Tag Archives: appetizer

Meatless Monday: Chickpea Salad with Citrus and Herbs

Warm-Chickpea-Salad-citrus-herb

We have had so many snow days this year that today is both the first and last day of our supposed “spring break”.   And, after a beautifully sunny near-sixty-degree weekend, this morning it was a lowly 26 degrees.  I went from biking sixty miles and cleaning out my closet with a smile while whistling, to not wanting to get out of bed this morning because the floor was too cold and the covers too warm.

Warm-Chickpea-Salad-citrus-herb-2

Only in March does this happen over the course of one week.

Ouch.  Spring break.  Sure!  I guess you could call it that.

So, as winter hangs on, kicking and screaming with its snowy tantrums, we all know this cold won’t last forever.

Time to lighten up the meals.  This is  tangy, fresh, light and very filling. It feeds anyone you can imagine with a special diet; vegans, dairy free, gluten-free, vegetarian and the rest.

In just a short eight weeks, I will be basking in the sultry warmth, chasing our boys with the water balloon launcher, err…   lounging at the pool in the near tropical sun while chilling my manicured toes under the gently flowing waterfall.

One can hope.

Warm-Chickpea-Salad-citrus-herb-3

Chickpea Salad with Citrus and Herbs

Toss with prepared vegetables and server over rice or quinoa to make a complete meal. Serves a large crowd, about 7-10 people. You may freeze leftovers or halve the recipe, if desired.  Time: 2-3 day soak (inactive).  1 hour for cooking beans.  15 minutes to prepare & finish.

  • 16 oz. dried chickpeas (1 pound bag)
  • water
  • 3-4 vegetarian vegetable bullion cubes
  • 2-3 tablespoons coconut oil: LouAna*
  • 1/2 a large onion, diced: Your favorite kind as long as it’s the size of a softball, otherwise use more than half.
  • 3/4 cup diced, drained roasted bell peppers
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 cup white wine
  • the zest of one lemon
  • the juice of two lemons
  • the juice of one large naval orange
  • 1/2  teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, plus more to taste if desired
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground sea salt, plus more to taste if desired
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley and basil
  • 1 cup prepared vegetables or baby spinach (optional)
  • drizzle of organic honey, plus more to taste

*A sample of LouAna coconut oil was used to create this recipe.  I was pleased with the results.

  1. Sift through dried chickpeas removing odd bits; rinse chickpeas; place chickpeas into large air tight container.  Cover chickpeas with cold water.  Cover and place in refrigerator for 2-3 days.  Note: Any shorter soak time will require a longer cook time.
  2. In a large stockpot, add drained soaked chickpeas. Add fresh water 2 cups at a time until water covers chickpeas.  Add one bullion cube per 2 cups of water added to pot (about 3-4 cubes).
  3. Bring to boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover and allow to cook until chickpeas are tender but not mushy (about 45 minutes to 1 hour).
  4. Drain chickpeas reserving 1 cup simmering liquid with chickpeas and set aside.  Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, if desired.
  5. In a large sauté pan over medium high heat, add coconut oil and diced onion.  Simmer until translucent and fragrant.  Add diced roasted peppers,  crushed red pepper flakes, turmeric, white wine, lemon zest, lemon juice, orange juice black pepper and sea salt. Simmer gently together until wine is reduced, about fifteen minutes.
  6. Add chickpeas and toss together.
  7. In an extra-large salad or pasta sized serving bowl, pour in chickpea salad.  Toss with fresh herbs and prepared vegetables or baby spinach if desired. Drizzle with honey and add salt and pepper to taste if needed.
  8. Serve with rice or quinoa for a complete meal.

Notes on serving:  This makes a large (dinner party sized) portion.  If making for a smaller crowd, you may either halve the recipe or make the entire recipe and store leftovers in individual air tight containers in the freezer.  Keeps for up to three months in the freezer, depending on how much air and moisture is removed from freezer container.

Notes on brands: I use knorr vegetarian vegetable bullion cubes almost all the time and am always pleased with the results. You may use any brand of bullion cubes that require two cups of water per cube to make stock/broth, vary salt levels if you change the brand to taste.   I used Mezzetta jarred roasted peppers this time, if you prefer a different brand, you may use what you prefer.   I used yellowtail pinot grigio for the wine.

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Ten Awesome Game Day Recipes

The Super Bowl is coming soon and it’s practically right next door to us too.  Get excited.  This means that not only is traffic going to be an absolute freaking nightmare in our area (Fun!), but also that it is time to start planning your big game menu.

We have it all covered.

The second you take one look at these Super Bowl recipes you will be completely sold and doing whatever it is that’s required to get them into your mouth menu plan as quickly as possible.

Make food, drink beer, get rowdy.  It’s the Super Bowl.

   Jalapeno Popper Dip

jalapenopopperdipThis dip is so insanely addictive that it has been coined “jalapeno crack dip” in our home.  One bite and you will be hooked.

Chili

black bean chiliThis easy peasy one pot wonder is a staple for any game gathering and will stay hot all day in a slow cooker while you enjoy the game.

Add some extra heat just for me.

Whiskey Steak

Whiskey-Steak Yes I said whiskey and steak in the same sentence.  Meat and booze lovers rejoice!

Egg Rolls

vegetarian-egg-rollsThese egg rolls are surprisingly light and packed with vegetables and protein.

Pair with some Thai style chili sauce or traditional duck sauce (found in the international aisle of your regular grocery store).

You won’t be sorry.

Meatballs

meatballs Make mini ones for an appetizer or buffet and be sure to make meatball pockets if there’s anything leftover the next day.

There probably won’t be.

 Hot Baked Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Hot Baked Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Hot Baked Spinach and Artichoke Dip is green so it’s obviously good for you.  Yep, I’m rolling with that.

Deep Dish Pizza

http://katefromscratch.com/2013/03/23/cake-pan-pizza/

Click the photo, get the recipe and then let your imagination run wild with toppings.   This crust is built for it.  Don’t be shy.

Overstuffed Potatoes

overstuffed-potatoes-broccoli-cheddar-twice-baked-game-dayOverstuffed twice baked potatoes are meant to be over the top.  These are brimming with cheese and broccoli, but for the non vegetarians out there, go ahead …add bacon.  You know you want to.

Eggplant Rollatini

eggplant rollatini

Make the most delicious eggplant rollatini in the world.   The superbowl in in New Jersey this year.  Gotta represent.

OR

Southwest Style Veggie Wraps

Southwest Grilled Veggie Wrap

This one also works well for those of you grilling or tailgating.

Looking for more recipe ideas?  Kraft’s Game Day Pinboard is highly drool-worthy.  Check out the other Kraft boards to see some of my stuff there.  Feel free to spread the love.

Happy Game Day!

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Mary McCartney’s Corn Fritters

Corn-fritters-McCartney

I was packing Trey’s snack and book bag (yes we’re in school until the bitter end of June, here) while simultaneously sipping coffee.

The news caught my attention and suddenly a memory overcame me:

While I have always loved Christmas, I was also fourteen years old and very little could pass as “awe-inspiring” at that time.  You see, I had a unique gift that only teenagers have;  I knew everything already.  I saw everything, I knew everything my mother was going to say even when she hadn’t said it yet, and I could see into the future.  I knew exactly how my life would turn out.  So you know, little impressed me.  I also wore overalls and oversized flannel shirts.  It was 1995.

I ripped the paper off of a very heavy package, wrapped in a bow and unearthed a book called “Linda’s Kitchen”.  It was a cookbook.  I cracked the spine and flipped through hundreds of recipes, one more gorgeous than the next.   It was written by Linda McCartney, who, unbeknownst to me at that time, was one of the coolest people on the planet.  I had never owned a cookbook before that, and so I attempted to give it a whirl.  I made vegetarian burgers and lemon drizzle cake (amazing recipe), learned about vegetables I had never heard of and saw things that some day I wanted to eat but wasn’t quite open enough to give a chance…yet (like tofu).  Every recipe was more delicious and enticing than the last with my personal improved skill.

I’ve moved about three hundred times since then and I no longer have that book and it only just occurred to me as I saw her daughter, Mary, talking about food.  How could I have forgotten about that book?  I’ll have to pick up a new copy (and her daughter’s new book too).

Anyway, I saw the reporter digging into some eggplant and corn fritters as Mary spoke about how they were her mom and dad’s respective favorites.  The “corn fritters” were “Mom’s favorite”.

So, I went into the kitchen and began measuring and mixing, making something I’ve never really made before; corn fritters.  A bit of sweet corn, some notes of garlic and savory scallion, paired with an outstanding yet simple dipping sauce.  I didn’t have a red chili but couldn’t wait to make them, so I improvised a bit, using some chili flakes, instead.  They’re crispy on the outside, sweet and savory on the inside and just even more delicious when dunked into the accompanying sauce.    It’s upscale peasant food: simply prepared ingredients without any ego, combined in ways that are exciting yet familiar and fresh.

McCartney Corn Fritters

Now, to go to the bookstore.

Linda McCartney’s Favorite Corn Fritters: Written by Daughter, Mary

An article about the new book:  NY Times 

The recipe I found from the news website:  Source

And: Get the Book by Mary McCartney

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose or light spelt flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large, free-range eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 cups corn kernels, cut fresh off the cob (or frozen corn, thawed, or canned corn, drained)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 red chili, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
  • 2 scallions, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley or cilantro, chopped
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable or light olive oil for frying the fritters
  • For the dipping sauce:
  • 6 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • ½ small fresh red chili, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley or cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chili pepper jam or sweet chili sauce
  • ½ teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Cooking Directions

  1. Combine flour and baking powder in a medium bowl.  Whisk together and then gradually stir in the beaten eggs and milk.  Mix until smooth.
  2. Add corn, garlic, chili (if using), scallions, and herbs, and fold until everything is coated evenly. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a large non-stick frying pan until it is sizzling and hot.  I like to place the handle of a wooden spoon into the oil; if bubbles form fairly vigorously around the circumference of the spoon handle, the oil is hot enough.
  4. Drop rounded tablespoons of batter into the hot oil, spacing them out so they don’t stick.  Pat each fritter down a bit so it’s flatter and easy to cook on both sides.   Fry until golden brown and then turn it over to brown the other side. This should take about 2 minutes per side. Repeat this process in batches until all the mixture has been cook and transformed into delicious corn fritters.
  5. Serve while hot:  Either immediately, or wrap the fritters in aluminum foil and place in a warm oven until they’re all cooked.
  6. To make the dipping sauce, just whisk together all the ingredients together in a small bowl.

Makes about 12 3-inch fritters.

 

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Tortilla Soup with Black Beans

The sun is streaming down as the bugs bite and the birds chatter; They say it’s going to be hot today followed by late afternoon thunderstorms.  Are you a fan of thunderstorms?  An afternoon thunderstorm after a hot day instigates both a rush of excitement and simultaneous coziness, so naturally, I am a fan.  Also, thunderstorms are the most perfect forum for snuggled book reading, old movie watching and lovely soup making which I think we can all agree, are magnificent.

Tortilla-soup-with-black-beans

I’m personally looking forward to it:  The dramatic streak of lightning sharply contrasts the blackened sky and excites anticipation of echoed thunder, which rarely disappoints.  It rolls in with a foreboding boom as the kids scream with fearful delight and run wildly in search of  stuffed animals.  The rain pours as they cling lovingly to us, claiming their oh so brave nature only between the cracking thunder.

Granted, I only enjoy the storms that make me jump a bit; not the ones that destroy or devastate, naturally.

This tortilla soup is fast, simple, light, healthy and incidentally gluten-free and vegan too; it is the perfect accompaniment to any afternoon thunderstorm.

tortilla-soup-with-black-beans

 

 

 

Tortilla Soup with Black Beans

Serves 4

Prep and Cook Time: 15 minutes Total

Level: Beginner/Easy

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups diced onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced seeded chili pepper (with a heat level you will love)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted cumin seeds, freshly ground (or roasted ground cumin)
  • 2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) diced tomatoes in juice
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) reduced-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen corn kernels
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  • 1 cup crushed tortilla chips, plus more for serving (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro (or flat leaf parsley, if preferred)

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Cook garlic, chili, and onion until fragrant and soft, about 4 minutes. Add tomatoes (with juice), beans, broth, corn, and 1 cup water; season with salt and pepper.
  2. Bring soup to a boil; reduce to a simmer. Add scallions and tortilla chips; cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in lime juice, and cilantro (note: use parsley if you don’t like cilantro) season with salt and pepper. Serve soup with lime wedges and, more chips if desired.

 

Adapted from, “Every Day Food” 2009.

 

Tortilla Soup with Black Beans
Recipe Type: Soup, appetizer, lunch, dinner
Cuisine: Mexican, American
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
Fast, easy and affordably delicious. Adapted from, “Every Day Food” 2009.
Ingredients
  • Tortilla Soup with Black Beans
  • Serves 4
  • Prep and Cook Time: 15 minutes Total
  • Level: Beginner/Easy
  • Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups diced onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced seeded chili pepper (with a heat level you will love)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted cumin seeds, freshly ground (or roasted ground cumin)
  • 2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) diced tomatoes in juice
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) reduced-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen corn kernels
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 cup crushed tortilla chips, plus more for serving (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro (or flat leaf parsley, if preferred)
Instructions
  1. Directions
  2. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Cook garlic, chili, and onion until fragrant and soft, about 4 minutes. Add tomatoes (with juice), beans, broth, corn, and 1 cup water; season with salt and pepper.
  3. Bring soup to a boil; reduce to a simmer. Add tortilla chips and scallions; cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in lime juice, and cilantro (note: use parsley if you don’t like cilantro) season with salt and pepper. Serve soup with lime wedges and, more chips if desired.
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Roasted Jalapeño Cream Cheese Bites

cream-chees-jalapeno-bites

It’s the coldest it has been here in over two years.  Also, Superbowl season is upon us.  What does all of this add up to?  Hot and spicy bite-sized game day food, of course!

I need a lot of flavor when it gets this cold out and football just compliments that fact beautifully, making it that much easier to add enormously robust flavors to everything I cook.  Game day food means comfort, heat and easy to eat.  I will be bringing you a few of my personal favorites (all vegetarian, naturally) for such an occasion, starting with these roasted jalapeño cream cheese bites.

This particular little appetizer is my garlic rosemary parmesan flatbread topped with a drizzle of chive oil, piped cream cheese (seasoned lightly with salt and pepper) and chopped roasted jalapeño peppers; herb toppings optional.  It’s a play on a jalapeño popper without any frying or breading messiness to deal with.

It’s only five ingredients, it’s easy to assemble and has an alluringly addictive piquant punch.  It’s the perfect bite to kick off any Superbowl party.

 CREAM CHEESE JALAPENO BITES

Roasted Jalapeno Cream Cheese Bites

Garnish: fresh or dried cilantro and/or parsley (optional)

Drizzle chive oil over Garlic Rosemary Parmesan Flatbread and slice into bite sized triangles.  Mix cream cheese with salt and pepper and place into ziploc bag.  Pipe onto prepared flatbread bites. Snip off small corner of ziploc bag.  Top with chopped roasted red jalapeño and herbs.

 

Roasted Jalapeno Cream Cheese Bites

Recipe Type: Appetizer, Game Day, Football, Superowl
Cuisine: American
Author: Kate Moran
My take on a jalapeno popper without any frying or breading messiness. The perfect bite with comfort and heat that’s easy to eat.
Ingredients
  • Garlic Rosemary Parmesan Flatbread (recipe on KatefromScratch.com)
  • chive oil
  • cream cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • roasted red jalapeño
  • Garnish: fresh or dried cilantro and/or parsley (optional)
Instructions
  1. Drizzle chive oil over Garlic Rosemary Parmesan Flatbread and slice into bite sized triangles. Mix cream cheese with salt and pepper and place into ziploc bag. Snip off small corner of ziploc bag. Pipe onto prepared flatbread. Top with chopped roasted red jalapeño and herbs.

 

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Mini Quiches

My boys won’t eat quiche.  I’m not sure if the problem is in the name alone or that they don’t like anything made with visible eggs, but either way, there’s more for me I’m ok with that.   This mini quiche recipe makes five (yes, only five and exactly five) mini vegetarian crustless quiches packed with golden melted onions, baby broccoli florets and fresh parmesan.  They’re also spiked with the heat of pepper jack just to keep things interesting and baked in parchment cupcake liners for an individually portioned presentation that is guaranteed not to stick.

mini-vegetarian-crustless-quiches

First, you chop up the onion and drop in a pan on low with a tablespoon of butter and loosely cover it.  Let the onion cook slowly to develop flavor.  I, being admittedly impatient, try to do something else in the interim so I don’t rush the onion’s diva-like process.  Next, you add broccoli (or whatever green vegetable you have on hand) and make sure you cook that thoroughly so it doesn’t make the quiche watery.  The more the vegetable cooks in the pan, and not in the quiche, the better it will be because cooking it releases the water from the vegetables before adding to the egg mixture.  I’ve never personally come to encounter a watery quiche, but it sounds super gross and is definitely something you should attempt to avoid, in my opinion.  Season the cooked vegetables with a bit of salt and pepper before turning off the heat to cool, slightly. Next, you whip up some eggs (I used two egg whites and two whole eggs) and add the pepper jack and parmesan.  Combine the egg mixture with the vegetable mixture and scoop into the prepared pan and bake in a relatively low temperature oven.  I’ve found eggs generally do better at a low temperature.

mini-vegetarian-crustless-quiches
Miniature Vegetarian Crustless Quiches

 

That’s it for today.  My light and healthy New Year’s brunch for two is fantastic when accompanied by a few sweet potato fries and some fresh fruit on the side.  This recipe can be doubled and served as an appetizer for a party of six to eight at any time of day.  It’s very easy and very adaptable, but also just perfect as written, if I do say so myself.

Mini Quiches

Recipe Type: Brunch, party, appetizer
Cuisine: American, French
Author: Kate Moran
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2-3
My light and healthy New Year’s brunch for two is fantastic when accompanied by a few sweet potato fries and some fresh fruit on the side. This recipe can be doubled and served as an appetizer for a party of six to eight at any time of day. It’s very easy and very adaptable, but also just perfect as written, if I do say so myself.
Ingredients
  • five (nonstick) parchment cupcake wrappers
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 6 ounces frozen gourmet baby broccoli florets
  • 2 eggs + 2 egg whites
  • 1/3 cup diced or grated pepper jack cheese
  • 1/3 cup shredded parmesan
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to three hundred degrees Fahrenheit. Line a muffin pan with quality, nonstick cupcake liners.
  2. In a nonstick pan over low heat, add onion and butter. Partially cover and cook, past translucency, until onion begins to turn a pale golden brown in color. Add salt, pepper and frozen broccoli. Cover and let cook until broccoli is hot and tender. Remove cover. Toss and set aside to cool.
  3. Whip eggs, add cheese and vegetables. Stir to combine.
  4. Using 1/3 cup dry measure, scoop into prepared, lined, pan.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 15-18 minutes, or until just set. Serve warm.

 

 

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Peach and Avocado Nachos (with roasted tomatillo salsa)

I picked up some tomatillos for the first time yesterday; a task that was well-overdue considering how much I love salsa yet rarely make it.

Of all the salsa I have ever eaten, (a lot) this is the one that rises above the rest.

The sheer heat and freshness of the simple quality ingredients are what ensure a captivating flavor experience.

I first tasted a delicious hit of cool cilantro, lime and fresh roasted tomatillos. Then a fiery burst of chile peppers followed, which was both surprising and addictive .

For the people who don’t enjoy that level of fiery heat alone, I decided that avocado and peach, together, would be the perfect cushion to counterbalance the extreme heat of chile peppers.

The naturally sweet and acidic peach with the creamy yet tangy avocado balance the heat of the chile peppers and are beautifully paired with the fresh cilantro and tomatillos. The heat is an afterthought that simply reminds you to have more as it lingers in your mouth.


This combination was inspired by the seemingly new prevalence of dishes that combine tomatoes and peaches.  Have you noticed this combination lately?  Is it a new thing like bacon and chocolate were a couple of years ago?  Well, it’s at least new to me and I’m very happy I’ve finally found it.   The tomatillos have a mild and uniquely fresh quality compared to tomatoes when used in salsa and are perfectly paired with cilantro and lime.

I also found several other new recipes here in the new recipe section of the website, “Avocados from Mexico”. It’s a place where those who are passionate about their food can share their Mexican avocado creations to inspire others. Feel free to visit and share your own recipes as well by clicking the image below.


Peach and Avocado Nachos

Ingredients:

  • Fresh and Ripe Peach Slices
  • Ripe Mexican Avocado Slices
  • Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (recipe below)
  • Fried Corn Tortilla Chips
  • Lime Juice and Chopped Cilantro for garnish

Directions:

Place warmed tortilla chips on serving platter

Spoon  one or two teaspoons of salsa onto tortilla chips

Top with avocado and peach slices and garnish with lime and cilantro.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

adapted from gourmet 1999

  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh tomatillos
  • 2 extra long Anaheim chile peppers
  • 4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt, or more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, or more if desired

 

Preheat broiler.

Peel the sticky husks from tomatillos and discard. Rinse and drain tomatillos.  Broil chiles, garlic, and fresh tomatillos on rack of a broiler pan 1 to 2 inches from heat, turning once, until tomatillos are softened and slightly charred, or about 7 minutes.

Peel garlic and pull off tops of chiles. Purée all ingredients in a blender add more lime and salt if desired.

• Salsa can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.

This sponsorship is brought to you by Recipes from Avocados From Mexico who we have partnered with for this promotion.
All opinions  expressed are my own.

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Hot Baked Spinach and Artichoke Dip


What do you do for the holidays?  I used to rush around to about seven different holiday parties on Christmas, putting kids in and out of snowsuits and car seats in the snow.  I had enough of that after the first three years of having kids, so now I cook.  I cook a lot.  I follow the philosophy of, if you cook, they will come and if they don’t, well at least there’s great food to eat.  I learned this at a young age, thankfully.  You see, I have this problem with cooking for an army even when there’s only four people to cook for, so it suits me to entertain, especially for large parties.   I just love having everyone over for the holidays, honestly.  The fire roars, the Chateaubriand roasts, the gravy simmers, the vegetables steam, the family laughs, the kids scream in delight and run through the halls.  The wine pours and the lights twinkle as the Christmas music fills our home with holiday cheer. The cold and snowy wilderness outside makes it all seem so old-fashioned, which I love.  It’s pretty cozy up here in our nook of the woods, and those that are closer to the hustle and bustle of the city get to escape with us, away from the traffic and the stress without having to deal with airports and mass transit travel.  Just a simple one hour car ride from New York City and you can be at our cozy little house in the big woods.

And how do we start our festivities?  Well, usually with a huge antipasto and a few dips. This particular dip is my favorite.  My mom used to make a version of it all the time when I was little and I never tried it even though it smelled amazing.  I was a pretty stubborn little girl, especially when it came to mayonnaise..and wearing itchy sweaters and tights.   I still hate mayonnaise (don’t hate me, I’m sorry), and tights for that matter (leggings are so much more comfortable),  so now I have my own party where I can wear trouser jeans and bake my version of her artichoke dip without mayonnaise.  Apparently these small nuances don’t really matter to anyone in my family but me, so I figure I might as well make them the way I really want them, that way I can really stop and enjoy it.

I realize these are little successes in my life, but I’m pretty surprisingly proud of them.  I replaced the mayonnaise with sour cream, which I love.  I also added spinach to make it a pretty green color, which is always good for the holidays and I blended the “chunks” as I called them when I was little.  I don’t like chunks in my dip, but if you do, you can skip the blending and just go for a rough chop, instead.

I also serve it with this bread as well as crackers, some lightly toasted french bread and endive spears and celery. So, basically you can put it on anything (including a spoon) and it will be delicious. If you’re making this for a casual gathering, you can just go with tortilla chips and be done, but I like to fancy up each appetizer so it kind of expands the possibilities for personalization.

Let the holiday celebrating begin with this savory, deliciously creamy, cheesy, hot baked spinach and artichoke dip!  My personal favorite and apparently everyone else’s too, since there have never been any leftovers in the history of this dip which means, it must be good.

 

Hot Baked Spinach and Artichoke Dip

  • 1 10-ounce package of frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 9-ounce package of frozen artichoke hearts
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 4 ounces of cream cheese
  • 1/3 pound of Parmesan cheese, grated (reserving 1/2 cup for top)
  • 1/2 tsp. Garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (1/2 teaspoon for those who are sensitive to spicy foods)

Place oven rack in top 1/3 of oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large microwave safe bowl, add frozen spinach and artichoke hearts.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and microwave on high for ten minutes, stirring half way through microwave time.  Remove plastic wrap to let steam escape.  Using an immersion blender, blend the artichokes and spinach, by gently pushing on three inch sections for a few seconds with the immersion blender. Stir and repeat the same blending technique once more.  The artichokes and spinach should be finely chopped and almost pureed at this point.

Add sour cream, cream cheese and parmesan.  Stir. Add garlic powder, black pepper, salt and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine.  Butter an 8×8 inch baking dish, pour dip into baking dish, top with an additional sprinkling of grated Parmesan and place in preheated oven to bake for 40-45 minutes, or until top is golden and bubbling.

Serve with any of the following: endive spears, crackers, flat bread, toasted french bread slices, celery spears, etc.

Note: If you do not have an immersion blender, you may use a regular blender or just chop the artichokes and spinach thoroughly once cool enough to handle.

Posted in All, Entertaining, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Beer & Lime Battered Onion Rings

So, what I’ve noticed lately is that people love easy stuff.  They do, it’s true.  Who can blame them?  I love easy stuff too.  Simple is always better than complicated, especially when most of the United States is under an extreme heat wave.  It’s going to be about 120 degrees in the sun here on the east coast today and mind you, this is not a “dry heat”.  This is the oppressive, disgusting humid, ridiculous kind of heat that no human being could ever possibly enjoy unless completely drenched in freezing cold water, which also doesn’t sound very fun to me.  So, today…I will let the kids go outside in the shade for about an hour tops while I slather them with sunscreen nearly obsessively and then we will enjoy ourselves in the air conditioning doing fun things to keep our minds off of it.

 

I just got an air conditioner in the kitchen.  Thanks to Mike, my husband for that.   He knows I get very grouchy when it’s too hot to cook and my hair gets frizzy and gross – again not fun.  So, to say thank you to him for the air conditioner and so many other wonderful things he does for us, I made these beer and lime battered onion rings topped with black pepper.  They’re easy and they’re fried and they’re delicious.  Just be sure to stay hydrated.  They’re best eaten after the sun goes down and everything cools off a bit.

Have these with a beer, but don’t forget to drink plenty of water before and after!

 

Beer & Lime Battered Onion Rings

  • 1 very large sweet summer onion of your choice (or two medium onions of your choice)
  • 1 1/3 cup flour + additional 2 cups  (in baking dish) for coating
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper + a light dusting more for garnish
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried cilantro (optional)
  • 3/4 cup beer
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1 egg (beaten)

You will need a pot that is large & tall (if you want to reduce splatter without a splatter guard) with 3 inches of canola oil in the bottom and one gallon sized zipper bag or storage container.

  1. Remove root ends and outer skin from onions and slice into rings.  Remove inner rings and set aside/store in air tight container for use in another recipe.
  2. Next, add flour, salt, pepper, beer and lime juice to a ziploc bag (or air tight container with lid).  Mix it up and then taste the batter (season to your taste if necessary) then add the beaten egg and mix shake, squish mix it up again.
  3. Drop the additional 2 cups of flour in a baking dish.
  4. PREHEAT: Place pot with oil over medium high heat.
  5. Drop the sliced onions into the batter bag.  Shake it up!
  6. Next, fish them out of the batter with a fork and drop them into the baking dish with the flour. Set each one aside and bring next to preheated oil.
  7. Using long tongs pick up one onion ring and dip into preheated oil.  If it doesn’t bubble like crazy…wait a few minutes until oil is hot enough.
  8. When oil is hot enough, drop prepared onions into the hot oil in batches of about 4-5 rings.  Remove the rings when golden brown and place on plate with paper towels.  Continue to do this with the other rings until complete.
  9. Drizzle fried onion rings with fresh lime juice and dust with black pepper.

Enjoy with a beer and friends and family.

Posted in All, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments