“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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on Toasted Ciabatta with Melted Gouda Cheese
Today I was HUNGRY and needed something substantial. Something with protein. I briefly considered making up a BLT, but I decided I didn’t want to mess with making bacon. I needed something quick so I could get back to work.
So an egg sandwich sounded about right … But I wanted something really tasty that would satisfy my hunger AND my taste buds. Pesto rosso to the rescue! If you haven’t heard of Pesto Rosso, it’s a magical tomato pesto made with sundried tomatoes and almonds. The Foodie Physician introduced me to it. I have had this lovely red pesto several times spread on toast for a snack and reveled in the taste of it each time, but today I thought I would put it to the test in a sandwich.
A few minutes later I was munching on one of the BEST breakfast sandwiches I have ever had. The lovely ciabatta and fresh garden tomato are wonderful, of course, and the sweet pepper and onion certainly pitch in along with the melted gouda cheese, but the Pesto Rosso is what really turns this sandwich from a ho-hum regular run-of-the-mill sandwich … into a sandwich to remember.
Sweet Pepper Pesto Rosso Breakfast Sandwich
Makes 2 normal-sized breakfast sandwiches or 1 extra large one. I used Gouda cheese from Dofino, since they were so kind as to send me samples.
- 1 egg
- About 1 tablespoon of chopped sweet bell pepper (I used yellow … red or green would work too)
- About 1 tablespoon of chopped sweet onion
- Several slices of Gouda cheese
- Ciabatta bread, sliced horizontally (I used my homemade ciabatta)
- Pesto Rosso (recipe here)
- Sliced fresh garden tomato
- In a small bowl, whisk the egg with a small spoonful of cold water till smooth (the water will help keep your egg moist and perfect). Season with Red Robin Seasoning (or your favorite seasoned salt) and fresh ground black pepper, then stir in the chopped sweet onion and bell pepper.
- Heat your frying pan to medium heat, pour in the egg mixture, reduce heat immediately to medium low. Cover the egg with gouda cheese slices, then set the cover on the pan and let cook, checking frequently, until the egg is cooked through and the cheese is melted. I pushed in some of the edges of the egg to make it into a more manageable size for the sandwich.
- While the egg is cooking, cut 2 pieces of ciabatta about the size for half of your egg (or a large piece of ciabatta if you are making a ginormous sandwich), slice them horizontally and toast the bread, then spread the bottom half of the ciabatta with a generous amount of Pesto Rosso. Slide the egg on top of the Pesto Rosso and then add fresh tomato slices and the top half of the ciabatta bread.
This recipe was shared at Thursday’s Treasures, Full Plate Thursday, Friday Favorites, Fit & Fabulous Fridays, Weekend Potluck, Melt in your Mouth Monday, Totally Tasty Tuesday and Kitchen Fun Friday.
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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If you haven’t noticed, I have an affection (obsession) for cheese. I have a drawer in my fridge dedicated to cheese. I buy little chunks of flavorful cheeses and use them frequently in my cooking. Some sweet soul at Arla (the maker of Dofino cheeses) noticed my affinity for cheese … and sent me several “samples” of Dofino cheeses. Ironically, these “samples” are the same size as the little chunks I normally buy at the store … and there are six different kinds … some of them I can’t even find at my local stores. I’m in cheese heaven! They did ask that I share my recipes that I make with their cheeses. Are you kidding? There’s no way you could shut me up!
On to the recipe: if you’ve never had a really good chorizo with eggs and potatoes, it’s a sublime experience. Those three ingredients together are simply magical. Add a little cheese and it’s heaven on a plate. My dad makes this wonderful chorizo (one of these days I’ll get the recipe for it!) and I found some in the freezer, so I cooked some chorizo with eggs, potatoes and cheese while my sis was here. I had about 3/4 cup of the cooked chorizo left after they left, so I decided to make it into a breakfast boat, using one of those gorgeous Italian zucchini that my sister brought me. It made such a beautiful boat I was tempted to add a mast with a little sail just for fun, but I didn’t want to mess up the perfection of the melty cheese …
Cheesy Zucchini Chorizo Breakfast Boats
This filling will stuff two medium (14-inch) zucchini if you cut the tops off lengthwise, or two halves if cut in half lengthwise and both halves are stuffed … or even more if your zucchini are small!
- 3/4 cup good quality lean chorizo, cooked
- 1 cup potato, cut in small cubes, cooked
- 1 cup diced zucchini
- 1/2 cup sweet onion, chopped
- 1 jalapeno, finely chopped
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup shredded cheese (I used about 2/3 cup shredded Dofino Gouda cheese, plus about 1/3 cup Mexican fiesta blend I had in my fridge that I needed to use up … I mixed the two to make my own amazing cheesy blend)
- Cut the zucchini lengthwise to make two boats and with a grapefruit spoon (or other scooping device), scoop out the insides to make boats. (Save the seedy inside part to make Zummus.)
- Cook up the chorizo in a frying pan over medium heat, chopping it up into little crumbles as it cooks. When the chorizo is done, remove it from the pan and drain off the excess fat from the pan. Fry up the potato till it’s cooked, then add the zucchini, sweet onion and jalapeno and sautee for a few minutes until the onion is translucent and the zucchini is tender.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the eggs with 3 tablespoons of water till smooth. Sprinkle with Red Robin Seasoning or your favorite seasoned salt.
- Add the chorizo back into the frying pan and stir to mix, then pour in the eggs, scrambling them just for a few minutes. Fold in about 1/2 of the cheese mixture as well. You want to leave the eggs very moist, not quite done, because they will finish cooking in the boats.
- Spoon this lovely mixture into your zucchini boats, sprinkle with the remaining cheese, and place them on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes (or broil briefly) until the cheese on top is melted and bubbly.
- Serve hot. Plates are optional.
So in case you haven’t noticed, the ingredient of the week (month?) is zucchini at my house. My sis brought me several zucchini, some beautiful stripey Italian zucchini and some plain green ones, some big, some little. I love zucchini season because it makes me get really creative in the kitchen, trying to think of different ways to use this plentiful, mild-tasting vegetable. Zucchini is so good for adding to so many dishes because it takes on the flavor of whatever you pair it with, so it can be sweet or savory, and it can take on many different textures too depending on whether it’s shredded, chunked, sliced, or ribboned, raw or cooked.
For this quesadilla, I used one of the smaller green zucchini, but I think the Italian ones would be nice in a quesadilla too. I was just making a small one for me for lunch, so I didn’t want to cut into one of those big guys. Honestly I really wanted some shredded chicken on this quesadilla, but I didn’t have any on hand and was in a rush to make lunch so I went with a vegie version. I think if you had some leftover chicken around (perhaps from the grill?), you may want to toss that into the mix. Beans would be fun to put on here too. But then again, it’s nice just like this …
Zucchini Avocado Quesadilla
- 17 – 20 thin slices of a small/medium-sized zucchini
- 1/2 of a ripe avocado
- 1 oz. light cream cheese
- 1 Tablespoon finely chopped onion
- 1 Tablespoon finely chopped ancho chile (or other hot chile pepper)
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped fine
- 1/2 Tablespoon plain nonfat yogurt
- juice from a wedge of fresh lime
- fresh cilantro leaves
- shredded gouda cheese (sorry I forgot to measure how much I used! You can eyeball it, though. Enough to cover the zucchini in a thin layer.)
- 2 medium-sized tortillas (not the tiny taco-sized ones, but not the huge burrito-sized ones either … whole grain/whole wheat is good!)
- For serving: your favorite salsa!
- Preheat the oven to 400 F. Spray a baking pan with cooking spray and lay the zucchini slices on the pan in a single layer. Spray them lightly with cooking spray, sprinkle with Red Robin Seasoning (or your favorite seasoned salt) and bake at 400 for about 10 minutes. Flip them over and cook for just a few minutes more until the zucchini rounds are tender.
- While the zucchini are cooking, mash up the avocado in a bowl, then mix with the cream cheese, garlic, yogurt, and lime juice. Take one of the tortillas and spread it with this creamy green mixture, then when the zucchini are done, arrange them on top and sprinkle with cilantro leaves.
- Top with shredded gouda cheese (or whatever cheese you prefer … I like gouda because it has a good flavor and it melts well … and then put the other tortilla on top.
- Heat a skillet over medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Slide the quesadilla carefully onto the skillet, cover and let cook for about 5 minutes, checking the bottom frequently to see if it’s golden brown yet.
- When it is nicely browned on the bottom, flip it over to brown the other side. (To help you flip it, you may want to slide the quesadilla out of the pan onto a flat cutting board, then flip it over and slide it back into the pan. The bottom side will be crisp, so this isn’t as hard as it may sound.)
- Once both sides are brown and the cheese is melted, slide the quesadilla onto your cutting board, cut it up and serve with salsa.
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?
From the Full Belly Sisters
The truth is, ever since I saw this green grilled cheese sandwich from Full Belly Sisters, I wanted it … bad. But circumstances did not avail themselves to fulfilling my desires … until tonight.
My daughter was out with her dad. My son was busy with his game downstairs. I was pretty much left alone for the evening … and it was a gorgeous spring night … perfect for a light dinner and a glass of wine on the patio, and then a walk in the forest.
And since I had some luscious green creamy paste left from the little green toasts that I had for lunch, I looked up the recipe and noticed mine wasn’t too far from the mark. All I needed was a little cheese. I didn’t have any gouda on hand, so I used havarti. That did the trick.
My sandwiches were little because my bread is just a small baguette … and so I served my mini-grilled cheese sandwiches (to myself) with a glass of my dad’s wine and a little dish of honeydew melon (keeping with the “green” theme …) … oh it was SO good!
I am going to send you over there for the recipe. Really, mine wasn’t much different than hers. I added some garlic. And a little parmesan and shredded Havarti cheese in place of the Gouda.
This is really a grilled cheese sandwich experience you don’t want to miss. Look at all that gooey green deliciousness.
I ran across a beautiful vegan cobb salad the other day and it made me think: why don’t I ever do a salad in stripes? My salads are always so random and scattered … couldn’t we try a nice organized salad for a change? Something in nice straight lines.
As a child, I remember looking at a cobb salad on the menu and thinking: why would anyone bother to go to all that trouble of arranging all that stuff in straight lines … you’re just going to mix it all up together when you eat it, right? So what’s the point?
Well, I don’t suppose there really is a point. Maybe it’s just a different way of looking at salad. I mean, a stripey salad can be horizontal.
Or it can be vertical:
Putting it all in nice straight lines makes it look all grown-up and sophisticated. I think I finally get it … it’s a grown-up way to play with your food.
A Chef Salad in Stripes
- Fresh spinach leaves
- Tomato, chopped (or wedges)
- Smoked gouda cheese
- Lowfat ham
- Cucumber slices
- Red onion
- Carrot slices
- Toasted pinons
- Avocado slices
- Avocado Ranch Salad Dressing (recipe here)
I think my favorite way to look at this salad is to tilt it a bit and make it diagonal. And then mix it all up into a big mess, drizzle with Avocado Ranch Salad Dressing … and eat it.
Mushrooms are curious things. Some mushrooms are healthy and delicious and nutritious … and then other mushrooms are quite dangerous.
I have gone mushroom hunting several times. The little shrooms can be quite elusive, and then suddenly you’ll discover a whole field of them. Or not. It’s hard to tell with mushrooms. If you’re going to go hunting them in the wild, though, make sure only to pick the ones you KNOW are safe to eat. I’ve hunted morels, chanterelles, shaggy manes, and a few other stragglers. Morels are by far my favorite. There is nothing like them in the whole world. They are just exquisite.
These aren’t morels or anything I found growing wild. Just some huge mushrooms I saw at the grocery store that were screaming to be taken home and stuffed. They sat neglected in my vegetable drawer for a week, waiting for me to attend to them, pulling at my consciousness with little nags telling me they’re not going to wait forever. Sorry I kept you waiting so long, dear mushrooms. Here, have a nice cheesey-licious stuffing. And some basil.
First you must make this funky cheese mixture. I used this same cheese filling in my Pepperoni Pull Apart Rolls.
Smoky Basil Cheese filling:
- 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded smoked gouda cheese
- 1/2 cup Italian blend shredded cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- A small handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped (about 2 Tablespoons)
Mix the ingredients up in a bowl. I know, it makes more than you’ll need for these mushrooms. Use it on toast or in a sandwich, or toss it into the cheese mixture for a lasagna or some stuffed pull apart rolls. It’s really tasty … I know you’ll find SOMETHING to do with it.
Smoky Blue Cheese & Basil Stuffed Mushrooms
- 8 big mushrooms
- 4 small cloves of garlic, peeled
- 1/4 cup red onion, peeled
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons blue cheese
- 2/3 cup smoky basil cheese filling
- Fresh sprigs of basil, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Carefully pull the stems out of the mushrooms and chop the stems and the garlic and onion into little bits.
- Spray a pan with cooking spray and sautee the onion, garlic, and mushroom stems briefly over medium high heat, then add the wine and cook until the wine has mostly evaporated.
- In a medium bowl, mix the sauteed vegies with the breadcrumbs, blue cheese, and smoky basil cheese filling.
- Stuff the mushroom caps with the cheesy crumb mixture. You can pile it on there a bit.
- Set the stuffed mushrooms on a baking pan and pour 1/4 cup white wine plus 1/4 cup water in the bottom of the pan.
- Bake the mushrooms at 350 for 15 – 25 minutes or until they are nice and hot all the way through.
- Garnish with basil leaves. You may have to use a toothpick to make a little hole in the stuffing to stick in the basil stems. (I did.) Serve them while they’re hot. You can make them ahead of time, store them in the fridge in a covered container, then pop them in the oven just before serving time if you like. You’d have to bake them a little longer, but not too much.
This recipe was shared at Weekend Potluck.
It’s one of those mornings when I can’t get my daughter out of bed. And she’s feeling dizzy this morning, so dizzy she doesn’t want to go to school. I hate it when I have to tell her to go to school when she’s feeling this way. But she’s not sick, and she’s missed too many days of school already.
The cat is whining incessantly and won’t leave me alone and I don’t know what he wants. He has food, he has water, he has been fed, but he won’t quit swirling around me and meowing.
Anybody want a fat, fuzzy, affectionate, slightly annoying cat? He’s really cute … see?
Naw, I’m just kidding. I wouldn’t trade him for the world. He’s just driving me crazy this morning, and I know what he wants. He wants me to drop everything and just hold him and pet him and rub his belly. He loves it when you rub his fat, furry belly.
I think I need some toast. A really good toast. Something like this … not that my dang cat is going to give me time to cook this morning. I’ll probably end up eating cereal. Except we’re out of milk. Yeah, it’s one of THOSE kind of mornings.
Smoked Gouda Avocado Breakfast Bruschetta
- French bread, sliced (I used this recipe)
- Smoked Gouda cheese, sliced thin
- Thinly sliced red onion
- Slices of tomato
- Scrambled egg
- Slices of ripe avocado
- Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
- Toast the bread lightly, then arrange the cheese on it. Top with slices of onion and tomato.
- Broil or bake at 350 until the cheese is melted.
- Top with egg, avocado and cilantro and enjoy. It’s a little messy to eat, but it tastes SO delicious.
Post #5 of 5 in my Five Favorite Things for my Five Thousand Foodie Friends series …
I made my daughter a plain cheese one and she ate the WHOLE thing. Holey moley girl! I think she’s going through a growth spurt again because I could only eat about half of mine. She eats like crazy when she’s growing.
First I got the dough started in the bread machine. I used my beer pizza dough, the same one I used in the thai chicken pizza. Recipe for the crust is here.
Then I got to work on the sauce.
Homemade Pizza / Pasta Sauce, Two Ways
- 2 small onions
- 8 cloves of garlic
- 1 Tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup of red wine (I used Pinot Noir)
- 1 quart of canned tomatoes
- 1 cup chopped roasted eggplant (I know what you’re thinking: Eggplant? Trust me … it thickens the sauce and gives it a nice buttery taste. Spray with cooking spray or brush with olive oil and roast in the oven at 400 for about 5 – 10 minutes or until it’s soft. Use the tender little ones if you can find them. If you have a big one, peel it first before you roast it. I had some that I froze last summer so I used that.)
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- Salt & pepper & fresh herbs to taste (I didn’t use anything but the Italian seasoning and my daughter said it was delicious just like that!)
- 2 – 4 teaspoons Cajun seasoning (to your taste)
- Fresh basil & oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- Salt & pepper to taste
Peel the onion and garlic, chop the onion into large hunks and put in a food processor or handi chopper with the garlic to chop it finely. (Or chop it the old fashioned way, with a knife.)
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet pan over medium heat, then add the onion and garlic and sautee for about 5 – 10 minutes until the onion is very soft and starting to sweeten/caramelize. Add the wine and cook until the liquid from the wine has mostly evaporated.
Add the tomatoes and eggplant and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for about 30 minutes, or until the liquid from the tomatoes has cooked down and the sauce is getting to be about the consistency of a tomato sauce. You don’t have to stand over it stirring the whole time, but you do want to make sure you stir it fairly often.
Put the sauce into a blender and blend till smooth. It will turn out this lovely orangey red color.
Now you have a choice. You can make one or both of the sauces. I divided mine up in half so I could make my daughter her Italian cheese pizza and me my spicy Cajun one.
So for the Italian sauce, I added Italian seasoning and asked my girl to taste it. She said it was perfect just like that (and I agreed).
For the cajun version, I added cajun seasoning, some fresh basil and oregano, some smoked paprika, and then just to kick it up a little more, some cayenne and a bit of salt.
Now it’s time to assemble the ‘za!
Cajun Shrimp & Andouille Sausage Jambalaya Pizza
- Pizza crust, pre-made or fresh (I used my beer pizza crust and made this on the grill … see this grilled thai pizza post for the crust recipe and grilling instructions)
- Tiny shrimps … I thawed some frozen ones
- Andouille sausage, sliced thin
- Bell pepper, chopped (or sliced)
- Red onion, sliced or chopped
- Jalapeno pepper, sliced (optional … if you haven’t noticed, I’m a bit of a pepper-head … I like things VERY spicy)
- Smoked gouda cheese, shredded
- Italian blend of shredded cheese
- Oregano leaves, for garnish … I think some chopped green onions would go well on top too.
Slather the crust with the cajun sauce, then sprinkle with the toppings and top with cheese. Cook the pizza in the oven or the grill till the cheese is melted and bubbly, then top with fresh oregano leaves and … it’s time to EAT!
I’m thinking some of this Cajun Lemonade from La Belle Cuisine would be fabulous with this spicy pizza …
Post #3 of 5 in my Five Favorite Things for my Five Thousand Foodie Friends series …
#1 was salad. #2 was dip. #3 is BREAD! You might have noticed if you’ve hung around this blog very much that I adore making bread. There’s no better smell in a home than a loaf of fresh bread in the oven …
This time I wanted to stuff some pull apart rolls with pepperoni, but I wanted something kinda different to compliment the pepperoni. So I made up a smoky cheese mixture to compliment the pepperoni. I was SO excited once the idea came to me. It’s got three kinds of cheese, some smoked paprika and basil.
I think baking bread for me is sometimes kind of like art: you have a picture in your mind of what you want it to be, but once you begin making it, it takes on a life of its own. That is exactly what happened here. I had a vague notion, but I didn’t really know what I was going to put in the bread when I walked into the kitchen.
If you wanted to make these meatless, try mixing a steamed vegetable with the smoky cheese mixture. I think broccoli would be nice, or maybe asparagus?
Smoky Stuffed Pepperoni Pull Apart Rolls
- 1 ¼ cups water
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoons of yeast
- 1 1/4 teaspoons of salt
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cups bread flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
Smoky cheese filling ingredients:
- 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded smoked gouda cheese
- 1/2 cup Italian blend shredded cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- A small handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped (about 2 Tablespoons)
You’ll also need:
- 12 thin pepperoni slices
- 1 egg white (for brushing the tops)
- Sesame or poppy seeds (for the top, if desired)
Put all the dough ingredients into a bread machine and set it on the dough setting. When the dough is ready, roll it out on a clean surface dusted with flour as thin as you can manage without tearing the dough. Cut the dough into circles with a biscuit cutter or a glass or cookie cutter. It doesn’t even have to be round: you can just cut squares with a knife.
Take a piece of the dough and place a slice of pepperoni on it, then top with a small ball of the smoky cheese mixture.
Place a piece of pepperoni on the dough and top with a half spoonful of the cheese mixture.
Pinch up the sides of the dough, like this:
Then pinch together the other sides to seal in the filling:
Place the little balls of dough pinched side down in a muffin pan sprayed with cooking spray. You should have enough filling to make 12 “muffins”, but you may have some extra bread dough left at the end. You can make that into some plain rolls or a little loaf of bread.
Spray the dough with cooking spray, cover with a clean towel, and let the pan rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes or so or till your little rolls are nice and puffy.
Bake rolls at 350 for about 20 – 25 minutes or until a deep golden brown color on top. Serve hot. If there are any leftovers, keep them in the fridge and re-warm in the microwave.
Post #2 of 5 in my Five Favorite Things for my Five Thousand Foodie Friends series …
I have to combine some of my favorite things or I’m not going to fit them all in five posts!
I am quite taken with appetizers … little bites … dips … party food! Also I looove seafood … although I don’t cook it that often, since we are quite land-locked and it is difficult to get good seafood here. Unless you count walleye, silver bass, northern pike … THAT is quite attainable in these parts. But I made an exception for this special occasion and splurged on some seafood. Shrimp and crab … ah yes!
This yummy dip also features wine. And cheese. Another two of my foodie flavor loves. And a few veggies, because veggies and I are buddies too.
Let’s put this all together, shall we? Don’t let the long list of ingredients scare you … it’s really quite a simple dip. You will be popping it in the oven to heat up in no time … it’s also great as a make-ahead-and-pull-it-out-and-bake-at-serving-time dip.
Hot & Cheesy Seafood Spinach Dip
- 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
- 1/3 cup finely chopped celery
- 2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons of Chardonnay (or other dry white wine)
- 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
- 1/3 cup frozen spinach, thawed, with the moisture squeezed out of it
- 1/2 cup white beans (great northern or cannelini beans)
- 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
- 2 oz. light cream cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
- Juice of 1/4 of a lemon
- 1/4 cup plain nonfat greek yogurt
- 1/3 cup freshly shredded Romano cheese (or other sharp, hard cheese like Parmesan)
- 1/3 cup shredded smoked Gouda cheese (or other soft, melty cheese like Swiss)
- 1 Tablespoon (or more) of fresh snipped dill weed (or 1 teaspoon of dried dill)
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 6-oz. can of crab meat, drained (or 4.25 oz. of fresh crab meat)
- 1/3 cup of pre-cooked shrimp, chopped fine (I used medium frozen shrimp, but you could use any size … if yours are fresh, pre-cook them a little before adding them)
Toppings: a bit of extra shredded Romano and/or gouda cheese, some crushed crackers or breadcrumbs, and some chopped fresh chives and/or dill
- In a frying pan or cast iron skillet, cook the onion, celery and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat until the onion is translucent and soft. Add the wine and worcestershire sauce and sautee until the liquid evaporates. Set aside.
- In a food processor, combine the spinach, white beans, light mayonnaise, and light cream cheese. Whir until well pureed and everything is a fine paste. If the mixture is too thick, add the lemon juice as well and maybe even the yogurt.
- Now in a medium-sized bowl, mix the sauteed veggies, the pureed mixture, and the remaining ingredients except for the toppings.
- Spray an oven proof bowl or small casserole with cooking spray and pour the dip into the bowl. Spread it with a spatula till it’s flat, then sprinkle with extra cheese and crushed crackers or bread crumbs.
- Bake at 400 for 10 – 20 minutes or until everything is hot and bubbly and the cheese is melted. Top with the fresh chives and/or dill before serving. It is good to put a shrimp on top to clue everyone in on what they can expect from this luscious dip!
Serve with crackers, toasted pita or bagel chips or vegies. (You can also put it in a mini-crockpot at a party to keep it warm.)
This is even better if you make the dip ahead of time and let the flavors meld overnight (or longer) in the fridge, then pull it out, top it and bake it just before you serve it.
This recipe was shared at Midweek Fiesta, Cast Party Wednesday, These Chicks Cooked Whole Foods Recipe Swap, Tastetastic Thursdays, Full Plate Thursdays, Fit & Fabulous Fridays, Fabulous Fridays, Weekend Potluck, and Strut your Stuff Saturdays.
I made my corned “beef” early this year. (It’s not really corned beef, it’s corned venison … yes, it’s true. My dad corned some venison roasts and gave me a few … I love it when he does that!)
I will probably make another for St. Patrick’s Day proper, but my daughter wanted meat last week and she LOVES corned venison (or beef … I don’t think she really cares, as long as it’s meat). So I pulled out a corned vinnie roast and made it for her. But it was a rather large one this time, and we still had quite a bit left.
What do you do with leftover corned beef? Well, it makes for a lovely sandwich. Especially if you happen to have some homemade bread around, and I do. And if you have some fresh dill and green onions and some gouda cheese and garlic peppercorn mustard, well, that makes it all the better.
Toasted Corned Beef & Gouda Sandwich with Dill and Green Onion
- Fresh homemade bread, sliced (I used my honey oatmeal bread for this one)
- Light butter
- Corned beef (or venison), sliced and heated
- Shredded Gouda cheese (about 1/2 cup per sandwich)
- Fresh snipped dill weed
- Chopped green onion
- A nice gourmet (or dijon or spicy brown) mustard
Spread one side of a slice of bread with light butter, flip it over and spread the other side with mustard. Sprinkle on some of the cheese, then add the corned beef slices. Top that with some snipped dill weed and green onion, then more shredded cheese. Sprinkle a bit more dill weed and green onion on there for good measure. It should look something like this:
Okay, now take your other slice of bread and put it on top and lightly spread the outside of it (the top side, that is facing you) with some light butter.
Heat a frying pan to medium low heat and spray the pan with cooking spray. Carefully place your sandwich in the pan and cover the pan. Let the sandwich cook until it is brown on the bottom, then carefully flip it over with a spatula and cook, covered, till the cheese is melted and the other side is a lovely golden brown.
Slice it into quarters and chow down!
Every once in a while I get a craving for pepperoni. The thin, thin sliced pepperoni that gets a tad crispy when you put it on top of a pizza? I love that. I don’t like the grease, though, and usually pepperoni pizzas are swimming in grease.
I thought pepperoni would be fantastic on a grilled cheese sandwich and oooh that was a good thought. The first time I made one, I was so hungry that I rushed to take the photos, then gobbled it up. The photos seemed good when I took them, but when I opened them up on my computer, they were all blurry! That just wasn’t going to cut it. I needed good photos to do justice to a sandwich this good. BUT that sandwich was also the last of the loaf of bread I had. So I had to make bread before I could make the sandwich again!
I have tortured my foodie friends for days talking about this sandwich …
Herbed Pepperoni Grilled Cheese Sandwich
I know, grilled cheese sandwiches are typically in the “not healthy” category … but I did take a few steps to lighten this one up and cut down the grease factor from the pepperoni.
To make this sandwich you will need:
- Pepperoni Cheese Bread (recipe is here … or use another really good bread that you love)
- Light butter
- 4 kinds of cheeses: Parmesan, Romano, Part-Skim Mozzarella, and Gouda
- Thinly Sliced Pepperoni (9 slices per sandwich)
- Finely chopped bell pepper and onion
- Fresh Basil and Oregano
First, prep your ingredients and shred the cheese. I don’t know exactly what proportions I used. Shred just a little of the parmesan and romano to give it that extra kick of flavor, then go heavier on the gouda and mozzarella for the melt factor. Gouda has a very soft melt, mozzarella is more stringy, so mixing the two makes your grilled cheese just right. Mix all the shredded cheeses together in a bowl.
Heat the pepperoni briefly and then place them on a clean towel (or paper towel if you prefer), cover, and press so that the towel absorbs all the extra grease from the pepperoni.
Now, take your bread and spread a very thin layer of light butter on the outside of the bread. If you’re a purist, you can use real butter, but I prefer the light butter myself.
Flip the bread over and on one side of the bread, add a layer of the shredded cheeses.
Make a layer of pepperoni on top of that:
Now sprinkle lightly with onion and bell pepper:
Place the beautiful herbs on top of that:
And cover it all up with a second layer of shredded cheeses:
Place the other side of the bread on top (buttered side OUT) and now you’re ready to grill your sandwich! Heat up a frying pan on medium low heat, place the sandwich in there and cover. After a few minutes, check the bottom of the sandwich by lifting up the edge with your spatula. When it’s golden brown it’s time to flip it. Cover and let the other side cook till it’s golden brown too and the cheese is all hot and melty.
Then you can cut up your beautilicious sandwich (or leave it whole if you prefer!) … and eat it.
I recommend a salad with this to balance out all that bread and cheese and meat. I did a simple salad of mixed organic greens with bell pepper, onion, and a balsamic vinaigrette. And I discovered the vinaigrette on the plate was a nice “dipping sauce” for the crusts of the sandwich that weren’t quite cheese-ified.
I know, cheese-ified probably isn’t really a word. That’s the beauty of being a food blogger; you get to make up fun words like beautilicious and cheese-ified. I think those two words fit this sandwich very well.
This is a hearty breakfast that is a little high in fat, but it contains a lot of good things for your body. I needed something substantive for breakfast today after Zumba last night, and then I waited too long to eat breakfast till I was STARVING.
While Gouda cheese is relatively high in fat, this kind of cheese is healthier for you than other cheeses, and it melts so nicely. I love the creamy rich taste of it.
Eggs of course have lots of health benefits too, and avocados are rich in the “good kind” of fat.
And the bacon? Well everything’s better with bacon, isn’t it? I just used a bit of bacon to get that taste of bacony goodness, but not so much that it would totally ruin the health benefits of my sandwich …
Bacon, Onion, Avocado & Gouda Breakfast Sandwich on Jalapeno Cheddar Beer Bread
For each sandwich, you need:
- 1 egg, beaten and sprinkled with Red robin seasoning (or other seasoned salt or just plain salt if you prefer) & freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 slice of bacon
- A couple tablespoons of chopped onion
- 1 wedge of jalapeno cheddar beer bread (recipe here), sliced horizontally … or your bread of choice
- A couple thin slices of gouda cheese
- A few thin slices of avocado
- (I think I would have added a slice or two of tomato if I’d had any on hand)
- Cook the bacon in a pan over medium high heat until it is crispy. Set it on a clean towel (that you don’t mind getting bacon fat on), cover with the towel, and press to soak up all the excess fat, then crumble the bacon and add it to the beaten egg.
- Cut your wedge of bread and toast it lightly.
- Pour the bacon fat out of the pan and wipe out any excess fat. Add the onion and sautee for a minute or so on medium high heat until it is softened.
- Lower the heat to medium low and pour the egg/bacon mixture over the onion. When the egg starts to cook and set up a bit, shape it into roughly the shape of your wedge of bread with your spatula.
- Arrange the gouda cheese slices over the egg, lower the heat to low, cover the pan and cook until the egg is cooked and the cheese is melted.
- Carefully lift the egg out of the pan with your spatula and onto the bottom of the bread. Top with avocado (and tomato) and the top of the bread and enjoy!
I had the urge to make beer cheese soup the other day … and there was just a bit of bacon sitting there needing to be used, and then while retrieving the garlic, I ran across some mushrooms … so they hopped in the soup too. And then I stumbled across some pumpkin puree in the freezer, and because it was so good in the macaroni and cheese, I threw in some pumpkin puree too. And that’s how this soup happened.
Bacon Mushroom Beer Cheese Soup
Makes 2-4 bowls of soup, depending on how big your bowls are.
- 2 slices of uncooked bacon
- 3/4 cup chopped mushrooms
- 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
- 2 -3 cloves of garlic
- 1/4 cup flour
- 3 cups of 1 % milk
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 loose cup of shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese (gently place the cheese in the cup so it fluffs up–don’t pack it in)
- 1/2 loose cup of shredded gouda cheese (again, very loosely placed in the cup)
- 1 Tablespoon shredded gruyere cheese
- 1 1/2 – 2 teaspoons of Red Robin Seasoning (if you don’t have any, here’s a recipe … or use your favorite seasoned salt)
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup brown ale (or your favorite brew–I used the Leinenkugel Fireside Nut Brown Ale)
- For garnish: crumbled bits of bacon, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, and fresh parsley leaves
- In a saucepan (I mean the pan you’re going to cook the soup in), fry the bacon until it’s crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan and crumble it up into little bits. Set it aside for now.
- Pour some of the excess fat from the pan, then add the onions, garlic, and mushrooms. Over medium-high heat, sautee them in the bacon fat until the onions are soft and translucent and the mushrooms are limp.
- Add the flour to the pan and stir, coating all your little shrooms and onions and garlic bits in flour.
- Add the milk and cook over medium heat, stirring often, for about 5 – 10 minutes or so or until the mixture thickens.
- Add the pumpkin puree, shredded cheeses, most of the bacon bits (reserving a few for garnish), and the seasonings and cook for a few minutes longer until the cheese melts.
- Just before serving, stir in the beer. The soup will froth up for a moment, but then it will calm down again, just in time to serve it.
- Pour into bowls and top with shredded cheese, the reserved bacon bits, and fresh parsley leaves. Some people like to put popcorn on their beer cheese soup. That’s fun too.
This would go great with hot, crusty, fresh baked bread, or even better, in a bread bowl. I didn’t have any of that, though …
It was National Cheese Lover’s Day yesterday and since cheese is one of my very favorite foods (right next to chocolate), I just had to have a cheesilicious sandwich for lunch. My son came upstairs as I was making it, asking for a back rub. (His back is sore from shoveling snow.) I told him he had to wait … I was right in the middle of making my lunch. So he sat playing on his iPhone as I cooked up and photographed this sandwich. See the boy in the background there? I didn’t really mean to get him in the picture, but there he was …
Turkey, Prosciutto, and Gouda Sandwich on Artisanal Kumquat Cornbread
I used my Artisanal Kumquat Cornbread for this sandwich, but I think you could use another bread if you like. Ciabatta or French bread would be good. I really liked the citrus flavor from this bread with the turkey, smoky prosciutto, and creamy gouda, though.
- Slices of turkey
- Paper-thin-sliced prosciutto
- Sliced red onion
- Pesto or basil butter
- Slices of gouda cheese
- Light mayo
- Mixed greens or lettuce leaves
Top the pesto-half with turkey and prosciutto:
Then arrange the onion slices and the cheese on top of that. Bake or broil the bottom half in a toaster oven or oven until the cheese is all good and melty. While the cheese is melting, go give your son a quick back rub (just kidding … that is what I did, though!)
Toast the top half of the bread and spread it with a thin layer of light mayo.
Pile the lettuce on top of the melted cheese and top with the top half of the bread.
Voila! A perfect lunch for a hungry cheeselover.
My kids love to go to IHOP … frankly, I would much rather stay home and eat … it’s usually much tastier and it costs so much less, but once in a while I give in and we go. I will spare you my whining about paying $7 for a plate of pancakes that I can make for less than $1 … oh wait, did I say that? This coming from the same woman that will spend $5 on a small pack of raspberries to go with the chocolate stout cake or $8 on a single glass of wine. Yeah, I know it makes no sense, but you know, we all have different priorities …
But really, both of my kids get so excited about going to IHOP when we go that it is a joy to go. Never mind having to fight the SUVs for a decent-sized parking space because their compact parking spaces might possibly be big enough for a motorcycle. But the people there are usually friendly. And the food is reasonably good. And my kids LOVE the pancakes. They debate over how to order so they can each get pancakes and hashbrowns and sausages in just the right portions. When I order coffee, I get a whole big pot of it, which is good in my book. And the hashbrowns are pretty good. I often just order a side of hashbrowns and coffee.
But IHOP completely surprised me on our last visit. They had this thing they called “hashbrown stacks” … which was mounds of vegies and cheese and eggs and all kinds of yumminess on a bed of hashbrowns … oh, I had to have one of THOSE!
It wasn’t quite as good as I had hoped, but I don’t fault IHOP for it. They did come up with a pretty dang awesome idea. So of course I had to try it at home …
- Hot cooked hashbrowns
- Spinach, thawed and warmed, with the excess juice squeezed out
- Mushrooms & red onions, sauteed and seasoned to taste
- Scrambled eggs
- Small slices or shredded cheese (I used slices of gouda and sharp cheddar)
- Tomato, for the top (I thought of this after the fact, but a bit of chopped tomato on top would have been just perfect.)
Top with spinach, then prosciutto.
Now add the mushrooms, onions and top with egg.
And finally top with cheese (and tomato) and put in the microwave for a minute or two to get the cheese all good and melted.
I think you could do this on a larger scale in a glass casserole dish if you have a crowd to feed. I would love to try that … maybe at the next family get together.
and three cheeses: Gouda, Blue, and Cream Cheese
I love the word “crostini” … it sounds so fancy. Like you are at a posh dinner party where everyone is wearing tuxedos or dinner gowns with long white gloves, and sipping champagne. It’s sophisticated.
I have been working on this crostini for days, playing the name over and over in my head, thinking forward to the time when I will have my house in order enough to have a REAL party. Last night I made this crostini for the 2nd time, trying to perfect this recipe, and my daughter asked me what I was making. When I said “crostini”, she asked “what’s that?” … and basically my answer was “it’s a fancy little toast.”
You see, when you add some lovely fruit and funky cheeses and vinegar and toasted walnuts, well, then you have transported toast way beyond your simple breakfast or garlic toast. It is simply sublime. It’s party-worthy. It’s get-all-dressed-up-and-get-the-good-dishes-and-real-napkins-out worthy.
Rosemary Pear Crostini with Walnuts, Pomegranate Seeds, & Three Cheeses
I didn’t include amounts on most of the ingredients, because it depends on how many you want to make. I was making them as a snack for myself, so I didn’t need very much, but if you’re making them for a party, well, then, you’re going to need more toast, and pear, and cheese and stuff …
- 3 oz. light cream cheese
- 2 Tablespoons loose blue cheese crumbles
- 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- Thinly sliced crusty french bread or baguette, toasted
- Habanero pepper jelly (or if you don’t like hot peppers, try another jam or jelly)
- Vinaigrette salad dressing (I used my maple cranberry vinaigrette from this post, but I think just about any vinaigrette would work)
- If you like: Paper-thin sliced prosciutto (I tried it both with and without prosciutto and honestly, I like it both ways)
- Fresh pear slices
- Slices of gouda cheese
- Toasted walnuts
- Pomegranate seeds
- First, mix the cream cheese, blue cheese crumbles, and rosemary in a small bowl. Set aside while you prepare the other things.
- Toast the bread and then spread it with a very thin layer of pepper jelly, then brush the little toasts with a low-fat vinaigrette salad dressing — or if you prefer, just a balsamic (or your favorite flavor of) vinegar.
- Spread a layer of the cream cheese mixture over the jelly. It will be a little messy, but it’s ok.
- Set the little toasts on a baking sheet.
- If you are using proscuitto, add a thin slice of that.
- Now arrange pear slices on top to cover the little toasts, then some slices of gouda cheese.
- Bake or broil the toasts until the cheese is melted and a little bubbly.
- Immediately top with the walnuts and pomegranate seeds, pressing them into the melted cheese to help the little things to stick to the top of the crostini.
- Serve immediately, garnished with sprigs of fresh rosemary and extra pomegranate seeds and a nice glass of wine.
By the way, my daughter calls the pomegranate seeds her “beauty seeds” … and they are terrifically good for you, so I am sure they make you beautiful inside and out … and besides they look beautiful, so make sure to eat plenty of them with your crostini.