Tag Archives: appetizer

Black-eyed Pea Salsa

My mom’s family is from the South. According to her, you always eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s for luck in the upcoming year. More black-eyed peas meant more luck. That was the only time of year we ever ate these beans (why they are named peas, I don’t know), and I distinctly remember hating them. The only part I liked was trying to steal one or two of the okra my mom would cook in the beans.

But for some reason, it is stuck in my mind that you eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s. Last year, I found this salsa and really liked it. It’s really tasty, different enough to be interesting but not weird, and really fast to throw together. I was done within 15 minutes, including “help” from my lovely small assistants. And I think there might be something to what my mom said. I ate a lot of this salsa last New Year’s, and it was a pretty great year. Lots of things went my way. If you are looking to have a good 2016, you might want to throw some black-eyed peas in your mix!

Enjoy!

Black-eyed Pea Salsa (Serves 8)

Black-eyed Pea Salsa

1 (15 ounce) can black-eyed peas, rinsed well and drained
5 roma tomatoes, chopped
½ jalapeno, diced small (seeds and membranes removed per preference)
⅓ medium red onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1-2 tablespoons lime juice

1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir to distribute evenly. Refrigerate if not serving immediately.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 45
Protein: 3 g
Fat: less than 1 g
Saturated Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrates: 9 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sodium: 135 mg

Recipe notes: You can use any tomato you like. I just like a ratio of equal parts tomato to beans, so add tomato until you get there. This is basically a recipe for pico de gallo with some black-eyed peas thrown in. You can adjust any ingredient to you preferred level. I have been a bit skimpy on the red onion, because I find them quite strong when raw. The original recipe called for a poblano pepper. It was yummy when I did that, but either pepper works well. You might want a pinch of salt. Just depends on how well you rinse the black-eyed peas, since there is a lot of salt in the can liquid.

Source: adapted from Cooking Light

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Israeli Nachos

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. Ours was quiet and filled with lots of delicious food. Couldn’t have asked for more.

For as long as I can remember, New Year’s Eve has meant a dinner of appetizers. As a kid, I loved that. We got to eat in front of the TV, which never happened. My husband and I have continued the tradition, although our selection is pretty different from what I had growing up. We vary some items, but some sort of chip/dip/nacho combo is always in there.

These are what I loosely call “Israeli” Nachos. They were originally inspired by nachos my husband got at Middle Eastern restaurant and then riffed off of this online recipe. I like that there is some substance, but easy on the cheese. The hummus kind of acts like the guacamole, the Israeli salad like the pico, and the yogurt sauce like sour cream. Whether you could find anything like this in Israel, I don’t know. But I’d eat it if I did.

If you are looking for other appetizer ideas for your New Year’s celebrations, look here.

Israeli Nachos (Serves 4)

Israeli Nachos

½ tablespoon olive oil
¼ red onion, diced
½ jalapeno, diced small (seeds and membranes removed if preferred)
1 clove garlic, mincedd
1 can reduced sodium chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon garam masala
½ teaspoon curry powder (to taste, based on heat of your curry)
Tortilla chips
Shredded mozzarella cheese (about ¼ cup per person)
1 cup low fat plain Greek yogurt
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons tahini
3 tomatoes, chopped
½ cucumber, chopped
¼ red onion, diced
½ tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 recipe hummus

1. Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with foil.

2. In a medium skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute onion and jalapeño until softened, about 3-5 minutes. Add 1 clove garlic, cooking 1 minutes. Add chickpeas, garam masala, and chickpeas. Saute until combined and heated through, about 3 minutes. Set aside.

3. Spread tortilla chips evenly over baking sheet. Sprinkle chickpea filling evenly over the top. Top with mozzarella cheese. Bake for about 5-7 minutes, until cheese is melted.

4. While cooking, prepare yogurt sauce by coming yogurt, 1 clove garlic, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and tahini in a blender until smooth.

5. Also prepare salad: combine tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, and remaining olive oil and lemon juice.

6. Serve nachos with hummus, yogurt sauce, and salad.

Recipe notes: Pita chips seem like the logical choice here, but I remember them being tortilla chips at the restaurant. Either would work of course. You notice I didn’t put nutritional information on this one. This one is a little complicated, since it is very variable on how many chips you like and how much of the dips you use. You will have a lot more dip than bean topping. So, you could double the topping. I didn’t have any, but I think some chopped flat leaf parsley in the salad would be really nice.

Source: adapted from memory from Laffa restaurant in Tulsa (If you are ever in Tulsa, go there please. Yum!) and here

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Zucchini Corn Fritters

It’s getting to be that time of year where gardens are going crazy. Or if you don’t have a garden, corn, zucchini, and tomatoes are fairly inexpensive and extra tasty at the store. Here’s a great side dish or snack utilizing some of the produce in season right now.

Zucchini Corn Fritters (Makes about 18 fritters)

Zucchini Corn Fritters

1 ½ cups packed shredded zucchini (no need to peel the zucchini)
½ cup corn kernels
1 green onion, diced
1-2 large eggs, lightly beaten
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
⅓ cup bread crumbs
¼ teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon garlic powder

1. Preheat the oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly coat with cooking spray.

2. Wring out excess water in zucchini, making sure it is really dry.

3. Combine zucchini and remaining ingredients in a bowl until combined. Add additional egg if mixture is too dry.

4. Drop by spoonfuls onto baking sheet. Lightly flatten into fritter shape. Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden and center is set.

Nutritional Information (Amount per fritter):

Calories: 23
Protein: 1 g
Fat: 1 g
Saturated Fat: less than 1 g
Cholesterol: 12 mg
Carbohydrates: 3 g
Fiber: less than 1 g
Sodium: 45 mg

Recipe source: adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

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4 Hummus Variations

My toddler is in the “dip” phase of eating. Everything is better if she can dip it in something. Red dip (ketchup) and white dip (ranch dressing) are her main go-to’s, but she is willing to branch out. Today, she asked me for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch with red dip. Gross.

While her obsession can be frustrating, I have to admit that I love dip myself. Chips and dip, veggies and dip, soup with a sandwich to dip, rolls to dip in gravy…really I could go on. The biggest problem with dip is the addition of empty calories. Hummus falls into the traditional dip pitfalls by being somewhat calorically dense, but does at least provide some protein and fiber along the way. I have found that if I pack it full of flavor, I don’t use as much dip either, which reduces the calories.  Here are four different variations on hummus we have been enjoying lately (with only pictures of three because I don’t always think things through).

Enjoy!

Basic Hummus (Makes about 2 cups)

Basic Hummus

1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
¼ cup tahini
¼ cucumber
1 clove garlic
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup water (or more)

1. Combine ingredients in a food processor. Blend, adding water to achieve desired consistency. Serve or chill until ready to use.

Nutritional Information (Amount per 2 tablespoons):

Calories: 26
Protein: 2 g
Fat: 2 g
Saturated Fat: less than 1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrates: 5 g
Fiber: 1 g
Sodium: 36 mg

Variation 1: Roasted Garlic and Caramelized Onion (where I forgot to take a picture.

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Take a whole head of garlic. Slice off the bottom to expose the cloves inside. Drizzle ½ teaspoon olive oil on it. Place cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake in oven for 20-30 minutes, until soft. Let cool.

3. Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Add one thinly sliced onion. Saute until beginning to brown, about 3-5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook until deep golden, about 15 minutes. Let cool.

4. Prepare hummus as above, omitting original garlic. Substitute up to half of the cloves from the roasted head of garlic. Add in the onions. Blend to desired consistency.

Variation 2: Roasted Red Pepper

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

1. Preheat a grill or broiler to high. Lightly coat a red bell pepper with olive oil. Grill or broil, turning every few minutes as each side is charred. Once done, place in a paper bag for 5-10 minutes. Remove from bag. Peel off skin. Remove stem and seeds. Chop red pepper.

2. Prepare hummus as above, adding in chopped red pepper.

Variation 3: Sun-Dried Tomato

Sun Dried Tomato Hummus

1. Prepare hummus as above, adding ⅓ – ½ cup julienned sun-dried tomatoes (preferably dried, not packed in oil).

Recipe Notes: Don’t be afraid to add water to get the consistency you want. I also found that this solidifies a bit when refrigerated, so maybe err on the thin side if you are not serving immediately.  You could also try these variations with my baba ganoush recipe with yummy results.

Source: Adapted from various sources online

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Cauliflower Quesadillas and Happy Registered Dietitian Day!

Happy Registered Dietitian Day!  The second Wednesday of March is this special day we get to celebrate the RDs in our lives.  So hug or high five any RDs you know today.  To learn more about what it means to be an RD, read here.

At first glance, this recipe sounds like something only an RD would eat.  Who would mess with delicious, cheesy quesadillas by adding cauliflower?  Even I was skeptical, but I was curious enough to try them.  Besides cauliflower was on sale that week, and my little girl was on a huge quesadilla-eating streak.  If this got some veggies in her in the process, it seemed like a win.

These quesadillas were quite possibly the best veggie quesadilla I’ve tried, and I’ve tried a lot.  It struck the perfect balance between “this tastes like vegetables and being good for me” and “yummy quesadilla”.  Even my daughter was fooled for a few bites, although the game was up once a few pieces of cauliflower fell out of her tortilla.  Enjoy!

Charred Cauliflower Quesadillas (Makes 6 quesadillas)

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1 poblano chile
1 small head of cauliflower, chopped into 1 inch chunks
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil, divided
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large tomato, diced
1 cup spinach leaves
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 ½ cups monterey jack cheese, shredded
12 whole grain tortillas

1. Heat broiler on high. Char poblano under high heat, rotating as skin blisters. Transfer to a bowl once all sides are blistered. Cover bowl with foil tightly, and let rest for about 5 minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel off as much skin as will come off easily. Remove stem and seeds. Place on cutting board.

2. Toss cauliflower with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, and pepper. Heat a large, heavy fry pan over high heat until almost smoking. Add cauliflower, and let it cook until beginning to char, but not mushy. Turn pieces to char all sides evenly. Total cooking time will be about 10 minutes, depending on heat of pan and size of cauliflower. Add to cutting board.

3. Return pan to medium-high heat. Add remaining ½ tablespoon olive oil. Saute onion for 3-5 minutes, or until beginning to soften. Add garlic and tomato. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until most of liquid is evaporated. Add spinach and continue to cook until spinach is wilted. Remove from heat.

4. On cutting board, coarsely chop cauliflower and poblano together. Cauliflower chunks should be no bigger than ½ inch. Poblano pieces need to be small enough to be incorporated throughout. Add to onion mixture. Stir in green onions and lime juice. Mix until combined.

5. Heat a skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Working in batches, make quesadillas. Place one tortilla on skillet. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of cheese evenly over the surface. Top with 1/6 of vegetable mixture. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of cheese (you will use ¼ cup cheese per quesadilla). Top with another quesadilla. Flip when bottom tortilla is browned and cheese is melting. Cook on other side until browned and all cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information (Amount per quesadilla):

Calories: 423
Protein: 16 g
Fat: 21 g
Saturated Fat: 10 g
Cholesterol: 27 mg
Carbohydrates: 49 g
Fiber: 6 g
Sodium: 708 mg

Recipe Notes: I added onion, tomato, and spinach to the original recipe. I did make some quesadillas without that, to test the original. While the original was good, this version was much better. The onion and tomato really brought home the “mexican” flavor and helped hide the “vegetable” flavor.

Source: adapted from Smitten Kitchen

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