Bright Beet Hummus

Beet Hummus_Natalie Paramore

Doesn’t this hummus just jump out and make you wanna dive in?! Ok good, glad I’m not the only one. Bright, colorful and upBEET, this bowl is just begging to be added to your spring soiree table. I love a good pop of color on any table but this is one is especially fun. It’s so easy, just roast some beets and add them into your hummus. I topped it with some one my favorite extras, hello feta, and you can mix and match with your favorites too.

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Deep Fried Matzo Balls

deep-fried-matzo-balls-hanukkah-recipes-by-natalie-paramore

A very Texas Hanukkah recipe! These matzo balls were life changing, seriously! This year, Hanukkah begins at sundown on December 24th, aka Christmas Eve, so no matter what you are celebrating this year, be sure these matzo balls are on your table. I made them as part of a Hanukkah menu for Austin Woman this month. Because don’t we all need something a little salty, crispy and fried sometimes? 

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Pork and Shrimp Shumai Dumplings

how-to-make-chinese-dumplings-at-home-by-natalie-paramoreOne of my biggest food obsessions this year has been dumplings! And I know there are lots of you out there that share my passions for these pouches of deliciousness. From gyoza to shumai to the ever popular xiao long bao, better known as soup dumplings, it seems like everyone is crazy for dumplings. I love a good dim sum but I also wanted to try my hand at making dumplings at home! I started off with an easy pork and shrimp shumai recipe but there are so many. I’ll walk you through the steps!

PS- check out the video below!

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Warm Honey Lemon Water

Warm Honey Lemon Water 4Lately I have been sprucing up my morning routine. I have to admit I was sorta of getting in a little rut. Waking up late, skipping breakfast or grabbing tacos on the way into the office, maybe skipping that morning shower or walk with dog, you know normal running out the door kind of stuff. Now this comes as a little surprise to me since I have always been, or at least considered myself to be, a morning person. I love mornings. I love getting up early and getting things done while everyone else is sleeping. It makes me feel productive and energized throughout the rest of my day. So when this habit started to slip a little bit, so did everything else. It was like having life clutter or something. I was losing those precious hours and its not like I that extra sleep was helping, my alarm was still going off I was just choosing to snooze right on through. Now, I am still occasionally guilty of that, but really I have been trying to get back on the wagon with a great morning routine.

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Mini Beef Stew Pot Pies

Steak & Ale Pie by Natalie Paramore Filo Dough Minis

Welp, we are finally getting a little taste of winter this month in Austin. Saturday it was 78 degrees and today a high of 34. That means I can finally break into some stick-to-your-ribs winter recipes! This beef stew will warm you up for sure! Super hearty and straight from the UK, this mini beef stew pot pies are easy to make just in time for dinner this week. Scroll down to the bottom to see my how-to video!

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Spicy Mango Ginger Guacamole

Ginger Mango Guacamole by Natalie Paramore

Ready or not here it comes! Super Bowl 2015, err whatever the number is. I should probably figure that out. Or not. Because even though I made this guac in anticipation of the big game, I will probably be eating it all year long. Maybe as main dish like I did this week. For reals. True talk. I thought I’d whip this up, take a few cute photos and be done… then I took a bite. And another, and another, and… then it was gone. Ma’ bad!

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Shrimp Khoa Soi (Spicy Coconut Soup)

Spicy Thai Shrimp Soup_Natalie Paramore 5

Rain, rain go away! We’ve had quite the cloudy, rainy days recently here in our normally too hot to trot Austin, TX. I spent the better part of this Memorial Day weekend curled up in bed watching the thunderstorms and burning a holiday scented candle. It was practically like Christmas, haha. Which brings me to another point, why does the weather affect how we feel about food? Is it the seasonal vegetables? The heat, the rain, the everything that affects our mode. Hmmm, interesting. I need to investigate this more, but all I can say is, the weather definitely pulls my appetite in all sorts of directions. And rainy, cool days at the end of May mean hot, spicy soup! I found this recipe on Bon Appetit a few months ago and had every intention on making it this winter. Well despite all my efforts, it didn’t quite happen, so all this cool weather was my perfect moment to carpe diem and make this tempting soup!

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Fresh Peach and Mozzarella Salad

I am soaking up all that is left of summer produce, especially peaches. Fruit in salads has always been one of my favorites, like strawberries and watermelon. I’ve never been a huge fan of bottled salad dressings, so I am also sharing one of my super simple tips for whipping up a salad dressing with what you already have in the kitchen!

DSC_0697For Fresh Peach and Mozzarella Salad, you’ll need:

3 cups fresh spinach

2 Fresh peaches

8 ounces Fresh mozzarella

3 tablespoons Sweet and Hot Mustard

3 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon Olive oil

 

DSC_0698To make this easy dressing, combine the mustard, balsamic vinegar and olive oil in a bowl.

 

Sweet and Hot Mustard Dressing_Natalie ParmoreWhisk together with a fork until smooth. The sweet and hot mustard adds a little bite to the dressing, I think pairs well with the cool peaches and creamy mozzarella.

 

Peach and Mozzarella Salad_Natalie ParamorePeel the skin off of the peach and dice the mozzarella into 1/4 inch cubes.

Pretty Peach_Natalie ParamoreIt’s a purdy little peach! I sliced the peaches thin so that they were easier to eat but still looked pretty on the plate as opposed to being diced.

 

Fresh Peach and Mozzarella Salad_Natalie Paramore

Plate the spinach first, then add the peaches and mozzarella. Drizzle with dressing and serve!

Peach and Mozzarella Salad_Natalie ParamoreSo easy and delicious! Perfect to add to a meal this holiday weekend, plus it keeps things light which is always nice as we soak up the last rays of summer… or if you’re in Texas we’ve got at least another good month of bikini season 😉

Enjoy!

Opa!

This weekend I drove up to D-town for a belated Father’s Day visit. I went to the Ranger game with my dad and sister. Sadly they lost, but I hadn’t been to a Ranger game in years so it was still super fun! After a long drive back on Sunday, I was ready to take it easy and grab dinner with with a friend. After an unexpected cool front, and by cool I mean a balmy 92 degrees at 8pm, we grabbed a table outside at Opa!. I’ve been to Opa! before but hadn’t had a chance to write about it!

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I decided on the Baked Feta. Technically it’s an appetizer, but I ate it as my meal and I don’t regret one single morsel. So delicious. Only thing I’ll do different next time is get a side of kalamata olives.

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The patio is dog-friendly so I’ll probably bring the meems next time. Perfect place to meet a group. They have a good wine and beer selection as well as coffee.

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Good colors at the game Saturday night!

Happy Monday!

Creamy BBQ Chicken Dip

Are you gearing up for a sunshine, BBQ-filled weekend? Ok good me too. I whipped up this dip for my friends over at Brit+Co. Best thing about this dip is that you’ll probably already have most of the ingredients laying around for your BBQ!

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I highly suggest using Stubb’s Sweet Heat sauce. It’s perfect for this dip!

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You can get the full recipe and how-to here!

Holy Guacamole!

Get your Cinco de Mayo on with these three fresh guacamole flavors! I whipped these up for my friends over at Brit+Co. Check out the full how-to here !

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There’s Spicy Mango+Mint, Feta+Basil and Bacon+Dill!

Ingredients for the base guacamole:
– 6 cups of sliced avocado (5-6 whole avocados depending on size)
– 1/2 cup diced red onion
– 1/4 cup minced garlic
– 2 tablespoons lime juice
– 1 tablespoon kosher salt

1. Mango + Mint (spicy)

Ingredients:
– 1/2 cup diced mangos
– 2 tablespoons fresh torn mint
– 1 tablespoon minced jalapeños

2. Feta + Basil (medium)

Ingredients:
– 1/2 cup crumbled feta
– 2 tablespoons fresh torn basil
– 1 teaspoon minced jalapeños

3. Bacon + Dill (mild)

Ingredients:
– 1/2 cup bacon pieces
– 2 tablespoons fresh torn dill

Guac-3-Base-645x429

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What’s your favorite?

Green Apple and Arugula Stack Salad

I’ve been craving fresh, fun food lately. Well, to be quite frank, I’ve been craving fresh everything. After a whirlwind trip to the the beautiful Santa Monica, CA and yesterday’s inspirational post, fresh is on my mind. Maybe it’s because spring is on the way, or maybe I’ve been craving fresh change in my life. A small change in perspective can change everything.

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Sometimes I think fresh can be as simple as turning a salad on its side. Stacking things a different way, changing up that perspective. I’m a big believer that even small changes can make a big

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difference! Switching your latte to a skinny, and you might drop a pound or two or in a month. Buy a cute new journal, and you’ll be more inspired to write down your ideas in it! Put new tires on your old car and it feels like new again. Sometimes I even smile at people in traffic. Seriously. Try it! People’s reactions are funny and you might get a laugh. You never know whose day you’ll make! Little things, big difference.

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For this Green Apple and Arugula Stack Salad, you’ll need:

1 Crisp Granny Smith Apple
1 cup fresh arugula
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon spicy chinese mustard
Little kosher salt and fresh black pepper

Makes one serving.

Start by slicing the apple into quarter inch thick slices. You want the apple slices to be strong enough to hold the stack. The crisper the apple the better. Plus, the sour flavor of the Granny Smith apple works well with the peppery arugula.

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In a separate bowl, toss together the arugula, olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss until everything is coated well. Using tongs really helps here! You might need to toss it a few times, don’t be in a rush to use more oil, that will make your salad greasy… not the fresh taste we are going for here.

In a small separate bowl, whisk together the spicy mustard and balsamic vinegar until well blended.

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Begin by making a bed with the arugula, then stack and layer the apple slices and arugula.

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Drizzle the balsamic and mustard dressing over the top. Be careful not to just pour it over, it will look really messy.

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Grab your fork and knife and you’re ready to dig in!

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I could eat this all by itself! I think it would go great with a grilled fish or chicken as well.

Enjoy!

Garlicky Hummus with Tahini

Have you ever tried Grandma’s Hummus? Well if you have, then you’re in on the secret. It is the BEST hummus ever. Seriously. Try it (if you haven’t already) and you’ll understand.

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I’ve made hummus before but this time it was totally different. My roommate and I can nosh through an entire container of Grandma’s Hummus in one sitting. No joke. So I finally decided to try my hand at making a homemade version of this deliciousness. I *think* the secret is tahini. I used it in this recipe and it turned out amazing!

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For this recipe, you’ll need:

3 (15 ounce) cans of Chickpeas
1 ounce of fresh squeezed lemon juice- Must be fresh!
4-6 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of fresh chopped garlic
2 tablespoons of tahini paste
3/4 tablespoon of paprika
2 teaspoons of kosher salt

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I learned a trick from Lindsay over at Pinch of Yum, peel the little skins off of the chickpeas. What a genius! I didn’t even realize there were little skins on canned chickpeas. It worked though! Peeling those skins off really did yield a creamier, smoother hummus.

Let me be honest, it took me forever to peel the skins off. Ok maybe not forever but it did take an hour for me to peel 3 cans of chickpeas. I got caught up on an episode of Homeland while I did it though. Peeling chickpeas is pretty mindless so you can dedicate your full attention to deciphering the chaos that is Homeland.

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Blend everything together in a food processor, reserving 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1/4 tablespoon of paprika for later. Blending times will vary depending on your food processor. You may need to stop and stir everything or give it a tiny splash of water to help everything blend smoothly. The hummus will be thick so it may not blend smoothly through the processor, that’s ok. Give it a taste test and see of you would like more salt or lemon.

Once the hummus has reached your desired consistency, remove and plate. Mix together the remaining olive oil and paprika and spoon over the top of the hummus. It will give the hummus that vibrant orangey, red look.

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Serve with veggies, pita bread, on sandwiches or just eat it with a spoon. Yeah, it’s that good.

What is your favorite way to eat hummus?

Help Me with Homemade Pimento Cheese!

Ever since my trip to Oxford, MS, I’ve been dying to recreate the delicious pimento cheese I had!

I grabbed a recipe from Paula Deen and her son Bobby off of Food Network. My thinking was hey, it’s Paula Deen, this must be the real southern recipe I’ve been looking for! Well, wrong. It wasnt what I was looking for. It was still good, just a little too creamy and lacked depth. Basically what I’m saying is… Please send me your amazing homemade pimento cheese recipes! I’m dying for some good ones. I’ll walk you through what I did, and please give me your tips and hints about where I went wrong!

Cooking and blogging inevitably yields some disappointing results. And I like to share those with all you food lovers, because believe it or not, y’all are a wealth of knowledge! Please impart that upon me. Please and thank you.

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The recipe called for 3oz of cream cheese and 1/2 cup of mayonnaise. I thought this was too much for me, so I reduced the mayonnaise to 2 tablespoons. It was still too creamy for my liking though.

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I got my supplies ready:

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
3 oz of cream cheese
1/8 teaspoon of each: salt, pepper and garlic powder
3 tablespoons of pimento peppers

iPhone to guide you, mixing bowl, hand mixer…

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Wedged off 3oz of cream cheese that I let come to room temperature.

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I beat until fluffy.

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Added all my other ingredients. I just spooned the pimento peppers out I the jar, should I have patted them dry?

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As I began to mix, I realized this was way creamier and turning into an orange paste… Not the pimento cheese of my hopes and dreams.

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Again, it wasnt bad… Just not at all was I was hoping for. Suggestions? Anyone?? I’m listening!

Anyone have recipes without cream cheese and/or mayonnaise? Any tips for how to use or save these leftovers I’ve already made?

Thanks friends!

Toasted Asparagus and Honey Crostinis

My kitchen has turned into the ultimate revolving door with friends, and friends of friends, popping in several times a week. Many times unexpectedly, which is exactly how I like it. Growing up I always wanted to live in a house that was bursting with friends, family and lots of pets! Now as a pseudo-adult, I’ve been able to somewhat create that feeling in my house. With friends popping in all the time, I have come up with a few quick go-to dishes and appetizers that I can throw together in no time. This is great for sharing and easy to transport if you want to take to a potluck!


You’ll need:
French Bread
Asparagus
Ricotta (I like to use part-skim)
Honey
Garlic Salt
Pepper
Olive oil


First, slice the french bread into one inch thick slices.


Drizzle one side of each french bread slice with olive oil. I used about one tablespoon of olive oil for 6 crostinis.


Sprinkle the french bread with garlic salt and black pepper.


Smear each piece with a thin layer of ricotta cheese.


Slice pieces of asparagus to fit the length of the crostini.


Place crostinis on a baking sheet lined with foil. Toast at 350 degrees for 5-6 minutes or until edges are crispy.


Nice crispy edges!


Drizzle each piece lightly with honey.


Perfect as an appetizer or snack!


Enjoy!


What is your favorite snack to share?

Homemade Salsa

It has been a crazy week y’all! And its only Wednesday! So how about some fresh, easy, homemade blender salsa? Yes, I call it blender salsa. It’s so easy to make and super fresh and healthy. Plus, you can keep it in your fridge for a week or so and munch on it anytime. Of course its great with my favorite El Milagro tortilla chips or its great on salads, tacos, eggs… the list goes on.


You’ll need:
6 ripe tomatoes
2 jalapenos
1/2 a large white onion
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 a bunch of fresh cilantro
1 lime
Kosher salt
Cumin

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First, do a rough chop of half of a white onion. It’s all going in the blender so no need for it to look pretty.


Remove the seeds from 2 jalapenos then give the japs a good chop.


Chop up the fresh cilantro. Smells so good!


Chop up the garlic. Use about 4 cloves… more or less depending on your taste buds.


Dice up the tomatoes. Leave the guts, makes the salsa nice and juicy.


Be sure to remove this part where the stems breaks off.


All that goes into the blender… depending on the size of your blender and how much salsa you intend to make you may have to do this in two batches. Just add half the ingredients, blend until smooth then add the rest.


Add about half a tablespoon of Cumin and a tablespoon of salt. I use kosher salt.


Add the juice of 1 fresh lime.


All blended up!


I store my salsa in mason jars in the fridge. Easy access for a quick snack or appetizer!

What’s your favorite salsa?

The 5 Best Things I’ve Ever Made

Its been about 9 months since I started this blog. So I figured it was time for a “Best Thing I Ever Made” inspired post. There’s been quite a few meals made during this time so I wanted to share some of my favorites. Other things I could have done in 9 months:

Hatched a human

Finished 2 semesters of college

Made a trip around the world on a boat

But instead I decided to write about my culinary

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adventures. Glad you all decided to come along on this adventure. My shameless self-plug: I am raising money for the Alzheimer’s association and am waaayy behind on my goal of $500… any donation is greatly appreciated! So go here and donate $5, $10, $15 if you can. A $25 donation gets you a ticket to the game on June 8th and entrance to the after party. Thanks for your support!

Now here are The 5 Best Things I’ve Ever Made:

5. Sourdough Stack

This breakfast came to be early on in my blog and you can see the progress I’ve made… especially the photography. Despite the photography, this dish was one of the more creative things I’ve made. I really like this one.

4. Snickerdoodle Cake with Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting
The name explains why this is one of the best things I’ve ever made.

3. Buffalo Chicken Sliders with Ranch Coleslaw

I mean… seriously. These were AH-MAZ-ING! Sooooo deliciously spicy and good and perfect for any occasion.

2. Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread

Simply delicious. Not to mention this recipe is from one of my favorite, favorite bloggers, Joy the Baker.

1. Seared Tuna with Mango Salsa

Definitely the winner. Absolutely the Best Thing I’ve Ever Made. This dish was so fresh and the pineapple mango salsa could be used on so many other things. Searing tuna is not nearly as hard as it seems and is something I want to incorporate more often in my cooking rotation.

What is the Best Thing You’ve Ever Made?

Zucchini Chips with Dill Tzatziki

Have you ever failed at something?

Twice?

Well, I have. Actually, I’ve probably failed at things far more times than I have succeeded. But hey, that’s life, right? Learn your lesson, pick yourself back up and try, try, again. I mean, I feel like I’m failing right now writing the post about failing. I realize though that its fear. Fear that you all wont identify with what I’m sayin’, know what I’m sayin’?

In fact, I thought this whole blog might be one big failure. But I decided to do it for me. I needed it. I needed that creative outlet. For me. And guess what? Once I got over my fear, this has been such a rewarding experience and has grown into so much more. The first day I launched this baby I got 615 views.

I cried.

Yup, I sure did. At my desk. At work, haha. I couldn’t believe that my friends and family would be that supportive. It was such a blessing. So, here’s to you. Banish that fear and just go for it. You’ll probably stumble along the way but you just never know what might happen.

 

Ok back to food. And the failure that was Zucchini Chips. Somewhere along the way something went wrong and I will document that here. For you.


You’ll need:
For the Zucchini Chips:
2 whole zucchini
Olive oil
Garlic Salt

For the Dill Tzatziki:
1 cup greek yogurt
Lemon juice
2 cloves minced garlic
Kosher salt
Pepper
Fresh dill weed


Wash and thinly slice the zucchini… Warning this is documentation of the 1st round which was a total failure.


Place the zucchini slices on a baking sheet lined with foil.


Drizzle with olive oil. The 1st time around I think I used too much olive oil.


Shake on some garlic salt…


The first time, I popped these in the oven at 425 degrees and 20 minutes later I had…


Scorched zucchini. Burned ’em. Burned ’em bad. They were crispy though! haha


So, I tried, tried again. This time I sliced the zucchini a little thicker.


I didn’t use olive oil the 2nd time around but still used the garlic salt. I also baked them at 200 degrees for 30 minutes. They turned out better but not crispy enough… what gives? Anyone have any tricks up their sleeve? Anyone? Bueller?


For the Dill Tzatziki, wash a mince up a few sprigs of fresh dill and 2 cloves of garlic.


In a bowl combine the greek yogurt with the dill and garlic.


Add in the juice of a fresh lemon.


Add in a pinch or two of kosher salt to your liking. And some fresh ground pepper. Mix that all together.


Plate the zucchini chips with the dill tzatziki and dig in! In hindsight, this would have also been really good with garlic naan or pita chips.


The dill tzatziki was still a great light, summery dip. And if I ever figure out how to successfully make Zucchini Chips… you all will be the first to know!

Happy Friday!

Buffalo Chicken Sliders with Ranch Coleslaw

I am not really sure what gave me the idea to make these hearty little bites but once the thought was in my head, it was all I could think about.

I have never made anything with buffalo sauce before and I wouldn’t exactly call this the healthiest thing I’ve ever made but hey, sometimes I wanna grub, just like you. I was surprised at how fast these baked and with a few quick tips I came up with, you can whip these babies up in less than an hour start to finish!

First, lets start with the Ranch coleslaw.

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You’ll need:

4oz of buttermilk
4oz of mayo (can sub sour cream or greek yogurt)
1/2 a packet of Hidden Valley Original Ranch mix
1/2 cup of chopped carrots
1/2 cup of chopped red cabbage


In a jar, combine 4oz of buttermilk and 4oz of mayo.


Add in about half a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix.


Whisk that together and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to chill. We will come back to the carrots and cabbage later.


For the Buffalo Chicken Sliders, you’ll need (this makes 4 sliders):

4 King’s Hawaiian Rolls

1 large Chicken breast
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1 cup of panko bread crumbs
1 egg
1/2 cup of Frank’s Hot Wing sauce
1/4 cup of buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.


In a bowl combine 1 egg and the buttermilk. Whisk that together.


After whisking that together, add about a tablespoon or so Frank’s Hot wing sauce.


Whisk that together again and set aside.


In a separate mixing bowl, combine equal parts Panko breadcrumbs and flour. Stir that together well and set aside.


I attempted to cut a large chicken breast into four somewhat equal parts that resembled the shape of a Hawaiian King Role. They’re not perfect but they will do just fine! Be sure to take note of which pieces are thicker than others as they will require more time baking. Cut away any extra fat or sinewy parts.


Now, dip the chicken breast piece into the egg, buttermilk and hot sauce bowl. Be sure to completely cover the chicken with sauce, flipping it over a few times if needed.


Next, roll the chicken in the flour, breadcrumb mixture.


Completely cover the chicken in the flour and panko breadcrumbs.


Now here’s the good part y’all… I double breaded these babies! That’s right, I had extra egg and dry mixtures and thought, why not? This part starts to get a little messy but stick with it because the extra crispy crust is totally worth it in the end. Re-dip the breaded chicken into the egg, hot sauce mixture.


Then re-roll the chicken in the flour and bread crumb mixture.


Place the double-breaded chicken pieces into a baking pan sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes or until completely cooked.


While the chicken is baking, go back to the cloeslaw and prepare the veggies. Peel a carrot.


An easy substitution would be to buy matchstick carrots but I wanted to see for myself how to cut a carrot into thin little pieces. You will need a sharp knife for this. I began by slicing the carrot into thirds and then subsequently dicing those in half long ways and then cutting them into thin pieces.


Now onto the cabbage! Wash it first.


First, cut the knob off.


Then cut the cabbage into thin slices. So pretty!


Cut the cabbage into thin pieces. I used about 1/2 a cup of carrots and 1/2 a cup of cabbage, so equal parts if you decide to make more or less.


Put the cabbage and carrots into a mixing bowl and add about 2 tablespoons of chilled ranch dressing.


Mix that all together.


The chicken should be about done by now. Toss the chicken cuts with more Frank’s hot wing sauce. I used hot buffalo sauce but unless you like to sweat and sniffle while you eat, I suggest using the regular buffalo sauce. This one got quite hot! Or you could mix hot and regular, up to you.


I added the sauce right into the baking pan because I did not want to worry with more dishes and bowls.


Use tongs and toss the chicken until completely covered with hot wing sauce.


Place the buffalo chicken cuts onto King’s Hawaiian rolls. The sweet, soft bread is a great compliment to the spicy, crispy chicken.


Top with the cool ranch coleslaw.


Ready to serve! These are great as an appetizer for sharing or even as a meal!


Enjoy!

Love Dip from Central Market

Looking for an inexpensive and super easy appetizer or snack to share this weekend? Or maybe you want to get all your co-workers on your good side? I have the answer, Love Dip. It’s lovely. Creamy, delicious, flavorful and the perfect snack or appetizer. Best of all, you can swing by Central Market and pick up some to go in the prepared foods section! Super easy and inexpensive, you could be the next $5 dollar hero. All your friends and co-workers will love you if you show up with a bowl of this yumminess.

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First of all, you’ll need a vehicle to transport the love dip to your mouth. I suggest fresh French bread from Central Market. I only needed half of a loaf, they’re huge! And guess how much half a loaf of French bread is… $0.75. That’s right 75 cents. Crazy. You can ask them to slice the bread for you right there in the bakery for no extra charge.

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Of course I snazzed up the bread and made crostinis however I’ve served this plenty of times with fresh, soft bread straight from Central Market. However if you have the time, places the bread on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.

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Flip these over to coat both sides. Just drizzle though, don’t soak these in olive oil.

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Sprinkle with the secret ingredient: Lawrys Garlic Sea Salt. It’s lovely.

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Pop those in the oven and broil in high for 10-15minutes. Be careful to keep an eye on them and not let them burn!

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Mine got a little toasty. Oops! They were still good though!

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Serve the Love Dip cold and in a bowl. Place the crostinis around the bowl with a little knife for spreading.

Enjoy!

Tuna Tartare with Grilled Pineapple and Honey Garlic Glaze

Well, I certainly could not let any tuna go to waste, so I thought I’d try my hand at tuna tartare. I wanted to make the final presentation into one of those perfectly shaped little things but lets be real, I couldn’t wait that long to eat this! So maybe next time haha.

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You’ll need:
Tuna
Pineapple
Red onion
Garlic
Cilantro
Honey
Soy sauce
Kosher salt and Black pepper

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First, let’s roast some garlic.

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Cut off the end.

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I popped my garlic in the toaster oven at 350 degrees. You can do the same thing in a regular oven. Drizzle with oil, I used sesame. Let that roast for about 15min, be careful to not let it burn!

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While the garlic is roasting, let’s take the pineapple slices out to the grill.

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Get the fire going at about medium. Pineapple is a very meaty fruit and can be grilledl for about 5 minutes on each side. Pretty grill marks!

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Dice up a few tablespoons of red onion.

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That’s probably about a 2-3 ounce slice of tuna. It will make about 2 servings of tuna tartare.

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Now dice up the precious tuna.

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In a bowl, combine the tuna and red onion with a tablespoon of soy sauce.

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I probably could have eaten this all by itself!

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Remember our friend roasted garlic?

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The cloves should easily squeeze right out…

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So maybe I used all the garlic cloves… Overkill? Maybe. But it tasted great to me!

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Add 2 tablespoons of honey.

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Mush that all up together. You could do this in a food processor to get a more “paste” like consistency but I just didn’t have the energy for that endeavor.

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Ok y’all, grab those pineapples off the grill and let’s put this all together!

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Smear the garlic and honey glaze over top one of the pineapple slices.

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Spoon the tuna on top.

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Add a sprig of cilantro and you’re done!

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I ate mine with a knife and fork… Not how tuna tartare is usually eaten but who cares! It was delicious!

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Dig in y’all!

Hasselback Strawberries

I feel like summer is almost here! All the fresh herbs and produce popping up at the store has me all excited. I loooove me some basil and thought this was a fresh twist on a traditional caprese salad with some inspiration from hasselback potatoes.

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You’ll need:
Fresh Strawberries
Fresh Basil
Fresh Mozzarella
Balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and black pepper

I wound up not using the blue cheese pictured but I think it would go great as well!

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Wash strawberries and basil then pat dry. Slice the strawberry horizontally but dont slice all the way through. Leave the bottom of the strawberry attached, this will keep everything together.

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Slice the fresh mozzarella into very thin pieces.

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Place the mozzarella in the slits of the strawberry.

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Tear tiny pieces of basil off and nussle those in the slits with the mozzarella.

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So beauty!

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The basil smells quite divine if you ask me!

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This would make an awesome snack!

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Drizzle with a tiny bit of balsamic vinegar and a touch of kosher salt and black pepper.

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Enjoy!

Chocolate, Brie and Basil Panini

I got creative with paninis again. Really just love a grilled sandwich, although this is more like a dessert…

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You’ll need:
Bread (I used sourdough)
Brie cheese
Chocolate (milk or dark)
Fresh Basil
Butter

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Butter your bread!

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Slice the Brie. I left the rind on, personal preference.

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Heat up the panini maker! You can also use a George Foreman grill or make it in the skillet like a grilled cheese.

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Place bread butter side down. Stack on the Brie!

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Tear up some fresh basil and add it on.

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I’ve got a golden ticket!

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I used milk chocolate simply because I don’t care for the bitterness of dark chocolate. However, after trying this with the creaminess of the Brie, dark chocolate would have been a nice compliment.

I also sprinkled a little kosher salt and fresh pepper on, nice little salty and spice.

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Time to toast!

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Let that sit for a few minutes.

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Golden perfection.

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Slice in half.

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Enjoy this sweet, buttery panini!

Kale Chips

These may not look like much but they are one of my favorites! Kale chips are basically dehydrated pieces of kale, same principle as potato chips.

These are simple to make and satisfy that crispy, salty craving.

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You’ll need:
Fresh Kale
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Optional: pepper or other spices

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

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Wash kale and pat dry.

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Cut off the bulky stems.

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Lay kale leaves

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flat on a baking pan lined with foil.

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Drizzle with olive oil.

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Sprinkle with kosher salt.

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Dash of fresh pepper!

You could get really creative with spices and flavors to use! Paprika, garlic, lemon all sound wonderful to me! Start with the basic olive oil and salt and then go from there!

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Bake for 20-25min at 375 degrees. These will wilt down significantly.

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The pictures really don’t do these babies justice. They tasted and smelled delicious!

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The flavor really reminds me of a super thin potato chip. The longer you bake these the crispier they will become. I ate them right off the pan they were so tempting!

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I made these again but added some thinly sliced Yukon gold potatoes. I ate them with ketchup mixed with siracha and it was the perfect addition to my meal.

Enjoy!

Spicy Crab-Stuffed Cucumber

Hey Friends! Sorry for my lack of posting yesterday but I have been working diligently on the backend of this site. You the only difference you may have noticed thus far is that you are now being redirected to natalieparamore.com!!! Woohoo I bought my domain!! Other changes will be made later and most of them should not effect how you use this site.

Moving along, last night I served up these little bites as appetizers at my Valentine’s

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Day dinner. I hope you all enjoy these!

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You’ll need:
2 cucumbers
1 cup of Greek yogurt
Crab meat ( I used claw meat bc it is sweeter)
Paprika
Tabasco
Spicy brown mustard
Green onions
Lemon juice
Pepper
Salt

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Make sure all the excess water is removed from your crab meat. Then combine with the Greek yogurt in a mixing bowl.

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Add a few shakes of Tabasco. Add more if you like spice!

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Add somewhere between a teaspoon and a tablespoon of spicy brown mustard.

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Add a teaspoon of kosher salt and some black pepper to taste. Squeeze in the juice of a fresh lemon.

Mix all of that up and set aside.

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Wash the cucumbers and peel them leaving stripes of skin to keep them together once we stuff them.

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Slice the cucumber. Make sure there is room to make these little cups so we can stuff them with the crab meat. About an inch and half thick.

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Use a melon baller to scoop out the seeds and soft inner part. Leave the edges thick so they can hold the can meat.

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Hope those pictures give you a good idea of what we are trying to achieve.

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Fill the cucumber cups with the crab meat mixture.

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Dice some green onions.

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Place the stuffed cucumbers onto a serving platter and sprinkle with paprika.

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Top with green onions and you’re done!

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I platted these on red heart shaped plates since it was valentines day after all.

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Enjoy!!

Greek Yogurt with Horseradish and Lemon Zest

This is a great dipping sauce. Easy to make and best of all, you probably already have most of the stuff in your fridge. I served my sauce with cucumber slices and whole wheat pita chips but you can serve this with a variety of veggies, chips or pita breads.

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You’ll need:
1 cup of Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons of horseradish
1 lemon
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black
pepper

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Put the yogurt in a serving bowl.

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Add two tablespoons of horseradish, more if you like!

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Be sure and wash your lemon.

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Now, lemon zest time! If you don’t have zester, no problem. Just use the fine grate on your cheese grater.

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Add a pinch or two of kosher salt.

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A little cracked pepper.

Mix that all up.

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Add a little more lemon zest and cracked pepper to make it look pretty.

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Garnish with cucumber slices or whatever you decide on.

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And there you have it! Easy and delicious and ready to share!

Nacho Cups

For the Super Bowl, I wanted to come up with something really creative, maybe with a little healthy twist, that was easy to share. I had dreams that I was onto something really great here. However after a trip to the grocery store failed on delivering these pastry baking sheets I was planning on using, I opted for uncooked tortillas. Then a last minute addition of jalapeños… I realized as they were baking that I basically had… Nachos in tortilla chip cups. Haha this is definitely one of those times where the dish morphed as I was putting it together. They were still tasty and easy to share, so I’m calling this a win!

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You’ll need:
Uncooked flour tortillas
Shredded cheese
Spicy sausage
4 oz cream cheese
1 cup spinach
Minced garlic
Sliced jalapeños

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

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Brown the sausage.

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Mince up a few cloves of garlic. Ok maybe that’s like 5 cloves… Just do it to your taste.

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Take the heat off of the sausage. Then mix the minced garlic into the pan and just let those flavors meld while we prep the other stuff.

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Dice up a couple handfuls of spinach.

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Slice up the cream cheese. You want it room temperature so it will blend easier.

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Throw those cream cheese knobs in with the spinach in a large mixing bowl.

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Now add in the sausage and garlic, they should still be warm. Mix all that together.

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Now onto the tortillas. I kind of guesstimated how big to slice these. Trial and error here people.

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Spray a muffin pan generously with non-stick spray. Then line the cups with tortilla. If there are gaps or the tortilla tears, patch it up with a little piece of tortilla.

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Fill the cups with the sausage, spinach mixture. Those corners sticking up are ok. As they cook, they will become crispy just like a chip!

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Top with lots of cheese!

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Wash and slice a jalapeño.

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Top each nacho cup with a jalapeño.

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Now these delicious bites are ready for the oven!

Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees or until cheese is bubbly and tortilla edges are brown and crisp.


They smelled awesome!

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Ready to share!

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I think they are pretty cute too!

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Yumo!

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Enjoy!

Bacon Wrapped Asparagus

I made this appetizer to go with Beer Beef Stew with Horseradish Mashed Potatoes. I bought the dipping sauce. I specifically wanted a spicy honey mustard type sauce and settled on Beaver Brand Sweet and Hot Mustard after scouring some blogs. This appetizer is super easy to make and definitely a crowd pleaser… C’mon it has bacon! People, especially guys, just love bacon.

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You’ll need:
Asparagus
Bacon
Sweet and Hot mustard

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Rinse the asparagus and cut the ends off.

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Wrap the bacon tightly around the Asparagus stalk.

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If you wrap it tightly enough, it should stick on the asparagus pretty well. Kinda looks like an asparagus bacon candy cane haha.

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Place the bacon wrapped asparagus on a baking sheet lined with foil. Broil these on high for 25-30min depending on your oven and how crispy you like your bacon.

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Meanwhile, put some sweet and hot mustard in a small dipping bowl.

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Oh yum! Crispy bacon and hot asparagus!

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Place the bacon wrapped asparagus on a paper towel before plating. This will dry up some the grease and keep your plate clean.

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Plate the asparagus with the dipping sauce in the middle.

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Voila! An easy appetizer that is sure to please!

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You could also cut these into bite size pieces and serve with toothpicks.

Hope y’all enjoy!

Sweet Potato Hummus

I’ve been wanting to make homemade hummus for a while now but wasn’t sure which direction to go in. My friend Lauren Pou made some one night that had sweet potato in it. It was delicious and the sweet potato adds flavor and keeps it moist without tons of olive oil. I mean the girl has super toned legs and glowing skin… I’ll have what she’s having. Thanks Pou for the idea!

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You’ll need:
1 can of chickpeas
1 sweet potato
Garlic
Olive oil
Kosher salt

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Dump the chickpeas in a colander and rinse all that weird liquid they come in off.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

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Slice the sweet potato in half and place flesh side down on a pan lined with foil. Drizzle a little olive oil. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or so to soften the potato.

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Meanwhile, do a rough chop of about 4-5 cloves of garlic.

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After the sweet potato is done, chop it up into chunks.

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Get your olive oil and salt handy.

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Now let’s move everything into the food processor. A blender works too. You might have to do this in batches. Add sweet potato chunks, chickpeas, garlic and salt to each batch. Add 1-2 tablespoons as needed to blend.

This is kind of a process and depending on your mixing device might take some patience.

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Do a little taste test after you mix your batches and see if it needs salt or olive oil.

Once your satisfied with the taste it’s time to serve!

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I served my sweet potato hummus with garlic naan. Yum!

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Works great as an appetizer and will keep in the fridge for a few days if you don’t finish it all.

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Enjoy!

Stuffed Mushrooms with Prosciutto and Gruyere

Here is yet another appetizer I brought to another potluck. Gotta say, I do love a potluck. Why? Because there is lots of sharing and you get to taste everything. Always my fav.

There are million different ways to prepare stuffed mushrooms and here is my take.

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You’ll need:
1 lb Cremini mushrooms
1/2 a bunch of green onions
1 cup spinach
1 medium yellow onion
Garlic
1/3 lb of thinly sliced prosciutto
Gruyere Cheese

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You’ll also need:
1/2 cup of bread crumbs
1 tablespoon of butter
Italian Seasoning

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Dice up the onion.

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Mince up some garlic. Or if you’re like me, 6 cloves or so…

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Chop up the spinach.

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Ok, now time for the mushrooms. Be sure to wash them

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well, mushrooms are pretty dirty. The use a spoon to scoop out the stems. Set stems aside. We will use them for the stuffing.

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Separate stems and ‘shrooms.

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Now, dice up the stems.

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Looking’ good.

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In a skillet, sauté the mushroom caps with a tablespoon or so of butter. We want to soften these up a bit. Sauté on medium heat for 5-6minutes or until slightly tender.

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While the ‘shrooms are on the stove, let’s slice up the prosciutto.

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Oh, look who finally climbed out of her bed! Little Mimi has quite the nose for deli meat!

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All sliced up.

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Thinly slice your green onions. These are for the topping.

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And thinly slice the gruyere too. Also for topping.

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Combine all fresh ingredients in a large bowl. Add 1/2 cups of bread crumbs.

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Add a few shakes of Italian seasoning.

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A few pinches of kosher salt.

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Mix that all up.

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Don’t forget about these babies we had sautéing!

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Lightly spread a little olive on the bottom of a large baking pan. Now, things are finally coming together! Start stuffing!

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Ok, so… I made a wee bit too much stuffing. Instead of throwing it away, I just poured it all on top of the stuffed mushrooms. I knew everything was going to cool down so in the end it would be ok.

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Then top everything with gruyere slices and green onions. If you didn’t want to use the extra stuffing, place a slice of gruyere over each mushroom and top with some green onions.

Bake at 325 degrees for about 30min or until cheese is melted and a little bubbly.

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Omg… These smelled delicious!!

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Mouth. Is. Watering.

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So perfect for sharing!

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Who is ready to eat?!?

Enjoy!

Spring Rolls

I, like everyone else it seems, could use a little detox after the holiday gorge fest. I get a little bored with regular old “healthy” type food and prefer to keep it real. As in real food, minimally processed that packs lots of nutrition and flavor. This the spring roll. Easy, healthy, and switches it up a little.

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The specialty items you’ll need:
Rice Paper
Rice Noodles
I found these in the Asian section at HEB but you can also get them at places like Thai Fresh and other Asian markets.

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Siracha and Soy Sauce for dipping if you like.

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As for your fresh ingredients:
Cabbage
Cilantro
Cucumber
Carrots
Shrimp

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Peel the cucumber.

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Then slice the ends off and cut it in half.

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Use a spoon to scrape out the flesh.

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Thinly slice the cucumber.

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Now cut the thin slices into thirds. Set aside.

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Peel off some cabbage leaves. Wash and pat them dry.

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Slice them into thin strips about the same size as the cucumber.

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In a boiling pot of water, place a handful of rice noodles. You don’t need much and these cook pretty quickly! Some only require about a minute in the boiling water, depends on the width and thickness of the noodle.

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They kinda stay stuck together while they cook unless you separate them. In this case, it’s ok for them to stick together.

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After removing from water, I let mine rest and dry out just a tad.

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Ok, now for the challenging part: Rice paper. Look! It’s already starting to curl just holding it over the pot. It’s a delicate ingredient.

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And my first attempt was an utter fail, haha.

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Discard that one and move on.

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Ok, it’s not perfect but definitely something I can work with. To do this, I dipped the rice paper in the water very quickly and had the plate right next to the stove. I laid it out as quickly as possible. Boom.

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Now for the fun part! Place the shrimp flat on the cooked rice paper.

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Layer the cabbage and cucumber slices over the shrimp.

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Now add carrot slices and cilantro.

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Top with a thin layer of cooked rice noodles and your ready to roll it up! The rice paper will be a little sticky and should roll up nicely.

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Ready to eat!

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I dipped mine in some siracha and soy sauce, yummy! Enjoy!

Cheesy Artichoke Bread

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I did a little cooking, I mean who didn’t? But I didn’t cook anything for Thanksgiving dinner actually, just for my family. I have been wanting to try this recipe I saw on Closet Cooking. Now, I changed up the recipe a little and it tasted great but my final product didn’t look as appetizing as his. But it was my first time and this is all trial and error, right? Well, I’ll keep telling my self that at least.

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You’ll need:
2 loaves of fresh French bread
8oz sour cream
8oz cream cheese
Shredded Mozzarella
Shredded Parmesan
5 big cloves of minced garlic
1 bunch of green onions
2 can of artichoke hearts
1 stick of butter

(the above makes two loaves because I was cooking for 6 people, you could half this)

Pre heat oven to 400 degrees. I started with mine at 350 degrees but wound up cranking up the heat and burning the bottom of the loaves in the process. I think if you start at 400 degrees you will achieve the perfect combination of heat and broiled cheese with no burning.

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Chop up the green onions, garlic and artichoke hearts. Drain artichoke hearts first, then chop.

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Mix everything together. All the veggies and cheeses. Save some shredded mozzarella and Parmesan for later.

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All mixed up.

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Slice out the middle of the loaf.

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Ok now we are ready to fill it!

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Fill up your loaf with the cheesy, artichoke mixture.

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Top with the extra mozzarella and Parmesan. Place on foil and pop it into the oven for about 20-25min or until cheese is slightly brown and bubbling.

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So gooood and cheeesssyyy.

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Watch out! The bread will be super hot and slicing it was… A challenge for me haha. Enjoy!

Gingerbread Village at the Four Seasons

So, it’s officially my favorite time of year! Christmas!! Earlier this week Lara Burns, Caroline Lomax, Sara Hull and I went to the Four Seasons for the annual Gingerbread Village unveiling. It’s a great way to kick off the season, these ornately decorated gingerbread houses and creations will be on display in the Four Seasons’ lobby until New Year’s so stop by and take a look.

The Gingerbread Village is dedicated to Texas history this year.

The Frost Tower

It’s all edible, incredible!

Hook ’em Horns!

During the unveiling, there are drinks and cookies, a singer who walks around serenading everyone to Christmas tunes and its all finished with a countdown to the Christmas tree lighting. Of course there is a Santa you can take pictures with but we left that for the kiddos.

Dallas

Lara, Sara, Me, Caroline

Christmas is here!

Afterwards we headed downstairs to TRIO, to take advantage of their awesome happy hour. Which after sampling all they had to offer, I wouldn’t be surprised to find myself there much more often.

Can’t beat half price glasses of wine and champagne.

Delicious Cheese Plate

Steak Fries with Truffle Aioli topped with parmesan and rosemary… I die.

Pork Sliders= Divine.
Truffle Mac ‘n Cheese… we’ll take 2!!
 If you ever need a partner to hit up the Four Seasons with… I’m your girl!

Bite Size Caprese Salads

I made these for yet another girls night dinner. Seem to be going to a lot of potlucks lately, so I will be writing about all my foods that are good for sharing. These were a great compliment to all the cheeses, breads and meatballs that everyone brought.

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You’ll need:
Fresh mozzarella ( I used mozzarella balls)
Red pepper
Fresh garlic
Spinach or Basil leaves
Balsamic vinegar
Cracked black pepper
Kosher Salt
Toothpicks

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A few days before, I added some cracked red pepper and minced garlic to the container of fresh mozzarella and let it soak. I wanted to get some extra flavors in the cheese.

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I used fresh spinach leaves because my basil that I was planning on using went bad 🙁 so at the last minute I used some dried Italian seasoning in place of the fresh basil.

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Half the mozzarella balls.

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Place the halved mozzarella and halved tomatoes in the leaf of your choice. This makes a little boat when you insert the the toothpick horizontally. I also made some vertically by putting the tomato on the bottom, flat side down, then stacking the leaf and topping with mozzarella.

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Voila!

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Aren’t they pretty?

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Now, time to season!

Drizzle with balsamic vinegar then fresh cracked black pepper, Italian seasoning if you want and sprinkle with kosher salt.

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Yumo!

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Now, the conundrum was how to transport these little morsels… Cupcake pan with lid. BOOM! Problem solved!!

Enjoy!!

Ranch 616

Anyone want a margarita? Because I could sure use one. Especially this one from Ranch 616.

After an afternoon of game watching at J Black’s, Leah Pigg, Ellie Little, Luke Thompson and I decided to grab some dinner at Ranch 616. We got several different dishes and split everything, which is my favorite. I love being able to try several different things, especially when there are so many great choices!

After we ordered our drinks, we started things off with the Don Combo, fried oysters and bacon wrapped shrimp.

Close up of the bacon wrapped shrimp with ranch.

They kindly split our Ranch Slice of Ice, so this is a mini piece. Of course, extra pepper on mine!

This was a special, mahi mahi with tiger shrimp and topped with bananas. It was definitely different but awesome at the same time. Hopefully, I’ll make it back before they take this one off the menu!

Of course, bacon and cheese mashers on the side were gone in no time with this crowd.

This is Jalapeno Maize Chicken, quite delish.

They brought out these awesome biscuits at the end… not that I needed more carbs but I definitely helped myself 🙂

This picture didnt turn out as well but what would dinner be without dessert?

Whole Foods Cooking Class

If I haven’t mentioned it before, I’m a huge Twitter fan. (you can follow me @natalieparamore) That being said, a few weeks ago I won a cooking class at Whole Foods by answering a trivia question via Twitter. Awesome! I got to bring a guest and the lovely Ms.Charisse Sayers came with me!

I wanted to share the all the great photos because these are the kinds of things that inspire my cooking. More importantly, I wanted to share what I learned about Whole Planet Foundation. It’s Whole Foods non-profit that gives micro loans to those in need in third world countries to establish their own businesses. If you’ve never heard of micro finance loans, I suggest you check it out. They are really cool programs!


Here is a picture of the menu. I have to admit, I was so hungry that I ate the Kenyan Style Tomatoes and Kale before I took a picture…oops! But it’s a dish that I will definitely be making for the blog, so be on the lookout.


When we arrived, we got to choose to between water or a variety of dry sodas. I chose lemongrass and it was surprisingly refreshing! I wasn’t sure what to expect but the best way I can describe it is as a flavored sparkling water.


The main dish was a Peruvian style chicken. We were actually served half of a chicken with green rice. The Peruvian spice rub wasn’t spicy but had a great flavor.

The coconut bread was what I was most excited about! When I read the menu before attending, I thought the coconut bread was going to be dessert. However, the bread wasn’t really sweet but instead had a hint of coconut flavor that accompanied the Peruvian spices quite well. The Chef demonstrated how to make the bread, even using live yeast! I have never made homemade bread before but I want to try it after tasting this bread!

At the end of the meal, we got these yummy frozen bananas dipped in dark chocolate. I want to make these ASAP!

Bacon Wrapped Shrimp

I’ve been wanting to barbecue something on a skewer for a while now. However, after my attempt, I highly suggest you use skewers that were made for grilling. I didn’t, and the ones I used burned up like little toothpicks pretty quickly. The shrimp still turned out delicious but the grilling part got a little messy. Just another grilling adventure and lesson learned by a barbecue amateur.

You’ll need:
1lb fresh shrimp
Fresh lemon
Dijon Mustard
Minced garlic
Parsley
Basil
Kosher salt
Cracked black pepper
Onion
Orzo
Olive oil


The shrimp I bought had not been peeled, so I removed the shells and left the tails. I also have them a good rinse afterwards.


Add I few table spoons of Dijon mustard, a few shakes of parsley and basil, two heaping spoonfuls of garlic and sprinkle with kosher salt and cracked pepper. Drizzle with olive oil.


Mix well and then add fresh squeezed lemon juice.


Let marinate for at least an hour in the fridge.


When you are ready to begin grilling, slice an onion to throw on the top rack of the grill. You might want to start cooking the orzo now, it cooks like rice, 2 parts water to 1 part pasta.


I sliced the uncooked bacon strips in half to better fit the shrimp.


Wrap the uncooked bacon around the shrimp. I put three to a skewer. Remember to use skewers good for grilling!


Grill over a medium fire for about five minutes each side or until the bacon is cooked to your desired crispness. Grill the fresh onion on the top rack or bottom rack as long as the fire doesn’t get too hot and burn it.


Now plate your skewers over a bed of orzo with grilled onion and enjoy! I served mine with a dollop of extra Dijon mustard for dipping and it was very good.

Spicy Italian Dipping Sauce

I wasn’t really sure what to call this yummy concoction, so I’ll take your suggestions. Basically, this what you get when you sit down at an Italian restaurant. I love bread and olive oil with balsamic vinegar and cracked pepper. Adding this pesto-y herb blend really takes it up a notch. I could literally make a meal out this with fresh sourdough bread and a glass of Cabernet. Seriously, what else does a girl need?

You’ll need:
Fresh Italian Parsley
Fresh Sweet Basil
Fresh Rosemary
Fresh garlic
Fresh lemon
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Dried Thyme
Cracked red pepper
Cracked black pepper

Sourdough bread (or whatever you choose as your vehicle of consumption)

Wash and pat dry all your fresh herbs. Chop them up a little, removing the bottom part of the stems from the herbs. For the rosemary, I peeled the leaves off the stem entirely.

Place into your food processor. Squeeze the juice of half of a large lemon in. Add a teaspoon or two of cracked red pepper, depending on how much spice you like. A few shakes of dried thyme, a teaspoon or two of kosher salt and a couple grinds of cracked black pepper.

Blend until your get a good consistency. The natural water in the herbs will make it moist, no need to add extra oil in this step.

Drizzle olive oil over your herb mix and plate with bread. Perfect to serve as an appetizer or if you’re like me… Add a glass of cabernet and call it a meal.

Fall Salad: Baby Greens with Pears, Candied Pecans and Blue Cheese

Y’all know how much I love a great salad! I usually put plenty of strawberries, cucumbers and lots of other summer produce into my salads but with fresh summer produce dwindling, I’ve been searching for something new. After reading an article about pears on one of my favorite blogs, Camille Styles, I decided this fall fruit would definitely hit the spot!

You’ll need:

Baby Greens

Candied Pecans

Bartlett Pear

Blue Cheese

Cracked Black Pepper

Olive Oil

Balsamic Vinegar

Pretty simple assembly, wash and slice pear into thin slices. Arrange on a bed of baby greens. Sprinkle with candied pecans, blue cheese and cracked pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

The perfect salad, full of fall flavors and ready to pair with your favorite dish!

Sliced Apples with Provolone and Cracked Pepper

Whenever I come home from work, I feel like a famished high school kid. Remember the days when your after school “snack” became the 4th meal of the day? Well, in an attempt to keep myself from starving until dinner time, I started making this delicious little snack. It’s healthy and easy and will tie you over until your next meal.

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You’ll need:

Granny Smith Apple

Couple slices of Provolone ( I got mine cut on #2 thickness at the deli counter)

Fresh Cracked Pepper

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Wash the apple (duh)

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Slice into relatively thin slices

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Add a few pieces of provolone

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Top it off with fresh cracked pepper and voila!! Perfect snack!!

Tortellini Skewers

I did this take on tortellini for a potluck lunch at work. Its fun and easy and people just really loved the skewers haha.

Frozen Cheese Tortellini

Pesto (I used TexaFrance garlic pesto)

Skewers

Boil the tortellini like normal. Don’t let them get too soft or they will fall off of the skewer.

Drain tortellini and mix in several spoonfuls of pesto.

Start sliding the tortellini onto the skewers. I put 3-4 on each skewer.

Place onto a platter. I tried to arrange these in a circular fashion at first but it looked really messy so I went with placing them all the same way and it looked much better.

2 great things about this dish:

  • You can make it the night before and put in the fridge and serve cold the next day!
  • The whole thing costs less than $10!

Happy potlucking!

Black Bean and Corn Salsa

I took this over to our friends’ house for a football watching party this weekend. It’s a great (and healthy!) way to change it up from regular salsa.

1 can of black beans

1 can of corn

1 small red onion

1 small jalapeno

Minced garlic

Cilantro

Lime

Cumin

Salt

Rinse black beans and corn in a colander. Set on paper towel to dry off a little bit.

Wash cilantro and jalapeno and pat dry with paper towel.

Cut stems off of cilantro and chop cilantro.

Cut top off of jalapeno and remove seeds.

Mince jalapeno. I only used half the jalapeno or else you might scare off some guests with the heat.

Chop red onion. Use your own discretion on how much to add.

Mix all together in a bowl. Add a spoonful of minced garlic.

Add a few shakes of cumin and salt to taste.

Squeeze fresh lime juice on top and mix again.

Place the salsa in your favorite serving bowl and serve with tortilla chips! This also goes great as a dressing for tacos and salads. I use the leftovers and make little quesadillas too. Yum!

Aspen, Colorado

I recently visited Aspen, CO for a friends wedding. The wedding was beyond gorgeous (see mountain top picture) and the food was delightfully inspiring! I wanted to share all the amazing photos and you will definitely be seeing me try to use some of these things in my cooking!

Check out some of the cool places I visited:

The Little Nell 

Junk Aspen

Stuffed Zucchini

I am always looking to make dinner with whatever I have laying around the house. Maybe its not feeling a trip to the grocery or maybe its my budget… not sure.  This night I was attending a pot luck girls night and stuffed zucchini is what I came up with! Simple ingredients but it was delicious and a huge hit with the girls!

Whole Zucchinis

Bacon

Cherry or Grape Tomatoes

Minced Garlic

Olive Oil

Italian Seasoning (I use salt-free McCormick’s Perfect Pinch)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Fry bacon in skillet to desired crispness. I cooked mine extra crispy for this recipe and it turn out great. Place bacon on a paper towel to cool. When cool enough break into small pieces. Set bacon aside.

Wash and slice zucchinis in half. I cut off the ends too.

Take a spoon and scoop out the soft, middle part of the zucchini. Dump the guts, as I like to call them, into a mixing bowl.

Wash and slice a handful of cherry or grape tomatoes. Place into mixing bowl.

Add a small spoonful of minced garlic and a couple shakes of Italian seasoning.

Add bacon and mix all together.

Now, fill zucchini boats with mixture and bake in oven about 25min.

Take out zucchinis and sprinkle with Monterey jack cheese and put back in the oven for about 5min.

Now youre done! I sliced the zucchinis into thirds and served as appetizers.  Option: leave the zucchinis whole and serve as an entrée with rice or couscous.

Roasted Corn

Perfect for a summer to fall transition: Roasted Corn. This is my take on Mexican Street Corn called Elotes. I prefer my elotes on the spicier side but you could tone it down. I use creole seasoning for a Cajun kick to this Mexican favorite.

Corn on the Cob- go fresh from the produce section

Tony Chacere’s Original Creole Seasoning

Butter

Pretty simple: peel corn and make sure to get all the fibers removed. I usually cut the stalk off the end too.

Place in foil and coat all sides of corn with butter.

Sprinkle with Tony Chacere’s (the more you sprinkle the spicier it gets!)

Close foil and make a little gathering at the top so you can easily remove it from the oven later. Makes a tent like shape.

Cook in oven for 30-35min at 375 degrees.

I often use this same method when grilling but instead of roasting corn in the oven put it on the top rack of the grill. I didn’t add cheese this time but many people like to top roasted corn with cotija or parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Grilled Peaches with Prosciutto and Mozzarella

All summer I have been seeing different takes on grilled fruit. Yum! And there’s nothing I love more than a hearty fork and knife salad…so here goes!

Grilled Peaches with Prosciutto and Mozzarella

1-2 peaches (not too soft)

¼ lb prosciutto very thinly sliced

½ lb fresh mozzarella

Arugula

Fresh lemon

Olive oil

Balsamic Vinegar

Salt and Pepper (I like to use kosher salt)

1) Wash and slice peaches into eighths. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.

2) Slice ½ inch thick pieces of mozzarella and have it ready when the peaches come off the grill.

3) Heat grill to about 350 degrees.  Grill peaches for about 2min on each side. (The timing may vary grill to grill but long enough to get grill marks on each side)

4) Place mozzarella slices on peaches while still hot.

5) When peaches are cool enough to touch, wrap peaches and mozzarella with prosciutto.

6) Place prosciutto wrapped peaches on bed of arugula. Drizzle with fresh squeezed lemon, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.

Voila! A perfect summer salad! These are also great sans arugula as an appetizer.