Category Archives: Appetizers

Recipe Review: Smashed Potatoes with Avocado Garlic Aioli from Oh She Glows

 

Vegetarianism and Veganism is consistently growing in popularity nationwide as society becomes aware of the health benefits of whole foods and the dangers of processed foods. Along with this awareness comes a rise in health-related blogs and recipes. I’m a big fan, as I’m always in search of new, fun combinations of food. Especially when it’s healthy foods.

Speaking of healthy foods, today the winner of a FREE copy of dietician Sharon Palmer’s book “Plant-Powered For Life” was Katy Dyer!! This book has over a hundred fabulous plant heavy recipes, as well as 52 tips for a year of healthy living habits. Incorporate one tip per week for a total life makeover. Congratulations!

One of my favorite discoveries in terms of new food blogs is the vegan goddess Angela at Oh She Glows. She has oodles of fabulous recipes, almost all of which I am antsy to try myself. Angela has a knack for combinations and substitutions that makes you say “Why didn’t I think of that! Sounds great!”

I reviewed her Chia Fresca last week, and found it to be a very strange beverage. However, it is surprisingly pleasing and a nice change if plain water bores you. In addition, chia seeds have a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids, especially useful if you are following a vegan or vegetarian diet and can’t get what you need from fish or eggs.

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This review is my take on her Crispy Smashed Potatoes with Avocado Garlic Aioli.  It is totally vegan, but you would never know it if you weren’t told. Avocado is a fabulous substitute for many dairy products because of its creamy texture, especially when blended. When combined with salsa, it made a satisfying and healthy meal. You could also top with black beans, grilled onions and mushrooms, or steamed broccoli.

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Ingredients:

  • 4 medium potatoes
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  •  1 tbsp veganaise or plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • Sea salt
  • Diced garnish: green onion, parsley, etc

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Step 1: Rinse the potatoes and poke a few holes with a fork. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Take them out and let cool a little, then smash them with a spoon or bottom of a glass.

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Step 2: In a blender, combine the veganaise, peeled and pitted avocado, lemon juice, and a sprinkle of sea salt. Blend well. If it is not smooth enough, add some  warm water, lemon juice, or olive oil to thin.

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Step 3: Pour 2 tbsp salsa and 2 tbsp avocado aioli over top, and sprinkle with garnish.

This combination is absolutely delightful. The avocado aioli is delicious on its own, and could probably be used anywhere aioli can be used. I loved the salsa, and think adding heated beans as well would perfectly round this out. This would also make a great side dish for many other main courses. Even the meat eater declared this a winner!

Chicken Nests Three Ways: Super Bowl Snacks brought to you by Tyson

 

Word on the street is that this super important football game is happening this weekend. News to me. Glad my mom cares as much as I do (read; not at all) since she is in town!

However, Tyson Crispy Chicken Strips is sponsoring a recipe contest, and of course when she is in town, we have to cook together! So this worked out great.

After much brainstorming and asking friends for ideas, we settled on one of the most versatile bases we know: biscuit cups. The base of all these following combinations is the humble buttermilk biscuit. Then they can be topped with all manner of mouth-watering concoctions.

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The top three: chicken-bacon-ranch, Buffalo chicken dip, and chicken-barbeque-tater tots.

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The Buffalo dip can be served on its own, it is so stinking addictive! Seriously people. Spoons.

Chicken Nests

Ingredients:

  • 1 can biscuits
  • 1/2-1 cups filling
  • Sprinkle of cheese

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Buffalo Chicken Dip

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tyson fully cooked chicken breasts
  • Biscuit dough
  • 1/2 c sour cream
  • 1/2 c cream cheese
  • 1/2 c ranch dressing
  • 1/2 c shredded cheddar
  • Hot sauce to taste

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Step 1: In a bowl, mix the sour cream, cream cheese, ranch, and hot sauce. Thaw and chop or shred the chicken breasts, and mix in.

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Step 2: Mix the cheese in well. Use later to fill biscuit cups. Alternatively, you can heat this dip in the microwave or the oven, and serve with chips. Or spoons.

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Step 3: Spread biscuit dough in the bottom of a sprayed muffin or tart tin.  Put about 1 mounded tablespoon into the center. Sprinkle a little cheddar on top.

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Step 4: Bake in a 400 degree oven for 8-11 minutes, until biscuit dough is puffed and slightly browned on top.

 

Chicken Bacon Ranch

Ingredients:

  • Biscuit dough
  • 1-2 Tyson fully cooked chicken breasts
  • 3-4 pieces bacon
  • 2-3 tablespoons Ranch dressing
  • Shredded cheddar cheese

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Step 1: Chop up or shred the chicken. Spread the biscuit dough in the bottom of a sprayed pan.

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Step 2: Cook and drain the bacon, and crunch it up. On top of the biscuit dough, add 1 tbsp chicken, 1 1/2 tsp ranch, and a sprinkle of bacon. Top with a pinch of cheddar.

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Step 3: Bake in a 400 degree oven for 8-11 minutes.

 

BBQ Chicken Tater Bites

Ingredients:

  • Biscuit dough
  • 1-2 Tyson fully cooked chicken breasts
  • 2-3 tbsp BBQ sauce
  • Handful of tater tots
  • Sprinkle of shredded cheddar cheese

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Step 1: Spread biscuit dough in the bottom of muffin or tart pans. Chop the chicken and layer 1 tbsp in the dough.

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Step 2: Pour 1 1/2 tsp BBQ sauce on top of the chicken. Plop a tater tot on top, and cover with shredded cheddar cheese.

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Step 3: Bake in a 400 degree oven for 8-11 minutes. If using a muffin tin rather than a tart tin, bake an extra 4-5 minutes.

 

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These are the muffin-tin sized cups, same recipes but add about three times as much of each filling. The size makes for a great dinner, especially if served with extra sauces on the side. These can also be frozen, and re-heated for lunches and snacks later.

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Muffin sized and tart sized

 

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These are the hot tarts right from the oven. Cheese is all bubbly, and they all smell amazing.

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Served on a vaguely football-shaped serving tray

 

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I can’t even tell you how fantastic these things turn out!!!

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Every one of these flavor combinations is totally delightful.

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They are super delightful, and very customizable. You could top with just about any combination you prefer. Add spinach, or caramelized onions, use other meats or just cheeses.

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The larger muffin sized ones are very filling, with a larger filling-to-dough ratio if that’s what you’re looking for.

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They also make for a very nice presentation.

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Serve with extra dipping sauces. Ranch, BBQ sauce, and hot sauce.

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Add some carrots and celery to your ranch, or make some extra Buffalo Dip on the side as well. Great finger foods, I guarantee these will not last long!

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Diced tomatoes, olives, or green onions can also be a nice topper.

 

This post is sponsored by Tyson Crispy Chicken Strips and The Daily Meal.

Mock-Caprese Goat Cheese Bruschetta

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Bruschetta is a classic Italian appetizer or snack, consisting of bread rubbed with garlic and topped with chopped tomato, olive oil, salt and pepper. Outside of Italy, bruschetta has become a word used for toast topped with just about anything. The most popular is diced tomato with olive oil and mozzarella or other cheese.

Caprese salad, or “insalata Caprese” is another Italian antipasto, or appetizer. Created to resemble the colors of the Italian flag, red, white and green, it consists of thick slices of tomato, fresh mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil leaves. Normally topped with olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette.

Since these are two of my favorite Italian appetizers, I decided to combine them into one delicious bite. However,  at the time I had no fresh mozzarella. Nor basil. Hence, the “mock-caprese”. However, you could use realistically any white cheese, and any fresh herb, and I’m sure it would be tasty.

Ingredients:

  • 1 thick slice farmhouse bread (or other whole wheat slice)
  • 1 fat, fresh Roma or beefsteak tomato
  • 2 tbsp garlic & chive goat cheese (or 1 thick slice mozzarella)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Step 1: Spread the goat cheese over the slice of bread, either with or without toasting it first.
Step 2: Slice the tomato into thick rings and put on top of the cheese.
Step 3: Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic. If using fresh herbs, layer them on top now.

You could easily scale this up for a lovely party appetizer, or make as few as will satisfy a snacking crave.

Fried Pickles with Sriracha Ranch Dip

 

For those who have not tried fried pickles, let me tell you something. They are awesome.

Can’t say something is gross until you try it, that was always my mom’s rule. Just try these, and then see if you can tell me “ew”. Frying makes anything better, so even if you don’t like pickles you will probably like these; and if you do like pickles you are in for a real treat!

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Ingredients:

  • Pickles (as many as you’re willing to cut up and fry)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tbsp paprika
  • 1/2 tbsp garlic salt
  • 2-4 tbsp sriracha
  • 1/2 cup ranch dressing
  • 1-2 cups frying oil

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Step 1: In a bowl, whisk together the flour, milk, and egg. This is the base of the batter. Add the spices and mix well. You can even throw in some extra sriracha here if you want. Set the oil in a pan to medium-high.

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Step 2: Take the pickles, and either chop into circles, slices, or use a veggie peeler to make them really thin.

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Step 3: Dredge the pickles in the batter, making sure all sides are well coated. Lay in a pan with about 2 inches of hot oil. You want it hot enough that it immediately starts bubbling and hissing when you put the pickles in, but turn it down immediately if it start smoking.

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Step 4: Fry 2-5 minutes, then flip with a spatula or slotted spoon to fry on the other side. Remove the pickles to a plate covered in paper towels or a cooling rack to drain some of the oil and cool.

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Step 5: Take the ranch dressing, and mix in 1-2 tbsp sriracha (or other hot sauce).

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Step 6: Dip. Eat. Smile. Repeat.

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These are so good you might not want to share, but they are a great party appetizer. They are best served fresh and hot from the pan.

Less than 5: Tuna Salad Puffs

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On nights when you just don’t have the energy or time to cook a whole meal from scratch, these “less than 5” meals are the perfect solution. For me to title a meal as “less than 5” it must require less than 5 ingredients, and it’s an extra bonus if it also takes less than 5 minutes to make.
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For this recipe, I had several cans of tuna I had purchased during a great sale weeks prior. I didn’t want the usual tuna-salad-sandwich, or tuna noodle casserole. So I looked in the fridge, and saw I had a can of biscuits. Viola, dinner inspiration!
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Ingredients:
1 can ready to bake biscuits (or croissants, any type of dough)
1 can tuna
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp relish
Salt & pepper if you like
Step 1: Open and drain the tuna. In a bowl, combine the tuna, mayo, and relish. Mix well.
Step 2: On a sprayed baking sheet, place each biscuit about 1-2 inches apart. Tamp down a small depression with your fingers or a spoon. Fill with 1-2 tbsp tuna mixture.
Step 3: Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown on top.
You can sprinkle these with whatever spices you have on hand, or a little bit of shredded cheese too.
They are great as appetizers, or eat several for a full meal! Feel free to add in other veggies to the tuna, like diced up cucumber or cooked egg, or lemon juice.

Mediterranean Stuffed Mushroom Caps

 

Mushrooms are an awesome alternative to meat, especially thick portobellos or stuffed caps. They have the same texture and flavor if cooked just right, and are endlessly adaptible to different recipes. You really can’t go wrong with stuffed mushrooms. Any combination of grains, vegetables, and/or meat will work.

These Mediterranean-inspired mushrooms happened when I noticed I had some goat cheese, kalamata &green olives, and produce I needed to use. You can use feta if you have it for the most authentic tastes. Or any other type of cheese you like. You can also sub in any other kind of olives, or omit them entirely. The choice is yous.

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Ingredients:
12 medium mushrooms (2-3 inch diameter)
2-3 oz cooked ground beef
1/2 cup cooked rice
1/4 cup cooked lentils (can omit)
1 green onion, diced
1 large tomato, diced
3-4 oz goat cheese (or cream cheese)
1/4 cup kalamata/green olives, diced

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Step 1: Remove the mushroom stems, dice up, cook, and add to a bowl. Place the caps flat in a sprayed baking dish.

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Step 2: In the bowl, mix the cooked rice, lentils, and beef. It’s easiest to add the cheese while still a little warm so it gets melty. Add the onion, tomato, and olives.

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Mix everything well, and stuff about 1 – 1 1/2 tbsp of mixture into each mushroom.

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Step 3: Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until juice starts to run. Serve hot.

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These little guys are absolutely delicious! If you use smaller caps, they are a bite-sized appetizer with meal-sized flavor. If you use larger caps, one or two can be a meal unto itself. Omit the ground beef, and you have a lovely vegetarian dish as well.

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Easy-peasy mini pizzas

These adorable appetizers are sure to be a big hit with a crowd! They are also easy & quick enough for any weeknight dinner, and kids are sure to love them too. You could even build a “top-it-your-way” bar with various (quick-cooking or pre-cooked) toppings, veggies, and cheeses.

Ingredients: 
Bagel thins, cut in half
Jar of pasta, pizza, or marinara sauce
Fresh grated parmesan
*Any other toppings you want!

Step 1: My mom insists everything is better with some fresh grated Parmesan. I’m beginning to believe her.

Step 2: Spread the sauce on the bagel thins. Top with cheese (and/or veggies, pepperoni, sausage, etc) and pop into a toaster oven. You can also use a baking sheet in a real oven, or a toaster on its side.

Step 3: Arrange prettily and serve! Told you they are easy-peasy!


What do you put on your pizza?


Potato Skins

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A game-day classic, potato skins are always a hit. A friend was having a football party, I had a 5 pound bag of potatoes, guess what I made! They are very simple, though time-consuming.
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Ingredients:
6-12 potatoes, washed and cut in half
Butter/margerine
Sea salt
1/2 pound bacon or turkey bacon
Cheddar cheese
Sour cream
Salsa
Green onion/chives

Step 1: Rub potatoes with oil, and poke holes in them with a fork. Microwave potatoes on high for 10 minutes.

Step 2: Cut potatoes in half, cover outside and insidewith butter and sea salt. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Step 3: Hollow out the potatoes. Flip upside down, bake for another 20 minutes. You can use the scooped-out part for mashed potatoes, soup, or just eat them because they’re warm and salty and delicious.

Step 4: Flip back over, brush with more butter and bake a final 20 minutes. You’re now ready to top them.

Step 5: Cook the bacon on both sides until brown. Drain on paper towels and break/cut into small pieces. Sprinkle a healthy tbsp into each potato skin. Cover with cheese, a dollop of sour cream, salsa and/or green onion.

Made in your own home and not deep-fried, these are healthier for you than if you ordered them from a bar or restaurant. Leave off the bacon for a vegetarian treat.

Quick & Easy App: Bruschetta

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Bruschetta is one of my favorite appetizers, but it always irritates me how expensive 2 little pieces of bread with the equivalent on 1 tomato on it is. Since I had some homemade bread in the freezer and some tomatoes that needed used, I decided to make my own for cheap!
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Ingredients:
1 long, thin loaf of homemade bread (or 1 loaf Italian or garlic bread)
2 roma tomatoes, diced small
1/4 onion, diced small
Italian seasonings
Garlic salt
1 tbsp lemon juice
2-3 tbsp Parmesan cheese
Nonstick cooking spray
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Step 1: Slice the bread into small, thin pieces
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Step2: Dice up tomatoes & onion very small. In a bowl, combine with seasonings and lemon juice.

Step 3: Sprinkle a healthy tablespoon of topping onto each piece.

Step 4: Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes, until crispy on top. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Serve warm, and try to keep from eating the whole loaf at once!

Radish, onion & herb cheese dip

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Sadly I don’t remember where the inspiration for this dip came from, but I read on another blog about putting fresh raw radishes into a dip, and decided to make my own version based on what I had in my house.
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Dip:
1 package cream cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup radishes, diced very small
1/4 cup red onion, diced small
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp dried onion
~1/2 tbsp sea salt

Step 1: Mix room temperature cream cheese and sour cream in a bowl until blended. The dip should be spreadable but a spoon could stand up in it.

Step 2: Add in all the other ingredients, and mix well. Serve with whatever crackers you like. This was a hit at a small gathering I had!

Addictive farm fresh dip!