Category Archives: appetizers

Thanksgiving replay

Happy Thanksgiving week! In honor of the upcoming holiday and because I just realized that the post I was going to share with you today is nearly identical to the one I wrote exactly one year ago today, I’m re-posting it for your enjoyment. Because what is Thanksgiving than a chance to eat the exact same thing you did the year before (cranberry salsa), watch the same football teams play each other and re-invigorate that same nauseous feeling you have every time you go overboard on stuffing. Without further ado:

Originally published on November 25, 2014. Edited for relocating purposes.

OMG it’s Thanksgiving week y’all!

I know. I can hardly believe it either.

I can hardly believe it because we’ve been experiencing full-on Christmastime weather here in Chicago summertime weather here in Florida. Saturday was the annual Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, complete with 14 degree wind chills and boughs of frozen holly. Sunday was unseasonably lovely, complete with 80 degree temps and neighbors sweating while decking their halls.

As a staunch no Christmas cheer before Thanksgiving is here supporter, I must admit this weather is throwing me for a loop. Our rapid decline super cheery warm sunny weird November temps has me ever-so-close to NOT decking my halls. Pair that with an especially tempting out of context holiday collection from Target and I nearly broke my own cardinal red rule this season don’t know if I’ll ever get into the spirit this year.

I may even have purchased a pillow from the above collection new pair of sandals this weekend and tucked it away for later decorating wore them the next day.

What a difference a year makes



So I invite you to join me in slowing down on the Christmas craziness. There’s plenty of time for finding the perfect palm tree. Weeks and weeks until you finally pick the last piece of glitter sand out of your hair. Let’s not be too rushed to miss the reason we gather together this week and stuff our bellies. After all, we’ve got Pilgrims to thank!

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I offer you the most welcomed holiday recipe you will ever bring. On a buffet full of taupes, tans and cocoas, this red gem stands out not only in color, but in taste. I invite you to share it as an appetizer before your Thanksgiving feast, or carry it through your holiday parties into the New Year.

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It’s fresh. It’s sweet. It’s tangy. It’s your go-to contribution for potlucks all season long. Special shout out to my cousin Lindsey for bringing this on Christmas Day a few years ago. It’s really become the gift that keeps on giving.

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Holiday Cranberry Salsa 

  • 1 bag fresh cranberries
  • 1 green apple
  • 1 red pepper, seeded
  • 1/2 med red onion
  • 1/2-3/4 C sugar
  • 1/3 C apple juice
  • 1 jalapeno
  • zest of 1 lime (plus a little juice)
  • 1 bunch cilantro (1/4 C)
  • Kosher salt to taste

Rough chop apples, peppers and onions. In a food processor, chop fresh cranberries. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add apple, peppers and onion to food processor. Chop until finely diced. Add to cranberries in bowl. Finally, chop cilantro. Add sugar, apple juice, lime zest and lime juice. Add cilantro and salt to taste.

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The sugar will start to pull out the liquid in the cranberries and so be sure to give it a few hours to sit. Serve with blue corn chips as an appetizer, as a relish on turkey or over cream cheese with crackers.

holiday cranberry salsa, cranberry relish, thanksgiving, christmas appetizers, cranberry side dish

I hope you have a wonderful holiday with family and friends. What a great time to be thankful for all we have been given this year.

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Da Fam, Da Bears, Da Treats!

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Buffalo Turkey Flatbread

I don’t like to toot my own horn but over the years I’ve learned to make a pretty mean turkey burger.

Toot. Toot.

And so on my weekly (ok maybe more than weekly) Target trip I bought a pound of ground turkey with plans of making burgers.

But then I saw this recipe from Little Leopard Book using Turkey in a way I had never tried before and thought.

I have turkey. 

I like hot sauce. 

And so our turkey burgers turned in to turkey flatbreads and the rest is history. I think I may just start mixing buffalo sauce with all of my dishes because well, I like hot sauce. You should too. All too often everything buffalo is with chicken. Using turkey gives you a richer flavor and is a nice change of pace.

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Buffalo Turkey Flatbread

  • 1 TBL olive oil
  • 1/2 C chopped onion
  • 1/2 C chopped celery
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 C Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo sauce
  • 2-3 TBL light blue cheese dressing
  • 2 pieces Naan or other flatbread
  • blue cheese crumbles
  • parsley or cilantro

In a dutch oven, heat olive oil.

Add celery and onion and cook for until onions are no longer opaque. Add garlic and cook another 2 minutes.

Add ground turkey. Cook until turkey is no longer pink. Add buffalo sauce.

Reduce heat and simmer.

While sauce is simmering, heat grill to medium.

Cook one side of naan pieces until browned.

Depending on the size of your flatbread, lightly dress the grilled side of naan with blue cheese dressing. Add turkey mixture on top of dressing. Add a few blue cheese crumbles then return the flatbread to the grill. Cook until cheese is bubbly and bottom crispy.

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Garnish with parsley or cilantro, slice and serve it up with your favorite summer beer!

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Thanks to Little Leopard Book for the inspiration. Otherwise we would have been stuck with turkey burgers again. Not that there’s anything wrong with my turkey burgers.


World Cup Cowboy Caviar

Warning: this salsa may cause choking if you ingest it while watching a USA World Cup match.

I don’t know if you watched the game or even care about soccer, but in the off-chance you did, you’re probably still recovering from the intensity as slowly as I am. If I had to watch one more guy pull up with a hamstring injury, I was going to scream. Well, louder than I already was screaming, which was loud enough to make the dog look at me like I was crazy.

greater swiss mountain dog, swissy, finn, dog, puppy,

After a double session workout yesterday where Matt made me re-live his decathlon days at our local high school track, we were looking for something fresh and filling for dinner. Some careful consideration that I wasn’t making a cuisine that originated in the opposing team’s country later, we decided on turkey burgers and salsa.

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Cowboy Caviar

  • 1 C grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 can unsalted corn, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • lime juice
  • salt
  • dash red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Arizona dreaming spices or cumin

In a food processor, chop tomatoes, onion, jalapeno and cilantro. Transfer to bowl and add corn and black beans. Add lime juice, salt and southwest seasoning. I used Penzey’s arizona dreaming but you can substitute cumin and fresh garlic. I also like to add a dash of red wine vinegar for a little sour. The food processor chops the tomatoes pretty finely so I rough chop and add a few extras as well.


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This makes a very large batch. About 1/3 of it is actually pictured here so it’s more than enough for a crowd. I’m calling it cowboy caviar but if you want to make it authentic you would include black eyed peas in it as well. Serve it up with chips or eat it solo. It’s delicious either way!

team USA, world cup 2014, soccer






Super Bowl Recipes

Are you ready for some baking?!

I love excuses for themed food. And the Super Bowl is just one of many “holidays” that allows for that. Giant meat and cheese platters constructed in the shape of football stadiums, wings so hot you lose feeling in the bottom half of your face through the first quarter and more chips and salsa than they serve in a week at an all-inclusive Mexican resort. Trust me I’ve experienced the latter first-hand.

Snackstadium courtesy of the NY Daily News

A group of my friends host an annual Super Bowl party and while none of our respective teams were in the big game this year, I knew we would still manage to overindulge on food, drinks and bad commercials. After all, it’s tradition.

An advertising geek at heart, I was a little disappointed with the ads this year. Don’t get me wrong I love sports as you may have gathered from my Color Commentary post last week, but I really love the anticipation that comes with the latest and greatest commercials. What’s trending? Who wins the Oscar for best ad? Which one takes the toilet bowl?

By far my favorite this year was the Budweiser “Brotherhood” ad with the Clydesdales. I love sports and I love commercials, but I have a real soft spot for animals. Pair that with a fondness for the St. Louis Cardinals and well, America and you’ve got a hook, line and sinker for your target demographic, Budweiser.

Now that I’ve softened you up, let’s get back to the recipes.

In an effort to utilize some of my pantry items and keep things a little fresher this year, I decided to attempt a few healthier recipes I’d been eying as of late. Well that was until I didn’t feel like I had enough options to bring and decided to throw in some Chocolate Nutella Football Whoopie Pies. I don’t like to show up places empty-handed. I blame my mother.

super bowl chex mix nutella cookies crab dip

On the menu, homemade spicy Chex mix, lump crab salsa and chocolate Nutella whoopie pies.

spicy homemade chex mix

Spicy Chex Mix

  • 4+ cups whole wheat and corn Chex
  • 2 C pretzels
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 C walnuts/pecans or pumpkin seeds
  • 1 TBL sesame oil
  • 1/4 C soy sauce
  • 1-2 TBL Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp Tabasco chipotle sauce
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt

chex mix ingredients

Preheat oven to 300°F.

In a large bowl, combine Chex, pretzels and nuts.

In a small bowl whisk soy sauce, olive oil, sesame oil, Worcestershire, chipotle, cumin, chili powder and salt.

Stir liquid into dry mixture until coated. Spread in a single layer on a jelly roll pan lined with parchment. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden, being sure to stir every 10 minutes.  homemade chex mix

Let cool and serve!

homemade chex mix

Prefer the original? Recipe adapted from this Whole Grain Cereal Party Mix.


Lump Crab Salsa

  • 1/2 Cup cilantro
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded
  • Finely grated zest and 1/4 Cup lime juice
  • 1 TBL fresh lemon juice
  • 2 garlic clove, very finely chopped
  • 2 TBL extra-virgin olive oil
  • 18 oz. crab meat
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup roasted almonds, coarsely chopped

crab salsa food processor

In a large food processor, add shallots, garlic, peppers and cilantro. Pulse to desired consistency. Add lime zest, and lemon and lime juice.crab salsa bowl

In a large bowl, fold crab meat into salsa and add salt, pepper and olive oil to taste.

crab salsa

Garnish with chopped roasted almonds and serve with your choice of chip or crostini. I used some black bean and corn chips from TJ’s (yes Trader Joe’s and I are on a nick-name basis).

Prefer the original? Recipe adapted from Food and Wine.


Chocolate Nutella Football Cookies

I’ve made this recipe before so it was a quick decision to go back to it when I wanted something the color and shape of a football. I did brown icing a few years ago on some sugar cookies for a Super Bowl. It wasn’t pretty.

  • 1 1/4 C flour (I ran out of all-purpose so I used half whole-wheat)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 C (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/2 C dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 C Nutella
  • 1/3 C skim milk

Preheat oven to 325°

In a small bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder together.

Beat together the butter (room temp), sugar, and brown sugar in your handy-dandy KitchenAid® Mixer. (Maybe a pretty Aqua one like this that I’ve been drooling over since I got the latest C&B catalog) Add vanilla and Nutella and mix until at medium speed until smooth.

Add half of the flour mixture and mix until combined. Add milk. Then add remaining flour mixture and mix completely. Wrap dough in clear wrap refrigerate the dough for an hour.

When you are ready to bake, line pan with non-stick baking mat or parchment, scoop  and roll dough into 1 inch balls and press down with the bottom of a glass to make cookies.

I decided to make football shapes for my whoopie pies so I rolled the dough into a sphere and pressed out football shape with my fingers. Unfortunately dough is too sticky to roll for cutout cookies. Boy wouldn’t that have been faster.

Bake for 10-12 minutes depending on your oven. Cookies are done when they start to crack on top. Let cool on pan for 5 minutes before moving to cooling rack.

Once cookies are cooled, simply (I say simply but it’s a sticky process) add marshmallow creme to the center and press down to make football whoopie pie. If I didn’t run out of time I would have then added stitching on the top with royal icing. A girl can dream, right?

apologies for bad iPhone photo

apologies for bad iPhone photo

These cookies are excellent sans marshmallow creme as well. Prefer the original? Recipe adapted from Our Best Bites.

What was your favorite super bowl commercial? Which one was just awful? Did you eat anything awesome? Share your comments below!

>Spicy Pumpkin Soup…


I’ve been dying to make this soup since my friend Trista brought it over for our spooky dinner club a few weeks back. While I knew my first attempt wouldn’t live up to Trista’s version, the recipe allows for a lot of experimentation so I plan on trying a few more times this pumpkin season. I substituted canned pumpkin for the real thing and lightened it up with half and half and 1% milk. If you are looking for a warm meal as the weather cools, this one is a must!
Creamy Pumpkin Soup
Serves 4
2 tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp red chile flakes
7-ounce pumpkin, seeds and flesh removed, chopped into 1-inch cubes
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
3 cups whole milk (vegan: soy silk)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp ground cinnamon
chopped cilantro
Melt the butter in a heavy stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the cumin and red chile flakes and cook for 2 minutes. Add the pumpkin, stock, milk, and salt and pepper to taste, and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the pumpkin is tender. Purée the soup with an immersion blender until smooth. Spoon into warmed soup bowls, add freshly chopped cilantro, and dust with the cinnamon.

>One Amazing App…


My roommate sent me this recipe from Martha Stewart Living for what looks to be an amazing appetizer. I can’t wait to try it for our next party in a few weeks. Between avacado, prosciutto and manchego cheese this cannot be anything short of phenomenal.
Crisped-Prosciutto and Avocado Crostini
Makes about 30; Serves 8 to 10
    * 4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, torn into 3-inch pieces
    * Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
    * 1 medium baguette, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
    * 2 garlic cloves
    * 2 firm, ripe Hass avocados, halved, pitted, and peeled
    * Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
    * 3 ounces manchego cheese, thinly sliced

   1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange prosciutto in a single layer on 2 rimmed baking sheets. Brush with oil, and bake, rotating halfway through, until crisp and deep golden brown, about 9 minutes; transfer to a plate.

   2. Arrange baguette slices on a baking sheet. Brush generously with oil. Bake until light golden brown around edges, 8 to 9 minutes. Rub with garlic cloves.

   3. Mash avocados with a fork. Season with salt and pepper. Spread avocado on baguette slices. Top each with a slice of cheese and a piece of prosciutto. Season with pepper.