Tomato & Goat Cheese Endive Cups

{healthy & vibrant snack}

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As you know, I am a big snack & appetizer fan.  Sometimes I get really sad when out to dinner if I accidentally max out on the appetizers.  No room for dinner!  However, it is really hard to pass up appetizers so I try to opt for healthy, less filling ones.

When we go out Bryan and I are always suckers for mussels or seared Ahi tuna bites.  If I am not having seafood for dinner, these are my go-to appetizers.  I am never left full and ready for dessert.  Veggie appetizers are few and far between so I have been experimenting with some ideas.

I have been compiling a list of some apps that I would like to serve when I host a Sip Happens party.  I am all about balance… a protein app, a sweet app, sweet & savory combo app, veggie app etc.  Since I am on a healthy and clean eating kick, using the endive leaves as scoops instead of crackers makes for a low carb, practically calorie free alternative.

This appetizer is a beautiful one to present with its vibrant colors.  The mixture can easily be adapted to your likes as well.  I love tomatoes anytime of the year so that was the main veg here.  I paired it with creamy goat cheese and thyme.  As summertime approaches, I will definitely be making this again as a caprese version!

tomato & goat cheese endive cups

Recipe by: Doughie
Hands on time:  15 minutes   ///  Servings:  about 18

Ingredients
3 endive bunches
1 pint of cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/4 cup of goat cheese crumbles
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp Agave nectar (or honey)
1 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp garlic powder
salt & pepper

Directions
1.  In a bowl, combine the oil, vinegar, thyme and spices.
2.  Drizzle over the tomatoes.  Refrigerate until serving.
3.  Gently, remove each endive leave for the core.
4.  Add the goat cheese to the tomato mixture.
5.  Spoon a bit into each endive cup.
6.  Serve immediately.

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Roasted Beet & Apple Salad with Cider Vinaigrette

{the earthy salad}

Growing up my mom made dinner a lot and oftentimes there would be a can of beets on the table.  She would also say “Now don’t go eating all my beets!” clearly being sarcastic as I HATED beets.  The unreal color, the earthy smell, the odd liquid they sat in. BLAH. Thanks, but no thanks.  

In college, I worked at one of our upscale restaurants in Oxford called Alexander House (RIP as it no longer exists) on the menu there was a Beet Salad.  It always intrigued me – the bright colors, the arrangement of the beets around the plates and the freshness of it.  I decided to give it a try and instantly fell in love.  My taste buds had grown and I now was a big fan of those little monsters that I used to despise on the dinner table.  I even LOVE canned beets.  So Mom, now if you have beets on the dinner table, you may have to tell me with no sarcasm to not eat all the beets!  

I was cleaning out our fridge for whatever night and saw a beet in the veggie drawer.  I am not sure how old it was, but hey there wasn’t any visible moldings.  I threw it into the oven to roast and well… I forgot about it.  Bryan ended up taking it out and then next morning I saw it on the counter.  I knew I had to use it right away so I whipped by this salad to have to lunch at work.  The crunchy, sweet apple was delicious with the earthy beets and the apple cider vinaigrette gave it a nice punch of tang.  I wish I had some pecans or goat cheese to add to the salad, but I didn’t at the time.  It was a perfect amount to take to work for lunch that day.  I know beets are an acquired taste and most people cringe at the name.  However, I strongly suggest starting by adding them some roasted ones to your salad.  They are very nutritious and quite filling too.

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{Click here for the recipe}

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Cauliflower Bake

{the new potato gratin}

Lately, cauliflower has been all the rage.  I love veggies, but cauliflower is on the bottom of my list.  I like it, but it doesn’t do anything for me.  It is so bland and I always think it is a rejected broccoli.  However, I wanted to try something out to see if all the hype is really worthwhile.  I was going to try out the mashed cauliflower, but due to my sacred love of mashed potatoes I just couldn’t sway from a comfort food favorite.  I decided to try it as a gratin or casserole of sorts.  I made a not so doughie cheese sauce and baked the dish in the oven.  I am not sure I can call this a gratin as gratins typically consist of a layered arrangement.  Cauliflower can’t really be layered smoothly.  I really liked this dish.  Cauliflower grew a little more on my vegetable like list.  It satisfied my starch craving and was nice to add a new side dish to my plate.  The cauliflower can also be substituted for broccoli and if you must, potatoes.

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{Click here for the recipe}

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