Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Apple Pecan Wild Rice Pilaf

I've had a package of TJ's Maple Apple Sausage in the freezer for a few months now, and I've been in clean out the fridge/freezer mode, so I had to use it up. I also had some TJ's wild rice blend, and thought an apple pecan wild rice pilaf sounded interesting and would use up both!
This meal was delicious, I think I should have chopped the apples a bit finer and chopped the pecans, and maybe added some dried cranberries for a sweet burst...maybe next time!

Apple Pecan Wild Rice Pilaf

1/2 c. wild rice blend
1 1/4 c. vegetable stock
1 tbsp. EVOO
1 red onion, diced
1 green apple, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 sprigs of thyme leaves, about 1/2 tsp.
salt and pepper
1/4 c. pecans
1 tbsp. butter*

Bring stock to a boil in a small pot, add rice, stir and turn to medium heat.
Cover and cook for 40 minutes, or until rice is cooked.
While rice cooks, heat a pan over medium-low.
Add EVOO, onions, apples and garlic, season with salt and pepper.
Sautee for ten minutes, or until softened, add thyme.
When rice is cooked, add to apple mixture, stir to combine.
Add butter, adjust seasonings and plate.
Serve with asparagus and chicken sausage.
*omit butter for vegan option

Bistro Salad with Goat Cheese Medallions

It's been a while since I've made a fancier dinner, so I decided to put some thought into tonight's meal and make something nice. I've been meaning to make a salad with these goat cheese medallions for quite some time, but forgot about them. I saw them on a salad at a local restaurant recently, and it reminded me I wanted to make them.

I used mixed baby greens with herbs, which were fantastic, then I used the bottom of the jar method to make a lowfat honey mustard dressing. Since I have an aversion to frying things, I stuck these medallions under the broiler to crisp them up and they came out great!

Bistro Salad with Goat Cheese Medallions

6 c. organic mixed baby greens with herbs

1/4 english cucumber, diced

1/2 c. mandarain orange segments in juice

4 oz. herbed goat cheese, very cold

1/2 c. panko bread crumbs

1 egg white, whipped


1 tbsp. honey

1 tsp. dijon mustard

1 tsp. white wine vinegar

1 tbsp. EVOO

2 tbsp. plain lowfat yogurt

salt and pepper

Place goat cheese on a cutting board. Use a cheese knife or plain dental floss to cut into 1/2"-1/4" medallions.

Dredge in egg white, then in panko and lay on a lined baking sheet.

Mist the medallions with EVOO spray. Place in the freezer until ready to broil.

Add dressing ingredients to a small bowl and whisk (or make in the bottom of the honey bear).

Arrange the salad, place medallions under the broiler for 3-4 minutes, top salad, dress and serve.

Monday, June 29, 2009


Gazpacho has always been a little scary to me. Cold soup just didn't make sense! I also have a strong aversion to chunks of cooked tomato, celery and tomato juice. I think it was because when I was young, my mom would always order tomato juice with a celery stalk and put pepper in it, it totally grossed me out! However, this is coming from the girl who eats tomato paste out of the can with a spoon. I never have the problem of "What do I do with the rest of the can when a recipe calls for 2 tbsp. of tomato paste?" because I end up eating half of it before I even add any to my marinara! But anyway... back to the gazpacho!
I absolutely love soup, so summertime is hard for me. The soup/sammy combo is a weekly dinner so I had to either eat hot soup when it's 80 degrees in our house, or make something cold. I decided to finally give it a try. Luckily as I looked up recipes, none had celery! I found so many recipes with so many flavors and ideas, so I decided to take a few elements from each and create my own. I think it was a big hit, JJ actually ate a big bowl of it, and I ate two! I think you could consider this a Tex-mex version, not overly chunky, but thick, cool and delicious!


1 garlic clove, smashed
1 small red onion, halved, divided
1 jalapeno, halved and seeded
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1 lime, juiced with 1 tsp. zest
2 c. organic tomato puree
15 oz. organic diced tomatoes
1 red bell pepper, halved, seeded
1/3 english cucumber, halved and divided
1 tsp. salt
10 grinds fresh black pepper
1 tsp. corriander
dash of tobasco sauce

Place garlic, half of onion, jalapeno, vinegar, lime juice and zest and tomato puree in a blender.
Process until very smooth, about 30 seconds.
Add diced tomatoes, half of bell pepper, half of cucumber, salt, pepper, corriander and tobasco.
Blend until fairly smooth, about 20 seconds.
Pour into a large bowl.
Mince remaining red onion, bell pepper and cucumber.
Add to soup base, mix well, taste, adjust seasonings and refrigerate for 4 hours to overnight.
Garnish with sliced avocado

Goat Cheese Potato Salad

For dinner last night, I did a little clean out the produce drawer potato salad. It was a delicious combo, I just wish the goat cheese crumbles stayed crumbly and didn't melt and smear so much (the potatoes were still a bit warm). I paired mine with a gardenburger and JJ's with a buffalo burger for a delicious complete meal.

Goat Cheese Potato Salad

1 lb. baby yukon gold potatoes
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
8 oz. snap peas, sliced into thirds
1 lemon, juiced
1 tbsp. EVOO
salt and pepper
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, minced
4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

Slice potatoes in half and place in a pot.
Fill with cold water to cover, bring to a boil and simmer until fork tender, about 15 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together lemon juice, EVOO, salt, pepper and rosemary.
Add tomatoes and snap peas, toss and place in the refrigerator.
Drain potatoes and rinse with cold water.
Place in a bowl and chill.
When potatoes have chilled, mix with other bowl of salad ingredients, crumble in goat cheese, gently mix and serve.

PS - Happy 26th Birthday to my big sister, Kristine! She said I won the award for "Best Birthday Song Sung" today for not only this birthday, but every birthday she's EVER HAD!

Mmmm, Ice cream cake :)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Italian Pasta Salad

I love to bring pasta salads to cookouts. They're so versatile and everyone loves a good pasta salad. I like to put in tons of veggies to really bulk it up. Usually I use some sort of fun pasta shape, or tortellini. I think everyone loves tortellini pasta salad more than regular, and I aim to please!
I like to add the warm tortellini to the onions to take a bit of the bite of raw onion, and the warm tortellini really sucks up the dressing well.

Italian Pasta Salad

2 lbs. fresh or frozen tortellini
1/2 diced red onion
1 english cucumber, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 c. chopped sun dried tomatoes
1 15 oz. can artichoke hearts, diced
4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
1/4 c. EVOO
handful of parsley
2 tbsp. fresh oregano leaves
10 fresh basil leaves
salt and pepper
1 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese

Cook tortellini according to package directions.
Add onion to a large bowl.
Add warm tortellini.
Blend dressing ingredients, pour over tortellini while still warm.
Refrigerate until chilled.
Add diced vegetables, toss, top with goat cheese and gently stir to combine.
Serve chilled.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Amaretto Peach Tart with Polenta Crust

Tonight we went to a cookout, so I volunteered to bring a dessert and pasta salad. Ever since I saw Ina Garten make baked amaretto peaches a few weeks ago, I've been craving them. Since it's so hot, I didn't want to make baked peaches, but wanted to still use them somehow.
To make this especially Italian, I decided to add some polenta and ground almonds to the crust, and mascarpone for the creme base.
I didn't have a recipe for this tart, just kind of went with it, and I am so pleased with the end results! The only thing I might change is make more crust because it didn't go all of the way up the sides.

Amaretto Peach Tart with Polenta Crust

1 c. AP flour
1/3 c. polenta or corn meal
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. ground almonds
1 egg yolk
6 tbsp. butter, very cold, diced
Ice water

2 tbsp. butter
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. amaretto liquor
1 12 oz. bag frozen peaches, sliced

8 oz. mascarpone at room temperature
1/2 c. reserved peach cooking liquid

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Add flour, polenta, salt, sugar and almonds to a food processor. Pulse.
Add egg yolk, pulse.
Add butter and pulse and run until the mixture is crumbly and comes together.
Add water 1 tsp. at a time until it forms a dough.
Press into a greased tart shell, place in the freezer for 10 minutes.
Bake for 18-20 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack.

To make peaches:
Heat a skillet over medium, melt butter and add brown sugar.
Turn heat to high, add amaretto.
Boil down mixture until it's a thick glaze.
Turn heat off, add peaches and turn to coat.
Let peaches sit in liquid for 20 minutes and cool liquid.
Strain off 1/2 c. of the liquid, whisk together with mascarpone.
Spread onto the bottom layer of the tart, top with peaches.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Manchego and Porcini Risotto

I felt like our Spanish dinner wouldn't be complete without paella, but I don't like seafood. I decided to still make some sort of rice dish. Risotto is always a favorite of my husband, so I went with it and made it with Spanish add-ins. What I love most about risotto is the versatility. Basically you can add any cheese and fruit or vegetable, and you get a totally different dish each time.
I found some dried porcini mushrooms, which are Italian, but have great flavor. I looked at the Spanish cheese section and found manchego, so Manchego and Porcini Risotto was born.
Porcinis are pretty expensive, about $10 for 1 oz. I used .5 oz. and utilized the rehydrating liquid (stock) as well.
The manchego was very similar to parmesan at first, it's somewhat crumbly and dry, but then it begins to melt in your mouth as it heats up. It was delicious, but far more expensive than parm.
Because there were so many elements to the entire meal, and especially this dish, I cooked the risotto ahead of time, about 90% through, and then reheated it in the oven. It came out perfectly!

Manchego and Porcini Risotto

.5 oz. porcini mushrooms, reconstituted in 2 c. boiling water
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. EVOO
1 small yellow onion, minced
1 1/2 c. arborio rice
1/2 c. dry white wine
2 c. warmed vegetable stock
about 20 saffron threads
4 oz. Manchego cheese, grated
Salt and pepper

Bring 2 c. water to a boil, add mushrooms.
Let them sit for 5 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon.
Drain stock through a coffee filter, set aside.
Heat a skillet over medium heat, add EVOO and butter.
Sautee onion for a minute, add rice and sautee for 2-3 minutes, or until toasted.
Turn heat to high, add wine and reduce, turn to medium-low.
Every 2-3 minutes, add 1/4-1/2 c. stock (porcini and vegetable).
Stir well after each addition.
Add saffron with one of the stock additions.
Cook for about 25 minutes, or until rice has a little bite to it.
Mince the reconstituted mushrooms, add to risotto.
Add most of the grated cheese, stir well.
Serve or portion into ramekins.

If cooking ahead and warming later:
Place ramekins into a baking dish, fill 3/4 the way up with water.
Add 2 tbsp. stock to the top of each ramekin to keep the risotto moist.
Cover the dish with foil, place in the oven at 300 for 30 minutes to warm through.

Spanish Spiced Chick Peas

Roasted chick peas have been on my "to-make" list for a long time. While so many of the dishes I made took a few steps and ingredients, these were simple and no hassle. They were great, I could snack on them like popcorn! Again, I just played around with the seasonings using traditional Spanish flavors.

Spanish Spiced Chick Peas

1 15 oz. can organic garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp. EVOO
Sprinkle of smoked paprika
Sprinkle of paprika
Salt and pepper
Sprinkle of rosemary

Place beans on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Toss in EVOO and spices.
Roast at 350 for 25 minutes.
Plate and serve.

Heirloom Tomatoes with Goat Cheese and Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

For this dish, I copied it straight off a tapas menu from a restaurant I found online, but I used Heirloom tomatoes rather than beefsteak. I love goat cheese with tomatoes, and balsamic dressings are my favorite. I made up the dressing recipe, it's pretty simple, like any standard lighter vinaigrette. I always buy organic goat cheese, which unlike most products, is the same price as regular! I guess this is sort of the Spanish equivalent of an Italian caprese, another one of my favorites!
Also, I have found that putting the goat cheese in the freezer for 5 minutes and crumbling it with a fork is the best way to get it out and not all over your fingers!

Heirloom Tomatoes with Goat Cheese and Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

4 large heirloom tomatoes, sliced
2 oz. organic goat cheese, crumbled

1 tbsp. honey
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. EVOO
handful of flat leaf parsley
salt and pepper

Add dressing ingredients to a blender, whirl to combine.
Arrange tomatoes on a plate, top with goat cheese and dressing.

Valencia Orange and Spanish Olive Tapenade

One of my favorite appetizers is tapenade with crusty bread. I love to make tapenade at home because it's so easy, and it's much cheaper. I often see tiny 3-4 oz. jars of tapenade for close to $10!
The olive bar at Kroger is pretty nice, it has maybe a dozen olives and there are tags that say where they're from. I saw the green spanish olives with herbs and knew those would be perfect. I also grabbed a few kalamata olives for some variety. Usually I add a bit of lemon to my tapenade, but to keep it especially Spanish, I went with Valencia oranges. I also read parsley is all over Spanish cooking, as well as anchovies, which are traditional in many tapenades.
I am so happy with how this tapenade came out, I will definitely make it again in the future!

Valencia Orange and Spanish Olive Tapenade

Zest of a Valencia orange (1 tbsp)
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 c. parsley leaves
1 c. mixed Spanish olives in herbs
(or plain plus extra oregano and crushed red pepper flakes)
1 tbsp. White wine vinegar
1 tbsp. anchovy paste
2 tbsp. EVOO
Fresh cracked black pepper and salt to taste

Orange segments, for garnish
Bread of choice, sliced and toasted

Add zest and garlic to a food processor, pulse until garlic is minced.
Add parsley, olives, vinegar, anchovy paste and pepper.
Pulse until it's finely minced.
Add 1 tbsp. EVOO, pulse.
Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Pour into a bowl, top with orange segments.
Refrigerate until ready to serve, drizzle 1 tbsp. EVOO over the top before serving.

(close up of the herbed olives)

Traditional (or Sparkling) Sangria

I absolutely love Sangria. I love a nice dry red wine and a splash of citrus and a bit of sweetness. I usually add a bit of sparkling water to mine to stretch it out (so I can drink more) and it also makes it much cheaper for a group. I decided to set up a little bar so people had the choice of regular or sparkling.
This is a pretty traditional recipe, it's really a personal preference thing. Recently a new, huge market called Sahara Mart opened in Bloomington. They had a big wine tasting event last weekend that JJ and I went to. We then went over to the store and checked out their wine selection, which was HUGE. Like most wine shops, it's sorted by country of origin. What I love about Sahara Mart is they also carry a large selection of organic wines. I decided to grab 2 bottles of an inexpensive Spanish Organic Red.

Traditional Sangria

1/4 c. Brandy
1/4 c. powdered sugar
3 lemons
3 limes
2 oranges
2 bottles of Red Wine
Sparkling water (optional)

Pour brandy and powdered sugar into a pitcher. Whisk until sugar dissolves.
Juice 1 lemon, 1 lime and 1 orange. Add to pitcher.
Add 2 bottles of wine.
Slice the remaining orange, a lemon and a lime. Add to the pitcher, stir and refrigerate for at least 12 hours, or overnight.
Before serving, fill pitcher with ice and slice remaining lemon and lime for garnish.

Tapas Dinner Recap

For the past few weeks, everywhere I look in magazines and ads, there is Sangria. We had planned to have Allison and Will over for dinner, so I asked her if they like sangria and the said YES, so I decided to plan the dinner around it.
I've never done a tapas dinner before, so I decided to give it a try. I love making lots of little dishes and sides and having tons of variety, so tapas were right up my alley.
I decided to google tapas menus and I looked at some restaurants options to get a general idea of some of the dishes. Then I decided to look up traditional Spanish flavors, and sort of wing it.
I think that my dishes are pretty traditional, I tried to use as many Spanish imported products and flavors as possible, like parsley, paprika, saffron, chorizo, serrano, EVOO, olives, valencia oranges, and manchego.

(The inspiration)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Grilled Summer Corn Chowder

Fresh, delicious corn is finally at the market, so I picked up a few ears last week. I love grilled corn, so we made a dozen ears and kept the leftovers for meals during the week. Rather than have them as a side each night, I decided to make a chowder to showcase the sweet, grilled corn.
I made this vegetarian, but crisped up some bacon for JJ to top his with. I think it was great without it, either way is fine!
This is actually quite healthy because it just has a splash of half and half, and is creamy and thick from the pureed vegetables.

Grilled Summer Corn Chowder

1 tbsp. EVOO
1 yellow onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 yellow bell pepper, finely diced
2 large yukon gold potatoes, finely diced
2 carrots, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
1 tsp. chili powder
4 c. vegetable stock
4 ears of grilled corn, sliced off the cobb
Splash of cream
Scallions, thinly sliced

Heat a soup pot over medium.
Add EVOO, onion, garlic, bell pepper, potatoes and carrots.
Season with salt and pepper, stir and cook for 10 minutes.
Add 2 c. vegetable stock, bring to a boil and cover.
Cook until vegetables are tender, about 5-10 more minutes.
Add half of vegetables, half of corn and 1 c. reserved vegetable stock to a blender.
Puree until smooth and thick, add vegetable stock if necessary.
Add puree back to the pot with reserved vegetables.
Add cream, almost all the remaining corn, and more stock to reach desired consistency.
Bring to a simmer, ladle into a bowl, top with remaining corn and scallions.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Monster Cookies

Yesterday morning I found out that one of my coworkers's daughters fell in cheer practice and split her head open! Michele immediately said that she was so brave and tough, didn't cry, and was excited to get back! Of course, I had to make her some cookies! I mean, what else do you do for someone when something good, bad, or indifferent happens?
Since she's only 12, I wanted to make something that a kid would enjoy, nothing too refined and nothing plain. I remembered back to my days working at Starbucks, and all of the kids always wanted the Monster Cookies when their mom's got a latte. I looked up a few recipes to see what exactly a monster cookie is, and basically, it's a garbage cookie. It has a peanut butter/oatmeal/brown and white sugar butter base with any and every mix-in and usually M&M's on top. As I sifted through some recipes, I saw that many of them only had oats and no flour. I know from experience that my only oat and no flour cookies ALWAYS pancake, spread, and crumble apart.
Since I make cookies so often, I'm pretty comfortable going off on my own with no recipe these days, so that's just what I did. I'm really happy with how these came out, I made them really large and they had just the right balance of peanut butter/oatmeal raisin/chocolate chip cookie flavor. They just might be my new favorite!

Monster Cookies
Makes about 24 large cookies

1/2 lb butter, softened
8 oz. peanut butter, creamy or crunchy
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1 1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. baking soda
2 1/2 c. AP flour
3 c. quick cooking or old fashioned oats
1/2 c. raisins
1/2 c. mini chocolate chips
2 c. M&Ms

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Add butter and peanut butter to the bowl of a stand mixer, beat on medium for 3-4 minutes, until well mixed and light.
Add sugars, continue to beat for another 3-4 minutes.
Turn speed to low, add vanilla and eggs, one by one until they are incorporated.
Add baking soda, flour and oats, mix until just combined.
Add half the M&Ms, raisins and chocolate chips.
Touch dough, if it's sticky and pulls away, add another 1/4 c. flour until it's loose but rolls into a ball.
Place dough in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour.
Line baking sheet with parchment.
Roll cookies into 4 oz. balls, a little bigger than a golf ball but smaller than a tennis ball.
Press onto the cookie sheet and press 3-4 M&M's on the top of each.
Bake for 13 minutes.
Remove and place on a cooking rack. Store in an airtight dish.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Polenta Lasagna with Vegetable Bolognese

It's tough coming up with new recipes when we have, oh... 650 posts already! I've decided to go back to a few basics and switch them up a bit. Polenta is one of my favorite starches, it's like a cross between potatoes and pasta, and it's very versatile! Again, I made my own polenta rounds, but you can always but them at the store, or just cut long strips like noodles.
I also tend to use a basic marinara when making lasagna, so to make this heartier and healthier, I made a vegetable bolognese. It added so much flavor and depth.
I was going to make a mascarpone filling rather than ricotta, but I couldn't find any mascarpone at Kroger.
This meal was amazing. It turned into more of a casserole than a lasagna, but had we let it cool a bit and set before we dug in, the layers would be more visible. This would be a great alternative for a make ahead and freeze meal.

Polenta Lasagna with Vegetable Bolognese

2 c. vegetable stock
1 c. skim milk
1 1/2 c. polenta
(these ratios may be different, check your package or just add more stock/water if it's too thick)
salt and pepper
1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese

Ricotta Mixture:
1 c. ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/2 c. mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper
chopped fresh oregano and parsley

1 tbsp. EVOO
1 green bell pepper, chunked
1 yellow bell pepper, chunked
1 small zucchini, chunked
4 oz. cremini mushrooms
1 carrot, peeled, chunked
2 celery stalks, chunked
1 large yellow onion, chunked
3 garlic cloves, smashed
salt and pepper
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 c. dry red wine
1 15 oz. can tomato puree
2 tbsp. chopped fresh italian herbs
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
Crushed red pepper flakes

First, prepare the polenta.
Bring the stock and milk to a rolling boil, whisk in the polenta, turn to low.
Cook according to package (I buy organic polenta in bulk, takes around 15 minutes).
Take off heat, whisk in salt, pepper and parmesan.
Spread on a lined baking sheet, place in the fridge for an hour or more.

To make bolognese:
Heat a large saucepot over medium-high heat. Add EVOO.
Add vegetables (in small batches) to the food processor.
Pulse until they are in a fine mince.
Add to the pan with EVOO.
Continute with all vegetables, season havily with salt and pepper.
Stir and cook until all moisture is cooked out and vegetables begin to brown, about 20-25 minutes.
Add tomato paste and wine. reduce.
Add tomatoes and spices, stir and heat through. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Add all ricotta mixture ingredients to a small bowl, stir to combine.
Add 1/3 of the bolognese to a baking dish, top with half the polenta rounds.
Spread the ricotta over the polenta, top with another 1/3 of the sauce.
Add the rest of the polenta rounds, top with sauce and mozzarella cheese shreds.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly.

It doesn't plate so pretty when it's still hot, but here's a look...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Farfalle with Roasted Broccoli and Red Pepper Pesto

I wanted to make something light and simple to go with the meatloaf last night, so I went with a pasta dish. I decided to add broccoli, but rather than steam it, I roasted it. For the pesto, I had some red pepeprs and sun dried tomatoes, so rather than choose between the two, I used both. I think it's my new favorite non-basil pesto! This dish is simple, flavorful, and could be a meal all by itself.

Farfalle with Roasted Broccoli and Red Pepper Pesto

1/2 lb. farfalle (I use Barilla plus)
1 head of organic broccoli florets
parmesan cheese, for garnish

1 fresh roasted red pepper
10 sun dried tomatoes
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/4 c. pine nuts
1/4 c. parmesan cheese, grated
10 basil leaves
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. EVOO
1-3 tbsp. vegetable stock
salt and pepper
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Toss broccoli in salt, pepper and EVOO on a lined baking sheet.
Roast for 15-20 minutes.
Cook pasta, drain and put back in pot.
In a blender or food processor, add all pesto ingredients (except stock) and process until smooth.
Add stock to reach desired consistency.
Pour over pasta.
Add broccoli to pasta, toss.
Plate and garnish with parmesan.

A Year Ago: Appetziers for Mom's Cancer Free Tea Party
Tomato and Goat Cheese Tea Sandwiches
Gorgonzola Stuffed Spanish Olives
Cucumber and Herbed Cheese Tea Sandwiches
Caramelized Pear and Walnut Profiteroles
Chicken, Artichoke and Red Pepper Tapenade
Caprese Skewers with Balsamic Reduction

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Mock Kashi Mayan Harvest Bake

***This recipe has had a re-do, visit this post to see my second attempt at Mayan Harvest Bake***

About two months ago, Kashi was offering coupons to try one of their frozen dinners for free, so I signed up. I got a coupon for a free Kashi frozen entree about 2 weeks ago. I looked at what they had at Kroger, and chose the Mayan Harvest Bake. It sounded like many of my favorite ingredients in one dish, and it was free!
This was hands down the best frozen dinner I've ever had. It tasted fresh, healthy, and delicious! The flavor combinations were very innovative and I just kept thinking about it over and over. I decided to try to recreate it at home and make it for dinner this week.
I might go back and make a few changes, but it was a very close replica. Next time I might pan fry the plantains as well as make the sauce a little more saucy (with more veggie stock), it was pretty thick. I used quinoa rather than the seven grain polenta, and it made it a little more dry, but I did like the quinoa.

Mock Kashi Mayan Harvest Bake

1 c. prepared quinoa
1 15 oz. can organic black beans, drained and rinsed
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 plantain, sliced into long planks
4 c. kale, chopped
1/4 c. pepitas (I only had almonds, but Kashi used pepitas)

ancho chili sauce:
1 tbsp. EVOO
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves
1 c. tomato puree
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. ancho chili powder
1 tbsp. sugar in the raw
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cumin
1/4-1/2 c. vegetable stock

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Puree onions and garlic in a blender with stock.
Add tomato puree, tomato paste, onion puree, sugar and spices to a small soup pot.
Heat over medium for 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
Scatter sweet potatoes on a baking sheet lined with parchment, roast for 15 minutes.
Heat a large skillet over medium, add chopped kale, a few tbsp. of water and a sprinkle of salt.
Wilt down and toss for 5-10 minutes.
Spread prepared quinoa in a baking dish, top evenly with black beans.
Top with cooked kale and sliced plantains.
Take potatoes out of the oven, scatter around baking dish.
Top entire casserole with sauce.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until bubbly.
Sprinkle with pepitas.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Moosewood Lowfat Mac and Cheese

It's not very common for JJ to request a specific dinner, so when he does I make it for him. His request was buffalo chicken tenders and mac and cheese, so I made the baked boneless tenders I always do, and I decided to try out a new mac and cheese recipe I'd had my eye on.
I love mac and cheese (don't we all?) so finding a lowfat recipe in a cookbook I love sounded great. I've tried quite a few low-fat versions that were not so good. This one was a little different, very creamy, and actually really good! I haven't had the full fat, good stuff in a long time though... However, I definitely would try this out. What makes it borderline healthy is the use of cottage cheese as the creamy base. It adds lots of protein and bulks up the sauce in a healthy way. Moosewood cookbooks often use cottage cheese as a sub for cream or a bechamel sauce.
I served the mac and cheese and tenders with a large garden salad for a complete meal.

Moosewood Low Fat Mac and Cheese
(I halved this)

1 1/2 c. 1% cottage cheese
1 1/2 c. nonfat buttermilk
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/4 tsp. nutmeg (omitted, don't like it in my mac and cheese)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 onion. minced
1 c. extra-sharp cheddar
1/2 lb. uncooked elbow macaroni (farfalle)
2 tbsp. grated Pecorino or Parmesan Cheeses
1/4 c. bread crumbs

Preheat the over to 375 degrees.
Prepare a 9 or 10 inch square baking pan with a light coating of cooking spray.
In a blender, combine the cottage cheese, buttermilk, mustard, cayenne, salt and pepper and puree until smooth.
In a large bowl, combine the puree, the onion, macaroni and cheddar cheese and stir thoroughly.
Pour the mixture into your pan.
Combine the Pecorino/Parmesan and the bread crumbs and sprinkle on top of the mixture.
Bake about 45 minutes, until the top is browned and the center firm.

A Year Ago: Dog Friendly Birthday Cake (Pumpkin's 3rd B-day!)

And HAPPY 4th BIRTHDAY to my Little Pumpkin Spice :)