Category: Appetizers

Beer Cheese Soup with IPA and Smoked Cheddar

Beer, Cheese Soup made with IPA and Smoked Cheddar
This beautiful soup is rich in flavor, perfect for any football Sunday and EASY to make..

Looking for that perfect item to add to your “football Sunday” menu OR if you are like many die hard Minnesota Vikings fans, you may already (with out wanting to say it out loud) be thinking of that Superbowl party you are going to have.  This year COULD BE “the year.”  Beer cheese soup with IPA and smoked cheddar would be a perfect hot date dinner as well.  Serve this soup with a light salad and your favorite IPA.  Truth be told, I have never made a beer-cheese soup.  I’m not sure why….everyone I know LOVES beer and cheese and here in the Midwest we have some of the best beer being brewed and the best cheese being made so it is time to get SERIOUS friends!!  Beer cheese soup with IPA and smoked cheddar might just be a match made in heaven….hoping you will love it like we do! (more…)

Mixed Citrus Salad with Avocado, Pomegranate and Spicy, Roasted Chickpeas

Mixed Citrus Salad with Avocado, Pomegranate and Spicy, Roasted Chickpeas
LOOK AT THIS COLOR!!! Isn’t it just gorgeous? I had some of my favorite women over for a very early Christmas lunch and wanted to make them something that was packed with color, flavor and all kinds of nutrition and this salad was the creation…

‘Tis citrus season, friends….I like to think of it this way instead of ’tis flu season.   Citrus season is just beginning…it peaks right after the new year, so good news….you can make this beauty over and over for the next few months.  Mixed citrus salad with avocado, pomegranate and spicy, roasted chickpeas is light and refreshing, and is packed with fiber, vitamin C, antioxidants and phyochemicals….all warriors against that other season we are in (not to mention preventative measures against all kinds of other things that our bodies don’t want).  Did I mention it is absolutely stunning…a real show-stopper and EASY to make???  Let’s do this…to begin with, we will talk about roasting chickpeas….genius, I know!! (more…)

Beets, Roasted with Shallots and Rosemary, Pickled with Red Onions

Beets, Roasted with Shallots and Rosemary, Pickled with Red Onion
The perfect sweet and and “oniony” condiment. Beets, roasted with shallots and rosemary and pickled with red onions are so incredibly delish on salads and sandwiches..

I don’t think I was privy to pickled beets until after I met my good friend, Tim. ♥  His Grandma made them every year, with his help at times.  Sure, I had eaten this magnificent root plenty of times…we grew them in our garden while I was growing up and my mom did other amazing things with them, but pickled…WHOA, this was an awakening!!  Beets are so beautiful…the color alone just draws us in.  Pickling them with the addition of red onions is like a marriage made in heaven, a sweet, pickly, oniony marriage.  There is sugar in this recipe providing the perfect, sweet, acidic flavor you are craving.  Make no mistake, although there is some sugar, beets are a great source of fiber and are naturally low in calories and fat.  These gems are the perfect addition to any sandwich, but I particularly love them on a veggie sandwich. (more…)

Oven Roasted French Fries

Oven-Roasted French Fries with Curried Tomato Aoli
Perfect;y crispy, perfectly hot, perfectly-perfect… Served here with a curried tomato aoli….cheers friends..

How about those fries?  You can do this, fresh, REAL, oven-roasted french fries.  No deep-frying and besides a splash of evoo and a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper the only ingredient in this recipe is POTATOES….as it should be my friends.   The frozen varieties will do in a pinch (I guess), but this is a treat and with a bit of plan-ahead time, you may never do it any other way (I hope anyway♥).  Here we go.. (more…)

Curried Tomato Chutney

Curried Tomato Chutney
Almost the end of October and we have to make the most of these late season tomatoes, how about a curried tomato chutney to go with your eggs, on a burger or transformed as a dip for your fries..

Katie went out in the garden to pick the last of this years tomatoes over the weekend and with the small bounty she brought in, I thought I’d make a curried tomato “chutney” to have that morning for brunch with eggs.  What is chutney?  It is a spicy condiment made of fruits or vegetables with vinegar, spices, and sugar, originating in India.  This particular recipe does not include any vinegar, the tomatoes are acidic enough, but otherwise it meets definition.  I LOVE the flavor of curry powder which is a spice blend of coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, and chili peppers.  Added to the tomatoes, onions and garlic in this recipe, it is magic.  This would also be good on grilled chicken, fish or as a condiment for sandwiches. (more…)

Crispy Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Smoked Paprika

Baked Sweet Potatoes with Smoked Paprika
Uniform size is important so that all of the fries cook equally

Crispy, baked sweet potato fries with smoked paprika may be your new go to when craving french fries.  Sweet potatoes are a nutrition powerhouse, packing Vitamin A and C along with smaller amounts of other vitamins and minerals.  They also are a great source of fiber and have a lower glycemic index than white potatoes.   Foods with a low glycemic index (GI) tend to release glucose slowly and steadily into the blood sugar as opposed to foods with a high glycemic index which release glucose rapidly……this means you can eat these sweet potato fries without feeling hungry or tired an hour later.  Have at it!! (more…)

Steamed Mussels in a White Wine, Curry, Cream Sauce

Steamed Mussels in a White Wine, Curry, Cream Sauce
Might just be my favorite hot date dinner…in the top 5 for sure…SO GOOD…

Friends, DO NOT be intimidated by these beautiful creatures.   This recipe for steamed mussels in a white wine, curry, cream sauce will be on your hot date dinner table in under 30 minutes and will be asking yourself WHY haven’t I been doing this all along??  I recently made these for my parents who were very skeptical about eating them, confusing them a bit with oysters.  Mussels are tender (when cooked right, I will show you here) and have the texture or bite like a chicken thigh.  You can and should eat them with your hands, using the shell as your utensils, so they are a bit messy, but that is all part of the awesome.  Need-less-to-say, they are now firm believers and LOVED every last bite of this dish….you will too.  

Talk about cheap…I buy my mussels here in the metro area of MN at Coastal Seafoods ( for $3.99/pound, can you believe it?  Mussels are high in protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. They are relatively low in calories and fat and have exceptional nutritional value.  Follow along and I’ll show you how to make this for your hot date dinner this weekend…we are almost there!! (more…)

Roasted Poblano, Jalapeno and Cilantro aoli

Roasted Poblano, Jalapeno and Cilantro Aoli
Grow them!! These beauties are one of the easiest peppers to grow in my garden, anyway. They are fairly mild in flavor with a rich, deep green color…

This past weekend, I was out in my garden and these poblano peppers were just begging to be picked and tuned into something amazing.  Tim and I love poblano peppers and plant them every year.  They are easy to grow, and the color and flavor are just fantastic.  If you are not growing them, you can pick them up at any local market or store.  I do have my favorite way of preparing them (, but now we have a contender for favorite preparation.   This roasted poblano, jalapeno and cilantro aoli would be amazing on most anything.  It is spicy from the addition of the jalapeno, but the fat from the mayo cuts the spice perfectly.  The bold freshness of the cilantro takes the color and flavor over the top.  Use it as a dip or condiment, this aoli will knock your socks off.    (more…)

Roasted Tomato and Jalapeno Salsa with Fresh Cilantro

Roasted Tomato and Jalapeno Salsa with Fresh Cilantro

Friends, here is THE salsa recipe you will make going forward.   Roasted tomato and jalapeno salsa is everything we are looking for in a salsa, peak tomato flavor, perfect consistency and some heat.  BINGO!!   If you aren’t growing them, grab some of those late summer tomatoes from the farmers market and preserve this wonderful season…you will thank yourself all year long.  In fact, grab a bunch and make a big batch of roasted tomato marinara with fresh basil and Parmesan while you’r at it, get that recipe here . For a list of MN Farmers Markets, check out this website  Use roma tomatoes for this recipe, they have thicker walls and less juice as opposed to sandwich tomatoes.  This is easy and makes a ton, let’s go… (more…)

Spinach and Artichoke Pizza


Endless options…you control the quality of ingredients…make your OWN pizzas!!

 Everyone loves pizza night and with a little prep (making the dough) you can make your own in the time it would take delivery to show up.  My dad made homemade pizza for us growing up using his dad’s recipe and it was always a favorite in our house.  I have tweaked that recipe over the years, but love the tradition and knowing where the recipe came from.  Try this one!!  Make it for hot date night with a bottle of wine OR get the kids involved and get creative.  Stay tuned for all kinds of variations…..Cheers!! (more…)


                          Need picnic ideas? MAKE THIS!

70 degrees….in MN….in early April….on a Saturday, picnic IT IS!   This, my friends is the perfect sandwich to pack for a picnic AND it can be made the day before.  I made this over the weekend and there wasn’t a bit left at our picnic.  Bring a cutting a board and bread knife and slice on location.  Pack the cooler, pack the Frisbees and GET OUTSIDE!!!  (more…)

Perfectly Roasted Whole Chickens with Lemon and Thyme

Perfectly Roasted Whole Chickens with Lemon and Thyme

YES!!!! This is really as good as it looks!! Cheers!!
YES!!!! This is really as good as it looks!! Cheers!!

Friends, these perfectly roasted whole chickens are a go-to here at our house.  Make them and your house will smell AMAZING, your dinner will be AMAZING and the opportunities with left-overs are endless.   With a little bit of prep work, you will have the beginnings of 3 amazing meals.  In our house, we have a roast chicken dinner one night, I will make stock (see my basic training page for stock recipe at for soup another night and we do some kind of chicken salad one night….stay tuned for inspiration for your hot date dinner.  Enjoy!! (more…)