First in 10 (seven layer dip plus 3!)

It’s Super Bowl and though I’m blue through and through I decided to go for flavor over flair in my game day apps.  I love a good 7 layer dip.  Anything that transports tortilla chips to my mouth is good by me.  Now take that classic dip and add 3 MORE LAYERS and you’ve got a game day classic.  All in!

First in 10 Layer Dip
Serves 10-15

2 (15.5 ounce) cans black beans
1 package taco seasoning
4 ounces queso fresco, crumbled
1 (15.5 ounce) jar salsa (I like a thick and chunky with some heat)
1 recipe guacamole
3/4 cup sour cream
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce
1 cup sliced black olives
1/2 cup sliced pickled jalapenos
1 cup prepared pico de gallo

Pico de Gallo
1/2 cup chopped fresh tomato
1 tablespoon minced red onion
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons sliced scallions
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 teaspoon olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper

In a food processor combine black beans (including liquid in can) with taco seasoning.  Puree until smooth and then spread to fill the bottom of a clear baking dish by 1/4 inch. Next, add queso fresco and then salsa and spread evenly over beans.  Top with guacamole, spreading evenly.  Next add sour cream, cheddar cheese,  iceberg lettuce, then olives, then jalapenos.  In a small bowl, mix ingredients for pico de gallo.  Season to taste and strain extra liquid.  Finish 10 layer dip by topping with pico de gallo and sprinkling with a touch more salt.  Serve with corn chips and enjoy the game!



Green Bean, Beet, and Goat Cheese Salad

Green Bean, Beet, and Goat Cheese Salad

(serves 2-3)

There is something luscious about oven roasted beets, slightly steamed green beans, and herbed goat cheese…now combine and savor! Add in salty roasted peanuts and simple seasoning and you have an easy appetizer, delicious light meal, and super salad.

2 large handfuls trimmed green beans (about 2 1/2 cups)

2 cups diced roasted beets

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

salt and freshly ground pepper

2.5 ounces goat cheese (herbed goat cheese is even more flavorful)

3 tablespoons crushed peanuts

In a medium sized sauce pan, bring salted water to a boil.  Add green beans and cook until just tender (about 4-5 minutes).  In a medium sized bowl, combine green beans with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Plate green beans then toss oven-roasted beets in the same bowl as the green beans were tossed in.  Plate beets next and finish with crumbled goat cheese and crushed peanuts.  Serve while green beans are slightly warm–just so that goat cheese melts slightly.  Enjoy!

panko crusted poppers

Panko Crusted Poppers

(for Chile Pepper Magazine)

Yield: 4 poppers * Zest Factor: Hot


Have you ever wondered how the heck to get a perfect crust on those waxy jalapenos? Well I have. I have spent maddening nights working on beer batters, bread crumbs, you name it. Ah-but I had yet to try panko.


canola oil for deep frying

4 jalapeno peppers, top cap and stem removed, seeded and deveined

½ cup grated cheddar cheese (make it a brimming cup)

3 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon corn starch

1 egg

2 tablespoons water

1 cup panko crumbs, crumbled almost to dust (very fine)


Bring a small sauce pan full of canola oil up to 350°. Stuff your jalapeno peppers with cheddar cheese, filling to the max. In a small bowl, make your egg batter by combining flour, corn starch and egg. Mix with a fork and add water a tablespoon at a time until the batter is thick but workable. Drop your jalapenos one by one into the egg batter, coat all edges and quickly drop into your panko crumbs before batter has a second to shift. Complete the crust by rolling the jalapenos through the panko until coated on all sides. Patch any missed spots with additional egg batter and panko.

Carefully drop your poppers into your frying oil. Fry 3-4 minutes until golden brown and flaky, remove with a slotted spoon to preserve the crust. Let dry on a paper towel lined plate and season with salt.  Serve warm and congratulate yourself on a perfect popper crust.


Shrimp Diablo with Avocado Cream

Shrimp Diablo with Avocado Cream

(published in Chile Pepper Magazine)

Yield: 4-6 Servings * Zest Factor: Hot


Three times the burning power with jalapeno, Serrano and chipotle infused adobo sauce these shrimp are diabolically good. Use the avocado cream to quench the fire or dip in additional diablo sauce to keep the burn going strong.


1 tablespoon olive oil

3 tablespoons minced yellow onion

2 jalapenos, minced with seeds included

1 serrano pepper, minced with seeds included

¼ cup water


3 tablespoons adobo sauce, from the can

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons spicy ketchup

2 teaspoons lime juice

2 cups large shrimp, shelled and deveined (14 shrimp)


Avocado Cream

½ avocado

3 tablespoons plain yogurt

2 teaspoons cilantro leaves, minced

2 tablespoons fresh jalapeno, minced

1 teaspoon lime juice



In a medium sauté pan over high medium-high heat, add olive oil and begin sautéing minced onion, about 2 minutes. Next add jalapeno and Serrano and sauté another 3 minutes then add water. Allow water to boil off then season with salt and add remaining ingredients. Simmer another minute and then baste mixture onto skewered shrimp.

On a preheated grill, cook the shrimp about 2 minutes per side, basting with additional Diablo sauce.

To make avocado cream, in a Cuisinart, combine avocado, yogurt, cilantro leaves, jalapeno and lime juice. Pulse until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pulse once more. Serve alongside grilled shrimp.

Salmon Pinwheels

Smoked salmon is such a perfect start to the weekend.  These pinwheels blend the irresistible perfect combination of dill studded cream cheese and lox.  YUM!  Wrap all that in a tender crepe and you have a starter that looks elegant and tastes divine.

Salmon Pinwheels

Serves 6-8

1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 eggs

10 fluid ounces milk

2 tablespoons melted butter

6 ounces cream cheese

3 tablespoons fresh dill, minced (plus extra for garnish)

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 lemon, juiced

1/2 teaspoon Tabasco

canola oil for pan frying

1/2 pound smoked salmon

In a large stainless steel bowl, combine flour and salt.  In a medium bowl combine eggs and milk and stir them into the dry mixture.  Whisk until smooth- and no lumps remain and let rest for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, dill, sea salt, lemon, and Tabasco.  Mix until smooth.

After 30 minutes, stir in melted butter into crepe batter.  Over high heat, in a small frying pan add one teaspoon of canola oil and ladle crepe batter into pan.  Swirl to coat the pan’s bottom and pour off excess back into batter.  Cook first side about 1-2 minutes until small bubbles form and flip to finish second side (another 1-2 minutes until golden brown).  The goal for the crepes is thin and golden brown with crunchy edges that look like a meld between pancakes and lace.

Don’t despair-the first one almost never turns out.  You’ll have enough batter to make over 20 and you only need ten good ones.   So, repeat and perfect.

Once you have finished your crepes, take one and spread with about 2 tablespoons of cream cheese mix.  Spread across crepe evenly and top with one layer of smoked salmon.  Top salmon with another layer of cream cheese and roll salmon filled crepe to form a long, even roll.

Repeat until salmon is gone (you will have extra crepes–which are great to make a dessert of nutella and bananas with).  Chill salmon crepe rolls until ready to serve and then cut into 1 inch rounds.  Plate and top with a sprig of fresh dill for garnish.  Serve chilled.  Enjoy!

stuffed mushrooms

Stuffed mushrooms are versatile and succulent! They can be made with crab meat, with cheese filling, or any number of ways and make for a delicious appetizer.  For my stuffed mushrooms I chose to stuff with couscous and sausage.  The soft mushroom paired quite nicely with the sausage and served warm the whole thing burst with flavor.


stuffed mushrooms

serves 2

5 baby bella caps (1.5″ diameter)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 link chorizo, uncooked

3 tablespoons minced onions

1 clove garlic, crushed

splash white wine

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

1/2 cup couscous

2 tablespoons parmesan, grated plus extra for dusting

Preheat oven to 425F.  Cut the stems off your mushroom caps and hollow out the gills with a spoon.  Meanwhile, in a medium saute pan over high heat, add olive oil and crumble chorizo into pan to cook.  Add onions and garlic and mix well.  Cook 3-4 minutes then add a splash of white wine, cumin, and thyme.  Stir over high heat until sausage is fully cooked then add couscous and 2 tablespoons parmesan.  Stuff your mushrooms with sausage-couscous mixture and dust with additional parmesan cheese.  Bake caps for 20 minutes, allow to rest and serve warm.  Enjoy!

couscous stuffed tomatoes

Stuffed tomatoes are such a beautiful thing to serve at parties.  The tomato’s natural sweetness blends very well with the savory and meaty quality of the mushrooms that you have a dynamic appetizer that is simple to make and a treat to serve.

couscous stuffed tomatoes

serves 2-3

7 sweet cocktail tomatoes (1″ diameter)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 cup diced portabella and straw mushrooms, small dice

3 tablespoons finely minced onion

1 clove garlic, crushed

salt and freshly ground pepper

2 teaspoons fresh thyme

splash of white wine (about 1/8 cup)

1 cup couscous

2 teaspoons grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 425F.  Cut the tops off your tomatoes, cut a thin bit off the bottoms to allow them to sit straight, and hollow them with a spoon.

Meanwhile, in a medium saute pan over high heat, add butter and mushrooms.  Add onion and cook 3-4 minutes then add garlic and season with thyme, salt, and pepper.  Add a splash of red wine and cook until evaporated about 2-3 more minutes.  Stir in couscous and parmesan and then season the mixture to taste.

Stuff your tomatoes full of mushroom couscous and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.  Allow to rest slightly to cool (about 4 minutes) and serve warm.  Enjoy!

Shrimp Spring Rolls (published in Chile Pepper Magazine)

Barbecue-Teriyaki Shrimp Spring Rolls

(published in Chile Pepper Magazine)

Zest Factor: Mild * Yield: 4 servings


For something refreshing with a little zing these spring rolls hit the spot.  They transition wonderfully from appetizers to full platters and really give a little something different to your standard barbecue affair.


2 tablespoon canola oil

2 carrot, grated

2 cup grated Napa cabbage

2 baby bok choy, sliced thin

6 tablespoons teriyaki sauce, divided (I used my favorite sauce Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki)

4 spring roll wrappers

8 cooked shrimp, cut in half lengthwise

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves

2 teaspoons sriracha

2 tablespoons barbecue sauce

In a medium large sauté pan over high heat, add canola oil and sauté carrot, cabbage and bok choy for 2 minutes. Add 2 tablespoon teriyaki sauce and cook an additional 2 minutes. Remove from pan and drain in a colander.

In a large bowl with hot water, place one spring roll wrapper into the bowl and submerge until just softened then lay on a flat surface. Repeat with other wrappers, one at a time (change water if it cools). Divide cut shrimp, sautéd vegetables and cilantro into 4 equal portions and roll them into spring roll wrappers. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine sriracha, barbecue sauce and remaining teriyaki sauce. Serve with spring rolls. Enjoy!

Sirloin Sliders and Mini Chocolate Milkshakes

The dynamic duo has created the perfect cocktail combo. Travis so aptly described this as “bite-size bliss.”  No cocktail party is complete without sliders.  Passed alongside mini milkshakes, you have an easy crowd-pleaser.

Sirloin Sliders & Mini Chocolate Milkshakes

6 sliders, 6 shakes (serves 3 people)

2 tablespoons canola oil, for cooking

1/2 small onion (1/2 cup), thinly sliced

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 pound ground sirloin

salt and freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

2 ounces cheddar cheese, cut into 6 even squares

2 ounces water (about a 1/4 cup)

1 cup chocolate ice cream

1 cup milk

6 mini brioche rolls, sliced

6 pirouline cookies, hollow inside but lined with chocolate

burger condiments:  mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, bib lettuce, sliced cherry tomatoes (about 3), and cornichon

In a medium saute pan  (be sure to use a pan with a matching lid) over high heat, add a tablespoon of canola oil and once heated, add onions.  Cook 3-4 minutes, stirring a couple of times and then add red wine vinegar and sugar.  Continue to caramelize until translucent, browned, and sweetened (about 6-8 more minutes).  Reserve for later.

In a medium bowl mix your ground sirloin with salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, and cumin.  Divide mixture into 6 even balls and form into small patties.  Hollow out the center of each patty and add a slice of sharp cheddar cheese.  Seal the edges and get ready to cook those bad boys.

Wipe your saute pan and then add an additional tablespoon of canola oil.  Once your pan is heated, start to cook your slider patties, about 2-3 minutes per side.  After they have been flipped onto the second side and have been cooking for 1-2 minutes, add the water and cover the pan with its lid.  Cook 2-3 more minutes to finish.

Meanwhile, in a blender mix your chocolate ice cream with your milk.  Voila-milkshake!

To assemble your sirloin sliders, coat each bun with mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, a tiny piece of bib lettuce and some sliced cherry tomato.  Cover the slider with the top bun and skewer with a cornichon to secure.

To finish your milkshakes, pour into miniature glasses and top each with a pirouline cookie straw.

Plate your sirloin sliders and mini chocolate milkshakes and pass them with pride.  Enjoy!

About your Chefs:

Travis Healy is a CIA graduate has worked in restaurants across the country and currently resides in Manhattan.  He is currently freelancing in the private chef world. His interests range from locally obtainable food to blues harmonica. Travis has a passion about the culinary world and wants to learn as much as he can from new experiences and adventures in the vast world of food.

Aurora Nessly is an ICE graduate who works as a private chef, food writer, host, and model throughout NYC.  More info is available on her website.

Bruschetta with Garlic Crostini

Here’s an easy appetizer that’s great for cocktail parties and other gatherings. Tomato, basil, and garlic are such a classic combination, add the Romano cheese and olive oil and you have a match made in heaven.

Bruschetta with Garlic Crostini

Serves 10-12

1/2 stick of butter (4 tablespoons)

10 garlic cloves, pressed, divided

1 french baguette with a good crunchy crust (thinly sliced)

1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained

4 vine ripe vine tomatoes (about 2 cups), diced and drained

1/4 onion (about 1/2 cup), minced

4 tablespoons basil, chiffonade

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup fresh Romano, grated

2 tablespoons dried oregano

salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat your oven to 350.  In a small saucepan over medium-low heat melt your butter and 6 cloves of pressed garlic.  Lay out your baguette slices on two baking sheets.  Using a pastry brush, spread the garlic butter over the slices, using just enough to coat the tops.  Bake crostini for 6-8 minutes (or until golden brown and the fragrant smell of garlic-butter permeates your kitchen).  Reserve the slices and turn off your oven.

In a large bowl combine your can of diced tomatoes, vine tomatoes, remaining crushed garlic cloves, onion, and basil.  Stir to combine.  Add olive oil slowly, stirring to adjust consistency.  Next add Romano cheese and dried basil.  Season to taste (salt after you have tasted with cheese since Romano is known to be salty).

Plate bruschetta in a medium serving bowl and decorate with a ring of garlic crostini.  Or if you want a passed dish, spoon bruschetta mixture over several crostini, arrange with a sprig of fresh basil and pass around.  Enjoy!