appetizers and bites Archive

‘Grown-Up Guacamole’: Avocado Dip with Mustard Seeds, Serrano, and Curry Powder.

Spring is, hands down, my favorite time of year. I am ready to say goodbye to winter, and am equally ready to welcome spring, with all of her charms. As winter draws to a close, I find myself chasing every ray of sunshine, like sun-starved zombie. I am ready for spring flowers and produce, sunshine and warmth. Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, but I’m ready for lemonade and porches and BBQ’s and farmer’s markets.

I think I say the same thing about Spring every year, but each year I’m truly grateful for this season. Everything feels new and wonderful, and I have a fresh appreciation for all of it.

That being said, when the sun came out for a couple of days this week, I was beside myself with joy. Honestly, I was a little bit sun drunk. I went so far as to take my laptop into the backyard, so I could work in the sunshine. (It was fantastic.)

In my sun-drunk state, I had the inspired idea to make an epic batch of guacamole. (I also decided that it would be a good idea to eat most of said guacamole in one sitting. But that’s a whole different story.) I know it isn’t exactly guac season yet (we’re still a few months away from cilantro and pepper season), but I was just too excited about the sunshine.

This avocado dip is the perfect compliment to a sunny day, and it pairs nicely with tacos and margaritas. I will say that it is unlike any guacamole I’ve ever had. It contains curry powder and coconut oil, serrano chilies and mustard seeds. It might sound like an odd combination of ingredients, but I promise you that it works. I would take this avocado dip over normal guacamole any day. It’s the perfect snack for a sunny day. Here’s hoping we have an abundance sunny days in our not-too-distant future.

Avocado Dip with Serrano Peppers, Cilantro, and Mustard Seeds | Rosemarried

‘Grown Up Guacamole’: Avocado Dip with Mustard Seeds, Serrano, and Curry Powder.

Ingredients

  • 3-4 ripe avocados
  • The juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (or clarified butter)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds (brown seeds are preferable, but golden will do.)
  • 2 small shallots, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1.5 teaspoons Indian curry powder
  • 1 small serrano chile, seeds removed and finely minced

Instructions

  1. Cut each avocado in half, and remove the pit. Scoop the flesh into a small bowl. Gently mash the avocado with the lemon juice, salt, pepper, and most of the cilantro. Don’t over-mash, as the dip is supposed to be rather chunky. Set aside.
  2. In a skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add in the mustard seeds. Cook the mustard seeds for 1-2 minutes, being careful not to burn them. (Note: mustard seeds pop and jump while cooking, so you may want to place a lid on the skillet for this part.) Next, add in the minced shallots and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the garlic, curry powder, and diced serrano. Add in the avocado mixture, and give everything a quick stir. Remove from heat.
  3. Transfer to a serving bowl. Taste, and adjust seasonings as needed. (I like to add a bit of extra lemon juice at the end). Sprinkle the last of the cilantro on top. Serve with tortilla chips, pita, vegetables, crackers, etc.

Notes

Adapted from Super Natural Every Day

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Sparkling Cranberry and Brie Tartines

I wish I could take credit for this recipe, but I just can’t. I did not come up with this idea (but I really wish that I had). No, my friend Beyth discovered these sparkling cranberry bites on Pinterest and then made them for a friend’s baby shower. I was immediately obsessed with these pretty little appetizers. They’re just so darn pretty, festive, and delicious. As if that’s not reason enough to make them, these cranberry bites are also really easy to assemble.

The original recipe is really simple, and I didn’t adapt it much. I followed her instructions to a T, and made two slight alterations during my assembly of the tartines. I used brioche toasts (from Trader Joe’s) instead of standard crackers and I used my Cranberry Sauce with Juniper and Orange as the chutney element. Other than that, I stuck to the recipe!

Rather than post my ever-so-slightly adapted version, I’ll just link you to the original recipe. If you’d like to make these sparkling cranberry bites, refer to the full recipe at Yummy Mummy. (Beware: this recipe makes a lot of sparkling cranberries. I still have some leftover!)

Roasted Delicata Squash Rings with Mast-o-Khiar Yogurt Dip

My husband and I are part of a small and informal supper club/dinner group. We jokingly refer to these gatherings as “The Beet Goes On”, mostly due to the fact that beets always manage to appear on the menu. (Apparently, we’re all big beet fans.)

Truth be told, it doesn’t seem right to call this group a supper club. Really, it’s just five friends who like to cook food and drink wine. It’s as simple as that. We all take turns hosting, cooking, and menu-planning and we always have a great time. We feast, we talk, and we indulge in a few nice bottles of wine. It’s damn near perfect.

A few weeks ago, The Beet Goes On crew gathered at my house. I knew I wanted to make something special for the group, and I had been pouring over recipes, blogs, and cookbooks for weeks. Eventually, I settled on a Middle-Eastern (Israeli/Persian/Moroccan/etc) theme for the dinner. We dined on Shakshuka, Harissa roasted carrots & beets, feta and olives, lemony cous cous salad, flat bread, and delicata squash rings with mast-o-khiar yogurt dip. Let me tell you, it was a feast fit for kings. (Lest you think I’m giving myself all of the credit, my dinner guests made some of the sides. This was a group effort!). However, of all of the dishes we ate that night, the squash and yogurt combo was my favorite. The squash was sweet and spicy, and the yogurt dip was tangy, creamy, and refreshing. They just worked so well together.

Mast-o-Khiar is a Persian dip, which is relatively similar to a traditional Tzatziki. It is traditionally made with yogurt, cucumber, and mint. I got the idea from 101 Cookbooks, who garnishes her mast-o-khiar with rose petals, dried cranberries, and toasted almonds. I took mine in a slightly different direction, and used toasted almonds, pomegranate seeds, and a touch of flat leaf parsley. I thought it worked rather well.

Mast-o-Khiar Yogurt Dip | Rosemarried

ROASTED DELICATA SQUASH WITH MAST-O-KHIAR YOGURT DIP
Inspired by and adapted from 101 Cookbooks

For the roasted squash:
1-2 small delicata squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt & pepper
1.5 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

For the dip:
2 cups Greek yogurt
2 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
High quality extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup toasted almonds
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
A few sprigs of flat-leaf parsley

To make the dip:

Peel the garlic cloves and place on a cutting board. Sprinkle the garlic cloves with salt, then mash or chop into a paste. Combine the garlic paste with the yogurt, dill, and mint. Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve. When ready to serve, stir in the diced cucumber and season with salt & pepper, to taste. Spoon into a serving dish and drizzle with olive oil and garnish with toasted almonds, pomegranate seeds, and chopped parsley.

To roast the squash:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Wash the squash and leave the skin on. Note: You could slice the squash into rings and de-seed each individual ring, but I prefer to de-seed the squash in one fell swoop. Here’s how you do it: Slice a 1/4″ or 1/2″ round off the top and bottom of the squash (discard these pieces). This should expose the soft center, and allow you to remove the seeds. Take a butter knife and insert it into the center of one of the exposed ends of the squash. Move the knife in a circular motion, and carve through the center of the squash from top to bottom, loosening seeds as you go. Make sure the knife penetrates through to the other end of the squash, and the seeds should fall right out. Once the squash is de-seeded, slice the squash into 1/4″ rings. Toss these rings with olive oil, salt, pepper, and spices. Lay squash rings in rows on a line baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until fork tender and golden brown. Allow to cool slightly before eating.

Lemon Basil Hummus

Despite all of my best efforts to simplify my life, I must be honest with myself that my life is not, in fact, simple.

No, it’s quite the opposite. Mind you, I am not complaining. My life may be busy, but it is busy and full of wonderful things. I am blessed.

In times such as these, I find myself relying on the simplest of recipes. You know, the kind of recipes that call for very few ingredients and take very little time or energy to throw together.

Hummus is probably my favorite of all my busytime recipes. (I just made up that word and I rather like it. Busytimes!) It’s comforting and nourishing. It can be made a million different ways, with a million different flavor combinations.

It is the best snack food.

Of all the hummus variations I’ve tried lately, I think this is my favorite. It’s bright and refreshing, full of flavor and lemony zing. A big thank you to Bean a Foodie for the idea!

Lemon and Basil Hummuse | Rosemarried

Lemon Basil Hummus

Ingredients

  • 2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 heaping tablespoon tahini sauce*
  • The juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 clove or garlic
  • 1 heaping cup of basil leaves, stems removed
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • *Note: if using straight tahini paste, mix vigorously with a few tablespoons of water until the paste is smoothy, creamy, and lighter in color.

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients (except the olive oil) into a food processor. Pulse to combine.
  2. While the food processor is running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Continue adding oil and blend until the hummus is smooth and creamy (or until it reaches desired consistency). Note: if you want to use less oil, you may substitute a few tablespoons of water for olive oil.
  3. Taste, and adjust seasonings if necessary. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of sea salt, and a basil leaf. If not consuming immediately, store hummus in an airtight container in the fridge. Will keep for a week (or more).

Notes

Adapted from Bean a Foodie

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Roasted Beet Crostini with Pistachio and Mint Pesto

You know that old jump rope jingle? The one that goes, “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage!” As it turns out, that little song has a lot of truth to it.

Let me pause right here and say this: this is not a birth announcement. I repeat: I am not pregnant! I am merely commenting on the fact that a couple of years ago a bunch of my friends got married. You could say there was a flurry of weddings…

And now there’s a flurry of babies.

I’m not gonna lie, it’s an exciting time. Babies are simultaneously terrifying and adorable (and I love babies, even if I don’t totally understand them.) And while I am not yet on the baby bandwagon, I am extremely excited for all of my friends and family who are on that path.

That being said, this past weekend I helped throw a baby shower for friends of mine who are expecting a little boy. The shower was a group effort, with various friends providing beverages, decor, and nibbles. I volunteered to make three savory dishes for the shower, and I knew right away that I was going to make my Kale Apple Salad and this Brussels Sprout Dip. However, I was completely stumped on what to make for my third dish, so I googled “baby shower appetizers” and was completely and totally uninspired. Since the internet was totally unhelpful, I turned to the grocery store for inspiration. I wandered the aisles searching for appetizer ideas, and eventually stumbled upon a pretty little pile of golden beets. In that moment, I knew what I had to do: I had to make a baby shower appetizer that featured golden beets.

And, so I did just that.

If I may be so bold, I’ll admit that the crostinis were a hit. If you ever find yourself googling “baby shower appetizers”, I hope that you stumble upon this recipe.

Roasted Beet Crostini with Pistachio and Mint Pesto

Ingredients

  • 4-5 medium sized beets (I used a mix of red and golden beets)
  • 1 baguette
  • 4 oz soft goat cheese (I used a goat fromage blanc)
  • 1/3 cup shelled pistachios
  • 4-5 sprigs of fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (plus more for the crostini)
  • The juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. First, roast the beets (this step can be done ahead of time). Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Trim off beet greens (reserve for another use) and wash the beets. Wrap each beet in foil and place in the oven. (I place the foil-wrapped beets directly on the oven rack, but you could place them on a baking sheet.) Cook until the beets are fork tender, about 30-40 minutes.
  2. Once the beets are done, remove from foil and set aside to cool. When they are cool enough to handle, remove the skin. Chop the beets into small cubes and season with a bit of salt & pepper. If making ahead of time, store the diced beets in a sealed container in the fridge until needed.
  3. To make the crostini, preheat the oven to 325 F. Slice the baguette thinly, and place the baguette slices on a baking sheet. Brush each with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with a touch of salt & pepper. Bake crostini, turning once, for 10-15 minutes until crisp and golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  4. To make the pesto, place the pistachios, mint, olive oil, and lemon juice in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture just comes together. (I like the aesthetic of big chunks of green pistachios, so I am careful not to over-blend this particular pesto). Taste, and add more olive oil or lemon juice if needed. Season with a touch of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. (Note: I do not recommend making the pesto a day ahead of time, as it tends to look a little ugly the next day.)
  5. To assemble, spread a thin layer of goat cheese on each crostini. Next, spoon some of the pesto over the goat cheese. Spoon a small amount of diced beets on top of the pesto. If you’re feeling fancy, you could garnish with a drizzle of olive oil or some finely chopped fresh mint. Serve at room temperature, and enjoy!
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Roasted Lemon and Shallot Chutney

Five years ago I moved from Los Angeles, CA, to Portland, OR.

It was quite possibly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, for so many reasons. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with this city, this state, the atmosphere, the people, all of it. I really love it here.

But it is precisely this time of year that I find myself missing California. I don’t miss the traffic, the smog, the crowds, or the stress. Really, I just miss the California sunshine and the California citrus. For all of Oregon’s greatness, we don’t have much of either of those two things this time of year. (On the other hand, we do have a lot of clouds, rain, kale, and squash. I like all of those things, but I tire of them easily.)

Last week, my mom gave me a really nice gift. My parents recently went to visit my aunt and uncle in Palm Springs, and my mom brought back a bag of Meyer Lemons from my aunt’s lemon tree. She was kind enough to give me a handful of the Meyer lemons, and it made my entire week. (I’m not kidding.)

I knew I needed to make something special with these Meyer lemons, so I decided to make a version of this roasted lemon chutney. The chutney incorporates all parts of the lemon, and the roasting process mellows the bitterness of the lemon. This is a simple and rustic chutney, and I would highly recommend that you slather it on some crusty bread with a dollop of soft cheese.

Roasted Lemon and Shallot Chutney

Ingredients

  • 1 large shallot (or 2 small shallots), roughly chopped
  • 3 Meyer lemons, plus 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (plus a bit more for brushing)
  • Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons chopped basil or mint

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. Wash the lemons and slice into 1/4 inch thick rounds (discard the end pieces). Use a knife (or fingers) to remove the seeds from the lemon slices. Place the lemon slices on the baking sheet and brush with a bit of olive. Sprinkle a touch of sea salt over the lemons.
  3. In a small bowl, toss the chopped shallots with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place on a separate baking sheet (or in a small baking pan). Roast the shallots until they are tender and lightly browned, around 15 minutes. Once the shallots are cooked, remove them from the oven and set aside until needed.
  4. While the shallots are cooking, roast the lemons (on a separate oven rack). Cook the lemons for ten minutes, and then turn them over and continue roasting until they are very tender and are beginning to brown (about 20 minutes total cooking time). Remove the lemons from the oven and set aside to cool.
  5. Once the lemons shallots are cooled, transfer them to a food processor. Add in the olive oil, honey, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Add a bit at a time and pulse until the mixture comes together (it will look creamy, with a few chunks). Taste and adjust the seasonings until the chutney is to your liking. Allow to sit for 2 hours before serving, to allow the flavors to meld. If adding in chopped herbs, stir them into the chutney right before serving.
  6. The chutney can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. Enjoy!
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Roasted Cherry Tomato Bruschetta with Balsamic & Honey

My level of productivity has greatly declined during the Olympic games.

I’m not sure why, but I am really into the the 2012 games. I’m over-eager and excited. I’m invested in the stories of the athletes, and carefully choose my heroes. I’m so over Michael Phelps. I adore Gabby Douglas.

Honestly, I feel like a kid again. Back in those days, my sisters and I would huddle in front of the television and cheer on our favorite athletes (the ice skaters and gymnasts, of course). Oh, how we loathed Oksana Baiul! And how we loved Kristy Yamaguchi!

I’m telling you, I’m a nerd about this stuff.

And somewhere in the midst of all this Olympics madness, I’ve carved out a little bit of time to cook. It’s finally tomato season in the Northwest, and thus this recipe was born.

I have a Sun Gold cherry tomato plant in my backyard, and it produces a lot of tomatoes. It’s a crazy little plant and I can hardly keep up with the tomato production. If there was a tomato Olympics, I’m pretty sure my plant would get a medal. (See what I did there? I brought it all back to the Olympics).

So, if you’re in the throes of cherry tomato season and need a good recipe for your arsenal: this one is a gem. It’s simple, elegant, and ridiculously tasty. It’s like a better version of tomato bruschetta (who knew it could get any better?).

As for me, I’m off to watch more of the Olympic games. Go USA!



ROASTED CHERRY TOMATO BRUSCHETTA WITH HONEY & BALSAMIC

Adapted from Cheesy Melty Toasty
Makes 1 cup of roasted tomatoes, enough for 8-10 small appetizers.

Ingredients:
1 pint cherry (or grape) tomatoes, halved (I used a mix of sungolds and red grape tomatoes)
1.5 tablespoons olive oil
1.5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1.5 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
salt & pepper, to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup fresh basil
Baguette slices
Ricotta cheese

Method:
Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Place halved cherry tomatoes on a lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt & pepper.

Roast cherry tomatoes in the oven for an hour and a half, or until the tomatoes are brown and caramelized.

While tomatoes are roasting, slice 1/2 of a baguette into thin slices. Heat a small amount of olive oil in a skillet on the stove top. Toast bread slices in the skillet, 3-4 minutes on each side (or until golden and crisp). Set aside.

When the tomatoes are ready, remove from the oven. Remove the roasted tomatoes to a bowl and allow to cool. Once the tomatoes have cooled to room temperature, toss with the rest of the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add in the honey, red chili flakes, minced garlic. Slice the basil into a chiffonade (very thin strips) and toss 1/2 of the basil into the cherry tomato mixture. Taste, and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

Slather each piece of toasted baguette with fresh ricotta cheese. Top with the roasted cherry tomato bruschetta, and garnish with a bit more sliced fresh basil. Feel free to drizzle a little extra honey over the top. Eat and enjoy.

Note: basil bruises easily and turns a sad blackish-brown color after awhile. I like to slice the basil right before serving so it’s bright & green & lovely!