Greek Chickpea Salad

Short on time? Need a fast yet delicious side/salad to go with dinner? This chickpea salad will check all the boxes. Feel free to change up the veggies with what you have on hand or what you like. If you have mini bell peppers, cut them into rings to add to the presentation. The dressing is simple and you might just have all the ingredients in your pantry already. Enjoy!

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 C. diced cucumber
1 1/2 C. diced bell pepper
1 C. halved cherry tomatoes
1/2 C. Kalamata olives, pitted
and halved
1/2 C. feta

3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 C. olive oil

Drain and rinse chickpeas. Add to a mixing bowl with the cucumber, bell pepper, tomatoes, and olives. Whisk together all ingredients for the dressing. Toss salad with the dressing and top with feta.

Chocolate Coconut Candies

Some will remember the commercial “almond joy has nuts, mounds don’t” and some may not. Well, these candies taste like an almond joy bar, but you could leave out the almonds and then you have a mounds bar. I have made these with unsweetened coconut and bitter chocolate which I feel was a better balance of sweetness for me. Play around with the ingredients to find what you prefer. Even though the holidays are over, these make great gifts for a house warming, a hostess, neighbor or friend. Enjoy!

1 3/4 C. confectioners’ sugar
1 3/4 C. flaked coconut
1 C. sweetened condensed milk
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 Tbsp. neutral flavor oil (I use avocado oil)

In a large bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar, coconut, almonds and milk. Shape into 1-in. balls. Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes.

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate chips and oil; stir until smooth. Dip balls in chocolate, allow excess to drip off. Place on waxed paper; let stand until set. Store in an airtight container.

Yields: 2 1/2 dozen

Company Green Beans

A green bean dish will beautifully accompany just about any meal whether you are serving beef, pork, chicken, or seafood. Here is another quick and simple but elegant green bean side dish. If you don’t have slivered almonds, chopped or sliced almonds are fine or any other nut you have. Enjoy!

1 pkg. (16oz) frozen green beans
2 Tbsp. dry white wine, chicken stock or water
2 slices bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1 C. (4oz) Monterey Jack shredded cheese, divided
2 Tbsp. toasted slivered almonds

Cook green beans according to package directions; drain. Stir in wine, bacon, butter, seasoned salt and 1/2 cup cheese. Place in a 1-1/2 quart casserole dish. Cover. Baker at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of cheese and the almonds on top. Bake 5 minutes more.

Yields: 5 servings

Baked Stuffed Acorn Squash

It’s fall and even though here in St Croix it doesn’t feel like it, I still want the foods that remind me of cooler weather. I found these cute orange acorn squash at the grocery store and thought I need to find a great recipe for these. On a YouTube cooking channel, Anitacooks, she was preparing acorn squash using some of my favorite ingredients. Well, it was a winner for both my husband and I. Feel free to change up any of the ingredients or leave out what you don’t like. I don’t typically use sage so I substituted with basil, use what you like. Enjoy!

1 Acorn squash
1/2 medium onion
Thyme/sage or other herbs
Apples, chopped (2 cups or 2 apples)
1/4 C. pecans or walnuts, chopped
1/4 C. dried cranberries or rasins
1/2 C. cheddar cheese
2 pinches of nutmeg

Slice acorn squash in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Either melt butter or spread softened butter over each half of squash and sprinkle with salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Bake at 400 degrees up to 1 hour depending on the size of the acorn squash. Test for doneness by sticking a knife in the flesh of the squash after one half hour.

While the squash is baking, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan and slowly cook the onions and herbs until the onions are soft. Add the chopped apples to the pan and cook till softened. Add the pecans, cranberries, cheddar and nutmeg to the pan.

When the squash is done, remove from the oven and take a spoon and remove a layer of squash and add to your onion mixture. Now add all of the onion mixture to your acorn squash, packing it in and top with a little extra cheese if desired. Return the squash back to the oven for 10 minutes.

Nutmeg Spiced Whipped Cream

Okay, I know it is easy to just pick up a container of Cool Whip and be good to go, but there is no comparison to having fresh whipped cream to top your favorite desert, breakfast, or hot drink. It is extremely simple to prepare, and you can change up the flavoring any way you choose. If you have ever looked at the ingredients on a Cool Whip container you will see that it isn’t simply whipping cream, vanilla and sugar, there are so many things that should not be consumed. This nutmeg spiced whipped cream added another level of deliciousness to our pumpkin pancakes this morning. I have whole nutmeg so I just grated mine in over my bowl, tasting as I went to get the perfect amount. A few tips when making whipped cream: powdered sugar mixes better than granular sugar, also ahead of time place your beaters and bowl in the fridge to get nice and cold and your cream will stiffen up faster. Enjoy!

1 C. whipping cream
2 Tbsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

Beat all ingredients in a bowl with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.

Stuffed Mushroom Casserole

This dish transforms a favorite appetizer into a super easy casserole that will easily become a repeat request with your family. If you are looking for a new side dish for your holiday table, look no further. Feel free to use what cheese you would like, I have exchanged the mozzarella for Monterey Jack and love it. Enjoy!

16 oz. mushrooms, sliced (button or cremini)
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 C. finely chopped onion
6 cloves garlic, minced (2 Tbsp)
3/4 C. grated mozzarella cheese
1/4 C. grated parmesan cheese
1/2 to 3/4 C. Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
salt and pepper, to taste
fresh parsley to garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Clean and slice mushrooms (or use pre-sliced for a speedy shortcut). Bring a pan or skillet to medium-high heat with 1/2 tablespoon of butter and saute onion until translucent, then add garlic and mushrooms and cook until golden and tender adding the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of butter if the veggies start to stick. Transfer veggies to a baking dish and sprinkle with cheese. Use as much or as little as you’d like here. If you’re using a cast iron skillet you can actually bake everything right in the skillet. Combine melted butter and seasoned breadcrumbs and mix well. Add about half the breadcrumbs to the mushrooms and stir slightly. Then top with the remainder. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Serve piping hot with your favorite main dish.

Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball

Here is an oldy but goody. It had been some time since making this addicting desert. With only a few ingredients this dessert is just plain simple to prepare and have ready for any party you are planning, whether it is a casual summer party or a holiday gathering. The key is to make sure your cream cheese and butter are at room temperature so that they blend well. Enjoy!

1 8-oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 C. butter, softened
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 C. confectioner’s sugar
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 C. miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 C. finely chopped pecans
Graham crackers

In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until fluffly. Gradually add sugars; beat just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. Place cram cheese mixture on a large piece of plastic wrap; shape into a ball. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Just before serving, roll cheese ball in pecans. Serve with graham crackers.

Cheesecake Fat Bombs

Have you heard of fat bombs? There are many different recipes out there, but with cheesecake in the name, I had to try this one first! They are called fat bombs because they are made of 90-95% fat that are either savory or sweet and allow someone on a keto diet to enjoy them. I have actually been making these for a while now and just love them because they taste just like bites of peanut butter cheesecake. Instead of adding the chocolate chips to the mixture, you can roll the balls in them before freezing. Once you taste these, your next batch will be a double batch! Enjoy!

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 C. creamy peanut butter
1-2 Tbsp. choice of sweetener (I use maple syrup)
Handful of mini or chopped chocolate chips

In a bowl combine cream cheese, peanut butter and sweetener of choice. Mix well until smooth and fold in chocolate chips. Form into small golf ball sized balls and arrange on a plate or dish lined with a piece of parchment paper. Freeze for about 2 hours and then store in an airtight container in the freezer or fridge.

Yields: 5-6 fat bombs

Parmesan Roasted Zucchini

This recipe is courtesy of Ina Garten, I just love the way she makes everything seem so simple to prepare. Well, this one is simple. I have never been a fan of zucchini due to having not grown up eating it and then the few times I did have it I didn’t care for the way it was prepared. I think this is the case with a lot of vegetables for most people, but this recipe might change your mind if you are not a fan of zucchini. With garlic, basil, and Parmesan all seasoning the breadcrumbs you know it’s going to be good! This dish is great served hot out of the oven, warm, or room temperature. Enjoy!

6 small or 1 large zucchini (2 1/2 to 3 pounds total)
1 Tbsp. minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley leaves
2 Tbsp. julienned fresh basil leaves
1/2 C. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 to 3/4 C. Panko bread crumbs
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Trim the stem end of the zucchini, cut them in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon. Place on a sheet pan and brush generously with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and turn cut side down. Roast for 12 to 15 minutes, until just tender but still firm.

Meanwhile, make the breadcrumbs. In a medium bowl, combine the garlic, parsley, basil, Parmesan, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Add the panko and 3 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil and mix well.

Turn zucchini cut side up and spoon the breadcrumb mixture evenly over each zucchini. Bake for another 8 to 10 minutes, until the panko is crispy and golden.

Mascarpone Moose with Roasted Strawberries

Roasted strawberries….who knew? I had never heard of roasting a strawberry before, but wow! Roasting intensifies their flavor, and there are many different recipes for roasting strawberries which I will be trying. Now, mascarpone moose is a whole other dessert in itself! As amazing as it is by itself, imagine sweet roasted strawberries drizzled over the top! Serve this beautiful dessert at your next summer party and have your guest anticipating their next invite. Enjoy!

Roasted Strawberries
2 C. quartered strawberries
2 tsp. sweetener of choice
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Mascarpone Moose
8-oz mascarpone cheese, softened
4-oz cream cheese, softened
6 Tbsp. sweetener of choice, divided
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 C. whipping cream

To make the roasted strawberries, preheat your oven to 375 degrees and lightly grease a medium-size baking dish. Add berries and sprinkle with sweetener. Add vanilla extract and stir to combine, then spread out over pan. Roast 20 to 25 minutes, until soft and tender and much of the juice has released.

For the moose, in a large bowl, beat the mascarpone, cream cheese, 4 tablespoons sweetener, and vanilla extract until well combined. In another bowl, beat the whipping cream and the remaining 2 tablespoons of sweetener until it holds stiff peaks. Fold whipping cream into mascarpone mixture until combined. Pipe or spoon into 6 small dessert cups. Top with roasted strawberries and serve immediately.