**REPOST*** Superbowl Sunday Healthy Appetizer – Potato Skins

I saw this recipe on the food channel one Saturday morning. The show was about eating healthy with Ellie Krieger and the recipe looked amazing. I thought it would be a good Football or card party kind-of-an-appetizer since most appetizers served at events tend to lean very heavy on the calories. I tested the recipe, it was perfect! Loved it and hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Broccoli and Cheddar-Stuffed Potato Skins with Avocado Creme

Recipe created December 31, 2009

Broccoli and Cheddar-Stuffed Potato Skins with Avocado Creme
Ingredients:
8 small Idaho potatoes (about 2-1/2 pounds total), scrubbed and dried
4 teaspoons of olive oil
8 ounces broccoli florets, coarsely chopped (about 4 cups)
6 pieces of Canadian bacon, finely diced (about 6 ounces) (can be omitted) or use Turkey Bacon
¾ to 1 cup of grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese (about 3 ounces)

Avocado Crème:
2 scallions (green onions) thinly sliced and greens reserved
1 medium avocado
2 tablespoons of reduced fat sour cream or 2% Greek Fage Greek Yogurt
Two tablespoons lime juice
¼ cup cilantro leaves (or use another herb if do not like cilantro like parsley, thyme)
1 clove garlic
¼-teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Pierce the potatoes several times with a fork and rub lightly with olive oil (not the 4 teaspoons in the recipe above – extra). Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes until baked potatoes are cooked thoroughly and tender. Remove from oven and cool completely enough so they are easy to handle. Slice potatoes in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop all but 1/8” of the potato flesh, leave the skin in place. Save the scooped potato flesh for another use (possibly fresh corn and potato chowder).Brush both inside and outside of potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Place potatoes, skin-side down and baking sheet until skins are crisp and edges are golden brown, about 20 minutes.

While potato skins are cooking, prepare the filling. Steam the chopped broccoli until crisp tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and set aside. In a non-stick sauté skillet, add the chopped Canadian bacon or turkey bacon and cook until crisp stirring often, about 3 to 4 minutes, put cooked bacon on paper towel to remove excess fat. To make avocado crème, combine scallion (green onions) whites, avocado, sour cream or Greek Yogurt, lime juice, cilantro (or other preferred herb), garlic and salt in a small bowl of a food processor or blender and process on high until smooth.

Toss the broccoli with cheese and spoon filling evenly among cooked halved potato skins. Return potatoes to oven and bake until cheese is melted, approximately 5 minutes, Spoon 1 tablespoon of the avocado cream on top of the broccoli-filled potatoes, then top with scallion greens and 1 teaspoon crisped bacon bits.

Calories: 180, Total Fat: 10g, Protein 8g, Carbs 15g, Fiber 3g, Cholesterol 20 mg

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Tomato Sweet Onion Macaroni Salad

I was hired to cater a workshop event recently and wanted to make macaroni salad that would not spoil sitting out in a warm room. After a lot of researching, I decided to come up with something of my own using different ideas from recipes. I found this tomato relish on Recipezaar and just made minor adjustments to it. I added the tomato relish to the cooked elbow macaroni. It came out fantastic, I was surprised. I have become encouraged to come up with my own recipes because it shows I have really improved as an experimental/healthy/simple home cook in the last year or two. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. Enjoy!

Tomato Sweet Onion Macaroni Salad
Serves 14 to 16 people ½ cup servings
Created on October 5, 2011

Click on the image to see an enlarged picture

1 Box of Whole Grain Elbow Macaroni
3 Stalks of Celery, chopped
1 quart of mini Heirloom Tomatoes, chopped (I used ¼ yellow, ¼ orange and ½ red tomatoes)
½ of a red onion finely minced
3 green onions, minced fine
½ cup of Fage Greek yogurt or Hellman’s mayonnaise (both ways is delicious)
2 tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar
2 tablespoons of Olive Oil
½ cup of freshly minced parsley
Salt/Pepper to taste

Prepare the tomato relish in the morning if you can. This way the tomatoes have time to marinate with all the other seasonings. Trust me it is worth the wait.

Cut the mini Heirloom tomatoes into quarters and put in a glass bowl. Finely mince the red onion. You can use green onions or shallots if you want a milder taste. Add the Balsamic Vinegar, Olive Oil and season with salt and pepper. Mix well. Cover and marinate for about 3 to 4 hours. The juices from the tomatoes will develop and this will really flavor the macaroni salad.

Cook the elbow macaroni per the package directions. Rinse well and put in a bowl and set aside. Chop 3 stalks of celery and mince the green onions and parsley. Add to the cooked elbow macaroni. Add the tomato relish. Combine all the ingredients before adding the Greek yogurt or mayonnaise. Stir well. Serve with sandwiches or a fresh green salad.

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Grilled Guacamole Dip

There were avocados on sale when I went grocery shopping over the Fourth of July weekend and I thought I would try something different with the avocados. I am a huge fan of guacamole and saw something quick on the food channel about grilling avocados. I decided to experiment and try grilling all my vegetables and created this amazing dip. I am thinking that next time, I will grill a couple of Jalapeno peppers and add it to the dip to give it some pop instead of using Tabasco sauce. This recipe is so delicious!

Grilled Guacamole Dip, created 07/06/2010

(2) Roma Tomatoes, sliced thick
(3) Avocados, cut in half and pitted
(1) Lemon, sliced thick
(1) Onion, sliced thick
(2-3) Tablespoons Olive Oil (approximately)
(2) Corn on the Cob (fresh or already cooked)
Tabasco Sauce
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Prep and Grilling the Vegetables:
Cut tomatoes, onion, and lemon into thick slices. Cut the avocados in half and remove the seed. Preheat a grill pan or if you are barbequing that day, you can barbeque these items on the grill. Brush all the vegetables lightly with olive oil except for the lemon and the hard green part of the avocado shell. Place the avocado halved side down on the grill along with the sliced onions. Lightly season the sliced onion with salt and pepper. Grill the avocado and onion until you have good grill marks – will be about 4 to 5 minutes for the avocados and maybe 6 to 7 minutes for the onion. Remove from the grill and place the sliced tomato and lemon on the grill. The tomatoes will take no more than a minute and half and the lemon slices about 3 to 4 minutes. Grill the corn on the cob until the corn is light brown all the way around the cob, brush lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. This may take a good ten to fifteen minutes depends on your oven or grill.

To Make the Guacamole:
With a large spoon, gently run the spoon around the avocado shell and remove the inside of the avocado and put in a bowl. Chop into small pieces the grilled onion and place in the bowl. Chop up the grilled tomatoes and put aside. Run a sharp knife down each side of the cob to remove the corn.

Mash the avocados to the desired consistency you prefer and add the tomatoes and the corn. Squeeze the lemon slices to extract the juices and mix all the ingredients well. Add about 15 to 20 drops of Tabasco sauce and lightly season with salt and pepper. Mix lightly one more time and serve with vegetables, crackers, or chips. Enjoy!

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Roasted Rosemary Pecans

I have never had herbed nuts and tasted them for the first time in my life at a friend’s parents home over Thanksgiving and I am just hooked. I love the flavor of roasted nuts with fresh herbs. The smell of fresh rosemary tossed with olive oil and fresh pecans in the oven is just incredible! I am hooked. The holiday smell lingers in the house for days after the nuts are roasted. This recipe makes excellent gifts to give away around the holidays. Put in a nice jar with a ribbon on it and bring to friends for gifts. The best part of this recipe is that it is vegetarian, can be vegan, extremely healthy and diabetes friendly. Love it!

Roasted Rosemary Pecans, created on 12/05/10

Roasted Rosemary Pecans

1 pound of pecans
3 tablespoons of freshly chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 teaspoons of butter
1 teaspoon of salt
Melt the butter with olive oil in the microwave for about 15 seconds. Put the pecans in a bowl and pour the melted butter over the nuts. Toss with the chopped rosemary and salt well. Layer on a stone or cookie sheet and roast at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes stirring constantly. Cool and serve.

CLICK HERE TO PRINT THE RECIPE

Broccoli and Cheddar-Stuffed Potato Skins with Avocado Creme

I saw this recipe on the food channel one Saturday morning. The show was about eating healthy with Ellie Krieger and the recipe looked amazing. I thought it would be a good Football or card party kind-of-an-appetizer since most appetizers served at events tend to lean very heavy on the calories. I tested the recipe, it was perfect! Loved it and hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Broccoli and Cheddar-Stuffed Potato Skins with Avocado Creme

Recipe created December 31, 2009

Broccoli and Cheddar-Stuffed Potato Skins with Avocado Creme
Ingredients:
8 small Idaho potatoes (about 2-1/2 pounds total), scrubbed and dried
4 teaspoons of olive oil
8 ounces broccoli florets, coarsely chopped (about 4 cups)
6 pieces of Canadian bacon, finely diced (about 6 ounces) (can be omitted) or use Turkey Bacon
¾ to 1 cup of grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese (about 3 ounces)

Avocado Crème:
2 scallions (green onions) thinly sliced and greens reserved
1 medium avocado
2 tablespoons of reduced fat sour cream or 2% Greek Fage Greek Yogurt
Two tablespoons lime juice
¼ cup cilantro leaves (or use another herb if do not like cilantro like parsley, thyme)
1 clove garlic
¼-teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Pierce the potatoes several times with a fork and rub lightly with olive oil (not the 4 teaspoons in the recipe above – extra). Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes until baked potatoes are cooked thoroughly and tender. Remove from oven and cool completely enough so they are easy to handle. Slice potatoes in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop all but 1/8” of the potato flesh, leave the skin in place. Save the scooped potato flesh for another use (possibly fresh corn and potato chowder).Brush both inside and outside of potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Place potatoes, skin-side down and baking sheet until skins are crisp and edges are golden brown, about 20 minutes.

While potato skins are cooking, prepare the filling. Steam the chopped broccoli until crisp tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and set aside. In a non-stick sauté skillet, add the chopped Canadian bacon or turkey bacon and cook until crisp stirring often, about 3 to 4 minutes, put cooked bacon on paper towel to remove excess fat. To make avocado crème, combine scallion (green onions) whites, avocado, sour cream or Greek Yogurt, lime juice, cilantro (or other preferred herb), garlic and salt in a small bowl of a food processor or blender and process on high until smooth.

Toss the broccoli with cheese and spoon filling evenly among cooked halved potato skins. Return potatoes to oven and bake until cheese is melted, approximately 5 minutes, Spoon 1 tablespoon of the avocado cream on top of the broccoli-filled potatoes, then top with scallion greens and 1 teaspoon crisped bacon bits.

Calories: 180, Total Fat: 10g, Protein 8g, Carbs 15g, Fiber 3g, Cholesterol 20 mg

CLICK HERE TO PRINT THE RECIPE

Stuffed Dates with Blue Cheese and Bacon Appetizer

This recipe idea came from a favorite restaurant of mine, located in Rochester Hills, Michigan called Mind, Body, and Spirit. The dish I ordered was called spinach salad with stuffed dates and blue cheese. I kept thinking to myself, blue cheese, bacon, and dates did not sound very appealing and BOY! Was I wrong! The sharpness of the blue cheese, the saltiness of the bacon with the sweetness of the dates just complement each other so well. The restaurant now serves the stuffed dates as an appetizer and I do not have to order the stuff dates there anymore because I found the recipe on-line and make it often at home.

Stuffed Dates with Blue Cheese and Bacon Appetizer

Recipe re-created June 29, 2010

1 dozen Medjool Dates, pitted
(You can adjust the quantity for the number of people you want to serve – for an appetizer – figure 3 per person)
6 slices of bacon, cut in half so there will be 12 halved slices
¼ to ½ cup of blue cheese crumbles
12 toothpicks

Slice the date oblong to remove the seed. Do not cut through the date completely, just enough to remove the seed. Remove the seed and repeat with the rest of the dates. Stuff the dates with ½ teaspoon to 1-1/2 teaspoon of crumbled blue cheese and close the slit up. Wrap a ½ slice of bacon around the stuffed date and secure with a toothpick. Put on a cookie tray or stone and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes until the bacon is cooked. Serve warm. Enjoy!

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Roasted Garlic and Cannellini Bean Hummus

I love any kind of hummus and have been experimenting more and more on different varieties of beans and what I can do with them. I love hummus made with garbanzo beans or chickpeas and do not get me wrong it is my all time favorite, but I really wanted to try something different. This was inspired by the restaurant California Pizza Kitchen’s Cannellini Bean hummus appetizer but with a different twist. The dip was made on Memorial weekend and got rave reviews from my guests. Now I am excited to try different varieties I might make a hummus with black beans next.

Roasted Garlic and Cannellini Bean Hummus, created on 5/30/2010

2 cans of Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed well
3 heads of garlic – I used all the 3 heads the flavor was incredible
¼ to ½ cup Olive Oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Parsley

Cut the top of the garlic heads off exposing some of the garlic – do not break the garlic apart. In a small stone, place the cut garlic head up and sprinkle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake the garlic until roasted. You can also do this with aluminum foil, put the exposed garlic in the foil and close up the foil. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 45. Let the garlic cool, and then break the heads apart and squeeze the roasted garlic out of the cloves. This is like pure gold when cooking and flavoring food. The garlic becomes very sweet and has such a nice flavor to compliment the food.

In a food processor, put the beans, roasted garlic and olive oil and pulse until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pulse the beans until you reach the desired consistency or texture you want. Add olive oil as needed. Be careful not to put too much you can always add a little bit at a time but you cannot take out the excess oil once you pour it in the hummus mixture.

If you want a little or a lot of kick to the hummus, you can add your favorite hot sauce, again be careful of how much you put in. Serve with toasted French bread, vegetables or your favorite crackers. Enjoy!

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Yummy Hummus!

This is another one of my recipes that I make all the time and do not feel guilty with the calories. Yummy hummus is a healthy recipe, loaded with protein and an excellent dip to use in sandwiches. I keep the hummus in the refrigerator ready and available with cut up carrot or celery sticks so that if someone wants to munch on something that does not have a lot of calories, they can do that. Yummy Hummus is such an easy recipe to make with dried beans cooked or if pressed for time, canned garbanzo (a.k.a. chick peas).

Yummy Hummus!  

Recipe created on 12/09/2007

Hummus

1 – 2 garlic glove – peeled and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup good tasting olive oil
1/4 to 1/2 cup of water, depending on smoothness of hummus
16 oz canned chickpeas or garbanzo beans – rinsed and drained
1/2 cup Tahnini – make sure the Tahnini is stirred well a lot of it settles on the bottom of the jar

Put all ingredients in blender or food processor until smooth and has the desired flavor you want. Add salt, scrape the sides of food processor as needed. And attack with food!

I made a parsley oil – 1/4 cup olive oil with 2 Tablespoons of fresh parsley and dolloped that on top of hummus with roasted pine nuts.
Can be refrigerated up to 3 days

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Pam’s Guacamole

Guacamole is one of my favorite dips. I like to serve this dip because it is healthy and a good fat and I am not worried about the calorie content as much as the other dips. I make it all the time for just Mexican dishes or when I have people over. I serve it with corn tortilla chips or black bean chips – there never is any left. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.

Pam’s Guacamole Dip  

Recipe created on 02/16/2010

Guacamole

2 large Haas ripe avocados (the avocados I pick are firm and a little bit on the dark green side and when you press the avocado; there is a tiny dent on both sides from your fingers)

1 large Roma tomato

2 Tablespoons of lime juice (the one I used Santa Cruz Organic Lime Juice)

1-2 Tablespoons of freshly chopped cilantro

2 small garlic cloves

2 – 3 Tablespoons of Fage Greek Yogurt (you can use 2% or fat free)

Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste (I used about 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 2 cracks of fresh pepper)

Cut the avocado in half and remove the seed by whacking the seed with a knife. Slightly twist the seed and remove. Scoop out the flesh part of the avocado with a large spoon and put into a bowl. Mash the meat of the avocado with a fork until you have the right texture you want. Add the lime juice, diced tomato, minced garlic, chopped cilantro and greek yogurt. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and serve with your favorite tortilla chips.

Enjoy!

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7 Layer Salad Squares

A friend asked me for some appetizer ideas for a family get-together for the New Year holiday. I used to be a Pampered Chef kitchen consultant so I thought I would check out some of the cookbooks and see what I could come up with. I found this recipe that I demonstrated at a kitchen show but really wanted to change the recipe to a more healthier version for my parties. Due to the travel time, there were some ingredients in the recipe that could become spoiled I had to figure out a way to make the recipe travel friendly.

7 Layer Salad Squares
Modified recipe from Pampered Chef on 01/02/2010

2 packages (8 ounces each) low-fat refrigerated crescent rolls
1 package (8 ounces) Neufchatel cheese
1 garlic clove minced
6 slices bacon, crisply cooked, crumbled (put bacon on paper towel to drain grease)
1 cup thawed frozen baby petite peas
3 plum tomatoes or ½ pint of cherry tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 cups thinly sliced Roman lettuce
½ cup (2 ounces) 2% milk fat shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup thinly sliced red onion

Salad Dressing (need ½ cup of this)
½ cup 2% Fago Greek Yogurt
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 12×15 tray with a lip or a 12 x 15 stone with a lip. Unroll the crescent rolls with the longest side of the rolls to the shortest side of the tray.  Seams of the crescent roll need to be pressed together tightly using your fingers or a mini roller. Bake 12 minutes until lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

In a bowl, combine the Neufchatel cheese, ½ cup of the homemade salad dressing, and garlic, mix until completely smooth. I found using a spoon first and then a whisk later helped gets rid of all the lumps. Add half of the crumbled bacon with half the peas in the salad dressing and spread mixture over the baked cooled crescent roll square.

Spread the seeded chopped tomatoes evenly over the salad dressing. Spread the thinly sliced lettuce over the tomatoes. Sprinkle the shredded cheddar cheese over the lettuce and the thinly sliced onion.  Cut the appetizer into 24 even squares.

Eat Healthy!

Cook’s Note
The Greek yogurt… I am just hooked on this. I am using the Greek yogurt for recipes that require mayonnaise and sometimes sour cream. It is a perfect match and much healthier for you with really no difference in texture or flavor.

Another Pam’s Tip
Always remember to remove the seeds from tomatoes when using it for appetizers because the seeds cause juice and it could make the recipe very soggy.

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