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Appetizers and Snacks

Easy Asian Noodle Salad with Chili Toasted Peanuts

August 31, 2017
Easy Asian Noodle Salad with Chili Toasted Peanuts | Tested Recipe |

Once I became more familiar with Asian cuisines and flavors, noodle dishes of all kinds became an instant favorite. Not only because I like to eat them, but they are super simple to throw together. 

Especially in summer when it’s so hot out that you can barely work up the energy to cook. And as much as I don’t want it to be hot anymore, it will continue here for a while. So I have to embrace it with more interesting no-or-minimal-cook meals. 

This easy Asian noodle salad is one of those meals. Well, I say meal, but really, I think it makes a super fun appetizer, too. A twist on a salad that you can share with friends. 

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Arugula Sundried Tomato Tostadas

August 29, 2017
Arugula Sundried Tomato Tostada Recipe |

A lot of things stick with me from our time living in Brazil. Much of it is related to food.

As simple as it is, probably the most prominent of these is rucula e tomate seco. I think the first time we had it was on a pizza, then I found it as a sandwich. 

Arugula and sundried tomatoes aren’t uncommon in the States, of course. I had just never had the two together, and it’s a rather brilliant combination. The peppery arugula and the sweet tomatoes go so well together. 

It’s the sandwich that I think of most. Sandwiches were hard to get used to in Brazil. At that point, we were trained to want subs. Big sandwiches, loaded with ingredients.

And a sandwich always has a side, right? Chips, fries, at least a pickle. I can still remember one of my husband’s coworkers who frequented Brazil saying something similar to, how weird is it that you don’t get anything with sandwiches here?

I was glad we weren’t the only ones that had noticed. 

These days, after being back in the U.S. for nearly 10 years, I’d trade my side without question if someone could make me my favorite rucula e tomate seco sandwich like I had at our small sandwich shop there. 

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Refried Black Beans with Garlic and Lime

August 18, 2017
Refried Black Beans with Garlic and Lime Recipe |

I almost bought a can of refried black beans the other day. I was doing that for a while a few years ago, when we were trying to stick to a slow carb eating plan. (If you are unfamiliar, it can be summed up as eating protein, veggies, and beans at just about every meal.) I’ve been trying to steer my food intake back in that direction since it was when I felt my fittest, but it’s been a slow process since we moved to the Central Valley and, you know, we were without a kitchen for a while this year. 

Those cans were super convenient then, even though I knew they were loaded with sodium. But I stopped myself this time. I’m perfectly capable of making delicious beans, so I redirected myself over to the dried bean section and picked up a one pound bag of black beans. 

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Grilled Stuffed Baby Eggplant with Goat Cheese, Walnuts, and Prosciutto

August 9, 2017
Grilled Stuffed Baby Eggplant with Goat Cheese, Walnuts, and Prosciutto Recipe |

I was digging through the long, purple Japanese eggplant at the farmers market on a recent Saturday morning. Suddenly I spotted a much smaller, baby eggplant. As I started to pull away the larger variety, I found more and began piling as many as I could into my hands the crook of my arm. 

Seeing my determination, the vendor came over and pulled away the larger eggplants so I could find more. Clearly, he understood my mission. 

Eggplant is one of those vegetables that I always have to research after I buy it to learn the exact name. These were Indian eggplant, which are often simply called baby eggplant. At about 2 inches long, it’s no surprise why they got the latter name. 

At that point, I had no idea what I was going to do with them. That sums up most of my farmers market strategy – buy now, think later. 

I’d seen these eggplants stuffed and baked before, but we had plans to fire up the grill that night so I took a different approach.

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Warm Stuffed Apricots with Green Olives, Pecans, and Brie

June 30, 2017
Warm Stuffed Apricots with Green Olives, Pecans, and Brie Recipe |

When I was in Italy attending Meeta’s food photography workshop back in May, we were given the opportunity to pick from loads of gorgeous produce to take outside and photograph. And as I just mentioned – Italy. So you know everything was perfectly ripe, heirloom, and stunning. The tomatoes were the most coveted item, beautiful varieties I hadn’t seen before.

When it came time to gather our things and head outside, my Cut Throat Kitchen style grabbing skills failed me, though. The tomatoes were the first to go.

After coming in second place for those, I started to eye the olives on the table. My first thought was – these would look great with those tomatoes – but those beauties weren’t coming back any time soon. I had to get more creative. 

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Date and Bacon Tarts with Mascarpone and Hazelnuts + Savory Fig, Rosemary and Parmesan Cornmeal Cookies

December 22, 2016

These sweet and savory holiday party snacks pair well with the 2013 Leaky Lake Cabernet Sauvignon I received from Cultivar Wine

Holiday Appetizer Recipes | Date and Bacon Tarts with Mascarpone and Hazelnuts + Savory Fig, Rosemary and Parmesan Cornmeal Cookies | Fake Food Free #freeproductreview

Tis the season for snacks and appetizers. At least that is what I’ve been telling myself as I’ve snacked my way through breakfast, lunch, and dinner the past week. I try to rotate a carrot or celery stick in every now and then, but who am I kidding. 

At this point, it’s best to cast dietary caution to the wind and enjoy some holiday food. And drink a little wine. 

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Balsamic Pearl Onions

September 10, 2016
Balsamic Pearl Onions Recipe | Delicious as a snack and perfect as a cocktail garnish | Fake Food Free

I was browsing the Whole Foods salad bar the other day when I came across balsamic marinated Cipollini onions. Balsamic and onions are two of my favorite things so I dropped one in my to-go box. One bite and I wish I had taken 3 (or 10) more. 

These onions are not new, and neither is the idea to glaze them in a balsamic-based sauce, but this was most certainly a new thing to me. Sweet and tangy, I just can’t get enough of them.

Given that I could snack on these all day, I decided to try my own version with pearl onions. 

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15 Picnic Recipes to Celebrate the End of Summer

August 24, 2016
15 Picnic Recipes to Celebrate the End of Summer | Fake Food Free

The end of August is rolling around. Even though schools have started and I’ve been thinking a lot about pumpkins, there is still that one big celebration that closes us out of summer and sends us into the next season. 

For all of those Labor Day cookouts and picnics coming up, I decided to go through some of the recipes here on Fake Food Free and pull out a few that are perfect to take or make for your next cookout. Some are from way back when and others debuted just this summer.

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Grilled Baba Ganoush with Basil Garlic Olive Oil

July 26, 2016
Grilled Baba Ganoush with Basil Garlic Olive Oil Recipe | Fake Food Free

My goodness they were monsters! 

I’m not sure if I’ve been growing and buying Japanese-style eggplants for too long, or if things have changed, but the American variety of eggplants at the supermarket last week were absolutely huge.

They were eye-catching, though. So much so that I took one look and decided it was high time I made baba ganoush again. 

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Smoky Chipotle Shrimp Dip with Shrimp Cucumber Salad

June 28, 2016

This shrimp dip layers flavors and textures to create a delicious and easy to make summer appetizer. It pairs well with the 2015 Cultivar Napa Valley Rose that I received from Cultivar Wine!

Smoky Chipotle Shrimp Dip with Shrimp Cucumber Salad Recipe | Paired with Cultivar 2015 Napa Valley Rose | Fake Food Free #cultivarwinebloggers #partner

Shrimp is a summer food to me. I rarely have it in the kitchen until hot days begin to bring about thoughts of the beach and ocean.

My shrimp recipes are pretty standard — tossed with pasta, stirred into sweet corn risotto or wrapped into Asian-inspired spring rolls. When I found a bag of sustainably harvested small shrimp (often called salad shrimp) at the market last week, though, I was too excited to use it in one of my regular recipes. 

I’d been having trouble finding shrimp from a good source so when that find lined up with my shrimp season, I needed to celebrate a little. 

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