Tag Archives: appetizer

Tzatziki

I have three ingredients that fill me with such glee (yes, I said glee) every time I cook: fresh garlic, fresh onions, and basil. Any time I use these when testing a recipe or just cooking in general I can feel my entire body dance and sing, because cooking is my therapy and I just love it! I also have some favorite cuisines that I like to cook, and this year I vow to experiment with different dishes, such as enchiladas, homemade goulash, and more greek recipes such as Spanakopita and homemade tzatziki.

I’ve made tzatziki in the past, but it was all watery and had minimal flavor. I learned from my mistakes, tasted several versions in my lifetime, and figured out just how I wanted it to taste. I LOVE dill, so for me having a rather heavy hand on the dill was not a problem. My biggest issue was ensuring it was cream enough to stand up to lamb loin shanks (which is a forthcoming recipe) and had enough seasoning.

Here’s the full list of ingredients and measurements:

  • 3-4 tablespoons of thick yogurt, I prefer Siggi’s Triple Cream, plain
  • Several sprigs of dill, finely chopped
  • 1 cup cucumber, chopped into very small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons Avocado oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped very fine
  • Salt
  • Pepper

I added all of the ingredients into a bowl and whisked together, until it was a thick mixture. Add in a dash of salt and pepper as you need, to balance out all of the flavors. It should taste of cucumber, garlic, dill and yogurt. This is a great dip to make for pita chips, meats, or even with fries! NOMaste ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

Soupe ร  L’oignon (French Onion Soup)

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a recipe, and I just have to brag about this one… I kinda nailed it. After going to Paris and having french onion soup at almost every single restaurant we visited, I decided to give this a try and it was a major success. Simmered, caramelized onions in a rich and hearty broth, topped with crusty baguette and melted Gruyere cheese. It’s perfect for this time of year, too. (let’s be real, it’s good anytime, anywhere..)

This is a rather easy recipe with simple ingredients: onions, flour, butter, broth, bread, and cheese. I use regular yellow onions and cut them into rounds then sliced across once. I used two large onions for this particular recipe and ensure to get as many slices as I could. After I sliced the onions, I added 5, yes, FIVE, tablespoons of butter to a dutch oven. The reason for so much butter is two fold: Butter tastes amazing, and you need that much to render down the onions and get them brown, not burnt. The onions will simmer for approximately 30-40 minutes until they’re all a nice, golden color.

Once the onions are done, I added one tablespoon of flour (cassava) to get the mixture a bit thick, then added in the beef broth – I always use bone broth as it has so many incredible benefits; to me, quality will always trump price. I love the brand Kettle and Fire for bone broths. Trader Joe’s makes a good budget-friendly broth too!

I added three cartons of broth and some salt and pepper to taste. This simmered on a low flame for 30 minutes. I sliced a day-old French baguette and turned the oven to broil. Lastly, I ladled some soup into a ramekin and place some slices of bread into the mixture, sprinkling the cheese on top and placing on the top rack to brown. Serve immediately! Nomaste ๐Ÿ™‚

Soupe ร  L’oignon

Course Appetizer, Dinner
Cuisine French, Soup
Keyword dinner, easy, french, onion, savory, Soup, winter
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 4 cups
Author nomastehungry

Ingredients

  • 2 large onions yellow
  • 5 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 48 ounces beef bone broth or stock
  • 1 French baguette crispy!
  • 1 cup Gruyere cheese grated

Instructions

  1. In a dutch oven or large pot, heat the pan, then add butter to melt.

  2. Slice up two large onions and slice once down the middle to have medium length onion strings.  Add to melted butter. This will need to cook on low – med.low flame for 30-40 minutes. Stirring consistently

  3. Add tablespoon of flour to mixture.  Mix together and add in broth.  Let simmer for 20-30 minutes.  Turn oven to broil.

  4. Slice baguette.

  5. Ladle soup into small ramekins and place the baguette slices into the soup.  Sprinkle cheese to cover the bread pieces.

  6. Place in top rack of oven.  Broil until cheese is brown and crispy.  Let sit until warm.