We’re Cooking: Lighten Up Hors d’Oeuvres

We are fully immersed into our New Years resolution to lighten up a bit in 2012.  Though we are healthy eaters in general, Gary and I are both looking to lose a few pounds put on over the indulgent holidays and pre-holiday trips.  We have jump started our work outs and have been eating soup and salad for pretty much every meal.  We do like snacks though, and love to nibble on tasty bites as we watch playoff football, NBA basketball (finally) and the plethora of film screeners on hand as we get ready for the Oscars.  These are a few tasty, low-cal bites we have enjoyed over the past few weeks.  Though perhaps they aren’t as delicious as a pile of cheese fries with bacon and ranch, they are definitely not a heart-attach on a plate.


Fresh Boiled Shrimp with Homemade Dill Cocktail Sauce
1 pound large, fresh boiled shrimp (you can either boil them yourself by adding 1 pound shell on shrimp to a pot of boiling water with 4 bay leaves, 1 lemon cut in quarters, a palm full of whole peppercorns, 1/2 cup salt, 1/4 cup red pepper flakes and 4 garlic cloves, cut in half.  Boil for 5-7 minutes until the shrimp have turned pink and curled in. Then drain and refrigerate until cold.  Peel, leaving the tail on and set aside in the refrigerator until ready to serve) or buy pre-boiled.  Shrimp is high in cholesterol, but are a great source of low-fat and low-cal protein if you keep the cholesterol in check.
For the cocktail sauce –
3/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish
6 drops hot sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tablespoon fresh dill – chopped fine
Dash freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Dash of salt

Combine all the ingredients for the cocktail sauce together.  Serve with the shrimp on a large platter.

Cucumbers with Herbed Chevre, Smoked Salmon and Caviar
This is super simple and so delicious.  Chevre is a lower calorie and lower fat cheese.  A bit of caviar adds elegance, and a bit of decadence to this easy appetizer.
1 English cucumber, cut into 1/2 inch rounds
4 ounces garlic-herb chevre, softened
1 teaspoon skim milk + more if needed
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped herbs (parsley, dill, basil, thyme), chopped very fine
Dash of salt and pepper
1 teaspoon lemon zest + 1 teaspoon lemon juice
3 ounces gravlox smoked salmon
1 ounce caviar, optional

Combine the chevre, milk, herbs, juice and zest together, mixing well. Lay the cucumbers out, cut side up, on a serving dish and season lightly with salt and pepper.  Using a piping bag or a knife cover the top of the cucumber rounds with a bit of the chevre mixture.  Top each cucumber round with a thin slice of smokes salmon, then top with a bit of caviar.  Serve very cold.

Cucumber with Chevre, Cilantro, Mint and Mango
Using plain chevre in this light bite lets the sweetness of the cheese, mango and mint shine. The cucumber is a great base to lighten up instead of using crackers.
1 English cucumber – sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
1 mango – peeled and sliced thin
4 ounces fresh chevre – softened
2 teaspoons skim milk
zest of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon fresh mint + more for garnish, chopped
1/2 tablespoon fresh cilantro + more for garnish, chopped
Freshly cracked pepper

Lay the cucumber rounds, cut side up, on a platter.  Season lightly with salt and fresh ground pepper.  Mix the chevre together with the milk, cilantro, mint and zest.  Pipe or spread some of the chevre mixture on to each round and top with a slice of mango.  Garnish with additional herbs, serve cold.