Category Archives: Appetizers

Radish Dip with Cilantro and Queso Fresco

2014-05-12_RadishDip-6

I find it amazing the way my tastes have changed in the past few months.

Cutting back considerably on sugar and gluten has had a pretty profound impact on the way I eat and the food that I crave. When I used to plan a meal for friends and family, I almost always started with dessert. I could dream up wildly decadent desserts by the dozen. The only thing holding me back was my limited time in the kitchen.

Now, dessert rarely even crosses my mind. I enjoy a sweet treat here and there, but it’s not something I find myself dreaming up while I’m in the shower or out for a walk. It’s left me open to a whole new realm of inspiration when it comes to recipes.

I find myself giving our weekly CSA share a lot more consideration before I write things off as “just a salad” or eat the vegetables just to be done with them. Something as simple as a bag of fresh spinach or a bunch of spring onions will leave me dreaming up a zillion different ways to use them.

Last week’s box included a lovely bunch of fresh radishes. I previously didn’t care much for radishes, but this year I can’t get enough of them. After enjoying them in slaws and salads the past few weeks, I decided that I wanted to make a radish dip for the Mother’s Day picnic we were hosting over the weekend.  I had seen a few recipes online, so I bookmarked one that looked good and added the ingredients to my grocery list – sour cream, feta cheese, and dill. Continue Reading

Lemon Basil Hummus

2014-03-31_LemonBasilHummus-5

Hummus is one of those foods that I often overlook. At least, I used to.

Lately, I find myself cooking a big batch of garbanzo beans every other week so that I have plenty of them on hand to make fresh, homemade hummus. Since I ditched sweets, it’s one of my new go-to snacks. I like it with baby carrots, bell pepper slices, and gluten-free whole grain sesame crackers (another new favorite).

Since I’ve been eating more and more hummus, I am constantly looking for new flavors to make. Sundried tomato and artichoke hummus is always a hit at my house, and this lemon basil hummus is quickly becoming a new favorite, as well.

While the outdoors may not agree yet, I’m ready for some fresh summer flavors in my kitchen. It’s been a long winter (yes, technically it’s spring, but I’ll believe it when I see it)!  To brighten things up a bit, I’ve been keeping a fresh basil plant on my kitchen window sill. The fresh basil adds a lovely hint of summer in this hummus. It pairs beautifully with lemon, and the combination just taste like summer to me.

Caprese salads are my favorite use of basil, but we’re months away from fresh, local tomatoes. Until then, you’ll find me snacking on this lemon basil hummus… Wearing my knee-high fleece socks. Under a blanket.

2014-03-31_LemonBasilHummus-32014-03-31_LemonBasilHummus-4

Lemon Basil Hummus
Makes about 2 ½ cups

  • 2 cups cooked garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup cooked cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • Handful of fresh basil
  • ½ – ¾ cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Combine the garbanzo beans, cannellini beans, tahini, lemon zest, lemon juice, and basil in a food processor or blender. Blend slowly, streaming in the olive oil until you have a smooth and creamy mixture. Season and pepper to taste.

Serve drizzled with additional olive oil and topped with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Let the hummus come to room temperature before serving.

2014-03-31_LemonBasilHummus-12014-03-31_LemonBasilHummus-2

Smoky Chipotle Roasted Chickpeas

2014-02-07_SmokeyRoastedChickpeas-5

It’s taken me a while, but I have finally jumped on the bandwagon… The roasted chickpea bandwagon, that is.

I’m sure you’ve seen them in magazines, on blogs, and in healthy cookbooks. They’re all the rage right now. After seeing them everywhere, I finally decided to give them a try last fall.  Unfortunately, the recipes that I tried didn’t exactly yield great results.  I was looking for a nice, crisp snack, but I was left with dry and chalky chickpeas or completely burnt chickpeas.

Since I’ve really been trying to clean up my act when it comes to snacking (in other words, stop eating chocolate chips out of the bag in the pantry), I decided to give the chickpeas one more shot, trying a recipe from How Sweet It Is.  The chickpeas came out crisp and delicious… And, I couldn’t stop snacking on them!

The original recipe is fantastic.  I recommend giving it a try!  Since I always enjoy playing around with different flavors, I thought I’d make a few different flavors of my own.  These spicy and smoky chickpeas are my favorite (so far).  I think they have just the right amount of heat with a nice smokey flavor that pairs so beautifully with chickpeas.  They’re great for snacking on their own, but they’d also be a nice addition to a savory snack mix, too.

2014-02-07_SmokeyRoastedChickpeas-42014-02-07_SmokeyRoastedChickpeas-3

Smoky Chipotle Roasted Chickpeas
Makes about 1 ½ cups
(Recipe adapted from How Sweet It Is)

  • 1 can chickpeas (preferably BPA free and organic)
    (or approximately 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas)
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Generous pinch of Kosher salt

Rinse the chickpeas well and spread them out on a paper towel (or clean kitchen towel).  Gently roll the chickpeas on the towel to dry them thoroughly and remove the skins. I like to let the chickpeas sit for about 15 – 20 minutes to make sure they are good and dry.

While the chickpeas are drying, preheat the oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Once the chickpeas are nice and dry, transfer them to a medium bowl.  Drizzle with the olive oil and add the spices and salt. Stir to evenly coat the chickpeas in the oil and spices. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet.

Roast the chickpeas in the oven for about 35 minutes, stirring once or twice to make sure they roast evenly.  Cool on the baking sheet.  Enjoy the chickpeas right away or store them in a paper bag or a loosely covered container.

2014-02-07_SmokeyRoastedChickpeas-12014-02-07_SmokeyRoastedChickpeas-2

Whole Wheat Blue Cheese Crackers

When it comes to snack foods, my hubby is a chips guy. He loves his kettle cooked chips in a variety of flavors.  While I enjoy chips (though, not flavored ones that leave my fingers all messy… yuck!), I am more of a crackers girl. Specifically, I really love cheese crackers.

Strangely enough, with all of the baking that I do, I have never taken the time to make my own crackers at home.  Don’t ask why… I really have no idea! I suppose I have just been in the habit of buying crackers at the store for a very long time. They’re always in the pantry, so why bake them myself?

Well, when I got a sample of the Blue Heaven blue cheese powder from Rogue Creamery, I couldn’t get the idea of blue cheese crackers out of my head. Sure, you could make dips and spreads with blue cheese powder. They’d be tasty. But, I couldn’t stop thinking about crackers.

So, I made some whole wheat crackers (adapted from the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking Cookbook, which happens to be a favorite of mine… And, yes, that is an Amazon affiliate link). Since I love smokey flavors with blue cheese, I added some smoked paprika for some extra flavor. The paprika also adds a nice color to the crackers that would otherwise be kind of bland looking (though, there is nothing bland about the taste of the blue cheese powder, I assure you). Continue Reading

Grilled Cheese Plate for a Family Friendly St. Patrick’s Day

Let’s face it… Sure, there are the shamrocks and leprechauns, but St. Patrick’s Day isn’t always the most family friendly holiday.  After all, giving a child a pint of Guiness isn’t exactly what most of us would consider good parenting (or legal, for that matter).

So, since there is nothing I’d love more than to go to bed at 8:00pm on St. Paddy’s Day (no Guiness for me, either!), I set out to find a more family friendly way to celebrate the holiday.  Not only was I lucky enough to win a year’s supply of cheese and butter from Kerrygold at last summer’s Big Summer Potluck, I also got a package of St. Patrick’s Day party supplies (along with some coupons for more free cheese!) from Kerrygold, so I had everything I needed.

My original idea was to put together a cheese plate with a lovely selection of the fabulous (grass-fed!) cheeses. There’s nothing wrong with a cheese plate… They are fabulous and exciting for adults, and I do love me some cheese and wine. But, it wasn’t quite as family friendly as I would have liked.

Then it hit me… Everyone loves grilled cheese. Especially kids.  So, I made a grilled cheese plate.

Instead of serving a variety of cheese, I served a variety of grilled cheese sandwiches featuring different varieties of cheese, paired with apple butter and mustard.  You could also have beer or wine pairings for the adults, if you like. For the kids? Why not serve some chocolate milk with whipped cream on top for some kid-friendly pints! Continue Reading