Favorite Recipe Friday: 5 EASY bread and cheese appetizers

 

From left to right: Ricotta & Fig, Brie & Peach, Sundried Tomato & Shaved Parmesan, Fig Cream Cheese & Prosciutto, Herbed Goat Cheese & Roasted Red Pepper

 

Fresh bread and good cheese are a match made in heaven.  Add a bit of fruit, a sprinkle of salt, fresh pepper and herbs and everyone’s tastebuds are in for a serious treat.

 

These 5 bread and cheese apps are incredibly simple and perfect for your summer BBQ’s, bunco nights, wine parties, office potlucks…you-name-it.   The ingredients are easy to find and once put together, they are sure to impress even your foodie-est of friends.

Here’s the How To:

  1. Slice your favorite fresh baguette (whole grain, seeded, french, sourdough, etc.) into 3/4 inch pieces (my 20″ baguette yielded 32 slices).
  2. Toast bread: Preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit.  Place slices on a sheet pan, spray with a little olive oil (or use a silicon brush to lightly brush each piece with olive oil). Toast for 5 minutes, remove from oven and let cool.
  3. Pick the combo(s) that tickles your fancy and continue on with your toppings:

Ricotta & Fig

1 cup fresh ricotta cheese

7 fresh figs, thinly sliced

1/3 cup honey

Kosher or sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Directions: Divide ricotta evenly among bread slices. Top each with 3 slices of fig, a drizzle of honey, a pinch of salt and pepper, to taste.

Brie & Peach

5 ounces (1 cup) brie cheese

2 small peaches, thinly sliced

Kosher or sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Fresh thyme (for garnish)

Directions: Spread brie evenly among bread slices (roughly 1 1/2 teaspoons each). Top each with 2 slices of peach, a pinch of salt and pepper, to taste.  Garnish with thyme.

Sundried Tomato & Shaved Parmesan

1 (8.5 ounce) jar sliced sundried tomatoes in oil, drained, 2 tablespoons of oil reserved

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1/4 cup tomato paste

Freshly shaved parmesan*

Kosher or sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Fresh chopped basil (for garnish)

Drizzle olive oil (optional)

Directions: In a medium bowl, combine drained tomatoes, a tablespoon or 2 of the reserved oil, garlic, and tomato paste.  Stir to combine.  Divide mixture evenly among bread slices.  Top each slice with a few shavings of parmesan, a pinch of salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with basil and drizzle with olive oil, if using.

*Use a vegetable peeler to thinly shave fresh parmesan.

Fig Cream Cheese & Proscuitto

8 ounces whipped cream cheese

2 tablespoons fig spread*

4 ounces (8 thin) sliced proscuitto, cut into quarters

Fresh chives or basil

Directions:  In a small bowl, combine cream cheese and fig spread.  Mix.  Evenly distribute spread among bread slices. Top each slice with 1/4 piece of proscuitto, a pinch of salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with chives (or basil).

*Fig spread is typically found in the deli section, with the gourmet cheeses.  Trader Joe’s has a “Fig Butter”, which would probably work too.

Herbed Goat Cheese and Roasted Red Pepper

8 ounces goat cheese with herbs

1 (12-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, sliced

Kosher or sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Fresh thyme (for garnish)

Directions: Divide goat cheese evenly among bread slices. Top each with a few slices of red pepper, a pinch of salt and pepper, to taste.  Garnish with thyme.

 

 

Wild Card Wednesday: We got a new Bentgo!!


Dueling bentos! We love Samantha’s “Bentgo” box so much I got one in blue for Jack. He used it for the first time today and was stoked to have such a selection. Click HERE for my previous post on EASY, HEALTHY, bento box ideas and find out where YOU can get these adorable bentos.

Favorite Recipe Friday: Spiced Salmon with Mustard Sauce

This Spiced Salmon with Mustard Sauce (adapted from Cooking Light) is my go-to EASY salmon recipe. It takes about 15 minutes from start to finish and clean-up is a snap.

It’s made with spices and condiments you probably already have in your pantry (with the exception of turmeric*). The whole grain mustard gives it a great crunchy texture and makes it mildly spicy and the honey adds a touch of sweetness while creating a crispy, caramelized crust. It’s very well balanced, great for a crowd (or scaled down for 2) AND because it’s packed with flavor, it’s great for those who may not be huge salmon fans.

*Turmeric can be found in the spice section of conventional grocery or health food stores. It has a bright yellow color and a bittersweet, aromatic flavor. It is frequently used in curry, chicken dishes and fish soups.

Bonus: Salmon is loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids, which have been proven to reduce risk of heart disease, inflammation and more.

Spiced Salmon with Mustard Sauce

Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 teaspoons whole-grain Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons honey

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper (to taste)

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 pound (4) skin-on wild salmon fillets

Directions:

Preheat broiler (to high). Cover a sheet pan with aluminum foil.

In a small bowl, combine first 6 ingredients. With a basting brush or your hands, rub mustard mixture evenly over each fillet. Place fillets, skin side down, on the prepared sheet pan.  Adjust oven rack to second highest slot closest to the broiling unit. Broil fish for 7 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork or until desired degree of doneness.

Serving size: (3 ounces)  Calories: 180  Total Fat: 8 g  Saturated Fat: 1 g  Cholesterol: 62 mg  Sodium: 320 mg Carbohydrates: 3 g  Dietary Fiber: 0 g  Sugars: 3 g  Protein: 23 g

Serving suggestion: Serve alongside a green salad, roasted veggies or sauteed greens and brown rice, quinoa or other whole grains.
Side notes:
  • Frozen fish fillets are great to keep on hand in the freezer.  You can defrost them overnight in the fridge or pull from from the freezer and put them in an ice bath (in the package if they are individually wrapped or in a sealed Ziploc) for about 30 minutes.
  •  Don’t forget to check your fish for pin bones and remove them if necessary (I have THESE fish tweezers and LOVE them).
  • I generally don’t cook with foil BUT in this case, I do, because it makes removing the skin (and clean up) SO easy.  Look how easy it is to slide a spatula between the skin and meat. The skin sticks to the foil and your fillet stays intact.

  • If your fish is skinless, you can omit the foil and spray the sheet pan directly with a cooking spray.

Wild Card Wednesday: Ted Ed–How the food you eat affects your gut


A balanced gut (good vs. bad bacteria) is incredibly important. A happy gut can improve immune function, prevent inflammation and even reduce your risk of cancer. While there’s no definitive solution to keeping your gut balanced, there are many things that you can do to encourage the growth of good bacteria, which, in the end, is what you’re after.

Watch THIS awesome Ted Ed video to learn what affects the growth and withering of our gut bacteria and what YOU can do to help find your balance. 

Memeday Monday 

Don’t starve or cut entire food groups. Eat chocolate, plenty of fruits and veggies, and choose whole grains over refined. Enjoy dessert with friends and make dining out a treat. Don’t stress about what you eat, just be more aware. Be kind to yourself and do the best you can. Exercise your body and your mind. We’ve only got one. Happy Monday friends. Let’s make this week a good one! ❤️

Supermarket Saturday: Skinny Pop Popcorn Mini Cakes

I’ll be honest, I’ve never been a big fan of rice cakes but shrink them down to bite-size, and you’ve got my attention.  I often peek at nutrition facts and ingredients of the “popped” snack cakes because the mini versions seem like a good alternative to chips or other crunchy snack foods. Unfortunately, the big brand mini rice-cakes or “popped” snacks are either mostly dried potato and rice flour, are not whole grain, and/or contain artificial sweeteners.  Meh, I’ll pass.

Skinny Pop’s version is 100% whole grain (made from popcorn), giving them 4 grams of  fiber (other brands’ mini-cakes have 0) per 20 mini-cake-serving.  The same 20 cake serving has 3 grams of sugar, which, for a sweet snack, is almost unheard of.  Quaker’s Popped Rice Crisps, for example, have 8 grams of sugar per serving and that’s WITH artificial sweeteners.

Point is, decent kid-friendly snacks are hard to come by.  Skinny Pop Popcorn Mini Cakes are a delicious and nutritious crunchy snack option.  So far, we’ve tried the Cinnamon & Sugar variety (see pic) and Sharp Cheddar (according to their website, they also come in Sea Salt).  We liked the Cinnamon & Sugar variety more than the Cheddar but if you (or your kids) are a fan of cheese flavored snacks, they’re worth a shot.

Where to buy: They are a new item so keep your eyes peeled.  Look for them in health food stores, Superstores and some traditional grocery stores.