Having spent my teens and most of my twenties as a vegetarian (gasp!), I came to appreciate the beauty of an easily customizable recipe. Now, with a three year old in the house, I still appreciate a recipe that I can easily adapt to any dietary restrictions or picky eaters at my table. These Fresh Summer Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce certainly fit the bill. Quick, customizable, fresh, and full of flavor, summer rolls are also perfect for those sticky dog days of summer when turning on the oven is the last thing you want to do!…
I’m always on the lookout for a crowd pleasing, easy, appetizer for those last minute get togethers or weekends at the lake. This recipe for Pesto Caprese Dip is one of those recipes that I make again and again that requires minimal effort but packs a maximal punch. It requires only a few ingredients and can be prepared ahead of time and baked just before you’re ready to serve it, which makes it perfect for entertaining. The Pesto Caprese Dip takes advantage of the late summer bounty of cherry tomatoes and fresh basil, but if you have a source for good basil in the winter, it’s really a great recipe year round. Even my picky eater husband (who hates tomatoes!) gobbles it up. It’s rare that there are any left overs! The recipe is adapted from an appetizer a neighbor and dear friend (Hi Kara!) shared with me last summer (find the original here) and I’ve tweaked it over time to reflect my personal tastes but I will say, the original is a mighty fine option as well, particularly if you’ve run out of pesto or just don’t like it….
Now that it is almost the middle of summer (can you believe it?), I am turning to recipes with less ingredients, less fuss and more vegetables. This Zucchini Hummus Dip fits the bill in all categories. In fact, you won’t believe how easy it is! Just a few simple ingredients and you will have a party worthy appetizer. Have some extra time? Make the hummus and pesto from scratch (hummus recipe here). In a hurry? Buy your favorite hummus and pesto from the store, and this dip will take you no more than 10 minutes to throw together!…
I think it’s fair to say that (almost) everyone loves nachos. A staple at parties, most tend to lean toward the southwest in their flavor profiles – cheese, spicy meats, peppers, and salsa. This summer, we wanted to come up with a twist on the classic. Something a little lighter, with fresh, bright flavors but still a great party food that is easily assembled for even the most spontaneous of gatherings. Enter: Greek Nachos with Tzatziki….
I’ve been slightly obsessed with radishes lately. I am seeing them everywhere…beautiful pictures in magazines, huge bundles at the farmer’s market, piles at the co-op. They are gorgeous this time of year, spicy, crunchy and so fresh! So when I came across this recipe I knew I had to make it. And I’m so, so glad I did! Similar to the gyro dip you always ask for more of (OK, well I also ask for more of), with the same addictive qualities….
Party time in my house tonight. Tonight is book club and I am hosting! What is the book you ask? Silly you*, now let’s get on to important details! Every time I host, I am excited to put together a menu that I think that my friends would enjoy. But, I also work a full time job, have 2 kids and don’t have a ton of time to make a lot of complicated dishes. Enter these rosemary chipotle spiced nuts. Simple, yet elegant. Quick, yet so, so tasty….
I know, I know, I’ve written many times lately about the awesome weather we’re having here in Minnesota, but I just can’t say enough about it. This past weekend we have truly entered patio season, and I am embracing it. Of course as the weather heats up, and the sun begins to shine, my tastes trend towards those of summer-tomatoes, cilantro, onions, garlic…basically, salsa!…
It seems like hummus has exploded in popularity in the last ten years. I can’t think of the last party I was at that didn’t feature a bowl or two of hummus and veggies or pita chips. Scanning the aisles of just about any grocery store will reveal a wide array of flavor choices. About a year ago, I was introduced to Yotam Ottolenghi’s classic hummus recipe (find the recipe here). It was a game changer. Homemade hummus is not only easy and cheap, it is worlds above anything you can buy at a store and can be easily adapted for varying tastes and crowds….
Course number 4 of our epic dinner party featured Peppercorn Beef Tenderloin Crostini. This may be my favorite of all of the courses, although I must admit, with this particular dinner menu the competition is fierce. This is not a recipe for your vegetarian friends. This is not a recipe for your spice adverse friends. This is definitely a great crowd pleasing recipe for everyone else!
I developed this appetizer recently, based on a recipe I found in a cookbook. This cookbook was one that that I bought on a whim at Costco-Valerie Bertinelli’s “One Dish at a Time“. That title is super funny to those of us who grew up watching the sitcom “One Day at a Time” (1975-1984) which starred Valerie Bertinelli (and if you haven’t seen it, you should look it up-for the hair alone). For those of you who are a little younger than me, you may know Valerie Bertinelli as the wife (1981-2007), now ex-wife, of Van Halen frontman, Eddie Van Halen. And if you are even younger than that, you would probably remember her for her stint as a Jenny Craig spokeswoman. For all of her fame on TV, I never knew she could cook. I mostly bought the book for the pictures (does anyone else do that, or it just me?). Sometimes impulsive buys are great buys, because so far what I’ve tried out of this book, proves it…this gal can cook.
This appetizer is based off of her Peppered Beef Tenderloin with Horseradish Sauce which I have made again and again for special occasions (for instance, girls’ weekend at the cabin). It has never let me down, and is actually pretty simple. The horseradish sauce can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator. The beef can actually be prepared a day in advance as well, and allowing the meat to sit in the spicy rub only makes it better! Although I surely love when I can serve this as the main course, unfortunately 8 total dinner guests makes this cost prohibitive to serve as an entree. I knew I wanted to serve it though-voila-the crostini was born! I make my horseradish sauce a little spicier and have added some peppery arugula and crunchy french bread to make it into an appetizer instead of a meal. Definitely worth trying for your next party, or your next date night in, or just because you think it looks delicious!
Try it-and then let us know what you think!
- 1 cup sour cream
- 3 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 3 Tablespoons prepared horseradish
- 6 Tablespoons peppercorns (you can use mixed or just black)
- 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
- 3 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 Tablespoons butter (unsalted, at room temperature)
- 1 cup parsley, finely chopped
- 1-2 pound piece of beef tenderloin
- 2 cups arugula
- 2 loaves of french bread
- Combine the sour cream, mustard and horseradish in a small bowl until smooth.
- Transfer into a refrigerator safe jar or container-this can be refrigerated up to two days ahead-and it really does make the flavors better.
- Grind the peppercorns (I use a cheap coffee grinder that I have designated for spices only) until coarse.
- Combine the coarsely ground peppercorns, salt, mustard, butter and parsley until well mixed.
- Rub the tenderloin with the spiced butter, coating completely-use all of the butter mixture.
- At this point you can wrap in plastic and refrigerate-up to 1 day-or go to the next step.
- Preheat oven to 450ºF.
- If you have refrigerated your beef, take it out and allow it to warm to room temperature.
- Place beef in a shallow baking pan (I use a small rectangular pyrex baking pan, you can also use a rack in your pan if you have one, but I have not found this necessary).
- Roast at 450ºF for 25-30 minutes, until your meat thermometer registers 130ºF (for medium rare).
- While tenderloin is roasting, thinly slice french bread and lay flat on a baking sheet or jelly roll pain.
- When tenderloin is done, take out of oven and allow to rest for 10-20 minutes.
- Slice beef thinly with a very sharp knife.
- Turn oven to broil.
- Place bread in oven on broil for 1-2 minutes, watching very closely to ensure bread does not start to burn.
- Allow bread to cool slightly.
- Spread horseradish sauce (made previously) on bread.
- Place arugula on top of sauce
- Place a thin slice of beef tenderloin on top of arugula
- If you are like me and love your sauces, you can place an additional dollop of sauce on the top.
- Serve and enjoy
My 4 year old son has been asking me to make Roasted Red Pepper Hummus for ages. Mostly because we always run out of our store made hummus, previous to our next trip back to our local co-op. It is one of his favorite healthy snacks, especially served with sliced cucumbers. In the past I had been hesitant to try making hummus at home. I had been really intimidated by the whole process, especially when my friend, who I consider a great cook, told me that hummus was the one thing that she always preferred store-bought. This did not bode well for me, who has been cooking for a much shorter amount of time than she has!
One day after cleaning out my pantry, I discovered I had several cans of chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) and an unopened jar of tahini (Who else has a pantry full of random ingredients? The organization of the pantry was obviously overdue!). What else would I make other than hummus? First there are the chickpeas. You can certainly used dried chickpeas, but this takes much longer. Since using dried chickpeas takes some planning (and an overnight soaking), I decided to use canned chickpeas. Honestly, I don’t think you can tell the difference when it comes to hummus. Tahini is a paste made from toasted sesame seeds. This can also be made at home, but I find it easier to buy this in a jar. At my local co-op you can find tahini in jars located near the peanut butter. In the closest big box grocery store to my house, you can find tahini in jars in the ethnic foods section, near other mediterranean foods. If you live in an area where ethnic foods are difficult to come by, tahini can always be ordered on amazon. I use an adjustable measuring cup to measure my tahini (truth be told this is one of my most used kitchen tools, a must have for any kitchen. I got mine from Cooks of Crocus Hill in St. Paul-a fabulous local cooking store, but this could also be ordered on amazon). I also like a little bit of spice, so I use the full one-fourth teaspoon of cayenne, but you could start with a pinch if you were concerned about your hummus getting too spicy. One of the really important parts of the recipe is the actual processing of the hummus in the food processor. There are multiple times when the recipe calls for processing of a minute or more. Don’t skimp on this. This lengthy processing times are what add air and makes the hummus light and creamy. By taking shortcuts you can certainly make a faster hummus, but by adhering to the lengthier processing times, you will make a tastier hummus!
I considered my friend’s words to be be a challenge accepted. It turns out that there are many fabulous hummus recipes out there and I think I stumbled upon the one that actually makes a roasted red pepper hummus that is better than store bought!
- 2 red bell peppers
- 1 can of chickpeas (15 ounces), drained and rinsed
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup tahini
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Chopped red pepper, parsley, pine nuts (optional, for garnish)
- Veggies cut for serving (suggestions: cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, grape tomatoes, pea pods)
- Crackers for serving
- Slice the peppers so that they will lie flat.
- Place peppers skin side up on foil lined baking pan.
- Roast the red peppers by broiling the peppers (place rack close to broiler) until skin has charred, approximately 10 minutes (check at 5 minutes so you do not burn the peppers!)
- Place the steaming peppers into a glass lock container and seal. (A ziploc bag can be used as well)
- Wait 20 minutes, until skins loosen.
- Peel skins from peppers and discard skins. Put peppers aside.
- Combine lemon juice and tahini in a food processor. Process with the metal blade for 2 minutes. Scrape sides and process an additional minute.
- Add the olive oil, garlic, cumin, cayenne pepper, and salt. Process for 1 minute.
- Scrape sides and process an additional minute.
- Add half of chickpeas and process for 2 minutes.
- Add remainder of chickpeas and process for 2 minutes until smooth and creamy.
- Turn food processor on and add roasted peppers through chute, process until smooth, approximately 2 minutes.
- Check consistency, if too thick, slowly add water until preferred consistency.
- Place in a serving bowl and drizzle with olive oil.
- Garnish with chopped red pepper, parsley, and pine nuts (optional)
- Serve with cut vegetables or crackers.