Greek Appetizers + Bites

Greek Appetizer Plate Mr. RC and I always seem to be short on time, but we love cooking together so much that we don’t always want to eat out. Our solution has been creating themed appetizer plates, with mostly ready-made options for ease, but enough homemade parts to still get a little cooking time together. We’ve been doing these for quite some time now and have developed an array of themed app-dinners (as I like to call them) so I thought it would be fun to share them with you over the next several months. First up, our favorite Greek/Mediterranean themed app-dinner. We probably eat this at least once every couple weeks during the summer. The lighter fare and refreshing elements make it especially perfect for warm summer nights. Here’s what we like to include in our Greek appetizer spread:

  • Hummus (homemade)
  • Greek Yogurt Dip (homemade, recipe below)
  • Tahini Dip (store bought)
  • Stuffed Grape Leaves (we want to try making these but for now they are store bought…the canned ones sold at Trader Joe’s are really good)
  • Pita Pieces or Pita Chips (store bought; homemade recipe here)
  • Falafel (homemade; Trader Joe’s sells a good one too)
  • Olives (Trader Joe’s Greek Olive Mix or Fairway’s olive bar)
  • Feta and/or haloumi cheese
  • Cherry Tomatoes and Cucumber 
  • Roasted Red Pepper & Eggplant Dip (Trader Joe’s) or Roasted Veggie Dip (recipe here)

To make this into a bigger, slightly more complicated meal we’ll serve these appetizers alongside a Greek Salad or Spanakopita.

Hummus Greek Olives falafel Greek dips Mediterranean Appetizers Feta Greek yogurt Dip Greek Yogurt Dip Mediterranean appetizer plate

Feta Greek Yogurt Dip
Write a review
Print
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups Greek yogurt
  2. 1/3 cup Feta cheese, crumbled
  3. The juice of 1 lemon
  4. 2-3 tablespoons of Za'atar (depending on flavor preferences)
  5. 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  6. A large dash of garlic powder
  7. A dash of cumin
Instructions
  1. In a medium-sized bowl, combine all ingredients. Stir until well-combined and serve. Store leftovers, tightly covered, in the fridge for up to a week.
Notes
  1. This does taste better after it has sat in the fridge for several hours, so if you can I highly recommend making this ahead.
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/

 

Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry Muffins Blueberries are a funny thing to hold close to your heart, but none the less, the little blue fruit is close to mine.

Growing up, one of my favorite places to hang out was my Grandfather’s garden. More specifically, the blueberry patch. Chances are, if you wanted to find me, I was hanging out by the bushes, consuming my body weight in berries under the guise of “keeping the birds away”.

If I wasn’t in the garden, the next best place to look was in the kitchen where my Grandmother and Great Aunt Lucy were always whipping up delicious treats. Aunt Lucy made the best pies I have ever had (coconut cream and blueberry being her specialties). It was from Aunt Lucy that I learned about the magic that could be found in a magic cookie bar, how to properly make pizelles, and the recipe for the best kitchen sink cookies (they included peanut butter, oats, and chocolate chips). Of course, it’s understandable why the first thing I did every time I went to visit her was to go straight to her cookie tin. Despite all those delicious treats, the one thing that reminds me of Aunt Lucy more than anything, is blueberry muffins. She made the best that could be made, many times using the blueberries that my Grandfather had grown.

When I visit my Grandmother’s house now, you will still most likely find me consuming more than my fair share of blueberries. And you’ll more than likely find me attempting to replicate Aunt Lucy’s blueberry muffins. My Grandfather and Great Aunt may no longer be with us, but the blueberry bushes live on, reminding me of them in ways that I will cherish forever.

blueberry muffins baking supplies blueberry muffin batter blueberry muffins with crumb topping Homemade blueberry muffins homemade blueberry muffins

Blueberry Muffins with Brown Butter Crumb Topping
Yields 12
A moist blueberry muffin with a brown butter crumb topping; minus the topping, these muffins have almost no sugar or fat in them
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
45 min
Muffins
  1. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  3. 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  4. 3/4 teaspoons baking soda
  5. 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  6. 1 egg
  7. 1 cup of buttermilk (or 1 cup of milk + 1 tbsp. of apple cider vinegar)
  8. 1 1/2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  9. 1 cup fresh blueberries
Topping
  1. 3 tablespoons of butter
  2. 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  3. 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  4. A large pinch of cinnamon
  5. A dash of nutmeg
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a muffin tin with liners and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, which together the egg, buttermilk and coconut oil. Slowly stir the liquids into the flour mixture, stirring just until everything is combined. Gently fold in the blueberries, making sure not to over mix.
  4. Divide the batter equally between the muffin tins (each cup should be about two-thirds full). Set aside.
  5. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Continue cooking the butter, without stirring, until it begins to brown (this should take about 5 minutes). Once the butter has browned, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the flour, sugar, and spices. FYI, this topping will be a bit more on the crumbly side due to using melted butter instead of chilled butter.
  6. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of crumb topping on top of each muffin, gently pressing the topping in with your fingers or a spoon. Bake the muffins for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Turn the muffins out onto a wire rack and cool, or serve warm with a little butter.
Notes
  1. Store muffins in a ziplock bag or airtight container for up to 6 days.
  2. My favorite way to eat these is sliced in half, toasted and spread with some butter.
  3. In place of a crumb topping, you can simply sprinkle the tops of the muffins with cinnamon and sugar prior to baking, as my Aunt Lucy always used to do.
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/
 

Dress & Dine- Valentine’s Day Tea Party

Dress & Dine- Valentine's Day Tea Party || Runway Chef When I was younger, tea parties were a part of daily life. My Mom always had an afternoon cup of Earl Grey, so of course my sister and I, along with our 50+ stuffed animals, had to have our afternoon tea, too. I eventually even had my own china tea set (in pink and mint green polka dots, no less). Our tea parties weren’t always fancy and we didn’t always dress up, but for special occasions, we would go all out. Our Valentine’s Day tea parties, in particular, really stand out in my mind, or I should say, the heart sandwich cookies (including the miniature versions we made for the stuffed animals) stick out in my mind. 

When I was choosing a theme for this month’s Dress & Dine, my mind instantly went back to those Valentine’s Day tea parties I had as a child, and I knew I had to recreate an adult-appropriate version for February’s post.

valentine's day look Dress & Dine- Valentine's Day Tea Party

Dress// Half the fun of a fancy tea party, is dressing up in fancy clothes. Things like florals, lace, bows and tulle instantly come to mind, and of course lots of pink for Valentine’s Day. As you can see I went in a flower-y direction, donning a floral skirt, a floral lace top (that I wore at our wedding), and a floral necklace. So as not to look like a full-blown flower shop, I switched things up a bit with a pair of striped heels. Pink nails and lips, and a high bun completed my Valentine’s Day tea party look.

what to wear for Valentine's Day Valentine's Day outfit
Dine// Most of the items on the Valentine’s Day tea party menu are reminiscent of traditional tea party food, but each has been given an updated twist. Petit fours are made from funfetti cake cut into mini heart shapes and drizzled with white chocolate. The tea sandwiches are filled with a roasted garlic whipped feta or balsamic roasted strawberry cream cheese. I also whipped up some mini feta beet tarts (the colors are perfect for Valentine’s Day) and the mini rosewater whoopie pies from yesterday make an appearance. (Find all the recipes below.)

Valentine's Day tea Party for Adults Valentine's Day Party Mini Beat and Feta Tarts
funfetti cake Funfetti Petit Fours Rosewater whoopie pies roasted garlic tea sandwiches tea sandwiches
Drink//For beverages, the obvious drink of choice is tea, since this is a tea party after all. However, since this is a party geared towards adults, you better believe that tea is going to be spiked! I created a tasty tea cocktail (should I call it a ‘teatail’?!) from one of my favorite teas (Earl Grey), some of the leftover roasted strawberries from the cream cheese, and of course, a splash of bubbly to finish it off (because everything is better with champagne!). (You can find the recipe below.)

I also included a bowl of loose Earl Grey tea for guests to scoop into favor bags and take home.

Strawberry Early Grey Tea Cocktail Valentine's Day Tea Party How-To Tea Party Favors
Decorate// Decorations are the icing on the cake of any party. Whether you have a few balloons and a nice bouquet of flowers (fresh or dried), some confetti tossed on the table and a few tea lights lit, or you go all out with name cards, banners, fun straws and fancy silverware, decorations are what pull everything together. If you are short on time, there are plenty of adorable, pre-made options out there, like these available on Minted (hint: the banners and signs are all customizable allowing you to put a personal touch on your party decor). For my decorations, I worked with Minted to shower my party with some ombre love, making sure everything from my customizable party sign to the adorable stickers and my favorite paper straws all screamed Valentine’s Day fun. One tip when you are decorating- make sure each food has a little sign letting guests know what it is (this is especially helpful for those who might have food allergies).

Valentine's Day Tea Party Hugs & Kisses banner Valentine's Day Party Sign

 *All paper products and decorations were generously provided by Minted. All opinions are my own.

Funfetti Petit Fours
Everyone's favorite cake in a Valentine's Day appropriate shape and tea party appropriate petit four
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Ingredients
  1. Funfetti cake, about 1/2" thick (I used funfetti cupcakes sliced into thirds)
  2. 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  3. 2 tablespoons of heavy cream
  4. 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla
  5. Sprinkles, optional
Instructions
  1. Use a mini heart cookie cutter to cut the cake into hearts. Lay the hearts out in a single layer on a cooling wrack that has been placed on top of a sheet of wax paper.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the chocolate, cream, and vanilla. Stir constantly until the chocolate has melted.
  3. Drizzle the chocolate mixture over the hearts, decorate with sprinkles (if you choose), then let the chocolate harden for at least one hour.
  4. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/
Tea Sandwiches
Two new flavor combos (balsamic roasted strawberry and roasted garlic whipped feta) give traditional tea sandwiches a modern update
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups of strawberries (I used frozen)
  2. 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  3. 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar
  4. A pinch of salt
  5. 1/3 cup of cream cheese
  6. 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar
  7. 1 head of garlic
  8. 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil
  9. 1/2 cup of feta
  10. 1/4 cup of cream cheese
  11. A pinch of salt
  12. Bread, crusts cut off
Instructions
  1. To make the balsamic roasted strawberry cream cheese: Spread the strawberries on a foil lined baking sheet. Sprinkle them with the balsamic vinegar, granulated sugar, and the pinch of salt. Roast at 350 degrees for approximately 30-40 minutes, or until the berries begin to brown and the juices are running. Remove the pan from the oven and set aside to cool.
  2. Once the strawberries have cooled, place about half of them, along with half the syrup that has formed, into a cuisinart, along with the cream cheese and powder sugar. Pulse until well combined, about 30 seconds. Place the cream cheese in a covered bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour to harden it up before using.
  3. To make the roasted garlic whipped feta: Thinly slice off the top of the head of garlic and remove any loose skin. Rub the top with the olive oil, then wrap it in a piece of foil. Place the foil packet on a baking sheet, and roast at 350 for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  4. After the garlic has cooled, peel the skin away and place the cloves in a cuisinart. Add in the cream cheese, feta and pinch of salt, and pulse to combine.
  5. Assemble your tea sandwiches, by first cutting your bread into squares (I cut each slice into 8 squares), then spread one half with the cream cheese of your choice before placing another piece of bread on top.
Notes
  1. The cream cheeses can be made several days in advance and stored in the refrigerator, however the sandwiches should be made as close to your party as possible.
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/
Mini Feta Beet Tarts
Mini light bites of beets, creamy feta and crunchy phyllo
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. Phylllo dough
  2. 1/3 cup of feta cheese
  3. 1 cup of beets, chopped (I used canned)
  4. Cooking spray
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a mini muffin pan with cooking spray, then line each tin with 3-4 pieces of phyllo dough (I found it was best to either cut the phyllo into small squares with food scissors, or just use my hands to gently rip off small pieces).
  2. Top the phyllo with a few beet pieces and a sprinkle of feta.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the phyllo is golden brown. Serve immediately.
Notes
  1. These taste really good topped with a little of the roasted garlic whipped feta (if you have any left).
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/
Strawberry Earl Grey Bubbly
A 'teatail' aka cocktail made from tea, balsamic roasted strawberry syrup, and topped with champagne
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 oz Earl Grey tea (steeped and cooled)
  2. 1 Tbsp Roasted balsamic strawberry syrup (puree the remaining strawberries and juice from the above cream cheese in a cuisinart)
  3. 1 oz Elderflower liquor
  4. 1 oz Gin
  5. 1 oz Champagne
Instructions
  1. Chill Gin and Elderflower liquor in shaker over ice. Then add in tea and balsamic strawberry syrup and shake. Strain into tea cup and top with Champagne floater.
Notes
  1. This can be made sans alcohol. Just use the tea, strawberry syrup, and sparkling grape juice in place of the champagne.
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/

Roasted Vegetable Dip

roasted eggplant dip This is just so typical of me. One week I’m shoving cupcakes down your throat and the next I’m giving you a bowl of roasted vegetable dip. Shocker! Speaking of unhealthy foods, I tried a cragel this weekend. You know that crazy thing that is half croissant, half bagel. It basically rocked my world. Oh, and we also tried a french toast bagel…with cannoli cream cheese. Yes, cannoli cream cheese. Like the amazing filling inside those delicious cookies. Mixed into cream cheese. Slathered on my bagel. OOOO.EMMM.GEEEE! Forget rocking my world, that combo took my taste buds beyond the stratosphere! Once I snapped back to reality, I realized my body was screaming “Houston, we have a problem,” and I desperately needed some vegetables in my life. The veggies in the veggie cream cheese just simply wouldn’t cut it, so I whipped up a batch of roasted vegetable dip. Because it’s easy, it’s delicious, it’s low-fat, it’s gluten-free, it tastes good plain, on sandwiches, with pita or veggies and it has almost no calories in it. Basically, it wipes out my trip to the bagel shop and ensures that my heart will continue beating after all that cannoli and bagel goodness.

P.S. I made a similar version of this for a Super Bowl party a couple of years ago and it was a big hit! Be sure to add this to your Super Bowl menu, it will cancel out all the wings and chips you eat and your guests will love you for providing the one dish that people won’t feel guilty eating. 

vegetables

roast vegetables eggplant dip Roasted Vegetable Spread Roasted Vegetable Dip

Roasted Vegetable Dip
A yummy and nutritious low-calorie, low-fat, gluten free dip that's perfect for snacks, appetizers, parties or even as a sandwich spread
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 medium size onion, chopped into thick slices
  2. 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
  3. 1/2 a large eggplant (or one small eggplant), chopped into thick slices
  4. 1 parsnip, peeled and chopped into thick slices
  5. 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  6. 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  7. A large handful of parsley
  8. Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet with aluminum foil, then spread the veggies on top. Drizzle with the olive oil and vinegar, then sprinkle on a generous amount of salt and pepper (I probably used about a 1/2 teaspoon of each for my veggies). Give the veggies a slight toss to coat, then roast them in the oven for 35 minutes or until brown. Let them cool for about 10-15 minutes, then transfer them to a food processor. Add in the parsley and pulse to combine. Transfer to a serving bowl or store it in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Serve with crackers, pita bread, or veggies.
Notes
  1. I have also made this with zucchini in place of the parsnips along with a head of fennel and a handful of basil and the results were just as tasty. Don't be afraid to play around and substitute different vegetables.
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/
Recipe Necessities

3 Easy Thanksgiving Appetizers

whipped ricotta appetizer

The holidays can be stressful enough without having to worry about fancy, complicated recipes. These easy Thanksgiving appetizers are simple to make (only a few ingredients needed for each), they’re pretty to look at, and they are even more delicious to eat.

whipped ricotta with truffle oil & fig butter appetizer Whipped Ricotta with Truffle Oil & Fig Butter

In a small bowl place 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese (I used part-skim) and 2 teaspoons of truffle oil (feel free to add more or less depending on personal preference). Whip together with a wooden spoon until well mixed and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Spoon into a serving dish, then sprinkle with fresh ground pepper. Top with 2 tablespoons of fig butter (could also use apple butter, pumpkin butter or another flavor of fruit preserves), then serve with crackers or sliced french bread. This can be prepared up to 24 hours in advance, then covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated until you are ready to serve it.

whipped ricotta with truffle oil & fig butter easy thanksgiving appetizers Prosciutto wrapped apricots Proscuitto Wrapped Apricots

Line a baking sheet with foil and preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Wrap a dried apricot with a small piece of proscuitto (one piece of proscuitto should be enough to cover approximately 5 apricots) and place on the baking sheet. Continue for as many apricots as you desire. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the proscuitto starts to get crispy on the edges. Serve warm, and, if desired, sprinkle with olive oil and a little fresh ground salt and pepper.

apricots wrapped with prosciutto Brie & Apple Butter Puff Pastry Brie & Apple Butter Puff Pastry

Line a baking sheet with foil and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place about a 1/3 pound of brie cheese in the center of one sheet of puff pastry (that has been unthawed). Top the cheese with 1/3 cup of apple butter, then seal the puff pastry around the cheese. Place on the baking sheet and bake for approximately 20-25 minutes, or until the dough has puffed up and is golden brown. Serve warm with crackers, french bread, or by itself.

puff pastry stuffed with brie and apple butter