Sweet Potato Pie Bites

It may be too late to make these for Thanksgiving today, but Christmas is coming, lol!!!

Ingredients: Makes 2 dozen

  • 4 large sweet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 roll of Crescents baking dough
  • 72 mini marshmallows
  • 24 whole pecans

Directions:

  1. Wash, pierce and microwave the sweet potatoes for 15 minutes on high.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl whisk together the brown sugar, heavy cream, vanilla and salt. Scoop the insides of each sweet potato into the bowl (take care, they may be hot!) and mix well.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  4. Unroll Crescents baking dough on a lightly floured surface. Use a rolling pin to gently flatten. Use a pizza cutter to slice the dough into 24 small squares.
  5. Lightly grease a 24 mini cupcake pan. Gently press a dough square into each well.
  6. Fill each with approximately 1 tbsp of the sweet potato mixture.
  7. Top each with 3 marshmallows and bake for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven, top each with a pecan and bake an additional 3 minutes. Serve warm!

*Original recipe by delish.com 

Watermelon Salsa

I make this refreshing salsa so often this time of year, I don’t even need to pull out the recipe anymore! Anyone who’s ever tasted it has either asked me how to make it or asked me to bring it when we’re invited to a picnic or BBQ.  I think you’ll agree, it’s the perfect summer accompaniment to chips and a margarita and takes only minutes to pull together. So get to it… and Enjoy!!

Ingredients: Serves 6 – 8

  • 3 cups chopped seedless watermelon
  • 1 small bunch of cilantro, washed and chopped (approx 4 tbsp)
  • 1 ripe avocado, pitted and chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • pinch red pepper flake
  • pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a medium size bowl combine watermelon, cilantro, jalapeño and onion.
  2. Season with lime juice, cumin, chili powder, red pepper flake and pepper (to taste) and toss to coat.
  3. Chill for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to develop.
  4. Just prior to serving gently fold in the avocado and sprinkle with salt.
  5. Serve with your favorite tortilla chips!

Suggestions:

Adding the avocado and salt at the end prevents the avocado from turning brown and the salt from leeching all the water from the watermelon creating a soupy texture.

*Adapted from Watermelon Salsa courtesy of Paula’s Pantry

Texas Caviar

I cannot take credit for the catchy name or the tasty combination of ingredients; I know quite a few home cooks who have their own version of this recipe on file! However, I can tell you how I make it as well as list a few unique ways to repurpose your leftovers!

Ingredients: Serves 10 – 12

  • 24 oz frozen corn, thawed
  • 1, 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 large jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 cup cilantro (loosely packed), chopped
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • juice from one lime
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp kosher salt (plus extra)
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper (plus extra)

Directions:

  1. Combine first seven ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk together the last six ingredients in a small bowl.
  3. Add the liquid to the corn mixture and toss to coat.
  4. Adjust seasoning to your personal taste preferences by adding additional salt and/or pepper..
  5. Let chill 2 – 3 hours, allowing flavors to develop.
  6. Serve with tortilla chips.

Leftovers:

IF you have them… consider the following (drain any liquid that accumulates first):

  • Add it to eggs in a scramble or a quiche, or use it in egg cups (search site for recipe).
  • Fold into corn bread batter to jazz up your corn muffins/corn bread.
  • Top grilled chicken or fish with a scoop.
  • Toss it with a green salad.

Jalapeño Poppers

Just in time for your Cinco de Mayo celebration!  Made a batch for a party we’re having tonight and knew I had to share this recipe ASAP so you too, could make ’em for your next fiesta! Olé!!

Ingredients: Makes 24 poppers

  • 12 large jalapeño, cut lengthwise and seeded
  • 8 oz softened cream cheese (1 block)
  • 1/3 cup shredded Mexican Blend cheese
  • 3 slices cooked bacon, chopped
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • sea salt

Directions:

  1. Blanch jalapeño halves in boiling water for 5 – 6 minutes (taking care to maintain their bright green color and crisp texture).  This will help decrease their spice/heat.
  2. Drain the water and submerge jalapeños in an ice bath to stop them from cooking.  Let sit for a few minutes, drain and gently pat dry.
  3. In a bowl, combine the cream cheese, Mexican Blend cheese and chopped bacon.
  4. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Prepare a cookie sheet with either a wire rack or a sheet of tinfoil.  Spray lightly with cooking spray.
  5. Using a small spoon, fill each jalapeño half with approximately 1 tbsp of filling.  If you have any left over, go back through and add more to each (it’s OK if they’re overflowing a bit).
  6. In a small pot, melt the butter over low/medium heat and add the Panko.  Stir to incorporate and allow the crumbs to brown just a bit.
  7. Top each popper with approximately 1 tsp of the Panko crumbs and press gently to make sure they “stick”.  Sprinkle each with sea salt.
  8. Bake for 15 – 18 minutes until crumbs are browned and filling is melty/bubbly. Serve immediately.

Suggestions:

  • Some like it hot… skip the blanching if you like a full flavor popper! You will have to increase the baking time by 5 minutes or so.
  • If you can’t find shredded Mexican Blend cheese, you can substitute cheddar or even Monterey Jack.
  • I make extra filling by adding another 4 oz of cream cheese, doubling the shredded cheese and adding another slice of bacon.  We spread this on toasted bagels the next day!!!

Mini Shepherds Pies

These tiny treasures were a big hit at our St. Patty’s Day party yesterday!  I took some time saving short cuts because I was busy making several other dishes from scratch, but none of my guests were the wiser!  Do your self a favor and don’t wait until next St. Patty’s Day to make them!

Ingredients: Makes 24 appetizer size pies

  • 1 lb ground beef (I used 85% lean)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • 1, 14 oz jar beef gravy
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas and carrots mixed
  • 1, 8 oz family size package instant mashed potatoes (I used roasted garlic flavored)
  • 3 thawed pre-made pie crusts at room temperature
  • cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Brown your ground beef in a skillet over medium heat, adding the garlic and onion powder as well as the thyme as it cooks.  Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Once browned, add the frozen peas and carrots and stir to incorporate.  Add the jar of gravy and mix well.  Allow the mixture to simmer for 10 minutes then cover and set aside off the heat.
  3. Prepare the instant mashed potatoes as directed on the package.  Set aside, covered.
  4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  5. On a floured surface, unwrap, unroll and roll out pie crust dough using a rolling pin.  Take care not to press too firmly or to roll the dough out to thin.
  6. Generously spray two standard sized 12-cup muffin tins with cooking spray. Using a jar or glass with a diameter that is larger than that of your muffin cups, cut out circles or “rounds” from the dough.  I can get about 8 from each pie crust, if I re-roll the “scraps” into a new sheet of dough.
  7. Gently press each pie round into a grease muffin cup.  They will not come up the sides completely and that is ok.  Bake for 6-8 minutes until they begin to brown.
  8. Remove mini pie crusts from the oven and let cool for a few minutes.  Uncover the meat mixture and the potatoes.  Everything will still be warm so take care while building each mini pie.
  9. Carefully remove each mini pie crust using your fingers and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet.  Fill each with approximately 1 – 2 tbsp of the meat mixture.  Follow by topping each with 1 – 2 tbsp of mashed potatoes.  Pop the cookie sheet into the oven for 6 – 8 minutes allowing the crust to finish baking and the potatoes to develop a slight crust.
  10. Let cool only a few minutes before serving, as these are best served warm!

Suggestions:

  • Use left over gravy or make your own using beef stock.
  • Same goes with the potatoes… I’d say you need approximately 2 lbs worth.
  • I had left over meat and potatoes after this recipe and probably could have made another 8 – 12 mimi pies (if I had defrosted another pie crust), but I wasn’t prepared!  So instead, I assembled a small shepherds pie sans crust in a casserole dish which I froze for another time!
  • Lastly, I made these ahead of time, stored them at room temp and then popped them in a warm over for 5 minutes when my guests arrived to heat them back up.  worked like a charm!

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Why buy hummus when homemade hummus tastes sooooo much better?!

Ingredients:  Makes enough to feed a crowd!

  • 1, 15 oz can chickpeas, drained
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • good olive oil (approximately 1/4 – 1/2 cup)
  • warm water
  • 6 oz roasted red peppers in oil, drained

Directions:

  1. In your food processor, pulse together the chickpeas, tahini, garlic and salt until broken down and combined.  Mixture will appear crumbly and a bit dry.
  2. Turn food processor on.  Start adding/alternating amounts of oil and warm water (about 2 tbsp at a time) through the feeder tube, until mixture is well combined and at your desired consistency.
  3. Finally, add and pulse the roasted red peppers until incorporated.
  4. Serve with your favorite pita chips and sliced veggies or smear on your next sandwich or bun!

Suggestions:

This recipe is more a set of guidelines… making hummus can be very personal, lol!  For example, the amount of garlic and salt can be adjusted based on your preferences.  In addition, you can sub almost anything for roasted red peppers creating your own unique flavor. Consider the following…

  • olives (salty)
  • artichokes (smooth)
  • carrots (sweet)
  • beets (earthy)
  • spice (is nice!)