Squash & Parmesan Crustless Mini Quiches and an appetizers round-up

For years, my party appetizers of choice were tiny handmade spanikopita that I would assemble ahead of time and bake up piping hot and buttery when the party was in full swing. They were lovely, made from wilted fresh spinach, crumbled feta, and sheets of paper-thin phyllo pastry.

At the time, the golden spanikopita were well worth the effort that went into making each one, oh, right down to the last shard of phyllo, but now? I’d be amiss to put those efforts ahead of my young family’s needs.

Appetizers coming from my kitchen have simplified greatly over time as I have added three children to my family. I continue to entertain, but it is rare that I fuss over a menu or pencil in finicky finger food.

Still, I love grazing, and, the big turkey dinner aside, one of my favorite ways to entertain for the holidays is with a table of appetizers and a generous stash of wine. Cookies and coffee usually round out the event and once again, memories have been made with minimal effort.

Today I’m sharing a few of my simpler appetizers, all which are loved equally for their flavor and their ease of preparation.

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Tips for Growing Fresh Basil {Recipe: Cucumber Basil Bites}

Written by Kristen of Dine and Dish.

I don’t have a green thumb. I’ve tried and tried gardening throughout the years but for some reason, it’s not a skill I can seem to grasp.

With that said, I am probably not one who should be sharing gardening tips with you, however, I have found one thing I can grow really well and if I can grow it, I know you can too. Fresh basil!

Fresh basil is one of life’s little pleasures, in my opinion. It grows big and plentiful, has a most wonderful aroma and can add the perfect amount of garden fresh flavor to your recipes. Every variety of basil I’ve tried to grow has succeeded without a lot of extra attention from me. Low maintenance, easy to grow, and high on yield… that’s my kind of plant! [Read more…]

Recipe: Baked Brown Rice Pilaf

We’re a little over three weeks into the new year which is long enough to put your food resolutions to the test – if you made any. In this January edition of our Eat Well, Spend Less series, we’re taking a look at those goals and how we’re measuring up.

I recently shared my intentional food goals for 2012 (and loved reading yours in the comments!), and the one that I have to address daily is eating well for baby.

Diet in the third trimester is requires a bit more thought than usual for one obvious reason: I’m always hungry. Snacking takes on a whole new meaning, shifting from a casual appeasing of the munches to a full on survival tactic.

Thanks to an ever-growing uterus pressing on my stomach, I can’t comfortably eat a regular sized meal. Often my plate holds the same amount of food as my preschooler – and I’m feeling stuffed after the meal; hence, I eat small meals, but more frequently.

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gouda apple croissant

Moms Need Lunch Too! – 5 Easy Midday Meal Ideas for Mom

Written by Katie of Good Life Eats

I‘ve already written about Balanced School Lunches for Picky Eaters, but what I really struggle with is making my own lunch. I’m not saying that I don’t eat during the day. I just don’t eat lunch like I should. This past year has been worse because my kids are getting to the age where they’re away from home for lunch more than they’re at home, which leaves me finding myself alone quite often.

I tend to snack on whatever it is that I’m cooking or photographing that day around lunch time because I spend much of my alone days testing recipes and photographing dishes for GoodLife Eats. And you should know that I am easily bored with food.

I know that what I really should be doing taking the time to sit down, take a break, and eat a balanced meal.

Aimée already talked about her Intentional Food Goals for 2012. Taking a midday break to eat a balanced afternoon meal is one of mine. I decided that it was high time I sat down and made myself a list of easy to prepare lunch ideas.

Because I’m alone and busy working, lunches need to be: something that requires little thought and effort and doesn’t create a lot of extra mess. [Read more…]

Spices 101: Storing Spices (Recipe: Black Pepper Shrimp)

If you’ve been following our Spices 101 series, you may have had some spice myths debunked, and also may have decided to invest in quality spices.  Today, we’ll learn how to store your quality spices properly so that they’ll maintain their maximum freshness and potency.

It may come as a surprise to you, but a decorative spice rack conveniently situated above the stove is not doing your spices any favors. Sure the row of little glass jars are pretty to look at and the rack itself may be a space saver, but with all the heat, steam, gas and fallout from your cooking, your spices are no better off than the Icelandic cattle living in the path of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano spew.

OK, maybe a little better.

Here’s how to store everything from anise to za’atar.

What Your Spices Should Avoid

No sauna’s (or volcanoes) please! When storing spices, your biggest enemies are:

  • Air
  • Light
  • Heat
  • Humidity

What comes to mind? Can you think of someplace that’s airtight, dark, cool and dry? Read on! [Read more…]