You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Appetizers’ category.

pearcheesetart10_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

With a couple ripe pears and a nice bottle of Chardonnay on hand, I threw this together one night when I got home from work. It has an olive oil crust, adapted from a recipe from Chocolate & Zucchini.

I like to use Bartlett pears because they’re so flavorful but d’Anjou work too and they’re not as juicy. Right when the tart came out of the oven I drizzled it with some local honey and a few sage leaves from my garden. It a nice versatile tart, and it would make a pretty little starter as minis too.

Pear Goat Cheese Savory Tart, Makes one 9″ freeform tart

Olive Oil Crust

  • 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c. semolina pastry flour
  • 1/4 c. light whole wheat flour
  • 1 t. sea salt
  • 1 t. Herbs de Provence
  • 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. cold water

Three ripe pears, cleaned and sliced

4 oz. soft goat cheese

Honey for drizzling

Preheat the oven to 400. Combine the first six crust ingredients in a bowl.

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Work in the oil to crumbles.

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Stir in the water and gently knead a few times a soft dough. Don’t overwork it.

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Dust the counter and roll out the dough like you mean it, with a few broad strokes.

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Lift the dough onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Pile the pears in the middle, leaving a few inches of clearance all around. Then add dollops of goat cheese on top. Bring the sides of the crust up over, and arrange them to show the filling.

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Bake for about 25 minutes, until the edges are a deep golden brown. Right when the tart comes out of the oven drizzle it with honey and some fresh herbs for color.

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Serve hot or warm. Cut into fourths for a generous appetizer.

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Four years ago: Apple Crisp
Three years ago: Malakoff Torte
Two years ago: Cinnamon Bread
One year ago: Brownie Cookies


spinachpie12_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

I was in Greektown recently and it reminded me that’s it’s been a long time since I made a spinach pie, so when I saw the large boxes of spinach on sale I pounced on them. This is a great meatless entree in larger portions, and a lovely appetizer in smaller slices.

Spanakopita – Greek Spinach Pie, Makes one 8″ pie (about eight servings)

  • 11 oz.  baby spinach
  • 1/2 c. minced onion
  • 1 t. minced garlic
  • 1 t. fresh ground pepper
  • 1 t. dill weed
  • 6 oz. feta cheese (I used the tomato/basil flavor)
  • 10 oz. cottage cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 20 sheets of filo dough
  • 1/3 c. butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350. Wash the spinach.

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Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan and add the fresh spinach. Saute for two-three minutes, tossing, until it’s wilted and bright green.

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Transfer the spinach to a bowl and add the seasonings.

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Then the cheeses. If you prefer a drier filling you can drain the cottage cheese ahead of time.

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Beat the eggs, pour them over the top and mix it all together.

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Lightly grease your pie dish and drape four filo sheets over the top. Brush them with butter and drape four more sheets over that layer, in the opposite direction. Brush those with butter and lay two more sheets over the middle of the dish.

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Pour in the filling.

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Fold the filo edges over the filling and lay two more sheets over the top. Tuck in all the edges and brush it all with butter.

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Continue layering two sheets at a top, brushing each set with butter, until you’ve used them all.

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Put the pie in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes, until the center is set.

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If the outside is browning too much for your liking you can finish it off in the microwave.

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Cut into wedges and serve hot or warm.

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Store any leftovers in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap. Rewarm them in the oven if you want to preserve maximum crispness.


Three years ago: Gougeres
Two years ago: Brown Butter & Sea Salt Rice Krispie Treats
One year ago: Burmese Chicken Soup


ojas7_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

This is going to be a short post today since here in America we’re heading into the big Thanksgiving holiday. If you are going out or visiting this coming holiday season these little bites would be a perfect hostess gift, especially tied up in a clear box with ribbon. Not only are they delicious, they are snowy-pretty and they check all the boxes – vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, raw, paleo, etc.

I had these at an ayurveda workshop, where they were said to boost immunity. Give these a try even if you don’t like dates – I’ve never been crazy about dates myself but I love these. You can substitute more ground almonds for coconut if you like. If you can grind your spices fresh, and make these ahead, as the flavors blend and improve over time.

If you wanted an interesting cheese course you could roll these in minced nuts instead and serve them with a goat cheese, gorgonzola or a seared halloumi.

Orange Bites, Makes about 24 1-1/2″ treats

  • 2 c. medjool dates, pitted and chopped
  • Zest of two organic oranges
  • 1/2 c. raw almonds
  • 1 t. fresh ground gingerroot
  • 1 t. fresh ground cardamom
  • 1 t. cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • 2 T. olive oil or coconut oil
  • 2 T. coconut powder plus extra for coating

Put the dates in the food processor.

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Add the spices, honey, nuts and oil. Roughly chop, then add the orange zest and 2 T. of the coconut powder.

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Pulse until the mixture comes together into a dough.

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Spread some coconut powder on a plate.

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Scoop out heaping teaspoons of the date mixture and roll them in the coconut until they are well-coated.

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Store finished treats in an airtight container at room temperature. These will keep nicely for up to two weeks. Safe travels and happy weekend everyone!

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Three years ago: Cranberry Orange Bread Pudding
Two years ago: Parker House Dinner Rolls
One year ago: Vanilla Sauce


beets5_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

I know, a whole lotta people hate beets. But if you’re one of them then you’re probably skipping this post anyway.

I happen to really like them. I like them even more when they’re ginned up with some vinegar and sprinkled with feta or goat cheese. Roasted beets are your friend. You can make a big batch on Sunday and enjoy them in your lunches for a week or two.

I like to use different colors of beets if I can find them, and if you can find heirlooms so much the better. I’m using golden beets and regular red beets here.

Roasted Beet Salad, Enough for six entree-sized salads

  • Six whole beets, about 4″ across, washed and scrubbed
  • Two c. water
  • 1 c. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 t. salt
  • 8 oz. feta or goat cheese
  • Fresh toasted nuts for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375. Rub the beets with olive oil and put them in a baking dish. Bake for about 60 minutes, until tender all the way through.

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Let the beets cool, then peel and slice them 1/4″ thick. Keep the red beets away from the others or they will turn red! I put them directly in storage containers at this point.

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Combine the water, vinegar, sugar and salt. Microwave for about 30 seconds and stir until the sugar and salt is dissolved.

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Pour the mixture over the beets and refrigerate them. Let them sit overnight and they’re ready to use!

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Arrange them on a plate and sprinkle them with the cheese and nuts. You can go crazy here, add some grains, put them over lettuce, drizzle on a little balsamic dressing, whatever you like.

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This makes a great vegetarian entree too.

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Two years ago: Seeded Crackers
One year ago: Classic Italian Buttercream

manoushe1_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

Man’oushe is a Lebanese flatbread, spread with olive oil and the spice blend za’atar then cooked quickly on a stone or clay. Not that there’s anything wrong with pulling some pita bread out of a bag to have with your hummus or baba ghanoush, but there’s no comparison once you’ve had this beauty right off the heat. So find an excuse to have cocktails in the kitchen or around the grill while you slide these off the stone and onto the serving plate. It will smell wonderful, taste even better and you’ll feel like you’re giving Ina Garten a run for her money this summer.

It’s best to have a pizza stone or clay tile for this. Za’atar is available from most ethnic groceries, or online. Here’s an example. Start the dough about an hour before you’re ready to serve, and put the stone on to heat 20 minutes before cooking.

Man’oushe, Makes about eight 8″ flatbreads

  • 1 c. water
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 pkg. quick-rise yeast
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 1 c. za’tar

Warm the water and milk together to lukewarm. Add the sugar, yeast and olive oil.

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Then stir in the flour.

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Let rise until doubled and then knead smooth for two-three minutes. Put your baking stone on to heat. I set my oven at convection roast 450, but you could do this on the grill as well.

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Divide the dough into eight portions and roll out to 1/8″ thick. Give it a good drizzle of olive oil, and then brush the oil all over the top.

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Douse it with the spices.

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Sprinkle the stone with some semolina and slide on the first bread.

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Bake for about seven-eight minutes, until bubbly and well-browned.

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The bread tears easily and is perfect for sharing.

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But I ate a whole one by myself, right out of the oven. And I’m not sorry.

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Stored in plastic wrap these are still okay the next day if you reheat them in the oven (400 for five minutes). Don’t microwave, it makes them soggy.


Two years ago: Chocolate Eclairs
One year ago: Michigan Fruit Pie

arepa12_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

Over the next few weeks I’m going to be working in some south-of-the-border recipes as we head toward Cinco de Mayo. Today I’m bringing you arepas. Now they might be street food in your neck of the woods, but should you not be that lucky the good news is – it’s easy to make your own.

You do need the special masa, pre-cooked cornmeal, which you can order online. Note: This is not to be confused with masa harina. It’s often called masarepa or just look for the bag marked P.A.N.

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I found it at my local Latino grocery, where the shopkeeper said most people prefer the Venezulean variety as opposed to the Colombian one. It comes in white cornmeal, yellow cornmeal and a sweetened variety. I’m using the plain white cornmeal.

You can cook these as patties, then split them for filling – or you can cook them filled with just about anything – cheese, refried beans, chopped veggies or meat. As you knead it the dough takes on a super-fun resilient texture that feels great when you work with it. These remind me very much of the fried cornmeal mush my grandma used to make, just in a different form. They’re gluten-free, easy, quick and delicious – and they’d make a terrific vegetarian entree.

Arepas, Makes about eight 3″ filled patties

  • 2 c. precooked cornmeal
  • 2 T. softened butter
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2-1/2 c. warm water
  • 1-1/2 c. filling ingredients (shredded cheese, refried beans, etc.)

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Combine the cornmeal and salt in a bowl. Swirl the warm water in with your fingertips. As the dough starts to come together knead in the butter. Continue kneading for two minutes until you have a soft, bouncy dough.

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Assemble your filling ingredients. I’m using leftover fajita chicken, chopped fine, and cheese.

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Pat a round of dough out into a circle and add a dab of filling.

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Top it with another circle and pinch around the edges to seal.

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When you have all your patties formed, heat 2 T. of olive oil in a heavy skillet. (You also grill these.)

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Cook for about four-five minutes, until nicely browned. Then turn and do the other side.

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Serve these hot with salsa or another spicy sauce of your choice.

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Two years ago: Fresh Ginger Carrot Muffins
One year ago: Chicken Kiev with Farro Pilaf

custardbuns17_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

These are a popular part of dim sum, so I wanted to post them in celebration of Chinese New Year. They are easy to make if you have a bamboo steamer and they are most delicious warm right out of the pan. However, you can warm them for a few seconds in the microwave if you’re making them ahead of time. Typically I avoid using any prepackaged mixes, however, I made an exception in this case because this is my first time working on this recipe.

Steamed Custard Buns, Makes about 18

Filling:

  • 1/2 c. Dr. Oetker’s Creme Brulee Mix
  • 2 T. cornstarch
  • 1 c. milk
  • 2 T. butter
  • 1/3 c. powdered sugar
  • 2 egg yolks, broken into a bowl and stirred together

Dough:

  • 3 T. granulated sugar
  • ¼ c. warm water
  • 1 pkg. quick-rise active dry yeast
  • 4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. whole milk, warm
  • 1 T. vegetable oil
  • 1 T. baking powder mixed with 1 T. water

Make the filling at least 30 minutes ahead so it can cool and set up firmly.

Warm the milk with the butter over medium heat.

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Combine the creme brulee mix, powdered sugar, and cornstarch. When the butter is melted whisk it into the milk.

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Continue to whisk. The filling will thicken up – a  lot!

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Whisk half the mixture into the egg yolks and then return it to the pan. Cook for another minute, stirring constantly.

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Put the custard in a dish and cool it thoroughly in the fridge while you make the dough for buns.

Combine the sugar, yeast and warm water. Stir.

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Put the flour in a bowl, add the vegetable oil and pour the bubbling yeast mixture over the top.

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Stir well and set aside.

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When the dough has doubled in bulk, knead it smooth (about five minutes) and turn it out onto a worksurface

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Break off pieces of dough, flatten them and add a tablespoon of filling.

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How big you make them is up to you. I tried to keep my finished filled buns about the size of a ping pong ball.

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Put them in cupcake papers to rise until nearly doubled.

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Get your bamboo steamer going at full steam and set the buns in.

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Check them in about 15 minutes. When they are done they will be firm, with a pretty sheen.

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This is how they look warm, right out of the pan.

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Once they’ve cooled the filling will set back up.

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Happy Chinese New Year! In my next post I’ll unveil my first project as a new member of the Daring Bakers!

Chinese-New-Year-2015-The-Goat-Vintage-Design

moroccanapp12_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

Semolina flour is a predominant ingredient in many Moroccan dishes, and these are no exception. The dough is soft and a bit chewy, a nice complement to the sausage inside. You can use the traditional spicy lamb sausage if you can get it, hot italian sausage like me, veggies and cheese – anything really!

Sausage Pastries, Makes about eight 3″ pastries

  • 1/2 c. nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1/3 c. warm water
  • 1 pkg. quick-rise yeast
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 c. all-purpose flour (or replace 1/2 c. of this flour with a seasoned corn flour)
  • 1 c. semolina pastry flour
  • 1 c. sausage, browned and cooled

Combine the first four ingredients together and set aside for 20 minutes.

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Stir in all the rest of the ingredients except the sausage and stir until it cleans the side of the bowl. Let rise until doubled.

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Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured board. Divide it into eight golf-ball sized pieces. Take the first piece and divide it in two.

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Roll out each into a 3″ circle, add a spoon of sausage and seal the edges.

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When you’ve rolled them all out, heat up a cast iron pan (but don’t grease it). Put the patties in and let them brown well, then turn and do the other side.

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I tipped mine up along the sides of the pan to make sure the edges all cooked through as well. These go well with wine and would be great with beer. If you want to dress them up add a dipping cup of harissa on the side.

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One year ago: Candied Citron

Two years ago: Finnish Teaspoon Cookies (My favorite!)

chinesesliders_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

Okay, so during the previous post we went over making steamed buns – today we’ll get to the filling. I used ground pork so I could get more of a patty but you could use ground chicken, ground beef or a slice of extra firm tofu – whatever suits your fancy.

If you follow this recipe you’ll have about half of your steamed rolls left over. They freeze well, so you can have a batch on hand – this filling goes together in about 15 minutes so if you have a batch in the freezer it will make a quick meal to get on the table. Otherwise, if you’re having a larger gathering, just double the quantities below.

Asian Sliders, Makes enough filling for about 10 sliders

  • One pound of ground meat (or extra firm tofu slices)
  • 1 c. baby carrots, sliced
  • 1/2 a red pepper, cut in strips
  • 1/2 c. sliced onion
  • 1 small head of baby bok choy, sliced with leaves set aside
  • 1 T. minced garlic
  • 1 T. minced ginger
  • 2 T. peanut butter
  • 3 T. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 t. red chili paste (or to taste)
  • 10 steamed buns (previous post)

Heat a saucepan over medium high and a tablespoon of olive, peanut or sesame oil. Saute the carrots until they are crisp-tender.

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Add the onion, red pepper and bok choy. Continue to saute until the pepper slices are crisp-tender.

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Set vegetables aside. Add the garlic and ginger to the pan.

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Followed by the ground meat.

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Stir in the spices and brown the meat thoroughly.

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When the meat is brown, wilt the bok choy leaves on the side.

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Make the sauce: Combine the peanut butter and chili paste in a small bowl.

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Stir in the soy sauce. At this point you can also add some fresh cilantro, lime juice, fish sauce, whatever.

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Split the buns and spread the sauce on the bottom of each one. Then top it with some of the meat.

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Add a large spoonful of veggies, ending with the bok choy leaves.

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Top it off and you’re ready to serve!

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One year ago: Soft Pumpkin Cookies

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by Heather Harris Brady

Stateside we are all deep in the heart of football tailgating season, and these little appetizers are a yummy yet healthier alternative to the usual array of greasier fare. (But if you want something REALLY cheesy the cheese fondue at the end of this post is great with fresh apple slices.)

These cups are low in fat and you could swap out the flatbread for a gluten-free option too!  To save time you could use a cooked rotisserie chicken from the market. These are two-bite size, and the recipe is based on one from Men’s Health magazine. You can make the cups and the filling a day ahead and assemble them right before serving.

Chicken Fajita Appetizers, Makes about 36 mini appetizers

  • 1 c. steamed sweet corn, cooled
  • 1 c. cooked chicken, cut in small dice
  • 1 small can of black beans, washed
  • 3/4 c. salsa (your choice)
  • 1/2 c. non-fat sour cream
  • 1/2 c. finely shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 pkg. sundried tomato flatbread

Combine the first six ingredients in a mixing bowl, stir and refrigerate (for up to a day in advance).

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Make the cups: Preheat the oven to 400 and lightly grease a mini-muffin pan (or several if you want to do them all at once). Cut the flatbread into 2-1/2″ rounds, and press them into the pan.

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Bake for about 10-15 minutes, until crisp. Turn the cups out and cool them on racks. Store them in a ziplock bag if you’re not using them right away.

To serve, add a tablespoon of filling to each cup.

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One year ago: Cheese Fondue

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  • Chocolat
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