This week, goat cheese entered my brain and set up camp indefinitely. It is one of those “love it or hate it” cheeses, and this girl straight-up LOVES it. It was all I could think about! How could I incorporate goat cheese into a recipe in the very near future? What could I make? When could I make it?
Thank goodness for Pinterest (wanna follow me?)… because I typed “goat cheese” into the search box and then proceeded to get lost for an hour in all the delectable-looking recipes. I have some serious cooking to do if I ever want to try all the goat cheese recipes I pinned.
Herbed Goat Cheese & Tomato Tart (original recipe from Williams Sonoma)
I decided that a buttery crust, slathered in herbed goat cheese, topped with gorgeous heirloom tomatoes, and sprinkled with baby basil leaves and balsamic vinegar was exactly what my taste buds were craving. And this tart did not disappoint!
If you’re looking for something easy and fresh that also packs an impressive visual punch… bada bing! You’re welcome. This is an especially perfect use for all the gorgeous tomatoes you will no doubt be growing in your garden this summer.
And while we’re on the topic of tomatoes, I just need to take this moment to say: Unless you are using good tomatoes, you need not bother making this. Good tomatoes (and of course, goat cheese) are the star of this recipe. Do NOT go to Wal-Mart and pick a few from the huge bin of flavorless Romas. You either need to grow tomatoes, know someone who grows them, go to a farmers’ market, or get the fancy organic local ones from your grocery store. (*Sheepishly stepping off of soapbox now.)
This recipe is very straight-forward. I’m only going to show you process shots for the tart shell because a few of those steps may be unfamiliar.
Oh and while we’re on the topic of tart shells (aka: pie crust)… please do not use store-bought pie crust for this. For one thing, it is not good. Using it makes what could be a great pie into a mediocre one. For another, it REALLY ISN’T that hard to make it yourself! Really!! You can do it in a food processor in a tenth of the time it takes you to drive to the grocery store and buy one. And for another, when you make it yourself you can use whole wheat flour, which adds awesome flavor and a rustic look! (*Again, sheepishly stepping off this soapbox, for the second time today.)
The dough comes together in seconds! You just pulse four ingredients together in a food processor.
Then dump the contents of the food processor onto a sheet of plastic wrap, pat it into a disc, and voila!
You have pastry dough just like the kind you guy at Kroger (only 1000x better tasting) it it took you literally four minutes.
Now it just has to chill in the fridge til you need it!
Ok, roll the dough out into a disc about 1/4 inch thick. Then transfer it to a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
Gently press the crust into the edge of the pan (without stretching it!)
Then use scissors or a knife to trim off the excess crust and create a dainty edge.
Now we’re going to bake the empty tart shell! Since the sides of this pan are straight and the crust is really buttery, we have to fill it with something or the melting butter will cause the sides of the tart to slump (I know this from experience.) The answer is to line the crust with foil and fill the foil with a layer of beans (or pie weights if your fancy enough to own any. I obviously am not.)
The crust bakes like this for 15 minutes, and then another 5-10 with the beans and foil removed, until it is a nice flaky golden delight!
Once it is completely cooled, you can spread in some delicious goat cheese spread. (I added basil, dill, & green onion to mine, but you can add any herbs you like!)
Then just slice up a few gorgeous tomatoes and layer them on top of the cheese. Sprinkle on more herbs if you want, arugula if you want, parmesan cheese if you want, get crazy!
Also be sure you add salt & pepper and drizzle on some balsamic vinegar and good olive oil. Perfection.
I think this tart is best served at room temperature, so I advise you to eat it soon after you make it. But if you need to make it ahead of time, store it in the fridge until a few hours before serving, then pull it out to allow time to knock off the chill.
This goes great with a glass of red wine! If you make it, you will totally feel like you’re from Napa Valley or someplace equally posh.
Here’s the recipe!
Herbed Goat Cheese & Tomato Tart
Prep time: 30 min. active prep; 1 hr. inactive prep
(Adapted from Williams Sonoma)
-1 single-crust pastry (recipe below)
-1/2 lb. goat cheese, at room temperature
-1/3 half & half
-2 tsp. minced fresh herbs, such as basil, green onion, dill, parsley, or tarragon
-3 or 4 heirloom tomatoes, sliced
-flaked sea salt and freshly ground pepper
-2 Tbsp. baby basil leaves (or roughly chopped regular basil)
-a small handfull of arugula leaves
-1 tsp. olive oil
-1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
-fresh grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Prepare the pie crust and chill as directed.
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400°F.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a circle about 13 inches in diameter. Transfer the dough to a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, and ease into the pan, trimming any excess dough. Line the inside of the shell with foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. (Note that after baking, you cannot cook and eat the beans, but they can be res-used as pie weights.) Bake until the crust starts to look dry, about 15 minutes. Remove the foil and weights and bake until the crust is golden brown, 5-1o minutes. Let cool completely.
In a small bowl, beat together the goat cheese and half & half until smooth. Stir in the minced herbs. Gently spread the herbed goat cheese over the bottom of the tart shell.
Lay the tomato slices on the tart in an even layer. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. In a small bowl, toss together the basil leaves, arugula, olive oil and vinegar, and season with salt and pepper. Top the tart with the arugula mixture and serve.
Single Crust Pastry
1 C. all-purpose flour + 1/4 C. whole wheat flour
1/3 tsp. salt
7 Tbsp. very cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
5 Tbsp. ice water, plus more if needed
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the flour and salt. Sprinkle the butter over the top and pulse for a few seconds until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Evenly sprinkle the water over the flour mixture, then process just until the mixture starts to come together. Dump the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap, and press into a flat disk. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes or up to 1 day, or freeze for up to 1 month.
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This chocolate cupcake recipe is not new… this chocolate cupcake recipe is not an original… I’m posting this recipe for the sole purpose of getting something else “out there” on the internet as a cute bachelorette cupcake idea.
Am I the only one who got tired of the penis cake trend right about the time it started??
And when you do a Google image search of “Bachelorette Cupcakes,” you are met with a sea of penises and a sea of fondant cut-out bras and panties. I don’t do fondant. I like to actually eat my food, thank you.
So here’s a cute and different idea for you!
Get yourself a cute little Ken doll (or a WWF wrestler doll from the Dollar Tree like I did), strip him down to his skivvies, and stick him in a cake or cupcake.
Sprinkle a few crumbs around him…
Dab some frosting on his rippling biceps…
and make it look like he just popped out of the bride-to-be’s cake ready to do a strip-tease!
Classy, I know!
But in my opinion this is MUCH better than the alternatives. Not to mention EASIER! Anyone can do this
And if you want to make these cupcakes (they are dark chocolate espresso, YUM!) just follow this link to find my favorite chocolate cake recipe. *Note: I like to add a heaping tablespoon of instant espresso powder to this cake for added coffee flavor, but this is totally optional. Also, if you’re making cupcakes, you’ll need to decrease your baking time. Start checking them with a toothpick after 18 minutes, but it could take up to 25 depending on your oven.
It seems I’ve taken quite an interest in healthy, low-calorie recipes lately. That isn’t to say I’ve lost my love for butter-laden, sugar-filled, decadent delights like these. Quite the contrary, I “pin” them constantly… but for special occasions. That is the key.
For everyday living, I think it’s time we all faced a few facts.
FACT: None of us is free from concern about eating nutritiously. You may live your life as though you are… but in truth, you are accountable to someone. SOMEone counts on you to take care of yourself and your health. (And I’ll bet in most cases, a few someones.)
FACT: Even if you weigh 90 lbs soaking wet, you may very well have a family history of high cholesterol. Or maybe you struggle to gain weight! (I hear this is a real problem for some. Not this girl!) Whatever your specific set of health stats looks like, it is critical to be mindful of how you fuel your body. Are you fueling it to accomplish great things? Or are you eating yourself straight into an early grave?
FACT: Eating healthfully is only boring if you are lazy.
And here’s another fact for ya. Never before in our nation’s history have we had this much access to a good “food-education.” Here’s a great site to start with! Here’s another! All the information you need is literally at your fingertips.
So we are without excuse. We have every tool we need to empower ourselves to adopt a healthful way of eating. The only thing we seem to lack… is discipline.
Eeek! I’ll need to go back and read that to myself the next time I have a moment of weakness (which, I’ll be honest, will probably hit around 9:00 pm tonight.) But it’s true! And one of the best ways we can help ourselves in the area of discipline is to start finding healthy foods we actually like!
No one has to force-feed my husband his favorite Greek yogurt with honey! He loves it, AND it’s good for him. And no one has to twist my arm to get me to eat my steel-cuts oats every morning. I do it cuz they’re yummy!
Anyway, I’m finding that lately I’ve really enjoyed experimenting with new dishes that will make my husband’s and my healthy lifestyle more exciting! Today I’m sharing one such recipe with you.
Ever tried spaghetti squash?
This gourd, named for it string-like inner flesh, is a great substitute for heavy, carb-laden pastas. It basically takes on the flavor of whatever you add to it… and only sets you back 40 calories per cup (before add-ins.) Who doesn’t love a meal they can eat four bowls of and not feel the least bit guilty?!?
Tonight for supper I made a little “Spaghetti Squash Bar”… complete with all sorts of healthy add-ins. Spinach, pesto, marinara sauce, feta cheese, parmesan, flaked tuna. It was delicious and everyone could tailor their own bowl to their liking I’m a new fan of this amazingly versatile vegetable. And I think you should be too!
Here are some basic instructions for preparing it…
Basic Spaghetti Squash
Soften the skin of a medium spaghetti squash in the microwave for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the microwave and use a sharp knife to slice into two halves. Place halves face-down on a baking sheet and bake in a 375-degree oven for 40-45 minutes til fork tender. (Alternatively you can microwave the squash halves face-down in 1/4 inch of water for 7-10 minutes.) Remove from oven and allow to cool. Use a fork to scrape the stringy inner flesh out. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve with vegetables, pasta sauce, cheese, or other desired toppings.
And speaking of healthy eating, I’ve added a new category to this website! You’ll notice if you look off to the right that among the usual categories of desserts, main dishes, soups, etc… there now sits a “Healthy” menu as well. The health-related recipes and posts were starting to add up and I figured it would be useful to have them all in one place for those of you who might want to find them later.
Hope it’s helpful! Now go get healthy I highly recommend you start by buying some spaghetti squash.
I love making Homemade Pizza Dough!
(This pizza dough can be made by hand or it can be made even more easily in the bread machine, my personal favorite method!)
Not only can I keep it for a few days in the fridge to use for multiple meals… it is super versatile! I’m not limited to making traditional pizza with it. I can use it to make flatbread (aka: focaccia), or calzones, or even breakfast pizza!
Today I used it along with some zero-fuss Rotisserie Chicken (you know, the kind from the grocery store… completely cooked and ready to eat!) to create these Rustic Chicken Pesto Pizzetas.
They look (and taste) so scrumptious and fancy… but in reality they’re a pretty simple meal. (Especially since you buy the chicken already cooked!) If you’ve got the dough ready in the fridge from a few days ago and some ready-to-eat rotisserie chicken, you can have this meal on the table within 20 minutes. That’s something to cheer about!
Simply use your fingers or a rolling pin to flatten a small ball of dough into a disc, and lay each disc onto a baking sheet dusted lightly with cornmeal (to prevent sticking.) Tear up a few basil leaves and layer these onto the dough. (They tend to burn if placed on top of the cheese and toppings.)
Then sprinkle on some cooked rotisserie chicken. As much or as little as you want!
Next add a sprinkling of your favorite cheese. (This happens to be a delightful mixture of Feta, Ricotta, Mozzarella & Parmesan… my FAVORITE blend for Italian dishes. I combine them with an egg and a big spoonful of pesto and it is to-die-for.)
These just need to go into a 375-degree oven for about 8 minutes, followed by a minute or two under the broiler to get the cheese all bubbly!
Your brood will gobble these up. (And if you don’t have a brood… lucky you! You get to do all the gobbling yourself.) Pair this with a glass of red wine and a little chocolate for dessert and I say you have the makings of one extravagant night-in!
Here’s the recipe in printable form for ya:
Rustic Chicken Pesto Pizzetas, Serves 4
1/3 recipe Homemade Pizza Dough (can be 1-2 days old if stored, covered, in the refigerator)
Fresh basil leaves
Shredded or chopped Rotisserie chicken, with skin removed
Cheese mixture: 1/4 C. Ricotta cheese, 1/4 C. grated Mozzarella cheese, 3 T. crumbled Feta cheese, 2 T. grated Parmesan cheese, 1/2 T. prepared pesto, 1/8 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. pepper, 2 T. lightly beaten egg
Flatten small balls of dough into desired size disc, using your fingers or a rolling pin. Lay onto a baking sheet dusted lightly with cornmeal. Allow to rest for 10 minutes to rise a bit, then top with basil leaves, chicken, and crumbles of cheese mixture. Bake at 375 for 8 minutes, then finish for 2 minutes under the broiler. Optional: Serve with olive oil or marinara sauce for dipping.
Those of you who know me well know that I have the unfortunate task of weaning my baby a tad earlier than I had planned. We’re shooting to be done breastfeeding completely by mid-March. (For the story of why, you can pop on over to my personal blog.)
My little pookie just a few weeks old!
And while this is a bit sad for me (I’m pretty much a breastfeeding-freak, you see)… I’ve found that it eases the blow a little to turn the process into a “Food Adventure” of sorts!
Aside from lifestyle factors like stress levels, rest, illness, and certain forms of contraception… did you also know that there are foods, herbs, & oils that can have an effect on your milk supply?
Some foods, like:
-fluids in general
-Red Raspberry Tea
are said to increase your milk supply! Cool! (Although it should be pointed out that the BEST way to increase your supply is to let baby nurse as often as possible and to be near your baby skin-on-skin almost constantly.)
On the flip-side of the coin, foods like:
are said to decrease your milk supply! Very neat indeed So aside from gradually replacing certain feedings with formula… I am also incorporating sage and cabbage compresses into my daily life. Peppermint is another flavor I don’t mind too much, but the key is to use peppermint essential oil. It is not enough to drink a little mint tea here and there… the concentration of mint is not high enough to have any effect.
* Another thing to note: It is recommended that all breastfeeding mothers keep up a steady intake of healthful calories (2000 is the recommended amount for most average-size women.) So the converse is also true… if you are looking to make your weaning experience a bit more pleasant and could stand a decrease in your caloric intake, now is the time to do it. I’m not advocating an extreme or unhealthy decrease, mind you. But cutting 200 or so calories a day is safe and beneficial in many cases. I’ve even heard some people recommend limiting your intake of fluids… but I personally think that’s not wise. There are lots of other methods out there. The cabbage compresses are especially shown to help!
Amazing the effect our diet can have on our bodies, isn’t it?
Speaking of which, if you haven’t seen the show Food Hospital, I highly recommend you watch it! Who knew your diet could play such a critical role in the treatment of so many health conditions? Gout, Crohn’s, Diabetes, Depression, Eczema, and so much more! It should be a reminder to all of us that in more cases than we care to admit… we are not the victim of our health, but in fact the saboteur.
And on that depressing note, I leave you! :) Bon apetit!
It’s Valentines Day, and I guess you could say I’m in the spirit!
So I thought I’d compile a little list for you of Food-Related Things I Love! I could’ve rattled on forever and probably created a Top 100 list with very little effort… but I capped it at ten. In no particular order:
1) Browned Butter- Ever had it before? Here’s a recipe that’s a great starting point if it’s a new flavor to you.
(Photo Credit to SweetPeasKitchen!)
2) Coconut Oil- No, I’m not so ape for this stuff that I rub it on my feet and condition my hair with it. But MAN does it taste good in baked goods! Yum Yum Yum Yum Yum. I especially like it replacing some of the butter in banana bread.
3) Immersion Blenders- They rock baby! I use em’ for soup, mashed cauliflower, and so much more!
4) Cooking with my Baby- See that greedy little booger reaching for my cream?
5) Cheat Days!- Husband and I are designating Valentine’s Day as a “cheat on the diet” day… and I daresay we are far more excited about the food than about any big romantic plans! I’m making a special Bread Pudding for dessert
6) Waiting for the perfect natural light, getting out my tripod, setting up some lovely dishes, angling my reflector… then having my gorgeous dessert turn out looking like two blobs of goo. (This one is sarcastic, FYI.)
7) This Melissa & Doug Picnic Set- So cute for my little girl to play with!
8) Breastfeeding! (Forgive me, it seems I’m a little too eager to talk about this topic.)
9) This Chocolate Pie. I eat it almost daily. And since it’s so healthy, I can! (250 calories per slice if you don’t add the whipped cream, and lots of protein.)
10) The fact that Pinterest is so chock-full of crazy drink concoctions that will supposedly give you this body (see below), simply by drinking spinach mixed with vinegar and honey. It really gives me a laugh! Trust me darling, this chick works out for hours a day and takes Creatine. Whether she drinks grapefruit juice, green tea extract, or some other miracle-drink is really a minor detail. (And here’s a little tip for ya… looking for a miracle drink? Try WATER!)
Happy Valentine’s Day! Sending LOVE to each and every one of you!
This year, our Valentine’s Day was all about indulgence. And WHAT is more indulgent than bread pudding?
I’ll answer that. Nothing. It is my husband’s favorite dessert. I make it in about a million different flavor combinations and we love them all.
I’ve made bread pudding for this blog before, but one thing I’ve really begun to enjoy is re-shooting recipes I’ve blogged about in the past.
I blogged about my bread pudding back in 2011 (you can see that original post here.) And as hard as I tried to make that dish look appetizing at 9 pm under the fluorescent lighting of my kitchen, it was a lost cause. Surprised? If you know anything about photography (which I didn’t) then you are not surprised at all.
But it has been great fun to practice and expand my skills over time! I’m still an amateur and these newer photos still have some flaws which of course I won’t be pointing out. But I think we can all appreciate that the pudding looks somewhat edible and isn’t neon yellow. :)
I’ve had a lot of people tell they that they aren’t bread pudding fans… but incidentally, a lot of the people who’ve told me that later reveal that they haven’t tried it. Admittedly, the name doesn’t scream “sophistication.” And at first glance, you might assume the texture would be unpleasant. But you would be wrong! Bread pudding is a silky, rich, magical thing! It’s basically a larger, fancier version of French Toast. So how could that be bad?
And you can’t beat a dessert that uses up old stale bread that would otherwise be thrown away.
This one is White Chocolate & Raspberry, which is Chris’s and my particular favorite. Hope I’ve convinced you to at least give it a try! Maybe for Valentine’s Day???
White Chocolate Raspberry Bread Pudding
4 Cups cubed stale bread (sourdough and french are my favorite!)
2 Cups heavy cream or half & half
1/2 Cup sugar + 3 T. brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Cup white chocolate chips, divided (And although I pride myself on not being a food snob… I must say that Ghirardelli brand really are better in this recipe! Really!)
1 small container of fresh raspberries (or one Cup frozen, thawed & drained.)
1 packet of Sugar In The Raw (aka: sanding sugar), for dusting
2 Tbs. melted butter
Maple Syrup, optional
Butter an 8×8 in. baking dish. Set aside.
Place the cubed bread in a single layer on a cookie sheet and dry out in a 350 oven for about 6 minutes. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all ingredients except the white chocolate, raspberries, raw sugar, butter, & maple syrup.
In a small, microwave-safe bowl, melt 3/4 C. of the white chocolate chips in the microwave. (Important Note: Heat the chocolate in increments of 25 seconds, stirring in between, to prevent burning. Chocolate will likely be fully melted by your third stir.)
Take 1/2 cup of the egg mixture and quickly whisk it into the melted chocolate to help temper the eggs and prevent scrambling. Then add the white chocolate to the large bowl of the egg/cream mixture. Whisk to combine.
Add in the bread cubes and gently stir to coat. Allow bread cubes to soak in the custard for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375.
Gently fold the raspberries and the remaining 1/4 C. of white chocolate chips into the bread pudding mixture. Pour into buttered baking dish. Pour melted butter evenly over the top, then sprinkle with the packet of raw sugar.
Bake at 375 for about 40-45 minutes. Pudding will not be completely set but should not be soupy. If the top starts becoming too brown, cover with foil and return to the oven to finish baking.
Serve plain or drizzled with maple syrup!