Tag Archives: appetizer

Superfoods!

3 Sep

Superfoods! First we covered cabbage, and now the avocado.

I am confident that you have embraced that superfood, and are ready to add another one into your diet. Ready? Here we go! Bonus…the next superfood is not a cruciferous vegetable, so no worries about the, ahem, gas issue. It is avocado. This is a fun one.

Avocados, like cabbage, are a flexible food and super easy to prepare. An avocado has about 4 grams of protein per fruit and is low in sugar. Plus, they are rich n vitamin k, b vitamins, and have more potassium than a banana. Still need convincing? Consider that an avocado also contains half of the daily recommended amount of fiber, about 11 grams. (Okay, so maybe the fiber may be a bit gas producing, but you gotta consider the benefits and not just the…uumm…possible farts). This is a nutrient dense food.

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This Florida avocado graced my kitchen (although not for long!). Ugly but delicious!

Some folks shy away from this powerhouse fruit because it contains fat. True, it does, so adding it in the diet needs to be in moderation. But the fat in an avocado is monounsaturated, the “good” kind of fat. This fat can actually lower cholesterol, some studies suggest. So indulge.

When shopping for avocados, do not be deterred by ugly fruit. I actually prefer ugly fruit because it is less processed or sprayed than pretty perfect fruit. Go with an organic avocado if you can afford it. And check for ripeness. The avocado is ripe when is gives slightly to pressure. It should be a bit soft. Choose a softer avocado if you want to use it right away. If it will be in your fruit bowl for a few days, then opt for a more firm fruit and give it time to ripen.
What to do with an avocado you ask? The easiest thing to do is cut it up and eat it. Or layer it on a sandwich. Or dice it up and toss it in a salad. Avocado’s are delicious any way you eat it.

I had it for breakfast one morning for a powerhouse post workout meal. How? I turned the oven to 375 degrees. I sliced an avocado in half and took the pit out. Then I added a raw egg to the “divet” where the pit was.  Yup. Sure did. Then I put it on a baking sheet into the oven while I showered.

After about 20 minutes the egg was cooked in the avocado to perfection. I pulled it out of the oven added some low fat cheese, then popped it back in the oven for a few minutes. Voila! A breakfast packed with nutrients, protein, and flavor. Treat avocados like a baked potato and load ’em up!

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My baked avocado breakfast. So flavorful and nutritious. A fantastic post workout breakfast.

Whats next? Predictable but never to be overlooked, the avocado is the star of guacamole. If you have the fixings, making guacamole is a must with any avocado. And it is so simple. Lime, tomatoes, cilantro, and maybe some hot peppers if you are adventurous . Thats all you need for great guacamole. One of the best things about making this is that it is totally customizable. You can make it as spicy, as creamy, or as chunky as you prefer.

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Stir in lime, cilantro, and tomatoes to avocado. Nothing short of delicious!

If you want a quick guacamole, you can do that too. Mash up fresh avocados, add some salt and pepper, and squeeze a fresh lime over it. Since you are in a hurry, stir in your favorite salsa, and you are done.  Then load up your chip, your taco, or spread it on your sandwich.

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Fresh guacamole! Fabulous and flexible!

When making anything with avocado, keeping the pit in it, such as in the guacamole, keeps it from turning brown. So does adding a bit of lemon or lime juice to it. Either way, enjoy this fantastic nutrient packed superfood in many ways. Let me know what you do with your new superfood!

If you want to check out my blog on another superfood, go here. https://busymomswellness.com/2014/05/26/blast-into-super-foods/

 

 

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Oops!

5 Feb

You are never too old to make a mistake.  Even on Manners Monday.  Well, it was actually on Saturday, but since we discuss and try to improve our manners on Manners Monday in my home, I brought up my recent faux pas.  Or at least I think it was a faux pas.

Here is the situation:  We have dinner reservations on Saturday for 3 diners.  We are running a bit early for our reservations, so we stop by a new wine bar to check it out and have a small glass of wine before dinner.  The wine bar, by the way, also serves tapas, or appetizers.   When we are seated at a table, there are small plates on the table, along with silverware rolled in a cloth napkin.

Out of habit, when seated, we all take our silverware out and place it appropriately on the table.  The 3 of us also placed the cloth napkin on our laps.  We had no intention of ordering food.  We just popped in for a quick glass of wine.  We were all engaged in pleasant conversation and simply performed our little napkin/silverware ritual without much thought.  Until the waiter corrected us.

The waiter took our drink order and brought it to the table.  Then:

Waiter:  Here is your appetizer menu.  Are you ready to order?

Us:  We just stopped by for a glass of wine.  We aren’t ordering appetizers.

Waiter:  Oh.  When you unwrapped your silverware and placed your napkin on your lap I assumed you were eating.

Us:  Oops, sorry.  (Blank awkward stare at one another).

He was very kind and gentle in his demeanor, but we couldn’t help but realize that perhaps we had made a mistake.  So I did what any self respecting person feeling guilty would do.  I tipped big.  Then I hit the internet to dig into etiquette and manners.  I wanted to know the correct table manners for simply stopping by a wine bar that only served appetizers, or “bites”.  But I couldn’t find a thing about that situation and appropriate manners.

So here is what I think.  Waiters spend a lot of time getting their stations set up and kept up.  I should know…I waitressed in college and completely understand the challenges of waiting tables.  In retrospect, it was not appropriate for us to unroll silverware and use a napkin. We added to the work load of our waiter.  Now he had to wash and reroll silverware that we had no intention of using.  We should have asked him to remove the plates and rolled silver from the table so he could use it at a later time.  I so rarely am in a situation of just having a drink and being at a table for less than an hour, so I just didn’t think.  But I sure feel like we treated the waiter unfairly, albeit unintentionally.

Here is my own rule of thumb.  Whatever situation presents itself, if I am at a table and not dining, I will use as few utensils as possible.  I appreciate the professional way our waiter handled this situation, and will certainly be more considerate moving forward.  I could not find any table manners covering this situation so I will simply put my own rules in place.  You are never too old to learn a new lesson, and I appreciate the opportunity this kind waiter presented for me to gain a new understanding.

Pimento Cheese

16 Jan

I moved to the southeastern part of the country about 15 years ago.  I had spent my entire life prior to that living in the midwest.  My culinary roots are steeped in basic farm to table food.  I was not exposed to a lot of different food growing up.  Strictly regional and deliciously 50’s Americana food is what I ate growing up.  When I started cooking, I began with what I knew.  I pretty much nailed good midwestern cooking.  You know, roasts, whole chickens, potatoes, green beans, and the crowning jewel…lumpless rich gravy!   Yummy, but basic.  Which is exactly the way to begin something.  Learn the basics first.  Get some techniques down.  Become confident.  Then stretch your wings!

When I moved to this part of the country,  I read “Gone with the Wind”, a great Southern classic.  A friend had suggested reading something southern in celebration of moving to the southern part of our country.  Yes, its fiction.  But I came from Illinois, the “Land of Lincoln”, and I found that reading this book was a colorful expansion of culture, and a wonderful one at that.  I caught myself up on southern history and southeastern geography as well.  I tried to immerse myself in my new home town in a new and unfamiliar part of the country.  Naturally, that led me to learning about southern food.  In doing so, I discovered a new favorite appetizer.

I had never heard of pimento cheese prior to moving to this part of the country.  I am thrilled to have not only discovered it, but to have a whiz bang recipe for it that I love.  I whip this up quickly and let it sit in the fridge.  Believe me, it does not last long in my house.  We toss it on crackers, slather it on sandwiches, and heat it up in quessadillas.

As with most of my recipes, I do have some secrets that go with this one.  I usually add a tablespoon or two of diced jalapeno peppers to this recipe.  This brings nothing but praise from my teenagers, who tend to  like a little zip in their food.  I also usually mix 1 cup each of 2 different kinds of cheddar cheese, such as a mild cheddar and a sharp cheddar.

Years ago when I began making and tweaking this recipe, I liked to chat about it. You know us foodies…we just have to talk about food!  Anywhooo, I was chatting about pimento cheese with a lovely elderly lady with whom I shared a friendship.  This lady was the epitome of southern charm and graciousness.  Never without lipstick, she had the most beautiful gray hair, always perfectly coiffed.  Her clothes were always perfectly modest and pressed.  She had a lovely lilt to her voice and was proud to have her roots firmly planted in the south.  As I excitedly told her about my new found fondness for pimento cheese, she inquired as to my recipe.  I shared it with her.

Sure my recipe was basic.  I thought it to be a great starting point.  When she heard it, she oh so gently lifted her hand to her mouth and cupped it around her lips.  A secret was about to be revealed!  (Usually ladies do this when they are proudly revealing that they just got an additional 25% off on a new dress, or what the neighbor spent on their new car.  There is an exciting element of collusion when the mouth gets cupped in such a way!).  “Do you add any vinegar to your pimento cheese?” she asked with raised eyebrows and a proud little smirk.  Why no, I said.  A little thrill went through me and I asked her how much to add.  She held her hand up like she was holding a bottle of vinegar.  She then gestured tilting of the bottle to a quick 2 count and said that was how much to add.  Brilliant!!

So my pimento cheese evolved simply into what it is today.  I don’t want to jazz it up too much so it holds true to what it is.  But adding the vinegar is fantastic, as is adding the diced peppers.  Try it and tell me what you think!  Bon appetite!

Amy’s Pimento Cheese

  • 2 cups freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4-1/3 cup mayonnaise -do not use salad dressing
  • I small jar pimento, undrained
  • 2 T. white vinegar
  • Salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate.  This gets better as it sits in the fridge, but it sure doesn’t last long!   Use as desired!

Appetizer in an Instant!

13 Jun

Need a fast appetizer?  Open your fridge, open your pantry, and start picking things out.  Arrange the food in a beautiful way onto a platter.  Add a little of this, a dash of that.  You now have an antipasto platter fit for any gathering.  And you will look like a hero in a snap!  Love that!

An antipasto platter is a quick and lovely appetizer.  A great addition to any get together.  Think easy finger food.  Tasty tidbits.  Savory bites.  Succulent scents and vibrant colors.  It is a relaxed and rustic, yet somewhat sophisticated appetizer or first course.  Antipasto means “before the meal”, so it need not be large.

The secret to a good antipatso platter is the presentation.  Organized chaos.  Anyone can do it.  And you will always be party ready if you keep the right staples in the fridge and pantry.  Here is a super easy list to pick from, so keep these things handy and you are always party ready!

  • Marinated artichokes
  • Assorted olives
  • Rustic bread (store in the freezer)
  • Lunch meat-a nice variety
  • Roasted and/or marinated peppers
  • Variety of cheeses
  • Roasted nuts
  • Grapes
  • Assorted crackers
  • Mushrooms
  • Cherry tomatoes

And don’t forget to keep cocktail size napkins and toothpicks in the cupboard as well.  These items can be easily assembled and will make a wonderful presentation to any party.   So open your door, welcome your friends, and relax. You are always ready for a party!

Quick antipasto platter