Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

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Last weekend my family was invited to and outdoor gathering where I was asked to bring an appetizer. Easy enough, I thought; I have tons of appetizer recipes that I’ve been wanting to try out. The trick, however, was figuring out what to make that didn’t require last minute cooking, yet could stand up to our sweltering Texas heat. A quick rummage through my pantry turned up a jar of roasted red peppers and a can of chickpeas, and I instantly knew that I had the beginning of an awesome summer dip. Using my homemade hummus recipe as a base, I only had to tweak a couple ingredients to create a whole new flavor. Zestier and smokier than the original, this hummus dip will help brighten any BBQ or potluck – rain or shine! Continue reading

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Seared Sea Scallops in Coconut-Key Lime Curry Sauce

Aside from being a mouthful of a title, this Thai-inspired dish packs a mouthful of flavor! Sweet coconut milk, tart key limes, and spicy curry set the perfect backdrop for luscious, perfectly seared sea scallops (which I’ll teach you how to make in your own kitchen). Now I know what you’re probably thinking: This dish sounds a little too fancy for a weeknight, maybe I’ll just call in an order of Pad Thai instead. No – don’t do that! Sure, it may be easier, but come on, live a little! I’m telling you, make this simple dish tonight, Instagram your photos, then return to work tomorrow feeling like Mario Battali. I promise you’ll be a better person for it. Continue reading

Birthday Cake Cookies

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Every year around the beginning of July (specifically July 7th), I’m reminded of how much my husband hates celebrating his birthday. I mean HATES celebrating his birthday. I’m not exaggerating here, he hates his birthday the way other people hate poison ivy and spiders. His loathing of any type recognition on his day not only borders on bah-humbugness, but it goes against every grain in my party-planning body. See, I love birthdays. And not just mine, either, I love everybody’s birthday. I love the cakes and the presents and the balloons, and all the other hoopla that goes along with a throwing big fete. To not celebrate his birthday every year is torturous for me, which is why I do it anyway. BUT, I do it very slyly, almost stealth-like, so that he doesn’t even notice that he’s celebrating. I begrudgingly forgo the streamers and the decorations, and instead opt for a few cards and unwrapped gifts, followed by a nice dinner at his favorite restaurant (and as much as I’d love to see him flush, I don’t ask the waiters to parade out and sing to him). And above all, and this is very important, there are no candles, and the cake comes in the form of a cookie. A birthday cake cookie! Pretty sneaky, right? Continue reading

Baked Southwest Egg Rolls with Creamy Salsa

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I have a major weakness for Southwest egg rolls. It’s my kryptonite. Just one whiff of them can bring me to my knees, and every time I see them on a menu (and that’s a lot since our move to Texas), I have to order them. I’m not sure who it was that first came up with this Asian fusion work of art, but they should be awarded a Pulitzer Prize for brilliance in food discovery. Alright, maybe that’s going a bit too far, but that’s how much I love them. Now, with that being said, I realize that these fried little goodies aren’t the most nutritious things you can put into your mouth, and with bikini season still in full swing, I’m not yet willing to abandon my healthy eating habits and devour these by the handful, like I inevitably do once sweater season strikes. But just because the weather is warm and the clothing trends skimpy, doesn’t mean I should completely sacrifice my favorite go-to appetizer, right? At least that’s what I was thinking last weekend when I was having a serious snack-attack. Hungry for something savory and satisfying, I decided to take matters into my own hands and make my own less fattening version of the Southwest egg roll. Made with brown rice, lean chicken, and baked instead of fried, I feel better (at least a little bit) about attacking these guys with reckless abandon. Which I did. — Don’t judge.

Baked Southwest Egg Rolls

Makes 14

  • ½ cup dry brown rice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 15oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1½ cups spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1½ cups corn kernels, fresh or canned
  • 1 cup precooked rotisserie chicken (white meat, skin removed), roughly chopped (*omit to make this a vegetarian dish)
  • 1 bell pepper (red or orange), chopped
  • ½ cup jarred salsa
  • ½ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 3 Tbsp diced canned jalapeños (substitute mild diced green chills for less heat)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • 14 flour tortillas, fajita size
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tsp water
  • parchment paper

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Preheat oven to 425°F.

In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Once boiling, add rice and stir for 1 minute. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 35-40 minutes or until rice is soft and all the water has evaporated from the pot. Once rice has finished cooking, fluff with a fork and set aside.

Meanwhile, pour half of the black beans into a medium bowl and mash with a fork until most of the beans are crushed.IMG_9237

To the same bowl, add cooked rice and all the other remaining ingredients (except the tortillas and egg wash), and stir until combined.IMG_9254

Fill a ¼-cup measurer with egg roll filling and drop it into the center of a tortilla.IMG_9259

Bring 2 sides of the tortilla upward, then use your other hand to press on the outside of the tortilla, forming the filling into a log running down the center of the tortilla, stopping ½-inch from each end.IMG_9260

Fold the bottom of the tortilla up towards the center, then fold both sides inward, creating an envelope.IMG_9261

Brush the open end of tortilla with the egg wash and fold inward, sealing the egg roll.IMG_9266 IMG_9263

Place egg roll seam-side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet, then brush the top of the tortilla with egg wash, covering the entire surface.IMG_9265

Repeat with the remaining tortillas.IMG_9268

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until egg rolls are golden brown and crispy to the touch. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Serve with Creamy Salsa for dipping (recipe below).IMG_9270

Creamy Salsa

  • 1 cup jarred salsa
  • 1 cup light sour cream
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • smoked paprika for garnish

Mix salsa, sour cream, and salt together until smooth. Sprinkle with smoked paprika. Creamy Salsa can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.IMG_9287

Sidekick: Serve with a light and refreshing beer, preferably of the Mexican variety: Pacifico, Modelo, Sol, Dos Equis, Victoria, or Carta Blanca.

Cold Asian Noodle Salad

IMG_9116 On steamy days like these, I absolutely hate slaving over a hot stove — an outdoor grill is fine, but my kitchen stove? No thank you. Lately I’ve been cooking much of our dinners in the mornings when the temperature is still cool, then refrigerating everything and assembling the meal right before we eat. This “cook & cool” method (I just made up that term, do you like it?) works really well for pastas, rice, and other hearty grains because they store well, and taste great chilled. For this Cold Asian Noodle Salad, the pasta only takes a few minutes to simmer, so it’s easy to do right before you leave for work. Just drain the noodles, then cover and refrigerate (and if you’re feeling extra ambitious, chop the veggies and store separately in the fridge). Then when you get home, all you have to do is whip up the dressing, then toss everything together. Voilà! Done! And this easy summer salad can be served alongside grilled chicken, or dished up as a vegetarian entrée. Either way, you’ll thank me tonight when you’re enjoying a cool meal on the patio rather than sweating in the kitchen. Continue reading

Salmon Burgers with Wasabi Tartar and Quick Pickled Cucumbers

IMG_8913While my husband and I were on our Alaskan cruise in June, I had one of the best salmon burgers I’ve ever eaten at a local brewery in Skagway. It was one of those meals that while you’re eating it you keep saying, “Wow, this is good. No, this is really good!” over and over and over again. About halfway through devouring the burger I came up for air long enough to take a picture of it so that I could recreate the deliciousness in my own kitchen. After sitting down and talking to my grill-master husband, we concluded that the best course of action was to lightly season the fish, then grill it over low heat on a cedar plank to give it some smokiness. And I must say, it was delicious. Whether eaten by itself or in burger form, this method should be the new way you cook your salmon. Continue reading

No-Bake Lemon Cheesecake with Cherry Compote

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In keeping with last week’s Backyard BBQ theme, I’ve come up with a winning dessert that takes minimal effort to assemble, can be made and refrigerated a day ahead, and doesn’t require you to fire up your oven on these very hot summer days. Oh, and did I mention that it’s seriously good? It is. Make a bunch of individual ones for easy serving, or one big one that you can bring out all fancy-like and impress your friends with your mad baking skills. I won’t tell them it only took 20 minutes to whip up if you don’t. Continue reading