresses of each:
East Side Aldi, 3925 Lien Road in Madison
West Side Aldi, 8222 Watts Road in Madison
Here is the website where you can find upcoming sales, meat specials and more http://aldi.us/index