Archive of ‘Snacks’ category

Herbed Feta Mini Peppers

The Winter time barely allows for anything fresh to pass through my pantry doors. Stuffing vine-ripened tomatoes is a dream when it’s the dead of winter and we still have a few months until those delicacies are back in season. Instead, I decided to stuff mini sweet peppers with an herbed feta mixture for a light appetizer. You only need a few to set off the hunger pains, as you wait for the main dish. Double the recipe for a party appetizer!

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Dip

This is how it usually goes: I down a protein shake half asleep on my drive to work (my husband is the driver so I can be half asleep). I get to work a little more awake and disheveled (is it the weekend yet?) and try to get my morning tasks finished before my customer service line is set on fire. Around 11, I’m starving; like “I could eat that chocolate chip cookie I threw out on Friday because I have that much self control” hungry. So trying to be an adult, I usually come prepared with a snack to get me through to lunch. Sometimes, it’s edamame crackers with a kale yogurt dip (shout out to Trader Joe’s). Sometimes, it’s my Larabar I usually save for the afternoon slump. Sometimes, it’s a piece of fruit that is hopefully in season. But I still feel like the healthy snack idea well runs dry and then I become bored, hence the thrown away chocolate chip cookie. (more…)

Real talk. The holidays are upon us and as my heart grows bigger with excitement for the festivities to come so does my waste line if I’m not careful. In an attempt to dream up decadent holiday recipes, I also have to think of things to eat that aren’t as calorie filled. I know you understand this predicament and I am here to tell you we will get through this! I love apples and peanut butter for a snack but peanut butter’s serving size is itty bitty compared to my appetite in the morning. In this dip, we stretch out peanut butter’s peanut butteryness and make it more cheesecake like. I know you don’t have a problem with that. The best part is you can make this dip as healthful or decadent as you want but make sure you serve it with a yummy dipper! For me, it’s apples.

Our easy peasy ingredient line up:

Top to Bottom: Creamy peanut butter (or chunky if that’s your flow), greek yogurt, honey, cream cheese, and cinnamon.

We throw all of our ingredients into a mixing bowl and whip it! Whip it good! I mean, look at that dreaminess. You could add chocolate chips or nuts or dried fruit. Whatever you want. As for me and my house, we will serve it just as it is!

This dip is posing all pretty for you. That fluffiness is all I need! You can serve this for the holidays but I think it should be kept our little secret for those hangry snack attacks. Happy dip making!

Cheddar Crab Sliders with Old Bay

Summers on the East Coast and more specifically in Maryland, are quite a special thing. There are more traditions than just the usual cookouts with burgers and hot dogs. Let me paint a picture for you. Imagine a long, rectangle table with newspaper rustically draped to keep it covered. The table is studded with paper towel rolls, non strategically placed and are accompanied by little wooden hammers. Ice cold beer bottles, little bowls of melted butter, and a spice in a red and yellow can are the finishing touches. There aren’t any plates or utensils laid out. Just crabs, paper, and two hands are all you need. Oh and good conversation because you might be sitting there for a long time. (more…)

1410733617.627072.46

Since it’s National Burger Day, I figured I should have another burger on here other than this gem. Also, my husband is allergic to shellfish (a crime, I know), so I don’t cook with it much. But to keep my “I’m from Maryland” badge, I wanted to put up a recipe that involved crab in some way. These sliders are topped with a fresh crab salad then drizzled with a cheddar, Old Bay sauce. The burger is seasoned perfectly, the sweet crab salad adds a bite of freshness, and the cheddar sauce is sharp with a little bit of spice. They are the perfect balance of surf and turf but they will make you miss Summer a little bit more than you already do. And just in crab eating fashion, all you need are your two hands, and if you have any common decency, a paper towel to enjoy.

Our Surf ‘n Turf ingredient line up:

From Top Left to Right: Ground beef, cheddar, milk, garlic, Dijon mustard, red onion, red bell pepper, dried oregano, Worchestire sauce, rolls, flour, lump crab meat, and that purdy little can is Old Bay. I totally forgot the butter in this pic. Sorry! Also, if you don’t have access to Old Bay in your supermarket (it’s our God given right!), Amazon sells it.

That may look like a lot of ingredients but the good news is most of them are thrown into a bowl with the beef and most of them are probably in your pantry. They make for a very tasty burger! We make little patties that match the size of our buns! Aren’t they cute?

The crab, red onion, and red bell pepper are tossed in a bowl together. They get a healthy sprinkling of Old Bay. Perfect! Make sure you taste for seasoning here. I don’t know how much Old Bay you like to get down with.

Now, what should be here is a picture of the cheddar Old Bay sauce. But it’s not and I’m sorry I forgot to take a pic by itself. Just a quick encouragement about mornay sauce aka the cheese sauce. Stir that milk until it’s thick. About 3 minutes in, you might start doubting yourself. Stick with it and keep stirring. It WILL thicken.
Our delicious sliders are assembled. Bottom bun, patty, crab, cheese drizzle, top bun. These sliders are incredibly flavorful but make you hardly work for it. EAT THESE TONIGHT! If you don’t, you know you will be thinking about them until you do. Happy sliders making!

Brie and Beef Puff Pastry with Mango BBQ Sauce

I recently watched a video on how to make puff pastry. Did you know that there are 729 layers of dough and butter in puff pastry? Makes you respect it a little bit more, right? Let’s begin with layer 1! Just kidding. As much as I would love to make my own puff pastry and as much as I know I will when I get all of the free time in the world someday, let’s take a moment of gratitude for store bought puff pastry. Did you also know you can make the easiest but most impressive desserts and apps just by using puff pastry? It really is a lifesaver. Go out and buy yourself some. (more…)

This puff pastry snack is hearty and elegant all at the same time. It’s easy finger food with barbecue sauce. Make a pot roast or beef brisket for dinner the night before and use the leftover meat for this. Or you could use a good deli roast beef. Or you could cook a small pot roast, shred it, and use it just for this. The beef is rich, the brie is creamy, the puff pastry flaky, the barbecue sauce is tangy. Not much more needs to be said.

Let’s check out our ingredient line up:

From Top Left to Right: puff pastry, egg, mango chutney, garlic, brie, shredded beef, worchestire, soy sauce, fresh thyme, and ketchup.

We first make our mango barbcue sauce. Let that baby simmer.

Our puff pastry dough is rolled out to become thinner. I need to tell you something. I don’t own a rolling pin. I own an empty Prosecco bottle with a sweet Christmas design on it. That bottle has rolled out many a pie dough just fine. Plus, it gives you an excuse to drink a bottle of wine…with friends, of course!

We top the pastry with sauce, beef, and brie. Notice the imperfect edges. I left them just like that and you should to. No one judges appearance when it’s puff pastry in front of you. When it bakes up, it looks less imperfect. Just trying to keep it easy peasy for ya.

The top sheet of puff pastry is placed on top and is given the egg wash treatment. Cut a few slits in the dough for steam to release.

It bakes up nice and brown. Look at that beauty. We cut this up into squares for serving. Oh, and don’t forget to pour the rest of the sauce in a bowl for dipping!

Wanna take a look inside? Perfection. I hope you try this and even make your own version. Happy snack making!

Mini Niçoise Tuna Melts

These are your childhood meets elegant. I love taking a classic and making it new. Not totally new where you can’t recognize it anymore. Just new enough that you taste the classic flavors but in a new way. That’s what gets me going. Tuna melts have my heart. They’re part of that special group of meals that you forget about until you eat them and then furiously wonder why it’s taken you so long to get here. Why don’t I make these more often?! That’s what goes through my head when I eat a tuna melt. And I bet I’m not the only one…or am I? Queue in the X-Files theme song. (more…)

Have you ever had a niçoise salad? It’s a salad composed of tomatoes, eggs, olives, and anchovies and dressed with a vinaigrette. Usually, fresh tuna is also added to make it a complete meal. In these melts, I make some changes from the usual: sun dried tomatoes instead of fresh, no anchovies (not because I don’t like them but because I didn’t want to get my blender dirty), and the biggest change of all: no mayonnaise. Yup. I’m sorry. But that is what takes these to the next level. Instead of a mayo based dressing, we make a vinaigrette that would normally be paired with the niçoise salad. BUT the creaminess of the gruyere and eggs make up for the lack of creaminess from the lack of mayo. Not confusing at all.

Our French ingredient line up:

From Top Left to Right: Baguette, sun dried tomatoes, parsley, gruyere cheese, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, Dijon mustard, olives, tuna, hard boiled eggs (look at those yellows), and shallots.
*Just a little tip when buying canned tuna. Make sure the can says dolphin safe or pole caught. It’s a better way to fish for tuna that won’t hurt dolphins in the process. Fishing can be a tricky thing!

We first make our vinaigrette. Can you guess how many times I had to google vinaigrette for spelling? Don’t. Just Don’t.

Then, we begin our niçoise madness. If I had a dollar for every can of tuna I have opened in my life, well, I’d have a lot of dollars. Does that saying ever go anywhere? Am I missing something or just not witty enough? I dunno. Our vinaigrette meets our tuna niçoise ingredients.

Time to top our cute little bread slices with some niçoise love. Oooo lala.

The gruyere is sprinkled on top. These are tuna melts afterall.

All we do is place them under the broiler for a couple of minutes. Easiest appetizer ever. This would also be a great tuna salad if you don’t do the cheese thing.

I love these. I really do. These would be great to kick start any football season. Oh and if you don’t like olives, I would encourage you to still add them. I don’t like them at all but loved them in this. The amount I have added makes then barely noticeable but essential! Happy melts making!

Goat Cheese and Bacon Tartine with Peach Onion Jam

Now, before you get offended at such a fancy word as tartine, let me explain. Tartine is the french word for open face sandwich. See, you can relax a little bit. So at your next party, you can tell your guests they aren’t eating toast, they aren’t eating bread with cheese smeared on it, they are definitely not eating crostini. You can tell them they are eating a tartine. And just like that, you will look like an Iron Chef in front of them. I’m only looking out for your best interests. It’s what keeps me up at night. I also loosely use the word jam here. It’s more like a chunky jam and less like a spreadable jam. Dump and go with this jam. How appetizing does that sound? Chunky jam? Aren’t you glad you stopped by? Just don’t tell people they are eating chunky jam. Your Iron Chef title will be immediately stripped. (more…)

This tartine is the perfect mix of sweet and salty, savory and tangy. Serve it up as an appetizer or just a light lunch. You can even leave the bacon out and make it vegetarian. Moral of the story: this is a tasty way to use up those peaches that are giving you sad, puppy eyes for not enjoying them in their prime. Let’s show these peaches some respect…by eating them.

Our ingredient line up is as follows:

From Top Left to Right: Goat cheese, balsamic vinegar (or is that worchestire sauce?), peaches, onions, crusty bread, bacon, and worchestire sauce (or is that the balsamic? I didn’t think this through!). Speaking of not thinking things through, I forgot to add the fresh thyme and white wine. It’s called cooking on the fly and boy is it exhilarating!

We caramelize our onions. Low and slow is key here. Once they are golden, we add our peaches and thyme so there’s a little peach on skillet action.

Our wine is added into the peaches and onions. Save a little for yourself at the end. A glass of white wine plus this tartine sounds like an acceptable dinner to me. Our jam is finished with the worchestire sauce and balsamic. Taste for seasoning as per usual.

Some assembly required: toast, goat cheese, peach onion jam, crumbled bacon. Done and done! You can get all fancy like and cut these tartines into thirds. It will make this appetizer go a long way.

This was me. I did this. I didn’t have patience to cut into thirds. I smell bacon and become like a cave woman. MUST EAT BACON. WITH HANDS. You get the drift. Happy tartine makin’!

Canadian Cheddar Poutine with a Red Wine Reduction

I know you. You probably don’t think so but I do and I know why you’re here. You saw the word “poutine” in the title of this recipe and you were curious. I’ll just cut to the chase: poutine is a Canadian dish usually involving fries, gravy, and cheese curds. Now, I have never actually been to Canada so I can’t vouch for authentic poutine from the natives. Does a trip to Disney World’s Epcot count? When Chris and I went there for our anniversary last year, we ate at Le Cellier, the Canadian steakhouse in Epcot. They had different poutine combos like lobster and butter poutine, a BBQ pork poutine, and this gloriousness of canadian cheddar, truffles, and a thick red wine reduction. We ordered two poutines BEFORE our steaks came out! We know how to party. (more…)

You probably are aware football season is upon us and before you jump up and down for chili cheese fries (you might see them here, you might not), hear me out. I think your friends would be thrilled to eat these fries on any given day. Plus, these require much less work than chili cheese fries so there’s that!

Our fancy ingredient line up:

From Left to Right: Frozen fries (I used shoe string but choose what you like!), Truffle cheddar, red wine, shallots, Canadian cheddar, and rosemary.

We start with our red wine reduction, as our fries are baking in the oven (healthy choices here!). You can obviously make your own fries from scratch if you aren’t lazy like me. Look at that rosemary making googly eyes at you. Let it simmer until it’s thick and drizzle worthy.

Once the fries are cooked, sprinkle on your cheeses. You could also use an English cheddar or even an Irish cheddar if you can’t find Canadian cheddar. Heck, you could use white cheddar really. Cheese on fries equals bliss. That’s an old adage.

Broil the cheese fries until cheese has melted then drizzle the red wine reduction. Serve these hot, right in the sheet pan! If you are feeling fancy, eat ’em with a fork. Otherwise, take those clean paws of yours and dig in! My sister-in-law, Lauren, and I went to town so we could expertly report to you how these turned out. See the kind of sacrifices I’m willing to make for you?

These were cheesy with a herb sweetness from the reduction. The truffle and Canadian cheddar were key and really made this savory and hearty. Give ’em a try! Happy poutine making!

BLTA “Spring” Rolls with 3 Dipping Sauces

I’ve been asked a lot lately what is the premise of my blog? Or rather, what kind of food do I make? These questions stump me because I haven’t really thought about it. I just blog about the things that matter to me most. I make food that I eat and think that you would enjoy. Does it need to be more than that? Maybe. But until then, I’m going to keep making meals that make us both feel special. Cool? Cool. If you need a theme to follow then these spring rolls are really going to throw you for a loop. Don’t worry! It will be fun! (more…)

I do have measurements for this recipe but the best part is…do what you want! How many times in life are you told to do that? Adjust to what you like: a little more avocado (always), a little less bacon (never). Whatever floats your boat! I will say make a few to practice with first. Things can get a little tricky but also can be easily mastered. As you can see with the ones I made, perfection isn’t the goal but yumminess is.  We ate these for dinner but they would be sublime as an appetizer or a fun snack!

Check out our ingredient line up:

From Top Left to Right: My grocery store had these adorable little lettuces but any salad mix would work too! Bean sprouts, red onion, heirloom tomatoes (because they were leftover from this), avocado, red pepper, rice paper, bacon (bow down), and asparagus. Can I tell you a secret? I cooked my asparagus in my bacon grease. I don’t believe in waste.

Rice paper is where this madness begins. Soak it and lay it onto a damp cloth. Most rice paper wrappers will have the directions on them. Let’s load up on the goodies! Don’t see your favorite veggie here? Add it! Are we getting carried away? Let’s roll that little guy.

We move onto our 3 dipping sauces. Why 3? Because I’m OCD and I like things in threes. You could totally do one or two. Take mayo, green chilies, garlic, pepper and salt. I know, I know. That’s a lot of mayo. Where is my greek yogurt/mayo combo? Well, when I make a sauce and put mayo in the title, I really mean it. Pulse that baby!

Another fun sauce is basil with sun dried tomatoes. Add a little extra virgin olive oil if it gets too thick. A pinch of pepper never hurt anyone here. Pulse.

Our avocado, lime, Sriacha sauce is exactly what it sounds like. I added the bright red Sriacha with the green avocado and pulsed together. Don’t be like me. Just pulse the avocado, lime, and a little greek yogurt to soften things up a bit. Drizzle with Sriacha once you have put the avocado sauce in a dish or else your pretty, ripe, green avocados turn a puke green. Sorry…

I love the playfulness of this dish. We use our hands to dip and enjoy. I’m sure this will be a fun change from the usual weeknight casserole or salad. The bacon is staring at you. Say hi! Happy “spring” roll making!

Quesadilla Cubans

Pickles and mustard. Mustard and pickles. What if I told you these two ingredients are my favorite part of a Cuban sandwich? Would you give a light little chuckle but then secretly roll your eyes and judge me? I understand if you would. But in all seriousness, without those ingredients, a Cuban wouldn’t be special at all. It’s the magic of making the two kinds of pork and swiss cheese work together. The pickle and mustard cut through all of that richness making you beg for another irresistible bite.

(more…)

Along with my pickle and mustard rant, I also think it’s important to have a flavorful shredded pork. Too many Cubans have I wasted due to pre-made, unseasoned pork. A good Cuban is all team work with not one element in the spotlight (except for the pickles and mustard). I used a pork tenderloin for the pictures but the recipe is for a pork shoulder. It’s a more authentic cut of pork but I was lazy and didn’t feel like driving to the store when I had a perfectly good tenderloin at home. I will post my cooking notes for the tenderloin at the bottom. Ok, ready? Go team!
Let’s check out our ingredient line up:

From Top Left to Right: flour tortillas, limes, pork tenderloin trying to look like pork shoulder, yellow mustard, cilantro, garlic, swiss cheese, orange juice, pickles, dried oregano, and deli ham.

We first start with la marinade. Put your cilantro, orange juice, limes, garlic, oregano, and a dash of salt in a blender. That’s right, we are blending our limes with their rinds on! I told you this was going to be flavorful! Blend until pureed.

Now, we take half of that marinade and pour it over the pork. Turn it a few times to coat then leave it alone. It needs to marinate for a while. How fresh does that look? We then slow cook our pork (hello crock pot!) so it will be fork tender and easy to shred.

Do you know what comes next? We shred! Take a sample! Take two! You’re the cook and I think you deserve it!

Let’s assemble our quesadillas! Take a tortilla, schmear some mustard on it. Use yellow or spicy brown mustard. This is NOT the time for dijon. Feel me? Then scatter your pickles on top of the mustard. Then place your cooked deli meat on top (I know I didn’t show that step. Forgive me?). Take a healthy handful of that delicious shredded pork and put on top of the ham. Then, add your swiss. Lastly, schmear more mustard on another tortilla and place on top.

If you have a panini press, then this is the time to break it out. If you don’t, just heat up a skillet with some butter. Place your quesadilla in the skillet once heated and then top with another pan. After a few minutes, take the top pan off and turn over your quesadilla for even cooking. Once golden brown and the cheese is melted, remove from heat, cut and serve! This has all the yummy components of a Cuban sandwich but in fun quesadilla form! Happy ‘dilla making!

For the pork tenderloin: I made sure the silver skin was off (it won’t cook down but be tough and chewy). I cooked the tenderloin in a dutch oven at 200 degrees for about 3-4 hours. Then shred. The meat can be somewhat dry so add a little bit of the cooking liquid if it’s too dry for you.