Posts tagged ‘goat cheese’
Every once in a while, I get a bunch of unidentified green stuff in my Boston Organics box. I’d like to think I’m better than the average gal at green identification, but there are still occasions when I can’t quite distinguish certain species of kale from chard from random leafy greens. Last week was one of those weeks – I got a bunch of what looked like a mix between kale and Swiss chard in my box. Not sure exactly what the flavor of the greens would be, I decided to make a frittata out of them! I have posted several frittata recipes before and generally follow the same framework. For those of you who are new to this recipe, a frittata is essentially a fancy, fluffy baked omelette that is much simpler to make than its name implies. I use onions and garlic for a flavor base and 8 eggs with a splash of milk, salt and pepper for the fluffy egg center. To change the profile of the frittata, I simply switch up the veggies and cheese that I use. Goat cheese is my favorite because it is soft and melty in a freshly warmed frittata. To further switch things up, I splashed a bit of Balsamic vinegar over the greens as well. The result was a satisfying, fluffy egg dish bursting with green stuff. Who needs to know exactly what greens you are eating when it tastes this good?
Ever find that most recipes with goat cheese call for an ounce measurement instead of a tablespoon or cup portion? You’d need a scale to do that… so here is your chance to win one!
Sue from SlimKicker.com contacted me about hosting a give away so that one of you has a chance to win this amazing kitchen scale! SlimKicker.com is a calorie counter and healthy lifestyle app that turns your diet and fitness goals into a game-style challenge, complete with points and rewards. You simply track calories and your healthy food choices, as well as complete healthy challenges, to rack up points. Once you reach a certain point level, you are reminded to reward yourself with something like a “cheat food” or new fitness gear. The tracking system and supportive community are great motivation to stay on track with your fitness goals! I definitely found this type of support essential during my Game On challenge!
This is where you come in – SlimKicker.com is in need of some new ideas for healthy living challenges. To enter this give away, simply leave a 1-2 sentence comment with your idea for a fun and creative healthy living challenge. They can be anything from drinking 8×8 glasses of water a day, to getting 30 minutes of exercise per day, to learning to snack wisely between meals. The best idea will be chosen and featured as part of the SlimKicker challenges, and will receive the kitchen scale! The contest is open for one week, so leave your comment by Tuesday, August 7 at 9am to enter. One comment per reader, please, and prizes can only be shipped within the US. Looking forward to seeing the ideas that you come up with!
Hidden Greens Frittata
1 sweet Vidalia onion, chopped
1 bunch greens, roughly chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
dash garlic powder, parsley, salt
2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup milk
2 oz goat cheese
Preheat oven to 350F. Saute the onion in the olive oil until soft, about 5 minutes. Add chopped greens and saute until slightly wilted. Add Balsamic vinegar and allow liquid to reduce slightly. In a separate bowl, mix eggs, milk and spices. Pour over the greens and stir slightly to distribute. Allow to cook over medium heat for 4-5 minutes. Transfer heat-safe saute pan to the oven and continue to cook for about 15 minutes. Crumble goat cheese over the top and return to oven for 5 more minutes or until edges are browned and center is set. Immediately sprinkle with shaved Parmesan cheese, if desired. Cut into 4-6 wedges and serve warm.
I am at the halfway point with my first rotation of my third year of medical school. I am starting off with one of the most time-consuming rotations – internal medicine. Despite the 6 day a week schedule, I have loved the rotation so far and am learning so much. I feel incredibly lucky to get to talk to people each day, to learn their stories and help be part of the team that figures out why they are sick and how they can get well. There are hard moments, and the days can be long, but the work is rewarding and challenging. The hardest part of this rotation is keeping up with friends and family. Weeknights are filled with studying, writing notes, and reading, and the one weekend day off is often filled with necessary life tasks like laundry and cleaning. However, you always need to eat and so I have found food the best way to stay in touch with friends over the past month!
My wonderful friend brought me a home-cooked meal at the end of a very long week in the middle of my rotation, and I was so incredibly grateful both for the delicious food and the lovely company. She made Lemon Thyme Farro following this recipe from The Pursuit of Hippiness, which we enjoyed with green beans on the side and fresh berries for dessert. (I was a bad tired blogger that night and forgot to take pictures!)
I also got to make homemade sweet potato ravioli with another med school friend, which were delicious but the recipe still needs tweaking before it is blog worthy. Rolling out the pasta dough gave us plenty of time to girl talk and swap rotation stories, so the fancy meal was worth the extra effort!
This post can’t end without a recipe! I had a few friends over for dinner on my most recent day off, and a dinner party was just what I needed to feel balanced and re-centered for another week on the wards. I made grilled polenta with a honey-balsamic reduction, caramelized onions, and goat cheese, which blew my taste buds away! The sweet and sour combination of the honey and goat cheese really gave this side a gourmet feel, and the results are much more impressive than the minimal effort this dish took. I would make this again in a heart beat!
Grilled Polenta with Honey Balsamic Reduction, Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese
serves 3-4 as a side
1 polenta log, sliced into 1-in pieces
1 tbsp honey
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 onions, caramelized
2-3 oz goat cheese
Before preparing this dish, make the caramelized onions. In a small sauce pan, combine honey and balsamic vinegar over medium heat. Stir; heat so that sauce thickens and reduces but does not boil. Do not cook for too long, as vinegar will reduce too far and become sticky and hard. Want a honey like consistency. Meanwhile, slice the polenta logs. Spray a griddle with cooking spray and heat to 350 degrees. Grill the polenta for 5 minutes per side. Heat the caramelized onions on the side of the griddle. When the polenta is crispy and has been cooked on both sides, pour reduction over the rounds. Allow to heat for 1 more minute. Transfer to a serving platter. Top with caramelized onions and a crumble of goat cheese. Serve warm.
The one thing I miss most about home, besides my family and friends, of course, is the grill. I do not own a grill in Boston, and love grilled foods during the summer months. There is something about the open flame and cooking outside that makes everything taste better, from mushroom burgers to vegetables to pizza! I made sure to request all of my favorite grilled foods while I was relaxing at home for the week, and my mom and I had a blast grilling together!
My mom has been making grilled pizza for years and it has always been one of my favorite meals. You take homemade pizza dough, cook it directly on the grill for a few minutes on each side, and then top it with your favorite pizza add-ons. (I love making non-traditional pizzas loaded with goat cheese, caramelized onions, and as many veggies as I can think of.) Cooking the dough directly on the grill gives it a great crispiness that mimics brick oven pizzas, but in a unique and homemade way. It can be a challenge to get the crust right, and takes constant attention as to not let it burn. (See the bottom of the post for step-by-step pictures). If this is not your thing, you can always use a pre-cooked crust from the grocery store and then warm it up on the grill after topping it. Give this pizza a try this summer, it is worth the extra step!
1 batch pizza dough, store-bought or homemade
1 tsp minced garlic
3 tbsp Balsamic vinaigrette
2 cups cherry tomatoes
1 small bunch asparagus spears
1 medium Vidalia onion, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
6 oz goat cheese
2 oz Parmesan cheese
If making dough from scratch, prepare dough. While it is rising, toss the cherry tomatoes with the garlic and 2 tbsp of Balsamic dressing. Snap the woody ends off the asparagus spears. Roast the vegetables in a grill basket for 5-7 minutes, or until the cherry tomatoes are wrinkled and ready to burst. Remove from the heat and separate. Cut the asparagus spears into bite sized pieces. In a medium saucepan over the stove, heat olive oil. Add the sliced onion and cook until soft. Add 1 tbsp Balsamic dressing and allow the onions to continue to cook until they are dark brown and slightly caramelized. When ready to create the pizza, form dough into a roughly round pizza shape. Rub both sides with olive oil. Preheat the grill and clean the rack. Place the dough directly on the grill rack. Turn down the flame, close the lid, and allow the dough to cook for 3-4 minutes. Carefully flip the dough, and cook for 3 more minutes. Keep a close eye on the dough at this point – you want it to rise and cook, but not burn. When the dough is cooked, transfer to a large sheet of aluminum foil. Spread with the roasted cherry tomatoes, squishing them slightly to release the juices to form a crust. Layer on the caramelized onions and asparagus pieces. Dot with goat cheese crumbles and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Close grill and allow to heat through for 7-10 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Cut into slices and serve.
Not only were my meal creations earlier this week tasty for two days in a row, but they also were really simple to make! And they lend themselves to fun alliterative names! You’ve waited long enough, so here are the stories and recipes behind the pictures…
My mom frequently stocks me up with bulk goods from Costco, which makes me a happy camper to have an endless supply of shelf stable nut butters, pasta, quinoa, raisins, oatmeal and other staples. One of my Mom’s favorite gifts are Tasty Bites Madras Lentils. She leaves a box in her office for a quick, filling, healthier-than-fast-food lunch when work gets out of control. They are all natural and vegetarian, and taste really good for a pre-packaged meal. My only problem is that I never find a need to use them as is! Between dinner plans with friends and a well stocked freezer with my own frozen leftovers, I rarely run into an emergency situation that necessitates a lentils and rice kind of meal. However, even shelf stable food eventually expires! I had two pouches to use up and wanted to spice things up a little bit… hence, the Cheater’s Chili was born! Vegetarian chili is not too difficult to make in the first place, and this takes even less effort for a fast weeknight meal!
2 pouches Tasty Bites Madras Lentils
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 large can tomatoes, chopped with liquid
2 small red onions, sliced thinly
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
2 sweet potatoes
Peel and dice the sweet potatoes. Roast on a greased pan in the oven for a half hour, until they start to soften. Meanwhile, saute the onions in the juice from the canned tomatoes. Once the onions are soft, add the tomatoes and chickpeas. Add the sweet potatoes and bring to a low boil. Add the lentils and spices and stir to combine. Cover and let cook on low heat for 15-20 minutes. Serve warm and enjoy!
The Persimmon Pizza came about in a similar need to rid my fridge of older produce before receiving my latest Boston Organics shipment. Persimmons are not an east coast local food, and I had heard very little of them before receiving them from a friend and her mom. There are two types: hard and soft, with the latter having an almost jelly like consistency. The hard can be sliced and eaten in wedges, and remind me of a cross between a tomato and apple. The flavor is growing on me, but I still couldn’t eat them fast enough! The sweetness of the fruit reminded me of figs (even though they taste nothing alike) and so it made me feel like they would pair well with goat cheese. After a Google search of “persimmon pizza,” I found a blog that linked to another blog written in Portugese. Nothing that Google Translate can’t solve! My suspicions were confirmed: garlic, basil, goat cheese, and persimmons do in fact make a wonderful pizza. I added some spinach for some of my own veggie flair, and this pizza was finished within two days. My dinner guest loved it, and I was glad to have someone to experiment on!
1 batch pizza dough, rolled into a rectangle
1 tbsp olive oil
sprinkle of garlic powder
sprinkle of dried basil
3 cups spinach, lightly steamed
2 persimmons, sliced thinly
4-5 oz goat cheese
Roll pizza dough into a rectangle and transfer to a greased cookie sheet. Drizzle crust with olive oil and dust lightly with garlic powder and dried basil. Top with spinach, persimmon slices, and crumbled goat cheese. Cook at 375 degrees F for 35 minutes, and then broil for 3 minutes. Cut into squares and serve.
Time for another WIAW! Thank goodness this is a short week! I really needed Monday to recover from my half-marathon and other related festivities! I spent the day doing laundry, prepping snacks for the week, and enjoying good muscle-recovery food. Here is a glimpse into my day of domestic recovery!
I woke up much earlier than planned because I was starving! I guess running 13.1 miles the day before will do that to you! I grabbed a handful of granola and tried to fall back asleep, but eventually gave in and got up. I am done with my sugar fast, so I enjoyed jam again for the first time in three weeks! One of my favorite combos on toast is berry jam with goat cheese, and this sandwich was made extra special by homemade blackberry jam from my visit to Italy and fancy bread from the pre-race pasta party.
I spent most of my morning catching up on blog writing and reading, cleaning, doing laundry, and making snacks for the rest of the week! I made these bars from Miss Smart, and enjoyed a few bites as I was rolling them out! I also made these cookie dough balls from Chocolate Covered Katie, taste testing a bit here and there!
Vitamins and minerals in leafy greens are also essential for muscle recovery, so I made myself a big raw kale salad! Angela recommends allowing the kale to marinate in the dressing for 15 minutes, so that is what I did. The result: balsamic marinated raw kale with cranberries, celery and almonds. I was surprised at how good this was! The kale softened a bit in the dressing and had more flavor and crunch than normal lettuce leaves. And how could a combo of balsamic, almonds, and cranberries be bad?
I received a bag of whole almonds as a gift, and just couldn’t let them go to waste! I spent some time shelling them, and then made Chelsey’s cocoa roasted almonds. I probably nibbled as many cracked almond pieces as I did get successfully shelled almonds, but at least nothing went to waste. ;) And now I have a great study snack to satisfy any chocolate cravings I might have in the next few weeks! Afternoon snacking was rounded out by a crisp apple, though not pictured.
My original plan for the afternoon was to make a Roasted Garlic and Potato soup that I have been daydreaming of for a while, complete with some homemade bread, but the unseasonable weather changed my mood! After having the oven on for only 20 minutes to roast the almonds, I decided it was way too hot out to make soup and bread. I pushed that recipe back into my head until it cools down later in the week, and settled on some leftover barley and beet risotto instead. Served with a little shredded Parmigiano Reggiano cheese on top – just as good as the first time! My night was finished off with a handful or two of BBQ potato chips and a glass of red wine while studying with a friend – a little splurge to treat myself for the previous day’s work!
Hope to be making that soup later today now that fall is back in Boston… stop by later this week to see the results!
Question: What is the best thing you ate today?
Figgy pudding. Fig Newtons. That used to be my only understanding of figs. And I was not a fan. That all changed when I ate my first fresh fig this summer in Bosnia. Azra had green figs, and Melissa and I were weary of them at first because you could pretty much just grab one and eat everything but the tiny stem at the top. Inside, the pink fruit was unique and like nothing I had ever seen before. There, I learned to love figs. They are sweet, not to juicy, and easy to eat. I definitely ate my fill while I was gone, in everything from sandwiches to gelato!
I thought my fig season was over when I returned, since they are usually quite expensive in the States when you can find them, not to mention that I had never even seen them at my grocery store. Costco, however, was selling figs when my mom went shopping for Amanda’s rehearsal dinner. Remembering how much I loved them, she bought a case of them and split them between us. Now my fridge is was filled with figs! I ate probably about half of them plain, but had fun finding other flavor combinations. Some good breakfasts:
Question: Have you tried fresh figs before? What is your favorite way to eat them?
Fig, Goat Cheese, Cucumber and Hazelnut Salad with Balsamic Viniagrette
for 2 lunch salads
small head of lettuce
2 oz goat cheese
4 figs, quartered
2 pickling cucumbers, sliced and quartered
2 tbsp hazelnuts, toasted and slightly chopped
4 tbsp balsamic viniagrette
Toast the hazelnuts in a toaster oven for 5-7 minutes until warm. Rip lettuce into bite sized pieces. Top each bowl with half the cucumbers, goat cheese, figs and hazelnuts.Drizzle each salad with 2 tbsp balsamic viniagrette, or simply dress with oil and vinegar.
I guess my friends and family are beginning to think I know how to cook… silly. I merely enjoy myself in the kitchen, and usually dream up something tasty in the process. My best friend, Amanda, has always been amazed at how at ease I am while cooking, since her idea of making dinner used to be heating up a frozen pizza. Her taste buds have matured so much through the course of our friendship, and now she is even brave enough to get her hands dirty in the kitchen! She assisted me with the Baked Arancini I made for my mom’s party (which, according to my mom, were better than the Italian restaurant’s fried rice balls that she sampled today!) and got her first full cooking lesson this evening. We made Balsamic chicken with mushrooms (my college roommate’s favorite recipe!) as well as my take on the classic haystack, with none of your expected ingredients. A haystack is typically tortilla chips, shredded lettuce, beans or meat, salsa and cheese, but is layered in stereotypical fashion that is unique to the dish. My version uses none of the same ingredients, replacing the chips with polenta, the lettuce with green beans, the salsa with roasted red peppers, the protein with pine nuts, and the cheddar with goat cheese. Polenta is new to me as well, introduced to me by my mom less than a year ago. It is simply boiled cornmeal, which can be made as a porridge or shaped into a log. I am totally in love with this dish – I created it to use up some leftovers a few months back, and was even more pleased with the result the second time around! Definitely give this recipe a try, and play around with the layers to use up whatever you have on hand!
A few tips on the recipe for those of you who are new to the kitchen (I did just give a cooking lesson, so figured some advice might be appropriate in this post!)
1. Using recipes is a really good way to start learning flavor combinations, get inspiration, and get instructions of how to make dishes using certain techniques. However, don’t feel like you need to stay married to the specific recipe if you feel inspired to branch out and try something new! (The exception to this rule is in baking, where it is usually a pretty good idea to follow instructions…)
2. Don’t skimp on the seasonings. Herbs, vinegar, salt and pepper add a HUGE flavor component, with a relatively low-cost and calorie component. I season almost all of my food with at least pepper, if not also salt and dried herbs. If you are worried about your sodium intake, salt can be omitted from some dishes without being missed, but on occasion is really needed to bring the flavor out of certain foods. You can also choose to let your dinner guests let their own taste buds be their guide – check out these adorable salt and pepper shakers that my mom and I found at a local festival this afternoon. A crafty addition to my dining room table!
3. Chopping is a simple step that often takes too much time for new cooks. I once cooked with two of my guy friends and was finished with cooking dinner before they even finished their one chopping assignment. True story. Save yourself from this fate by using sharp knives, learning the simple rocker technique (where you stabilize the blunt back tip of a chef’s knife with the palm of your hand and using a rocking motion to facilitate chopping), and using scoring for easy veggie chopping.
4. Minimize your clean-up by re-using sautée pans when possible. For example, tonight I sautéed green beans in one pan, then transferred them to a bowl and added my mushrooms to the same pan. I pushed the mushrooms to the side while the chicken cooked. Be careful not to let raw meat come in contact with food that will not be further cooked when using this dish-saving technique.
5. Start with something manageable and work your way up. If you start with a recipe that is way too complicated, you might get discouraged which will only further keep you out of the kitchen. But don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try something that looks a little more challenging than you think you can handle. If you mess up, at least its only food – probably not an expensive mistake, and there is always pizza or a good ol’ PB&J as a stand-by dinner ;)
With that being said, go forth and experiment with a new recipe or two. Maybe even this one (recipe guidelines are at the end of the post). Just enjoy yourself and see what you can create!
Life as I knew it? Well, for the most part! My family left this morning for their two-day drive back to Florida, which means I have a room and a bed again! I am sad to see my family leave – it is a rare occasion that we are all together, and we truly do have a lot of fun together! We made a lot, lot, lot, lot of delicious meals together this week, drank a lot of coffee, and had a lot of laughs as well as serious conversations. I am so grateful to have such incredible people in my life! However, I am looking forward to a little more quiet time and to cooking for 4 again. (Cooking for 9 for a week requires a lot of planning!)
With that being said, this dinner post still isn’t quite my normal. Like I said in my About Me, I have recently begun eating meat again in preparation for my trip through Europe (coming up so soon – I leave in 3 weeks!) I have so far made dinners that are primarily seafood, and still find myself making vegetarian sandwiches and avoiding burgers at all costs. Last night’s dinner, totally out of my vegetarian comfort zone, was way better than I even expected! Chicken breast stuffed with goat cheese, artichoke hearts, and sun-dried tomatoes – simple, healthy, and easier than the resulting dish looks, especially with this How-To. To make sure we got our veggie quota, I served it with a simple salad and sautéed green beans. This is my favorite way to do green beans, so I am posting that recipe as well! A two-for-one Friday special since I got out of work early!
Stuffed Chicken Breasts
5 small chicken breasts, pounded thin
5 oz goat cheese
5 artichoke hearts, drained
7 sun-dried tomatoes
1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
pepper to taste
Lightly beat chicken breasts so that they are thin enough to roll. In a small bowl, mix together goat cheese, artichokes, tomatoes and basil. If necessary, microwave the cheese mixture for 30 secs – 1 min so that it is soft enough to stir. Divide mixture evenly between the chicken breasts, roll, and secure with toothpicks. Bake uncovered for 20-22 minutes at 350 degrees. Turn the oven to broil at 450 degrees, and broil for about 10 minutes until the chicken is fully cooked.
Sautéed Green Beans
serves 4-5 people
1 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, diced
1 tbsp garlic, minced
4 cups green beans
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
In a large pan, sautée shallots and garlic in olive oil over medium heat. Add the green beans, turn heat to low, and cover the sautée pan to allow green beans to cook slightly, about 10 minutes. The green beans should still be crisp and bright green, but no longer raw and bitter. At this point, turn the heat to high and add the red wine vinegar. Allow most of the liquid to boil off, which will happen quickly in just a few minutes. Season lightly with pepper and serve.
Daydreaming in class or while I am studying often has delicious consequences. This week, I had some mushrooms languishing in my fridge (cooking was on a hiatus as I was sideswiped preparing for my physiology exam…) and I knew that I wanted to do something different with them. I was sick of my go-to stir fries (which tend to be mushrooms, leafy greens, and whatever other veggies I have in my fridge over rice) and didn’t feel a mushroom omelette, and then I had a moment of brilliance. I would saute them with garlic, balsamic vinegar, and creamy goat cheese, and then use them to fill a ravioli. Perfection! Even my foodie friend was impressed.
It has become tradition for me and my roommate to make fresh pasta together after my exams. It is time-consuming, and so it is really the only point in my school schedule that I allow myself that luxury. Most days, I am a fan of one pot or pan meals, and tend towards anything that makes good leftovers for lunch the next day. I am a no-fuss kind of cook, but even I like to get a little fancy now and then!
My mom got me a pasta roller for my birthday, and it has taken us a few tries to work out the kinks, but we finally have our system perfected! My roommate is the roller-holder (that Ironman strength comes in handy!) and I am the mad scientist. The first time we made pasta, it came out hole-y. We realized that to get the pasta just right, you have to roll it out thick at first, and then continue to make the roller thinner each time you send it through. This leads to perfect pasta sheets! It also helps to flour the rolling wheel as you work it through, as well as flour the countertop and each sheet as you lay them out. We now even have the folding method down to get (almost) square edges on each sheet. We are either quick learners, or there are too many exams in medical school…
Ravioli can be particularly tricky to get right. If the sheets are too thin, they tend to pop. If they are too thick, they taste doughy. If you overfill them, they pop. If you look at them wrong, they pop! But they are worth the hard work in the end, trust me! I served my delicious ravioli with fresh grated Parmesan over a bit of arugula, and had some Balsamic roasted Brussels spouts on the side. (They only had frozen at the store, so they came out a little watery. Learned that I don’t love all Brussels sprouts!) My roommate and our upstairs neighbor joined me for a delicious dinner filled with side-splitting laughs, a perfect way to celebrate my pass on the physio exam and my neighbor’s birthday!
Goat Cheese and Mushroom Ravioli (serves 4)
For Pasta (adapted from Williams & Sonoma The Pasta Book):
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ cup white flour
1 tsp chopped garlic chopped garlic
Splash of vegetable broth
1 cup chopped mushrooms
Splash of balsamic
4 oz goat cheese
In a food processor, mix flours, salt, and eggs until dough starts to form. Add olive oil slowly to help bring the dough together. (This can also be done by hand if you do not have a food processor by making a mound out of the flour with a dip in the middle for the eggs). Once the dough has formed, leave in bowl and cover with a towel to let stand for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, quarter the mushrooms. In a pan, sauté garlic. Add the mushrooms and a splash of vegetable broth to keep them soft. Once the broth has evaporated, add a splash of balsamic (adjust to your own tastes). Crumble in the goat cheese and heat through until the mushroom mixture is creamy.
Roll out the pasta dough into sheets and cut into rectangles. Fill each ravioli with slightly less than a tablespoon of mushroom mixture and then pinch the sides closed. Once you have all your ravioli, drop into boiling water for about 3 minutes (they will float when done.) Any remaining mushroom mixture can be thinned out with more vegetable broth to make a sauce for the top of the ravioli.
Serve over arugula with grated Parmesan cheese and enjoy!