Category: Appetizer

Seared Polenta with Slow Roasted Tomatoes & Pesto

Seared Polenta with Slow Roasted Tomatoes & Pesto

Seared cornmeal polenta medallions with slow roasted heirloom cherry tomatoes, homemade arugula pesto, and crème fraîche. Pairs wonderfully with a Pinot Noir. 


1 pound cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
¾ teaspoon sea salt
1 18-ounce polenta tube
2 tablespoons of butter
½ cup baby arugula, stems removed
¼ cup fresh Parmesan cheese
¼ cup olive oil
Pinch of salt to taste
2 tablespoons crème fraîche
1 teaspoon milk


Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

Add 1 pound tomatoes to a quarter-sized baking sheet with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Top with ¾ teaspoon sea salt. Shake the pan back and forth to roll tomatoes to coat.

Roast tomatoes for 2 hours, stirring a few times. Tomates can be made up to a few days in advance.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a 10” cast iron skillet over a medium heat.

Cut an 18-ounce tube of polenta into 1-inch medallions. Add medallions to the skillet and cover with a splatter guard. Sear polenta on each side for about 10 minutes, until crispy and dark brown around the edges.

While the polenta is searing, make the arugula pesto. Puree ½ cup arugula, ¼ cup Parmesan , and ¼ cup olive oil until thin, adding more oil if needed. Add a pinch of salt or more to taste. Careful not to over salt. Let stand and taste before adding more.

Thin out 2 tablespoons of crème fraîche with 1 teaspoon of milk.

When polenta is seared, turn off heat and add tomatoes to skillet, and remove from heat. Drizzle with creme fraiche and pesto and serve.

Seared Polenta with Slow Roasted Tomatoes & Pesto

Bell Pepper Nachos with 1-Minute Cheese Sauce

Bell Pepper Nachos with 1-Minute Cheese Sauce

All the nachos with none the carbs! This keto, gluten-free, low-carb take on nachos is vegetarian friendly and super easy to make with a quick and easy foolproof cheese sauce.


1-Minute Cheese Sauce
½ cup half and half
2 ounces cream cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt to taste
Mushroom Taco Meat
1 tablespoon oil
8 ounces mushrooms, chopped
1 tablespoon taco seasoning
Bell Pepper Nachos
3 bell peppers
Mushroom Taco Meat
¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese
1-Minute Cheese Sauce
4 ounces guacamole
4 ounces pico de gallo salsa
2 ounces sour cream
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro


1-Minute Cheese Sauce

Warm ½ cup half and half over a medium-low heat in a medium saucepan. Add 2 ounces cream cheese and whisk until incorporated.

Turn heat to low, and add a fourth of the 1 cup cheddar cheese. Mix to combine, then add another fourth, repeating until all ingredients are combined.

Mix in the ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper.

Mushroom Taco Meat

Warm 1 tablespoon oil in a medium saute pan.

Add 8 ounces chopped mushrooms and turn heat to medium. Once mushrooms begin to sweat, add in 1 tablespoon taco seasoning. Stir until the shrooms are fully coated. Cook until mushrooms have reduced by over half.

Bell Pepper Nachos

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Take 3 bell peppers (I recommend sweet ones like reds, yellows, and oranges), and slice them down the side lengthwise to create “chips.”

Place the peppers on a quarter-sized baking sheet, with the inside of the pepper facing up, to form cups.

Divide the Mushroom Taco Meat between the bell pepper chips. Do the same with the ¼ cup shredded cheese.

Place baking sheet in the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes.

Remove baking sheet from oven. Top the peppers off with the 1-Minute Cheese Sauce, 4 ounces of guacamole, 4 ounces of pico de gallo salsa, and 2 ounces of sour cream.

Finish off with 1 tablespoon of chopped cilantro and enjoy!

Bell Pepper Nachos with 1-Minute Cheese Sauce

Baked Feta with Tomato, Olives, Garlic

Baked Feta with Tomato, Olives, Garlic

This indulgent appetizer recipe has warm gooey baked feta swimming in fire roasted tomatoes, green olives, chickpeas, and more. Serve it up with some crusty bread!


2 cups diced tomatoes, fire roasted
2 (8-ounce) feta chunks
½ pound heirloom cherry tomatoes
½ red onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic
¼ cup chickpeas
½ cup California Grown green olives
½ lemon, sliced
1 tablespoon chopped parsley (optional)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Add 2 cups of the fire roasted tomatoes to a cast iron braiser. You can also do this on a sheet pan.

Make 2 wells in the tomatoes and place each 8-ounce feta slab in a well such that it is evenly spaced from the sides and with some space between each slab.

Add in the ½ pound cherry tomatoes, ¼ sliced onion, 3 cloves of garlic, ¼ cup chickpeas, ½ cup California Grown green olives, and ½ lemon, sliced.

Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and broil on high for at least 5 minutes, or until the feta is browns on the top and charred around the edges.

Top off with 1 tablespoon chopped parsley.

Enjoy with crusty bread or flatbread.

Baked Feta with Tomato, Olives, Garlic

Cherry Tomato Hummus Toast with Pesto

Cherry Tomato Hummus Toast with Pesto

Crusty bread toasted to perfection with beet hummus and seared tomatoes and topped off with fresh pesto and crème fraîche. Pair this tasty toast with a nice Syrah.


1 cup heirloom cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 thick slices bread
2 tablespoons pesto
2 tablespoons crème fraîche
1 tablespoon chopped parsley


Add 1 cup of cherry tomatoes to a cast iron skillet along with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cook tomatoes over a medium heat for about 5 minutes with very little stirring, until charred. You want the tomatoes to have a nice sear on them. They will pop, squirt, and release juices while cooking.

How to store cherry tomatoes: Tomatoes are best stored at room temperature. They can keep up to 10 days this way. If you must refrigerate them, enjoy them within 3 days.

Toast the 2 slices of bread. I prefer a hearty, nut and seed packed bread for this recipe but any will do.

How to freeze bread: My hack makes freezing and enjoying bread a slice at a time super easy. Lay it flat, double wrap it and put it in the freezer. Pull off slices as needed.

Divide ⅓ cup of hummus and spread it over the 2 slices of toast. Top off the hummus with the seared cherry tomatoes. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of pesto over the tomatoes and follow up with 2 tablespoons of crème fraîche.

Finish the toast with 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley.

Ever wondered what the real difference was between flat parsley (Italian parsley) and curly parsley? Curly is mostly for garnish where Italian parsley is more for cooking like tabbouleh or parsley tea.


Cherry Tomato Hummus Toast with Pesto

Spinach Artichoke Dip Stuffed Mushrooms

Spinach Artichoke Dip Stuffed Mushrooms

Two classic appetizers in one! Creamy and tangy spinach and artichoke dip stuffed inside roasted savory mushrooms with a crunchy topping. Pairs perfectly with a Pinot Noir


1 pound medium-sized mushrooms
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed & drained
cup chopped artichoke hearts
¼ cup sour cream
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
cup Panko breadcrumbs


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Prepare the mushrooms, yo! There’s a lot of myths out there on how you shouldn’t wash mushrooms and if you do, you have to use a toothbrush. I call BS. You can wash mushrooms! See my video on how to clean mushrooms.

Remove the stems from the 1 pound of mushrooms. You can chop them up and include them in the stuffing if you like. I am freezing mine for future soup stock. If you do use the mushroom stems, chop and cook them down before adding them to the stuffing.

Place the mushrooms on a quarter-sized baking sheet, gills side up.

How to store mushrooms: Place mushrooms in a brown paper bag. This will absorb any excess moisture and prevent them from getting slimy and spoiling.

Add the 4 ounces cream cheese, ⅓ cup spinach, ⅓ cup artichoke hearts, ¼ cup sour cream, ¼ cup parmesan cheese, 3 garlic cloves, ½ teaspoon sea salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper to a mixing bowl. Mix until the spinach artichoke dip stuffing is well combined. Pro tip: the finer the chop on the spinach and artichoke hearts the easier the shrooms will be to stuff.

How to store sour cream: Store it in the coldest part of your fridge. It will keep for a week past the Best By date if unopened, and 2 weeks once opened. You can freeze it for up to 2 months. Here are all of my storage tips.

Transfer the spinach artichoke dip stuffing to a piping bag (or any plastic bag), press the stuffing down and into one corner. Trim off that corner so you have a ½-inch sized whole to pipe the stuffing through.

Pipe the stuffing into each of the mushrooms, overstuffing them as needed. You may end up with some leftover stuffing. Try it spread over a crusty piece of toast. Yum!

Fill a shallow bowl with ⅓ cup Panko breadcrumbs. Dip the stuffing side of the mushrooms into the breadcrumbs such that they are fully coated. If you want a crispier topping, mix 1 tablespoons of olive oil into the breadcrumbs before dipping the mushrooms.

Place mushrooms back onto the baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Broil on high for a minute or until the breaded tops are golden brown.

Enjoy immediately. That crunchy topping will not keep if refrigerated.

Spinach Artichoke Dip Stuffed Mushrooms Recipe

Baked Thai Cauliflower Wings Recipe

Baked Thai Cauliflower Wings

A veggie-forward twist on Buffalo wings, made with cauliflower, baked and crispy, and dipped in a spicy Thai red chili glaze. This is your next appetizer!


1 large head cauliflower
½ cup flour
teaspoon sea salt
¾ cup buttermilk
1 ½ cups Panko breadcrumbs
cup Thai sweet red chili sauce
cup Buffalo sauce
1 scallion, finely chopped
Sesame seeds
Lime wedges


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a half-sized baking sheet with parchment paper.

Remove the greens and stem from the cauliflower and cut it into equal pieces, as much as possible. Set the florets aside.

Add the ½ cup flour, ⅛ teaspoon sea salt, and ¾ cup buttermilk to a large mixing bowl. Mix to combine.

Don’t have buttermilk? See my video on how to make buttermilk with yogurt, milk, or other ingredients.

Flour, stored in an airtight container in a cool dry place, will last 1 year past the Best By date, or 2 years past in the fridge or freezer.

Buttermilk will last up to 2 weeks past the Best By date once opened.

Add the cauliflower florets to the buttermilk mixture and mix until they are fully coated. Add 1 ½ cup Panko breadcrumbs to a shallow bowl. Individually dip the coated florets in the breadcrumbs until fully coated.

Store bought Panko breadcrumbs will keep for 3 months past the Best By date or 1 year past, if in the freezer.

Transfer florets to the parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes until they are golden brown. Halfway through, flip florets over for an even bake.

Mix together the ⅔ cup Thai sweet red chili sauce and ⅓ cup Buffalo sauce.

Transfer baked florets to a large mixing bowl and coat the florets with about ¾ths of the sauce. Use the remaining as a dipping sauce.

Plate the Baked Thai Cauliflower Wings with scallions and sesame seeds. Serve immediately as the glaze will cause the crispy wings to soften.


Baked Thai Cauliflower Wings Recipe

Sheet Pan Chilaquiles Nachos Main

Sheet Pan Chilaquiles Nachos

A true Mexican comfort food turned into delicious vegetarian nachos. This recipe has slow-cooked crockpot beans and a homemade nacho cheese sauce.


Easy Crock Pot Pinto Beans
1 pound dry pinto beans
½ cup mirepoix
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
7 cups water
4 cups veggie broth
Simple Nacho Cheese Sauce
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup whole milk
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Sheet Pan Chilaquiles
12 ounces tortilla chips, thick cut
½ cup enchilada sauce
1 cup Easy Crock Pot Pinto Beans
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups Simple Nacho Cheese Sauce
¼ cup chopped red onion
2 tablespoons sour cream
¼ cup chopped cilantro
1 avocado, sliced


Easy Crock Pot Pinto Beans

Note: These homemade beans take 8 hours to cook, so if your hungry now, store-bought beans are fine to use!

Check the beans for any bad ones and remove them. Rinse remaining beans.

Add all ingredients to the crockpot.

Cook on medium-high for 8 hours, until beans are tender.

There will be leftover liquid. You can serve the beans kinda soupy or strain them out. The leftover liquid can be used later in soup stocks.

To store the beans, place them in an airtight container in the fridge. You can freeze them for up to 6 months.

These beans are great as a side to any Mexican dish but make great tacos, nachos, and burritos too.

Easy Crock Pot Pinto Beans Main

Simple Nacho Cheese Sauce

Note: You can also use store-bought nacho cheese sauce to save time, but this fresh-made sauce is so worth it!

In a saute pan, melt the butter over a medium-low heat. Sift in the flour and mix until well combined.

Add the milk and turn the heat to medium-high. Whisk the mixture until well combined.

Add the salt and cayenne pepper.

Once the mixture begins to simmer, reduce to medium heat. Adjust as needed to keep a low simmer. Cook for 2 minutes. The sauce should thicken.

Remove the pan from the heat. Add in a handful of the cheese and mix until it is fully melted and incorporated. Repeat until all of the cheese has been incorporated.

If you keep heat during this step, you risk the cheese breaking.

To store the extra sauce, it will last about four days in the fridge. You can freeze it where it will keep for 6 months but the texture will change.

Simple Nacho Cheese Sauce Main

Sheet Pan Chilaquiles

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Toss chips with the enchilada sauce.

Layer chips, beans, and cheddar cheese onto a sheet pan.

Bake for 5 to 10 minutes, until the cheese, has fully melted.

Remove from the oven and cover with nacho cheese sauce.

Top with chopped onion, cilantro, sour cream, and slices of avocado.

You pretty much want to eat the nachos immediately. I mean, why wouldn’t you motorboat these right away!

Sheet Pan Chilaquiles Nachos Main

Roasted Salsa Roja Main

Roasted Salsa Roja

Here is a quick and easy homemade salsa recipe that’s no fuss, with roasted tomatoes and other veggies, but darn tasty. Plus, I explain how to remove the heat from those chile peppers.


1 lb tomatoes
2 jalapeños
2 garlic cloves, peeled
yellow onion
2 tsp teaspoons sea salt, divided
1 ½ tbsp packed cilantro leaves
1 tsp olive oil


Preheat the oven by setting the broiler to high.

Slice the jalapenos in half lengthwise. If you don’t want the salsa to be too spicy, remove the seeds, but more importantly, the white pith from the peppers. This is where most of the heat is stored.

Core out any remaining bits of the stem on the tomatoes.

Add the tomatoes, jalapenos, garlic, and onion to a large mixing bowl with the olive oil. Toss until fully coated.

Place the sliced tomatoes and place them cut-side down on a baking sheet.

Transfer remaining ingredients to a baking sheet and sprinkle them with half the sea salt. Broil for about 20 minutes until tomatoes, and other ingredients, are roasted and slightly charred. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes.

Add ingredients to a food processor (or blender) and puree until desired consistency is reached. Add cilantro and pulse a few times to mix in. Add remaining salt as desired.


Roasted Salsa Roja

Veggie Rainbow Roll Ups with Spinach Tortillas

Here is a fun, tasty way to get kids to eat their veggies. Seriously, a much better way to taste the rainbow! These roll ups (or pinwheels) are bursting with fresh bell peppers, carrots, cabbage, and more. Did I mention kid-friendly?!


3 12-inch spinach tortillas
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 ounces sour cream
1 red pepper, julienned
1 yellow pepper, julienned
1 large carrot, julienned
¼ red cabbage, julienned
1 cup baby spinach


In a mixing bowl using a hand mixer, whisk together the sour cream and softened cream cheese until it is combined and fluffy.

Divide the mixture between the 3 spinach tortillas by evenly spreading it over one side of each tortilla.

With each tortilla, lay the red peppers across in a single, even row. Repeat for the yellow peppers, carrot, red cabbage, and spinach.

Starting at one side, roll up the tortilla over the veggies, pressing it together tightly as you do.

Cut the rolled tortillas widthwise making 1-inch slices.

Place the roll ups on a plate and cover with plastic. Refrigerate for one hour before serving.


Caramelized Onion Dip Recipe Main

Caramelized Onion Dip

Here’s an easy and delicious dip for the Super Bowl or any time of year. Made with sweet and jammy caramelized onions, white wine, and cream cheese, this dip is chip ready! Plus a trick to quickly dice onions.


2 large yellow onions, diced
2 tbsp butter
¼ cup white wine
12 oz sour cream
8 oz cream cheese, softened
¼ cup chopped parsley, divided


Melt butter in a medium sized pan over a medium heat.

Add the onions, and caramelize them. This will take about 30 minutes or so. The onions will first sweat and then become slightly translucent. The key here is to caramelize them and not burn them, so you will have to turn down the heat once they get going. Be sure to stir them every few minutes but onions caramelize the best when ignored a bit. They are done when they are a deep golden brown and jammy.

Deglaze pan by adding just enough white wine to cover the bits stuck to the pan, and bringing it to a simmer. Use a spatula to scrape the bits away while the liquid cooks off.

In a mixing bowl, using a hand mixer, mix together the sour cream and cream cheese. Then add in the caramelized onions and the deglazed bits. Add in half of the chopped parsley and mix everything until well combined.

Transfer mixture to a dip bowl and top with remaining chopped parsley. Serve with ridged potato chips or slices of bread.


Caramelized Onion Dip


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