chorizo poppers

I love small bites. There's something so satisfying with a flavorful appetizer that packs a punch and can be enjoyed in 1 - 2 bites. With the Super Bowl coming up this Sunday, I thought this would be the perfect appetizer to serve your guests. It can be made a few days in advance too  - TOUCHDOWN! …too much? 

I love how the cool, creamy mixture plays with the spicy chorizo. The crispness of the bell pepper and chip crumbs give the necessary crunch factor to the filling. These things are addictive and so easy to make. Plus they're incredibly fun finger food - perfect for game-time snacking.

I'm not much of a football fan but I love any excuse to throw a party. Last year I made buffalo chicken wontons, balsamic bean chili, cornbread and to end the night, fresh out of the oven fully loaded cookies and guiness floats. Oh yeah, I had some veggie trays, grapes and chips too. You can never have enough food, right?!

 What are some of your favorite appetizers for Super Bowl Sunday?

chorizo poppers
yeilds about 40 servings

40 mini sweet peppers
2 raw chorizo sausages (casing removed)
8 oz cream cheese
½ c. frozen corn kernels
1 TBSP diced green chiles
2 TBSP chopped fresh cilantro
½ TBSP hot sauce
TSP cumin
½ c. sour cream
salt + pepper
½ c. tortilla chips or doritos crumbled (optional for topping)

In a large skillet, brown your chorizo over medium high heat. You want very small pieces so break it up while it's cooking. While the chorizo is caramelizing and doing it's thing, in a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, corn, green chiles, cilantro, hot sauce and cumin. Give it a good stir until it's well mixed. When your chorizo is done getting brown and flavorful, strain it and place the crumbles on a paper towel. If some of the crumbles are on the large side, break them up. Once the grease is absorbed and the meat has cooled slightly, drop your crumbles into the mixture and give it another good stir. Add in your sour cream, salt + pepper. 

Place mixture into a piping bag or ziplock bag and set aside. Cut the tops off of your peppers and scrape out any seeds if present. Cut the tip of your piping bag or ziplock bag off and squeeze mixture into your mini peppers. Place in the refrigerator and chill until ready to serve. If adding the chip crumbs, just before serving dip the tops into the crumbled chips and place on your platter.

improv style:

these are mexican inspired bite sized appetizers. think of a jalapeno popper but fresh and less spicy. you can improv any of the ingredients. can't find those mini peppers? use jalapenos OR make the cream cheese mixture as a dip and serve it with sliced bell peppers. you can even make a bowl out of a bell pepper for cute presentation. 

not down with meat? leave it out and add in some black beans! shredded chicken, chopped bacon, or ground beef would be great substitutions as well. don't have sour cream? you can use a little bit of plain greek yogurt, mexican creme or even a splash of milk. the idea is to thin out the cheese mixture so it's easily piped into the peppers. 

want to lighten things up? use fat free or low fat dairy products and add in some extra veggies, omit the chip crumbs. Want to go dairy free? Try using mashed avocado to get the creamy consistency with a healthier benefit. really your options are limitless with this recipe!


i made them extra schloppy for ye!

Are you sick of being healthy yet? If so, I've got the perfect recipe to get you fired up again. Since I stumbled upon this recipe in Food Network Magazine a few weeks ago, I can not stop making it. It's one of my new favorite go-to's and I'm not even a sloppy joe fan. I think they had me convinced to try it when I saw the pickles on top. 

This recipe is health food masked by comfort. Lentils, carrots, and red bell peppers are mixed with a little ground beef (or turkey if you want to be EXTRA good). It's got a meaty texture and it's packed with veggies and lots of protein thanks to the lentils and meat combo. I've altered the recipe a bit to make it less processed but this recipe is easily adapted to your needs. 

What's better than comfort food that's good for you?! It's secret health!

 Hope you guys are having an amazing 2013 so far. I've had a lot of fun playing with my new lens courtesy of santa! Can't wait to take more amazing shots to share my recipes with you guys this year! What do you think of the new lens?

lentil sloppy joes
adapted from food network
yields 6 servings

2 TBSP olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
½ red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ TSP dried oregano
½ c. dried brown lentils
4 c. water
4 TBSP tomato paste
1 TBSP worcestershire sauce
8 oz ground beef
salt + pepper
6 whole wheat buns
6 slices sharp cheddar cheese
handful of spinach leaves
pickle slices

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and let soften 2-3 minutes before adding the carrots and bell pepper. Cook until softened then add in your garlic and oregano and cook 1 minute more. Pour in the lentils and give em a good stir before adding your water. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium low. Add in your tomato paste and worcestershire sauce and let simmer for 40 minutes until the lentils are tender and the water is absorbed. If the lentils are still hard, add in a little more water and keep cooking. 

In another pan, brown your ground beef. Add it into your softened lentil mixture and cook another 5 - 10 minutes to let the flavors meld. Toast your buns or leave em soft… whatever you prefer and add some leaves of spinach, a slice of cheddar, a schlop of the joe mixture and put some pickles on top - voila!

Serve them with your favorite side. I think baked sweet potato fries make the perfect companion!

improv style:
this may seem like a time consuming recipe but most of the cooking is inactive. you can make this a few days in advance so it's a quick meal for the weekday. the mixture gets better with time too, just like spaghetti sauce. 

not a fan of one of the veggies listed? leave it out or substitute it for one of your fav's. if you want to be extra healthy, you could add more lentils and completely replace the meat OR use ground turkey or chicken breast. 

if you don't have tomato paste, you can use ½ c. ketchup or diced tomatoes instead. using beer instead of water would probably be a fun (albeit un-healthy) way to mix it up. 

not a fan of pickles? weird. but i hear you… try pickled jalapenos or fresh ones! you could even chop it up and put it inside the cooking mixture for an extra kick. speaking of heat, put some of your favorite hot sauce in with the mixture. 

you can keep it dairy free without the cheese or use a different cheese like pepper jack, mmmmm! white buns, wheat buns - pick your favorite. lower carb option? make it open faced! SO. MANY. DIFFERENT. WAYS.