Baha Peninsula Artichoke Appetizer

I Know I Know I Know…Cabo Stories are becoming a bit nonplussed; however, to know me is to know that I love our Diamante villa in Cabo. You may find it odd that I am a very pale, natural blond, 66 year old Grand. That is to say that I don’t sit in the sun; but I am all about being out there in the pool with the fam and friends, 50+ sunscreen, most of the time in long sleeve SPF shirts, soaking up the fun. In the interim, I’m all about dreaming up new manners in which to cook our favorite bites when we gather around the dinner table! The Baha Peninsula is known for many, many things, one of which is growing artichokes. The baby ones are the best, most tender, and just yummy. So, we enjoyed them, a lot!

Above, from left: the don is mixing the cheeses. ~ the Cabo Grocery Girls couldn’t find wonton wrappers while stocking our kitchen, so…improvise. I used the Diamante Market pizza dough instead; and with no rolling pin, enter the empty Ciroc bottle to roll the dough (yes my arms did get some sun that day!). ~ Improvising again, with no cookie cutter, hello glass to cut the rounds of dough to fit into the muffin tin. Check out the results below!

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 t garlic powder
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup water packed baby artichokes, drained and chopped
24 wonton wrappers
Chopped fresh chives for garnish
Mini muffin tin

In mixing bowl, combine Parmesan, mayonnaise, and garlic powder.
Mix well.
Stir in Monterey Jack and artichokes.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Spray 2 mini muffin tin pans with nonstick spray.
Press one wonton wrapper into each small muffin cup.
Bake 5 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned.
Fill each cup with artichoke mixture.
Bake until golden brown, about 5 minutes…but keep your eye on it!
Garnish with chives and serve warm.

Cinnamon Bread Pinwheels

Hellodie Hellodie and Happy Hump da Hump Day! Each post that involves my grands is especially fun for me, so come on and get happy! They may seem to be bouncing off the walls sometimes, but they’re just being children; so hold on to the magic…they grow up fast! And now, here’s a little show and tell. May your cookie jar never be empty!

4 slices cinnamon raison bread
2 Tbs butter
1 Tbs sugar
1/4 t cinnamon
4 long hors d’oeuvres picks

Cut the crust off each piece of bread, keeping it totally intact.
Start at one end of each piece of bread crust and roll it up, creating 4 pinwheels.
Secure each pinwheel with a pick.
Melt butter, sugar, and cinnamon in skillet, stirring to combine.
Add pinwheels to skillet and allow to toast about a minute per side.
Remove from skillet onto plate and allow pinwheels to cool and crispen.

Avocado Toast with Eggs and Tomatoes

Home from Cabo and happily back to life as Grand and GrandDad for the weekend. Tomorrow begins with a 5:50am wakeup call for Liam’s travel league baseball games, and then soccer matches for “the littles”. We will divide and conquer for the different locations; but we will all reunite in the Rock Dam Kitchen for a healthy brunch to refuel us all for the afternoon. Transfer the familiar into the fantastic. We’re taking all familiar ingredients and combining them in a wonderfully twisted way. So drop the mask for a few minutes to enjoy a meal…the stars are going to align on our taste buds and all the way down to our tummies! Here’s wishing all of you a happy, healthy, fun loving, athletic Saturday!

2 eggs
2 slices bread
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
1 avocado, gently mashed
1/2 lime, zested and juiced
Dash garlic powder
Dash onion powder
Fresh spinach
Gourmet Medley cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup Alfalfa sprouts
Drizzle of honey
Drizzle of olive oil

Place eggs in boiling water for 6 minutes to soft boil.
Lightly sauté tomato halves in olive oil.
Toast bread.
Spread with Dijon.
Mix avocado with lime, garlic, and onion.
Spread avocado mixture on top of Dijon.
Top with a few spinach leaves.
Top with sprouts.
Top with eggs.
Top with tomatoes.
Drizzle with honey and olive oil.
Salt and pepper to taste.

Quick and Easy Biscuits

Start to Finish in Less that 20 Minutes. And That’s a Promise! This is life in abundance, as we neither bake nor eat biscuits in this household often. But when we do, we do it right baby! I paired this wonderful bread with homemade pimento cheese, cilantro butter, and homemade blueberry jam. That was for Sunday brunch. Sunday Supper saw us making tiny turkey sliders and topping them again with yummyness. The Don enjoyed his with pimento cheese and jam; and I enjoyed mine with cilantro butter and jam (and plenty of it)! I made it just to share with you excellent people who follow along on this joint journey. Southern know how people! Shine Bright Like a Diamond.

2 cups all purpose flour 
1/4 cup sugar
2 t baking powder 
1/2 t baking soda
3/4 t salt
1 cup whole milk 
3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbs melted butter

Preheat oven to 450°.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl.
In separate bowl, whisk together milk and mayonnaise.
Stir milk mixture into flour mixture until just combined.
Spoon level scoops of dough onto parchment paper, spacing them an inch apart.
Spread with melted butter.
Bake until golden, about 12 to 14 minutes.
Transfer to wire rack to cool.

Avocado Sprout Toast Appetizer

Who’s in the kitchen this weekend? Even the youngest, well almost, can create this yummy appetizer or breakfast. Yes this is a truly simple creation. But, hey…we’re not trying to impress anyone. It’s about making our family or guests feel comfortable; and trust me, this makes everyone feel just that! Remember that food is our common ground. So go out and have yourselves a wonderful weekend! Stay safe, well, and away from that nasty Delta Variant good people!

2 slices whole grain bread, toasted*
1/2 ripe avocado, gently mashed
Dash kosher salt
Dash pepper
1/4 cup alfalfa sprouts
2 t sunflower seeds
Wedge fresh lemon

Spread avocado on top of bread.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Top with sprouts.
Sprinkle on seeds.
Squeeze lemon juice evenly on top.

Makes 8 Appetizers.
Excellent as breakfast as a whole slice of toast.
*My personal favorites are Ezekiel and Genesis, made by Food for Life.
Earthy tasting, in a great way.

Cheesy Pull Apart Bread

This house on “the Forest Hill” was packed with energy and festive events last week. I had the five year olds for Grand and GrandDad Camp, a childhood friend here from Shaker Heights, and the Queen Peggy’s 95th celebration of life! And in the midst of it all, the children managed to create a wonderful bread concoction! It’s play time, so follow the trail below…

16 oz round sourdough bread
Stick of butter
2  t minced garlic
1 1/2 t Italian seasoning (or equal parts of dried basil, parsley, and oregano)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
3 Tbs chopped parsley, divided

Preheat the oven to 375°.
Place the bread on non stick sheet pan.
Cut a grid on the bread by creating vertical cuts, stopping before you hit the bottom crust. Repeat the cuts in a horizontal manner.
Place butter, garlic, seasoning, and half of parsley in small sauce pan.
Heat until butter is melted.
Drizzle butter into crevices of bread.
Gently stuff cheese deep into crevices of bread, and sprinkle of top.
Wrap bread in foil to cover.
Bake 10 minutes, then uncover and bake an additional 12 minutes.
Sprinkle with remaining parsley, and serve.

Bread by Lucy, Parker, and Peg. Sculpture by Jeff Kiefer.

Apricot Caprese Toasts

Spreading a little joy to jump start this short week! The combination of flavors in this treat are like every section of the orchestra is playing in harmony and on key. This recipe just may become famous! So drop everything and head to the market straight away; then come home and savor the deliciousness!

4 oz fresh mozzarella
3/4 cup apricot jam
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
4 t olive oil, divided
2 t white wine vinegar
Italian baguette, sliced
1 small ripe avocado, halved, pitted, and peeled
1/2 lemon
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
Torn fresh basil*

With fingers, pull mozzarella into shreds.
Combine mozzarella, apricot jam, and tomatoes in small bowl.
Drizzle with 2 t olive oil and vinegar.
Toss to coat.
Spread bread slices with remaining 2 t olive oil, salt and pepper.
Toast bread slices.
Smash and spread avocado on toasted bread.
Sprinkle with lemon juice.
Spoon apricot and tomato mixture over avocado.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Top with torn basil.*

May also enjoy for brunch.
Note: This is also delicious on a bed of butter bibb lettuce.
*I was out of fresh basil when I made this, so I substituted fresh mint and it was wonderful!

Strawberry Goat Cheese Crostini

It’s still strawberry season, so don’t sit under the apple tree; get yourself to the strawberry fields. Then bring the berries home, race to the kitchen, and make this treat to tickle those taste buds. And the crunch factor of the toast just adds a bonus to the mouth feel. Enjoyed by adults and children of all ages. Just sitting back smiling!

4 slices wheat/seed bread*
4 oz fresh goat cheese
Pint strawberries, hulled and sliced
3 Tbs maple syrup
2 Tbs olive oil
1/4 t salt
1/2 t fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350°.
On parchment lined baking sheet, toss together strawberries, syrup, olive oil, and salt.
Bake, stirring twice, until berries are slightly shrunken and juices are syrupy, about 30 minutes.
Let cool slightly.
Toast the wheat bread and brush with olive oil.
Spread with fresh goat cheese.
Top with berries.
Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.
Enjoy for breakfast.
Or cut into pieces for appetizers.

FYI…a cup of strawberries has more vitamin C than a cup of oranges, and almost as much fiber as brown rice. 
Leftover berries can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Makes 16 appetizers.

*My favorite wheat and seed breads are made by Food for Life, specifically Genesis and Ezekial.


I

Suzi and her Strawberry Bread

I met Suzi, by text and chat, through the Pandemic of Love organization. We’ve never seen each other in person, but had an immediate connection. She is, in a word, amazing. She’s a giver, fun, funny, spirited, a warrior, a survivor…she never quits, wouldn’t dare give up, and conquers it all. Here’s Suzi:

I am a Savannah girl who grew up spending summers with my grandparents, aunts and uncles in Lumberton, Fairmont, and Rowland. I am blessed with very good southern cooking DNA. My family lived in different areas of NC when I was growing up, New Bern and Lake Norman were 2 of my favorites.  
My mother instilled the importance of volunteering in my siblings and me. So, I have spent my life volunteering for a variety of causes and organizations. The Red Cross, Army Family Services, The Brady Campaign & Million Mom March, Junior League, local NPR stations, school and church organizations and more.  
The two closest to my heart have come into my life in just the last few years.  Bethematch.org, because I am a 2 time stem cell transplant patient. I have stage 4 DLBC Lymphoma. I am so very lucky because my 100% match donor was found relatively quickly through the National Registry. Many, especially those of color or mixed race, spend years waiting for a transplant. I am working to register 5000 new donors before reaching my 5th “ReBirthday” June 5, 2023!
The second organization is PandemicOfLove.com. This organization started on March 14, 2020 in the beginning of the global Covid Crisis. It was started by a mom in South Florida who saw friends and neighbors suffering as businesses and schools closed. Family incomes evaporated leaving people without food and means to survive. It is a simple formula of Mutual Aid. Those who need help register for assistance with utilities, groceries, diapers, car repairs etc. Those who have enough, register to help out a neighbor in need. I manage the NC chapters of Pandemic of Love. In North Carolina in 13 months we have matched over 1000 people who connect, and neighbors help neighbors. Globally the organization has matched more than a million people. More than 55 million dollars in direct mutual aid has been given. The organization has chapters worldwide and is completely volunteer driven. We have been featured on The Kelly Clarkson Show, ABC, CBS, chosen as a CNN HERO in 2020, and many print and media outlets. Shelly Tygielski, our founder is a Nationally recognized Mindfulness and Meditation leader.  

2 cups all purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup Greek vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 1/2 t pure vanilla
1 1/2 cup fresh chopped strawberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Stir sugars and egg together, mix well. 
Add oil, milk, yogurt, vanilla, and stir together thoroughly. 
Add flour, baking soda and salt; stir to combine-lumpy is ok. 
Fold in berries to combine. 
Do not over mix. 
Pour into parchment lined loaf pan. 
Bake in center of oven. 
Test after 45 minutes by inserting a toothpick and see if the bread is cooked through. 
Every oven is different and honestly every  bread and cake are different!

Egg and Sausage Flatbread

Raise your antenna and begin a slow clap! This is a Southern agenda where flavors comingle. Boom…for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner.

1 sheet Phyllo Dough Pastry, thawed overnight in refrigerator
3 Tbs Everything Bagel Seasoning
1 egg beaten
2 Tbs room temperature light vegetable cream cheese
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
6 oz spicy sausage
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
Fresh tomatoes, sautéed
4 poached eggs
1 Tbs honey, for drizzling
Chives for garnish

Preheat oven to 400°.
Brown sausage and onion together until cooked through.
Drain on paper towel.
Fold all edges of pastry over 1/2 inch to form rimmed edge. 
Brush with egg.
Sprinkle with seasoning, and press to embed.
Spread cream cheese across pastry.
Sprinkle with cheddar cheese.
Top the cheese with sausage and onion mixture.
Top this with sautéed tomatoes.
Bake 12 to 15 minutes until browned.
While that’s cooking, poach the eggs.
Remove the flatbread, top with eggs, and sprinkle with Gruyere.
Bake in oven for 5 more minutes until cheese is melted.
Drizzle with honey.
Garnish with chives and serve!

*Author’s Note: the don prefers scrambled eggs to poached eggs. So you will notice in one of the photos above that I used poached eggs on one half of the flatbread, and scrambled eggs on the other half. Feel free to mix it up in any manner that you desire!