Archive for the ‘Appetizers’ Category
So as I was saying I bought this bag of peppers. Now traditionally I’d stuff them with rice and ground beef/turkey/tomato sauce mixture but I just didn’t want that. I wanted something not so heavy but rather creamy if you will. As I was standing there I spied the head of broccoli I just purchased. Glorious and bright green begging to be eaten. Since I had some quinoa already made up I decided to give it a whirl and stuff these peppers with a quinoa broccoli mixture. Man I am so happy that I did!
They were so cheesy and packed with broccoli. And that luscious quinoa pushed it over the edge!
These were AWESOME! A total vegetarian’s delight! But even those meat lovers will LOVE these!
Keep looking and drooling! I made extra; I’ll share!
|Quinoa Broccoli Cheddar Stuffed Peppers|
- 6 bell peppers (red, orange or yellow), tops cut off and seeds removed
- 3 cups Cooked Quinoa (preferably cooked in chicken or vegetable stock)
- 1 large egg
- 2 cups chopped fresh broccoli
- 1 tsp coarse salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 3 cups sharp cheddar, shredded
- Preheat oven to 350F with the rack in the middle.
- Lightly spray a glass or ceramic baking dish (must have 2” sides).
- In a bowl add the cooked quinoa, broccoli, salt, pepper and 2 cups of cheese.
- Mix to blend.
- Add in the egg and mix well to incorporate.
- Using a spoon fill each pepper with the mixture and mound it 1/2” towards the center.
- Measure out a piece of tin foil that will cover the peppers but try not to let it touch the tops.
- Spray the side of the foil that will be closest to the pepper and then cover them trying to tent it.
- Be sure to crimp the foil around the sides of your pan.
- Bake for 90 minutes.
- Remove the foil and pierce the pepper with a knife. It should be soft but have some give.
- Top the peppers with the remaining cup of cheese and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
- Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
Well in the produce section I came across some of the most gorgeous cucumbers and tomatoes. I KNEW I had to make something with them. I mean HAD to! So I filled up my buggy (yes, that’s Pittsburghese for ‘grocery cart’) and home I went. When I got home I got to chopping and mincing, sauteing and whisking. This salad took under 10 minutes to put together and pop in the fridge. Now I tasted it prior to putting it in the oven and I was loving it!
I had every intention on having this for lunch. However… because there is always a however with me, this house had other ideas for me. I cut the grass and then Mr. Fantabulous proceeded to come out side with a scowl on his face. He was mad; like fuming mad. I thought for a split second “Crap! What did I do now???” and that since I was on the tractor I could make a break for it riding off into the sunset… going at a top speed of 8 mph! LOL So as I got up to him you could see the utter look of disgust and po’d-ness on his face. I asked what was wrong and he told me that all that work we did back in October to strip the paint off of our pool (it’s in-ground) and the repainting was for nothing. We had to re-do it AGAIN! Now for those of you that have ever done this – working with muriatic acids, some tri sodium phos something or other, this chemical and that chemical and good old fashioned elbow grease, it SUCKS! It took us almost a week just to do that! Then we had to let it dry for a few days THEN we had to paint it. Thing the paint fumes were horrific (did I mention I had asthma???) and it’s ridiculously expensive! Like $100 a gallon expensive! All that work… for nothing! Ugh! We did contact a bajillion companies to come in and do it professionally but no one would and those that would, wouldn’t give a warranty and wanted way over $10k! Um no, no thank you! I’d rather make it a skate park at that point.
So he started to drain the pool however we both forgot that the pump was on a timer. Yeah, you know where this is going, don’t you? Yeah the pump shut off when there was about 200 gallons of water left in it. Yeah… great! NOT! We had to use 5 gallon buckets and fill them out and dump them ourselves. He would fill them up, walk out from the deep end, put them up on the ledge and then I would carry them out to dump. I think we did about 40-45 trips. Did I mention that 5 gallons of water weighs over 40 pounds??? Yeah, yours truly lugged them puppies up from the ledge and up and over a wall. Thank GOD my butt has been working out is all I have to say.
Now back to this salad that was just begging to be eaten. By the time we were all said and done it was maybe 10ish. While I was starving I was so sore, like to the point I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it to the shower sore, the last thing I wanted was food. So the salad sat in the fridge over night – unloved.
I mean she’s so pretty! So light and bright!
I’m happy to inform you that this unloved no more! THIS was part of my breakfast!
And it was DELICIOUS! For me I added just a trace more sea salt (maybe because I was craving salt) but it will brought out the flavors in this!
And I love the fact that it wasn’t runny – ever make a cucumber salad only to have it all watery on the bottom? You need to draw out the water first so it’s super important you follow steps 1-3 otherwise you’ll end up with a pool of liquid at the bottom of your bowl!
You know you want this! This is PERFECT for any summer BBQ and cook out!
|Cucumber Chickpea Summer Salad|
- 1 16 ounce can of Chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 large cucumber, chopped
- 1 large shallot (or 2 medium), minced
- 1 tsp garlic, minced
- 1 firm large stem tomato, chopped
- 2 Tbl fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 – 2 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 – 1 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 4 Tbl olive oil
- 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice plus 1 tsp zest
- 1/2 lime, juiced plus the zest
- 1 tsp red wine vinegar
- 1-2 tsp sugar *optional
- Lay the cucumbers on a paper towel lined cookie sheet.
- Sprinkle with 2 tsp of salt and allow to rest for 1 hour.
- Squeeze one handful of cucumbers at a time and place squeezed cucumbers in medium bowl; discard squeezed juice.
- In a medium sauce pan add 2 Tbl oil over medium heat.
- Add in the beans, cumin and 1/2 tsp salt.
- Sauté for 5-8 minutes or until they just start to turn golden brown and crisp up.
- Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a bowl add in the cucumbers, tomatoes, shallots, chickpeas and mix.
- In another bowl whisk together the remaining olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice, sugar, cilantro, parsley, zests and pepper.
- Pour the liquid over vegetables and gently mix.
- Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
- Adjust salt and pepper to taste prior to serving.
Well as those 2 recipes went global I got requests for a dessert-y bacon. Now everyone and their mother makes chocolate dipped bacon (with peanut butter/caramel/nuts/etc) but I wanted something different. Why? I like to be different and push the envelope. Hmmm… wonder exactly what that means. I mean where is this proverbial ‘envelope’ they speak of anyway? *shrugs* this is how my mind works… scary, I know!
I’m not really sure how this came about as literally I was in the kitchen putzing around (yes, that’s a technical kitchen term for standing there staring into space pretending to be working but not really getting anything done) and I was moving the container of cocoa powder. For some reason I went to put it in the fridge (which again, I don’t normally do but like I said I was putzing around and not really paying attention) when I saw the package of bacon there. Inspiration hit me! Cocoa and Bacon! However have you ever dipped your finger in cocoa powder, expected it to taste just like chocolate only to realize that it soooooooooooo doesn’t taste like powdered chocolate but something butt nasty?! Yeah… so cruel! I knew I had to add sweetness to it. From that point on I was a machine. I love it when stuff just falls into place.
Yeah, I’m thinking it fell into place quite nicely! Now I’m not going to fool you. This isn’t pretty and it looks burnt BUT it’s not. That ‘burnt’/char look is PURE CHOCOLATE people! I mean seriously.. this stuff is crusted with cocoa and chocolate and so much love I can’t stand it!
This took that envelope and not only pushed it but it done sealed it shut, put a stamp on it and mailed it to Timbuktu!
THAT’S how incredible this Man Candy III is!
Go on, stare it some more. Trust me it was pure torture waiting for these to cool down as the smell of warm chocolate was incredible!
|Cocoa Crusted Chocolate Chip Bacon – Man Candy III||
- 1 lb thick cut bacon
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder (I used double dark chocolate)
- 1/2 tsp espresso powder
- 1 tsp chocolate extract (or water will work but the extract makes it)
- 1-2 tsp water
- 1 cup mini chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Combine brown sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder and extract in a bowl. You want not quite to a paste consistency (very slightly moist). If it’s too dry add a teensy bit of water.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Place a wire cooling rack on top.
- Spray the rack with cooking spray.
- Place the pieces of bacon on top of the rack trying not to overlap.
- Lay the cocoa mixture on a plate and press each strip of bacon down into it coating the bottom.
- Flip over and coat the other side. You want a pretty good coating on this (no exposed bacon).
- Place in oven and cook for 13 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and flip the bacon.
- If you want, add some more of the cocoa mixture on top of each strip.
- Return to the oven and cook for 13 minutes.
- If you want crispier bacon you can broil for 1 minute each side but watch as this will burn but keep in mind that this bacon will crisp/firm up while it’s cooling so broil at your discretion.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool 1 minute on the rack and then using cooking tongs, remove the bacon from the rack and plate.
- Carefully adorn each strip with mini chips (side facing up).
- While it looks charred and deep dark crusty (okay, not pretty) it’s unbelievably delicious.
To help simplify clean up, as these are cooling, fill your sink up with hot soapy water. Remove the bacon from the racks and immediately put your cooling racks in the water. Let soak for 5-10 minutes and clean up is a breeze! *Note – make sure your cooling racks can be submerged in water first!
So the other day when I was making him his Classic Egg Salad (while making the gagging face from the mayo) I wanted some for me but I needed a way to make it creamy and yummy. As I made him I was eying up my counters and landed on a gorgeous avocado. I mean I love avocados and I use them in tons of stuff so why not egg salad, right?
As ‘His’ salad was chilling in the fridge I got to making mine. I mushed, smashed and creamed, added the rest of the stuff as the classic egg salad but it was missing something. It was good but it was a bit ‘thick’. I didn’t want to add water or god forbid, mayo but it needed something. By just adding a little bit of fat free sour cream this made the dish truly Classic Egg Salad-like. I absolutely LOVED it! I made it 2 ways – with bacon and without. Truthfully the bacon is totally not necessary (WHA??? HOW DARE YOU SAY THAT???? BACON IS ALWAYS NECESSARY!!!) but it’s really good twist on it.
Now what was funny is that I made his sandwiches with HIS egg salad and then sat down with this and a few crackers. The look of “WTH is that??” was priceless. I explained what it was to which he did something I’ve never, EVER seen him do…
He stopped mid-bite, unhinged his jaw from his sandwich and put his food down on the plate and just gave me such a puzzled look. I actually think I confused him with this dish.
I pretty much just let him stare as I slathered some on the cracker and stuffed it in my mouth.
*I* absolutely LOVED this! He, however, refused to try it because I messed with a classic. So yes, I broke one of the golden rules (and one of mine) but no way in hell is this child going to eat mayo on purpose! LOL
This paired nicely on a piece of Crusty Artisan No Knead Bread and a Summery Berry Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette!
|Avocado Bacon Egg Salad|
- 4 Baked ‘Hard Boiled’ Eggs, peeled and chopped into small pieces
- 1 whole avocado, pitted
- 1/4 cup fat free sour cream
- 1 tsp yellow mustard
- 4 slices crispy bacon, chopped
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4-1/2 tsp coarse salt
- In a bowl add the avocado and 1/4 tsp salt.
- Using the back of a fork, mash the avocado into a creamy mixture.
- Add in the eggs, mustard, sour cream and black pepper.
- Mix gently to combine.
- Add in the bacon pieces and mix just to incorporate.
- Adjust seasonings if needed.
- Cover with plastic wrap tightly and chill for 30 minutes.
However…cause there is always a however with me, my thighs love them even more. *hangs head in sorrow*. See traditional cheese sticks are breaded and deep fried to a golden brown with just a teensy hint of cheese starting to show.
But… deep fried is something I avoid at all costs. Sure there are ‘healthier’ oils but the vast majorities of restaurants out there don’t use the healthier oils to fry in. It’s not cost effective for them.
Now I’ve made them baked a bajillion times and they are truly awesome but I wanted to mix it up. Mostly because I wanted pepperoni with them. See when my family owned a pizza shop we used to get these things called ‘Pizza Sticks’ in that were cheese sticks but had chunks of pepperoni and stuff in them. They were as sinful as sinful could get. I wanted THOSE! Now with baking them with a traditional breadcrumb breading it’s pretty difficult to get it to work. I have done it but honestly it’s time consuming and a veritable P.I.T.A. So as I was rummaging in the fridge I found a package of egg roll wrappers. And since you all know how much I LOVE those little things based on the number of ‘egg roll’ recipes I have on here I decided to give it a shot.
Honestly, these went together really easy and were baked in no time. So let’s get to the good stuff… TASTE!
Seriously there were really, REALLY good! Like I preferred the super crispy ‘shell’ of the egg roll over traditional bread crumbs. Plus it allowed me to incorporate pepperoni in it (BONUS!). The cheese was all ooey gooey inside, the pepperoni hot and the shell was super crunchy! I literally made these 4 days in a row! Plus the best part, they are WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY less fattening than traditional ones. You can leave out the pepperoni or use a turkey lower fat one if you wish. All I know is right now my stomach is growling and I’m off to make me a few of these puppies!
|Baked Pepperoni Pizza Egg Roll Cheese Sticks|
- 4 low fat mozzarella string cheeses, cut in half, width-wise
- 8 slices of sandwich pepperoni
- 1 Tbl plus 1 tsp pizza sauce
- 8 Egg roll wrappers
- Cooking Spray
- Additional pizza sauce for dipping
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Place a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet and spray with cooking spray.
- Next lay an egg roll wrapper down to where it is in a diamond shape and lightly brush both sides with water. These are often a bit dry so if you do not moisten it, they will crack when you try to roll them.
- Lay down a slice of pepperoni not quite in the middle of the wrapper but rather in the lower third of the wrapper.
- Next top with a slice of cheese.
- Spoon on a 1/2 tsp of pizza sauce over top the cheese.
- Begin rolling by taking the bottom and ‘tucking’ under the mixture.
- Bring in the sides and then continue rolling. I tend to take a dab more water to ‘seal’ the edges when I get to the end.
- Set aside and repeat for the remaining wrappers.
- Lightly spray the entire egg roll with cooking spray and set on the cooling rack.
- Bake for 6 minutes (or until the top is lightly golden brown), flip, spray again and bake for another 5-8 minutes until golden brown and crispy. The trick is to get them crispy right before the cheese starts to melt out.
- Transfer to a plate and serve with warmed pizza sauce.