Another Quick Fall Appetizer That’s Oh So Delicious!

Appetizers are either far too complex or plain old boring. If I am going to cook a meal and make a dessert, I don’t want to spend too much time preparing an appetizer. Solution…Fig and Goat Cheese Crostini. These sumptuous appetizers are gourmet without trying too hard, and they are speedy to make (any sous chef…aka my husband, can whip these out in a jiffy!) Fig Fruit

YOU ONLY NEED THREE INGREDIENTS…plus a knife! 

1. 1 package crostinis (you can find these in any grocery store bakery department). If you can’t find crostinis, just grab a box of gourmet crackers!

2. 1 jar fig preserves (I personally love Organic Adrianic Fig Spread from Dalmatia carried at most stores including Whole Foods) You can mix it up by choosing a fig and orange preserve as well.

3. 1 block of soft goat cheese (plain or one with herbs would work well too)

Sliced French Bread Baguette

The Self-Explanatory Way to Assemble Your Gourmet Appetizer

1. Spread goat cheese on crostini (if your goat cheese is not soft enough to spread, then spread your fig preserves first and layer a slice of goat cheese on top)

2. Using a different knife, spread fig preserves on top of goat cheese

3. If you want them to look a little prettier you could always add a sprig of mint or basil to garnish or for another variation you could drizzle with a little honey and sprinkle with chopped walnuts

4. Arrange on a plate

5. Serve!Sheep milk cheese with basil and black olives, on cutting board

Sometimes the best things come in simple combinations. Embrace how easy delicious can be!

From The Mom in Me, MD

One of the Best (and easiest) Appetizers for Fall…Caramel Apple Brie…just a bite away

Looking for a quick and easy appetizer that wows every time? Butterscotch-Caramel Brie with Dried Apple, Pecans, and Cranberries-This tasty version of caramel smothered brie does just the trick. Not only do the flavors resemble a caramel apple…they take a huge gourmet leap forward by incorporating both sweet and savory flavors!

The tasty supplies:

1 jar of Mrs. Richardson’s Butterscotch and Caramel Topping (you may have to hunt for this in the grocery store, but most mainline stores do carry this. If you can’t find it, it is okay to substitute with a mixture of Butterscotch and Caramel from another company such as Sanders. If you have the time, you can also order Mrs. Richardson’s online from Amazon)

1 bag of dried apple slices

1 bag of dried cranberries

1 cup of whole or chopped pecans

1 wheel of briecheese

How to smother your brie:

Simply heat your Butterscotch and Caramel in the microwave or stove top until warm. Add in your dried apple slices, dried cranberries, and pecans. Pour over the wheel of brie. Serve with crackers. Oh, my goodness! It doesn’t get any better! So simple…so fast…so good! Great for football tailgating in the fall, a Thanksgiving appetizer, or even a winter treat!

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Best Grilled Chicken Recipe…EVER!!!!

Grilled Chicken Skewer With SaladSo, I swore that I would never share this recipe! It has been my entertaining go to for several years now, and it is always a hit. Not only is it fairly easy, it is incredibly healthy and delicious. Although it’s primarily meant for summer grilling, I adapt it for the winter months too by baking the chicken instead of grilling it…still delicious!

Mediterranean food is just plain healthy (It’s also my favorite). Give me some tabouli and hummus, and I’m in paradise. Although tandoori is technically an Indian dish, I like to pair it with Mediterranean sidekicks. The yogurt marinade and side sauce make the ensemble work deliciously. Even if you don’t usually gravitate toward ethnic foods, give it a try. Your taste buds may surprise you. My sidekicks for this chicken dish include rice pilaf, tabouli, pita and hummus, and a watermelon/mint salad for dessert. Here is my version adapted from the Williams-Sonoma Complete Grilling Cookbook.

The Chicken Marinade: 

3/4 cups plain yogurt

4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 tablespoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon salt (optional)

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

4-5 boneless skinless chicken breasts (I often double the recipe for company)

Chicken Directions: 

Mix all of the above ingredients together in a bowl. Using a knife, score the chicken (make small cuts into the meat). Place flat in a dish and pour the above marinade over the meat, coating both sides completely. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours (overnight is even better). Get the grill going, and throw the chicken on. Use the left over marinade to re-coat the chicken when you flip it. Cook on grill until fully cooked (approx. 20-30 min).

The Side Sauce:

1 cucumber chopped

1 cup plain yogurt

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Side Sauce Directions: 

Simply mix it all together and serve it on top of the chicken or on the side as a dipping sauce for the chicken.

Enjoy!!

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Watermelon Juice…Sipping on Tsamma!!!!!

Watermelon tends to be a summertime favorite. Slice it, dice it, cut it into chunks, drizzle it with honey, squirt it with lime juice, sprinkle it with mint…DELICIOUS! Not only is watermelon delicious, it’s a great treat alternative to popsicles, ice cream, and other sugary summertime snacks for your little ones. While I’ve tried just about every recipe with watermelon that you can imagine…I’ve never tried to make watermelon juice; and, now I don’t have to!0079

My watermelon growing friends at Frey Farms have created a new drink that is taking the juice market by storm! TSAMMA Watermelon Juice! While water and milk are my toddler’s main beverages, juice is an occasional treat. Instead of apple juice try this fun alternative. You can also use it to make your own homemade watermelon popsicles!!! Pour it into the molds, stick in the freezer…fun summertime treat! Or, if you’re a traditionalist, a watermelon slice is pretty delicious too! We like to think they grow in our backyard!!!photo 5 photo 1 photo 1

TSAMMA and Frey Farms didn’t ask me to give them a shout out…I just think they’re pretty awesome people with some great products! Available at Earth Fare, The Fresh Market, Whole Foods, and a ton of other local grocery stores. My little one likes to pick her own! For tips on how to pick the perfect watermelon check out this earlier blog…HOW TO PICK YOUR WATERMELONphoto 4 photo 1

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Hazelnut S’mores…in the oven!!!!

A little sweet treat never hurt..especially not when it’s S’mores!!!! Don’t feel like starting a camp fire, firing up the grill, or even leaving the kitchen? Indoor S’mores it is!!! You can stick with the traditional Hershey Chocolate bar, but if you’re looking for a gourmet twist try switching things up with Nutella. Get your little ones involved. They can line up the crackers and pile on the marshmallows.photo 2

Hazelnut S’more Ingredients: 

1. graham crackers

2. Marshmallows

3. 1 jar of Nutella Hazelnut/Chocolate Spread

4. Cookie Sheet

5. Ovenphoto 1 photo 2 photo 4

How to Roast your S’mores in the oven: 

1. Break your graham crackers in half and place them on a cookie sheet

2. Place a marshmallow on half of the graham crackers

3. On the remaining Graham crackers spread a thick layer of Nutella

4. Place the cookie sheet in the oven on broil

5. Keep a very close eye on these goodies. They can burn in just a second. When you notice that the marshmallows are starting to turn a light brown on the top (literally less than 30 seconds) pull them from the oven and put your halves together!!!photo 1

Come rain or shine these indoor S’mores are tasty every time!

 

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Healthy Home-Cooked Meatloaf…comfort food made better

I’m not usually a huge fan of meatloaf, but I like to vary things up in the kitchen. My husband is quite the carnivore so a chunk of meat always gets him excited. While meatloaf is usually loaded with a high fat content, I’m going to introduce you to the Eating for Life: Cookbook version. This turkey meatloaf recipe is quick to throw together, but it does need an hour to bake.

Healthy Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs. lean ground turkey (make sure that you choose LEAN. So either 97/3, 95/5, or 93/7 Lean to fat ratios with 97/3 being the leanest. Otherwise, your turkey may be just as fattening as ground hamburger. 
1 medium onion, chopped
4 egg whites
1 cup salsa (I prefer Pace salsa)
3/4 cup old-fashioned oats, uncooked
1 pkg Knorr Vegetable Soup Mix
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 cup ketchup

How to Make a Good Old-Fashioned Meatloaf…just a little better:

Preheat your oven to 350°FIn a large bowl combine your ground turkey, chopped onion, egg whites, salsa, oats, soup mix and black pepper. Press this mixture into a 9 x 5 loaf pan and spread your ketchup over the top. Throw this in your oven and bake until the meatloaf is no longer pink in the center and there is clear juice.  This will be approximately 60 minutes, but make sure to check. Nothing is worse than raw meatloaf…especially when you’re using turkey! Once it is fully cooked, remove it from the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes before you slice it. Pair this with steamed green beans and a baked sweet potato. Yummy comfort food never tasted so good!
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Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake with Buttered Caramel Sauce…an English Tradition that Should Never Be Abandoned!

Sticky Toffee Pudding isn’t your typical pudding. In fact, it isn’t anything like American “pudding” at all. Instead, it is one of the best moist cakes I’ve ever tasted covered by an ooey, gooey, toffee sauce. I first tasted Sticky Toffee Pudding when visiting Oxford, England. My English road trip turned from a sight-seeing vacation to a Sticky Toffee Pudding taste-testing trip! I’ve tried several different variations on this recipe, but the simple version from allrecipes.com has been a winner every time.

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups pitted, chopped dates

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup boiling water

1/3 cup butter

3/4 cup white sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1 1/8 cups self-rising flour

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup butter

2/3 cup evaporated milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extractSticky Toffee Pudding

How to Create England’s Best Dessert:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish.

2. In a small bowl combine the dates and baking soda. Pour enough boiling water over the dates to just cover them.

3. Cream 1/3 of butter with the white sugar until light. Beat in the eggs and mix well to combine.

4. Add the flour and date mixture (including water) to the egg mixture and fold to combine. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish.

5. Bake in the preheated oven until a tester (toothpick) comes out clean, 30-40 minutes. Let cool slightly and prepare the sauce.

6. To Make the Caramel Sauce: In a small saucepan combine the brown sugar, 1/3 cup butter, and evaporated milk. Cook over medium heat and bring to a boil. Turn heat down and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour the sauce over individual servings of warm cake.

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Rice Pudding Baked to Perfection

Having grown up surrounded by amazing family friends who made gourmet Greek food, I was spoiled by their delicious baked rice pudding each holiday season. Creamy rice pudding sprinkled with ground cinnamon and stirred with dried cherries or raisins is the epitome of holiday comfort food. Give me a spoon…or two…I’m okay with double fisted eating!

What You Need to Bake this Perfect Dessert: 

1 cup of cooked white rice

2 1/2 cups of milk (I’m not going to lie here…whole milk does make a difference)

3 large eggs lightly beaten

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup of dried cherries (or raisins)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamonRice pudding in the ramekin closeup

How to Get Your Comfort Food Baking: 

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Farenheit. Lightly grease a 9 inch glass baking dish. Stir the first 7 ingredients together in a bowl (everything except for your cinnamon and nutmeg). And, please note that you cooked your rice ahead of time! Spoon this mixture into your greased baking dish. Place your glass dish directly inside a larger baking pan (center it) and pour water into the larger pan (the one without your pudding mixture) so that the water is about 1 inch in depth surrounding your pudding pan. Make sure that none of the water goes into the pudding mixture. Carefully slide this set of pans into the middle rack of the oven and bake for 1.5 hours. When it comes out of the oven sift your nutmeg and cinnamon (mixture) over the pudding to lightly cover. DELICIOUS!

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Baileys Chocolate Fudge…in 8 minutes

Last year my sister and I were looking for some new holiday fudge recipes. We wanted something quick but delicious….and what can be better than Baileys chocolate fudge that you can throw together in 8 minutes! We stumbled across this great recipe from food.com and decided it needed to be on our MUST MAKE holiday baking list each year.

Ingredients: 

1/3 cup Baileys Irish Cream (or Baileys Chocolate Mint Liquor)

3 1/2 cups chocolate chips (either milk, dark or semisweet…you choose your favorite)

.83 lbs of sweetened condensed milk (approximately 1 can) Baileys Irish Cream And Mint Chocolate Liqueur

How to make it: 

1. Line a 12 x 6 bar pan or slice pan with baking paper/parchment paper

2. Heat the condensed milk (be careful not to scorch) on the stove top in a sauce pan

3. Melt your chocolate chips in the microwave in 30 second bursts, stirring after each 30 seconds until fully melted and smooth. Then add the chocolate to the condensed milk. (or you can melt your chocolate using a double boiler on the stove top. Stir frequently.) Next, mix in your Baileys Irish Cream.

4. Pour this mixture into your lined bar pan and set aside.

5. Leave to cool at room temperature or if it is really warm you can even throw it in the fridge to speed things up. (My one caveat is that you may need to let this set overnight before cutting it into squares just to keep things from being too gooey.)

6. Cut into bite size pieces once it has fully set/cooled.

Perfect as a quick Christmas gift…or for your own little tummy!

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The Best Shortbread Cookie Recipe Ever…SHH…It’s a Secret!

Shortbread is a must have cookie for every holiday. And, with Christmas only a few days away, and Valentines just around the corner I decided to share the best shortbread recipe ever!!

Ingredients for These Scrumptious Delights: 

1 lb of butter

1 cup of brown sugar

3 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

1/2 cup of rice flour

1 jar of maraschino cherries

Wax paperFresh shortbread cookies on a baking tray

How to Bake the Best Shortbread Cookies…Ever! 

Some of the best recipes are simple but sweet! Set your butter out to soften. Then mix all of your dry ingredients and your softened butter together with large mixer. Pull your dough and knead it with flour on a lightly floured surface such as your counter top. Tear off a decent size of wax paper and form your dough into the shape of a log. The ends should be flat. Next roll your dough log up in the wax paper and set it in the freezer for 25-35 minutes. You don’t want it to actually freeze, but you do want it to become firm (not so firm that you can’t cut through it with a knife). Preheat your oven to 300 degrees Farenheit. Next grease your cookie sheets. Pull out your cookie dough log and unwrap it from the wax paper. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into cookie rounds approximately 1/4-1/3 of an inch thick. Place each sliced cookie onto the cookie sheet and add a maraschino cherry to the middle (either sliced in half or whole). Bake for 25 minutes or until just lightly brown. Remove from oven and place cookies on cooling rack. Store in air tight container when cool. DELICIOUS! I’m about to pop some in the oven right now!!!

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