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Archive for the ‘Appetizers’ Category

Chickpeas, also known as: ceci bean, garbanzo bean, chana, sanagalu Indian pea and Bengal gram are very good for you.  They contain Vitamins, Iron, Minerals, Fiber, Calcium and Protein to name a few. For a more detailed breakdown on the nutritional value of chickpeas go to the Nutrient Analysis

You can use them in stews, chili’s, roasted, toasted, pureed, dips, soups, salads…the possibilities are endless.

I recently made this recipe for a BBQ.  Simple and delicious made this salad a winner.

Chickpea & Artichoke Salad

1 can (19oz) chickpeas, drained
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes (or grape), halved
1/2 cup pepper (any colour), diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/3 cup red onion, diced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 jar marinated (in oil) artichoke hearts
salt & pepper to taste

Drain artichokes in a bowl, keeping liquid. Cut into quarters. Set aside.

Combine all remaining ingredients in a bowl. Add artichokes and reserved liquid to bowl. Add a good amount of pepper and sprinkle of salt, tossing to combine.

You can let salad sit in fridge and marinate or you can serve immediately.

Feta and kalamata olives would be a nice addition to this salad.

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Third times a charm?  Good thing I’ve had 5 workouts in 4 days to make myself feel better about these pizza experiments.  This will be the last pizza submission for this week as I am getting pizza’d out.  However having said that I have at least 4 more ideas spinning through my head for pizzas based on leftovers.

Leftover taco meat can be used many ways.  On a pizza for a quick lunch or supper is a quick meal for a busy family.  I love hot peppers and used pickled jalapeno’s in this recipe.  I also used regular peppers (orange, yellow & green) both sliced and diced. 

Options are endless.  What I enjoy on a taco or taco salad is what I put on this pizza.  I did not use exact quantities below as some people may prefer more of a topping, others less.  You decide.

 

Taco & Pepper Pita Pizza


1/4-1/2 cup taco meat
1/4 cup peppers (cut into rings, or diced)
1-2 tbsp salsa (or taco sauce)
1 tbsp pickled jalapeno peppers (or banana peppers)
1/4 cup diced tomatoes
1/2-1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese or monterey jack
1/2 cup sliced lettuce (romaine)

Spread salsa on your pita with a spoon, knife or pastry brush.

Next layer on your peppers, tomatoes and taco meat. Finally spread your cheese all over.  I admittedly added a light dusting of shredded parmesan on top.

Broil in oven for about 2-3 minutes or until cheese melted and bubbling. I bake mine on a pizza stone but a cookie sheet or pizza pan works just as well.

Remove from oven, let sit for a few minutes before slicing. I sprinkled fresh lettuce on top.  Outstanding.

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I thought yesterday’s pizza creation was pretty tasty and since today is pizza day for lunch, the inspiration carried over and I wanted to create another yummy pizza.

I always use pita pockets to make pizzas for lunch for the kids.  They are the perfect size for little hands/people and hold the ingredients well.   Looking around my kitchen for inspiration I discovered some uncooked squash that needed to be used up.  Not enough time to grill it, I steamed it instead.  Being a lover of all things squash but never having had it on pizza I was up for the challenge.  I looked through the fridge and fished out some basil and goat cheese.  A new recipe was born.

Note: If you like goat cheese but do not care for a lot of pepper buy a plain or perhaps herb goat cheese and omit the additional cracked pepper I added at the end.

I can honestly say I had a Clinton Kelly moment when I took my first bite.  (If you ever watch The Chew….love that show…whenever Clinton tastes something he adores he becomes incoherent).  Yes I felt that way, this pizza rocked my socks off.  Trying to figure out what to call this pizza was my biggest challenge. 

If you are up for a new pizza and like the ingredients…try it, you will not be disappointed.  I didn’t calore count this one but I’m pretty sure since there are fewer ingredients it is well under 500 calories.

Squash & Goat Cheese Pita Pizza

1 Byblos Garlic Greek Pita Pocket
1-2 tbsp Soft Unripened Peppercorn Goat Cheese, broken up
Olive Oil
2-3 sprigs Fresh Basil, chiffonade
1/2 cup cooked butternut squash (grill or steam), chopped into smaller pieces
1-2 tbsp Asiago Cheese, shredded
Cracked Black Pepper

Drizzle a little olive oil onto your pita. Spread with a pastry brush.

Next add your cut, cooked butternut squash and your goat cheese. Sprinkle on your basil and some Asiago cheese.

Broil on pizza stone for 2-3 minutes or until Asiago cheese melts a little and edges of pita brown. Remove from oven and let sit a few minutes.  If you do not have a pizza stone a pizza pan or cookie sheet works just as well.

Just before serving (to myself) I added additional Asiago & basil on top and some fresh cracked black pepper.

For me this taste combination was a winner…one the next time the family wants pizza for supper…I will happily oblige.

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Everyone in our house loves pizza.  But our pizza likes are as individual as our personalities.  Hubs is meat & mushrooms and doesn’t stray far from it.  Kids vary between ham/pineapple, pepperoni with a few veggies or olives thrown on depending on their mood & the alignment of the sun, moon & the stars.  Me I prefer mostly veggie style pizzas with a variety of ingredients including chicken.  I also love to experiment and try new variations. So we tend to make pizza more often than we order them in as this enables us to make our pizzas to our individual tastes. 

With pizza on the lunch agenda this week I decided to jump the gun after trying some delicious Tandoori Naan Bread last night and have pizza for lunch today.   Inspiration Struck.  The Tandoori Naan bread has Tandoori (curry) spices in the bread and it is seriously delicious.

I calorie counted this more for curiousity sake, not because I am calore counting.  It comes in under 500 calories for the entire pizza….if you can finish it that is.

For those wondering about the Naan bread, here in Calgary I purchased it at the Co-op Grocery Store.  Remember when you make pizzas you do not have to use just pizza sauce…instead try tomato, BBQ, pesto…..experimentation is the name of the game.

Tandoori Chicken Naan Pizza

1 piece Tandoori Naan bread
1 tbsp mango chutney
1/4-1/2 cup leftover roast chicken, shredded or cut up
1/3 cup grated pizza cheese or straight mozzarella
1/4 of a pepper (yellow, red, orange), sliced or diced
Handful of cilantro, torn

Spread your mango chutney all over your naan bread. If you need more use more but your calorie count goes up 40 calories per tbsp of mango chutney used.

Next layer on your chicken and peppers. You can sprinkle on some cilantro and then add your cheese.

Broil in oven for about 2-3 minutes or until cheese melted and bubbling. I bake mine on a pizza stone but a cookie sheet or pizza pan works just as well.

Remove from oven, let sit for a few minutes before slicing.  Since I love cilantro I add fresh on top. If you do not like cilantro, flat leaf parsley will work too.

Hmmm…next time I may sprinkle on some spanish/purple onions.

Simply delicious!

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There are many ways to make Bruschetta and all of them equally divine.  My first time sampling these delicious little bites was in the early 90′s when my boss’s wife made them for a function she was hosting at her house.  I called them Kathy’s Crostini’s when she gave me the recipe.  She added goat cheese to hers which is equally delicious. Over the years the recipe has changed. Husband loves Bruschetta and orders it often as an appetizer when we eat out. 

I recently made Bruschetta the same night we had Arugula & Prosciutto Crostini knowing he would prefer the Bruschetta.  Bonus points for wifey ;).

My version goes like this….

Simple Bruschetta

2 cloves garlic, minced
4-5 large, ripe tomatoes (red, orange, yellow, mixed)
1/4 cup basil, chiffonade/sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper
1 baguette or focaccia, sliced 1/2 inch
olive oil (extra)

Preheat oven to 400F. Ensure top rack is moved up in oven. Place sliced baguette on cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Put in oven and toast 4-5 minutes or until starting to brown. Turn them over, drizzle a little more olive oil and give them another minute in the oven. Remove from oven and set aside.

In a bowl mix together tomatoes, garlic, basil, 1-2 tbsp olive oil, fresh cracked pepper and salt. Mix and taste for seasoning. Add in a little more salt as needed. Set bowl aside until ready to serve.

When ready to serve put bruschetta mixture on toasted baguette pieces and serve immediately.   This also pairs nicely with a Moscato D’Asti (wine).

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I’ve made these skewers too many times to count over the years.  Oddly enough I have never posted the recipe to the blog.   

The photo is not the best and taken just after the kabobs came off the grill.  (Husband skewered them which is why they appear unevenly skewered.) Sometimes when you have guests waiting and smelling the food, trying to get the perfect shot doesn’t always work.  And sometimes husband grabs the camera and starts taking pictures without thinking about the end result (keener to get a better shot than me).  Will try and take a better photo next time.

This mushroom kabob is a delicious accompaniment to any grilled meat.

 

Adapted from ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen

Mushroom & Green Onion Skewers
 

1/3 cup soy sauce (your favourite kind)
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp white wine, dry
2 tbsp brown sugar, packed
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp dried ginger (fresh works if you have it)
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp hot pepper sauce
6 green onions
20 large fresh mushrooms

small bamboo skewers

Soak bamboo skewers in water for minimum 30 minutes.

Combine soy sauce thru hot pepper sauce in a small pot. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil. Stir regularly until mixture thickens slightly. Remove from heat and set aside. This is your sauce.

Cut your green onions into 1-1/2 inch pieces. Clean your mushrooms.

Thread mushrooms onto skewer, stem end first followed by a piece of green onion placed crosswise. Do not overcrowd mushrooms but continue until you have filled your skewers.

Brush mushrooms/onions with sauce.  Grill over medium heat, basting regularly with sauce until golden brown, approximately 5 minutes.

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I really like bulgur wheat.  I’ve been eating it in tabouleh for over 20 years.  One more thing I can thank my mom for since she is the one who first ventured into the world of tabouleh and healthy eating many moons ago.

Thing is you can add almost anything to grains and make them yummy. I would eat them every day if I could.

This combination of flavours is lovely.  The grapes add sweetness.  The feta is salty and tangy lime. The toasted walnuts bring a whole new flavour profile of nutty goodness to the salad. And the arugula brings a tangy zest that does not overpower or get overpowered by the rest of the family. Simply Delicious.

Adapted from ATCO Blue Flame

Bulgur Salad with Arugula & Grapes
 
3/4 cup fine Bulgur wheat
1 cup boiling water
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
2 tsp lime zest
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup feta crumbled
1 cup red, seedless grapes, halved
1 cup toasted walnuts
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
1 cup arugula

Place bulgur in a bowl. Cover with boiling water and give a quick stir. Cover bowl and let sit 20-30 minutes or until water is absorbed and bulgur tender.

Stir in lime juice, lime zest, olive oil, salt and pepper. Add your cheese, grapes, walnuts and green onions. Mixing well.  Spoon into a bowl or on a plate and top with a good handful of arugula.  Serve immediately.

Serves 3-4

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Hard to believe I’ve gone over a decade without making a gazpacho.  It’s a cold summer soup with a delicious blend of flavours.  I also find it sort of a palate cleanser.  It was a last minute addition to my dinner Saturday night and as such I served it as a gazpacho shooter.  It was divine.

Note salt is important in this soup to bring out the flavours. So do not skimp on the salt!

This makes at least 4-6 servings if you are not serving it in a shooter glass.  If you are going with the shooter theme it makes at least 8 cups or too many soup shooters to count.

Gazpacho Soup

6 large red, ripe tomatoes
1 cup peeled, seeded cucumber, chopped
1/2 cup red onion
1 yellow pepper, seeded & chopped
1 clove garlic
1/3-1/2 cup white wine, dry
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 – 1 tsp salt

Let’s begin….
Halve tomatoes crosswise and squeeze out juice/seeds into strainer set over bowl (you want to keep the juice, not the seeds). Reserve juice.  Dice tomato and put into bowl with juice.

In bowl add cucumber through salt. Give a quick mix and then pour into a blender. Pulse and blend until smooth. You made need to do this in 2 batches. Pour into a covered bowl or tupperware type container and refrigerate for a minimum 4 hours.

Dice some cucumber, tomato and red onion.  Place in a bowl and set aside as a garnish.

Take soup out, stir and when ready to serve pour into a bowl or in my case shot glasses (I love serving soup this way).  Sprinkle some of the garnish on top and serve with a small spoon.  This soup is a little thicker and as such a small spoon may be required.

Besides the added salt this is a very healthy soup.

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Always looking for a new recipe to try, I came across this one and the photo really sucked me in. It looked amazing so I marked it and decided to make it for dinner guests (family) we were having over for supper Saturday night.

All I can say is it turned out fabulous AND it was easy to assemble. Our guests arrived early and were sitting at the counter watching me make it. It’s light, tasty and people think you’re a Rock Star because it tastes as good as it looks.

Adapted from Flavours Magazine

 

Arugula & Prosciutto Crostini

1/2 cup cantaloupe, diced small
6 slices prosciutto, torn into strips
12 slices of baguette cut on the bias, approx 1/4 inch thick
ricotta cheese
arugula
cracked pepper
Olive oil

Glaze
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat your oven to 400-425F. Lay your sliced baguette on a cookie sheet. Drizzle all over with olive oil.

Place in oven and toast for about 4-5 minutes watching closely as they start to turn golden brown. Turn them over and give them one more minute. Remove from oven and place toasts on serving platter or board. Give them one more quick drizzle of olive oil.

Start by adding a few arugula leaves on each piece of toast. Next fold/roll up your prosciutto pieces so they sit nicely and place on top of arugula. Top each piece with 1 tsp ricotta. Then take a tsp or so of diced cantaloupe and place on top of ricotta.

Just before serving drizzle each piece of toast with your glaze & some cracked black pepper. Serve immediately.

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This one will surprise you and impress your guests!  It is delicious…but then everything is delicious when there is bacon involved.  This was my first time eating persimmons and the verdict was Double Yum.  An easy 3 ingredient appetizer if you do not count the salt and pepper for seasoning.

Adapted from Rachael Ray

Bacon Wrapped Persimmons
 
1 lb sliced bacon, cut crosswise into thirds
8 persimmons, cored and sliced into 6 wedges each (think delicate and bite sized)
1/4 cup Tarragon vinegar for glazing
Salt & Pepper
Toothpicks
Parchment paper

Preheat oven to 400F

Wrap a piece of bacon around each persimmon wedge. Secure with a toothpick and arrange on rimmed baking pans lined with parchment.

Place pans on top and bottom thirds of oven and roast for 20 minutes. Flip the wedges over, rotate pans and increase heat to 425F to crisp the bacon, cooking an additional 15-20 minutes.

Remove pans from oven, brush wedges with tarragon vinegar, season with salt & pepper and serve immediately.

Serves approximately 10

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