Jamaican Beef Patty Flatbread

I don't even know how this thing happened.

My work schedule was a bit wonky last week, and at the last minute I ended up working from home the entire week.  On or about Tuesday, I realized that I didn't have enough real food to sustain me much longer.  I had to go to the grocery store.  But, for various reasons (most of which had to do with something called "laziness"), I never made it.

And so began the process of existing on coffee, Babybel miniature cheese, and turkey wraps from the restaurant across the street.  Yeah.  Low points.

So I did what I do best: I raided my freezer.  In it, I found 1/2 lb of ground beef, two flatbreads, and frozen peas.  Things were not looking up...until I found a recipe that would let me use all of this good stuff.

OK, I tweaked a few things, but are you surprised about that?  You shouldn't be.

Growing up in the Bahamas, I have been eating Jamaican beef patties as a snack since I was a child.  They will always take me back to the time of carefree living and remind me of being back in Nassau.  I figured I should probably take a stab at my own version of this recipe.

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Chicken Enchilada Cups

Let's recreate some summer goodness.  I can't ever get enough of Mexican-inspired cuisine and this is no exception.  While the weather has been slightly warmer in the past few days, it has still been much cooler than my preferred 60-70 degrees F.  Let's warm ourselves up.

I actually made these cups as appetizers for my housewarming party earlier this year.  However, in all the brouhaha, I never got shots of the final items.  In fact, I remember it being mid-party and wondering why my apartment was so warm (this place is always freezing!) and realizing my oven was preheating for these little things...which were chilling out in the kitchen and definitely not in the oven.

I can't even take these...in a good way.  They're tiny, which means that they're automatically cuter than cute.  Also, I'm certain I'm ingesting fewer calories than if I were to eat a huge quesadilla filled with this enchilada mix.  Obviously.

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Watermelon & Mint Salad

The title of this post is way less interesting than originally intended.  You see, I picked up a few items at the grocery store the other day and this stash just so happened to include watermelon and an avocado.  The thought never entered my mind to combine them together.  I'm typically a salted-avocado slice kind of gal.  However, I then saw this post which combines watermelon and avocado into a salad! Since I already had most of the ingredients at hand I figured I'd throw this together to see what it was all about.

Let's segway to that moment when I slice open my avocado and there's a black ring throughout the entire fruit... You know that avocado got the stink side-eye.  But I pulled up my big girl pants and decided to simply leave the avocado out of this equation.  Problem solved in three seconds flat.  The recipe is pretty free-form, so I grabbed the ingredients I did have and got to work.

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Farro Salad

I never thought I'd be one of those grain-loving hippies.  But here we are.  Eating farro salad on the real.  I should also tell you that I never envisioned myself eating a cold salad (as in a salad that was once warm and is now cold).  But let me tell you that this salad is excellent either cold, room temperature, or warm.  It's amazing how versatile this dish is.

In case you've never heard of farro, here's the quick low-down.  Farro is a grain that has quite a nutty flavor.  If you want to make things really simple, one could say that farro is very similar to brown rice.  Before this recipe, I had never tried farro before, although I saw numerous favorable reviews of it on the food blogs that I follow.

When Shutterbean originally made this salad, I was finally sure I needed to recreate it myself.  I think I was "wooed" by Tracy's description of Giardiniera-like ingredients and the addition of feta cheese.  I have a newfound obsession* with Giardiniera and we all know how I feel about cheese.  Yes, I would be making this dish.  Just watch me!

* I am quite aware that I have a new obsession every other week.  Let's not be judgmental in these parts.  Thanks.

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Prosciutto Wrapped Apples

We are still entertaining, right?  Just because the new year's here doesn't mean we can't have our family and friends over for brunch and a good time. Because I really need a reason to bust out with this odd, it's-so-wrong-it-has-to-be-right meat and fruit combination.

Now.  Do not let my words fool you.  I did not have a brunch event.  I did not have people over for any reason at all.  In actuality, I was scouring my refrigerator for something to eat and I saw some freshly sliced prosciutto along with a green apple.  I wanted both and proceeded to wrap one in the other, finished the packages off with some balsamic glaze, and called it a day.  Then I sat on my bum, all alone, and started eating.

I don't feel bad about this.  In fact, I feel pretty good.  This meal (snack?) has got protein.  It's got fruit. And in terms of preparation, it's really just an assemblage situation.  So yeah, I'm down with that.

Now let's get to work...

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Pizza Hummus

I'm in the middle of thinking about cleaning out my pantry.

I tend to have great epiphanies in the grocery store and I end up purchasing canned vegetables that I just KNOW I will use within the next week because I have all these amazing recipe ideas that I want to try out.

Now let's fast forward to about 10 months later, when that same can of garbanzo beans is still staring me in the face. Hmmmm...why did I buy this again?

Interestingly enough, I was browsing my old Food Network magazines the other day (no power in the aftermath of Sandy means you look through a lot of magazines) when I stumbled upon a writeup for three variations of hummus.  Jackpot!  Though I do love hummus, there are just so many other snacks out there that I want to try.  I also want to blog and share those recipes with you.  Truth.  I honestly could only get away with blogging about plain old regular hummus once.  Once and that's it.  Let that bad boy go.  So you can see why I was so excited to find other hummus options.

I had a really hard time picking between the three recipes, but I ended up choosing the pizza-flavored dip since everyone loves pizza.  By everyone, I mean me.  I won't tell you about the other hummus flavors just yet, because I want to make and blog about them later.  It's a surprise!

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Jalapeno Cream Cheese Swirls

Around here, everything is turning green. You might ask why.  Obviously, it's St. Patrick's Day in Hoboken.  (No, it doesn't make any sense that it's celebrated before the actual St. Patrick's Day of March 17th.  Let's just roll with it.)  A few weeks ago, my roommate and I eagerly sent out invitations to what is now our 3rd Annual St. Patrick's Day brunch party.  Of course this initiated a hunt for festive green appetizers.

As a part of my "research", I began poking around the Karen Cooks blog.  See, I was assigned Karen's blog for this month's Secret Recipe Club. Karen has quite an extensive list of recipes on her site.  As I was looking for appetizers, I kept getting side-tracked by other recipes that I wanted to try.  Chief among those recipes are these Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls.  They just look delicious.  But that's not what this blog post is about.  This blog post is about some spicy, savory appetizers.

Jalapenos give this appetizer a real kick, especially if you're not careful and add in a few extra peppers.  Apparently, some people at our brunch weren't huge fans of all the spice that I accidentally added(sorry about that!).  At any rate, I thought the blend of flaky, slightly sweet crescent dough, soft cream cheese, and heat from the peppers worked really well together to provide our guests with an unexpected (and green) hors d'oeuvre!

Jalapeno Cream Cheese Swirls
from Karen Cooks
yields 24 pieces

Print Recipe

  • 3/4 block of cream cheese, softened
  • ~3 ounces pickled jalapenos
  • 2 tubes refrigerated seamless dough*
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

* If you can't find seamless dough like I did, you can roll out the perforated crescent dough and gently press the seams together to form a "seamless dough".

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2) Add the jalapenos and cream cheese to a food processor.  Blend together until fully incorporated.

3) Roll out one of the dough sheets on a lightly floured surface.  Spread half of the cream cheese mixture evenly over the dough.

4) Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar over the cream cheese.

5) Starting at the short end, roll up the dough.  (Note: Karen recommends starting at the long end. I just happened to skim over that part and started rolling the dough up the other way. Oh, well.  It was just as tasty!)

6) Cut dough in half, then in half again.  Slice the log into 12 slices.

7) Place the dough cut-side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

8) Repeat Steps 3-7 with the second tube of dough.

9) Bake for ~11 minutes or until the dough is lightly browned.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving warm.

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Prosciutto Dijon Cheddar Puffs

I'll admit it. I might have a slight obsession with Joy The Baker.  I love her photos and her blog posts and her live-life-to-the-fullest-while-stuffing-your-face attitude.  And yeah, I kinda love her recipes too.

I was invited to a dinner party and we were all asked to bring appetizers to share.  As I browsed through my rather extensive list of appetizers, I kept in mind that I wanted to make something that was simple, portable, and (obviously) tasty.  Enter Joy's Prosciutto Dijon Gruyere Puffs recipe.  Perfect.

I firmly believe that packaged puffed pastry should be a god among desserts.  For me, it's up there with Nutella, chocolate, anything that may be laced with alcohol, and, more recently, Spekuloos spread.  There's nothing wrong with layers of pastry and butter that are puffed up in the oven to form a crispy, flaky shell. Add to that the tang of a thin layer of Dijon mustard, creamy melted cheddar cheese (I didn't have Gruyere so I made a quick substitute), layers of salty prosciutto, and a final dash of spicy black pepper.

These appetizers went over well at the party later that night.  And it took me approximately no time at all to make them.  Win.

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Scallion Pancakes

In my quest to remain in the favor of Food Network magazine, I decided to test drive another recipe from their beautiful pages. When I ran across a page with a recipe for scallion pancakes, I knew this was the one for me.

Eating scallion pancakes take me back to the days of high school, where we would frequently order Chinese food for dinner. I would undoubtedly request Chicken and Broccoli with an appetizer of Scallion Pancakes. Yum! And to think I didn't even know what these things were until I came to the United States. Horrors!

To break it down: A scallion is a mild green onion. Scallion pancakes are fried dough with scallions. And by the way, there's this amazing dipping sauce to go along with it!

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