3 Easy Christmas Appetizers

3 Easy Christmas Appetizers || Runway Chef #appetizers After Thanksgiving, I usually try to see if I can survive the rest of the year on cookies and party appetizers (I can’t). They’re two of my favorite food groups, and since the season is overflowing with an abundance of both, it only made sense to try to survive on these delicious little treats alone. My waistline called an intervention and quickly put an end to the “all cookies and appetizers from Thanksgiving to New Years” party. Hey waistline, why you got to be so mean? Just because my all-day, every day app party has stopped, doesn’t mean it has on the blog. Here to help you with your winter layer, or holiday parties/get-togethers/celebrations, whichever you prefer, are 3 easy Christmas appetizers (similar to my 3 easy Thanksgiving appetizers from last year). All three can be made in less than an hour, which means you’ll be on your way to one app happy party in no time.

P.S. To make these all under an hour, here’s the game plan- Tarts first, prep the dates while the tarts are cooking, toast the bread rounds for the pizza immediately after the tarts come out of the oven, turn the oven down and bake the dates, assemble mini pizzas while dates are baking. Proceed to feast.

P.S.S. These all make really great breakfast treats, too, (holiday appetizer brunch bar anyone??), in case you have any leftovers, though that is highly unlikely!

3 Easy Christmas Appetizers {Orange Ricotta Fig Tarts} || Runway Chef

Mini Orange Ricotta, Pistachio + Fig Tarts
Yields 12
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 tablespoons of ricotta
  2. 1 tablespoon of orange juice
  3. 1 teaspoon honey (if you prefer a sweeter taste, feel free to add more)
  4. 3 large figs, quartered (see notes)
  5. 1 sheet of puff pastry
  6. Pistachio nuts, chopped
  7. Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whip together the ricotta orange juice, and honey.
  3. To assemble the tarts, cut a square of puff pastry about 3"x3". In the center dab a small amount of the ricotta mixture (about 1 teaspoon). Place a quarter of the fig on top. Fold the sides up and over to form an edge around the filling, leaving the center exposed. Place on the baking sheet and sprinkle with a few pistachio pieces. Continue on until you have used up all of the ingredients.
  4. Baked the tarts for about 18-20 minutes, or until the dough has turned golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a cooling rack.
  5. When you are ready to serve, place on a dish and dust them with powder sugar.
Notes
  1. For the figs, you can use fresh or frozen. I happened to use the frozen ones from Trader Joe's. Just make sure to fully defrost them and drain off the liquid first.
  2. These can be made 4-5 hour in advance.
  3. Store any remaining tarts in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/
3 Easy Christmas Appetizers {Orange Ricotta Fig Tarts} || Runway Chef 3 Easy Christmas Appetizers {Orange Ricotta Fig Tarts} || Runway Chef 3 Easy Christmas Appetizers {Orange Ricotta Fig Tarts} || Runway Chef 3 Easy Christmas Appetizers {Orange Ricotta Fig Tarts} || Runway Chef 3 Easy Christmas Appetizers {Orange Ricotta Fig Tarts} || Runway Chef 3 Easy Christmas Appetizers {Bacon Wrapped & Cream Cheese Stuffed Dates} || Runway Chef

Cream Cheese Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Dates
Yields 18
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 16-18 dates, pitted
  2. 4 pieces of bacon, cut into 3" strips
  3. 1/4 block of cream cheese (I use neufchâtel)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with non-stick foil and set aside.
  2. Split the dates in half (but don't cut completely through). Stuff a small amount (about 1/2 a teaspoon) of cream cheese in the middle, then fold the date back together. Wrap tightly with a piece of bacon, then place the date on the baking sheet. Continue on until you have used up all of your ingredients.
  3. Bake the dates for 15 minutes, then flip them over using tongs, and baking another 2-5 minutes, or until they are crispy and the bacon has fully cooked on all sides.
  4. Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.
Notes
  1. Store any leftovers in an airtight container or ziplock bag for up to 2 days in the fridge.
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/
3 Easy Christmas Appetizers {Bacon Wrapped & Cream Cheese Stuffed Dates} || Runway Chef 3 Easy Christmas Appetizers {Bacon Wrapped & Cream Cheese Stuffed Dates} || Runway Chef 3 Easy Christmas Appetizers {Bacon Wrapped & Cream Cheese Stuffed Dates} || Runway Chef 3 Easy Christmas Appetizers {Mini Festive Fruit Pizzas} || Runway Chef

Bite-Sized Pomegranate Fruit Pizzas
Yields 16
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Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 tablespoons mascarpone
  2. 2 tablespoons cream cheese (I used neufchâtel)
  3. 1 teaspoon of an orange liquor
  4. 1 tablespoon of orange juice
  5. 3 teaspoons honey
  6. 8 small bread rounds, cut in half (see notes)
  7. Pomegranate seeds
Instructions
  1. Place the bread rounds on a baking sheet, cut side up, and toast them for 5 minutes at 400 degrees.
  2. While they bread is toasting, in a small bowl whip together the mascarpone, cream cheese, liquor, honey and orange juice until well combined.
  3. After the bread has finished toasting, allow the rounds to cool for about 2-5 minutes. Once cool, spread each half with a little of the mascarpone mixture (I used about 1 teaspoon per half). Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and place on a serving tray. Serve immediately.
Notes
  1. Feel free to adjust the honey and liquor deepening on your taste preferences.
  2. For the bread rounds, you can use any of the mini buns found in the bread aisle at your local grocery store. For these I used, Ozery Bakery's Cranberry Orange Snacking Rounds (I'll add a link below).
  3. You can make the mascarpone mixture a day in advance and store it in an airtight container in the fridge.
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/

Recipe Notes- I used the Ozery Bakery Cranberry Orange Snacking Rounds which you can buy online or at one of these stores (Mr. RC and I are obsessed with these and have been eating the various flavors for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks; the flavors of the cranberry orange ones, however, are perfect for these little fruit pizzas), but feel free to use any mini buns or bread rounds.

3 Easy Christmas Appetizers {Mini Festive Fruit Pizzas} || Runway Chef 3 Easy Christmas Appetizers {Mini Festive Fruit Pizzas} || Runway Chef

3×3 Food – Thanksgiving Egg Rolls

3x3 Food - Bite Size Thanksgiving Appetizers { Thanksgiving Egg Rolls} || Runway Chef #thanksgiving #appetizers 3x3 Food - Bite Size Thanksgiving Appetizers || Runway Chef #thanksgiving #appetizers My favorite holiday is quickly approaching. You know the one, the one that starts with a T and ends with Hanksgiving. The one that rhymes with ‘Banksgiving’. The one where all the turkeys and Indians and pilgrims show up (ok, maybe just the turkeys). Yeah, that one. Being a food blogger and all it should not surprise you one bit that I’m all about a holiday involving feasts. I mean an actual day on the calendar that’s dedicated solely to stuffing your face without one ounce of guilt involved? Sign me up….twice. One of my favorite part of any feast, Thanksgiving or not, is the appetizers. Grace, Luci and I thought, with all that turkey/mashed potato/stuffing/gravy you’re going to be having, why not keep the apps bite-sized (plus, everything is cuter when it’s mini, right?!). Grace whipped up cheesy feta-mozzarella cups, Luci kept it healthy with mini kale salads, and I went ahead and decided to stuff all of thanksgiving into one bite. Literally, turkey, stuffing, gravy, all rolled up into one neat little egg roll and topped with cranberry chutney (and some extra gravy, if you know what’s good for you). Our three appetizers are so good, you may not even need a turkey dinner. Wait…..who I am I kidding?! You always need a turkey dinner!

3x3 Food - Bite Size Thanksgiving Appetizers { Thanksgiving Egg Rolls} || Runway Chef #thanksgiving #appetizers 3x3 Food - Bite Size Thanksgiving Appetizers { Thanksgiving Egg Rolls} || Runway Chef #thanksgiving #appetizers 3x3 Food - Bite Size Thanksgiving Appetizers { Thanksgiving Egg Rolls} || Runway Chef #thanksgiving #appetizers 3x3 Food - Bite Size Thanksgiving Appetizers { Thanksgiving Egg Rolls} || Runway Chef #thanksgiving #appetizers 3x3 Food - Bite Size Thanksgiving Appetizers { Thanksgiving Egg Rolls} || Runway Chef #thanksgiving #appetizers

Thanksgiving Egg Rolls with Cranberry Chutney
Yields 20
All the favorite flavors of Thanksgiving rolled into one bite
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
12 min
Total Time
22 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
12 min
Total Time
22 min
FOR THE EGG ROLLS
  1. 1/4 pound of cooked turkey, sliced (you can also use about 1 cup of chopped turkey)
  2. 1 1/2 cups prepared stuffing
  3. 1/2 cup gravy + extra for sealing the egg rolls and serving
  4. 4 ounces (half a package) of cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  5. 10 egg roll wrappers
FOR THE CRANBERRY CHUTNEY
  1. 1 cup fresh cranberries
  2. 1 tablespoon of lemon zest
  3. 2 tablespoons of honey
  4. 4 tablespoons of water
  5. A large pinch of salt
  6. 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard (you can use more or less depending on your preferences)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, combine 1/2 of the stuffing, the gravy, and the cream cheese. Stir until well combined, then gently fold in the remaining stuffing.
  2. To assemble the egg rolls, first lay out an egg roll wrapper. Place a small piece of turkey (or about 1 1/2 tablespoons of turkey meat) in the lower corner of the wrapper, then top it with about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the stuffing mixture. Proceed to roll like and egg roll, sealing the edges with extra gravy. Place on a lined baking sheet, sealed side up, and brush the top with more extra gravy. Continue this process until you have filled all egg roll wrappers.
  3. Bake the egg rolls for about 12-15 minutes, or until they are slightly browned (FYI, something of the stuffing may seep out of the corners...feel free to sample, er, I mean clean it up with a spoon). Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes (on the baking sheet) before serving them.
  4. While the egg rolls are baking, make your cranberry chutney. In a medium-sized pot set over medium-high heat bring the cranberries, lemon zest, honey and water to a boil. The cranberries should start popping and becoming juicy. Add in the salt and stir. Continue stirring until the cranberries have all popped and the juices have thickened (you can use the back of your spoon to help pop the cranberries). The sauce should be thick and chunky, similar to cranberry sauce, and the whole process should take about 5-7 minutes. Once the cranberries have cooked down, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the dijon mustard. Place the cranberry sauce into a serving bowl.
  5. Once the egg rolls have cooled to the touch, cut them in half using a serrated knife. You can serve the egg rolls either hot or cold (I actually liked them better cold, while the Mr. preferred them hot) alongside the cranberry chutney and extra gravy (tip: dip them in gravy then spoon a little of the cranberry chutney on top!).
Notes
  1. Store leftover egg rolls in a ziplock bag, in the fridge for up to 2 days. Store extra chutney in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  2. This recipe contains gluten, meat, and dairy.
  3. For the turkey, you can either use sliced meat from the deli counter (some stores sell roasted turkey breast), or you can replace the meat with chicken.
  4. I would recommend making extra gravy and stuffing for your Thanksgiving then using the extra for this recipe.
  5. The cranberry chutney can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to 5 days before serving.
  6. These would be a great way to use up Thanksgiving leftovers.
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/
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Vegan Spaghetti & Meatball Sliders

Vegan Spaghetti & Meatball Sliders using @gardein meatless meatballs || @runwaychef #vegan #appetizers Sliding on into Thursday with these little sliders (see what I did there?!). I’m super amped to share these babies with you, because they are FREAKIN’ DELICIOUS! Yes, caps were required to type that because they are just that good. The idea for these little “spaghetti” & meatball sliders popped into my head after an event I attended last week (#CelebrateInStyle). Gardein was serving up all sorts of crazy good holiday-inspired appetizers. The craziest (and best) part? They were all vegan. Gardein’s meatless products are all made from plant-based protein (hello,  environment sustainability) meaning they are low in fat and have no cholesterol (three cheers for reducing cancer, obesity and diabetes risks). At the event, I tried gluten-free beefless tacos, with roasted corn, black beans, & roasted poblano peppers (adorably served in lime wedges), gluten-free rosemary pecan-crusted chick’n skewers with a cipollini-onion aioli, turk’y cutlet with stuffing, cranberry sauce, & mashed potato on mini spoons, and (my favorite) fishless filet & chips with french fries & a lemon wedge (I’ve attached the recipes for you…simply click a highlighted name to see the recipe card and print it off). Tasting these vegetarian delights got the creative juices flowing, and pretty soon I was brainstorming all kinds of healthy holiday bites. Typically, holiday entertaining is loaded with fat and calories (literally), so I thought it was time for a little change. I mean, just because you’re having ugly sweater parties, decorating trees, and caroling your little heart out, doesn’t mean you need to throw all nutrition out the window. I took the idea for a meatball slider…..and completely trashed it up (in a good way). I  replaced the meatball with a meatless-ball, made a spaghetti “bun” with spaghetti squash, tossed on some greens, and finished by Pollock-ing the whole thing with a sun-dried tomato aioli. Mr. RC was highly skeptical at first. I even told him the likes of JLo, Bey & Jay-Z are doing it (giving up meat that is), and he was all like “Yeah, I’m still not buying what you’re selling.” But low and behold, who do I find eating his way through my photo props? None other than the carnivorous Mr. RC! A ban had to be placed on the kitchen while I finished working on these, but as soon as I was done, you better believe he was on these sliders like white on rice. And I know you will be too, no matter what kind of diet your prefer!

P.S. Be sure to check out Gardein’s site for more info, recipes, and where to buy their products.

Vegan Spaghetti & Meatball Sliders using @gardein meatless meatballs || @runwaychef #vegan #appetizers Vegan Spaghetti & Meatball Sliders using @gardein meatless meatballs || @runwaychef #vegan #appetizers Vegan Spaghetti & Meatball Sliders using @gardein meatless meatballs || @runwaychef #vegan #appetizers Vegan Spaghetti & Meatball Sliders using @gardein meatless meatballs || @runwaychef #vegan #appetizers Vegan Spaghetti & Meatball Sliders using @gardein meatless meatballs || @runwaychef #vegan #appetizers Vegan Spaghetti & Meatball Sliders using @gardein meatless meatballs || @runwaychef #vegan #appetizers

Vegan Spaghetti & Meatball Sliders
Yields 12
Two popular dishes combined into one crowd-pleasing vegan appetizer that's perfect for the holiday season
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
1 hr
For the meatballs
  1. 1 package of Gardein Classic Meatless Meatballs
For the "spaghetti" slider
  1. 3 cups spaghetti squash, cooked (see notes)
  2. 3/4 cup cornmeal
  3. 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  4. 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  5. 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the sauce
  1. 1/2 cup mayonnaise (you can use regular, but obviously to keep these vegan use a vegan mayo)
  2. 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil
  3. 1 small head of garlic, roasted (see notes)
  4. Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  5. Pinch of salt
For garnish
  1. Arugula or basil
  2. Vegan cheese topping, or, for a non-vegan option, parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. To make the spaghetti slider cups: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the squash, cornmeal, olive oil, and seasonings. Stir to combine. Grease a muffin tin, then scoop 1/4 cup of the squash mixture into each tin. Use your fingers to press the mixture into the middle and up the sides to form a "cup". Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the edges have browned. Allow to cool in the pan before removing them.
  2. To make the sauce: Using an immersion blender (or a Cuisnart), combine the mayo, tomatoes (along with the oil they're in), lemon juice, salt, and roasted garlic. Pulse to combine. Set aside.
  3. Once the cups have finishes baking, increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees. Place the meatballs on a non-stick, non-lined baking sheet (you can use a little cooking spray if you need to). Bake for 15-17 minutes, turning them about half way through. Allow to cool before assembling the sliders.
  4. To assemble the sliders: Place a little arugula or basil in the bottom of a spaghetti cup. Add a dollop of sauce, then a meatball. Finish with a little more sauce and, if you wish, a sprinkle of cheese (vegan or parmesan).
  5. Serve on a bed of arugula.
Notes
  1. This recipe is vegan, gluten-free, vegetarian, and dairy-free (if you use regular mayonnaise and parmesan cheese it will only be gluten-free and vegetarian).
  2. These taste good served hot or cold.
  3. The "spaghetti" portion can be made up to 24 hours ahead. Simply allow the cups to cool after baking, then place them, in a single layer, in an airtight container. Refrigerate until you are ready to use them. You can use them straight out of the fridge or reheat them for a few minutes.
  4. The sauce portion can also be made ahead. Just store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it. For the best flavor, I would suggest making the sauce no more than 3 days in advance.
  5. To prepare a spaghetti squash: Cut a squash in half lengthwise. Place the halves, cut-side down, into a glass baking dish (they don’t have to fit perfectly…if you need to lean them up against the side a little bit, that’s OK). Add about 1 inch of water, then place them in the oven and bake at 400 F for about 45 minutes, or until you can easily insert a knife into the squash. (For a smaller squash it may take only 30 minutes. Just keep checking with a knife to see when it’s done). Also, be sure to check on the water level while the squash bakes. If it starts to go down, just add a little more water. Once the squash is done, remove it from the oven and allow to cool. Use a spoon (I find a grapefruit spoon works best) to gently scrape the seeds out of the middle. While some people prefer to remove the seeds prior to baking, I find that they come out much easier once the squash has baked. To make the “spaghetti” simply use a fork to scrape the squash into strands and out of the skin. You can use the squash immediately or store it in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. I typically use a large spaghetti squash so I have enough for multiple recipes, but to get the 3 cups needed for this recipe you will need either one small squash or about 1/3 of a large squash.
  6. To make the roasted garlic: Take the head of garlic. Peel off any loose skin and then cut off the top to expose the cloves inside. Place the head of garlic on a piece of aluminum foil, then drizzle with just a little olive oil (no more than 1 teaspoon). Loosely wrap the foil up around the garlic to seal the head in. Place this garlic foil packet on a baking sheet or in a small baking dish and bake at 400 F until the garlic becomes golden-brown, about 35-45 minutes. Allow the garlic to cool for 10-15 minutes before gently squeezing the cloves out of the peels. For this slider recipe, I followed the steps above to prepare the head of garlic, but then I baked it in a small baking dish alongside the spaghetti squash cups and then transferred it to the meatball baking sheet to finish roasting it with the meatballs. You could also roast the garlic while you are roasting the spaghetti squash as they both roast at the same oven temperature for the same amount of time.
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/

This post was sponsored by Gardein. All opinions are my own.

3×3 Food- Copycat Snacks {Chex Mix Recipe}

3x3 Food - Copycat Snacks {3 recipes for copycat versions of favorite childhood snacks} @runwaychef Snack lovers rejoice! This month, for our 3×3 food post, we decided to tackle copycat versions of childhood favorite snacks and I couldn’t be happier because I love snacks. Like love them. Like a lot. Times a billion. Snacks in the morning, snacks in the afternoon, snacks in bed, snacks with movies, snacks after dinner….basically, it’s snacks all day everyday around here. I grew up in a family of big snackers so I guess you could say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. One of my favorite snacks growing up was chex mix. My grandparents always had enough chex cereal on hand to feed the entire nation (my grandfather was a a couponing maniac before couponing was ever a thing) so I’d beg to make chex mix whenever I was there. I didn’t always get my way but when I did it was glorious (minus the pretzel pieces, because let’s be real “the pretzel pieces were the best part” said no one ever). These days, as I do with most things, I rarely follow the traditional chex mix recipe, instead making up versions that include only my favorite things (I’m looking at you bagel chips). This one not only includes homemade bagel chips but it also has my new favorite snack- pasta crackers. Yes, crackers made from pasta. They’re amazing and you’ll want to pop them in your mouth like crack(ers). What this mix doesn’t have is any of the things that no one really likes anyways….you know the things I’m talking about, the pretzels that everyone eats around, the cracker sticks that you only eat after all the bagel chips are gone (which usually happens in .5 seconds because there are all of 2.87 of them in the entire bag), the peanuts that are left at the bottom of the bag, the chex pieces that have no flavoring on them….yeah, none of that in this mix. This mix is just straight up deliciousness and you’ll want to eat it all immediately. But don’t because you’ll want to save room for some of the amazing Ritz Peanut Butter Crackers Luci is serving up on her blog and then, for a sweet treat, finish up with one (or 3) of Grace’s Oatmeal Cream Pies.

Now, we’d love to know- what was your favorite childhood snack?

Chex Mix Recipe via @runwaychef

Chex Mix Recipe via @runwaychef Chex Mix Recipe via @runwaychef Chex Mix Recipe via @runwaychef Chex Mix Recipe via @runwaychef

Chex Mix
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Cook Time
1 hr
Cook Time
1 hr
Bagel Chips
  1. 2 bagels (I used everything bagels)
  2. Olive oil spray
  3. Salt
Pasta Crackers
  1. 2 cups pasta (I used mezzi rigatoni)
  2. Olive oil spray
  3. Salt
  4. Garlic powder
Chex
  1. 8 cups of chex cereal (I used corn)
  2. 6 tablespoons of butter
  3. 3 tablespoons of worchestire sauce
  4. 1 teaspoon of salt
  5. 1 teaspoon of chili powder
  6. 1/2 a teaspoon of garlic powder
  7. 3 cups cheese crackers
  8. 3 cups of corn puffs or popcorn (I used Trader Joe's Sour Cream & Onion Corn Puffs)
Instructions
  1. To make the bagel chips- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice the bagels into thin slices, then spread them on a baking sheet. Spray with olive oil spray (or brush with olive oil) then sprinkle generously with salt. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown. Set aside.
  2. To make the pasta crackers- Bring a medium-size pot of water to a boil. Add in the pasta and cook for only 5 minutes (it is very important that you don't cook them longer). Drain immediately and rinse under cold water. Spread on a baking sheet and spray with olive oil spray. Sprinkle generously with salt and garlic powder and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the pasta gets brown and crispy and starts to bubble.
  3. To make the cereal- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Melt butter in the microwave or in a small pan. Add in the worcestershire sauce and stir to combine. Spread the cereal on a baking sheet and pour on all but 2 tablespoons of the butter mixture. Sprinkle on the seasonings then toss the cereal around so it gets evenly coated. Begin baking the cereal, taking it out every 15 minutes to stir it around. Toss the bagel chips and pasta crackers in the remaining butter mixture, then add those to the cereal mixture for the final 15 minutes of baking. The total baking time should be about 1 hour, or until the cereal is golden brown.
  4. To assemble the mix- in a large bowl or bag toss together the cereal, the pasta crackers, the bagel chips, the cheese crackers and the popcorn. Store in an airtight container for up to a month.
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/

Spiced Tofu Nuggets w/ Orange Chili Aioli

Spiced Tofu Nuggets with Orange Chili Aioli via @runwaychef #healthy #appetizers The only consolation that summer is pretty much gone is that football season is here. And by football season I mean tailgating season. And by tailgating season I mean stuffing-my-face-with-ridiculous-amounts-of-insanely-delicious-and-absurdly-bad-for-you-food season. While I love to catch parts of Chiefs games (Go Chiefs!), and I worked as the football team manager for my college, I just don’t have the attention span to watch an entire football game (hence why I failed miserable at my team manager job). But eating, now that is a sport I have the attention span for. Let me assure you that if eating was truly a game, I would score a bazillion touchdowns every single time. I’m not even sure how you score a touchdown in eating, but I just know I would. So while everyone else is focused on the football game, I’m focused on the tailgate game, plotting my next play to score a touchdown at the food table. My biggest concern? Protecting my waistline. Now don’t get me wrong I love a good plate of nachos, french fries dipped in ranch, and I would probably kill for some good boneless buffalo wings, but a diet like that won’t get me very far in the game so I like to mix in a few healthy treats or modified takes on unhealthier favorites every time there’s a tailgate spread. These spiced tofu nuggets are just one example. I know, I know, you’re probably thinking “Tofu?! Gross!” but believe it or not these actually taste almost exactly like chicken nuggets. They can be served alone with the orange chili dipping sauce or dressed up with a little orange coleslaw and a tortilla chip (almost like a mini taco) for a completely delicious guilt-free treat (or as guilt-free as something that is fried and covered with a mayonnaise sauce can be).

fried tofu nugget spiced fried tofu nuggets fried tofu nuggets Spiced Tofu Nuggets with Orange Chili Aioli via @runwaychef #healthy #appetizers

Spiced Tofu Nuggets with Orange Chili Aioli
Serves 2
A spicy tofu take on the chicken nugget served either alone with a orange chili dipping sauce or mini taco style
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
For the tofu
  1. 1/4 cup of cornmeal
  2. 1/4 cup of flour
  3. 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  4. 1 teaspoon paprika
  5. 1 1/2 teaspoons of chili powder
  6. 2 teaspoons salt
  7. 1 teaspoon of a smokey seasoning mix (optional)
  8. 8 ounces of tofu
  9. Oil
For the aioli sauce
  1. 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise (can also use a Vegan mayonnaise)
  2. 2 tablespoons of sweet chili sauce
  3. 1 teaspoon of sriracha
  4. 3 tablespoons of orange juice
For serving (optional)
  1. Corn chips (I used sweet potato ones from Trader Joe's)
  2. Coleslaw (shredded cabbage mixed with a few tablespoons of OJ, mayo & apple cider vinegar & sprinkled with salt and pepper)
  3. Jalapeños
  4. Avocado or guacamole
Instructions
  1. Begin by making your breading mixture. Combine all the dry ingredients in a small bowl. Stir until well mixed. Set aside.
  2. Add about 1/4" of oil to a medium-sized skillet and begin heating it over medium heat. Then cut the tofu into thick cubes. Begin rolling them in the flour mixture until they are well coated. Once the oil is nice and hot and sizzling, begin dropping the tofu cubes in. Cook until crispy and golden brown, turning it every few minutes until you have cooked it on each side (this should take about 10-12 minutes total). Remove the cubes from the oil and drain on a paper towel. Repeat this process until all the cubes have been cooked.
  3. To make the aioli, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and stir until well combined and smooth. Feel free to adjust the amounts of ingredients based on flavor preference.
  4. To serve the tofu nuggets, either leave them as is or assemble them into mini tacos by layering a chip with some coleslaw adding a nugget and then topping it with the aioli.
  5. Serve immediately. If there are any nuggets leftover, store in an airtight container then reheat in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes (although be warned that they will not be as crispy). Also do not store any of the mini tacos assembled as they will get soggy.
Notes
  1. This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled for a larger group of people.
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/
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