Avoid the Party Pooper: Serve a Party Popper

bridseye frozen chopped spinach

Every Party Has a Pooper: That’s why we invited you…

Let’s just face it…every party has a pooper. Just the way it is. Sometimes she’s the low-talking dinner party guest seated next to you – You start with a lot of ‘Excuse me?’ and ‘I’m sorry, what did you say?’ and then at some point you give up and just start nodding and agreeing. You may be agreeing to a 5am yoga class or the absolute NYC No-No: a ride to the airport…But, at a certain point, you can’t hear, give up and resign yourself to the polite nod.

Evertyhing is just TERRIBLE

Bah-Humbug!

Sometimes he’s the bah-humbug type who monopolizes you during the cocktail hour. You know, ‘the city is so crowded with holiday revelers’, ‘the weather is terrible’, ‘I just don’t FEEL like Christmas’ etc.

She’s the food hater. The wine snob. The terrible gifter – the one who brings a clearly despised re-gift or a coffee mug filled with jelly beans – what?

There’s just always one.

One way to avoid being monopolized by the party pooper is to provide yourself with an escape route. Bring an appetizer that needs some care – escape to the kitchen. And, if you really need an out – even if there’s a waiter there – offer to serve the hors d’oeuvres.

One of my favorite passed hors d’oeuvres is the Spinach Party Popper –  much better than a pooper!

Spinach Parmesan Party Poppers (makes 20)

Ingredients:

  • bridseye frozen chopped spinach

    Mise en place…

    1 10 oz package of Birdseye frozen chopped spinach – defrosted and squeezed dry of excess water

  • 3 large eggs gently beaten
  • 1/2 medium onion grated or minced
  • 3 TBSP butter melted
  • 1/2 Cup Parmesan cheese – grated
  • 1 Cup Progresso Italian Style bread crumbs
Progresso italian style bread crumbs

Always in my freezer

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1. In a microwave safe bowl, defrost the spinach – about 6 minutes on high stirring halfway through the process

2. Using a dishtowel – squeeze out the excess water from the spinach

Allow the spinach to cool a bit…

3. In a bowl, mix together the spinach, eggs, onion, butter, parmesan cheese and bread crumbs

spinach balls appetizer recipe

Ingredients Mixed and Ready for Ballin’

4. Using a small (melon ball sized) scoop, make balls from the mixture and put onto a rimmed baking sheet lined with Reynold’s Wrap pan lining paper

pan lining paper spinach balls recipe

Shiny on the bottom, parchment on the top

5. Bake for 20 – 22 minutes – just until the balls are firm

vegetarian hors d'oeuvres

Perfectly Firm Party Poppers

6. You can either serve immediately…Or, if you need a party escape: allow to cool, transfer to a travel container and take to your next holiday party. Just reheat for about :10mins on 300 before serving

birdseye frozen chopped spinach appetizers

Could he be avoiding the party pooper by serving the poppers?

Even if you are not expecting a party pooper at your next holiday event, the spinach party poppers are a perfect passed hors d’oeuvre. And, because they are vegetarian, a crowd pleaser: They might even make a Scrooge smile, and, as far as you’ll know, they’re a favorite of low-talkers everywhere.

Thai-ing To Lose Weight: Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Gluten Free Chicken Ground

Thai these to help lose weight

If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you know that the trip to thinner isn’t always a direct route. I mean, let’s face it life isn’t linear. Sometimes it’s the most circuitous of routes that leads us to our desired destination. Sometimes it’s the countless number of times that we hit the wall of a maze that brings us to the end of our journey.

So in the quest to lose my Sandy 15lbs, I took a detour to Thanksgiving – read: ate lots of stuffing, mashed potatoes and pie. Look! There I am on Nantucket with Veep Joe Biden:

VP Joe Biden on Nantucket

Look at his shiny teeth!

Do you think he thinks I look fat? Nah, he’s too nice and shiny to think that!

So now that my favorite holiday has passed and my time with Biden (or, more accurately, my time stalking the vice president on the tiny island) is over, I’m taking the right steps to shed a few lbs.

Recent meals have featured Carnival Squash and Simply Grilled Shrimp.

squash week

Lo-Cal Carnival

Marinated Grilled Shrimp
Lo-Cal Grilled Shrimp

But last night I wanted to do something a little more interesting. So I tried a taste of lo-cal Thai.

You will want to prep ahead cuz this is easy but takes like :90 mins in total.

Pretty Lo-Cal Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps (serves 4)

Oh! And they’re gluten-free as well!

OK…First and foremost, there is a lot of prep of ingredients in the chicken wraps – so do yourself a favor and mise en place.

Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps

A Mise En Place to make Chef Anne Burrell Proud

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 TBSP lime juice
  • 1-2 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1/8 Cup of sugar
  • 2 TBSP Asian Fish Sauce, like Ka*Me found in the Asian area at Fairway
  • 1 1/2 TSP Chili Pepper Paste, like Amore – hard to find this – had to ask nice Fairway worker guy
  • Vegetable oil – not Olive Oil
  • Peeling fresh Ginger

    Ginger

    2 TBSP grated fresh ginger – remember, you should have some peeled ginger stored in your freezer

  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1 TSP kosher salt – or less
  • 4 Scallions thinly sliced
  • 1 medium carrot grated
  • 1/2 cup canned, drained water chestnuts, diced
  • The recipe also calls for 3 TBSP chopped fresh mint leaves and 2 TBSP chopped fresh cilantro – I prepped both of these ingredients…but then forgot to stir them in at the end. So you can skip it if you like.

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, lemon juice, fish sauce and chili pepper paste and set aside. The recipe called for Asian Chile Paste…but I couldn’t find it at Fairway, so I bought Amore Chile Pepper Paste – I think that’s the same thing?

Lo-Cal Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps

The liquids

2. Heat about 2 TBSP of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

3. Add the garlic and the ginger and stir until fragrant (about 2 mins)

Thai lettuce wraps

Don’t Let the Garlic Burn! Cuz you’d have to start over

3. Add the chicken and salt and cook completely – about 6 mins

NOTE: the recipe called for a ton of salt…but, I used just shy of a tsp and it was more than enough

Gluten free ground chicken

Browning the Gluten Free Chicken

4. Stir in the scallions, carrot and water chestnuts and heat through (about 2 more mins)

thai chicken lettuce wraps

OOOH! Look at the pretty colors!

5. Transfer the chicken mixture to a bowl and let cool about :05 mins

6. Add in the lemony-limey-fish saucy liquid mixture, 1 tbsp at a time. Once the chicken mixture is moistened, but not swimming, stop adding the liquid. I added too much and it was delicious, but a little messy to eat

thai chicken lettuce wraps

A little too liquid-y

7. Cover the bowl and chill in the fridge for about an hour

8. Prepare 8-10 Bibb or Boston lettuce leaves – you know, like wash them and stuff

9. Put a heap of the chilled chicken mixture inside each lettuce leaf and serve

Thai Chicken Lettuce wraps

Beautifully Tasty and Lo-Cal

My journey to weight loss like most of life’s journeys has not been via a direct route. But, in spite of stops at Beef Wellington and Thanksgiving Stuffing, I’m getting there. It’s not easy at this time of year what with the Lincoln Center Winter’s Eve fest last night featuring fab food fare from all of the local restaurants (like the toasted gnocchi tastes from Bar Boulud’s Tent – OMG!). But, I am Thai-ing so that maybe next time I see Veep Joe B, I’ll be just a little bit thinner.