Thursday, September 24, 2020

Fig and Walnut Goat Cheese Appetizer

Fig and Walnut Goat Cheese Appetizer

     I came upon this appetizer on a website for my favorite brand of fig jam years ago. The recipe has since disappeared off of their site, so I'm glad I memorized it. The first time I made it was for my cooking club, and we ate all of it! It then became a regular appetizer I would bring to get togethers with my friends. The combination of fig, walnuts roasted with the jam, and the tanginess of the goat cheese creates such a great balance with every bite. It quickly becomes addicting! I will leave notes at the end with suggestions for what type of fig jam or butter to use and also some notes about goat cheese for those of you who think you might not like it. I once thought I didn't like goat cheese either, but now I love it!

Fig and Goat Cheese Appetizer


3/4 cup chopped walnuts

4 TBSP fig jam or fig butter divided ( you will use 2 TBSP at a time)

8 oz. goat cheese log ( or you can use two 4 oz. logs)


1) Pre-heat the oven to 300.

2) Chop the walnuts into small pieces if they are not already chopped.

3) Mix 2 TBSP of the fig jam with the walnut pieces and spread out evenly on a pan lined with parchment paper. It will stick if you don't use parchment paper!

4) Roast the walnuts for 4-6 minutes, checking after four minutes to make sure they don't burn, you want them to be a little toasty so the fig jam starts to caramelized.

5) Let the walnuts cool slightly.

6) Roll out a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper and spread the walnuts into a rectangular shape that will cover the goat cheese log.  There is a picture below of this process. 

7) Spread the remaining 2 TBSP of fig jam over three of the sides of the goat cheese and then place the goat cheese in the middle of the walnuts on the plastic wrap.

8) Using the plastic wrap roll the sides of the plastic wrap up to coat the goat cheese in the walnut mixture.

9) Wrap tightly in the plastic wrap and place in the fridge to set for at least 2 hours. 

10) Serve with crackers. I like to use rice crackers, the lightness of the crackers goes really well with the goat cheese. 


I have used Dalmatia Fig Jam, Trader Joe's Fig Butter, and Fresh Thyme Fig Jam for this recipe and they all turned out great! My favorite Fig Jam is Dalmatia, but it is the most expensive. It has the most best flavor and is imported so you can find it at World Market or the specialty section of your grocery store.

If you think you don't like goat cheese try a little more expensive brand. I used to only buy Trader Joe's goat cheese, and although it is a great deal it is more tangy than a more expensive brand you can find at most local grocery stores. This is a special occasion appetizer so go for the good stuff! 



Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Crispy Russet Potatoes

 Crispy Russet Potatoes

     I came across the secret to perfectly roasted potatoes years ago.  You know those potatoes that have crispy edges but are still creamy on the inside. The secret is to par-boil the potatoes before roasting them. This extra step might seem a little annoying but it makes a big difference! My parents and friends have raved for years about my roasted potatoes when they come over for dinner. I typically use small yukon gold or red potatoes but one day all I had in the house was russet. I tried them out and they turned out just as delicious, if not more so! The skin of the russet potatoes get extra crispy! I call them breakfast potatoes because I love to serve them with eggs, but you can eat them any time of day.


4 large russet potatoes

1 tsp sea salt

2 TBSP olive oil


1) Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet.

2) Cut up the potatoes into one inch pieces, place in a large pot and cover with water. 

3) Bring the water to a boil, once it starts to boil set a timer for 10 minutes.

4) After the 10 minutes drain the potatoes, return them to the pot, cover with a lid and then shake the potatoes five times. This will gently break the potatoes up so they will get even crispier in the oven.

5) Place the potatoes on the parchment lined baking sheet, drizzle with the 2 TBSP olive oil and salt. Toss the potatoes gently to coat evenly.

6) Bake the potatoes for at least 40 minutes until the outside is crispy and brown, depending on your oven it might take a little longer or a little less time. Taste the potatoes and add more salt if needed.


These potatoes re-heat so well in the air fryer or back in the oven again, they will get even more crispy! 

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Scooter's Pumpkin Pie Smoothie Copycat

Scooter's Pumpkin Pie Smoothie Copycat

     In college my friend Sarah introduced me to the Scooter's Coffehouse Pumpkin Pie Smoothie. I had never tasted anything that represented fall in a cup so well, I think this was even before I had experienced a Starbucks pumpkin spice latte. My younger sister Elizabeth went to get her yearly Pumpkin Pie Smoothie fix last week and she found out they changed the recipe. Since she used to manage a Scooter's she knew they used to use a family pumpkin pie recipe as the base, now the only use a pumpkin pie flavoring. She told me her life would never be the same when she found this out, not being dramatic at all. he he Elizabeth experimented with a recipe at home and sent me her base recipe, I messed around with it a little and wrote down the recipe to share! Now if you are missing the Pumpkin Pie Smoothie, or if you want to try one for the first time you can make it at home! It's a bonus that this has no refined sugars and can easily be made dairy free if you need it that way.


1/3 cup canned pumpkin 

1/2-1 cup ice

1/2 cup coconut, almond, or whole milk

1 1/2 TBSP maple syrup

1 TBSP cashew or almond butter

3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1/4 tsp cinnamon 

optional- dairy free whip cream or whip cream and pumpkin pie spice for sprinkling 


1) Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend on high for 1 minute or until smooth. If you are using a high speed blender such as Vita-mix you will want to use closer to 1 cup of ice. If using another blender start with 1/2 cup of ice and blend, then add a few ice cubes at a time and blend until it is a creamy and thick texture.

2) Top with whip cream and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice! 


Notes: The nut butter helps to add a good texture to the smoothie, you can use a TBSP of vanilla protein powder instead of the nut butter.

You also can add more maple syrup to taste, 1 1/2 TBSP makes for a sweet but not overly sweet smoothie, if you want more of a dessert type smoothie add 2 TBSP. 


Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Late Summer Vegetable Egg Bake

Late Summer Vegetable Egg Bake

     If you are like me at the end of the summer you end up with a lot of tomatoes and zucchini from family and friends. I would like to have my own garden again someday but in the meantime I will welcome any produce that I can get from them! I love zucchini and tomatoes and thought they would be great combined in an egg bake, and I was right! I added some defrosted frozen kale for another level of nutrients and flavor and it was a hit! I love making an egg bake for dinner on Sunday evening, that way I can start the week with leftovers for breakfast for a few days. This easy recipe can be adjusted for just about any veggies you might have on hand. If you are using a vegetable like spinach or kale that will release a lot of liquid during cooking just make sure you defrost and drain well if frozen, or saute for a minute or so and drain well before adding it to the egg mixture if fresh.


6 large eggs

1 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp cracked pepper

1 zucchini thinly sliced

1 small tomato diced

1/2 cup of frozen kale ( I ran mine under warm water for a minute while in a colander and then squeezed it dry by pushing a spatula against the kale and the side of the colander) 

1/2 tsp dry basil


1) Pre-heat oven to 350 and spray a 9 inch pie pan with olive oil or non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

2) In a large bowl crack the 6 eggs, add the 1 tsp sea salt and 1/4 tsp pepper, and whisk until fully incorporated and fluffy.

3) Place the defrosted and dried kale in the bottom of the pan. 

4) Pour the egg mixture over the kale.

4) Arrange the thinly sliced zucchini over the top of the egg mixture, and then top with the diced tomatoes. Sprinkle the 1/2 tsp of dried basil evenly over the top.

5) Bake for 20-30 minutes until the center is set. 


This keeps up to 4 days in the refrigerator covered and reheats well in the microwave for an easy breakfast!