With the turn of the season and the heat in full swing, something about the start of the summer makes me want to entertain. For this theme week, we wanted to do some easy appetizers with a running theme that could be crowd-pleasers without being too much effort. While Amanda did amazing and fancy things with Balsamic Vinegar, I decided to go a little more “game day” with a series of sliders.
Since I was making a couple options, I knew I didn’t want any one type to dominate my time. With the electric pressure cooker to do the heavy lifting for the pork sliders, I was freed up to work on the other two options. I thought I’d cover my bases with the shredded pork in the pressure cooker, ground buffalo chicken sliders with ranch dressing and a vegetarian option of goat cheese and zucchini sliders. The zucchini was the surprise hit, and the herb yogurt sauce was such a great addition to this yummy little snack.
It is worth mentioning, if you don’t feel like standing over a pan or two waiting for all of these little patties to cook, you could always make these full size. Or if you don’t think this is enough slider options, check out our previous burger recipes, the Greek Chicken and Chickpea burgers which could easily be divided into more patties just before cooking.
Blackberry Pulled Pork
- 12 oz fresh or frozen blackberries
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1 pork tenderloin (can also use about 1 lb pork shoulder preferred)
- Salt & Pepper
- 1 cup chicken broth
- Slider Buns
- Generously coat your pork tenderloin with salt and pepper on all sides. Add it to your instant pot along with the chicken broth. Seal your instant pot and cook on high pressure for 45 minutes and allow the pressure to release naturally when done.
- After the pressure has been released, remove the pork tenderloin and shred the meat with two forks. Return the shredded meat to your instant pot to keep warm while you cook the sauce.
- In a medium saucepan over low-medium heat, stir together the blackberries and wine. Allow the mixture to boil and reduce by half, stirring occasionally. About 10-15 minutes.
- When reduced, pass the mixture through a sieve to filter out any seeds and bits of berry.
- Place some of the shredded pork on a slider bun and top with a spoonful of the sauce. These are now ready to serve and enjoy!
*Mer’s Note: So there are some flavor combinations that are just classic, and I completely forgot Amanda did something similar previously. Because I was trying this one as a keto recipe, you might want to check out hers as an alternative as well. Both could be converted into sliders!
Buffalo Chicken Sliders
- 1 lb of ground chicken
- 5 tbsp buffalo sauce
- 1 stalk celery finely minced
- 1 medium carrot, shredded
- 3 green onions, greens and whites minced
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
- Ranch Dressing to serve
- Slider buns to serve
- Combine the ground chicken, buffalo sauce, celery, carrot, green onions, 1 tsp salt & pepper, garlic powder and breadcrumbs. Combine with your hands until all ingredients are fully incorporated. Separate the mixture and form/flatten into 16 equal patties.
- In a large pan over medium heat or a grill, cook the patties for about 2-3 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Place the cooked patties on slider buns and top with a dollop of ranch dressing to serve. Enjoy!
- 2 medium zucchinis, coarsley shredded
- 1 tsp salt plus a pinch extra for seasoning zucchini
- 2 oz herb goat cheese, crumbled
- 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp cup panko breadcrumbs
- Pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp neutral, high smoke point oil (like canola)
- Slider Buns to serve
- 1/2 cup greek yogurt
- 1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
- Juice of half a lemon
- Sprinkle the zucchini with the pinch of salt and squeeze the shredded zucchini over a sieve and sink to release as much water as possible. If time allows, wrap the zucchini in paper towels and place in the sieve with something heavy on top to drain over an empty container for 30 minutes to an hour. While allowing the zucchini to drain, mix together your yogurt sauce.
- In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, herbs and lemon juice together and allow to sit in the fridgefor at least 30 minutes for the flavors to come together.
- Once you have released as much moisture from the zucchini as possible, combine the zucchini with the goat cheese, Parmesan, oregano, garlic powder, and the egg. Mix together and form into 16 flat patties (they will be very delicate).
- In a wide bowl or container, combine the breadcrumbs with the remaining salt and pepper to your liking. Meanwhile, heat a large pan with the oil over medium heat. Dip each zucchini patty into the breadcrumb mixture until you have an even coating and transfer directly to the heated pan. Until cooked, these patties are very delicate so I would recommend as little handling as you can manage.
- Heat the patties for about 1-2 minutes on each side until a brown and crispy, and the egg firms up the patty a little bit.
- Transfer to a slider bun and top with a dollop of your yogurt sauce to serve. Enjoy!
My brother has the best food scene in his city. I love where I live but the multiculturalism of Chicago? I can’t compete with that. Luckily, he and my sister-in-law have introduced me to some spice and specialty shops in their area, and I live for it! This post is inspired and fueled by a gift from them, some delicious balsamic vinegar. A lovely gift, I tried it out in a few different recipes!
Prosciutto-Wrapped Watermelon Skewers
- 2 cups cubed watermelons
- 4 slices prosciutto
- Mint (optional)
- Balsamic vinegar for drizzling
- Bamboo skewers
- Slice or tear prosciutto in half lengthwise. Wrap one slice around watermelon cube.
- Use bamboo skewer to secure prosciutto over watermelon.
- Stack four wrapped watermelon cubes on skewers, adding torn mint leaves in between each cube, if desired.
- Drizzle skewers with balsamic vinegar.
- 2 tomatoes
- 1 ball of mozzarella
- Basil, fresh
- Balsamic vinegar for drizzling
- Slice tomatoes and mozzarella in 1/2in discs.
- Layer tomato and mozzarella slices, alternating and with a basil leaf after each mozzarella slice. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
Strawberry Balsamic Shrub
- 2 cups strawberries, hulled
- 2 cups balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- Add strawberries to mason jar, making sure all stems are removed.
- Add sugar and cover all with balsamic vinegar.
- Shake and store in fridge for at least 5 days, shaking every once in a while to stir ingredients.
Strawberry Balsamic Martini
Mix 1oz vodka with 2oz shrub and shake over ice. Serve and enjoy!
After my Korean-themed dish for the Olympics was a flop (and may have broken my pressure cooker?), I knew this pizza weekend was my opportunity for redemption! This recipe turned out really well, and made for some good leftovers later in the week.The bulgogi marinade is shamelessly stolen from Merideth’s Bulgogi Sub with Gochujang Mayonnaise.
Bulgogi Marinated Pork Belly
- 8 oz tomato sauce
- 2tbs soy sauce
- 2tsp brown sugar
- 2tbs mirin or rice wine
- 1 apple pear or ya pear, thinly sliced
- 1 red and green bell pepper each, diced
- 2 shallots, thinly sliced
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese
- 1in ginger, grated
Bulgogi Marinated Pork Belly
- Marinate pork belly overnight, or for at least one hour.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Pat pork belly strips dry and score fat side with diagonal cuts. Lay fat side up on metal baking pan.
- Roast pork belly for 30 minutes, then reduce heat to 300 degrees. Cook for another hour, checking every 5 minutes after 45 minutes have passed.
- Remove from oven and let cool. Dice meat portion and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Mix together tomato sauce ingredients and spread on prepared pizza crust. For our recipe, we made 4 smaller pizzas.
- Top pizza with pork belly and other toppings. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until edges of pizza crust is a golden brown.
Wine Pairing: I had my first taste of plum wine with this recipe! It’s sweetness was a great aperitif while I waited on the oven. For the rest of the meal, a fruity merlot helped balance the saltiness of the pork belly and marinade.
I just recently returned from a trip to Las Vegas so naturally I had lavish and over-the-top themes running through my head because of it. I had the opportunity to taste so many delicious meals and I wanted to bring back those feelings of relaxation and luxury back home to my own kitchen after the vacation was ended. Amanda also had a free weekend and was in the mood to treat herself, so we were both wanting to make something that truly felt like we were chilling in the lap of luxury. Still getting over the jet lag though, I didn’t want to spend my whole day making my “treat,” and ganache truffles were the perfect mix of fancy and elegant, but still not too labor intensive. With Valentine’s Day approaching as well, these make a great homemade gift for your sweetie if you’re up for whipping up a batch. Otherwise, they make a great afternoon treat any day you want to feel a little fancy.
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips
- 1 tablespoon bourbon
- 1 tablespoon butter
- For coatings: 1/2 cup crushed oreos, crushed peanut butter cookies or cocoa powder (or all 3!).
- Over medium heat in a small saucepan, heat the cream until just simmering.
- Remove from the heat and add your chocolate chips, butter and bourbon and stir until the chips are melted and everything is combined. Transfer the chocolate to a stand mixer bowl and fit your mixer with a whisk attachment.
- Whisk the ganache mixture for 3 minutes on medium speed to ensure that everything is combined. Transfer the bowl to the fridge and let chill overnight or at least for 3 hours until set.
- Once set (if too firm, remove from fridge and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes), use a dough scooper to portion one inch balls and roll quickly between your hands to smooth. It does help to wear gloves at this step. You will also want to move quickly and not overwork the ganache to keep it from melting.
- Roll your ganache balls through the coating of your choice and place in a mini-cupcake liner for easy snacking later. Store your truffles in the fridge until ready to eat or give to your valentine. Enjoy!
Wine Pairing: I personally would probably want something peppery to complement the sweetness of the truffles like a zinfandel. However you could go with a dessert wine as well and savor everything. It’s hard to go wrong with wine and chocolate!
Felt like something ~fancy~ last weekend. This was filling enough to have for lunch! Also, an excellent excuse to open a bottle of wine. Because, you know, its a “tasting.”
- 1 cup dried apricots
- 1 habanero, sliced
- 3/4 cup white wine, plus 2tbs
- Pinch of salt
- Heat wine and apricots in a small saucepan over medium heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat – do not drain – and let sit until cool, about 45 minutes-1 hour.
- Drain apricots and pour into a food processor. Add salt, sliced habanero (with seeds removed to decrease the heat, if desired), and 2tbs of wine. Chop until the mixture is a fine paste.
To complete the plate, I usually choose two soft and two hard cheeses, two crackers or bread options, and a couple of different meats. In this case, we used parmesan (delicious with salami!), brie, champagne cheese (a semi-soft cheese we randomly chose that was a delicious surprise), and goat cheese. The apricot-habanero spread was especially good with the goat and brie cheese, as you can see below!
Other things you might want to include to round out your flavor options:
- Gherkins or sliced pickles
- Fig jam
- Coarse mustard
This is the time of year that is both incredibly cheerful and magical with the twinkling lights on all the houses and sweet aromas filling our kitchens, it can also be incredibly stressful as we all rush to make a dish for the office potluck we forgot or shop til we drop for the perfect gift for all our loved ones. While we know there are so many people in our life we want to show that we appreciate, some can slip through the cracks until it’s too late. With Christmas inching closer, Amanda and I wanted to share our answers to some homemade tokens of friendship to give to someone in your life even if that person is yourself (hey, it’s yummy ok?). Plus, with everything else we have to worry about this season, we definitely didn’t want you to have to log any extra kitchen hours then you already are. Granola was my low effort, but still glamorous was my answer to this challenge.
Granola is something that is widely enjoyed but people don’t tend to have it that often or bother with making it themselves. With the pumpkin and wintery spices, it is the perfect festive treat that dresses up nicely in a jar and a ribbon. The ingredients are fairly inexpensive as well so it won’t break the bank, and it’s a nice change of pace from all the Christmas cookies going around (although I love those as well). This granola goes so well topped on a bowl of plain yogurt, which might be a nice switch after all those family slightly heavier family breakfasts that seem to go with the season, or it can be enjoyed as a little sweet snack after dinner. It keeps for a while in the fridge as well so it’s something that can be enjoyed long after the season ends.
- 1/3 cup of pumpkin puree
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
- 1/2 cup steel cut oats
- 1/2 cup raw almonds
- 1/2 cup of chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 325°F.
- Combine the oats and almonds in a large mixing bowl.
- On the stove over low heat, combine the pumpkin puree, maple syrup, spices and salt and stir until everything is warm and well mixed.
- Remove the pumpkin mixture from the heat and pour over your oats. Stir the oats with a wooden spoon until the pumpkin mixture is fully combined.
- Spread the oat mixture over a lined baking sheet as flatly and evenly as you can.
- Pop the baking sheet in your oven and cook for 45-50 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so. This will ensure that the granola doesn’t burn.
- After baking, allow the granola to cool fully and then stir in your chocolate chips. You may then transfer to an airtight container and your granola will keep in the fridge for up to two months.
Merideth and I’s schedules got a little crazy in the month of October, so instead of our usual Saturday night Skype date, we made quick weeknight dinners! Nothing better for some comfort food than chicken nuggets and some cut up veggies. This easy and versatile chicken nugget recipe came in handy for a breakfast biscuit (more on that soon!)
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat
- 1 cup flour
- 2 eggs, whisked
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- Canola oil for frying
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Set aside a plate covered in a few layers of paper towels to absorb oil after frying.
- Cut chicken breasts into bite size chunks.
- Set ingredients into three bowls, left to right: flour, eggs, and bread crumbs.
- Dredge chicken nuggets first in flour, then egg mixture, and then bread crumbs until thoroughly covered. Set aside.
- Using tongs, place nuggets into hot oil and heat for approximately 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Note: the oil will lose heat, so wait for oil to reheat in between batches and keep a close eye on the frying process.
- Place nuggets on paper towel-lined plate to remove excess oil. Enjoy!
Still on the heels of our favorite food competition shows, Amanda and I were looking for a new challenge. This time, we wanted to see if we could use a single ingredient in three different courses. Of course, one would want something that could be used both in a savory and sweet capacity, which does limit some options. Being an ingredient that I love in basically all forms, I chose the lovely, yet humble potato. I am quite sure I would be able to and enjoy going off on a Bubba-esque from Forrest Gump speech regarding all of the potato forms and how delicious each one is. So, for this challenge, the potato seemed like a natural and budget friendly choice.
For the appetizer, I was still feeling the effects of watching one too many Food Network chefs create some fancy tasting menus and so I wanted a delicate and pretty appetizer for the first course. While this one is a bit labor intensive, they are very delicious and would for sure impress at a gathering. The savory mushrooms and cheesy potatoes make for a lovely combination. Stay tuned for the other two courses!
- 1 potato, shredded and kept in a bowl of water until ready to use
- 1 lb mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 oz manchego cheese, shredded
- 1 tbsp butter
- 4 cloves of garlic
- High smoke point oil for frying (like vegetable or canola)
- Green onion for garnish
- In a small skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tbsp of butter and add the shallots, garlic and the whites of the green onion. Saute until the shallots become translucent, about 1-2 minutes.
- Add the mushrooms to the pan and continue cooking until the mushrooms have released their moisture and have turned more brown, about 5 minutes.
- Mix together your shredded cheese and potatoes.
- Heat a cast iron skillet with about 2 tbsp of oil until the oil is shimmery.
- Spoon about 1 tablespoon worth of the potato/cheese mixture into the pan and flatten, and repeat until the skillet is full, but none of these potato beds are touching. You may be able to cook about 4-5 at a time.
- When the edges of the potatoes are beginning to look brown, after about 1-2 minutes, flip with a spatula and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
- When crispy and brown, remove the hashbrown beds and drain on a cooling rack with a paper towel underneath.
- Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, plate with a spoonful of the mushrooms on top and garnish with the greens of the green onions. Enjoy!
Wine Pairing: The manchego cheese would probably go nicely with something simple, like Cabernet Sauvignon.
Halloween and October is always a fun time for me, and I love to get fun with the spooky theming of the holiday. While last year Amanda and I made something sinfully sweet to celebrate the day, this year we wanted to go “Spooky savory.” Amanda went incredibly brave with a scarily unfamiliar protein to our kitchens, but I decided to go a different route. I’m not sure if I would have had the access to such a disparate delicacy, but I certainly did not have the enthusiasm or fortitude to seek it out. Instead, this dish is a much more accessible in terms of grocery availability and friendliness of flavors to all palates.
This white bean and kale hummus is as easy to make as it is crowd-pleasing. The green color, while also packing a nutritional punch throughout the year, is easy to incorporate into an Halloween party plans as a very appropriate, on theme, munchie. The breadstick snakes, while a bit more time consuming, really accent this dip with both visual and flavorful contributions. The tomato and herbs in the bread, while also making these “snakes” more colorful, pair excellently with the lemony-garlic flavors of the hummus. Whether you’re dressed as Frankenstein or Wonder Woman, this appetizer is sure to keep the horrors of “Hanger” away.
White Bean Hummus:
- 1 can of great northern beans rinsed and drained
- 3 tbsp tahini
- juice from one lemon
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1/4 cup of water
- 1 1/2 cups packed kale (stalks removed–about 3 stalks)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until the kale is incorporated to your liking, and the mixture is smooth. I did mine for at least 5 minutes, so settle in.
- If you like room-temperature hummus, this is ready to serve immediately. However, I prefer mine chilled and allowed it to sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving. Could be made up to 3 days in advance and will last in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 5 days. Serve with “Snake” sticks or any hummus accompaniment of your choice.
Snake Breadsticks Ingredients
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 2 1/4 tsp (1 packet) instant yeast
- 2 cups of flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 1/4 tsp dried rosemary
- Black sesame seeds for eye garnish
- 1 egg+1 tsp water
Snake Bread Stick Instructions:
- Add the lukewarm water and the yeast to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Allow the yeast to sit with the water for 2-3 minutes while you prepare the rest of your ingredients.
- Add the flour on top of the yeast/water. then the salt (be sure it does not touch the yeast), tomato paste, garlic powder, basil, and rosemary. Turn the mixer to low speed for 1-2 minutes everything is mixed together. Then, mix on medium speed for 4-6 minutes until the dough is elastic and smooth.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 45 minutes at room temperature.
- After those 45 minutes, preheat your oven to 300°F and turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 25 equal portions and roll into long strips. Make one end taper slightly to form the tail and keep the other end wide and flatten slightly to form the face. Repeat with all portions and place on a baking sheet in your preferred pose (slithering waves, coils, etc).
- Whisk the egg and water together in a small bowl and brush the egg wash over the prepared breadsticks. Add two black sesame seeds to the snake faces to form the eyes after the egg wash is applied.
- Bake at 300°F for 50 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving. Enjoy with the Witchy Hummus or as a spooky accompaniment to any dinner.
Wine Pairing: With the Mediterranean flavors of both the hummus and the bread, a refreshing Sangiovese would be a nice choice, but if you want to go all out, check out this “I’m Ready for Fall” cocktail that would be a great addition to any Halloween party.
Well, it’s the middle of summer and it…is…HOT! As if the outside temperature weren’t enough, my giant kitchen windows face west. While having the setting sun’s rays streaming across my prep areas is aesthetically pleasing, it certainly raises the temperature of the kitchen noticeably. This, combined with the fact that the oven loves to radiate heat in any way it can makes for a sweaty dinner preparation. After a long day, any recipe that allows me to keep my cool is welcome in my house in the peak of summer for sure.
While my spring rolls are also a great choice, I do like to look towards sushi in times of serious heat. While it does involve cooking the rice, those of us lucky enough to automatic rice cookers (you’ll have to pry that appliance from my fingers–I’m never living without one) means that we can push the button and run away.
Since my palette has not quite graduated to raw fish, and living in a landlocked state hardly places confidence in any fish available, I love to make this fruit sushi as inspired from DK Sushi in Austin. About once every few months I get a craving for these flavors that can only be quenched by bringing out the sushi mat. For a more savory version, I have also made a cucumber and turkey roll that showcases the regional favorite, provel cheese.
If this post has ignited a need for sushi but you’re still craving that fish, I’d suggest checking out Amanda’s too-hot-to-cook post, the Poke Bowl with Avocado Rice, for some fish marinade suggestions that can easily be incorporated into a roll of your choice. For now though, enjoy these alternative options!
Yogurt Drizzle Ingredients:
- 1/4 cup of strawberry yogurt
- 2 tbsp pineapple juice
- 1 tsp sugar
- Stir together the yogurt, pineapple juice and sugar until you have a smooth consistency and sugar is dissolved. Chill until ready to serve.
Sushi Rice Ingredients:
- 2 cups of uncooked, short grain white rice
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp salt
- Rinse the uncooked rice in cold water until the water is clear (this is very important!). I usually like to add rice and water to the pot in which I’ll be cooking and then use my hand as a claw to agitate the starches. Then drain the starchy water and repeat until the water is clear.
- Add 2 cups of fresh water to the rice pot and either cook using a rice cooker or the traditional method (bring to boil over stove, cover and cook on low heat for 15 minutes and fluff).
- Add the sugar, rice wine vinegar and salt to the rice and stir until well incorporated. Traditionally these are heated together to form a syrup but we’re trying to use heat as little as possible here and I find the residual rice heat can help dissolve the granules.
- Allow rice to cool for 15-20 minutes. It can still be slightly warm when you are ready to assemble.
Sushi Assembly Ingredients:
- Fresh Pineapple, thinly sliced
- Apple, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
- Avocado, sliced
- Fresh Mango
- Strawberries, sliced
- Nori Sheets
- Black sesame seeds
- Sprinkle the black sesame seeds over your sushi mat and then spread 1/3 of your rice evenly onto the mat it in a square, about 1/4″ shorter than the nori height. Then add the nori, shiny side down.
- Place the slices of avocado, apple and pineapple about 2/3 of the way down the nori sheet trying to fill in as many gaps as possible. However, try not to overfill.
- Roll your mat over the filling ingredients and continue to roll. s you complete a rotation, press to make sure the roll is coming together. Pull the mat away from the roll as you keep going.
- Slice the roll into 8 equal portions.
- Using a vegetable peeler, peel slices of mango so you have a small 1 inch sheet of mango.
- With a pastry brush or your finger, brush a little bit of your yogurt drizzle onto the mango sheet and lay it over the top of one of your sushi pieces. Place a slice of strawberry on top.
- Once all pieces are assembled, drizzle the yogurt over top and enjoy!
Quick Cucumber and Turkey Sushi
- Sushi Rice
- Nori Sheets
- Cucumber, seeded and sliced into matchsticks
- Provel cheese (can also use cream cheese)
- Sliced turkey, deli meat.
- Place the nori sheet, shiny side down on your sushi mat. Spread a thin, even layer of your sushi rice over the nori sheet and leave about 1/4″ of the nori visible at the top.
- Place the cucumber, turkey and cheese about 2/3 down the nori sheet avoiding gaps.
- Roll your sushi; when you get to the top, brush some water onto the nori to help it seal itself.
- Slice into 8 equal portions and enjoy.
Wine Pairing: Obviously, we’re going for refreshing here so a chilled white or rose wine sounds fitting. Something like a riesling is an excellent choice!