Great Appetizers


Hello!

Happy Almost Holidays! Last weekend my friend hosted a holiday party and I was tasked with bringing an appetizer. I found the recipe below on my favorite website, Cooking Light, but was a little nervous about making it for a crowd as I’d never tried it before. Well we were not disappointed – everyone loved it! If you make this be careful – it is a decent amount of garlic in it, so if you’re going to be around strangers, you might want to use a little less garlic than the recipe calls for.

Enjoy!

GARLICKY SPINACH DIP WITH HEARTS OF PALM

1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated Asiago cheese, divided
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1 (14-ounce) can hearts of palm, drained and chopped
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed dry
1 (8-ounce) block fat-free cream cheese, softened
1 (6.5-ounce) tub light garlic-and-herbs spreadable cheese (such as Alouette Light)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine mozzarella, 1/4 cup Asiago, sour cream, and remaining ingredients, stirring until well blended. Spoon spinach mixture into a 1 1/2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Asiago. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned. Serve warm with chips or veggies.

Sincerely,

Lauren Kase
Hillman’s Helpings

Hello!

Forget about Red and Blue. Let’s think about green! Broccoli, that is. Last week, there was a really cold night and I had a hankering for soup. I looked into the fridge and came up with a super easy, quick and delicious recipe for broccoli soup that can be made in less than 30 minutes! I used an immersion blender, but you can use a regular blender or food processor if you have one.

Enjoy!

WEEKNIGHT BROCCOLI SOUP
Serves 4 (ish)

Ingredients
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Extra virgin olive oil
3 broccoli crowns cut into small pieces
1 14 oz. can of chicken broth
Water
2 tbs. fat free half and half
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preparation

Heat 1 tbs. extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Sauté for 2 minutes or until the onion is a little translucent. Add the broccoli and cook for one or two minutes longer.

Add the chicken broth, then fill the chicken broth can (about a cup and a half) with water and pour it into the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down, cover and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Puree with an immersion blender (or food processor) and return back to the pot. Stir in the half and half and season with salt and pepper to taste. You have the perfect weeknight soup!

Bon appetit!

Note: To make the soup thicker, add another broccoli crown and use half the amount of water.

Sincerely,

Lauren Kase
Hillman’s Helpings

Roasted Butternut Bisque!

This was rich, while still being healthy. I think my guests will love it as a first course.

Serves 4
Ingredients

* 4 cups cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 pound)
* Cooking spray
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 1 tablespoon butter
* 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
* 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
* 2 1/2 cups organic vegetable broth (such as Swanson Certified Organic)
* 1 1/2 cups fat-free buttermilk
* 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Place squash in a 2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Lightly coat squash with cooking spray. Sprinkle squash with salt and pepper; toss well. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until tender.

3. Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic to pan; cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add squash and broth to pan; bring to a boil, and cook 2 minutes. Stir in buttermilk. Reduce heat, and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Place one-third of squash mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining squash mixture. Sprinkle with parsley.

Hello!

I’ve you’ve been reading my blog (and my Facebook status), you’ll know that I’ve been devouring heirloom tomatoes the last few weeks. I’ve been picking them up at our local farmers markets, and I must say, despite spending almost $5.00 (yes, $5.00) on just one of them, they are probably the best tomatoes I’ve ever tasted!

I think they are best eaten in a salad, completely raw, so you can taste how sweet and fresh they are. Mostly, I’ve been simply dressing them with salt, pepper, EVOO and fresh basil from my garden, but there are TONS of heirloom tomato recipes out there to choose from. Below is one of my favorites.

Enjoy!

HEIRLOOM TOMATO PANZANELLA

2 pounds ripe heirloom tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
1/4 cup minced red onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Croutons
2 cups trimmed arugula
Wedge Parmesan, for shaving

Drain the tomatoes in a sieve to remove excess liquid while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
In a bowl, combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, basil, tarragon, salt, and pepper. Add the croutons and toss well.

Divide tomato mixture among 4 plates. Top each serving with an equal amount of the arugula. With a vegetable peeler, shave the Parmesan over the salad. Serve immediately.

Bon appetit!

Sincerely,

Lauren Kase
Hillman’s Helpings

Hello!

Happy end-of-Summer! While it is still hot out, my thoughts turn to pumpkins and apples. (Pumpkins are my favorite!)

While it is still nice out, though, please enjoy this refreshing lemonade-style drink, and this fabulous yet simple watermelon/goat cheese recipe.

Enjoy!

CITRUS-ADE
Makes a Gallon

Ingredients:
6 lemons
3 limes
6 oranges
3 quarts water
1 1/2 cups sugar, or more, to taste

Preparation:
Squeeze the juice from 5 of the lemons, 3 of the limes and 5 of the oranges; pour into a gallon container. Thinly slice the remaining orange and lemon and set aside. Add water and sugar to juices; mix well. Chill thoroughly and keep in refrigerator. Serve on ice with orange and lemon slices.

WATERMELON AND GOAT CHEESE
Serves 4

Remove the rind of a 2-pound seedless watermelon and cut into bite-sized pieces.

Arrange pieces on a platter and top with thin slices of goat cheese (from a 4-ounce log) and black pepper

Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

Serve on a hot afternoon!

Sincerely,

Lauren Kase
Hillman’s Helpings

Hello!

I’ve made some really great (if I do say so myself) meals over the last few weeks. The hot weather (for some reason) makes me want to try new things and stray from my usual go-to recipes.

Without further adieu, here are a few of the more memorable ones.

Enjoy!

FRESH CORN AND SQUASH SOUP

1 tablespoon butter
2 cups chopped onion (about 1 large)
4 cups fresh corn kernels (about 7 ears)
3 cups water
2 cups chopped yellow squash
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Chives

Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add onion to pan; cover and cook 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add corn and next 4 ingredients (through pepper); bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Cool slightly.

Place half of corn mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Strain corn mixture through a sieve (or strainer) into a large bowl; discard solids. Repeat procedure with remaining corn mixture. Garnish with chives, if desired.

COOL, CREAMY CHOCOLATE BARS

Crust:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (about 5 1/2 ounces)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
6 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted
Cooking spray

Filling:
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup (4 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (4 ounces) fat-free cream cheese, softened
1 (8-ounce) carton frozen reduced-calorie whipped topping, thawed and divided
3 cups 1% low-fat milk
2 (3.9-ounce) packages chocolate instant pudding mix
Unsweetened cocoa (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 325°.

2. To prepare crust, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and 1/4 cup sugar in a food processor; pulse 2 times or until combined. Add butter; pulse 10 times or until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in pecans. Firmly press mixture into bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 325° for 20 minutes or until crust is lightly browned. Cool completely.

3. To prepare filling, place 1 cup sugar and cream cheeses in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until fluffy. Fold in half of whipped topping. Spread cream cheese mixture on cooled crust. Cover loosely; refrigerate 1 hour.

4. Combine milk and pudding mix in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed for 2 minutes. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour or until pudding is set. Spread the pudding mixture over cream cheese layer. Spread remaining half of thawed whipped topping over pudding layer. Cover and chill for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with cocoa, if desired. Cut into 15 pieces.

Happy Eating!

Sincerely,

Lauren Kase
Hillman’s Helpings

This recipe is from this month’s issue of CookingLight. Mr. Hillman’s Helpings LOVED it – he couldnt get enough! I served it with a chilled cucumber soup.

Enjoy!

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner; Styling: Jan Gautro

Crab, Corn, and Tomato Salad with Lemon-Basil Dressing

1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
1 tablespoon extravirgin olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)
1/4 cup thinly sliced basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
1 pound lump crabmeat, shell pieces removed
8 (1/4-inch-thick) slices ripe beefsteak tomato
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

1. Combine rind, 3 tablespoons juice, and next 5 ingredients (through black pepper) in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Reserve 1 1/2 tablespoons juice mixture. Add remaining 2 tablespoons juice, corn, and next 4 ingredients (through crab) to remaining juice mixture; toss gently to coat.

2. Arrange 2 tomato slices and 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes on each of 4 plates. Drizzle about 1 teaspoon reserved juice mixture over each serving. Top each serving with 1 cup corn and crab mixture.

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