Entries Tagged 'Appetizers'



Mediterranean Olive Hummus

Olive Hummus

I love olives. I’ve never met an olive I didn’t like except, perhaps, straight from the tree. Whatever you do, don’t eat an olive straight off the tree! But, I love olives.

I grew up in the middle of California, in olive county. Yes, Spain, Italy and Greece may be known for their bold and flavorful olives but if you’ve ever popped open a can of black olives from the supermarket, chances are it came from California!

I’m sure there are olive snobs out there that turn their noses up at the canned variety. It’s true that they are nothing like ‘real’ olives, but canned olives have their place. On American pizza, for instance. Or Nana’s tamale pie. And when you’re a kid, it’s fun to stick them on the ends of all your fingers and then eat them one by one. Continue reading →

Share this post
25 Comments
Easy Black Bean Dip with Whole Wheat Pita Chips

Black Bean Dip

Looking for a quick and healthy snack that doesn’t taste quick or healthy? With just a few simple ingredients, you can whip up a restaurant-quality appetizer that you can eat without any guilt. Black beans, one of the world’s healthiest foods, are packed with heart-healthy fiber and cancer-fighting antioxidants. And the best part is that when combined with a whole grain, such as these whole wheat pita chips, beans provide a high quality protein. That’s right, filled with complex carbohydrates and protein, this is a snack that won’t let you down after an hour or two!

This is one of those recipes that I just threw together from ingredients I had on hand. This means, you can do the same. If you don’t have black beans, use whatever canned beans you have in your pantry! Same goes for the spices. Experiment with flavors you like, and if you come up with something great, don’t forget to leave a comment so the rest of us can try it too! Whole wheat pita bread should be pretty easy to find at most grocery stores these days. I like to buy a couple packages and keep it in the freezer. If you can’t find it at your local store, don’t worry! I’ll be posting a recipe for the homemade stuff soon!

On to the recipes! Continue reading →

Share this post
26 Comments
Weekend Herb Blogging: Talkin’ about Tzatziki

tzatziki-for-web.jpg

First of all, I would like to say happy Father’s Day to my Dad! I don’t think he will be reading this online but maybe someone (Kathy, Pauline, I’m talking to you!) will print it out and show it to him. This Web site would not be in existence if it weren’t for my Dad’s influence on my cooking. My willingness (and sometimes compulsion) to experiment with food is definitely something I get from my Dad and if it weren’t for that, I wouldn’t have started creating my own recipes. I am extremely lucky to have come from a family where both parents were great in the kitchen! Happy Father’s Day, Dad! I love you!

For this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging entry, I made some tzatzki using fresh mint. Mmmmmmm…tzatziki! Have you ever tried it? Can you pronounce it? Tzatziki is a Greek sauce made of thick yogurt and chopped cucumber. I called it a sauce but it’s more like a cross between a sauce and a salad. I guess we could just call it a condiment. It can be served with pita as an appetizer and it’s a standard accompaniment to gyros. But you can really do whatever you want with it. I like to just eat it by the spoonful :-) Continue reading →

Share this post
28 Comments
Nando’s Honey Garlic Wings

nandos-honey-garlic-wings-2-for-web.jpg

This is a continuation of my previous review of Nando’s Peri Peri Sauces. I had three sauces to try out–Roasted Reds Cooking Sauce, Peri-Peri Marinade, and Garlic Peri-Peri Sauce. I used the first two sauces in my chicken pizza, but I had different plans for the Garlic Peri-Peri Sauce. It seemed like the sauce might be good on some chicken wings, so of course I tried it out. Guess what? It was good on chicken wings :-) Continue reading →

Share this post
29 Comments
Carpaccio di Arance e Olive Verde

blood-orange-snack-for-web.jpg

I made this simple salad of blood oranges, green olives and olive oil for a snack the other day and it was so beautiful that I couldn’t help but take photos of it. I’ve had the photos posted on Flickr for a couple of days now but I hadn’t planned on writing about it here. It’s so simple that I really didn’t think of it as a recipe. But, I am absolutely head over heels in love with this photo and the taste of this dish was spectacular. So, even though there isn’t much to it, I’ve decided this is definitely a recipe worth sharing. Continue reading →

Share this post
32 Comments
Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes 3

As predicted in my last post, I have another pumpkin recipe for you.  This is the second mini cheesecake recipe on this site and each time I use my mini cheesecake pan, I love it even more.  It’s easy to use, easy to clean and I’ve had perfect results each time.

The best part about baking mini cheesecakes rather than a full-size cake is that you don’t have to worry about slicing it.  I swear I must be the world’s worst dessert slicer.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s pie, cake or cheesecake, the slices always turn out horrible!  Now I’m starting to understand the recent popularity of cupcakes, they look cute and perfect with no slicing involved.

As I was looking around for a pumpkin cheesecake recipe, I saw that one of them was topped with cinnamon whipped cream.  I ended up making up my own cheesecake recipe rather than using any of the ones I found, but the idea for cinnamon whipped cream stuck in my head.  I always whip my own cream but I had never thought of adding flavoring to it.  When it came time to serve the cheesecakes, I decided to try adding a little ground cinnamon along with the usual vanilla and powdered sugar, and it turned out to be the perfect topping for these cheesecakes.  It will also be my new favorite topping for any pumpkin or apple pie from now on!

If you’ve never seen a mini cheesecake pan before, this is what it looks like.  The bottom of each well is covered with a removable disk that can be pushed up through the hole in the bottom.  This makes the cheesecakes simple to remove once they are baked.

Mini Cheesecake Pan

Making the cheesecakes is simple.  Mix up the graham cracker crust ingredients and divide the crumbs evenly between the cups.

Graham Cracker Crumbs

Forming Graham Cracker Crust

To press the crumbs in to form the crust, I like to use the bottom of a tablespoon.  But you can also just press them in with your fingertips.

Making Graham Cracker Crust

Graham Cracker Crust

Next, mix up the filling ingredients and divide the batter between the cups.  I use a cookie scoop.

Adding Filling

Unbaked Cheesecakes

Bake the cheesecakes in a 375 degree oven for about 14 minutes.  They shouldn’t crack like this, but for some reason mine did today.  Oooops!   If it happens to you, don’t panic!  They’ll look better after they cool.

Cracked Cheesecakes

See?  Just let them cool in the pan for about 20 minutes and they will shrink down and the cracks won’t be as noticeable.  When you’re ready to remove them, just push your finger up through the bottom, or use the handle of a wooden spoon.  The cheesecakes should pop right out.

Cheesecake Popping Out

Let them cool completely on a wire rack then refrigerate until ready to serve.

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

Just before serving, whip up some cinnamon cream and add a dollop to the top of each cheesecake.

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes 5

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes
yield: 12 mini cheesecakes

For this recipe, you will need a Mini Cheesecake Pan

Crust:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Filling:
1 eight ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup canned pumpkin (or cooked and mashed fresh pumpkin)
1 egg plus 1 egg white, slightly beaten
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves

Topping:
1 cup heavy cream
powdered sugar to taste
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, lightly grease the insides of the mini cheesecake pan (I use cooking spray).

2. In a medium bowl, mix crust ingredients until well combined. Divide mixture evenly between the 12 cups. Press crumbs firmly on bottom and 1/3 up sides of each cup using your fingertips or the bottom of a tablespoon. Set aside.

3. In a separate medium bowl, blend filling ingredients together until smooth. Spoon this mixture into each crust-lined cup, dividing evenly between all 12.

4. Place cheesecake pan into the preheated oven and bake for 14 minutes. Remove from oven and place on rack to cool for 20 minutes. Carefully remove cheesecakes from pan by pressing up from the bottom of each cup. Let cheesecakes cool completely on wire rack then refrigerate until ready to serve.

5. Just before serving, combine the cream, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon and whip until soft peaks form. Serve the cheesecakes topped with the cinnamon whipped cream.

Recipe Notes: You can change up the amount and type of spices in this recipe to suit your own taste. If you have pumpkin pie spice on hand, you can just use that to replace all of the other spices. If you want to experiment with the spices but don’t like the idea of tasting the batter with raw egg, blend together everything except the egg and keep adding spices and tasting until you get the flavor you want. Then add the egg and continue with the recipe.

Related Recipes:

Around the Web:

Share this post
90 Comments
Last Days of Summer: Mixed Bruschetta

bruschetta-for-web.jpg

Yes, I know that I’ve been talking a lot about fall and how I’m ready for summer to be over. But the weather was beautiful yesterday and when I took a friend to the open market in Catania, there were still so many beautiful tomatoes and fresh herbs that it made me want to hold on to summer for just a little while longer. So, if you still have access to some tomatoes, let’s make one of my all-time favorite appetizers…Bruschetta!

I’m sure that no matter where you live, most of you have tasted bruschetta in one form or another. The original bruschetta is from central Italy and consists of nothing more than grilled bread rubbed with cut garlic and topped with olive oil, salt and pepper. But the version that seems to be most popular around the world includes diced tomatoes, garlic and any number of additional ingredients. It seems that you can put just about anything on a little toasted round of bread and it tastes wonderful!

The bruschetta that I have started making since moving to Sicily is topped with a mixture of chopped cherry tomatoes, garlic, basil, crushed red pepper, olive oil, salt and pepper and just a tiny splash of balsamic vinegar. Continue reading →

Share this post
27 Comments
Spinach and Feta Turnovers

spinach-feta-turnovers_1-for-web.jpg

My favorite thing about traveling is the food. And of all the places I’ve traveled, I love the food in Greece the best. I really don’t know much about Greek food except that I have loved everything I’ve ever tasted. I don’t even have any Greek cookbooks (I really need to do something about that!). But I do occasionally create “Greek-inspired” dishes and snacks.

This “Greek-inspired” snack came about because I’ve never baked with phyllo (filo) sheets before and I decided it was about time I try! I bought the phyllo last week and it has been sitting in my freezer since. What finally spurred me on was a recipe over at La Tartine Gourmande. The recipe Bea used was pretty different than the one I ultimately used but as soon as I get my hands on some goat cheese and fresh mint, I plan to try the Feta and Mint Cigarettes. What I had on hand was frozen spinach and feta cheese so that became the base of my filling and I’ve found that you really can’t go wrong with spinach and feta!

It will probably be a while before I attempt some baklava but these Spinach-Feta Turnovers were pretty easy to put together, even for a phyllo virgin. The worst thing that happened was I tried to unroll the sheets before they had completely defrosted and accidentally broke about three inches of the end of the stacked sheets. To keep the sheets from drying out, I covered them with a paper towel and then spritzed it with water occasionally to keep it damp. It worked pretty well and that way I didn’t have to dampen one of my big kitchen towels.

spinach-feta-turnovers-for-web.jpg

Well here’s the recipe I used for these yummy, flaky, spinach-feta treats: Continue reading →

Share this post
20 Comments

<< Previous Entries   Next Entries >>