Archive for ‘Appetizers’

03.11.2013

Mayo-Free Crab Cakes

I love crab cakes. But I hate feeling guilty about eating them so I only order them occasionally when I’m out. Traditionally mayo, butter and white bread fill these little patties dulling their nutrition profile along with their flavor.

Not only is this adaptation of traditional crab cakes nearly mayonnaise free, but the crab cakes are also baked rather than the traditional preparation of pan frying that only adds to the fat count.

The result? Crispy, light crab cakes with loads of crab and red pepper flavor that go perfectly with poached eggs and asparagus for a quick “benedict-style” breakfast.

You could also serve these on a whole grain bun with mustard for a lunch or in mini form as an appetizer. For a different twist, try using the crab cake mixture to stuff cremini mushroom caps and bake, then serve as party appetizers. Anyway you prepare these, you can feel good about serving them to family members and guests knowing that indulging doesn’t have to mean unhealthy food!

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02.28.2013

DIY Yogurt in 10 Simple Steps

I have been excited about making my yogurt since going to a fermentation demonstration for date night a few months back. Before some of you roll your eyes while imagining me dragging my boyfriend to a “boring” class on how to something else kind of “crunchy”, I should say that the activity was HIS idea (and a great one at that) and we both found the class to be not only informative, but also really interesting… and the resulting foods rather tasty which was a nice bonus!

The class was led at Denver Botanic Gardens by the owners of Five Points Fermentation. The couple is really knowledgeable about the fermentation process and they both had a way of explaining it that made it seem very accessible to any home cook.  I got so excited that I made my first batch of fermented food, sauerkraut, the very next evening.  But, it has taken me a few months to start making my own yogurt and I must say, I’m sorry I waited so long!

Yogurt making is a simple, straightforward process that only involves two ingredients, a few tools, and a little patience.

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02.20.2013

Kale & Mushroom Polenta Pie

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I got this pie plate as a birthday gift from a cousin with exceptional taste. And, although I love it, I am pretty sure my two-and-a-half year old nephew could count high enough to reach the total number of sweet pies I have made in my life. But, I have refused to let that one little detail reduce this beautiful dish to a life of collecting dust in my cabinet.

I often find myself drawn to healthy, savory pies and tarts purely with the thought of serving it in this dish.  Crustless quiche, lasagna pie, baked vegetable gratin,summertime tomato pie, and numerous versions of this polenta pie have all been baked to (near) perfection in this little ceramic pie plate.

The polenta pie started with a recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Moosewood Restaurant Low-fat Favorites. I have changed it a little and used the easy “crust” as a base for many other savory dishes because it’s tasty and much healthier than a traditional pie crust.  Now I’m thinking that maybe I shouldn’t stop with savory pies… sweet cinnamon apple polenta pie sounds pretty tasty too…

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02.05.2013

Roasted Chickpeas

I first found roasted chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) last year and, although I really enjoyed them, after a couple of batches, I forgot about them….until a few months ago.  I was reading the newest issue of “Whole Living” magazine, and ran across a recipe for honey-sesame candied chickpeas.  Needless to say, my mouth was immediately watering.  A combination of the little honey- sesame stick candies with the crunchy wholesomeness of chickpeas– I’ll take it.

It took me a couple of batches and adjustments to make this recipe work, but when it did, the results were great.  These are a great alternative to chips or nuts at a party (especially if you have guests with nut allergies on the invite list) and they are healthy to boot.  The chickpeas are high in protein and fiber and at 270 calories per cup, you can have quite a few before worrying about the caloric impact. Note: these make a cute hostess gift when wrapped in a decorative tin and tied in a pretty kitchen towel or with cute twine.

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11.11.2012

Pumpkin Yeast Bread

Once the nights begin to cool off and the leaves start to yellow and fall, it’s amazing how quickly I begin to crave hearty fall foods and flavors like chili….roasted veggies….

….and squash!  All forms of squash really with very few exceptions.  I feel indulgent when I cube butternut squash, saute it  and add it to salads in place of croutons.  I love the creaminess that turban squash adds to stews and chili.  And the presentation of an acorn squash stuffed with quinoa and veggies and then baked in its own shell always puts a smile on my face– it’s so easy and yet so elegant!

But, the one squash that first comes to mind each fall is pumpkin!  Of course it’s great for carving, or for adding to your fall decorations, but in my opinion, it’s still shines the most when added to food.

I know what you’re thinking, “Woo hoo, it’s pumpkin pie time!”  But, in all honesty, that’s my least favorite pumpkin dish.  Instead, I usually opt for adding it to savory dishes. It was this hunt for savory pumpkin recipe options that led me to this delicious yeast pumpkin bread.  This recipe isn’t your typical sugar-laden, dense, dessert-style pumpkin bread.

It’s a yeast bread that makes great dinner rolls or sandwich bread (I can imagine it would be wonderful with turkey and cranberry sauce the day after Thanksgiving for all you meat-eaters). The pumpkin flavor is prominent, but not overwhelming and although the bread is hearty, it has a slight sweetness with a hint of cinnamon and ginger that balance all the flavors nicely.  It’s also relatively easy to throw together quickly– especially if you have a Kitchen Aid stand mixer on hand.

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09.28.2012

Spanikopita Triangles

I love the flavors of Greek food.  And I LOVE spinach.  So, last year when I went to a Greek-themed get together Spanikopita (Greek spinach pie) seemed like the perfect dish to make.  Instead of sticking with the traditional preparations for this dish, I began brainstorming fun, cute ways to make and serve it easily at a party. I came up with making handheld pies.  A quick search on Google confirmed that I wasn’t the first person to come up with this idea (darn), but it was nice to find examples of what I was imagining before heading to the kitchen. This version, rather than being made in a 9 x 13 baking pan, is folded up into individual, appetizer-sized servings.  These little cheesy spinach “puffs” in no way fall under my Healthy eating lifestyle, but life is all about balance.  And that means sometimes straying from your everyday eating style and indulging.  And, when you do, these bite-sized spinach pies are a delicious way to do it!

These are great for parties and entertaining.  And, although they are time consuming to assemble, you can make a lot and store the rest in a Ziploc to be quickly baked for surprise guests or a last-minute get-together.

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09.18.2012

Cannellini Bean “Pesto”

Healthy, flavorful sandwich spreads can double as a quick and easy appetizer or snack are a mainstay for me so I’m always on the lookout for different flavor combos to spice things up.

I was lucky enough to stumble upon this recipe for a pesto-flavored bean spread on the Om. Nom. Run. blog earlier this month and I’ve made it numerous times in just the past few weeks. It’s amazing how much it tastes like pesto without all the fat from the cheese and this recipe calls for a just a fraction of the oil normal pesto requires.

If there’s no kale in the fridge, I use whatever greens I have on hand or in my mini-garden. I’ve eaten it on toast, pita, with red pepper strips and even in a veggie wrap during a hike.  It takes just minutes to whip up and stores well in the fridge for a few days– if it lasts that long.  To spice up the presentation, top the dip with a few toasted pine nuts or a drizzle of olive oil and a sprig of fresh basil.

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