Archive for the ‘ Appetizer ’ Category

Tirosalata

Don’t you just love the names of Greek dishes?  I’m embarrassed by how poor my pronunciation is but Greek food is so good.  Tonight I’m having my family over for a relaxed dinner.  I’m making a few appetizers and dessert and simply ordering pizza for the main course.

Nothing I’m making requires turning on the stove.  It’s about 97 degrees outside and my new AC unit is struggling enough to keep the house comfortable.  I’m making a couple of dips, a cold pie and fruit for dessert and that’s that.

Tirosalata is a favorite of mine at Acropolis, our local Greek restaurant.  It’s a creamy feta dip that’s spread over fresh pita bread.  Other than roasting a few baby peppers it took about 5 minutes to put together in the food processor.  3 ingredients with questionable proportions, yet delicious.

Ingredients

1 cup feta cheese

1/4 cup olive oil

4-6 baby peppers roasted (or jarred roasted red peppers)

Pepper to taste

Directions

On the grill roast the peppers until the skin is blackened, cool and peel off the skin

Place the feta in the food processor and some of the oil and pulse, keep adding oil a little at a time until it’s a creamy texture, then add the roasted peppers and pulse a little longer, season with black pepper, cool and serve

Have a peaceful day, Lin

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Cool Cantaloupe Soup

Aren’t these demitasse cups adorable?  They were my grandmother’s and I just love them.  Being I’m not a coffee drinker I usually don’t have any use for them.  I’m also a bit afraid of damaging them so usually they’re just on display behind glass.  While making today’s cool soup I thought the cups would be a great way to serve a tiny taste of the soup.  In reality I prefer larger portions but this was fun.

I had about a half a leftover melon from a couple of days ago and plan on buying another when I go shopping in awhile.  A cool breakfast soup just sounded like a great way to start the day.  In reality I’m not sure what makes this a soup versus a smoothie, but call it what you want it tastes great.

This soup would make a lovely starter to a meal with several courses or would pair well with a simple salad or veggie sandwich for a meal itself.  As a breakfast it was fine by itself but I’m guessing I’ll be hungry again in a couple of hours.

Once again, I have another toss it together meal.  In this instance it’s more of a blend it all together experience.  I literally threw everything into the blender, grated the zest and ginger right into it, covered it and turned it on.  Nothing could be easier.  This is obviously gluten-free and is easily made vegan with a quick change of yogurt.

Ingredients

3 cups melon cubed in small pieces
1/4 cup plain or vegan yogurt (I used fat free)
A tiny bit fresh grated ginger (powdered if you don’t have)
Zest of one lime
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 tsp agave nectar  (honey if you don’t have)
2-3 lemon balm or mint leaves
2-3 basil leaves
2-3 Tbsp water if needed (use melon juice if possible)
Optional: a couple of small drops chipotle sauce
Directions
Toss all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth!

Guacamole

This summer I have been on a huge avocado kick.  I’m giving into my craving because they are so incredibly healthy.  Some of the benefits of eating avocado include a high fiber content, they’re a great source of vitamin E, folate, and potassium.  They are considered beneficial for lowering cholesterol, overall heart health, eye health and are considered good for preventing certain cancers.

While in Prague my son texted me asking for a recipe for guacamole.  While dining out his friend tasted it for the first time and fell in love.  She wanted to know how to make it.  This made me laugh because I don’t really consider this a recipe but a group of ingredients I mix together with add ons or measurements being dependent upon my mood.

This is the basic ingredients I use and the amount here is for a gathering.  Yesterday for lunch I made a small bowl with 1 avocado and enjoyed it with some organic chips.  Also, I apologize for the lack of picture, I just didn’t think of it.

Please add delete or change this recipe to your personal taste.  The 2 key ingredients is the obvious avocado and next the fresh lime juice.  I mix the lime juice in immediately because it keeps the avocado from browning.  People question eating day old guacamole because it tends to brown quickly.  I’ve done it a couple of times after removing the top layer.  So far so good, I haven’t gotten sick from it yet!

Ingredients

3 ripe avocados (soft but not mushy)

Juice of 1/2 large or 1 whole small lime

1/2 cup chopped tomato

1/4 cup chopped onion

Chopped jalapeno to taste (optional)

Cumin, salt and pepper to taste

A few sprigs of fresh cilantro or coriander to taste

Directions

Halve each avocado and scoop the flesh into a bowl, add juice and all other ingredients, mash until blended, the more you mash the creamier it will be, mash less for a chunky texture

Raspberry & Nut Baked Brie

Today we celebrated my niece Kirstie’s 18th birthday with a fun party.  Not to sound old but it seems like last week she was just a little kid and now she’s an amazing young woman who I love hanging out with.  I got to meet a lot of both my sister and Kirstie’s friends which was really cool.  My hubby and I had a great time and I contributed my taco dip (posted) which is always a huge hit  My sister Sandy made her Baked Brie recipe which I just love.

I asked her to send me the recipe and had a moment of shock when I read it.  Her version is not vegetarian, however with a quick change from jelly to jam we are veg approved!  I just have to get over my own disappointment for letting it slip by, and enjoying it so much while not realizing the recipe didn’t correlate with my principles!  On occasion I guess it happens to all of us.

She’s made this a couple of times once using refrigerated crescent rolls and today using phyllo dough.  The crescent version may be a little easier to make since phyllo can be tricky and you have to work very quickly when using it.  Personally I like both and it’s recipes like this that make it so difficult to go totally vegan.  I’m sure I’ll get there one day, slowly and surely, it’ll happen.  In the meantime find a reason to make some brie, it’s so good!

Ingredients

1 8 oz round of Brie

1 package of phyllo dough thawed, or 1 container of crescent rolls

Several tablespoons of raspberry jam

A few tablespoons of sliced almonds or chopped walnuts

a few teaspoons of brown sugar

egg

Directions

Defrost phyllo or unroll crescent rolls making sure to work seams together and  place brie on top, add quite a bit of jam on top, sprinkle the nuts and  top with some brown sugar. Wrap the Brie completely with the dough. If there is a lot of extra  Phyllo dough, tie on top with kitchen string. Mix egg and brush on top for nice browning. Bake about 20 minutes at 425 till lightly brown.  Serve by slicing into wedge or pie like pieces.

Baked Quesadilla

If you’ve read my previous post then you know that my 11 year old puppy Shana passed away on Monday.  With that said the past few days have been both emotional and hectic.  My 2 dogs are a bit lost and confused without their beloved alpha in the house.

Casey my Pit mix is going back and forth between clingy and trying to figure out if she’s the new alpha dog.  We’ve discovered that she can be a bit of a bully but so far not too much so.  Our little Rocki is extremely attached to us and seems anxious when we leave the house.  This is not surprising when you consider that my son left 3 weeks ago for Europe and my daughter has been sporadically in and out.  Bill and I are doing our best to be here for her but it’s not possible 24/7.

What does any of this have to do with quesadillas?  Not much except for the fact that I had a really great recipe in my mind and ended up with a very good but less ambitious version due to an unexpectedly busy day.  Between the dogs and catching my son on Skype I ended up making a quick, simple but delicious quesadilla.

Usually when I make quesadilla’s I use a lot of oil and cook then on the stove top.  Tonight I made a much lighter version by spraying them with cooking oil and baking them in the oven.  They came out surprisingly crispy and took way less effort.

Today’s version was filled with sautéed onions, black beans, mushrooms, and frozen corn,  My original plan had roasted corn and chipolte peppers.  I managed to get a similar flavor with less work.  Then I topped them with a very quick guacamole recipe.

Ingredients

4 large burrito wraps

8 oz shredded sharp cheddar

4 oz shredded monterey jack cheese

1 large onion diced

1 can black beans drained

1./4 bag frozen corn

6 oz sliced mushrooms

Juice of 1 lime

Tabasco Chipolte Pepper Sauce

1 teaspoon cumin

Salt to taste (optional)

A few sprigs chopped fresh cilantro or coriander if available

Sour cream and/or guacamole to top with

Directions

Add all veggies in a bowl and add juice of 1 lime, a few teaspoons of the chipolte sauce, cumin and salt, toss all ingredients until well mixed  Heat oil in a pan and add veggies, saute until onions are lightly browned, add cilantro or coriander.

Lay each burrito wrap and place cheese mixture on 1/2, top with veggie mixture and add another layer of cheese.  Fold in half

Spray a baking sheet with cooking oil and place each quesadilla on the sheet, spray the top of each quesadilla

Bake at 350 5-7 minutes, flip over as lightly browned and cook on the other side until browned as well.  Total bake time 12-14 minutes

If any of the filling oozes out, just spoon it back in, then cut into triangles, top as desired

Low Fat Spinach Quiche

Let me start by saying that I am currently baking my Oatmeal Crunch Apple Pie and my house smells amazing!  You really should try that recipe!  When you purchase frozen pie crusts they always come in 2 packs.  I really don’t like freezing the remaining crust  because they don’t wrap well and always end up with freezer burn.  So I decided to make this tasty quiche for my dinner tonight.  It will be a great main course for dinner at my mom’s tonight.  She is making a pot roast which I remember to be a fabulous recipe but I haven’t eaten pot roast in over 7 years!  The quiche is another of my quick, easy, and delicious recipes.  When I saute’d the veggies I cooked more than I needed and plan to grill a pizza for lunch using the same veggies.  I love cooking things that can work in more than 1 recipe!

Low Fat Spinach Quiche

Ingredients

1 8oz package frozen chopped spinach

4 oz sliced Baby Bella mushrooms

1 small onion sliced thin

½ cup julienned sun dried tomato drained

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 ½ cup egg substitute

½ cup fat free `half and half

1 8 oz low fat Swiss cheese julienned

1 tablespoon flour

1 frozen pie crust

Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning to taste

Directions

Defrost spinach and drain out all liquid.

Heat olive oil in a pan and sauté onion until they begin to brown a little

Add the mushrooms and sun dried tomato and some seasonings, sauté about 5 minutes then mix with spinach in a bowl

Toss cheese with flour until lightly coated, add to veggies

In another bowl stir egg substitute and half and half, add seasoning, pour over veggie mixture

Stir well and pour into frozen pie crust

Bake 350 45-50 minutes until lightly browned

Remove from oven and let cool a few minutes to set before serving

Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

Pumpkin Black bean soup is one of my favorite comfort foods.  I go this recipe out of a 15 minute meal cookbook.  After making a few changes to the recipe it can still be put together and served within 30 minutes.  The extra 15 minutes means more chopped and saute’d veggies which equals more flavor.  I realize it’s not quite the season for canned pumpkin but  I’m hoping people are as crazy as me and stock up on it during the fall for the rest of the year.  My daughter made this using fresh pureed butternut squash in place of the canned pumpkin and had very good results.

  • 2 15 ounce cans of black beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 red or green pepper chopped
  • A few celery stalks chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chili pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree (be sure it’s pure pumpkin not pie mix!)
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • ¼ chopped cilantro (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (optional)

Saute onion, pepper, and celery in olive oil until translucent.  Add garlic and seasoning and sauté for another minute.  Add broth and black beans and bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Lower heat to medium and add in pumpkin puree.  Stir until well blended and simmer a few minutes.  Stir in lime juice.

When serving sprinkle fresh cilantro on top of the bowl.