Grilled Stuffed Mini Peppers

The weather is getting better! The snow piles from the nor’easter are nearly gone and we’ve had a few evenings where it’s not frigid by dinner time – so we’re starting to fire up the grill.

Cave Tools recently sent me a pepper grill rack to try out (you can see my review here) and we finally busted it out to make these delicious little peppers. I think most people automatically think jalapenos stuffed with cheese and bacon for something like this, but I wanted to make something that felt light and fresh – and that was more toddler-friendly.

These were perfect! I can’t wait to make them again once we have lots of fresh herbs in the garden.

CaveTools4

Grilled Stuffed Mini Peppers
(a Kate’s Recipe Box original)
Makes 12

12 rainbow mini peppers
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 Tbsp. fresh chopped dill
1 Tbsp. fresh chopped basil
1 Tbsp. fresh chopped green onions
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. lemon zest

Clean and core the peppers.

In a bowl, mix together the cream cheese, dill, basil, green onions, garlic, and lemon zest until well combined. Stuff peppers with cream cheese mixture.

Using a rack, grill over medium heat until the peppers are softened and the cream cheese puffs slightly. Serve immediately.

Spanakopita Quesadillas

You know what’s tricky about Lenten Fridays with a toddler? Lunch.

He is, in general, really good about eating whatever we’re eating for dinner. I’m one of those mean moms with an “eat it or go hungry” policy. But, lunch is another story. I usually let him pick his own lunch and that means we have a healthy rotation of dinosaur chicken nuggets and cold cuts. So far, Lenten Friday lunches have meant PB&J. For both of us.

I wasn’t sure how this would go over, but I was actually pleasantly surprised. Jake ate half of his quesadilla before declaring he didn’t like it and requesting something else. Half of a spinach-filled, whole wheat wrap? I’ll take it.

And, I loved these so I was happy to steal the rest of his. Serve with tzatziki or sour cream for dipping. We added some olives on the side for a light lunch. If this was dinner, I would have opted for a Greek salad or hummus and veggies to round out the meal!

SpanikopitaQuesadilla

Spanakopita Quesadillas
(from Cooktoria)
Serves 4

1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup diced white onion
1 clove garlic
7 cups baby spinach, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 egg
1/4 cup feta crumbles
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
4 flour tortillas

In a skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and add the olive oil. Add in the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add in the garlic and spinach and cook for another 3-4 minutes, until spinach is cooked down a bit. Add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer mixture to a bowl and pop it in the fridge.

In a bowl, mix together the egg, feta, Parmesan, and dill until thoroughly combined.

When the spinach mixture is cool enough to handle, squeeze out any remaining liquid and add the spinach to the cheese mixture. Combine well.

Divide the mixture evenly between 4 tortillas. Fold each in half and fry over low heat for 6-8 minutes, flipping halfway.

 

 

 

Cauliflower Nachos

A lot of my Lenten Friday dinners are recreated junk food or takeout fakeout. There’s a reason for that. By the time Friday rolls around, that’s really all I want. And I’m assuming I’m not alone in that since pizza is such a popular Lenten dinner.

So, here’s another option if you’re thinking of ordering pizza tonight.

No, you won’t be fooled into thinking the cauliflower is tortilla chips – but this is delicious in it’s own right. And you’ll feel more virtuous downing a whole plate!

CauliflowerNachos

Cauliflower Nachos
(from Delish)
Serves 2

1 large head cauliflower, chopped
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 cup shredded Colby-Jack cheese
Your favorite nacho toppings – we used salsa, black beans, black olives, pickled jalapenos, and sour cream

Preheat oven to 425°F.

In a large bowl, toss cauliflower with olive oil. Sprinkle spices evenly over the cauliflower and toss to coat. Spread out on a baking sheet and roast for 35-40 minutes, until golden and crispy.

Top with cheese and any other toppings you want warm and bake for 5 minutes more, until the cheese is melted.

Add remaining toppings and serve.

Slow Cooker Cocktail Meatballs

There’s nothing new about cocktail meatballs. I’m sure you’ve had them a million times. But I wanted to share this recipe today because it’s a great, easy option for your Super Bowl party.

This version uses the slow cooker – it’s a mix-it-up-and-forget-it dish that’s always a crowd pleaser.  Use a slow cooker liner for even easier clean up!

CocktailMeatballs

Slow Cooker Cocktail Meatballs
(from Cincy Shopper)
Serves 10-12 as an appetizer

12 oz. chili sauce
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1 1/2 cups grape jelly
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. Tabasco sauce
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
3 lbs. frozen meatballs

Add all ingredients, except meatballs, to the slow cooker and whisk to combine. Stir in meatballs. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.

Slow Cooker Ranch Chex Mix

Just about two weeks until the Super Bowl! Are you having a party? We’re going to one with some of our best friends and I’m super excited about it.

We’ve been chatting about the menu for weeks. Chili, a nacho bar, and pickle dip are all on the short list. This is a contender, too.

I made this up as a Christmas day munchie and it was well received. This is a great make-ahead option and it’s done in the slow cooker, which is awesome. I used a slow cooker bag for this to aide with cleanup (it was a breeze!) but I also kept the mix in the bag while it cooled, instead of spreading it on baking sheets. I just shook the bag/ mixed it around every few minutes until it was fully cooled. Super easy and it worked perfectly!

RanchChexMix

Slow Cooker Ranch Chex Mix
(from Oh Sweet Basil)
Serves 8-10

1/3 cup butter, melted
1 packet dry ranch dressing mix
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
4 cups corn Chex cereal
3 cups mini pretzels
3 cups oyster crackers
3 cups Cheezit crackers
1 cup dry roasted, lightly salted peanuts

Line your slow cooker with a slow cooker bag or spray with non-stick spray.

Whisk together the butter, ranch mix, Worcestershire, sugar and corn syrup in a small bowl.

Mix remaining ingredients together in the slow cooker. Pour liquid mixture over and stir to coat.

Cover and cook on low for 3 hours, stirring every half hour. When finished, pour the contents onto large baking sheet sand continue stirring as it cools to avoid it lumping together. Store in an airtight container.

Caramel Nut Chex Mix

improvchallenge

The latest round of the Improv Cooking Challenge was Nuts and Caramel – so perfect as we’re going into the holiday season! I decided on a fun dish that could be either an appetizer or dessert – perfect for a holiday potluck or to make and give to friends and family.

CaramelNutChexMix

This snack mix is a super easy thing to make, even when you’re pressed for time. I added red and green M&Ms to make it festive for a holiday, but you could switch up the colors for any special occasion!

You can see the other Nuts and Caramel dishes bloggers cooked up here:

Caramel Nut Chex Mix
(from Butter With a Side of Bread)

3/4 cup corn syrup
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 box corn Chex
2 cups salted mixed nuts
2 cups M&Ms

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.

Combine the corn syrup, brown sugar and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 1 minute intervals until the butter is melted. Whisk to combine.

In a roasting pan, combine the Chex and mixed nuts. Pour the sugar mixture over and stir to coat.

Bake for 1 hour, stirring every fifteen minutes. Remove from the oven and stir as it cools – don’t let it just sit, it’ll become one big block! When cool, stir in M&Ms.

Store in an airtight container until ready to serve.

Our Toddler Snack Bin #MealPrepMadness

One of the things I struggled with right after Julie was born was snack time for Jake. It seemed like every time I sat down to nurse her, he’d start begging for a snack. And, oh, the meltdown if I grabbed the wrong snack!

My solution was to make him his own snack bin. I filled it with pre-portioned snacks I was okay with him helping himself to.

Here’s what’s in the snack basket this week:

TodderSnacks1

The snacks in plastic bags are ones we buy in bulk. It takes me just a few minutes to grab a handful and add them to the bags – and is way easier than trying to get Jake not to eat an entire 1 lb. bag of yogurt raisins.

Here’s what everything looks like in the basket:

ToddlerSnacks2

The basket lives on the lowest shelf in our pantry. Jake can open the pantry to get to the snacks on his own, but 90% of the time he still needs help opening the packaging. This is proving to be the best of both worlds – he feels like he’s in control, but he still brings it to be before eating so I can monitor.

How do you handle kid snacks at your house?

Tuscan Spread

Jake loves dip. Or, as he says it “deeeep!” Anything that can be dipped is a hit – and that extends to spreads, too. It’s common now to get halfway through a meal and then have him start asking for dip. I’ve been keeping things like hummus in the house so we have some healthy options to dip – but sometimes you just need something fun.

This was fun.

It pairs well with crackers and we loved it with cucumbers, too. And it really couldn’t be easier. This is an awesome option for summer potlucks!

TuscanSpread

Tuscan Spread
(slightly adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything)
Serves 10-12 as an appetizer

2 packages cream cheese, softened
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp. salt
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/3 cup chopped black olives
8 green onions, chopped
3 oz. roasted red peppers

Add everything to a food processor and pulse until combined.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Caramelized Onion Tart

I’m pretty obsessed with caramelized onions. Like, if they weren’t destined for this tart, I probably would have just eaten them with a spoon.

This tart is a great option for a holiday appetizer. It’s a nice mix of sweet and savory and warm cheese makes pretty much everyone happy.  This was a definite crowd-pleaser.

OnionTart

Caramelized Onion Tart
(from Annie’s Eats)
Serves 8-12

2 Tbsp. butter
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
Pepper, to taste
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg yolk
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.  Stir in the onion, thyme, sugar, salt, and pepper.  Let cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are caramelized and golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a small bowl whisk together the ricotta and egg yolk until smooth.

Roll out the puff pastry sheet on a baking sheet and fold in each edge about 1 inch to make a crust.  Spread the ricotta mixture over the puff pastry and sprinkle about half of the Parmesan cheese over the ricotta mixture.  Spread the caramelized onions evenly over the cheese and top with the remaining Parmesan.  Bake 25-30 minutes, until the puff pastry is golden.  Slice and serve.

 

Cranberry Salsa

I was so excited when I found this recipe. First, it was another no-cooking-involved appetizer that was still fun and festive. Second, I knew any leftovers would be awesome alongside my favorite use of leftover turkey – Turkey Cranchiladas. Seriously, though – can you think of a better day-after-Thanksgiving meal?

If you’ve already have your Thanksgiving menu set, keep this in mind for Christmas. The color is such a beautiful, rich red that would be super festive on a holiday table!

CranberrySalsa

Cranberry Salsa
(from Bake-aholic)
Makes about 2 cups

1 (12 oz.) package of fresh cranberries
3/4 cup sugar
1 medium jalapeno, seeded and roughly chopped
1 green onion, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1/4 tsp. cumin

Combine everything in a food processor and pulse until you reach the desired consistency. Serve with tortilla chips.