Roast Chickpeas

Roast Chickpeas

Roast Chickpeas

This is something you may not have noticed, but there are very few recipes for bean dishes on this blog.  That’s because beans in general are not one of my favorite foods.  Sure, I include beans in soups where I like eating them, or I enjoy baked beans at a cookout, but for the most part I’m not a big fan of beans, and most especially I don’t use chickpeas.  I think it has to do with their mealy texture.  Therefore it has come as a hugh surprise to me that I LOVE these Roasted Chickpeas.

A crunchy and nutritious snack.

A crunchy and nutritious snack.

Say hello to my new favorite snack.  I could eat these almost every single day, one by one out of my hand, or added to salads.  They make everything so much more crunchy.  Besides the pure enjoyment of eating them, there’s the nutritional value of chickpeas:  good quality carbohydrates by way of their fiber, and valuable proteins, plus, not a fat or sugar anywhere except if you add some.  So how about getting on the bandwagon with me and trying out these healthy, nutritious, snacks.  This is how I make them….

First, I want the oven to be HOT.   Partly because I have no patience waiting for them, but also because I want them to be as crispy as I can get them.  So crank that oven up to 425*F.  Hot, hot, hot.

Most of the time I use canned chickpeas, but I have also soaked and cooked them myself.  So the chickpeas are always cooked to start with.  If using canned, be sure to rinse and drain them well.   Then place them in a dish towel or paper towel and really dry them off.  Roll them around to get them super dry. This may loosen the skin on some of them.  No worries, just pick off what’s loose and continue.

Drain well, roll in a towel and pat dry.

Drain well, roll in a towel and pat dry.

Next I spread them on a baking sheet that is lined with foil, because—it just makes life a little easier.

Pour onto foil-lined baking sheet in a single layer.

Pour onto foil-lined baking sheet in a single layer.

Then I give them a quick spray of olive oil.  Olive oil in a spray can or a misto works best, but if you don’t have either, a teeny, tiny bit of olive oil sprinkled on works too.  Toss to coat well.  Using a very small amount is key.

Spray lightly with olive oil.

Spray lightly with olive oil.

After that, I season the beans with whatever I feel like.  My first version included salt, pepper, garlic powder, and sweet paprika.  This has become my go-to standby.  I don’t measure anything, just do a few shakes of each, then toss them around to coat.  Other seasonings have included cinnamon, nutmeg,  dried herbs, chili powder, and whatever else is in your spice cupboard.  It’s fun to play around with the flavors!

Sprinkle on seasonings of choice.

Sprinkle on seasonings of choice.

If you would like a sweeter version you can add some sort of sugar ( brown sugar, white sugar, honey) and it will make a caramelized outer layer.

Anyway, after seasoning, toss, toss, toss.  Make sure they are in a single layer while baking.  Bake for 15 minutes, remove and do a quick mix-around with a spoon or spatula, and bake for another 15 minutes or so till crispy.

Roast till crispy.

Roast till crispy.

My gosh, I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love these chickpeas.  Unfortunately, they don’t stay real crispy for more than a day or so, so what I do is make 2 cups at a time ( 1 can of chickpeas), eat about half of them right away, and store the rest in a small plastic container lightly covered with foil, on my counter.  We then eat them for dinner in salad, or I give some to my husband in his lunch.  He loves them as a afternoon snack when he’s starting to feel lethargic.

HOW TO ROAST CHICKPEAS

Yield:  2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (if canned, rinse and drain)
  • 1-2 tsp. olive oil, or olive oil spray/mist
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. sweet or smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • dash of cayenne pepper (optional)

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 425*F.   Line a baking sheet with foil.

2.  Place chickpeas on a paper towel or dish towel and pat completely to dry.  Remove any loose skins.

3.  Place on the prepared baking sheet and mist with olive oil.  Roll around to coat.  Sprinkle with seasonings of your choice and toss well to coat.  Make chickpeas are in a single layer.

4.  Bake for 15 minutes, toss well and flip, then bake for about 15 minutes more.  Let cool and eat.  Enjoy!

And that’s all there is to it.  😀

Roast Chickpeas, you gotta love them.

Roast Chickpeas, you gotta love them.

Spinach Artichoke Bread

Spinach Artichoke Bread

Spinach Artichoke Bread

In my experience one of the most popular appetizers around is hot spinach dip, or a combination of spinach and artichoke dip.  Hot, cheesy, gooey spinach dip.  Oh yes,  addictively delicious with crackers or chips.

Since we would be sitting at a table with a plate onto which we could place our appetizers, I thought that in place of crackers or chips I would use bread to do two things;  add more substance, and provide a larger surface to carry all that lucious dip.  So this recipe seemed like the perfect solution.

This is great for parties, or could be used as a snack or light lunch, which is what we did with the leftovers.  Wrapped in foil and reheated in a warm oven, they were as good as new.

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 SPINACH ARTICHOKE BREAD

Yield:   12  servings

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened ( low-fat is OK)

    Only low-fat ingredients allowed!  :D

    Only low-fat ingredients allowed! 😀

  • 3/4 cup (6oz.) plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 pkg. frozen chopped spinach,  defrosted and well drained
  • 12 oz. can artichoke quarters, in water, drained
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 4 French rolls, or 2 French baguettes

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 375*F

2.  With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth.  Add yogurt, continue mixing until smooth.

3.  Chop artichokes, and squeeze out spinach to remove excess liquid.  Add to cheese-yogurt mixture.  Add onion powder, garlic powder, salt, 1/4 cup mozzarella and Parmesan.  Fold well to incorporate into a uniform mixture.

4.  Cut the French bread in half.  Slightly hollow each half by removing some of the bread from the middle.  Fill with the spinach-artichoke mixture and level the filling.  Sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella.

Breads filled and ready for the oven.

Breads filled and ready for the oven.

5.  Place the loaves on a baking sheet.  Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, until filling is bubbly and the cheese on top is browned slightly.  Allow to cool for several minutes before slicing and serving.

The bread gets toasty, and the filling gets melty and warm.

The bread gets toasty, and the filling gets melty and warm.

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SOURCE:   Happier Holidays Recipe Book

Baked Brie Bites

Baked Brie Bites

Baked Brie Bites

Christmas Day was fast approaching and we (my family, who we were visiting, and I) were planning a big meal, so for Christmas Eve. we decided to make a meal out of just appetizers.   We each made a couple, and there was a nice variety.

Awesome !!

Awesome !!

Since appetizers are useful at any time, but especially now with New Year’s Eve coming up, I thought you might be interested in what we had.  The major requirement was that they be pretty simple to prepare and, of course, delicious to eat.

Steamed shrimp with cocktail sauce

Cocktail meatballs in barbecue sauce

Spinach Artichoke Bread*

Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

Baked Brie Bites*

Hot cider with Honey Liqueur

The starred items were my contributions, so you will find recipes for them here today and tomorrow.

Brie cheese pairs so well with fruit, and this particular mixture of apples, walnuts, bacon and orange is an outstanding combination.  Each one is topped with a cranberry, making them festive and cute.  They can be eaten with your hands and each one is just a bite or two.  These are the perfect option for a snack or to take along to a party.  They will definitely be a crowd pleaser.  Once you taste them, you will be making them time and time again.  Socks optional because they will be blown off!

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BAKED BRIE BITES WITH CRANBERRIES

Yield:   Makes 24 bites

Ingredients:

Get all the ingredients ready.

Get all the ingredients ready.

  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 orange, zested and juice reserved
  • 2.5 oz. pkg. real bacon bits
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped apple
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3  Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2  8-oz. pkgs. Crescent Rolls
  • cooking spray
  • 8 0z. Brie cheese round
  • dried cranberries

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 375*F.  Coat 2 mini muffin pans with cooking spray.  (or use 1 large pan with 24 cups)

2.  In a small saucepan, melt butter.  Add orange juice, bacon bits, walnuts, apple, cinnamon and 3 tablespoons broan sugar.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until sugar has dissolved and apples begin to brown, 3 – 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in orange zest.  Allow this mixture to cool a bit while you prepare the dough and cheese.

Cooking up the apple mixture.

Cooking up the apple mixture.

3.  Unroll crescent rolls and pinch together seams to create 1 large sheet with each package of dough.

Pinch the seams together to make one square of dough.

Pinch the seams together to make one rectangle of dough.

Cut each rectangle into 12 squares.  Place a square of dough in each muffin cup.

Put a square of dough in each cup and add a piece of brie.

Put a square of dough in each cup and add a piece of brie.

4.  Cut brie into 24 pieces and place in the center of the dough squares.  Top with apple walnut mixture.

Top with some apple mixture.

Top with some apple mixture.

Bring edges of the dough to the center and pinch to create a seal.  Place one dried cranberry in the center of each bite.

Fold each one closed and center a cranberry on top.

Fold each one closed and center a cranberry on top.

5.  Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.   Serve warm.

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SOURCE:    Happier Holidays Recipe Book

Grapes, You Need Them!

Grapes,  juicy and sweet.

Grapes, juicy and sweet.

Grapes are ancient.  So ancient that some vines have been growing on this planet long before people arrived.  In certain areas of Italy there is still evidence of late Bronze Age vineyard posts used to train grapevines.  Over the years we’ve been trying to find  ways to make them bigger and sweeter.  Some of the grapes I see at the market are so plump and ripe, I just want to reach out and grab one or two for a juicy bite.  Don’t you?

Red, purple or green, plump or petite, grapes are a healthy pop-in-your-mouth snack.  I love grapes when they are cold as a refreshing way to cool off.  And when we travel, I like to bring along a big bunch of grapes to snack on.  One 3/4 cup serving of grapes is a good source of vitamin K, providing 25% of your daily needs.  Recent studies suggest that Vitamin K reduces the risk of bone fractures, particularly in older women.  Other studies have shown the benefits of having a glass of red wine to reduce the risk of heart and artery problems.  Grapes, particularly red  and black ones, are also rich in antioxidants.  So we know about their benefits, and we eat grapes fresh as a fruit/snack, or drink their juice fermented as wine,  but how many of you cook with grapes?  I’m not taking about making grape jam or jelly, but really incorporating them into a main dish, side dish or salad.

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I’m guessing not many people would even think of cooking with grapes.  Small and juicy with a hint of acid and sweet, they make perfect partners with some foods.  In the weeks ahead, I would like to introduce you to some recipes that utilize grapes in ways you may not have  considered.

Grape and Rosemary Focaccia

Grape and Rosemary Focaccia

The first one is this recipe for Grape-Rosemary Focaccia.  Scattered over the top of the focaccia, the grapes subtly sweeten each bite.  The sweet/salty combination of grapes, Parmesan cheese and rosemary is surprising, and delicious.  It can be served with a soup, or salad, as a dinner accompaniment in place of dinner rolls, or as an appetizer.  To make it quickly, use prepared whole wheat pizza dough from your supermarket, fresh or frozen.  If frozen, defrost thoroughly in the refrigerator or at room temperature.  Open the bag to give the dough room to expand, i.e. “rise”, prior to stretching and shaping.   Once the focaccia is prepared, allow it to sit at room temperature for about half an hour for another small “rise” before baking.

GRAPE-ROSEMARY FOCACCIA

Yield:    Makes 12 servings

Whole wheat pizza dough, grapes, rosemary, and Parmesan cheese.

Whole wheat pizza dough, grapes, rosemary, and Parmesan cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound prepared pizza dough, preferably whole wheat
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp. fresh rosemary leaves or 1 tsp. dried
  • 2 cups seedless grapes.  ( If large ones, cut in half.)

1.  Position rack in upper third of oven;  preheat to 425 *F.  Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.

2.  Working on a lightly floured surface, pat and stretch dough with damp hands into a 10 by 12-inch oval.  If the dough will not stretch easily, let it rest for 10 minutes, then stretch it again.  Transfer to the prepared baking sheet.

Stretch dough out on a baking sheet and sprinkle with cheese.

Stretch dough out on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with cheese.

3.  Drizzle the oil over the dough;  sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and rosemary.  Arrange grapes on top and press lightly into the dough.   At this point I let mine sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes to give the dough a chance to rest and rise again a little bit.

Add chopped rosemary and grapes.

Add chopped rosemary and grapes.

4.  Bake until golden around the edges and some of the grapes have burst,  18 – 25 minutes.   (Note:  Mine was done at 15 minutes, so watch carefully,)   Let cool at least 5 minutes before serving.  (The grapes will be very hot inside.)

Golden brown with a heavenly aroma after baking.

Golden brown with a heavenly aroma after baking.

Serve warm with additional olive oil for dipping.

Serve warm with additional olive oil for dipping.

SOURCE:    Eating Well

Fresh Herbed Heirloom Tomatoes with Goat Cheese Crostini

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese Crostini

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese Crostini

Today’s post features tomatoes used as a salad.  Everyone it seems is familiar with Caprese Salad, that includes mozzarella cheese and basil along with the tomatoes, but this one depends on the tomatoes alone to carry the responsibility for the whole salad. Fresh tomatoes are dressed with a flavorful drizzle of lemon and herbs, and served with toasted baguette (crostini) spread with goat cheese.    This is so good, I can’t wait to make it again, and again while fresh tomatoes are still available.

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Please try to use heirloom tomatoes, in varied colors if possible, for the most beautiful presentation.  Of course, any fresh tomatoes will do nicely, but I really like the colors you get in heirlooms.  This recipe certainly illustrates the phrase, “less is more”, because the simple lemon-herb dressing perfectly enhances the sweetness of the tomatoes, and that would be enough.  But don’t stop there;  make the crostini because the crunch of toasted baguette and the smooth tanginess of goat cheese is a perfect companion to the tomatoes.    In my version, seen here, I used herb-seasoned goat cheese.

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I think this would make a light, appetizing and different appetizer, and If I were to serve it in that way, I would dice the tomatoes instead of slicing them, and serve them in a small glass to be eaten with a small spoon, with the crostini on the side.

HERBED HEIRLOOM TOMATOES WITH GOAT CHEESE CROSTINI

Yield:  4 servings

Ingredients:

Heirloom tomatoes in many sizes and colors.

Heirloom tomatoes in many sizes and colors.

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 Tbsp.  water
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 8  (1/4-inch-thick) slices diagonally cut French bread baguette
  • 4 tsp. goat cheese, divided ( used goat cheese with herbs if possible)
  • 20  (1/4-inch-thick) slices tomato
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, divided

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.

2.  Place the first 5 ingredients in a blender; process until smooth.

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3.  Place the baguette slices in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Bake at 350*F for 7 minutes or until crisp.  Spread 1/2 teaspoon goat cheese over each slice.

4.  Divide tomatoes evenly among 4 salad plates.  Drizzle each serving with 1 Tablespoon herbed oil.  Sprinkle each with a little salt and pepper.  Garnish each plate with 2 crostini.

In my rendition of this delightful salad, I served the whole salad on a large platter, so all the colors of the tomatoes would be seen.

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I just love this,  it’s so pretty; almost too pretty to eat!

SOURCE:   Cooking Light

Zucchini Pizza Bites

Zucchini Pizza Bites

Zucchini Pizza Bites

Here it is Theme Thursday, and I have another recipe for you that makes use of zucchini, this time in a slightly different way.  These little bites of zucchini with  pizza toppings  treat the zucchini like the crust of your favorite pizza so there are fewer calories because you’ve eliminated the carbs!   Small enough for just a bite or two they could be appetizers, snacks, something to go with soup or a salad, just about any way you want to use them.  They are gluten-free , low cal, and perfect for a meatless meal.

So cute, and you can enjoy them guilt-free.

So cute, and you can enjoy them guilt-free.

If you have a big zucchini to use, slice it straight across and get fairly large rounds,  if you have a smaller zucchini, cut it on the diagonal for large ovals.  Top them with some sauce, any kind of topping,  basil and melted cheese, or whatever you like on your pizza.  These are a must to try while zucchini is in season and plentiful.

ZUCCHINI PIZZA BITES

Yield:   Quantities listed are for 1 serving.  Increase as desired to make more.

Ingredients:

  • 6 slices large zucchini, 1/4-inch thick ( or 1 medium zucchini, cut on the diagonal)
  • olive oil, or olive oil spray
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. marinara sauce
  • 1/4 cup crumbled, cooked sausage, or other toppings
  • 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Directions:

1.  Cut zucchini about 1/4-inch thick.  Brush or spray both sides lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Cut zucchini into circles or ovals about 1/4-inch thick.

Cut zucchini into circles or ovals about 1/4-inch thick.

2.  Broil or grill the zucchini for about 2 minutes on each side.  Top with sauce, topping of choice and cheese and broil for an additional minute or two.  Be careful not to burn the cheese.

The ones that are pictured here are topped with fried peppers and onions and some have crumbles of sausage on them.  I’ve also made them with a slice of pepperoni.  All equally good.  You can’t go wrong with these.

So cute, and you can enjoy them guilt-free.

So cute, and you can enjoy them guilt-free.

SOURCE:   slightly adapted from Skinny Taste

Chilled Cucumber and Avocado Soup

Chilled Cucumber and Avocado Soup

Chilled Cucumber and Avocado Soup

Here on the East Coast we’ve been experiencing one of the hottest summers on record and on some days it was difficult to know what to fix for meals.  Appetites were lagging and I haven’t been motivated to expend much energy in cooking.

However cucumbers are one vegetable that I like to eat when it’s hot and so I’ve turned to this recipe for a chilled light soup  that is both refreshing and nutritious.  I wrote about this cold soup last summer, but it’s certainly worth bringing back for another look, (and some better photography) especially for those readers who may have missed it.

I like to serve a cup of it along with a fresh tomato that has been stuffed with some kind of salad, like tuna salad.  

INGREDIENTS

SERVINGS:    4

  • 2-3 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded and cut into small cubes  (about 2 cups)

    The colors of the ingredients make it look cool even before making it,

    The colors of the ingredients make it look cool even before making it,

  • 2 avocados, pitted and peeled
  • 1/2 cup low-fat yogurt
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 small minced jalapeño pepper ( seeds and ribs removed for less heat)
  • 1/3 cup sliced scallions
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 12 medium sized shrimp, (about 6 ounces), peeled and deveined

DIRECTIONS

1.  In a blender, combine half the cucumber and 1 avocado with the yogurt, lime juice, jalapeño, scallions, 1 Tablespoon cilantro, 1 cup ice water,  1  teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Puree until completely smooth.  Transfer to a large bowl.

2.   Cut remaining avocado into 1/4 cubes.  Stir avocado and remaining cucumber into soup.  Thin with 1/2 to 1 cup ice water, as desired.  Taste and season again with salt and pepper.  Chill about 1 hour.

3.  In a large skillet,  heat oil over medium-high heat.  Cook shrimp, turning once, until opaque throughout, 2-3 minutes.  Ladle soup into bowl; garnish with shrimp and remaining cilantro.

The pureed avocado and yogurt give this soup its creamy texture.  I kept the heat level down by using only half the jalapeño pepper, and I could have used it all because the yogurt and cool smoothness subdues the pepper’s heat.  This soup was definitely a hit with both me and Mr. D. It would make a nice first course to a larger meal or a lunch combined with a salad or sandwich. It is cool and very yummy.  You have got to try this!

Chilled Cucumber and Avocado Soup with Stuffed Tomato

SOURCE:  Whole Living  Newsletter by Martha Stewart

Caprese Salad Kebabs

Caprese Salad Kebabs

Caprese Salad Kebabs

An appetizer on a stick,  a salad on a stick;  whatever you choose to call these, they are a pretty neat way to eat a favorite summertime salad.

On July 4th we had a large party for my in-laws who celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.  Of the several foods I prepared, these were particularly popular.  We set them out with the appetizers, and before long they were all gone.  All the things you like about a caprese salad are here in miniature form, on a stick, and so easy to eat.  Just slide each component to the end of the stick and pop it into your mouth!

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In addition to being easy to eat they were extremely easy to make.  Knowing that I would be making a large number of them I purchased my ingredients at BJ’s Club.  Grape tomatoes, a package of fresh basil, and best of all a container of mozzarella balls in seasoned olive oil.  So all I had to do was thread everything on the skewers and drizzle a little of the olive oil over the top.

Try these at your next get together for a quick and easy appetizer.

CAPRESE SALAD KEBABS

Have all ingredients laid out and ready.

Have all ingredients laid out and ready.

Makes 12   For a larger quantity, adjust amounts accordingly.

Here’s what you need:

  • 12 wooden skewers
  • 24 grape tomatoes
  • 12 balls fresh mozzarella
  • 24 fresh basil leaves
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar

What you do:

To make each skewer,  alternately place 2 tomatoes, 1 cheese ball and 2 basil leaves on each skewer.  If mozzarella balls are large, cut in half, and basil leaves may be torn into smaller pieces if they are too large.

Putting it all together like an assembly-line.

Putting it all together like an assembly-line.

Arrange skewers on a serving tray.  Whisk together the oil and vinegar, and drizzle over kebabs before serving.

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Olive and Goat Cheese Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

Goat cheese stuffed cherry tomatoes.

Olive and goat cheese stuffed cherry tomatoes.

These little stuffed tomatoes were a real hit at our weekend cookout.  They’re cute to look at, and make a great pop-in-your-mouth appetizer.  Scooping out the insides of cherry tomatoes can be a little tricky, and time consuming, but well worth the effort.  The best tool for the job – I think – is a 1/4 teaspoon measuring spoon.  If using the small tomatoes is too labor intensive, then try using grape tomatoes or the Campari variety for an appetizer that is 2-3 bites in size.

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These tomatoes provide bright spots of color on a tray of appetizers, or also included on a cold salad plate.  For the diet conscious, its reassuring to know that each tomato is only 14 calories, with 1 g. fat, and  1 g. carbohydrate, but  43 mg. potassium, ( a good thing) and 21 mg. sodium, ( not great, but not too bad).  So these can be enjoyed pretty much guilt-free.  I hope you like them and will give them a try real soon.

OLIVE AND GOAT CHEESE STUFFED CHERRY TOMATOES

Yield:  Makes 2 dozen

Ingredients:

Hollow out small tomatoes, fill with a goat cheese and olive mixture.

Hollow out small tomatoes, fill with a goat cheese and olive mixture.

  • 24  cherry tomatoes,  about 1 pint.
  • 3 ounces goat cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons finely chopped olives.  I used Calamata olives, but green olives may also be used.
  • 1 Tablespoon low-fat milk
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped parsley

1.  Slice about 1/4 inch off the top of each tomato.  If necessary, trim a sliver off the bottom so the tomato sits flat.  Gently scoop out the seeds with a small spoon or the tip of a small knife.

2.  Mash the goat cheese, olives, milk and pepper in a small bowl until well combined.  Fill each hollowed tomato with a generous 1 teaspoon of the cheese mixture.  Sprinkle with some of the chopped parsley and more pepper, if desired.

Bright and appetizing!

Bright and appetizing!

SOURCE:  Eating Well

Cappuccino Bars

Cappuccino  Bars

Cappuccino Bars

If they look like cake and taste like cake, they must be cake, right?   Well, not necessarily!   The recipe calls them “bars”, so I will, too.  Although I must admit I expected them to be more chewy, like brownies.  Once I got past the unexpected texture of these cake/bars I really loved the flavor.  It was the promise of chocolate, coffee, and cinnamon all blended together that drew me to making them in the first place.

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The word cappuccino comes from the Italian “capuchin”, a monk who wore dark brown robes; since the color of coffee frothed with chocolate and cinnamon resembles the color of the monk’s robe, the drink became known as cappuccino.

Beside the flavor combination of this recipe, I liked the idea of using a cake mix as the basis for the recipe.  I see nothing wrong with using a good quality cake mix to get a jump start on a recipe if the end result is especially note-worthy.  I think this recipe meets that criteria.  I also liked baking them in a 13 x 9 ” pan,  –and I have one with a cover–so I could carry them easily to a picnic where everyone thought they were delicious.  Not exactly patriotic in color, I decorated the tops with “stars and stripes” sprinkles and a little flag to dress them up for the Memorial Day holiday.

CAPPUCCINO BARS

Yield:   about 28 bars,  more if you cut them smaller.IMG_4147

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup  (1 stick) butter, melted or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup each packed brown sugar and water
  • 1 Tablespoon each ground cinnamon and vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 package (18.25 oz.) chocolate cake mix. ( I used Devil’s Food)

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.  Grease and flour a 13 x 9 – inch baking pan.

2.  In a large mixing bowl combine all the ingredients except the cake mix.  Mis well to combine.  Stir in cake mix. and beat to incorporate well..  Batter will be thick.

3.  Spread into prepared pan and bake at 350* for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool completely.

4.  Frost or decorate the top as desired.  A drizzle of melted white or dark chocolate is nice, or frost lightly with frosting of your choice.  My version is frosted with butter cream and decorated with sprinkles.

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These are not heavy, chewy bars, but instead are light and airy with a complex flavor that will have people asking, “what is that flavor?”

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SOURCE:   Baking at Home;  Bars, Cakes and Cookies