Monster Party Dip

Monster Party Dip

Party time again! This time for my adorable nephew’s 1st birthday, he had a monster theme and I was in charge of an appetizer. I went with a family favorite and old stand by, Spinach Dip but you could add any dip to this cute hollowed out bread bowl.

For the eyes I used toothpicks covered with asparagus stalks then topped them with mushroom caps and inserted black olives into the cap.

Monster Party Dip

For the mouth I cut a red pepper into a tounge and used carrot sticks for the teeth.

Monster Party Dip

and for the arms and feet I used chunks of a separate round loaf of bread and uses the asparagus tips for fingers and toes gut from a radish on his legs. I attached them with toothpicks as well.

Monster Party Dip

 

I think it was a great addition to the Monster Party!

Monster Party Dip

 

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Greek Pasta Casserole

Greek Pasta

 

Think of this as a Greek Bolognese Sauce, it is a hearty and comforting dish. I served it with a salad of lettuce, radishes and beets and toasted pita with garlic.

Greek Pasta Casserole

16 oz of cooked pasta ( I used rigatoni)

1 lb ground Turkey (you could use lamb, beef or chicken)

1 can diced tomatoes (Undrained)

2 c chopped fresh spinach

2 T greek seasoning

2 cloves garlic chopped

2 T red wine vinegar

1 c cream

1 c crumbled feta

1 c mozzarella cheese

in a large skillet saute ground turkey until no longer pink, add 1 T greek seasoning, garlic, and spinach, cook over med until spinach is wilted and add tomatoes and vinegar.

Greek Pasta

Mix together with drained pasta and add to a large 9×12 baking dish. Add cream and feta and mozzarella cheese and remaining Greek Seasoning.

Greek Pasta

 

Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally so pasta on top doesn’t get dry. Sauce will thicken and cheese will melt.

Greek Pasta

Greek Pasta

 

 

 

Chicken with Citrus Bernaise and Wilted Spinach

 

 

I am a foodie, I love to make my own sauces and purees but I have a weakness, powdered Bernaise sauce. Don’t judge, I have tried making my own, it was good (and much more difficult) but when I crave Bernaise I want the Knorr green, red, and yellow packet.  I was shopping in Publix the other day and heard over the loudspeaker that the Aprons lady was making some kind of fish with a Citrus Bernaise.  Sounds delicious, I thought, so I changed up my menu a little to include it. I always have packet in the pantry as well as some sort of citrus in the fruit bowl. Here is what I came up with…

Chicken with Citrus Bernaise Sauce and Wilted Spinach

For the chicken

2 T olive oil

2 T lemon juice

1 t salt

1/4 t black pepper

1/2 t dried thyme

Mix together pour into a large zip lock bag  and add 4 – 6 chicken cutlets. Seal and refrigerate 30 min to 2 hours. Grill over medium high about 5 min per side depending on thickness ( alway check temp with a meat thermometer to ensure doneness).

Citrus Bernaise

1 package Knorr Bernaise Sauce mix

1 c milk

6 T butter

1T Orange Juice

1/2 T lemon juice

1/2 t zest from orange and lemon

fresh parsley (if desired)

Follow Bernaise sauce directions, then add juices and zest stir and cook about 2-3 minutes over low, add chopped fresh parsley if desired.

Wilted Spinach

1 T olive oil

2 bags washed baby spinach

1 t garlic

salt and pepper

heat oil in a large skillet over med high,

add spinach and garlic and cook over low heat, stirring constantly until spinach is just wilted. Remove from heat, do not over cook.

Wilted Spinach

Place spinach on plate, top with grilled chicken and ladle Bernaise sauce over top.

Chicken with Citrus Bernaise and Wilted Spinach

 

** This would be great with grill fish as well

Chicken and Cheese Fondue Sandwiches

Chicken and Cheese Fondue Sandwiches

 

I love pretzels and cheese fondue, ok I love cheese fondue with everything. I would eat cheese fondue for dinner every night but let’s admit it that is really an appetizer. So how to make it into a real dinner….. I will put it on a sandwich, and add some healthier things and hey, its dinner. So I put fondue, chicken, apples, and spinach on a pretzel roll and voila dinner is served. I made my own pretzel rolls because I like to set myself up to fail. I am not a baker, in fact I hate it and I am not very good at it either. I had to make a second batch because the first batch looked like a dog had chewed on all my rolls. The second batch was slightly better and tasted great but from now on these will be an item I get from my bakery.

Chicken and Cheese Fondue Sandwiches

4 large or 8 small pretzel rolls

4  thinly sliced chicken cutlets

1/2 t thyme

1/2 t nutmeg

1T oil

1 apple sliced thin

1 c  fresh baby spinach

2 oz goat cheese

1 c shredded cheddar cheese

1/8 c flour

1 t chopped garlic

1 c white wine, beer or water

Sprinkle the chicken cutlets with the thyme and nutmeg. Heat oil in a skillet and cook chicken for about 3 minutes per side, or until cooked through and no longer pink. Cover with foil and set aside. Add garlic and wine/beer/water to a small sauce pan, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Toss flour with shredded cheese to coat, add to sauce pan with goat cheese and whisk over med.heat until melted and well combined, turn heat to low.

Goat Cheese and Cheddar Fondue

Slice rolls and add chicken spinach and sliced apples, spoon fondue on top and serve. If fondue gets too thick, turn heat up and stir until melted.

I think they were great without the chicken too, so they would be a good vegetarian option.

Chicken and Cheese Fondue Sandwiches

Warm Apple, Bacon, and Spinach Salad

 

 

This is an easy and quick side dish or weeknight meal that captures the season’s flavors.

Warm Apple, Bacon, and Spinach Salad

5 slices of bacon chopped into 1″ pieces

1/4 c chopped onion

1 apple, chopped into bite sized pieces ( I left the skin on)

2 T apple cider vinegar

2 t honey

6 c fresh spinach

1/4 c pepitas (roasted and salted pumpkin seeds)

In a large fry pan, cook bacon over med high, add onions and cook until crisp, add apples and cook for 2 min, add honey and vinegar until heated through ( if you bacon is very fatty drain off all but 2 T fat before adding the honey and vinegar)

 

Add warm apple mixture to spinach toss and sprinkle with pepitas and serve.

60 is Nifty! A Birthday Party and Stuffed Mushrooms

My mom turned 60 last week so my siblings and I, there are a lot of them, threw her a birthday party.  As it has become tradition for milestone birthdays, I made her a slide show of pictures throughout her life, teamed it up with some of her favorite songs and showed it during the party . It’s on DVD so she will have it as a take home souvenir. My sisters and I did the decorations. I am not one for the typical black and gloomy, over the hill type parties so we went for a festive and colorful look. We made lots of tissue flower bouquets.

To make, take large sheets of tissue paper and cut into fourths. stack 6-8 sheets of the cut paper together and accordion fold the short side. wrap a pipe cleaner around the middle tightly and cut the ends into a scallop or point. then gently pull each piece of tissue apart until it looks like a flower.

Here’s a tutorial  since I forgot to take pictures of the process: http://www.firstpalette.com/Craft_themes/Nature/mexicantissuepaperflowers/mexicantissuepaperflowers.html 

We also made large tissue pom, pom flowers to hang on the porch, with some white twinkle lights. Here is the tutorial for the pom poms http://www.marthastewart.com/how-to/tissue-paper-pom-poms-how-to

So everyone could share their well wishes and memories for the birthday girl, I cut a large 60 out of cardboard and spray painted it (colored poster board would work as well)

and had bright colored post it notes and a pen so guest could write on them. I am using the post it notes and the pictures of her party to make a scrapbook for my mom.

Everyone pitched in for food and drinks, my sister-in-law made a gorgeous “sunflower” from mini cup cakes, an 8″ round cake and blackberries

60 IS NIFTY! A BIRTHDAY PARTY

There was lots of great food. One of my contributions was stuffed mushrooms

Stuffed Mushrooms:

2 pints whole mushrooms, stems removed and saved

1 T oil

1 c chopped onion

1c mushroom stems chopped

1 cup chopped spinach (I used fresh)

1 t salt

1/2 t pepper

1/4 c white wine

1 block cream cheese softened

1/4 c panko bread crumbs

1/4 c parmesan cheese grated

In a large pan heat oil and saute onion, and chopped mushroom stems until soft, add spinach and saute until wilted. add salt and pepper and white wine, bring to boil and reduce heat to low, simmer for 5 min.remove from heat.

add cream cheese, bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and cooled onion mixture to a food processor and puree.

Toss mushroom caps with olive oil and stuff with cheese mixture, bake in a preheated oven, 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes depending on size of mushrooms. Serve.

Happy Birthday Mom! and thank you to everyone who made the party a success.

Blueberry and Cucumber Salad with Lime and Ginger Dressing

This healthy and  refreshing Summer salad is punched up with a zip of lime. Delicious as a side to any dinner or add grilled chicken to make this the entrée.

2 c fresh spinach washed and torn into bite sized pieces

2 c romaine washed and torn into bite sized pieces

1 c fresh blueberries

1 cucumber  peeled, halved and sliced

1/4 c sliced roasted almonds

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl

Dressing:

Juice of 2 limes, or about 2 T

1/4 c extra virgin olive oil

1 t sugar (or substitute)

1 t minced ginger

Whisk ingredients together in a small bowl, pour over salad, toss together

Vietnamese Chicken Noodle: Everyday, Everyday, Everyday… Everyday I make the Soup

Just indulge me on the title, I was at the Elvis Costello concert last night. I got the tickets last minute and was excited but it was on a Tuesday and I still had to make dinner for the kids and us before we went to the show. I didn’t want anything too heavy, there might be dancing and drinks to be had. But I still wanted a one pot type meal that I didn’t have to worry about and that was easy to clean up. This soup has a light tasting, gingery broth and the fresh herbs and vegetables give it flavor and texture without weighing it down and its relatively quick and easy.

32 oz low sodium chicken broth

1/2 yellow onion finely chopped

1/4 c peeled and minced ginger ( I used a microplane grater)

3 cloves of garlic minced

1/4 cup sliced carrots, about 2

1T fish sauce (found in asian section of grocery store)

1t Sriracha sauce (or any hot sauce)

1/2 t salt

1/4 t black pepper

3c water

3 boneless chicken breasts cut into bit sized pieces

1/4 pound vermicelli/angel hair pasta broken in half

1/2 cup fresh spinach roughly chopped

2T fresh cilantro

2T fresh basil

2T sliced green onions

In a large pot or dutch oven combine the 1st 11 ingredients (stop before adding the noodles) bring to a boil and then simmer over low heat until chicken is done about 15 minutes, Add pasta noodles and cook until tender.

Put soup into bowls and add chopped fresh vegetables and herbs right before eating, the hot soup will wilt them slightly. You could use any herbs, sprouts, lime wedges etc… I used what I had on hand and in the garden. This also allows each diner to customize their soup, much like a taco.

Stir and enjoy. Oh and by the way Elvis Costello puts on a great show and still sounds amazing.

Happy Easter, Bunny Spinach Dip

I cheated but hey it’s a holiday, we can’t always be creative. I used the tried and true spinach dip recipe, but took it up a notch by making a bunny bread bowl. I think it turned out pretty cute and besides why mess with perfection?

Here’s how to make the dip:

1 10oz package chooped frozed spinach thawed and squeezed dry

2c Sour Cream

1c mayonaise

1 envelope vegetable soup mix

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and chill for at least one hour.

To assemble:

Hollow out the middle of a round sourdough loaf

Cut one loaf french bread in half for the ears, use bamboo skewers to attach to bread bowl

Add Spinach dip to Bread Bowl

Use Grapes or Olives for Eyes

Use Chives for Whiskers

Use Grape Tomato for Nose

Serve with raw veggies and torn bread

Spinach and White Beans: A Healthy and Filling Alternative to Potatoes

Trying to find a filling side beyond potatoes and rice can be challenging, not to mention time consuming. Try this easy, healthy, alternative instead.

2 tsps Olive Oil

1 T Minced garlic

1 Can White Kidney Beans

1 Bag  Fresh Baby Spinach

Salt

Pepper

Heat 2 tsps olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for 2 min being careful not to let it burn. Add one can of rinsed white beans and a handful of salt  and several grinds of black pepper ( you need to get the flavor into the beans before you add the spinach).  Cook the beans with the garlic over medium heat for about 3 minutes to infuse flavor. Add 1 bag of baby spinach stirring until all spinach is wilted, put the lid on to steam and heat through, about 2 min on low-med. (this prevents the need to add more oil, the water from the beans will steam and heat the spinach). Add salt and pepper to taste.