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Four Cheese Lasagna

Four Cheese Lasagna

If we were ranking dinner favorites in our household, this Four Cheese Lasagna would be #1 without question.  There is cheese, cheese, cheese and more cheese.  And if you’re so inclined, the potential for even more cheese.  Yes.  Yum.  Amazing.  In fact, I had an entirely different recipe planned to share with you today, but……I decided it would be wrong of me to keep this from you any longer. It is so good!

I made very few changes from the original recipe, because frankly it’s darn near perfect.  A few items of note:  I have used light butter and regular butter – either one works fine.  I always use skim milk and low fat ricotta cheese, yielding fabulous results.  I use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth to make it vegetarian.    The first time I made this, I added gorgonzola, the optional fifth cheese, and prefer it without.  It adds an interesting dimension to the dish, but I realized I’m not really a gorgonzola fan.

There is a little extra time involved in making this lasagna, but every second is worth it.  This lasagna can be served as an elegant dinner for company or as an incredible treat for a lazy Sunday, and the leftovers heat up perfectly!

Four Cheese Lasagna
 
Yields: 8 to 10 servings
Ingredients
  • 6 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded (about 1½ cups)
  • 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated finely (about 1 cup), divided
  • 15 ounces low fat ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped, plus 2 teaspoons for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium shallot, minced (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2½ cups skim milk
  • 1½ cups low-sodium vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 15 no-boil noodles
  • 8 ounces fontina cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
  • 3 ounces crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (about ¾ cup) (optional, see note)
Instructions
  1. In a large glass bowl, place Gruyere and ½ cup Parmesan cheese.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, egg, black pepper and parsley. Set both bowls aside.
  3. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat until it begins to foam. Add shallots and garlic, stirring frequently until soft (about 2 minutes). Stir in flour until thoroughly combined, about 1½ minutes (mixture should not brown). Gradually whisk in milk and broth; increase heat to high, cover and bring to a full boil, whisking frequently. Add salt, cayenne and bay leaf, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until sauce thickens (about 10 minutes), stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove saucepan from heat and discard bay leaf. Gradually whisk in ¼ cup sauce into ricotta mixture. Pour remaining sauce over Gruyere mixture and stir until smooth; set aside while softening noodles.
  5. Adjust oven rack to upper middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place noodles in a 13-by-9 inch baking dish and cover with very hot tap water; soak 10 minutes, agitating noodles occasionally to prevent sticking. Remove noodles from dish and place in a single layer on kitchen towels and pat dry. Wipe out baking dish and spray lightly with cooking spray.
  6. Pour ½ cup sauce in the bottom of baking dish. Place 3 noodles in a single layer over sauce. Spread ½ cup ricotta mixture over noodles and sprinkle evenly with ½ cup fontina. Drizzle ½ cup sauce over cheese. Repeat layering of noodles, ricotta, fontina and sauce 3 more times. Place final 3 noodles over the top and cover with remaining sauce, spreading with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle evenly with remaining ½ cup Parmesan cheese.
  7. Spray large sheet of foil with cooking spray and cover lasagna; bake until edges are bubbling, about 25-30 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking time. Remove foil and turn the oven to broil. * Broil until surface turns spotty brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Cool 15 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining parsley, cut into pieces and serve.
Notes
* If your dish is not safe under the broiler, turn oven up to 500 degrees and cook for 10 minutes, or until spotty brown on top.

Note: If you want to include gorgonzola cheese, sprinkle it on top of the fontina on each layer.

Source: America’s Test Kitchen

 

mixed green salad with roasted sweet potatoes and tangy yogurt dressing

Red-Leaf Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Red-Leaf Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes is all things good wrapped up in a salad.  You have your roasted sweet potatoes and red onion, green beans and pepitas, all on a bed of red leaf lettuce and topped with a tangy yogurt dressing.  Sound good?  Umm..yeah, I thought so too!  Mike and I don’t typically put dressing on our salads, but the first thing that he commented about this dish was ‘how good is that dressing!’  The dressing has some zip, so a little goes a long way.  It goes perfectly with the sweetness of the roasted sweet potato and onion.  There are so many yummy vegetables in this dish, I would happily eat it every day of the week.

I made a couple changes of note from the original recipe.  First, I used nonfat Greek yogurt instead of low fat regular yogurt.  The Greek yogurt adds a nice little protein boost, and frankly is what I always have on hand.  I’m sure regular yogurt would work just fine.  The other change I made was using pepitas, in lieu of walnuts, due to my tree nut allergy.  Pepitas are always tasty and added a nice little crunch.  However if you are a walnut fan, I suspect they would also be quite delicious in this dish.  Frozen green beans worked really well, but I look forward to using fresh green beans when the season hits.

Mike and I were talking in terms of ‘next time we have this’…which tells me there will definitely be a next time.  This salad is a keeper!

Red-Leaf Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes
 
Yields: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 3-4 cups sweet potato, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 red onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 10 ounces frozen cut green beans, thawed (or 1½ cups green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces)
  • ⅓ cup pepitas
  • ½ cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 head (10 ounces) red leaf lettuce (or spinach or mixed greens)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil.
  2. Place sweet potato and onion on baking sheet and toss with olive oil. Roast until sweet potatoes are tender, approximately 30 minutes. Add green beans and pepitas and roast another 5 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together yogurt, vinegar and garlic. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Place lettuce on bowl and top with sweet potato mixture. Drizzle dressing on as desired and serve.

Slightly adapted from Everyday Food Light

vegetarian black bean tortilla soup with corn that is vegan and gluten free

Chunky Tortilla Soup with Black Beans

We have had the good fortune of enjoying unseasonably warm weather over the past few weeks, and it has been fabulous.  In fact, I even considered firing up the grill.  Of course a brisk, windy day, along with temperatures in the single digits, set me straight.  I went back to craving wintery comfort foods, and this Chunky Tortilla Soup with Black Beans is the epitome of wintery comfort food.  It’s warm, a little spicy and filled with vegetables.

From the original recipe, I used tomatoes with chiles, added more vegetables and increased the chili powder.  This soup reheats beautifully, though over time the broth gets absorbed making it almost like a chili.  I like it that way, but if you prefer your soup more soupy, I recommend adding some broth or water when reheating.  Chunky Tortilla Soup with Black Beans is a healthy and delicious soup, and perfect to enjoy this winter!

Chunky Tortilla Soup with Black Beans
 
Yields: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced (or grated)
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 cans (14½ ounces each) diced tomates with green chiles, including juices
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4-6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
  • 10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 10 ounces frozen corn
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 cup crushed tortilla chips, plus more for serving (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Instructions
  1. In a large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Cook onion for 5-7 minutes, until softened. Add garlic and chili powder and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute).
  2. Add tomatoes (with juice), beans, broth, spinach and corn; season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Bring soup to a boil; reduce to a simmer. Add tortilla chips, cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice. Serve soup with lime wedges and more chips.
Notes
Adapted from Everyday Food Light
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Easy Spinach & Cheese Lasagna

While working on clearing out the cupboards in advance of our upcoming move, I found myself faced with 3 boxes of lasagna noodles.  How did that happen!  At least it is something I am happy to use, unlike the random can of soup that I have been avoiding.  In lieu of my usual lasagna recipes, which tend to be a bit more labor intensive, I decided to go with something easy and quick to prepare.  This Easy Spinach and Cheese Lasagna is exactly that…and so good!

This lasagna is first simplified by not boiling the noodles.  I used no-boil noodles, but have used regular noodles in the past and they have worked just fine.  Another step is saved by using a good quality pasta sauce from a jar.  A from scratch sauce would of course be fabulous, but we’re going for easy here.  Mix the filling, layer it up with the sauce and noodles, add water, and pop the pan in the oven.  In a little over an hour, you have an easy, healthy, delicious meal.  This lasagna makes plenty for serving guests, or you can enjoy some great leftovers!    

Easy Spinach and Cheese Lasagna
Yields 6-8 servings

15 ounces low fat ricotta cheese
2 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded (divided)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded (divided)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 (16-ounce) bag frozen spinach, thawed, chopped and drained well
3-4 garlic cloves, grated or minced
2 teaspoons Italian herb seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
1 (25-ounce) jar pasta sauce
9 to 12 no-boil uncooked lasagna noodles

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 9×13 inch non-reactive baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix ricotta, 1 cup mozzarella, 1/4 cup Paremsan, egg, spinach salt, pepper and Italian herb seasoning.
  3. In another bowl, combine the remaining mozzarella and Paremsan cheese.  This is for the  topping, so set aside.  
  4. Pour 1 cup of pasta sauce in the bottom of the baking pan.  Top with a layer of noodles and then a layer of the ricotta-spinach mixture.  Repeat with another layer of noodles and ricotta-spinach mixture.  Top with remaining sauce and sprinkle with remaining cheeses.  Pour 1 cup water around the edges of pan.  
  5. Cover very tightly with non-stick foil (or foil that has been sprayed with cooking spray).  Bake for 1 1/4 hours.  Let stand, uncovered, for 15 minutes before serving.  

Adapted from Whole Foods

healthy skinny pumpkin pie without crust

Crustless Pumpkin Pie

Crustless Pumpkin Pie is a delicious, pumpkin pie made a little healthier without the crust. This is always a favorite dessert and is a lighter, healthier alternative to a traditional pie.   A must-make for the holidays!

Usually by the time Thanksgiving rolls around, I have made at least 6 pumpkin pies…and enjoyed them immensely, of course. Now, before you think I’m some crust-making machine, I must confess to you that my pumpkin pies are made without crust. This Crustless Pumpkin Pie is a recipe that I found years ago, and frankly it is pure genius. By eliminating the extra step of making crust and the excess fat and calories that come with the crust, you are left with a simple, delicious and “skinny” pumpkin pie!

This pie is so good and very easy to make.  In fact, this is so easy to make, the first time I made it I put everything (minus the topping) in a blender.  It turned out great!  These days, I don’t have a blender, and I’m a little more cautious when baking.

Made with pumpkin and skim milk, you are left with a healthier alternative to your traditional pumpkin pie.  It is no wonder that once pumpkin season hits, I have this pie in the fridge all the time.  I have tweaked the recipe over the years to what it is today, and Mike and I are in pie-heaven all fall/winter long.

healthy skinny pumpkin pie without crust

Crustless Pumpkin Pie
 
Yields: 8 servings
Ingredients
Brown Sugar Topping
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ cup rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon light butter, softened (I use Smart Balance light, from a tub)
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Pie
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated skim milk
  • 2 eggs (or 3 egg whites)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Prepare Brown Sugar Topping: mix oats, brown sugar, oats and cinnamon until combined. (I have found that, while messy, using my fingers to mix the topping works best). Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mix pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs and sugar until combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and spices. Add to pumpkin mixture and gently fold until incorporated.
  5. Pour pumpkin mixture into prepared pie plate. Sprinkle Brown Sugar Topping over the top. Bake for 50-55 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes, and then move to refrigerator for at least 4 hours to overnight.

Adapted from Betty Crocker

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Apple Cheddar Frittata

Since last week ended up being pumpkin week, I thought it would be fun to give a nod to another fall classic this week – the apple.   I enjoy an apple for lunch nearly every day and love using them in new recipes.  This Apple Cheddar Frittata was new to us and will definitely be making a recurring appearance.   The sweetness of the apple pairs beautifully with the sharp cheddar and the red onion balances nicely with the two.

Mike told me this is the best frittata I have made yet, though I’m noticing a trend.  He seems to say ‘this is the best yet’ with everything I make. Hmm… 🙂

Apple Cheddar Frittata
Yields 4 servings

1 medium red onion, sliced
Cooking spray
8 eggs, plus 2 egg whites
1 cup (4 ounces) white cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon light butter
salt and pepper, to taste
1 large (or 2 small) Gala apples, thinly sliced (peeling is optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees with oven rack set to the top third.
  2. In a medium nonstick ovensafe pan sprayed with cooking spray, cook red onions over medium heat until softened (about 7 minutes).  Put the onions in a separate bowl and set aside.  
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, 1/2 cup cheese, salt and pepper.  Stir in onions.
  4. In the same pan used for the onions, heat butter over medium.  Add egg mixture, and after 1 to 2 minutes once the eggs have set, arrange the apples on top in a circular pattern, starting from the outside edge.  Sprinkle with remaining.
  5. Transfer skillet to oven.  Bake until frittata is set in the center, about 20 minutes.  Using a rubber spatula, release frittata from pan and transfer to a cutting board.  Let sit for 5 minutes.  Cut into wedges and serve.

Adapted from Martha Stewart

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Vegetable and Black Bean Tortilla Casserole

Back when I was working outside the home, I brought my lunch every day.  I usually brought a peanut butter sandwich, pizza or leftovers from dinner the previous night.  Occasionally I brought an organic microwavable meal.  While not an ideal option, I could prounounce all of the ingredients, it was quick and convenient.  It was also pretty tasty too.  One of my more recent favorites was Black Bean Tortilla Casserole.  

I don’t have much of a need for microwaveable meals these days now that I stay at home with Adam. So when I saw a recipe for Mushroom and Black Bean Tortilla Casserole, I was pretty excited to recreate the convenience food I enjoyed and make it a healthier option. 

The original recipe looked like it could use a little sprucing up, so I added spinach, onion, used more garlic and changed up the spices.   I love the additional vegetables in this dish.  It’s a lighter and healthier option, and is also quick and easy to prepare.  Leftovers reheat nicely…which I guess sort of makes it a microwavable meal, only better!  

Vegetable and Black Bean Tortilla Casserole
Yields 6 servings
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
8 corn tortillas, warmed and halved
2 cups salsa
1 1/2 cups Monterey Jack cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray.  Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add onions and mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until browned (about 7 minutes). 
  3. Reduce heat to medium and add garlic and chili powder, stir for 1 minute. 
  4. Add black beans and spinach and stir to combine.  Cook until beans are warmed through (about 2 minutes).  Remove from heat.
  5. Arrange 5 tortilla halves in baking dish.  Top with half of the bean mixture and 1/2 cup salsa, then sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheese.  Repeat with another layer of bean mixture, salsa and cheese.  Top with remaining tortilla halves, salsa and cheese. 
  6. Cover with foil and bake 10 minutes or until center is hot and cheese melts.  Uncover and bake until cheese is bubbling, 5 minutes OR if your dish is broiler-safe, put under the broiler until cheese is bubbling and browned.

Adapted from Everyday Food, January/February, 2011

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Black Bean Chili with Roasted Butternut Squash

One of my favorite things about the fall season (aside from an abundance of pumpkin recipes) is chili.  Not any chili will do, however…there are only a few chili recipes that I actually like.  Each is as good as the next, and they all have one thing in common.  They are vegetarian, and so delicious that you don’t miss the meat!

This Black Bean Chili with Roasted Butternut Squash is a new recipe to add to my chili repertiore.  It rivals my go-to recipe and then some.  The butternut squash adds a little more work to this recipe, but it’s definitely worth it.  I found some pre-cut cubes of butternut squash, which is what I used this time.  It definintely cut down on prep time.  But if you’re looking at a beautiful butternut squash and wondering what to do with it, I highly recommend trying this chili.

Black Bean Chili with Roasted Butternut Squash
Yields 4-6 servings

1 butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
4 garlic cloved, minced
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with chiles, including juices
1 tablespoon chipotle chile in adobo sauce, minced
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and/or pepper, to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss butternut squash cubes with olive oil.  Spray a large, rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.  Transfer butternut squash to prepared baking sheet and spread out in a single layer.  Roast, tossing occasionally, until just tender and golden brown (about 30 minutes). 
  2. Heat oil in large pot over medium heat.  Add onion and bell pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until soft (about 5 minutes).  Add garlic, stirring 1 minute.
  3. Stir in beans, broth, tomatoes, chipotle chiles, chili powder and oregano.  Simmer, covered 10 minutes.  Uncover and cook 10 more minutes.
  4. Stir squash into bean mixture and cook 5 minutes.  Add salt and/or pepper, to taste.  Serve warm.

Adapted from Health, December 2006

healthy chocolate peanut butter oat coconut bites

Healthy Peanut Butter Balls

 

Healthy Peanut Butter Balls are an addictive, no-bake snack, made from simple ingredients found in your pantry.  

It is no secret that I love peanut butter.  So you can imagine my excitement when I was selected to participate in the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program with the National Peanut Board.  The task was to create a snack recipe using peanut butter and incorporating other ingredients found in most homes. Easy enough!

I wanted to make something healthy, convenient and easy.  I also wanted to make something with oats.  It was time to roll up my sleeves, grab ingredients from the pantry and experiment.

After adding a little here, a touch there,…voila! I finally got the results I was looking for, using simple wholesome ingredients found in my pantry.

This healthy snack could not be any easier to make. The recipe requires no baking; simply measure, mix, roll and chill. The mixture may seem a little dry at first, but as you continue to mix it comes together (or add a little more honey or peanut butter to moisten the mixture to a consistency that works for you). Rolling the balls in a coating as optional. It makes the balls a little less sticky on the fingers, and also is a fun way to vary the flavors, but it is not necessary.

Healthy Peanut Butter Balls are a healthy and delicious snack, or even a quick breakfast on-the-go, featuring one of my favorite foods of all time…peanut butter!

Healthy Peanut Butter Balls
 
Yields: 16-18 balls
Ingredients
  • 1 cup peanut butter, natural is preferred (chunky or creamy)
  • 2 tablespoons honey (or agave nectar)
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed or wheat germ
  • 2 tablespoons sweetened flaked coconut
  • cocoa powder, wheat germ, powdered sugar, chopped peanuts, (optional) – for coating
Instructions
  1. Heat peanut butter and honey in the microwave until easily mixed, about 15-20 seconds. Stir until blended.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix oats, flaxseed and coconut (if using) until combined.
  3. Add peanut butter mixture to oat mixture and stir until incorporated. (Mixture may seem a little dry at first…just keep mixing).
  4. Form a rounded tablespoonful of the combined mixture into a ball and place on a plate. Repeat until all mixture is used. Now, if you do not want to coat the balls, skip to step 6.
  5. Roll each ball in whatever coating suits your preference. Cocoa powder, powdered sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon sugar and chopped peanuts are some ideas.

Disclaimer: As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program, I was provided with 2 jars of Planters peanut butter, from the National Peanut Board, for free.  The details of my experience are exclusively my opinion, and I was not otherwise influenced or compensated.

Tortellini Soup with Chunky Tomatoes and Spinach - made in less than 30 minutes!

Tortellini Soup with Chunky Tomatoes and Spinach

(Photos updated 2/23/2012)

As the weather turns cooler, we find ourselves gravitating toward soups, chili, baked pasta, all of those warm comfort foods. I have had a vision for this tortellini soup for quite a while, but simply have not had an opportunity to execute it. Until now…

Filled with healthy vegetables and hearty tortellini, Tortellini Soup with Chunky Tomatoes and Spinach is the perfect comfort food for a crisp fall day, or any day for that matter.  And guess what?  It can be made in under 30 minutes!  Had I realized that, this soup would have been made long ago.

I put a range of 4 to 6 cups for the broth, so you can adjust to your preference. I like my soup on the chunkier side, so 4 cups of broth yielded the perfect consistency for me. I also used frozen spinach, which worked really well.   I recommend using both low sodium broth and tomatoes, so you can control the sodium by adding salt to taste.

As a great weeknight dinner, or a quick any time meal, we are looking forward to enjoying this soup all fall/winter long, and I hope you will too!

Tortellini Soup with Chunky Tomatoes and Spinach
 
Yields: 3 to 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 to 6 cups low sodium vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) low sodium diced tomatoes, including juices
  • 9-10 ounces tortellini (fresh or frozen), any variety
  • 1½ teaspoons Italian herb seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 10 ounces fresh or frozen spinach, chopped (if frozen, thaw and squeeze out excess moisture)
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. In a dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Saute onion for 5-7 minutes, or until translucent. Add garlic, and saute for 1 minute.
  2. Add broth and tomatoes. Turn heat to high, cover and bring to a boil.
  3. Add tortellini and cook according to package instructions.
  4. Within the last minute of cooking the tortellini, stir in Italian herb seasoning, crushed red pepper and spinach. Taste, and add salt and pepper seasoning, as desired.
  5. Serve immediately, garnishing each bowl with Parmesan cheese.

 

Adapted from Food Network

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Vegetable Quichetata with Roasted Garlic Hummus and Goat Cheese

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program with Sabra, I was invited to create an original recipe suitable for a cocktail party using Sabra hummus.  My head has been swirling with several tasty ideas ever since, and I am very excited to share with you my creation!

We all know the basic difference between a crustless quiche and a frittata.  A crustless quiche is made with milk (or cream or half & half) and mixed with your veggies/meats.  A frittata is made with no milk and with whatever mix-ins you want to use.

Well, when you use hummus, but no milk, is the hummus a substitute for the milk, or is it considered a mix-in?  The answer wasn’t quite clear, so I married the two, and the ‘Quichetata’ was born!

In this variation of a Quichetata, I used Sabra’s Roasted Garlic hummus, spinach, roasted red pepper and goat cheese.  It is amazing how well you can really taste the hummus, which is good and garlicky, and balances nicely with flavors of the goat cheese and vegetables.  The result is fabulous.  Made in a mini-muffin pan, these Quichetatas are the perfect hot h’ors d’oeuvres for your next cocktail party, holiday party, open house or brunch.

Hummus Quichetata
Yields 24 mini-muffin-size quichetatas

8 large eggs
6 tablespoons Sabra Roasted Garlic Hummus
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese, plus additional for topping
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
1/4 cup chopped roasted red pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cooking spray

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray 2 12-cup mini muffin pans with cooking spray.  Set aside. 
  2. In a large bowl, whisk eggs and hummus together until combined.  Add roasted red pepper, spinach and goat cheese, whisking until incorporated.  Season with salt and pepper, as desired.
  3. Distribute egg mixture evenly among mini muffin cups (cups will be full).  Sprinkle additional goat cheese over each cup.
  4. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until eggs are set.  Serve immediately. 

Disclaimer: As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program, I was given Sabra’s hummus for free.  The details of my experience are exclusively my opinion, and I was not otherwise influenced or compensated.

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    Portobello and Zucchini Tacos

    As Mike was sprinkling cheese on his Portobello and Zucchini Tacos, he could see it in my eyes and knew what I was about to do.  I couldn’t help myself – I had to do it!  I stole his dinner so I could plate it for pictures.  Who knew he was such a food stylist!  In all fairness, as I ran away with his dinner, I told him to take mine.  Off I went to snap away and he got to enjoy a warm dinner.
    Portobello and Zucchini Tacos
    So is the life as a husband of a food blogger. He sometimes gets cold dinner. He sometimes loses his dinner to pictures.  But there are some perks, with the most obvious being…actually getting to have dinner (or lunch, or muffins, you get the idea).  Mike is definitely a good sport…even if sometimes he has to give up his tacos for the craft.

    Portobello and Zucchini Tacos
    Now about the tacos. These tacos are fun, tasty and super easy! First you prepare your veggies, toss them in olive oil and seasoning, then throw it all in the oven to roast. In the meantime, heat up the tortillas and get the toppings ready. Serve. See? Simple, easy and so good!
    Portobello and Zucchini Tacos
     
    Yields: 4 servings (3 tacos per serving)
    Ingredients
    • 5 medium portobello mushrooms, stems and gills removed, sliced ½ inch thick
    • 3 teaspoons dried oregano
    • 4 garlic cloves, minced
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • Coarse salt and ground pepper
    • 4 medium zucchini, cut into 2-by-1/2-inch sticks
    • 1 medium red onion, halved and sliced ¼-inch thick
    • 12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
    • 6 ounces Monterey Jack cheese with roasted red peppers*, shredded, for serving
    • ½ cup fresh salsa, for serving
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
    2. In a 13 x 9 baking dish (or rimmed baking sheet) toss mushrooms with 1 tablespoon oil, 1½ teaspoons oregano, 2 minced garlic cloves, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
    3. In a separate 13 x 9 baking dish (or rimmed baking sheet) toss zucchini and red onion with remaining oil, oregano and garlic; season with salt and pepper to taste.
    4. Place both dishes in oven. Roast, tossing approximately every 10 minutes) until vegetables are browned and fork-tender (about 30 minutes).
    5. Meanwhile, stack tortillas and wrap in damp paper towel and microwave for 30-45 seconds.
    6. To serve, fill each tortilla with mushrooms, vegetable mixture, cheese and salsa.
    Notes
    You can substitute plain Monterey Jack cheese if you are unable to find Monterey Jack cheese with roasted red peppers.

    Adapted from Everyday Food

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    Ravioli with Roasted Zucchini

    For the second recipe of ‘Zucchini Week,’ I am very excited to share this Ravioli with Roasted Zucchini recipe.  This dish has immediately vaulted its way into our rotation, and frankly we have been trying to find excuses to make it again and again and again.  It’s that good and easy too!

    We are huge garlic fans, so I thought slices instead of crushed would be a nice change.  The garlic pieces become a little crispy, which adds nice texture to the dish and the flavor is incredible.  The crushed red pepper gives this dish a little kick as well.  All together, this becomes the perfect topping for ravioli, or any pasta really.

    Ravioli with Roasted Zucchini
    Yields 4 servings

    4 small zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
    6 garlic cloves, sliced
    1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
    1 pound fresh cheese or spinach ravioli
    3 tablespoons chopped parsley

    1. Preheat oven to 400.  Spray baking dish or rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.  Set aside.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil
    2. In a small bowl, mix olive oil and crushed red pepper. 
    3. Add zucchini, garlic and 3 tablespoons cheese to oil mixture and toss until thorougly coated.  
    4. Place zucchini mixture in a single layer on a baking dish or rimmed baking sheet.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, tossing halfway through, until tender and golden brown.
    5. Meanwhile, within the last 5-10 minutes of baking time, add ravioli to boiling water and cook per package directions (or 3-5 minutes until they float).  Drain and place in large bowl.
    6. Toss ravioli gently with roasted zucchini and garlic, half the parsley, and half of the remaining cheese.  Serve immediately, topping with remaining parsley and cheese.

    Adapted from Real Simple

    Spinach and Mushroom Frittata with Smoked Gouda {Alida's Kitchen}

    Mushroom and Spinach Frittata with Smoked Gouda

    On Monday, I shared with you a summery dessert that uses 4 egg yolks.  I also promised you a healthy way to use up those remaining egg whites.  A promise is a promise!  This Mushroom Spinach Frittata with Smoked Gouda uses exactly 4 egg whites.  How is that for even-steven!

    Now I’m not normally a ‘smoked’ fan, but smoked gouda is truly the perfect complement to the earthy mushrooms in this frittata. The spinach gives beautiful color and flavor to the dish as well. From the original recipe, I increased the onion and added garlic. To compensate for these additions, I increased the olive oil by 1 teaspoon.

    The result is a delicious protein-packed veggie-filled dish that is perfect for breakfast, brunch, or a light dinner served with a side salad (saving room for Lime Tart for dessert, of course).

    Mushroom and Spinach Frittata with Smoked Gouda
     
    Yields: 4 servings
    Ingredients
    • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 cup chopped Vidalia onion
    • 8 ounces sliced mushrooms (I used baby bellas)
    • 3 garlic cloves, minced
    • 4 cups packed baby spinach leaves
    • 2 large eggs
    • 4 large egg whites
    • ½ cup shredded smoked Gouda cheese, divided
    • Pinch of salt
    • ¼ teaspoon pepper
    • Cooking spray
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8-inch round cake pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
    2. Heat olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, cook 2 minutes. Add garlic, cook 1 minute. Add mushrooms; cook, stirring frequently, until tender (approximately 5 minutes). Add spinach, cover and cook until wilted (1 minute).
    3. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, egg whites, ¼ cup cheese, salt and pepper. Add spinach mixture to egg mixture, mix well.
    4. Pour mixture into cake pan and sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup cheese.
    5. Bake 30 minutes or until eggs have set. Cut into 4 wedges and serve.

     

    Nutrition Information per Serving (1/4 frittata)
    Calories = 177 ~ Fat = 9.6g ~ Carbs = 8.8g ~ Fiber = 1.5g ~ Protein = 13.5g

    Adapted from Health Magazine, March 2007

    Baked Penne with Cheddar & Leeks

    Hi friends, are you still with me? In yesterday’s food-free post, I promised you a tasty recipe. What can be more tasty than cheese…and lots of it! Not much if you ask me. This upscale version of macaroni and cheese has plenty of cheese and a twist to boot.

    Actually the twist in this dish is two-fold. For one, eggs, in lieu of a roux, are used as a thickener which creates a gooey custard. For two, the addition of sweet leeks provides the perfect counterbalance to the cheddar.  All together it takes your everyday macaroni and cheese comfort food to a whole new level of cheesy goodness. 

    While it takes a little extra effort to make this dish, it is definitely worth it.  It makes enough to serve a crowd, a couple of hungry teenagers, or simply to reheat throughout the week for lunches.  Served with a side of green beans, a salad or whatever is your favorite vegetable, Baked Penne with Cheddar and Leeks is sure to become a family favorite!

    Have a fabulous weekend and thank you for visiting Alida’s Kitchen!

    Baked Penne with Cheddar and Leeks
    Serves 8 to 10

    1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter  (I used light butter)

    5 cups chopped leeks, white and pale green parts only; about 5 large
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    1/4 cup all purpose flour
    3 1/2 cups skim milk
    1 pound extra-sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated, about 4 cups packed
    1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
    Fresh ground pepper
    2 large eggs
    1 pound penne pasta
    1. Spray baking dish with cooking spray 13 x 9 baking dish. Set aside.  Preheat oven to 400°F.
    2. Melt 1/4 cup butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat.
    3. Add leeks; stir to coat. Cover saucepan and cook until leeks are tender, stirring occasionally (about 12 minutes; do not brown).  After about 10 minutes, add minced garlic to the leeks to cook for the final 2 minutes.  
    4. Then uncover saucepan; add flour. Stir 2 minutes. Add milk; bring to simmer, stirring often. Add cheese, mustard, and pepper sauce. Stir until cheese melts. Remove from heat. Season cheese sauce to taste with salt. 
    5. Whisk eggs in medium bowl. Gradually whisk in 1 cup cheese sauce. Stir egg mixture into cheese sauce in saucepan.
    6. Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain. Return to pot.
    7. Stir cheese sauce into pasta in pot. Transfer to prepared baking dish.
    8. Bake pasta until cheese sauce is bubbling around edges and some ends of pasta are golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.  Let stand 15 minutes. Serve hot.

    Adapted from Bon Apetit

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    Pasta with Grape Tomatoes and Mozzarella

    The first time I made this pasta, I was a little underwhelmed. It was good, but not great. While I love pasta, tomatoes, mozzarella and chickpeas, there was something that just wasn’t doing it for me. However, I was not willing to give up on this recipe so easily. It had all the potential to be something fantastic, just clearly needed a little tweaking. 

    First, I decided to marinate the tomatoes and mozzarella in the vinaigrette while I cooked the pasta. I also added some garlic for good measure. It then became obvious. While thyme may offer a unique flavor, it was just not right in this dish. What goes best with tomatoes and mozzarella is…basil! Nothing beats classic caprese-inspired flavors. 

    As I hoped, with just a few changes, this dish became something extraordinary. It was simple, delicious and very easy to make. We enjoyed this pasta warm as an entree, but it would also be excellent served as a pasta salad. This quick and easy pasta has definitely landed a spot in our weeknight dinner rotation!

    Pasta with Grape Tomatoes and Mozzarella
    Yields 4 to 6 servings

    1 tablespoons olive oil
    1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish

    1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
    8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cubed

    12 ounces pasta (any shape short pasta, any flavor; I used whole wheat & flax rotini)
    1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
    Coarse salt and ground pepper

    1. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, garlic and basil.  Add tomatoes and mozzarella and toss until combined.  Set aside.
    2. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water until al dente, according to package instructions.   Add chickpeas to pot for the last 2 minutes of cooking.  Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water. Drain pasta mixture and return to pot.
    3. Add tomato mixture to pasta.  Toss, adding reserved pasta water a little at a time to create a thin sauce to coat the pasta (you may not need all of the water). 
    4. Season with salt and pepper, as desired and toss to combined.  Serve, garnished with basil leaves, if desired.
    Adapted from Everyday Food
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    Chipotle Black Bean Tacos

    Chipotle Black Bean Tacos are a delicious meatless taco recipe filled with black beans and vegetables. {gluten free, vegetarian, vegan, depending on toppings}
    Chipotle Black Bean Tacos | alidaskitchen.com
    Chipotle Black Bean Tacos are my favorite dish for meatless Monday, taco Tuesday or any day. They are fabulous! These tacos are made with mashed black beans, onions, peppers, chipotle peppers, spices, salsa, some broth, and then topped with any of your favorite taco toppings. The taco filling reheats well, and I often enjoy leftovers for lunches throughout the week (that is if there are any leftovers).
    Chipotle Black Bean Tacos | alidaskitchen.com
    These Chipotle Black Bean Tacos can be vegan and gluten free, depending on the tortillas and/or toppings. I enjoy them as a vegetarian options, since I like to add a bit of cheese. The taco filling reheats well, and I often enjoy leftovers for lunches throughout the week (that is if there are any leftovers).

    Chipotle Black Bean Tacos
     
    Author:
    Yields: 6 servings
    Ingredients
    • 1 tablespoon canola oil
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 2 bell peppers (ribs and seeds removed), chopped
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 teaspoons chili powder
    • 1 teaspoon cumin
    • 1-2 teaspoons chipotle chili in adobo sauce, minced
    • ⅓ cup vegetable broth
    • 2 15 ounce cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
    • ½ cup salsa
    • 6 10-inch whole wheat tortillas
    • Topping ideas for serving: spinach or lettuce, diced tomatoes, shredded cheese, Greek yogurt or sour cream, chopped green onions, salsa
    Instructions
    1. Heat oil in large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and peppers to pan and saute for 3-5 minutes, until crisp-tender.
    2. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin and chipotle chilis, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
    3. Add beans and broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat until medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes, until mixture has thickened.
    4. Remove from heat and stir in salsa. Mash lightly using a potato masher (or fork).
    5. Stack tortillas, wrap in damp paper towel and microwave for 45-60 seconds.
    6. Serve ⅓ cup filling for each tortilla along with desired toppings.
    Notes
    Adapted from Pink Parsley, originally from Cooking Light

    Chipotle Black Bean Tacos | alidaskitchen.com

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    Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

    As my rosemary plant continues to flourish, so continues my search for tasty recipes using rosemary.  I recently made Herbed Balsamic Grilled Chicken, which required a suitable accompaniment.  For some reason it was just screaming potatoes to me.  

    This recipe for Rosemary Roasted Potatoes has a nice short list of ingredients and could not be any easier.  It is very hands off, which worked well with cooking the rest of the meal on the grill (or doing whatever else you need to do).

    The only changes I made from the original recipe were adding more garlic and increasing the amount of potatoes to use up my 2 pound bag.  Otherwise, this recipe is absolutely THE perfect go-to recipe for roasted potatoes.

    Rosemary Roasted Potatoes
    Serves 6 to 8

    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
    1/2 teaspoon kosher flake salt
    Freshly ground pepper, to taste
    2 pounds red potatoes, quartered
    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

    1. Cut potatoes in quarters and put in bowl with the olive oil, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper.  Toss making sure potatoes are well-coated.
    2. Dump potatoes on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and spread out so they are 1 layer.
    3. Roast in oven for at least an hour, or until browned and crisp.  Flip twice during cooking to ensure evenly browning. 

    Slightly adapted from Ina Garten

    Veggie Pizza Puffs

    Garden Pizza Puffs

    Veggie Pizza Puffs

    We eat a lot of muffins in this house.  We also eat a lot of pizza.  So when I stumbled upon a recipe for pizza made in a mini-muffin tin, it was like two worlds colliding into something brilliant!

    Garden Pizza Puffs are cheesy, delicious and very easy to make. With only about 35 calories per puff, they are a fun and healthy option to satisfy your pizza cravings.

    The original recipe is made with pepperoni, which would be pretty good.  I thought it would be even better with made vegetables and herbs.  The recipe written below reflects the vegetables that I used, though you can experiment with the same amounts of whatever meats and/or vegetables you like.  I have also used whole wheat and all-purpose flours, and either one works great.  The beauty of this recipe is the ability to customize everything to suit your preferences.

    Served with a side of pizza sauce for dipping or with a dollop of sauce on each puff, these would make for a super cute appetizer at your next dinner party.  Mike and I had 10 puffs each and called it dinner.  These puffs would also be a tasty treat for kids.

    Given the unlimited possibilities, I look forward to doing lots of experimenting with this recipe.  In the meantime, we will just have to continue to test several variations of pizza puffs.  Oh the sacrifices we make! 🙂

    Garden Pizza Puffs
     
    Yields: Yields 24 puffs (see note)
    Ingredients
    • ¾ cup all-purpose flour or whole wheat pastry flour
    • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
    • ¾ cup skim milk
    • 1 egg, lightly beaten
    • 4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
    • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
    • ½ cup red onion, chopped
    • ½ cup roasted red pepper, chopped
    • 1½ teaspoons Italian seasoning
    • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
    • pizza sauce, for serving
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 24-cup mini-muffin pan with cooking spray and set aside.
    2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder. Whisk in the milk and egg. Fold in the cheese, garlic, onion, roasted red pepper, Italian seasoning, and crushed red pepper (if using). Let stand for 10 minutes.
    3. Stir the batter and divide evenly among the mini-muffin cups (fill to about ½ to ⅔ full).
    4. Bake until puffed and golden, 20 to 25 mintutes. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes. Remove from pan serve with pizza sauce.
    Notes
    Yields 12 puffs in a regular-sized muffin pan - adjust baking time to 25 to 30 minutes.

    Adapted from Rachael Ray

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    Kiddie Cheese Square

    All right folks, here is a tasty treat for your little ones. Now Adam is not a picky eater per se, but he will not eat plain cottage cheese, and he will not eat plain eggs (no matter how much cheese is added).  Put the 2 together, along with some flour and shredded cheese and voila! Kiddie Cheese Square is delicious, protein-packed, and one of Adam’s favorite lunches!


    Making Kiddie Cheese Square could not be any easier – just mix everything together and bake. I typically cut the square in quarters and then wrap each quarter in cling wrap to store (and refrigerate after a couple days).  I have also stored cheese square in the pan, but fridge space is a premium in our house, so storing them as quarters is easier. Do what works best for you.


    To serve, I cut 1-2 strips from the square and heat in the microwave for about 5 seconds (enough to heat and soften the square).  I then cut the strips into bite-sized pieces for Adam. At 16 months, he averages about 4 strips per sitting, and at 12 months, he ate 1-2 strips.

    I think cheese square tastes like a cheesy pie crust.  Others have remarked it is like kiddie pizza without the sauce.  Regardless of what we think, Adam just thinks it’s great!  Who would have thought that 4 simple ingredients mixed together could turn into something so tasty! 

    Kiddie Cheese Square
    Yields one 9 x 9 square, serving size varies

    3/4 cup all-purpose flour (see note)
    1 egg, lightly beaten
    3 ounces cheese, shredded (any cheese, such as cheddar, colby jack, mozzarella)
    1 cup cottage cheese

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 9 x 9 inch baking pan with cooking spray.  Set aside.
    2. In a large bowl, combine cheese, egg and cottage cheese.  Add flour and mix until combined.  Be careful not to over mix. (Note: mixture will be stiff to stir, yet sticky to the touch).  
    3. Pour mixture in baking pan.  Using waxed paper, press mixture to spread out and fill the pan.  
    4. Bake for about 35-40  minutes, or until a toothpick in the middle comes out clean.   Be careful not to over bake.  Cool and cut into squares. 

    Note:  I have tried using whole wheat flour and whole wheat pastry flour, and this definitely works best with all-purpose flour.  Whole wheat flours made the square too dense for Adam to “chew” but might work for a child with molars. 

    Adapted from The Everything Cooking for Baby and Toddler Book

    Herbed-Grilled Tomatoes

    Copyright 2011 Alida’s Kitchen. All rights reserved.

    Growing up, I remember summer was filled with an abundance of zucchini, rhubarb and tomatoes. According to me, zucchini was best served as bread, rhubarb was best served as crisp and tomatoes were best served to someone else. I was not a fan of tomatoes.

    Actually, I still do not care for plain tomatoes, unless they are in a salad. I like my tomatoes made into something. And I must say, these Herbed-Grilled Tomatoes are definintely something!

    Of course you can’t go wrong with balsamic vinegar, fresh basil and garlic. In fact, that makes for a pretty common (and tasty) vinaigrette.  The role of the marinade in this dish is perfectly subtle.   

    What takes these tomatoes from ordinary to extraordinary is in the grilling. The charring from the grill, combined with the marinade, results in tomatoes literally bursting with fresh flavor.  Topped with Parmesan cheese, Herbed-Grilled Tomatoes are an easy, healthy, and delicious side dish made on grill.

    Herbed-Grilled Tomatoes
    Yields 4 servings (2 tomato halves per serving)

    1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
    3-4 garlic cloves, minced
    1 teaspoon minced fresh basil
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
    4 medium tomatoes, halved
    1 tablespoon grated fresh Parmesan cheese

    1. In a wide shallow bowl (13 x 9 baking dish works well) mix together the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, basil, salt and pepper.
    2. Add tomatoes, and turn to coat them on all sides.
    3. Prepare grill: brush grates with oil or spray with cooking spray, and preheat to medium high.
    4. Place tomatoes, cut sides down, on the grill rack.  Brush once with remaining marinade, and then discard marinade.  Grill about 5-7 minutes on each side, or until tomatoes begin to blister, soften and brown.  (Note:  They can burn easily so keep an eye on them.)
    5. Remove the tomatoes from grill and top with parmesan cheese.  Garnish with fresh basil leaves, if desired.  Serve immediately.

    Adapted from Health, June, 2007

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    Balsamic Portobello Mushroom Burgers

    I am always looking for tasty vegetarian options for the grill, and these Balsamic Portobello Mushroom Burgers are a definite winner.  The thirsty mushrooms soak up the balsamic vinegar and garlic, yielding an amazing flavor.  Paired with the goat cheese, it is a combination that pleases both non-meat and meat eaters alike. 

    These burgers are very quick to make.  Just mix the marinade in the baking dish and let the mushrooms and peppers soak.  You can even get your preparation out of the way the day before, intensifying the flavor by letting everything marinate overnight.

    On each burger is a slice of red pepper topped with a portobello mushroom, topped with goat cheese, topped with another portobello.  Then sprinkle on a little more goat cheese, top with spinach, close the sandwich and eat!

    Balsamic Portobello Mushroom Burgers

    Yields 4 servings
    1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for grates
    1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
    4 garlic cloves, minced
    Coarse salt and ground pepper
    1 red bell pepper (ribs and seeds removed), cut into 4 equal pieces
    8 portobello mushrooms (about 1 pound total), stems and ribs removed
    4 onion hamburger buns
    4 ounces goat cheese (crumbled or log; if using a log, cut into slices to place in between the mushrooms)
    several spinach leaves
    1. In a shallow dish (a 13 x 9 baking dish works well), whisk together oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper. Add bell pepper and mushrooms, turning to make sure everything gets coated.  Marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes up to overnight.  
    2. Heat grill to medium; lightly oil grates. Grill bell pepper, skin side down, until blackened, about 10 minutes; remove from grill and place in Ziploc bag. When cool enough to handle, remove and discard skin; set bell pepper aside.
    3. Starting with dome-side down, grill mushrooms, covered, until lightly charred.  Flip and grill the other side of mushroom until lightly charred and mushroom is tender.  (approx. 3 to 4 minutes per side).
    4. Dividing evenly, top bottom half of each bun with bell pepper and mushrooms.  Put goat cheese in the middle of the 2 mushroom caps.  Top with spinach and sprinkle with remaining goat cheese.  Close burger, and serve immediately.

    Alternative:  This recipe would also make an excellent salad (great for someone who is watching carbs or if you just want more veggies).  To make this into a salad, follow the directions above through step 3.  Then slice the mushrooms and peppers, toss with a bowl of spinach or mixed greens and top with goat cheese.

    Adapted from Everyday Food

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    Radicchio, Spinach, Apricot Salad with Goat Cheese

    My husband and I are creatures of habit.  We have a salad with dinner (almost) every night.  It’s usually spinach or mixed greens and tomatoes with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and sunflower seeds.  It’s simple.  It’s tasty.  It’s routine.   


    So when I had leftover goat cheese from the Tomato and Leek Frittata with Goat Cheese, I wanted to shake our routine up a bit.  Radicchio, Spinach, Apricot Salad with Goat Cheese became a welcome change from our usual salad.  The creamy goat cheese with the bitter radicchio with the sweet apricots is a combination that is simply a-ma-zing!  

     

    Since I had mixed greens on hand, I decided to use that in place of the spinach.  This salad is equally delicious using just spinach.  I reduced the amount of the oil in the vinaigrette, which is nice and light and just pulls everything together.  Soaking the apricots is an excellent method to plump up the fruit into soft juicy bursts of sweetness.

    Have a Happy Father’s Day weekend!  

    Radicchio, Spinach, Apricot Salad with Goat Cheese
    Yields 4 servings
    1/2 cup dried apricots
    2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    coarse salt and pepper
    1 head radicchio, halved, cored and roughly torn
    5 ounces fresh spinach or mixed greens
    2 ounces soft crumbled goat cheese 
    1. Place apricots in a small bowl and cover with boiling water; let stand for about 5 minutes.  Drain and pat try with paper towels.  Cut into small pieces, if desired.
    2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, salt and pepper.
    3. Add spinach and radicchio to bowl with vinaigrette and toss to combine.  Add apricots.  Serve topped with crumbled goat cheese.
    Adapted from Everyday Food (November, 2007)
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    Tomato Leek Frittata with Goat Cheese

    After taking a bite of this frittata, my husband sat for a minute and then said ‘Goat cheese is great, when done in the right way.’  Uh oh…and while I couldn’t agree more, I do know he’s not as fond of goat cheese as I am.  Fortunately he followed that up by saying ‘This way was definitely the right way!’ and quickly cleaned his plate!

    Goat cheese is definitely an ingredient that makes a statement.  Too much can ruin a dish.  Just the right amount can take an ordinary dish and make it extraordinary.

    So is the case with this frittata.  Goat cheese is the perfect complement to liven up the sauteed vegetables and eggs.  I reduced the amount of goat cheese from the original recipe, as I found it a bit overpowering.  I was a little generous when measuring the leeks because I love the subtle flavor and beautiful color.  Since I had large grape tomatoes, I halved them, and they still burst with each bite.  Beating the egg whites gives this frittata a souffle-like quality that just melts in your mouth. 

    The result is an exquisit blast of flavors in a light and airy frittata.   

    Tomato and Leek Frittata with Goat Cheese
    Yields 4 servings

    3 teaspoons olive oil
    2 1/4 cups sliced leeks
    coarse salt and ground pepper
    1 cup grape tomatoes
    6 egg whites
    4 egg yolks
    3 ounces crumbled goat cheese

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in 10-inch ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium. Add leeks ; season with coarse salt and ground pepper. Cover; cook 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes. Cover; cook 2 minutes. Transfer to bowl and wipe out skillet.
    2. In another bowl, beat 6 egg whites with salt and pepper to stiff peaks. Whisk in 4 egg yolks.
    3. Heat skillet with 1 teaspoon olive oil.  Add eggs; sprinkle with vegetables and goat cheese. Cook over medium until sides are dry, 3 minutes. Transfer to oven; bake until eggs are set, about 15 to 20 minutes.
    Adapted from Everyday Food
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    Grilled Stuffed Jalapeno Peppers

    It is not very often that a new recipe immediately leaps way to the top of the list.  But when I saw a tasty recipe in Experience Life magazine, I think my heart skipped a beat with excitement.  I got that ‘I just found a recipe that will change your life’ feeling.  Cheese, black beans, green onions, garlic and spices, all nestled in a tasty little jalapeno?  Seriously?  Time to fire up the grill!

    In fact, I was tempted to simply grab a spoon and eat the filling straight from the bowl.

    I resisted and instead stuffed these beautiful jalapenos.  The result is a delightful, healthy twist on a jalapeno popper.

    This heavenly dish makes for a perfect appetizer at any summer gathering, yet is easy enough to whip together for a light weeknight dinner.  Enjoy and have a great weekend!

    Grilled Stuffed Jalapeno Peppers
    Yields 8 (appetizer) or 4 (dinner) servings

    16 jalapeno peppers
    1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
    1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
    1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
    4 green onions, chopped
    4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
    1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    3/4 teaspoon chili powder

    1. In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except the peppers.
    2. Make a lengthwise slit down each pepper, leaving the stem intact; carefully remove ribs and seeds.  (Tip: a quick rinse helps remove the seeds from the inside, lessening the heat)
    3. Distribute filling evenly among peppers (about 1 tablespoon per pepper).
    4. Heat grill to medium heat.  Place stuffed peppers on a sheet of foil on the grill.  Cover and cook until cheese mixture has melted and peppers are softened, about 10-15 minutes.

    Adapted from Experience Life

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    Mixed Green Salad with Dried Cherries

    I love this salad!  It’s simple.  It’s elegant.  It’s delicious.

    What’s not to love really.  Mixed greens.  Mustard and red wine vinaigrette.  Sliced red onion.  Sweet dried cherries.  Toasted pepitas.

    The tangy vinaigrette is the perfect complement to the sweetness of the cherries and red onion.  And the roasted pepitas add a complexity that tops off the salad perfectly.
    Mixed Green Salad with Dried Cherries
     
    Ingredients
    • 3 teaspoons red wine vinegar
    • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
    • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    • Fresh ground pepper
    • 8 oz mixed greens
    • ½ cup sliced red onion
    • ½ cup dried sweet cherries
    • ¼ cup pepitas
    Instructions
    1. In a 350 degree oven, toast pepitas on a pie plate for 10 minutes.
    2. In a large bowl whisk together vinegar, mustard, olive oil and ground pepper.
    3. Add mixed greens, onion, cherries and pepitas to bowl and toss to combine.
    Nutrition Information
    Serving size: 4 servings

    Adapted from Martha Stewart

    Thank you for visiting Alida’s Kitchen!  Have a great weekend!

    cheese enchilada casserole

    Cheese Enchilada Casserole

    Truth be told, after the birth of our son, my husband (Mike) and I fell into what some might affectionately call a “dinner rut.”  Our dinners were something quick and easy for Mike to whip together while I took care of putting the baby to bed.  And the rotation went something like this: pizza (frozen), pasta (fresh ravioli), Pei Wei (sesame chicken!), and eggs (which later morphed into “p’eggs”).  We were tired.  We were hungry.  Sometimes we had pizza 2 nights in a row.  After many many months we were ready for a change.  The baby was older and bedtime a bit more predictable.  It was time to dig into my recipe archives, and the revival of Cheese Enchilada Casserole was born.

    Cheese Enchilada Casserole is an easy weeknight meal that’s full of flavor and is healthy too.  With some advance prep work it can easily be assembled and on the table in around 30 minutes.  There are countless variations that can evolve from this basic recipe – add chicken or black beans, vary the cheese or tomatoes or sauce.  Yet it’s just as tasty prepared in the version written below.

    Cheese Enchilada Casserole
     
    Yields: 4 servings
    Ingredients
    • 1 cup (8 oz) fat free cottage cheese
    • 1 cup (4 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
    • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
    • 15 oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles
    • 3 cloves minced garlic
    • 2 tsp chili powder
    • 1 cup taco sauce
    • ¼ cup (1 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
    • 9 6" corn tortillas
    • Cooking spray
    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 13 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
    2. Mix first 6 ingredients, through chili powder, in bowl. [This step can be done in advance]
    3. Place 3 corn tortillas in baking dish. Top tortillas with ½ of cheese mixture. Repeat. Top final layer with 3 corn tortillas.
    4. Pour taco sauce over tortillas and top with ¼ cup cheddar cheese.
    5. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving. Slice into 4 pieces and serve.

    Adapted from Cooking Light

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    Onion Cheese Quesadilla

    I discovered this quesadilla recipe while searching for meal ideas for my son, and when I showed it to my husband he said “Yes, please.”  It instantly went on the menu for the week and we’re both very glad it did.

    Why have I never made quesadillas before?  Are they difficult?  No.  Time consuming?  Not in the least.  Intimidating?  Maybe a little bit with the whole flipping thing.  Really, these could not be any easier and are so quick to put together. 

    There are endless possibilities of fillings, but this time I wanted to keep it simple and stick close to the original recipe.  While my husband and I were eating these wedges of cheesy and onion-y goodness, I could definitely foresee more quesadillas in our future. 

    Onion Cheese Quesadilla
    Adapted slightly from Weelicious

    4 whole wheat tortillas
    1 1/2 cups (6 oz) mozzarella cheese, shredded
    1/2 cup red onion, sliced
    cooking spray

    1. Saute red onion in pan sprayed with cooking spray until soft and translucent.  Place in bowl and set aside.
    2. Using another pan (I used nonstick), place tortilla in dry pan over medium heat. Place 3/4 cup cheese and 1/2 the onion on the tortilla and top with another tortilla.  Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until cheese is melted and tortilla is toasted. 
    3. Repeat with remaining ingredients for second quesadilla.
    4. Slice into wedges and serve with salsa, sour cream, guacamole or any of your favorite fixings.

    Serves 2 to 4

    Thank you for visiting Alida’s Kitchen!

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    Crustless Broccoli Cheddar Quiche

    Welcome to Alida’s Kitchen!  For my inaugural post, I am sharing with you a tasty crustless quiche recipe made with a few simple ingredients.  It is so easy to put together!  The cheddar cheese really adds a nice flavor to this egg dish, and broccoli adds great texture.  My husband and I enjoyed this quiche for dinner with a side salad (and leftovers made for great lunches the next day!), although it would be excellent for a brunch or anytime really. 
     

    Crustless Broccoli Cheddar Quiche
    Adapted from Everyday Food

    10 oz. frozen broccoli florets
    6 large eggs
    1/2 cup fat free half and half
    1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
    Ground pepper
    3/4 cup (3 ounces) cheddar cheese
    Cooking spray

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9 inch pie dish with cooking spray.  Set aside.
    2. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil.  Add broccoli; cook 1 minute.  Drain well; transfer to a cutting board and blot dry with paper towels.  Chop coarsely.
    3. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half and nutmeg.  Add ground pepper to taste.  Stir in broccoli and cheese.
    4. Pour broccoli mixture into pie plate and bake until golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes.

    Yields 4 servings

    Thank you for visiting Alida’s Kitchen.  Have a happy day!