Category Archives: appetizer

Easiest Beer Bread Ever!

It seems like every time I decide soup for dinner is a great plan, it’s too late to start a yeast bread to go with it.  Wah.  Fresh bread is so yummy with soup!  What to do, what to do?!  If you have an hour, beer bread is what you do!  It’s quick!  It’s easy!  It’s very much like “real” bread!  Yum!

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I Googled this recipe, which says it’s the most popular beer bread recipe on the internet.  It IS super easy and super fast.  Now that I’ve made it, I do have one recommendation not mentioned in the original recipe–the beer you use will have a huge impact on the flavor.  I used an IPA–very hoppy–which gave that same hoppy flavor to the bread.  For my taste, I’ll be using a more mellow beer next time.  That being said, this recipe is a keeper!

ingredients

  • 3 cups flour (sifted)
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 (12 ounce) can beer
  • 1/4 cup melted butter (or margarine)

Preheat oven to 375F and oil a standard loaf pan.

Sift the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, sugar) together–very important to keep the bread light and fluffy.  Use a flour sifter or a fine mesh strainer.

sift dry ingredients

Add the beer.  Stir until just combined.

add beer

mix until moistened

Pour into the prepared loaf pan.

pour into loaf pan

Pour melted butter over the top.  (Sounded weird to me, but resulted in a wonderful crunchy, buttery crust!)

pour melted butter

Bake for 1 hour, and cool on a rack until you can handle the pan, then remove from the pan and cool for a total of 15 minutes.  This will make slicing a LOT easier!

let cool on rack

remove from pan

Slice, spread on your favorite buttery spread and enjoy!

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I was making potato soup when I realized I needed a bread to go with it.  Yummy combo!

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Now that I’ve made this once, I’m thinking of all the other things that would be yummy to include–like a whole wheat, oats and stout combo, or a light wheat ale and jalapeno combo, or roasted garlic or ????!!!!  Oh yeah, lots of ways to make this easy, yummy bread a bit more “gourmet!”  Have fun with your favorite combos!

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Filed under appetizer, comfort food, lunch, Potluck, recipe, side dish, snack, vegan, Vegetarian

Roasted Garlic and Walnut Chickpea Pate

Welcome to the party, elegant and tasty spread.  I’m lovin’ your roasty garlic flavor and your silky texture.  Won’t you join me over here by the crackers?

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This pate is hummus in black tie.  Approachable and friendly black tie.  Spread on a cracker, it’s right at home at a cocktail party or the party for the big game.  I found the recipe at the Amuse Your Bouche blog via the Finding Vegan Facebook page.  The original recipe makes a tiny amount, so I adjusted ingredients to make a whole can of chickpeas-worth, and reduced the amount of oil.  This larger amount still doesn’t last long-it’s that kind of yummy!  Here’s what you need to start your relationship with your new favorite party date.

ingredients

  • 1 entire head of garlic, roasted  (12-14 cloves, or more if you like garlic like we do!)
  • 1 1/4 cups walnuts, plus a bit more to garnish
  • 1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, drained but NOT rinsed
  • 4 TBSP lemon juice
  • 4 TBSP olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

First, roast the garlic.  Heat oven to 375F.

Cut the top off a head of garlic, place it in a pan, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

cut top off garlic

place in pan with oil salt and pepper

(Save the little tops for another garlic recipe.)

save little tops

Roast for 25 minutes and remove to cool.  When cool enough to handle, pop the cloves out of their skins.

pop cloves out

Place roasted garlic cloves into a food processor along with the walnuts.

garlic and walnuts in processor

Process until you achieve a coarse crumb.

process to crumbs

Add the drained chickpeas, lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper.

add chickpeas salt pepper lemon and oil

Process until smooth.  Taste, and adjust seasoning if needed.

puree til smooth

Place in a pretty bowl, garnish with chopped walnuts, set out some crackers and prepare to be enchanted.  Seduced, really.

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There is a LOT of garlic in this recipe, and it is definitely the top-note of the flavor.  However, since it’s roasted, it’s a mellow and earthy garlic.  Definitely yummy!

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Filed under appetizer, dairy-free, Holiday foods, recipe, snack, vegan, Vegetarian

Sweet and Spicy Pecans

Why hello easy, delicious, make-ahead appetizer!  You’re the perfect crunch that’s not quite sweet, not quite savory and yet completely addictive.  I think I love you.

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Another recipe from the Holiday Appetizer Buffet in Vegan Holiday Kitchen, these pecans were coveted by party guests at this year’s New Year’s Eve party.  Holiday parties are super fun, but happen when you’re most busy and stressed.  This nice little appetizer is the first guest to invite.  🙂

ingredients

  • 1/3 cup agave or maple syrup (I used maple!)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 cups pecan halves

Preheat oven to 300F.

Combine the maple syrup with cinnamon, chili powder, ginger, nutmeg and salt.

combine maple with spices

Stir in the pecans to coat them evenly.  (Ack!  What possessed me to think stirring with my whisk was a good idea?!  The pecans got all caught in there….Just use a spoon.  Really.)

add pecans

Spread coated pecans in a 9×9, aluminum foil-lined baking pan, or an aluminum pan if you have one.

spread in aluminum pan

Bake for 30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes, until pecans are nicely glazed and toasted.  (This is a departure from the original recipe which says to heat oven to 250F and bake for 20 minutes, stirring after 10.  My location is considered high altitude, and the original temp and time didn’t result in a crunchy glaze for me.)

Let cool and break apart any clumps.  Serve in a pretty dish.

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I wasn’t sure I liked the ginger in these at first–I thought it was a bit too floral.  However, something about the spice combo makes these super addictive.  If you have any leftover after the party, store in an air-tight container and then count out how many you plan to eat as a snack.  Reseal the container.  If you don’t follow this advice, you may end up eating all that are left.  Not that I’d know. 😉

These would be super-delish garnishing a spring spinach and strawberry salad.  Yummmmmm!

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Filed under appetizer, Holiday foods, recipe, vegan, Vegetarian

Hot Artichoke and White Bean Dip

Many years ago, a restaurant here in town served an appetizer called Sheep Dip.  I know, not the most appetizing name, but oh my what a delicious combination of hot, gooey deliciousness.  It had tons of cheese and spinach and artichokes.  Yum, yum, yummy!  We ordered it EVERY time we went there.  I have since given up dairy, so no more Sheep Dip for me.  Not that I don’t think about it sometimes.  And THEN!  I treated myself to a new cookbook for the holidays: Vegan Holiday Kitchen.  A beautiful book full of complete menus for every occasion, including a section on appetizers.  One of those recipes looked very, very much like my beloved Sheep Dip.  I just had to try it!  I’m sharing it with you because YES!  Very reminiscent of the original hot gooey deliciousness!

transfer to baking dish top w cheese

Serve it in a bread bowl, serve it in the baking dish, serve it with bread or crackers or crudites….perfect for a party, perfect for just you and your sweetie…or just you!

ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 15-oz can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup vegan cream cheese
  • 1 14-oz can artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves (or arugula or watercress)
  • 2 TBSP fresh dill
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella-style grated vegan cheese
  • paprika for topping

Preheat oven to 375F.

Saute onion and garlic in a bit of veggie or No-Chicken broth until the onion starts to caramelize.

saute onions garlic

Place the saute in a food processor along with the beans and cream cheese, process until smooth.

process sauted onions garlic beans cream cheese

Add artichoke hearts, spinach, dill, thyme, salt and pepper.

pulse spinach artichokes and seasonings

Pulse until evenly chopped, but not pureed.

just until evenly chopped

Place in a oven-safe dish, top with grated cheese and bake for 25-30 minutes.

transfer to baking dish top w cheese

Sprinkle top with paprika and serve hot or warm.

Have you noticed I don’t have a picture of the final gooey yuminess?  My guests were already here when I pulled it from the oven.  I was so amazed with it, I sprinkled the paprika, set it on my kitchen island with a flourish and completely forgot to take a picture!  It was delish.  Go make some and see for yourself!

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Filed under appetizer, dairy-free, Food memories, Holiday foods, recipe, vegan, Vegetarian

Tazza Toscano aka Those Filled Wonton Thingies

For this year’s New Year’s Eve party, I wanted to make appetizers and finger foods for everyone’s dietary preferences.  This one satisfies everyone but the gluten-free.  It was one I had completely forgotten about until I asked my son what food he’d like to have for the party.  He remembered these when I suggested a filled mushroom as a possibility.  “What were those things you made that one time?  The ones in the wonton wrappers?”  Oh!  The Filled Wonton Thingies!  I knew where to look for the recipe….I think.  Success!  I found the stapled sheets that contained the recipes from a wine tasting we had attended at a local winery and there they were, Tazza Toscana.  Crunchymeltyflavor-y bites of pure yum.  I made them vegan from a non-vegan recipe; easily adjusted to go vegan or not.  These disappeared quickly; devoured by vegans and non-vegans alike!

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They’re amazingly easy to put together.

ingredients

  • 1 lb sausage, breakfast or Italian, cooked and crumbled.  I used Gimme Lean Sausage-style.
  • 1 1/2 cup grated cheddar.  I used Daiya.  (Be careful with non-dairy cheese. Not all of them are vegan.)
  • 1 1/2 cup grated montery jack.  I used Daiya pepper jack.
  • 1 cup ranch dressing
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 package of wonton wrappers

Preheat oven to 375 F.

First, press wonton wrappers into 24 openings of mini muffin pans.  I discovered that the pestle from my small wooden mortar and pestle worked perfectly for this job.  Try to keep the wrapper as “open” as possible.

press wraps into tins

Bake the wraps for 5 minutes and remove to cooling racks.

bake wraps

Brown the sausage, breaking it up as you go.  I use a potato masher at the end to get a good crumbled texture.

brown sausage

Add cheeses, onions, pepper and ranch dressing to the cooked sausage and stir to combine.

add onion pepper cheese ranch

Divide the filling evenly between the 24 wrappers.  I had to “rob” some of the more generously filled ones to get enough for my 24.

fill and bake

Bake the filled wrappers for 10 minutes and transfer to a serving platter.  They are best served warm, right from the oven.

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Stand back.  Tazza Toscano are irresistible and will be immediately pounced upon by your party guests!  So yummy.  So easy.  I really should make these more often!

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Filed under appetizer, Holiday foods, recipe, side dish, vegan

Thanksgiving Appetizers–Vegan!

The Holidays are upon us.  Cleaning house, preparing for visits, grocery shopping and making plans with friends.  My BFF Becky and I host a holiday cookie exchange for friends we’ve had for years.  It’s the official start of the Christmas season for most of us and we look forward to getting together for yummy food, good times and cookies.  Becky and I always get together about this time to finalize our menu, mimosa flavor and decor.  Planning the cookie party is fun, and planning always goes better with a bit of snackage.  I already have most of my Thanksgiving groceries, so decided to Google around for appetizers that would use those items.  Score!  I found two different roasted appetizers that both used a lemon-garlic aioli as a dipping sauce!  Lucky.  They both roast around the same temperature and for approximately the same time.  Perfect.  I made a half batch of everything and plated it together.  Sweet Potatoes with “Sausage” Bites, and Roasted Brussels Sprouts.  So pretty.  So yummy!

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Here’s what I used to make a snack for two BFFs.  Easy-peasy to double or even triple and use separate pans for the sprouts and potatoes.

ingredients

  • 1/2 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 32-1/2 pieces (I only needed half of this huge potato!)
  • 3 vegan breakfast sausage links, microwaved according to the package, cut into 18 pieces (you’ll have couple left over pieces)
  • 14 small Brussels Sprouts, trimmed and cut in halve or quarters, depending on the size of the sprout
  • spray oil
  • salt and pepper
  • decorative picks

For the Aioli:

  • 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
  • zest and juice of 1 small lemon–approx 1/2 tsp zest, 1 1/2 TBSP juice
  • 1 TBSP finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 425F.  Line a pan with parchment paper or a silpat.

Prepare sweet potatoes and sprouts.  Spread on the pan allowing for space in between the pieces.  Spray lightly with oil and season with salt and pepper.  Mix around with your hands to coat veggies with oil and seasoning.

chop spray season

Bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring halfway through the cooking time, until potatoes are tender and sprouts are caramelized on at least one side.

While veggies roast, make the Lemon-Garlic Aioli.  In a small bowl, combine mayo, zest and juice, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper.

assemble aioli

Whisk until smooth, cover and refrigerate until veggies are ready.

whisk til smooth

When veggies are roasted, allow them to cool slightly on the pan while you microwave the sausages.  Transfer sprouts to a serving dish.

Assemble the Sweet Potato and Sausage Bites.  Using a decorative pick, pick up a sweet potato square, then a sausage piece and then another sweet potato.

assemble sweet potato bites

Place Sweet Potato Bites standing up on the serving dish.  Place the aioli on or near the dish and garnish with parsley if you like.

sweet potato

Place out for your friends and enjoy the flavors of Thanksgiving!  The sprouts, sweet potatoes and garlic really complimented each other, and the aioli kept everything fresh and light tasting.  Overall a success!  I made half of the original aioli recipe and still had lots leftover; it would have been plenty for twice or three times the veggies.

sprouts

How did the party planning go?  Wonderfully.  Between us, Becky and I always seem to come up with a perfect combo of food, drink and decor.  This year’s theme is red and green, and we’re planning a casual buffet service instead of our usual plated brunch.  We just know it will be fabulous, because as always, the party is spiced with friends we’ve had “forever.”  Here’s a look at last year’s party to give you an idea.

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table2

table3

table4

brunch1

brunch2

star cookies

What are your Holiday traditions?

 

 

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Filed under appetizer, comfort food, Holiday foods, vegan, Vegetarian

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tacos

Last week before a Rockies game, we stopped into Prost, a Denver brewery specializing in German-style beers, or rather, biers.  We had lunch from the food truck parked outside.  I selected black bean and sweet potato tacos from the menu; yum-yum-yummy!  I just had to come home and try to make them, even though Michael is no big fan of the sweet potato.  I think they came out pretty close, if not even more yummy, due to the home grown tomatoes, green onion and cilantro topping them.  🙂

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These are super fast, super easy-peasy, and perfect for company no matter how they prefer to get their protein.

ingredients

  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 sweet potato, baked and diced (I baked mine in the microwave)
  • 1 small can diced green chiles
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • corn tortillas
  • lettuce, shredded
  • cilantro, roughly chopped
  • tomatoes, chopped
  • avocado, sliced
  • green onion, chopped
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges

Pierce the skin of the sweet potato and bake until done.  This took a bit over 4 minutes in my microwave; remember microwave power varies.  As soon as it becomes cool enough to work with it, peel and cut into 1/4 inch dice.

peel and dice sweet potato

In a pan, saute the garlic in a bit of veggie broth.  Cook until it starts to become golden and aromatic.

saute garlic

Add beans and green chiles to the pan, followed by sweet potato, cumin, salt and pepper.  Stir to combine.

heat black beans and green chile

Warm tortillas in the microwave, wrapped in a clean kitchen towel or tortilla warmer.  Prepare your toppings.

assemble toppings

Assemble tacos with the black bean mixture, green onions, cilantro, tomatoes, avocado, and lettuce.  Squeeze fresh lime juice over the tops.

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Enjoy with a bit of salsa if you like (Michael loves hot sauce on these), and a margarita or two!

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So how did the “Not a Big Fan of Sweet Potatoes” like them?  Michael sez, “Yum!” They were yummy the next night as some of the best leftovers ever.  You’ll get about 12 regular-sized tacos from this recipe.  I’m thinking they would make luscious little appetizers made with tiny corn tortillas.  The filling would also be spectacular rolled into corn tortillas and baked as enchiladas.  Oh yummy!

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Filed under appetizer, dairy-free, dinner, Garden produce, lunch, recipe, Vegetarian