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.

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.

Mexican Street Corn

Diamante Resort, Cabo San Lucas
Left: Poolside View of the Villa ~ Right: View from The Dunes Course

When in Cabo…Try your darndest to consume all of the locally farmed goods available. We hung out in the beautiful villa kitchen almost every evening, prepping fresh deliciousness to share around the dining table. So let’s all stretch our culinary senses and live more scrumptiously. Yum…and more to come (think Baha Artichokes!)

8 ears fresh sweet corn
2 Tbs canola oil
1/2 cup low fat sour cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Zest of a lime
2 jalapeno peppers, ribs and seeds removed, and sliced
1/2 cup cotija
Sprinkle of chili powder

Brush corn with canola oil.
Grill corn and peppers over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes.
(Or boil until tender if a grill is not available. Then char it in a skillet over medium high heat.)
Stir together sour cream, cilantro, and lime zest in bowl.
Brush corn with mixture.
Sprinkle with cotija and then chili powder to taste.

Watermelon, Goat Cheese, Asparagus Salad

When it’s watermelon season, you create watermelon salad. The first time I served this at a dinner party was way back in around 2009; I was stunned at the positive reactions. So now I make larger servings to avoid that questioning look of “is there more back in the kitchen!” After all, recipes are made to be tweaked; so gather, graze, and savor the season my friends. See you in the kitchen and dining room; heck I’ll see you eating on my lap!

12 asparagus spears, ends removed,
6  squares or triangles of watermelon centers
1/2 cup goat cheese, room temperature
2 Tbs olive oil
Add the goat cheese and olive oil and stir to combine.
Roast asparagus at 400 degrees with olive oil, salt and pepper for 8 minutes.

To Plate:
Place watermelon on salad plate or serving tray.
Place asparagus on next.
Top with dollop of goat cheese.

Naturally, I trim the asparagus for this recipe; but never throw away the stalks. Add this to other vegetables to make your own veggie broth. Homemade is always the best, and keeps the sodium in check.

Summer/Anytime Chicken Soup

Ah Ha!! My grands all began school today, all in one drop off location for the first time ever! So I’m making chicken soup to begin the new school year and soothe their souls. Enjoy in good health and I’ll give you an “A”. Consider making a double batch and sharing with family, a neighbor, or a friend. This is good Southern “know how!”

1 whole uncooked chicken
Water
1/2 t fresh thyme
1/2 t fresh oregano
1/2 t fresh basil, chopped
1/2 t dried red pepper flakes
1 t mustard seeds
3 Tbs olive oil
1 sweet onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 large carrots, diced
1 bunch spinach

Place whole chicken into large soup pot.
Add all spices, seasonings, and cover with water until chicken is submerged by two inches.
Bring chicken to boil, and reduce to simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
Remove chicken and set aside to cool.
Continue to simmer broth another 30 minutes.
After chicken cools slightly, shred chicken by pulling apart with two forks.
Heat oil in skillet; add onion; cook until transparent, about 3 minutes.
Add remaining vegetables and cook for two minutes.
Add vegetables and chicken back to soup broth.
Toss in spinach at last minute and allow to wilt, about 1 minute.
Serve warm.

Creamy Salsa Cheddar Dip

Looking for a healthy, simple, quick, and pleasing appetizer or afternoon snack? Wonderful for even a Monday, or any week night for that matter. I’ve got you covered. So please pay attention ’cause raw veggies are waaaaay underrated.

Small bites + Big Flavors = Don’t Mind if I Do!

Sculpture by Jeff Kiefer from my private collection; additional pieces available at City Art Gallery of Greenville, NC.

16 oz reduced fat cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups pico de gallo
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 t black pepper

Pulse all together in food processor.
Serve in cocktail glass with veggies on top.
This is also great with sweet ginger cookies or chips.

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.

Tomato, Leek, Brie Crostata

Happy Tomato Season from here in comfortable, warm unbearably hot and humid ENC. You know, that kind of weather that begs for you to stay inside, turn the air really cool, and create delicious treats like this one that I’m sharing with you here. So drop everything and dash to the local farmers’ market this very minute. Grab those vibrantly colored fresh tomatoes and get kicking! Slice it small for an appetizer, or larger for brunch. This one is a winner.

1 sheet puff pastry
12 oz mixed tomatoes, cut into 1/4 inch thick rounds
2 leeks, white and light green parts, chopped
2 Tbs Dijon mustard
6 oz Brie, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 t fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 Tbs olive oil
Whole thyme leaves for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
On lightly floured sheet of parchment paper, roll out dough to 9 1/2 x 11 1/2 rectangle.
Refrigerate on baking sheet 20 minutes.
Place tomato slices on paper towels.
Sprinkle with salt.
Top with paper towels to absorb excess liquid.
Score edges of pastry, creating 1/2 inch border.
Spread mustard inside border.
Top with cheese, onions, tomatoes (overlapping slightly to allow for shrinkage), and thyme.
Drizzle with oil.
Bake 15 minutes.
Reduce temperature to 375 degrees.
Continue baking until golden brown, about 25 to 30 more minutes.
Sprinkle with thyme leaves and serve warm.


Fresh Corn, Cucumber, and Radish Salad

Here’s to Sunday evening, and looking forward to the bold new work week tomorrow. Let’s get it going with a simple side, starring fresh, in season ingredients for Monday dinner. This isn’t a particularly strong trick, but it gets the job done. So casually hit the pause button and enjoy. Eat fresh corn!
Starch Corn and Radish Salad
This is what you need:

Kernels of 6 ears of cooked corn
6 inch Persian cucumber, thickly sliced and quartered
5 radishes, thinly sliced
4 Tbs olive oil
3 Tbs champagne vinegar
1 Tbs sugar
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 Tbs chopped dill
1  Tbs chopped cilantro

Stir together oil, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper.
Add corn, cucumbers, and radishes.
Toss.
Add dill and cilantro.
Toss gently.
Serve room temperature.

Glazed Baby Carrots

Ok pals! Here’s a sweet little mid-week side veggie for your hump day supper tonight. I used my new Geoffrey Zakarian non stick iron skillet; and even with the brown sugar and maple syrup, the clean up was a cinch. And no, I don’t receive anything for pitching this product…i was skeptical, but now I thank the don for his research and excellent gift giving! Booyah!
Vegetable Glazed Carrots I

1 1/2 lbs baby carrots*, or regular carrots peeled and cut into 1/2” slices
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbs maple syrup
1/4 t salt
1 Tbs chopped parsley, optional

Place the carrots in a large pan and add 1 1/2 cups of water.
Bring carrots to a simmer.
Cook for 8-10 minutes or until carrots are tender.
Drain off excess water.
Add butter, brown sugar, syrup, and salt to the pan.
Stir to coat the carrots.
Cook for an additional 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until a sauce has formed.
Sprinkle with parsley if desired to serve.

*I really love GreenWise  Rainbow Baby Carrots.

Vegetable Glazed Carrots IIIJust sharing a bit of ambiance to cheer up your day!

The swan was “bagged” by Brenton at age 9 in Mattamuskeet with PaPa…circa 1993.
Above that is the bottom tip of a painting I love by Ben Knight titled “Heaven Through the Eyes of a Four Year Old.” Special fact…I purchased this at a City Art Gallery opening after I retired, coincidentally on Liam’s (the first grandchild born that made me officially “Grand”!) Fourth Birthday!! Below is the painting in its entirety and where it brings daily joy in our dining room.
Art Ben Knight Heaven thru Eyes of 4 year old