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!

Small Bites

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers

These bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers are baked instead of fried! Who can resist fresh jalapenos stuffed with cheese, wrapped in bacon and baked to crispy perfection? Not me, that’s for sure. This is the ultimate party snack!

The jalapenos are sliced in half and the seeds and ribs get removed. Removing the seeds and ribs removes most of the heat from the peppers; if you like it spicier, leave some of the seeds and ribs in. The peppers are stuffed with a combination of cream cheese, cheddar cheese and spices. Then wrapped in bacon before baking in the oven. 

I like to serve my bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers with a side of ranch for dipping, but honestly they’re great as-is too.

Ingredients 

  • ½ cup cream cheese
  • ½ cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • ½ teaspoon paprika 
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 12 jalapeno peppers, halved lengthwise, seeds and membranes removed
  • 12 slices bacon

Instructions 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Mix cream cheese, seasonings and cheese together in a bowl until evenly blended. 

Fill each jalapeno half with the cheese mixture. Put halves back together and wrap each stuffed pepper with a slice of bacon. 

Arrange bacon-wrapped peppers on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake in the preheated oven until bacon is crispy, about 15 minutes.

Recipes, Small Bites

Portobello Fries with a Lemon Garlic Aioli

The first time I had portobello fries, I was in downtown Tampa at a restaurant called Gin Joint. After my first bite I was in love and knew I had to recreate them! 

Soaked in buttermilk and lightly fried in a beer batter and then dipped in a tangy aioli… They are seriously a dream! 

You can have them as an appetizer or use as a Taco Tuesday filling, either way you will crave these! And yes, you can bake them instead of frying and they will taste just as good!

The Lemon Garlic Aioli is a magical creamy sauce with a bright lemony tang and a savory garlic flavor that you will want to dip everything in from chips to veggies to any meat.

Ingredients

Portobello Fries

  • 4 Portobello mushrooms, about 1 pound, stems and gills scraped out, cut into 1/2-inch strips
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1 can beer (preferably lager or pale ale)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white cornmeal
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Vegetable oil, for frying (about 2 ½  cups)

Lemon Aioli

  • ½ cup Mayo
  • 2 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 small shallot, chopped
  • ½ lemon juiced
  • 1 zest of a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon chopped Italian parsley

Instructions

Make the aioli: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until blended. Set in the refrigerator.

Prepare the mushrooms: In a shallow pan, soak the mushroom strips in the buttermilk, about 1 hour.

Make the batter: In a large bowl, combine the egg yolks, beer, flour, parmesan cheese, cornmeal, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and the cayenne. 

Fill a skillet with the vegetable oil; heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350 degrees F or drop a crumb in and it sizzles.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with a mixer until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the batter. 

One at a time, dip the mushroom strips in the batter, then carefully lower into the hot oil. (Do this in batches if necessary-do not crowd the pot.) Fry until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes, turning with tongs. Remove and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. 

Sprinkle with sea salt and serve with the garlic lemon  aioli.