Roasted Beet Hummus

 

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Hummus….one of my favorite foods to eat and make but I love to experiment with new flavors and new, unexpected ingredients in my hummus.  This one is not only stunningly beautiful with it’s bright purplish red color but it is an excellent combination of earthy and sweet.

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Roasting the beets makes all the difference.  Cooking them with this method brings out their natural sweetness and gives a great depth of flavor to the hummus.

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Roasted Beet Hummus
 
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Try adding this earthy, sweet and visually stunning hummus to your repertoire.
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer, Dip, Spread, Vegetarian
Serves: 2½ cup
Ingredients
  • 1 heaping tablespoon tahini (roasted sesame seed paste)
  • Juice of ½ of a small lemon (1 Tablespoon)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 beets
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup or honey
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2-3 Tablespoons water - start with 2 and add another if it is too thick
Instructions
  1. For roasted beets:
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the stems off the beats and cut off the tip end so that you can lie the beet flat on the cutting board. Peel the beets with a veggie peeler. Dice the beet into medium chunks. I cut each beet into thirds, each third into a third again and then in half. Drizzle them with olive oil and blend them with your hands to distribute the oil evenly over the beets. Sprinkle with Kosher salt and black pepper. Roast for 35-45 minutes depending on your oven and the size of your dice. Check them and flip them around with a spatula after each 10 minute of cooking time. They’re done when a fork goes through them when pierced.
  3. Combine all ingredients except the water in the bowl of a food processor. Process until well blended. Add 2 tablespoons of the water and process again. If it is too thick, add another tablespoon of water.

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Try using it as a spread to make these delicious and healthy little appetizers.  Perfect for Spring ‘eh?

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Very Berry Bruschetta

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Once I tell someone that I’m a food blogger and that I love to cook I’m inevitably asked “so, what’s your signature dish?”  This is definitely a valid question and I love that people are interested enough to ask it but, truth be known, I really don’t feel like I have one.  I mean, am I an expert at just one dish?  Do I have one particular dish that I love to make and go to time after time?  Hmmmmm, not really.  It’s honestly a question I dread and have really contemplated just making something up!

All that being said I do think that one of my favorite things to make, if not my most favorite is bruchettas or crostinis.  I have become quite known for them and I serve a different one at each gathering I host.  I don’t believe there’s a more versatile or popular appetizer.  It falls into my #1 guideline that an appetizer has to be a “finger food” and it is probably the most versatile and creative appetizer you can serve.  The ingredients are endless and you can fit those ingredients beautifully into any season or holiday.

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I made this berry bruschetta for a Fourth of July party and I have to say, it was a major hit!  So much so that I’ve been asked to make it regularly this summer.  It came to me because of the colors (red, white and blue) and the fresh in season ingredients (strawberries, blueberries and fresh mint).

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Very Berry Bruschetta
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 2 dozen
Ingredients
  • 1 French baguette loaf - sliced into rounds (approximately ½" thick)
  • 1 tub of honey nut flavored cream cheese
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (or coconut sugar which is what I use)
  • 1 quart of strawberries - chopped
  • 1 pint of blueberries
  • bunch of fresh mint - chopped
  • honey for drizzling
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • Kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place the bread rounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil.
  3. Drizzle olive oil over the bread rounds and sprinkle them with Kosher salt.
  4. Bake the bread rounds in the oven for approximately 6-7 minutes until slightly browned and a bit hardened.
  5. Let the bread cool slightly until cool enough to handle.
  6. Mix the berries and the sugar together in a medium bowl. Allow them to sit for a few minutes.
  7. Spread each bread round with the cream cheese.
  8. Spoon the berry mixture onto the bread rounds.
  9. Drizzle the honey over the tops of the bread rounds.
  10. Sprinkle the chopped mint over the tops of the bread rounds for garnish.

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Spring Crostini – Two Ways

 

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It’s finally happened after another dreadfully long winter my “Bring Spring” chants have been heard!  Spring is officially here and with it all of the beautiful dishes that remind me of this glorious season.

I was talking to a child the other day and asking her to describe Spring for me.  She stated in a matter of fact way that “it just makes you happy to be alive.”  Well…..I could not have said it any better.  With longer days, more sunshine, warmer temperatures (hopefully) and flowers about to bloom what doesn’t make it a wonderful time to enjoy life?  Hopefully life outdoors again at that!

I hosted a dinner party for my girlfriends on Friday night and what better to begin with than a bright Spring appetizer.  These little crostinis are “blooming” with bright flavor and went over really well.  In fact, they were requested at our next girls night party!

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Spring Crostini - Two Ways
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer, light meal
Cuisine: Spring
Serves: 40 pieces
Ingredients
  • 1 baguette - sliced into thin rounds - I used 40 rounds for the recipe
  • 1 15 ounce container of Ricotta cheese - either whole milk or part skim
  • 1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 can chickpeas - drained and rinsed
  • 10 ounces of snow peas - ends cut off, chopped
  • ¼ cup pecans or walnuts - chopped
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Italian seasoning spice blend
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin
  • Olive oil - for drizzling
  • Spicy olive oil - I used Harissa - for drizzling
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
Instructions
  1. Lie the baguette slices onto a cookie pan lined with parchment paper or foil.
  2. Drizzle the baguettes with olive oil and sprinkle with the Italian seasoning, Kosher salt and black pepper.
  3. Bake at 400 degrees for 7 minutes until slightly browned and firm.
  4. Allow the baguettes to cool so they can be handled.
  5. Place the chickpeas in a single layer on a cookie pan lined with parchment paper or foil.
  6. Drizzle the chickpeas with olive oil and mix them with your hands to evenly coat them with the oil. Sprinkle them with the cumin and Kosher salt and pepper.
  7. Roast the chickpeas in a 400 degree oven until nicely browned and a bit crispy, approximately 12-15 minutes. Check them frequently to prevent burning them.
  8. Allow the chickpeas to cool.
  9. Mix the Ricotta, lemon zest, Kosher salt and black pepper in a bowl until creamy.
  10. Assemble the crostinis:
  11. Spread a nice layer of the ricotta mixture over the baguette rounds.
  12. Top ½ of the baguettes with the roasted chickpeas and the other ½ with the chopped snow peas and the chopped pecans.
  13. Drizzle the spicy oil onto the snow pea crostinis and the olive oil over the chickpea crostinis.
  14. Serve and enjoy!

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New Year’s Eve, it’s all about the appetizers!

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What’s more fun than an appetizer party?  I love an evening of all “finger foods” where no utensils are needed.  Appetizers that you can nibble and snack on throughout the night are great.  An appetizer party is much more casual feeling than a dinner party.  I think without the formal sit down meal the party guests are free to walk around, socialize with more people and feel much more at ease.

New Year’s Eve is a great time for an appetizer party.  I’ve included a few of my favorite appetizers and “finger foods” here.

I hope you have a wonderful New Year filled with health and happiness!  Welcome 2015…..

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A classic veggie tray served with some more unique selections is always a smart choice.  It provides a lot of color and it is nice to have a healthy choice on the table.  I try to provide a healthier dip choice as well.  there are several good choices on the market now made with Greek yogurt and fresh herbs.

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These are English cucumbers filled with tzatziki sauce (or cucumber sauce).  The cucumbers are cut into 1 inch thick rounds with the center seed portion carefully scooped out making a little bowl to hold the sauce.  They’re then sprinkled with paprika and chopped green onions.

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Spinach tortellini skewers with cubed fresh mozzarella and grape tomatoes.  They’re drizzled with a basil pesto vinaigrette.  The colors are perfect for a holiday gathering and they’re very satisfying, like a mini meal on a stick.

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Edamame hummus is a delicious alternative to traditional hummus as it’s made with edamame (soy beans) instead of chick peas.  Plus I love the green color; it’s beautiful served with veggies and pretzel or pita chips.

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Roasted grape bruschetta, three words that will change your life and I’m not kidding.  I created these last year at holiday time and they were hands down the hit of the season!  Again, at this year’s holiday party they were the most talked about food item.  People absolutely love them.  The combination of flavors is perfection.  The fig balsamic drizzle is the star ingredient that brings it all together.  Don’t miss making this one, it will make you a rock star!

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Ham wrapped asparagus spears are yummy and decadent.  Par boiling the asparagus makes them a bright green.  They’re then wrapped with a slice of ham that’s been spread with cream cheese and baked in the oven so the cheese gets melty and the ham golden browned.  Wow, my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Ham wrapped asparagus spears
 
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Asparagus spears wrapped in ham slices that have been spread with cream cheese. They're baked in the oven melting the cheese and browning the ham. Yummy!
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Ingredients
  • enough asparagus spears for each guest to have 2 spears (or maybe 3)
  • 1 slice of deli ham for each asparagus spear - sliced medium-thick
  • 1-2 tubs of onion and chive flavored cream cheese - I use a whipped cream cheese from my bagel shop
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Fill a large spaghetti pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat.
  3. Add 2 pinches of Kosher salt to the boiling water.
  4. Trim the asparagus spears to remove the hard ends.
  5. Cook the asparagus spears in the boiling water for 4 minutes.
  6. Remove the asparagus from the water and rinse with cold water. Set aside to cool slightly.
  7. Spread the cream cheese in a thin layer onto each slice of ham.
  8. Gently wrap the ham slices around the middle of each asparagus spear.
  9. Bake on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for 8-10 minutes until the cheese begins to melt and the ham browns slightly.

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These are stuffed cherry peppers.  The peppers are from Trader Joes.  They come in a jar and are both hot and sweet.  They’re perfectly shaped for stuffing.  Here I have put some whipped veggie flavored cream cheese into a small Ziploc bag.  I trimmed the bottom corner of the bag and piped the cream cheese into the peppers.  They’re simple to put together and taste really good.  You could also stuff them with blue cheese or goat cheese.  They sell for less than $3.00 a jar.  What?!  Now that’s an economical appetizer!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spinach Tortellini Skewers

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How cute are these?  I saw the Pioneer Woman make these and just loved the idea.  They could not be simpler and they are so festive, especially for a holiday party which is what I made them for.  The hardest part was assembling them.  They were very tasty and fresh and remained good at room temperature throughout the entire night.

The dreaded has finally happened, my homemade basil pesto is gone!  I freeze several batches of homemade basil pesto in the summer so that I can have it in the winter.  But, sadly, I’ve used it all.  I used basil pesto from a jar (Trader Joes brand) for this recipe and it was delicious.

I’m all about party food that is easy to prepare, can be prepared ahead of time and that lasts throughout the life of your party so you, as the hostess, can stay out of the kitchen and enjoy your guests.  These delicious skewers fit the bill.  Plus, they fall into my favorite party food category….”finger foods,” no utensils needed here!

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Spinach Tortellini Skewers
 
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These are delicious and so festive with their red, white and green colors. A great dish to serve at your holiday gatherings. Plus, no utensils are needed!
Recipe type: Appetizer, casual main course
Cuisine: Vegetarian, Italian
Serves: 25 skewers
Ingredients
  • 1-2 packages of spinach and cheese filled tortellinis (I used 1 package but they were relatively small and there were a lot in the package).
  • 1 block of fresh mozzarella cheese - cubed
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons basil pesto - from a jar or homemade
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil
  • fresh basil - chopped - optional, used as garnish
  • Skewers - I used bamboo
Instructions
  1. Cook the spinach tortellini according to package directions. Drain the tortellini, rinse and set aside.
  2. Assemble the skewers the way you like.
  3. Note- I put two tortellinis on each skewer with the mozzarella and grape tomato in between. I made 25 skewers total and still had tortellinis left.
  4. For the dressing:
  5. Whisk the olive oil, basil pesto and red wine vinegar together in a small bowl.
  6. Drizzle the dressing over the skewers before serving.
  7. Sprinkle with chopped fresh basil as garnish if desired.

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Mini tostadas with a healthy twist…

mini.tostadas.1 There’s not one person I know who doesn’t love Mexican cuisine.  It seems as though it has something for everybody.  My personal favorite is fajitas.  You get all the good stuff on that accessory plate; pico de gallo, sour cream, guacamole, lettuce and cheese.  It’s like a miniature buffet just for me!  That’s how I feel about these mini tostadas.  They’re layered with lots of great ingredients that taste amazing together.  The vessel itself is an oven baked corn tortilla.  So, no deep fried tortilla chip guilt!! The last time I was in Mexico I was blown away by the street food vendors called “antojitos” which translates to little cravings.

Mexico has one of the most extensive street food cultures in Latin America.  They are primarily present in the morning and evening as they’re not intended as the formal meal of the day which is in the mid-afternoon.  The majority of the food these food vendors serve is centered around corn products and talk about authentic.  It’s really a sight to see and a taste to try. I hope you enjoy these mini tostadas, the oven baked corn tortilla chips are great for taco salad and served with guacamole, salsa, or refried beans as an appetizer.  Serve them with a homemade margarita and your friends might never leave!

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Mini tostadas with a healthy twist...
 
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These mini tostadas are made with oven baked corn tortillas and layered with delicious and colorful ingredients. They're great as an appetizer or a min dish.
Author:
Recipe type: appetizer, what's for dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 2-4
Ingredients
  • 4 corn tortillas - cut into fourths
  • refried beans (see recipe link above)
  • guacamole(see recipe link above)
  • sour cream or crème fraiche
  • 1 diced tomato
  • jalapeno slices - from a jar, I used the mild variety
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  2. Place the tortillas on a baking sheet.
  3. Spray with non stick cooking spray and sprinkle with Kosher salt.
  4. Bake for approximately 6 minutes until browned and beginning to get crispy.
  5. Turn the tortillas over and continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes until browned and crispy.
  6. Note - cooking times are approximate depending on your oven. These take a bit of practice and careful watching so they do not get overdone. But, once you get it you'll know the exact amount of time needed to cook them for the next time you make the dish.
  7. Build the tostadas by layering the refried beans, guacamole, tomato, sour cream and jalapeno in that order.
  8. Ole'. You're well on your way to a Mexican fiesta!!

mini.tostadas.2 Ole’.  You’re well on your way to a Mexican fiesta!!

5 Delicious recipes to help you love kale

Kale Collage I’ve more than made peace with kale; I’m actually enjoying it and not just because its a nutritional powerhouse but because it’s delicious.  It’s delicious in these recipes anyway! I still live by the belief that people who eat kale are beautiful.  The “kale glow” if you will. Click on the photos below for the recipes.  I hope you enjoy them and here’s to you developing a new love……for kale. kale_farro_salad swiss.chard.pasta.3 kale.pesto.crostini1 kale.pesto3 kale 1

Sweet Corn Fiesta Salad

 

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The first Saturday in August is our friends’ annual corn roast at their cottage.  Corn roast you ask?  The answer is yes and they really do it right.  They grill a ton of ears of corn on a grill made from cement blocks that hold a huge grate with a mound of charcoal underneath.  It’s truly a cool setup.  The corn is shucked by the chef (yes Mark that’s you) and then dunked in a vat of melted butter.  A little salt and wow; it is so sweet and so delicious.  I look forward to it each year!

So what do you do after a corn roast?  You eat leftover corn.  This recipe was put together using the leftover corn that I cut off the cobbs.  You could absolutely use frozen roasted corn and it will still be great.

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I think this would also be great as a salsa; just dice the tomatoes.

Lime pepper seasoning pops up again in this recipe.  Click on the link for info on lime pepper and where to buy it.  Lemon pepper is a fine substitution and still tastes bright and fresh.

Sweet Corn Fiesta Salad
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Salad, vegetable, side dish
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 2-3 cups of grilled sweet corn cut from the cobb or frozen roasted corn cooked according to package directions.
  • 10 grape tomatoes cut in half lengthwise - I used red and yellow
  • 6 large leaves of fresh basil - cut into ribbons (chiffonade)
  • Alternate - small handful of cilantro - chopped
  • juice of ½ of a lime
  • 1 Tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of lime pepper or lemon pepper
Instructions
  1. Mix the corn, tomatoes and basil (or cilantro) in a bowl.
  2. Add the lime juice and stir to combine.
  3. Add the olive oil and lime pepper and stir to combine.
  4. VARIATION:
  5. Substitute cilantro for the basil.
  6. Add chopped avocado.

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Try this variation substituting cilantro for the basil and adding chopped avocado…delicious as a salad or a salsa!

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Kale Pesto Crostini

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How adorable are these?

We went to an annual picnic at our friends’ cottage this past weekend and these crostinis were a major hit.  I made 40 pieces and they barely made it out to the appetizer table.  Adults and kids just gobbled them up!  I was asked many times “what’s the green stuff?”  You tell them “kale pesto” and you’ll look like a total rockstar for using such a unique ingredient!

They are simple especially if you make the kale pesto ahead of time.  You can prebake the baguette rounds and store them in an airtight container until ready to use them.

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Kale Pesto Crostini
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • 1 French baguette, sliced diagonally into ½ inch thick rounds. (I get 35-40 slices per baguette)
  • olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • kale pesto - see the link to this recipe in the post
  • 20 grape tomatoes - sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1 wedge of Romano cheese for grating (garnish)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place the baguette rounds in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  3. Drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle with Kosher salt.
  4. Bake them for approximately 7 minutes until crisp and golden brown.
  5. Allow the baguette rounds to cool enough for you to handle them.
  6. Spread a layer of kale pesto onto each round.
  7. Top with one grape tomato, seed side up.
  8. Grate the romano cheese over the tops of the rounds (I grate my cheese using the microplane, it works perfectly).
  9. Serve the crostinis on a large platter and watch them disappear!

 

 

 

Kale Pesto

kale.pesto1Pesto can be a whole topic on its own.  It is so versatile in the ingredients you can put in it and the dishes you can put it in.  My favorite uses for pesto are mixing it into pasta as a sauce, a sandwich spread, stirred into soups for added flavor, served on crostini as an appetizer and as a pizza sauce.

This pesto uses kale and it’s flavor is surprisingly bright and fresh with the lemon juice.  It has been very well received by the people I’ve served it to.

I welcome your comments once you’ve tried it.  And please feel free to share your uses for pesto, there’s always room for more!

Kale Pesto
 
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Author:
Recipe type: pesto, sauce
Ingredients
  • 4 cups tightly packed chopped kale (I used already cut bagged kale)
  • ½ cup toasted pine nuts
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • juice of ½ of a lemon (approximately 2-3 Tablespoons)
  • Kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup grated Romano cheese
Instructions
  1. Toast the pine nuts in a non-stick skillet over medium heat until they begin to lightly brown (they'll begin to smell like popcorn).
  2. Place kale, pine nuts and garlic and lemon juice in the food processor. Pulse until blended.
  3. Add the salt and pepper.
  4. Turn on the food processor and stream in the olive oil. Transfer the mixture from the food processor to a bowl. Stir in the cheese. Serve.
  5. Note – if you’re not going to be serving it immediately, wait to put the cheese in until you're ready to serve it.

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