Tag Archive | tomatoes

Appetizer obsession

Appetizers (or entrees as they say in Australia) tend to be my favorite food choices at dinner parties, holiday gatherings, and sometimes even restaurants. I think it’s because most appetizers, at least in my opinion, tend to be unique compared to the main meal options, come in smaller portions so it’s perfectly acceptable to order more than one, and you’re able to pick-and-choose as you please. Is anyone else out there guilty of over-eating appetizers during the holidays?  I know I am, but I’m not dwelling on it simply because I over-ate my favorites. These were the things that were worth the splurge to me, and since I was only home for two weeks, I sort-of had the  “I live in Australia and miss my Mom’s cooking more than anything, so I’m eating whatever I want”  mentality.  A few appetizers I splurged on included my Mom’s mushroom spread, Kenyon dip(a family recipe),  broccoli slaw, kielbasa casserole, oyster crackers and last but not least, cowboy crack dip. It.was.glorious.

While the majority of our appetizers are family recipes made around the holidays and remain the same year after year, the cowboy crack dip listed above is an exception. The recipe was given to my Mom and me last year by one of my dearest friends Julia after we tried it at her house, and now we don’t throw a party without it. It’s that good. Don’t ask me the story behind the name but it fits. This dip is addicting. SO addicting. So take it from me, you’ve been warned. If you’re looking for a quick dip that’s nutritious and delicious, make this now. The best part is, there’s no baking required. Chop chop, lets go!

Julia’s Cowboy Crack Dip
-1 can black beans
-1 can white shoe peg corn
-1 ripe avocado
-½ red onion
-2 plum tomatoes
Ingredients for dressing
-1/4c. olive oil
-1/2c. red wine vinegar
-½ tsp. Cumin
-½ tsp. Black pepper
-½ tsp. Salt
-3 T sugar

1. Drain beans & corn and place in large mixing bowl.  Chop onion, tomatoes, & avocado into small pieces. Mix all together in bowl.

2. Now whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, cumin, pepper, salt, and sugar in a separate bowl until well blended. Then, pour dressing over mixture.


For an appetizer, serve this with chips, crackers, vegetables, or eat it straight from a spoon(that’s how I like it best!). It’s even delicious on top of fresh greens. This can take the place of a salad dressing and is a great topping choice thanks to the protein from the black beans and the healthy fats from the avocado and olive oil. Plus, the longer it sits and soaks in the dressing, the better it tastes. I wish you luck on making it last in your house…it lasts two days at most in this one!


What’s your favorite appetizer?

Lean Meat Sauce Made Easy

Most people are surprised when I tell them I’m not a big fan of red meat. I really don’t have any specific reasoning behind this. Red meat just isn’t a food I crave on a daily or even a weekly basis. It’s more of a monthly craving, and when the craving hits, it leads me straight to a hamburger. However, in the last year or so I was diagnosed with anemia. Now I have direct doctor’s orders telling me that I absolutely HAVE to eat red meat each week to increase my iron intake, along with other iron-heavy foods such as spinach, broccoli, and beans.

 In an effort to increase my intake, I’ve tried to buy a pound of lean ground beef each time I’ve visited the grocery store in the last year. I’ve certainly made a lot of chili, barbeque beef pie, hamburgers, and tacos in the last year, so many that I’ve grown tired of them. Somehow though, I never seem to get sick of anything involving spaghetti sauce. So when I stumbled across a “20 minute meal” of easy meat sauce in my latest Cooking Light magazine, I immediately purchased the ingredients to make it. I was excited to have a new “red meat meal” for the week. In four simple steps and in less than 20 minutes, you’ll have a delicious batch of meat sauce-you can’t beat that!


Lean Meat Sauce Made Easy

1/2 pound extra-lean ground beef ( I used 93/7)\
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained ( I used no-salt added diced tomatoes)
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shaved Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves ( I omitted this)


1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef, onion, garlic, oregano, and salt; cook 5 minutes or until beef is browned, stirring to crumble.

crumbling the meat

2. Stir in tomato paste; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add tomatoes. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook 3 minutes or until thickened.

yummy tomatoes

20 mintues andddd complete

3.Serve over pasta or along side bread or sides of your choice, and top with cheese.

finished product, minus my garlic bread

I cooked my meat sauce and ate it along side with garlic toast, roasted potatoes, and vegetables. However, the original recipe was called “linguine with easy meat sauce”, so of course you could accompany this with pasta or garlic bread; it’s up to you.

You Tell Me:
How often do you crave red meat? What’s your favorite red meat meal?