Marinated tomato whipped feta crostini

So how do you Super Bowl?
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This year we will be chilling at home even though we don’t have plans to have anyone over I will still be making a few super bowl staples like wings, guacamole and chili. I have also been craving 7 layer dip so I made sure to have those ingredients on hand. While not everything has to be heavy and well filling I also made some marinated tomatoes with some whipped feta that you smear on a crostini. Sounds like we will be enjoying some leftovers this week.
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I find it pretty funny that being from New England of course there are a ridiculous amount of Patriot fans around and then there are people who become fans of whoever is playing against the Patriots. Not sure why there are so many haters out there but I sure do enjoy watching the entire game halftime show, commercials and all and even more so when we are in it. Go Pats!

Marinated tomato whipped feta crostini

6 ounces crumbled feta
2 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)
2/3 cup olive oil – divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2-3 different type/color pints of cherry tomatoes (sliced in half or quartered)
3 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves, plus extra for serving
2 tablespoons pine nuts
French baguette (sliced and baked till lightly browned)

Add feta and cream cheese in bowl of a food processor, pulse until they are mixed. Add 1/3 cup olive oil, the lemon juice, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper and process until smooth.
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Combine shallots, garlic, and vinegar in a medium bowl, set aside for 5 minutes.  Whisk in the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon pepper. Add the tomatoes, stir gently, set aside for 10 minutes. Stir in the basil and taste for seasoning.

To assemble the crostini, spread each slice of toast with a generous amount of whipped feta. With a slotted spoon, place the tomatoes on top. Top with pine nuts and extra basil.

Healthier Blooming Onion – Air Fry

So something pretty exciting for little ole me happened this week. I was enjoying my morning cup of tea; yeah sorry not a coffee drinker; and I was playing either Sudoku or Words with friends on my phone and it flashed a tweet “Congrats your blog has been selected as one the Top 100 Home Cooking Blogs on the web by Feedspot Blog” me not being super savvy with social media I was initially confused, then suspect than thrilled and honored.

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Confused to how me just being me and sharing a little about what I have been making could get acknowledged. Suspect, just because I am wary of anything that could potentially be a scam, you know the one you won a free trip around the world, just give me you CC for the deport taxes or something like that. And then thrilled that my daughter confirmed that yeah this was VERY cool!  So thank you for stopping by and supporting me and this blog. I really enjoy writing it for all who don’t mind me sharing a little of me.
IMG_5668So who else got an air fryer for Christmas? I have mentioned trying to be a little healthier but also finding the balance with healthy that tastes good and it helps a lot if it is something that we would normally want to eat. There is still a ton I need to learn about air frying but I at least have it in the house now, so let the games begin.
IMG_5684.JPGI have only made a few things so far, Chicken Tenders, simply salted, peppered and then some seasoned breadcrumbs. And then I tried turkey cutlets seasoned with some Jamaican spice rub that I brought back from vacation. Both were successful! But then I thought blooming onion. A healthier blooming onion why not? Healthier by air frying, using egg substitute and a little less flour than the recipes I found online. 

Ingredients

1 Large white onion
2 tablespoons nonfat Milk
½ cup egg substitute
3/4 cup Panko
1 1/2 teaspoons Paprika
1 teaspoon Garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
3 teaspoons Olive oil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2 cup Flour

Instructions – Onion should soak for at least 2 hours or overnight

Mix breadcrumbs with olive oil, cajun seasoning, garlic powder and paprika. In a separate dish, mix salt & pepper into the flour. In a bowl, mix milk with egg.
IMG_5678cut off the pointy top (the non hairy end – those who have taken one of my cooking classes knows this) Place cut side down onto a cutting board. Starting 1/2 inch from the root, cut downward, all the way to the cutting board. Repeat to make 4 evenly spaced cuts around the onion. Continue slicing between each section until you have made 12 to 16 cuts total.
IMG_5670IMG_5671Place sliced onion in ice water for at least 2 hours / overnight. Remove from water, pat dry.
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Beat eggs with milk. Open onion to expose petals. Place onion on a tray or in a bowl. Sprinkle onion generously with flour mixture. Make sure to get in between all the petals, turn upside down to remove the excess.
IMG_5681Spoon or ladle, the egg mixture into every crevice. Turn over to make sure excess egg drips off.
IMG_5682Sprinkle onion very generously with bread crumb mixture. Press into place.
IMG_5683Preheat the air fryer to 360F. Then place the onion in the basket cover with a tinfoil tent and cook for 10 minutes.

When timer is done, check crispness of the onion. Cook 5-10 more minutes to desired crispness. Cut out the middle core with a sharp knife so you can add a bowl of dipping sauce. I used ranch dressing for this one.
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What would I do differently next time – I would make 16 slices, I would like a smaller bite. I am going to try doing a tempura batter next time, just to see the difference.

Macros = 4 servings per onion without the dressing
187 Calories – 6g Fat – 26g Carbs – 7g Protein

Buffalo Chicken Boats

I wish you all a very happy healthy new year! Even though I do not make verbal resolutions; I do hope that I try harder to get in shape. Ya I know that doesn’t really scream diet and exercise but I do THINK about it so that’s something right?

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They are so cute!

OK so we spent New Years weekend in Quebec City with a bunch of friends and froze our asses off. Not literally but 11 degrees Fahrenheit below zero is just plain crazy to hang around outside. And that is without the wind which was whipping. We had a great time and the city is beautiful; I would like to go back; when it warms up about 60 degrees.

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Thought I would share how cold it was, and this was during the day


IMG_5652With the fridge and pantry being filled with holiday food from last month and us being away I haven’t been grocery shopping in a few weeks. We were invited over to some friends for dinner and I was to bring an appetizer. Not having time to run to a store, I needed to come up with something with what I had on hand. I was also thinking it should be something a little on the healthy side since its a new year and I was THINKING about being healthier.
IMG_5646I thawed a couple of boneless skinless chicken breasts. Chopped, seasoned, cooked and shredded them. I had a few sticks of celery and a little bleu cheese and voila appetizer.
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Ingredients
1 cup boneless skinless chicken breasts – shredded
Salt
Pepper
Adobo seasoning
¼ cup franks hot sauce
2 Tbs mayo
3-4 celery sticks
Chives

Directions
Season, chop and cook the chicken pieces, once cooled shred the chicken. Mix together the hot sauce and mayo and cover the shredded chicken.  Wash and remove the strings from your celery. I use a potato peeler to remove the strings on my celery. Slice into bite size pieces fill each piece with the buffalo chicken. Drizzle a little bleu cheese or ranch dressing. Dice up a few chives and sprinkle over the boats.
IMG_5656If you are already healthy wink wink than instead of the celery they would taste great as nachos or in a quesadilla – just saying

Ham & Cheese pull apart bread

Merry Christmas Eve!!!

I made these for our holiday party last week and since they were delish and easy to make I am making them again for a party that we are going to this weekend. Tis the season for parties!
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While they are yummy this time around I need to pay more attention to how much filling I put in each dough ball. You would think that I would have done that the first time around especially since you use a 3 inch cookie cutter for EACH piece. Probably sounds totally logical to you but I had some different sizes happening and a little cheese leakage on my first go round.
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Since I tend to keep it real here with my writings, I also want to mention that you shouldn’t stack them like I did without flouring between the layers, I had to start over as I couldn’t pull them apart, what a rookie move I know better than that. Maybe I was distracted last week? Yeah I’m going to go with that!
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Ham & Cheese pull apart wreath
16 ounce bag of store-bought pizza dough – at room temperature
1 cup black forest ham – minced
1 cup gruyere – shredded
4 ounce cream cheese – softened
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
4 tablespoon unsalted butter – melted
Flaky sea salt
Fresh parsley – finely chopped for garnish
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Dijon Honey dipping sauce
1 cup dijon mustard
2 tablespoon honey
¼ sour cream
Preheat oven to 375F. Spray baking sheet with non-stick spray. Allow pizza dough to come to room temperature.
On a lightly floured surface, stretch the dough into a 10×15 inch rectangle. Using a 3 inch cookie cutter, cut out 23 rounds of dough and set aside.  Make sure to lightly flour between layers.

In a medium bowl, stir together the ham, cheese, cream cheese and nutmeg. Scoop about 1 ½ tablespoons of the mixture on the middle of each pizza dough round. Enclose the filling by wrapping up the sides and rolling the dough into a sealed ball.
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Arrange the dough balls into a wreath using 15 of them as the outer ring, all touching and then use the remaining 8 as an inner wreath all touching each other as well as the outer ring.

Brush with a couple of tablespoons of melted butter and place in the oven for about 20 minutes.
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Remove once golden brown, brush with more of the melted butter and sprinkle with a little of the flaky salt to taste. Sprinkle with parsley to your desired effect.

Dipping sauce
Stir mustard, honey and sour cream and place in a bowl that will fit in the center of your wreath

Note: use whatever filing you want to make them your own creation

Macros = 2 balls without dipping sauce
256 Calories – 15g Fat – 20g Carbs – 10g Protein

Recipe: Clinton Kelly viewed on the Chew

Baked Jalapeno Poppers – no longer afraid

As little as a few short months ago you couldn’t pay me or my husband to even try a Jalapeno popper – we both just figured they were going to be too hot for us. Now I am making them for my Christmas party. I must be growing as an adult, nah we were at a friends for dinner and they served jalapeno poppers and stuffed mushrooms – ugh I had to at the very least take a “no thank you” bite of each. My husband was going to be OK because he doesn’t mind mushrooms; I think it must be a texture thing for me. We were both super surprised how much we liked the poppers and the mushrooms were not too bad either.
IMG_5601.JPGSo here I was shopping for the party; saw the jalapenos and decided why not! I get home and tell my husband what I was doing and he was psyched. Maybe we are both evolving hahaha stop talking crazy Donna.
IMG_5591This is actually going to be great come summer when I have way too many Jalapenos from my garden; I usually just bring them into to work and put them on one of the kitchen tables for whoever wanted them. Now I have more than salsa and guacamole to use them in.
IMG_560024 +/- jalapeno
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
8 ounce cream cheese – softened
16 ounce breakfast sausage – browned and drained

Slice each jalapeno in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and veins; I use an iced tea spoon, it is small enough to fit right in them. If you are not wearing gloves, make sure not to touch your face or eyes until you wash your hands really well.
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Mix the next three ingredients once the sausage is cooled.
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Scoop about a tablespoon and a half into each jalapeno. Press the mixture into them so it doesn’t fall out.

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My husband saw me writing and said you should tell them “that I Love these”


Place on a sheet pan and broil for about 7-10 minutes but you know your oven better than me so watch them. You want them nice and browned and for the jalapeno to be soft

Macros = 2 pieces
228 Calories – 15g Fat – 10g Carbs – 13g Protein

Chicken Parmesan Bites

It’s around this time of year when I start thinking about what appetizers I want to make. Who’s with me???
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Holiday party and get together season is coming up rapidly fast and the invites for us have already started with a Halloween party, next up will be Thanksgiving, Christmas and ending with New Years oh and I also need to throw a few birthdays in there.
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Most people; when planning a party will take care of a few of the main dishes; then rely on their guests to fill in the gaps. I am curious to know if you spend as much time as I do trying to figure out something that is not only easy to make it needs to be easy to transport. But on top of all of that it HAS to taste delicious!
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I am still in my wrist brace from my carpal tunnel surgery a few weeks ago, I think I should be able to take it off sometime next week; I know it’s still going to take some time to get my strength back but I haven’t stopped cooking this whole time. Though I have decided to use a few shortcut staples that I knew about but honestly can’t recall using before. Pre-chopped frozen onions and minced garlic while not my favorite has come in quite handy! Get it “handy” yeah I know not funny! I also found a garlic mashed potato that you heat up in the microwave which are surprisingly creamy, garlicky and the entire family felt they were pretty darn good!

I have actually shared this recipe in a slider form awhile back but I thought it would make a great little pick up and go kind of app.

Ingredients

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 ½ tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground chicken
1 ounce parmesan reggiano cheese, grated
1 cup marinara sauce
⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
Mozzarella balls, sliced in half
Few sprigs of small leaf basil

Directions

Saute the onions, garlic, salt, pepper, red pepper and oregano just until the onions are translucent. Place mixture in a large bowl and allow to cool for about 5 minutes. Add chicken and parmesan plus ½ cup of the marinara sauce.
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Mix well and then using a small scoop, which helps keep them all the same size; makes approximately 24 meatballs. Preheat oven to 400’F for 15 minutes. I turned my to broil for another 4 minutes. Trying to get a little color on them, even though they will be covered with a small mozzarella ball and some basil.    
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Heat the remaining marinara sauce and cover and sit the meatballs in the sauce
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Macros = 2 Meatball
54 Calories – 3 g Fat – 3.5 g Carbs – 4 g Protein

BBQ Marinated Shrimp

I am writing this week’s blog on Friday morning before my house becomes so busy and full of a lot of people. A girlfriend of mine is coming over to help me prep for an anniversary party we are hosting for my in-laws. My feeling was that it needed to be a step up or so from the normal backyard BBQ I throw since it is their 60th wedding anniversary BBQ and that is quite the accomplishment in my book and deserves something a little special.
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In a little bit a couple of my sister-in-laws will be here along with my girlfriend JC oh and did I mention that JC is a trained chef; no pressure for me to be prepping along side her ugh!  I even felt obligated to clean my oven last week just because I wanted everything “perfect” for her. I doubt she would judge me for a dirty oven, but I wanted to make cooking in my kitchen a pleasant experience.
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When deciding what we were having I wanted some of my favorite sides. Potato Salad, Pasta Salad, Baked beans and BBQ Shrimp.  So I well I guess we are all going to work on cooking the pasta & potatoes. I cheated on the beans and doctored up a large can I had on hand already. We’ll need to marinate the shrimp and decorate some cupcakes that I made up yesterday. JC is going to be in charge of the chicken and steak tips. She mentioned making up a few for us to taste, I have no doubt that they will be delicious.
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The BBQ shrimp is a recipe a friend brought to a party many years ago and has been a staple at my parties ever since. I have shared it with many people over the years but I have never blogged about it before. Funny thing is I tell everyone where I got it but they still refer to it as my recipe. When I make it I still bring out the same page that on the top says Jack’s family recipe, it has many stains and blotches on it but it is still excellent and a crowd pleaser!
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BBQ Marinated Shrimp

1 cup olive oil
¼ cup chopped parsley
1 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce
3 cloves garlic minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
2 pounds large, peeled and deveined shrimp with tails on

In a large bowl or ziploc bag, add all the ingredients except the shrimp, mix well and then add your shrimp. Let them marinate for a minimum of 2 hours or best overnight.
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Skewer them and cook on your grill just till pink which means they are done. They cook quick but also depends on how hot you have your grill.

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The cook gets to get at least a skewer to themselves. At least that is how it works at my house.