Lightened-Up Pimiento Cheese Recipe

Since it’s Labor Day weekend (and the start of college football), I thought I would share a lightened-up version of pimiento cheese perfect for a game day appetizer, Labor Day picnic, or weekend snack with crackers. Most of our friends will be at the Alabama game, Auburn game, the lake or the beach (that is how it goes around here in the south). I will be at the Auburn game because my daughter’s cheerleading team gets to cheer during the Auburn halftime show. How cool is that? Anyway, this Lightened-Up Pimiento Cheese uses Greek yogurt and mayonnaise. It tastes great, and no one will know the difference. I also like to add smoked paprika or chipotle seasoning for an added kick. Have a great, safe weekend!

Zucchini-Wrapped Scallops

I am having such a great summer so far. Lots of travel, work, fun and family time… and more to come. This gives me a huge smile. In celebration, I thought I would share this perfect recipe for summer. These Zucchini-Wrapped Scallops are a fun twist on a great appetizer or main dish. These are simple to prepare: under 30 minutes from start to finish. They are so light, healthy and fresh, so what more can I say? I made these recently for a party, and everyone went nuts. Cheers to summer!

Tomato, Fresh Herbs and Feta Crostini for Mother’s Day

Since Mother’s Day is this weekend, I thought I would share a super easy recipe from my new cookbook, “400 Best Sandwiches: From Burgers & Classics to Wraps & Condiments”. These Tomato, Fresh Herbs and Feta Crostini would be considered an open-face sandwich and a simple spring appetizer that is pretty, fresh and versatile with a brunch, lunch or dinner menu. I am making this recipe today along with 4 other recipes on Nashville’s Newschannel 5 “Talk of the Town”. My television segment will air at 11 a.m. central as well as on Comcast channel 50 at 12 p.m., 4 p.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. on Monday. I hope everyone has a great weekend and Mother’s day celebration.

Cooking Demo & Book Signing at Charlie Thigpen’s Gallery

On Saturday, I had the incredible opportunity to partner with Charlie Thigpen’s Garden Gallery at our local farmers Pepper Place Market in Birmingham for a cooking demo and book singing featuring my new book,“400 Best Sandwich recipes: From Classics & Burgers to Wraps & Condiments”. It was such a great experience getting to speak alongside Charlie who is one of the most talented gardeners I have ever known. Charlie, and I worked together at Southern Living years ago, where he worked as a Garden Editor for over 29 years. His knowledge about gardening, fresh herbs and growing vegetables is unsurmountable. He spoke to the large crowd about purchasing and planting fresh herbs, and I showcased ways to use them in recipes from my new cookbook.

This is Charlie and I together before my demo as he was talking about his many types of herbs and basil he carries at his shop and garden as well as how to plant herbs in your garden and tips on keeping them vibrant.

This Tomato-Fresh Herb Crostini appetizer recipe was a hit. I made 250, and they were all gone before I turned around.

I must thank my daughter and her friend for selling more of my cookbooks and T-Shirts than I did. 🙂

And now: Here’s an interior tour of some of the cool things in Charlie Thigpen’s Garden Gallery located at 2805 2nd Avenue South, Birmingham, AL 35233.

I admit it. I want everything in here!

This vase is so cool. There were so many that it’s hard to choose.

These are awesome. Great food props, gifts and decorating touches for the home.

I love these too.

Thanks so much to Cindy and Charlie Thigpen for a great event! It was such a beautiful day in Birmingham after a rough week of tornadoes here. As I am writing this, we still don’t have power. My heart goes out to everyone suffering from such a tragedy. I appreciate everyone for their support to the people of Alabama and for all of the sweet notes, emails and twitter and facebook messages checking on my family and me. Much love, Alison

My New Cookbook “400 Best Sandwich Recipes from Classics & Burgers to Wraps & Condiments”

When my cookbook Publisher, Robert Rose Books, said that my book will be here on “March 29th,” they meant it. It arrived exactly on that date, and I am so excited to announce the release of “400 Best Sandwich Recipes from Classics & Burgers to Wraps and Condiments”. This is the go-to book on sandwiches with something for everyone. It includes 400 recipes. Yes, I really said, “400”! You will enjoy sandwich recipes for every meal and occasion including appetizers, breakfast, lunch as well as burgers, wraps, international, regional U.S, grilled cheese, condiments and more. I call it the “bible” of sandwiches, and it’s been well received so far. When I spoke at a conference a few months ago, I realized that I have been developing recipes professionally for over 17 years (wow, now that shows my age), so I am so excited about my first internationally published cookbook. Thanks to my wonderful subscribers, followers, family and friends for your awesome and incredible support. I hope you will check out my book, and let me know what you think.

St. Patrick’s Day Herb Dip & Kid’s Cooking Class

Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17th, and I am so excited that I will be spending my Saint Patrick’s Day teaching a Kid’s Cooking Class at the Park City Mountain Resort in Park City, Utah. We we will be making kid-friendly apres ski snacks to make in the condo. See more information about this fun class on the“Snowmama” website. One of the recipes I’ll be making in the class is this healthy, easy and very simple Saint Patrick’s Day Fresh Herb Dip. It’s a great way to get the kids to try fresh herbs such as basil and dill and to eat fresh vegetables. I like to use reduced-fat Greek yogurt in this recipe because it has so may health benefits and is filled with protein which is perfect after a long day of skiing. Enjoy this recipe on Saint Patrick’s Day or any time of the year.

Super Bowl Appetizer and Party Tips: Brie with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Basil

One week from today is the Super Bowl, one of the most fun sporting events of the year. I filmed a Super Bowl television cooking segment for NBC “Daytime Alabama” which will air next week, making four easy appetizers. This 5 ingredient recipe for Brie with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Basil is a cinch, taking only 20 minutes to prepare. Here are some of my favorite Super Bowl tips for hosting your upcoming party.

Super Bowl Hosting Tips:

-Think “green” and make it easy. Send out E Invites or call or Facebook your friends

-Set up as many televisions as possible if you’re having a large party

-Plan simple and easy food to put out and refill. Also, think about servings foods that are easy to pick up and eat in your lap.

-Have one room planned for television watchers and another for those who just want to talk (okay…some of us women)

-If you’re inviting guests with children, have video games, movies, coloring pages, crayons and puzzles to keep them busy

-Offer healthy foods: such as serve fresh fruit and vegetables with hummus

-Have plenty of beverages and a variety for everyone

-Ask guests to pitch in and bring food (give them a task)

-Have a “faux betting pool” set up and a few prizes for the winners

Easy Holiday Appetizer-Fresh Basil Dip

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Since now is the time for holiday parties galore, I thought I would answer a question I get so often this time of year: What type of easy appetizer can I bring or make for a holiday get-together? The options are endless, and I could write a book on this topic, but with all the heavy holiday foods, I like something light. This dip is fresh, healthy and refreshing made with fresh basil, lemon juice, lemon zest and garlic. Serve it with fresh vegetables for a pretty presentation, and you can feel great about digging in.


Fresh Basil Dip  

This dip is also great served alongside cooked salmon, shrimp or scallops.

Prep: 15 minutes

Yield about 1 1/2 cups 

Ingredients

1 clove garlic 

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 

1 cup fresh basil leaves

1 cup light mayonnaise 

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 

1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice 

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Fresh Vegetables, crackers

Preparation

1. In a blender or food processor, combine the garlic and next 7 ingredients: process until smooth. 

2. Transfer the sauce to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Serve with fresh vegetables and/or crackers.

Thanksgiving Appetizer-Brie with Cranberries and Walnuts

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With only hours left until Thanksgiving, I know everyone is busy trying to complete last minute tasks. To start Thanksgiving off right, I thought I would present one of the easiest appetizers that my family loves. The combination of caramel, walnuts, cranberries and golden raisins adds the perfect sweet, crunch and warm taste of fall. You can prepare this right before the guests arrive as it just takes minutes to prepare with absolutely no mess or cleanup. This appetizer is also a great idea for Christmas, New Years or anytime you entertain. Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Autumn Brie

Prep: 5 minutes

Cook: 7 minutes

Yield: 10 servings

Ingredients

1 (1/2 pound) Brie wedge

1/4 cup caramel Dip (I used T. Marzetti Caramel Dip)

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

3 tablespoons dried cranberries

2 tablespoons golden raisins

Gingersnaps or crackers

Preparation

1. Cut off top part of Brie; spread with caramel dip. Sprinkle walnuts, cranberries and raisins over top. 

2. Bake at 300F for 6 to 10 minutes or until Brie is just slightly warmed and starting to melt. Serve with gingersnaps or crackers.

Appetizers-Hummus for Thanksgiving

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My family prepares an array of appetizers for Thanksgiving, but one that’s not very traditional, yet stays on our menu is this Hummus Dip Recipe. It’s so delicious with fresh vegetables, toasted pita or pita chips, and it gives us a light note to start off the Thanksgiving meal. What I really like about serving this type of appetizer is that my kids love it and eat it, and I feel like they are getting something truly healthy. Enjoy it anytime of the year, but why not start now.

 

Hummus Dip

Prep: 10 minutes

Yield: about 3 cups

Ingredients

4 garlic cloves

2 cups canned chickpeas, drained, liquid reserved

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)

6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)

2 tablespoons water or liquid from the chickpeas

4 dashes hot sauce

Cayenne pepper, paprika and olive oil (optional)

Directions

1. Turn on the food processor fitted with the steel blade and drop the garlic down the feed tube; process until it’s minced. Add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor and process until the hummus is coarsely pureed. Taste, for seasoning, and serve chilled or at room temperature topped with cayenne, paprika and olive oil, if desired.