Bacon Wrapped Pineapple Appetizer, Hawaiian BBQ Sauce

Bacon Wrapped Pineapple Appetizer, Hawaiian BBQ Sauce
Bacon Wrapped Pineapple Appetizer
Hawaiian BBQ Sauce

Aloha! Here is a nifty little appetizer to serve at a Hawaiian wedding shower, or any party with a tropical theme. It is simple to prep with just three ingredients – fresh pineapple, bacon, and brown sugar.

When asked to bring an appetizer to a party, anything wrapped bacon is sure to be a hit. Smoky bacon paired with tropical sweet-tart pineapple is a winning combination, guaranteeing this appetizer will be the first one to disappear.

Store-bought Hawaiian BBQ Sauce served on the side as a dip adds another smoky-sweet layer, enhancing the ripe pineapple and the umami bacon flavors. Arrive at the party, and just reheat your appetizer in a toaster oven then add it to the buffet. You will hear mahalo until the last tasty morsel is gone.

Bacon Wrapped Pineapple Appetizer Recipe

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Smoked Salmon Pizza, Chive Blossoms, Fried Capers, Horseradish Cream Cheese

Smoked Salmon Pizza, Chive Blossoms, Fried Capers, Horseradish Cream Cheese

Smoked Salmon Flatbread Pizza
Chive Blossoms, Chives, Fried Capers
Dill, Lemon, Maui Onion, Horseradish Cream Cheese

Smoked salmon pizza was one of a trio of flatbreads we served for lunch aboard Oasis on a recent cruise over to Two Harbors at Catalina Island. Lunch on the aft deck could not have been more delightful – with perfect weather, breathtaking scenery, and wonderful company.

Our three light and crispy flatbread pizzas (smoked salmon, roasted brussels sprouts, and a version of vegetable with arugula) were accompanied by a lively chopped Israeli salad and refreshingly cool sangria.  Flatbread pizzas make for a super-satisfying lunch on board. They are fast and easy to cook in the galley, and they’re not as filling as traditional pizza – so after lunch we were buoyant and ready for a fabulous 6 mile hike around the island.

Cruise to Catalina Island

Smoked Salmon Pizza Recipe

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Crispy Shaved Brussels Sprouts Flatbread Pizza

Crispy Shaved Brussels Sprouts Flatbread with Bleu Cheese, Dried Cranberries, Balsamic Syrup

Crispy Shaved Brussels Sprouts Flatbread Pizza
Bleu Cheese, Dried Cranberries, Balsamic Syrup

Keep flatbread on hand and you will never be without a crowd-pleasing appetizer. Flatbread pizza is fast and easy to prepare, and it can be topped with any type of cheese and an unlimited creative combination of items from the pantry or the fridge. Today’s fusion of flavors and textures was especially harmonious.

Brussels sprouts are roasted until the edges get crispy and caramelized. Flatbread with covered with a layer of mozzarella, topped with Brussels sprouts and bleu cheese then baked until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Dried cranberries add a layer of sweetness with a pop of color. An artful drizzle of balsamic syrup also brings sweet and subtly sour notes.  Crispy shaved Brussels sprouts flatbread pizza joins my “flatbread pizza collection” along with the Croatian Sausage Flatbread Pizza and Potato Arugula Flatbread Pizza. There will definitely be more to come.

Brussels Sprouts Flatbread Pizza Recipe

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Chocolate Pots de Creme with Passion Fruit

Chocolate Pots de Creme with Passion Fruit, Chantilly Cream, Maldon Sea Salt Flakes

Chocolate Pots de Creme with Passion Fruit
Creme Chantilly and Maldon Sea Salt Flakes

Share a bite of luxurious French chocolate custard paired with intoxicatingly fragrant, simultaneously  sweet and tart passion fruit or sexy creme chantilly or flaky sea salt. Treat your valentine to an interactive trio of flavors alongside Chocolate Pots de Creme to tantalize his tastebuds. Revel in the silky chocolate texture, the tropical musky passion fruit aromas, the dreamy whipped cream, and the satisfyingly pleasurable combination of sweet & salty. It’s entirely captivating!

Passion Fruit = Love

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Mac and Cheese, Ham, Carrot, Celery, Onion {gluten-free}

mac n cheese, ham, carrot, celery, onion {gluten-free}

Mac and Cheese, Ham, Carrot, Celery, Onion {gluten-free}

The inspiration for this out-of-the-ordinary mac and cheese comes from an unlikely source – split pea soup! To make mac and cheese more of a meal than a side dish, I added the same ingredients and spices I use in my soup – cubed ham plus plenty of carrot, celery, and onion. Garlic, thyme, parsley, and red pepper flakes add extra flavor. The smooth white sauce was made with Parmesan and cheddar, flavored with nutmeg and dry mustard. Paired with a green salad and a glass of ripe and juicy Grenache, it makes a most satisfying winter’s night dinner.

Cooking for someone with gluten intolerance – I made this dish with gluten-free organic red rice elbows from my friends at Explore Cuisine and use Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free flour. You can use traditional macaroni and regular wheat flour if gluten is not an issue.

Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese with Ham Recipe

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Flatbread Pizza: Potato, Arugula, Sour Cream, Chives, Olive, Truffle, Lemon

Flatbread Pizza: Potato, Arugula, Sour Cream, Chives, Olive, Truffle, Lemon
Lavash Flatbread Pizza
Potato, Arugula, Sour Cream, Chives,
Kalamata Olive, Truffle Oil, Black Truffle Salt, Lemon

Sometimes this uprooted Chicago girl wants to serve a skinny pizza. We really do still adore our deep dish pizzas – especially Lou Malnati’s. But I also grew up enjoying Candlelite pizza, fondly remembering my parents’ love of the super-thin crust at the hip joint that was walking distance from our home on the Far North Side – a neighborhood tavern where the graphics on the old-fashioned neon sign now read “Cool Served Here.”

Fast forward many decades – while my lavash flatbread pizza recipe isn’t Candlelite-style per se – it is ultra-thin with a cracker-y crust. Still faintly reminiscent of the Chicago thin-crust pizza of yesteryear, even though back then the topping never included potato, arugula, kalamata olives…or truffle salt.

Lavash Flatbread Pizza Recipe

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Red Lentil Spaghetti (gluten-free) with Cauliflower Rosa Sauce (vegan)

Red Lentil Spaghetti (gluten-free) with Cauliflower Rosa Sauce (vegan)

Red Lentil Spaghetti with Cauliflower Rosa Sauce
Blistered Tomatoes, Arugula
#GlutenFreeVegan

This is THE pasta dish for everyone. Not only is it wholesome and delicious – it is gluten-free, vegan, high protein, high fiber, lower carb, clean, fresh and fabulous. My friends at Explore Cuisine are introducing a spaghetti made of red lentils. This spaghetti has a texture similar to traditional spaghetti. And it pairs wonderfully with my vegan Cauliflower Rosa sauce. Parma Rosa is a pasta sauce typically made with tomatoes, cream, and Parmesan. Here, I substitute cauliflower and olive oil for the cream and cheese, and roast the tomatoes in the oven with garlic for a deeper flavor. The result is a lower-cholesterol sauce that is full of vegetable nutrition and is super-satisfying. For everyone.

Red Lentil Spaghetti with Cauliflower Rosa Sauce and Arugula Recipe

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Wintery French Lentil Soup with Beef, Carrots, Sherry Vinegar

Wintery French Lentil Soup with Beef, Carrots, Sherry Vinegar, Parmesan, Cilantro

Wintery French Lentil Soup with Beef and Carrots
Sherry Vinegar, Parmesan, Cilantro

Chase away those winter blues with a hearty healthy cold-weather soup. Quick and easy preparation plus wholesome ingredients make this soup a shining star. And as a bonus, eating lentils in the new year is said to bring luck and prosperity.

This lentil soup is a bit different from the traditional, as ground beef, French lentils, and carrots share the stage equally. A drizzle of sherry vinegar adds that bright sharp counter-balance to the rich soup and earthy lentils. Cilantro brings fresh herbal notes while cumin and chile powder add warm spice overtones. A generous dusting of grated Parmesan adds the nutty components. This simple, humble soup actually has a complex flavor profile.

Wintery French Lentil Soup Recipe

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Chili Chocolate Brownies with Gochugaru, Ginger, Sesame Seed, Olive Oil, Fleur de Sel

Chili Chocolate Brownies with Gochugaru, Ginger, Sesame Seed, Olive Oil, Fleur de Sel

Korean Influence Chili Chocolate Brownies
with
Gochugaru, Ginger, Sesame Seed, Olive Oil, Fleur de Sel

Gochugaru is a Korean red chili powder that is definitely spicy – but also has a balanced fruitiness, slight smokiness and depth of flavor from the sun-dried red peppers. Korean chili plus a fruity California olive oil and the sharp, exotic flavor of ground ginger come together in this fusion brownie that is an intense spicy grown-up dessert.

Gochugaru Brownie Recipe

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Baked Sweet Potato, Salted Caramel Puffed Rice Noodle Topping

Baked Sweet Potato, Salted Caramel Puffed Rice Noodle Topping

Baked Sweet Potato, Salted Caramel Puffed Rice Noodle Topping

Why not add a touch of whimsy to tonight’s dinner? Baked potato, ok. Baked sweet potato, even better. Baked sweet potato topped with a tangled nest of puffed brown rice vermicelli and drizzled with salted caramel, wow!

Puffed vermicelli (skinny rice noodles) are rather neutral in flavor (with a slight popcorn-y essence), fried in peanut oil for just a few seconds, the rice noodles puff up into light crisp nests. Seasoned with a bit of sea salt, they add a delightful crunch to the baked sweet potato. But to take it over the top, caramel sauce is drizzled over the puffed noodles, then it’s sprinkled with fleur de sel.

Who is going to resist a steaming orange-hued baked potato studded with butter and vanilla yogurt, seasoned with salt and pepper, then topped with sweet and salty flavors and a crunchy light-as-air garnish???

Baked Sweet Potato, Salted Caramel Puffed Rice Noodle Topping

Baked Sweet Potato with Salted Caramel Puffed Vermicelli Recipe 

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