Appetizers

Pizzadillas

This recipe literally came to me while I was watching HGTV the other night. I saw an ad for Domino’s pizza – which let’s be honest – is kind of OG college pizza (cheesy bread? don’t even get me started), and I got the idea to make quesadillas with the filling being that of what goes onto a pizza. I wish there was a better story behind them, but nope, just my belly saying “DO IT!”

I’m also really glad that I had leftover sauce from the meatballs I made last week, which if you missed, the link is here. I used most of the leftover marinara sauce for the filling of the ‘dilla and layered in some mozzarella cheese, sprinkled oregano, and quaintly placed some slices of pepperoni.

I’m still learning how to use my stove and oven, so one of the bottoms of the pizzadillas did burn, but I’m cool with that. Here’s the deets on the ‘dillas:

  • Start with a package of tortillas (we used Mission just for testing recipe purposes – I’ll make these again with Siete)
  • Get all ingredients out and ready prior to beginning.
  • You’ll need:
    • 1 package sliced pepperoni
    • Dried oregano
    • Mozzarella cheese (grated)
    • Tortillas
    • Really good marinara (I recommend making your own or Rao’s – less sugar and good ingredients)
  • Heat a pan and add the tortilla to the pan, letting it crisp and warm up
  • Spoon some marinara onto the tortilla and spread around
  • Sprinkle oregano, mozzarella, and layer in pepperoni
  • Cover the top with a second tortilla and flip.
  • Repeat for as many pizzadillas as you’d like (my ingredients yielded 4 pizzadillas and we were definitely full!)

I love quesadillas and am looking forward to making more varieties and sharing them with you soon! NOMaste πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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).Β Β 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 πŸ™‚ Nomaste.