Roasted Garlic Guacamole and Super Bowl Sunday

It’s that time of year again… Super Bowl Sunday!  For sports fans that means potentially one of the best football games of the year – though last year was a big let down.  If you’re not into sports, the day is probably more about the food and the commercials.  Whatever you’re looking forward to, we’re here to make sure your game day menu is delicious!

I’ve got plenty of cooking to do myself so I’m going to keep this short and sweet today.  I have a super-easy, super-tasty recipe to share with you today that is perfect for football munching…

Roasted Garlic Guacamole

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients

1 Avocado
2 cloves Garlic, unpeeled
1+ tbsp. Lime Juice
2 tbsp. chopped Fresh Cilantro
1/8 tsp. Salt

1.  First you need to roast the garlic.  Put the cloves, still in their skins, in a skillet and turn heat onto medium.  Once that side is browned, flip the garlic cloves, continuing to cook until it is roasted on all sides.  Set aside to cool.

Roasted Garlic

2.  Once garlic has cooled, peel it and place it in a bowl.  (I use a molcajete, one of those giant Mexican stone mortar and pestles, and it works like a dream.)  Mash the garlic cloves using a fork or pestle.

3.  Halve and pit your avocado (see Tips for Cooking with Avocado) and scoop the flesh on top of the garlic.  Mash until fairly smooth making sure to mix in the garlic.

4.  Stir in lime juice, cilantro, and salt, and you’re done!  It’s generally best to make it about 30 minutes before you want to eat it to let the flavors meld.  If you’re worried about browning, put the pit in the guacamole and press plastic wrap onto the surface.

Guacamole

Serve with a warm bowl of tortilla chips.  If you’re looking to round out your menu, try pairing it with our**FIX** Garden Fresh Salsa or Southwestern Bean Dip.

This stuff is delicious on tacos and pairs particularly well with our Chipotle Stout Braised Beef whether it’s in tacos or empanadas.

Curious about what I’ll be serving today?  We’ll be enjoying Bacon-Wrapped Scallops, shrimp cocktail, crab rangoon, Tomato and Goat Cheese Tartlets, green bean fries, and zucchini chips.  YUM!

Want more ideas?  Take a look at last year’s Super Bowl post or check out these tasty appetizers and snacks that are sure to make your Super Bowl party a hit:

Maple Candied Bacon

Mac and Cheese Bites

Sausage Balls

Spanakopita Bites

Bacon-Wrapped Scallops

As I’ve told you before, I never ate seafood before I moved to Alaska.  Once I got up here and tried fresh salmon and halibut I was converted.  For a long time I stuck with fish and shrimp.  It took awhile for me to branch out to other shellfish.  My boyfriend really loves scallops and had been not-to-subtly hinting that I should make them for a while.  So I finally decided to give them a try for his birthday this year.  I had never had scallops before so I figured the way to go was to wrap them in bacon…

Bacon-Wrapped Scallops

Everything’s better with bacon!  Plus, I knew that bacon-wrapped scallops are a very popular appetizer.  I decided to use Tyler Florence’s cooking method and the scallops came out perfectly on the first try!  The savory quality of the bacon paired with the subtle sweetness of the scallop make for an incredible bite.  They are a guaranteed home run!  They’re so easy to make and lend an air of decadence to any meal.  If you serve these at a party, they’ll get gobbled up like candy…

Whenever you’re eating seafood, it’s important to be a responsible consumer.  Make sure you know what you’re eating and where it’s from.  There are a lot of resources out there to help you choose sustainable seafood, but my favorite is Seafood Watch from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  They have pocket guides that you can print and keep in your wallet, and they have a smartphone app.  Check them out!

Bacon-Wrapped Scallops

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients

12 Scallops
6 slices Bacon
Olive Oil
Salt
Pepper

1.  The first thing I do is treat my scallops like I do all shellfish – I rinse them and pat them dry.  As you can see, I had beautiful Alaska weathervane scallops to work with…

Next, slice your bacon in half and soak a dozen toothpicks in water.

Rinse Scallops

2.  Wrap the bacon pieces around the scallops and secure with a toothpick.  If the bacon is a little too short, use a couple toothpicks.  Season both sides of the scallops with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

Season Scallops

3.  Place the scallops on a broiling pan and bake under the broiler, on the middle rack, for 7 minutes, flip, and cook another 7.  Flip them one more time and leave them under the broiler for an additional minute to get the first side a little more golden.  When they’re done they should be nicely browned on both sides and the edges of the bacon should be crisping.  Make sure you keep an eye on them – if your broiler runs hotter than mine they will cook quicker and you don’t want to burn them.

Tip: I like to turn the broiler on a few minutes (3-5) before putting the scallops in so that they don’t start in a cold oven.

Broil Scallops

Let them rest a few minutes before serving but don’t let them get cold.  I usually leave the toothpicks in so the bacon doesn’t fall off.  This simple but delectable appetizer is sure to please any palette and is perfect for special occasions.  Take a bite and prepare to be blown away!

Bacon-Wrapped Scallops

Spanakopita Bites

During my discovery of Greek food this summer, I tried spanakopita.  I loved the combination of feta and spinach and decided to learn to make it myself.  One thing I wanted to change in my recipe for spanakopita was ease of eating.  I prefer my appetizers to be bite-sized finger foods – no utensils.  So spanakopita became Spanakopita Bites.

Spanakopita Bites

This recipe is adapted from What’s Cookin, Chicago?.  Homemade phyllo cups are filled with a mixture of spinach, onion, feta, and ricotta.  The cups are light and flaky and the filling has the perfect balance of spinach and cheese.  Plus, you’re eating spinach – yay, dark, leafy greens!

Spanakopita Bites

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15-20 minutes per batch

Serves: 4 dozen bites

Ingredients

1/2 tbsp. Vegetable Oil
1/2 Onion, finely chopped
5 oz. (1/2 package) Frozen Chopped Spinach, thawed and squeezed
3 oz. crumbled Feta Cheese
1/2 c. Ricotta Cheese
1/2 Egg, lightly beaten
Salt
Pepper
12 sheets Phyllo Dough
4 tbsp. Butter, melted

1.  Heat the vegetable oil in a small skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until golden (~5 minutes).

2.  Transfer the onions to a bowl and combine with the spinach, feta, ricotta, and egg.  Season generously with salt and pepper and mix well.  Store the filling in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.

Tip: Make sure you squeeze as much water out of the spinach as possible.  It also helps to separate the spinach with your hands as you add it to the bowl to make it easier to mix everything evenly.

Need ideas for what to do with the other half of that package of spinach?  Check out our Spinach Ricotta Gnudi – so delicious!

Filling

3.  Now it’s time to work with your phyllo dough.  The key to working with phyllo dough without pulling your hair out is to keep it damp.  Keep a piece of plastic wrap over the dough you’re not working with and cover it with a damp paper towel.  Of the brands I’ve tried, Athens has been the most cooperative.

Place one sheet of phyllo dough on a cutting board.  Sometimes you have to toss the first few sheets of phyllo if they’re torn or stuck together.  Just be patient and gentle as you work to separate the sheets.  Don’t sweat it if you get a little tear somewhere, and if the best you can do is separate two sheets from the other sheets, just go with it and work with your double sheets.

Once you’ve got your sheet(s) on the board, brush it with melted butter.  Top with another sheet of phyllo and press down.  Brush with more melted butter and continue this procedure until your phyllo is 6 sheets thick, making sure to finish with melted butter.

Fillo Pastry

4.  Using a pizza or pastry cutter, cut the phyllo into squares ~ 2″ x 2″.  My phyllo sheets were 14″ x 18″ and I got 24 squares out of them (6 squares by 4 squares).

5.  Brush mini muffin pans with melted butter and push the phyllo squares into the pan to make cups.  Fill the cups with ~1 tsp. of the spinach mixture and bake at 375º for 15-20 minutes until the phyllo is golden.

Bake til Golden

6.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.  I like to serve them warm but they are equally as good at room temperature.

Spanakopita Bites

This appetizer is guaranteed to tickle everyone’s tastebuds.  Even people who break out in hives when they see any green food won’t be able to resist these treats.  They’re quite addictive… bet you can’t have just one!

Interested in trying another Greek dish?  Check out our Cinnamon-Stewed Chicken!

Mac and Cheese Bites

Macaroni and cheese is no longer confined to the kids’ table at parties!  Everyone’s favorite food from childhood has now been turned into an appetizer – Mac and Cheese Bites.  I’ve also seen them called mac and cheese cupcakes or mac and cheese muffins.  Whatever you call them, they’re scrumptious!

Mac and Cheese Bites

Macaroni and cheese is baked in mini-muffin pans to create an incredible finger food that will please children and adults alike.  These bites are crisp on the outside and moist and cheesy on the inside.  Made with our World’s Best Macaroni and Cheese recipe, these appetizers will get gobbled up in a snap!

Mac and Cheese Bites

Prep Time: 15-20 minutes

Cook Time: 15-20 minutes

Serves: 24 bites

Ingredients

4 oz. Elbow Macaroni
1 c. Beecher’s Flagship Cheese, divided
1/4 c. Monterey Jack Cheese, divided
1 tbsp. Butter
4 tsp. Flour
3/4 c. Milk
1/8 tsp. Salt
Generous 1/8 tsp. Chipotle Powder
Dash Garlic Powder
Panko

1.  Complete steps 1-6 of our World’s Best Macaroni and Cheese recipe.

Add Cheese Sauce to Pasta

2.  Fill mini muffin wells with macaroni and cheese.  I use non-stick muffin pans so I don’t grease them but you may need to if you’re using regular pans.

3.  Top the mini muffins with the cheese you set aside and sprinkle with panko.

Top with Cheese and Panko

4.  Bake at 350º F for 15-20 minutes until golden.  You can use the broiler to finish them if they’re not browning quickly enough.

Bake Bites

After giving them a few minutes to set, scoop those crave-able little bites out of the muffin pans and serve them while they’re warm.

Of course, before you serve them, you’ll have to eat one as a taste test to make sure they came out right.  And maybe try a second one – you know, for quality control.  It’s a tough job but someone’s gotta do it…

Maple Candied Bacon

I have three words for you:  Maple.  Candied.  Bacon.  Need I say more?

Maple Candied Bacon

I know I probably lost most of you as you made a dash to the kitchen to check your bacon stock, but for those still reading and needing a little more convincing to try this recipe, I’ll go on.  This dish is the perfect combination of salty and sweet!  Plus it has great texture.  Candied bacon is delicious for anyone, but it makes a particularly man-friendly snack – so it’s ideal for tailgating, Superbowl Sunday, or a guy’s birthday.  This appetizer will be the most popular bite at your next party (better nab some early!).

Maple Candied Bacon

Prep Time: 5-10 minutes

Cook Time: 45-60 minutes

Serves: 8-12

Ingredients

1 pound Bacon
2 tbsp. Maple Syrup
1/4 c. Brown Sugar
2 tsp. Dijon Mustard
1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper

1.  Combine all ingredients, except bacon, in a large bowl and whisk together to make a thick glaze.

Today I actually used a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale Honey Spice Mustard (YUM!!) cause that’s what I had on hand.  It doesn’t have to be strictly dijon, just make sure you’re using something high quality.

2.  Add your bacon to the bowl and toss well to coat.

Tip: I like to cut my bacon strips in half before adding them to the bowl so that I have more pieces of candied bacon and it lasts longer – that way more people have a chance to enjoy the deliciousness!

3.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil (making for easy clean-up 🙂 ) and top with a wire rack.  Lay your bacon pieces flat on the rack (ideally not touching each other).  It may be a bit like working a puzzle to get it all on there.  After I have all my bacon laid out, I like to drizzle any extra glaze left in the bowl over the bacon – don’t want to waste any maple-y goodness!

Place on Wire Rack

4.  Bake at 350° F until darkened and crisp.  This usually takes 45-60 minutes in my oven.  You don’t want to burn your bacon but it should appear appreciably darker in color when it’s done.  The level of crispness can be adjusted to your personal preference – maybe you like your bacon to be more chewy than crispy – just make sure it’s not still soft when you pull it out of the oven.

Baked Bacon

5.  Allow the bacon to cool for 5 minutes on the wire rack then transfer it to wax paper to finish cooling and setting.  Serve at room temperature and make sure you grab yourself a piece – this stuff gets inhaled!

Tip: This dish can sit out at room temperature for a little while, but if it’s going to be a long time before you serve it, stick it in the fridge.  Just make sure it comes back up to room temperature before serving.

Bowl 'o Bacon!

Tomato and Goat Cheese Tartlets

Looking for the perfect dish for your next party?  Well, look no further.  These addictive appetizers, made with tomatoes, goat cheese, and basil, are a guaranteed crowd pleaser!  Whenever I make these, they might last for 15 minutes… maybe… if people take a while to notice them or it’s a small party.  They’re incredibly delectable with their flaky, rich puff pastry crust and their savory, flavorful filling.  Yum!  Just writing about them makes me want to make another batch…

Tartlets

I developed this recipe after watching a dinner party show on Food Network.  It was unusual for me to be watching that show as I generally don’t watch the cooking shows on Food Network but the competition shows (Iron Chef, Chopped, etc.).  But that day, several years ago, I turned Food Network on and left it there while a chef helped a someone prepare for a dinner party at her house.  One of the things they made were these little tomato tarts which looked very tasty, so I took notes.

The next party I went to, I took the opportunity to try out the recipe.  Of course, it wasn’t as easy as the chef made them look, but after several iterations and adaptations I had a scrumptious, easy recipe that I could turn to again and again.  I don’t think the show is still airing, and, honestly, I can’t remember what it was called, but I have to thank them for inspiring this delicious dish.

Tomato and Goat Cheese Tartlets

Prep Time: 20-25 minutes

Cook Time: 25-30 minutes

Serves: ~30 tartlets

Ingredients

2 Puff Pastry Sheets, thawed
1 tbsp. Butter
1 tbsp. Olive Oil
3 canned San Marzano Tomatoes
6-8 Basil Leaves
1 Egg
1/3 c. Cream
1 tsp. Salt
3-4 oz. Goat Cheese

1.  Heat the butter and oil in a skillet over medium heat.  While it’s heating, dice your tomatoes.  Once the butter has melted and the mixture is hot, add the tomatoes to the skillet.

2.  Reduce the heat to medium low and cook the tomatoes for 5 minutes.  While the tomatoes are cooking, julienne your basil and whisk together the egg, cream, and salt.

3.  Once the tomatoes are done, remove them from the heat and stir in the basil.

Tomatoes and Basil

4.  Flour a cutting board or your work surface and lightly roll out your puff pastry sheets.  You’re not really trying to thin the dough but smooth it out after its been folded.  Cut 2.5″ rounds of pastry using a cookie or biscuit cutter.  I generally get 15-16 rounds per pastry sheet.

Note: I like to thaw my pastry by moving it from the freezer to the refrigerator the night before.  It seems more difficult to work with when it’s thawed on the counter.  Also, you want to keep your pastry cold so I keep the second sheet in the fridge while I work with the first.

5.  Place the pastry rounds in a mini-muffin pan.

Tip: If the pastry’s a little stiff, I use my thumb and index finger to bend the edge of the pastry towards the center then rotate it slightly and repeat until I’ve worked all the way around the edge of the circle.  This makes the pastry more flexible and it should be easier to put in the pan.

Mini Muffin Pan

6.  Add the contents of the skillet (they should be cooled so you don’t cook your egg!) to the cream mixture and stir together.

7.  Spoon the filling mixture into the puff pastry cups.  I try to get a couple pieces of tomato and at least a couple strips of basil into each tart.  Then crumble a little goat cheese onto the top of each tartlet.

Top with Goat Cheese

8.  Bake at 375°F for 25-30 minutes until the tops are lightly golden.

Cooked Tartlets

9.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool before serving.  I like to serve them while they’re warm, but the tarts are still delicious at room temperature!

Serve Tartlets

Now, prepare to receive a million compliments from everyone that tastes one of these treats!  Make sure you grab one for yourself when you set them down or you may not get to try your own dish.  I am being 100% serious… these things will disappear!

Make-ahead tip:  You can make these tarts earlier in the day and reheat them in a warm oven before serving.  Or, if you want them a little fresher, you can complete steps 1-6 early, storing the pastry (already in the pans) and the filling in the fridge, then fill the pastries and bake right before serving (Steps 7-8).

Looking for other delicious party appetizers?  Try our Sausage Balls, Smoked Salmon Puffs, or Southwestern Bean Dip**FIX**!

Pumpkin Poppers

In case it isn’t blatantly obvious… I’ve been on a pumpkin kick lately. There are just so many yummy things you can make with it! And as soon as the weather turns cool, I start dreaming of warm fires, mom’s comfort foods, and pumpkins. When I told my sister I was making these, her response was “You’re obsessed!” To which I simply replied “So?”

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These little balls of fall deliciousness lend themselves perfectly to so many occasions – your morning coffee, your next tailgating shindig, a family brunch, etc. They’re best right out of the oven, but if you have any leftover (and that’s a big if) warm them for a bit in the oven or microwave before enjoying.  There are many versions of this recipe online (HWescott blog, Food Network, Martha Stewart, etc.), but I’ve tweaked this one to be, what I think, is the best combination of sweet and spice.

The recipe is very easy and takes about 30 minutes or so to cook both batches and top them. I use a half tablespoon measuring spoon for portion control when filling the mini muffin wells. I almost always end up with 48 little poppers at the end.

To begin, preheat your oven to 350 and grease the wells of a mini muffin tin. Set it aside.

Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl and stir to combine. In a larger bowl, combine your wet ingredients. The wet ingredients will look very thin and soupy. No worries… We’re about to fix that. Now dump the dry ingredients into the wet and stir just until combined. You don’t want to overwork the batter.

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Now scoop out batter (I use the 1/2 Tablespoon measuring spoon) into the little wells. Tap the pan on the counter to release any air bubbles, then pop ’em in the oven.

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While your poppers are baking, start preparing your assembly line. Melt 1/2 stick butter in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, combine 1/3 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.

Note: When it comes to Cinnamon Sugar, it is so much cheaper to mix it yourself than to buy premixed at the store. I like to mix up a nice size batch and store it with my spices. Then when I need it for a recipe or topping, it’s ready to go. The perfect ratio of sugar to cinnamon in my opinion is 1/3 cup sugar to 1 tablespoon cinnamon. For this recipe, I start with 1/3 cup of my premixed Cinnamon Sugar and add more to the bowl if needed as I go. You can always add more, but if you start with too much then you waste what’s left. Like my dad always said, “You can always get more, you can’t get less.”

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When your poppers are done baking, let them rest in the pan for a couple minutes.

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Then turn them out onto a cooling rack. I find a mini spoonula is the perfect tool. It tucks down in the well and scoops them up perfectly.

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While your first batch is cooling, fill the tin up again and get your second batch in the oven.

After your poppers are cool enough to touch, brush them with the melted butter…

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then sprinkle them with the Cinnamon Sugar.

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You can just roll them through the butter and topping, but they will absorb A LOT of butter. My 1 1/2 year old was wanting to “hep Mama!” so ours took a bath in the Cinnamon Sugar… and they were super delicious… probably mostly because they were made with Harper love!

When you’re done topping them, I like to let mine rest on paper towels so any excess butter is absorbed by the towels and not by the poppers on the bottom of the pile. Repeat with the second batch, and you’re done! Now it’s time to enjoy some Pumpkin Poppin’ Goodness!

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Pumpkin Poppers

Prep Time: 5 min before baking, 10 afterwards
Bake Time: 10 min per batch

Ingredients

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup pumpkin
1/2 cup milk

Topping:
1/2 stick butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350. Grease the wells of a mini muffin tin and set aside.

Step 2: Combine flour, baking powder, and spices in a small bowl. Whisk to combine.

Step 3: Combine oil, egg, pumpkin, milk, brown sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Add dry mixture to pumpkin mixture and stir just until combined.

Step 4: Scoop batter into greased wells and bake 10-12 min, or until popper springs back when touched in the center.

Step 5: Melt the butter and add to a shallow bowl. In a separate shallow bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon.

Step 6: When the poppers are cool enough to handle, brush them with butter then sprinkle or roll in the Cinnamon Sugar. Place poppers on a paper towel lined dish while finishing.

Serve warm.

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