I have some exciting news for you! Well, it’s exciting to me, anyway, and I hope you find it exciting too … Sumptuous Spoonfuls is teaming up with Swiss Diamond International. I will be crafting some recipes for Swiss Diamond International using their cookware. They are not paying me to do this, but they are giving me samples of their cookware to use in developing their recipes.
I was really excited when Swiss Diamond International contacted me, and even more excited after I read about their cookware. I was intrigued by the use of diamonds in cookware. This is from Swiss Diamond’s web site:
- Diamonds are durable - As the hardest material known to man, diamonds give the coating additional strength and resilience.
- Diamonds are a better heat conductor than metal - Four times more conductive than copper, diamonds create even heat distribution across the pan’s surface. Diamonds also allow the pan to brown food like stainless steel, creating a “fond” that can be used for gravy – or easily washed away with warm soapy water.
- Diamonds are naturally nonstick - One of the most valuable properties of diamonds in a nonstick coating is that very little sticks to them. Coupled with their durability, this creates a lifetime of superior performance.
So I was curious to see if it really works … and I have to say I absolutely love these pans! They cook like a dream … the heat distributes across the pan so well. The food cooks faster and so evenly. And nothing sticks to the pan … with no cooking spray or butter. I tried some of the stickiest, most difficult things (like fried rice) and nothing stuck. And they’re so easy to clean too. (By the way, while Swiss Diamond did give me the pans, they did not pay me to say that … this is my honest experience.) I’m curious to see how well they retain that magic nonstick surface … I guess time will tell.
For this recipe, I used the crepe/omelet pan. This little pan is by far my favorite so far. It has a low lip so that it’s easy to flip crepes, omelets, and pancakes. (Even the IHOP-style pancakes that have always been a struggle for me to flip … I found I can even make giant pancakes – bigger than IHOP’s! – in this pan and they cook and flip SO nicely.) Anyway, I was craving a quesadilla the other day and thought this pan would be perfect for that. I wanted to try making it without any oil or cooking spray and see if the tortilla got properly crisped and browned on both sides. And you know what? It did.
You don’t have to have a crepe / omelet pan to make these quesadillas … any frying pan will do. But it sure makes cooking a pleasure.
Chipotle Black Bean Quesadilla with Avocado Cream
For each quesadilla:
- 1/2 of a ripe avocado
- 1 oz. light cream cheese
- 1 Tablespoon finely chopped onion
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped fine
- juice from 1/4 – 1/2 of a fresh lime
- 1 – 2 teaspoons plain nonfat yogurt (optional)
- 2 tortillas that fit the size of your pan. I used some whole wheat “wraps” that were a little smaller than my crepe pan.
- Refried black beans (homemade or canned)
- About a Tablespoon of finely chopped onion
- About a Tablespoon of finely chopped chipotle pepper (a jalapeno roasted on the grill would also work)
- About 1/2 oz. of finely shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
- For serving: your favorite salsa. A fire-roasted salsa is especially nice with this quesadilla!
- First, make the Avocado cream by mashing the avocado in a bowl, then mash in the cream cheese, onion, garlic and lime juice and stir until everything is mixed well and the mixture is fairly smooth. Add a teaspoon or two of plain nonfat yogurt if you like to get it to a nice spreadable consistency.
- Take one tortilla and spread it with a layer of refried black beans, then spread on a layer of avocado cream. Sprinkle the onion and chipotle pepper over, then sprinkle evenly with the shredded cheddar and top it all off with the 2nd tortilla.
- Heat your pan over medium heat. If your pan needs it, spray the pan with cooking spray, then slide the quesadilla into the pan. Cook for about 3 minutes, then check to see if the bottom is nicely browned and crisp. Once it’s brown, flip the quesadilla over with a spatula and cook until it’s brown on the other side and the cheese is melted. (The bottom half is crisp by now so the quesadilla is fairly easy to flip, but if you are making a large quesadilla, you may need to slide the quesadilla onto a cutting board and then flip it over back into the pan.)
- Slide the quesadilla onto a cutting board, cut into wedges, and serve with the salsa.
If you would like to purchase Swiss Diamond cookware, visit http://www.swissdiamond.us/.
This is the sandwich I made with the Roasted Pepper Tomato Tapenade.
It is simply delicious and it’s something you can totally make in a rush. If you’ve got the tapenade in your fridge, the sandwich comes together in a few minutes. All you need is a whole wheat bun, some turkey, sweet onion, fresh garden tomato and some extra sharp white cheddar cheese. If you have a couple large basil leaves that is an excellent finishing touch.
I had about 30 minutes between errands and my daughter’s dance class last weekend to make myself and her something to eat. This is what I made for ME because while I had fed the kids breakfast, I ran out of time to feed myself, so by lunchtime I was starving. In a rush, I started grabbing things from the fridge and this was what became of it.
I managed to snap a few photos somehow before I chowed it down and ran out the door to get my girl to her dance class.
Turkey Tomato White Cheddar Melt
For each sandwich (two halves):
- 1 whole wheat bun, sliced in half, lightly toasted
- Roasted Pepper Tomato Tapenade (recipe here)
- Thinly sliced sweet onion
- A couple very thin slices natural smoked turkey
- A slice or two of fresh garden tomato for each side
- Slices of extra sharp white cheddar cheese
- A couple large fresh basil leaves (or several smaller ones)
- Slice each half of the bun with a good layer of roasted pepper tomato tepenade.
- Set it on a baking sheet, then arrange several thin slices of sweet onion on top of the tepenade.
- Cover with the thin slices of smoked turkey and then a slice or two of tomato (whatever fits!). Top the tomato with a couple slices of white cheddar cheese.
- Bake at 400 until the cheese is good and hot and bubbly and melty.
- Top with a couple fresh basil leaves. Enjoy!
This recipe was shared at Melt in your Mouth Monday, Totally Tasty Tuesday, Tuesday Talent Show, Tasty Tuesday, Show & Share Wednesday, Cast Party Wednesday, Newlyweds Recipe Linky, Thursday’s Treasures, Friday Food Fight and All my Bloggy Friends.
“Soup is a lot like a family. Each ingredient enhances the others; each batch has its own characteristics; and it needs time to simmer to reach full flavor.”
~ Marge Kennedy
The other day I was digging through my freezer trying to identify all the things that were too freezer burned to eat and I came across this “mystery” container with ugly brown stuff in it. I had NO idea what that was. I sniffed it. Poked it. Nope, couldn’t tell what it was. I set it in my pile of “things to discard” … and it wasn’t until morning that I realized it was MOREL mushrooms! Oh NO! my precious most favorite mushrooms in the whole world that my dad gave me … I just couldn’t let those go to waste! I quickly set my mind to thinking what to do with them …
Soup! Yes, mushroom soup. Something wonderfully creamy and cheesy … I originally thought I would puree this soup and make a rich cream of mushroom soup, but once I got it all done, I just didn’t want to do that to my soup. I wanted to savor the soft texture of the mushrooms and caramelized onions contrasted against the smooth creamy, cheesy broth. You can puree it if you prefer. I’m leaving mine with bits of mushroom and caramelized onion floating about in it.
I am SO glad I saved the mushrooms. I feel a bit super-hero-ish now. I have accomplished something most very worthwhile today.
Caramelized Onion Mushroom Gouda Soup
This recipe makes about a quart of soup.
- 1/2 Tablespoon butter
- 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onion
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 cups lowfat milk
- 1 cup sauteed mushrooms (Measured after sauteeing … I used morels, but I think you could substitute any mushroom and it would still be a great soup! Whatever mushrooms you choose, try the Chardonnay mushroom cooking method to avoid putting loads of extra fat in your soup … )
- 1 cup beef or vegetable broth
- 3/4 cup shredded Gouda cheese
- Salt & Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- For garnish: freshly grated cheese & snipped green onions
- Heat a medium saucepan to medium and set the butter in to melt. Once it’s mostly melted, add the onions and sautee the onions in the butter. Cover and let cook for just a minute, then remove the lid and stir well. If the pan seems dry, add a little wine and stir well. Cover again and let cook, then remove the cover and stir. Keep repeating this process until the wine is gone and the onions are a lovely dark brown color.
- Stir the flour into the onions and stir to coat all the onions in a lovely jacket of flour, then add the milk, mushrooms, and broth and stir to mix well.
- Reduce heat to medium low and let cook, stirring frequently, until the soup starts to thicken a bit. Add the cheese and stir to mix. Cook until the cheese is melted and the soup is heated through. Try a small spoonful of the soup and add salt & pepper to taste. Serve immediately. Store any leftovers in a covered container in the fridge. I like to put my soup in a glass jar so I can gaze at it every time I open the fridge.
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Shhhh … they aren’t really “noodles” … they just look sort of like noodles. They don’t really taste like noodles either, but I love the noodley look of this colorful vegetable medley. The Pesto Rosso (a.k.a, sundried tomato pesto) really complements the sauteed veggies too, especially when you add some crumbles of cheese on top.
It was getting very close to bedtime last night when I realized I was hungry. I didn’t want to have a big, heavy meal right before bed, but I didn’t want my stomach waking me up in the middle of night either. So I decided at the last moment to cook up something light and healthy but filling enough to tide me over till morning. I’ve been toying with the idea of using zucchini and summer squash as noodles with sauce over top, but when I went to make it, I thought “why just zucchini? why not toss some other vegetables too?” … and so I did.
For me, this was a late night snack, but I could envision these lovelies as a beautiful bed for meat, fish or chicken. Can you imagine how appetizing that would look? Or you could eat them as is for a wonderfully healthy vegetarian dinner. If you want a heartier meal, toss them with some whole grain fettucine or linguine. The wonderful thing about eating vegetables for dinner is you can pretty much eat as many as you want without guilt or worry.
Sundried Tomato Pesto Harvest Vegie “Noodles”
This makes about enough for 1 hearty plateful or two side servings. Multiply if you have more mouths to feed!
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 – 1/2 of a small sweet onion
- 1/3 of a large bell pepper (I used a yellow one)
- 1/2 of a medium-sized zucchini (yielding a heaping cup or so of zucchini “noodles”)
- 1 roma tomato
- About 2 tablespoons fresh herbs, chopped (I used Basil and Terragon)
- A splash of wine (or water)
- About 1 Tablespoon Pesto Rosso (Sundried Tomato Pesto … recipe here)
- About 1/2 Tablespoon white wine (or water)
- To top: crumbled feta or queso fresco — or thin “shards” of freshly cut Parmesan & a cherry tomato or sprig of fresh basil or parsley, for garnish
- Peel and chop the garlic finely and, in a small bowl, mix it with the olive oil. Set aside to allow the garlic to infuse into the oil while you chop up the vegies.
- Slice the vegies into thin noodle shapes. For the onion, slice it vertically and very thin. The zucchini: slice it in half, then slice each half into very thin slices. Cut the slices into noodle-sized strips. The tomato: cut it vertically, then slice like you did the zucchini. The bell pepper: just cut it into very thin strips.
- Now heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic with olive oil, onion and bell pepper and sautee until the onion is soft. Then add the zucchini and tomato and sautee until the zucchini “noodles” are tender. If the pan gets dry while you are cooking, add a splash of white wine (or water) to keep the vegies moist and tender and make sure they don’t stick to the pan.
- Mix the pesto rosso with a bit of white wine (or water) to thin it out, then toss it with the vegies.
- Top with crumbled cheese or shards of parmesan, garnish with a cherry tomato and/or fresh herbs and serve immediately.
with Great Northern Beans & Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing
Have you ever made something once and thought “it’s good, but it really ought to be better?” Yeah, that’s what happened here. The first time I made it I used a great big eggplant and I tried cooking it on the grill. Except my coals ran out of heat and the eggplant didn’t get properly cooked and it was this awful rubbery texture. I ended up picking all of the eggplant out of my salad that night and just eating the tomatoes with the corn and bread … not that that was a BAD thing, it was quite delightful that way. I just hated wasting the lovely eggplant …
So: take 2. This time I used a couple of my fairy tale eggplant. If you’ve not seen fairy tale eggplant, they are those tiny purple eggplant that look SO adorable because they are about finger sized or a little bigger, maybe half my hand size? You never have to peel them or salt them because their skins are perfectly tender and they are never bitter. If you’re inexperienced with eggplant, fairy tale eggplant are a good place to start. This time was definitely better … but something was missing … oh my gosh! the corn! I totally forgot the corn. Okay, so I went and grabbed some corn from the freezer, cooked it up and added it … ah! much better!
Fairy Tale Tomato, Corn & Bread Salad
Adapted from Williams Sonoma. For one hearty serving or two small “sides”:
- 2-4 fairy tale eggplant (about 1/2 cup after roasting/chopping)
- 1 cup fresh garden tomato, chopped into bite-size chunks
- 1/2 cup cooked white beans, drained
- 1/2 cup cooked corn, drained
- 2 slices of sweet onion, chopped coarsely
- 1 – 1 1/2 cups toasted whole wheat bread cubes (about 1 inch in size … or smaller … to your liking)
- A few fresh basil & tarragon leaves
- A few roasted sunflower seeds
- Tahini yogurt ranch dressing (recipe below)
- Slice the fairy tale eggplant lengthwise in 1/2-inch slices. (You can use other eggplant in place of Fairy Tale, but you may need to peel them first.) Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and set the eggplant on the baking sheet. Spray them with cooking spray and sprinkle with a bit of salt or Red Robin Seasoning. Roast the eggplant in the oven or toaster oven at 400 for about 10 minutes or until they are tender.
- While the eggplant are cooking, chop the tomato and onion and heat the white beans and corn up. Also, set the bread cubes on another oiled baking sheet and let them toast in the oven for the last few minutes of the eggplant roasting or until the cubes are lightly browned and toasted.
- Chop the eggplant into bite-size chunks. In your salad bowl, toss the eggplant, tomato, corn and onion till well mixed. Gently fold in the toasted bread cubes, drizzle with tahini ranch dressing and sprinkle with fresh herbs and sunflower seeds.
Tahini Yogurt Ranch Dressing
- 1/2 cup nonfat greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup lowfat buttermilk
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons tahini
- 1 Tablespoon light mayonnaise
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 cup mixed fresh herbs (I used rosemary, basil, thyme, tarragon, oregano, parsley … dill would be wonderful too, but my dill plant has died off)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon salt (start with 1/4 teaspoon and add more to taste as needed) + freshly ground pepper to taste.
In a handi chopper or food processor, blend all ingredients till the herbs and garlic are well chopped and the mixture is fairly smooth. Taste the dressing and add salt and/or pepper to taste. Store any leftover dressing in a covered container in the fridge.
This is such an amazing sandwich. It’s really so simple. But it takes the whole concept of Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato to a new level. All you have to do is add a little bit of sweet onion and some gouda cheese, get that cheese really good and melty and OMG you will be drowning in heaven when you eat your sandwich. So that’s why it’s a Sooo OMG BLT. SOMG = Sweet Onion Melted Gouda. How sweet is THAT?
The most necessary thing for this sandwich is a fresh-from-the-garden tomato. If you don’t have a garden (or a friend or relative who has a garden who will share a tomato), one from the farmer’s market will do in a pinch. If you’re going to use a grocery store tomato, just skip this whole idea. Go make something else. Because to get the true essence of a really great BLT, you need a really good fresh garden tomato.
The sweet onion and the melty gouda cheese elevate the bacon and the heavenly homegrown tomato taste and then the mixed greens come along and top it all off with their beauty and crunch. You really must have at least one of these beautiful sandwiches during tomato season … I have had two so far and I’m SO tempted to make another one … SOMG they are SO good!
Sweet Onion Melted Gouda Bacon Lettuce and Tomato Sandwich (SoooOMG BLT!)
For each sandwich:
- 1 nice thick slice of bread (homemade bread works the best … I used my dad’s whole wheat yogurt bread)
- 3 slices of lower-fat, naturally smoked, thin-sliced bacon
- Thinly sliced sweet onion
- Fresh garden tomato slices
- A few slices of Gouda cheese (I used Dofino Gouda that they sent me … )
- Mixed greens
- Cook the bacon strips to your liking. I like mine a little floppy, but my sisters hate the way I make bacon. My kids love it though. (HA! For once I am validated by my kids.) Use a clean kitchen towel or paper towels to soak up the excess fat from the bacon.
- Set the bread on a baking sheet covered with cooking spray. Cover the bread with a layer of bacon, then several slices of the sweet onion, then make sure you cover the whole thing with fresh tomato slices. Cover the tomato with slices of gouda cheese.
- Bake at 400 for about 8 – 10 minutes or until the cheese is really good and melted and bubbly.
- Remove the sandwiches from the oven and carefully transfer each sandwich to a plate and add a good tumble of mixed greens. Then revel in the joy of a purely wonderful sandwich.
I want to thank Dofino cheese for sending me some of their wonderful Gouda cheese and my amazing friends from the BOHO tribe for helping me name this sandwich! It was Uncle Gary from Uncle Gary’s Gourmet Peppers and Pepper Jelly that thought of this name.
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I woke up early this morning. There is a chill in the air. It is cool enough to open the windows and to sit on the patio and have a cup of tea. The fresh air smells so wonderful after the stale air conditioned air I’ve been breathing all summer.
There are tomatoes on my little potted tomato plants! Not a lot of them, but enough to give me a little of that wonderful juicy fresh garden tomato taste that you just can’t get from a store. I feel grateful for these beautiful little plants and the pollinators who visited my porch to help create this plump red fruit. I love the soft fuzziness of the vines and the lively fresh tomato scent on my fingers after I touch them.
It’s Friday. We will be seeing my parents tomorrow. I feel happy and content.
I made this pizza for lunch the other day. It is such a good pizza to make this time of year when the harvest starts coming in. If I have just a few cherry tomatoes, then I like to use them on pizza to really highlight their pretty color and juicy flavor.
Hummus Havarti Harvest Pizza
The smoked Havarti cheese was a gift from Dofino cheese. It is a creamy, soft, smoky cheese that goes so wonderfully on so many things. I’m not giving amounts here because I was making a little individual-sized pizza, but you can easily scale it up to make a full-size pizza for your family.
- Pizza crust (I used my Zucchini Asiago Whole Wheat Flatbread)
- Smoked Havarti cheese, shredded
- Fresh cherry tomatoes, halved
- Chopped cucumber
- Avocado, pitted, peeled, chopped
- Fresh dill, snipped (or a sprinkle of dried dill would do in a pinch)
Heat the flatbread briefly in the oven at 425, then spread with a thick layer of hummus. Top with the shredded Havarti cheese and the halved cherry tomatoes and then pop it the oven to bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Add a tumble of fresh cucumber and avocado, then sprinkle with dill and enjoy!
With Goat Cheese Crumbles and a Honey Lemon Ginger White Wine Vinaigrette
It’s one of the last lazy summer Sundays we have left and I’m thinking about peaches. It’s that peachy time of year when you are assaulted with their beauty every time you walk into the store and you can’t help but put some in the shopping cart. And then I get home and wonder what to DO with them all!
So of course the first thing I must make is a good salad. Fresh seasonal fruit is so lovely in salad.
Peach, Pistachio & Chicken Salad with Goat Cheese Crumbles
and a Honey Lemon Ginger White Wine Vinaigrette
- Mixed greens
- Chicken (1 patty or breast per person)
- Peaches (1 peach per person)
- Goat Cheese, crumbled
- Roasted, salted pistachios, coarsely chopped
- Honey Lemon Ginger White Wine Vinaigrette (recipe below)
First, make the dressing and set aside. Cook (or reheat) the chicken and chop into pieces. (This is a good use for leftover chicken!) Make a good bed for your salad on a big salad plate or bowl. Pit the peaches and cut into chunks. Tuck the chicken pieces and peach bits in and around the greens, sprinkle with goat cheese and pistachios, and drizzle with the dressing.
Honey Lemon Ginger White Wine Vinaigrette
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- Juice of 1/4 of a lemon
- 2 Tablespoons honey
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 2 Tablespoons spicy brown mustard
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped fine
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Mix everything except the olive oil together in a bowl till well mixed. While whisking, slowly pour the olive oil into the dressing in a small stream. Keep whisking until the olive oil is well mixed into the dressing. Refrigerate any leftover dressing in an airtight container. Before use, take it out of the fridge for a few minutes to let the olive oil “melt” again (it will solidify in the fridge) and shake well.
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Brianne at Cupcakes & Kale Chips is a great source of food inspiration for me. When she posted a recipe for sesame noodles, I wanted them right away … it was a simple, quick recipe, so I went into the kitchen and made them straight away. I have veggies galore in my kitchen right now, so I had to throw some of those in. So I sliced up some cucumber in thin noodle-like strips and tossed in some shredded carrot and sweet onion.
I also replaced the peanut butter in the recipe with PB2 … it’s a powdered form of peanut butter that has most of the oil removed. And I left out some of the oil to cut down the amount of fat. It was still quite delicious. I looove this sauce!
You could add in cooked chicken or shrimp or scallops to dress this dish up, use other vegetables or even replace the noodles with zucchini noodles (have you seen that? zucchini cut up in long thin strips like noodles? I want to try that one of these days!) Anyway, I used brown rice Pad Thai noodles and that worked wonderfully. My cucumber strips weren’t quite straight or thin enough to really act like noodles, but they added a refreshing crunch to the dish.
Sesame Noodles with Cucumber
Adapted from Cupcakes & Kale Chips (who got the recipe from The Mom 100 Cookbook by Katie Workman)
There is enough sauce to cover about twice this much noodles/vegies, so go ahead and make more if you have more mouths to feed. I was just cooking for me … I’m lucky, though. Making this amount means I have some of that scrumptious sauce left for another day.
- 3 cloves of garlic
- A 2-inch hunk of ginger root, peeled
- 2 Tablespoons white or rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Sriracha or other hot pepper sauce (use more or less to taste)
- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 – 2 Tablespoons dark sesame oil (I used 1 Tablespoon, but I think it could use a little more)
- 4 Tablespoons PB2
- 3 Tablespoons water
Noodles and vegies:
- 4 – oz. of noodles (I used brown rice pad thai noodles, but any long skinny noodle will work …)
- 1/2 cup of cucumber, cut in long thin strips like the noodles
- 1/4 cup of shredded carrots
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced onion
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced bell pepper
- Garnish: fresh cilantro, chopped peanuts, sesame seeds (or chia seeds if you can’t find your sesame seeds … like me)
- Make the sesame sauce: whir all of the sauce ingredients in a handi chopper, food processor or a blender until smooth. Set the sauce aside.
- Prepare the noodles according to the package directions, reserving 1/2 cup of the noodle cooking water (or 1 cup if you are making a full batch), then drain the noodles.
- Add the reserved cooking water to half of the sesame sauce and blend. Place the warm drained noodles in a large bowl and toss them with the sauce and vegies until everything is coated.
- I skipped this step because I was starving but the recipe says to let the noodles cool to room temperature because they will absorb more sauce as they sit. This might be true … I have yet to try it.
- Garnish with cilantro leaves and peanuts or sesame seeds and serve. Try not to inhale them like I did.
This soup is one of the best things to make when you’re feeling sick. I haven’t made it in years, but it was one of those things that has always made me feel better, not just because it’s full of loads of good vitamins and herbs, but also because it tastes soothing and comforting and warm. It’s so tasty, you don’t really need to be sick to make it. But it will help you feel better if you are.
I have struggled with sinus problems for a good part of my adult life … there was a period in my life when I was getting a sinus infection every month. As soon as I would get done with one, I was getting another one. I was on a constant stream of antibiotics and always felt miserable. I’ve learned ways of coping with it now so I haven’t had one now in over a year, but this morning I woke up and I could feel one coming on … this is NOT a good time to be sick! My sister is coming to visit this weekend … I started thinking of all the things I used to do to make them go away and I remembered this soup I used to make.
The last time I made this soup was long before I had all the fresh herbs I have now and I don’t exactly recall what herbs I used to put in it back then. I remember the basic formula for it, though. And this is how it goes …
Magic “Feel Better” Soup
- 1 large potato, cut into hunks (about 2 cups)
- 1/2 cup of chopped carrots
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cups of chicken (or vegetable) broth
- 3/4 cup chopped onion
- 3 cups of fresh swiss chard or spinach, washed and chopped
- A handful of fresh herbs: I used basil, thyme, rosemary, & parsley
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt or fat free half and half
- Sriracha or other hot sauce, to taste (to open up the sinuses)
- Freshly grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley (optional)
- Put the potato, carrots, garlic, bay leaf, onion and broth into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer (medium low) and cook for about 20 – 30 minutes or until the potato is fall-apart tender and the other vegies are soft.
- Fish out the bay leaf and stir in the chard. Cover the pot and cook for just a couple minutes or until the chard is cooked. Add the herbs.
- Pour the soup into a blender (or use an immersion blender), add the yogurt or half and half and blend until smooth. Add more broth if you want a thinner soup. I like my soup pretty thick. Serve hot, topped with Sriracha and shredded cheese and garnish with fresh parsley. That red swirl you see there … that’s the Sriracha.
Your Child’s Food made a Thai-inspired version of this soup that is dairy free. I really love her twist on it! Her recipe is here.
with Goat Cheese, Sweet Onions, Toasted Almonds and a Cherry Malbec Vinaigrette
I went to the kitchen the other day to find myself some lunch … started pulling things out of the fridge and this is what came of it. I made my daughter a pretty salad with just lettuce and strawberries too while I was at it. I cooked her up a piece of salmon too. I thought about putting some salmon on my salad, but decided that chicken would go better with the blueberries.
For the dressing, I decided on my Cherry Malbec Vinaigrette … I think you could probably make the dressing with blueberries in place of the cherries and it would go even better with this particular salad, but the cherry taste was quite nice on there too.
Chicken & Blueberry Salad with Goat Cheese, Sweet Onions & Toasted Almonds
- 1 hot, cooked chicken patty (or boneless chicken breast if you prefer) for each serving
- Mixed greens
- Fresh blueberries
- Sweet onions, sliced thin
- Almonds, lightly toasted
- Goat cheese crumbles
- Cherry Malbec Vinaigrette Salad Dressing (recipe below)
- Violets or other edible flowers for garnish (optional)
Cook up your chicken. While that’s cooking, fill a salad bowl most of the way with greens. Top with as many blueberries as you desire, then sprinkle with sweet onions, almonds, and crumbles of goat cheese. Chop up and add the chicken, drizzle with the dressing, and garnish with flowers just before serving.
Cherry Malbec Vinaigrette
This is the dressing I used in my Cherry Beef Salad. You can make it with blueberries in place of the cherries if you prefer.
- 10 sweet cherries, pitted
- 1/4 cup Malbec (or other red wine)
- 2 Tablespoons cherry (or berry) syrup
- 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
- a few fresh basil leaves
- a few sprigs of fresh thyme
- a few sprigs of fresh dill
- 1/4 teaspoon Sriracha
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon chia seeds (optional, but they add nutritional value and help thicken the dressing)
In a handi chopper, blender or food process, blend up all the ingredients well till the cherries and garlic are fully pureed. Store in a covered bottle in the fridge.
with fresh grape tomatoes, goat cheese & pinons
If I had to choose one favorite pizza topping, this would be it. Shrimp, pesto, and goat cheese with fresh tomato and pinons are such an elegant combination of flavors, and if you have pizza crusts (or english muffins!) and pesto on hand, they are so quick and simple to put together.
I made these little mini-pizza crusts for the party last weekend, but we didn’t actually eat them at the party. I served some to my friends at the “after-the-party” party, though, and they were very well received. And now my daughter is loving having the little mini-crusts on hand. I’ve made her mini-pizzas for dinner a couple times this week already. I think this mini pizza craze might become a regular thing at my house. They are even better than the individual-sized crusts I normally make because they’re minis! Small, bite-sized food is just so fun.
When the basil is rampant, I make pesto & freeze it so I always have some on hand. I pretty much always have some pizza crusts in the freezer too.
Pesto Shrimp Mini Pizzas with Grape Tomatoes, Goat Cheese & Pinons
The great thing about these pizzas is you can pre-make everything and keep it in the freezer, so you can have little gourmet pizzas on the table in no time.
- Pre-made mini pizza crusts (recipe below) or English muffins … or a regular-sized pizza crust if you want to make this as a bigger pizza. You could certainly do this as a grilled pizza too …
- Pesto (my pesto recipe is here)
- Crumbled goat cheese
- Frozen, pre-cooked shrimp, thawed
- Fresh cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- Pinons (pine nuts)
Spread the pizza crusts with pesto and crumbled goat cheese. Top with lots of shrimp and mini tomato halves. Sprinkle with pinons. Bake at 400 for about 10 – 12 minutes or until the nuts are toasted and light brown and the pizzas are good and hot.
Beer Pizza Crusts
- 1 cup beer (I used Leinenkugel Sunset Wheat this time)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1 cup unbleached white whole wheat flour
- 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
- 2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Put all ingredients into the bread machine and put it on the dough setting. When the dough is done, divide it into 24 balls of roughly equal size. I did this by cutting the dough in half, then cutting each one in half again, then each piece into three and then cutting each of those into half. Use cornmeal on your work surface to keep the balls from sticking. Shape each ball into a disc shape, set on a flat pizza peel or cutting board dusted with cornmeal, cover with a towel and let rest about 5 – 10 minutes. Then gently stretch each one into a slightly larger disc, cover and let rest until they have risen to the desired size. Bake at 425 for about 10 minutes or until a light golden brown in color. You can throw them in a bag and freeze them at this point and pull them out as needed for snacks or dinner.
This recipe was featured at Carrie’s Experimental Kitchen Seafood Frenzy Fridays.
Let’s re-define the idea of egg salad, shall we? I mean, who decided that “egg salad” should be a bunch of chopped hardboiled eggs with mayonnaise on bread? Excuse me, but how is that a salad? I don’t mean to knock the traditional egg salad sandwich … there’s a comforting charm in a well-made egg salad sandwich, but I have to tell you, when I think salad, I think greens. To me, a salad really needs greens before it deserves to be called a salad.
Yesterday I redefined the whole concept of “egg salad” in my mind. I put a fried egg on my salad. Really, it’s nothing new, but it’s new to me … it’s been done before … I’ve seen it, but the idea of putting a fried egg on a salad sounded completely crazy to me. A fried egg? on a REAL salad? With greens? Seriously?
It sounded so completely weird to me until I made this sundried tomato ranch dressing. And my friend Melissa said to me: it would be great on eggs. Oh. my. gosh. YES! A fried egg, over easy, with that beautiful bright yellow messy, runny yolk … and toast … and crunchy green salad … oh let’s toss on some avocado too … oh yes! It’s brilliant! I could eat this forever … I made it again today. It’s like the quickest meal ever. And it’s SOooooo goood!
It is the sundried tomato ranch dressing that makes this brilliant. Without it, it’s just eggs oozing all over my greens and yeah not really that exciting at all … but add that dressing and some crunchy toast and I’m happy as a clam.
(Are clams really happy? I sure hope so, cuz otherwise it would make NO sense to say “happy as a clam” … then again, we don’t really know that they are happy, so why do we say that?)
Whatever. This egg salad made me happy. Like giggly from my toes to my nose kinda happy. I will never, ever, think of egg salad the same way again.
Egg on a Salad with Avocado, Sweet Onion & Sundried Tomato Ranch Dressing
I got so excited talking about the salad I forgot to tell you about the flowers! They are hosta flowers … the flowers of hostas, like hosta leaves, are edible. You probably have some growing in your yard. They taste like salad. And they are insanely beautiful, on or off a salad.
- Mixed spring greens with spinach (or whatever greens you’d like to use …)
- Green bell pepper, chopped
- Sweet onion, sliced and chopped
- Avocado, sliced and/or cut into chunks
- Organic hosta flowers (or other edible organic flowers … totally optional but they look pretty! make sure yours aren’t sprayed with nasty lawn chemicals before eating, though)
- Eggs, 1 for each salad
- Thin slices of french bread or baguette, toasted
- Sundried tomato ranch salad dressing (recipe here)
- First mix up the dressing and set it aside.
- Make a good bed of greens in your salad bowl and tuck in some onion, avocado, and bell pepper. Add a few flowers if you like, around the edge, leaving a good space in the center for the egg.
- Spray a frying pan with cooking spray and heat to medium heat. Crack a fresh egg into the pan and season with Red Robin Seasoning (or salt) and freshly ground pepper. Cook it sunny side up or over easy, whatever you prefer.
- Toast the bread while the egg is cooking, then spread the ranch dressing on the bread slices.
- When the egg is done to your liking, set it gently on top of the salad. Top with the ranch (or serve on the side), and serve with the toast.
This was the salad I had in mind when I created the sundried tomato ranch dressing. A super simple, very tomato salad bursting that really focuses on the tomato. I forgot to put the feta cheese on BEFORE I took the pictures … ooops! But don’t forget to add the feta. The tangy salty feta is so good with the juicy tomatoes and ranch.
Triple Tomato Ranch Pasta Salad
You could add other fresh vegies to this salad as well … this recipe made enough for two meals for me, but I’m not a big eater.
- 1 cup dry cellentani pasta (rotini, bowtie, or penne would work well for this too)
- 1/2 cup chopped sweet onions
- 2 red ripe tomatoes, chopped
- Mixed greens
- 1/4 cup sundried tomato ranch dressing (recipe here)
- Several sundried tomatoes, chopped into bits
- Feta cheese crumbles
- Leftover grilled meat (optional … I tossed in some of my Spiedies) … or try some cooked chickpeas (or other beans) instead and maybe some sunflower seeds?
- For garnish: Green onion, snipped
First, make the dressing and set it aside while you create the salad.
Cook the pasta in boiling water till done, then drain. In a bowl, mix together the pasta, sweet onions, tomatoes and ranch dressing.
Cover your salad plate (or bowl) with a layer of mixed greens, then add a healthy bunch of the pasta salad mixture. Top with the chopped sundried tomatoes, chunks of meat, feta cheese crumbles and snipped green onions.
Enjoy! (I did take ONE photo after I added the feta … I had already started in on devouring the salad by then though …)
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My Italian friend Linda tells me “the name Spiedies has nothing to do with speed and everything to with the Big Daddy of spiedies which is spiedini, the Italian kebab or skewered and grilled meat.” Spiedies are an upstate New York Italian favorite that really started in the Middle East. When the Middle Eastern conquerors invaded Italy, they brought with them many ingredients and cooking ideas that stuck – meat kebabs being one of them. As conquered lands tend to do, the Italians adopted and adapted … and then … made them better. Italians in upstate New York now strive to perfect them and even host an annual festival to celebrate Spiedies.
I didn’t know all this before my Italian friend Linda posted her recipe for Spiedies … when I saw those mouthwatering pictures and read the ingredients in that marinade, I knew right away I wanted to try it with venison.Venison has a stronger gamey flavor that can overpower some marinades, but this marinade was just magic. I made these for a little dinner party with just a few good friends and everyone loved them. My friend told me a few days later that the dinner I made for them was legendary. Legendary! And according to the story, they really are.
Linda says to serve these kebabs in good Italian bread, but I served them over rice because I wasn’t sure if my girl would like them and she loves rice, so I knew at the very least she would eat the rice. But she ate them! Most of the time when I make venison as steaks or kebabs, she doesn’t really care for it. But THIS … this she ate. I was so excited.
I did try them later in Italian bread, but like I tend to do, I smothered the meat with cheese and veggies and by the time I got done, you couldn’t even see the meat. But you could still taste it! That incredible herbilicious meaty flavor shone right through. Mmmm!
Adapted from Linda’s Italian Table. I cut down the amount of oil and substituted my balsamic sundried tomato “ketchup” in place of the tomato paste and balsamic vinegar. I didn’t measure the amounts for the fresh herbs, just threw in what looked like would be about right, and it turned out marvelous. I think fresh herbs are very forgiving that way. Definitely use fresh herbs as much as you can in this dish … it makes a big difference.
- 3 lb. tender leg of lamb and/or pork tenderloin, or venison, or chicken breast – cut up into pieces about 1 1/2 inches
- 1/4 c. Olive Oil
- Zest of 1 fresh lemon
- Juice of a Large Fresh Lemon
- 1/3 cup balsamic sundried tomato “ketchup” (recipe here … or use 1 Tablespoon tomato paste + 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar)
- 2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
- 1/3 c. Dry Red Wine
- 5 Cloves Fresh Garlic
- 2 Tsp. sugar
- 1 Tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
- 1 Tsp. Paprika
- 1 Crushed Large Bay Leaf
- 1 Tbsp. Fresh Thyme or Lemon Thyme
- 3 Tbsp. Fresh Rosemary – chopped
- 1 Tbsp. Fresh Mint – chopped
- 2 Tbsp. Fresh Oregano – chopped
- 3 Tbsp. Fresh Basil – chopped
- 3 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley – chopped
- 2 teaspoons Kosher Salt or more ( make sure to be generous with the salt as it brings out the flavors)
- Plenty of Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- Good Italian Bread (or rice!)
You can chop the herbs and garlic by hand if you like, or toss them all in a handi chopper or food processor. I found that didn’t chop them fine enough, so I added some of the balsamic sundried tomato sauce to get it to blend fine. Once you get your herbs chopped, then whisk them together with the rest of the marinade ingredients. TASTE the marinade to make sure it has enough salt and pepper. The salt and pepper brings out the flavor. If you don’t add enough, your spiedies will be bland.
Mix the marinade with the meat so that all the meat is covered in marinade, cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight. I made my marinade early in the morning and started them grilling around 7 pm in the evening.
Skewer the meat just before grilling. Heat the grill so there is a hot spot for searing and a cooler spot to finish the meat. Sear the meat over the hot spot first, turning to sear all sides of the kebabs, then move them to the cooler part of the grill to finish. They shouldn’t take long if your grill is good and hot. (We had a little trouble getting the grill to heat up, so mine actually got slow cooked for a while over very low heat, then we restarted the charcoal and got it searing hot and then seared them, then moved them to the cooler part. Once the grill was hot, they didn’t take long at all to finish.)
Be careful not to overcook them (especially with venison), because the meat will get dry. They should cook up fairly quickly on a hot grill. Do a taste test as you go …
I am sooooo excited! It’s mulberry season! I have this beautiful beautiful mulberry tree in my back yard … well, really, there are several in my yard, but the one that grows over my pond is the most prolific. I was worried she wouldn’t make any berries this year because it was a very unusually warm spring, followed by a hard frost. The mulberries usually wait to come out till later, but this spring it was so hot that she had started making berries when the big frost came. All the berries were dead. I thought for sure I would get no berries this year.
My little tree was not going to give up, though … she came back and made more berries. TONS more berries. Oh how I love my mulberry tree.
So this year I want to try some new ways of using these beautiful little purple berries. I was craving something substantial today, thinking salad, but for some reason I wanted sausage … I went digging through my freezer and found some “mystery” sausage. The package was opened, but unlabeled. I cooked one up and discovered, much to my delight, that it is some sort of sundried tomato and cheese sausage. Yes, that fit right in with my diabolical plan. And then I found a bit of couscous in the cupboard. Just enough for a salad. This turned out to be an insanely simple, yet delicious salad. The sweet-tart-juicy berries mixed just right with the smoky sausage, sharp cheese and crunchy onions. The vinaigrette smoothed it all out. It was just exactly what I wanted.
Mulberry, Sausage and Couscous Salad
For each meal-sized salad, you will need:
- 1/3 cup of uncooked couscous (I measured it before I cooked it … it’s better if it’s whole wheat … or you could use quinoa!)
- 1 cooked sausage, chopped (I used a sundried tomato and cheese one, but other flavors would work too)
- A few tablespoons of chopped sweet onion (like Vidalia)
- About 1 oz. of Dubliner or other sharp cheese (like Parmesan or Romano), sliced, then chopped into small squares
- About 1 cup of fresh mulberries (or other berries … raspberries or blackberries or even blueberries would be good)
- 2 Tablespoons of Tequila Lime Vinaigrette salad dressing (recipe is at the end of this post … I am sure other vinaigrettes would work fine with this salad)
- Snipped chives
Cook the couscous according to the directions on the package. I let my couscous cool to room temperature before making my salad. You could set it in the fridge or freezer to cool faster.
Cook the sausage. I put mine in the toaster oven at 400 on bake for about 10 minutes and that did the trick (and it started out frozen!). Once your sausage is done, chop up the sausage into whatever sized bits you like.
Mix the couscous, sausage, onion, cheese, mulberries, and vinaigrette in a bowl. Top with snipped chives and a few fresh berries and serve.
The last time I grilled pizza, I decided to do a simple wild mushroom ‘za. Just cuz I had some wild shrooms from my wonderful dad. Have I mentioned how much he spoils me? I am so so very lucky …
The mushrooms were fantastic, but really the best part about this pizza was the crust. The crust had such a wonderful flavor, probably because I used the liquid from cooking up the morel mushrooms along with some tomato juice for the liquid in the dough. Morel mushrooms are full of moisture. When you cook them up, the moisture releases and you end up with a sort of soupy mushroom mixture. You can keep cooking to reduce the juice, or you can save that delicious mushroom juice for soup … or pizza crust. I made two pizzas with this crust: this mushroom one for me, and a cheese one for my daughter. I still had some dough left, so I let it rise while I was cooking the pizzas, then baked it up as “flatbread” … my son gobbled those up in no time.
Wild Mushroom Grilled Pizza
- Pizza dough
- Wild mushrooms (I used morels & shelf mushrooms, but others will work as well)
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped fine
- Red Robin Seasoning (or your favorite seasoned salt)
- Your favorite pizza or pasta sauce
- Mozzarella or Italian blend of cheeses
- Fresh chives, garlic scapes, snipped, & fresh basil leaves
Heat a frying pan to medium high heat. Add the olive oil and swirl about in the pan, then add the mushrooms and garlic and sautee for a few minutes. Season to taste with Red Robin seasoning. If the mushrooms get dry, add some white wine and cover for a couple minutes till the mushrooms are soft and moist. Pour off any excess mushroom juice (or wine) to use in your pizza crust.
Make the dough for the pizza crust (see recipe below).
When the dough is ready, light up the coals on the grill, and when they are hot, pile the coals up on one side of the grill, leaving the other side empty to make a not-as-hot spot for the toppings to melt. (If you are using a gas grill, heat up one area to very hot and a lower heat area for melting the cheese.)
Arrange your mushrooms and cheese right next to the grill so you’re ready to top the pizza when the crust is ready.
Put the grate on the grill, and place a crust on the grill over the hot coals, cover and let it cook for 5-10 minutes, checking it periodically. The crust should start to bubble up a little and get brown on the bottom. Once it is nicely browned on the bottom, flip it over onto the cooler side of the grill, add the toppings and cover the grill again till the cheese is melted. (For some more pics showing how to grill pizza, see my Grilled Thai Chicken Pizza post.)
Top the pizza with chives, scapes and fresh basil, cut and enjoy!
Italian Mushroom Tomato Pizza Crust
- 1 cup liquid (I used about 1/4 cup juice from cooking the mushrooms, 1/2 cup tomato juice, and filled the rest of the cup with water)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1 cup unbleached white whole wheat flour
- 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
- 2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Put all ingredients into the bread machine and put it on the dough setting. When the dough is done, divide it into four balls. Shape each ball into a disc shape, cover with a towel and let rest about 5 – 10 minutes. On a clean, flat surface sprinkled with cornmeal, roll out the dough for your crust with a rolling pin. Cover and let rest until the grill is ready and you have all your ingredients prepped and ready. The trick to grilling pizza is to have all the toppings ready to add to the pizza quickly as soon as you flip the dough over.
So we got back from vacation last night after a long long 14-hour drive. I needed some GOOD food today, something that not only tastes good, but has all those super-nutritional things in it that are hard to find when you’re travelling. So I threw together this wilted kale salad. It has just the right mix of protein, fiber, grains, greens and herbs, with a little salty smoky taste from the bacon and cheese and a bit of crunch from the sunflower seeds. This was just what I was missing while I was on vacation!
The trip to Yellowstone was lovely, the scenery was spectacular, and it was great to spend time together with my kids where we actually TALKED to each other and joked around and just enjoyed each other’s company … we really had a good time … but there were a few aspects of a normal “vacation” we kind of missed. Trips to the coffee shop. Eating exceptional food. We ate our meals in the car or the hotel for the most part. The first night I tried to get the kids to go out with me, but they were exhausted from the drive and just wanted to chill (and play on their computers) in the hotel room. The second and third days we ate sandwiches in the car and breakfast & dinner in the room. The resort we stayed at had a gas grill, so I cooked up grilled salmon one night and chicken and hot dogs the next, but by the third night we were dying for some really good food OUT. So Wednesday after the tour of my favorite brewery, the Grand Teton Brewing Company (which was wonderful!), we decided to try a brew-pub in Jackson, the Snake River Brewing Company. We were disappointed. The food was okay, but the pretzel was cold and hard, the pizzas and fish and chips were mediocre. It wasn’t the really good food we were hoping for at all on our “big night out”. And after visiting Grand Teton, even the beer tasted kind of blah. The whole experience just made us want to go home.
Oh but before we go on, you need to see the awesome beer I had at the Grand Teton Brewing Company … this is the Wake Up Call Imperial Coffee Porter. I really wanted to bring some home with me, but they didn’t have any bottled for sale … I’m hoping like mad that they DO send some our way soon because I really loved this deep dark beer! The other cool part about our brewery tour was my teenagers each got a bottle of the Black Cherry soda straight off the bottling line, which was REALLY cool. It made them feel much more welcome.
(No, there’s no beer in this dish … I just wanted to TELL someone about this awesome beer and the great time we had at the brewery … if you want an awesome recipe for dark beer, check out the Black Cauldron Imperial Chocolate Stout Cake)
Okay, anyway, back to the topic at hand … what were we talking about? Oh yes, the quinoa, kale & bacon salad …
So my daughter and I went shopping for shoes and groceries today. (Way fun on both parts!) I had to get some kale. Kale is my new favorite food. It crisps up delightfully to make kale chips, but you can also quick-steam it for omelets and salads. My friend Sonali, the Foodie Physician can tell you how wonderful kale is for your body … and how to make those crispy fun kale chips. But kale also tastes good, and because kale is so good for you, it makes your body feel wonderful all over when you eat it. The bacon and cheese might even win over some of your more skeptical eaters.
Wilted Kale, Quinoa and Bacon Salad
for each serving, you’ll need:
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 2 slices lean bacon
- 2 stalks of kale, stems removed, then take the greens and chop or tear them into smaller pieces
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- About 3 Tablespoons fresh basil leaves
- Red robin seasoning (or your favorite seasoned salt) & freshly ground pepper, to taste
- A few very thin slices of Dubliner cheese (you could substitute Parmesan or Romano if you don’t have Dubliner)
- About 2 tablespoons roasted sunflower seeds
- Cook the quinoa.
- While the quinoa is cooking, in a frying pan, fry the bacon until it’s crisp, then remove from pan and set on a clean towel to soak up the excess fat. If there’s any excess fat in the pan, drain it out, but don’t wipe out the pan … leave a micro thin coating of bacon fat on the bottom.
- Over medium high heat, throw in the kale along with a splash of water. Stir them around a little. The kale will soften and turn a brilliant green almost immediately.
- Add in the quinoa, bacon, vinegar, oil, basil and season to taste.
- Pour the salad into a bowl and top with the cheese shards and sunflower seeds.
For me this was a full meal, but you could serve it as a side with some meat if you prefer.
I actually intended to make a “puffy baked omelet”, but what I made turned out more like a souffle than an omelet. Which seems to me is a very happy coincidence, because it happens to be National Cheese Souffle Day today. The bonus is it is very easy to make; took me about 10 minutes to put it together (but I did cheat a little … I already had the mushrooms sauteed in my fridge).
Those big brown lumps in my souffle? They are not the prettiest things, I know, but they are a rare treat … an elusive and highly prized possession. Morel Mushrooms. My dad and sister and brother-in-law go hunting for them every year. I used to go along, but after the last long bout of poison ivy last summer (which I got despite all my protective measures and extensive after-the-hunt washings), I’ve decided that these mushroom hunts are not for me. I will let them go on the hunt … and hope they feel like sharing their treasures. I feel so lucky … they didn’t get that many this year, and Dad shared about half of his small stash of morels, so I wanted to make something that really focused on the mushrooms.
Morel Mushroom, Havarti & Chive Souffle
This makes a small souffle that I was able to eat most of all by myself in one sitting … if you’re sharing, you probably want to double or triple or even quadruple the recipe.
- 2 eggs
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 Tablespoon flour
- 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 Tablespoons water
- 2 Tablespoons snipped chives + 2 chive flowers (or just use extra chives if you don’t have the flowers)
- 1/3 cup cooked morel mushrooms (I sauteed mine in a teaspoon of butter with garlic scapes and red robin seasoning … if you don’t have morels, you can use other mushrooms, but if you can get your hand on some morels, I highly recommend them)
- 2/3 cup shredded Havarti cheese
- Chive flowers for garnish
- Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites, putting the yolks in a little bowl, the whites in a slightly larger bowl.
- Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, then beat in the cream of tartar.
- Now take the bowl with the yolks and whisk in the flour, baking powder, water and chives. Season with a little Red Robin Seasoning (or salt) and some freshly ground pepper.
- Carefully fold the yolk mixture into the whites, along with about 2/3 of the cheese, and sprinkle with chive flowers (removing the bottom stem that holds the tiny flowers together).
- Spray a flat oven-safe bowl, mini casserole, or individual ramekins with cooking spray and slide or spoon the puffy egg mixture in.
- Tuck the mushrooms into the fluffy egg mixture and top with the rest of the shredded cheese.
- Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until the eggs are set (they spring back when touched lightly in the middle). Let the souffle settle for about 5 minutes before eating. Garnish with fresh chives and/or chive flowers.
My dad gave me some fresh fish he had caught when I visited last weekend, and he told me I must either cook them up by Monday or freeze them. Fish is SO much better when it’s fresh, so I cooked it up. My daughter loooooves fresh fish, but she wasn’t very hungry Monday night and we ended up with quite a stack of leftover cooked fish, part catfish, part Northern Pike.
So what do you do with a stack of leftover fish? Well, I often make fish tacos, but this time I wanted to do something a little different … why not a fish quesadilla? I tried it once. Pretty good, but not great. So I tried it a different slant on it … much better! … you are going to be so glad I waited to blog this because these Fish Quesadillas are SO good! The white beans and greek yogurt take them to a level beyond tasty. (That’s my own personal opinion.) I’m wanting another one already … gonna have to get some more tortillas!
Fish & White Bean Quesadillas with Pineapple Salsa
- 1 cup cooked white beans (Great Northern or Cannellini)
- 1/4 cup plain nonfat greek yogurt
- 1 Tablespoon of liquid from the beans
- 1 Tablespoon goat cheese
- Green onion (I used two)
- Garlic scapes (I used two)
- 1 Tablespoon finely chopped jalapeno (use more or less according to how spicy you want it)
- A few cilantro leaves
- 1 cup finely shredded Mexican blend of cheeses
- Cooked fish fillets
- Flour tortillas (whole grain is good!)
- Pineapple salsa (recipe below)
- First, make the pineapple salsa and set aside to allow the flavors to blend.
- In a food processor or handi chopper, blend the white beans, yogurt, goat cheese, and a bit of cooking liquid from the beans till smooth. Add snipped green onion, garlic scapes, jalapeno, and cilantro and stir (or chop if you like), then blend in the shredded cheese.
- Heat a skillet pan to medium low heat and spray with cooking spray. While it’s warming, spread a tortilla with the cheese/bean mixture, then put flakes of fish all over half the tortilla. Fold it in half so the cheesy mixture completely covers the fish flakes. (If you want to make a big full round quesadilla, spread two tortillas with a thin layer of the cheesy mixture, top one of them with flaked fish, then carefully put the other tortilla on top (cheesy mixture down).)
- Put the tortilla in the pan, cover and cook briefly. Check often and when it is brown on the bottom, flip the tortilla over to brown the other side. When both sides are brown and the cheese is nicely melted, slide the quesadilla out of the pan onto a cutting board, cut into pieces, and serve immediately with the fresh pineapple salsa.
Fresh Pineapple Salsa
- 2/3 cup pineapple cut into small chunks
- 1/2 cup chopped red onion
- 1/2 cup chopped, peeled orange
- 1/2 cup chopped green & red bell pepper
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled & chopped fine
- 3 teaspoons finely chopped jalapeno (use more or less depending on how spicy you want it)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons tequila
- Juice of 1/4 of a lime
- A small bunch of cilantro leaves, chopped
Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Let sit for a bit to allow the flavors to blend. Store any remaining salsa in a covered container in the fridge.
My chives are growing like crazy right now and they’re in full bloom with big, beautiful purple flowers. They’ve taken over a big chunk of my raised bed already … Mom warned me that they would, but I’ve never had anything grow like that here . Perhaps it’s because the deer eat everything … except for the daffodils and the chives.
Their loss! I love them. Besides that they are gorgeous, I think chives taste marvelous. And chive flowers even moreso. While chives add sort of a subtle onion taste to a dish, chive flowers are more intense, little bursts of flavor.
And Dad gave me some beautiful fresh shelf mushrooms he found … I thought they’d go perfect with the chive flowers.
Chive Flower, Mushroom, White Bean & Walnut Salad
- Mixed greens
- Cooked white beans
- Fresh mushrooms, sliced or torn into chunks
- Fresh cut “shards” of parmesan cheese (thinly cut slices)
- Toasted walnuts
- Chive flowers
- Avocado ranch salad dressing (recipe here)
Fill your bowl most of the way with greens, then toss on some beans, fresh mushrooms, parmesan, and walnuts. Tuck in the chive flowers and drizzle with avocado ranch.
Before you eat the salad, make sure you take a moment to savor the beauty of these flowers. Then dive into the taste of them … You might want to pull them apart and scatter them all over your salad.
with Goat Cheese & Havarti
I was wishing I had some hashbrowns this morning so I could make some hashbrown & asparagus egg cups with cheese … but I didn’t have any. No potatoes either. But I did have some cooked quinoa in my fridge … and quinoa is a very versatile ingredient. So I decided to try my little breakfast cups with quinoa in them instead of hashbrowns. Although I really really love hashbrowns, I have to say the quinoa was marvelous, and just one of these little ramekins filled me up for quite a while.
Quinoa is a super-healthy grain about the size of a small couscous that has a great texture and a lot of protein and fiber in it … so it’s the perfect breakfast food because it will help keep you going strong for a long time.
Herbed Asparagus Quinoa Egg Ramekins
with Goat Cheese and Havarti
Makes 2 small (3-inch diameter) ramekins, just perfect for two light eaters or one more hefty appetite. You will want to multiply the recipe if you have many mouths to feed!
- Several asparagus spears (I think I used 5 or 6 spears about 6 inches long each)
- 4 Tablespoons cooked quinoa
- A few crumbles of goat cheese
- A few tablespoons of shredded havarti cheese
- Red onion, chopped
- 1 egg
- 1/8 cup milk
- Mixed snipped fresh herbs: basil, terragon, dill, green onion, garlic scapes (or other fresh herbs! use what you’ve got!)
- Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, then place the clean asparagus on the sheet. Spray the spears lightly with cooking spray, then sprinkle with Red Robin seasoning or your favorite seasoned salt. Bake at 350 for about 5 minutes or until the spears are crisp tender. Chop the spears into little chunks.
- Spray each ramekin with cooking spray, then put 2 tablespoons of cooked quinoa in each cup. Add a few goat cheese crumbles to each, then some red onion, a bunch of asparagus, and a bit of havarti on top.
- In a small bowl, whisk the egg and milk till smooth, and season with Red Robin Seasoning (or salt) and freshly ground pepper. Stir in a bunch of snipped fresh herbs.
- Pour half the egg mixture into each ramekin. Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes or until the egg is set and the cheese is melted.
I was scrounging for lunch again yesterday … my body was so hungry for something good, delicious, healthy. My organic salad greens in the fridge were almost gone. There wasn’t much to be had in the fridge except some cut fruit and a bit of cheese.
But I ALWAYS have plenty of food in the freezer. AND I have a yard full of edibles! I went out and collected some wild violet and dandelion leaves, a bit of fresh basil, some Johnny Jump Ups (as my mom calls them … they are also known as Violas), cooked up a frozen chicken patty, toasted some pecans from the freezer and voila! I had a beautiful salad definitely worth jumping up for.
Jump Up Chicken Orange Salad with Feta and Pecans
- Greens (I used wild violet and dandelion greens)
- Cooked chicken, cut into chunks (I used a breaded chicken patty, but grilled chicken or even rotisserie chicken would work too)
- Orange, peeled and cut into small chunks
- Toasted pecans
- Crumbled feta cheese
- Viola flowers (Johnny Jump Ups … preferably from a source that isn’t sprayed with herbicides or pesticides)
- Fresh basil leaves
Fill your bowl most of the way with greens. Tuck in the chicken, orange pieces, sprinkle with pecans and feta. Add the flowers and the basil and drizzle with a pleasing vinaigrette. I used my Honey Lemon Ginger White Wine Vinaigrette, but I think the Tequila Lime Vinaigrette would be lovely on this salad too … I need to make some more of that beautiful dressing.
with fresh tomato, dill, garlic scapes and red onion
I needed something hot, hearty and healthy for breakfast this morning … after the big fundraiser last night, I was so exhausted, all I had for “dinner” was snack mix and beer. So I remembered I still had a bit of asparagus in my vegie drawer … what could I make with that?
I scrounged around and found half a tomato, some red onion, smoked gouda cheese, and a bit of bacon. Sounds like great omelet, right? It was perfect: just what I needed. Delicious, comforting, hot, and it gave my body all the things it needed … the only problem was I loaded it so full of good stuff, I had a hard time sliding it out of the pan. (This is a common problem with my omelets … I tend to overload my eggs!) No matter, I thoroughly enjoyed this delectable mess.
Roasted Asparagus, Bacon & Smoked Gouda Omelet
with Fresh Tomato, Dill & Garlic Scapes
- 1 egg + 1 egg white
- Several spears of fresh asparagus
- 2 slices of bacon
- Chopped red onion
- Chopped tomato
- Snipped dill
- Garlic scapes (the green part of the garlic plant), snipped into small bits
- Shredded smoked gouda cheese + shredded Italian blend of cheeses
- Prepare your chopped vegetables and shred the cheese.
- Set the asparagus on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray and set in the toaster oven (or the oven) to roast at 400 for about 5 minutes or until it’s crisp tender.
- While the asparagus is cooking, in the same pan you would cook the omelet in,fry the bacon till it’s crisp, then remove the bacon to a clean towel and dab the top to soak up the extra fat. Pour the bacon fat out of the pan (save it for making things like bacon popcorn!) and wipe out the pan with a clean towel so there is just a very thin layer of bacon fat there. Crumble the bacon into bits
- In a small bowl, whisk the egg, egg white, and 1 tablespoon of water till fluffy. (Use water to keep the eggs moist without sticking to the pan.) Season with salt and freshly ground pepper (and/or my favorite: Red Robin seasoning). Add the snipped dill and garlic scapes and whisk briefly to combine.
- If you do this quickly enough, your skillet or omelet pan will still be hot. Turn the burner to medium-low heat, pour the egg into the pan and rotate it a little to spread the egg out over the bottom of the pan.
- Quickly sprinkle the herbed egg with the cheeses, chopped vegetables, and crumbled bacon. By the time I got done adding everything, the egg was cooked and the cheese was melted. Still I covered the omelet and cooked just briefly to make sure everything was cooked through. The omelet should be just lightly browned on the bottom.
- With a spatula, carefully fold over one side of the omelet onto the other, then slide it out of the pan onto a serving plate. Hopefully you’ll have better luck with that than I did … those tomatoes you see on top there? They were actually INSIDE the omelet when I started. Oh well! As long as it tastes good, right?