The Perfect Summer Appetizer – Lemon Pepper Salami Bites

You might be asking why these are the ‘perfect’ summer appetizer.  Two reasons:

1-  They involve no heating the house.  You don’t need an oven, stove, toaster…no heat source at all.

2-  They use up bell peppers.  If you garden like I do, you’ve got them coming out your ears.  If you don’t garden, this is the time of year you can find them on sale and at their cheapest, which makes them economical.

lemon pepper salami bites from

They also satisfy a triad of summer cravings I have…salt (must be all the sweating in the heat), bright fresh lemon, and cold stuff.  This one appetizer meets all three.

And with less than 15 minutes to make these babies, you just might find yourself serving them up all season long.

Lemon Pepper Salami Bites
Serves 4
A cool, savory summer appetizer.
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Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
  1. 12 oz dry salami slices
  2. 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  3. 1 yellow bell pepper
  4. 1 red bell pepper
  5. 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  6. 1 tsp garlic powder
  7. 1 tsp lemon juice
  8. Lemon pepper
  9. Toothpicks
  1. Cream the cream cheese with Italian seasoning, garlic powder and lemon juice.
  2. Slice the bell pepper in to thin strips. You could count the salami slices and cut the bell peppers into the same amount of strips as you have salami slices.
  3. Spread about a teaspoon of cream cheese mixture on each salami slice, then top each with 1 strip of each color of bell pepper. Sprinkle with lemon pepper. Fold up the sides of the salami slices and secure with a toothpick.
Daily Ration

Menu Plan for This Week

This week and next week are busy with end of the school year and 6th grade promotion things.  That said, there’s a bit more convenience going into this plan than normal.

Menu Plan Monday June 5-9If you’d like to see a video of the grocery haul that goes with this plan you can check it out on my YouTube channel:

Sunrise Quesadilla

Breakfast made easy, but not boring!  These sunrise quesadillas are  cinch to whip up and a great way to use leftover tortillas from taco night. 😉

sunrise breakfast quesadilla

In addition to being fast (20 minutes for the whole family), these are a great way to get in some extra veggies.  They are pretty much scrambled eggs with sauteed vegetables and cheese.  You can add in leftover bacon if you like as well.

Start by melting butter in a skillet, then adding in chopped onion, garlic, bell pepper, and tomato.  When everything starts to soften remove it to  plate and beat some eggs.  Scramble the eggs in butter in the same skillet (I always like to save on dishes!).

Then layer the eggs and veggies mixture over tortillas.  Top with cheese and green onion.  Put the top (another tortilla) on each one and return to the same skillet just enough to crisp the tortillas. 

Cut into fourths and serve with your favorite quesadilla toppings.  In our house that is sour cream and hot sauce. One kids likes salsa. 

sunrise breakfast quesadilla

Brisket on a Biscuit

National Brisket Day and National Biscuit Day are not only next to each other on the calendar, but they work extremely well together in this savory biscuit sandwich!

This is a throw back from last May!  I just love that National Brisket Day and National Biscuit Day are next to each other on the calendar.  But really, there’s no place you could put National Biscuit Day and not have it meld with whatever other food day is next to it.  Am I right?!

Brisket on a Biscuit -

Brisket on a Biscuit!

Or, to be more exact, Braised Brisket on a Savory Green Onion Biscuit with Spicy Quick Pickled Radishes.  So today, May 28th, is National Brisket Day.  Tomorrow, May 29th, is National Biscuit Day.  You know I’m going somewhere with this.  They make a natural combination!

Let me first say that finding brisket was a saga.  I grew up eating it every month or more so I couldn’t believe it was so hard to find.  Apparently, most stores only have it around Easter time (at least here in Southern California).  The only one I could find was ginormous.  I mean it.  13 pounds!  I had to cut the thing into 3 chunks and freeze two of them for later.  And it took me laying my two largest cutting boards side by side to even do that.  It was more than two feet long!

Anyway, back to the sandwich here.  When I saw brisket day and biscuit day on the calendar, I just couldn’t separate the two.  The sandwich popped into my head and I had to make it happen.  As it rolled around in my brain, I slowly started adding in more details.  Why not a more savory biscuit?  I added in green onion and black pepper.  I contemplated cheddar too, but decided against it.   Feel free to add some on your own though.

Then I thought it might need a little something extra, and that’s where I came up with spicy quick pickled radish chips. 


So here’s how you make the brisket:


Start that brisket going first because it takes a long time.  We’re talking low and slow here. You could also do it a day ahead if you’re serving a crowd. For that matter, you could do the radishes a day ahead too.  They need time to chill.

Put a little olive oil in an oven safe heavy bottom dish or dutch oven over medium high heat.  Rub the brisket (mine was 2.2 pounds) generously with Pappy’s.  That’s just what I have always used.  That link is NOT an affiliate link.  I just wanted you to know what it is.  I grew up using this on tri-tip, london broil, and brisket.  Be generous rubbing down your brisket on all sides.  Then brown it on both sides in the pot you’re using.  Add about half an inch of water and cover with foil.  Braise this for about 3 hours at 300 degrees.  Check it every now and then after an hour and half to make sure it isn’t going dry (add water if necessary).  It is ready when you can twist a fork in it and fairy easily shred.  Let it rest for 15 minutes before shredding.

Meanwhile, start the radish quick pickles.


For the radishes: (adapted from

1 bunch of radishes

3/4 cup white wine vinegar

3/4 cup cold water

3 Tablespoons honey

2 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes


Clean the radishes and slice them thin.  Put them in a jar.  Combine the rest of the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  As soon as it begins to boil and the honey is dissolved, pour it over the radishes.  Let cool enough to put a lid on and refrigerate.  These are best cold on the sandwich.  What you don’t use on these sandwiches can be kept in the fridge for a week or two, but they are crispest within a few days. 

green onion black pepper biscuits

For the biscuits:

2 cups all purpose flour

1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

4 Tablespoons cold butter

1 cup cold milk

1/3 cup green onions, sliced thin (green parts only)

1/2 teaspoon black pepper


Bump the oven up to 450.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper.  Cut in the butter until it resembles course crumbs.  The less mixing you have to do with these the softer they will be.  Mix in the milk with the minimum mixing needed to get it incorporated.  Gently fold in the green onions. 

Gently pat out the biscuit dough onto a floured surface until about and inch to an inch and a half thick.  Use a round cutter to cut biscuits straight up and down, don’t twist the cutter.  I used a 3″ cutter on these so they would be bigger for a sandwich. 

Lay, barely touching each other, on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 12-18  minutes, until golden on top.


Ready to assemble this delight?

Open up a hot biscuit and slather on some butter.

green onion black pepper biscuit

Shred the brisket and add enough juice from the pan to keep it juicy, but not enough to get the biscuit soggy.   Lay some on the hot biscuit.

brisket biscuit Then lay on cold radish pickles.  Put the top on and…Enjoy!

brisket on a biscuit

Menu Plan Monday – May 2017

This week life is starting to settle back into normal.  It’s still busy with the end of the school year, but nothing like the last 6 weeks have been for me.  That said, my very bare fridge is now full, and my master plan for the week has been laid.

Also, the weather predictions this week are quite crazy.  We’ll be ranging from the low 60’s to the mid 90’s, so I’m not really feeling like a certain type of food.  We’re all over the map in this plan.

Menu Plan Monday in MayWhat’s on your menu this week?

Hittin’ the Road….er…Plane

I’ve been busy getting ready for a short trip with my husband.  We’re going to East Tennessee for a few days to investigate the possibility of moving there.  As a result, there has been no gourmet fare around here.  Not even close.  In fact, we’ve had frozen orange chicken and hot dogs this week.  Last night was spaghetti only because I had sauce made and in the freezer.  Sometimes, that’s just how life is.

I try to make time for real food, both for the time together and the nutrition, but getting a house and three little kids ready for a few days with the fabulous MIL in control (in addition to three special events in school) has required to give myself a little grace this time around. 

BUT, while I won’t be blogging on road, I will be Instagramming!  Did you know you can follow me on Instragram?  I’m DailyRationWithAlicia or you can follow this link

Mexican Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes with Cocoa Tajín Buttercream

Cinco de Mayo dessert anyone?  Or just an excuse to eat these slightly spiced, crazy moist, chocolate cupcakes with even more chocolate buttercream, laced with chile lime seasoning.

Mexican Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes with Cocoa Tajin ButtercreamThese are a lot easier than they sound!  The key is a jazzed up boxed cake mix.  Add in shredded zucchini to call it a vegetable and you’ll feel less guilty. (wink wink).

These are crazy moist cupcakes so when they come out of the oven you might see some crumbs on your toothpick.  What you’re actually going to look for is when the cupcakes start to pull away from the side of the cups in the pan.

moist chocolate cupcakesSee how they’re just pulling away right there?  And dry looking around the edge?  It’s OK that middles are bit glossy, as long as they are set.  This is how you want these.  It also makes them still fabulous if you make them a day ahead…which I almost always do.

For the buttercream, I’m pretty lazy.  I melt my chocolate in the microwave for goodness sake.  It really has very few ingredients so it comes together quickly, especially if you have a stand mixer.  If not, a hand held electric mixer will be fine.

Cinco de Mayo CupcakesSprinkle a little Tajín on top and you’re good to go!  By the way, I live in Southern California, where Taíjn is in every grocery store.  It’s a Mexican chile lime seasoning.  You might have to find it in the international section of your grocery store depending on where you live. 

TajinAnd no, this is not a sponsored post, just an ingredient my family enjoys.

Mexican Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes with Cocoa Tajín Buttercream
Yields 18
Slightly spiced chocolate cupcakes! Zucchini makes these ultra moist. These are topped with a cocoa buttercream and sprinkled with Tajín chile lime seasoning.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
30 min
For the cupcakes
  1. 1 boxed chocolate cake mix (I used Betty Crocker Devil's Food)
  2. The ingredients listed on the box (my mix, listed above, asked for 1 1/4 cup water, 1/2 cup oil and 3 eggs)
  3. 1 large zucchini, grated
  4. 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  5. 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  6. 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the Cocoa Buttercream
  1. 1 cup dark chocolate
  2. 1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temp)
  3. 2-5 Tablespoons heavy cream
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  5. 1 pound confectioners sugar
  6. 1/2 teaspoon ancho powder
  7. 1/2 teaspoon Tajín
  8. 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  9. extra Tajín for sprinkling on top
  1. Start the cake mix by preheating your oven to the temperature given on the box. Then shred the zucchini. If you have a food processor you can make really fast work of this.
  2. Make mix according to package directions with the egg, oil and water, but add the spices to the mix before mixing. Gently fold in the zucchini until evenly mixed.
  3. Pour into a greased cupcake pan about 2/3 - 3/4 full. Bake according to package directions but start checking them early. Mine take 14-19 minutes. You're looking for the edges of the cupcakes to look slightly dry and just starting to separate from the sides of the cupcake pan. There might be glossy spots on top but there shouldn't be any puddles or jiggles.
  4. Meanwhile, start the buttercream. Combine the butter, 2 Tablespoons cream, sugar, vanilla, and spices with a mixer. Cut up the chocolate (if not using chip form) and microwave 30 seconds at a time until melted, stirring in between each interval.
  5. Once the chocolate is melted, add it to the buttercream mixture and beat until fluffy and smooth. You might need to add more cream in, a tablespoon at a time, until it smooths out. I've used up to 5 tablespoons total, but never needed more than that. Some days it just comes together with less liquid than other days.
  6. Once cupcakes are completely cooled, spread frosting over the top. Then lightly sprinkle Tajín over cupcakes. Use a light hand from a foot or two high for more even sprinkling. A little goes a long way here.
Daily Ration

It’s Almost Summertime! Paleo Chocolate Mocha Ice Cream Sandwiches are Back!

A Paleo version of an ice cream sandwich for one. Chocolate mocha ice cream sandwich.

I posted this last summer on my old personal blog before I started this blog that is pretty much dedicated to my food.  It’s going to be in the eighties this week and quickly climb into the nineties this weekend.  I think it’s totally OK to make ice cream sandwiches under those circumstances, even if it is only April.

I LOVE ice cream sandwiches, but I’m trying to control myself more lately.  Hence the invention of these lovelies.

Paleo Chocolate Mocha Ice Cream Sandwich

This is a recipe for 1!  I find that helps me not over eat them…because I could eat a whole box of ice cream sammies from the store and not bat an eye.

chocolate mocha ice cream sandwich

For the mocha cookies:  (these cookies were inspired by

1/2 C almond flour

2 Tablespoons tapioca starch

1 Tablespoon maple syrup

1 Tablespoon coconut oil

1 Tablespoons chocolate chips (minis work well) or chopped dark chocolate

1 teaspoon cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder


Preheat the oven to 350°.  Mix all the ingredients. I find it easier to just get in there with my hands.  😉  Then divide the mixture into two equal balls.  Pat balls down gently on a silicone baking mat on a cookie sheet.  These should be about 4 inches across.  They’re slightly thicker than I normally make cookies because they need to hold up in ice cream sandwich territory.

Bake for 13-15 minutes.  You’re looking for golden edges and solid but not hard cookies.


Meanwhile, make the filling:

1 frozen banana

1 Tablespoon cocoa powder

1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

1/2 Tablespoon raw honey


I like to sit the frozen bananas out for about 10-15 minutes to slightly thaw.  I find they blend easier that way.  Slice bananas and place in food processor.  Add in the other ingredients.  blitz until smooth and creamy like ice cream.  If it seems too soft at this point, put it in the freezer for a few minutes to firm it up.  Don’t leave it too long though.  This stuff gets really hard. 

Once your cookies are cooled and your ice cream is ready, slather a generous amount of the ice cream onto one cookie and top with the other cookie. 

You can either enjoy right away or wrap with plastic wrap and place in freezer until ready to consume. 

Paleo Chocolate Mocha Ice Cream SandwichDon’t rush through this one.  Sit and enjoy slowly.  Not so slowly the ice cream melts, just slowly enough to actually savor each bite.

Immunity Upgrade Juice

I noticed some kids at the school are starting another round of going out sick.  Our weather has been up and down, probably breeding germs extra well.  I’m heading off our family’s impending sicknesses with this immunity boosting juice.  Hopefully we’ll be upgraded to ‘no sickness’ territory.

immunity boosting juice

This is full of vitamin C from citrus, kiwi, and strawberries.  In addition, the cruciferous vegetables are loaded with antiviral and antibacterial agents.

immunity boosting juice

If you have a juicer and a round of summer colds coming on (or any other type of cold), get juicing. 

ImmunoUpgrade Juice
Yields 2
An immunity boosting juice!
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Prep Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
  1. 3 strawberries
  2. 1 large orange, peeled
  3. 2 apples
  4. 3 kiwi (peeled)
  5. 1 cup broccoli chunks
  6. 1 cup cauliflower chunks
  1. Put it all in the juicer and let it keep you well! I like to refrigerate before drinking. Just stir to mix it up as it will separate while sitting.
Daily Ration

7 Healthy and Quick Snacks I Love

7 things I reach for time and time again to satisfy my need for snacks without sacrificing health or flavor.

7 quick and healthy snack ideas

Sometimes when I see snack ideas I think, “That’s not a snack.  That’s a small meal!”  A snack for me has to not only be small enough to be a snack, but it also has to be quick.  It does need to be satisfying, but if it isn’t something I can just grab and go, then it better take less than about 3 minutes to make. 

I am not going to make meatballs from scratch, no matter how easy, for a snack.  I’m not going to bake something for 20 minutes as a snack.  I am not going to spend half an hour chopping vegetables for a salad ‘snack’.

So what are the healthy things I turn to time and time again? (We’ll ignore the unhealthy things today 😉 )

1- Trail mix packs. 

healthy quick snacks

I found these at Trader Joe’s.  They are individual sized packs and they have a variety of types.  I like the Happy Trekking as well.  I always have one of these in my purse for sudden hunger or when I’m out running errands and don’t have time to eat without running through a drive through.  They are quite filling and keep me going until I can get home for a late lunch.


2-  Romaine Spears or Wraps

avocado bacon lettuce spears

I make these with just about anything in them: lunch meat, previously chopped veggies, leftover taco filling, or my favorite, avocado and uncured bacon.  I use leftover bacon that just ‘recrisps’ in a pan while I get the romaine out and the avocado chopped.  They almost always have salt and pepper on them too.

Just for today I made this with non-leftover bacon to see how long it would take.  I put half a strip in a pan to sizzle while I got out the romaine and chopped half an avocado.  Then my bacon was pretty much done.  Chopped it and sprinkled on top.  4 minutes, not rushing. 

To keep these healthy you really want to focus on buying good quality, no nitrate bacon.  Also, use just enough to taste, don’t make it the main flavor. 

PS- My 8 year old would like you to know that she likes bacon cheddar in hers.  I am cutting out more and more dairy due to hormonal issues so no cheddar for mine. 


3-  Mandarins

seedless mandarin oranges

This one is new to my repertoire.  I’ve historically not really liked oranges as snacks due to their messiness, but these are really minimally messy while peeling and also peel pretty easily.  In addition, they are more portable than many snack ideas that involve fruits or veggies. The seedless ones are fabulous and they smell great too!


4-  Fresh Veggies

how to get your family to eat more fresh vegetables

I know, you’re thinking, but chopping those takes a long time! That breaks all your rules!  You’re right.  Except for this one case.   A couple of years ago, when I first started trying to get the family to eat more veggies, I started this new afternoon thing.  I put out a tray of fresh veggies every day at 4 pm.  This is the snack everyone in the family can have.  They cannot ask for anything else, cannot complain of being hungry, cannot ask me about dinner…You see where I am going with this?

This veggie platter has been one of the best things I ever did to get my family to eat more veggies.  They cannot have fruit for snack at this time. (We already eat plenty of that. The point was to add in veggies)  They can use homemade dressing or garlic salt on it (we currently have ranch and Italian) and they can eat as many as they want.  I figure if they’re spoiling their appetite by eating too many veggies, I’m OK with that.

At first they picked out a lot of new veggies to try and got adventurous.  It was fun.  We discovered that we like raw beets!  There are usually mushrooms, cucumber, and celery on this plate too, but we’re currently out.  I need to refill the plate soon.

So how is this a quick snack?

I don’t make this when I’m hungry for a snack.  I make this plate every Monday right before I start dinner. At dinner time I cover what’s left and put it in the fridge.  One large plate lasts 3-4 days before I need to refill it.  Something funny happened when I started putting this out to get my family eat more vegetables.  I started eating more too. 😉  Sometimes, on my most lazy days, I just reach under the wrap in the fridge and just grab a handful of whatever is on that plate for my snack.  It may not be what I’m craving at the moment, but I often reach for these when I’m deciding on something else that I never end up eating because these filled me up.  They’re quick because they’re already made.  Shhhhh.  Don’t tell my kids I’m eating them all day long.


5-  Good Ol’ Apples and nut butter

apples and nut butter snack

Sometimes I like sunflower butter, sometimes almond butter, sometimes peanut butter.  These slice fast, and with a scoop from your jar you have a snack in less than 2 minutes.  Just make sure your nut butter has just nuts, no added sugar or other nasties.


6-  Berries

berries for snack

Don’t tell.  Sometimes I buy one of those small containers of raspberries, or blackberries, or a little green basket of strawberries at the farmer’s market, and keep it just for one single snack for myself.  Straight antioxidants!  By the way, this picture came from this post (not my own) about the health benefits of berries.  It’s just soooo pretty!


7-  Olives

olives for snack

Just drain and eat. Seriously easy.  If I am craving something salty I’ll eat the green ones.  Loaded with healthy fats, it doesn’t get much quicker than this.

I’d love to know what fast and healthy snacks you reach for!  Leave them in the comments below please.  I’m always looking for new ideas.