Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Roasted Peppers, Chiles & Eggplant Dip


I love having simple, easy and delicious appetizer recipes on hand.  The secret is to use local, organic/sustainably grown ingredients whenever possible, keep a well-stocked pantry of essential items like oils, vinegars, condiments & spices and plan your menu based on whatever produce is in season.

Happily, this all comes together beautifully with Roasted Chiles, Peppers & Eggplant Dip The recipe calls for bell peppers, chiles, eggplant and tomatoes...all in abundant quantities right now at my local farmer's market or growing in my garden (You should see my eggplant and chile plants just loaded with vegetables!). I always have excellent quality extra virgin olive oil, capers, vinegar and spices in the pantry so this dish is perfect for last minute pool party invites, or lunches, or cocktail parties. You know those days when friends call and say "Hey, what are you guys doing? Maybe we will stop by after work.  We have wine."   Have this dip, some grilled bread drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, crackers, cheese and some cutup vegetables ready when they arrive.  Easy and delicious so you can enjoy your impromptu party! (Remember, they said they would bring the wine.)



Roasted Peppers, Chiles & Eggplant Dip

1 large red bell pepper
1 large yellow bell pepper
3 fresh jalapenos
2 fresh New Mexican or Anaheim green chiles
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 eggplant (about 7 oz), cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cup chopped red onion
1 clove garlic, minced
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 Tsp fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon jarred capers, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
pinch red pepper flakes
sea salt
black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
Roast bell peppers, jalapenos and green chiles over a gas flame or under a broiler until blackened and charred on all sides. Add to a large glass bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit until cool. Set aside.

Spread the eggplant on a baking sheet and drizzle with 4 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle a large pinch of salt and pepper each over the top.  Roast for 30 minutes.  Remove from oven, stir and add back to oven. Roast another 15-20 minutes or until vegetables are soft and caramelized.

Peel and seed pepper and chiles. Chop and return to bowl, including any accumulated juice. Scrape cooked eggplant into bowl, including olive oil and eggplant juices. Add onion, garlic, tomatoes, cilantro, capers, vinegar, red pepper flakes and a pinch each salt and pepper to bowl. Stir to combine.  Taste and add additional salt, pepper and/or vinegar if desired. Place 1/2 of the mixture in a food processor and pulse until pureed.  Stir the puree back into the bowl with the unprocessed mixture.  Stir to combine.

Serve with chips, crackers and/or vegetables. Try stirred into pasta, topping pizza or as part of a sandwich on crunchy French or sourdough rolls.



It is "Dip" week at Food Network's
#SummerSoiree roundup. Check out the other delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends. Do you have a favorite dip recipe? Please share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one. Bloggers' recipes will be posted at noon on Thursday.
best,
Diane


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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Spicy Avocado Spread Sandwich


I am a huge avocado fan. I swear I could eat guacamole every day. I have been adding avocado to smoothies for a protein punch and experimenting using in chocolate baked goods like cakes, cookies and brownies (delicious). The buttery richness of the wonderful fruit (yes avocados are fruit) adds taste, texture and healthy fat to many dishes. 



Of course, avocados are a natural complement to salads, fish, Mexican food, dips and used as a sandwich topping. But one of my favorite (and easiest) preparations is spreading perfectly ripe avocado on toasted bread and topping with red onion and chili peppers. I add plenty of salt and a bit of lime juice. Amazingly delicious, fast and healthy...how good does that sound?




Spicy Avocado Spread Sandwich
(makes 1)

1 ripe avocado
1 Tsp fresh lime juice
1 Tsp sea salt
1 Tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 Tsp dried red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp red onion, chopped
1/2-1 Tsp diced hot chile pepper (jalapeno or other)
1/4 cup diced heirloom tomato (for garnish)
handful baby arugula (for garnish)
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper
whole wheat bun, sliced and toasted

Cut avocado in half, lengthwise. Remove seed and discard. Spoon out flesh and add to small bowl. (If you have never prepared an avocado, check out my technique here.) Add lime juice, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to bowl and mash to combine. Spread mixture evenly between both halves of bun. Top with onion and chile. Serve with arugula and tomato alongside sandwich. Drizzle olive oil over plate and top with a bit more salt and pepper to taste. 

Other avocado recipes you may enjoy:


It is "Avocado" week at Food
#SummerSoiree roundup. Check out the other delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends. Do you have a favorite avocado recipe? Please share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one.

Feed Me Phoebe: Coconut Kale Salad with Avocado and Pickled Vegetables
Weelicious: Avocado Honey Dip
Devour: Why You Should Eat Avocados All Day Long
Dishing With Divya: Vietnamese Avocado Milkshake
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Avocado and Grilled Shrimp Salad
Red or Green: Spicy Avocado Spread Sandwich
Taste With The Eyes: Tortilla Soup with Lobster and Avocado
Virtually Homemade: Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salsa
Domesticate Me: Superfood Chocolate Avocado Pudding (Vegan and Gluten-Free)
FN Dish: Go Beyond Guacamole (Avocado Recipes)

best,
Diane



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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

BBQ Salmon with Hot Pepper Jelly Glaze & Marinated Tomatoes


Wild caught salmon grilled over a summer fire, then coated with hot pepper jelly and topped with marinated tomatoes. How good does that sound? The jelly melts into a delicious sweet and spicy glaze and perfectly ripe tomatoes add the delicious final touch. Just what I want on a hot August night.



I made this dish last Sunday for my husband's birthday. Fast, easy and very fresh tasting, he said it was one of the best salmon dishes he has ever had. (and he is a massive salmon fan!). The trick, as always, is to use the best quality ingredients you can afford. The wild caught salmon was caught the day before, the ripe heirloom tomatoes were freshly harvested and I served the fish with a wild rice & sprouted brown rice salad chock full of herbs and fava beans. Delicious. Happy middle of summer everyone!


BBQ Salmon with Hot Pepper Jelly Glaze & Marinated Tomatoes
(serves 4)

2 lbs wild caught salmon fillet, about 1 inch thick
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for grill
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup hot pepper jelly, homemade or purchased
1 clove garlic
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 pint heirloom small (cherry) tomatoes, cut in half
2 Tbsp Italian parsley, chopped

Prepare tomatoes (recipe follows).
Prepare grill; charcoal or gas. If using charcoal, allow coals to turn white/gray to medium-high heat, around 375 degrees. (Use an oven gauge). You will be cooking the salmon over indirect heat so push the coals to one side and grill over the other side.

While preparing the coals, coat the salmon on both sides with 2 Tbsp olive oil. Season with 2 Tsp each salt and pepper. Brush the BBQ grate with olive oil to ensure salmon does not stick. When coals are ready, grill salmon with skin side down for 5 minutes. Flip and grill an additional 3-5 minutes or until salmon flakes when running a fork across the top. Spread hot pepper jelly over top of fish. Flip one more time and cook an additional 10 seconds. Remove quickly so jelly does not burn. Serve immediately, glazed side up, topped with marinated tomatoes.

Marinated Tomatoes
Smash garlic with the flat side of a knife until a smooth paste is formed. Add a large pinch each salt and pepper and continue mashing until well mixed.  Scrape into a bowl. Add 2 Tbsp olive oil and 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar. Stir to combine. Add tomatoes and parsley, stir. Allow to marinate while preparing salmon.


It is "BBQ" week at Food
#SummerSoiree roundup. Check out the other delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends. Do you have a favorite BBQ recipe? Please share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one.  

The Lemon Bowl: Tart Cherry Chinese BBQ Pulled Pork
Feed Me Phoebe: Grilled Lamb Kebabs with Lebanese Tomato Salsa
Weelicious: Southern-Style Pork Tenderloin
The Heritage Cook: Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwiches (Gluten-Free)
Napa Farmhouse 1885: BBQ Pork Ribs
Red or Green: BBQ Salmon with Hot Pepper Jelly Glaze and Marinated Tomatoes
Domesticate Me: Fiery Barbecue Flank Steak Tacos with "Summer Mess" Salsa
Devour: 5 BBQ Sandwiches
In Jennie's Kitchen: Ginger-Soy Marinated Flank Steak
FN Dish: The Beauties of Barbecue 


best,
Diane



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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Spicy Potato Salad with Jalapeno & Vinegar Vinaigrette


Summer and potato salad, It just goes together, does it not? Fried chicken, ham, hot dogs on the grill, BBQ ribs; all perfect with this traditional salad.  But I like to shake it up a bit and tweak the expected recipes. Maybe a warm salad with bacon and caramelized onions added to the potatoes? Maybe swapping the mayonnaise base for a vinaigrette that combines olive oil, soy sauce, mustard, honey and rice vinegar? Spiced with fresh jalapenos?  You know what? This potato salad is really, really good!




Spicy Potato Salad with Jalapeno & Vinegar Vinaigrette
(serves 6)
2 lbs small red potatoes, unpeeled halved or quartered
1 red onion, cut in half then in sliced
4 slices bacon chopped into bite sized pieces
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tsp low sodium organic soy sauce
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tsp honey
1/2 cup organic seasoned rice vinegar
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and ribbed removed, minced
3 green onions chopped (white & green parts)
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Place 3-4 inches water in a large pot fitted with a steamer basket.  Bring to a bowl and add 2 Tbsp salt.  Add potatoes, cover and steam until tender but still firm when pierced with a sharp knife-25-30 minutes. (hint, I always taste to ensure they are perfectly cooked).

Meanwhile heat large skillet over medium-high flame. Add onion and bacon and cook, stirring frequently, until bacon is crisp and onion is soft and beginning to caramelize. Add soy sauce, mustard, honey, vinegar and jalapeno. Cook 5 minutes over medium-low heat.  Add cooked potatoes, green onions and a large pinch each salt and pepper. Cook an additional 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, to allow liquid to soak into potatoes. Turn off heat, add parsley and stir to combine.  Taste and add additional salt and pepper if desired.  Pour into a large bowl and allow salad to cool to warm.  Stir again and serve.


It is "Potato Salad" week at Food Network's
 #SummerSoiree roundup. Check out the other delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends. Do you have a favorite potato salad recipe? Please share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one. 

Chez Us: Baked Potato Salad
The Heritage Cook: French Potato Salad with Haricot Vert (Gluten-Free)
Weelicious: Blue and White Potato Salad
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Mom's Potato Salad (the Best Ever!)
Red or Green: Spicy Potato Salad with Jalapeno and Vinegar Vinaigrette
Feed Me Phoebe: Healthy Greek Potato Salad
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Creamy Potato Salad with Mint
In Jennie's Kitchen: Warm Smashed Roasted Potato Salad
FN Dish: 10 New Ways to Do Up Potato Salad

Domesticate Me: Warm Roasted Potato Salad with Pancetta, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Arugula

best,
Diane


California Girl in Taos

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Frozen Tri-Melon Cocktail

Summer Cocktails. Doesn't the term conjure up days relaxing in the sun? By the pool? At the beach? Under a big umbrella?  Whatever you dream, a big, frothy, frozen cocktail adds to the enjoyment. Especially one handcrafted using the freshest possible, in-season melons. One that is softened by the addition of coconut milk...and spiced with fresh ginger, herbs and a bit of lime juice. Add your favorite vodka and jump into summer. Enjoy!

I especially enjoy this cocktail with hot & spicy food...perfect for the recipes on this blog. To customize your cocktail, you can change the proportions of melon to suit your preferences...all watermelon? Perfect.  More honeydew than cantaloupe? Fine.  Just ensure you equal 4 cups.  I love the taste of the three together and the red, orange and green deliver such a beautiful color, don't you think?

Frozen Tri-Melon Cocktail
(makes 2)
2 cups watermelon cubes (rind removed and seeded, about 2 inches each cube)
1 cup cantaloupe cubes    (rind removed and seeded, about 2 inches each cube)
1 cup honeydew melon     (rind removed and seeded, about 2 inches each cube)
3/4 cup coconut milk ( the type in the carton, not canned)
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
2 tsp fresh lime juice
2 tsp minced fresh mint
2 tsp minced fresh basil
2 oz vodka
pinch sea salt
fresh mint leaves for garnish

Place the melon cubes on a parchment-lined rimmed cookie sheet and freeze for 1 hour. Place all ingredients (except mint garnish) in a blender and process until well mixed.  Note, the mixture may freeze in the blender.  If this happens, stop processing and stir with a wooden spoon to break up cocktail.  Resume processing until frothy. Taste and add additional ginger or lime juice if desired.

Pour into tall glasses and garnish with fresh mint leaves. Serve immediately.


It is "Summer Cocktails" week at Food Network's
 #SummerSoiree roundup. Check out the other delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends. Do you have a favorite summer cocktail recipe? Please share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one.

Feed Me Phoebe: Grilled Strawberry-Mint Bellinis
The Lemon Bowl: Raspberry-Ginger Bellini
Jeanette's Healthy Living: White Peach Sangria
The Heritage Cook: Refreshing Lime Coolers
The Cultural Dish: Pimm's Cup
Virtually Homemade: Frozen Lime Margaritas with a Sangria Swirl 
Weelicious: Strawberry Lemonade 
Big Girls, Small Kitchen: Strawberry Gimlets with Homemade Strawberry Vodka
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Cucumber and Sage Cocktail
Red or Green: Frozen Tri-Melon Cocktail
Dishing With Divya: Caipirinha
In Jennie's Kitchen: Cantaloupe Lillet Sparkler
Poet in the Pantry: Pirate's Booty Call
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Watermelon Malibu Surf
Sweet Life Bake: Boozy Affogato
Devour: 5 Boozy Summer Coolers
Domesticate Me: Blueberry Mojito Royale
Haute Apple Pie: Classic Mojito
Daily*Dishin: Blackberry Rum Shrub
Taste With The Eyes: Korean Soju Kimbap Bloody Mary
FN Dish: Sip Your Way Through Summer (Recipes)

best,
Diane

California Girl in Taos

Follow Me on Pinterest
I have started sharing my Taos experiences on my newest blog "California Girl in Taos". Please visit and let me know what you think.