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Tomato Bruschetta with Aged Balsamic Drizzle

Bruschetta Aged Balsamic Drizzle-9

One of my favorite things to do with a bowlful of garden tomatoes is to make tomato bruschetta with an aged balsamic drizzle. Sweet, juicy tomatoes flavored with shallots and garlic atop of a crispy slice of baguette. Bruschetta is the garden’s gift to people who love to snack.

I don’t recommend making bruschetta with store-bought tomatoes, they just don’t have a desirable flavor and texture. You might be able to get away with using the little grape tomatoes if you are desperate for bruschetta when tomatoes aren’t in season. But, I typically only pull this recipe out during the summer months.

Bruschetta Aged Balsamic Drizzle-5

Bruschetta is a quick and easy appetizer to serve with drinks or as a starter served with soup or salad. Much of this recipe can prepped ahead of time. Bruschetta can be assembled just before serving or I like to set up bruschetta bar and let my guests assemble their own.

How to Make Bruschetta

Once you’ve chopped the tomatoes, the other veggies and seasonings, the bruschetta mixture should sit in the fridge for a while. This will allow the flavors to develop. The next step is to make the balsamic reduction. The drizzle of balsamic vinegar adds a tangy sweetness to the tomatoes. Reducing balsamic vinegar on the stove top in a small saucepan until syrupy is easy and yields a delicious result. If you haven’t tried making it, do it! You won’t be disappointed.

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So, the clock is ticking on garden tomatoes…..tick, tick, tick! So, before they are gone, grab a gorgeous baguette, slice it up, brush the slices with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. Broil or grill until golden and crispy. Top with tomato mixture, and a drizzle of the balsamic reduction. Consume and repeat!

If you want to understand what makes a good French baguette then check out this short video.

Other appetizer recipes you  may want to check out:

Bruschetta Aged Balsamic Drizzle-3

Rice Salad with Asparagus and Peas

Rice Salad with Peas and Asparagus-9

This post is published in partnership with We Olive SLC

Rice Salad with Asparagus and Peas is as light and colorful as a beautiful spring day. After so many months eating warm hearty meal I wait not so patiently for asparagus and peas to arrive heralding milder temperatures and the earth coming back to life.

I use short grain Arborio rice because it is starchy and as it cooks its texture becomes creamy yet the grain remains firm. You will add the asparagus and peas to boiling water during the final minutes of when the rice is cooking. A vinaigrette olive oil (I used basil-infused olive oil because yum), sherry vinegar, garlic, and anchovy paste flavors the rice and vegetables.

Rice Salad with Peas and Asparagus-11

If you’ve never used anchovy paste before don’t be put off by it. You can find it in a tube at most grocery stores or on Amazon. Anchovy paste is a combination of ground anchovies, olive oil, and little sugar. If you want that savory flavor bomb (and you should) but aren’t keen to deal with anchovies, paste is the way to go.

About the peas, if you can get your hands on fresh peas, by all means, use those but if you can’t, frozen peas will work just fine. Prepare the asparagus just as you always do by cutting or breaking off the tough fibrous bottoms.

Arugula adds a freshness and peppery bite to the salad. Have you tried to growing arugula? It’s so easy! I grow it in pots on my patio. It’s actually really easy to grow many greens and herb in pots. Try it. Nothing is better than picking fresh greens and eating them moments later.

This rice salad is a perfectly good meal on its own but it could also be a nice accompaniment to a grilled protein like salmon. It also travels well if you are looking for something to bring to a potluck or if you pack lunch to work.

Rice Salad with Peas and Asparagus-5

Here are a few other salads that you may be interested in:

How to Make Rice Salad with Asparagus and Peas

Rice Salad with Aspargus and Peas

Portobello Mushroom Pizzas

Portobello Mushroom Pizzas

I love pizza. Let me be very clear, I could eat pizza every single day of my life. I am not necessarily proud of that fact but it is the truth. For me, there is no greater comfort than warm, melted cheese stretching from the plate to my mouth. Bring it on.

But honestly, sometimes I don’t feel like messing around with dough. I am one messy cook, I get flour everywhere even if I am only rolling out store-bought dough. Enter Portobello mushrooms. They are perfect stand-ins for pizza crust. Mushrooms are hearty and meaty and their cup shape perfectly holds sauce, cheese, and any toppings that you enjoy.

Portobello Mushroom Pizzas

For a quick and easy weeknight dinner use jarred or canned tomato sauce. I use for mozzarella for its ability to melt into stringy gooeyness, provolone for its flavor, sand parmesan for its sharp bite. I like the combination of cheeses but you can skip the provolone and I still think you will be happy with the result.

For the toppings of this Portobello mushroom pizza, I love sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, and ribbons of basil. But, you can swap out these toppings for anything that you prefer.

Portabello Mushroom Pizza-8

I also love olives and onions. Sometimes I use pesto for the sauce instead of marinara sauce. I have a stash of pesto in my freezer from last summer’s bounty. I freeze the pesto in an ice cube trays. Make these your own with your favorite toppings or whatever you have on hand.

The secret to pump up the flavor of the Portobello mushrooms is brush them with a garlic butter mixture before you fill them with sauce and toppings and pop them in the oven. Trust me, it is delicious.

Other mushroom recipes you may be interested in:

Portobello Mushroom Pizza

Green Papaya Salad

Green Papaya Salad

Thai food lovers rejoice! If you love Green Papaya Salad (sometimes called Som Tum on Thai menus) you will be excited to learn that it is very easy make at home. Green Papaya salad is light, healthy, and so fresh tasting. It is one of my favorite Thai dishes whether I am dining at a Thai restaurant or cooking Thai food at home.

If you live near an Asian market, you can make this Thai restaurant favorite quickly and easily. If you haven’t ever ventured into an Asian market or any ethnic market for that matter, here is an article I wrote about why you should.

Green Papaya Salad overhead shot

First, go to the produce section. Asian markets have incredible produce, much of it may be new to you. Typically, there are an amazing array of greens, mushrooms, and potatoes. But, today you will want to look for a green papaya which looks like a dark green football. Green papayas are unripe papaya, so, instead of sweet orange flesh the unripe flesh is crisp. If you cannot find green papayas locally, you can substitute cucumbers which are similar in texture albeit more watery.

Another important part of this recipe is the serrated peeler. Using this peeler will result in thin strips of vegetable similar to julienne slices. Serrated peelers can be found on Amazon and at Asian markets. You will use the serrated peeler on the green papaya and carrots. If you have a mandonline slicer you can also use the julienne blade to slice the veggies.

Once the veggies are sliced, you just need to combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or Mason jar. Thai food always focuses on the balance of flavors between sweet, sour, salty, and spicy. This dressing combines all those flavors for a nicely balanced dressing.

Pour the dressing over the veggies and toss to combine. Garnish with chopped peanuts and fresh herbs before serving.

Green Papaya Salad aka Som Tum

Mussels with Cider, Shallots, and Bacon

Mussels with Cider, Shallots, and Bacon

If you have a large pot and a few pounds of mussels, you can have a dinner party worthy meal on the tables in no time at all. Mussels are one of the easiest meals to prepare. All you need to do is give the mussels a quick scrub and soak, cook up a few aromatics for a broth to steam the mussels in, and five minutes cooking time. For Mussels with Cider, Shallots and Bacon, I decided to add some autumn flair but using apple cider instead of the more typical white wine as the base of the broth.

The website Serious Eats has a more detailed article on cleaning mussels if you would like a step-by-step guide. I have also included a video below. But, I promise, it is really easy and takes no time at all. Once you get the hang of it, you will be preparing mussels all the time!

While mussels and French fries (frites) are a popular combination in Belgium and France, I prefer to serve mussels with slices of nice bread. My favorites are a beautiful baguette or ciabatta. You will want to use the slices of bread to soak up the delicious broth.

So, let’s walk through the process. Heat a large pot over a medium flame and add oil olive and butter. When the oil and butter start to bubble, add the chopped bacon and cook for a few minutes.  Next you will add the shallots, garlics, and thyme and cook until they are soft. Finally, add the cider and mustard. Bring the broth to a boil before adding the cleaned mussels. The only need a few minutes to cook. Seriously easy, right?

Mussels with Cider Shallots and Bacon-2

If you would like a tasty beverage to accompany your mussels, I recommend either a crisp white wine, sparkling wine (bubbles go with everything), or a Belgian beer.  I love to serve this meal not only because it is delicious but it is a slow-paced meal which encourages conversation as you work your way through the mussels. Slow food at its best!

How to Make Mussels with Cider, Shallots, and Bacon

Mussels with Cider, Shallots, and Bacon Pin

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

Beet Sliders with Green Goddess Dressing

Beet Sliders with Green Goddess Dressing

Aren’t sliders adorable? I think most things in miniature form are cuter than their full size counterparts. Think babies, puppies, kitties, and burgers. However, why should meat-eaters have all the slider fun? They shouldn’t, right?

Now that we are in agreement on that, let’s talk about these Beet Sliders with Green Goddess Dressing. Boiling the beets along with a variety of aromatics imparts great flavor into the beets. The Green Goddess Dressing is creamy, herby, and delicious, which complements the earthiness of the beets. Red onions offer crunch and bite to the slider. The combination is top notch.

Beet Sliders with Green Goddess Dressing

I estimate that approximately 99% of slider recipes that I come across feature some sort of meat filling. You know that I am always up for a challenge. Therefore, I want to create delicious options for vegetarian sliders. These Beet Sliders are not only gorgeous; they are perfect to eat while drinking a glass of wine or a beer and listening to Budos Band.

I would plan to serve two to three sliders per person for a perfect small plate offering. I adore small plates. Small plates always feel like a party. I would much rather have a few small plates than one entrée any day. Honestly, every day that would be my preference. Small plates are perfect for the chronically indecisive, possibly commitment challenged.

Beet Sliders with Green Goddess Dressing

I digress. Let’s move on the these sliders. The key to any burger is getting the bun and burger to match up in size. Be sure that your beets are as big in the widest part as the bun they will eventually sit on. Once the beets are cooked and peeled, you will want to slice them into about one-inch rounds.

While the beets cook, whip up the ingredients for the Green Goddess dressing and thinly slice part of a red onion. I always recommend wearing latex or rubber gloves when working with beets. Beets stain everything they encounter so exercise care when preparing them.

If you are beet lover, you may want to check out these other recipes:

Beet Sliders with Green Goddess Dressing

 

Lemon Roasted Potatoes

Lemon Roasted Potatoes

Perhaps it is my Irish roots or maybe it is just because potatoes are damn delicious, but either way, I love potatoes. And, as long as I have potatoes in the house, I know I can put a satisfying meal on the table in no time. You do not need me to enumerate all the amazing things that you can do with potatoes. Okay, I will anyway. I love them roasted, mashed, baked, fried, shredded, spiralized, scalloped, or hasselbacked.

As you can see in my previous posts for Roasted Carrot Hummus and Roasted Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce and Pomegranate Seeds, roasted vegetables are my absolute favorite. The roasting process brings out incredible flavor and texture in vegetables and these lemon roasted potatoes are delightful.

Lemon Roasted Potatoes

The potatoes in this Lemon Roasted Potatoes recipe get crispy and golden brown on the outside and stay tender on the inside. The flavor of the garlic and lemon mellows in the roasting process and actually develop a sweetness. I have added the chipotle chili powder and cayenne to balance the sweet with a little bit of heat. The rosemary adds an earthy fresh flavor. But, if rosemary isn’t your thing, feel free to swap it out with some parsley but don’t add it until the end of the cooking time.

Lemon Roasted Potatoes are a lovely side dish to accompany any number of protein-filled main dishes. They would be a delicious side to salmon or chicken. On the other hand, if you are looking for a meatless menu idea, I think the potatoes would be delicious served alongside a Middle Eastern mezze platter of cut up veggies, pita wedges, hummus, and olives.

Alternatively, you could toss some asparagus spears in the oven while the potatoes are cooking. I would add them to the oven when you have about 20 minutes of cooking time left on the potatoes. Then, poach or fry an egg and serve on top of the potatoes. So good, right?

How to Make Lemon Roasted Potatoes

Lemon Roasted Potatoes

Southwestern Potato Salad

Southwestern Potato Salad

Once the sunlight grows long in the evenings after Daylight Savings Time, my brain automatically moves into summer mode. The sloth in me suddenly disappears and I want to do all the things outside.

One of those things that I must start doing immediately is cooking out of doors. I dust off the BBQ grill and start planning get-togethers with family and friends. BBQ time means potato salad time. However, this Southwestern Potato Salad recipe is not some ordinary potato salad, it is a kicked up version full of flavors you love from southwestern cuisine.

Southwestern Potato Salad

Bobby Flay’s recipe for Southwestern Potato Salad on the Food Network website was the inspiration for this recipe. Once again, I found the photo associated with the recipe on their website lacking. Admittedly, potato salad is not the most photogenic dish in the world but I challenged myself to improve the recipe and photo.

I added roasted chilies to the potato salad that I am surprised that Bobby had not included in his version. I also added hard-boiled eggs to garnish the top of the potato salad because my people love hard-boiled eggs. If your people do not love hard-boiled eggs, you can omit them.

Southwestern Potato SaladHere are few other recipes that I found on Food Network’s website that I had to make and photograph in order to pin it to Pinterest. You will understand why this important if you are a Pinterest user. If you are not an avid Pinterest user, but want to be (and you should) then hit me up. I will help you down the rabbit hole that is Pinterest. It is so fun, I promise!

If you ever see any Food Network recipes that have no pictures or worse yet, terrible pictures, drop me a note with the link. I am up for the challenge!

Southwestern Potato Salad

Blow-Your-Mind Black Bean Chili

Blow-Your-Mind Black Bean Chili

Are you ready for football to be over for the season? I know that I am.  Honestly, this year I couldn’t care less about either team that is playing in the Super Bowl. The only thing I am excited about is hanging out with friends and eating delicious food.

After Thanksgiving, the Super Bowl is the next big event in the Olympics of food.

You want to bring a dish to the party that will be delicious and Instagram-worthy. You may want it to have some sort of nutritional value. I always prefer homemade food, cooked from scratch, because I am weird like that. I want my food to be made from ingredients from the Earth rather than chemicals in a factory.

Blow Your Mind Black Bean Chili

My daughter often laments when she visits my house that my kitchen is full of ingredients rather than food. I take this as a compliment, although, I know it is not intended as such.

Super Bowl Appetizer Ideas

So, for weeks I have been trying to decide what to bring to the Super Bowl party that we will be attending this weekend. I can’t decide between snack food such as a dip with chips and veggies like this Roasted Carrot Hummus or Guacamole with Clementines or bringing something more substantial.

Blow Your Mind Black Bean Chili

Some of the people attending the party are meat and potatoes people and a few are vegetarians. So, I want to bring something that will appeal to everyone.

Keeping that in mind, in addition to the dip recipes listed above, I have a really delicious chili recipe to share with you. The Super Bowl and a pot of chili go together like wine and cheese. Am I right? Chili is a perfect party food. It can be made ahead of time and then kept warm in a slow cooker so it is ready to eat at half-time.

Blow-Your-Mind Black Bean Chili

This Blow-Your-Mind Black Bean chili is sure to please your football loving friends. I am so in love with this chili recipe! It is full of black beans and wheat berries (more on these in a minute) which makes it a super satisfying.

Blow Your Mind Black Bean ChiliThe addition of mushrooms also lends meaty texture to the chili which may keep the carnivores at the table from grumbling. The smoky flavor comes from chipotle chili powder. If you like extra heat and smoke, you could add a chopped up chili pepper and some of the sauce from a can of chipotle chilies in adobo sauce. The chili is meatless which is perfect if you have vegetarians coming to party and hearty enough that the carnivores may not miss the meat.

If you aren’t familiar with wheat berries, I encourage you to give them a try. You boil the whole grains in liquid, usually water or broth, until cooked through. The process is similar to cooking rice. They have a chewy texture and a nutty flavor. You can find wheat berries in the bulk section of many super markets or packaged in the grocery aisle with other whole grains. Wheat berries are sometimes referred to as hard red winter wheat.

Blow Your Mind Black Bean Chili

Plus, suggest having a selection of toppings available so that guests can customize their chili bowls just the way they like them. Some of my favorite chili toppings are:

  • Avocado
  • Green onions
  • Lime wedges
  • Grated cheese
  • Crushed tortilla chips
  • Sour cream

Blow Your Mind Black Bean Chili

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