Cucumber and Tuna Salad Bites

Enjoy my Cucumber and Tuna Salad Bites as a refreshing appetizer, picnic dinner or light afternoon lunch. If you keep your pantry and fridge stocked with tuna, olive tapenade and yogurt, you can whip up a quick batch of these whenever you have fresh cucumbers in your CSA or growing in your garden. I have enjoyed many delicious cucumbers from Sustainable Harvest Farm in our weekly produce share this summer and this has been one of my favorite ways to enjoy them.

Ingredients:
1 (4 ounce) can solid white, no salt-added, Albacore tuna in water
2 tablespoons plain non-fat Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons olive tapenade
¼ teaspoon salt
1 large cucumbers, sliced

Directions:

  1. Drain tuna and flake with a fork in a medium bowl.
  2. Add yogurt, mayonnaise, olive tapenade and salt. Stir to evenly combine.
  3. Use a small ice cream scoop or spoon to add dollops of tuna salad on each slice of cucumber.

Mushroom and Goat Cheese Toast

If you know a local mushroom farmer or grow your own mushrooms, you are so lucky and I am a little jealous. I created this recipe when I had access to weekly fresh mushrooms at a Farmers’ Market when we lived in Wisconsin. Most Saturdays I would make this recipe as soon as I got home from the market and serve it with a fried egg for breakfast or side salad for lunch. I couldn’t wait to eat these mushrooms and this simple and quick dish made it possible to get them on my plate in about 15 minutes. The recipe quantities below make this a great appetizer for a small group, but just trim the amount back if you want to enjoy this as a meal for one or two.

Ingredients:
14 inch baguette
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
4 ounces goat cheese

Directions:

  1. Turn oven broil setting to low heat. Slice bread into about 16 pieces and place on a baking sheet. Set aside while preparing mushrooms.
  2. Remove stems from the mushrooms and gently wash the tops before thinly slicing. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté for about four minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of water and continue cooking for another 4 to 6 minutes, until tender and golden brown. Add thyme, salt and pepper to the mushrooms and stir to evenly coat.
  3. Broil baguette slides on each side for 1 to 2 minutes. Top with equal amounts of mushrooms and goat cheese and continue broiling for another 2 minutes until cheese is warm. Serve immediately.

Servings: 8 (2 slices as appetizer)

 

Black Bean Hummus

Looking for a healthy appetizer you can quickly throw together? Whip up a batch of my Black Bean Hummus in less than five minutes. Keep canned beans in your pantry and garlic and lemon in the fridge to make this a go-to dish when you want a delicious homemade snack. It is so easy to make and tastes much better than the store-bought variety. Serve it with carrot sticks, tortilla chips or whatever you like to dip. Make it a meal by spreading hummus in a wrap or on a slice of bread topped with your favorite roasted vegetables.

Ingredients:
1 (15 ounce) can no salt added black beans
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions:

  1. Rinse and drain beans.
  2. Fit a food processor with the steel blade. Add all ingredients in the food processor and pulse until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and serve.

Servings: 4

Barbecue Pork Nachos

Barbecue nachos are a game day favorite in my hometown of Memphis, Tenn., and they are about as popular as Elvis around my old stomping grounds. For my take on this southern classic, I recommend a tangy and slightly sweet sauce. I keep my pantry well stocked with my favorite barbecue sauces so I am ready for the Football World Series or any good sports event throughout the year. My Slow Cooker Drunken Pork recipe is great for this dish. Making the pork the day before turns this into an 8-minute recipe you can whip up during halftime, if you are willing to miss a few commercials. Cheers to enjoying these nachos with good friends and a frosty beverage as you watch the Battle of the Pigskin.

Ingredients:
4 ounces tortilla chips (about 56 chips)
2 cups pulled pork
½ cup barbecue sauce, divided
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 extra small red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 jalapeño, seeded and sliced
1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and diced

Directions:

  1. Preheat broiler to high. Line one half-sheet baking pan with parchment paper or use a non-stick baking pan.
  2. Arrange tortilla chips across the pan and top with pork. Drizzle half of the barbecue sauce over the pork and chips and top with cheddar cheese, onion slices and jalapeño slices. Drizzle the remaining sauce on top of the nachos.
  3. Broil until heated through and cheese is melted, 5 to 6 minutes. Top with avocado and serve.

Servings: 4

Bourbon Maple Pork Tenderloin with Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes

The aroma of grilled meat lofting in the air makes me hungry, even if I’ve already had a meal. Add a little bourbon, maple syrup and Dijon mustard in the mix, and the smell of your pork tenderloin on the grill may even bring your neighbors over for dinner. Paired with creamy goat cheese mashed potatoes, this recipe is simple enough for a throw-together meal and impressive enough to serve when entertaining. It also makes a wonderful hearty appetizer for a crowd, and doubling the recipe will give you more to pass around. Serve this dish with your favorite bourbon of course.

Bourbon Maple Pork Tenderloin Ingredients:
1 whole pork tenderloin, about 1 pound
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons bourbon
2 tablespoons country Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

Goat Cheese Mashed Potato Ingredients:
1 pound potatoes (about 2½ cups), diced and unpeeled
water
½ tablespoon butter
½ cup skim milk
4 ounces goat cheese
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat an outdoor grill to medium heat. Place pork on a large plate or platter and season with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, whisk together maple syrup, bourbon, mustard and rosemary. Brush the pork with half of the glaze, reserving the rest.
  2. Grill the tenderloin for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally. Brush with remaining glaze and continue cooking 2 to 5 additional minutes, until pork reaches an internal temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Place pork on a cutting board and cover with aluminum foil. Let the tenderloin rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, add potatoes and cover with water. Bring to a boil and reduce to low heat. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, until tender. Drain water and return to the stove over low heat. Add skim milk, butter, salt and pepper and mash with a potato masher while butter melts. Add goat cheese and use a hand-held mixer to whip potatoes on high until smooth and creamy.

Servings: 4

Eggplant and Summer Squash Stacks

Summer is not over yet, and I’m not ready to say goodbye to some of my favorite seasonal produce. If you are like me and want to savor these flavors as long as you can, fire up the grill and celebrate these last couple of weeks before we welcome fall. Eggplant is a great match for summer squash stacked between layers of melted fresh mozzarella and homemade pesto. Enjoy as an appetizer or pair with a simple salad and a glass of your favorite white wine for an easy dinner outdoors as you watch the sunset.

Ingredients:
toothpicks
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 small eggplants, cut crosswise into ¼ inch slices
2 medium summer squash, cut crosswise into ¼ inch slices
2 tablespoons pesto
4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced into about 20 pieces

Directions:

  1. Soak toothpicks in a small bowl of water to prevent scorching when grilling.
  2. In a small bowl, add garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine, creating a grilling sauce for the produce.
  3. Arrange eggplant and squash on a large plate or platter and brush both sides evenly with the grilling sauce.
  4. Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium-high heat. Grill vegetables until golden brown and cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Remove from grill and move produce to a working surface.
  5. Remove toothpicks from water and set aside. Create eggplant and summer squash stacks by spreading a thin layer of pesto on a slice of eggplant and topping with a slice of summer squash and mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers and top with an extra squash or eggplant slice, then secure each stack with a toothpick. You should end up with about 10.
  6. Place eggplant and summer squash stacks back on the grill at medium-high heat for a couple of minutes, until cheese melts. Remove from grill and serve.

B-Kale-T Bites

Move over lettuce, sautéed kale is a new match for crispy bacon and juicy tomato slices. Served over toasted baguette slices, these bites make a hardy appetizer that is easy to eat with your hands. It’s an easy dish to make with two farm-fresh ingredients from your Community Supported Agriculture share or with summer favorites from the Farmers’ Market. This dish pairs well with an earthy Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley Oregon. Just make this simple recipe, open a bottle of vino and you are ready to entertain.

Ingredients:
1 bunch kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons water
¼ teaspoon salt, plus more for serving
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ whole grain baguette, cut into ¼ inch slices
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 medium tomatoes, sliced
10 slices bacon, cooked to desired level of crispy

Directions:

  1. Remove stems from kale and roughly chop. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, add kale and water. Sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, until wilted. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Preheat broiler to high. Broil for about one to two minutes per side, until lightly browned on the edges.
  3. In a small bowl, mix mayonnaise and balsamic vinegar. Spread balsamic mayonnaise on baguette slices and top with bacon, kale and tomatoes. Add a pinch of salt to the tomato on these B-Kale-T Bites and serve.

Servings: 4

Winter Vegetable Tacos

These vegetarian tacos, featuring winter squash, are comfort food you can feel good about devouring. I use butternut squash, but any winter squash would work well paired with Tex-Mex spices and heart-healthy beans. Enjoy as a meal or serve as tapas for your next gathering. Leftovers are excellent the next day or could be transformed into a delicious salad served over your favorite leafy greens with a few crushed tortilla chips for a little crunch.

Taco Ingredients:
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon salt
1(14.5 ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 lime
¼ cup chopped cilantro
12 soft corn tortilla shells

Topping Ingredients:
¼ cup sour cream
½ cup plain, low-fat Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 avocado, peeled and cubed
4 ounces cotija cheese, crumbled

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place squash cubes on a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil. Add chili powder, cumin and salt and toss to evenly coat. Roast for 20 minutes, flipping with a spatula halfway through.
  2. Meanwhile, make smoky cream sauce by combining sour cream and yogurt in a small mixing bowl. Add smoked paprika and garlic, stirring until well mixed. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  3. Add beans to roasting pan with squash and toss to combine. Continue roasting for 5 more minutes, until beans are heated. Drizzle the juice of one lime and sprinkle cilantro over squash and bean mixture.
  4. Warm a couple of taco shells at a time in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for about 30 seconds per side. Fill corn tortillas with an equal amount of squash and bean mixture and top with smokey cream sauce, avocado and cotija cheese.

Servings: 6

Acorn Squash and Swiss Chard Mini Frittatas

There is no better way to spend Thanksgiving morning than with a breakfast that tastes like fall. Loaded with acorn squash and Swiss chard, these mini frittatas are a healthy way to fuel up for a day of holiday cooking. This is also an excellent dish to serve for brunch with whole wheat toast, bacon and a Bloody Mary. If you are lucky enough to have leftovers, they are delicious reheated on a busy workday morning.

Ingredients:
1 bunch Swiss chard
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and diced
1 acorn squash, peeled and diced
2½ ounces goat cheese, crumbled
7 eggs
1 cup skim or low-fat milk
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly spray a 24 cup mini-muffin tin with cooking spray.
  2. Remove ribs and stems from Swiss chard and dice. Roughly chop chard leaves and set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until tender. Add squash and chard ribs and stems and cook while occasionally stirring until golden brown and tender, about 7 or 8 minutes. Add Swiss chard leaves to skillet and stir for a couple of minutes until wilted.
  4. Fill the mini-muffin cups with the sautéed vegetables and top with equal amounts of goat cheese.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables, filling the muffin cups to the rim.
  6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until frittata tops are lightly golden.

Servings: 8

 

Watermelon, Tomato and Burrata Cheese

When I think of summer, watermelon and tomatoes immediately come to mind. They are two of my favorite seasonal foods and they compliment each other nicely in this appetizer with creamy and decadent burrata cheese. The outer layer of this cheese is fresh mozzarella, and when you slice it in half you will discover a luscious, creamy center made of mozzarella soaked in cream. It is the perfect cheese to pair with this summertime appetizer. This is a great last-minute dish for entertaining guests or taking to a potluck. Cheers to fresh and easy dishes for lazy summer days!

Ingredients:
1 (4 ounce) ball of burrata cheese
½ small seedless watermelon, sliced and cubed
1 pound yellow cherry tomatoes
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon balsamic glaze

Directions:

  1. Place burrata cheese in the center of a large serving platter. Arrange watermelon and cherry tomatoes around the cheese.
  2. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with balsamic glaze. Cut a slit in the center of the cheese to allow the fresh cream to flow. Serve immediately.