Entries Tagged as 'Appetizers'

Garlic Herb Oven Fries



I have been in search of the perfect oven fry for quite some time now. Because I really adore crispy, oil fried french fries, I have a hard time feeling satisfied with their limp cousin. And since I see very little chance of ever getting a mini fry daddy for my kitchen, I’ve been on the constant search for preparing a satisfying baked version. I’ve tried boiling them first, placing them on a baking rack, and using an oiled preheated pan, and each time the results left me disappointed.


So when I stumbled upon a new technique that involved “giving the spuds a hot bath,”  I was eager to give it a try. I discovered Katie’s blog while thumbing through my recent feed on Foodgawker in the wee hours of the morning. As soon as I saw her picture perfect fries, I was excited for lunch. I had a good feeling the result of the “bathing” technique would be the perfectly crisp shoestring I had been waiting so long for.


The idea to is to quickly raise the temperature of the raw fries and also “wash” off the starch that usually sticks to the roasting pan.  The hot sheet sears the sides of the fries to make a perfectly golden crust while keeping the insides tender and moist. My added touch of garlic granules added bite while the herbs added a savory note that pulls you back in for “just one more fry.” I guarantee it’s impossible to eat just one.



  • 2 large russet potatoes, about 1½ lbs
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • freshly cracked pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • pecorino romano for grating

  1. Place rack in the bottom quarter of the oven.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  3. Put a large pot of water over high heat. Bring to a boil.
  4. Line a large baking sheet with paper towels.
  5. Slice potatoes into ½ inch matchsticks, leaving skins on. Add to a large a bowl. Once the water is boiling, pour over potato matchsticks and let sit for 3 minutes. Drain and transfer to paper towel lined baking sheet. Use more paper towels to blot the fries.
  6. Dry the large bowl and add olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano and basil. Whisk together. Add potato matchsticks to bowl and toss with clean hands until evenly coated in the herb mixture. Spray baking sheet with olive oil or cooking spray. Evenly spread fries over pan.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes, remove and flip with a spatula. Continue cooking for 15-18 minutes or until fries are crispy and browned. Garnish with grated pecorino if desired. Serve immediately.

Roasted Garlic Ricotta and Arugula Crostini



I hope you can excuse my absence this last week. I went home for the holidays and took full advantage. I unplugged completely to email, blogs and twitter and tried to spend every last minute with my family and friends.


But, I am back with vengeance! This recipe is fun, full of fresh flavor and easy to assemble, which makes it a perfect last-minute dish for your new year’s gathering. Every component of the crostini is packed with flavor. One bite is a fresh pop to your palate.

Ricotta flavored with lemon, rosemary and garlic sits atop a crusty baguette with a garnish of roasted red peppers and dressed chopped arugula salad. It may sound like a mouthful, but the good thing is it’s incredibly easy.  (But, you’re guests don’t have to know!)


This dish’s inspiration started with a creamy flavored ricotta cheese. I wanted to make something rich, but not too heavy. I flavored sweet ricotta with oven roasted garlic and lots of fresh herbs and smoked paprika. The roasted red peppers are sweet and smokey, and the lemon dressed arugula adds a peppery vinegar bite. A true cohesion of flavors. And the best part is, it’s all a snap to put together.  Each component gets prepared deliciously, so the assembled result is a like pop in your mouth. Your guests will be oohing over this, I promise.


I hope you all have a safe and meaningful New Year’s eve! Celebrate the past year and look forward to the future. I have a feeling 2013 is going to be the best year yet.

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  • 5 large garlic cloves, peel left on
  • 15 oz ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary (1/4 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • ⅛ teaspoon fresh or ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • lots of fresh cracked pepper
  • 2 roasted red peppers from a jar, drained
  • 1 long, thin baguette, sliced in ¼ inch slices
  • vinaigrette:
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup roughly chopped arugula

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cut one side of the garlic cloves off to expose the clove. Place on a sheet of aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Pull ends of foil around garlic to make a ball. Place in oven and roast for 30 minutes. Removed and let cool. Keep oven on.
  3. While the garlic roasts, add a 15 oz container of ricotta cheese to a large bowl. Add cream cheese and cream together until smooth. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, rosemary, parsley, nutmeg, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Mix well.
  4. Once garlic is cooled, remove clove from skins and mash with the back of your knife. Add to ricotta mixture and combine well. Chill until ready to serve.
  5. Evenly line sliced baguette on a parchment line baking sheet. Spray or drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 3-5 minutes each side or until crisp. Remove and let cool.
  6. Slice open two red bell peppers and open to flatten out. Cut long strip vertically and then slice in half. Set aside.
  7. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, dijon mustard, salt, pepper and honey. Continue to whisk while adding olive oil to fully emulsify the vinaigrette. set aside. Right before assembling, dress chopped arugula by pouring over vinaigrette until lightly dressed.
  8. To assemble, line sliced baguette on a serving platter. Top with 1 rounded tablespoon of ricotta mixture. Top with 3 red pepper slices and garnish with dressed arugula. Serve with champagne!


Mini Meatball Sliders



It’s that time of the year again!


When there is a celebratory gathering around every corner — maybe even one you’re planning on hosting. Which means you need some great food to impress your guests. And when it comes to entertaining, the most important thing is to avoid fussy dishes. Instead, pick approachable food that is easy to put together and full of flavor. Like these mini meatball sliders. Most of the work is prepping, and the rest is just assembling. It’s a simple dish but with the volume turned up. I added salty romano cheese and lots of fresh parsley to make the meatball feel special. I also decided to splurge on my favorite tomato basil sauce and some bakery-fresh, buttery dinner rolls.


These meatballs are bursting with savory flavor. I love the bite of the romano cheese and the freshness of the parsley.  The broiled buns are really key here as well. Without some “crunch,”  the texture of this slider could err on the side of one-note. It also is key in protecting the bread from getting soggy beneath the sauce. My favorite addition is the fresh basil. It adds a lemony, bright pop of flavor to contrast the richness of the other ingredients. Not to mention, these little sliders are just incredibly charming. Your guests will not be able to resist.


These are perfect for parties. Prep all of the ingredients first. Roll out the meatballs, cook and keep warm in a oven until your guests are about to arrive. Then, simply assemble, serve and impress.

Mini Meatball Sliders
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Recipe type: Appetizers
Serves: 10 sliders

  • 1 lb angus ground beef
  • heaping ⅓ cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese
  • ¼ cup plain breadcrumbs (I used panko)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 10 dinner rolls
  • olive oil
  • 1-2 cups of your favorite tomato basil sauce
  • 10 small slices monterey jack or provolone cheese
  • 10 fresh basil leaves

  1. Preheat broiler to low.
  2. In a large bowl, add ground beef, romano cheese, breadcrumbs, parsley, rosemary, garlic, egg and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Using clean hands, mix until just combined. Roll 2 tablespoons of beef mixture in small balls. Transfer to a plate or pan.
  3. Line a roasting pan with sliced dinner rolls. Broil until browned, about 3-5 minutes. Remove and set aside. Turn off broiler.
  4. Preheat oven to 200 F.
  5. Add pasta sauce to a small sauce pan and warm over medium-low heat.
  6. Place a cast iron pan (or large saute pan) over medium heat and brush with olive oil. Once hot (mine took about 5 minutes), add meatballs and brown each side until cooked through, about 10-12 minutes. If needed, transfer cooked meatballs to oven until ready to serve.
  7. Line a serving tray with sliced rolls. Spoon ~1 tablespoon warmed sauce over bottom of roll. Add meatball, monterey jack cheese and basil leaf. Prop the top of the roll on the side of the meatball to serve. Enjoy!


My Imaginary Thanksgiving



While Jordan and I have decided to go on a quick rendezvous in place of cooking a turkey dinner, I can’t help but dream up a menu that I would love to serve. Especially when the blog world is filled with so many delicious fall-themed dishes. To indulge, I decided to put together an entire menu inspired by my fellow bloggers. I hope you all can take some inspiration from this list and decide to try new things. It’s fun to shake things up!

So without further ado, let’s have fun planning my imaginary Thanksgiving.

Having everything timed correctly can be tricky. Plan on taking longer than usual and make sure to have some booze on hand. It helps keep guests relaxed and happy. I love Jessica’s take on fall-themed apple cider margaritas.

The star of the meal is obviously the turkey. Usually I love a classic rub. One based with butter and filled with lots of fresh herbs. But, for some reason Melissa Clark’s hot chile butter-rubbed bird is calling my name. I can’t even imagine how awesome the gravy would be.

Personally, I look forward to a plethora of sides. If there is one classic dish that must make an appearance, it has to go to green bean casserole. This version by Cindy from Hungry Girl por Vida will make you regret ever buying a can of cream of mushroom soup.

I hate to plug myself, but this potato and turnip gratin is seriously one of the greatest discoveries I’ve made in 2012. It feels a little more gourmet than mashed potatoes but is just as easy to throw together.

I really look forward to buttery roasted carrots each year, so those would definitely have to make an imaginary appearance. Evan from The Wannabe Chef has a modern take on baked carrots. I can’t imagine what vanilla and rosemary would taste like together, but I can’t imagine I wouldn’t love it.

We can’t forget the bread category! Turkey day is not complete without the presence of doughy, buttery dinner rolls. Averie from Averie Cooks seriously had me drooling when I saw this recipe. I don’t even need the upcoming holiday as an excuse to bake these up. They are officially on my to-make ASAP list.

And the part we all look forward to–dessert. I was in awe of Emilie’s pumpkin pecan pie bars with bourbon vanilla whipped cream when I discovered them. They look incredibly rich and chewy. My kind of sweet ending. And bourbon-flavored anything? Yes, please.

Now, let’s give thanks.


Kale and Pistachio Pesto



Kale is probably one of the best discoveries I have made thus far when it comes to new foods.

It’s vibrant, packed with nutrition and easily manipulated into savory or sweet recipes.

For an easy side to dinner, I adore kale chips. They are light and airy but still have a great crunch to them. And when dipped in ketchup, they eerily remind your palate of potato chips. Which is a total score because your actually eating something that’s green and bursting with vitamin K!

Kale also works with sweet recipes. I know it sounds crazy, but you have to trust me here. Next time you whir up a smoothie, throw in a handful of kale leaves. It will add substance and beta carotine to boot. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that your drink turns lime green. Fun!

So basically, I love kale. I think it’s wonderful. I want you to love kale too.

And with this recipe, I don’t think it will be hard convincing you.

One of my favorite “condiments” is pesto. It’s fresh, garlic-y and full of CHEESE! It’s basically the perfect trio of flavors.

So I thought it would be fun to change up the main ingredients. I replaced the basil with kale and classic pine nuts with pistachios.

The results were out of this world. Sometimes I really surprise myself.

It’s fresh and sweet just as you’d imagined pesto. The pistachios add a unique nutty flavor while making it slight creamy. And don’t even get me started on the cheese. Instead of the traditional Parmesan Reggiano, I decided to add some freshly grated Pecorino Romano. To. Die. For.

Since making this, I’ve spread it on everything! It’s a great substitute for butter on your toast in the morning, a perfect addition to your lunch time grilled cheese, and would be a great marinade to chicken for dinner.

Have I convincced you yet? Please go make this NOW!


Kale and Pistachio Pesto
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Fresh kale and nutty pistachios come together to make one fabulous pesto.
Recipe type: Condiment
Serves: makes ~1 cup

  • 2 cups kale leaves, torn from stem
  • heaping ¼ cup raw, shelled pistachios
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed with skins removed
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • heaping ¼ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a dry, small saute pan, add pistachios. Roast over medium heat for about 5-10 minutes or until nuts begin to brown and smell nutty. Make sure to keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Into a large food processor, add kale, pistachios, and garlic. Puree until kale starts to break down and nuts are no longer whole. While the proccesor runs, pour in the olive oil slowly. Stop, scrape down the sides and add water. Continue to puree and scrape the sides until it begins to resemble pesto.
  3. Remove from processor into a small bowl. Mix in Pecorino Romano, honey, salt and pepper. Adjust seasonings to taste. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. You can also freeze half for later use. I like to use ice cube trays so I can portion the pesto.


BBQ Grilled Chicken Pizza



There was a time in my life where I detested barbecue.

I thought it tasted musky and smelt burnt.

If BBQ chicken was on the dinner table, I was bummed. And also fearful that the smell of barbecue would live the rest of the night under my nails.  My solution? Coming to the table adorned in baggie gloves. Extremely odd, I know. Imagine how my parents felt.

If given the opportunity today, I would happily dig in to a plate a barbecue chicken sans hand protection.

But when left up to me, well I would just rather eat it mess-free.

Which is why this pizza is so perfect. It’s utensil-free, mess-free and absolutely delicious.

If you’re a fan of barbecue sauce and cheese, this is your meal.


BBQ Grilled Chicken Pizza
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A fun twist on pizza night. Smokey grilled chicken over sweet barbecue sauce garnished with fresh cilantro.
Recipe type: Pizza
Serves: 4

  • 1 package pre-made pizza dough (sub ready-made or from-scratch)
  • Blackening season:
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoons smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • pinch of cayenne
  • 1-2 chicken cutlets
  • olive oil
  • ½ cup barbecue sauce
  • 2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese
  • ¼ red onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

  1. Let dough come to room temperature. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Make blackening season by combing all ingredients in a small bowl with a fork.Thoroughly season each chicken cutlet with 1 tablespoon of the blackening season. Spray or rub with olive oil. Grill first side for 5 minutes, flip and continue cooking for 4-5 minutes. Chicken should feel firm when pressed with tongs. Remove and let rest. Cut into ¼ inch strips. [I like to cut on a bias for aesthetics.]
  3. Stretch pizza dough over an oiled square or circle pan. Use a flour cup to move dough to corners of pan. Spray or brush with olive oil. Pour barbecue sauce over dough, leaving a ¼ inch border for the crust. Sprinkle cheese evenly over sauce, then top with onion slices*. Bake for 17 minutes, remove and add sliced chicken. Return to oven and continue cooking for 3-4 minutes or until crust is golden and cheese is bubbling and starting to brown. Immediately garnish with cilantro and

*Make sure you slice the onion paper thin. Raw onion is no fun.

Blackened Shrimp



I am having a hard time saying good bye to summer.

It’s not that I am disappointed in fall’s arrival. I am just not ready to let go of that “vacation-mindset” that manifests when the weather is warm and the days are long.

So once again I find myself turning to the grill for a dinner worth savoring.

You don’t absolutely need a grill to make this dish though. You could definitely use a grill pan or  a saute pan if the weather is not on your side.

Regardless of how you prepare the shrimp, this dish will bring you back to first days of summer.

Even if it’s only 40 degrees outside.

Print this recipe

Blackened Shrimp

serves 2 people, multiplies easily

1/2 lb 21/25 raw shrimp, shells removed and de-veined

zest of one lime

2 tablespoons lime juice, freshly squeezed (1-2 limes)

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

1/4 teaspoon dried cilantro

1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil


In a shallow dish, whisk together lime juice, zest and seasonings until combined. Slowly whisk in oil until mixture comes together. Add shrimp to dish. Using clean hands, mix the shrimp thoroughly until completely coated in the marinade. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour or longer if possible. 20 minutes prior to cooking, remove and let come to room temperature.

Preheat grill, grill pan to medium heat.*

Place shrimp on skewers.** Place shrimp diagonally on the grates. Cook the first side for 3 minutes or until the shrimp turn opaque. Cook the other side for an additional 2 minutes. Remove and enjoy.

*If you are sautéing the shrimp, place 1 tablespoon of oil or butter in a medium saute pan over medium heat.

**No need for skewers if you are sautéing the shrimp.

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