Appetizers

Recipe—Spicy Black Bean Dip

I might as well take on the title as Queen of Appetizers. It’s just what I do. I personally just love appetizers and finger foods and no party is complete without a nice spread. When it comes to throwing a party a good dip is a must on the appetizer menu. There is no need to spend hours slaving away in the kitchen to come up with something everyone will love. This recipe literally takes five minutes to make and is so easy! You spend more time measuring out the seasonings than anything else. Just toss it all in the blender and voila! You have a delicious bean dip ready to serve!

The flavors in this dip are amazing. It might look sort of blah but then you take one bite and zap, bing, bang! Flavor explosions happening right in your mouth! You have a nice kick from the jalapeños, a little zest from the lime and lots of other great flavors from all the seasonings. The first time I made this I was (no joke) licking it off the rubber spatula. This is great at room temperature, warm, or even right out of the fridge. Talk about diverse! Next time you are throwing or attending a party make this recipe. You will have lots of people asking for the recipe. No need to tell them it took less than five minutes to make. That can be our little secret.

INGREDIENTS
2 large cloves of garlic
1 jalapeño, deseeded, deveined, and chopped
1/2 c fresh cilantro
1 (15 oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp black pepper, ground
1 1/2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
water

GARNISHES
cotija cheese, crumbled
a couple of slices of fresh jalapeño

STEPS

  • Place all of the main ingredients except the water into the blender or food processor and blend until well mixed.
  • Add 4 tablespoons of water and continue blending until nice and smooth. If necessary, continue adding water 2 tablespoons at a time until it reaches the desired consistency.
  • Transfer to a bowl and garnish with some crumbled cotija cheese and slices of fresh jalapeños.
  • Enjoy with some tortilla chips now or place in fridge until ready to serve.
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Appetizers

Recipe—Herbed Cucumber Bites

I have been wanting to host a tea party type of event and this year Easter was the perfect occasion. We were just having a couple of people over so I did all sorts of small bites. So fun and classy! The cucumber rounds were one of my faves! They were so light and refreshing and reminded me of the typical cucumber sandwiches you would have at a tea party, minus the rye bread. These are definitely the perfect snack for bridal showers, baby showers, or an afternoon tea.

INGREDIENTS
8 oz block of cream cheese, softened
1/4 c fresh dill (or 1 tbsp dried)
2 tbsp dill pickle juice (just the stuff form the jar)
3/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
pepper
1 green onion, finely chopped
1 cucumber, sliced
parsley to garnish (optional)

STEPS

  • In a medium bowl beat together the cream cheese, dill, pickle juice, onion powder, garlic powder, pepper, and green onion until smooth.
  • Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag or a Ziploc bag.
  • Pipe the herbed cream cheese mixture onto each cucumber round.
  • Garnish each cucumber with a sprig of parsley on top.
  • Serve immediately or cover and store in the fridge until ready to enjoy.
Appetizers, Kitchen Tips

Kitchen Tip—Fun Individual Veggie and Dip Cups

Back in December I threw a little party for my son. We invited over a couple of his closest friends. Keep in mind this was a group of 4–5 year olds. I wanted to have kid friendly food that they would enjoy. I made mini burgers, little fruit kabobs with marshmallows, a fun neon green punch, and a couple of other things. Now being a mom who insists on a balanced meal I knew I needed to get some veggies in there. I wanted to do something different so that the kids would actually want to eat them. So here you have Individual Veggie and Dip Cups!

The kids thought they were awesome! They loved having their own little cups. I bought a pack of these small plastic cups at a local party store, did a little squirt of ranch in the bottom and added in sliced carrots, cucumbers, and celery. How great, right?!?! Not only were these fun to eat but it also prevents the kids from double dipping. Have you ever watched kids go to town on a table of appetizers? They will bite and dip and repeat. Heck, I have even caught adults doing that! So regardless of the age of your party guests this is a fun and great way to serve veggies as an appetizer. A crowd pleaser for all ages!

If you like this idea you should check out this one too!

Pre-Scooped Ice Cream—A Party Time Saver

Appetizers, Sauces

Recipe—Black Bean and Corn Salsa

Summer is approaching and that means its BBQ and party season! Whoop whoop! We seem to attend and host so many great BBQs and parties throughout the summer and I am always jumping at the chance to make something that will really wow people. However, I don’t always have the time to throw together a fancy smancy dish. This black bean and corn salsa has been a go to recipe of mine for years now and people always love it! It is completely different and super easy to make.

I pretty much keep all the canned ingredients in my pantry year round because you never know what will come up and when you may suddenly need an appetizer to bring. And a huge plus is it makes a lot, so I always leave a little extra at home to keep for myself for later on. I’m greedy like that. And if I haven’t already convinced you to try it, another plus is it stays good for at least a week in the fridge.

This salsa goes great just served with some chips but I have also found it is amazing in a baked potato, in a quesadilla, stuffed in an omelet, or even along side some grilled chicken or steak. Seriously, super versatile. Okay, now I am getting hungry and need a reason to go make some of this. Fiesta anyone?

I hope you enjoy this awesome recipe as much as I do!

INGREDIENTS
2 (8 oz) cans of Rotel Tomatoes and Chilies
1 (14 oz) can of Mexicorn (Mexican style corn)
1 (16 oz) can black beans
1 (4 oz) can green chilies
1 c diced sweet onion
1/2 c cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
salt and peppers to taste

STEPS

  • Add all ingredients in a large bowl and stir.
  • Store in refrigerator until ready to serve. (Yes, it is seriously that easy.)
Appetizers, Dinners

Recipe—Big Ol’ BBQ Meatballs

Looking for a family friendly recipe that both you and the kids will enjoy? Then search no more! Don’t have kids, no worries. Everyone loves these regardless of age! My 4 year old  loves helping to crush all the saltine crackers. I just put them in a zip loc bag and he goes to town with his toy hammer. (Cooking is a family affair in our house.) These big ol’ bbq meatballs are huge on flavor and so easy to put together. The brown sugar in the sauce helps to glaze the balls giving them a nice even coating of the sweet and tangy sauce. Yummy! These are the perfect comfort food as the weather cools off. I served these as a main dish but I could totally see making these smaller and serving them up as a party appetizer. Hope you enjoy these sticky saucy balls as much as I do!

Note: The sauce for these balls ends up being super sticky so I HIGHLY recommend lining your cooking sheets with parchment paper to help with cleanup. Otherwise you are going to have a super sticky glaze all over your baking sheets, which will not be very easy to clean up. If you do not have parchment paper then I recommend spraying your cookie sheets with a nice coating of cooking spray.

INGREDIENTS
2 lb ground beef
small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 sleeves saltine crackers, crushed
3 eggs
salt
pepper
3 tbsp honey mustard
3/4 c ketchup, divided
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
3/4 c bbq sauce
3/4 c brown sugar

STEPS

  • Preheat your oven to 400º.
  • In a large bowl combine the ground beef, onions, crushed crackers, eggs, salt, pepper, honey mustard, 1/2 cup of the ketchup, and the Worcestershire sauce.
  • Using your hands combine all the ingredients until well blended.
  • Grab a handful of the meat mixture and roll into 2″ balls.
  • Place the balls on a parchment paper lined baking sheet (see above note) and repeat until you are out of the meat mixture.
  • Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
  • While the meatballs are baking mix together the remaining 1/4 cup of ketchup, bbq sauce, and the brown sugar.
  • Remove the baking sheet from the oven after 20 minutes and top each ball with a spoonful of the sauce.
  • Place the meatballs back in the oven for another 10 minutes to allow the sauce to melt and coat the balls.
  • Remove from oven and serve.
Appetizers, Snacks

Recipe—Off the Chain Cheddar Crackers

INGREDIENTS
3/4 c sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 c butter, softened
1 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
dash of paprika

STEPS

  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
  • Cover and refrigerate dough for 45 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 375º.
  • Shape the dough into 1″ balls and place a couple of inches apart on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  • Press down with a fork leaving hatch marks on top.
  • Bake for 12–14 minutes or until the edges just start to turn a nice golden color.
  • Leave on baking sheet to cool for 10 minutes.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Note: These crackers will stay fresh in an airtight container for several days.

Recipe adapted from Chef in Training.

Appetizers, Side Dishes, Snacks

Recipe—Roasted Carrot Fries

A couple of weeks back we got these GORGEOUS rainbow carrots in our box of organic produce and when my son saw them he honestly didn’t believe me that they were carrots.  They ranged from a deep purple to red and even white. They were just too pretty to get tossed into a salad or cooked any ordinary way. I wanted these to stand on their own. I know I have mentioned in many previous posts that I am always looking for fun and healthy after school snacks for my little man so we decided to make roasted carrot fries. They were awesome! I just sliced, baked, and served them with a little side of ranch (because every 3 year old loves to dip their food in sauce).  These were super quick and a wonderful way to enjoy these rainbow carrots.

INGREDIENTS
4–5 large carrots (I used rainbow carrots)
olive oil for drizzling
salt
ranch for dipping (optional)

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 425º.
  • Carefully cut the carrots into “fry sized” pieces.
  • Place the carrots on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.
  • Toss the carrots to coat and season with salt.
  • Bake the carrots for 15–18 minutes or until crisp tender, flipping once halfway through cooking.
  • Remove from oven and transfer to a serving dish or plate.
  • Serve with a side of your favorite dressing or enjoy all on their own.