Tag Archives: vegetarian

Herbed Goat Cheese Spread

A post or two ago, I shared with you a recent event I did for our Women’s Ministry in which I brought a little bit of the beach to the desert.

Seaside-Beach-Themed-Buffet

In planning the food for the event, I kept imagining a picnic on the beach. Blanket spread out on the sand, a shady umbrella and a gentle salty breeze.

But what would I want to eat?

Something delicious and satisfying but not too heavy and easy to pack and transport.

Something perfect for a picnic. In this case, I also needed something that would easily feed a crowd with little effort.

As I thumbed through my Barefoot Contessa cookbooks (which is one of my favorite event/party planning rituals) I came across a recipe for “Herbed Goat Cheese Sandwiches” from Ina Garten, Parties!

Hmmmmm.

At first read they seemed more like a tea sandwich, with cucumbers and the crusts cut off, but as it is with so many things, it is all in how you see it. And I saw these little sandwiches in a picnic basket nestled next to chilled grapes, freshly baked cookies and iced tea; all ready for a day at the beach. Or an evening as it were.

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For the Know Event, I doubled the recipe and made the sandwiches on a whole grain bread and a soft potato bread. While I couldn’t enjoy the sandwiches (no bread for me), the herbed goat cheese spread was another story! I made a batch for home and couldn’t get enough of it. I ate it on everything I could think of. Daddy and the big kids loved it too but Mr. Picky wouldn’t go near it; which is in fact a good sign that it is absolutely delicious – unless of course you too currently only eat  grilled cheese sandwiches and chocolate pudding.

Mr.-Picky

“Ewww! I CAN’T like that! It is eesgusging!”

Herbed Goat Cheese Spread

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The recipe is not “eesgusging” and is very simple to throw together and holds up well in the fridge for at least a week; if it lasts that long. Click the link above (the one under the picture of the picky 5 year old) and it will take you right to it.

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It whips up easily in a stand mixer but be sure to finely mince or even smash the garlic into a paste as it is pretty potent and no one wants to bite into a big chunk of raw garlic. My husband thought the spread was a little heavy on the garlic so you may want to start with just one clove and see how it tastes to you.

The recipe calls for parsley and thyme, which is fantastic, but I am going to get a little creative with the herb combinations next time. Basil, tarragon, chives, maybe even olives or tapenade and sundried tomatoes; endless possibilities! I also think a bit of lemon zest would be delicious.

Barefoot-Contessa's-Herbed-

Recently, I made this spread as an appetizer for dinner with friends and served it with baguette slices that I drizzled with a little olive oil and toasted in a 425 degree oven for about 5 minutes. They didn’t last long and the tantalizing crunch of those baguettes slathered in that rich goat cheese spread was almost more than this girl could take.

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So I toasted up some low-carb Joseph’s pita wedges and shared in the joy. Admittedly, it was not the same as a crunchy French baguette but it was still pretty darn good.

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For all of you Trim Healthy Mamas out there, this spread is fantastic rolled up in a Joseph’s lavash for a snack or just  add a little turkey and veggies for a satisfying lunch wrap.

One word … omelet.

My husband is the resident omelet maker around here and he’s pretty darn good at it. He makes one for me just about every weekend and I was most delighted to find rich and creamy herbed goat cheese pooling from every nook and cranny of this perfect Saturday morning treat (another good THM/low-carb breakfast).

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He also brought me a good strong cup of black coffee. I am a blessed woman indeed.

There are so many ways to enjoy this versatile spread, I’m thinking about piping it into cherry tomatoes or on top of cucumber slices the next time I need an appetizer.

I hope you will give it a try and play around with your own herb and ingredient combinations. Be sure to let me know what you come up with and as always …

Enjoy!

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Avocado Mango Salad, a Cinco de Mayo Must!

This light and refreshing Avocado Mango Salad rounds out my Cinco de Mayo dishes for the week.

What a way to finish!

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I promise, it tastes as good as it looks! The sweet mango and creamy avocado combined with the richness of the chili powder and the deep flavor of cumin give this light salad just the right amount of punch. It is a flavor party perfect for Cinco de Mayo.

Avocado Mango Salad

adapted from Avocado Salad, Quick & Easy Mexican Cooking, Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 ripe avocados, cubed
  • 2 ripe mangos, cubed
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cubed
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

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Whew! That’s a lot of chopping. And a little messy.

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But so, so worth it!

Directions

Whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper.

In a separate bowl, combine the avocados, mangos, tomatoes, onion and cilantro.

Add the dressing, toss carefully (don’t mush your mangos or avocados) and serve immediately.

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Add it to a main dish of Tequila Lime Chicken, a delicious side of Grilled Corn Salad , blue corn tortilla chips with your favorite salsa and a Blackberry Margarita and you have the perfect menu for a delicious Cinco de Mayo Celebration.

This is the chance I’ve been waiting for to try out The Pioneer Woman’s Blackberry Margaritas that she featured on her show a few weeks back. Oh my did they look good! Lime.Salted.Rims. I’ll let you know how they turn out!

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

remember to celebrate responsibly (but eat all the Avocado Mango Salad you want) and

Enjoy!

Grilled Corn Salad

It is starting to warm up around here and my mind is quickly heading in the direction of Summer. Maybe it is heading that direction because my children only have a few weeks of school left and I am madly planning their Summer activities.

Bored kids can be unpleasant.

Moms with bored kids can be unpleasant.

Aside from the occasional bout of unpleasantness, I really love summer; and I particularly love summer cooking. To me, summer food is light and fresh and most often grilled and nothing beats dining al fresco.

If you hadn’t heard, Arizona Summers are HOT and the last thing anyone wants to do is turn on the stove or the oven. Instead we stand outside, 116 degrees, gentle breeze blowing – as if straight from a hair dryer – and grill. Truthfully, we grill all year-long and probably should be cooking inside in the air conditioning but that just isn’t very summerish now is it?

Besides, there is nothing quite like grilling in a fabulous outdoor kitchen. Would you like to see my fabulous outdoor kitchen?New-BBQ

So would I.

I promise, I’m not poking fun at my hard-workin’ committed DIYer husband who hasn’t had the time yet to move beyond the dry stacking stage. He is way more than capable of building the best outdoor kitchen ever … if only there were about six more hours in a day.

If anyone knows a good (reasonably priced) stone mason in the area you would be my new best friend and my husband would have the best Father’s Day gift ever.

For now, we make do with Old Bessie – I totally just made that up, we don’t really call our ancient gas grill Old Bessie but maybe now we will.

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She’s not pretty but she get’s the job done.

I apologize to anyone with the name Bessie.

Back to the grilled corn salad. Crunchy refreshing salads are the best and I was very excited to give this new one a try. My way, of course.

Grilled Corn Salad

Adapted from “Festive Corn Salad”, Quick and Easy Mexican Cooking by Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee

Grilled-Corn

Ingredients

  • 2 cups grilled corn kernels (cut from 3 cobs of corn depending on size)
  • 1 grilled zucchini, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 ripe tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions

I wanted to try this recipe right away but sadly, I was a little early for really good fresh corn. As I couldn’t find any still in the husk, I decided to settled for the only fresh corn that I could find …

Fresh-Corn

To grill them start to finish, they really need to be in the husks (we’ll talk about that when the good stuff starts showing up at the Farmer’s Market) so I had to improvise.

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For corn on the cob, I bring a pot of water to a boil, put the corn in, bring it back to a boil, cover and boil for five minutes.

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To get the grilled look and flavor I was after, I then misted the corn with a little olive oil and put them on a very hot grill. If you don’t have an oil mister, get one. Today. Trust me.

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The grill needs to be hot because you want the char marks and flavor but you want them quickly so the corn doesn’t overcook and dry out.

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Halve the zucchini, mist it with olive oil and season it with salt and pepper and then put it on the grill with the corn – just for a few minutes you don’t want it over cooked and mushy.

Grilled-Veggies

Perfect. Now to put the salad together.

Side note on grilled zucchini, it is a great kid veggie as it is the perfect soft texture for them to practice cutting with a knife and fork. I have a set of kid silverware with very safe knives. I start ’em early cutting soft fruits too. They love it!

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This is NOT a kid safe knife but my kid is holding it for me so that I can hold the corn and the camera. Now that is trust; but I just had to show you my favorite trick for cutting corn off of the cob. Besides, he’s almost nine and is pretty handy to have around.

Just turn a small bowl upside down in a larger bowl, balance the flat end of the corn on the smaller bowl and slice down with a sharp knife. If you are not trying to photograph the process, two hands should be enough.

The corn kernels fall off into the larger bowl. No mess.

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Genius.

I wish I could say I thought of it but I picked it up somewhere on the Food Network.

Red-Bell-Peppers

Next, chop and add the zucchini, bell pepper, tomato, cilantro, onion and jalapeno.

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When a fine dice or mince are called for, just cut small strips (julienne) and then make perfect little pieces.

Diced-Jalapeno-Peppers

With jalapeno or other hot peppers, most of the heat is in the veins and seeds so remove those with a paring knife before you dice the pepper. I don’t mind the heat but I don’t want the little seeds in my salad.

Next add the olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper and mix well.

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Serve at room temperature or chilled from the fridge.

You can make it a day ahead and it will keep fine.

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I have made this salad a few times now and served it above with tequila lime chicken.

Oh, I’ll tell you about that tomorrow.

And that, over there on the side, peeking over the chicken, that is an avocado salad; watch for that one too.

When I made corn salad last weekend to take to a luncheon, I did it a little differently. I didn’t have time to grill the corn or zucchini so I used 2 cans of corn (drained) and sautéed them and the diced zucchini in a few tablespoons of butter for five minutes. As a last-minute add, I also diced up two mangos and tossed those in the salad for a sweet touch that was very well received.

Play around with your favorite ingredients. Make it your own and enjoy!

Irish Side Dishes, Not Just for St. Patrick’s Day

So sorry I didn’t get this published yesterday but the masses of weeds in my front yard, nurtured by the spring rains and then gorgeous sunshine we’ve had, were demanding my attention and the day just got away from me.

So, continuing on with the results of my culinary “St. Patrick’s Day Project”, today I am sharing with you the side dishes. Sides don’t often get the attention they deserve. They are the back-up singers. The best supporting actor and actress. Humbly taking a back-seat to the entrée. Both of these sides, however, deserve their moment in the spotlight.

Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage and Colcannon.

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Both are traditional Irish dishes, which many of us seek out only when preparing a St. Patrick’s Day feast. After selecting these dishes from the Irish Pub Cooking cookbook that inspired me and preparing them on St. Patty’s Day, I am here to tell you I will be making them again soon. These are not just for St. Patrick’s Day. In fact, I will be making the cabbage for Easter dinner and can hardly wait to share it with the friends and family who will join us. It is fresh and bright and the color is beautiful. This cabbage was one of my absolute favorite dishes of the St. Patrick’s Day meal. Sweet with apples, brown sugar and spices and just a little bit tart and tangy with a touch of vinegar, it will be a most welcome addition to Easter dinner.

Here’s how you make it …

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Sweet & Sour Red Cabbage from “Irish Pub Cooking”, Parragon Books

Modifications I made will be in italics.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium head of red cabbage
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 small baking apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 2 Tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp crushed juniper berries – I left these out
  • whole nutmeg, for grating
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • grated rind and juice of 1 orange
  • 2 Tbsp cranberry jelly – I used jellied cranberry sauce
  • Kosher salt and pepper

Directions

Cut the cabbage into quarters, remove and discard the central stalk, and shred finely. I just thinly sliced it.

Heat the oil in a large pan and add the cabbage, onions, garlic, and apples (I used Granny Smith). Sprinkle over the sugar, cinnamon, and juniper berries and grate a quarter of the nutmeg into the pan.

Pour over the vinegar (I was out of red wine vinegar and used apple cider vinegar) and orange juice and add the orange rind (zest). Stir well and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is just tender but still has “bite”. This will take 10-15 minutes, depending on how finely the cabbage is sliced.

Stir in the cranberry jelly and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Serve hot.

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Colcannon

What in the world is colcannon? It is simply mashed potatoes with cabbage or kale and leeks or scallions mixed in. I did mine with kale and scallions and it was delicious.

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You may have noticed that I served the colcannon with a plain mashed potatoes option. My husband may be of Irish descent but he is a mid-western American boy who doesn’t want anything green in his mashed potatoes.

Colcannon is simple and a nice twist on plain old (albeit much-loved) mashed potatoes. First, make a standard batch of mashed potatoes, the amount depending on the number of people you will be feeding. This particular recipe recommends the following for 1 pound of potatoes, which will serve 4, …

  • 1/2 small head of cabbage (about 2 cups of chopped kale)
  • 6 scallions, cut into 1/4 inch slices

Remove and discard the central stalk from the cabbage or kale and shred finely. Cook in a large pot of boiling salted water for 1-2 minutes (blanching) until it is soft. Drain thoroughly.

Mix the cabbage or kale and mashed potatoes together, then stir in the scallions. Season well with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. I recommend eyeballing it and adding in as much or as little kale and onions as you like. You really can’t go wrong.

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Both of these dishes were delicious and added wonderful color to the plate.

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I hope you’ll try them and as always, I’d love to know what you think. Enjoy!

Tomorrow, the main dish – Beef in Stout. Heavenly.