Mediterranean Salsa

Mediterranean SalsaI know southern Californians are spoiled when it comes to weather, and I know people don’t have a lot of sympathy for us when we complain about it, BUT…this heat is ridiculous!! Come on, 93 degrees in October!! I am dying to cook some yummy, cozy, warming fall dinners, but I can not get motivated when it is so darn hot out.

So, while I pine away for fall weather, here is the Mediterranean salsa recipe that I promised in my last post. It goes great with my Grilled Mediterranean Meatballs. It would also pair really well with chicken, fish, or just as an appetizer with pita chips or tortilla chips. I kept this version pretty simple because I didn’t want to take away from the flavor of the meatballs, but if you added a little crumbled feta, chopped kalamata olives, or both…it would be delicious! Try it as a topping on some crostini and you would have an awesome bruschetta!

Mediterranean meatballs with salsaMediterranean Salsa

For a printable version of this recipe, click here

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 medium sized tomatoes of choice, seeded and chopped (I used a couple heirloom and a couple roma)
  • 1 hothouse cucumber, seeded and diced (cut in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds with a small spoon)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion (about 1/4 of a red onion)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • a mix of chopped fresh parsley and basil (about 1/3 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons of good olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
  • fresh ground pepper and kosher salt to taste

Optional add-ins:

  • crumbled feta cheese (this is great if you are serving it as a dip for pita chips!!)
  • chopped kalamata olives
  • diced avocado

Directions:

Combine all of the ingredients and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

 

 

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Sweet and Savory Corn Cakes

Who says pancakes have to be for breakfast?IMG_1216

I’m sure you have all been chomping at the bit waiting for me to post my corn cake recipe, right? Well, here it is! (Ok…I get that most of the world doesn’t care about food quite as much as I do, but I like to think that you all love getting Juicy Bites in your in box! :))

These are the little corn cakes that I made and topped with my Tomatilla and Avocado Relish as an appetizer for a party. I also served them for dinner for my family and topped them with black beans and cheese. Sort of like a tostada but with a corn cake instead of a tortilla.

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They were perfect little party food bites and they were a hit with my family at the dinner table. I think they would also be great served for breakfast or brunch topped with eggs and served with bacon…yum! A little crumbled bacon thrown in the batter wouldn’t hurt at all either.

IMG_1255I used a mix of Masa (a Mexican corn flour found with the other flours), all purpose flour, and corn meal. They had a nice texture with that mix and the scallions and green chilies gave them great flavor. Masa is also a great ingredient to thicken Mexican soups or chilies, or make to your own corn tortillas. But if all you use if for is these pancakes, it’s still worth it!  I added a little honey for a touch of sweetness, but you could increase the honey by another tablespoon or 2 if you were making these for breakfast dish.

IMG_1207Topped with black beans, jack cheese, and the tomatillo and avocado relish, these were a perfect main coarse and my family loved them.

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You could be creative with toppings…if you have any yummy ideas, please send them my way!

Sweet and Savory Corn Cakes

This makes about a dozen dinner sized cakes or about 30 appetizer cakes

Ingredients

  • ½ cup of all purpose flour
  • ½ cup masa harina
  • ½ cup corn meal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½  teaspoon baking soda
  • ½  teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¼  cups buttermilk
  • ¼  cup melted butter (1/2 stick)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablspoons honey
  • 8 scallions, trimmed, white and green portions thinly sliced
  • 1 ½ cups sweet corn (frozen is fine, just thaw first)
  • 2 green chilies (like Ortega canned green chilies) seeded and chopped small
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Directions

1. Combine the flour, cornmeal,  masa harina, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl, stirring well. Set aside.

2. Using a food processor, pulse the corn several times until it is coarsely chopped.

3. Combine the buttermilk, butter, egg, and honey in a second, smaller bowl, whisking together. Add the corn, scallions, and chilies and mix well.

 4. Using as few strokes as possible, stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture until the two are barely smoothed out.

5. Heat a non stick pan with about a tablespoon of oil. When it’s hot, ladle on the batter; using a ¼-cup ladle will yield about 12 good-size pancakes.

Optional Serving Idea:

Top warm corn cake with black beans, shredded cheese, and salsa of your choice. Garnish with sour cream and cilantro.

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Game Day Snacks

Need a creative and delicious Super Bowl appetizer idea?

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Super Bowl is a big deal to the men/boys in my house. They are slightly football obsessed. They are also thrilled to see the 49ers beat play against the Ravens. While I am not quite as into the actual football part of the Super Bowl, I am very into the food part! I love appetizers and grazing on bites of this and that (and when I say grazing, I mean pigging out). Not sure just yet what appetizer I will be bringing on Sunday, but it may be one of these…

Mediterranean Layer Dip

greek dip close up

This delicious dip has layers of hummus, Greek yogurt, kalamata olives, and more! Serve it with pita chips or baguette slices. It will be a hit for sure! See the full post and recipe here.  This is a great dish to make ahead and it’s perfect if you need something to bring to a party.

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Mini Sweet Peppers Stuffed with Ricotta, Spinach, and Pancetta

stuffed peppers

These little sweet peppers are loaded with yumminess (Is that a word? If not…it should be!). You can stuff these ahead of time and and bake them just before you are ready to eat them. See the full recipe here (scroll down to the bottom of the post for the recipe).

Broccoli, Mushroom, and Prosciutto Empanadas

Empanadas are a great finger food. You can find the full post and recipe for these Italian style empanadas here. I also have a post for Chicken and Roasted Green Chili Empanadas. That one is my husband’s favorite!

While I’m at it…I should mention a few of the recipes from some of my favorite food blogs that I have been wanting to make. Any of these would make a perfect Super Bowl appetizer!

Putney Farm with their genius post on Grilled Cheese Pull-Aparts:

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Little Leopard Book with these Mini Buffalo Chicken Pot Pies:

mini tarts, mini buffalo chicken pot pies, buffalo chicken pot pie, mini chicken pot pies, buffalo chicken recipes, food, recipes, snack food, game day food, pie dough recipe

How about this White Kidney Bean Dip with Herbs & Artichokes from In Pursuit of More.  Healthy AND delicious!

Whatever you end up doing on Super Bowl Sunday, I hope it includes some juicy bites! Do you have a must-eat appetizer for Super Bowl? Please share!


Hummus

This is my basic recipe for a simple hummus. I make it often because my family loves it. I have never been a big fan of store bought hummus because it usually has a lot of cumin added and I don’t care for the flavor.  This recipe is can be used as a base to spice up how ever you want. It would be great with chopped olives or roasted red pepper blended in, or just some fresh chopped herbs. Hummus is good for so many things…on sandwiches, spread on bagels for breakfast, served with veggies and pita triangles for a healthy lunch (one of my 8 year old’s favorite lunches). In the summer we like to have Greek night with chicken breasts grilled with Mediterranean herbs, grilled veggies, hummus and tzatziki with warm pitas. I will post it next time we have it! Hummus is also the first layer of my Mediterranean Layer Dip…so yummy!

Tahini can be found in most grocery stores in the Middle Eastern food section. Make sure you stir it well because the oil separates from the paste like natural peanut butter does.

Hummus

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of garbanzo beans
  • 3 tablespoons of tahini paste
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • juice of one lemon
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Drain the garbanzo beans and reserve the liquid Put the drained beans, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of the reserved liquid and the olive oil in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until well blended, scraping down the sides as needed.  If it is too thick, add a little of the reserved liquid from the beans 1 tablespoon at a time until it is at your desired consistency. For a little something to spice it up…add a couple dashes of Tabasco Sauce. This keeps in a covered container for about a week…but if your family is anything like mine, it will be gone quickly.


My “Mad Greek” Dip

With summer just around the corner, this simple make-ahead dip will be a great addition to your appetizer arsenal. It is the same idea behind your typical Mexican 7 layer dip…only with Mediterranean flavors. It goes great with pita chips and would also be fabulous spread onto a slices of baguette that have been drizzled with garlic olive oil and toasted a bit. There is a lot going on, but the flavors all work really well together. For those of you that are Trader Joe’s shoppers, you can pretty much get everything you need for this there.

I started with a layer of hummus at the bottom of my dish. You can use your favorite store bought hummus or make your own. I like to make my own…click here for my hummus recipe.

Then I add a layer of Trader Joe’s Cilantro and Chive Yogurt Dip (I know…I put this stuff in everything!!)

Then comes the diced cucumber…

Diced tomatoes…

Chopped Kalamata olives and crumbled feta cheese…

Then comes the chopped red onions, parsley, and toasted pine nuts…

So many good flavors together! Bring this dip to a summer barbeque and people will think you are a rock star 🙂

Mediterranean Layer Dip

Ingredients:

  • Home-made or store bought hummus (about an 8-12 ounce container)
  • One container of Trader Joe’s Cilantro and Chive Yogurt Dip or  8 ounces low fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 English Cucumber, seeded and diced
  • 2-3 vine ripened tomatoes, chopped
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 cup Pitted Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion chopped small
  • 1 six ounce container of crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/3 cup fresh chopped Italian parsley
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts

To Assemble:

Spread the hummus in an even layer at the bottom of your dish. Next, add the layer of yogurt dip or Greek yogurt using the back of a spatula to spread evenly. Next, layer the cucumber and tomato, then evenly season with a sprinkle of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Next, layer on the olives, feta, parsley and pine nuts. If not serving right away, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. This feeds a crowd, so cut the recipe in half if you want to make a small appetizer.


Empanadas!!

I LOVE empanadas. They are a great party food and the possibilities of fillings are endless. Not too long ago I discovered how easy they are to make and now I love experimenting with different types of fillings. Last night I was craving one of my famous  margaritas (well…famous amongst my friends anyway) and thought a batch of empanadas  would be the perfect compliment. A good “Thank God It’s Friday” kind of dinner. I decided to go with a Mexican-ish filling to compliment the Margaritas (the margs will have to be another post!). These have shredded chicken in a creamy sauce made with roasted green chilies, shredded jack cheese, and some black olives. They were DELISH! We just polished off a few for breakfast and I think they tasted even better than they did last night.

I am no pastry chef so for the empadada dough, I use a store bought “Criolla” or empadada shell made by La Saltena. It took me a while to find these but after some searching I found a little Argentinian market in Laguna Hills that sells them. It’s called Villa Roma Market and Deli and it’s a great resource for latin foods. They also sell empadadas in their deli that they make fresh…but you KNOW you want to make them yourself!! The La Saltena shells come in a few different styles. I think the best ones are the these:

They are all in Spanish so it took me a while to figure out which ones to buy! These are “para Horno” or “for the oven” (verses the kind that are for deep frying). You buy them frozen so I just stock up on a few packs and keep them around for when I’m in the mood to make them. If you can’t find empanada wrappers you could use puff pastry but it’s not quite the same. Some day I will conquer my fear of pastry and make them from scratch, but for now…I’m sticking with these.

For the chicken I poached 2 boneless skinless breasts. I prefer to use bone-in breasts but could not find organic ones (I just watched Food Inc. the other night and have pretty much sworn off non-organic chicken). For the chilies I roasted a few Anaheim chilies (these are a really mild green chili) but to save time you can use a can of Ortega green chilies. If you use canned, buy the ones with the whole chili so you can take the seeds out. The diced have the seeds all mixed in. To roast them yourself just put your oven rack close to the broiler and broil then until they they blister and blacken all over then you put them in a covered bowl or wrap in foil to steam a bit. Once they have cooled you can remove the skins easily and take the seeds out. I kept these mild for the kids, but if you want them  spicy feel free to add more jalapeno or serrano for some added heat. The filling for these empanadas would make a great filling for enchiladas!

I served these with some sour cream and a really simple and yummy green salsa that I made and will post soon. We also had beans and rice on the side to round out the meal.

   

Chicken and Roasted Green Chili Empanadas

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of shredded cooked chicken (about 2 chicken breasts)
  • 3 Anaheim chilies (roasted, peeled, and seeded) OR one can of Whole Ortega Green Chilies with the seeds removed
  • 1 jalapeno chile (roasted, peeled and seeded)
  • a handful of cilantro
  • a couple of shakes of green Tabasco sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of sour cream
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  •  2 garlic cloves, minced
  • olive or veggie oil
  • 1 teaspoon of flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • salt and pepper
  • 8 ounces shredded jack cheese
  • 4 oz can of sliced black olives
  • 1 pack empadada wrappers
  • 1 beaten egg (for an egg wash to give a nice golden color)

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees

In a food processor or blender, blend the roasted chilies, jalapeno, cilantro, green Tabasco, cream cheese and sour cream until smooth and creamy. In a medium frying pan, saute the onion in some olive oil until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook another couple of minutes. Add the flour and stir well to coat the onion and garlic. Add the chicken stock, mix well and bring to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes to thicken. Add the shredded chicken and creamy chili mixture to the onions and stir well to combine. Salt and pepper to taste and turn off the heat. Don’t be shy with the salt…you need at least a teaspoon, just add and taste to get it just right. Let the chicken mixture cool a while and set up your empanada making station. This would be fun to do with friends! You need a lightly floured cutting board to assemble them. Lay out a couple of shells, put a spoon full of the chicken in the center, add a little cheese and a few olives and fold in half. You can either do the traditional pinch and fold method or the fork press method to close. I love the way the look with the pinch/fold closure. Be careful not to over stuff. Put them on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper and brush with the beaten egg. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. Give them a while to cool and serve!