Posts Tagged ‘cheese’

Ok. You may be thinking…”Soup? I thought this was a baking blog?”

Well, it is! However, I used the oven to prep for the soup so I figured it deserved a post. Why not! Plus, I think you’ll like it. If you’re vegan, you’ll definitely like it! Just omit the sprinkle of parmesan at the end.

If you’re not vegan, you’ll certainly reap the benefits. Flavorful and good for you! Brussel sprouts contain cholesterol-lowering and anti-inflammatory benefits. Additionally, beans are naturally low in fat and contain a nice dose of fiber, protein and iron among other fab health benefits!

I was inspired by this recipe, but wanted to give it deeper flavor so I oven roasted the brussel sprouts and added 1 teaspoon of cumin. I LOVE cumin!

Oven Roasted Brussel Sprout Soup with White Beans

Inspired from this recipe

Print Recipe

– 1 lb Brussel sprouts

– 1 12 ounce can white beans

– 1 small white onion, chopped

– 2 cups low sodium vegetable broth

– 1 tsp ground cumin

– 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

– sea salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Toss Brussel sprouts in 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Roast in oven for about 30 to 35 mins. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Cut the oven-roasted sprouts in half or quarters.

In a large pot or dutch oven, brown onions in 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Add the Brussel sprouts to the onions, add beans, cumin and vegetable broth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Cook until all the vegetables are cooked. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup inside the large pot. I like my soup a bit chunky with some beans and Brussel sprouts so I didn’t puree the entire soup. Use the immersion blender based on your preference.

Enjoy with a generous sprinkling of aged parmesan cheese!


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It’s entertaining season! Yet, many of us don’t really need a reason or season to entertain…it’s fun and it brings friends and family together!

I have a mouthwatering appetizer for you to make for your next soiree! Grilled apple slices with applewood smoked cheddar blanketed in prosciutto. It’s sweet from the apple, creamy and savory from the applewood smoked cheddar and salty from the prosciutto. Is your mouth watering yet?

What I think you’ll like about this recipe is that it’s completely flexible; use brie, sharp cheddar, swiss, havarti, emanthaler and other great cheeses that stand up to apples. The nutritional fiber from the apples and protein from the cheese and prosciutto will keep you satisfied. Here are more nutritional perks of apples.

Grilled Apple Slices with Applewood Smoked Cheddar Blanketed in Prosciutto

Print Recipe

– 2 to 3 medium Granny Smith apples. 1 medium apple yields about 14 servings.
– applewood smoked cheddar or the cheese of your choice.
– 10 to 12 thin slices of prosciutto, sliced lengthwise and halved
– 1 Tbls freshly squeezed lemon juice
– olive oil for drizzling. optional.

Core the apples and carefully make thick slices. Do not halve the apple slices, that will happen later. Place the apple slices in a bowl and cover with the fresh lemon juice to prevent the apples from browning.

Place a nonstick grill pan over medium to high heat. When the grill pan is hot, add apple slices and grill for about 60 seconds per side. You want the grill marks but want to ensure the slices do not become too soft and gummy. Cool the slices on a wire rack. Cut the apples slices in half when they have cooled.

Wrap a cube of the applewood smoked cheddar with a piece of prosciutto and attach to the apple slice with a toothpick. Time to serve and enjoy!

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Did you grow-up with Kraft Macaroni and Cheese? I definitely did! I even took the iconic blue-boxed dinner to college with me…how could I not?! Easy to make and perfect for post party munchies! Dear god…college memories. I digress.

A fond memory I have of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese is what my sister and I like to call the “Babysitter Dinner” – Macaroni and cheese with hot dog links stirred in.

As a youngster, I loved this dinner! I loved any babysitter that could make this for me and my sister. Well…I am not a youngster anymore; I’ve kept the blue-boxed memories but not the blue box dinner.

I fully enjoy the grown-up version of the “Babysitter Dinner;” a stove top mac-n-cheese made with whole-wheat pasta, sharp cheddar and grilled chicken sausage. Divine!

You’ll like this too. Firstly, it takes less than 30-minutes to make! Take that Rachel Ray! 🙂 It contains whole-wheat goodness from the pasta, lean chicken sausage, fat-free evaporated milk rather than regular evaporated milk and reduced fat sharp cheddar that still holds it’s flavor.

Nutritional perks –

    Whole wheat
    Sharp cheddar

Stove Top Mac-n-Cheese with Chicken Sausage
Inspired and loosely adapted from this recipe

Print Recipe

– 12 oz spiral whole-wheat pasta or your favorite pasta shape
– 1 cup grated reduced fat sharp cheddar
– 1 egg
– 1 (12 oz) can of fat free evaporated milk
– 1/2 tsp mustard powder
– 3 chicken sausage, grilled and sliced on the bias
– sea salt and pepper to taste
– dried bread crumbs (optional)

Cook pasta according to package, drain and return to pot. The pot should be set at medium-low heat. Stir-in the grated cheese, evaporated milk, egg, mustard powder. Continue stirring until the mixture is thick and creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Incorporate the sliced grilled sausage.

Turn on the broiler. Divide into individual oven-proof bowls or ramekins. Sprinkle dried bread crumbs and place in broiler till the bread crumbs become toasty and light brown. Dig in!

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Guess what?

I traveled to Italy this past weekend…

Well, maybe my senses did! My house smelled like Italy. Let me tell you, it was amazing! I took my 5th or 6th try at making a yeast bread, and what emerged from my oven was a fragrant focaccia loaf! I had to do a double-take…did I really make that? Did my loaf actually rise and not feel like a heavy brick?

Yes I made the loaf and yes it rose and was tender and sensational.

This loaf contains 3 aromatic tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and the top is brushed with olive oil as well. Extra virgin olive oil is heart-healthy and many physicians advise that two tablespoons of olive oil per day may reduce the risk of heart disease. I’ll drink to that! Here are more nutritional perks of olive oil.

Adapted from this recipe

Print Recipe

– 11/2 cups warm water
– 3 Tbls extra virgin olive oil (plus additional for brushing on top of loaf)
– 11/4 tsp sea salt
– 31/2 cups all-purpose wheat flour
– 1 Tbls instant yeast
– 1/4 cup shredded cheese of your choice
– 1/4 cup sliced black olives or other toppings of your choice
– 1 tsp herbs de Provence or other dried herbs of your choice

Use a small amount of olive oil to grease the inside of a round 9-inch pan.

Combine the first five ingredients in a large bowl. Beat at high speed for about one minute, with a stand mixer or electric mixer.

Scoop the sticky batter into the prepared pan, cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise for one hour at room temperature. It will become puffy!

While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

When the dough is finished rising, lightly poke the top of the dough all over. Using a pastry brush, brush the top of the dough with olive oil, gently push-in the sliced olives, sprinkle with herbs and shredded cheese.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the loaf is golden brown. During this time, your house will smell like Italy. No joke!

Remove from the oven and allow it to cool for five minutes before you remove from the baking pan. Cool on a wire rack.

I recommend serving this warm!

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I like cream cheese. Toast and cream cheese? Yeah, I like it. But sometimes it needs some umph! Ya know? I’ll smear come jam with my cream cheese, or drizzle some maple syrup or honey, or simply add a dash of ground cinnamon. Sigh…same song and dance with this cream cheese business! What to do?

Gourmet it! Change it! Neufchatel and more!

If you like cream cheese, then you’ll like Neufchatel cheese. There are actually two types of Neufchatel, a French version and an American version. The American Neufchatel is the one we see in the markets, in fact, it sits very close to the iconic cream cheese.

So, Neufchatel….yup! This is why I think you’ll like it…

It’s very similar to cream cheese in texture and flavor. Yum!
It’s lower in calories and fat than regular cream cheese. For those calorie counters out there, this one’s for you! Not a calorie counter, there is much to be enjoyed. I promise!

I wanted my Neufchatel to be creamy, sweet and aromatic. And it was! I rehydrated dried figs in balsamic vinegar while it reduced on the stove. The balsamic vinegar became an aromatic syrup and the [now] plump figs were sweet and insatiable. The combo is heavenly.

The Neufchatel and fig and balsamic mixture had a marriage and became a pleasing spread for my toast, my rustic bread, my crackers…anything.

Nutritional perks –

    Figs – A good source of potassium, which helps control blood pressure. A good source of dietary fiber and calcium.

Balsamic Fig Cheese Spread

Print Recipe

– 6 dried figs, halved
– 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
– 8 oz Neufchatel cheese, at room temperature

Add the balsamic vinegar and dried figs in a small to medium saucepan over medium heat. When the balsamic begins to bubble, lower the heat to a simmer. The balsamic vinegar will reduce to a thick syrup and the figs will become a bit plump because they’re rehydrating.

Remove the rehydrated figs and any leftover balsamic syrup from saucepan, and allow to cool to room temperature.

When the rehydrated figs are at room temperature, place in a food processor and add the Neufchatel cheese. Process until well combined. Chucks of dried figs in the mixture is excellent, so do not over-process the mixture. The final mixture will have a delightful light purple hue to it.

Now smear on some rustic bread, toast or crackers! Enjoy over and over! Maybe share with friends!

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Memorial Day is right around the corner and that means a few things: gatherings with friends and family, the day off from work (yes!), travel (maybe), and food! It’s no doubt the food and gatherings go hand-in-hand because lets be honest…having loved ones and food around is pretty much great fun! Oh and cocktails are a PLUS!

For your upcoming Memorial Day fete how about some eggplant parmesan? How about a hand-held eggplant parmesan? That’s right. A deconstructed Italian classic and healthier too. The eggplant is not breaded and pan fried and the amount of cheese per serving is reduced because the serving is a finger-food size, rather than a gaping hole from a casserole dish.

I was struck with inspiration when I spotted the egg roll wrappers at the market. I didn’t want to create an Asian dish but rather a twist on a classic. So, the deconstructed eggplant parmesan emerged and It. Is. Good.

Nutritional perks –

    Eggplant – Helps to lower cholesterol levels and contains numerous vitamins such as vitamin K, B6 and C. A good source of thiamin and folate and an excellent source of fiber.

Eggplant Parmesan [deconstructed]
Print Recipe

– 1 medium eggplant, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
– 16 egg roll wrappers
– 1 egg, beaten
– 2 Tbls extra virgin olive oil
– 16 whole milk petite mozzarella balls (1 ball per roll)
– 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
– 1 Tbls dried basil
– 1 Tbls sea salt for prepping the eggplant
– marinara sauce for dipping. I used an organic store-bought version, but you can find a homemade version here.
– sea salt and pepper to taste

Cover all eggplant rounds generously with the 1 tablespoon of sea salt. Place the rounds in a colander and place over a bowl to drain for 1 to 2 hours. After the draining period, rinse the rounds in cold water and squeeze dry.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cover a baking sheet in parchment paper, and place the rounds in an even layer on a baking sheet. Use a pastry brush to brush extra virgin olive oil on the rounds. Season with sea salt, pepper (to taste) and dried basil. Do this on both sides of the eggplant rounds. Bake for 20 minutes.

When the eggplant is cooled, cut it into cubes.

To assemble the deconstructed eggplant parmesan, lay one sheet of egg roll wrapper on a flat surface. Add 1 tablespoon of the roasted eggplant, top with a generous sprinkle of parmesan. Slice 1 mozzarella ball and gently place on top of the eggplant and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Fold over the short sides of the wrap and then gently roll over one long side. With the remaining long side still open, lightly brush the end with the egg wash. Fold over the remaining long side. The egg wash will act like the glue to seal the wrap.

With an oil mister filled with extra virgin olive oil or a non-stick cooking spray, spray a medium saute pan, which is placed over medium heat. Add two wraps at a time, seam-side-down. Brown on both sides. This should take about 4 to 5 minutes per side.

Cut the wraps in half and enjoy! For full enjoyment, dip those babes in marinara sauce. So good!

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I’m a grazer. Yup. I don’t eat 3 meals per day, I simply graze throughout and it seems to work for me. For others, maybe not, but I definitely need my snacks.

What are some of your go-to snacks?

Crackers and cheese?
Apple slices with peanut butter?
Fruit snacks?

Sometimes it’s nice to give a face-lift to the standard snack fare. How about dried figs stuffed with goat cheese, asiago and walnuts? A nice grown-up treat packed with creamy flavorful cheese, a nutty bite and sweet dried fig. It doesn’t end, it’s drizzled with a reduced balsamic vinaigrette. Oh my!

You don’t have to feel guilty about snacking on these figgy babes. Here’s why…

Nutritional perks –

    Dried fruit – Rich in Vitamin A and B1, as well as calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium. Note, in comparison to fresh fruit, the serving size of dried fruit has a higher sugar and caloric value than regular fruit because the fruit shrinks during the dehydration process making the serving size much smaller and condensed. Eat dried fruit in moderation.
    Walnuts – A handful provides 4 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber. There are 10 different antioxidants found in walnuts!

Dried Figs Stuffed with Cheese and Walnuts

Print Recipe

– Dried figs
– 2 oz soft goat cheese
– 2 oz grated Asiago cheese
– 1/4 cup raw walnut halves
– 2 cups balsamic vinaigrette

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the balsamic vinaigrette. When it begins to boil, reduce the heat and simmer. The 2 cups of balsamic will reduce down to a thick syrup.

Remove the bottoms of the dried figs with a paring knife. Use the tip of the paring knife to remove some of the fig seeds.

Place a walnut half into the opening of the dried fig. Push it in but make sure to not break through the top. In a small bowl, mix the goat cheese and asiago cheese. Plug the dried fig with the cheese mixture.

Place the stuffed figs on a plate and gently pour the reduced balsamic vinaigrette over the figs. Another way of eating these is using the reduced balsamic vinaigrette as a dipping sauce and dipping the figs into the dark, sweet, syrupy nectar!

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