Last night the girls and I were in for a movie night, Harry Potter, of course!, but I had nothing in the house to make more traditional based nachos like I was wanting. I never really do, which is why I think I love nachos so much. The variety is endless and I can dash around the kitchen to pull together a snack that rocks. No exception to the rule last night. I unpredictably combined a few things that made myself, my 8yr and 6yr old girls super happy and wanting more!
They actually asked me to make this for them again tomorrow.. and I just may! 🙂
Here is a yummy version of what I call “Whatever I Have in My Fridge” nachos…
A heaping pile of baked/salted whole grain tortillas (about a half bag)
1/2 pound buffalo mozzarella, pulled by hand (I like it rustic)
1 stalk organic celery, chopped
1/2 can of dark red kidney beans (not rinsed)
2 tablespoons salsa (from scratch or store bought)
Pinch of dried oregano
1/4 tablespoon dried ground cumin
1/4 tablespoon chile powder
Pinch of Fresh Ground Pepper
Salt to taste, if you need it, but most chips are salty enough
Preheat oven to 400F.
Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Start layering the chips down on the pan, then add on the beans, salsa and dust with the ground cumin and chile powder.
Cover with the cheese, then top with the oregano and pepper. (salt would be added now)
Set inside the heated oven and let bake for 5 minutes. Once cheese is melted fully, cover the nachos with tin foil (loosely) and let bake another 5 minutes. This ensures everything cooks without the chips burning.
(Yes, even the celery is soft! I love cooked celery..especially on the grill.. try it!)
I hope you try fun food combinations and think outside the box when you have nothing in your cabinets, too! Most times you can make something truly magical to eat.
White Bean Dip with Roasted Garlic
2 heads of garlic, roasted (*roasting directions below)
2 (15oz) cans white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (reserving one can’s liquids)
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon paprika
a handful of fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
*Roasting Garlic: 1 whole garlic, with top portion of the crown cut off .5 tablespoon olive oil dash of salt
Heat oven to 425 F. Snip the top of garlic, then drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Cover with foil and bake 1 hour or until golden brown (soft when pierced with a knife). To use, remove from the cloves.
Place the beans, roasted garlic, paprika and parsley into a food processor.
Pulse twice to mix the ingredients quickly then turn machine to ON. Start adding in reserved liquid slowly followed by the olive oil and the lemon juice. Mix until the mixture is smooth.
Then add in salt and pepper to taste.
I like to serve with a bit of minced parsley on top and a side of warmed pita chips for dipping.
One of my favorite appetizer dishes from Brasserie Jo in Boston has to be the carrots they kindly serve as you are seated. They are tangy, spicy and crunchy…the trifecta of yum, and definitely unforgettable for their unconventional taste. Especially, along side their crunchy French bread. Now I am hungry.
Since we love these appetizers a whole bunch, we wanted to be able to make them and have them anytime we wanted. So, here we gave a crack at making the dish after some research online. They came out great, and our kids thought they came out better than at the restaurant! Yes, better! This may be our new app to make for our family get togethers, like our annual Easter egg hunt in a few.
1 lb of carrots, washed and peeled
3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Prepare a cold water bath in a large bowl.
Cut carrots into sticks lengthwise; now, the sticks don’t have to be identical as that adds to the charm and rustic feel of this app. Then submerge the cut carrots in the water bath.
Let them soak for roughly an hour.
Drain the carrots then dry very well with a paper towel.
In a bowl mix all the ingredients together; coating the carrots well.
Cover the bowl and set aside to marinate for two hours.
2 large-sized eggplants, washed and sliced thin lengthwise
16 ounces ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup grated Romano/pecorino, and three tbsp for sprinkling on top
1/3 lb fresh spinach, washed, drained completely and minced
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling pans
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Need: 3 cups marinara/tomato sauce, a couple parchment paper covered baking sheets, and a 9×13 baking pan.
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
Slice the eggplants lengthwise into thin slices.
Drizzle olive oil on pans, then place eggplant slices on top. Sprinkle with salt. Roast till lightly browned on both sides, and fork tender, about 4 minutes per side. Remove slices and allow to cool.
In a food processor, or you can cut by hand, take fresh, washed spinach and mince.
In a large bowl, beat egg then mix the ricotta, spinach, Romano cheese, nutmeg, and salt/pepper .
Place a heaping tablespoon of the cheese mixture on the fatter end of the eggplant and roll up tightly.
Place the eggplant rollatini into baking pan, atop sauce, seam side down. Continue with remaining eggplant lining them up tightly in the pan.
Evenly distribute the sauce on top of the eggplant rollatini.
Season with grated cheese and mozzarella.
Bake for 30 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and slightly browned.
This is a fun dish to make when you have polenta left over.
1 serving of instant polenta*
1/4 cup of grated Parmigiano Cheese (then an extra tablespoon or so to sprinkle on cooked fries)
Salt to taste
1 tspn dried rosemary
Prepare the polenta according to instructions on the package. *Usually the instructions are to bring 2 quarts of water to a boil, salt, then add 2 cups of the instant polenta. Stir continously; till you see the polenta thickening and pulling away from the sides of the pot.
At this point, add in the cheese. Mix well.
Spread out 1-1.5 inch(es) thick into a pan. Lightly dust the top with the rosemary. (I like to take the herbs in the palm of my hand, then rub both hands together to crush the herbs, releasing their oils, as they fall from my grasp onto the polenta -or any food. Also, it leaves my hands with an amazing scent.)
You can let set and cool for 3 hours, or, overnight in the fridge.
Cut into 1/2 inch strips about 3 inches long, and lay them in a non-stick pan that has been heated on medium heat. Brown on all sides.
There isn’t really a need for oil because the polenta itself has a high water content and browns easily. But if you find that it needs some oil, add a few drizzles of extra virgin olive oil.
Once the fries are browned on each side, place to cool on a rack and immediately sprinkle with the extra grated cheese. Some of the cheese will melt quickly, and you can always add more if you see it needs it.
This version of guacamole is made without onion and garlic.
Reason being is that my husband didn’t like the ever lasting taste of them, but loved the flavors of guacamole. So, I started working on a recipe that would eliminate that all night taste of onion and garlic, but kept their flavors.. I came up with this.
But if you want to add it in, I normally would use 1 Spanish onion chopped and 1 large clove of garlic minced and add it in after mashing the avocado (then instead of 1 tbsp of cumin, bring it down to 1 tspn).
2 Haas avocados, seeded (set pits aside for later) and mashed
1/2 lime, juiced
1/2 teaspoon salt (sometimes I like a touch more, to taste)
tiny pinch of freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 medium sized jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 tomato, seeded and diced
1 pinch of fresh cilantro, chopped
One of my favorite tools for this dish is a potato masher. Makes mashing the avocados with everything a cinch.
In a large bowl, mash together the avocados, lime juice, cilantro, pepper and salt.
Mix in the tomato. Then add in the cumin. You can serve this immediately, but it is actually best served after it’s been in the fridge for at least an hour.
This is where the avocado pits come into play. Place the finished guacamole in a serving bowl. Then tuck the pits inside the dip. Then wrap in clear plastic cling wrap and refridgerate. Sounds odd but the pit helps it from turning brown.
Created this appetizer over the weekend. Hope you enjoy it!
My Mom makes this Sicilian bread, very regional to where she grew up, with sausage, onions, and cheese. SO DELICIOUS. This bread is a real treat for me; has everything I love in food. It’s savory. Slightly sweet. It has a crunchy crust and cheese. There’s sausage. And sometimes a surprise black olive! Which if you are Sicilian is a must in your diet. heh. It’s everything delicious.
I have made this bread a few times for my family and for a get together here and there. The original version is the size of a small coconut basically. Which can be too big, even cut into pieces for parties. So. I’d make them in batches of bite sized portions- they were mini versions, yummy, and would disappear in minutes.
As I was trying to figure out bite sized dishes that were easy, crunchy, sweet and savory for this past Sunday, the idea of the bread came to mind. I love the taste of the components together, but figured to get the crunch in a different way and wanted to use phyllo rather than bread/pizza dough. Minus the black olive and adding in sweet onions.
It was a hit! Super easy and everyone enjoyed them.
Caramelized Onion with Sausage Appetizer
For the filling:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds sweet yellow onions, thinly sliced (I used mayan sweet onions)
1/4 tspn salt and 1/4 tspn black pepper
1 pound pork sausage, casings removed, crumbled
1/3 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
For the shell:
24 pieces of 2″ x 2” squares of triple layers of phyllo (which is about 6 sheets of phyllo in total) See package for usage instructions.
You will need a mini cupcake pan lightly sprayed with cooking oil spray (olive oil or canola oil prefered). If you use this recipe for larger cupcakes, you will need another ply of phyllo for each cup. Also this appetizer can be made vegetarian just by eliminating the sausage and adding in more cheese and placing a black kalamata pitted olive on top.
In a large pan, add olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and caramelized; about 20-25 minutes.
Remove onions from skillet and place aside.
In the same pan, do not clean it from the caramelizing. Turn heat down to medium-low. Add in sausage. While it is cooking take your wooden spoon or spatula and break down the sausage to smaller pieces. Once cooked through, about 10 minutes, drain fat, if any. Leave in pan and add back the onions and let cook together for 5 minutes on low heat.
Preheat oven to 375F.
In your cupcake tin sprayed with oil, gently place the squares of phyllo into the pan by pushing them into each spot with your finger tips until they adhere with the shape, without tearing. If you cause a tear grab extra piece of phyllo and cover the hole.
Once the phyllo is in place take the filling and fill it with 1 tbsp and then cover it with a sprinkle of the cheese.
Pop into the oven for 20 minutes, until the phyllo is golden brown.
This party girl had a real wonderful weekend. Not only celebrating my birthday, but having friends over for the holidays today; most of this I will post about tomorrow. For now I got to get myself a drink and ready to watch Dexter! Missed it last week and want to catch up before tonight’s episode!!
Made a couple of app dishes today. I will post one now and the other this week. I love making this appetizer. It’s so quick, easy and delicious.
Polenta with Baby Bella Mushrooms
1 roll of prepackaged polenta cut into half circles, or 9 ounces of homemade formed into a roll then cooled and sliced (Trader Joe’s has a great organic version that I like a lot and used here)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 heaping tbsp grated Pecorino Romano cheese
6 slices of fresh mozzarella (cut into cubes)
2.5 ounces of washed baby bella mushroom (baby portobello mushrooms) -stems removed and sliced (In the photos you will see that I cooked all 8 ounces/1 package for an addition to the salad and then for dinner tomorrow.)
1 large clove of garlic minced (if cooking all the 8 ounces then 2 cloves)
Salt and Pepper to taste (about 1/4 tspn of each)
You will need a baking sheet covered in parchment.
Preheat oven to 375 F.
In a large skillet heated on medium heat, sauté the garlic until translucent with 1 tbsp olive oil.
Add in the mushrooms and sauté until tender; the color has changed to a darker brownish grey. Do not drain liquid, as it is used in a salad dressing I will share below.
Take the polenta and remove it from package, then slice into half slices. Drizzle 1 tbsp olive oil on covered baking sheet and place polenta pieces on top. Salt and pepper the polenta.
Take one slice of cooked mushroom and top each slice of polenta. Then atop the mushroom add two pieces of the mozzarella, then sprinkle with the grated cheese.
Place in oven and cook for 20 minutes.
*BONUS: Portobello Mushroom Salad Dressing-
1/4 cup mushroom stock (recipe above-has garlic and s&p)
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tspn oregano
Take the mushroom stock you made from this dish and place in bowl to let cool.
Once cooled add oregano, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Whisk.
I use the left over mushrooms from above in a salad of mixed greens, but also in other meals during the week like rice dishes.