I decided to alphabetize by category after all, just to be different. :)
First, let me say that most of my recipes are very simple and plain. I believe strongly in whole foods and natural ingredients, but I do not worry about any particular school of thought as to what foods are "good" or "bad" other than that, and I don't do "organic." If you want to consider that, you just need to find "organic" ingredients or make substitutions where necessary.
I eat to live, rather than live to eat, but the enjoyment of both preparation and eating food, best if done with friends and/or family, is one of the important parts of that life. We all must eat. Let's strive always to enjoy the process as we benefit internally from the food itself.
So, we'll begin with Appetizers.
The smell of good cooking simply can't be beat as an appetizer, but sometimes it is good to provide something for guests (or hungry children) to munch on while they wait for the main meal. Saves some grumbling and whining from the kids, and might prevent burned fingers when non-cooks lift pot lids to check on the progress.
We all have the books with directions for making trays of veggies, bread sticks and so forth. Is there anything else?
For the children, I like to serve sliced, fresh fruit. It is sweet enough to appeal to them, yet not so much that it will hurt their appetite for the meal. If you cut apples or pears, dip them into a solution of 1 qt. cold water mixed with a crushed 1,000 mg. tablet of vitamin C (or use that much in a powdered form). This will prevent them from darkening right away. Use the water later to make a cool beverage, if possible.
Of course, grapes (washed and removed from the stems) are excellent too. Orange slices need no dipping, and strawberries are about perfect if washed and capped.
Of course, adults can eat these too!!
My favorite for adult fare, often in addition to the fruit, is a tortilla chip and salsa combo. But I don't use corn tortillas all the time. Sometimes I have a partial pack of flour tortillas that needs eating. Cut into strips or pie wedges (depending on the size), spread them on a greased cookie sheet (or more than one) and toast in a hot oven until just crisp. Obviously, this can be done with corn tortillas as well. I don't buy the commercial chips because they have more fat and salt in them, but a bag of chips will work fine too.
Mama's California Salsa
3 - 5 pounds whole, fresh tomatoes, diced (save and use the juice too!)
1 sm. red onion, diced very fine (you can use green onions instead, but the taste is quite different. Use some of the greens if you do it this way.)
1 bunch fresh cilantro, washed and chopped fine
1 cup celery, diced very fine
1 sm. can diced green chili (you can use any peppers, caned or fresh)
1 large yellow banana or other sweet pepper, diced fairly fine (or small carrot)
1 can black beans, drained
1 tsp. fine ground cumin or to taste
1 tbsp. white (or any) vinegar
Salt and cayenne pepper to taste
Mix well, and allow to stand at least a few hours refrigerated. Serve in small bowls for dipping. Keeps well refrigerated for several days if nobody eats it all. :)
Now, I'd love to hear about your favorite dips and munchies.