April 30, 2012

Crostini with Herbed Goat Cheese

I was looking for a way to use up leftover goat cheese and luckily stumbled across a fantastic recipe for an herbed goat cheese spread.  Paired with crostini, this recipe makes a great appetizer.

To make crostini, you just slice a baguette, then brush a little olive oil and sprinkle some salt on each slice.  It makes a great base for this cheese spread.

This recipe reminds me of cream cheese, but better.  If you're not a fan of thyme, substitute your favorite herb, with fresh herbs being preferable.

Crostini with Herbed Goat Cheese
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 7 minutes

Ingredients (24 appetizers)
  • 1 baguette
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Herbed Goat Cheese
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and quartered
  • Heat oven to 400 degrees. Slice baguette into 1/2-inch slices on the diagonal. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle a little salt on each slice. Bake for 7 minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly.
  • Meanwhile, in food processor bowl, combine goat cheese, yogurt, olive oil, green onion, thyme, pepper and garlic. Process until smooth.
  • Spread goat cheese mixture on each cooled crostini, or alternatively serve with crackers.
Recipe adapted from: Food.com
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April 28, 2012

Spinach Salad with Rice, Cherries & Goat Cheese

I rarely think of salads as meals in themselves, but the spinach salad I made for lunch today was perfect as a meal.  I think it helps to have multiple flavors within the salad, such as rice, dried cherries, goat cheese, toasted walnuts with a pomegranate-blood orange vinaigrette dressing.

I'm still working my way through Heidi Swanson's cookbook, Super Natural Every Day and this recipe is on page 70.  It can also be found on the website The Daily Meal.  Heidi's recipe calls for fresh cherries, which I bet tastes fantastic.  Since cherries aren't available here yet, I substituted dried cherries.

Spinach Salad with Rice, Cherries & Goat Cheese
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Ingredients (serves 4)
  • 1 cup whole grain rice
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons blood orange olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons pomegranate balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 handfuls baby spinach
  • 3/4 cup dried cherries
  • 2/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • goat cheese, crumbled
  • In a large saucepan, bring vegetable broth to a boil. Add rice and bring back to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 35 minutes (or according to package directions). Remove from stove and let rest covered for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt to make dressing. Also, toast walnuts in a skillet over medium-heat, tossing every 2 minutes until the nuts are fragrant.
  • In a large bowl, combine hot rice, spinach, dried cherries and the walnuts. Toss, until combined.
  • Divide salad among four plates, then add goat cheese to each plate. Serve immediately.
Recipe adapted from: Super Natural Every Day - by Heidi Swanson.
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April 26, 2012

Curried Lentil Soup with Brown Butter

Simple soups can be the best ones.  The ingredient list for this lentil soup is short, but it's full of so much flavor!  In fact, the ingredient list could be even shorter because I don't think chives add much to it.  I wouldn't add chives unless you have them growing in your garden.

If you've never browned butter before, you may want to read a quick guide on Simply Recipes that I found helpful because it's fairly easy to overcook it.

This is another winning recipe from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson.  I was curious to see what type of adaptions others have made to this recipe and love the idea of adding feta, like The Cilantropist did.  I definitely plan to try that next time.


Curried Lentil Soup with Brown Butter
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients (serves 6)
  • 5 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 5 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups green lentils
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 bunch fresh chives, minced (optional)
  • In a large soup pot, heat 2 tablespoons butter, onion and garlic over medium heat. Cook and stir for 3 minutes.
  • Add vegetable broth and lentils, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, warm 3 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and let it brown. When you smell a nutty aroma, stir in the curry powder and saute for 30 seconds.
  • Remove soup pot from heat and stir in coconut milk and salt. Puree with an immersion blender to desired consistency. Stir in half of the brown butter. Serve drizzled with the remaining brown butter and sprinkled with chives, if desired.
Recipe Source: Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson
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April 24, 2012

Kale Salad with Toasted Coconut

I'm holding true to my intent of making more recipes from the crazy number of cookbooks I own.  This week, I'm trying recipes from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson (her blog is 101 Cookbooks).

First of all, I love this cookbook.  I didn't realize it was a vegetarian cookbook until I cracked it open for the first time this week.  That probably sounds stupid but Chris loves meat, so I don't really pay attention when I'm ordering cookbooks on Amazon, I just look for well reviewed ones.

Tonight I made Kale Salad on page 80.  The full recipe can be found on Serious Eats.  When grocery shopping this week I found a new item from Earthbound Farm - a package of "Power Greens" consisting of baby spinach, baby kale and baby chard.  It worked beautifully for this recipe.

I didn't realize I was low on farro until I was ready to make dinner, so I substituted quinoa instead which worked well.  Quinoa cooks more quickly than farro, so we were able to eat dinner a little sooner which was nice.

April 22, 2012

Spring Risotto

I was in Madison yesterday for the first day of the Dane County farmers' market, and it was wonderful.  For some people spring kicks off with opening day for the Milwaukee Brewers, for me it's the day when spring vegetables become available at farmers' markets.

It's early, so the selection was limited, but I still found quite a few things I wanted.  I purchased rhubarb, asparagus, ramps, popcorn and strawberry-rhubarb jam.  I used the asparagus and ramps today to make a spring risotto for lunch, and it was so good that I ate until I was beyond full.

Yesterday was the first time I had ever seen ramps.  The sign said "first and last chance to buy ramps," so I grabbed three bunches.  Apparently, our freakishly warm March weather caused the ramps to peak early this year.

Elise of Simply Recipes, gives a nice introduction to ramps...
"Also known as wild leeks or ramsons, ramps are one of the first delicacies of spring."
"You use ramps like green onions or young spring garlic."

Asparagus Risotto

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Ingredients (serves 4)
  • 1 cup frozen edamame (or frozen peas)
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 bunches ramps, white parts only, chopped (or 1/2 cup chopped onion)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1 medium carrot, shredded (about a 1/2 cup)
  • 2 cups chopped fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • In a large saucepan, bring 4 cups water to a boil. Add edamame and asparagus, cook for 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  • In the same large saucepan, bring broth and water to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover.
  • Meanwhile, in a deep saute pan (I use a 3.5 qt pan), heat olive oil over medium heat. Add ramps (or onion) and garlic; cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add rice, cook 1 minute.
  • Add a ladle full of hot broth mixture to the rice, stirring constantly. Continue to cook and stir until liquid is absorbed, adding broth until there's just a bit of broth left and the rice is tender, about 18 minutes.
  • Stir in remaining broth, edamame, asparagus, and shredded carrot. Stir until rice is slightly creamy. Remove from heat and stir in spinach, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
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April 19, 2012

African Peanut Soup

I'm following through with my intent to make more recipes from all the cookbooks I own.  Tonight was another winning recipe from the Peas and Thank You cookbook.  Chris and I both loved this recipe.  Seriously, it is really, really good.

I made just a couple minor changes to the original recipe, and since I didn't have time for a slow cooker, I cooked it on the stove.  The recipe is written in a way that only benefits stay at home moms, because it cooks on high for an hour, then on low for an additional 4 hours, which is not very conducive to my work schedule.

Not only does this recipe taste great, but it's really easy to make.  I love recipes that involve combining all the ingredients, turning the stove on and then walking away for 30 minutes.  I had very few dishes to wash as well, which is always a bonus when you don't have a dishwasher.

African Peanut Soup
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Ingredients (4 main dish servings)
  • 1/2 cup red lentils, rinsed
  • 15oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large sweet potato, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 2 cups total)
  • 14oz can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 15oz can light coconut milk
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon. cumin
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • In a stockpot, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes.
Recipe Source: Peas and Thank You
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April 17, 2012

Pesto Stromboli

One of my favorite aspects of food blogging is that it's an easy way to keep track of my favorite recipes.  After almost two years of blogging, I have found many favorite recipes and had almost forgotten about this stromboli recipe.

I love the crust, and want to try using it the next time I make pizza.  Tonight, I tried a pesto version that was just as tasty as the version I made a year ago.

The dough takes 45 minutes to rise, but otherwise this recipe comes together pretty quickly.  After sautéing the green pepper and onion, the filling ingredients were ready.

The dough can be rolled into any size you desire.  I split one half of the dough into two portions because Chris prefers pizza sauce to pesto, and he added pepperoni to his stromboli. 


Pesto Stromboli
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Ingredients (serves 4)
    Dough: (for 2 strombolis)
    • 1 (.25 oz) package active dry yeast
    • 1 1/3 cups warm water (110° to 115°)
    • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
    • baby spinach
    • chopped green pepper, sautéed
    • chopped onion, sautéed
    • dried basil
    • dried oregano
    • mozzarella cheese
    • extra virgin olive oil
    • In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add oil, salt and 2 cups flour; fitted with the paddle attachment, beat until smooth.
    • Mix in remaining flour. Switching to the dough hook attachment, knead dough on low speed until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
    • Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes.
    • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. After dough has finished rising, punch it down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide in half. Roll one portion into a 15 x 12-inch rectangle and freeze the second portion.
    • Move dough to a baking sheet. On one half of the dough, add baby spinach and sautéed green pepper and onion. Add mozzarella cheese, then sprinkle with basil and oregano.
    • Fold plain half of dough over filling and seal ends well. Brush with oil; sprinkle with oregano. Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly; cut into 1-inch slices.
    Recipe adapted from: Burn Me Not
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    April 15, 2012

    Spaghetti and Black Bean Meatballs

    Chris and I both loved tonight's dinner.  Since I've never liked the taste of meat, I avoid meat substitutes, however Chris loves meat so I was curious to see if he'd like black bean "meatballs."

    Ever since making artichoke spinach pasta using a jar of marinara sauce, I'm a huge fan of adulterating jarred sauce.  Tonight I added roasted red peppers, baby spinach, chopped onions and red wine.

    For the meatballs, I followed a recipe from the Peas and Thank You cookbook for Mediterranean lentil meatballs.  This is only the second recipe I've tried from the book, but I've really liked both.  I need to be better about making recipes from the numerous cookbooks I own. 

    Vegetarian Meatballs

    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: 20 minutes
    Ingredients (serves 4)
    • 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
    • 1 cup rolled oats
    • 3 cloves garlic
    • 1/2 cup chopped onion
    • 1/3 cup fresh basil
    • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
    • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
    • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • Heat oven to 350 degrees.
    • Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until mixture forms a wet-looking, thick batter.
    • Form mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. I use a medium cookie scoop, which holds about 1 1/2 tablespoons, to portion each ball.
    • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through and crisp on the outside.

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    April 11, 2012

    Spinach Dijon Salad

    I just got back from spending 5 wonderful days in Washington, DC and my favorite meal there was a prepackaged salad I bought from Harris Teeter supermarket near our hotel.  They are all average salad ingredients, but I had never thought to combine them.

    I had it twice.  The second time I copied down the list of ingredients and purchased what I needed on the way home from the airport last night.  That's how much I like this salad.

    Spinach Dijon Salad

    • baby spinach
    • hard-boiled eggs
    • shredded co-jack cheese
    • dried cranberries
    • sliced almonds
    • chow mein noodles
    • sweet onion dijon vinaigrette (or any honey mustard dressing)

    • Top baby spinach with desired amount of remaining salad ingredients.

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    April 04, 2012

    Pesto Pita Pizza

    I love pesto pizza with any base...naan bread, pizza crust, but especially pita bread.  It's the perfect thickness and shape for an individual pizza. 

    I enjoyed pesto pita pizzas for both lunch and dinner today, topped with sauteed green pepper and onion (4 minutes), mozzarella cheese and Italian herbs.  Bake at 400 degrees for 8 minutes, and you have a tasty, yet healthy meal.

    I keep spinach basil pesto and 7" pita bread (Trader's Joes) in my freezer at all times, so this is a really easy pizza for me to make when I don't feel like cooking something more elaborate.

    April 02, 2012

    Lentil Tacos

    Until tonight, my favorite vegetarian tacos were chickpea tacos and while those are delicious, lentil tacos are even better!  The recipe I followed comes from Epicurious.com and is really easy to make...assuming you have 40 minutes or so to let the lentils simmer.

    Chris really raved about these tacos, so I had to ask him "better than meat?" He just laughed and said no, as if it were impossible for anything to be better than meat.

    Lentil Tacos
    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: 40 minutes

    Ingredients (10 tacos)
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 cup finely chopped onion
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • 1 cup dried brown lentils, rinsed
    • 1 oz package taco seasoning (or 2 heaping tablespoons taco seasoning)
    • 3 cups vegetable broth
    • 10 taco shells/tortillas
    • toppings such as shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, shredded cheese
    • In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook onion and garlic for 3 minutes. 
    • Add lentils and taco seasoning. Cook until spices are fragrant, about 1 minute. 
    • Add broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until lentils are tender, 30-35 minutes. Uncover lentils and cook until mixture thickens, about 7 minutes. 
    • Spoon lentil mixture into each taco shell/tortilla, then add topping as desired.
    Recipe Source: Epicurious.com
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