Happy New Year Everyone! So last Dec 31, Will and I got married in the Florida Keys. We had a huge party at a resort with about 100 guests and we were all fancy and stuff. This year, we stayed at home in our PJs and hung out with our pups on the couch. Couldn’t have been more different, but we still managed to have a good time. I hope you have someone in your life with whom you can fully enjoy all kinds of moments.
But just because we stayed home, doesn’t mean we didn’t have our own little party. I love little appetizers. Wine and cheese nights at home can be one of my favorite date night activities. Of course, being 8 months pregnant means no wine for me. Don’t worry, the red wine in the picture is really 100% cranberry juice. It also means that I was looking for fast and easy recipes this year. All of these were super simple and relatively quick. The links to the original recipes are below each picture, so try them out for yourself and let me know what you think in the comments.
Recipe from: browneyedbaker.com
What we changed: I think we may have used a little more shallot than 2 tablespoons because I started to use the entire minced shallot before I read the recipe again and realized it only called for 2 tablespoons. At that point I had to eyeball it.
My thoughts on the recipe: I loved how quick and easy this was to put together, and it is really flavorful. Plus with all the spinach and greek yogurt, it doesn’t feel like too much of an indulgence. And it is really yummy with carrot sticks. I highly recommend this one!
Overall rating: 9/10
Pull Apart Garlic Cheese Bread
Recipe from: amomstake.com
What we changed: Instead of 1 teaspoon of garlic salt, we used 1/2 teaspoon of garlic salt and 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder. We used a little more than a tablespoon of melted butter and a little more than 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese. I didn’t have a mini loaf tin, so I used a regular one. It seemed to work fine.
My thoughts on the recipe: This was definitely tasty and easy to make. I think it could have used more cheese. Like at least double. But I really love cheese… The leftovers did make a great complement to the black-eyed pea soup that we had the next day. I wish there was a way to keep the easiness of this recipe and make it healthier (no offense Pillsbury).
Overall rating: 8/10
Mini Vegetarian Pizzas
Recipe from: ohsheglows.com
What we changed: We used a whole onion and a whole red pepper and didn’t even touch the measuring cups with them. We used about 2/3 of a 28-oz can of crushed tomatoes instead of a 14-oz can. We also used real cheese instead of a vegan substitute, so ours were vegetarian pizzas and not vegan ones.
My thoughts on the recipe: So I really loved that Vegan Caesar Salad recipe from ohsheglows and decided I needed to try more of her stuff. These pizzas didn’t disappoint in terms of taste. She says you can use regular muffin cups as we did or use mini-muffin cups like she has pictured on her site. I would like to try the mini version next time. Ours were really good and I loved getting all the veggies in the cup, but they were a little hard to eat. Also, the bottoms got a little soggy with all of the sauce in the larger cup. Her sauce recipe though, was delicious. In fact, I may have to think of other dishes where I can use this sauce…
Overall rating: 8/10
Mini Crab Ball Appetizer
Recipe from: homemadeinterest.com
What we changed: For the pizzas, I mostly stuck with the suggested ingredients and changed the amounts. For this one, I mostly stuck with the amounts and changed the ingredients. I couldn’t bring myself to use Stove Top Stuffing (why does there have to be high fructose corn syrup in it?), so I picked up a bag of organic stuffing mix at Natural Grocers and used it instead. I also used Hellmann’s made with Olive Oil instead of Kraft Mayo. I was lazy and used dried parsley instead of fresh.
My thoughts on the recipe: I really liked that these have a lot of crab in them. The stuffing and egg didn’t make these into little cake balls like you sometimes find with crab cakes that have too much cake and not enough crab. I think my biggest problem with this recipe was not with the recipe itself, but with me. I need to admit that I am just not a huge fan of Old Bay Seasoning. Every time I use it, I think, “This is popular stuff, maybe I’ll like it this time.” And every time I disappoint myself. I would like to try this again and season them differently. The lemon wasn’t too much like you sometimes find with seafood dishes. I just think the Old Bay, while quick and easy, made these less satisfying to me.
Overall rating: 7/10
Black-Eyed Pea Soup
Recipe from: wholefoodsmarket.com
What we changed: Believe it or not, we couldn’t find fresh collards at the store, so we settled on red chard instead. I didn’t want to soak the peas overnight (ok, to be honest I didn’t remember that I should make black-eyed peas until New Year’s Day and didn’t have 8 hours of soaking time available), so I used two cans of black-eyed peas (drained and rinsed) instead of dried ones. We left out the salt completely (which was fine since we used canned peas and the ham was plenty salty). I may have been a little heavy handed with the cayenne and black pepper. I seasoned the soup before adding the carrots and chard, and we also let the soup simmer longer than the 15-20 minutes suggested after adding the carrots and chard (I wanted softer carrots).
My thoughts on the recipe: This was really yummy. Especially the chard, which I was not expecting. There are a few things I would change next time though. I would definitely put the carrots in sooner, maybe not quite with the first round of veggies, but definitely well before the greens. I think I would like for this to simmer even longer than called for. It’s a fine balance to get soup that cooks long enough for the flavors to meld, but not so long that the nutrients are all cooked out. I also would have really liked even more black-eyed peas – like maybe even double the amount. I usually only make black-eyed peas once a year for good luck. But with all the yummy veggies in this recipe, it might be worth trying again a few more times in 2015.
Overall rating: 8/10