Entries Tagged 'Appetizers'

Last Days of Summer: Mixed Bruschetta


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 →

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Spinach and Feta Turnovers


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.


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

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Creamy Blue Cheese Dip with Lemon and Chives


For as long as I can remember I have loved blue cheese! Even as a kid, it was my favorite salad dressing whether it was creamy or dry crumbled with a vinaigrette. I can remember coming home from school and fixing a bowl of blue cheese crumbles, vinegar and oil then dipping carrots in it.

Now that I’m older, I’ve discovered lots of new ways to eat blue cheese but I still love it on salads and I still like to dip my carrots in it for an afternoon snack. Here’s a dip I made up yesterday just for that purpose. The chives weren’t added until this morning when I went outside to water my plants and realized I hadn’t used any fresh chives for a while. I think they made the dip 10 times better! Continue reading →

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Veggie Chili Beans and Rice with Chili Garlic Chips


I came up with this one pot meal yesterday. It was one of those “throw everything you can find in a pot and see what happens”-type meals. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. This worked. And it’s not only tasty, it’s really really healthy! The combination of beans and brown rice gives you a perfect protein and tons of fiber. Add a bunch of veggies on top of that and you’ve got yourself one big pot of nutrition!

Of course I couldn’t let myself be that healthy. So, I added a side of homemade corn chips that were perfect for scooping up the beans and rice. There are a few nice things about making your own chips. For one thing, you can make a small batch. That way you can satisfy your craving for something salty and greasy without devouring an entire bag of Doritos in one sitting (not that I’ve ever done anything like that). But another reason to fry them up at home is that you know exactly what you’re getting. You choose the tortillas, you choose the oil and you choose the seasonings. No weird ingredients and no weird preservatives–unless, of course, that’s what you really want. I made my chips in one of my favorite kitchen appliances, the Fry-Daddy. What? You don’t have an electric deep-fryer? Well, get one. I don’t fry stuff much but when I do, the electric deep fryer makes it so easy! The one I have is cheap, small, and easy to clean. Really, just go get one. If you do, I’ll give you my recipe for fried artichoke hearts 😉 Continue reading →

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Sun-dried Tomato Hummus


Sun-dried Tomato Hummus

6-8 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
1 T. tahini
juice of 1 lemon
4 T. extra virgin olive oil
salt — to taste
fresh ground pepper — to taste
cayenne pepper or crushed red chilies (optional)

Combine everything in a food processor and process until smooth, adjusting the oil to create consistency that you like. The hummus can also be thinned with water. Add salt and pepper to taste and hot pepper if you like things a little spicy.

Good served with toasted pita bread or as a dip with corn chips. This is also really good as a sandwich spread.

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Grilled Corn, Mango and Avocado Salsa

I have been so busy with school that I haven’t had much time to post anything on here. But I made this Grilled corn, mango and Avocado salsa last night and it was so good, I had to share it! I came close to eating almost all of it myself. This recipe is from the article I mentioned in my previous post. I didn’t have any red peppers but other than a lack of color in the salsa, they weren’t really missed!

On another note, I accidentally planted bell peppers this year instead of the hot red Italian peppers I thought I had planted (pepper plants all look the same to me and there was obviously some miscommunication between myself and my Italian pepper plant vendor). So I now have bell peppers coming out of my ears! You can see a few of them in the above photo. I don’t particularly like them raw and I’ve given quite a few of them away but they just keep coming! I made some good beef curry the other night and the bell peppers were a nice addition but I need some other recipes (a good stuffed pepper recipe would be nice!) So, anyone that knows a good way to make use of my bell pepper bounty, please leave a comment with a recipe or a link. Thanks 🙂

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