Category Archives: Appetizers

Brie w/Fresh Figs, Honey & Hazelnuts

It finally feels like fall (or fall for D.C. standards)!  Several days ago, I made this delicious appetizer for the hubby and I to munch on: Brie w/Fresh Figs, Honey, & Hazelnuts.  Fresh figs are amazing, but do not grace the grocery stores enough in this area.  When they do, I make sure to buy them and enjoy as many as I can.  Creamy brie paired with a fresh fig drizzled in honey and hazelnuts is perfection.  This is such a simple appetizer to make… enjoy fresh figs while they last!


  • 1 wedge brie cheese
  • 6 fresh figs, stems removed and quartered
  • 1/4 cup of hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • Drizzle of honey


  1. Place cheese in the center of a serving plate.  Drizzle honey over cheese and top with hazelnuts and figs.  Serve with fresh bread or crackers.



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Lemon & Dill Hummus

This Lemon & Dill Hummus is delicious, healthy, and incredibly easy to make.  You can improvise with whatever herbs or flavors you like.  Some people like their hummus plain with a little seasoning, others like roasted garlic, dried tomatoes, fresh herbs, etc.  I recently bought a dill plant at the farmer’s market and decided to add fresh dill and lemon to my hummus.  I also used Tahini.  Not all hummus recipes use Tahini, but I like the flavor that it adds to the hummus.  What is Tahini?  Tahini is a paste of ground sesame seeds.  It looks kind of like peanut butter, and you only need to add a little bit to your batch.  You can find Tahini in the international food aisle in your supermarket.  Don’t be dismayed by the price of it though – the bottle will last a long time in your refrigerator and will generate numerous batches of hummus.  Enjoy!

  • 2 (16-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped dill leaves
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • A few dashes of hot sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Pita wedges or vegetables to accompany
  1. In a food processor, add 1 can of beans, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, dill, cumin, and hot sauce.  Pulse until smooth.
  2. Add the second can of beans and pulse until beans are incorporated but still chunky.  Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Serve hummus with pita wedges or vegetables.


Filed under Appetizers

Black Bean Dip

Everyone loves Mexican food, right?  I made this Black Bean Dip last weekend to share with some of my girlfriends.  I was so preoccupied with catching up with my friends that I didn’t even realize I’d eaten about 1/3 of the dip on my own.  Ok, maybe I knew exactly what I was doing, but it was just so good!  This dip was also great because I made it in the slow cooker which was convenient since I was going over to my friend’s place on a Friday night after work.  Serve this dip to a group of girls in need of some catch-up time and it will be gone in no time!  Enjoy!

  • 2 cans (14 to 19 oz/398 to 540 mL) black beans, drained, rinsed and mashed
  • 2 cups salsa
  • 4 green onions, finely chopped
  • 2 roasted peppers (poblanos or sweet), peeled and diced
  • 1 can green chillies
  • 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • Tortilla chips


  1. In slow cooker stoneware, combine beans, salsa, green onions, peppers, and cheese.  Stir well.  Cover and cook on High for 1 1/2 hours, until mixture is hot and bubbly. Serve with tortilla chips.


Filed under Appetizers

Red Velvet Cake Truffles

Here’s another quick and delicious recipe to share with your special someone this Valentine’s Day:  Red Velvet Cake Truffles.  I was at home visiting my parents this past weekend and everyone loved these red velvet cake balls probably because they’re mixed with cream cheese frosting and doused in white chocolate.  They’re addicting and because they’re small, you can justify eating a lot of them (or at least that’s what I told myself!).  I have to thank my hubby for taking these photos for me as well.  I’m traveling for work (again!) and forgot to take photos before I left.  Hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day and enjoy!


  • 1 box red velvet cake mix
  • 1 tub cream cheese frosting
  • 2 packages white chocolate chips
  • Sprinkles for decorating
  1. Bake red velvet cake mix according to directions in a 9 x 13 inch pan.  Allow cake to cool thoroughly.  Once cake has cooled, break cake into pieces and place in large mixing bowl.
  2. Add tub of cream cheese frosting to cake pieces and mix together until homogenous and smooth.  Place in refrigerator until thoroughly chilled.
  3. Take teaspoonful of cake and frosting and roll into 1″ ball and place on wax paper-lined baking sheet.  When baking sheet is full, place in refrigerator and chill thoroughly.
  4. Melt white chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl (30 second blasts are best so the chips don’t burn).  When thoroughly melted, dip red velvet truffle centers in chocolate and place on wax paper-covered cookie sheet.  Drizzle with sprinkles and return to refrigerator until chocolate is set.
  5. Remove from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature before serving.

*Adapted from Duncan Hines


Filed under Appetizers, Baked Goods, Desserts

15 Super Bowl Recipes

Here are 15 delicious recipes to share with your family and friends this coming Superbowl Sunday.  Go Giants!




Filed under Appetizers, Baked Goods, Desserts

My Top 10 Favorite Recipes from 2011

Happy New Year!  I hope you had  a wonderful holiday!  I’ve been MIA for the past week taking a much needed break from work and V.A. to visit family and friends.  2011 was a great year; we bought a house, I got a great new job, and most importantly, my sister gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.  I decided to reflect on my recipes from 2011 and pick my 10 favorites:

Slow Cooker Beef Bourguignon

Mint Oreo Cookie Cheesecake Cups

Cannoli Cupcakes

Blueberry Glaze Doughnut Muffins

Toasted Coconut Cake

Baked Brie w/Balsamic Strawberries

Marshmallow S’more Bars

Summer Berry Pie w/Crumb Topping

Molasses Cookies

Fruit Tart w/Lemon Pastry Cream



Filed under Appetizers, Baked Goods, Desserts, Main Course

Baked Brie w/Cranberry Sauce

My mother-in-law introduced me to baked brie several years ago, and I’m so glad that she did because baked brie inside a large loaf of crusty bread is absolutely amazing!  In the spirit of the Christmas season, I decided to make some cranberry sauce to put on top of the baked brie.  This cranberry sauce is simple to make and so tasty with a hunk of warm bread and gooey brie cheese.  You can top baked brie with whatever jam/jelly/chutney/relish you like.  Enjoy Baked Brie w/Cranberry Sauce!


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 12-oz bag fresh cranberries (3 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
  • 1 round loaf of bread
  • 4 oz. brie


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Bring water and sugar to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Add cranberries and simmer, stirring occasionally, until berries just pop, 10-12 minutes.  Stir in zest, then allow to cool.
  3. With a serrated bread knife, cut out the middle of the loaf leaving about 1″ around the perimeter and 1″ on the bottom.
  4. Unwrap the brie and place in the middle of the loaf.  Wrap the top of the loaf that was cut out in aluminum foil.  Place both on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.  Scoop cranberry sauce over brie and bake until brie starts to melt, about 30-35 minutes.
  5. When cool enough to touch, unwrap the top of the bread from the foil and rip apart into pieces.  Place bread bowl on a serving plate and place ripped pieces around bowl.  Serve immediately.


Filed under Appetizers

Restaurant Style Salsa

During my summer travels for work, I had some very authentic and delicious Mexican cuisine. I found that most restaurants had this amazing salsa that was not chunky and thick, but thinner and perfect for scooping up with freshly baked tortilla chips. I’ve been eyeing Pioneer Woman’s recipe for Restaurant Style Salsa for some time, so I decided to make a batch of this salsa to enjoy throughout the week. This recipe is awesome and makes a huge batch of salsa. If you don’t like your salsa too spicy, grab two jars of the mild Rotel diced tomatoes with chilies. If you’re like me and like your salsa medium, buy a can of mild and a can of regular or if you like your salsa mouth-watering hot, then buy both jars of the regular Rotel diced tomatoes with chilies. This salsa is easy to make and is perfect for eating throughout the week. Enjoy!


  • 1 can (28 Ounces) whole tomatoes with juice, drained
  • 2 cans (10 Ounce) Rotel (diced tomatoes and green chilies), drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 whole jalapeno, finely diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • Juice of 1/2 lime


Note: this is a very large batch. Recommend using a 12-cup food processor, or you can process the ingredients in batches and then mix everything together in a large mixing bowl.

  1. Combine tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, garlic, sugar, salt, cumin, lime juice, and cilantro in a blender or food processor. Pulse until you get the salsa to the consistency you’d like (about 15 pulses). Season to taste with more salt if necessary.
  2. Refrigerate salsa for at least an hour. Serve with tortilla chips.

*Slightly adapted from Pioneer Woman


Filed under Appetizers

Caprese Salad w/Heirloom Tomatoes

I bought these beautiful heirloom tomatoes at the farmer’s market and knew that I had to make Caprese Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes.  My basil plants are growing like mad, so this was the perfect recipe to trim them down.  I love fresh mozzarella and the combo of fresh tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella is so simple, but delicious.  Definitely give this recipe a try!


  • 4 heirloom tomatoes
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, packed
  • Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
  • Fresh cracked pepper and sea salt for seasoning


  1. Slice tomatoes into 1″ slices.  Arrange tomatoes on a decorative plate.
  2. Slice mozzarella into 1″ slices.  Arrange mozzarella slices on top of tomatoes.
  3. Reserve a couple basil leaves for decoration and set aside.  Chop basil and scatter on top of tomatoes and mozzarella.
  4. Drizzle olive oil over the top and season with cracked pepper and sea salt.


Filed under Appetizers, Soup & Salad

Baked Brie with Balsamic Strawberries & Basil

My mother-in-law first introduced me to brie baked inside a hollow loaf of bread, and it has since become one of my favorite appetizers.  There’s something about melted brie that is amazing.  It goes well with a lot of jams and spreads, but I wanted to try something new, so I made Baked Brie with Balsamic Strawberries and Basil.  Strawberries and balsamic vinegar complement each other very nicely.  It’s one of those weird combinations that people might think is totally disgusting if they’ve never tried it.  But trust me, just make this recipe.  You won’t be sorry!  The addition of the fresh basil and the cracked pepper rounds out all these flavors beautifully.  Also, did I mention the best part?  You get to use that giant hunk of bread from the inside of the loaf to dip the gooey cheese in.  I love this recipe.  Hope you do too!


  • 1 cup strawberries, hulled and diced
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 circular loaf of sour dough bread
  • 4 oz. goat cheese
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp minced basil leaves
  • Fresh cracked pepper


  1. Combine the  strawberries and sugar in a small bowl and let the strawberries macerate while preparing the bread bowl.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  3. With a serrated bread knife, cut out the middle of the loaf leaving about 1″ around the perimeter and 1″ on the bottom.
  4. Unwrap the brie and place in the middle of the loaf.
  5. Wrap the loaf of bread in aluminum foil and wrap the inside of the loaf that was cut out in aluminum foil.  Place both on a baking sheet and bake until brie starts to melt, about 30-35 minutes.
  6. Remove baking sheet from oven and unwrap bread bowl and top of bread.  Place on a serving dish and break up top of bread with your fingers and arrange around the bread bowl.
  7. Spoon the strawberries over the brie and drizzle the balsamic vinegar on top.  Sprinkle basil leaves on top and season with fresh cracked pepper.
  8. Serve immediately.


Filed under Appetizers, Baked Goods