Hey guys! I hope you had a wonderful Labor Day weekend! Today I am (sadly) coming back from my awesome vacation in Rome, but I won’t be getting in until late tonight (womp womp). In the meantime, here is one of my good friends Jess with a post for you all about two awesome appetizer recipes that she made for her book club. Take it away, Jess!
Hello, fellow friends of Chelsea! While our dear pal is off gallivanting around Roma (pause for jealous stare), she asked if I would take care of her beloved readers by contributing a guest post. A newbie at blogging but a tenured fellow healthy live-er, I (clearly) agreed. For the past year or, pretty much in direct correlation to when we graduated college and started actually taking care of ourselves, she and I have loved to share new work out updates and trends, fun healthy recipes, and, let’s face it, a mimosa or two And since she loves all of you so much, I’m honored to share a couple recipes with you too!
The other night, I hosted my book club’s monthly meeting. Typically when I tell people I’m in a book club (I’m an early twenty-something like Chelsea), people either a) laugh and call me a grandma or b) ask if they can join. I have to be honest and admit that we aren’t as good as we should be about actually talking about the books, but it’s been a great way for me to meet new awesome girl friends, try some fun recipes, and have a girly wine-filled night every couple weeks. Because this was the first time I was actually the host, I wanted to make sure my treats were delish (and I took a trip to Trader Joes the night before so my fridge was STOCKED). A couple of the girls were going to pick up pizzas from Whole Foods (apparently Tuesday nights are buy one get one free) so I decided to make two apps for us to enjoy to avoid stuffing our faces with pizza.
The first appetizer I made was a delicious, cheap and relatively healthy olive tapenade that I served as a veggie dip. I didn’t go off a recipe, but I watch a TON of Food Network and am a big cook so I was pretty confident I could fly solo on this one. I went to Trader Joes and got a can of pitted green olives, a can of pitted black olives, and a jar of sun dried tomatoes. My spice cabinet is pretty well equipped, so that was all I needed additionally to make the dip. I also bought 4 organic red bell peppers, a bag of baby carrots and some whole wheat pita chips to serve with it.
Once I got home, all I really needed to do was dump both cans of olives (and about 1 ½ tablespoons each of the liquid they come in), a tablespoon of the sun dried tomatoes, pepper, salt, rosemary, and 4 fresh cloves of garlic in the food processor and turn it on.
I like my food with a bit of kick, so I also added some cayenne pepper to get some spice going. Because I just moved into my new apartment about a week ago, I didn’t realize I was out of olive oil so I wasn’t able to add any to the mix like I would have liked to. I’m a huge advocate of healthy fats and oils (I’m training for my first marathon so counting calories is nowhere on my mind but getting proper nutrients definitely is) so I’d normally put a hearty amount of olive oil in the mix (maybe 3 or 4 table spoons) but I guess I save some calories by forgetting it
I served the dipped chilled (I made it about 24 hrs before and left it covered in the fridge) with thick red pepper spears, the baby carrots, and those whole wheat pita chips I had bought. The girls loved it!!
In addition to my olive dip, I also made chicken peanut satay….YUM. I had first tried this recipe when my friend Jake made it for his daughter’s (my Goddaughter’s) first birthday party a couple weeks ago and had been eager to try it ever since. The recipe actually comes from the chef who does the “Barefoot Contessa” Food Network show (my absolute LEAST FAVORITE but whatever I’ll get over it). I was able to get the recipe online right here but changed it up a bit to make it a cheaper and easier. First, I put about 1.5 tablespoons of sesame oil in a pot (remember how I forgot to buy olive oil? oops again) with one whole diced red onion. I got this going on medium high heat and added 5 cloves of fresh minced garlic once I got it all cut. (Side note: here is a really cool video my boyfriend sent me about a year ago for a SUPER easy way to peel garlic which is awesome because pealing garlic is the worst!)
The next part was a bit tricky because I’ve never actually cooked with fresh ginger before. I took it out of the mesh bag thing it came in and couldn’t stop thinking about how it reminded me of the mandrakes in Harry Potter (you know what I’m talking about). Anyways, I took a gander and decided to use a super sharp knife to get the weird bark skin stuff off of it and then minced it as best as I could. In retrospect, I think a grater would have worked better for this so I could have gotten the ginger finer and saved myself some time. Regardless, into the cookin’ pot went the ginger.
After I thought the onion had cooked down enough, I added peanut butter, soy sauce (wish I had the low sodium kind but oh well), organic brown sugar (I only used ¼ cup not packed instead of packed like the recipe called for), and organic ketchup (I thought this was a bit weird so I scaled back the measurement a bit; also beware of all of the sugar in ketchup). The recipe only said to cook this for about a minute but I let it go on a lower heat for about 5 minutes to allow the flavors to marry a bit more. I put this in a bowl, covered it, and left it in the fridge like I did the olive dip. Right before the girls came over the next evening, I cut 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts into chunks and cooked them just in a bit of sesame oil and then dumped the peanut satay in the pot for the last 5 or so minutes of cooking the chicken. If I had planned better, I would have served then on a pretty platter with cute toothpicks or something, but they still tasted delicious.
So there you have it! Two easy yummy snacks for girls night. The peanut satay can get a little dangerous for the waistline with the peanut butter and brown sugar, but that’s why I like it as an appetizer as opposed to a meal. I’d like to try it again with almond butter instead to make it a bit healthier (I’ve never been a huge peanut butter fan but I like to eat almond butter on whole wheat toast before long runs to get something on my stomach) and maybe some cinnamon for a different twist. Hope you guys like it
And if you liked the post, take a trip on over to my very very new blog sometime; it’s in the super early stages but hopefully there will be some exciting action in the future! Feel free to shoot me an email at email@example.com. And thanks Chels for the opportunity to post; bring me back some vino from Rome!!