Warm Kale and Bacon Dip

Kale and Bacon Dip

Are you in the hustle and bustle of the holidays already? I certainly am, but I love holiday entertaining! Trust me, entertaining this time of year can be fun and easy. I am very excited to share this recipe for Warm Kale Bacon Dip just in time for your holiday gatherings. It’s my family’s favorite appetizer as it uses a few of our most loved ingredients such as kale, Borden and Sargento cheeseDannon Oikos Greek Yogurt and Bays English Muffins. What I really love about this recipe is its simplicity by using high-quality brands of shredded cheeses along with healthy ingredients such as Greek yogurt and kale. Friends ask me all the time for my top stress-free cooking tip and I usually tell them to keep it simple. Use your favorite ingredients and stop by the dairy and/or freezer section to make your life even easier. You can find so many items in these sections of the grocery store, which make cooking more economical, convenient and your recipes taste even better.

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For this dip recipe, start by roasting the kale with a touch of olive oil until it is slightly wilted and crispy. Then, add to the cheeses and yogurt, stirring well. Complete this by topping with crumbled bacon. If you’re not a bacon fan, you may omit this step. I used Bays English Muffins from the dairy section, which are a perfect accompaniment to this warm cheesy dip with their great texture and flavor.

Besides being tasty, this holiday appetizer is healthy too! It is filled with calcium, one of the body’s most important minerals for strong healthy bones, as well as active cultures in the Greek yogurt, which adds more protein to this appetizer while also aiding in digestion and boosting the immune system (we all need this during the cold winter months). Kale is another fabulous, healthy ingredient addition, known as a super-food with vitamins and minerals.

For more great recipes using frozen and refrigerated foods see Easy Home Meals.

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This post is sponsored by National Frozen and Refrigerated Foods Association and Easy Home Meals, but all opinions are my own.

Feta and Roasted Red Pepper Dip

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If you’re like me, you can never have enough recipes as the holidays near. Dips and salsas are perfect for getting a party off to a great start. This Feta and Roasted Red Pepper Dip recipe is only 3 ingredients. If you have the ingredients on hand, this tasty dip can be ready to serve in about 5 minutes. Serve it with crudités, crackers or pumpernickel rounds for an elegant appetizer. Tip: Use creamy feta cheese. The lower-fat versions produce a drier dip. If your results seem dry, add 1 teaspoon or so of extra virgin olive oil and pulse.

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This recipe comes from 150 Best Dips & Salsas from my cookbook publisher Robert Rose. Most of the dips and salsas in this book can be prepared ahead of time, are simple, and are made from the freshest ingredients. They cater to different tastes, dietary preferences, including vegetarians (such as this recipe). This book is the ultimate party dip and salsa resource! Enjoy this appetizer recipe for Thanksgiving, Christmas or any holiday or weeknight parties.

Tomato and Basil Bruschetta Perfect Holiday Appetizers

With the holidays upon us, I have been sifting thru recipes for holiday appetizers for my family, friends, and readers. From the popular registered dietitians and personal trainers, The Nutrition Twins and their new book  Veggie Cure, I am excited to share this Tomato and Basil Bruschetta recipe. The book offer expert advice on the benefits of adding more veggies to your diet along with tantalizing recipes for energy, health and beauty. Enjoy this recipe during the holidays or anytime of the year.

Salmon Salad Crostini

Summer is in full swing, and so many friends go to the lake or beach for the weekends. Recently, I have had so many requests for summer appetizers. This Salmon Salad Crostini is one of my newest favorites. Salmon is so healthy for you, and I have been craving it a lot lately. This is a great way to use salmon in a different way or when you have salmon leftovers. This also makes a great shower appetizer or even a holiday appetizer this fall. In under 30 minutes, you’ll have this ready to serve.

Holiday How-to Class at Four Seasons Atlanta


When I think of a luxurious hotel, I always think of the “Four Seasons”. I have never actually stayed a Four Seasons hotel (until now), but I have visited many. When I was traveling in Milan this summer, I visited the Four Seasons Milan. Trust me. If I ever get the opportunity to go to Milan again, I will definitely want to stay there. The closest Four Seasons hotel to me is The Four Seasons Atlanta. So, when I heard about their “Holiday How-To Classes”, I put it on my to-do list. The Saturday afternoon 1 1/2 hour class was packed with great food and recipes, entertaining ideas and even new friends.

The class started with Executive Chef, Robert Gerstenecker, teaching us how to make Candied Pecans with only 3 ingredients. So easy and so good…

Chef Gerstenecker shared recipes that that make entertaining easy. He taught us how to prepare several crostini appetizers such as Pimiento Cheese, Chicken Liver Pate and a creative Red Pepper Dip. He demonstrated how to make Homemade Cheese Crackers which are only 5 ingredients (I couldn’t stop eating them).

He also proved that Kale Chips are so easy to make and delicious. Most of the women at my table had not tried kale chips before and were hooked.

Next, The Four Seasons Mixologist, Matthew Buckly, demonstrated how to make some holiday cocktails. Oh darn!

The Candy Cane Martini demonstration was hugely popular. (I’m so glad he gave us the recipe.)

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Floral Designer, James Hurley, gave us a flower arranging 101. I need this desperately. We learned how to create the napkin holder (top picture above), how to make individual place cards with fresh herbs and raffia, and how to make a pretty table arrangement. We turned this (below)

into this (below).

When the class was over, I explored the hotel. Since it was too cold outside, I found the perfect spot for relaxation or a workout. This indoor pool was was the perfect place to warm up.

And who wouldn’t want to step into this this jacuzzi?

The Four Seasons Atlanta also is equipped with a great workout facility, and the locker rooms were fully equipped with sauna, steam and everything you could ever need.

The Four Seasons Atlanta is located in the heart of Midtown Atlanta right near Piedmont Park, The Atlanta Botanical Gardens, The Georgia Aquarium, The High Museum of Art, The Fox Theater, World of Coca Cola and more. Since I needed to do some holiday shopping, I headed over to Atlantic Station which is an incredible venue for families with great stores so close by. The Four Seasons Atlanta is a truly special big city family destination or a great couples getaway.

Rosemary-Chipotle Spiced Nuts

Every year, I try to come up with a new roasted, spiced nut recipe for holiday food gifts to give to friends, teachers and loved ones. Rosemary-Chipotle Spiced Nuts has to go to the top of the list as one of my favorites. They are so easy to prepare, and I love the combination of using fresh rosemary and dried chipotle seasoning to give a hint of earthiness and spiciness to the nuts. These nuts are great on their own as a snack, but also wonderful tossed in a salad or on top of roasted vegetables, sautéed spinach and even stirred in yogurt. They make a healthy, homemade food gift just in time of the holidays.

Holiday Upscale Appetizer: Uptown Fromage

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I made this appetizer for my dad’s 80th birthday dinner last week at my sister’s house. It’s really easy, beautiful and filled with wonderful flavors of sun-dried tomatoes, basil pesto, oregano and goat and cream cheese. I got it out of the book, “Recipes Worth Sharing” by Favorite Recipes Press. It’s a great cookbook and has wonderful recipes for family gatherings and occasions such as this. Here’s the picture from the party with my dad, his daughters and granddaughters (I’m the one in the yellow and blue shirt).

Simple 5 Ingredient Creative Appetizer: Dirty Martini Cheese Ball

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My martini of choice is a Chopin Vodka or Ketel One Dirty Martini slightly dirty with blue cheese-stuffed olives (Satterfields or Flemming’s make the best in Birmingham). This recipe reminds me a lot of my favorite cocktail, hence its name: Dirty Martini Cheese Ball. Even my son, Zachary, who loves blue cheese and olives, begs me to make this. It’s great for a party, and it’s so simple. Just mold it together, let it chill for about 4 hours and then roll in nuts. It’s a sure hit, so cheers!

Holiday or Anytime 15 Minute Appetizer: Cheddar-Maple and Pecan Log

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Today, I am in Madison Wisconsin for a Wisconsin Cheese Media tour. I get to tour about 8 different cheesemakers around the area while tasting fabulous cheeses, attending a Fondue lunch as well as an award winning Cheese and Beer Pairing reception. I thought I would feature a simple cheese appetizer that my family loves in honor of the amazing Wisconsin Cheese. It’s so easy and wonderful for this time of year or as the holidays near (Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas), and my kids love it!

Also, I will also be featured on NBC 13 Daytime Alabama at 11:30 a.m on Thursday cooking a simple Slider recipes so check it out. I know-busy week.

Pretty Five Ingredient Appetizer: Goat Cheese-Beets Appetizer

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This appetizer features three of my favorite ingredients: Goat Cheese, Beets and Blackberries. It’s a delicious combination and too easy for words. It comes out looking like a work of art, and the flavors are fabulous together.