Feta Dip with Fresh Herbs & Lemon

Feta Dip with Fresh Herbs and Lemon via The Tasty Fork

It seems like ages ago, but before Christmas, I went to a Holiday Theme Pinterest Party. Being a total pinning addict, this was such a fun party! Everyone made something to share and the recipes had to come from one of your pin boards.

I asked for help from my readers about their favorite party food pins. My friend, Maddie, gave me a great recipe from one of her pin boards. She said it’s always a huge hit anytime she’s made it. It’s super easy, no cooking required and it’s transportable.

I did make a couple changes to the recipe. I used reduced fat feta cheese (you can’t taste the difference!), replaced dried herbs with fresh oregano, parsley & basil and topped the dip with fresh lemon juice.

The dip was a huge hit! It was almost like a Greek style bruschetta since we ate it with bread. It’s definitely something I’ll be making again!!

meghan sig

Feta Dip with Fresh Herbs & Lemon

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1lb Reduced fat feta cheese (buy it in a block, not crumbles)
  • 3 -4 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 10 Green onions, chopped
  • 2 tbsp Parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp Oregano, chopped
  • 1 tbsp Basil, chopped
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 baguette, sliced

Directions

  1. In a large platter, pour olive oil. (it should cover the bottom of the platter.)
  2. Crumble feta cheese over platter. Add tomatoes, green onions and herbs. Mix everything together.
  3. Taste. Add red pepper flakes, salt & pepper.
  4. Top dip with lemon juice.
  5. Serve with bread. I bought a french bread baguette from the bakery section at my local grocery store and that was perfect with this dip!

Inspired by Clover Lane

Thanksgiving Tip – Compound Butter Recipes

I have a last-minute tip for all of you getting ready for Thanksgiving. Will you be having some kind of bread served with dinner? Make a compound butter. Compound meaning add some ingredients to a stick of butter. It’s really easy and delicious!

Here are the steps.

  1. Mix a soften stick of butter with your favorite ingredients. (This can be done with a spatula or with a hand mixer.)
  2. Spoon butter mixture onto parchment paper or plastic wrap.
  3. Roll into a tight log. Tie the excess plastic wrap at the ends of the cylinder into a knot, or just use little pieces of string to tie off the ends.Chill for 2 hours before serving.

Making compound butter is something you can do before Thanksgiving day. Leftovers can be stored in the freezer and used at a later date. I LOVE flavored butter. It’s something that adds an extra touch and a little elegance. (and with little effort!) Below are some of my favorite flavor combinations.

  • Honey Butter – 1 stick of butter, 1/4 cup honey
  • Maître d’Hôtel Butter (recipe used at steak house restaurants) – 1 stick of butter, 2 tbsp chopped parsley, 2 tsp lemon juice
  • Breakfast Butter – 1 stick of butter, 1 tsp brown sugar, splash of vanilla extract, chopped toasted pecans
  • Fresh Herb Butter – 1 stick of butter, 2 tbsp chopped chives, 1 tbsp chopped thyme

Taste butter and add a little salt & pepper if needed.

I won’t be posting on Thursday but be sure to come by on Friday to check out my #FollowFriday Blogger Feature.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

Smoked Almond & Rosemary Chicken Tenders

Chicken Tenders. Chicken Fingers. Whatever you wanna call it, I LOVE them.

I created this recipe to find a healthier option. Most chicken tenders are breaded & fried. I’ve seen recipes which are oven baked, but the crust of the tender is covered in breadcrumbs, eggs and cheese. No thanks.

I’ve been eating a lot of hickory smoked almonds lately. It’s the perfect combo of smokey & salty. Did you know if you’ve got a food processor or a good blender, you can grind nuts so they have a consistency of breadcrumbs? It’s true!

I made these chicken tenders for dinner, but I think they would be a great appetizer for a holiday party! I threw in some fresh rosemary, which is a perfect herb for the holiday season. Have some dipper options, like bbq sauce or honey mustard, and you’ll be all set!

I added about 1/4 cup of panko bread crumbs, but if you can’t find panko or wanting a gluten-free recipe, just cut them from the recipe.

Smoked Almond & Rosemary Chicken Tenders

  • 1 cup smoked almonds
  • 1/4 panko bread crumbs (optional)
  • 2 tbsp rosemary, chopped
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 8 chicken tenders
  • Cooking Spray

Directions:

  1. In a food processor (or strong blender), put in almonds. Grind until the texture is very fine, like breadcrumbs. Heat skillet to medium heat and toast panko until it’s slighty brown. In a shallow dish, combine bread crumbs, almonds and rosemary. Mix well.
  2. In a bowl, stir buttermilk, Dijon mustard, salt & pepper. Dip chicken one by one into the butter milk and then into the almond coating.  Arrange a wire rack on a large baking sheet; coat rack with cooking spray. Arrange chicken on rack; coat chicken with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 15 minutes or until chicken is done. Garnish with rosemary leaves, if desired.

New Recipe: Grilled Corn, Feta Cheese & Quinoa Salad – Gluten Free, Vegetarian Meal

Soooo, I know I’ve been neglected my blog duties for the last few months…  My excuse – it’s a mixture of being busy & lazy. Does that make sense??

I had intentions of sharing all of the wonderful things I’ve been making. I took the time to take pictures of recipes…but no motivation to hop onto my computer and write everything down.

After being told my recipes were missed on the world wide web, I decided I needed to get back to something I truly love to do!

Are you ready?? Here we go!

I’m happy to report I’m finally cooking for two. Me & the hubby. I’m shocked he’s ok with me making healthy girlie salads. And it’s not like I’m pulling a fast one on him. He’s been going to the grocery store for me and sticking to the list. I think he’s on board with it!

This salad tastes like summer. Sweet grilled corn, juicy cherry tomatoes, spicy jalapeno and fresh basil. So good! Cooking the quinoa and adding it to the veggies & cheese makes the whole salad melt to together. It’s topped off with a zesty lemon & garlic dressing. Perfect to eat warm. It’s even better if you wait a day and eat it cold the next day.

Grilled Corn, Feta Cheese & Quinoa Salad, serves 4

  • 2-3 ears fresh corn,  husked
  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 2 cups chicken stock or water
  • ¾ cup crumbled  feta
  • 1 pint grape  tomatoes, halved
  • 1 15-ounce  can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, diced (can be omitted)
  • 1 tablespoon  extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Salt and fresh  ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4-5 basil  leaves

Directions

1. Turn on the grill. Rub olive oil onto corn and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Cook the on the grill for 8 minutes. Be sure to rotate corn so all sides get evenly cooked. When the corn is done, let it cool. When corn is cool enough to work with, remove kernels with a knife. I’ve found this method is easiest. You won’t be picking corn kernels off the floor.

2. Add quinoa and chicken stock or water to a sauce pan. Bring to boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover pan. Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until all liquid has reduced. Fluff with fork.

3. Cut up all of the veggies and add them to the bowl with corn. Add chick peas. When the quinoa is done cooking, add it to the veggies mixture.

4. To make the salad dressing, add minced garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. Season with salt & pepper. Pour salad dressing over quinoa & veggies. Top with feta cheese and fold into the salad. Top with basil.

Smoky Buffalo Style Chicken Chili

Eating chili in May isn’t something I usually do. Chicago has been hit with rainy and gloomy weather the past few days. While the rain came down on Sunday afternoon, I was curled up on the couch enjoying this amazing chili.

It’s smokey. It’s cheesy. It’s crunchy. It’s like a nacho chili bowl.

I’m not going to go into great detail about this chili. We all know what chili tastes like… but there are two elements in this chili which make it a stand out. Pureed chipotle chilis and blue cheese. Never thought blue cheese would end up in my chili, but in this recipe it totally worked.

And like most chilis, it tastes even better the longer it sits. You’ll enjoy the leftovers.

Monday Night’s Dinner…YUM

Smoky Buffalo Style Chicken Chili, serves 4-6

  • 2 tablespoons EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil)
  • 2 pounds ground chicken
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 3 – 4 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped or grated
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 small can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • A couple of handfuls thin blue-corn tortilla chips
  • 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 3/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
  • Pickled jalapeno chile pepper rings for garnish

Directions

  1. Heat the EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the meat and cook to brown, stirring to crumble. Add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, 10 minutes or so.
  2. Place the chipotles and adobo sauce in a food processor or blender and puree. Spoon 2 to 4 rounded tablespoons into a small bowl and combine with the tomato sauce to make a chipotle-infused tomato sauce.
  3. When the vegetables are tender, stir in the chile-tomato sauce and chicken stock. Simmer for a few minutes to thicken and combine the flavors.
  4. Meanwhile, switch on the broiler and position a rack in the center of the oven. Arrange 4 bowls on a baking sheet and fill with the buffalo chili. Top with an even layer of the tortilla chips, cheeses and jalapeno rings. Broil for a couple of minutes to brown the cheese and crisp the chips.

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms….on the grill

Turn off your oven! Make a pledge not to turn it back on until the fall. Summer is coming and no one likes a hot house.

It was in the 80′s today in Chicago…and for some reason I was craving stuffed mushrooms. Mushrooms stuffed with goat cheese and spinach. Usually I make stuff mushrooms in the oven, but there was no way that was going to happen today! I’ve got a grill — might as well use it.

I had my stuffed portobello mushroom for dinner, but this would be a great appetizer. Or you could slice it up and put in on toasted french bread.

The spinach and cheese provided most of the flavor, with the mushroom providing an earthy undertone and vehicle to get the filling from plate to mouth. I loved it! You will too!

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms on the Grill, serves 8

  • 8 small portobello mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 nine-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, cooked and drained
  • 1 container goat cheese (5.3-ounce) with garlic and herbs, or Boursin cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

    1. Clean mushrooms and remove gills using a spoon. Brush all over with olive oil and set aside.
    2. Fire up your grill. While the grill is getting hot, mix the spinach, cheese, and garlic together in a bowl to make the filling.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.  Stuff each mushroom with a generous portion of the filling.
    3. When charcoal is fully lit and covered in gray ash, pour coals out and arrange them on one side of the charcoal grate, keeping the other side empty. (If you have a gas grill, don’t turn on all of the burners.) Clean and oil the cooking grate.  Place the mushrooms on the cool side of the grill, stuffed side up, cover, and cook until filling is bubbling and the mushrooms are well seared, about 20 minutes.  Remove from grill and serve immediately.

 

Bays English Muffin Pizza Challange

This post has been loooong overdue….but I’m happy to say I won’t be homeless come June 1st. We signed our new lease for a 2 bedroom apartment in Bucktown last week. I was VERY happy not to be looking for apartments this weekend. Instead, I made 3 new recipes! Here is the first.

“What is that,” do you ask?? It’s a very delicious Thai Chicken Pizza on Bays English Muffins. My sorority sister/Kendall Alum/Fellow Blogger, Rebecca from Homemakers Habitat, informed me of a recipe challenge with Bays English Muffins. Here are the details from Bays Website– Beginning April 1 through May 31, 2012, enter your original Bays English Muffin pizza recipe online at www.bays.com and begin competing with others for a chance to win a VIP trip for 2 to Italy, the place where pizza was born.  In addition to the grand prizewinner, five finalists will win a case of Bays English Muffins.  The winner will be announced on their webpage and on Facebook page in mid-June of 2012.

What’s your favorite pizza? Have you tried a Bays English Muffin? I must admit, I don’t buy english muffins too often. But after eating several Bays English Muffins, they are my new favorite brand. Why? This may sound strange, but I LOVE how easy they are to separate in half. No knife needed, no crumbs all over the place. And they taste really good!!

I’m challenging all of you to give this recipe contest a try. It’s so easy! Just think of your favorite foods and make it into a pizza on a Bay English Muffin. My only request is if you win the VIP trip, you have to take me. I promise I’ll be a very entertaining traveling companion. :)

Thai Chicken Pizza on a Bays English Muffin, serves 1

  • 1 Bay English Muffin, halved
  • 2 tbs Spicy Thai Chili Sauce
  • 2 tsp shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1/4 cup shredded chicken
  • 1/4 cup reduced fat cheese, shredded
  • 1 tsp cilantro
  • 1 tsp basil

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread Thai Chili Sauce all over the english muffins. Top with shallots, zucchini, red chili flakes and chicken. Cover with cheese. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
  2. When the cheese is melted, top pizza with additional Thai chili sauce. Sprinkle cilantro and basil as a fresh finishing touch!

Quesadilla Italiano

Yes. That’s right. Not all quesadillas need to be covered in salsa & stuffed with chorizo. (But I am a HUGE fan of such a thing.)

In this quesadilla, you’ll find lots of vegetables & cheese. YUM. I also came up with a dipping sauce with an Italian flare. You can switch out a beer with this recipe and have a nice glass of vino!

I’m not sure where inspiration came from this dish. However, I did start craving italian food while skimming a gossip blog today. I read New Jersey’s favorite meatball was prego. Lord help us.

This is a meal for 1. But the great thing about a quesadilla is it’s easy to double, triple, octo-something the recipe.

The first thing you want to do is make the dipping sauce. The longer these flavors “hang out”, the better it will be.

Next, saute mushrooms, onion and garlic with some olive oil (or BUTTER). Once the onions are soft, fire up another skillet and spray it with cooking spray. Put a tortilla in the skillet. Sprinkle with cheese, mushroom mixture, sun-dried tomatoes & spinach. Top with more cheese and another tortilla. Once the cheese has set, flip the quesadilla so the other side can cook.

When both sides are brown, cut into triangles. Serve (and don’t be shy) with the balsamic dipping sauce.

CHOW, my readers. :)

Quesadilla Italiano

Balsamic Dipping Sauce

  • 1/4 cup Sour cream
  • 3 tbs Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 tbs Olive Oil
  • 1 tbs Parsley
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste

Quesadilla

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup Onion, diced
  • 1 Garlic Clove, minced
  • 2 tortillas
  • Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 tbs sun-dried Tomatoes, julienne
  • 1/4 cup Baby Spinach

Directions:

  1. Combine all of the Balsamic Sauce ingredients. Mix until smooth. Set aside
  2. In a saute pan, add olive oil. Once the skillet is at a medium heat, add mushrooms, onions & garlic. Cook until onions & mushrooms are soft. Season with salt & pepper. Set aside.
  3. In a skillet (at medium heat), spray some cooking spray before adding one of the tortillas. Sprinkle cheese, mushroom mixture, sun-dried tomatoes and spinach over the tortilla. Top with additional cheese. Place the other tortilla on top.
  4. Cook for 5 minutes. Flip the tortilla over & cook for 3 minutes (or until brown.) Cut into triangles and serve with balsamic dipping sauce.

Caprese Polenta Bites

Happy Valentine’s Day!! How is everyone celebrating?? I’m going to see The Vow with @hayesman_. I’m sneaking these tasty treats into the theater. I’m sooooo bad.

I’ll need some food in my belly before heading out to the theater. As much as I love movie theater popcorn, I hate how I feel after eating it. I refuse to eat popcorn for dinner tonight! Take that overpriced Movie Theater. So far, I’m feeling Meghan – 2, Movie Theater – 0.

Caprese Salad (tomato, mozzarella cheese & basil) is something I don’t order that often when I go out to dinner. Mainly because it’s kind of boring but I love all of the elements in the salad. So I’m going to change it up and make an appetizer I’d love to eat.

I came up with Caprese Polenta Bites topped with homemade pesto. I’ve been eyeing the pre-made polenta at Trader Joe’s for the last week. Polenta is made from cornmeal. You can make your own (there are plenty of recipes on the internet) or you can save yourself 20 minutes and buy it pre-made.

This is how the recipe is assembled. Your polenta should be about 1/2 inch thick and it’s the bottom of your bite. Place a thinly sliced tomato piece on top of the polenta. Top with mozzarella cheese. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

I’m sure you’re thinking, “Meghan, where is the basil??” Well, the bite is going to be topped with homemade pesto. Once the caprese polenta is done cooking, drizzle some pesto on top. You can buy pre-made pesto at the grocery store if you don’t have the time to make your own… but if you have a good blender/food processor, it’s very easy to make your own.

Isn’t this cute??!

I ate a couple of these for dinner, but it would make a great appetizer at the party. They’re just a few bites and you don’t need silverware. Just bite right on in and enjoy the wonderful flavors.

I made a lot of pesto, so you’ll get another pesto recipe this week. I haaaaate to be wasteful. :)

Caprese Polenta Bites (makes 12 bites)

  • Polenta, pre-made
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Pesto, recipe to follow

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Slice polenta so it’s 1/2 inch thick. Season polenta with salt & pepper. Top with tomatoes and cheese. Bake for 15 minutes.
  3. Top with pesto and serve.

Pesto Recipe

  • 2 cups basil
  • 1/3 cup almonds, walnuts or pine nuts. (I used almonds since I had them on hand)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 olive oil
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Combine basil, nuts and garlic cloves in the blender/food processor. Pulse a few times.
  2. Stream in olive oil while the blender/food processor is running. You may need to scrap the sides with a spatula to make sure everything is getting mixed. The consistency should be like a runny paste.
  3. Add lemon juice and cheese; pulse a few more times. Taste pesto and add Salt & Pepper if needed.

Roasted Red Pepper & Basil Hummus with Baked Tortilla Chips

Hummus is a product I always have in my fridge. It’s pretty convenient since all stores carry it and they have a variety of flavors. After making my own hummus, I doubt I’ll ever buy it at the store again. This is a cheap & easy recipe — Paying $3-5 for an 8 ounce container of hummus is just silly. If you’re a hummus lover, please stop the insanity with me and just make your own!

I decided to make Roasted Red Pepper & Basil Hummus. I had both of the main ingredients on hand, but really, you can make any kind of hummus you want. The main ingredients you need to make hummus are chickpeas, tahini & olive oil. Tahini is a sesame paste and it can be tricky to find. The only store by me that carried it was Whole Foods. Tahini can be stored in your fridge for 6 months. If you’re like me and forget when you buy things, be sure to write the date on the container so you know how long you can use it. (I also do that with cheese!)

This recipe is so easy to make. Throw all of the ingredients in the blender and blend. That’s it.

Then you have this.

Roasted red pepper & basil go so great together. This hummus so thick & creamy. But the best part about it is how fresh it tastes! That’s the reason why I’ll never buy hummus in the store again. A store bought brand can’t compete!

How do you like to eat hummus? It really is a versatile food but I love it as a healthy dip. Veggies are great with hummus but sometimes I want some carbs. Instead of having calorie loaded chips & crackers, make your own baked tortilla chips. All you need are tortillas cut into triangles, cooking spray and your favorite spices. I really like cumin & a little salt. They bake for 10 minutes and then you have your own baked tortilla chips. The chips are super crispy! This is a great way to use up tortillas before they get too stale.

This recipe makes 3 cups and will last 7-10 days in your fridge. I hope after making your own hummus, you’ll never go back to the store bought stuff!

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

  • 1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas/garbanzo beans, rinsed & drained
  • 12 oz. jar of roasted red peppers, drained
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • Garlic, 2 cloves
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Basil, 8 leaves
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

Directions:

All ingredients go into the blender. Blend until smooth. Refrigerate for 3 hours before it’s served.

Baked Tortilla Chips

  • Tortillas
  • Cooking spray
  • Your favorite spices (I used cumin)
  • Salt

Directions:

Turn oven onto 350 degrees. Cut tortillas in half, and then each half into thirds. You should have a triangle shaped chip. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Place tortillas on the baking sheet and spray with cooking spray. Season chips with salt & the spice you selected. Bake for 10 minutes.