Goat Cheese Polenta with Turkey & Vegetable Ragout

Goat Cheese Polenta with Turkey & Veggie Ragu

This dish is pure comfort food if you ask me. It’s hearty enough for a cold winter’s night, but still light enough to be a great transitional meal when spring hasn’t quite decided if it wants to be hot or cold yet. The meat and vegetables make it both filling and nutritious. You will get a lot of leftovers out of this recipes, which is a plus in my book. I also thought that the ragout tasted even better then next day.

Polenta is not everyone’s favorite food, but I happen to really like it. I think it makes a great base for a meal and keeps amazingly well for leftovers. You can top it with just about anything. I really like making my polenta with added goat cheese. It gives it both a creamy and tangy bite that I think goes really well with tomato based sauces.

Goat Cheese Polenta with Turkey & Vegetable Ragout
Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens.

For the Turkey Ragout:
  • 1 1/4 pound extra-lean ground turkey
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 (14 1/2) ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 2 medium onions, cut into thin wedges
  • 1 large red sweet pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, sliced
  • 1/2 cup low sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

For the Polenta:

  • 1 cup quick-cooking/instant polenta
  • 4 ounces soft goat cheese, slightly crumbled
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
For Serving (optional):
  • Pesto
  • Fresh basil, chopped
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Instructions:

  1. In a large skillet, cook ground beef until brown. Drain off any extra fat.
  2. In the same skillet, heat olive oil. When heated add onions and bell pepper. Cook about 5 minutes until starting to soften. Add in carrots, zucchini and garlic, along with undrained tomatoes, broth and salt and pepper.
  3. Cover and cook on low-heat until all the vegetables are cooked through and tomato and broth have slightly thickened.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare polenta according to package directions. I recommend using low-sodium vegetable broth for extra flavor. When polenta is almost cooked through, stir in goat cheese and butter.
  5. Spoon polenta into individual serving bowls and top with ragout mixture over polenta. Top individual bowls with pesto and garnish with basil and freshly ground pepper.

 

Haloumi Salad with Caramelised Onion Dressing

haloumi salad with caramelised onion dressing

Oh, haloumi, how I love you! Let me count the ways!  I really, really love haloumi. I also really, really love caramelized onions and tomatoes and arugula. I basically just really, really love this salad. There is something about the salty (and squeaky) haloumi and the kind of sweet, kind of not caramelized onion dressing that just makes for the most amazing flavor combination. The peppery arugula was also a flavorful addition that worked really well with the rest of the ingredients.

I’m not going to lie, making the dressing is going to take you a bit of time. To get really delicious, rich, sweet caramelized onions, you are going to need about an hour. Don’t believe anyone that says it will only 10 to 20 minutes, that’s a lie. And don’t believe anyone that says you can add sugar to caramelize them, that’s just gross. (I am very passionate when it comes to caramelized onions and these two points, if you couldn’t tell….) The onions will get naturally sweet and it is definitely worth the effort, you just need to give them time. You can definitely blend the onion dressing in a food processor if you prefer a more vinaigrette-like dressing. I left the onions un-blended (more like a chutney almost) because I felt it would make for a heartier salad.

haloumi salad with caramelised onion dressing

Haloumi Salad with Caramelised Onion Dressing

 

Ingredients

For the Salad:
  • 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 block of halloumi, sliced
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 1 bag of salad greens (I used arugula)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
For the Dressing:
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Instructions

For the Dressing:
  1. Heat oil in large pan over medium-high heat. Add onions when oil begins to shimmer. Let onions sit for 10 minutes and sprinkle with salt. Reduce heat low and continue to stir onions every 10 minutes until they are a rich, caramelized brown. It’s going to take about 1 hour, give or take 10-20 minutes either side.
  2. When onions are caramelized place in bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Adjust flavors and spice to your taste. If you prefer a smoother dressing this can be done in a food processor.
For the Salad:
  1. Wash and prepare lettuce and tomatoes. Divide between two plates
  2. Heat oil in pan over medium-high heat (you can reuse the same pan you caramelized your onions in). Once oil is hot add haloumi slices and cook until starting to brown, about 2-3 minutes, then flip the haloumi and repeat on the other side.
  3. Top tomatoes with halloumi, then add the onion dressing and freshly ground pepper.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

Gluten Free Greek Yogurt & Herb Potato Salad

Greek Yogurt & Herb Potato Salad

It’s already getting warm here. We had approximately two days of rain and a maybe four cold-ish (by Southern California standards) days and we are apparently heading right back into summer. I’m not a fan. The only plus side is that I now have a legitimate reason to insist on barbecuing as often as possible. I was all set to grill up a delicious meal the other day and it turned out we had no propane left, which is kind of a major component to using a gas grill. Memo to Self: always check for propane.

The meal was not a total loss because I had made some delicious side dishes to go with the barbecue. This salad is probably going to be in regular rotation over the next few months around here. It’s a very easy to make and very delicious. I originally used white balsamic vinegar in my dressing for this salad, but I honestly thought it turned out a bit too sweet. I think apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar would be a much better match. I used dill in the potato salad because it had a ton on hand, but you could use just about fresh herbs you have on hand. Parsley or basil would be great and I think arugula really would be great too.

Gluten Free Greek Yogurt & Herb Potato Salad

  • 1 1/2 pounds unpeeled red or yellow potatoes
  • 3/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 4 scallions, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh dill
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon grainy Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  1. Bring water to a boil in a large pot fitted with a steamer basket. Add potatoes, cover and cook until tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain and when potatoes have cool enough to touch, cut into quarters and halves (depending on size). Let cut potatoes cool to room temperature.
  2. Combine yogurt, scallions, dill, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the cooled potatoes and toss to coat.

Gluten-Free Cranberry Bread

Gluten-Free Cranberry Bread

I found a sad little bag of leftover frozen cranberries in my freezer the other day. I always freeze cranberries in the fall with the best intentions of using them sometime soon, but they always seem to end up hidden under everything else. I felt bad for these cranberries and wanted them to feel loved, so I baked them into a delicious bread. If baked goods don’t say “love,” I don’t know what does…

This recipe is pretty perfect. It’s fast, simple and delicious. I found the batter to be quite thick and it kind of smothered all my cranberries to the bottom of the baking pan. I will admit I got a little sick of the time it was taking to chop each individual cranberry in half, so I kind of just started hacking them up. Bigger pieces probably would have helped with more uniform berry dispersion. Every slice did have a lot of berries, they were just clumped on the bottom, which is not the worst thing. Next time, I might try substituting some of the milk for orange juice and adding some zest to make a delicious orange cranberry bread.

Gluten-Free Cranberry Bread
Recipe from Gluten Free on a Shoestring.

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 3 eggs at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour (I used Better Batter)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 10 ounces fresh cranberries, halved
  • 2/3 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, at room temperature
  • Coarse/Raw sugar (like Sugar in the Raw), for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease well a standard (9-inches x 5-inches or slightly smaller) loaf pan and set it aside.
  2. Beat the butter in a large bowl on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the 1 cup of granulated sugar and the eggs, beating well after each addition.
  3. In a separate, medium-size bowl, place the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, and whisk to combine well. Place the cranberry halves in a separate, small bowl, and add a tablespoon of the dry ingredients to the cranberries, along with the remaining tablespoon of granulated sugar, and toss to coat. Set the cranberries aside.
  4. To the large bowl with the butter and sugar mixture, add the dry ingredients, alternating with the milk and sour cream, alternating between the two and beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. The mixture will be thick but smooth. Add the cranberries and reserved sugar and dry ingredients, and mix gently into the batter until evenly distributed throughout.
  5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top. It will fill or nearly fill the pan. Sprinkle the top lightly with coarse sugar. Place the pan in the center of the preheated oven and bake, rotating once, until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (about 1 hour). Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 20 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Slice thickly and serve.

 

Pear, Parmesan & Prosciutto Salad with Strawberry Balsamic Dressing

Pear, Parmesan & Prosciutto Salad

No April Fool’s here! Just good food! My cousin posted the most delicious looking salad on Instagram last week and I was beyond jealous. Most of my family lives in Ireland, so with the time difference they are posting delicious looking lunches and dinners right when I wake up. Since checking Instagram is (shamefully) the first thing I do every morning, I get to start drooling over planning delicious meals right away. Luckily my cousin also mentioned the name of the restaurant in her picture and I was easily able to stalk the menu and find out more about this delicious meal. I read the description and was almost instantly in love.

Prosciutto, Pear & Parmesan Salad
Prosciutto ham, fresh rocket, toasted pine nuts,
sliced juicy pear and grated aged parmesan
with a strawberry and balsamic dressing.

I had everything on hand and set about making this bad boy right away. I took a few liberties of my own (NO pine nuts here! Yuck!) and had to imagine what the dressing might be like, but the end result was beyond anything I could have imagined. I think this the perfect type of salad for this time of year. There is a great combination of sweet winter and spring fruits, which are amazing with the salty prosciutto and the toasted almonds add a perfect crunch. And the very best part! It took less than ten minutes to put together!

Pear, Parmesan & Prosciutto Salad

Apart from switching disgusting pine nuts for almonds, I had to guess what kind of dressing was used. Personally, I am not a fan of oily or sweet vinaigrettes, so when I came across this recipe from Whole Foods, I thought it would be perfect! I added some chia seeds to the dressing for some extra nutritional value. This dressing is best made with strawberries that have been sliced for a bit (so they can get kind of sweet and syrupy in their natural juice) or strawberries that are over ripe (like the day before you might have to toss them).  Strawberries like that will be the juiciest and sweetest, which will cut the need for added sweeteners or oil.

 

Pear, Parmesan & Prosciutto Salad with Strawberry Balsamic Dressing

Ingredients

For the Salad:
  • 4 slices prosciutto
  • 1 ripe, but firm pear, sliced (I used a Bartlett)
  • 4 large handfuls arugula/rocket
  • 3 Tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted
  • a block of aged parmesan, for grating
  • freshly ground pepper and salt, to taste
For the Strawberry Balsamic Dressing:
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 shallot, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon chia (or poppy) seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  1. In a food processor combine all the ingredients for the dressing and mix until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Wash your arugula and place in large bowl. Add dressing and toss until well mixed (I used about 1/3 cup). Add almonds and grate parmesan to taste. Toss again.
  3. Place arugula on large serving platter, top with prosciutto and pear slices. Add salt, pepper and parmesan to taste. Serve and enjoy!

Super Simple Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

This is by far the easiest gluten-free dessert I’ve ever made! Almost easier than opening a prepackaged mix. You only need two dishes to make this; a mixing bowl and a baking pan and you are ready to go. Start to finish, your cake will be ready in under 45 minutes!

I tried to cut down on the sugar since 1 cup seemed like a lot. I started adding it 1/4 cup at a time. I’m not sure if it was the cocoa powder or the gluten-free flour, but found that I definitely needed the whole cup. This cake is extremely rich and chocolatey. I ended up freezing about three-quarters of the loaf (I made mine in a loaf pan, not a cake pan). The slice I’ve defrosted since was just as good as the freshly baked. I think making this recipe into cupcakes, might make freezing a bit easier.

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake

 

 

Super Simple Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake
From Food.com via FitSugar.

  • 1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour mix (I used Better Batter.)
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon guar gum or 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (only not included in GF flour mix)
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 5 Tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 Tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup water
  1. Heat oven to 350°F
  2. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl.
  3. Add all liquid ingredients and mix well.
  4. Bake in greased and floured nine-inch square pan (or lined with waxed paper) for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  5. Serve as is or with some berries and cream for extra indulgence.

Prosciutto & Goat Cheese Wrapped Asparagus

A little Monday evening aperitivo.

My girlfriend Kelly made this absolutely amazing asparagus appetizers (I love alliteration!) for our last book club meeting. They were delicious! And so simple. I made them at home for a little Monday evening aperitivo. These are definitely a great bite for a last-minute wine and cheese party and definitely worthy of sharing with guest. Next time I have a dinner party, these will be on the menu. I’m actually kind of looking for any excuse to make these again.

You can use any soft, spreadable cheese. I would avoid cream cheese, but any other soft cheese should work. I think Boursin would be amazing.

Making this appetizer into a side dish would be very easy to do. I would leave the prosciutto slice whole and wrap it around 3-5 pieces of asparagus and cook them the same way (maybe a minute or  two longer). I think it would make for a really tasty side dish, but I really like how the individual spears of asparagus and prosciutto get super crispy.

Prosciutto & Goat Cheese Wrapped Asparagus

 

Prosciutto & Goat Cheese Wrapped Asparagus

Ingredients

  • Asparagus spears, washed and trimmed
  • Soft goat cheese, at room temperature
  • Prosciutto, each slice cut into 3 pieces

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400F degrees.
  2. Spread the goat cheese on each slice of prosciutto.
  3. Wrap each asparagus spear in a 1/3 slice of prosciutto and goat cheese.
  4. Bake for 6-8 minutes, until warm and starting to crisp.
  5. Serve and become the hit of the party!

Fromage Fort

Hi Fromage Fort, I'm your newest fan. #cheeseoverload

I doesn’t look like much, but I cannot even begin to put into words how amazing this is. Amazing! That’s all I can say. I was faced with the awkward situation of having a whole bunch of cheese, but not enough to make a legitimate cheese plate. You know that awkward spot where you’ve had a wine and cheese night and there is some cheese leftover, but not really anything worthwhile. It’s always a dark day. There are just tiny bits of that, something with a bit of a rind, some soft stuff that was kind of sad looking, a tad of blue begging to find a second chance. I poked around the internet for a bit and thanks to the magic of Google, I discovered the most glorious way to  save the cheese! Fromage Fort! You can’t really go wrong with the combination of cheese. I used some blue, Boursin, goat, brie and parm. Delicious.

Serving wise, baguette, crackers, even some crudités would be great to serve with this. I used toasted gluten-free bread. If I had been by myself, I probably would have just used a spoon.

Final word of advice, get on this. Stat!

Fromage Fort
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 pound mix leftover cheese, harder cheeses grated, softer ones cut into chunks
  • A couple pats of butter, if using mostly firm cheese varieties
  • 1-3 small clove garlic, minced, or more to taste
  • 1/2 to 1 cup leftover white wine
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, thyme, rosemary or chives
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Blend cheese, butter (if using) and garlic in food processer until combined. Drizzle in wine with the motor running until you get your desired consistency — some like it completely smooth, others prefer chunks. Add herbs, pulsing the machine until just combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. Fromage fort can be used right away, or kept in the fridge until needed. In the fridge, it will thicken and age a little; the flavors will mingle and deepen. Let sit out for a few minutes to slight soften and make serving easier.

 

Shrimp Louie Salad

Shrimp Louie Salad

The Crab Louie has been a San Francisco classic since the early 1900s. Since there has been no crab around this kitchen since the infamous crab cake incident of 2011, I substituted the only shellfish that has yet to make an attempt on my life, shrimp! I’ve never actually had a shrimp/crab Louie before, so I don’t have basis for comparison, but this salad was delicious. It made an extremely enjoyable and beautiful lunch. It might seem like there are a lot of ingredients, but it came together very easily.  I definitely plan on make it again. I think it would be perfect for a fancy luncheon or if you have guests.

A traditional Louie salad involves hard-boiled eggs, but since cannot stand the sight or texture of egg yolks, I left them out. They definitely were not missed. I also used kalamata olives instead of regular black olives, mainly because they were what I had on hand, but they also provide way more flavor. Every other ingredient was fresh and crisp. Living in Southern California, we get amazing produce year round. Tomatoes and avocados are at their prime and we are still lucky enough to find great asparagus at farmers’ market.

The dressing is similar to 1000 Island dressing, but not quite. I read at least 20 different Louie dressing recipes and in the end just picked the ingredients that sounded best to me. I like my dressings on the tangy side and most of them sounded like they would be pretty sweet. I used chili sauce, which I think is super sweet to begin with, so I did not add any extra sugar. I also used dill pickle relish and more lemon juice than most called for. This helped to cut the sweetness (it still had some, but not too much) and thinned out the dressing. Gloopy dressing is never a good thing. I also added Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco and paprika for color and flavor.

Shrimp Louie Salad

 

Shrimp Louie Salad

For the Louie Dressing:

  • 1 cup high-quality mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup ketchup or chili sauce
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons dill pickle relish
  • 1 Tabelspoon Worcestshire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
For the Shrimp:
  • 12 shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tail removed
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
For the Salad:
  • 1/2 head iceberg lettuce, finely chopped (almost shredded)
  • 1/4 pound asparagus, blanched
  • 2 fresh tomatoes, cut into quarters,
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced lengthwise thinly
  • 1/4 red onion, finely diced

Instructions

For the Dressing:
  1. In a bowl, whisk together all ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place in fridge while cooking shrimp and assembling salad.
For the Shrimp:
  1. Heat oven to 400F. Combine shrimp and all other ingredients in a small bowl or plastic bag. Toss to coat. Place the shrimp on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 6-7 minutes, or until shrimp are nice and pink. Let cool slightly while you assemble the salad.
For the Salad:
  1. Divide lettuce between two plates. Divide the rest of the ingredients between the plates of lettuce. Serve with dressing on the side and enjoy!

Shrimp Louie Salad

Joe’s Special

Joe's Special Scramble

I started the fall semester yesterday morning. In order to recover from the trauma, I’m taking a long weekend trip (can 6 days really be considered a ‘long weekend’?) up to San Francisco to visit some friends. What better excuse that to share some tried and true San Francisco favorites.

This dish is a San Francisco classic. It originated in the 1930′s at Original Joe’s. Even though the dish is a classic, I had to put my own spin on things. I substituted extra-lean ground turkey for the ground beef. I used a ton of garlic (10 cloves, but they were all pretty small) and fresh basil and oregano from my garden. I have to admit that I like the fact that the eggs are not the main focus of this egg dish. I feel like the egg is just there as a loose binder rather than the main feature. It makes for a nice change from a traditional Quiche or frittata. It also makes the dish much more adaptable to meals outside the morning hours. In true San Francisco style, Joe’s Special is traditionally served with sourdough. I have yet to discover gluten-free sourdough, so I served my scramble with a couple slices of gluten-free toast (Canyon Bakehouse is my favorite at the moment). Not quite the same as sourdough, but it did the job.

I made Joe’s Special for Sunday Brunch over the weekend and this morning I heated up the leftovers for breakfast. It was even better! This would be a great made-ahead meal for brunch or for anytime you want to have a meal that you can reheat in a hurry.

Joe's Special

 

 

Joe’s Special

  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 5+ garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/4 pounds extra-lean ground turkey
  • 3 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh basil, finally chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano (or 1/4 teaspoon dried)
  • 1/3 cups parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 3 eggs, well beaten
  • 1/4 cup milk/cream/half and half
  • a generous dash of tabasco (optional)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  1. Crack the eggs into a small bowl and add the Tabasco, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet heat the oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until beginning to brown. Add in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add in ground turkey; cook, stirring, until browned and all moisture evaporates, about 10 minutes. Add mushrooms; cook, stirring, until beginning to soften. Add spinach; cook, stirring, until wilted. Add eggs; cook until eggs are cooked and mixture is slightly dry, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper; sprinkle with Parmesan. Serve with bread.