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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Sweet Treats

Recipe—Mini Key Lime Pies

I have never eaten nor have I ever made key lime pie. However, I always think it looks beautiful and absolutely delicious! You may recall in one of my last posts that I mentioned for Easter I went with a tea party theme and did small bites. I wanted something very festive so I decided to finally wing it and do something totally different. I ended up with the cutest and most delectable little key lime pies. They were amazing! They were perfectly tart and had just the right amount of creaminess. And they were just so cute! If you follow my lead and get the premade crusts and whip cream this recipe takes no longer than 3 minutes to make and 15 minutes to bake. Who doesn’t have time for that? With summer warming up this really is the perfect refreshing dessert to enjoy on a warm day.

Note: I opted to make mini pies but you can just as easily make one big pie with this recipe. Adjust the baking time to 23–25 minutes.

INGREDIENTS
12 mini graham cracker pie crusts (I found Keebler ones in the baking aisle)
4 egg yolks
3/4 c key lime juice
zest from one lime
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c sour cream
whipped cream
1 lime sliced and then cut into quarters (optional)

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 350º.
  • In a medium bowl combine the egg yolks, lime juice, zest, condensed milk, and sour cream and whisk until well smooth.
  • Place the pie crusts on a large baking sheet and top off each with the filling.
  • Bake pies for 18–20 minutes and allow to cool before moving to the refrigerator.
  • Chill the pies in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before serving.
  • When ready to serve top each pie with a dollop of whip cream and a little slice of lime.
  • Enjoy! (And good luck eating just one!)
Salads

Recipe—Fiesta Salad

When most people think of salads they think of a big pile of greens topped with a handful of other veggies and dressing. Well this is not your ordinary salad. It consists of avocados, tomato, cilantro, and a sweet onion all tossed in a lime olive oil dressing. No lettuce here! I always make this with my Rio Grande Spice Rub New York Steaks and Cornbread Muffins. Seriously amazing! I also love this recipe with a nice piece of grilled fish. This simple salad is made up of fresh summer ingredients and is so light, and refreshing. Perfect for those nights you want a quick and easy side dish but just don’t want to fire up the oven.

Note: Since avocados can become mushy and brown quickly, wait to add the avocadoes until right before serving.

INGREDIENTS
2 c cherry tomatoes, cut in half OR 2 large tomatoes, chopped
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
1/4 c cilantro, chopped
kosher salt to taste
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c lime juice
2 avocados, chopped (see note above)

STEPS

  • In a medium bowl combine the tomatoes, onion, cilantro, salt, olive oil, and lime juice. Toss to combine.
  • Add the avocado last and gently stir it in.
Dinners

Recipe—Low Cal Cincinnati Chili

 

It’s the dreaded time of year where I make an effort to eat healthier with the hopes I can fit into the same shorts I was wearing last year. Don’t get me wrong, I love spring and summer, it is just such a disappointment when you go to put on your super cute shorts and they just don’t quite fit like they did the last summer. Blah.

This year I am determined to get better at cooking healthier meals that I, as well as my family, want to eat. I find that I frequently get into salad ruts. I am trying to get it out of my head that you can eat more than salads and still eat healthy and satisfying meals. So one thing I have been doing is substituting lean ground turkey and chicken for beef in more recipes. I made this Cincinnati chili with ground turkey and it turned out amazing. My husband and son didn’t even know it wasn’t beef. Point for mom!

The meat is cooked in so many spices that no one would know it wasn’t beef unless you told them. I love that this recipe is super flavorful and also satisfying and that it makes the whole kitchen smell amazing! Plus the leftovers for the next two days made awesome lunches at less than 450 calories a pop. #winning

Note: I am not from Cincinnati, nor have I ever had authentic Cincinnati chili. I know there are individuals who are very particular about their Cincinnati chili and how it is prepared. I am not claiming this as “authentic” Cincinnati chili, I am just claiming this to be a damn good recipe.

INGREDIENTS

2 tsp olive oil
1 lb ground turkey
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped (divided)
15 oz can diced tomatoes
15 oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 c water
spaghetti noodles
cheddar cheese, shredded

STEPS

  • In a large pot heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
  • Place the ground turkey in the pot and cook for about 8–10 minutes making sure to break up the chunks with a spatula.
  • Add in most of the chopped onion and cook for 3–4 minutes. (Note: Save a couple tablespoons of the onion for garnish.)
  • Once the onion has had a chance to cook add in the tomatoes, beans, Worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, chili powder, unsweetened cocoa powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and water.
  • Bring the liquid to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.
  • Partially cover the pot and simmer for 45 minutes making sure to stir occasionally.
  • Add water as needed to keep the mixture “saucy.”
  • Serve the sauce over cooked noodles and garnish with shredded cheddar and some chopped onions.
Dinners

Recipe—Creamy Tomatillo Chicken

Tomatillos are one of those things that I am just figuring out what to do with. I remember as a kid peeling the husks off them all summer long since my mom grew them in her garden but all I remember her really making was her tomatillo salsa.

Every once in awhile I end up with a small bag of them from a friend or our produce delivery. Never enough to actually make a whole batch of salsa with. But now I can say I have two recipes that use tomatillos. One is my green chicken chili, which I promise to post soon, and the other is this incredible Creamy Tomatillo Chicken recipe.

If you can prepare the sauce the night before it is perfect for a busy workday. Just come home, take the marinated chicken out of the bag, and bake. After marinating for that long you are sure to get a super juicy and flavorful chicken breast. The ranch gives it a nice refreshing quality while the cilantro and lime give it a little zip! While I served this with rice which was awesome, I really want to try the chicken chopped up over some greens with corn, black beans, and some red bell pepper. The sauce would make for an amazing dressing over a little southwest salad!

INGREDIENTS
1 c mayonnaise
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 package dry ranch dressing mix
2 1/2 tsp garlic
1 c cilantro leaves
4 tomatillos, husked and chopped
1 tsp lime juice
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

GARNISHES (Optional)
Lime wedges
Extra cilantro leaves

STEPS

  • Add into a blender the mayonnaise, buttermilk, ranch dressing mix, garlic, cilantro, tomatillos, and lime juice.
    Blend until well combined and transfer about half of the mix to a one-gallon Ziploc Bag.
  • Add the chicken to the bag and seal tightly.
  • Store the chicken in the fridge and marinade anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight.
  • Transfer the remaining marinade in a small bowl, cover, and place in the fridge until ready to serve.
  • When ready to begin cooking preheat the oven to 375º and transfer the chicken breasts to a baking dish.
  • Dispose of the leftover marinade.
  • Bake the chicken for 20–25 minutes or until cooked completely through.
  • Transfer the cooked chicken to the plate and poor the additional sauce over the top.
  • Garnish with a lime wedge and some fresh cilantro leaves.
  • Enjoy! 

Recipe adapted from Creme de la Crumb.

Dinners

Recipe—Lamb Meatballs Over Couscous with Feta

Some of you may remember from my Lamburger post quite some time ago about my dad living next to a sheep farm. (If not, go check it out, seriously amazing recipe and a fun little story.)

Well as a house-warming gift my incredible dad and stepmom gave us an ice chest full of all sorts of wonderful cuts of lamb and even some pork! That is probably the best and most practical housewarming gift you could give a person right? Okay, maybe the best housewarming gift you could give a foodie. Daddy knows me all too well. Thankfully there was lots of ground lamb in the mix so I have been able to make this awesome dish a couple of times recently.

The lamb meatballs have a super unique flavor with the chopped up bits of apricot which keeps them super moist. I serve them over a bed of couscous with a little Athens salad made up of cucumber, tomatoes, and red onion. I love how light and refreshing the entire meal is! Seriously a fave recipe of mine and it just looks so darn pretty on the plate! Plus this recipe takes less than 25 minutes to make. #winning

INGREDIENTS
1 lb ground lamb
1/3 c dried apricots, chopped
1/2 tsp coriander
1 small red onion, half finely chopped and half thinly sliced
kosher salt and pepper
1 cup couscous
4 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp lemon juice
2 tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cucumber, sliced
1/2 feta, crumbled

STEPS

  • Turn the oven on to broil.
  • In a bowl combine the ground lamb, apricots, coriander, the finely chopped red onion, salt, and pepper and mix until well combined,
  • Form the meat into 1 1/4″ balls and place them in a baking dish.
  • Place the dish in the oven on the middle rack and cook for 8–10 minutes.
  • While the lamb meatballs are cooking, prepare the couscous per package instructions.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, and some salt and pepper.
  • Once the meatballs are couscous are done it’s time to plate.
  • Place a nice size scoop of the couscous in the center of the plate and top with 3–5 meatballs.
  • Place the sliced tomatoes, cucumber, and red onion on the plate next to the couscous.
  • Drizzle the lemon olive oil dressing over everything on the plate and then finish off with the crumbled feta cheese.
  • Dinner is ready to serve!

Recipe adapted from Real Simple.

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