because what is life without good food?

Posts tagged “Asiago

Crab Artichoke Dip with Asiago & Bacon

Crab Artichoke Dip with Asiago & Bacon ~ www.SumptuousSpoonfuls.com

My latest creation … please go over to my blog’s new “home” www.SumptuousSpoonfuls.com for the recipe!


Pesto Rosso

Pesto Rosso

When Sonali at The Foodie Physician posted this Pesto Rosso, I was immediately taken with it. Suddenly I wanted nothing but to make her lovely red pesto. With all the fresh garden tomatoes in my kitchen at the time, I couldn’t bring myself to go buy sundried tomatoes to make this, so I decided to try oven-drying some of them. It worked! I got some really lovely oven-dried tomatoes out of it. I didn’t pack them in oil, though. I just stuck them in a bag and put them in the fridge. They softened up a bit in the fridge, but much to my joy, they had the same lovely sundried tomato taste. So I used them in the pesto rosso and it turned out just as wonderful as I had imagined.

If you want to try oven-drying your tomatoes, here is the post from Love the secret ingredient on how to “sun” dry your tomatoes in the oven. She says it takes 5-6 hours, but it took my tomatoes about 9 hours to dry. I think it really depends on your oven.

Here are some suggestions from Sonali at The Foodie Physician on how to use this marvelous tomato-based pesto:

  • Mix with a little pasta water and toss with hot pasta. Top with shredded Parmesan. Instant dinner!
  • Spread it on hot or cold sandwiches- anything from turkey sandwiches to grilled cheese
  • Top grilled chicken breasts, fish or other meats with it
  • Mix it with a little ricotta or goat cheese and use it as a stuffing for chicken breasts or pork chops (or lasagna!)
  • Add flavor to vegetarian or egg dishes- try stirring a spoonful into sautéed vegetables or a frittata
  • Mix it with Greek yogurt to make a healthy dip for vegetables or chips
  • Spread it on garlic bread for an extra hit of flavor
  • Use it onto homemade pizza dough as an alternative to tomato sauce
  • Spread it on toasted country bread and top it off with some arugula and shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano for a healthy snack (actually, it’s great on bread all by itself!)

I think it would also be marvelous to stir a spoonful or two into an Italian soup, or use a spoonful as a beautiful & tasty garnish on top of a thick, creamy soup.

Pesto Rosso

Pesto Rosso

Adapted only very slightly from The Foodie Physician. Makes about 1 1/3 cups pesto or 8 servings.
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes
  • 1 – 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Several fresh basil leaves
  • A sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 5 ounces small tomatoes (cherry or grape would work well … I had some tiny romas from mom’s garden that seemed perfect)
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup grated Asiago cheese (Sonali recommends Parmigiano Reggiano, but I had Asiago on hand …)

Directions:

  1. Place the almonds, sundried tomatoes, garlic, red pepper flakes, and herbs in a handi chopper or food processor. Pulse several times until everything is finely chopped.
  2. Add the balsamic vinegar, tomatoes, and olive oil and process until the tomatoes are finely chopped. (Sonali says to add the olive oil in a steady stream while the processor is on … my handi chopper doesn’t allow for that.)
  3. Add the cheese and pulse just a couple times to mix it in fully.

Pesto Rosso

This recipe was shared at Cast Party WednesdayLifeologia’s Birthday Party Potluck and All my Bloggy Friends.


Tomato Eggplant Ricotta Tart

Tomato Eggplant Ricotta Tart

I dreamed of this tart for days but I was too busy to make it … I could picture it in my mind: a lovely summer tart filled with garlic and herb-infused Ricotta and Asiago cheeses, topped with rows of beautifully overlapping garden fresh tomato and tender little purple eggplant slices. Finally I could not stand it any longer. I had to make it. It was nearing twilight, so I rushed to finish it in time to have enough light to photograph it. I was using these lovely little purple eggplant from mom’s garden and some of those little tomatoes that pretty perfectly matched the diameter of the eggplant.

Purple eggplant for the Tomato Eggplant Ricotta Tart

It turned out beautiful …  but the cornmeal crust I had thought would be so good was just awful (re-confirming my irrational fear of pie crust). It looked perfectly lovely … I tried eating it, but ended up eating the topping and leaving the crust … I stuck the tart in the fridge overnight while I considered what to do … the next night I went and bought some puff pastry at the store, scraped the topping off the old crust, roasted some more eggplant and re-made the tart, again rushing to beat the impending darkness. This time, it turned out MUCH better, taste-wise, but not quite as pretty. I had used up all the tomatoes that matched the size of the eggplant so I couldn’t get that perfect layered effect. I used one of the darker Japanese eggplant in hopes that it would match the size of the larger tomatoes, but it didn’t at all. And this tart was square, not round. I don’t think I allowed the puff pastry enough time to thaw because the crust really wasn’t as puffy as it should have been. But despite all that, it tasted oh so wonderful. Almost as good as my dream tart.

Tomato Eggplant Ricotta Tart

Tomato Eggplant Ricotta Tart

Crust:

  • 1 sheet of puff pastry (or a pie crust would work if you are not afraid of such things like me)

Topping:

  • About 2 small, tender eggplant
  • Several small tomatoes (with a diameter that roughly matches the eggplant)

Filling:

  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded asiago cheese + a few extra tablespoons for the top
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • Several sprigs of fresh tarragon and basil, chopped

Directions:

  1. Thaw your puff pastry or prepare the pie crust.
  2. Slice the eggplant thinly (about 1/8 inch thick) and place on a baking sheet, spray with cooking spray and dust with Red Robin Seasoning or your favorite seasoned salt. Bake eggplant at 350 for about 10 minutes or until the eggplant slices are tender. (These little tender eggplant don’t require any peeling or salting.)
  3. While the eggplant is cooking, slice the tomatoes thinly and set them aside.
  4. Mix the ricotta, asiago, garlic and about half of the chopped herbs.
  5. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and lay out the puff pastry (or place the pie crust in your tart pan). Spread the ricotta filling almost to the edge of the crust, then arrange alternating layers of the eggplant and tomato slices on top. If you are using puff pastry, roll up the edge of the pastry just a bit and pinch the corners. Sprinkle with a little asiago cheese and bake at 400 for 20 minutes or so or until the pastry has browned on the edges and the cheese is all melted.
  6. Sprinkle with the rest of the fresh herbs. Slice and serve immediately.

Tomato Eggplant Ricotta Tart

This recipe was shared with Weekend PotluckScrumptious Sunday, Manic MondayTotally Tasty Tuesday, and Cast Party Wednesday.


Onion Double Garlic Prosciutto Cream Noodles

with Roasted Tomatoes, Two Cheeses & Fresh Basil

Garlic Prosciutto Cream Noodles with Roasted Tomatoes, Two Cheeses & Fresh Basil

Yikes! I’m caught up a double alphabet challenge! One on facebook that is a daily A-Z health challenge … and then there’s this monthly “Eating the Alphabet” challenge that I just started last month and I really don’t want to miss out on this month since I JUST started.

The monthly “Eat your Alphabet” challenge is focused on the letters M, N, and O this month. Given that I’ve been racking my brain DAILY for “what food starts with this letter”, you think this would be easy, but I’m only on the letter K on the DAILY challenge … and this is a few days ahead of that. I don’t plan that far in advance (most of the time)! I suppose it’s good to think about it now, right? Head start on the daily thing?

So first I thought melon … hey, a watermelon margarita sounds yummy! … but then I spent a couple days gazing at gazillions of amazing photos of garlic and pasta and such, so I had NOODLES on my mind … so I decided to go with something with ONION (for the O) and NOODLES (for the N) … hey that’s a DOUBLE “eat the alphabet” win … and then I threw in another double plus: double garlic! Yeah! This is getting waaay too synergistic now … and then I threw some fresh garden tomatoes and basil on top … just for good measure.

Don’t worry too much over the amount of garlic in here: roasting the garlic makes a very mild, creamy flavor that is just wonderful in the sauce.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention! There’s a bit of zucchini in there too. Cuz, well, I’m all about zucchini lately. I still have two more from my sister to use up and I’m going to my parents’ house soon and they will give me more! We are not through with zucchini mania just quite yet … if you happen to be making this dish outside of zucchini season, I would suggest replacing the zucchini some other mashed cooked winter squash such as pumpkin or butternut.

Garlic Prosciutto Cream Noodles with Roasted Tomatoes, Two Cheeses & Fresh Basil

Onion Double Garlic Prosciutto Cream Noodles

with Roasted Tomatoes, Two Cheeses & Fresh Basil. I think this would serve about 4 people. I have had it for two meals so far and there is still plenty left. It reheats pretty nicely, by the way.

The smoked Havarti cheese was a gift given to me from Dofino cheese. It’s such a good cheese for making the sauce extra creamy because it melts really well and adds a little extra smoky flavor to the dish.

  • 1 head of garlic, roasted
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 of an onion, sliced fine (about 1 cup)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled & finely chopped
  • 3 paper-thin slices of prosciutto
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini
  • about 1/4 cup white wine
  • 4 teaspoons of flour
  • 2 cups lowfat milk
  • 1/4 cup shredded Smoked Havarti cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded asiago cheese
  • 1 – 2 cups fresh garden tomatoes, chopped
  • a handful of fresh herbs, chopped (I used tarragon, rosemary, thyme and basil)
  • 1/2 lb. angel hair, spaghetti, or linguini pasta (whole grain or gluten free noodles are cool!)
  • Garnish: Fresh, sliced basil leaves + a little freshly shredded asiago

Directions:

  1. Cut the top off the head of garlic, drizzle with a little olive oil, put in a small oven-safe bowl, cover tightly with foil and bake at 350 F. for about an hour or until the garlic is completely soft. Set aside to cool while you start the sauce, but don’t turn the oven off. We’ll be roasting the tomatoes shortly too.
  2. Prepare all your vegies and heat up the water boiling for the pasta.
  3. Spray a skillet pan with cooking spray, then drizzle with a little olive oil and add the onions. Sautee over medium heat till the onions are soft and translucent, add a little wine, cover and cook for a minute, uncover and stir till the wine has evaporated. Repeat this process till the onions are lightly brown and the wine is gone. Remove the pan from the heat just for a moment while you tend to the tomato and pasta.
  4. Set the chopped tomato in a small baking dish coated with cooking spray and set it in the oven to roast while you finish up the sauce. Hopefully the water is boiling by now? Start the pasta cooking. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of its skin and mash it with a fork.
  5. Back to the skillet pan: Add the raw garlic, prosciutto and zucchini, set it back on the medium heat and sautee for about 5 minutes longer. Add the mashed garlic and stir it into the brown mess of vegies. It will all look sort of ugly at this point. Don’t despair! It will get prettier.
  6. Add the flour and stir to coat all the vegies in the pan. Lower the heat to medium low and add the milk. Stir until the sauce starts to thicken, then add the cheeses and cook just a few minutes longer till the cheese is melted. Stir in the herbs, reserving some basil for garnish.
  7. Remove the sauce from the heat. Now, the noodles should be about done by now, so drain them, then stir the noodles into the sauce. Put in a serving bowl, top with the roasted tomatoes and garnish with fresh basil and a little shredded asiago. Serve hot.

Onion Double Garlic Prosciutto Cream Noodles

This post is for the Eating the Alphabet challenge

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Click here to see all the other cool recipes in the Alphabet Challenge this month …

This recipe was also shared at Tastetastic Thursday.


Italian Zucchini Asiago Whole Wheat Flatbread

Italian Zucchini Asiago Whole Wheat Flatbread

It’s finally cooled off enough here to BAKE (yay! happy dance!) and I decided I needed to make some flatbread. My son loves flatbread … he came upstairs just after I took these flatbreads out of the oven and decided he was going to have flatbread and a fruit smoothie for dinner. I panicked a little because that boy has a BIG appetite and he could easily polish off just about all the flatbread in one sitting, but he only ate 3 of them! Whew! There were still plenty left for the photo shoot.

I’m participating in an A-Z health challenge on my facebook page and today is the letter I. A was Avocado, B was Basil, C was Cilantro, D was Dill. E was Eggs. F was Flax. G was Garlic. I was scratching my head for the letter I … how many healthy things can you think of that start with the letter I? All I could think of was Ice Cream, and even though I have several healthy ice cream recipes, it didn’t seem like a very good choice, so I asked my kids who are both wonderful at brainstorming. My daughter suggested Italian Seasoning and that led me to think: Italian food! There are lots of health benefits to eating Italian food. You should see all the wonderful Italian recipes on my facebook page today! (If you happen to miss it or want to see some of the other recipes that were shared, I’m pinning all of the recipes to my A-Z Health Challenge Pinterest Board.)

This flatbread might not be “traditional” Italian cuisine, but it does have lots of the wonderful healthy things that Italians use in their cooking: whole grains, olive oil, lots of herbs (via the Italian Seasoning!) and the wonderful flavor of Asiago cheese. And hey, what’s a good Italian meal without bread? This flatbread is a wonderful base for a pizza, or serve it as the bread with your meal with some olive oil for dipping. Oh they go wonderfully with hummus too! … or you can just eat them plain, hot out of the oven, like my son. If you have any leftover flatbreads, put them in a bag and freeze them for quick meals (add sauce, cheese, and toppings and you have instant pizza!)

Italian Zucchini Asiago Whole Wheat Flatbread

Italian Zucchini Asiago Whole Wheat Flatbread

Inspired by this recipe from Red Star Yeast. I just saw that recipe and thought it was such a cool idea to put zucchini in a yeast bread!

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded zucchini
  • 2 – 3 Tablespoons shredded asiago cheese
  • 2/3 cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/3 – 2/3 cup water (or other liquid)

Directions:

  1. Put all the ingredients in the bread machine (or the bread attachment to a KitchenAid … that works too!), using 1/3 cup of water to start. Set the machine on the dough setting and watch it as it starts mixing: add water as needed until it forms a nice ball of dough. I had to use the full 2/3 cup on mine.
  2. When the dough is done, take it out and cut the dough into equal-sized pieces for the desired number of flatbreads. I made 12 mini-flatbreads, but you can make 2 large rounds for pizza or 6 for individual pizzas if you prefer.
  3. Dusting the dough with cornmeal to keep it from sticking, shape the dough into discs with your hands, cover and let rest for 5 minutes or so, then stretch the dough further with your hands or use a rolling pin to roll the flatbreads to about 1/4 inch thick (adding more cornmeal as needed to keep it from sticking).
  4. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place till your breads are the desired thickness, then bake at 425 for about 10 – 15 minutes or until golden brown. I like to cook my flatbreads on a pizza stone to get them nice and crisp on the bottom, but you can bake them on a cookie sheet if you don’t have a pizza stone.

Italian Zucchini Asiago Whole Wheat Flatbread

This recipe was shared at Tastetastic Thursday, Thursday’s Treasures, Fit & Fabulous Fridays, and Weekend Potluck.


Happiness & a Mushroom Tomato Skillet Frittata

Smoky Mushroom & Tomato Skillet Frittata

Last night my facebook page zoomed past 10,000 “likes” when I wasn’t looking. I was out having a glass of wine with my friend, talking out all the things we needed to talk about, sharing things we probably wouldn’t ever tell anyone else.

How did it zoom by without me so quickly? I think it’s because I’ve been doing an A-Z health challenge on my facebook page. Every day there is a letter, you choose one thing that starts with that letter and share the health benefits of your chosen thing. A was Avocado, B was Basil, C was Cilantro, D was Dill. E was Eggs. F was Flax. Yesterday was G and I chose Garlic. Somewhere along the way I invited my foodie friends to join in and share facts or recipes on my page. That’s when things really got fun. Suddenly I wasn’t talking to myself anymore … everyone was joining in and we had such a spread of beautiful recipes and wonderful conversations going on everywhere.

10,063 likes on facebook

Today is the letter H and because I’m so HAPPY, I’ve asked everyone to share what makes them happy. And I thought I better take a minute to share what makes me happy. Each and every one of you that comment, visit, or like me on facebook or Pinterest or twitter: you make me happy. You are what makes all of the time and effort I put into this blog worthwhile.

What makes me happy?

Snuggling, hugs, curling up with my cat, the many shades of green leaves on the trees, joking with my son, hearing my daughter sing, seeing her dance, visiting my parents, talking with my sisters, playing with my nieces and nephews, going for long walks and hikes in beautiful, natural spaces, a text or visit from a friend, yoga, a genuine smile. Art. Live music. Singing. Beautiful architecture. History and Books. Sunrise on the lake.

Beautiful morning at Big Stone Lake

Thunderstorms and rain, rainbows, blue sky, clouds, flowers, sunshine, seeing a deer or beautiful bird or a bat flying in the sky. Dragonflies and butterflies. Mountains. Plants. ANYTHING purple. Looking at the stars somewhere away from the city where you can see so many more of them. Riding on a boat, canoeing, sailing. Swimming. Camping. Dancing. The sound of waves and the feel of water and sand on my toes. Opening the windows and feeling a slight breeze through my house. Travelling. Meeting new people and seeing new things, trying new foods and seeing the world from a different perspective. Coming home. Breathing freely. Being healthy and so grateful to be alive.

A hot cup of chai on a chilly morning, dinner on the patio, a really good smooth dark chocolate. Having a drawer full of different wonderful cheeses, a bottle of wine and several lovely dark beers in my refrigerator. Picking berries, vegetables, herbs or flowers and eating them fresh. Hot soup and the smell of fresh bread baking on a cool or rainy day. Thai food. Or Mexican or Greek or anything funky and ethnic. Baking cinnamon rolls with my daughter, making up new recipes with my son. A beautiful salad. Little toasts! Pizza. Cold sweet ice cream on a hot day. Cooking. Having a handsome man cook for me and rub my back or my feet. Growing herbs. Foraging. Writing and reading and sharing with all of the wonderful foodies that have graced my life with their presence.

Smoky Mushroom & Tomato Skillet Frittata

Smoky Mushroom Tomato Skillet Frittata

Cheese is one of those things that send me into a happy oblivion. Dofino cheese noticed this and sent me a bunch of cheeses. One of the cheeses they sent me was this smoked havarti which is very creamy and has an intense smoky taste, which blends so well with mushroom, tomato and eggs and a bit of smoky bacon.

  • 1 teaspoon of butter
  • 2 cups mushrooms
  • 1/4  – 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh spinach or swiss chard
  • A small handful of fresh herbs (basil, oregano, thyme)
  • 2 – 4 eggs (depending on how fluffy you want your frittata … I used 2, but it was a little flat)
  • 1 slice lean bacon, fried crisp, cooled and crumbled or chopped
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (sharp cheddar, smoked havarti, & asiago, mixed)

Directions:

  1. In a skillet pan, melt the butter, then add the mushrooms. Sautee for a few minutes, add the tomato & onion. Cover and cook for a few minutes, then uncover and sautee until the onions are soft. Add the spinach and sautee briefly until wilted.
  2. Put the vegies in a bowl, mix with the herbs, and set aside. Clean out the pan. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs with a spoonful of water for each egg. Sprinkle with Red Robin Seasoning (or just salt) and freshly ground pepper.
  3. Heat the skillet to medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Pour in the eggs and let them cook for just a moment to start setting up. Quickly spread the vegie mixture over the eggs, sprinkle with bacon and top with the shredded cheese. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover and let cook till the cheese is melted. Remove from heat and serve immediately in wedges.

Smoky Mushroom & Tomato Skillet Frittata

What makes you happy? I would love to know!

This recipe was shared at Share It SaturdaysScrumptious SundaysRecipe of the WeekKatherine Martinelli’s Tomato Bloghop and Everyday Mom’s Meals.


Rosemary Tomato Focaccia

Tomato & Rosemary Focaccia

I have always wanted to make one of those funky flat focaccia breads with the tomatoes baked right into the top. So today I just did.

It is lovely to have a wedge of this with your soup at lunchtime (like I did today). And you can make a killer turkey sandwich on focaccia like this (um, yeah, that was dinner …)

It turned little more dense than I would have liked, and I thought the flavor of the herbs REALLY came through. If you want a more subtle herb flavor, cut down the amount of italian seasoning.

I threw a little pumpkin in the dough just because I have pumpkin coming out of my ears right now. I baked up a gargantuan pumpkin the other day and filled up 4 quart jars with the puree from this one big orange pumpkin. I hope I have time to make something ELSE with pumpkin before the busy weekend starts …

Tomato Rosemary Focaccia

Rosemary Tomato Focaccia

Bread Dough:

  • 2 c. bread flour
  • 1 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 T. vital wheat gluten
  • 2 1/4 t. yeast
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. Italian seasoning
  • 3/4 c. + 1 T. water
  • 1/2 c. pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1/4 c. shredded Asiago cheese

For the top:

  • Fresh garden tomato, thinly sliced
  • 1 – 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Finely chopped fresh rosemary

Directions:

  1. Throw the ingredients for the dough into your bread machine and set it on the “dough”setting.
  2. When the dough is finished, I cut it into two pieces and made two smaller focaccia. You could also make one larger focaccia.
  3. Shape the dough into a ball, then flatten it gently with your fingers or use a rolling pin till it’s 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick.
  4. Brush lightly with olive oil or spray with cooking spray, cover with a clean towel and let rise until it’s about doubled in size, about 40 minutes or so.
  5. Arrange the tomato slices on top, then sprinkle with garlic, sea salt, pepper and rosemary.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour or until the crust is golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when you tap it.
Rosemary Tomato Focaccia
Let the bread rest for about 10 minutes after removing from the oven. Cut into wedges and eat it while it’s still hot. Or save some to make sandwiches later.
Tomato & Rosemary Focaccia

“Got the Blues” Beefy Mushroom Pizza

My Beefy Mushroom Pizza's Got the Blues

I know my pizza doesn’t look very blue … but it is. The cheery colors are misleading … down deep, it is blue. Meaty. Creamy. Blue cheese intense.

I feel blue today too. It’s one of  those nagging, something-is-bothering-me-but-I-don’t-quite-know-what-it-is kinda feelings. The kind where you wonder what the heck you are so worried about … because really my life is so good. Oh yes, there are issues to deal with. Always there are those little curve balls life throws at you. But nothing major. Nothing really worth stewing about.

Most days I tend to focus on the pluses. Smell the roses. Watch the beauty of the world around me. Feel the warmth of the sun on my face. Enjoy the company of my children and my friends.

But once in a while you gotta grumble. Roar. Sing the blues. I know it’s temporary but when these kind of blues come around, I need to embrace the feeling and go with it.

Tomorrow I will (probably) be sunshine again. Today I am blue.

A good bluesy pizza is so awesome for these kinds of days … and a little wine … and yeah, I’m playing some blues too.

Blue Cheese Beef & Mushroom Pizza

“Got the Blues” Beefy Mushroom Pizza

Ingredients:

  • Your favorite pizza crust (I pulled one of my homemade crusts from the freezer)
  • Bluesy Autumn Pizza Spread (Recipe below–includes blue cheese, asiago, parmesan, cream cheese, and squash)
  • Cooked roast beef, venison, or steak, warmed and sliced or shredded (I used the meat from my French Dips, but feel free to use whatever meat you have on hand — or leave off the meat and just enjoy the cheese & mushroom sensation)
  • Mushrooms, sliced (Chardonnay mushrooms go well on this pizza too)
  • Bell pepper, chopped
  • Onion, chopped
  • Shredded Italian Blend of Cheeses
  • Blue cheese crumbles
  • Fresh tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • Just a few fresh basil leaves (if you have them)

Directions:

  1. If your pizza crust is frozen, warm it just a bit in the oven.
  2. Spread the warmed crust with a layer of the Bluesy Autumn Pizza Spread.
  3. Top with the rest of the ingredients. I started with meat, mushrooms, onion, bell pepper, then added the cheeses and topped it with the tomatoes, a few more bell peppers and onions.
  4. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 10 – 15 minutes or until the cheese on top is good and melty and bubbly.
  5. Sprinkle with basil leaves if you have some.

Blue cheese, beef, & mushroom pizza

Bluesy Autumn Pizza Spread

I took the cheesy mixture I used on my Spinach & Mushroom Grilled Cheese sandwich and mixed it with an equal amount of cooked cushaw (we THINK that’s what it is anyway!) squash. I think you could use butternut squash, cushaw, acorn, or pumpkin … each would give it a little different flavor, but they would all be goooood.)

This cheese mixture is the same one used in my Spinach & Mushroom Grilled Cheese Sandwich.

  • 3 oz. light cream cheese
  • 1 – 2 T.  freshly grated asiago cheese
  • 1 – 2 T. freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 – 2 T. blue cheese crumbles

Mix the above ingredients until well blended.

  • Cooked squash or canned pumpkin

Once you have the cheese mixture made, take a bit of the cheesy mixture — just 2-3 tablespoons–and mix it with an equal amount of cooked squash or canned pumpkin. Save the rest of the cheese mixture for sandwiches or crackers.

"Got the Blues" Blue Cheese, Mushroom, Beefy Pizza

Even though I don’t feel like warm connections today, this is part of my series of 31 Days of Warmer Connections. Every day in October, I am blogging about connections through food. I still love you all. I just need a moment to myself today …

This recipe was shared at Miz Helen’s Full Plate Thursdays and Recipe of the Week: Superbowl Snacks.


Finally! the Perfect Spinach & Artichoke Dip … with Chardonnay Mushrooms

The Perfect Spinach Artichoke Dip

There are some recipes that just come to you in a sudden flash and the first time you make them they are absolutely fantabulous the very first time you make them.

There are others that take a lot of work, several iterations, sometimes months or even years to perfect. Your tasters get tired of tasting and you get tired of trying to find ways to reuse the “failures”. My Philly Cheesesteak French Dip recipe was one of those. I don’t know how many pounds of meat I went through before I got that one right! Each version was certainly edible, but not quite up to the flavor-filled goodness I wanted.

This dip recipe was another one of THOSE. I know there are plenty of spinach artichoke dips out there–and yes, I had one that I REALLY liked, but still it was laden with fat from all the cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise.  ( I tried some of the “light” versions and they just didn’t have the right creamy cheese-ilicious taste.) In fact, the health experts tell you that Spinach Artichoke Dip is one of the foods to AVOID at holiday parties because it’s one of the most fattening (and misleading!) appetizers that people serve at parties.

You don’t have to avoid this one. I admit, it still does have fat from the cheese, but I used small amounts of good strong flavorful cheeses, so you get the cheesey taste without as much fat.  And I added some cannellini beans–they add creaminess, protein, fiber, and flavor. I skipped the sour cream and used fat free greek yogurt instead. Oh, and I included the Chardonnay Mushrooms. They were just begging to join in the party.

And yes, they fit right in.

The Perfect Spinach Artichoke Dip

The Perfect Spinach Artichoke Dip (with Chardonnay Mushrooms)

  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 of a medium-sized onion
  • 1/3 c. Chardonnay mushrooms (recipe is here)
  • 1/2 of a 15-oz. can of canellini beans, drained (reserve the juice in case you need it for blending)
  • 1 c. cooked spinach (roughly … you can add more if you like!)
  • 3 oz. light cream cheese, softened
  • 6 oz. fat-free greek yogurt
  • 1/2 of a 15-oz. container of artichokes, chopped with a knife into small pieces
  • 1 T. loose blue cheese crumbles
  • 1/4 c. freshly shredded asiago cheese
  • 1/4 c. freshly shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 – 2 oz. goat cheese crumbles
  • 1/4 c. light mayonnaise
For the top:
  • A bit of part-skim mozzarella cheese and a few chopped cherry tomatoes
Directions:
  1. Toss the garlic, onion, and mushrooms in your handi chopper or food processor and process till they are just little pieces. Take them out and put them in the mixing bowl where you’ll be whooshing together your dip.
  2. Next take your spinach, put it in the processor to chop it up fine, then blot out the extra moisture with a clean towel. Add it to the bowl
  3. Now take the cannellini beans and process them in your food processor until they are a smooth soft paste. Add some liquid from the can if you need to. Pour the beans in your handy dandy mixing bowl.
  4. Now add all the other ingredients and mix them up with a spoon in the bowl until everything is nicely mixed.
  5. Pour your dip into a baking dish or casserole, top with a bit of shredded cheese and tomatoes to make it look pretty, then bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until it’s all hot and bubbly.
  6. Serve with bread, toasted tortillas, bagel chips, or vegies for dipping. Ordinary tortilla chips are not quite strong enough to stand up to this dish.

Another pretty way to serve this dip is in a bread bowl. Heat the dip, then pour into a hollowed out bread bowl with the chunks of bread for dipping. When I serve it this way, the entire thing usually gets eaten up, bowl and all!

The Realistic Nutritionist reminded me this morning that this dip also makes a great pizza!

This dip is totally addicting! If you bring it to a party, all your friends will totally love you … even more than they already do. Yes, really. Just make sure if you’re going to kiss any of them that they eat the dip too. ;)

The Perfect Spinach Artichoke Dip

This is part of my series of 31 Days of Warmer Connections. Every day in October, I am blogging about connections through food.

This recipe was featured at Totally Tasty Tuesdays and shared at Katherine Martinelli’s Game Day Blog Hop and Fit & Fabulous Fridays: Superbowl Edition and Katherine Martinelli’s Skinny Bloghop.

Totally Tasty Tuesdays


Reinventing your Old Food and a Spinach & Mushroom Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Spinach Mushroom Grilled Cheese

It’s Blog Action Day today and since it coincides with World Food Day this year, they’ve chosen the topic of food.

I want to talk about one little thing I think most of us don’t think about too much in our fast-food, disposable society: Reuse. We recycle, and that’s good, but we should also be doing a lot more reuse.

In America, we buy a lot of food that we never eat. So much of it gets thrown in the trash, encased in a plastic bag that won’t break down, then buried in a landfill. The convenience food we buy gets overpackaged in plastic and cardboard. We even buy packaged water, which isn’t any better tasting, cleaner, or more pure than the water that comes out of the tap.

I want to challenge you to do three simple things:

  1. Buy less pre-packaged food. Opt for foods that aren’t packaged at all as much as you can. All that packaging hurts our environment.
  2. Drink out of reusable containers. Make your own bottled water with a reusable water bottle and the water that comes out of your tap. If you must have filtered water, get a water filter. Skip the plastic bottles. Bring your own travel mug to the coffee shop or ask them to put your coffee in a REAL mug. They all have real mugs, but look around at the coffee shop and notice how many people are drinking out of real mugs and how many people are drinking out of disposable containers? Why do you have to ASK for a REAL mug?
  3. Really use the food you buy.

Let’s talk more about #3. I know, leftovers can get boring, but they don’t have to be!

I don’t know if you noticed that a lot of the recipes on my blog are interconnected. The leftover Baked Herb Lemon Garlic Chicken got turned into a Pesto Chicken Bacon Pizza, the waffles my kids didn’t eat at breakfast were tossed into a delicious chocolate raspberry pudding. Leftover tzatziki and hummus became a gorgeous Greek Layer Dip. The other thing you can do is simply freeze your leftovers so you have a quick meal when you need something fast (a much better kind of “fast food” than the drive through at McDonald’s).

I use “old” bread to make breadcrumbs for breading fish, topping casseroles or stuffing (whir the bread in a food processor or handi chopper until it’s fine crumbs, then freeze them for quick use whenever you need breadcrumbs). You don’t have to buy “panko” or breadcrumbs–just use the ends of the bread you have!

“Old” bread is also lovely for making french toast or bread pizza, and it also makes a killer grilled cheese sandwich. The toasting makes it taste fresh all over again.

Instead of going out and buying MORE food to make things, try to think of different ways to reuse what you’ve got. Get creative. You will be saving money, eating more interesting, delicious meals, AND you’ll be making a difference in the world. That’s something you can feel good about.

Which leads me to this sandwich. This is a reinvention of the Chardonnay Mushrooms and the Rustic Rosemary Bread. The bread and mushrooms are really two great ingredients that can be used SO many ways. What’s better than that?

Spinach & Mushroom Grilled Cheese

This is an amazing blend of tastes in one little sandwich. It’s a simple sandwich to make — and if you keep some of the cheese mixture and mushrooms pre-made in the fridge, you can whip up a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich in no time. The cheese, by the way, is also a really nice spread for crackers or on celery sticks. The mushrooms are great on a steak or chicken or pizza. Since spinach freezes so well, just pull out what you will use for your sandwich and put the rest back in the freezer for another use.

Before you can make this delicious sandwich, you need to make Chardonnay Mushrooms, so if you don’t have any on hand, go pop over and make those first. Here’s the recipe. It won’t take you long.  (If you don’t have all the ingredients on hand, improvise a bit! Try another wine + your favorite seasoning blends!)

Spinach, Pesto & Mushroom Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Spinach, Pesto, and Chardonnay Mushroom Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

  • Pesto (You can use store-bought or make your own! Here’s my recipe for pesto.)
  • Chardonnay mushrooms (Recipe here!)
  • Fresh spinach leaves or frozen spinach, thawed, warmed, and blotted with a towel to take out the extra liquid
  • Reduced-fat trans-fat-free buttery spread of your choice — or butter — whatever you like to use!
  • Your favorite rustic or french bread, sliced (I used the Rustic Rosemary bread.)

Cheese mixture

  • 3 oz. light cream cheese
  • 1 – 2 T.  freshly grated asiago cheese
  • 1 – 2 T. freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 – 2 T. blue cheese crumbles

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, mix the cream cheese with the other cheeses till they are well blended. You can vary the cheeses according to your preferences, but I recommend intensely flavored cheeses. Once you’ve mixed them well, warm the cheese briefly in the microwave (not more than 30 seconds).
  2. If you have fresh spinach, make sure it’s washed and dried well. I used frozen, so I heated in the microwave, then pressed a clean towel over it to remove the excess juices.
  3. Spread a very thin layer of buttery spread on the outside of the bread slices.
    Butter the outside of the bread slices first
  4. Flip over the slices. On one slice of bread for each sandwich, spread a thin layer of pesto. On the other side, spread with a thicker layer of the warm cheese mixture.
    Spread the inside of the slices: one with pesto, one with cheese mixture
  5. On top of the pesto side, arrange several spinach leaves or cooked spinach, then top with the Chardonnay Mushrooms.
    Top with spinach and mushrooms
  6. Put the cheesy slice on top of the sandwich.
  7. Heat a saucepan to med-high heat. Place each sandwich in the pan and cover for a few minutes. When the first side is golden brown and toasty, flip the sandwich to toast the other side.
  8. Slice and enjoy!
Spinach & Chardonnay Mushroom Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
This is part of my series of 31 Days of Warmer Connections. Every day in October, I am blogging about connections through food.
This recipe was featured at Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays.

Pesto Chicken Bacon Pizza with Asiago & Goat Cheese

Pesto-Chicken-Bacon-Pizza-with Asiago & Goat Cheese

Do you ever have leftover chicken that you just don’t feel like eating? I like to take things like that and transform them.

And one of my favorite food transformations is to make pizza. I make mini-pizza crusts ahead of time and freeze them just for times like this. Good thing I have plenty of pesto on hand too! And fun cheeses.

This one is really a good flavor combination.

Pesto-Chicken-Bacon-Pizza

Pesto Chicken Bacon Pizza with Asiago and Goat Cheese

Ingredients:

  • Pizza Crust (homemade or store bought)
  • Pesto (I used Basil-Lime Pesto)
  • Leftover cooked chicken, shredded
  • Crumbled bacon (you don’t need much — I used about 1/2 a slice of bacon on my individual pizza)
  • Chopped onion
  • Freshly shredded Asiago Cheese
  • Goat cheese
  • Chopped tomato

Directions:

Spread a thin layer of pesto on the crust. Top with chicken and bacon.

Making Pesto Chicken Bacon Pizza

Top with onions, then the shredded Asiago. Crumble some goat cheese over that. And then top it all with the chopped tomatoes (or halved cherry tomatoes).
Making Pesto Chicken Bacon Pizza

Bake at 400 for about 10 minutes or until the cheeses are melty and the top is just lightly browned in a couple spots.

You can be chowing down on delicious gourmet pizza before the Domino’s Pizza guy would even be getting in his car!

Pesto Chicken Bacon Pizza with Asiago & Goat Cheese


Eggplant, Mushroom, Ricotta & Asiago Bruschetta

Eggplant Mushroom Bruschetta

My dear, dear friend brought me some of her precious rustic rosemary pepper bread … and I was SO delighted! I had seen this recipe for Eggplant Bruschetta and already had dreams of eggplant and bruschetta dancing in my mind … I just needed some rustic bread to make it happen … some days, if you make little wishes, the rustic bread of your dreams may just appear on your doorstep …

(I’m still waiting for the handsome prince wish to come true … he stopped by a few weeks ago, and we had a lovely dinner together … but then he disappeared … sigh … perhaps this is just an issue of patience. Or perhaps he’s not my prince. I haven’t figured that puzzle out yet …)

BUT I did figure out the eggplant bruschetta puzzle … I kind of made up my own eggplant bruschetta recipe … and oh my this turned out good … I think I will just revel in this bruschetta dream for a bit longer. The prince can wait.

Eggplant Mushroom Ricotta Bruschetta

Eggplant, Mushroom, Ricotta & Asiago Bruschetta

  • 3 baby lavender eggplants, chopped
  • 1/4 c. chopped onion
  • 1 large clove of garlic, chopped
  • 4 – 6 fresh mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 t. olive oil
  • Basil vinaigrette (recipe below)
  • Rustic crusty bread, sliced … I think if your bread is not rosemary pepper bread, you might want to add some finely chopped rosemary and extra fresh ground pepper to the eggplant mixture
  • Pesto
  • Lowfat ricotta cheese
  • Shredded Asiago cheese
  • Chopped fresh tomatoes from the garden
  • Basil leaves for garnish

Roast the eggplant by spreading in a thin layer on a baking sheet, spray with cooking spray and lightly sprinkle with salt, then bake in a 350 degree oven about 5 minutes. Stir the eggplant and bake a few more minutes or until soft.

Coat a frying pan with cooking spray, then add the olive oil. Sautee the eggplant, onion, garlic, and mushroom briefly until the mushrooms and onion are soft. Toss with 1 – 2 T. basil vinaigrette (recipe below).

Meanwhile, lightly toast several slices of the rustic bread. Spread each slice with a thin layer of pesto, then the ricotta, then sprinkle on some shredded asiago cheese onto each round of bread. Put the bruschetta on a baking tray and bake at 400 degrees F. for about 5-10 minutes or until the asiago is melted and bubbly.

Top with the eggplant/mushroom mixture and some freshly chopped tomatoes. Garnish with fresh basil leaves.

Eggplant Mushroom Asiago Bruschetta

Basil Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

This dressing is so versatile … it’s great on a salad, of course, but also makes for a very quick tasty bruschetta!

I found this recipe on Farm Fresh Living when I was looking for a way to use up some of my plentiful basil (besides pesto!). I used a LOT more basil than the recipe called for. And I adjusted it quite a bit … like I always do …

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1-2 tablespoons Garlic peppercorn mustard (or Dijon)
  • 1/8 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 c. rice wine vinegar
  • Juice from 1/2 lime
  • Juice from 1/2 orange
  • 1 small tomato diced
  • Several BIG handfuls of basil, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra- virgin organic olive oil

Toss all the ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth.

Use a little to make your lovely bruschetta, then store the rest in the fridge for your next fantastic basilicious creation.

This recipe was shared at Katherine Martinelli’s Eggplant Bloghop.


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