Dragon Fruit Salsa

This post is sponsored by Melissa’s Produce. All opinions are my own.

I have so much fun with Halloween. My mom was always a big fan, and it’s totally rubbed off. The decorations are up, the kids are already wearing their Halloween shirts, and we are ready.

Dragonfruit Salsa 1

So, how appropriate is it that during this month, I’m participating in #FreakyFruitsFriday?

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20 Recipes Perfect for Thanksgiving

Haven’t finalized your Thanksgiving menu yet? Need to add another side dish? I’m sharing a roundup of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes to help you get your menu set!

20 RecipesPerfect ForThanksgiving

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One Bite Spaghetti and Meatballs #Tresomega #OrganicsForLife

Disclosure: This post is part of the Tresomega Nutrition Blogger Recipe Challenge. I received complimentary products to use in this post. All opinions are my own.

I have a plan for Christmas this year. Instead of doing the big ham dinner that involves being in the kitchen for hours, we’re just going to make a bunch of appetizers and spend the day hanging out. It sounds lovely, doesn’t it?

This is one of the dishes I’m planning to make. It’s filling enough that it could count as a meal, but it’s also something we can eat while lounging around the Christmas tree. It’s pretty much the prefect holiday bite: spaghetti smothered in a to-die-for alfredo sauce, topped off with a miniature meatball and some homemade tomato sauce. And some more cheese just for good measure. Are you drooling yet?

This recipe features Tresomega Gluten-Free Organic Quinoa Spaghetti. We have a few gluten-free family members so we’ve tried a bunch of gluten-free pastas and I can say that this is hands down the best one I’ve tried. My husband – who grew up in a very Italian family – admitted he wouldn’t have know it was gluten-free pasta if I hadn’t told him. Win!

For more recipe inspiration, you can visit them on Facebook and Twitter. You can purchase Tresomega products at: Tresomega.com. Sams.com, Amazon.com and Walmart.com.

OneBiteSpaghettiMeatballs1

One Bite Spaghetti and Meatballs
(a Kate’s Recipe Box original)
Makes 3 dozen

1 box Tresomega Gluten-Free Organic Quinoa Spaghetti
1/2 cup butter
2 cups heavy whipping cream
4 oz. cream cheese
5 cloves garlic, minced, divided
1 tsp. garlic power
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. Italian seasoning, divided
1/4 tsp.  salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
36 small meatballs – homemade or frozen
1 28 oz. can tomato sauce
Parmesan cheese, for topping

Cook the pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, combine the butter, whipping cream and cream cheese in a saucepan over medium heat – stirring frequently until all melted together. Stir in 2 minced garlic cloves, the garlic powder, 1 tsp. Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Cook, whisking frequently, until smooth. Add the parmesan and stir until melted. Bring to a simmer and cook for 3-5 minutes more.

Toss the cooked pasta with the sauce.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a mini-muffin pan with non-stick spray.

Using a fork, twirl up some sauce-coated spaghetti and place in the well of a mini-muffin tin to form a little next of spaghetti. Press down slightly to pack and add more spaghetti if necessary. Repeat until all wells are filled.

Bake for 15 minutes.

While the spaghetti bakes, combine the remaining ingredients, except parmesan cheese, in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.

When the spaghetti is done, let cool in the pan for 10 minutes then use a spoon to scoop out the spaghetti bundles and place on a serving platter. Top each bundle with a meatball, 1-2 tsp. of sauce, and parmesan cheese, to taste.

OneBiteSpaghettiMeatballs2

 

Candied Spiced Nuts #improvcooking

Even though it’s October (and the weather is still feeling like August…), I’m starting to think about Thanksgiving. I know, I know, but I get to host this year and I’m pumped! We’re not sure if we’ll have a big crowd or just the four of us, so I’ve got several menus floating around in my head.

I knew this month’s Improv Challenge theme, Sugar and Spice,  was perfect for trying out some of the recipes I’m considering. Sugar and spice is SO fall – apple spice, pumpkin spice – but I couldn’t get these nuts off my mind, so they won out.

This is such an easy recipe – the slow cooker makes it totally hands off. Just mix, let the slow cooker do it’s thing, then spread them out to cool. They were so good – and a perfect pre-Thanksgiving dinner snack!

CandiedSpicedNuts

Candied Spiced Nuts
(adapted from Crunchy, Creamy, Sweet)
Makes 3 1/2 cups

1 1/2 cups almonds
2 cups pecans
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. cloves

Grease the crock of a slow cooker and add the nuts. Add the sugars and cinnamon and stir. Add the water and stir until everything is evenly combined and wet.

Cook on high for 3 hours.

Remove nuts to a parchment-lined baking sheet to cool. Sprinkle with remaining  seasonings. Once fully cooled, store in an airtight container.

You can check out the other Sugar and Spice themed recipes that bloggers made here:

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.

Cranberry Pumpkin Walnut Spread

I’m thankful for a lot. My husband who works so hard for our family in so many ways. My little guy whose smiles just make my day. That we’re all healthy, fed and safe. And my friends – because I really don’t know where I’d be without them.

Last night, we had some friends over to celebrate an early Thanksgiving. Friends I went to middle school with who have loved me since before I’d really learned to love myself. Friends from college who have been supportive of us as we dated, got married and grew the family. And newer friends, who helped me stay sane during the early months of motherhood. It was just a small cross-section of our friends, but as I looked around the table it reminded me just how lucky we are.

I think something that often gets lost in prep for these big meals is that the goal is really to spend time together – not hours cooking. With that in mind, I whipped up a few no-cook appetizers. This one is whipped up in about five minutes and can be ahead of time. For a busy day like Thanksgiving, it’s a definite winner.

CranberryPumpkinSpread

Cranberry Pumpkin Walnut Spread
(from Pen and Fork)
Makes about 2 cups

8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup dried cranberries, plus a tablespoon for garnish
3/4 cup toasted walnut pieces
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients, except cranberries for garnish, in a food processor and pulse until nearly smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with crackers or toast points.

Dill Pickle Dip

My friend Sarah brings up pickle dip whenever we start talking about appetizers. Or football food. Or any other snack-food occasion. And every time she mentions it, I think, I really should make that. I finally got around to it and I’m totally kicking myself for waiting so long.

I’m a huge pickle fan, so this was totally up my ally. Mark and I polished off an embarrassing amount of it while watching a basketball game. It’d be a great snack for March Madness (or, because it’s green, St. Patrick’s Day!).

pickle dip

Dill Pickle Dip
(from The Cutting Edge of Ordinary)

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup chopped dill pickles
1/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion
2- 4 Tbsp. pickle juice (depending on how thick you want the dip to be)
1 tsp. dried dill weed
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients well and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Pickle Dip

Baked Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Spinach dip is often a fan favorite, but this baked version – with bacon! – takes it to a whole new level.

Baked Spinach Dip 2

This hot dip has been a family go-to for years. The combo of warm cheese, bacon, spinach, and artichoke is hard to beat – and this couldn’t get easier. The dip can be mixed up a few days in advance and then just baked when you want it. It’s such a great go-to for entertaining.

Serve this with crackers or bread for dipping!

Baked Spinach Dip 1

Baked Spinach and Artichoke Dip
(adapted from AllRecipes)

1/2 lb. bacon
10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
14 oz. can quartered marinated artichoke hearts, drained
5 oz. container garlic-herb flavored cheese spread
1 c. grated Parmesan cheese
8 oz. sour cream
1/2 c. mayonnaise

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a skillet, cook the bacon until crisp. Drain the grease and crumble into a bowl.

In a medium bowl, mix together the spinach, artichokes, cheese spread, Parmesan , sour cream, mayonnaise, and bacon.

Spread the dip into an 7×11″ baking dish. Bake in the preheated oven 20 minutes, or until bubbly and lightly browned.

Baked Spinach Dip