Posts Tagged ‘quick’

Cutest Potatoes Ever

September 17, 2012 23 comments

Cutest Potatoes Ever!

Usually, my food isn’t very pretty. I spend more time concerned with the taste than the looks. Wish I could do both, but I can’t. However, with these little potatoes, anyone can make “cute” and delicious food. To give you an idea of how tiny they are, the potatoes in the photo are in a 3-inch ramekin!

If you’ve been reading The Flaming Pot Holder lately, you know we like to grow our food when possible. Farmers markets are a great second choice for purchasing local food. However, sometimes you see something at a grocery store you must try. That happened a few weeks ago at the Whole Foods Market in Nashville. We found marble-sized red, white, and purple potatoes.

The company is Tasteful Selections and the Sunrise Medley Nibbles potatoes are from their Simply Amazing Potatoes line of products. They are tiny, but very flavorful and tender. When I emailed the company to ask permission to include them in the blog, I received a nice response from Melissa in their marketing department. I mentioned recently that I wanted to add a few reviews to the blog, so guess this is my first official one! I like the fact that this is still a family owned farm; it makes me feel better shopping at a big box store. If you want to give them a try, you should check out their website and Facebook page for other recipes, coupons, and even a sweepstakes. They also have a store locator so you can find where to buy them in your area.

To keep it vegan, you can use olive oil, coconut oil, margarine or your favorite oil. You just want something to help the salt, pepper, and herbs adhere. From start to finish, I think it only took about 10 minutes, so this really is a fast side dish. Hope you like these delicious and cute potatoes!

Cutest Potatoes Ever (Print recipe)

1 bag Sunrise Medley Nibbles potatoes (or other tiny potatoes)

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon olive oil (margarine, oil of your choice, or butter)

Kosher salt, to taste

Pepper (I used ground black pepper and Aleppo pepper flakes)

Fresh chives and/or herbs, chopped (I used parsley and Greek basil)

Wash the potatoes. Put the potatoes in a large saucepan, add one teaspoon of salt, and enough water to cover the potatoes. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. Test a potato, by piercing with a fork. Depending on the size, they might be done. Otherwise, they might need a few more minutes. Cook until tender. Drain. Add olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with fresh herbs. Enjoy! These are even delicious the next day cold! You can toss them into a salad.

Coming soon…my husband’s recipe for a Kitchen Sink Frittata that uses leftover potatoes as one of the ingredients!


Eye of the Goat Bean Soup

September 1, 2012 2 comments

Make Eye of the Goat Bean Soup

If you made the eye of goat beans and rice from the last post, there is a good chance you had leftover beans (unless you cooked for a crowd). So what do you do with them? You can freeze them, make bean salad, chili, or refried beans. Or you could make a simple, quick soup. That’s what I did!  I’ve recently started back to work at a real job, as a technical writer and editor. After two years of not working, I’m relearning my time management skills. Juggling work, gardening, cooking, food writing, yard work, housework, etc. is challenging. Anything that makes a quick and healthy meal is a good thing in my book.

I served the soup topped with a bit of grated cheese, a few splashes of hot sauce, and some chopped fresh herbs. We had just bought some Cumin Gouda from the Franklin Farmers Market in Nashville and I thought it would be good with the soup. It was! The cheese is from Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese in Austin, Kentucky. If you happen to see them at a market near you, I would highly recommend them (or you can order online). They have some unique flavors: Cranberry Havarti, Coffee Cheddar, Garlic Paprika Monterey Jack, etc. I also served the soup with Beanitos’ Black Bean Chips, a new chip we recently discovered. I have several food allergies/food sensitivities and avoid corn, but sometimes I want a corn chip. Well, these are a good substitute – no corn or gluten; but high in protein thanks to the black beans!

Eye of the Goat Bean Soup

Leftover eye of the goat beans (we had half the batch leftover)

Veggie stock or water



Garnishes: grated cheese, sour cream, yogurt, hot pepper sauce, fresh herbs, chopped peppers, sliced green onions, crackers, chips, etc.

Special equipment: immersion blender, food processor, blender, or potato masher

Depending on how soupy you made the beans, you might need to remove some of the liquid and reserve it for later (just in case you need it). Heat the beans over low heat. Mash the beans, either by hand or use an immersion blender, food processor, or a regular blender. If needed, add the extra bean liquid, stock, or water to make a nice soup consistency. Make sure it is heated through and season with salt and pepper as needed. Top with garnishes and serve.


Peach Cubes

August 6, 2012 7 comments

Fresh AL Peaches!

Peaches are plentiful at farmers markets throughout North Alabama. We bought a small basket at the Greene Street Market last week. I enjoy eating them fresh, but there were a bunch in that little basket. So, I thought of ways to put them up and enjoy them this winter. Usually, I slice them and freeze them. Sometimes with a little lemon juice to keep them from browning. I might also add a bit of sugar. Frozen peaches are great for making cobblers, smoothies, peach pies, etc. However, depending on how you freeze them you can end up with a huge block of frozen peaches! Not the easiest to handle; unless you measure the quantity you need for a specific recipe and only freeze that amount in each container (I freeze 5 cups of peaches for cobbler).

I freeze pesto, tomato paste, yogurt, herbs, etc. in ice cube trays so why not pureed peaches!?! This weekend, I made pureed peach cubes! While making them, I vaguely recalled my mom doing this when I was a kid. The peach cubes are kinda boring looking, so I did not take a photo of them. A special thank you to Marilyn Evans for the beautiful photo of peaches available at the Greene Street Market at Nativity. I will take photos when the cubes are transformed in a recipe…maybe a smoothie, daiquiri, popsicle, fruit slush, something.

Peach Cubes

1 pound peaches, pitted and sliced  (you can peel them if you want or just spot-peel as needed)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Put the peaches and lemon juice into a blender container (or food processor container). Puree until smooth. If you want to leave a few large pieces, that is fine, whatever you prefer! Pour into ice cube trays. Freeze. Remove cubes and store in resealable plastic bags in the freezer.

Coming soon…what you can do with the peach cubes!

Simple Syrups

June 3, 2012 2 comments

Simple syrups are great to keep on hand, particularly in the summer. They are perfect for iced beverages – tea, coffee, lemonade, cocktails, non-alcoholic punches, etc. You can also use simple syrups to moisten a dry cake, add a bit of sweetness to a fruit salad, or use to sweeten a frozen fruit granita, etc. There are many uses for simple syrups. They also make nice, simple gifts when you put them in a mason jar and tie them with ribbon or raffia.

The basic simple syrup recipe is one part water and one part sugar. You simmer it for about a minute on medium-high heat, just until the sugar dissolves. Remove it from the heat. Let it cool at room temperature. Store it in the refrigerator for up to one month.

The flavor possibilities are endless – mint, citrus, cinnamon, basil, ginger, clove, coffee, vanilla, lemon verbena, rosemary, rose petal, blueberry, lavender, strawberry, cardamom, peach, star anise, mango, pink peppercorn, nutmeg, habanero…See what I mean? There are tons of flavor combinations!

You can also make simple syrups without sugar – I’ve included recipes that use honey, agave, maple syrup, raw sugar, brown sugar, and a sugar-free Splenda version. I haven’t actually made and tried the Splenda simple syrup; but given the chemical properties of Splenda, it should work.

Coming soon to The Flaming Pot Holder:  what you can do with simple syrups. But for now, here are some simple syrup recipes to get you started…

Simple Syrup – Basic Recipe

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Stir. Heat on medium-high heat until it just starts to simmer. Simmer for about 1 minute or until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Let cool at room temperature. Transfer to a container and store in refrigerator for up to one month.

Honey Simple Syrup

1 cup honey

1 cup water

Combine water and honey in a medium saucepan. Stir. Heat on medium-high heat until it just starts to simmer. Remove from heat. Let cool at room temperature. Transfer to a container and store in refrigerator for up to one month.

Agave Simple Syrup

1 cup water

1 cup agave

Combine water and agave in a medium saucepan. Stir. Heat on medium-high heat until it just starts to simmer. Remove from heat. Let cool at room temperature. Transfer to a container and store in refrigerator for up to one month.

Maple Simple Syrup

1 cup water

1 cup maple syrup

Combine water and maple syrup in a medium saucepan. Stir. Heat on medium-high heat until it just starts to simmer. Remove from heat. Let cool at room temperature. Transfer to a container and store in refrigerator for up to one month.

Raw Sugar Simple Syrup

1 cup Turbinado raw sugar (I use Sugar in the Raw)

1 cup water

Combine water and raw sugar in a medium saucepan. Stir. Heat on medium-high heat until it just starts to simmer. Simmer for about 3 minutes or until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Let cool at room temperature. Transfer to a container and store in refrigerator for up to one month.

Brown Sugar Simple Syrup

1 cup dark or light brown sugar

1 cup water

Combine water and brown sugar in a medium saucepan. Stir. Heat on medium-high heat until it just starts to simmer. Simmer for about 2-3 minutes or until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Let cool at room temperature. Transfer to a container and store in refrigerator for up to one month. Interesting note (at least I thought it was an interesting ah-ha moment): when you make a dark brown sugar simple syrup, it is like molasses. This makes sense because brown sugar has molasses in it. This simple syrup would be great in fall and winter cocktails. It would also be good on oatmeal or on grapefruit (as a child, I liked brown sugar on grapefruit). If you are out of molasses, this syrup would be a good substitute in a recipe.

Sugar-free Simple Syrup

1 cup water

1 cup Splenda

Bring water to a boil. Remove from heat. Add Splenda. Stir until dissolved. Cool. Refrigerate.


 Herb Simple Syrup

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

¼ to 1 cup fresh herbs (rosemary, lavender, basil, mint etc.) loosely packed*

Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Stir. Heat on medium-high heat until it just starts to simmer. Simmer for about one minute or until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Add the herbs. Let it sit for 25 minutes. Strain the syrup. Let cool at room temperature. Transfer to a container and store in refrigerator for up to one month.
*In general, use about ¼ cup of rosemary or lavender, ½ cup basil, or 1 cup of mint. This is just a basic rule of thumb, since some herbs are stronger and you need less. But feel free to use as much as you like.


Berry or Fruit Simple Syrup

1 cups sugar

1 cup water

½ to 1 cup of chopped fruit or berries 

Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Stir. Heat on medium-high heat until it just starts to simmer. Simmer for about 1 minute or until the sugar dissolves. Add fruit. Stir. Remove from heat. Let cool at room temperature. Strain out the fruit (add to a smoothie or serve over yogurt). Transfer to a container and store in refrigerator for up to one month.


Other Simple Syrup Variations:

Vanilla Simple Syrup: Add a split vanilla bean to the syrup after you remove it from the heat. Let cool at room temperature. Transfer to a container. Keep the vanilla bean in the bottle to intensify the flavor. Store in refrigerator for up to one month.

Citrus Simple Syrup: Add citrus zest (lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, tangerine, Meyer lemon, or a combination) to the syrup after you remove it from the heat. Let it sit for 30 minutes. Strain the syrup. Let cool at room temperature. Transfer to a container and store in refrigerator for up to one month.

Coffee Simple Syrup: Add 5-15 coffee beans to the syrup after you remove it from the heat. Let cool at room temperature. I leave the coffee beans in the syrup, but feel free to remove them if you prefer. Transfer to a container and store in refrigerator for up to one month.



Spring Salad

May 19, 2012 2 comments

We are novice organic gardeners. We buy organic seeds and plants when we can and we don’t use pesticides. Instead, we use cayenne pepper, Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap, garlic, and diatomaceous earth. We also plant marigolds, mint, onions, and nasturtiums for bug control. We still have more bugs than we’d care to have, but the birds don’t seem to mind. There are lots of baby birds at the Smith-Jordan house and we’re enjoying bird watching. This photo includes our blue jay, chickadee, and woodpecker babies. The baby titmouse and cardinal are too elusive to capture on film.

We’ve been in our house for 2½ years. Since it was a new home, with a cleared lot, we have lots of sunshine and a blank canvas. We are slowly transforming the back yard into an edible landscape. So far, we have five raised vegetable beds (yay Matt!), one herb bed, one sweet potato straw “cage” (my summer experiment), two fig trees, and two containers of tomatoes. We are currently transitioning from our spring garden to our summer garden. We still have sugar snap peas, several varieties of lettuce, radishes, and purple mustard greens. The carrots are coming in slowly. Soon, we’ll harvest tomatoes, peppers, onions, leeks, cucumbers, and patty pan squashes. We’ll have to wait until the end of summer for the sweet potatoes and butternut squash.

We are enjoying lots of fresh salads. This week, we went to a birthday party for a friend. We brought a spring salad with a strawberry habanero balsamic vinaigrette. It was tasty with an interesting combination of flavors – sweet, bitter, and spicy. We picked the carrots, radishes, peas, and greens from our garden and bought the strawberries at the Madison Farmer’s Market. It doesn’t get much fresher than that!

The strawberry balsamic vinaigrette recipe is originally from Rachael Ray ( I used the strawberry jam and strawberry habanero jam I made a few weeks ago in the dressing. I also made a few more changes to the original recipe to suit our tastes. This recipe is scalable, you can make it for two or twelve people, just adjust the quantities in the original recipe which serves 6-8. Be flexible with the fruit and vegetables that you add to the greens, use whatever you like, that is in season. Hope you enjoy experimenting with different flavor combinations…

Spring Salad

2 tablespoons strawberry habanero jam*

3 tablespoons (1.5 ounces) balsamic vinegar

½ cup oil**

2 teaspoons water

Salt and pepper, to taste

8 cups mixed greens

½ cup pea pods, strings removed

½ cup carrots, sliced thinly

½ cup radishes, sliced thinly

1 cup strawberries, sliced thinly

Place jam in a measuring cup or in a small bowl. Whisk in the balsamic vinegar. Then add the oil and water. Whisk until you get a nice thick dressing (you might need to add a bit more water if it is too thick). Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the greens and veggies in a large salad bowl. Toss. Add the strawberries at the end to prevent them from breaking into pieces. Serve. Makes 6-8 servings.

Notes and Variations:

*Jam:  If you only have strawberry jam, that is fine. The habanero just adds a little extra kick. Raspberry preserves, orange marmalade, or blueberry jam would also work.

**Oil: You can use extra virgin olive oil or a combination of olive oil, sunflower oil, canola oil, or vegetable oil. Whatever you prefer is fine.

Possible variations: Add toasted pecans, slivered almonds, walnuts, dried cherries, or dried cranberries (especially if fresh strawberries are not in season).

Refrigerator Pickles

April 19, 2012 5 comments

We make and eat lots of refrigerator pickles (sometimes known as cucumber/onion salad) at our house. They are quick, easy, versatile, and it’s a great way to use extra cucumbers. I learned how to make them from my Mom. I think she learned how to make them from Nanny, her grandmother. We had a large garden growing up and we had loads of cucumbers. There are just so many bread and butter pickles one can eat, and then it’s time to make refrigerator pickles or cucumber/onion salad.  Whatever you call it, it is tasty!


Refrigerator Pickles

3 cups sliced cucumbers (about 4-6 small cucumbers)

1 cup sliced onions (I use 1 small red onion and 1 small white onion)

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

pinch of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes (optional)

1½ cups white vinegar

I like the cucumbers and onions sliced very thin so I use either a mandoline slicer or a food processor. But hand-slicing works great too (and there is less equipment to clean!).  I usually leave the peel on the cucumbers, but you can peel them if you prefer. 

Mix the cucumbers and onions in a larger container with a tight-fitting lid (I use a large Pyrex container or a large Mason jar).  Sprinkle with the salt and pepper.  Pour in the vinegar.  Mix well. You can eat them immediately but I like to refrigerate them for several hours (or even several days). I just shake (thus, the tight-fitting lid) or stir them every day.


– Add cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes.

– Add sugar, stevia, honey, or agave to cut some of the tartness.

– Add fresh garlic for an added flavor kick.

– Add thinly sliced green or red bell peppers.

– Add jalapeño pepper slices.

– Add fresh herbs (parsley, dill, chives, etc.).

– Mix it up with different onions: white, Vidalia, yellow, purple (or even shallots).

– Try different vinegars: apple cider, white vinegar, or even a splash of balsamic or red wine vinegar.

– Drain off most of the vinegar and stir in some sour cream or plain yogurt and dill for a creamy side salad.


Ginger Ale Carrots with a Kick

April 12, 2012 4 comments

I volunteered at WLRH earlier this week for their spring fund drive. While waiting for the phones to ring, the volunteers were sitting around, chatting about cooking, recipes, food blogs, etc. Someone mentioned they wanted a recipe for glazed carrots. I told them about a recipe Alton Brown made on Good Eats that I would share on my blog sometime in the next few weeks.

Typically, I’m not a huge fan of glazed carrots; they are a tad too sweet for my taste. But I like ginger ale and chili powder so I tried Mr. Brown’s recipe a few years ago. They were delicious!  I have since tweaked the recipe a bit (kicking up the heat), but I stayed fairly true to Alton’s original recipe. Here is a link to his original recipe:

Coincidentally, yesterday I was at Garden Cove and they had carrots on the sale table – .75¢ for a large bag of Georgia carrots! I couldn’t pass up such a bargain. So here’s my spicier version…

Ginger Ale Carrots with a Kick

2 tablespoons butter (margarine or coconut oil)*

3 cups sliced carrots (3-4 carrots, thinly sliced)**

½ teaspoon salt

12 ounces ginger ale (I used Reed’s Original Ginger Brew)

½ teaspoon chili powder

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

pinch of cayenne, chipotle, or Aleppo pepper, optional

1 tablespoon maple syrup (honey or agave), optional

½ teaspoon freshly grated ginger or a pinch of powdered ginger, optional

1 tablespoon fresh parsley (flat or curly), chopped

Mix 1 tablespoon of butter, carrots, salt, and ginger ale in a large sauté pan that has a lid (Recipe will work in a regular pot with lid, but it will likely take longer for the glaze to thicken and reduce.  A covered wok would also work great.). Cover with lid and bring to simmer. Reduce the heat to low. Cook about 6 minutes. Remove the lid, stir in the remaining tablespoon of butter, chili powder, and cumin.  If you want to kick up the flavor, add the cayenne, maple syrup, and ginger. Turn up the temperature to high.  Stir and cook about 4 to 7 minutes until tender (it depends on the size of the carrot slices, the ones I bought were huge and took longer to cook).  Stir constantly so the carrots do not burn. The sauce will thicken and make a nice glaze on the carrots. Remove from heat. Top with chopped parsley and serve.  Makes about 4 adult servings (as a side dish).

*These carrots can be made vegan with an easy substitution of margarine or coconut oil for the butter.

**I used 4 extremely large carrots and ended up with just over 4 cups of sliced carrots.  Truthfully, the carrots were a tad dry.  In the future, I will add a bit of water or more ginger ale if I use that many carrots. Luckily this is a really forgiving recipe and tweaks to it are perfectly fine.

Purple Goodness in a Glass

March 29, 2012 2 comments

Around our house, smoothies make a quick, healthy breakfast, lunch, snack, or dessert.  We pick blueberries every summer at MaryMac Farms and then freeze the berries for use year-round.  Smoothies are one of our favorite ways to enjoy the berries.  This smoothie recipe can be a base for other smoothies – add some extra frozen bananas, peaches, strawberries, or cherries.  Yes, we keep all of those in our freezer! 

Helpful hint:  We also have lots of bags with little cubes of things in the freezer. When we have extra yogurt, fruit juice, wine, pesto, lemon juice, fresh herbs, apple cider, and tomato paste, I freeze it in ice cube trays. Then pop them out and store them in resealable bags.

  • Yogurt:  I like to buy large containers of organic Greek yogurt, but we never seem to finish it.  The cubes are perfect for smoothies.  Frozen flavored yogurt cubes make good mini popsicles (just add a toothpick when it is almost frozen).
  • Fruit juice: We usually don’t finish a bottle of juice either.  Hate to waste it, so it gets frozen. Perfect for smoothies or depending on the juice, great in iced tea!
  • Wine:  Leftover wine doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, I freeze it.  The wine cubes are perfect for finishing up a sauce or gravy.
  • Pesto:  When the basil in the garden is going crazy, I make pesto and freeze it in ice cube trays. Oil the trays first for easy removal.  Just thaw a cube and toss with fresh, hot pasta or mixed vegetables.
  • Lemon juice:  When I make limoncello, I have almost 4 cups of lemon juice!  There’s just so much fresh lemonade we can drink. So, I freeze some in ice cube trays and some in larger containers for making lemon bars.
  • Fresh herbs:  To freeze fresh herbs (like basil, parsley, chives, and mint), just rinse, snip if they are large, place in an ice cube tray, fill the tray half full with water, freeze, fill trays with water, freeze, and then store them in resealable bags.  If you initially fill the trays with water, the herbs tend to float and they might get freezer-burned.  This method, though it takes more time, prevents freezer damage to the herbs. Another method is to freeze fresh herbs in olive oil.
  • Apple cider:  We get local apple cider from Scott’s and then freeze some in cubes for drinking hot in the winter.  It is also great with tea (hot and iced). And sometimes I eat the cubes in the summer, another popsicle-like treat.
  • Tomato paste:  Freezing is great when you need just a little tomato paste and have leftovers from the can.  It is much cheaper to buy cans of tomato paste than those little tubes. Oil the trays before filling to hopefully prevent them from staining. 


Blueberry Banana Smoothie

1 banana (fresh or frozen)

1 cup frozen blueberries (fresh or frozen)

½ cup juice (I used tangerine, cranberry, apple, orange, etc. juice is fine too)

¾ cup plain yogurt or kefir (any kind works – soy, coconut, regular)

Optional add-ins:  protein powder, dash of cinnamon, ground flax seeds, shredded coconut, (ice cubes if you use fresh fruit, I like the cold), flax seed oil, almond butter, ginger, cayenne, etc.

Pour contents into blender container.  Cover with the lid (otherwise you might end up with purple goodness all over the place!). Blend until smooth and purple.  Enjoy!

Servings:  2 snack-sized servings or 1 meal-sized serving



¼ Cup Baklava Cups

February 17, 2012 2 comments

I’ve been craving Mediterranean food so that’s what we’re having for dinner tonight. I’m making oven-baked falafel, rice pilaf, hummus, tahini sauce, and tzatziki with all the salad fixings (olives, cucumbers, tomatoes, feta, lettuce, onions, pickles, and pepperoncini peppers).  I wanted to make Baklava but I didn’t plan far enough in advance. So, I decided to create a quick and easy baklava-like pastry using frozen mini fillo shells. I named it ¼ Cup Baklava Cups because you use a ¼ cup of all the basic ingredients (honey, water, sugar, walnuts, almonds, and pistachios). To make it a little healthier, you could omit the extra sugar in the filling and the butter.  To me, the ¼ teaspoon of rose flower water is essential to the recipe.  Rose flower water is not the easiest ingredient to find in Huntsville, AL, but it is lovely.  It reminds me of my time living in Cyprus back in my 20s.  There, they baked cookies, baklava, and cakes flavored with rose flower water – they were delightful.

Probably the best place to look for rose flower water is in a Middle Eastern grocery, Mediterranean food market,, or a specialty food store. If you can’t find it, then orange blossom water could be substituted.  Again, not the easiest ingredient to find.   You can check the same stores.  I think our local The Fresh Market (TFM) has orange blossom water.  However, if you can’t find either ingredient, then vanilla will work.  I found the mini fillo cups at Publix.  It took three stores before I found them (Star Market and TFM did not have them). This recipe is really easy if you have a food processor:  you make a honey simple syrup, make a nut filling, fill the shells, bake, and then chill.  If you don’t have a food processor, it’ll just take a little more time to chop the nuts. 

¼ Cup Baklava Cups


¼ cup honey

¼ cup water

¼ cup sugar

1 tablespoon butter

½ a teaspoon of freshly grated Meyer lemon peel (or orange peel, optional)

1 teaspoon Meyer lemon juice (or orange juice, optional)

¼ teaspoon rose extract (orange blossom water or vanilla would also work)

⅛ teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of cloves



¼ cup walnuts

¼ cup almonds

¼ cup pistachios

1 tablespoon melted butter

2 tablespoons sugar

⅛ teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of cloves


Fillo Shells:

1 package 15 mini fillo shells (I used Athens®)

Preheat oven to 350º F. 

Syrup: Combine the syrup ingredients and simmer for about 10 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally.  You will end up with a nice, fragrant syrup.

Filling: Combine the nuts in a food processor and pulse 10 times.  Add the butter, sugar, cinnamon, and cloves.  Pulse another 10-12 times.    If you don’t have a food processor, just chop the nuts and add the other ingredients. You will end up with a nice crumbly mixture. 

Assembly: To keep the cookie sheet neat, I filled the shells in the plastic liner from the container.  Then, I transferred them to the parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Fill the shells with the nut filling (about a teaspoon in each shell). Carefully spoon a half teaspoon of syrup over the pastries.  Transfer the pastries to the parchment-lined cookie sheet.

Bake for about 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven.  Spoon the rest of the syrup over the warm pastries (about a teaspoon over each).  I saved the plastic tray and the original box for storing the pastries in the refrigerator.  Transfer the pastries back to the plastic tray and carefully return the tray to the box. I did this so they would stay neat and not take up too much room in the refrigerator (also, it keeps them from getting smooshed). Chill for at least 4 hours in the refrigerator.  Remove from the refrigerator about 20 minutes before serving.


Post 7/13 – Tuscan White Bean Dip

January 12, 2012 2 comments

Yahoo, halfway through the Baker’s Dozen Blitz of Posts!  Thought I’d share one of our favorite dips.  Not sure if this is really Tuscan, but it is Tuscan inspired.  We had similar flavors on our recent Italian honeymoon (rosemary, garlic, and lemon – yum!). One of these days, I’ll post some photos from our trip.  We took lots of photos!!  Once I can figure them out, I’ll also post some recipes from our trip. Trying to re-create the flavors  is challenging, but the experiments are fun. Back to the “bean dip,” guess it doesn’t really matter what it’s called, I just know it is delicious and is an easy-to-make alternative to traditional hummus. 

 Tuscan White Bean Dip

 ¼ cup olive oil

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped (stems removed)

2 cloves garlic, sliced

19 ounce can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained*

½ cup almonds, lightly toasted (slivered, sliced, or chopped; raw would also work, but I like the added flavor from the toasting)

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

¾ teaspoon black pepper

½ lemon (both the juice and the zest)

¼ cup hot water, as needed


Optional Garnishes:

almonds, sprinkle of lemon zest, drizzle of  olive oil, sprig of fresh rosemary


Infuse the olive oil with the rosemary and garlic: combine the olive oil, rosemary, and garlic in a glass microwave-safe container and heat in the microwave for about 30 seconds (stop every 10 seconds to check for burning).  You can also do it in a small pan on the stove on low heat for about 5 minutes.   While you are preparing the rest of the ingredients, let the mixture sit for about 5 to 10 minutes.  Then, use a strainer or a spoon to remove some of the rosemary (it can get bitter).  I like rosemary, but sometimes it can be overwhelming.   You can also remove the garlic if that is your preference.  But I love the extra garlic flavor.  I’ve been known to add even more garlic. Remove what you want, leave what you want, it’s your dip!

In a food processor, combine the beans, almonds, salt, pepper, lemon juice, lemon zest, and the rosemary garlic infused olive oil. Pulse until the ingredients come together.  If it is too thick, add some hot water (start with a tablespoon).  Pulse the mixture a few more time.  Add a bit more water if needed. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed (might need a bit more lemon juice, salt, or pepper).  Process until the mixture is thick but still has some texture and is spreadable and dipable (I’m making up more words).  If you want it more like traditional hummus, you can process it until it is a creamy purée.   Keep in the refrigerator but serve at room temperature.  Great on sandwiches or served with pita, crackers, or raw veggies!


*A note about cannellini beans.  Cannellini beans are an Italian white bean, sometimes known as white kidney beans.  You can buy them canned or dried.  I typically use canned, because this is such a quick snack to whip up for company, they are easier.  However, using dried beans that I soaked and cooked myself would probably be better.  I know my hummus is better when I used freshly cooked garbanzo beans.  If you can’t find cannellini beans, you can substitute navy beans or great northern beans.  They are easier to find and less expensive.  And truthfully, they might work better since their texture tends to be drier.  Last time I made this recipe, the cannellini beans were a little too moist and the dip was a bit soupy (had to adjust by adding more almonds).  Yep, I have my fair share of  mess ups!


Thanks to Matt for the photo.  The pottery in the photo is from our friend Diane Walls, an awesome artist in Huntsville (