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Maple Walnut Crostini

Maple Walnut Crostini with Goat Cheese-2Note: This post contains affiliate links*

Crostini are always on my appetizer short-list when I am planning a party. For those that aren’t sure, crostini are an Italian appetizer consisting of toasted bread with toppings. Crostini are great appetizers because you can toast the bread and make the toppings ahead of time. As the holiday season is upon us, I wanted to incorporate some seasonal flavors into the topping. Thus, the Goat Cheese and Maple Walnut Crostini was born!

Let me lay down the process of making these crostini for you. First, you are going to make a batch of maple walnuts. You can do this step a few days in advance of when you want to serve the crostini. To make the maple walnuts, you will combine butter and maple syrup with spices. After adding the walnuts you will stir to coat and the sauce is reduced. You will want to cool the walnuts on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Be careful transferring the walnuts from the pan to the baking sheet. They are hot! I speak from experience.

Maple Walnut Crostini with Goat Cheese-2

The second step is to slice the Chiogga beets very thinly. Chioggas are sometimes called candy cane beets, not because of their flavor but because of their beautiful red and white striped interior. You can peel and slice the beets the day before you plan to serve the crostini. If Chiogga beets are your thing (as they are mine) you may want to check out my Smoked Salmon Beet Bites too.

If you have a mandoline, slicing the beets very thinly is a snap. I love, love, love my mandoline (to be clear, I am talking about a Japanese-style slicing tool not the musical instrument). I use it all the time when I need food sliced very thinly or very evenly or both! The XOX Brand Mandolin is my favorite. It is super affordable, dishwasher-safe, and easy to store. A word of caution: the V-shaped blade in mandolins are very sharp and you should always use the included food holder to protect your fingers from the blade. Again, I learned this the hard way. Twice.

The last do-ahead tip I want to share is to make the crostini up to three days before you want to serve them. I typically buy a baguette for crostini. I like the small size of the bread. It is the perfect bite. Slice your baguette into about 1/2’’ slices. Drizzle the slices of baguette with olive oil and a sprinkle or salt and pepper.

You can either make your crostini on the grill or under the broiler. Whichever way you decide to make your crostini, be sure to keep your eye on them. They can go from just about there to burnt mess in no time at all.

How to Make Goat Cheese and Maple Walnut Crostini

Once you have all your components ready, you just need to assemble the crostini shortly before you want to serve. Place crostini on a platter, place one slice of Chiogga beet on the crostini, top with a dollop or slice of goat and top with a maple walnut. I recommend taking the goat cheese out of the refrigerator an hour before you want to prepare the crostini.

Maple Walnut Crostini pin

Hello Fun Seekers is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com and affiliated sites.Please note that some links on this blog are affiliate links and I will earn a small commission if you purchase through those links.  It is also important to note that your price remains the same and there is no extra cost to you.  Thank you for your support of Hello Fun Seekers!

Cranberry Nut Bread

Cranberry Nut Bread overhead shot

Why do we only eat cranberries between Thanksgiving and Christmas? Why? They are delicious and nutritious! Dried cranberries broke through years ago to enjoy year-round glory but fresh cranberries still haven’t been able to escape the holiday niche. Enter Cranberry Nut Bread which is delightful in the morning with a cup of coffee or equally delicious in the afternoon with a cup of tea.

In recent years I have gotten a little bit better about stocking up at the grocery store on fresh cranberries in November and December but I have to admit that last weekend while doing a freezer inventory I found one unused bag of cranberries from last year. Sigh. Why? I love them. How did I let them linger in the freezer for nearly a year?

Cranberry Nut Bread sliced

I don’t know. I have no excuse, only the promise to myself to do better and to ask you to join me. Let’s liberate the cranberry to a year-round fruit. We love cranberries, right? Tangent: I want to make this Cranberry Lime Ginger Sauce for Thanksgiving this year! Doesn’t it sound amazing?

Did you know that cranberries are only harvested for 6-8 weeks per year? I learned that watching the video below. It’s fascinating to watch.

Okay, let me tell you about this cranberry nut bread. I have lightened it up using apple sauce instead of oil in the recipe. The result is a light, moist loaf. There is also a swirl of cinnamon, sugar, and pecans in the middle of the loaf which adds a nice crunch and sweet balance to the tart cranberries.

I would love to hear if you serve cranberries at Thanksgiving and how you serve them. Does your family like cranberries? Do they prefer homemade cranberry sauce or the canned stuff? Do you have a favorite recipe? If you do, drop it in the comments section below.

How to Make Cranberry Nut Bread

Cranberry Nut Bread Pin

Wild Rice Salad

Wild Rice Salad overheadHow much time do you spend thinking about rice? I mean, where does it come from? Do you know how it grows and is harvested? I must admit that I hadn’t given it much thought until I read Amy Thielen’s Give a Girl a Knife and she talked about her husband harvesting wild rice near their home in Minnesota. Be sure to check out the video below that shows two guys in a canoe harvesting wild rice. You will never look at wild rice the same again.

Inspired by the harvesting process, I picked up a bag of wild rice at Trader Joe’s. Wild rice is low-carb and gluten-free, so this wild rice salad might be a welcome addition to your Thanksgiving table. Which brings up a topic that I am endlessly curious about, Thanksgiving menus. Are you a traditionalist or do you like to mix it up with new recipes?

I have always been a new recipe kind of girl and didn’t realize how contentious that could be for people. Who knew that replacing the traditional green bean casserole with haricots vert with a lemon almond gremolata could have ruined Thanksgiving for some of my family members a few years back? Oops!

Wild Rice Salad Vertical ShotWild rice has a chewy texture and nutty taste and makes a hearty base for this salad. Truth be told, when I created this recipe recently it was because I needed a dish to bring to a potluck gathering. My goal was to make a dish using only ingredients that I had on hand so I wouldn’t have to go to the grocery store. The good news is that most of these ingredients are pantry items that you might have in your kitchen.

I will cut to the chase, this wild rice salad got great reviews!  The dried fruit adds a little bit of sweetness to the salad while the green onions and parsley add freshness. The almonds lend some crunch.  Whether you make this for a potluck or for Thanksgiving, the good news is that you can make it a day ahead of time. I think it tastes better after sitting for a day. If you make it ahead of time, I would reserve a little bit of fresh parsley to garnish the salad just before serving.

How to Make Wild Rice Salad

If you are looking for other holiday recipes, check out:

Wild Rice Salad Long Image for Pinterest

Beer Cheese Soup

Beer Cheese Soup-1

You probably know that Wisconsin has the lock on any beer cheese soup recipe. Heck, Wisconsin most likely has the lock on anything to do with beer or cheese in general. But, here I am, offering up my own version of beer cheese soup with a little bit of western flair. Please forgive me Midwesterners, we just want in on some of the beer cheese soup fun.

Beer cheese soup is a fall essential. It is perfect to have on cool autumn weekends whether you have just finished raking leaves, picking apples, or watching football. I make a pot of soup every weekend and enjoy having leftovers for the work week ahead. For me, a bowl of soup is ideal for a quick weeknight dinner or equally awesome to take to work for lunch.

Beer Cheese Soup-5

Sometime during my 30s, my body decided that it no longer could handle milk or cream in any form. So, instead of using half and half to add a creamy element to the soup, I made cashew cream using this recipe. If you are not bothered by cream you can use it instead but I really do love cashew cream.

You can choose your favorite cheddar for beer cheese soup. I typically go with sharp cheddar because I love the flavor but if you or your people prefer a more mild cheddar by all means go with that. I do feel as though having some sort of bread to dip into the soup is essential.

Beer Cheese Soup-7

I was wowed by the photogenic quality of this beautiful baguette but also think soft pretzels would be fantastic to serve with beer cheese soup. I have used this recipe to make soft pretzel bites before and they were delicious and perfect for dipping. But, I am eyeballing this recipe for everything soft pretzel bites. Don’t you think they would be fantastic with beer cheese soup? I love everything that is everything flavored. By the way, have you tried the ‘everything but the bagel’ seasoning at Trader Joe’s? Recommended.

How to Make Beer Cheese Soup

Beer Cheese Soup pin

Roasted Squash and Pear Sandwiches

Roasted Squash with Pear

Fall = Gourdfest. Well, around my house anyway. Each fall, we host a party where all things gourd-related are celebrated. I am talking about pumpkin beer tasting, butternut squash soup, pumpkin hummus, and roasted delicata squash with red onions. All the fall flavors make me so happy but having some of my besties in the house puts it over the top.

What my friends may not know is how many recipes I test before Gourdfest. I want the food to be as memorable as the laughs and good times that we enjoy. This year, one of my first test recipes is this Roasted Squash and Pear Sandwich. Doesn’t that sound like perfect fall food? Yet, such an unusual sandwich idea.

Roasted Squash with Pear

Let’s talk about butternut squash. Are you a fan? I was a little bit intimated by butternut squash at first. I mean, could winter squash BE any more difficult to cut through? But, I learned a little secret about butternut squash. When you are shopping for butternut squash, look for one that has long neck compared to its bulbous end.

Then, just cut through the stem end and cut again at the end of the long neck before the bulbous end. From here, all you need to do is peel the skin with a vegetable peeler. For this recipe, slice the neck into 1/2” slices.

Roasted Squash with Pear

After that, you have a decision to make, do you want to tackle the bulbous end or just chuck it into the compost bin? No judgment here no matter what you decide. Sometimes I will peel the skin off with the vegetable peeler and then use a spoon to scrape out the seeds. Other times, I won’t be feeling it at all, and will just quarter it and throw it into my compost bin.

The next component is a perfectly ripe pear sliced thin and a red onion also thinly sliced. The surprise ingredient is the miso mayo. Are you a miso fan? My first experiences with miso was in soup form at Chinese restaurants.  Miso is made from fermented soy beans. You know anything fermented is good for you, right? Gut health and all that. Miso paste can be found at Asian markets and sometimes in the ethnic food aisles or produce section of some grocery stores. Miso adds that umami flavor which is rich, deep flavor.

If you decide to buy miso paste (and you should) here is a recipe for miso soup so you can use up your stash. The video below is from The Happy Pear where twin Irish brothers post articles and videos featuring easy vegan recipes.

How to Make Roasted Squash and Pear Sandwiches

Want more sandwiches?

Roasted Squash with Pear Sandwich

Veggie Pot Pie

Veggie Pot Pie

Who can resist taking a fork and plunging it through a light flaky crust into a warm, flavorful gravy that is filled with vegetables? Not this girl. There is something so satisfying about assembling this Veggie Pot Pie, warming up the house with the oven while it bakes, and then hovering around the stove inhaling deeply the delicious scent while waiting for the pot pie to finish baking.

As I have mentioned before in the recipe for Tomato Galette, homemade pie crusts and I seem to be in a battle of the wills. I will cut to the chase here, I lose that battle over and over again. Because of that, I always keep a prepared pie crust from the refrigerator section in my freezer. I cannot wait for the day where I change that narrative for myself and start making pie crusts from scratch. I know that day is coming, I am just not sure when.

Veggie Pot Pie

Veggie Pot Pie is quick and easy to make. You can use any veggies that you and your family like but I typically go with onion, carrot, garlic, celery, peas, and mushrooms. If you eat meat you can add leftover rotisserie chicken from the store to the pot pie filling mixture.

A few ingredients that I like to add to my filling are a splash of soy sauce and a teaspoon of miso paste, if you have it on hand. Both of those ingredients add so much flavor to the filling.  You can make the pot pie in a pie-sized baking dish or if you prefer, you can make individual servings in smaller ramekins. If you make individual servings I would place the ramekins on a baking sheet so the pot pies are easy to place in and remove from the oven.

Veggie Pot Pie

I only use a top crust for this Veggie Pot Pie and as you can see from the photo the top crust is pretty basic. Someday, I aspire to be pie fancy like the crusts in this video.

How to Make Veggie Pot Pie

Veggie Pot Pie

 

Lentil Picadillo Stuffed Peppers

Lentil Picadillo Stuffed Peppers

What the heck do vegetarians eat? I hear this all the time from friends and family who want to invite someone they care about over for dinner. But, when that person is a vegetarian many cooks get stumped. Ask my Mom. She will tell you. That poor woman has two daughters are totally or nearly vegetarian and two grandkids are vegetarian. She will tell you that she hates inviting us over for dinner because she has no idea what to make. So, Mom, Lentil Picadillo Stuffed Peppers is one great alternative to consider. It is hearty enough that even carnivores (like your husband) will feel satisfied.

First, a little background about Picadillo which is a popular dish in Spain and many Latin American countries. Picadillo is typically made with ground beef, tomatoes, and a variety of spices. It is often served with rice and used a filling for dishes like tacos or savory pastries.

Lentil Picadillo Stuffed PeppersI like this healthier version of Picadillo swaps out ground beef for lentils. Lentils are inexpensive to buy, low in fat, high in fiber, and full of protein. By sautéing aromatics like onion and garlic with chili powder, cinnamon, Italian seasoning, cocoa powder, and tomatoes, you can achieve a rich flavorful broth to coat the lentils.

This version of Lentil Picadillo is most similar to the Picadillo found in Puerto Rico which includes green olives for a salty bite and raisins for a sweet chewy texture. In Puerto Rico, Picadillo is a common filling for empanadas or fritters. In this recipe, I add cooked rice to the Picadillo and stuff it inside a sweet red bell pepper before baking.

Lentil Picadillo Stuffed Peppers

Finally, lentil Picadillo Stuffed Peppers is a great make ahead meal. You could prep the Picadillo on the weekend and then on a weeknight, stuff the peppers and bake.  A healthy, homemade dinner will be on the table in under 30 minutes. What is not to love about that? Also, can you say lunch leftovers? Just try not to gloat as your coworker pulls her sad little Lean Cuisine out of the microwave.

How to Make Lentil Picadillo Stuffed Peppers

Lentil Picadillo Stuffed Pepper

Roasted Carrot and Goat Cheese Sandwich

Roasted Carrots with Goat Cheese

Life is too short for the same old, same old sandwiches. How many peanut butter & jelly, tuna, or egg salad sandwiches can one person eat in a life time? Sandwiches are simple, portable, and can be quite delicious with just a little bit of effort and creativity. I love sandwiches that have a mix of colors, textures, and tastes.

In this roasted carrot and goat cheese sandwich you get sweetness from the roasted carrots, tangy creaminess from goat cheese, and a bit of salty bite from the green olives. Are you familiar with the spice blend za’atar? It is a Middle Eastern seasoning made from dried herbs, spices, and sesame seeds. I buy za’atar at the Middle Eastern market. You can also order za’atar on Amazon.

You may recall this recipe for Za’atar Roasted Tomatoes and Pita Chips from earlier this year.

Roasted Carrots with Goat Cheese

If you aren’t a fan of goat cheese you can use cream cheese instead. The cream cheese will have less tang and a smoother texture. Plus, it might be easier to find and more economical but I love goat cheese so usually use it for this sandwich. Also, if you aren’t a green olive lover you can leave them out, use black olives or substitute capers instead.

You will want to use a bread that when toasted is hearty enough to hold up to spreading the thick goat cheese mixture. I used plain white sandwich bread but I can think of a few other breads that would make a great sandwich. I like the idea of a walnut raisin bread or a honey wheat bread.

Next time I make this sandwich, I will use thicker carrots and slice them slightly on the diagonal in order to get more surface area to roast. I also think that thicker slices of roasted carrot will make the sandwiches more substantial when you go in for a bite.

Roasted Carrots with Goat Cheese

What are your slightly out-of-the-box sandwiches you like to make and eat? I am always looking for something new.

How to Make Roasted Carrot and Goat Cheese Sandwiches

roasted carrot and goat cheese

Almond Butter and Peach Toast

Almond Butter and Peach ToastThe end of peach season can nearly move me to tears. A perfectly ripe peach is as close to heaven as I can imagine. Dream sequence: I am standing in my kitchen, leaning over the sink, and bite into a big juicy peach.  The flesh just gives and the juices start running down my arm. The warm peach is so delicious that I can’t bother to grab a dish towel. Okay, enough of this nonsense, let’s get back to the recipe.

Back to the almond butter and peach toast though. You don’t really need a recipe, it’s just an assembly job. Peaches and almonds pair perfectly, so if you haven’t already, I highly recommend giving almond butter a try. I prefer to buy almond butter at grocery stores where I can grind it myself from almonds. Grinding your own guarantees that there is no additives or other junk in your almond butter.

Almond Butter and Peach ToastAlmond butter and peach toast is so simple but the genius comes from using quality ingredients. Get a nice artisan loaf of bread or try to make your own. I often use this no-knead bread recipe when I make bread. The results will blow your mind. It’s so easy and the end product is a tender crusty loaf that will impress your friends and family.

But, let’s get real, the star of this dish is the perfectly ripe peach. When peaches are season, I will stop at nothing to get them from the farmers markets, produce stands, or best of all from a friend’s tree. Then, I use them in every way possible. I have canned peach salsa (yum!), made this Peach, Zucchini, and Basil Pizza, and this peach tart.

Almond Butter and Peach ToastWhen I buy too many peaches, I will make this Almond Butter and Peach Toast for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s so quick and easy to prepare but so completely satisfying. I add the sliced almonds and hemp seeds for a little texture and crunch.

Almond Butter and Peach Toast pin

Zucchini Scramble Toast

Zucchini Scramble Toast

It all started when my Mom showed up with three zucchini from her garden. She was heading out of town but her garden was still producing like crazy. Of course I could use them, no way would I let them go to waste. That is what I told both of us.

My garden has two zucchini plants so I already had zucchini pickles in the fridge. I’d made zucchini pie at least three times. Crispy zucchini chips? Yup, I had made them at several times. Chewy zucchini oatmeal cookies? I made those too.

Zucchini Scramble Toast

Coffee has a way of clearing my mind and as I sipped my morning cuppa, I eyeballed the zucchini, thought about eggs, and that day old loaf of bread on the counter and Zucchini Scramble Toast was born.

I shredded the zucchini and thinly sliced part of an onion. All the veggies needed was a quick sauté in olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Once the vegetables softened, I added a couple of lightly beaten eggs to pan and let the eggs set for about a minute before gently pushing them around the pan. Just a little more salt and pepper to the eggs and scrambled until set. Remember the eggs will continue to cook for a few minutes after you remove the pan from the heat.

Zucchini Scramble Toast

While the eggs were cooking, I toasted and buttered the bread. When the eggs were done, I divided the eggs evenly onto the toast. I sprinkled chopped tomatoes and fresh herbs on top. Chives and basil are terrific on the toast.

The beauty of Zucchini Scramble Toast is that while it is perfect for breakfast, it also makes a super quick weeknight supper. Plus, with the price of avocados these days, it may be time for the avocado toast trend to exit stage left. Who wants to help me start the next ‘toast’ fad?

So, Mom, if you are reading this, I used up all three zucchini. I hope you are having a great time on your trip and when you get home, come over for Zucchini Scramble Toast and a cup of coffee. I want to hear all about your adventures.

Zucchini Scramble Toast

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