Category Archives: Appetizers

Salsa Time!

I’ve posted in the past about making salsa in my Vitamix. Today I have a special guest who offers a flavorful twist to salsa. As soon as I pick up a fresh bunch of cilantro, I’m making this recipe. I grow my own jalapeño peppers and herbs but fail miserably at keeping cilantro alive. 😦

Today’s recipe is a guest post by Kristin, a writer for PAM and other ConAgra brands. She resides in Chicago, IL and enjoys trying new recipes on the weekends. Her favorite dishes include poached eggs in the morning, throw-whatever-is-in-the-fridge salads for lunch, and vegetable-heavy stir fries for dinner. She’s always on the hunt for unexpected yet delicious food combinations.  Please welcome food blogger Kristin Kruk:

August is the Sunday of summer. Friends and family are making the most out of their last few weeks of sunshine and blue skies before fall kicks in. When you get an invitation to that last minute summer barbeque, come prepared with a zesty appetizer to surprise everyone’s taste buds. Bring a bowl of grilled tomato salsa with a bag of your favorite tortilla chips as an appetizer to the party.

On a time crunch? Don’t worry about grilling outside. A cast iron pan will do the trick because it gets hot and retains heat.

How to grill inside:

  1. Evenly spray PAM Grilling Spray on the cast iron pan.
  2. Place pan on stove top on medium-high.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium-low once the pan gets hot.

Now you’re on your way to a quick grilled tomato salsa!


  • PAM Grilling Spray
  • 1½-2 pounds of tomatoes (try an assortment), sliced in half
  • 1 jalapeño , sliced in half
  • 5 green (or red) onions, chopped
  • ¼ cup of cilantro, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • Optional ingredients: ½ can of black beans or corn kernels 


  1. In a medium bowl, mix cumin, garlic salt, onions and cilantro. If optional ingredients were used, combine as well. Set aside.
  2. See “How to grill inside” instructions above.
  3. Once the burner is set to medium-low, grill tomato and jalapeño slices.
  4. Rotate so each side is grilled for 3 minutes. When each side is slightly blackened, remove from grill.
  5. Chop tomato and jalapeño slices into cubes. Dump into the medium bowl (Step 1).
  6. Refrigerate until ready for use.

This quick and simple appetizer complements any picnic or outdoor outing at the end of summer. Enjoy!

(Cheryl note: I do all my indoor grilling on a Lodge cast iron grill pan (sprayed with PAM). It’s affordable, retains heat, and leaves nice grill marks on food–just like an outdoor grill but without the mess!)

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Filed under Appetizers, Cilantro, condiments, Healthful Eating, Mexican, Recipes, salsa, tomatoes, Vegetables

Happy New Year Hummus

Are you entertaining guests this new year’s eve or new year’s day?  Looking for something different yet traditional?  I found a great recipe that satisfies the need to stick to tradition (greens, black eye peas, pork, and sweet potatoes are considered good luck foods here in the south) yet isn’t the usual fare: black eye pea hummus.  Sounds odd, but it’s delicious.


Black eye Pea Hummus


  • 4 sprigs fresh cilantro
  • 4 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 1 small sweet onion, quartered
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • ½ cup roasted red pepper
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • zest of one lemon
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 cups cooked and drained blackeye peas (or you can use 2 small cans, rinsed and drained)
  • pepper to taste


In a food processor (I use the Vita-mix), coarsely chop the cilantro, parsley, and onion.  Add all remaining ingredients and blend (5-6 on the Vita-mix) until smooth.  Serve hummus with fresh vegetables for dipping, spread on endive leaves, and/or toasted pita bread wedges.

How’s that for fusion cooking?  The southern U.S. meets the Middle East!  This is a healthful appetizer full of fiber and flavor (Those living in the southwest can substitute Anasazi beans for black eye peas for a different fusion hummus).

Happy new year!


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Filed under Appetizers, cooking, Healthful Eating, Recipes