Appetizers, Easy & Quick, Party Foods, Starters

Herbed Goat Cheese Wonton Bites

Let’s talk about goat cheese! I’ll be honest, for years I use to avoid it. I just never thought about using in in dishes or cooking with it. A few years back I had a friend that turned me onto it and ever since I’ve been hooked. I don’t buy it often but when I do, I love to incorporate into different dishes. I now put ontop of pizza, in pasta, with eggs and also make cute little appetizers like these.

This is a simple dish. It may take a bit of time just stuffing the wrappers but this is perfect for an appetizer and the goat cheese mixure can be made ahead of time to cut down on time.

Herbed Goat Cheese Wonton Bites

24 Wonton wrapper
8 oz goat cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
2 t dried or fresh oregano
2 t dried or fresh parsley
2 t dried or fresh thyme
1 garlic clove
1 shallot
2 T olive oil
1/2 t crushed red pepper
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
Olive oil spray
1/4 cup sriracha or chili sauce, for dipping

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350°. In a food processor add in goat cheese, garlic clove, shallot and spices. Pulse slowly while drizzling in olive oil. Pulse until creamy. If mixture becomes too think, add more oil slowly. Taste and add more seasoning as needed.

Add a spoonful of goat cheese to the middle of the wonton wrapper. Fold the edges in and place in a mini muffin tin. Complete with all remaining wonton wrappers.

Spray Olive oil over the wonton wrappers. (This will help brown the wontons.)

Bake in oven 12 minutes then remove from oven and cover loosely with aluminium foil. Add back in the oven and cook for another 6-7 minutes. Using the foil will help make sure the top of the wonton wrappers don’t burn while cooking the bottoms.

Make sure to keep an eye on these as they can burn quickly. Serve warm with sriracha or chili sauce.


Appetizers, Easy & Quick, Healthy, Party Foods, Salad, Starters

Easy Tomato & Mozzarella “Flowers”

Caprese salad is probably one of the only salads I could eat every single day. Wait, I could eat the fresh mozzarella every single day. That’s what I meant!! Ha ha! Nonetheless, I still really enjoy a nice caprese salad with fresh juicy tomatoes and yummy mozzarella. I try and make it different ways. This was my take on making it pretty and playful. It’s definitely a simple salad that packs a big impact!

This salad definitely reminds me of summer, and living in Chicago I could really use that after the massive amount of snow last week. Luckily spring and summer are right around the corner. Here’s my Caprese “Flowers.”

Easy Tomato and Mozzarella Flowers

4-6 camparai tomatoes (or any smaller round tomatoes)
2-4 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into 1 inch thin squares
1 T olive oil
½ T balsamic vinegar (optional)
2-3 t dried basil (or 1 oz chopped fresh)
Sprinkle Salt and Pepper (to taste)

Directions: Cut tomatoes with and X not going completely through to the bottom. Gently pull the pieces slightly apart to open them up a little. Next place 1 square piece of fresh mozzarella in the center of the tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar if using. Sprinkle the basil over the top and season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill for 15-30 minutes before serving.

Notes: Definitely feel free to use fresh basil. I decided to make this because I had all the ingredients minus the fresh basil. Still comes out delicious with the dried. You can omit balsamic f you choose. I don’t always use it, I just like the depth of flavor it adds.


Chicken, Party Foods, Starters

Crispy Baked Parmesan Garlic Wings

I’m a huge chicken wing fan! I would say over the last few years I’ve really come to enjoy wings and really started to seek out the best wings around. I know they aren’t a healthy food habit but they are delicious. I never really made them at home. I always felt like it was too much work and that never thought I could capture the deliciousness I look for in a chicken wing. I look for crispiness yet tender and flavorful.

I decided to give it a go and the wings came out SO good I wanted more. They were delicious and had all the key things I look for in a chicken wing. These can be made with a traditional wing sauce or even bbq sauce. I just decided to do a quick Parmesan Garlic coating.

Give this recipe a try for your next wing craving.

Crispy Baked Parmesan Garlic Wings


3 lbs chicken wing portions, wingettes and drumettes
1 T baking powder (NOT soda)
1 T olive oil
Sprinkle: Garlic & Onion powder
2-3 T Parmesan cheese, finely grated


6 T butter, melted
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 T olive oil
1/2 T parsley dried (or 1T fresh)
1 t garlic powder
1 t onion powder
sprinkle: salt

Directions: Preheat oven 250°. Pat dry the wings. Place on a greased baking sheet, skin side up. Brush baking powder over the top of the wings. Sprinkle with garlic and onion powder. (Note: you can also mix the baking powder with the wings in a large bowl. Also, you can bake on a metal rack over a baking sheet)

Bake in the oven 30 minutes. Once 30 minutes are up, raise the temperature to 425°. Remove wings from the oven and drizzle with olive oil. Put back in the oven and bake 30 minutes.

A few minutes before 30 minutes is up make the sauce. In a small bowl mix melted butter, garlic, parsley, garlic and onion powder and salt. Set aside. Once time is up remove wings from the oven and brush with half of the butter mixture. Place back in the oven and bake for another 15-17 minutes.

Once completed remove from the oven and toss with remaining butter mixture and Parmesan cheese. (Note: If the butter has harden, melt in microwave for 10-15 seconds. Serve immediately.

Notes: Feel free to serve with blue cheese or ranch. However, the wings are very flavorful you don’t need any dipping sauce.



Comfort Dish, Easy & Quick, Kid Fun, Starters

Puff Pastry Hot Dogs

Talk about a fun appetizer or quick fun dinner.  These puff pastry hot dogs are quick to make and simply delicious.  This is sure to be a hit at any gathering.  You can cut the hot dogs in half to make smaller ones vs the full hot dogs.  Check out the recipe below.

Puff Pastry Hot Dogs

8 hot dogs, any kind
1 sheet pre-made puff pastry, thawed but cold
1 egg
Sprinkle: coarse salt
Mustard for serving

Directions: Preheat oven 400. Roll out puff pastry to make it slightly bigger.  Pat dry the hot dogs.  Using a knife or a pizza cutter cut into half inch strips.  Using 2 strips of the puff pastry wrap the hot dog, slightly overlapping.  You can also just use thicker strips of the puff pastry if you’d rather.  Place on a greased baking dish.

Once all the hot dogs are wrapped place in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes for the puff pastry to slightly chill again.

Whisk egg in small bowl.  Remove the hot dogs from the refrigerator and brush the puff pastry with the egg and sprinkle with coarse salt.  Bake in the oven 20 minutes until golden brown.  Serve immediately with a side of mustard.





#Recipes, Dips/Spreads, Family Recipes, Starters

Dad’s Clam Dip

I’m going to talk as about my Dad a bit.  I got my ability to throw together a great dish from him.  He was very good at just putting ingredients together and coming up with something that tasted amazing.  He didn’t always write down his recipes (also something I got from him.)  So, when he passed away unfortunately, there was a lot of dishes we wished we had the recipes for.  One was his clam dip.  It’s so good and something I never liked at first and now I love.

I know it sounds weird  but it is simply delicious.  One day I had decided to try and remember the taste and just started experimenting with ingredients.  I was able to make it and the taste was just like when my Dad made it.  I was so happy I was able to recreate it just like his.

I wanted to share the recipe with my followers.  I hope you enjoy it as much as my family and I.

Dad’s Clam Dip

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 T Worcestershire sauce
2 10 oz cans chopped clams (drained, reserve 1 T of liquid)
1 t salt
1/2-1 T Dill (More for topping)

Directions:  In a medium bowl add in the cream cheese.  With a fork smash the cream cheese for 2 minutes to soften more.  Add in the sour cream and mix well.  Next add in chopped clams, the reserved liquid and the Worcestershire sauce. Mix well.  Season with the dill and salt. Mix well. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.  Add more dill if you’d like.  I like extra dill.  Sprinkle dill over the top of dip to serve.  Serve with your choice of chips or crackers.









Holiday, Starters

Cranberry Salsa with Cream Cheese

This is an awesome light appetizer for the holidays.  My sister in law made this for the first time a few years back.  I still remember when I saw it I was unsure of what it was.  The moment she said it was cranberry salsa I could feel the grin on my face forming.  Just because cranberry and salsa don’t usually go.  I am not a huge cranberry fan but the moment I tasted this I was HOOKED.  I make it every year around the holidays.  I should make it more often because that’s how much I love it now.

Cranberry Salsa

12 oz cranberries, rinsed
1 bunch cilantro, stems removed
1 small red onion, quartered
1 jalapeño, cut in large pieces (remove seeds if you want mild keep seeds for spicier)
1 cup sugar (more of less to preference)
1 medium lime, juiced
2 t salt
8 oz Cream Cheese, softened

Direction: In food processor add in the cranberries, cilantro, red onion, jalapeños, lime juice and sugar.  Pulse until minced.  Feel free to leave chunkier if you’d prefer.  I like it rather fine.  Season the cranberry salsa with salt to taste.  Place in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.  This will help the sugar work with the cranberries.

I’ve seen several recipes for cranberry salsa over the years and they usually use a lot of sugar.  You can do that, I just prefer it to be less sweet and get more flavors from the other ingredients.  I’d add the sugar slowly and start out with less and see how you like it.  Add more if needed.

Once ready to serve spread cream cheese on a serving dish.  Mix the cranberry salsa well and top over the cream cheese.  Serve with crackers of your choice. You can also make this on mini dishes or cups for individual portions.





Caprese Bruschetta

This Caprese Bruschetta is a great starter for any meal or even for a light snack or lunch.  It’s light and fresh tasting and the flavors are just amazing.

The Italian in me is a huge fan of caprese salad.  I love fresh mozzarella with a juicy ripe tomato.  With this dish I just added some garlic crostini and turned it into a bruschetta.  I could seriously make 20 of these and eat every last one of them.

This dish is definitely great for the summer as it’s light and fresh but it’s so great I’ll eat it all year long.  It’s like a mini open faced tomato and mozzarella sandwich.  Who wouldn’t enjoy that?  🙂

Caprese Bruschetta

10-12 Garlic crostini (Homemade or store bought) (Recipe below)
4-6 Campari tomatoes, sliced and chilled (or any tomato)
6-8 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced or chopped
2 T Olive oil
1 T Basil, dried or fresh basil, chiffonade
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

1 Baguette sliced 1/3 inch thick
1/3 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves, grated
1 T parsley
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Directions: Preheat oven to 400°.  Add sliced baguette to a baking sheet.  In a bowl mix together oil, garlic, parsley and salt & pepper and mix well.  Brush the oil mixture onto the crostini and bake in oven for 10 minutes or until the edges start to brown. Keep an eye on the crostini so they don’t burn.

To assemble, add mozzarella to crostini and top with tomato slice. Sprinkle with basil, salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.  Serve immediately.  Enjoy!