Sweet Red Pepper Spread/Dip

3/4 cups sweet red peppers(jarred)

2 cloves garlic

1/3 cup slivered almonds

6 basil leaves

2 TBsp oil

1 TBsp white balsamic vinegar

1 TBsp capers

Put all in a food processor and whip it good!

Sweet and tangy. Use it as a dip for crackers- put ontop of crostini and add melted cheese-lather it on a roll and make a sandwich…..possibilities are endless

Zapiekanka ( Polish Open Faced Sandwich)

Onion ( chopped)
Mushrooms (sliced thin) I like baby portabellas
shredded mozzarella cheese
chives( diced fine)
Mayo ( optional)
Deli Ham (optional-sliced thin)

NOTE- there are no exact measurings here- you just want enough ingredients to cover both sides of the baguette

Slice baguette lengthwise
Sautee onions and mushrooms until salt
Season with salt and pepper
Add mayo to the bread(if you want- I do not)
Put onion/mushroom mixture on top of bread
Add mozzarella cheese
Bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes until cheese is melty and bubbly
Drizzle with Ketchup
Sprinkle on the Chives

Ok- so the name, Zapiekanka comes from the word “zapiekac” which means to scorch in Polish. Get it? Its a traditional Polish street food. Its basically a french bread pizza. I know the ketchup seems odd, but it really does taste awesome with everything else. It was said to be invented during the 1970’s when Poland was under Communist rule. It was cheap to make and you could walk around eating and chatting. It was very popular but then died out and is now being revived by the Polish Hipsters ( yeah- they have them too!)

Other Types of Zapiekanka:
Hawaiian style- Add Pineapple and cubed Ham
Greek style- use Feta cheese and add Olives ( Kalamata and black ones)

Black Bean Sliders with Sriracha Aioli

makes 4 sliders or 2 burger size

1 14 oz. can of black beans (drain & reserve juice)
1 small onion ( grated)
1 Egg
2 Tsp. Hot Sauce ( Chouloula- Chipolte flavor)
2 cloves Garlic ( minced)
1/2 cup bread crumbs ( unflavored)
1/2 cup Corn
1 Poblano pepper ( diced)
1/4 cup fresh Cilantro ( chopped)

Sriracha Aioli:
1/4 cup Mayo
1 tsp. Sriracha sauce
1 tsp. fresh Lime Juice

Sautee onion and pepper until soft.
Combine all ingredients except corn and beans
Mash corn and beans until chunky and add to seasonings
Add bean juice just until moist
Grill or pan fry as you wish
Top with Aioli

These sliders are hardy. They fill you up but don’t make you feel like you need to run a marathon after eating them.You can pan fry or grill them- your choice.
I like to grill them-weather permitting. Just remember-this is not meat, you can’t treat it as a regular burger because everything is cooked except for the egg.
So use moderate heat when cooking. If you pan fry, it gives a deeper more even crust. If you grill it gets that charred smoky flavor. When grilling, remember to brush patties with oil. Remember- they do not shrink, like a burger, so the size you make is the size you will eat.
I like to add Pepper Jack cheese on top or a nice Extra Sharp Cheddar.
Maybe omit the aioli and add some guacamole with shredded lettuce and a thin slice of red onion.
Counting Carbs- Ditch the bun and top with Salsa!

Sweet Onion Dip


2 cups shredded Vidalia Onion
2 cups Parmesan cheese( plain old shaker cheese)
2 cups Mayo

Mix together and put in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes.
(no need to grease pan)
Serve with pita chips

This is the easiest recipe I know- it comes out awesome every time and people always thin k there’s something else in there. I mean its so simple, but that’s what makes it so good.

Use the leftovers, if any, to mix in with cooked pasta. Or spread it on a toasted baguette with grilled shrimp and Boston lettuce.

Make this for your next party- I guarantee everyone will love it. If not, I’ll buy you a beer!

Do not use low fat mayo- its terrible in this dish. It gets super watery and just plain gross! Save that stuff for, well….nothing!

Black Bean & Corn Salsa


15.5 oz. can Black Beans (drained & rinsed)
3/4 cup corn (frozen or fresh-cooked)
2 small Tomatoes ( seeded & diced)
2 Garlic Cloves (minced or pressed)
1/2 cup fresh Cilantro (chopped rough)
1/2 med. Red Onion (diced)
1 TBsp. Paprika
3 TBsp. Lime juice
2 TBsp. oil (of choice- I like veg .oil for this recipe)

In a dry pan over med-high heat throw in cooked corn. Once
they pop, add Paprika- keep shaking pan for about 1 minute. You want the corn and the paprika to stick together and blister.
Add remaining ingredients.
Put in fridge for at least 4 hours- overnight is best.
Serve with chips, over grilled chicken or fish, put in a wrap……

This is so simple. OK- you don’t have to blister the corn, but what a presentation!..I usually grill the corn then add the paprika- but its cold outside!!!!
AI add just a bit of sea salt when serving- not too much- the lime juice should be the star!

Asparagus and Gruyere Tart

(adapted from Martha Stewart)


serves 4
1 sheet frozen puff pastry ( thaw at room temp. for 25 min)
2 cups Gruyere cheese (shredded)
1 bunch ( about 1 lb.) Asparagus
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Boil salted water- once boiling add the asparagus. Cook until tender(about 11 minutes). Shock in cold water and set aside.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry- it should be about 16×10. Put on a baking sheet and score with a fork all around the edges. Then poke holes on the inner part( this is so the pastry won’t puff up on the middle when you cook it).
Bake for 15 minutes or until browned.
Remove from oven and add your shredded cheese to the center part.
Arrange the asparagus in a single line all the way across your tart.
Brush with olive oil and salt and pepper.
Bake for 15 minutes til cheese is melted and asparagus are heated through.

This is super simple and WOW it makes a presentation when you bring it to your next dinner party!!

A few things that I changed from what Martha did:
She likes the big plump asparagus- me too but not for this. The small , pencil like ones are perfect for this recipe- delicate and tender- Plus- you can get more on the tart!
Also, she says to put the asparagus on the tart uncooked! Sorry Martha- can’t see thats going to work, especially the large thick ones. I have made this recipe my way more times than I have fingers and toes and my way rocks!

A note on cooking asparagus:
A while back my Dad had given me an asparagus cooker. What- you don’t have one? Yeah its not the most sought after pot in the kitchen realm. It is actually pretty cool. It about 12 inches high and maybe 5 inches round wit ha basket inside. It takes practically no time for the water to boil. The asparagus don’t break because you are not trying to fish them out of the water.
So, if you need a crazy pot that you will use once in a blue moon, put this on your holiday wish list! smile emoticon

Now- about Gruyere cheese:
Its a type of Swiss cheese from Switzerland. Its nutty and creamy and great for baking and melts oooohhh so well. Its t

Strawberry Bruschetta

(Adapted from Annie’s-eats.com)

4 cups strawberries(hulled and diced)
2 TBsp Sugar
1 Baguette- sliced
2 oz. Goat Cheese
2 TBsp Oil
6 TBsp white balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup Fresh Basil(ribbon cut)

Cut berries and add sugar let sit for 20 minutes. Add rest of ingredients.
Spread a light coat of cheese on bread and top with berry mix.

WOW..make this!!!!!!
Sweet and vinegary and ever so balanced in flavors.
I decreased the original amount of sugar -it would have been way too sweet. I also added white balsamic vinegar. It is much lighter in flavor and does not give it a dark dingy look. You can use mascarpone or cream cheese if you prefer.

Guys-make this for your SO for V Day…..you will thank me in the AM!!!!