Tag Archives: appetizer

Tomato Soup

img_5469_1

My Tomato Soup is not like your popular brand of canned tomato soup. It is much better. At least that is what my hubby thinks. After eating two bowls of my Tomato Soup he proclaimed it was the best soup I had made to date and he enjoys all of my homemade soups.

img_5470_1

Using a combination of fresh and canned tomatoes makes this soup tasty and gives it texture. I like smooth soups but I also enjoy soups with a little texture which lets you know what kind of soup you are eating.

img_5494_1

A good test of whether or not a soup is blog worthy for me is if I want to dip a sandwich into it. At the very least, a good test is if I want to take that last piece of bread and run it around the bowl to get every last bit of soup. By those standards this soup was fantastic! Not only did I dip my sandwich into it, I licked my fingers to get the few drops that landed there after dipping. Yum! Yum!

img_5501_1

img_5506_1

Tomato Soup

Ingredients:

6 large vine ripened or plum tomatoes peeled

1 14 oz can fire roasted tomatoes

1 14 oz can spicy red tomatoes

2 scallions sliced

½ red onion sliced

½ white onion sliced

1 cup chicken broth

½ cup shaved Parmesan cheese

½ cup ½ and ½

¼ cup heavy cream

2 tbsp butter

1 tbsp seasoned salt

1 tbsp dried basil

1 tsp salt

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp dried parsley

½ tsp lemon pepper

½ tsp black pepper

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp thyme

½ tsp onion powder

½ tsp dried dill weed

pinch of sugar.

Boil about 4 cups of water. Place fresh tomatoes in a large pot and pour boiling water over tomatoes for easy peeling.  Rough chop the tomatoes.

Place peeled tomatoes and all other ingredients except the Parmesan cheese, heavy cream and ½ and ½ into a large pot. Simmer over medium heat for 25 – 30 minutes. Remove from the heat. Use an immersion blender to blend soup until it is smooth but still has some texture. You can also place the tomato mixture into a blender to smooth out the veggies then place back into the pot.

Stir in heavy cream and ½ and ½. Place pot back on the heat and reduce heat to medium low. Add parmesan cheese to the pot and stir for 1 – 2 minutes until the cheese melts and is incorporated into the soup. Simmer an additional 15 minutes.

Serve with a nice crusty piece of bread to sop up all the tomato soup goodness!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Hot Pepper Relish

img_5432_1

I have said in my blog posts on many occasions that my family loves spicy foods. Actually, that is an understatement at least for my hubby and kids. I like some spice but not as hot as they do.

img_5450_1

Every year I grow a variety of peppers and each year they seem to be more plentiful. This year was no different and as the farmers say “We had a bumper crop” of peppers. The sunlight on our porch is just right for my pots of peppers and cherry tomatoes. Whenever I try to grow veggies in the backyard, the veggies shrivel up and died no matter how much tender love and care I give them. I guess there are too many trees casting shade so not enough sunlight reaches the plants. This year I bought several types of hot peppers along with bell peppers for my hubby because he likes to cut them up on his eggs and uses them in salsa.

img_5453_1

Because we had so many peppers I had to come up with a new recipe since I did not want all of those peppers to go to waste. I already had enough pepper sauce courtesy of my mom but I did not have a something spicy to use as a topping for chicken, beef, vegetables and hubby’s eggs. The only thing I could come up with was a Hot Pepper Relish. At least that is what I call it. Hubby wanted me to call the recipe Ed’s Pepper Hots but that just did not roll off of my tongue. Relish is a better description and to make sure I was not totally off base I checked out the local grocery store to see if they had pepper relishes. They did.

img_5460_1

This recipe is not for the faint of heart. The peppers I used were so hot I could still smell the pepper juice on my fingers after washing them in really hot water several times. Yes, I would suggest wearing gloves when you cut up the peppers and no, I did not. Big mistake and I will not make it again. The next time I make Hot Pepper Relish I will add a few milder peppers to balance out the heat so that I can enjoy it too. For now, hubby is thoroughly enjoying the Hot Pepper Relish and is adding it to everything.

img_5642_1

img_5620_1

Hot Pepper Relish

Ingredients:

8 – 12 fresh hot peppers seeded and diced small (hot cow horn, jalapeno, hot banana)

6 cherry tomatoes quartered

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp red onion diced small

1 tsp cilantro

½ tsp dill weed

sprinkle of salt and pepper

juice from ½ a lime

Place all ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Stir until all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Spoon into an airtight container. Refrigerate overnight to allow flavors to marinate. Serve with your favorite chips or use as a condiment with your favorite foods.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Lentil Stew

img_5395_1

Don’t ask me why but I have had lentils on my mind for the past week. I think it was because I wanted to make some red lentil soup and discovered I didn’t have any lentils. Since I usually find them at Trader Joe’s I had to wait until my weekend ritual of running errands to be on that side of town. Once I got to the store and spotted the red lentils I also spotted green lentils which made me think of a Lentil Stew. Again, I don’t know why.

img_5413_1

Sometimes my imagination kicks in and I just come up with ideas for combinations of food. For the Lentil Stew I thought of carrots, potatoes and tomatoes as the right combination of vegetables to add to the lentils to make a stew. Yes, a stew not a soup. To me, stews are a little heartier than a soup even more than those soups that are thick and packed with vegetables. Stews have a slightly different consistency than soups and are surrounded by a kind of gravy. In the case of Lentil Stew it makes its own gravy.

img_5417_1

Lentil Stew is the type of dish I would make during the winter or on chilly fall days. Granted, the day I first made this stew it was not really chilly but there was a nice gentle breeze. Now that I have tested out the recipe, I know what I will be preparing it quite often when the gentle breezes turn into strong cold winds.

img_5422_1

Lentil Stew

Ingredients:

1 pkg green lentils (soak overnight in cold water then drain)

½ cup red lentils (optional)

½ cup shredded carrots (slightly chop)

2 cans roasted diced tomatoes

3 cups chicken broth

1 cup water

2 small potatoes diced

2 scallions diced

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

½ tsp minced garlic

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp basil

¼ tsp ground ginger

Add lentils and water to a large pot. Bring to a boil then cover and reduce heat to medium low. Let simmer while preparing vegetables.

In a large frying pan add olive oil and potatoes over medium high heat. Season potatoes with a little salt and pepper. Saute potatoes until slightly browned. Reduce heat to medium then add onions, carrots, tomatoes and remaining seasonings to the potatoes. Stir and allow veggies to soften. Add veggies and chicken broth to lentils and stir. Allow stew to simmer for 20 – 30 minutes until lentils are tender. Taste to determine if you need more salt. Add additional broth if stew is too thick.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

img_2648_1

There are two foods I love to eat but until recently I never thought of putting them together into one recipe. I love eating apples and I really like butternut squash. Once I thought of combining them into a recipe I was on a roll. The first recipe I came up with was a Butternut Squash and Apple Soup. Soup seemed the most logical recipe to try since the day was crisp, cold and little windy. Days like that call out for soup and I just happen to have both butternut squash and granny smith apples on hand.

img_2664_1

Years ago squash was classified as either a winter squash or a summer squash. Butternut Squash is known as a winter squash because they are generally picked in the winter and have a thick skin. Summer squash is picked in the summer and has a delicate thin skin that is edible. During the summer months I love to make sauteed yellow squash with onions. I also like to make Zucchini and Tomatoes with onions. Both squashes have a thin skin and are wonderful when mixed with onions and/or tomatoes.

img_2668_1

Soup is very versatile which means you can toss almost any combination of vegetables together with a little broth and call it soup. This time around I tossed  veggies and fruit together and the result was delicious if I do say so myself. I have roasted butternut squash with apples in the oven to create a tasty side dish with turkey or pork so I imagined the combination might taste pretty good in soup. My imagination turned into reality which is always a thrill!

img_2677_1

Whether you decide to make this soup during the crisp days of fall or in the middle of summer I think you will be pleased. Soups fans enjoy soup no matter the season. Me? I am truly a fan of soup.

img_2684_1

Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Ingredients:

1 granny smith apple – peeled and sliced

1 lb butternut squash – peeled and cubed

1 small onion sliced

1 small red pepper sliced

1 scallion thinly sliced

3 slices bacon crumbled

2 cups chicken stock

½ cup half and half

¼ cup heavy cream

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp salt

¼ tsp cinnamon

pinch nutmeg

cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place squash, apples, onions and red pepper in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil then sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Toss gently to coat. Spread out on a rimmed cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray.

Place in oven and roast for 15-20 minutes until squash and apples softened. Remove from oven and place in a large pot. Add chicken broth and simmer for 5 minutes until is heated up. Remove from heat. Blend using an immusion blender or place in a blender until smooth. Stir in half and half along with heavy cream. Place back on low heat for 5 to 10 minutes until soup thickens. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle crumbed bacon and scalllions on top.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Deviled Eggs

img_5355_1

Who knew? Who knew I could actually make delicious Deviled Eggs? I sure didn’t. I have been trying for years to make perfect Deviled Eggs and over and over again I failed. I kept trying because I love eating Deviled Eggs. Whenever I attend a party I seek out the Deviled Eggs first. Of course on a few occasions I discovered my host or hostess could not make good Deviled Eggs either.

img_5364_1

Finally, I figured out that instead of trying to add a bunch of special seasonings or unique ingredients I needed to keep it simple. In most cases, it is best to stick to a basic recipe then gradually build on your success (that philosophy could be applied to life in general). Now, my Deviled Eggs are definitely lip smacking good. Sticking to a simple recipe made it easy to adjust my recipe after my initial success. My stepped up version of Deviled Eggs adds a little bit of bacon. Remember, bacon makes everything better or a least it can’t hurt. I am sure my fellow carnivores would agree. My vegetarian friends will still find the basic recipe to be delicious. Try topping with minced red onion or a little cilantro. Whatever you decide to do I am sure you will enjoy these Deviled Eggs.

img_5379_1

img_5370_1

Deviled Eggs

Ingredients:
6 – 12 large eggs
1 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tsp salt
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1 tsp relish
¼ tsp mustard
¼ tsp chopped parsley
water

Optional:
minced red onion
minced cilantro
3 slices crispy bacon crumbled

Place eggs in a medium sized pot with enough water to cover the eggs. Sprinkle with 1 tsp of salt. Bring eggs to a boil and cook for 3 minutes. Turn off heat and let eggs sit for 5 minutes. Remove from stove and run under cool water for 60 seconds or let eggs cool for 10 – 15 minutes.

Peel eggs and then slice in half. Gently squeeze yolk from the eggs into a bowl. Add seasonings, mayonnaise and mustard. Mash the yolks with a fork and mix the ingredients. Spoon mixture into a small plastic bag. Clip one corner of the plastic bag. Squeeze mixture into each egg shell and top with crumbled bacon, minced red onion or cilantro. Chill before serving (unless you cannot wait!).

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Guacamole

IMG_4940_1

My hubby has been trying to get me to make Guacamole for years. He has even brought home recipes from co-workers who he said made “the best” guacamole for office parties. To say I was intimidated by his “the best” statement would be an understatement. My past attempts at making Guacamole never quite hit the mark. It was either too lemony, too salty, too garlicky or too yuck!

IMG_4951_1

Yep, I don’t mind saying I made some terrible Guacamole in my earlier days of cooking. Now? Now, I can say I have finally pulled together a recipe that is simple and full of flavor. Keeping it simple is the key to making Guacamole. Having only a few ingredients and seasonings helps to keep the avocado the star of the recipe. After all, it is not really Guacamole without the avocado.

IMG_4961_1

Speaking of avocado, did you know that avocados are rich in fiber with about 10 grams in a medium-sized avocado. One of the things I love about avocados is that they are versatile. I use them in salads, toppings for my tacos and tostadas or in spreads or dips. I think some folks even use avocados as a hair conditioner and as a facial mask to improve their complexion. I would rather eat avocados than wear them.

IMG_4971_1

So, for anyone out there that has been intimidated by the idea of making good Guacamole try my version. I no longer feel like a wimp and neither will you.

IMG_4973_1

Guacamole

Ingredients:

1 small container of fresh salsa drained

4 ripe avocados cubed

1 4oz can of jalapenos drained

½ tsp cilantro

½ tsp black pepper

½ tsp salt

¼ cup olive oil

Dressing:

In a small bowl whisk together olive oil, salt, black pepper, cilantro and garlic powder.

Place drained salsa in a medium-sized bowl. Pour lime juice over salsa and let it sit for 5 minutes.

Add avocado and jalapenos to the salsa. Pour dressing mixture over avocado. Gently toss salsa and avocado together. Let chill at least 15 to 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Serve with tortilla chips or thin slices of french bread.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Queso Fundido

IMG_3264_1

Tortillas are a staple in my kitchen.  Between making chicken burritos, breakfast burritos , tortilla chips and soft tacos as a quick meal I make sure I always have tortillas on hand.  I was searching for a new way to use tortillas when I just happen to come across a delicious looking Mexican dish that included tortillas.  I had never heard of Queso Fundido which means “melted cheese”.  I discovered that Queso Fundido is actually a very popular dish even in the states.

IMG_3276_1

In most areas Queso Fundido is made as an appetizer but my research showed some folks like to turn it into a sandwich.  Since I was new to making the recipe I thought I had better stick to making it an appetizer.  There were so many different recipes out in the cooking sphere I decided to find a basic recipe then add my own little twist.  The standard ingredients for any Queso Fundido is spicy sausage, tomatoes and cheese.  After that you can add whatever seasonings you like.  Chorizo is the sausage of choice in most recipes because of the level of heat and spice.  If you are not into spicy sausage, you can still make this dish but use a milder Italian sausage.  Nobody will care.  Use whatever makes you happy.  But if you want the Queso Fundido to be authenic, use the chorizo.

IMG_3298_1

Be prepared for this dish to disappear quickly.  If you have cheese lovers in your house, they will definitely love Queso Fundido.  Serve it up while it is hot and bubbly along with warm tortillas.  Talk about Yummy!

IMG_3309_1

IMG_3315_1

Queso Fundido

Ingredients:

1 pkg ground chorizo or spicy Italian sausage

6 flour tortillas

1 jalapeno seeded and chopped

1 clove garlic chopped

2 plum tomatoes seeded and chopped

2 cups mozzarella or Mexican cheese

¼ cup diced onion or scallions

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp cilantro chopped

1 tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

¼ tsp ground cumin

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Heat olive oil in medium sized skillet. Brown chorizo until cooked and slightly crisp. Remove sausage from the pan and drain on paper towels. Add garlic, onions, jalapeno tomatoes and seasonings to the skillet. Stir to mix well. Reduce heat and cook for 3 – 5 minutes until veggies are soft. Add sausage to the mixture and stir to combine.

Spray a pie dish with cooking spray. Sprinkle ½ of the cheese in the bottom of the dish. Layer ½ of the chorizo and vegetable mixture over cheese. Sprinkle a little more cheese over the chorizo mixture then top with remaining cheese.

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until cheese melts and dish is slightly browned and bubbly. Serve with warmed tortillas.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Jalapeno Poppers with Bacon

IMG_2149_1

On a whim I thought I would try making Jalapeno Poppers. Not the type of poppers that are breaded and fried. I wanted to make oven baked poppers with a twist. I wrapped them in bacon. Yummy!

IMG_2147_1

Making the Jalapeno Poppers with Bacon was a quick and semi-easy task. I was a little gun shy in making them at first because I had recently tried making roasted stuffed poblano peppers and it was a disaster. But, I made lemonade out of those lemons by adding the collapsed roasted poblano peppers to a brown rice dish I decided to create. More on that one later.

IMG_2165_1

The most difficult task in preparing the poppers was cleaning the jalapeno peppers. After slicing off a little piece of the pepper I had to remove the seeds and membrane. Both are the hottest part of the jalapeno pepper just like any other hot pepper. Removing the seeds and membrane helped to tone down the heat of Jalapeno Poppers but they were still a little hot. I guess stuffing the peppers with pepper jack cheese may have contributed to the level of heat also (ya think !?!). Of course, if you are not a fan of really hot foods, you could use a milder cheese like cheddar or monterey cheese. However, if you are willing to make Jalapeno Poppers I doubt heat is really an issue for you.

IMG_2174_1

Bacon. Who besides non meat eaters does not like bacon? Bacon adds a lot of flavor to most dishes (even ice cream if you are truly adventurous) and it definitely adds another level of flavor to the Jalapeno Poppers.

IMG_2186_1

Fast, easy and tasty. Three words I like to hear whenever I have to cook. I think this recipe fits the bill for all three.

IMG_2178_1

Jalapeno Poppers with Bacon

Ingredients:
8 – 10 jalapeno peppers with stems
4 – 8 slices of bacon sliced in half
½ cup shredded pepper jack cheese
¼ cup whipped cream cheese
8 – 10 toothpicks

Optional Stuffing:
Crumbled browned Italian sausage and cheese
Sauteed veggies and cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine pepper jack cheese and cream cheese in a small bowl. Okay to use your fingers. Set aside.

Slice jalapeno peppers lengthwise to remove part of the pepper without removing the stem. Prepare only a few at a time so that you do not mix up the different sections of the peppers.

Stuff peppers with cheese then place cut slice over cheese. Wrap a slice of bacon and secure with a toothpick. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and back for 20 – 25 minutes until bacon is crispy. Drain on paper towels.

Optional:

To stretch the peppers just cut them in half and stuff each half then wrap in bacon.  The peppers are great whether you serve them whole or in halves.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Apple, Brie and Prosciutto Appetizer

IMG_2003_1

Apples are a marvelous fruit that is transformed throughout the year into delicious recipes for snacks, drinks and desserts. Some recipes are seasonal like warm apple crisp in the warmer months or mixed into fruit salads in the cooler months. My simple recipe for Apple, Brie and Prosciutto Appetizer can be made anytime of the year and may be transformed by the type of apple you decide to use.

IMG_1989_1

In the fall , the best kinds of apples are honey crisp, Swiss gourmet and granny smith. When my youngest son was a little guy we would gather some friends to go apple picking before the weather turned too cold. There was a local farm not far from out neighborhood that allowed you to pick seasonal fruits by the pound. The kids loved it because they could ride a wagon down to the apple orchard then fill their bags to the brim. Granted, it was a little more expense than store bought apples but to see the kids running around having fun was well worth it. Plus, there was a petting zoo, face painting and pony rides that the kids all loved.

IMG_2014_1

My apple of choice for this recipe was a granny smith apple. We did not have time to pick any so I had to settle for apples from the grocer. Still, the apples were juicy and delicious. Anyway, I used granny smith apples because I wanted a contrast of flavors between the Apples, Brie and Prosciutto.

IMG_2022_1

Hubby thought the Apple, Brie and Prosciutto Appetizer was sweet and rich but not too rich. Sour, salty and sweet is how I would describe the flavors. Sour, because of the granny smith apples. Salty, because of the slightly salty prosciutto and sweet because of the nice creamy brie. Adding a few crackers to the mix made my hubby and I agree this was an appetizer our family, friends and my blog followers would enjoy. This recipe will definitely be on my menu for the holidays. To make it look festive during the holidays I think I will use both red and green apples. Maybe I should make an apricot fruit dip to go along with the apples. Hmmm….. stay tuned for that one.

IMG_2029_1

Apple, Brie and Prosciutto Appetizer

Ingredients:
1 – 2 granny smith apples sliced into wedges
1 – 2 pkgs prosciutto sliced in half lengthwise
8 oz brie sliced cut into bite sized pieces

Place a piece of brie on each apple slice then wrap with prosciutto. Serve with crackers.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Black Bean and Corn Gazpacho

IMG_0404_1

I am one of those people that enjoys soup year round. Similar to my Auntie M who drinks hot tea 365 days a year no matter what the temperature is outside. Of course on the hottest of days in the summer when I have a craving for soup, I prefer a gazpacho style soup.

IMG_0478_1

Gazpacho is a soup made with raw veggies and is usually served chilled but can be warmed. Most gazpacho soups have a tomato base with multiple layers of flavor and textures. The ingredients and thickness of the gazpacho often depends on the region in which it is made. While researching the history of gazpacho I learned that in Spain some of the original recipes included bread, vinegar, water,oil and garlic. Other recipes added fruits and nuts to the recipes.

IMG_0484_1

I decided to create a very simple version of gazpacho that would be delicious whether served chilled or slightly warmed. Black Bean and Corn Gazpacho fits that description as both black beans and corn are good when served hot or cold. The best thing about this soup is that it is relatively light and is very flavorful with fresh corn. So, the next time you have a craving for a nice healthy soup in the middle of a hot summer day think about making some Black Bean and Corn Gazpacho. Hot or cold you can’t go wrong with this soup.

IMG_0492_1

Black Bean and Corn Gazpacho

 Ingredients:
3 15.5 oz cans black beans rinsed
1 small onion diced
4 cups chicken broth
1 ½ cups fresh corn kernels
½ cup fresh salsa or diced tomatoes
¼ cup half and half
2 tbsp sour cream
1 tsp cilantro
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp parsley
½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

Place beans, onions, broth and seasonings in a large pot over medium high heat. Cook for 20 minutes until beans and onions are tender. Remove from heat and puree beans using a hand blender or in a regular blender. Place pot back on the heat and reduce to a simmer. Stir in sour cream and half and half. Simmer for another 5 minutes then stir in corn and salsa. Continue simmering for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin