Appetizers

Black Bean and Charred Pepper Quesadillas

Some of the best food ideas come from inspiration of others. This one is no exception. I love Mexican food, and I have a soft spot for quesadillas. I think the reason behind my adoration for ‘dillas, is the ability to make it a handheld and of course, the combinations of flavors. I tend to be simple with my ingredients, but as I try to focus on more plant-based meals lately, I decided to keep this guy a vegetarian-friendly option.

I love making tortillas from scratch (which is super easy to do, and I’ll make that recipe this summer in the new digs.. oh yeah, WE’RE MOVING!), but for this go round, we used Siete brand tortillas. Siete is a family-operated and owned company that makes grain free tortillas, tortilla chips, queso, and hot sauce! They boast quality ingredients in their products, and I must say, they are no joke. I love them. You can find them here!

To start, I chopped all of my peppers and charred them on the burner, yep, like flat out burnt the sides of the peppers right on the flame… #ballin. I diced and chopped them up and sprinkled a bit of paprika, set them aside. Next, I drained and rinsed the black beans and began to warm the tortillas. I used a regular size 12″ frying pan (with no oil, you want the outside of the tortillas to crisp) and let the side get hot. I added in the peppers, black beans and Mexican cheese blend (I bought at the store) and began to assemble the quesadilla.

I let the tortilla sit on each side to brown for approximately 30 seconds, but I would use a spatula to check underneath occasionally. I used a plate (or my hand, which resulted in a burn) to flip once I added the second tortilla to the top. You will hear the sizzle of cheese and if you lip a side of the quesadilla and it doesn’t come off quick, you’ll know you have one to two more minutes until it is done.

Repeat for the remainder of the tortillas (I used eight, making four mini quesadillas) and use a pizza cutter to make the perfect triangles. Served with guac, sour cream, and a drizzle of hot sauce and you have an awesome dinner (or snack!) NOMaste ๐Ÿ™‚

Fried Cauliflower (and dipping sauce)

One of my very first jobs out of college was a hostess at Applebee’s, and eventually becoming a server. It was one of the jobs that I hated and loved at the same time. I loved getting to talk to guests and making decent tips by up-selling a beer or an appetizer (or “For 2.99 more you can get shrimp on your steak”). It was pain in the you-know-what when we were packed and every table was sat, but if you were “cut,” you still had to wait for the tables to ask for the check, pay, and leave. Nevertheless, it taught me a lot about customer service, kindness, and was my first dabble in the culinary world.

You might ask, “Well Morgan, how does this connect to cauliflower.” I mean, it really doesn’t, but whenever I left Applebee’s I would smell like a mozzarella stick or a boneless wing, which are fried goodness. The new craze now is fried eggplant, zucchini, and yes, cauliflower. I wonder if Applebee’s is following the cauliflower bandwagon nowadays. Anyway, cauliflower is one of the most nutrient-dense and low-carb vegetables you could eat. It’s versatile and easy to cook, which is also a plus. Cauliflower, like broccoli, are members of the cruciferous vegetables family, meaning it helps with digestion and inflammation. I bet you didn’t know you were getting a nutrition lesson here huh? #boom.

Frying cauliflower is new to me, and so I wanted to make this recipe simple and easy to do. This recipe only calls for four ingredients:

  • 1 large head cauliflower
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups flour (of choice – I prefer cassava, but wanted to finish up my AP Flour)
  • Salt
  • Oil for frying (I used EVOO – I prefer not to cook with canola or vegetable, other than olive.)

Start by cutting the cauliflower into florets, whether small or large is your prerogative. Crack three eggs into a bowl and whisk. Pour the flour into a separate bowl and begin the assembly line. Pour the oil into a pot (I used an entire bottle) and heat it up, using a thermometer to gauge the temp: the oil should reach around 350* to start frying.

Dip the cauliflower into the egg-wash, then into the flour, and set on a plate. Repeat until all of the cauliflower has been coated with both the egg and then the flour. Fry in batches of 10-12 florets at a time, placing them on a plate with lined paper towel to absorb excess oil. Season with salt as you go.

I also made a dip, but won’t take credit for it as it was from a recipe book by Yotam Ottolenghi:

  • 3 tbsp greek yogurt
  • 3 tbsp sour cream
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

The cauliflower comes out beautifully browned, crisp, and tender on the inside. Go ahead and dredge the cauliflower into the dip and you’ve got a delectable appetizer, and you absolutely do not have to share! NOMaste ๐Ÿ™‚

Herbed Baked Sweet Potato Fries (with garlic aioli)

When I was younger, I was always told that sweet potatoes were unhealthy. The reason? Because they are sweet. I’m sorry, what? I could have doughnuts, and all sorts of things, but sweet potatoes were made on occasion. It was the craziest notion. Sweet potatoes happen to be on incredible tuber and phenomenal for weight loss and overall health. They are packed with vitamin C, fiber, vitamin A, and magnesium. Sure, they are on the starchy side, but sweet potato, especially sweet potato fries, are certainly a great addition to your eating lifestyle.

This recipe is incredibly simple and doesn’t require much prep. Sweet potato fries became more popular most recently in the last 15 years or so, around the same time that studies came out saying “sweet potatoes are good to eat!” because why would anyone not do research on their own…. *shoulder shrug*

Making homemade sweet potato fries may not taste like a restaurant, especially because most restaurants fry their potatoes or bake them coated in flour. This batch only calls for a toss of avocado oil, a sprinkle of sea salt, and fresh ground rosemary. What are fries without a sauce to dip in? Whipping up a garlic aioli is super simple too, using mayo, garlic, lemon juice, and salt.

The result are beautifully baked, tasty fries paired with a delicious dipping sauce. I can’t wait to try different seasonings and combinations. NOMaste ๐Ÿ™‚

Herbed Baked Sweet Potato Fries (with garlic aioli)

Course Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine American
Keyword aioli, baked, fries, garlic, herbed, sweet potato
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 6 people
Author nomastehungry

Ingredients

For the fries

  • 2 medium Sweet potatoes rinsed, sliced, then sliced into fries
  • 3 tbsp Avocado oil
  • Sea salt to taste
  • dried rosemary to taste

For the aioli

  • 2 tbsp Mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp Minced garlic
  • salt to taste
  • lemon juice to taste

Instructions

For the sweet potato fries

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  Begin by rinsing and slicing the sweet potatoes into fry shape.

  2. Toss the fries in avocado oil and season with dried rosemary.  Bake for 20 minutes.  For the last few minutes turn the oven to “Broil”

  3. Let sit for a few minutes, then season with sea salt.

For the aioli

  1. Take two tbsp of mayonnaise, one tbsp of garlic and mix together in a bowl.  Add in salt and lemon juice.  Continue to mix until all ingredients are combined.

New Year Eve Throw-down! Appetizer III – Spinach Dip

This has been one hell of a week to say the least. Without going into details, and getting incredibly emotional, we lost a very special person in our family a week ago Friday (tomorrow). My emotions are running rampant; I feel like I could cry or throw a chair at the drop of a hat. Despite this loss, the memories will always live in our hearts and our minds. I’m glad to have spent the weekend with family and survive the loss in our conversations together. RIP.

There’s no great segue into this recipe, except for the fact that I promised to post this recipe, and I’m glad to, especially because I am a major sucker for spinach dip (and coffee cakes from Drake’s, which were always at the ready whenever I saw the angel that left us… ah, a segue).ย ย In all honesty, spinach dip does not need to be or should be difficult to make. It’s combining cheesy ingredients with chopped spinach and artichokes, broiled in a ramekin until the cheesy top is crusty and golden brown, served with chips, and in this case.. Siete chips!

I have definitely brought up Siete chips before, and I will a thousand times over. THEY. ARE. AMAZING. Siete is a grain-free brand that specializes in cassava, almond, coconut, and cashew-based products such as tortillas, tortilla chips, queso, and hot sauce. I love this product and the masterminds behind the company so much I’m doing a GIVEAWAY on Instagram (@nomaste.hungry) this coming week – stay tuned! Anyway, you can buy your Siete products here.

What I love about this spinach dip is that I KNOW what ingredients go into it: cream cheese, parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, chopped spinach, artichokes, and garlic powder. All of the ingredients listed are 100% organic and local, I truly believe there is a different in organic produce and products, and you can find most organic items in Trader Joe’s or inexpensive stores too! To start, I thaw a large bag of chopped spinach and drain with a decent amount of paper towels (maybe 2 or 3 double sheets, or a cheese cloth). Draining the spinach takes out the moisture so that the remaining ingredients combine and don’t get soggy.

Next, I melt an 8oz block cream cheese and add in the spinach along with the artichokes. I’ll whisk this around until the cream cheese starts to bubble and melt. Layer in 1/2 cup of parmesan and 1/2 cup mozzarella, whisking to marry all ingredients together. This is the recipe.

Sprinkle some garlic powder, mix again. Ladle the mixture into a ramekin or oven-safe bowl and sprinkle a final layer of mozzarella cheese. Turn the oven to broil, and broil the spinach dip until the cheese is golden on the sides. Serve with your NEW Siete chips and enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚ Nomaste.

New Years Eve Throw-down! Appetizer II: “Pigs in a Blanket”

Who even came up with the “pigs in a blanket” name? Either way, New Years is never NYE without these guys present at the appetizer table. I feel like people never say no to them also, and so that’s why they’re always a hit for parties, large or small.

Franks in blankets are basically small cocktail franks rolled up in crescent roll dough from the container. I cannot express how simple this recipe is, that I won’t be including a recipe at the bottom *GASP*

…still working on my flat lay and making these pics fancy but I’m just living my best life

The reason I chose to make these on my own is because I have honestly always wanted to see if I can make them just as good as the store-bought kind. Survey says, YES!

Alright, here’s the breakdown of ingredients:

  • One 8oz can of crescent rolls
  • One package cocktail franks
  • Melted butter
  • Coarse sea salt

To make these babies is totally simple:

  1. Open canister of crescent rolls and pull apart at the perforated seams.
  2. Sprinkle some flour on a clean surface and lay out the crescent roll dough
  3. Cut the dough into smaller portions
  4. Take a cocktail frank and start at the thinner end of one of the crescent rolls and roll from one end to the other, pinching at the end. Repeat
  5. Spray a nonstick pan with olive or coconut oil, layer the piggies on the pan, spread the melted butter on top, then sprinkle with salt.
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes at 375* (adjust heat as needed).

These will easily become a staple at any event, in fact, I’m planning these for a Superbowl party along with another showstopper: spinach dip! Nomaste ๐Ÿ™‚