I was lucky enough to score a VIP ticket last week to the Lee Greenwood & Friends Celebrating Christmas and Patriotism concert (HelpingAHero.org). Before Greenwood sang his first song he said, “These are the five words every family of service men and women want to hear, ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas.’”And of course the audience all agreed. It was a wonderful concert benefiting the Helping a hero organization. The Wounded Hero Home Program is their signature home-building program for severely wounded warriors injured in the post 9-11 Global War on Terror. Helping a Hero homes are designed with the specific veteran’s injuries in mind. Adaptations vary for each wounded hero and the home is designed to maximize the veteran’s independence, subject to the project budget constraints.

With that event in mind I wanted to share a few recipes of the creative, passed appetizers and delicious buffet that our military persons in attendance enjoyed the evening of the event. Of course, I didn’t get the exact recipes from the event planners. But I got the names of the items served and from there I was on a mission to find and/or create my version of the wonderful foods served that evening. So, “Please Join My Table” as I recreate these memorable foods.


Smoked Salmon Pinwheels

8 ounces cold smoked salmon, thinly sliced (I like Nova Lox)
4 ounces cream cheese
3 tablespoons minced dill leaves, no stems
1 tablespoon capers, drained and chopped
2 tablespoons red onion, finely chopped
Disposable bamboo appetizer picks/spears
1 lemon, sliced thin

DIRECTIONS: In a medium mixing bowl, mix the cream cheese, dill and capers, blending well. Set aside. Lay a large piece of plastic wrap on your work surface. Place the salmon overlapping to create a rectangle about 6 inches wide by 12 inches long. Carefully spread the cream cheese mixture over the salmon trying not to move any of the pieces. Lay the cucumber along one side of the rectangle about 1/2 inch from the edge. Using the plastic wrap, push and roll the salmon up tightly around the cream-cheese mixture. Refrigerate until firm (One hour or overnight). Using a sharp knife, cut the roll into 16, 1/2-inch-thick slices. Secure each one with a disposable bamboo spear. Place on a serving tray garnished with dill and lemon slices.

Note: This is a perfect recipe for Christmas Eve or any holiday party, Make it one day ahead and refrigerate until ready to serve. Be sure to serve them cold.


Bacon Wrapped Scallops

16 sea scallops
8 slices bacon cut in half crosswise
8 toothpicks
Extra virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Pat scallops dry with a paper towel. Wrap each scallop with 1/2 slice of bacon and secure with a toothpick. Drizzle olive oil over scallops and season with Cajun seasoning or cracked pepper and sea salt. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, depending on the size of your scallops and the bacon thickness. Serve immediately.

Note: I like to serve it with a horseradish cream dip.


Mediterrean Antipasto Skewer

Mini wooden skewers
20 basil leaves
10 pieces prosciutto 2 inches in length each, rolled (optional)
10 pieces marinated artichoke hearts, drained
10 tri-colored mini mozzarella cheese balls, or plain white
10 sundried tomato slices, drained and rolled
10 pitted Kalamata olives
Dried Greek oregan for garnish

DIRECTIONS: Skewer the antipasto ingredients beginning with the basil leaf, followed by the artichoke hearts, then prosciutto. Add the mozzarella cheese ball, then the sundried tomato slice; finish with the Kalamata olive at the very top of the skewer. If you have more basil or parsley leaves, you can alternate them on the skewer as well. Place the skewers on a serving platter. Sprinkle with oregano. Serve cold or at room temperature.


I’ll Be Home For Christmas Lobster Chowder

If I didn’t make this Crock-Pot chowder every Christmas Eve, I would be in hot water and on Santa’s “naughty list.”

1⁄2 cup salted butter
1 (28-ounce) bag O’Brien potatoes, frozen
1 (10.75-ounce) ca cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1 can lobster bisque
1 pound frozen corn
8 ounces sour cream
1/2 cup Gruyère cheese, shredded
1⁄2 onion, chopped
1/4 cup celery, chopped
1 pound, bacon
2 cans clams drained, save juice
2 teaspoons tarragon
1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1⁄2 teaspoon celery seed
3 cups half-and-half
2-3 cooked lobster tails, cut into small chunks, save shells
6-12 clams, in shells
1/4 cup Marsala wine

Pass the following for toppings: 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, 1/2 cup chopped green onions, 1/4 cup Gruyère and remaining crumbled bacon.

DIRECTIONS: Put frozen potatoes O’Brien in Crock-Pot. In a large fry pan, fry bacon until crisp, remove from pan, crumble bacon and set aside. In same pan, saute the onion and celery until soft, about 3-4 minutes. Add to Crock-Pot. Add cream of chicken soup, lobster bisque, frozen corn, sour cream, tarragon, cayenne pepper, Cajun seasoning, celery seed, half-and-half, clam juice and lobster shells. Mix gently and cook on low for 5 hours. Add clams, butter, Marsala wine and lobster. Cook till clams open. Remove lobster shells, add 1/2 of the bacon, stir well. Serve in bowls topped with bacon bits tarragon, green onion and cheese.

Note: Do not let this come to a boil; the dairy products will separate.

Karen Boughton
Author: Karen BoughtonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
I grew up in a big, Greek, cooking family. I married my high school sweetheart and soon had three daughters. My husband and I worked in the family’s Greek restaurant, “Zorba’s,” for several years before moving to Baton Rouge and eventually Corpus Christi. There I taught microwave cooking classes for Amana.in studio and on television for three years before moving to Kingwood in the late '80s. I reached out to learn more about regional and international foods, spending 16 years in management in private athletic/dining/country clubs for ClubCorp, where I embraced health and cooking. In 2008 I joined the Tribune Newspapers as food editor, the same time that I became a nutrition advisor and USANA Health Sciences Associate. These two passions have given me better health and the freedom to live life my way.

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