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Posts Tagged ‘snacks & appetizers’


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 have a love-love relationship with ginger…ginger root and ground ginger. All things ginger to be completely honest. It tastes good and does good things to your body, like acting as an anti-inflammatory and a boost to the immune system.

I love ginger in my lattes, pickled next to my sushi rolls, in gingerbread, flavored in coffee and tea, mixed into ice cream, added to heart warming soups and more.

How about them gingersnaps though?! Dang. So good. I spotted a bag of gingersnaps the other day and I was tempted to check-out with them. Why not? They’re good and someone has already done the work to make them edible. My mind swerved back to reality, I took another look at the bag of gingersnaps and thought “Homemade is way better and my house will be filled with the intoxicating aroma of warm gingersnaps.” Done and done, I exited the market sans gingersnaps. With the perfect recipe in-mind, I was off to preheat the oven!

Gingersnaps
Adapted from this recipe

Print Recipe

– 3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
– 1/2 cup brown sugar
– 1/2 cup evaporated cane juice sugar. Original recipe suggests standard (refined) white sugar.
– 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
– 1 large egg
– 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
– 2 cups all-purpose whole wheat flour. Original recipe suggests standard all-purpose flour.
– 1/2 tsp baking soda
– 1/4 tsp sea salt
– 11/2 tsp ground cinnamon
– 2 tsp ground ginger
– 1/2 tsp ground cloves
– 1 cup granulated sugar for rolling dough balls before baking. I was inspired by fall and used both white and orange granulated sugar!


With a hand mixer or stand mixer beat the two sugars and butter in a large bowl. Beat until light and fluffy. Add molasses, egg and vanilla extract until completely mixed in.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, sea salt and spices. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until well incorporated. Cover and chill the gingersnap batter in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with non-stick cooking spray.

Place the granulated sugar in a bowl. Scoop out a tablespoon of gingersnap dough and roll into a ball. Place in the bowl of granulated sugar and roll it around so it’s entirely covered in sugar. Place on a baking sheet. Using the bottom of a glass cup, flatten the dough ball into a disc. Repeat until the baking sheet is full.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Enjoy with cold milk, hot tea or coffee! Gingersnap nirvana!

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Don’t you just love the feeling of discovering something new and feeling like you can’t go on without having it?! I recently felt this burst of joy when I decided to try a new herbal tea.

My new tea obsession is Celestial Seasonings True Blueberry Herbal Tea. Ok, this is what I love about it…

It tastes like real blueberries
It smells like a warm blueberry muffin
It’s herbal and caffeine free
It’s perfect hot, on ice or as a GRANITA!

A granita is extremely similar to shaved ice or a snow cone except the ice is frozen with the flavor packed-in and not poured on-top in the finished product.

What I love about the granita I am sharing with you is that it’s low in sugar and super easy to make. Many recipes for granitas contain fruit juice in addition to sugar. These recipes are quite good, but the blueberry-flavored herbal tea I decided to use is the perfect dose of flavor…no blueberry fruit juice needed here!

Blueberry Herbal Tea and Honey Granita

Print Recipe

– 3 tea bags of Celestial Seasonings True Blueberry Herbal Tea or your favorite tea
– 4 cups of water
– 1/2 cup clover honey
– 1/2 cup water

Place the 3 tea bags into a medium to large beaker or large bowl. Bring the 4 cups of water to a boil. Pour the hot water over the tea bags and steep for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove tea bags.

Meanwhile, combine the 1/2 water and honey in a small sauce pan over medium to high heat. When it begins to boil, reduce to a simmer for about 5 minutes.

Pour the hot tea into a baking dish and then stir-in the honey and water mixture.

Place in the freezer. At the 2-hour mark, stir the mixture to become slushy. Continue freezing until the granita is frozen and stir every couple of hours to form slushy crystals. This should take at least 6 hours.

Enjoy this cooling and guilt-free treat!!

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Guess what?

I traveled to Italy this past weekend…

Well, maybe my senses did! My house smelled like Italy. Let me tell you, it was amazing! I took my 5th or 6th try at making a yeast bread, and what emerged from my oven was a fragrant focaccia loaf! I had to do a double-take…did I really make that? Did my loaf actually rise and not feel like a heavy brick?

Yes I made the loaf and yes it rose and was tender and sensational.

This loaf contains 3 aromatic tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and the top is brushed with olive oil as well. Extra virgin olive oil is heart-healthy and many physicians advise that two tablespoons of olive oil per day may reduce the risk of heart disease. I’ll drink to that! Here are more nutritional perks of olive oil.

Focaccia
Adapted from this recipe

Print Recipe

– 11/2 cups warm water
– 3 Tbls extra virgin olive oil (plus additional for brushing on top of loaf)
– 11/4 tsp sea salt
– 31/2 cups all-purpose wheat flour
– 1 Tbls instant yeast
– 1/4 cup shredded cheese of your choice
– 1/4 cup sliced black olives or other toppings of your choice
– 1 tsp herbs de Provence or other dried herbs of your choice

Use a small amount of olive oil to grease the inside of a round 9-inch pan.

Combine the first five ingredients in a large bowl. Beat at high speed for about one minute, with a stand mixer or electric mixer.

Scoop the sticky batter into the prepared pan, cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise for one hour at room temperature. It will become puffy!

While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

When the dough is finished rising, lightly poke the top of the dough all over. Using a pastry brush, brush the top of the dough with olive oil, gently push-in the sliced olives, sprinkle with herbs and shredded cheese.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the loaf is golden brown. During this time, your house will smell like Italy. No joke!

Remove from the oven and allow it to cool for five minutes before you remove from the baking pan. Cool on a wire rack.

I recommend serving this warm!

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Plums are so good! In fact, I think they’re a bit underrated. Did you know they’re related to peaches and nectarines?! So, how can it compete with the “alpha” produce available at the market? It’s like the 2nd cousin twice removed. Poor plum. Plums are just as juicy, just as sweet and just as nutritious for you. A completely portable snack too!

I wanted to make the plum shine in a King Arthur Flour recipe that inspired me. The original recipe? A Nectarine Upside-Down Cake. My version? Well, you’ve seen the title of this entry…

This cake is the perfect balance of sweet, with almond and cinnamon essence. You’ll dream about it. If you make this, it’s definitely something to share with those you care about!

Nutritional perks –

    Plums – Increases the amount of iron absorption into the body, which helps make healthy tissue and boost the immune system.

Plum Upside-Down Cake
Inspired by this recipe

Print Recipe

Topping
– 1/4 cup unsalted butter
– 1/2 cup dark brown sugar. Original recipe suggested light brown sugar but I wanted a deeper flavor.
– 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
– 4 red plums, cut into thin wedges

Cake
– 1 cup all-purpose wheat flour
– 1/3 cup whole wheat flour. This was not in the original recipe but I wanted to add more fiber to this cake.
– 3/4 cup evaporated cane sugar
– 1 3/4 tsp baking powder
– 1/4 tsp sea salt
– 3 Tbls unsalted butter
– 1/2 cup 1% milk
– 1 tsp almond extract
– 1 large egg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Topping: Melt the butter and mix with brown sugar and ground cinnamon. Gently pour the mixture into a 9-inch cake pan. Arrange the plums on top in any design you like!

Cake: In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the milk, egg and almond extract.

In a separate bowl, combine the flours, baking powder and salt. Gently incorporate the dry mixture into the wet mixture. Slowly pour the batter over the plums in the cake pan.

Bake the cake for 45 minutes or until the cake pulls away from the side of the pan and springs back to the touch. Remove and cool on a wire rack for about 10 to 15 minutes. Invert the pan onto a serving platter and let it sit for 1 minute before removing the cake pan. If any fruit sticks to the cake pan, remove and replace on top of the cake.

Serve warm for breakfast, dessert or an afternoon snack!

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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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