Tag Archives: Appetizer

Herbed Ricotta, Pistachio, & Lavender Bruschetta

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Happy New Year all! I hope that everyone was able to celebrate 2012 and welcome the beginning of a new year. Matt and I are looking forward to all that 2013 brings and welcome any new adventures that may arise. We are grateful for a wonderful family and for our quite amazing group of friends. We also look forward to celebrating our second wedding anniversary early next week! I can’t believe that two years have already passed! Time flies when you’re married to your best friend! I look forward to the new opportunities and challenges that will arise this year. I hope that everyone had a wonderful NYE and has a prosperous, healthy year ahead!

Anyhow, onto one of my favorite appetizers! We frequent a wine bar in Philadelphia called Tria that not only has fantastic wine, but delicious small plates. We are obsessed with their herbed ricotta and pistachio bruschetta. It is fantastic! We honestly order 3 small plates of the amazingness every time go in. Since our obsession seems to be insatiable, I thought that it was important that I figured out how to make an as delectable version at home. I think the true secret is the addition of the pistachios and since I’m a honey addict, it also makes the plate for me too. It’s so easy to make and is sure to please your family or any guests!

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It may not look like a lot, but boy is it amazing!

This recipe is very variable, you can either prepare a little or a lot depending on what you are planning on serving it for. I often make a small batch and eat it in place of a sandwich for lunch. So there are no specific measurements but require you to go more on taste and the amount you want to prepare.

The Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf of french bread, sliced on the bias into half inch thick slices 
  • 1 jar of fresh or store prepared ricotta
  • Pistachios, shelled and roughly chopped
  • Fresh basil, chiffonade (aka small strips; it’s easiest to roll on bunch of leaves and then cut them into small strips)
  • Dried lavender
  • Honey
  • Salt & fresh cracked black pepper

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Lettuce Wraps…with a Mexican twist!

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Phew! Finals are over and I have a few weeks off before resuming classes. I am looking forward to getting back into the kitchen over break and trying all the recipes I’ve been stockpiling during my study breaks (aka periods of pure procrastination!) It is finally feeling a little bit more like the Holiday season now that I’ve caught up on sleep and feel like a real member of society again. I am in the preliminary stages of my Holiday shopping and have already brainstormed a few really great gift ideas. One of my gift ideas is actually a little bit of an at home project, so I look forward to sharing that after the Holidays! It seems like a great project and I can’t wait to get it started tomorrow morning. I’ll be sure to share after the Holidays when all of my gifts have been dispersed! I love giving personalized gifts because I feel that it really shows people just how much you care. I am also excited about creating all my favorite Holiday recipes! A particular favorite of mine is my candied almonds! I’m planning on making them this week and will be sure to share the recipe. They are to die for!

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On to today’s recipe:)  On a quick trip to Whole Foods I saw that Bibb lettuce was on sale for $1.99, avocados were on sale for $1.00, and ground chicken was also ridiculously on sale. I couldn’t resist any of these items and because of my underlying love of lettuce cups I knew I had all the makings of a very quick and healthy meal. If you know me at all, you know that I love all things spicy food. So naturally, I knew these ingredients would lend themselves very well to creating a twist on the traditional Asian inspired lettuce cup. It was undoubtedly a success and I’m not certain I’ll ever transition back to using taco shells after coming up with this recipe redo. One can’t beat tasty and healthy! Plus cutting the calories from the taco shells allows me to feel a little less guilty about having a small scoop of my homemade vanilla ice cream in the freezer (recipe to follow soon!).

I made a very simple guacamole to add on top. I used one avocado, a 1/4 cup of sweet onion which I rinsed under water to get rid of the pungent onion taste/smell, and a small handful of pickled jalapeños which I minced. I added a squeeze of lemon juice and salt and pepper and mashed it all together with a fork. I let it hang out in the fridge while I prepared to the rest of the meal.

The Ingredients: 

  • 1 head Bibb Lettuce, pre-washed and leaves separated
  • 1 pound ground chicken, turkey, or beef
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

To a small bowl, add:

  • 1 tsp Chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground Cumin
  • A liberal pinch of Cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire
  • 1/2-1 tsp Sriracha or hot sauce
  • Fresh cracked black pepper 

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BBQ Chicken Quesadillas

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BBQ Chicken Quesadillas

Sorry about the hiatus! Transitioning back to a full time student after some time off definitely takes a lot of time and effort! I have been exhausted but fortunately I have been learning a lot! We have been cooking at home a lot though..so despite the fact that I haven’t had much free time to post recipes lately, there are a lot of recipes to share in the near future. I hope everyone is enjoying the transition from summer to fall (although the weather has been pretty strange around these parts, so it hasn’t really felt like autumn consistently yet). I know I am looking forward to going apple picking, drinking cider, and making apple cider doughnuts! I love the fall and finally breaking all my favorite pairs of boots out of the closet!

I think you’ll observe a new trend in my approach to cooking…most of my recipes lately have been ones that I can throw together in less than 30 minutes. Today’s recipe was using some of the things that I commonly keep in my refrigerator! Whole wheat tortillas, precooked chicken or rotisserie chicken, and homemade BBQ sauce. I also always have fresh cheddar and mozzarella on hand. I recently purchased the Hot Pepper mix from Potbelly Sandwiches which I added to my quesadilla creation. The result was so so so good. I am actually looking forward to eating them again in the near future!

I hope you enjoy some of the quick, healthy meals I’ve been preparing lately and that you try to incorporate the recipes into your busy schedule as well. I made these quesadillas directly on my panini press and they came out fabulous and were prepared in a snap.

The Ingredients:

  • Precooked chicken
  • Whole wheat tortillas
  • Your favorite cheese: I used sharp cheddar
  • Hot pepper mix (optional)
  • BBQ sauce

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Baked Zucchini Chips

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Baked Zucchini Chips

Matt and I went out to a Greek restaurant in Philly last Saturday called Opa. It is newly renovated with a pretty cool scene. The specialty cocktails were pretty tasty but my favorite thing about the meal were the zucchini chips served with a tzatziki dipping sauce. Their version was fried but I knew I would be able to come up with something just as tasty without all the calories. I decided to try baking my zucchini and they came out really delicious. I will say that they are quite time consuming because it takes awhile for the veggies to crisp…but they are definitely worth the wait. In place of the tzatziki I made my dipping sauce with Greek yogurt and a few other flavors.

I tried two cooking methods: placing the zucchini right on the baking sheet and placing the zucchini on a baking rack. I will say that I think that just placing them on the baking sheet worked better. Maybe if I were to set the oven to a higher temperature the baking rack would come in handy to make sure heat was able to surround all sides of them before they burn. Perhaps next time I’ll test my theory and update you all with any new results.

Anyhow, I think they are definitely worth a try! They should be eaten the same day they are baked–or else they lose their crispiness and will need to be thrown back into the oven. It’s really no problem to finish them though. I used 2 large zucchinis and it yielded about 1 cup of chips. It’s not a bad way to get one of you daily servings of veggies.


The Ingredients:

Necessary equipment: mandolin will make this much easier, but you can slice by hand

Pear & aged white cheddar…a delicious combination!

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Pear & aged white cheddar…a delicious combination!

Matt was able to work from home today & I was in a need of a well deserved study break. So of course I wandered into the kitchen…

I bought a few bartlett pears the other day and they have been sitting on the counter. I haven’t done anything with them besides snack on them and they are getting to that extra ripe phase right before they spoil. It was time to use them! I checked out our ever full cheese draw in our refrigerator and found some 1 year aged White Cheddar cheese that we’ve been neglecting. This cheese, my friends, is by far the best bargain for your buck at Wegmans (sorry friends that don’t have Wegmans…it’s quite the grocery store experience!). Each block ranges from $3.50 to a little less than $4 bucks. Our particular block was $3.47 for .65lbs of cheese. Great deal!

Anyway, on to the good stuff! I used my mandolin to slice my pears and also sliced the white cheddar to a similar thickness. Layer them on a whole wheat cracker and drizzle with a bit of honey and you’ve got yourself a terrific snack. I can’t wait to have some friends over so I can recreate these as an appetizer. Talk about easy and definitely a crowd pleaser. I checked the fridge to see if we had any apples on hand–we didn’t…off to the grocery store this weekend, boo0-but I can only imagine how good these would be with apples too. Something about apples & white cheddar. Mmmm. Maybe after our grocery store excursion…

Looking for a little variation? Sprinkle a little cinnamon on top! Yumm.

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Easy Baked Chicken Empanadas

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Easy Baked Chicken Empanadas

Since I have been on my crockpot chicken kick I have been experimenting with quite a few recipes! And judging by the posts so far…it’s been a Mexican kick as well! Anyhow, I made this recipe a few weeks ago before kitchen anatomy was even manifested. I shared the recipe via my Facebook page and it generated some interest, so I thought I’d add it here too! Luckily I had the foresight to take pictures.

This recipe kind of came about because I was on grocery store strike again and when Matt travels it’s often hard to convince myself to cook anything that requires more than 15 minutes effort…and that’s pushing it! Anyhow, I was scouring the contents of my refrigerator and saw that I had some refrigerated Pie Crust. It’s not a typical item I purchase and quite honestly I had forgotten all about it!

SO. There were a few things I knew:

  • I had pre-cooked shredded chicken to use
  • Refrigerated pie crust at my disposal
  • & because of my recent trip to Produce Junction (seriously if you are a PA or NJ resident, find the closest one near you NOW! I am so obsessed), I had 2lbs–I know seems like a lot, BUT they were only $2! pure amazingness!– of Poblano peppers to use

Next I checked my cheese draw. We always have an over abundance of cheese on hand….and jackpot! I found some Queso Fresco from the last Mexican adventure I whipped up in the kitchen. I gathered my ingredients and put them on the counter to formulate my game plan. I started to reflect on the flavors and channeled a breakfast frittata I had tried previously at one of my favorite Philly restaurants, Continental (delicious! try the TANG martinis! it’s a blast from the past with an adult kick!).

The flavors were really making sense to me and I was excited to create something new in my kitchen. Then it hit me–I was missing one thing to bring it all together, sweet corn. I was hitting all the flavors: salty from the queso fresco, sweet from the corn, and a bit spicy from the poblanos. They were little bite sized pieces of heaven! They’ll make a great appetizer for any party (they are good cold too–don’t judge me for hitting the fridge for leftovers later that night!) Next, I’ll work on a dipping sauce to bring to the party, but until then these little pockets of deliciousness can stand on their own.

The Ingredients:

  • Precooked chicken–to spice it up sprinkle with cayenne pepper, chili pepper, & cumin (perhaps some dried oregano if you have it!)
  • Refrigerated pie crust
  • Poblano peppers (or your fav)
  • Sweet onion
  • Corn–fresh, frozen–whatever you’ve got
  • Queso Fresco–or whatever is your preference for your tacos

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