Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Chipotle Dipping Sauce

sweetpotatofriesgraphic

I have a special place in my heart for sweet potatoes! When my daughter was a baby sweet potatoes were her first solid food, and she gobbled them up. I don’t think I’ll ever forget her adorably messy face as she tried to get the food into her mouth as quickly as possible. Now that she’s a toddler we still eat sweet potatoes regularly, just in a different form.

Baked sweet potato fries are the perfect finger food for a toddler or an adult, I frequently make a double batch so there is plenty for me to snack on as well! However, dipping them in ketchup just doesn’t seem to do them much justice. Instead of ketchup I make a fast 2 ingredient chipotle dip that pairs perfectly with them. The smoky spice of the chipotle peppers compliment the sweetness of the fries to perfection!

I’m finishing up my month of appetizers with such a delicious and easy recipe. Next month I’ll be sharing some of my favorite freezer recipes.

Ingredients:

2 large sweet potatoes

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 canned chipotle peppers

8 ounces sour cream

sweetpotatofries1

Preheat oven to 375 F. Peel the sweet potatoes and slice into long strips using a large knife. You can make these any size you would like, I like mine to be a little thicker than the average French fry.

Spray a baking sheet with olive oil and place fries on top, make sure they don’t overlap! Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until done. I like to flip mine halfway through.

While the fries are baking, combine 2 canned chipotle peppers and 8 ounces sour cream in the blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.

I love to serve these in small mason jars, spoon some chipotle sauce on the bottom and add some fries.

sweetpotatofries2

Baked Wontons with Shrimp and Cream Cheese

shrimpwontongraphic

One of my favorite take out restaurants makes amazing cream cheese wontons. Although they are delicious I found that adding shrimp makes it even better! The base for this recipe could easily be served as a cold seafood salad, but it is so wonderful when wrapped in a wonton wrapper. You can usually find fresh wonton wrappers in the refrigerated section of your grocery store, they were near the hummus at my local store.

Usually, these are deep fried and you are more than welcome to fry these up if you so choose. I decided to bake them at 350 F for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Give them a quick spritz with olive oil if you want a crunch that is reminiscent of the deep fryer.

8 ounces cooked shrimp, tails removed

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

3 green onion

Small handful of cilantro

30 wonton wrappers

Pulse shrimp, green onion and cilantro in food processor until finely chopped. Mix into cream cheese by hand until well incorporated.

shrimpwonton1

Line your baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350 F. Place a teaspoon of filling in each wonton wrapper.

Wet the edges of each wrapper and seal closed. I recommend keeping the wonton wrappers chilled until you are ready to use them or they can get dried out.

shrimpwonton2

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

shrimpwonton3

Fajita Stuffed Potato Bites

fajitagraphic

Slightly spicy with plenty of cheese, these appetizers are always a hit!  Instead of the usual cheese and bacon combo, bell peppers and green chiles turn a classic appetizer into an exciting new dish.  I like to use small golden potatoes for this, they make the perfect two-bite appetizer.  However, if you would rather turn this into a meal the recipe can easily be adapted for russet potatoes.  If using the golden potatoes please just take extra care when scooping them up, the skin is much thinner than other potatoes.

fajita1

 

12 golden potatoes

¼ red bell pepper, diced

¼ green bell pepper, diced

1 ounce diced green chiles

4 ounces shredded cheddar cheese

6 ounces sour cream

1 tablespoon minced garlic

3 ounces shredded pepperjack cheese

Bake the potatoes at 350 for 40-50 minutes, or until cooked completely.  Once cooled, halve all potatoes and carefully scoop out the potatoes.  The skins of these potatoes are much thinner than russets, so I like to leave a little potato intact to make it a little more sturdy.

fajita2

Mix the potato, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, green chiles, cheddar cheese, sour cream and garlic together in a bowl.  Carefully spoon the mixture into the potato skins.  Top with shredded pepperjack cheese and bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until the tops are golden.

fajita3

Spinach and Feta Stuffed Mushrooms

stuffedmushroomsgraphic

Stuffed mushrooms are a staple of any family event, but they are never as exciting or flavorful as I would like. Instead of just filling the mushrooms with bread crumbs and butter, this recipe full of flavor. The feta cheese gives it just enough bite and the mozzarella melts perfectly to make a smooth and delicious filling. If you want to make this a little healthier, just swap lower fat versions of cream cheese and sour cream- you won’t even be able to tell the difference!

I like the use the mini-portabella mushrooms for this, it creates a pretty hearty appetizer. However, if you are looking to make this into a meal it could easily fill 2 or 3 full sized portabella mushrooms.  These are pretty rich so if you are planning on serving them as a main dish you may want to pair the mushrooms with something light like a salad.

6 ounces fresh spinach

8 ounces cream cheese

3 ounces sour cream

2 ounces feta

3 Tablespoons breadcrumbs

1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning

2 cloves of garlic, minced

6 ounces shredded mozzarella, divided

6 mini-portabella mushrooms

Place spinach, cream cheese, sour cream, feta, bread crumbs, Italian seasonings, garlic and 3 ounces mozzarella in food processor and blend until smooth.

Wash mushrooms, remove stems and gills.

stuffedmushrooms2

Fill each mushroom with a generous amount of filling and top with remaining shredded mozzarella cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees 20-25 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.

stuffedmushrooms3

Quick and Easy Caprese Bites

capresegraphic

Is there anything better than fresh mozzarella? This recipe is insanely easy….and so addictive! Whenever I serve these at a party they are gone in the blink of an eye! During the summer I make these at least once a week, it’s so simple but so delicious. Keeping them bite size makes this a really easy dish to serve and eat, no fork or knife needed!

Ingredients:

1 container cherry tomatoes

1 container pearl mozzarella

1 bunch basil

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

caprese1

Directions:

Halve the tomatoes and mozzarella. Tear basil into bite sized pieces. Layer tomato, basil and mozzarella- skewer with a toothpick. Easiest recipe ever!

Serve with balsamic vinegar. You can either drizzle the vinegar on top of the bites, or serve it on the side so people can serve themselves.

caprese2

Slimmed Down Spinach Dip

spinachdipgraphic

 

Last week I needed a quick and easy dish to take to a pot luck, this recipe instantly came to mind! In less than 20 minutes I had a great dip that everyone loved, the bowl was scraped clean before I could even enjoy a bite myself.

Spinach Dip is a staple at any party, but between the mayo and sour cream the calorie count is pretty high. To slim it down I swap out greek yogurt for the mayo and add some light sour cream and cream cheese to the mix. The trick is to use light sour cream instead of fat-free to keep the great flavor that everyone knows and loves. You can serve this in a sourdough bread bowl, but I find it’s great in a regular bowl with plenty of raw veggies to dip with!

Ingredients:

1 cup low-fat greek yogurt

1 cup low-fat sour cream

2 ounces light cream cheese

1 10 ounce package of frozen spinach (thawed)

1 bunch green onions

Juice from ½ a lemon

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon herbs de province (to taste)

Fresh cracked pepper

spinachdip1

Place all ingredients in food processor or blender. Blend until smooth, chill 30 minutes and serve. Since the ingredients are low fat the consistency may be a little thinner than other dips, refrigerating it for at least 30 minutes will help to thicken it up. If you like your dip extra thick, add an extra ounce or two of cream cheese.

spinachdip2

Retro Spicy Shrimp Cocktail

shrimpgraphic

Growing up my grandmother had the tradition of making shrimp cocktail in fancy glasses in the evening. I remember feeling so grown up as I helped her chop and carefully arrange the shrimp so they looked perfect. I think this was from an old recipe that she found back in the 70’s, but to me it was the height of sophistication!

I recently found myself craving the comfort food of my childhood and this was one recipe that I just couldn’t get out of my head. However, I did make a few changes to update this classic and I was so happy with the results. I swapped out the cocktail sauce for sriracha sauce and added some veggies for a great crunch! Avocado on top adds some good fats and turns this into a pretty hearty appetizer. If you are going to make this ahead of time, just toss your avocado in some lime juice so it doesn’t brown.

This is also great served over a bed of greens as a salad.

Ingredients:

6-7 large cooked shrimp

1 stalk celery

1 green onion

½ avocado

1 Tablespoon sriracha sauce (to taste)

shrimp1

 

Dice celery and green onion, layer in the bottom of a cup. Place diced avocado on top of the veggies and arrange shrimp on top.

shrimp2

Drizzle sriracha sauce to taste. You can swap in the classic cocktail sauce if you would rather but I find the sriracha sauce adds a different layer to a classic dish. I love to make these when company comes over and serve them in martini glasses- the visual display of martini glasses filled with shrimp is so fun and unique!

shrimp3

Two-Bite Brie Puffs

briegraphic

I have a horrible confession, I love cheese. Brie is by far my favorite, I could probably eat it every day and never get sick of it. I made this dish countless times over the holiday season and it always got rave reviews. It’s perfect for a girls night in, super bowl party, or really any event. I love to serve this right out of the oven when the puff pastry is still fluffy and beautiful, but you can also make this ahead and serve it room temperature.

brie1

Ingredients:

1 wheel of brie

1 package of puff pastry dough, cut into 24 rectangles

1 jalapeno sliced

1/3 cup apricot preserves

1/3 cup slivered almonds

Take the puff pastry dough out of the freezer and let it thaw for about 30 minutes, or until it is easy to handle. Slice the dough into 24 rectangles, place 12 on baking sheets. If your dough starts to crack just put it back in the freezer for a few moments to firm it up.

brie2

Layer a Tablespoon of apricot preserves, a slice of brie, a slice of jalapeno and a few slivered almonds on each piece of dough.

Wet the edges of the dough and cover with another piece of puff pastry dough, crimp the edges with a fork.

brie3

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until golden and fluffy. As you can see from my pictures some of delicious filling seeped out when baking, don’t get too concerned about crimping the edges of the pastry- some of the filling may seep out when baking.

brie4

I like to serve these warm, but they are also great room temperature! I’m enjoying a plate of these tonight while I catch up on Downton Abbey.

brie5

Game Day Buffalo Wings in the Crockpot

hotwingsgraphic

I am not a sports fan in the least, but I do enjoy snacking and socializing when a game is on. Buffalo wings are one of my favorite, but deep fried chicken is hardly a heathy choice. Instead of frying, this recipe uses the slow cooker to create a buffalo wing with plenty of flavor! If you want your wings crispy you can broil them for a minute once they are cooked and seasoned.

3 pound bag of frozen chicken wings

1 cup Frank’s Red Hot Wing Sauce

1 Tablespoon olive oil

hotwings

Spray olive oil on the bottom of your slow cooker and place chicken wings in for 2 hours on high. Once wings are cooked, coat with Frank’s Red Hot sauce and cook for an additional 30-40 minutes in the slow cooker. Serve with blue cheese dressing and fresh cut vegetables.

hotwings2