Category: Appetizer

Avocado Feta Dip

I spent my birthday weekend in Vancouver BC. Deja vú. I fall in love with that city more and more every time we go and explore more of it. The Portland Timbers have made their way to the MLS playoffs, so we followed them up to Vancouver for their game on the 8th. We would have gone even if it wasn’t my birthday weekend, but it made it a little bit better.

We stayed in an Airbnb in Olympic Village. It was a modern condo that had a Viking range. Swoon. I didn’t cook on it it, but I stared at it lovingly every single day we were there. The rain poured down on our first full day there, but it didn’t stop us from getting out on foot a little bit. Some new favorites from this trip: Rosemary Rocksalt for their namesake bagel, Phnom Penh for some super authentic Cambodian food, Bao Down for a fried chicken steamed bun, Craft Beer Market for 140 beer taps with a high percentage dedicated to Canadian brew, Elysian Coffee for a solid Americano, Japadog for things on hot dogs, and 33 Acres Brewing for the prettiest brewery of all time and their beers are super good to boot. The Timbers won and have moved on to the Western conference finals. It was icing on the cake.

Once my birthday hits, it’s the fast track to the end of the year. I’m all about making foodstuffs for the various events that go out between now and then. I came across this dip in a fit of hunger but wanted something quick. Snacks = meals. So does standing around and eating the giant bowl of potato salad for every meal, but that’s another story. I know more than a few people in my life that would cringe at the combination of flavors in this dip, but that means there is most for me. Depending on your love of feta cheese, you might want to ease into using the whole 4oz depending on the size of your avocado. I love both equally [don’t make me choose a favorite!] so I had no problem committing 110%. I’m sure you could pass on the green onions [scallions, if you’re so inclined] if you wanted, but they’re a nice contrast both in flavor and texture. It reminded me a lot bit of these green onion appetizers that would end up at my parents’ house at family events. Talk about simplicity. Wrap the white part of a scallion in cream cheese. Roll the cream cheese in shredded cheddar. Devour. I’m pretty sure the onion is just a vehicle for cheese, but I am convinced these things are the reason I have no problem eating plain green onions raw as a snack.

Avocado Feta Dip

Inspiration: Green Valley Kitchen


  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 4oz feta cheese
  • Juice of a small lemon [approximately 2 tablespoons or to taste]
  • 3-4 scallions, sliced thin, remove any dry or shriveled ends
  • Cracked pepper to taste


This is one of those things that you have to taste as you go in order to really get the flavor you’re looking for. A little bit of something changes the dynamic entirely.

In the bowl of a food processor, add the diced avocado, feta cheese, and scallions. Remember to use less of the feta if you’re unsure of how much you’re going to like the flavor. Blend until mostly smooth. Add the lemon juice and cracked pepper. Combine. Continue until you get a consistency and taste that you enjoy.

If you don’t have a food processor, you could do it by hand just as easily. I used a small food processor that could barely hold all of the avocado and feta cheese, so the scallions, lemon juice, and pepper were mixed in by hand. I didn’t mind in the slightest. Mmm onion chunks.

I am assuming the lemon juice would keep the dip from turning brown on you, but mine didn’t last long enough to find out.

Chorizo Stuffed Sweet Peppers

[PSA – apparently the photos in the blog have been acting up. If you notice anything funky going on in your browser, please let me know. Thanks!]

It’s seems to be a common theme when my schedule gets insane a little bit busy, all I really want to do is cook [or leave the country, but that’s a little less practical]. It’s my happy place. It’s gotten to the point that all of the random bits of food in the house are gone. Every last egg, frozen vegetable, steel cut oat, lentil, and frozen shrimp are gone. We’re back to the status quo of condiments, more condiments, a few other condiments, and jasmine rice. When I’m not sitting at the office, I feel like I’m reading recipes. I read some of my cookbooks for fun the other day [Ad Hoc at Home and The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook] partially for inspiration and partially because food. I was debating snacks this weekend and I stood there [there being the bathroom doorway?] searching the pages of bookmarks I have saved for a good 30 minutes. Thirty minutes! I could have walked to the store and back by then, but no, I had too look at them all. ALL OF THEM.

We probably could use another Costco run, but that usually results in buying way more than I intend to [kinda like Target…]. This recipe was completely inspired by the random Costco purchase coupled with that ridiculous jalapeño popper we ate in Idaho Falls on the road trip. To recap, we ate at Republic American Grill & Tapas Bar and had the best jalapeño popper of my life. It was a deep fried jalapeño stuffed with chorizo and laying on a bed of cherry cream cheese. Think about that. It was incredible, and I usually don’t like deep fried much of anything.

I’m sure you know those sweet mini multi-colored peppers. I picked up a bag of them at Costco and stuffed them full of my weakness chicken chorizo from New Seasons and cream cheese. Under the broiler they went and while I could have eaten them straight from the pan, I took the time to put arugula on a plate, top it with some of the peppers, and then drizzle some Italian dressing on it. Greenery is good for you, and I happen to love arugula a lot. Spicy and herbal greens hold up well to the sweet, spicy, and creamy combination these little peppers became. I didn’t bother with the cherries assuming that the sweetness of the peppers would compensate. It seemed to do the trick. All I was missing was the batter and deep fry, which I didn’t miss. Fried foods are not high on my list of things I seek out. I won’t turn them down, but I don’t go out of my way.

Chorizo Stuffed Sweet Peppers



  • 1 bag of sweet mini peppers
  • 1lb bulk chorizo
  • 4oz cream cheese
  • 5oz arugula
  • Italian or a simple lemon and olive oil dressing


Heat a skillet on medium high heat. Brown the chorizo, breaking it down into small pieces. While the chorizo browns, slice each of the peppers in half, cleaning out any seeds and membrane. Drain the chorizo of any fat and allow it to cool slightly in a bowl. Scoop the cream cheese into the bowl and mix thoroughly with a fork or your hands. Using the same fork or your hands, stuff each of the peppers with the chorizo mixture.

Turn the broiler on high place the peppers on a cookie sheet. Place under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese is bubbling and the peppers start to show signs of being under the heat. I should have left them under a little longer but I was so excited to eat them.

Toss the arugula with the dressing or just drizzle it on the plated greens. Top with a few of the mini peppers. Good luck with that peppers to greens ratio. It’s a tough balance.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Have you ever watched videos about Pyrex dishes exploding? It’s intense. I haven’t had one shatter [thankfully!], but I don’t usually bake with glass. If you do use Pyrex and have no idea what I’m talking about, it might be worth looking into.

That ends your PSA for the day.

Now on to buffalo chicken dip! Frank’s Red Hot is a really bizarre flavor. I like it and feel weirdly addicted to it when it’s around [which is next to never]. I think it’s that vinegar bite. I cringe almost instantly and then settle in for that spicy flavor. The idea of putting it in a dip with a cream-style base mellows out the vinegar just enough that I want to just eat it by the spoonful. That happened a lot.

The base really doesn’t have any cheese in it even though it looks like it. It was magic. It’s all that “cheeze” or cheese-like stuff. It’s actually kind of close — closer than any of the other fake cheese things I’ve tried. I wanted something that I could eat a ton of without worrying about the effects of it. When you’re eating it like a soup, I really didn’t need a bunch of cream. The chicken is also optional, but totally a nice addition. Give me all the protein! I used shredded, but looking back, I’d probably use ground chicken next time. The consistency of the dip can be a little thin, and it was really not all that easy to scoop out the mixture and pull out equal parts chicken and “cheeze.” Speaking of dipping, the celery was challenging. Maybe less so had I used the ground chicken. Chopping it up into the dip would be cool, too. The blue cheese would have been a stellar addition, but would have rendered it full of dairy. I should have served it on the side. WHAT WAS I THINKING?

I wasn’t. Clearly.

Inspiration: Chasing Some Blue Sky


  • 1/3-1/2 cup Frank’s Red Hot sauce [I used the full 1/2 cup]
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers [not pickled!]
  • 1 1/3 cup cashews
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons Ranch dressing mix
  • Water
  • 2-3 cups shredded or cooked ground chicken
  • Blue cheese, celery, pita chips, etc for serving


Add all of the ingredients up to the Ranch dressing mix to a blender or food processor. Start with a cup of water. Blend until smooth. Continue to add more water to your desired consistency. I used a full 2 cups of water, which is why mine ended up so runny. I’d use less next time.

Pour the sauce into a pan with the chicken. Heat through. Serve hot.

Roasted Fennel White Bean Dip

I’ve become a fennel fanatic lately. I had my nose glued to a star anise candle today. My sister gave me that “you’ve lost it” look that sisters can give. I came across this recipe for a fennel and radish salad that I have to make IMMEDIATELY [which really means on April 16th because we all know I’m only eating catered meals at the office until then]. Fennel is just so dang refreshing.

Mixing fennel and white beans in dip form [because what other form is there…] makes a great hummus alternative. Adding a boatload of parmesan and roasted garlic really tie everything together. Roasting fennel mellows out that bright anise flavor and sweetens it up. No one knows it’s in there really, so if you’re a fennel hater we can’t be friends you’ll be just fine. It blends into your white bean base that really just is your creaminess. White beans take on whatever flavor you want it to. My favorite part might have been the crispy parmesan pieces that baked to the dish. I’m one of those people. Plain ol’ pita chips work like a champ here or crudite or a spoon. You get the idea. This is definitely my new go-to dip assuming I have time to roast the fennel.

Inspiration: Sprouted Kitchen


  • 1 large fennel bulb, save the fronds for garnish
  • 4 cloves of garlic still in their skin
  • 2 cups white beans [or one can]
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan, plus more for topping
  • olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons rosemary
  • red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment, foil, or a Silpat. Roughly dice the fennel bulb from the white to the light pale green. Keep the fronds for garnish. Toss the fennel and the garlic cloves in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and spread out on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 3o minutes. The fennel will be crisp on the edges.

In the bowl of a food processor, add the white beans, shredded parmesan, the fennel, and the garlic cloves with the skin removed. Pulse to get the mixture started before adding the lemon juice, rosemary, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and 1/3 cup of olive oil. Pulse it all together until it’s a thick puree. Add more olive oil if for consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the mixture into a oven proof dish. Top with more parmesan and bake for 15-20 minutes with the oven temperature increased to 450°. The cheese will be hot and bubbly, browning on the edges. Top with a drizzle of olive oil and the fennel fronds before serving.

Parmesan Black Pepper Grissini

I made this on NYE and it’s almost April. Slow and steady wins the race.

I’ve seen grissini pop up a fair bit lately, on Food52 more specifically, which reminded me of these. Those aren’t the ones I made, but they’re similar. They disappeared rather quickly at the NYE party, which is the highest compliment. I don’t want need to be told they’re awesome. Just eat. When they disappear, I’ll know.

They’re easy and difficult all at the same time. They come together almost too easy. It’s a simple dough. The rise time is next to nothing, so you can totally make them right before you’re walking out the door. I’m living proof. The only thing that was really a challenge for me was actually forming the dough. It was really a lot more dry and tough than I was expecting. They took forever to get to a reasonable length and more than one tore but I just pieced it back together. “A more rustic look,” I’d say. The sprinkling of parmesan and black pepper hides any deformity, and let’s be real, they taste good so no one cares. Rolling them out reminded me of my Play-Doh days. I probably wasn’t very good at it then either.

Inspiration: The Endless Meal


  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon active yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 egg, whisked in a bowl with a tablespoon of water
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese


In a small saucepan on low heat, melt the butter into the milk. You only want it slightly warm to the touch. Remove from the heat and pour it into a separate bowl to be safe. You’ll add the yeast next and don’t want to risk the hot pan overheating it. Sprinkle the yeast over the top and let it sit for about 10 minutes. It’ll start to foam on the top, so you’ll know it’s working.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and you pinch of salt. Add the cooled milk mixture to the flour and mix it together with a large spoon or your hands. It’ll be a dry, shaggy mess until it ultimately forms a ball.

Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead for about five minutes. The dough will be smooth on the outside. Place the dough back in the bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Let it rise for 30 minutes.

When your time is up, preheat the oven to 350° and prep your baking sheets. Either grease them or lay down a Silpat. Split the dough into 24 equal pieces. I measured them because I’m a bit type-a, but as long as you get close you’ll be fine. Roll them out into long, skinny sticks. Place them on your prepared baking sheet with a little distance between them. Brush each stick with the egg wash and then sprinkle them with the parmesan cheese and fresh cracked pepper. Use your fingers to get as much parmesan to stick as possible.

Bake for about 15 minutes. They should be crispy and golden brown, the cheese especially. Let them cool before removing them from the pan. They’ll harden as they cool giving them more of a crunch.

Eating the baked on cheese off your Silpat is sort of optional, but it’s really not something to be missed.