Category Archives: Appetizers

7-Layer Dip

This was meant to be posted on Friday night.  But, I decided to bake cookies instead and didn’t get around to posting it.  Then, after spending all weekend in Vancouver at the Olympics, I needed a night of rest.  Hence, this post is a few days late.  But maybe you can have this dip for your Friday night meal, like I had it for mine last weekend!

After last week, I know why I plan my meals each week! 

1.  I like knowing what I’m having each night for dinner.
2.  Going to the grocery store after work each night isn’t fun.
3.  Spending time after school looking for recipes isn’t exactly the best use of my time
4. I like knowing what’s for dinner each night (wait, did I say that already?)

I am a routine oriented person.  I love my routines, which is probably why I love teaching grade 3 and 4.  I get to make the routines and keep them! 

So, when I wasn’t teaching today, I was trying to figure out what to make for dinner.  After school I decided to look on one of my favourite recipe blogs, www.simplyrecipes.com, which is a fantastic blog, by the way!  I clicked on “Quick Meals” and the first thing to come up was 7-Layer Dip.  Probably because the list was alphabetical, and numbers came before the actual alphabet.

I’m not sure if I’ve said this already in another post, but I love appetizers, and especially dip.  So, when a dip came up under quick meals, I thought…. why not make dip for dinner?  It’s really ingenious, if you think about it!!  It’s actually not THAT unhealthy.  It’s got beans (protein), sour cream and cheese (dairy), avocado, tomato and jalapenos (veggies) plus chips (grains).  So, basically, I have a meal that encompasses every food group (at least all the ones that matter; tomatoes are actually a fruit, you know!).

So, I did it.  Dip and only dip for dinner.  I feel like I’m breaking a cardinal rule and my mom would disapprove.  But, I called her while I was making dinner, and she helped me justify it.  Thanks, Mom!  I made some adjustments to the dip, and it was so good! 

The recipe calls for bacon or bacon fat.  This is the first time in my life I have actually seen a recipe that calls for bacon fat.  My grandma used to keep a coffee can of bacon fat on the stove, and I always wondered why.  I’m still not sure I would keep bacon fat, but at least now I have a recipe that calls for it.  If you omit this, the recipe is vegetarian!

7-Layer Bean Dip
Recipe adapted from http://simplyrecipes.com/
Makes 8 servings (or more like 2-3 for dinner.  I was hungry!)

1 strip of bacon, minced (or 1 tsp bacon fat), optional
1-14 oz can refried beans (I used a can of refried black beans– low-fat…)
1 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/4 – 1/2 tsp cumin
Salt
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (you could also use Monterey Jack)
1 Tbsp of chopped pickled jalapenos (more to taste)
1 avocado, peeled and chopped
1 tomato, cut in half horizontally, seeds and juice squeezed out and discarded, flesh chopped
1/3 cup of sour cream
1 small can of sliced olives

Cook the bacon in a medium pan until crisp.  Add in the refried beans.  Stir in enough water to get a good dipping consistency.  I added about 2 Tbsp, the original recipe called for about 1/4 cup.  Mix in the chipotle chili powder and cumin to taste.  I also misread the recipe and mixed in my chopped jalapenos here.  And I added more to the top.  It was spicy and oh-so-delicious!  Make it a bit spicier than you think you will like it, because the avocados and sour cream will cool it down.  Stir in some salt to taste. 

When the beans are hot and bubbly, spread them on a warm serving dish (I used a dinner plate).  Immediately add the Cheddar cheese so it melts a bit.  Layer on the chopped jalapenos, avocado and tomato.  Spoon the sour cream on over top and sprinkle over the olives. 

Serve immediately with tortilla chips.  I highly recommend having a few people over when you have this, unless you want to eat it all.  You won’t be able to stop.  My husband and I ate almost the whole thing for dinner.  And yes, it was totally worth having dip for dinner. 

Enjoy this!!!
XOXO,
The Hungry Teacher

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Filed under Appetizers, Dinner, Vegetarian

Smoked Salmon Dip

Wow!  What a busy week!  We had Science Fair in the evening at school, which meant a late, exhausting day.  But, it’s all done now, and this teacher couldn’t be happier!  Doing Science Fair with grade 3 and 4 students is hard work! 

By the way, on Tuesday night, I broke my favourite kitchen tool — my garlic press.  What a sad day.  I now have to peel and mince my garlic 😦  until I buy a new press.  Then, when I was making my smoked salmon dip, my pepper mill (which was just a plastic one from Costco) broke and delivered a bunch of whole and half cracked peppercorns into the dip.  I managed to scoop them out, but it’s been a sad week in my kitchen.

Last night, we had our staff social with work.  We did a progressive dinner, doing appetizers at two places (including mine) and dessert at one house.  It was a lot of fun!

I had to make appetizers that could be served with minimal preparation.  I had plans the night before, which meant I had about an hour to clean my apartment from head to toe and prepare appetizers!   Plus, I had to work all day, so I didn’t have time to clean the house before people came over. 

So, I decided to make bruschetta and smoked salmon dip.  I first had smoked salmon dip at my father-in-law’s place.  It is so good!  (Actually, I wasn’t sure how much I liked it then, but when I made it for some friends, and they quickly devoured it I realized what a good dip I had!!!)

The dip is quick and easy, and perfect to make ahead.  As with most dips, it tastes better after it sits overnight.  I served it with crackers (Whole grain crackers and mini-baguette crackers), but I think bread or vegetables would also be good.  We have canned smoked salmon from when the Husband went fishing. I’m not sure how you buy smoked salmon in the store– living by the Fraser River and with the Husband’s yearly fishing trips, I’ve never bought salmon!  Canned salmon would also work in this dish.

Smoked Salmon Dip
recipe adapted from Brian Wierks

1 tub (250 g) herb-and-garlic spreadable cream cheese
1 can smoked salmon
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients together well.  Using an electric hand mixer is easy, but doing it with a spoon is satisfying.  Let chill for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

Serve with crackers, bread and/or vegetables!

Enjoy!
The Hungry Teacher

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Chicken Strips and Spicy Fries

This is one of my favourite meals of all time.  We have made this meal so many times we have the preparation down to a science.  My husband loves to cut the potatoes (which I didn’t know until  yesterday.  I got out the knife and cutting board, and then he begged me to allow him to cut the potatoes…)

This is a quick, easy meal that is perfect for movie night.  I feel that it’s really rather healthy.  I mean, chicken breasts and potatoes?   There is only a bit of olive oil on the potatoes, and olive oil is definitely one of the healthier oils out there. 

We serve eating this meal with lots of Heinz Chili Sauce.  It tastes rather like spicy ketchup, and it’s something I recommend trying.  We also have plum sauce or honey mustard for dipping the chicken strips in.  Yum!

One thing I have considered doing is chopping up a box of chicken breasts, breading them all and freezing them, for those nights when I just don’t really feel like cooking.  Although, I have very few nights where I really don’t want to cook.  I think the chicken strips would freeze well though.  If you want to try it, place the strips on a baking sheet so they’re not touching each other and freeze until solid.  At this point, you can move them to a resealable freezer bag, and they won’t stick together because they’re already frozen!

A few notes I would like to mention.  I use my Pampered Chef Stoneware to cook these on.  The chicken strips would be fine on a regular cookie sheet, but the fries are much better on my stone bar pan (cooking sheet with raised edges).  The fries cook evenly (you don’t need to flip them or turn them), and clean up is a breeze!  If you cook the fries on a regular cookie sheet, they may stick.  I would recommend covering the cookie sheet with foil, to help with clean up, but even so, the fries may stick.  Buy some Pampered Chef Stoneware, you won’t be disappointed! 

One other thing I would like to mention, I cook both of these dishes in the oven at 450°F.  Put the fries in first, let them cook the five minutes with the foil on, remove the foil, put in the chicken strips (on the top rack) and continue to cook for 20-25 more minutes.  The timing usually works out quite well, but occasionally one or the other needs to be kept in the oven a bit longer.

Chicken Strips
Recipe adapted from Quick Fix Meals by Robin Miller

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips (If you ever see chicken tenders on sale, buy them!  They’re already the perfect size and don’t need to be cut!)
2/3 cup dry unseasoned bread crumbs
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray.  In a shallow dish, combine breadcrumbs and spices.  Add the chicken strips one at a time, and turn to coat evenly.  Bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Spicy Cheese Fries
Recipe adapted from Grazing

2 medium russet potatoes, unpeeled but scrubbed
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 475°F.

Cut potatoes into evenly sliced wedges or 1/4″ to 1/2″ fries.  Place them in a bowl and fill with hot tap water.  Soak the fries for 10 minutes.  Get a heavy, rimmed baking sheet and coat with oil.
Drain the potatoes and thoroughly dry with a clean kitchen towel.  Put the fries on the baking sheet and toss with the oil.  In a small bowl, combine Parmesan cheese, chili powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Toss this mixture with the oiled fries.

Don’t crowd the fries, or else they will not get crispy!  Cover the pan with foil and bake for 5 minutes.  Remove foil and continue baking for 25 more minutes.  Turn these once or twice while cooking.  Serve immediately!

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Filed under Appetizers, Chicken, Dinner, Potatoes

Lemon Parsley Hummus and Pita Chips

Thursday night I was having some people over, and once again, I wanted to make a snack.  Well, you should know now, a week into our relationship, that I am partial to dips.  Especially to cheesy dips, with spinach and artichoke preferably.  Yum!!  But… it is the New Year, and people have had their share of cheesy indulgences over the past month or so.  PLUS, one of my friends coming over can’t have dairy, and I always feel so bad when I make something she can’t eat. 

So, I was looking around for some different recipes.  I came across one on www.dinnerwithjulie.com.  A word, first on the author of this blog, Julie VanRosendaal.  Julie is a cookbook author, turned blogger, still writing cookbooks as well.  When I was in university, I worked at the Starbucks in Safeway for 8 months or so.  Well, from our kiosk (which was rarely busy) I could see the small turn around stand of cookbooks that Safeway sold.  On the top shelf, they got in this one cookbook called Grazing.  I would go over and peek at it occasionally, and pine for it.  (A university student working part-time at Starbucks in Safeway cannot afford cookbooks whenever they want them!)  I am a snacker at heart!  Put a bowl of something salty in front of me, and I will eat, and eat, and probably eat some more.  My mom calls me a grazer.  So, obviously a book like Grazing is something that called out to me.  For Christmas that year, my grandma gave me $20!  PERFECT!  So, I bought the cookbook, and thus began my relationship with it. 

This book is falling apart, written in, and recently placed in a puddle on my counter, and water damaged.  BUT, I love it.  It has soooooo many good recipes in it, I can’t even begin to describe it.  I have read it so many times it is practically memorized.  You must check it out!  I looked on Amazon and there is an updated version.  I emailed Julie to ask her about it, I can keep you posted. 

Julie has also written 2 other cookbooks that I have,  One Smart Cookie and Starting OutStarting Out is a wonderful cookbook that I give to all new brides, or people who are learning how to cook.  Seriously, great.  Ok, I could go on for a long time about my admiration of Julie, but I’ll stop now.

So, on www.dinnerwithjulie.com I came across a recipe for Lemon Parsley Hummus.  I made it and it was amazing!

I also made homemade pita chips.  There is a local chef in the Fraser Valley, Chef Dez, who gave the recipe for the pita chips at one of his cooking classes at Limbert Mountain Farms in Agassiz.  Go,  if you can.  You get dinner, wine, dessert and a cooking demonstration.  Seriously fun!

Lemon Parsley Hummus
recipe from Dinner with Julie

1 small bunch parsley, chopped (no stems!)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 19 oz can chickpeas, drained
juice of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic
2-3 tsp sesame oil
pinch salt

Put parsley and olive oil in food processor.  Pulse until parsley is finely chopped.  Add remaining ingredients, and process until as smooth as you like it.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  I added quite a bit more salt after tasting it.  You can serve it right away, but it tastes way better a day or two later!  The garlic also gets a bit more pronounced over time, so be careful adding too much at once.  And yes, use fresh garlic.  I don’t think garlic powder will cut it here.  Serve with pita chips (recipe below).

Pita Chips
(recipe from Chef Dez)

Buy a package of pitas from the grocery store.  Make sure that they are the pita pocket kind, not the thick Greek kind.  Now, there are two ways to make them into chips, both work, and I don’t have a preference.  The first way– take out a pita, and cut it into eighths.  Separate each eighth into two chips by ripping at the seam.  The second way– take your knife and cut around the outside of the pita, so you will separate it into two halves horizontally.  Then, cut those rounds into eighths.  Put the chips on a baking sheet, smooth side up.  Brush the chips with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt.  Bake in a 450° oven for 5-7 minutes, or until golden brown.  Watch these carefully, they burn FAST (I learned that the hard way!).  Serve and enjoy!

Off to make dinner!
The Hungry Teacher

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