Mezze Platter

Mezze is an assortment of small dishes or appetizers commonly found in the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern diet.  What dishes are included in Mezze differ from region to region.  Hummus, pita and breads, various salads, cheeses, olives, dolmas, sausages, vegetables prepared in various ways, dips, etc….  are common components of a Mezze Platter.

My Mezze Platter Included:

Hummus, pickled turnips, toasted pita bread, feta cheese, pepperocini peppers, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, sugar snap peas, and black olives.

Quick Hummus

  • 1 can (16 ounces) chickpeas, drained
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • olive oil
  • water

Blend all ingredients in a food processor. Add olive oil and water -a little at a time- to get desired consistency. You can add other ingredients (like herbs or roasted red peppers) for something a little different. My favorite addition is cilantro.

Asparagus and Wild Mushroom Soup

From April 4, 2007:  I made this for lunch today and liked it.  I used Uncle Ben’s Original Recipe Long Grain and Wild Rice mix.  I also used dried shiitake mushrooms.  The can of evaporated milk I used was pretty small, but I’m not sure the exact measurement.  I think prepared wild rice would be a bit more nutritious than a box of processed seasoned rice.  I’ll try that next time.

Asparagus and Wild Mushroom Soup

1 (6 oz) box of long grain and wild rice blend, prepared
1/2 cup dried mushrooms
1 cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound asparagus, cut into 1/2″ pieces
6 cups vegetable broth
salt and pepper to taste
1 can evaporated milk
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Prepare rice according to directions. Set aside. Place dried mushrooms in 1 cup of boiling water and allow to soak for 20 minutes. Strain, reserving the water, and chop mushrooms. Set aside, along with soaking water.

In large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic, and saute for 2 minutes.  Add asparagus and saute an additional 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and rice, and stir well. Add reserved mushroom water and vegetable broth, and season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil over high heat. In small bowl, whisk cornstarch into evaporated milk, and pour into pan.  Bring back to a boil and boil for 3-5 minutes, until thickened.  Remove from heat and serve.

Apple Salad

From October 28, 2006:  I’m still looking for ways to use up all the apples in my house.  This nice little sweet salad is a twist on Waldorf Salad.  I used fresh pineapple instead of canned crushed and put in about 1 cup.  This salad keeps well.  I think I took it in my lunch everyday this past week and it was as crunchy on Friday as it was on Monday (the marshmallows didn’t hold up that well though).

Apple Salad


1/4 c. sugar
2 tbsp. vinegar
2 tbsp. flour
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. water
1 tbsp. butter

Mix all ingredients for dressing in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and cool.

3 red apples, cored, diced but not peeled
1/2 c. chopped nuts
1/2 c. drained crushed pineapple
1/2 c. chopped celery

When dressing is cool, pour over fruit mixture and toss lightly. Refrigerate overnight. Will keep for several days in airtight container.

Candied Pecans

I made these candied pecans to add to salads.  They are excellent on a salad of mixed greens, fresh fruit (strawberries, mandarian oranges, pears), goat cheese and sweet poppyseed dressing or raspberry vinaigrette.  They are also wonderful for snacking. 

Candied Pecans

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Pinch cayenne
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups pecan halves

In small bowl, mix together sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, pepper and cayenne.

In medium skillet, combine butter and sugar mixture. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar has melted.  Once sugar has melted, add the pecans and stir until the nuts are coated.  Pour onto a sheet of aluminum foil and let cool completely.

Veggie Pasta Salad

This is an easy pasta salad that is open to interpretation. It is great for parties.  Play around with the pasta shapes and the types of veggies added.  If I don’t have Salad Supreme, I’ll add a few shakes of Mrs. Dash instead. My mother-in-law makes this pasta salad using spaghetti. It’s the best thing she makes.

Veggie Pasta Salad

1 16 oz. pkg. small shell (or fusilli or rotini) pasta – cooked, rinsed and drained
8 oz. Wishbone Italian dressing (or your favorite italian dressing)
4 T. McCormick’s Salad Supreme (this has cheese in it…so you could leave it out or use something else)
5 cups of assorted raw vegetables, cut into bite sized pieces
some veggies you can use:
cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and chopped
broccoli florets
carrots, peeled and sliced
grape tomatoes, halved
red onion , chopped
bell peppers (any color), chopped
black olives, sliced

Combine all ingredients and marinate overnight or for at least 4 hours.

Fish Baked with Vegetables

This is one of our favorite meals.  It’s easy, healthy, satisfying, and worthy of serving to guests.  And because the fish and veggies are baked in foil packets, there isn’t much clean-up (that is always a good thing). 

There are endless possibilities for this recipe. By mixing and matching different types of fish, vegetables, and seasonings, you can create something different each time.  Some combinations (aside from my favorite combination – tuna or tilapia with onions, carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, and capers with basil and thyme) I have tried include:  halibut with carrots, onions, and yellow squash seasoned with dill; catfish with carrots, celery, onion, tomatoes and green olives; salmon with leeks, capers, lemon juice and dill.   

When the fish and veggies are done cooking, I usually pour the contents over a serving of orzo on a plate.  While the fish and veggies cook, they create a wonderful sauce that the orzo soaks up…it’s a pleasing combination.

Fish Baked with Vegetables

fish fillets or steaks (I usually use tuna steaks or tilapia) – 1 fillet or steak per serving
julienned veggies of choice (I usually use carrots, onion, and celery)
*yellow squash
*bell peppers
cherry tomatoes, halved (or diced fresh tomato, or even canned diced tomato, in a pinch)
capers (could use green olives) (I use about 1 T. per serving)
thyme (dried or fresh)
basil (dried or fresh)
salt and pepper

For each serving:
Place a pat of butter on a piece (about 12 x 12-inch) of foil.  Top with fish, julienned vegetables, tomatoes, and capers.  season fish and vegetables with salt and pepper, thyme and basil.  Top with another pat of butter.  Sprinkle 1 T. of water (or white wine) over the fish and vegetables.

Fold edges of foil up and together in a double pleat to seal. Place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

Serve with orzo, rice or pasta, a side salad and crusty bread (to mop up the juices).

Spelt Cookies

Spelt Cookies

wheat-free, egg-free, juice-sweetened

I’ve been looking for ways to limit the amount of wheat, sugar, and dairy products my son consumes. I made these cookies this afternoon and they were way better than I expected. Easy to make too. Spelt flour can be found at health food stores.

Spelt Cookies
makes about 3 dozen

2 1/3 cups spelt flour (found in health food stores)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup apple juice concentrate, thawed
1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup milk-free, unsweetened or semi-sweet chips (carob or chocolate) OR 3/4 cup chopped nuts, any kind

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. lightly oil baking sheet. In a bowl combine the spelt flour and baking soda. In a separate bowl mix the oil and apple juice concentrate, and stir into the flour mixture until just mixed. Fold in the chips or nuts.

Drop by heaping teaspoonful onto the baking sheet and bake 10-14 minutes or until they begin to brown. Using a spatula, immediately remove to wire racks.