Thursday, September 17, 2015

Caprese Salad on a Stick

Summer is the time for picnics and potlucks. Taking advantage of the good weather, my Toastmasters club recently had an outdoor meeting in a park. We made it a potluck - because any gathering is better with food! Since we meet on a weekday, I had to think of something that was quick and easy to make. Typically I bake desserts for potlucks but I didn’t quite have the time for that, so I changed things up this time and brought a Caprese salad. Salad isn’t really finger food unless you put it on a stick! To make it easy to pick up and eat without utensils, I used a toothpick to hold the tomatoes and cheese. Not only is this bite sized snack easy to make, it is also summery with bright colors and juicy tomatoes, and the salad on a stick makes for a fun presentation.

~40 red cherry tomatoes (I used 20 red grape tomatoes cut in half)
~40 yellow cherry tomatoes
8oz fresh mozzarella balls (the ones that are stored in water in a small container). If you can find the tiny ones, those would be perfect, but I halved the larger ones and it worked just fine

⅛-¼ cup olive oil
2-3 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp chopped basil leaves (fresh works best!)
A pinch of salt
~1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Mix the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Drain the mozzarella balls. Cut them in half if using the larger ones like I did. There were about 20 in the container, so I got 40 halves. Add the mozzarella balls to the marinade, coat evenly and let it rest for about half hour (or longer).


In the meantime, cut the red grape tomatoes in half breadthwise (not end-to-end). If using cherry tomatoes skip this step because they’re small enough.


To assemble, insert a toothpick through a red tomato (or half if using grape tomato), followed by a piece of marinated mozzarella cheese (gently squeeze out excess oil if needed), and then a yellow tomato. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Arrange on a plate and serve sprinkled with additional chopped basil leaves. You can also drizzle a balsamic reduction for extra tangy and sweet flavor. To make the reduction, heat ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar with a small pinch of sugar over low-medium heat until reduced to half. If it gets too thick, mix in some water or some of the marinade. Let it cool before drizzling on the tomatoes.



Note: Leftover marinade can be used as a salad dressing.

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Another bite sized snack - Caprese salad on a stick! Bright colors, delicious taste and most importantly, quick and easy to make!
Posted by The Cooks of Cake and Kindness on Thursday, September 17, 2015

Monday, September 14, 2015

Apple Pie Roll-ups

This tasty snack is inspired by the Pillsbury apple pie crescents, which look super easy to make. I had some apples that needed to be used, and wanted to try something other than my go-to easy apple crisp. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any Pillsbury crescent rolls, or apple pie spice, or even pie crust. So, I made my own! If you have all the ingredients on-hand, these not-too-sweet treats are simple to make, and you’ll have trouble stopping at eating just one!


Ingredients: (makes 16)
2 apples
2 9” pie crusts (*see footnote for recipe)
½ cup brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground cardamom
3 TBSP unsalted butter, melted


Heat oven to 375F.

Core, peel, and slice the apples into eighths so you have 16 pieces total.

In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom.

Roll out the pie crusts and, using a knife or pizza cutter, cut each crust into 8 wedges. On each wedge, spread some of the sugar and spice mix.


Dip each apple piece into the melted butter, then place at the large end of each wedge. Roll up the apple slice in the crust, tamping the end down, and place on a lined baking sheet.


Brush each roll-up with the leftover butter. Bake at 375 F for 10-12 minutes until crust is browned and crispy. Let cool 5-10 minutes.


Enjoy as-is or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!


Pro-tip: if you use a smaller apple (or only use one apple cut into 16ths), or have large pie crust wedges, pinching the edges together will help keep the delicious caramelized sugar-spice glaze from seeping out during baking.

*Whole-wheat pie crust recipe (makes 2 9-inch crusts when rolled out to about ⅛ inch thickness):

½ cup canola oil
1.5 cups whole wheat flour
4 tsp sugar
½ cup buttermilk (1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup milk + 1 TBSP vinegar or lemon juice)
dash of salt

Stir together flour, sugar, salt. Add oil and mix. Pour in buttermilk and knead w/ hands. Form into ball (or 2 balls). Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour before using.

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Bite-sized apple pie! These roll-ups are fun and easy to make!

Posted by The Cooks of Cake and Kindness on Monday, September 14, 2015

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Eggs Baked in Pepper Cups

Low carb, no added oil or sugar, packed with veggies, and very delicious! - eggs and vegetables baked in bell peppers make a healthy and satisfying meal. It’s a great way to incorporate different veggies, and can be easily customized to your taste or to whatever you have in the fridge.

Ingredients: (2 large servings)
2 bell peppers (any color)
½ cup chopped spinach
½ cup mushrooms - sliced
¼-½ cup broccoli florets
Grated cheese - any kind (optional - I didn’t use any)
2 eggs (or more if you prefer)
Salt, black pepper (to taste)
Chopped parsley/chives for garnish (optional)
Any other vegetables would work as well - I used what I had at hand.

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Heat a pan over medium high heat and sauté the mushrooms and broccoli (I didn’t use any oil). Cut the tops off the peppers. Save it for a salad or just snack on it while the peppers bake :-). Remove the seeds. Make sure the peppers can stand upright on their own. If required slice off part of the bottom of the peppers (leaving the “pepper cup” intact).
Divide the spinach between the peppers. Add the sautéed vegetables. Sprinkle with some salt if the veggies are not seasoned. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. The idea is to soften up the peppers a little and to let some of the water from the veggies evaporate so it doesn’t puddle up under the eggs. Remove the peppers from the oven.
Add the cheese to the cups if using. Break an egg into a small bowl and carefully transfer it to one of the peppers. Add the other egg to the other pepper.  If you like, you can add 2 eggs per pepper cup. Season with salt and pepper. Return the peppers back to the oven for another 20 - 25 minutes until the egg whites are set. Poke with a knife and check if you’re not sure.
Remove from oven and serve warm garnished with chopped herbs.

Eggs baked in peppers.jpg


Note: Slightly runny yolks work as a delicious sauce!

Other recipes you might like:
Stuffed peppers
Stuffed sweet cubanelles

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Eggs Baked in Pepper Cups - a colorful and healthy dish.
Posted by The Cooks of Cake and Kindness on Thursday, September 10, 2015

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Potato, Mushroom and Kale Hash


Kale, like most greens, is an acquired taste. I don’t really like it as much raw, but cooked (or steamed) kale tastes great. It is sturdier than some other greens (such as spinach) so it holds a nice texture and doesn’t wilt as quickly when cooked. It can be paired with almost any ingredients you might have in the pantry, thus making any dish healthier! This leafy green vegetable is full of vitamins, low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and a good source of fiber, protein, and some of the essential dietary minerals.

Now, if you’re sold on eating kale, look no further for a simple and delicious potato hash recipe with mushrooms and kale.

Ingredients (~2-3 servings)
1 medium potato - peeled & cubed (I used Yukon gold, but other varieties would also work)
1 medium sweet potato - peeled & cubed (You could use just one kind of potato)
1-2 garlic cloves - minced
½ onion - chopped
~6 oz mushrooms - chopped or sliced
3 large kale leaves - stem removed and roughly chopped (Can use spinach)
2-3 tsp olive oil (or other oil of your choice)
Salt, black pepper to taste


Boil the potatoes with some salt until tender but not completely cooked. Drain and set them aside.

Heat oil and saute garlic, and onions over medium heat for a minute. Add the potatoes and mushrooms and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are cooked through and are starting to brown. Add the kale leaves, season with salt & pepper, stir and cook for another minute or two until the kale leaves are wilted.


Serve warm as a side, or make a meal by adding a poached or fried egg on top.



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Potato, Mushroom and Kale Hash - a simple side dish

Posted by The Cooks of Cake and Kindness on Wednesday, September 2, 2015