A couple weeks ago, we had a delicious dinner at Lemongrass: Taste of Vietnam in Old Town. We ordered a couple appetizers, one of which was “Crabocado” – a perfect avocado stuffed with lump crab and drizzled with a Sriracha cream sauce. All four of us — two of us spice wimps, two not — devoured it! Later, my husband’s side dish of green beans came drizzled with what looked to be the same sauce. This man is not a fan of green beans: he sort of likes them when I add carmelized onions and plenty of bacon. But drizzled with that sauce? He ate ’em all up!
So I’ve been trying to recreate that sauce. I doubt my ingredients are the same, but I think I got close in flavor.
If you’ve never tried pickled onions, you may think they sound… weird. Yucky even. But they have a light, sweet-zingy flavor that adds a little spark to anything you top it with. Plus, they are SUPER easy to make!
Already-cooked, chopped bacon is another thing that — IMHO — should always be on hand in the fridge. Especially since the best, easiest way to cook bacon means cooking a whole big batch up at a time is no more trouble than cooking a few pieces.
So, if you have those two things on hand, and you have a cucumber, you can whip this bad boy up in no time flat! Perfect for a snack, appetizer — or maybe just lunch! You could package the three ingredients separately, and pack them with an ice pack for a work lunch, school lunch, or picnic.
Oh you wanna go a little fancier? Sure, add some finely diced tomato, or some snipped chives or dill. Pump up the protein with a little smoked turkey or chopped hard boiled egg.
But for instant gratification, those three ingredients will do just fine!
This is a super-easy appetizer, perfect for any casual get-together. And you don’t have to be doing Paleo or Whole30 to love it!
We have some great friends we’ve known for ages, and we have a collective birthday dinner every April. We’ve done this every year, starting before we all had kids — more than 24 years ago!
Usually we go out, but sometimes we pull together a collective gourmet meal, and with the hubs and I doing Whole30 this month, eating at home is always easier than eating out, so we invited everyone over.
We all chipped in on some pricey but oh-so-amazing steaks from Whole Foods, which my hubs grilled up to absolute perfection. I made a spinach salad with strawberry poppy seed dressing. Joni brought a dish of baked asparagus with tomatoes and sundried tomatoes — sprinkled with Parmesan for the rest of them, served without for us Whole30-ers. And I didn’t miss the cheese at all; it was delish! Cindy brought a tasty selection of fresh fruit for dessert; I made some banana ice cream to go with it. (The Kitchn has a recipe that just uses bananas, but I added some coconut milk and a splash of vanilla. Toasted pecans were a nice topper, too.)
For the appetizer, I threw together this incredibly simple dish. It sounds like a weird combo, I know — I got a skeptical look from at least one person when I described them — but the combination of the salty salami and the sweet mango just works!
Here’s how you do it.
First, cut the cheeks off a mango. I find the kind with yellow skin is usually smoother than the red/green skinned kind. They’re sometimes called “champagne mangos.” Whatever.
This video shows how to cut a mango; you just need to watch from 0:39 to 1:14 –
Then, leaving the skin on, cut very thin slices diagonally, not cutting through the skin, as shown in the video. He used a spoon to scoop them out; I use a knife.
You want your slices really thin; about 1/16″ of an inch. 1/8″ will be too thick, because it’ll be harder to get the salami to stay folded.
Then taking one salami slice at a time, add a couple slices of mango, put a small smear of guacamole or smashed avocado next to it — this is the glue the holds it together — then fold it over.
Repeat with the remaining slices. You should be able to get about a dozen pieces out of one mango, maybe more.
Alternatively, you can just lay out slices of salami and mango and let people assemble their own, skipping the guacamole, if you want. Easier yet!
To make sure this is Whole30 compliant, look for sugar-free salami if possible, with minimal processing and chemicals.
It makes a beautiful plate, and the contrast of flavors is quite happy! It would also be at home on a brunch or luncheon table. And it’s so super-simple, I sometimes have it for an afternoon snack. Try it; I think you’ll be hooked, too!
Just had to break my self-imposed blogging sabbatical to post about this amazing dish we had recently on vacation in the San Diego area. We just needed a 3 pm snack to tide us over to dinner, and stopped at Iris Food & Spirits in Del Mar. On the recommendation of a local, we ordered the braised pork tostadas. It may not be the most photogenic thing…
…but MORE than made up for it in deliciousness!
Those mini-tostadas are no chips out of a plastic bag: these babies were clearly just-fried, perfectly crisp with just-enough oil. The toppings are simple but perfect: tender, slightly smokey kalua pork, topped with sweet, sweet carmelized onion (with just a hint of wine, maybe), fresh cilantro, and — according to the menu — “buttermilk sauce.” Which I’m guessing had some adobo sauce.
Lovely contrast in textures and flavors: crisp/shattering of the tostada; candy-sweet onions playing a perfect counternote to the smoky, meatiness of the pork; just a hint of heat in the flavorfull sauce.
This was one of those meals where discussion came to a sudden halt after the first bite. “Wow,” was about all we could manage to mutter. And after the food was gone, we immediately began plotting how to replicate this delicious dish at home.
Sausage and Peppers from Proud Italian Cook. We made this for Christmas brunch last year and it was a big hit! Easy to make ahead, and cheap and easy way to feed a crowd.Grilled the sausages the day before. (Chill them before slicing. Makes slicing easier and retains more juiciness.)
Whether it was you or your neighbor who planted too much zucchini this year, here are a few recipes for using up that infamous garden bounty. (Summer squash is its yellow cousin; no significant difference in taste.)
Pizza bites. (Shown above.) They are cute; also the perfect size to pop in your mouth whole. Easy, gluten-free appetizer or snack.
For those who are looking for something sweet, and aren’t trying to avoid flour, here are a couple recipes for you.
Elise’s Grandma’s zucchini cake with cream cheese frosting! This sounds like carrot cake — one of the few cakes I will always be willing to blow my diet for! I haven’t tried this recipe, but it’s from SimplyRecipes, and every recipe I’ve ever tried there has been a winner. I’m sure this one is no different.
Zucchini bread. If you’ve never tried zucchini bread, you really must! It’s a sweet quick bread (read “muffin-like”), akin to banana bread, but without the banana overtones. You really don’t taste the zucchini at all; it just lends moisture to the party. The predominant flavors come from the cinnamon and sugar. And you know that can’t be bad!
I made this recipe from AllRecipes earlier this week to take to a ladies social, because it was rated five stars after more than 3,800 reviews! And it was a hit with everyone, but it’s a little sweet for me as is. If (like me) you’re living a mostly sugar-free life, you might want to cut back on the sugar by 1/4 to 3/4 cup. (Here’s a healthier version I haven’t tried.)
Once locally grown tomatoes are in season in Kansas, I always start craving BLT’s! (Bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwich, for any poor souls who are unacquainted with this little bite of summer.)
I made some homemade bread last week just for this. Added some smoked turkey to punch up the protein. But to keep my carbs and proteins (sort of) in balance, I limit myself to one piece of bread per meal. After devouring one delicious BLT — ripe, sweet juiciness of the tomato contrasting with the salty crunch of the bacon — I wanted more! Looking hungrily at the remaining tomatoes and bacon, I wondered if the bread were really necessary. So I took a bit of romaine, smeared it with a little mayo, and topped it with tomato and bacon. Added a slice of avocado to some of them. Oh yeah! It’s all the best flavors and textures of a BLT, without the carbs! Perfect for the gluten free, low carb, Paleo or Whole30 diet. They’d make a great snack or appetizer, too.
A couple notes to make them healthier: choose nitrate/nitrite-free bacon; look for a mayo that contains no corn syrup. Or make your own! (Here’s my recipe for homemade Paleo mayo. It’s ridiculously easy!)