Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Four of the best (and whimsical) hors d'oeuvres for a new year...

So I've been thinking about this blog a lot... though you probably wouldn't realize it since I haven't really been posting as much as I should (bad, bad Mae!).  I promise I haven't forgotten about you all, quite the contrary - with a fresh year/decade coming up, I've been busy thinking about how to make a *New and Improved!* version of the site.  I'm happy to say I think I've come up with some nifty-ish ideas (I think, kinda, maybe), and you'll just have to stick around to see what I mean by that (muahaha!).

Until then, I thought maybe I'd end this year on a classy note... and what's classier than olive penguins and cheese snowmen, I ask you?  Here's my evidence to back this up:

a) Penguins wear tuxes, all day, every day.  That's more than even James Bond can say.
b) Snowmen wear TOP HATS.  Just like British people.  'Nuff said.

As for the other hors d'oeuvres on this menu, I'd say they're pretty and elegant, too.  But the most important part of all of these for me is the whimsical part.  If there's something more whimsical than miniature versions of food, I've yet to find it.  I worried these might cross the line from "whimsy" into "precious", which is the difference between, say...

Whimsical                                                    Precious (icky/cutesy)

... I'm not even going to go into why this little fella on the right appears to be drinking a beer larger than his torso - as if hauling those freak-huge parsnips he's got wouldn't be hard enough sober for a six-year-old.

In any case, as Jason gave these the thumbs up on my hors d'oeuvres (boys generally being the best alarmists for anything too "cutesy"), I think I'm in the clear by most standards as far as the "precious" quotient goes.  Rock on.

For the next four weeks I'll be featuring one recipe a week for these whimsical hors d'oeuvres in honor of the first month of the new decade!  Why not all at once?  Well, I have to have something to persuade you to come back and visit me over and over again, don't I?  And if you're thinking "That's lame, I'm have a NYE party tomorrow that I could use recipes for!"  Yes, this might be true, so I'll give you the gist (spoiler alerts?) for the other 3 hors d'oeuvres so you can make them if you're dying to do so tomorrow... plus you could always email me at the "Contact" tab for it.  I love getting emails.  Really, I do.

So, here is 1 of the 4 recipes for classy/whimsical-but-not-precious (and did I mention vegetarian, inexpensive and easy?) hors d'oeuvres...

Recipe numero uno: The Winter Penguins and Snowmen (make delicious armies to command at will!)

The penguin recipe can be found all over the web - I haven't been able to figure out where it's orginated from.  If you're the mastermind of this recipe (and can prove it) and reading this getting pissed that I'm reproducing it... well, I'm guessing you're pretty busy being pissed at a lot of people cause this thing is as popular as the snickerdoodle.  Feel free to send me a note, though, and I'll happily credit you for this awesome invention.  I HAVE changed it up from the versions I've found, I'd like to note, in that I used canned pickled spicy carrots instead of chopping up fresh ones.  Why?

a) They're uniform and pre-cut for my ease and comfort (yay!)
b) They're spicy, and I like spicy - I think they make these *pop* a little more then plain raw carrots - especially since California black olives and cream cheese aren't very "pop-y" on their own, though delish.

For the Penguins you'll need...

A can of medium California black olives
A can of large California black olives
An 8 oz pkg of cream cheese (feel free to flavor w/herbs, garlic, whatever)
A can (11 oz works) of spicy carrot coins
Toothpicks (for stabbing)

Simply slice one side of the large olive lengthwise and fill with cream cheese (you'll probably want to clean up the cheese smears with a damn paper towel).  Cut a little triangle pie shape out of a carrot coin and insert into hole of medium olive for the beak.  Then layer as shown and skewer that little puppy with a toothpick.  The horror!

<-- Still classy, even without a head)

Penguin face-off!

Now, for the snowmen, this is an idea I had myself, but it does seem like a couple other people like me (raised only children, too much time left alone with food) have had similar ideas to mine on this, though I've yet to see an exact replica when I Google'd my creation.  What can I say?  Great minds... or something to that effect.

For the snowmen you'll need...

Small fresh mozzarella "pearls" (available in tubs in many places)
Substitute cream or goat cheese rolled into balls (again, feel free to flavor at will)
Sliced seedless (English) cucumbers - not too thin as these will serve as a base for your snowmen
Whole roasted red peppers - sliced into long, thin strips
A can of medium California black olives
A can of large California black olives

Just cut as pictured below (for the top hat, you're just cutting off the very ends of the olives to make a cylinder shape) and assemble.  Don't forget the toothpicks!

Coming up next week: Tomato bisque shots with mini grilled cheese

Followed by: Quails eggs and olive oil blinis (aka Mini Pancakes and Eggs)

To be concluded with: Thai sweet potato cups

If you've enjoyed my recipes, please vote for my Vietnamese-style Moo Shu at Foodista!  :)


  1. I love it, it's cute... Amazing!

  2. although I have seen these penquins before and i actually tried to make them,never have I seen these as adorable and they are so perfect as you have created them. You have a true sense of artistry in food presentation. These were magnificiant; Happy New Year !! thanks sharing your talent

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. ^^^

    I left a whiff of mistakey comment... Sorry!

    TOO cute. Just TOOOOO cute! You know, I haven't seen anyone around here wear a top hat for an awful long time... They SO need to come back. As a vegetarian, I never thought I would say such a thing, but those penguins and snowmen look delicious 8-) Can't wait to see the new look site! :) Have a happy and safe new year! x

  5. I'm in LOVE with the penguins!!! I've always been in love with penguins so edible ones are just about the best thing I could ever ask for. The composition of your photos is so creative (I think i've told you this before) it's so well thought out and simultaneously comical. I am psyched about the upcoming Tomato bisque shots with mini grilled cheese! I wish you a fantastic 2010! :)

  6. Can't wait to see what you cook up (literally and figuratively) in 2010. Your penguins are fantastic. Looking forward to reading many new posts in the New Year!

  7. Thanks everyone! I spent lots of time giggling at the penguins myself as I was making them (note for new year: get a life) :)

    Sanjana - I'm going to make a pig next - then you can say you're a vegetarian, so you can enjoy pork ;)

    Hope everyone has a fantastic 2010!

  8. Nice! Great job and great blog post! Happy New Year!


    Happy New Year! :)

  10. So totally awesome. I haven't seen these little creatures before but I am sure that 2010 will see me making them at least once. Love the step by step shots :)

    I also had no idea you could buy canned pickled spicy carrots. It seems you can buy canned anything. Canned whole chicken anyone?

  11. I enjoy your style. I wonder if black olives not from a can might not be a waddle in the right direction? I assume that penguins waddle rather than walk.

    Happy New Year.


  12. Connor - The spicy carrots may be a regional thing (I guess most things are, though). They're very popular in Mexican cuisine in Chicago (and I know in other cities in the USA) and are available in most grocery stores in the "ethnic" aisle if they cater to Mexican populations... which is a dominant ethnicity here in Chicago.

    Carol - I think you're right - a "waddle" to the un-canned olive would be nice.:) It's difficult to find brined olives that hold their shape so well when pitted, I find. Some Spanish varieties, perhaps. I will keep searching for one!

  13. Yay Mae! These are awesome! And don't feel bad about not posting as often. I haven't been doing a good job in December either. I finally rationalized with "I rather LIVE my life than be obsessed about blogging about it". Seriously, this blogging thing takes a lot of your time!

    That being said, I'm glad you're back with 4 amazing recipes. I adore these penguins and snowmen. Looking fwd to the 2nd one in the series!

  14. Loooove the penguins! (And I'm just back blogging now after a something like 3 month break, so you're doing better than I am!)

  15. @Shelly (Experimental) - Thank you, I love that quote! It's so true, this blogging business has been so much work, I almost feel like a mom sometimes (ok, moms will want to smack me if they read this). :)

    @Rec(ession)ipes - I totally understand - it requires so much of you from so many different angles: writing, cooking, photographing. If I am every a hiring manager, I am going to look for employees that have food blogs, I swear, because these are people that WORK! :)

  16. Oh, I just love your post - esp. the instructional photos! Awesomely clever. Your #1 of Foodbuzz Top 9 is well deserved. Can't wait to see what you cook up for us next... :)

    Cheers and Happy New Year!
    ~ Cleo
    author of The Coffeehouse Mysteries

  17. I have to make those penguin. I still love playing with my food.

  18. Ah, this is super-duper cute!! Domokun would appreciate it... before he om nom nommed those adorable penguins! He's such a killjoy, that Domokun. I love these little guys. What a great way to make eating veggies n' cheese fun for kids!

  19. this is really unique .. happy new year

  20. mathea
    I wish you the best for 2010 and I am very happy to have met your blog ! cheers from Paris it must be as cold as Chicago here! pierre

  21. This made me laugh so much. And I am thinking about when I can make these myself. The penguins are amazing. If only I weren't so partied out...

    Happy New Year!

  22. So fabulous! I posted a link on my edible crafts column at craft gossip (, and I was sure to point out the penguin origin question (yay to you for pointing that out). I know I saw them a year ago at Once Upon a Plate, but not sure if the existed before then. Love the snowman pal, too! (I found your blog when you posted a comment on mine)

  23. You are way too creative! These are adorable.

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  25. Love the penguins! I'll be making those next Christmas!

  26. Le tue ricette sono deliziose! Buon anno!

  27. Hello thanks for being gone from me! is a pleasure to meet you :-)
    You have so much creativity and imagination ... compliments penguins edible are beautiful!

  28. Your hors d'oeuvre art is top notch!

    Thank you,

  29. you are so creative! love the photography on this site!

    have a happy new year!

  30. I think I have the original recipe for the penguins in a book I bought at the grocery store years ago. It has the penguins AND an igloo. I'll bring it to work for you to see. CLM

  31. Cheryl! Seriously, you have recipe?? You have to bring it in and show me, yes!

  32. My kids would LOVEEEEE this. Talk about delish lunchbox specials.....Wow!


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