I waited to pick my dip recipes until after I saw what all of the other guests were bringing to the dip-potluck party so I could fill-in-the-blanks with some recipes that would be a little different. We had one avocado-yogurt dip that was close to guacamole, but no one had jumped on a salsa or a Mexican dip so I took that category as inspiration and got brainstorming. I knew I wanted to update the Mexican dip category so I mentally scrolled through the menu items at my favorite Mexican joint and we always order a side of Mexican Street Corn (because, hello, delicious). Taking the corn off the cob and adding in a bit more lime juice and it was simple enough to translate that dish into a sweet and spicy Mexican Street Corn dip. The recipe is easy, and I know will taste great in warmer months when we can get fresh local corn and char it on the grill, but cooking in a skillet did the trick too. It tastes great with tortilla chips; I paired it with Food Should Taste Good jalapeño chips because the subtle spice is a nice kick to complement the cool flavors of the corn and cotija cheese (plus they’re gluten free and all-natural, everybody wins!). This dip is definitely going to be a summer-time favorite, and a great warm-weather swap out for a classic Mexican dip. Full recipe below:
Mexican Street Corn Dip read more

Come football play-off season the pressure is really on for me. I’m not talking about being nervous or worked up about the actual games, I’m talking about intensely brainstorming game-day snack ideas. While everyone else is preparing their picks for the big game, I’m busy concocting up ideas for what I plan to stuff my face with. And good news: I have a buttery, carb-y, pepperoni-stuffed plan, my friends! When I hit a mental block thinking about what to bring to a football viewing party last weekend my husband offered me some sage advice. He said: ‘you usually do well by taking something big and tasty and turning it into a bite sized snack’ – of course! So I shrunk down my favorite flavors in pizzas and garlic breads into a super easy Pepperoni-Stuffed Garlic Knot bite. The full recipe is below for all of your Superbowl Party planning needs!  2015/01/img_5973.jpgGarlic Knot 1Garlic Knot 2Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Ingredients

  • Store-bought pizza dough
  • Pepperoni
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 4 Tbsp of butter
  • 1/4 cup of parsley leaves
  • 8-10 cloves of garlic

Instructions

  • Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Pull or cut 1″ round pieces of pizza dough and use your fingers to roll into a 1 to 2″ disc. Top the disc with a piece of pepperoni and a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese.
  • Roll the sides of the dough over the pepperoni and cheese filling and pinch the dough closed to seal it inside. Roll dough around in between your hands to round the shape and ensure the dough is fully sealed. Repeat until all of the dough is used up and arrange the dough balls into a pie dish.
  • In a food processor, combine butter, parsley and garlic. Spread the garlic herb butter over the dough, making sure that the mixture is evenly dispersed.
  • Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the garlic knots just begin to turn gold brown.  Serve with a side of marinara sauce for dipping.

The other day at work the topic of Thanksgiving foods came up, and while it’s not a traditional Thanksgiving food, I mentioned that we always have a mac and cheese at ours because my siblings aren’t big on turkey. One of the best mac and cheese dishes that I’ve ever eaten was on our honeymoon, and the dish came served with a side of homemade applesauce — delicious. My wheels started turning for how I could combine these flavors in a new way, and I came up with this cute little idea for a savory and sweet side dish: mac and cheese baked apples. I love the idea of offering these in small apples as an appetizer, or as a bigger portion for a side dish at dinner — either way, they’re a super tasty treat. Full recipe below!

Mac and cheese baked apple Mac and cheese baked apple1 mac and cheese baked apple2 mac and cheese baked apple3 mac and cheese baked apple4 mac and cheese baked apple5 mac and cheese baked apple6Ingredients:

  • 4-5 large apples (honey crisp apples worked great)
  • 5 cups of cooked pasta (elbows work great!)
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 tbsp parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese (plus extra for garnish)
  • salt and pepper

Instructions:

Cook pasta as directed, removing from water when still al dente. Clean apples and slice their tops off; using a melon-baller, scoop out the insides of the apple leaving a half-inch rim around the edges. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and begin to whisk in flour until a roux forms, then slowly whisk in the cup of milk and heat until the sauce thickens. Next, mix in the cheeses and combine until the sauce is a consistent texture. Remove from heat fold in pasta until fully coated; salt and pepper to taste. Fill the hollowed-out apples with macaroni and cheese mixture, and top with additional sharp cheddar cheese. Bake in a baking dish in a 400 degree pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes.

 

On a recent trip to the farmer’s market, I spotted the cutest little mini eggplants (I learned they’re called fairy tale eggplants) and had to scoop some up to experiment with. Given the warm weather recently, I decided to use them in a summer-temperature-friendly appetizer — eggplant caprese bites. I washed the eggplants and sliced them into thin, 1/4 rounds, then dunked them in a whisked egg batter and dredged them lightly in Italian bread crumbs. Using a large skillet, I browned the eggplant in olive oil, and then let them come up to room temperature while resting on a clean paper towel to remove some of the oil. Then comes assembly time — on a toothpick I stacked up tomatoes, eggplant rounds, halves of mini-mozzarella balls, and fresh basil leaves. Right before I served them I sprinkled the bites with sea salt for a little extra flavor. Aren’t they so bright and cheery?

Eggplant Caprese BitesEggplant Caprese Bites 1 Eggplant Caprese Bites 3 Eggplant Caprese Bites 4 Eggplant Caprese Bites 5 Eggplant Caprese Bites 6

I got such great feedback a few weeks back about my 3-ingredient appetizer idea  that I decided to try another combination for a little blogger holiday party thrown by my friend Elizabeth this weekend. And for this little snack I chose one my all time favorite cheese, a creamy french brie… yum. I rolled out thawed puff pastry dough (store bought, from the frozen food section!) and spread a thin layer of strawberry jam across the surface, and spaced out the slices of cheese.  Then I rolled the dough over the ingredients and sealed off the edges before cutting it into pinwheel slices. I baked the pinwheels — on baking sheet with a light mist of cooking spray — for about 12 minutes at 400 degrees. Let them cool a bit before removing them from the baking sheet so all of the cheese doesn’t ooze out — you don’t want any of that going to waste! I think this is going to be a new entertaining staple, it took about 5 minutes of prep time and they flew off the plate! Brie and Jam Pinwheels 1 Brie and Jam Pinwheels 2 Brie and Jam Pinwheels 3 Brie and Jam Pinwheels 4 Brie and Jam Pinwheels 5 Brie and Jam Pinwheels 6

I was brainstorming some new appetizer ideas that were easy to make in advance and came up with a simple formula for a snack that has some variety, without requiring tons of grocery shopping or dirty dishes. I purchased some frozen puff pastry dough, thawed, rolled and cut it into 2″ circles. Then I experimented with a few combinations of filling: herb goat cheese and rosemary sea salt, blue cheese crumbles and a drizzle of organic honey, and my favorite combination, slices of heirloom tomatoes sprinkled with fresh parmesan cheese. All three combinations got some fresh cracked black pepper on top as well before I rolled up the sides to resemble bite-sized -tarts.  After following the baking directions on the puff pasty box (375 degrees for 10-15 minutes), they came out of the oven golden brown. These lasted about 3 minutes from plate to table at a family party I brought them to, which I think means they were pretty good? I’d love to hear what combinations of fillings you might try!
3 Ingredient Appetizers_A 3 Ingredient Appetizers_B 3 Ingredient Appetizers_C 3 Ingredient Appetizers_D

Guys, I can’t even express to you in words how much I love this appetizer. If I could figure out how to put videos on my blog, then I would take one of me eating these, because only then would you really be able to tell how very much I love these little goat cheese crostini bits of deliciousness. This recipe was totally snagged from a spectacular little hole-in-the-wall wine bar on Cape Cod, where I went with some girlfriends a few years ago. And since then it’s been a staple with our group of friends, when we get together, there better be goat cheese crostini. Also, did I mention how easy it was to make? You just slice up a crusty baguette (I used Trader Joe’s ficelle), toast it under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, and then spread the warm bread with goat cheese. Then drizzle the crostinis with good honey — I used orange blossom honey, yum — and sprinkle with fresh thyme. The only other step is try not to eat them all before your guests arrive — I promise, it’s going to be difficult.

Cocktail_Styled014Cocktail_Styled012 Cocktail_Styled017 Cocktail_Styled018 Cocktail_Styled019All Images by Bring to Light Photography