Caramelized Onion Dip

Onion dip was a pretty traditional treat in my family growing up.  It was incredibly easy to make by adding a packet of onion powder to a bowl of sour cream.  And while you can’t get much simpler than that, this dip is a more grown-up, flavor-packed dip.  This takes the magic of caramelized onions (which are really easy to make if you’re patient), and the yummy creaminess of cream cheese and greek yogurt, and turns it into a phenomenal dip (or spread!  this would be killer on a sandwich!).

The key to caramelized onions is low heat for a long time.  I recommend distracting yourself with another task in the kitchen, like washing dishes or starting on another meal, something that you can interrupt to stir the onions occasionally, but will keep you from impatiently waiting on your onions.

Caramelized Onion DipCaramelized Onion Dip (A Seat at the Table)

Makes about 2 cups

Adapted from Culinary Cory

  • 3 large Vidallia onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • sprinkle of salt and pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 3/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 8 oz (1 pkg) reduced fat cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup fat free Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp fat free mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp onion powder

Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet.  Add thinly sliced onion and sprinkle with salt and pepper, and reduce heat to medium-low.  Slowly sauté until onions begin to caramelize and brown, stirring occasionally. When the onions are almost done, add cayenne pepper and Worcestershire, sauté a few more minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, beat together cream cheese, Greek yogurt, mayonnaise and onion powder.  Once the onions are cooled, add them to the cream cheese mixture and mix well.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.  Chill for at least 20 minutes before serving.  Serve with chips, crackers or veggies.

Simple Chocolate Fudge

This was my first attempt at fudge.  It was a great recipe, very easy and delicious!  I’d definitely like to try some other variations, maybe some darker chocolate, some with nuts, maybe a swirl of peanut butter.  Whatever variations you decide to do, this is a great base, and great on it’s own in its simple chocolate deliciousness.

Simple Chocolate FudgeSimple Chocolate Fudge (A Seat at the Table)

Makes about 49 squares

Adapted from Martha Stewart

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 3 cups mini marshmallows
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 12 oz semisweet chocolate chips

Line an 8×8″ baking pan with two crisscrossed pieces of parchment paper, leaving some to overhang.

In a large saucepan, combine butter, marshmallows, sugar, cream and salt.  Cook over medium, stirring regularly until marshmallows are melted.  Turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla and chocolate chips.  Whisk until smooth, then pour into the pan.

Let cool for at least 30 minutes, then refrigerate for about an hour or until set.

Use the parchment paper to remove the fudge from the pan and use a sharp knife to cut into squares.  To store, refrigerate in an airtight container.

Mini Corn Dog Muffins

Here’s another great recipe to get you ready for Spring and Summer.  Now I do have to confess that I’ve never had a corn dog before, so I can’t speak to how “traditional” these taste, but they’re delicious.  Not only are these cute, they’re easy to make and super yummy.  I could see these being a super fun part of a family game night, or summer barbecue.

Mini Corn Dog MuffinsMini Corn Dog Muffins (A Seat at the Table)

Makes about 24

Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal (I used 1/2 fine and 1/2 coarse)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • about 5 all-beef hot dogs, cut in 1″ bites (4ths worked well for me)

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Whisk together melted butter and sugar. Add egg and then the buttermilk, whisking well after each addition.

In a separate bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, baking soda and salt, stirring to combine.  Stir into the wet ingredients until just combined.

Scoop about 1 Tbsp (I used a 1 oz cookie scoop) into each mini muffin cup, then press a piece of hot dog into the center of each cup.  (It’s ok if the hot dog sticks out quite a bit, the corn muffin will rise when baked).

Bake for about 8-10 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown and the cornbread looks set.  Allow to cool for about 5-10 minutes before removing from the tin.  Serve with ketchup and mustard.

Beef Sliders

This was my first time making sliders, but these mini-burgers were a huge hit at the party I made them for.  Sliders are a great party food and are a great way to add a sort of “main dish” hors d’oeuvres to your menu.  This is great if your party coincides with a meal time but you don’t want to serve a full sit down meal.  I kept the toppings simple and just served these with ketchup and mustard.  However, if you’re feeling fancy, I think this would be awesome with a BBQ sauce or some jazzed up ketchups or fry sauce depending on your audience.

Finding the right size bun can be a challenge when making sliders, but I used Parker House Rolls from a nearby bakery that were a great size and add a wonderful buttery flavor.

Beef SlidersBeef Sliders (A Seat at the Table)

Makes about 30 sliders

  • 4 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1 packet Ranch dressing flavoring
  • 4 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil

In a large bowl, combine beef, ranch flavoring, cream, and salt.  Mix well (using your hands is probably easiest).  Form the beef into small patties, I used a 4oz ice cream scoop to portion out the sliders.  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add a drizzle of oil and a little butter to the pan.  Once the butter has melted, add a few sliders at a time and fry for about 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden and cooked to your desired doneness.  If you’re planning on reheating, keep them a little on the rare side so they don’t overcook in the reheating.

Amazing Bruschetta

This is AMAZING.  My new favorite summer dish.  I plan to eat this all summer long.  It’s fresh and easy and absolutely delicious!  Bruschetta is a fun, classy appetizer that’s perfect for your next get together.  I’ve always thought of bruschetta as something reserved for ordering at restaurants, but it’s actually very easy to make and keeps well for several days.  French bread is sliced and drizzled with olive oil and broiled for about 60-90 seconds.  You can’t get much faster than that.



Bruschetta (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 30

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman


  • 6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 12 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 5 lbs grape tomatoes (red and yellow mix)
  • 4 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup chiffonade basil
  • salt to taste
  • 2-3 baguettes, thinly sliced

In a small skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Sauté garlic for a few minutes, keeping a close eye on it, until fragrant and just beginning to turn golden.

Quarter the tomatoes and toss in a large bowl with oil and garlic, balsamic, basil and salt (being careful not to oversalt).  Toss to combine.  Cover and refrigerate for about an hour (more or less as time permits).

Line baguette slices on a large baking sheet in a single layer, drizzle with olive oil.  Broil on high for about a minute or two.  Keep a careful eye on the bread and remove it from the oven once edges have begun to brown (or to desired toastedness).  Top with bruschetta and enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Blondies

Here is another fabulous recipe from Grandma.  These were apparently one of her go-to recipes when having guests over in Japan.  Blondies are non-chocolate versions of brownies, but with the addition of chocolate chips these are like soft, chewy chocolate chip cookies.  They’re absolutely delicious.

Chocolate Chip BlondiesChocolate Chip Blondie (A Seat at the Table)

Makes 9 bars

  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup nuts
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease an 8×8″ baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.  In a large bowl mix together butter, sugar, egg and vanilla.  Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; mix until just combined.  Mix in the nuts and chocolate chips.  Spread batter out into the prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and set.  Enjoy!Chocolate Chip Blondies (A Seat at the Table)

Smoked Turkey and Cheese Brunch Torte

This was an awesome recipe my mom found in Taste of Home years ago and she’s been eager to make it ever since.  Easter’s potluck breakfast was finally her opportunity, and it was awesome!  Sadly she didn’t even get a chance to try her creation, so I made it again so she’d get to try it.  This is definitely a great standby and would be just as good made vegetarian with some extra spinach and mushrooms or whatever vegetables you have on hand (asparagus?  roasted butternut squash? sautéed cabbage?).  When I made this I used one layer of provolone and one layer of smoked Gouda which was delicious and added extra smokiness.

Next time I plan to try it with a lot more spinach, the recipe only called for 6oz, but I used a full package of spinach and still didn’t think it was enough.  I’ll also try this next time with 1/2 egg whites just to lighten it up a bit and because the egg is not a major flavor, so I think it’d be fine with egg whites substituted in.

Smoked Turkey and Cheese Brunch TortSmoked Turkey and Cheese Brunch Torte slice (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 8

Adapted from Taste of Home (April/May 2011)

  • 2 tubes (8oz each) refrigerated crescent rolls
  • 2 pkgs (or more) fresh baby spinach
  • 1 pkg (8oz) fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 7 eggs
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1 lb thinly sliced smoked turkey
  • 1/2 lb sliced provolone cheese
  • 24 oz jar of roasted sweet red peppers, drained, sliced and patted dry

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Place a greased 9″ springform pan on a double layer of heavy duty foil.  Wrap pan securely with foil.

Open one tube of crescent rolls and shape to press into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until set and just beginning to brown.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet sauté mushrooms in olive oil over medium-high heat.  Once mushrooms have had a chance to brown, add in the spinach and toss together until spinach has wilted.  Remove to a paper towel to drain and pat dry before using.

In a large bowl, whisk together 6 eggs, parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning and pepper.Smoked Turkey and Cheese Brunch Torte (A Seat at the Table)

Layer the prepared crust with half the turkey,cheese, red peppers, spinach, mushrooms, and egg mixture.  Repeat layers.

Use the remaining tube of crescent rolls to form a crust on top.  Beat the remaining egg and brush over the dough.

Bake for 45 minutes, then cover with foil if it’s browning too quickly, and let cook for an additional 15-20 minutes.  Carefully run a sharp knife around the edge to loosen.  Let stand for 10-20 minutes before slicing (the longer the better…I have no patience for letting food sit, so you can see how oozy delicious it is hot).  Serve hot or at room temperature.  Enjoy!

Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal

These are a few of my favorite things.  Baked oatmeals are a favorite go-to breakfast for something a little extra special for company or for making ahead.  And of course you can’t go wrong with banana bread!  So this combo definitely caught my eye.  The bananas in this caramelize and add a deep richness that will definitely have you going back for more.  Add some nuts for a sweet toasty flavor and oats for fiber and texture.  This is very mildly sweet, so if you like a sweeter breakfast feel free to add more sugar, or you can serve this with a drizzle of maple syrup.

Banana Bread Baked OatmealBanana Bread Baked Oatmeal (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 8-10

Adapted from Budget Bytes

  • 4 large bananas, mashed (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 cups milk
  • 3 3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease a large baking dish (at least 2 quart size) with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, mash the bananas, then add brown sugar, eggs, salt, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Slowly whisk in the milk, then stir in the oats and nuts.

Pour mixture into prepared baking dish and cover with foil and bake for about 40 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes until golden and the center is set.

Serve with milk and/or maple syrup, or just enjoy as is!

Chocaroon Pie

This is a recipe my mom had saved from a Baker’s chocolate box.  It’s a classic coconut-chocolate combination, which you really can’t go wrong with.  Combined with some condensed milk, this is a rich, decadent treat that really is as easy as pie.  A delicious chocolate base topped with a sweet toasted coconut macaroon flavored topping, perfect for an easy, yet impressive dessert.

Chocaroon PieChocaroon Pie

Serves 8

Adapted from Baker’s recipes

  • 3 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 3 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 2/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease a 9″ pie pan with cooking spray.

In a small saucepan, melt chocolate and butter over low heat.  Remove from heat when melted and whisk in eggs, sugar, flour and vanilla.  Pour into prepared pie dish.  Mix together condensed milk and coconut and spoon over the chocolate mixture leaving a 1/2″ border.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, turning halfway through.  Allow to cool then serve and enjoy!

Springtime Chicken Soup

Spring can be a challenging time of year, at least in the DC area.  The weather jumps around like crazy, sometimes it’s under 50, and a day or two later it can be over 80.  The mornings and nights are cold, but the afternoons are delightfully warm.  All I want to do is embrace the sunny warmth, but cold winds make dresses and skirts a bit premature.

Well this soup, is perfect for this awkward winter-spring transition.  It has the warmth and comfort of a winter soup, but the light freshness of a summer dish.  Lemon keeps it sparkly and new, while frozen peas add a bright pop of color and sweet spring flavor.  One bite of this had me ladling up a bowlful in no time.  It’s super easy to throw together, and would freeze well too.  This would also be a comforting bowl of delicious if you happen to catch a springtime cold.

I started this by cooking the chicken breasts in the oven at 350° with a drizzle of olive oil and a good sprinkle of coarse salt and pepper on both sides.  It took about 25 minutes maybe, but basically when I was ready to add them to the soup they were cooked all the way through.

Springtime Chicken SoupSpringtime Chicken Soup (A Seat at the Table)

Serves about 12

Adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod and Bon Appetit magazine (April 2013)

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 small leeks, halved and thinly sliced (white and pale green parts only)
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 3 celery stalks, sliced
  • 12 cups (96 oz) chicken broth
  • 2 lemons zested and juiced
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 3 cups cooked shredded chicken (about 2 large chicken breasts)
  • 1 bag (16oz) frozen peas
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh parsley minced to garnish

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Sauté the leeks until soft, and then add carrots and celery.  Sauté the vegetables until soft, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper while you wait.

Add chicken broth, lemon zest and juice, and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Add chicken and heat through.  About 5 minutes before serving, add frozen peas and allow to just heat through before serving.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.  Serve and garnish with minced parsley.  Enjoy!