Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Sweet Potato "Nacho" Dip

So, we have a number of friends with September birthdays. Our good friends Mary Lane and Doug hosted a September birthday bash last Saturday night, and I was in charge of appetizers. I wanted to make a healthy version of nachos and thought using sweet potatoes instead of tortilla chips would be an interesting twist. I soon realized that transporting nachos would not be a good idea...they would be cold and soggy by the time we reached our destination. Flash of inspiration?  Mixing all the ingredients together and calling it a dip. Guess what?  It was delicious. Not a spoonful left. This dip will now be in regular rotation at my house.

I roasted whole sweet potatoes, scooped out the flesh and placed in a large bowl. (I used Japanese sweet potatoes because that is what I had on-hand. Their flesh is white and sweet. They work perfectly in this recipe, but any sweet potato will do.) I stirred in all my favorite nacho toppings like cheese, black beans, jalapenos, green onions and salsa and piled it back into a couple of the skins. Served alongside a bowl of corn tortilla chips (and Doug's famous grapefruit margaritas), appetizers were served!

Sweet Potato "Nacho" Dip
(serves 8-10)

4 medium to large sweet potatoes, scrubbed 
1/4 cup mayonnaise or sour cream
1/2 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup jarred or fresh salsa
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, white or yellow
2 green onions, chopped, white and green parts
1 small jalapeno, seeded, deveined and minced (about 2 teaspoons, more if you like it spicy)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

corn tortilla chips or crackers

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place sweet potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet at roast until flesh is easily pierced to the center with a sharp knife. (About 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours depending on the size of the potatoes. Start checking at 45 minutes). Remove from oven and allow to cool enough to handle. Do not turn off oven.

Cut potatoes in half lengthwise. Carefully scoop out the flesh keeping skins intact. Place 3 skins on baking sheet and place back in the oven. Add flesh to a large bowl. Stir in mayonnaise or sour cream, beans, salsa and half the cheese. Microwave for a couple of minutes until hot. Stir in onions, jalapeno, cilantro and a large pinch each of salt and pepper.Taste and adjust seasonings, jalapeno and/or salsa if desired.

Remove skins from oven and fill with the dip. Top with remaining cheese and serve immediately with corn tortilla chips and/or crackers. I serve with dip spreaders utensils. Easier than dipping the chips with this recipe.

It is Sweet Potato week at Food Network's Fall Fest roundup. Do you have a favorite sweet potato recipe to share? Please list (or link) in the comments below. And be sure to check out the other delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends and Food Network. 

Creative Culinary: Twice-Baked Jalapeno Sweet Potatoes with Chipotle Streusel Topping
Homemade Delish: 
Jacked Sweet Potato Quesadilla
Healthy Eats: 
How Sweet It Is: 7 Sweet Potato Dishes for Every Palate
Napa Farmhouse 1885: 
Sweet Potato, Green Onion & Herb Pommes Anna
Red or Green: 
Sweet Potato "Nacho" Dip
Taste with the Eyes: 
Caramelized Upside-Down French Sweet Potato Pie {Tarte Tatin}
Dishin & Dishes: 
Bacon Poblano Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash
The Mom 100: 
Sweet Potato Pie
The Wimpy Vegetarian: 
Mexican Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
FN Dish: 
Five 5-Star Ways to Get Your Sweet Potato Fix


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

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Caramel Apple Spiced Shortcakes

OK, I admit it. I am on a caramel and apple binge. I posted a recipe over on my Napa Farmhouse 1885 blog for "Grownup Caramel Apples", baked apples topped with a caramel & scotch sauce. I have been sampling that dish all week. I decided I needed another apple & caramel recipe and, using leftover biscuits from brunch on Sunday, created spiced apple shortcakes. Drizzling caramel sauce over the dessert made it extra good. You can serve as is or pair with vanilla ice-cream. I am a fan.

The biscuit recipe is my favorite...fast, quick, easy because they are dropped, not rolled, and made with extra virgin olive oil. Increase the size and baking time from the original so you have big biscuits for the shortcakes. I use a 1/4 cup to measure and bake about 10 minutes longer. You will have extra biscuits. That is a good thing. Enjoy for breakfast, with tea as an afternoon snack, or stuffed with your favorite protein for a quick sandwich. Happy Fall everyone!

Caramel Apple Spiced Shortcakes.
(4 servings)

4 Granny Smith or Fuji Apples, cored
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Biscuits 

prepared caramel sauce or dulce de leche (homemade or purchased. I like this brand
Vanilla ice cream

Cut apples into pieces about 1 inch in diameter. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add butter, olive oil and maple syrup to pan and heat, constantly stirring, until butter is melted. Add apples, water, all the spices and the salt and pepper. Cook, occasionally stirring until the sauce thickens, and the apples soften. (about 15 minutes)

Slice a biscuit in half and place cut side up on serving plate. Top with a large scoop of the spiced apples. Drizzle some of the pan juices on top of the apples. Drizzle about 2 tablespoons caramel sauce over the shortcake. Pair with vanilla ice cream if desired. Repeat with remaining biscuits and apple mixture. Serve immediately.

It is Apple week at Food Network's Fall Fest roundup. Do you have a favorite apple recipe to share? Please list (or link) in the comments below. And be sure to check out the other delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends and Food Network. 

The Lemon Bowl: Sparkling Apple Cider Punch
Creative Culinary: 
Boozy Apple Crisp
Homemade Delish: 
Apple Chips
Healthy Eats: 
6 Healthy Treats to Make After Apple Picking
Daisy at Home: 
Fall Farmer's Market Salad
Virtually Homemade: 
Gluten-Free Salted Caramel Apple Bars
Caramel Baked Apples with Cinnamon-Oat Crumble
Napa Farmhouse 1885: 
"Grownup" Caramel Apples
Red or Green: 
Caramel Apple Spiced Shortcakes
Big Girls, Small Kitchen: 
Whole Grain Oat & Millet Pancakes with Shaved Apples
Domesticate Me: 
Roast Chicken, Apple and Brie Grilled Cheese
Taste with the Eyes: 
Classic Apple Tarte Tatin with Cognac and Crème Fraîche
FN Dish: 
Quickest, Easiest Apple Dessert Recipes


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

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Spiced Vegetable Soup With Lentils & Garbanzo Beans

Ah, so summer is just about over, the first NFL football games were played yesterday (and tonight is Monday Night Football), there is a chill in the air most mornings...but 80 degrees in the afternoon...and my garden is producing mad amounts of tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, herbs, kale, onion, leeks, beets and chard. Yes fall is almost here. This means the weekly summer posts with Food Network have ended for the year but, never fear, Fall Fest has arrived. This means that each week a number of bloggers receive an assignment from Food Network. We all create a recipe using the same item or theme and then we share all the recipes with you. The 2015 line up is as follows:

FN Dish Fall Fest 2015 Themes

17: Soup
24: Apples

1: Sweet potatoes
8: Pumpkin 
15: Cauliflower
22: Squash 
29: Halloween 

5: Brussels sprouts
12: Carrots
19: Favorite Thanksgiving side dish

3: Holiday appetizer 
10: Holiday cookies
17: Favorite holiday side dish

Since we are starting with soup, I thought I would share one of my favorites. This spiced vegetable soup can be made year-round, just swap out the vegetables. In winter, I use canned tomatoes. In summer, I throw in some freshly shucked corn on the cob. Whatever is in season will probably work. Just ensure the ingredients are as fresh as possible, organic or home-grown if you can. Enjoy!

Spiced Vegetable Soup With Lentils & Garbanzo Beans
1/2 cup dried garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas)
1 onion, chopped
extra virgin olive oil
8 cups homemade or organic store-bought vegetable stock
4 1/2 cups water, reserved from bean soaking liquid
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp cilantro, very finely chopped
2 tbsp cilantro, coarsely chopped
3 tsp kosher salt
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 bunch kale, chiffonade and roughly chopped (about 2 cups)
4 celery stalks, chopped
4 large heirloom tomatoes, chopped
1 cup lentils (I like either yellow or pink in this dish, but any kind will work)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 lemon, cut into 6 wedges
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp mace
small pinch red pepper flakes
small pinch freshly cracked black pepper
5 oz whole wheat, small elbow macaroni
2 tbsp Italian parsley, chopped
2 tbsp Italian parsley, whole leaves

1. Place chickpeas (garbanzo beans) in a large stockpot and cover with 5 inches of water. Let soak at least 8 hours, or overnight. Drain beans reserving 4 cups of soaking liquid. Place beans in a bowl.
2. Add 3 tbsp olive oil to stockpot and heat until warm. Add chopped onion and cook until translucent (about 5 min). Add chickpeas, stock and the 4 cups of reserved soaking liquid. Simmer until beans are tender, approx 45 minutes.
3. Using the side of a chef's knife, mash the garlic, cilantro and salt into a paste. Add garlic paste, bell pepper, kale, celery, tomatoes, lentils, tomato paste, and all the spices to bean mixture. Squeeze the juice from one lemon juice to the pot. Stir. Simmer uncovered until lentils are tender. 30-40 minutes.
4. Add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta is al dente, approx 10 minutes.
5. Stir in coarsely chopped cilantro and parsley.
6. Garnish with parsley leaves and serve with remaining lemon wedges.

It is Soup week at Food Network's Fall Fest roundup. Do you have a favorite soup recipe to share? Please list (or link) in the comments below. And be sure to check out the other delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends and Food Network. 

Napa Farmhouse 1885: Chilled Spiced Peach Soup
Red or Green? Spiced Vegetable Soup with Lentils & Garbanzo Beans
Feed Me Phoebe: Portuguese Kale Soup with Sausage and Cherry Tomatoes
The Mom 100: Avgolemono Soup
The Lemon Bowl: Red Lentil Turkish Soup
The Heritage Cook: Soul-Warming Tomato Soup with Peppers and Onions (Gluten-Free)
Healthy Eats: 6 Healthy Soups for the First Tailgate of the Season
Domesticate Me: Five Spice Sweet Potato Soup
Taste with the Eyes: Chicken Soup with Exotic Saffron Matzoh Balls
FN Dish: It's Almost Spoon Season: Top Classic Soups to Simmer Now


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

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Spicy Greek Chickpea Spread

My friend Cynthia sent me this recipe a few months ago, and I have been making versions of the original ever since. I have tinkered and tweaked so much that I guess you could I am addicted. The smooth and creamy chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans) are coarsely mashed and then turned into a cross between hummus and salad. Tahini, soy sauce, chili sesame oil and lemon juice are stirred into the mashed chickpeas and then tons of fresh vegetables and herbs are added to the dish.

The result is perfect as a spread for crackers or chips and is wonderful as a filling spooned into pita bread or piled high on toasted whole wheat bread topped with lettuce, sprouts, and tomatoes. I brought this to a dinner party last month where I was assigned appetizers, and every drop was gobbled up. (yes I am looking at you, Janelle :) ) I suggest adding this recipe to your gathering...maybe this weekend's Labor Day BBQ?

And, FYI, I just discovered chili sesame oil. This stuff is good! Spicy, hot and delicious, I have been adding to everything. It adds the perfect amount of heat with the nuttiness you expect from sesame oil. Try in stir-frys, salad dressings, marinades or spreads. Trust me, you need this in your pantry.

Spicy Greek Chickpea Spread
(six servings)

3 cups cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1/2 cup tahini
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons chili sesame oil (or sesame oil and 1 tsp dried red pepper flakes)
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped cucumber (lemon cucumber if available)
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup kalamata olives, sliced
1/2 cup marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
1/2 cup cornichons, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Add chickpeas to a large bowl and, using a potato masher, mash until smooth but with a bit of texture. Stir in the tahini, soy sauce, sesame oil and lemon juice. Stir until the liquids are combined with the chickpeas.

Stir in the rest of the ingredients. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Add additional chili sesame oil if you like it a bit spicier. Chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of 3 hours to allow the flavors to meld.

Serve with crackers, tortilla chips, stuffed in a pita or spread on toasted whole wheat bread topped with lettuce and sprouts.

Summer means easy, breezy dishes made from fresh, just-picked produce and this week at Food Network's Summer Soiree we are celebrating Labor Day DishesDo you have a favorite recipe for Labor Day? Please share in the comments section of this post. And be sure to check out the delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends and Food Network. 

The Lemon Bowl: Lemon Garlic Chicken Kabobs
Bacon and Souffle: 
Roasted Shrimp Orzo
The Hungry Traveler: 
Ginger Vanilla Fruit Salad
Homemade Delish: 
Festive Champagne Punch
Dishin & Dishes: 
Savory Tomato, Roasted Garlic and Mozzarella Tart
Creative Culinary: 
Zucchini and Cream Cheese Casserole
Apple-Pecan Chicken Salad
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: 
Batter Fried Pepper with Tzatziki Sauce
Healthy Eats: 
6 Fall-Forward Recipes for Your Labor Day Celebration
Domesticate Me: 
Lobster Avocado Toast
Taste with the Eyes: 
"Margarita" Salmon Burger with Tequila, Lime, and Hatch Chiles
Napa Farmhouse 1885: 
Grilled Shrimp & Peaches with Arugula Pesto
Red or Green: 
Spicy Greek Chickpea Spread
The Heritage Cook: 
Smoked Chicken Salad (Gluten-Free)
The Mom 100: 
Yogurt Berry Pops
FN Dish: 
The Last Hurrah: Grill Absolutely Everything on Labor Day


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