If you’ve never heard of tapenade, it’s a Provençal name for a dish consisting of puréed or finely chopped olives, capers, and anchovies. Its name comes from the Provençal word for capers, tapenas.
What I love most about this dish is that it is easy to make, healthy, and can be used as a filling or a dip. You can also easily make it vegan (simply omit the anchovies) and still maintain the integrity of the recipe.
I was inspired to create this dish while visiting St. George, Utah and enjoying lunch at a local restaurant named Xetava. Their tapenade was served with Lavash crackers and I fell in love with it. So, when I got back home to St. Louis, my first thought was to try re-creating the recipe but adding my own twists. The beautify of tapenade is that it is very customizable and you don’t even have to have the exact measurements to make it. Just know that black olives (you can use green as well or mix the two) are going to be your main foundation. I typically start out by using a full cup of olives which I rough chop, and add ingredients little by little tasting and chopping the mixture as I go. If I’m throwing a party, I’ll add just one clove of garlic for flavor. If I’m making the tapenade for myself, to have for lunch, I can add up to three cloves of garlic… I LOVE GARLIC! I do the same with lemon juice. I can add the juice of a half a lemon if I’m making the appetizer to take to a party or add the entire lemon if I’m making it for myself. Just depends on how I’m feeling that day or who I will be serving it to.
The key to this recipe is to taste as you go. Once you hit your perfect flavor, you can finish it and serve. And don’t forget to put your own twists on this recipe. Some people add roasted peppers, sun dried tomatoes, and so much more. Don’t be afraid to try new ingredients, herbs, and seasonings. This dish allows you to customize as much as you like.
Most people use a food processor to make this. However, I just chop by hand as I go. Each time I add an ingredient, I mix it into the mixture and continue chopping. By the time I add the last ingredient, my tapenade is chopped to the consistency I want. To see all my techniques for this recipe, here’s a link to a full video.
Last but not least, I decided to omit the bread and instead, serve the tapenade in mushrooms (these mushrooms are fresh, not cooked). It makes for a filling dish that not only tastes fabulous but also good for you. If you omit the anchovies, this dish becomes vegan. If you’ve never worked with mushrooms, watch the video, which I linked above. It will show you tips on working with mushrooms.
Below is the recipe as I like to make it, but feel free to add more or less of each ingredient… if you hate anchovies, don’t use them. If you love capers, use more. Same goes for any of the ingredients listed below. As long as you are using olives as your foundation… you are good!
1 cup of black or green olives 2-3 anchovies 1/4 cup of capers Juice of 1/2 lemon 2 cloves of garlic 1/4 cup of chopped fresh basil 1/4 cup of olive oil 10-12 fresh mushrooms (peeled and cored)
There are few things that get me excited more than cheesecake. It’s one of my favorite guilty pleasures and to be honest, one of the easiest desserts I have ever made. Sure, it takes a bit of time to bake, cool, and set but since I love to prepare most of my party food a day or two prior to the actual party, cheesecakes are the ideal make ahead dessert. And once you’ve figured out the basic techniques, you can go crazy with the flavors with just a few tweaks here and there.
Best of all, this particular cheesecake is a bit “out of the box” since it incorporates bananas. Plus, it’s so easy to decorate. With a bit of whipped cream (home made or store bought), lemon soaked bananas, and vanilla wafers, you will be able to create a gorgeous dessert without having to be a professional cake decorator.
If you are visual, you will enjoy watching my YouTube tutorial where I show you all the preparation techniques. The link is below. Enjoy!
1 1/2 Cups Finely Crushed Vanilla Wafers 1/2 Cups of crushed cashews 1/4 Cup of melted butter 19 Vanilla Wafers (or enough to fit entirely around your springform pan) 3-4 Ripe bananas (diced) Juice of one lemon 2 Tbsp of brown sugar 3 (8-oz) packages of cream cheese, softened 1 Cup of granulated sugar 3 Large eggs 2 tsp of vanilla extract 1/2 cup of crushed/broken vanilla wafers
Garnishes: Sweetened whipped cream, vanilla wafers, sliced bananas tossed in lemon juice
Preheat oven 350 degrees. In a food processor, process vanilla wafers, cashews, and melted butter. Once it is well blended, press mixture onto the bottom of a greased and floured springform pan. Stand 17-19 vanilla wafers around the springform pan, pressing gently into crust to secure. Put the springform pan on a baking sheet (to prevent butter from leaking on to the bottom of your oven) and bake 8-10 minutes. Cool completely for approximately 30 minutes.
Combine bananas and lemon juice in a small sauce-pan. Add brown sugar and cook over medium heat stirring constantly until the sugar has melted into the mixture, approximately 1-2 minutes.
Beat cream cheese at low to medium speed. Make sure your cream cheese is softened since it will help prevent cracks in the cream cheese during the baking process. Once the cream cheese is ready, gradually add eggs, beating until blended. Make sure to add eggs one at a time and wait until each egg has fully blended into the mixture. Add vanilla. Add the cooked banana mixture. Pour batter into the prepared crust.
Bake at 350 (on a baking sheet) for 55-65 minutes or until center is almost set. Remove cheesecake from oven; gently run a knife around the edge of cheesecake to loosen. Let cool for 20-30 minutes then sprinkle the top of cheesecake with crushed wafers. Remove cheesecake from springform pan. Cool completely for an hour. Place in refrigerator, cover, and chill for 8 hours.
I have a wonderful friend named Rachel who is obsessed with Smitten Kitchen. Rachel invited us to a fabulous bagel brunch at her home. The bagels were from a famous local bakery where they make water bagels and we were excited to finally sample a few. Rachel not only supplied the delicious bagels, but she also made several outstanding recipes from Smitten Kitchen and Dash and Bella. First, she made Baked Eggs with Spinach and Mushrooms. They turned out delicious! Secondly, she prepared a Persimmon Salad which not only tasted fabulous but was also one of the most beautiful salads I have ever seen. Rachel outdid herself and I had to share some photos as well as links to both the recipes. So, if hosting a brunch is in your future, the recipes in this post will be outstanding.
As some of you may know, Halloween is my FAVORITE time of year. I love Christmas and Thanksgiving, but Halloween…. OH… it just gives me so many more opportunities to be creative! Plus, I also love seeing how creative other people can be and this is why I spend way more time than I should on Pinterest and Instagram looking for fun and innovative recipes for my Halloween parties. Each year, I throw a Halloween bash (or what I like to call a Halloween Taste Testing) every Friday for the entire month of October. I invite my friends, my sons’ friends and their parents, and anyone who wants to come! I ask everyone to bring a Halloween dish they love and we set it out on the buffet. Then, we all try what was created and talk about our favorites.
The below goodies were created by the many parents who attended and were considered the favorites of the taste testing! Enjoy!
Delicious Rice Krispie Treat Monsters.
The above Halloween Rice Krispie Treat Monsters are made just like any Rice Krispie treats. However, I also dipped the top portion in candy melts and my son decorated them with various sprinkles and candy eyes. They came out adorable.
Yummy vegetable jack-o-lanterns filled with healthy vegetables.
My friend Rhae brought these healthy jack-o-lantern pepper snacks. A wonderful and healthy addition to the table!
Halloween Cheese and pretzel broom sticks… so CLEVER!
This pretzel and mozzarella stick broomsticks are ADORABLE. I love the presentation as well. Just two ingredients and a wonderful salty addition to a sweet buffet! Way to go, Carrie!
Candy Corn Rice Krispie Treats
One of the moms brought these Halloween Candy Corn Rice Krispie treats. I love how she packaged them (many kids took one home as a favor), brought them in a basket, and even displayed the recipe for anyone else who wants to try making them. So thoughtful!!
OOOOHHHH… SOOOO GROSS!!! But it’s Halloween… RIGHT??!! My friend Gina (not the one pictured above), is super creative and brought the ULTIMATE snack to the party! She needed some extra space and set-up time, but this incredible treat was a SHOW STOPPER!!! The kids loved it. She dressed up a skeleton and inserted a slow-cooker inside his chest filled with BBQ mini hotdogs or cocktail smoked sausages. She also brought Hawaiian buns to pair with the mini hotdogs. The kids (and adults) had a treat scooping the “guts” or hot dogs on to their plate. I know… I know… not for the faint of heart, but it’s HALLOWEEN!!!
Yummy cookie pizza
You can’t go wrong with a cookie pizza and this dessert was a fun treat for our guests. Loved this creative idea from one of our moms!
These adorable brownie monsters made everyone smile! They are simple brownies with candied eyes and a gummy worm as a tongue! Another dessert winner on the buffet!
Mini Chocolate Bar Robots for Halloween
This dessert was such a fun idea Simply take any mini chocolate bar, insert pieces of pretzels for the legs and arms, and decorate with candy sprinkles on the body. You can make them look like anything, monster, spiders, and in this case, robots!
Halloween Candy ghosts
Hate trying to make your cake pops look perfect? Here’s the answer! These wonderful cake pops did not have to be perfectly round to be winners. Once they were dipped in candy melts, they simply were allowed to free form. After the candy melts set a bit, the mom carved in some faces, which also did not need to be perfect. Two thumbs up for this fun and creative dessert!
I love how these adorable desserts looked together!
My Halloween flowers. I love how some stores dye their flowers black during Halloween. It gives me so many ideas for arrangements. I also love the background of the skeleton. Sort of reminds me of a grave! Okay, now I’m getting a bit gory!
Adorable Halloween guests.
Halloween Orange Jack-O-Lanterns filled with fruit salad.
I always give two thumbs up to anyone who brings healthy desserts. This mom went all out and created these fun Halloween orange Jack-O-Lanterns. She filled them with fruit salad and voila!
As always, I had a wonderful time on Better Kansas City on KCTV 5! For this show, I made delicious vegan and vegetarian salads that would be perfect for your Easter celebration or any celebration for that matter! If there is anything I have learned while prepping for parties, it’s to make as many dishes ahead of time as possible. I can’t tell you how much easier it makes things on the day of the event. These salads are perfect for just that! Each one is made from delicious ancient grains that are rich, filling, and good for you. And if the fact that they are delicious and healthy is not enough for you, what if I told you that the longer they stayed in the refrigerator, the better they taste?! So now you see why I LOVE these salads and hope you will too!
Lisa and I after our segment. Love her!!!
Santa Fe Quinoa Salad (lowest bowl), Mint and Green Beans Barley Salad (middle bowl), and Feta and Mint Orzo salads (top bowl) (all are on the left) and Santa Fe Quinoa Salsa with chips and bread (right)
Santa Fe Quinoa Salad
You can't get more perfect than Quinoa, With its mild flavor, light crunch
and impressive protein content, quinoa is the perfect gluten-free and
non-GMO substitute for pasta, rice or couscous. The below salad is fabulous
for any party and can be prepared ahead and stored for up to three days or
Six cups of cooked Quinoa
1 can of black beans
1 cup of cilantro
1 cup of frozen corn or one can of canned corn
1 cup of red pepper (chopped)
1/4 cup of chopped red onion
1 cup of chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup Olive oil
2 Garlic Cloves Minced
1 teaspoon of cumin
2 tblsp of lime juice
1 tsp honey
salt and pepper to taste
In a bowl combine your black beans, red pepper, corn, onion, cilantro, and
Whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, garlic, cumin, pepper and honey
together and toss over bean and corn mixture.
Refrigerator for at least 15-20 minutes
When ready to serve, add your tomato, cilantro, and avocado. Gently toss and
If you plan on refrigerating this salad for a couple of day, leave out the
tomatoes and avocados until right before serving.
You can serve this just as a salad or add just a bit of quinoa and instead
serve the "salad" with crackers or chips, more like a dip.
Orzo and Feta Salad with Lemon and Mint
Orzo is a delicious pasta which takes this spring and summer salad to a
whole new level. Orzo is simple to prepare, is small in size, and has a
wonderful ability to soak in flavors from other ingredients. It's a perfect
addition to soups, pilafs, and SALADS!!
4 cups of cooked orzo
1 cup finely diced yellow bell pepper
2 finely diced large cucumbers (remove seeds)
4-6 oz of Feta cheese
4 tbsp minced fresh mint leaves
1/3 cup of minced shallots
1/4 cup of Olive oil
3 tbsp of fresh lemon juice
1 minced garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon of finely grated lemon zest
salt and pepper to taste
Combine the ingredients for the dressing... olive oil, shallots, lemon
juice, garlic, lemon zest and salt and pepper. Mix until well blended.
For the salad combine cooked orzo, yellow bell pepper, cucumbers, mint, and
Pour salad dressing over salad and toss well. You can serve immediately or
for an even more intense flavor, let sit for 1-2 hours at room temperature.
If you plan on making this salad a few days before eating, leave the mint
off until right before serving.
Spring and Summer Barley Salad with Mint and Green Beans
Whole grain barley is a healthy high-fiber, high-protein whole grain
boasting numerous health benefits. When cooked, barley has a chewy texture
and nutty flavor, similar to brown rice. Although soup is the most popular
way to eat barley, it was wonderful for salads as well.
4 cups of cooked barley
1 cup of green beans (steamed and cut into one inch pieces)
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots (minced)
3 (about 1 cup) ounces white mushrooms (stems discarded and sliced thin).
2 fresh lemons (juiced)
2 tbsp minced fresh mint
2 tbsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley
salt and pepper to taste
Heat 3 tbsp of olive oi in a small pan and cook the shallots unitl softened.
Add the sliced mushrooms and cook until mushrooms have given off their
liquid and it has evaporated. Add lemon juice and parsley. Salt and pepper
to taste and let cool.
When mixture is cool, pour over the barley and set aside. Whisk together
the remaining olive oil with the juice from one lemon. Pour the mixture over
barley and toss everything until well blended.
As always, hanging out with the wonderful people at Better Kansas City is always a treat! On yesterday’s Valentine’s Day inspired show I showed Lisa Teachman a few fun recipes. May I quickly add that I feel proud that I was the reason she tried beets for the first time! You gotta love it when you can inspire people to try a fun recipe or experience a new foods!
My three recipes included a Beet Hummus (Brace yourself… this stuff is AH-MAZING!!!), No Bake Paleo Cookies, and home-made chocolates filled with fun and healthy ingredients. So, without further delay, here are the recipes. Enjoy!!
ROASTED BEET HUMMUS + BAKED HEART TORTILLA CHIPS
1 cup of roasteded beets (directions to roast below)
1 15 oz. can white kidney beans (mostly drained)
zest of one large lemon
juice of half a large lemon
healthy pinch salt and black pepper
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1. Slice beets into thick slices and toss in olive oil with a generous portion of salt, pepper, and your favorite dried and/or fresh herbs. I love to toss mine with dried rosemary and oregano. Roast at 400 for approximately 15-20 minutes.
2. Let beets cool and place them in a food processor. Add, olive oil, beans, lemon zest and juice, garlic, Process all ingredients until very smooth. Follow my three step rule… Process, scrape, taste. Adjust ingredients according to your taste. I love extra lemon in my hummus, so I may add a bit more as I process. Then, again… Process, scrape, taste. Do this a total of three times and you should have your perfect hummus!
3. Serve hummus with warm pita bread, chips, crackers, or vegetables. Store extra hummus in an airtight container for up to a week.
For the above photo I used large tortillas which I cut out as hearts (with a heart cookie cutter). Then, I brushed each heart with olive oil, sprinkled with dried dill, oregano, and garlic salt. Baked at 375 in the oven for about 10-15 minutes… keep an eye on the tortilla chips so they don’t burn. Let cool and serve alongside your beet hummus. These baked tortilla chips are so much healthier than the store-bought fried alternative!
PALEO NO BAKE THUMBPRINT COOKIES
1 cup coconut flour sifted
2 T almond flour
1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4- 1 cup Almond Milk
In a large mixing bowl, combine coconut flour,almond flower, and coconut palm sugar, and cinnamon. Make sure all the dry ingredients are mixed well.
Stir in the almond butter until the dough is crumbly. Using a tablespoon at a time, add the almond milk until a very thick batter is formed. Make golf sized balls with the dough and press down in the center of each to create a small ditch. Place the balls on a lined baking pan. Fill with dark chocolate and top off with god berries and hemp seeds. Refrigerate until time to serve.
QUINOA POWER CHOCOLATES
Any kind of chocolate Chocolate or candy melts
1/2 cup of toasted Quinoa (toasting instructions below)
Small heart molds or candy molds. I purchased mine at Michael’s in the baking section
Make chocolate with your favorite recipe or melt chocolate chips or candy melts.
Add toasted Quinoa to chocolate and mix well. Fill the heart molds with the chocolate and quinoa mixture. Cool in refrigerator until fully set. Pop out and enjoy.
HOW TO TOAST QUINOA : Toast quinoa in medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until quinoa is very fragrant and makes continuous popping sound, 10-15 minutes. Transfer quinoa to bowl and set aside. Store extra quinoa in an airtight container.
A great blast from the past! We featured this drink in St. Louis Entertains Magazine a few years back and it has always been a Halloween favorite! This drink is delicious and a perfect addition to any Halloween bar menu or even as a signature drink!
1 shot Gin
1 shot Creme de Menthe
Splash Pineapple Juice
Splash Ginger Ale
Pour the two shots into a martini shaker with ice and shake well. Pour into martini glass and top with pineapple juice and Ginger Ale
Delicious and unique! This salad is a great treat for brunch, lunch, or dinner!
1 can/jar Marinated Artichoke Hearts
4 small tomatoes (yellow, red, or both)
2 oz Prosciutto
1 large handful of basil leaves
1-2 cups Mixed greens
3 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 garlic clove crushed
1/2 tsp mild mustard
1 tsp honey
salt and pepper to taste
Thoroughly drain and cut the artichoke hearts into quarters and place in a serving bowl. Cut the tomatoes into wedges and cut prosciutto into thin strips. Place a bed of greens in a bowl and add the tomatoes, artichokes and prosciutto. Keeping a few basil springs whole for garnishing, tear the remainder of the leaves into small pieces and add to the bowl containing the other salad ingredients.To make dressing, place all the ingredients in a screw top jar and shake vigorously until they are well blended. Pour over salad, garnish with basil and enjoy with crusty bread!
The month of October was a busy one for me! While doing research for my upcoming book, I decided to try-out some fun Halloween recipes I found on Pinterest, magazines, books, and various other sources. The goal was for me to see if some of the most popular recipes were as good as their inventors claimed they were. So, over the past four weeks, I’ve had four taste test kitchens and invited children who’s ages range from 8 to 13.
The main goal was to have these kids try some fun recipes and tell me what they REALLY thought. And that is exactly what I got!
I had various kinds of feedback… too sweet, too salty, not enough sugar, too dry… but predominantly they were all thumbs up. The sugared cookies, pictured above were by far, the most popular items. Super easy and a few ingredients, who could ask for anything more?
1 package of Pillsbury Sugar Cookie Dough
1/4 cup of flour
1 Package Betty Crocker Cookie Icing – Black
Candied Googly Eyes available at most craft stores in the baking section
Remove the Pillsbury dough from package and put in a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup of flour and knead with your hands until the dough forms. Flour your cutting board and place the dough on top. Flour your rolling pin and roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch. Remember to keep flouring your rolling pin a little bit with every roll. This dough tends to be sticky.
Get your bat cookie cutters and cut out your cookies. Repeat the step to roll out the dough with any leftovers.
Place the bat cookies in the oven and cook according to dough package direction. Keep an eye on them, the thinner the dough, the faster they tend to burn.
Once cookies are done, let them cool and harden.
Once the cookies are cooled, begin decorating them. Just snip off the tip above the second ring, massage the bag a little bit and make your outline. Then, flood the bat and add the googly eyes. Let dry 5-10 minutes and enjoy!
This salad is perfect for anytime. It is bursting with flavor and a treat for anyone who likes a salad bidding to be a meal!
1 medium smoked chicken (available at any grocery store)
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup frozen peas
2 ripe avocados
1 head lettuce
1 bag arugula
To Make Dressing
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp walnut oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp fresh mixed herbs (a mixture of fresh herbs such as parsley, lemon thyme, mint, etc.)
Salt and Pepper
Divide and carve the chicken cutting to make bite sized pieces for the salad. Cover the divided and cut chicken and store in refrigerator.Put the cranberries in a bowl of water and let stand, covered, for 30-45 minutes.
Meanwhile, blanche the frozen peas and refresh them under cold water.
Slice or cube the avocados and squeeze lemon juice on them to prevent discoloration.
Combine the lettuce and arugula and toss with avocados and peas. Add the chicken.
Combine all the dressing ingredients and shake well. Add salt and pepper to taste and shake well again until all the ingredients are well blended and taste the way you want.
Drain the cranberries and mix them with the dressing, then pour over salad and serve immediately.