Archive for the ‘appetizers’ Category

Ok. You may be thinking…”Soup? I thought this was a baking blog?”

Well, it is! However, I used the oven to prep for the soup so I figured it deserved a post. Why not! Plus, I think you’ll like it. If you’re vegan, you’ll definitely like it! Just omit the sprinkle of parmesan at the end.

If you’re not vegan, you’ll certainly reap the benefits. Flavorful and good for you! Brussel sprouts contain cholesterol-lowering and anti-inflammatory benefits. Additionally, beans are naturally low in fat and contain a nice dose of fiber, protein and iron among other fab health benefits!

I was inspired by this recipe, but wanted to give it deeper flavor so I oven roasted the brussel sprouts and added 1 teaspoon of cumin. I LOVE cumin!

Oven Roasted Brussel Sprout Soup with White Beans

Inspired from this recipe

Print Recipe

– 1 lb Brussel sprouts

– 1 12 ounce can white beans

– 1 small white onion, chopped

– 2 cups low sodium vegetable broth

– 1 tsp ground cumin

– 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

– sea salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Toss Brussel sprouts in 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Roast in oven for about 30 to 35 mins. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Cut the oven-roasted sprouts in half or quarters.

In a large pot or dutch oven, brown onions in 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Add the Brussel sprouts to the onions, add beans, cumin and vegetable broth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Cook until all the vegetables are cooked. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup inside the large pot. I like my soup a bit chunky with some beans and Brussel sprouts so I didn’t puree the entire soup. Use the immersion blender based on your preference.

Enjoy with a generous sprinkling of aged parmesan cheese!


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It’s entertaining season! Yet, many of us don’t really need a reason or season to entertain…it’s fun and it brings friends and family together!

I have a mouthwatering appetizer for you to make for your next soiree! Grilled apple slices with applewood smoked cheddar blanketed in prosciutto. It’s sweet from the apple, creamy and savory from the applewood smoked cheddar and salty from the prosciutto. Is your mouth watering yet?

What I think you’ll like about this recipe is that it’s completely flexible; use brie, sharp cheddar, swiss, havarti, emanthaler and other great cheeses that stand up to apples. The nutritional fiber from the apples and protein from the cheese and prosciutto will keep you satisfied. Here are more nutritional perks of apples.

Grilled Apple Slices with Applewood Smoked Cheddar Blanketed in Prosciutto

Print Recipe

– 2 to 3 medium Granny Smith apples. 1 medium apple yields about 14 servings.
– applewood smoked cheddar or the cheese of your choice.
– 10 to 12 thin slices of prosciutto, sliced lengthwise and halved
– 1 Tbls freshly squeezed lemon juice
– olive oil for drizzling. optional.

Core the apples and carefully make thick slices. Do not halve the apple slices, that will happen later. Place the apple slices in a bowl and cover with the fresh lemon juice to prevent the apples from browning.

Place a nonstick grill pan over medium to high heat. When the grill pan is hot, add apple slices and grill for about 60 seconds per side. You want the grill marks but want to ensure the slices do not become too soft and gummy. Cool the slices on a wire rack. Cut the apples slices in half when they have cooled.

Wrap a cube of the applewood smoked cheddar with a piece of prosciutto and attach to the apple slice with a toothpick. Time to serve and enjoy!

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I like cream cheese. Toast and cream cheese? Yeah, I like it. But sometimes it needs some umph! Ya know? I’ll smear come jam with my cream cheese, or drizzle some maple syrup or honey, or simply add a dash of ground cinnamon. Sigh…same song and dance with this cream cheese business! What to do?

Gourmet it! Change it! Neufchatel and more!

If you like cream cheese, then you’ll like Neufchatel cheese. There are actually two types of Neufchatel, a French version and an American version. The American Neufchatel is the one we see in the markets, in fact, it sits very close to the iconic cream cheese.

So, Neufchatel….yup! This is why I think you’ll like it…

It’s very similar to cream cheese in texture and flavor. Yum!
It’s lower in calories and fat than regular cream cheese. For those calorie counters out there, this one’s for you! Not a calorie counter, there is much to be enjoyed. I promise!

I wanted my Neufchatel to be creamy, sweet and aromatic. And it was! I rehydrated dried figs in balsamic vinegar while it reduced on the stove. The balsamic vinegar became an aromatic syrup and the [now] plump figs were sweet and insatiable. The combo is heavenly.

The Neufchatel and fig and balsamic mixture had a marriage and became a pleasing spread for my toast, my rustic bread, my crackers…anything.

Nutritional perks –

    Figs – A good source of potassium, which helps control blood pressure. A good source of dietary fiber and calcium.

Balsamic Fig Cheese Spread

Print Recipe

– 6 dried figs, halved
– 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
– 8 oz Neufchatel cheese, at room temperature

Add the balsamic vinegar and dried figs in a small to medium saucepan over medium heat. When the balsamic begins to bubble, lower the heat to a simmer. The balsamic vinegar will reduce to a thick syrup and the figs will become a bit plump because they’re rehydrating.

Remove the rehydrated figs and any leftover balsamic syrup from saucepan, and allow to cool to room temperature.

When the rehydrated figs are at room temperature, place in a food processor and add the Neufchatel cheese. Process until well combined. Chucks of dried figs in the mixture is excellent, so do not over-process the mixture. The final mixture will have a delightful light purple hue to it.

Now smear on some rustic bread, toast or crackers! Enjoy over and over! Maybe share with friends!

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I don’t know about you but when it’s sweltering outside I can’t handle heavy food. Not even a grilled cheese. When it’s hot, I need light and fresh food to satisfy my hunger. But, how many salads can I eat before salad boredom?!

This past weekend was hot; it was uber caliente! I needed to beat the salad boredom. I turned to fresh seafood! . . .and the pool. 🙂

I made a tuna tartare. Yup. It’s light! It’s fresh! Slightly spicy with some crunch via water chestnuts. I like it and I think you will too! I even added a layer of avocado. This is big news because I’m still warming up to avocado, as I mentioned here. Friends, this tuna tartare is good and good for you. Read on.

Nutritional perks –

    Ahi tuna – Full of omega-3 fatty acids, which helps prevent blood clots, heart attacks and also help reduce skin inflammation.
    Avocado – Provides nearly 20 essential nutrients, such as dietary fiber, potassium, Vitamin E and B-vitamins.

Fresh & Light Tuna Tartare
Inspired by this recipe

Print Recipe

– 1 Pound Ahi tuna
– 10 Whole water chestnuts, roughly chopped
– 1 Avocado
– 1 Tbls sesame oil
– 1 Tbls rice vinegar
– 2 Tbls low-sodium soy sauce
– 1/2 Tsp sriracha chili sauce, more or less (or none at all) for your spice threshold
– sea salt and pepper to taste

Slice the tuna into 1/4-inch cubes. Roughly chop the 1/4-inch cubes into chucks, BUT still hold together. Add the roughly chopped water chestnuts. Incorporate the oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce and chili sauce. Add sea salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.

I wanted to place the tuna tartare into a mold, so I packed the tuna tightly into a small bowl. I added a layer of avocado (seasoned with sea salt) on top of the packed tuna. I then, placed a small plate on top of the small bowl and turned it over to release the tuna tartare mold.

Voila! Tuna tartare perfect for a party appetizer.

Don’t want to use a mold for the tuna tartare? Cube the avocado and gently stir into the tuna tartare. You can also spread avocado on crackers and top with the tuna tartare for finger food! So many ideas!

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Oh, the radish…

It’s petite, voluptuous and a bit spicy. Well, I guess the radish is a saucy minx!

This saucy minx is the star of Beet ‘n Squash YOU’s May recipe contest! Beet ‘n Squash YOU is hosted by the fab gals from She Simmers and Gourmet Fury.

In all honesty, the radish left me a bit puzzled. I didn’t know much about the radish outside of a salad or taco. What to do? I know myself and I needed to think outside of the box. This is a contest after all, right? Plus, I wanted to be true to myself and create something I desired and would enjoy sharing with those I care about. So, I present my Crabby Radish; a spicy radish crab dip. The radish worked perfectly because it has a fresh and spicy bite, which works well with the crab meat. Moreover, it adds a nice crunch. A healthy one too!

There is much to be enjoyed! Especially because despite that fact that radishes are 90% water, it’s packed with potassium. Read on…

Nutritional perks –

    Radish – Packs as much potassium as bananas, an excellent source of Vitamin C, folate and a good source of magnesium.

Spicy Radish Crab Dip

Loosely adapted from this recipe. My baking dish is smaller, so I reduced the ingredient amounts a bit.

Print Recipe

– 1 can organic crab meat. I bought mine from Whole Foods Market.
– 1/2 cup grated Parmesiano Regiano
– 1/2 cup grated Asiago
– 3/4 cup low fat Greek yogurt. The original recipe uses mayonnaise.
– 1/2 cup roughly chopped radish
– 1/2 cup oven roasted button white mushrooms. The original recipe did not include these, I added for extra flavor and texture.
– 1 to 2 garlic clove(s), minced
– 1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
– 2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
– 2 tsp hot pepper sauce
– 1/4 tsp dry mustard
– Sea salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well.

ready for the oven!

Pour into an 8×5 baking vessel; one suitable for hot dips. Bake for 70-75 minutes. Enjoy the aroma of hot bubbly cheese and crab! Works perfect on toasted baguette and crackers. Please note, the baking time may change if you use a standard casserole dish.

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