Category Archives: Appetizers

The Last Lazy Christmas

Well, a very Merry Christmas to you!

I’ve taken a break from blogging, not because I haven’t been cooking, but because I recently found out I’m pregnant and I’ve had to deal with a lot of life changes in the last few weeks. I’m over halfway through the first trimester, getting ready to move across town so I don’t have to endure the 90minute commute to work and generally feeling like I have wayyyy too much on my plate.

So that’s my excuse.

By this time next year, if all goes well (fingers crossed) I will have a five month old baby to dress up in a Santa suit. So this is the last lazy Christmas,  the last year that Chris and I can have a leisurely holiday with limited stress and no pressure to buy gifts and participate in all the holiday hokum. I love the holidays, but I don’t love having to spend hundreds of dollars on gifts for everyone just because it’s a certain time of year. You know?

My favorite gifts to give and to receive are edibles, or anything pertaining to cooking. Christmas, for me, has always been about food. I don’t come from a privileged background. I am a master of enjoying simple pleasures.
My husband knows that the way to my heart is through my stomach. I’ll take a couple of cookbooks over diamonds any day. So I was happy to find these under the Christmas tree this year.

This Christmas, we’re lounging with our hot cocoa and not taking things too seriously. I did try a new recipe. Marinated mushrooms! I can’t tell you how much money I have spent at the antipasto bar, shelling out $8.99 a pound for olives and marinated mushrooms. Last night, as a Christmas Eve appetizer, I finally made these and they were amazing. I will never ever buy them from the store again.

Marinated Mushrooms

1 lb white button mushrooms, washed.

2 bay leaves

2 tsp oregano

1 Tblsp olive oil

1/2 tsp crushed black pepper

1-2 Tblsp chopped garlic (I go nuts with the garlic, you can tone it down if you want)

The juice and zest of two lemons

2 Tblsp red wine vinegar

1-2 tsp course sea salt

Trim the mushrooms, make sure you have washed them thoroughly and removed all of the grit. In a saucepan, over medium heat, warm the olive oil and add the lemon zest, bay leaves and oregano. Heat through for a minute or so. Add the mushrooms, and all remaining ingredients. Boil for 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat once mushrooms are cooked through (larger mushrooms may take longer), and cool in refrigerator.

These taste amazing the next day. I like mine extra tart. Add a pinch more salt if they’re too sour.

Definitely addictive. I might have to make a 2lb batch next time.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

I honestly don’t know when I will be able to post again, but let’s hope I find the energy to keep it up.


Beluga Lentil “Caviar” or How to Make an Elegant Appetizer for less than $5

Meet beluga lentils. A vegetarian’s best friend, these protein packed little gems are easy to cook, and uncannily similar in appearance to caviar. Beluga lentils or “black lentils,” can transform your next soiree into an elegant affair. Who needs to plunk down $100 for a can of salty fish eggs when you can have a heaping jar of nutty, flavorful lentils for around $2?

I’m the queen of thrifty eating. I’ve been known to get out the calculator and tally up the per serving cost of my daily meals. As far as deals go, lentils are a huge bang for your buck. They’re cheap and nutritious, high in protein, iron and vitamin B1, and (in my opinion) they taste great.

Beluga Lentil  “Caviar”
1 cup lentils
4 cups salted water
2 tblsp red wine vinegar
1 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste

Lentils require a 1:4 cooking ratio. This makes quite a lot of lentils. To half the recipe, simply use 1/2 cup lentils and 2 1/2 cups of water. Bring the water to a boil, add salt to taste. Add lentils and cook covered for 20-25mins. After lentils have absorbed the water, add vinegar and olive oil.

This simplest of recipes also works great on top of salads, as a side dish for fish, or mixed with rice.

I made this dainty appetizer with the lentil caviar, a dollop of creme fraiche and a sliver of sundried tomato as a garnish. Elegant enough for a dinner party, easy enough for every day eating.

Whether you’re vegetarian or simply on a budget, there’s no reason to feel like you’re skimping.

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