Recipes, Small Bites

Asian Ceviche

I love ceviche! This twist on the traditional Ceviche is loaded with seafood, red onions, peppers, cilantro and Thai chili peppers; all marinated in sake and fresh lemon juice. Yup, I said sake! I created this recipe to serve at my family’s Christmas eve dinner! 

It’s such a vibrant dish that’s perfect for weekends or parties. Truly a recipe seafood lovers will instantly fall in love with! 

INGREDIENTS 

  • 1 bag frozen seafood mix
  • 1 pound medium-sized shrimp, cleaned
  • ¼ cup parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup cilantro , chopped
  • 1 medium size red onion, chopped small
  • 1 medium green pepper, chopped small
  • 1 red sweet pepper in vinegar, diced
  • 1 Thai chili pepper, diced 
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 lemons, juiced
  • ½ tablespoon Sake
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Toasted sesame seeds

INSTRUCTIONS 

Boil frozen seafood mix (15 minutes), shrimp (3 minutes). Strain and place into a bowl. Refrigerate until chilled.

Chop shrimp in small pieces. Mix the remaining ingredients together in a large bowl. 

Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds on top before serving. 

Serves 8–12

Recipes, Small Bites

Thai Coconut Mussels

I was so excited how delicious these mussels came out! This may just be  my new favorite mussel recipe. It has hints of spice, tang and sweet flavors.

It comes together very quickly- on the table in under 15 minutes. The broth is delicious, so make sure you have crusty bread available to soak it up. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 pounds fresh mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
  • 1/4 cup of chicken stock
  • 1 can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp Red chili paste
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1 Thai green chili, diced
  • 1 cup of whole basil
  • 1 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 lime

INSTRUCTIONS

In a large saucepan, combine the chicken stock, coconut milk, red Thai curry paste, fish sauce, sugar and seasonings.

Summer on medium – high heat and bring to a light boil.

Add in the tomatoes, chopped Thai green chili, basil and chopped cilantro.

Simmer for 10 minutes.

Then add the juice from 1 lime and those delicious fresh mussels.

Cover and stir occasionally for 8 minutes.

Discard any mussels that have not opened.

Serve immediately!

Recipes, Small Bites

Buffalo Chicken Tater Tot Nachos

Crispy tater tots with layers of spicy buffalo chicken and melted cheese, topped with ranch dressing, crumbled blue cheese and green onion.  These tater tot nachos are fully loaded and perfect as a meal or as an appetizer for sharing.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 bag (2 LBS) frozen tater tots
  • 2 boneless chicken breast, shredded
  • 1 cup bacon, crumbled 
  • 1 cup plus Frank’s Red Hot Wings sauce, 1 tablespoon  for garnish
  • ½ cup blue cheese crumbles, plus 2 tablespoons for garnish
  • ½ cup ranch dressing, plus 1 tablespoon for garnish 
  • 1 block cream cheese
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • ½ cup mozzarella cheese
  • 2 green onions, garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a sheet pan with foil.

Bake the bag of tater tots for 30 minutes, flipping them halfway through the cooking time.

In a large bowl, Stir together the shredded chicken, bacon crumbles, ranch dressing, wing sauce and blue cheese crumbles.

In a medium bowl, Mix together the two cheeses.

Place the cooked tater tots in a cast iron skillet. Spoon half the chicken mixture on top of the tots. Sprinkle half the cheese. Repeat the layers. Bake for 5-7 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Garnish with the remaining dressing, wing sauce, green onions, and blue cheese. 

Serve immediately.

Recipes, Small Bites

Caponata

I’m excited to add one more tasty eggplant creation from Italy to my go to dishes: Caponata!

And it’s a dish from Sicily! I love learning about dishes from where my family is from. My parents and I first tried this delicious appetizer at Casa Santo Stefano restaurant in Tampa. After my first bite, I knew I had to recreate this dish. 

What is caponata?

Caponata Sicilian is one of Sicily’s essential dishes. Pronounced ka·puh·naa·tuh, it is a vegetarian eggplant salad–more like a relish, really–made of eggplant, onions, bell pepper, celery and tomatoes with briny olives and capers. Some describe caponata as the Sicilian version of ratatouille.

You’ll love the combination of savory, sweet flavors in this creamy eggplant dish with onions, tomato and olives! A great make-ahead appetizer to serve over crusty bread or drizzle over chicken or fish!

It is the perfect make-ahead appetizer as it is better the next day, but if you need to serve it on the same day, let it sit at room temperature for 1 hour before serving. 

Ingredients 

1 large eggplant 1 ¼ lb or so, cut into 1-inch cubes

Kosher salt

EVOO

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

2 small celery stalks thinly sliced

Black pepper

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

2 tablespoon capers

¼ cup Kalamata olives roughly chopped

¼ cup raisins

2 teaspoons honey or more to your liking

1 bay leaf

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

¼ cup red wine vinegar

¼ cup dry white wine

2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Instructions 

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Season the eggplant cubes with salt (if you have the time, set it aside in a colander to sweat out its bitterness for about 20 or 30 minutes, while you prepare the remaining ingredients. Pat dry with paper towel).

Place the seasoned eggplant cubes on a sheet pan, add a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (about 3 tablespoons or so) and toss to coat. Roast the eggplant in the heated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until browned.

Heat 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet. 

Add the onions, bell pepper, and celery. Season with a pinch of kosher salt and black pepper. Cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, tossing regularly until softened.

Add the cherry tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes are about to burst, 3 minutes. As the tomatoes begin to burst, mash them and stir. 

Add capers, olives, raisins, honey, bay leaf and crushed pepper flakes. Pour in the vinegar and white wine. Stir to combine. Cover and simmer on medium-low heat for 10 minutes.

Stir in the roasted eggplant and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes in the sauce. 

Finish with fresh parsley. 

Recipes, Small Bites

Arancini -Risotto Balls

Risotto is one of my favorite things to make, which is why this is one of my favorite Sicilian appetizers. 

To make these Sicilian cheese-filled appetizers, you first have to make risotto, then use the risotto to make cheese-stuffed balls, then coat them with breadcrumbs and fry them. 

It’s definitely a labor of love but they are absolutely worth it. 

These are the perfect appetizer for the holidays or if you have left over risotto. 

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE RISOTTO

¼ cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick)

½ medium yellow onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

¾ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning 

Salt and black pepper

1 cup arborio rice 

⅓ cup white wine 

2 cups chicken stock, warmed

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves, plus more for garnish

FOR THE ARANCINI:

½ cup Mozzarella, shredded

½ cup Fontina cheese, shredded

⅓ cup all-purpose flour

2 eggs

1 cup panko bread crumbs

2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated  

Salt and black pepper

1 ½ quarts vegetable oil

1 cup tomato sauce (fresh or store-bought), warmed

INSTRUCTIONS

Prepare the risotto: 

In a medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium. 

Add onion, garlic and Italian seasoning. 

Season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in rice until coated, about 1 minute, then add wine. 

Cook, stirring frequently, until absorbed, about 1 minute.

Stir in 1/2 cup stock. Cook, stirring frequently, until stock is almost absorbed, about 4 minutes. Repeat with remaining stock, adding 1/2 cup at a time and stirring until absorbed before adding the next cup, about 15 minutes.

Once all the stock has been absorbed, the rice should be tender and creamy. 

Stir in the Parmesan, the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and seasoning. 

Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Pour into a large bowl and let for at least 20 minutes. 

In the same bowl, mix in the mozzarella, fontina cheese. 

Cover tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 1 hour or up to 2 or 3 days.

Once the risotto is chilled, use a cookie scoop and gently roll each into a ball. Repeat with remaining risotto balls. (If you’re not planning to fry them right away, arrange them on a small baking sheet in a single layer, cover and refrigerate until cooking, up to 2 or 3 days in advance. If the risotto mixture isn’t cold, it can fall apart in the hot oil.)

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. (If you have a candy thermometer, now is a good time to use it: Heat the oil to about 350 degrees.)

Prepare the breading: 

Add the flour to a shallow bowl, then add the eggs to another shallow bowl and beat the eggs to combine. In a third bowl, combine the Panko, Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir to combine.

Working with one arancini, roll it first in the flour, shaking off any excess, then in the egg, then in the bread crumb mixture, taking care to coat it on all sides with each roll. Transfer to a clean baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining arancini.

Fry the arancini in batches, leaving at least one inch between each ball, until golden and crisp on the outside, about 5 minutes. (By the time the crust crisps, the cheese filling will melt.) 

Transfer to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet and repeat with remaining arancini. 

Spoon warmed tomato sauce onto small plates or into bowls and top with warm arancini, or set sauce in a bowl for dipping and arrange arancini on a serving platter. 

Sprinkle arancini with finely grated Parmesan.

Recipes, Small Bites

Pizza Dip

We all love pizza! Well how about a pizza dip! Less carbs with all the same delicious flavors! This MEAT LOVERS’ pizza dip is next-level good. It is super simple to make, and everyone will love it. I used sausage, bacon, and pepperoni but use whatever types of meat and toppings you like!

Ingredients

12 oz. bacon, cut into 1″ pieces 

1 lb. Italian sausage, casings removed 

1 (8-oz.) block cream cheese, softened 

2 cup shredded mozzarella, divided 

1 cup ricotta 

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning 

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 

1 1/2 cup pizza sauce 

1/2 cup pepperoni slices

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan 

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375°F

In a large oven-safe skillet over medium heat, add bacon and cook until crispy, 8 minutes. Drain on a paper towel–lined plate. 

To the same skillet, add sausage and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 6 minutes. Drain fat. 

In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, 1 cup mozzarella, ricotta, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes. 

Add bacon, sausage, and cream cheese mixture to skillet and stir to combine, then spread in an even layer. 

Spread pizza sauce on top and sprinkle with remaining 1 cup mozzarella. Top with pepperoni and Parmesan. 

Bake until bubbly and cheese is melty, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve with baguette slices.

Recipes, Small Bites

Buffalo Chicken Pull apart Roll ups

I love a good tailgate!

These Buffalo Chicken Pull Apart  Roll-ups are just the recipe you need for game day! 

It’s a great appetizer that is made in minutes and always a hit. If you love buffalo chicken dip, these will be your new favorite. 

If you love Buffalo chicken recipes, make sure to try my Buffalo Chicken Rolls with Blue Cheese Frosting. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1 lb ground italian chicken sausage
  • ½ cup Frank’s Red Hot Hot Buffalo Wings Sauce
  • 1 packet Ranch seasoning packet
  • 1 tablespoon EVOO
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 8 ounce cream cheese
  • 8 ounce blue cheese crumbles
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 tubes Pillsbury Thin Pizza Crust

INSTRUCTIONS 

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.

Add the ground meat and sauté for 5 minutes and break it up with the back of a wooden spoon. Add all the ranch seasoning and stir to combine. Continue to cook the ground meat and break it down with the back of a wooden spoon until it’s fully cooked and no pink remains.

Once cooked, add ½ cup buffalo sauce and reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for 10 minutes.

In the same skillet, saute the red onion and garlic. Sprinkle the red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Saute until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. 

Pour onion mixture and cooked meat in a large bowl, stir to combine. 

Add the cream cheese to the bowl and mix until well combined. 

Place parchment paper on the counter for your workspace. 

Unroll one pizza crust dough out onto the prepared parchment paper, I like to work with one at a time. 

Spread chicken mixture evenly on dough to within 1/4 inch from sides. 

Sprinkle ½ of the blue cheese and ½ of the mozzarella cheese over the chicken mixture.  

Starting with one long side, roll up dough; spread a thin layer of ranch dressing along one side to help it seal. 

Repeat with the other dough and place both in the refrigerator for one hour or overnight. 

Preheat the oven to 400°F and grease a 9 inch springform pan.

Place seam side down on cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut the roll into 8 equal slices; place cut side down in the prepared pan. 

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until deep golden brown. 

Top with green onions and a drizzle of ranch dressing and if desired, additional Buffalo sauce.

Recipes, Small Bites

MARGARITA GRILLED SHRIMP

These Margarita Grilled Shrimp Skewers are loaded with flavor and charred to perfection. If you like grilled shrimp, you are going to love this recipe! 

They can be served as an appetizer or turned into a meal, just serve over rice. 

It’s the perfect weeknight meal or poolside dish! This past weekend, I served them with mini taco shells, a spicy mango dipping sauce and a chili lime aioli.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. raw jumbo shrimp (16 to 20 per pound), peeled and deveined
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Smoked paprika 
  • 1 teaspoon  chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon  garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon  onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon  cumin
  • 1 teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon  black pepper
  • 2 teaspoon tequila, optional
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Wedges of fresh lime, for squeezing over top of grilled shrimp

Chili Lime Aioli

  • 3/4 cup Mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3/4 teaspoon chili seasoning
  • 2 2/12 tablespoon Lime juice
  • 1 lime zest

Spicy Mango Dipping Sauce

  • 1 Small Mango ,peeled and diced, about 3/4 C
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Sriracha
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Honey
  • 1 Tablespoon Lime juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh cilantro ,chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Canned coconut milk 

INSTRUCTIONS

Mix all ingredients in a bowl & marinate shrimp for 20-30 minutes.

Thread shrimp on skewers and grill 2-3 minutes per side. Remove from skewers and place in a serving bowl.

Chili Lime Aioli & Spicy Mango Dipping Sauce

Mix all ingredients in a bowl or in the blender. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving to allow the flavors to marry.

Serve shrimp on a platter with both dipping sauces.

Recipes, Small Bites

Baked Buffalo Chicken Wings

Crispy Oven-Baked Buffalo Chicken Wings are so easy to prepare with no need for oil or deep frying.

Buffalo Chicken Wings are the perfect game-day or any day appetizer, marinated in a buffalo sauce, and baked to perfection with just the right amount of heat.

Did you know?
Chicken wings were first cooked in a hot sauce for a late-night snack back in 1964, at a bar in Buffalo, New York. Since then, buffalo wings can be found on most bar menus across the world especially when it’s game-day, you can be sure that tables are full of wings and beer.

This recipe is so easy to make. These buffalo wings are baked instead of fried, but are just as crispy and delicious. And, what makes it even better is that you can eat the wings hot and fresh right out of the oven. Serve them with my homemade Blue Cheese dressing or Ranch for dipping, and you’ve got an awesome snack or meal with less fat and calories.

INGREDIENTS

CHICKEN WINGS

  • 4 pounds chicken wings
  • 1 tablespoon free baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • Pinch of cracked pepper

BUFFALO SAUCE:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup Frank’s Original Red Hot Sauce
  • 1-2 tablespoons honey, white sugar or brown sugar (adjust to suit your tastes)

BLUE CHEESE Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese softened
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of cracked black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and preheat oven to 450°F.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminium foil.
Pat dry chicken wings liberally with paper towels, squeezing out as much moisture as you can. Transfer them to a large bowl.

In a small bowl, combine the baking powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper together, whisking well to combine, and sprinkle the mixture over the wings. Toss wings through the baking powder mixture until evenly coated.

Arrange on the prepared pan, leaving about 1-inch of space between each wing.
Bake for 20 minutes; flip and continue to cook for an additional 20 minutes. Repeat these steps until crisp and golden brown, (about 60-80 minutes total), until golden browned and crispy.

While the wings are cooking, whisk together hot sauce, butter and sugar in a saucepan. Once butter has melted and sauce is bubbling remove from heat.
Toss wings through the sauce to evenly coat.

Serve wings immediately with blue cheese dressing or ranch dressing, and celery sticks.

Recipes, Small Bites

Fresh Eggplant Bruschetta

Bruschetta is easily one of my all-time favorite appetizer!

It’s eggplant season! I love this pretty, versatile vegetable and coming up with new ways to use it. Once you make this bruschetta, it will become an easy go-to for using up summer tomatoes and eggplant for years to come.

If you’re looking for a more substantial meal add this as a topping to your favorite pasta!

INGREDIENTS

  • Extra Virgin olive oil
  • Two 1-pound eggplants, chopped
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1/4 cup packed basil leaves, coarsely shredded
  • One pint cherry tomatoes 
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1 loaf French bread, 1/2 inch slices
  • Freshly grated Parmesan

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. 

Add in the diced onion and eggplant and cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until the eggplant is tender, stirring frequently. Add in the garlic, red pepper flakes and basil leaves half way through cooking.

Add the cherry tomatoes to the eggplant. Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar. 

Cover the pan, wait for the tomatoes to burst for about ten minutes. Squish any whole tomatoes with a wooden spoon and let the tomatoes thicken, about 1 minute. 

Stir in the capers and stir to combine. 

Taste and add the salt & pepper if needed. 

Heat the broiler. 

Brush the bread slices with olive oil and sprinkle with parmesan cheese on both sides. 

Char the bread on both sides.

Spoon the bruschetta onto the bread and top with grated Parmesan and remaining basil leaves. Dig in!