hmp: small plates (part two)

Here it is, part two of our small plates dinner.  I have to say, Todd and I are feeling quite proud of the outcome.  The food was delicious and we were also feeling good about making everything ourselves.  There’s something really satisfying about putting together a meal from scratch.

Now, without further ado, I present to you our menu:

Green Bean Bacon Bundles

Black Bean Hummus with Homemade Pita Chips

BBQ Pulled Pork Empanadas with Salsa Verde

Mini White Bean Quinoa Burgers

Apricot Bites

Baked Churros with Dulce de Leche

*Since we followed most of the recipes exactly, I’m only posting the original recipes here.  All others are linked so you can try them too!

First up, Green Bean Bacon Bundles.  I was planning to make something with asparagus but when I saw these on How Sweet It Is, I knew I had to make them.  Green beans are the one vegetable that I absolutely love and with bacon, butter and brown sugar?  Winning combination.

Todd put those together, they look good, don’t they?

He also made one of his specialties, Black Bean Hummus with Homemade Pita Chips.  I once came home from work and Todd had made this exact same dish as an appetizer.  Ten minuets later, the hummus was almost gone and the pita chips suffered a similar fate.  The hummus has a little kick to it and the pita chips are so good freshly crisped in the oven.

We love pulled pork but wanted to put a different twise on it so Todd made our tried and true BBQ Pulled Pork recipe and then I got to work turning it into empanadas. 

Since we had a lot going on in the kitchen (as you can see) I opted to use refrigerated pie crusts dough instead of making my own.  Empanadas are so easy and delicious, you just take the dough and stuff them with whatever you one.  Some of my favorites are stuffed with sweet corn, que ricas!

The empanadas were baked at 375° for about 20-25 minutes then topped with homemade Salsa Verde.  I love pulled pork – I had quite a bit while I was stuffing the empanadas and these came out quite delicious.  I always love things wrapped in bread and empanadas are a real favorite.

Now the Mini White Bean Quinoa Burgers are my own recipe inspired by an incredibly delicious  burger I had last week at The Green Well.

Mini White Quinoa Burgers

1 can (16 oz.) Great Northern Beans

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup quinoa, uncooked

1/3 cup plain bread crumbs

5 tablespoons liquid egg whites

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

Olive oil

In a small pan, bring 1/2 cup water to boil, add quinoa.  Cook for 12 minutes or until water is absorbed. Fluff, let stand for 15 minutes.  Open beans, then drain and rinse in a strainer. Place beans in a large bowl and mash.  When beans are well mashed, leaving only a few whole beans, add quinoa, bread crumbs, liquid egg whites and spices.  When the mixture is well combined, form small (approx. 2″) patties.

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.  When hot, add patties and cook, covered, about 5 minutes or until the bottoms are brown.  Flip patties and repeat until both sides are brown and the patties are cooked through.

Serve patties on “buns” – we used a drinking glass to make mini buns out of regular whole wheat bread, toasted.  Top as you please.  We chose homemade BBQ sauce and sharp white cheddar.

Of course we also had the Apricot Bites and Churros that I told you about in part one of the small plates post.

Yup, the apricot bites were tangy and delicious and the churros were just as good tonight as they were in the test batch.

I hope you enjoyed reading about our small plates dinner as much as we did preparing and eating it!

What do you love to serve for guests?

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hmp: small plates (part one)

When I woke up from my second nap yesterday Todd and I got to work prepping some dishes for tonight’s dinner with my parents and brother.  Since we’ll have just less than an hour and a half after work before they come over we thought it would be a good idea to do what we could ahead of time.

As we were planning the menu for tonight’s meal we tossed around a few different ideas: barbecue, all appetizers, tapas.  Finally we settled on a fusion of all three, a small plates dinner.

Small plates are one of my favorite things because I hate making decisions.  I’m always torn when ordering at restaurants then I make my selection at the last second, as the waitress’ patience is wearing thin.  I’m excited to offer my family a variety of options this evening.

First on the menu are Apricot Bites based on a recipe from Sandy at The Reluctant Entertainer.  If you don’t read her blog, check it out.  She’s doing a series on summer entertaining right now that’s really interesting and informative.  Check it out!

 

I slightly altered the recipe, using honey goat cheese instead of goat cheese and honey.  Also, I left out the milk but that was mainly because I somehow missed the step.  My cheese spread fine with a little coaxing but I’d recommend trying them with milk for easier spreadability.

I refused to tell my family exactly what we’re having so I’ll save the photos of the finished product for later.

I also prepped the dough for dessert.  For some reason I had it in my head that dessert was going to be churros.  Churros were the only thing that would do.

If you’ve never had churros, you should try them.  For me, they bring back memories of a family vacation to Disneyworld, where they serve them in the Mexico section of Epcot Center, and of Barcelona where they’re served with the most delicious, rich, thick hot chocolate – it is the most perfect dish for a chocoholic like me.

Anyways, I decided to make churros, which are usually fried.  I was able to find a recipe for baked churros on Cooking With My Kids.  Sorry vegans, this recipe is full of eggs – do they make some kind of egg subsititute so you can enjoy the deliciousness that’s churros too?

The churro batter whipped up nice and thick and I decided that I should bake a few, just to make sure they were good enough to serve.

After baking a few churros and coating them with cinnamon sugar, I can promise you that these churros were worth making.  They were delicious, like little baked doughnut sticks.

As an added bonus, my friend Mary-Catheryn will soon be launching her own homemade dulce de leche company, Catarina.  I’ve been lucky enough to eat lots of dulce de leche in my time and this stuff is the real deal.  It is the best dulce de leche I’ve ever had stateside (and maybe abroad too).  I promise to let you know when she’s officially open for business.  You will want to buy this stuff by the boatload and slather it onto mostly everything you eat: bread, ice cream, bananas, any and everything.  The you’ll want to bake it into cookies or cupcakes and make one dish dessert with meringue drops and strawberries and top it with her dulce.  And then, since too much dulce could never be enough, you’ll want to eat it by the spoonful.

I highly recommend all of the aforementioned methods of eating Catarina dulce de leche.

Doesn’t that look tasty?

They didn’t last long.

Not long at all.

I can’t wait to share these foods with the family and I have more small plates to tell you about so stay tuned to see what’s on our menu for tonight.

Do you have a heard time choosing one thing for dinner?

What are some of your favorite dishes for entertaining?

hmp – guacamole

While guacamole isn’t a meal in and of itself, it could be with the right chips to dip into it.  Because of that, I’m including it in the Homemade Meal Project.  Plus it’s one of those foods that’s easy to just buy off the shelf but not much harder to make at home.  The result of a homemade guacamole recipe are always delicious.

Guacamole

1 large ripe avocado (ripe avocado give when you lightly squeeze them)

1/4 cup of salsa

2 teaspoons lime juice

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

dash ground chipotle

dash salt

Cut avocado in half, lengthwise and twist to separate halves.  Using a spoon separate the avocado’s fruit from the peel discarding the pit.  Place in medium bowl.  Add lime juice, garlic powder, chipotle and salt.  Mash the ingredients together using a fork or spoon, mixing well.

Enjoy!

To store, cover guacamole with plastic wrap making sure that the plastic makes contact with the guacamole in order to prevent browning.

Now wasn’t that easy?

My guacamole took on a brownish tinge right away because of the salsa.  To avoid this try adding fresh tomato, onion and jalapeño instead of salsa.

Now, I mentioned that guacamole isn’t a meal all by its lonesome but don’t worry, we didn’t eat this on its own.  Stay tuned for the very first guest post on Pomelo Sunshine to hear what we had for dinner tonight.

Do you buy your guacamole or make it at home?

What do you like to top with guac?

hmp: lemon fresh summer pasta

This morning I woke up bright and early to make it to a 6:00 am yoga class.  For once I didn’t hit snooze (well, maybe once or twice) and actually got up to go to the class.  It was so nice to have my workout done by 7:00 am and I even squeezed in a little nap before getting ready for work.

Since my workout was done before work, I got to come right home and had plenty of time to make a real dinner.  I decided to make a light pasta dish which I’m calling Lemon Fresh Summer Pasta.  I was inspired by and almost completely followed/referred to a recipe for Sweet Corn Pasta from Baked Bree.

Without further ado, here’s the adapted recipe for this delicious, light, fresh summer pasta:

Lemon Fresh Summer Pasta

6 oz. (1/2 bag) lemon chive fettucine

2 ears of fresh corn

2 cloves garlic

1 T. + 1/4 cup olive oil

1/3 cup chopped of fresh basil, parsley and oregano blend

Juice of one lemon

1 Tablespoon lemon zest

A block of Parmesan cheese

Soak corn in water then grill the ears in their husks later exposing them to slightly char the kernels.

While the corn cooks, heat 1 T. olive oil in a pan then add garlic, cooking and turning it until golden brown.  Cook pasta.

Remove kernels from the cobs and place them in a medium size bowl.  Add remaining olive oil, herbs, lemon juice and cooked garlic.  Zest lemon over the mixture and then stir to combine all ingredients.

When pasta is cooked, place in serving bowl.  Top with olive oil/corn mixture.  Toss all ingredients together and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

We had our pasta with chicken breasts for a kick of protein and ciabatta bread and it was so good.  Neither of us felt overly full like we sometimes do when we have pasta and the lemon just gives it such a refreshing taste.  The lemon chive pasta was really good but if you can’t find it, you can use any long noodle or really any pasta you like.

This meal will definitely be making another appearance on our table.

As a bonus, it was the first time I used our new pasta pot for two, one of our serving bowls, our brand new box grater and our mini prep bowls.  New tools making cooking even more fun!

I’m really going to try to do more morning workouts.  This summer I’ll be working earlier, think 7:00am so it will be a good transition into that.  The mornings won’t feel so early if I’m used to getting up anyways, right?

Do you workout in the morning?

How do you lighten up pasta (or other dishes) for summer?

hmp: spinach goat cheese turkey burgers

It was such a beautiful day today that I knew it was the right day to break out our new grill at the apartment.  We thought that turkey burgers would be the perfect option.  After looking through a bunch of recipes online I decided that we should try Spinach Goat Cheese Turkey Burgers.

The recipe is very simple and adapted from Allrecipes.com

Spinach Goat Cheese Turkey Burgers (Yields 4 burgers)

1 1/4 lbs. lean ground turkey

5 ounces (1/2 box) frozen chopped spinach

2 ounces plain goat cheese crumbles

1 T. no salt added garlic and herb seasoning mix

4 Deli Thins or Slimwich buns

Thaw spinach and remove excess water by squeezing by hand and/or between paper towels.

Mix together turkey, goat cheese and spinach and sprinkle seasoning mix on top.  Mix together by hand to combine ingredients and distribute seasoning.

Form well-packed patties.

Grill patties for approximately 15 minutes until they are cooked through, flipping once – or more as needed.

Serve patties on buns.

For us, the burgers alone were perfectly moist and delicious but if you’d like you can dress them up with a sauce – maybe pesto, tomato bruschetta or even spicy mustard or barbecue sauce – whatever you like.

What is your favorite non-beef burger to make?

What’s your favorite grilled food?

hmp: grilled cheddar and apple

After my return to work which was largely uneventful, I ran to the store to pick up a few groceries.  Since our apartment is still a pigsty work in progress we decided that we should keep it simple and focus on organizing the apartment.  Plus, Todd was in the middle of building some of our new furniture including a beautiful new wine bar that we bought for additional storage.

After we started to move in we quickly realized that while our cupboards are full of dishes and other wonderful things that we didn’t have any room for food in the cupboards so we also bought a big wire rack that’s doubling as storage and a pantry and will eventually house our microwave.

After putting a few things away I got to work in our new kitchen for the first time.  For our first dinner in our new home, I turned to an old favorite – grilled cheese.  With less ingredients than I can count on my hand, it was the perfect choice for a simple, quick supper.  I started with the basics an then added my favorite secret ingredient for grilled cheese sandwiches – granny smith apple slices.

Apples with cheese is one of my favorite combos.  I like to slice the apples thin and sandwich them in between slices of cheese so they stick in the bread nicely when you grilled them up.

I snacked on another favorite apple combo while the sandwiches were cooking.

Apples and peanut butter used to be a Sunday night staple at our house growing up.  I think we need to reinstate that tradition.  I love the sweet saltiness of the peanut butter combined with the tartness of the apples.  Yum!

As if that wasn’t good enough, Todd and I had our grilled cheese ready a few minutes later (his minus the apple) and enjoyed them in the sun out on the deck.

Look at all of that gooey, melty cheese!

How do you like your grilled cheese sandwiches?

Do you add anything to make them special or are you a traditionalist?

hmp: mini frittatas

Life in the final days before a wedding is crazy.  It’s a constant to-do list of counting, planning, organizing, informing and confirming.  I’m not complaining though.  I’ve truly loved the wedding planning process and would do it all over again in a heartbeat.  Maybe event planning is in my future…

Between the 100 phone calls I’ve made this week I managed to cook up some tasty frittatas.  Correction – I bought the ingredients but Todd mixed up the tasty frittatas and I supervised the baking process.  Todd has really become quite the chef in the last few months.

We based our recipe on Kelly’s Mini Italian Frittata recipe and man did they turn out well.

Mini Frittatas

3 slices bacon, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup whole wheat flour

1-1/2 cups fat-free milk

2 eggs

4 egg whites

1 orange bell pepper, diced

1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1 cup shredded colby cheese

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

In a small nonstick skillet, cook garlic. Remove from the heat; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk flour and milk until smooth; whisk in the egg whites and eggs until blended. Stir in the garlic, orange bell pepper, bacon, cheeses, salt and pepper

Coat muffin cups with cooking spray; fill with egg mixture.

Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Carefully run a knife around edges to loosen; remove from pan. Serve warm. 

Yield: 1 dozen regular muffin-sized or 48 bite-sized frittatas.

These little frittatas are so delicious, they’re like a mini omelet and a great way to keep prepared protein on hand.  I have a hard time fitting protein into my to-go meals because I don’t really like lunch meat and don’t usually have time to cook meat or eggs before work.  I’ve brought these to work for lunch the last two days and they heat up really nicely in the microwave.  The recipe is a great one to adapt to your own tastes, just use the egg base with whatever veggies, meats or cheeses that you like.

Enjoy!

What are your favorite egg/omelet ingredients?

How do you fit protein into the meals you don’t eat at home or at a restaurant?