Category Archives: Appetizers

Caprese Salad

Simple ingredients equal delicious results in this recipe.  Pasta, fresh basil, garlic and olive oil sound so simple, but together they are heaven.  This is a great dish to make ahead of time for a BBQ, pot-luck or even a super bowl party.  All I can say is GO BRONCOS!!!!  Keeping my fingers crossed they stay in this thing.  Every game is such a nail biter, don’t fail me now.  I’m even wearing my orange shirt and I hate orange.  It’s all for the sake of football.

Ingredients:

  • 16oz rotini pasta
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 36 grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 16 oz block mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1/4 cup creamy balsamic dressing, I used Newmans Own

Directions:

1.  Cook pasta according to package directions. Once cooked al dente, place in colander drain all water and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.

2.  In large mixing bowl toss pasta, olive oil, salt, garlic, tomatoes, basil and cheese. Toss until evenly coated on all pasta.

3.  Finally,  drizzle creamy balsamic dressing onto pasta and mix thoroughly. Salt and pepper to taste.

4.  Cover and store in fridge until ready to serve.

* side note:  if it chills for a length of time, you may want to add a bit more dressing or olive oil.  The pasta tends to soak it up a bit.

Adapted from:  chef-in-training

Marinated Cheese

 

I know you may have thought I fell off the face of the Earth; but the truth is life got crazy busy.  My husband and I moved into a new house; well new to us, but old in age (built in 1896).  It is a super cute old Victorian, but it needed a lot of TLC.  Including new hardwood floors, painting every square inch, electrical, appliances and new toilets.  The house is now sparkling, but during this time it consumed every spare moment of my time.  So, as you can tell cooking was not at the top of my list after a long hard day of work.  Besides there were moments in the process that I didn’t even have appliances, making it tough to whip up much of anything.  But here I am, don’t worry.  Back from the depths of house remodeling.

What I have decided to restart my cooking adventures with was a recipe I used for a “get-to-know-the-neighbors” potluck.  I wanted to bring an appetizer, something simple yet could sit out on a counter and not go bad.  Voila, behold marinated cheese.  Delicious.  Hello, it’s cheese can you really go wrong?  I served it with crackers and it was a total hit.  Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed.  Also, it looks so pretty on a serving dish.

Yields:  approximately 16 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 (2-oz) jar diced pimentos, drained
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons green onions, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 (8-oz) package Cheddar cheese
  • 1 (8-oz) package cream cheese, chilled

Directions:

1.  In a a jar with a tight fitting lid, combine first 10 ingredients.  Tighten lid and shake vigorously; set aside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.  Cut the block of cheddar cheese in half lengthwise.  Then cut crosswise into 1/4″ slices.  Repeat with cream cheese.  Arrange cheese slices in a shallow baking dish, standing slices on edge, alternating cheddar cheese with cream cheese.

 

3.  Pour the marinade from the jar over the cheese slices.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

4.  To serve move cheese slices to a serving platter so they are still arranged in an alternating pattern standing on their edges.  Spoon some of the extra marinade over the cheese.  Serve with your choice of crackers.

Black Bean Salad

I decided to make this recipe for a baby shower I was attending and the momma-to-be was a vegetarian.  I served it with tortilla chips and it was a hit.  Full of delicious flavors and colors, with a salt and lime kick.  Also, feel free to increase the seasonings, if your a big fan of lime flavor, add more lime or if you like a bit more dressing, increase the Italian dressing.  Get creative on this one, it would be hard to go wrong.   
Also, with Cinco de Mayo coming up this weekend it could be a perfect dish for the Mexican themed festivities.  Use it for an appetizer, as a filling for burritos, a side dish for a chicken meal or simply eat it with a spoon.  Either way it will be delicious. 
 


Ingredients:

  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1 (15.25 ounce) can corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup Italian salad dressing
  • 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • juice of 1 small lime
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • tortilla chips

Directions:
1.  In a medium mixing bowl combine, peppers, onion, corn, garlic and cilantro.  Add Italian dressing, vinegar and lime juice, mix well.  Salt and pepper to taste and serve with tortilla chips.  For best flavor, place prepared salad in airtight container and place in refrigerator for 2-3 hours before eating.

Green Eggs and Bacon

No, this isn’t a breakfast with Dr. Seuss.  It is a super easy delicious breakfast treat.   I made this for our neighbors one morning and it was a hit.  With the spice of the pesto it makes this much more interesting than your typical eggs and toast.  Plus, it looks so cute on the plate.  You could even change up the pesto to try different flavors, such as sun dried tomato.  Go ahead and get creative for breakfast, Dr. Seuss did.


Yields:  2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices of lean turkey bacon
  • 4 slices of french bread or 2 English muffins
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 jar pesto

Directions:

1.  Cook bacon in skillet until crispy brown.  Place aside on plate with paper towel to soak up any remaining grease.

2.  Cook eggs according to your own preference in a skillet.  I made my eggs over-medium in these pictures.  But you could easily do scrambled or over-easy.

3.  While the eggs are cooking, toast the bread.  When finished toasting, place two pieces of toast onto each serving plate, spread a thin amount of pesto onto each slice of bread.  Next place one piece of bacon and then top with one egg.

4.  Enjoy.

Baked Donut Muffins

 

This is a wonderful recipe that’s a cross between a mini muffin and a donut hole! Plus, since they are baked and not fried we could say a bit healthier than your ordinary donut.  But I dare you to try and eat just one.  It’s impossible.  They are like Pringles, once you start, you can’t stop.

Yield: 20-24 mini-donuts

Ingredients:

For Donut:

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup flour


For Sugar Topping

  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 375 °.  Spray 2 mini-muffin pans with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In medium sized bowl, mix 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup melted butter and nutmeg.  Stir in milk and baking powder, mix well.
  3. Next add in flour, stir until just combined.
  4. Fill prepared mini muffin cups, each cup half full.
  5. Bake in preheated oven about 15-20 minutes, or until tops are lightly golden.
  6. While muffins are baking, place 1/2 cup butter in a microwave safe bowl and melt.  In a separate small bowl combine 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon.
  7. Remove muffins from pan. Dip each muffin top, first in butter and then roll in cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Allow to cool and serve.   

Adapted from:  allrecipes

Pizza Bites

 
When I think of delicious game day food, I always think pizza.  Well, why not make pizza into a snack size.  No, I’m not talking about Totinos pizza rolls, I am talking about fresh bite size pizza straight out of your own oven.   I came up with these as a game day snack for the Superbowl.  I used pepperoni, because my husband is meat fanatic, but you could also make them vegetarian.  Just adding fresh basil, black olive and a bit of green pepper would be wonderful.  So, go ahead and use this recipe as a base and add your favorite pizza toppings to them.  Enjoy some good food, good friends and good football.  Go Broncos!!  Oh wait, that’s right they lost to the ravens.   Maybe next year.  


Yields: 24 pizza bites

Ingredients:

  • 11-oz can pizza dough ( I used Pillsbury thin crust pizza dough)
  • marinara sauce (I used basil and garlic flavor)
  • pepperoni
  • shredded motzarella cheese
  • Italian seasoning
  • garlic powder
  • basil leaves
  • 2 mini muffin pans
  • non-stick cooking spray

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 400°.  Spray mini muffin pans with non-stick cooking spray, set aside.
2.  Lightly flour counter top and lay pizza dough out and roll until 1/4″ thick.
3.  Using the open side of a cup slightly larger around than each muffin.  Cut out circular pieces of dough.

 4.  Place cut out dough in each prepared muffin pan.  1 piece of dough in each muffin.

5.  Then place 1 piece of pepperoni into each muffin, then add small amount marinara sauce into each muffin.

5.  Sprinkle each one with small amount of Italian seasoning and garlic powder.

6.  Top with a sprinkle of motzarella cheese.

Bake in oven for 10 minutes or until cheese and dough is slightly golden.

Enjoy!!! 
If your looking for some other great food ideas for the big game.  Here are a few of my favorite game day selections.
                                   
                                                             Avocado Deviled Eggs
 

Baked Crispy Edamame

If your looking for an easy party appetizer or a great side dish, then here you go.  These soybeans baked under a Parmesan cheese crust, turn a basic frozen vegetable into a delicious snack.  Crunchy on the outside and chewy in the middle.  However; be warned, they are addictive.  If you are making these for a party, make them shortly before the party starts, or you may end up having to make another batch, because you can’t stop nibbling.  Another good tip to remember when making these delights is that toasted edamame are best when consumed on the day you roast them.  They tend to loose some of their crunch the next morning.  You can still eat them, but they may be more chewy than crispy.  When making this recipe, make sure edemame are dry before mixing with other ingredients.  I placed them on a clean dish towel and patted them dry.  Making sure they are completely dry helps them get that crispy crunch that is so delicious.

Edamame also pack in a healthy punch.  A 1/2 cup serving of shelled edamame contain as much fiber as 4 slices of whole wheat toast and 11 grams of protein.  Step over protein bars, say hello to the new delicious high protein snack.

note:  if you don’t have time for the edamame to thaw, you can speed up this process by pouring the edamame into a stainer and running it under warm water for a few seconds.  Then spread the edamame on a clean dish towel and pat until dry. 

Yield:  roughly 2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 (12 oz) package frozen shelled edamame (soybeans), thawed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 400°.  Place edamame, olive oil and Parmesan cheese into medium sized mixing bowl.  Stir until all edamame are coated.

2.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, again stir.  Place edamame onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, in single layer.

3.  Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes.  Stir edamame.  Bake for another 5 minutes or until cheese is crispy and golden.  

Sweet Potato Fries

I love sweet potato fries, but when I have made them in the past they never seemed to get crispy.  I ended up cooking them so long in attempt to get them to be crisp, that they ended up burnt.  I came across some recommendations that included soaking the potatoes before cooking them.  I decided I would give home-made sweet potato fries one more try.  With, this recipe I included a spicy dipping sauce to go along with it.  Sweet and spicy, delish.  Well, I have to say they turned out well.  Even my husband who usually is not a big fan of anything beside old white potato fries, ate them up.

Ingredients:

For Fries:

2 sweet potatoes, washed and peeled
1 tablespoon corn starch
2 tablespoons olive oil
Ziplock bag

For Sauce:
1/2 cup mayonnaise ( I use Nayonaise, it’s a low fat vegetarian version.  A bit healthier)
1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper

Directions:
     1.  Wash and peel sweet potatoes.  Cut potatoes into medium sized fries.  Not shoestring and not   steak fries, somewhere in between.
     2.  Place sweet potatoes in bowl of water and allow to soak for 1 1/2 hours.
     3.  Preheat oven to 425°

     4.  Put a tablespoon of cornstarch into medium sized ziplock bag.  Put half of sweet potato fries into ziplock back and close (leave some air in bag, allowing for fries to freely be tossed around). 
     5.  Shake fries until lightly coated w/cornstarch. Place coated fries onto nonstick cookie sheet.  
     6.  Repeat process until all fries are coated and placed on cookie sheet.

     7.  Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over fries, using hands toss fries to make sure all are coated with oil.
          * you can use more oil, depending on how healthy you would like them to be. The more oil you use the more crisp they will get.  But using 2 tablespoons, I was able to get them pretty darn crispy.
     8.  Arrange fries on cookie sheet, making sure there is space between each fry.  If the fries are too close, they tend to steam instead of getting crispy. 
     9.  Place into preheated oven and cook for 15 minutes.
     10.  While fries are cooking, make the dipping sauce.  Mix mayonaise, Sriracha and cayenne pepper together in small bowl.  You can adjust the amount of Srirach and/or cayenne pepper depending on how spicy you want it. 
     11.  After 15 minutes, check fries and flip over.  Cook another 5-10 minutes, watch closely so they don’t burn. 

Healthy Green Smoothie

After all my holiday eating and then having to getting ready for a fun New Years Eve party, I decided to come up with a healthy pre-party snack.  I wanted something quick, easy and good for me.  I hoped it would balance out the cocktails and food I would consume later in the night.  I came up with this smoothie on the fly.  So, hope you enjoy it and hope everyone has a safe and Happy New Years!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground flaxseed
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 frozen banana chopped

Directions:
1. Place all ingredients in blender and blend until thoroughly combined, about 2-3 minutes.  

**If you want a thicker smoothy either add more banana, which makes it a bit sweeter or you can add a few ice cubes.

Guilt-Free Onion Dip

This dip is incredible and literally took 2 minutes to make. Is there anyone on this earth that doesn’t like chips and dip?  I think not, but if your watching your waistline chips and dip are not part of that equation.  Well, make room on the table for chips and dip again, with this fat-free protein packed dip.  Using Greek yogurt you get the creaminess of sour cream, without all the fat.  It would make a great appetizer for any party and I guarantee you people will rave about it.  So go ahead and start dipping again.


Ingredients:

  • 1 envelope onion soup mix
  • 1 (17.6oz) container fat-free Fage Greek yogurt

Directions:

  • Place Greek yogurt and onion soup mix into bowl and mix well.
  • Dip is best when allowed to rest in refrigerator for 2 hours prior to eating.  Although if you just can’t wait, it still tastes wonderful immediately after making.
  • Serve with your favorite chips or veggies.  I used Baked Ruffles to continue with my guilt-free theme.