Homemade Olive Oil Butter Spread


EVOO Butter

Ever get that craving for just bread and butter?  I don’t eat much bread now, but every so often, I really just want bakery-fresh bread with a layer of butter.  Today was one of those days.  Sadly, I didn’t have the foresight to take the butter out of the fridge before going to the bakery… and I wasn’t willing to  wait.   The recipe below is a twist on whipped butter.  Only 3 ingredients, but each of them matter.  I start with unsalted butter, so I can add salt to taste.  I like the slight mineral taste of pink Himalayan salt, so I used that- but you can use any salt you want and adjust the quantity to suit your taste.  I also added olive oil so that it wouldn’t harden completely when I put it back in the fridge (oil doesn’t become solid when cold).  I love the taste of olive oil, so I used a good quality cold pressed extra virgin olive oil.  If you’re not a fan of the taste, you can always use a milder olive oil.

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Grilled Romaine Salad with Grapefruit Mint Dressing


Grilled Romaine

Summer = grilling! So why shouldn’t that extend to salads? It’s amazing how something as simple as grilling can change an entire dish.  This recipe is centered around dressing up grilled romaine hearts. But really, it’s just to give you ideas… play with the dressing, cheeses, nuts, and other toppings!  I like the thinner dressings like the one below since it soaks into the romaine between the leaves.  The picture shows one romaine heart plain, and one dressed up with blue cheese and pecans.

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Pineapple Coconut Sorbet (dairy-free)


Pineapple Coconut SorbetWe had an ice cream party at work this week, and the forecast for the week was in the 90s… totally put me in the mood for pina coladas and pain killers! The sorbet below started out as a pina colada sorbet with just pineapple and coconut. But, somehow, it morphed towards a pain killer as I kept adding/adjusting ingredients. I love how the final sorbet came out- a slight kick of ginger with a creamy ice cream-like texture.  I will definitely be making it again this summer!

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Gazpacho


Gazpacho

Gazpacho is one of my favorite summer soups- straight from farmer’s market treasures!  I’ve seen and tasted so many different gazpacho recipes over the years, and one thing that hits me is how forgiving they are.  The recipe below is a general guide, but you can vary the ingredients based on what’s fresh and available.  How can you not get hooked on a recipe that’s this quick and easy and light!? =)

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Mint Cilantro Coconut Chutney


Mint Cilantro Coconut ChutneyI made this green chutney for Mother’s Day since it was gorgeous weather outside and we decided to grill.  The flavors are so light and fresh that I love it in sandwiches, wraps, with roasted veggies, as a soup garnish… pretty much anything summery.  It’s also very versatile: thin it out with water to make a dressing, mix it into yogurt to make a dip, whisk it with olive oil to make a pasta salad.  It also gets bonus points for freezing well.  It’s amazing how a chutney so healthy and easy to make can be sooooo good!

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Linzer Cookies (eggless)


Linzer CookiesI love making these cookies because you can make them for any occasion by changing the shape in the middle.  Plus, they look really pretty with the dusting of sugar on top.  I tend to go light on the sugar dusting because I like the speckled look.  I made similar cookies a few years ago (Almond Jam Cookies), but I’ve been playing with how to make them with less white flour and eggless so everyone in my family can eat them.

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Spicy Tomato Jam


Onion Tomato JamThis jam came into creation because I really dislike ketchup. It’s sweet and doesn’t taste like tomato to me. I’ve made a more than a few batches of the tomato jam, varying the spices and sugars, until I settled on the recipe below.  You can definitely make a smaller batch and keep it in the fridge if you don’t want to go through the whole canning process.  I really like this jam as a spread (especially with cream cheese), as a topping for soups, spread on cheese or roasted veggies, and many other ways… It’s not ketchup, but I’ll actually eat this! =)

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Caramelized Onion Spread


Onion Tomato Jam

For onion lovers!!!  This takes the bite out of onions, and results in a sweetish, melty, multi-purpose onion spread.  Since this recipe does take a long time to cook down, I make a large batch at a time and then use it in all kinds of things- pizza, soup, sandwiches, mixed into dips, on veggies… sky’s the limit!  The picture above has two of my favorite spreads on brie- caramelized onions (left) and tomato jam (right- recipe coming soon).

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Espresso Cookies


Espresso CookieThese cookies are based on the absolutely delicious World Peace Cookies, which I highly recommend trying.  I loved those cookies, but was in the mood for an espresso flavored cookie.  I’ve been trying to work the espresso flavor in to a cookie for ages, and the structure of this cookie was perfect for it.  I tend to make these cookies small since no matter what size they are, I always have more than one…

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Ghee (Clarified butter)


GheeGhee, sometimes called clarified butter, is a staple in Indian cooking.  It has a very distinct taste, and a much higher smoke point than oil, so it’s useful in all kinds of dishes.  I’ve made ghee over the years the traditional way, which is to bring butter to a boil in a pot over direct heat and let it simmer “till it’s done.”  Essentially, until the fat separates from the milk solids.  Then you strain it through a cheesecloth so that you’re left with the clear ghee.  Sadly, it often yielded mixed results for me.  I’ve burned the butter, which is an awful smell… I’ve under-cooked it and the solids didn’t separate enough…. I’ve struggled with cleaning the pot, the cheesecloth, and everything else that comes in contact with pure fat!  Until now!!! Although this isn’t a “recipe,” it is a technique I feel is worth sharing.  It really simplifies the process (and clean-up), and while it’s not exactly the same end result, it’s close enough that I actually want to make it at home!  The only challenge is finding the right sized equipment in your kitchen.

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Quark Cheesecake


Quark CheesecakeThis is a twist on the regular, widely-available cheesecake.  I find this more delicate with really interesting tangy-sweet flavor.  I make quark following a recipe from Three Shepherds Farm.  If you’ve never had quark, its a German fresh, soft cheese.  It reminds me of a cross between sour cream (texture) and cream cheese (taste).  From what friends tell me, you can also use farmer’s cheese (although I’ve never tried it).  I’ve made this recipe with a few different crusts and prefer a thin graham cracker crust, or a shortbread crust (pictured).
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Quinoa Risotto with Peas, Arugula, and Asparagus


Quinoa RisottoThe first time I had quinoa risotto was in a Peruvian restaurant, and I loved the creaminess and texture.  It paired my love of risotto with my love of quinoa, and has the added benefit of being a healthier dish.  This was a first time experiment, and I really like how it came out.  Peas and asparagus are in season, so I decided to make it a green themed dish.
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Chunky Bread Salad


Bread SaladThis salad is inspired by multiple delicious panzanella salads I’ve had over the years.  It’s not actually a panzanella salad because it deviates from the traditional ingredients and process, so I’m going with “Chunky Bread Salad.”  I love how easy this salad is to throw together, especially if you make the Spicy Sourdough Croutons ahead of time.

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Spicy Sourdough Croutons


Spicy Sourdough CroutonsYou may never want to buy croutons again… These are super easy to make and soooo addictive!  I end up making extra because I know I’m probably going to eat half of them before they ever make it to the soup or salad.  If you don’t have day old bread, you can dry it out by cutting the cubes and then heating them in the oven at 200 F for a few minutes.  Also, these croutons freeze really well- just take them out of the freezer long enough to allow them to come to room temperature.

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Apricot Oatmeal


Apricot OatmealFresh apricots in the market!!! I had a some bruised apricots in the bunch, so I decided to make apricot oatmeal for breakfast this week.  I love the tangy twist and contrasting texture it gives to the oatmeal, especially since I use steel cut oats.  Steel cut oats take longer to cook, so I soaked them the night before- but I really do like the texture more than regular oatmeal.

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What to do with leftover chili??? (aka… I got carried away and made too much)


This post doesn’t have recipes, just ideas.  A little bit of this… a little bit of that… and suddenly I have a vat of spicy, chunky chili!  Far more than I can eat at once.  Luckily, chili freezes well.  The list below is how I used up all my leftovers…. If anyone else has ideas, please share!  As a side note, I think I’m always going to make extra now. =)

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Avocado Pistachio Open Face Sandwich


Avocado Pistachio SandwichYUM!!!! I’ve had this sandwich 3 days in a row now, and I can’t get over (1) how easy it is, (2) how fresh and summery it tastes, and (3) how filling it is.  The number of open-face sandwiches you get depends on how big your bread slices are and how thin you slice the avocado.  The recipe below is for 2 slices of bakery size loaves of sourdough bread.

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Gooey Salted Caramel Brownies


Salted Caramel BrowniesMake at your own risk…  For a little extra effort, you get an amazing end result (to the point of being addictive).  The salted caramel compliments the chocolate brownies SO incredibly well.  My “in a pinch” favorite combo is to use the Ghiradelli brownie mix with Trader Joe’s soft caramels.  Note: I ask you to use recipes scaled for an 8×8 pan (most commercially available brownie mixes), but to make these brownies in a 9×13 inch pan- this is not a typo!  It’s just my preferred ratio of chocolate to caramel… =)

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Mixed Mushroom Ramp Quiche


Mushroom Ramp Quiche 2Last week I went to the farmer’s market and just couldn’t resist buying a mixed basket of mushrooms from this vendor who sells a huge variety of them.  The mix had blue oyster, regular oyster, shitake, cremini, enoki, morel, button, hen of the woods, and some others.  The vendor also had ramps, which are a seasonal herb that tastes like a cross between garlic and onion.  I was in the mood for something light, so I decided to make a delicate quiche, using only whole milk.  If you want it richer, feel free to substitute part of the milk with heavy cream and add a little bit of cheese.  I filled this quiche in the quinoa crust I made a few posts ago and really enjoyed the different textures.

Mushroom Ramp Quiche

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Basil Arugula Spinach Pesto


PestoI realized that I use pesto in a bunch of my recipes, but never actually posted a recipe.  Surprising, since I consider this a staple.  It a quick way to make an okay meal taste special (pasta, sandwich spread, soup, grilled veggies, etc).  Adding the other greens keeps the color nice and bright, and adds some additional flavors.  Also, if I don’t have pine nuts, I substitute cashews and it still tastes good.  This sauce also freezes well, so I often make extra and keep it.

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April Foodie Penpals


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I am SO late posting (SORRY!)  I’m especially sorrier since Amanda sent me a wonderful box.  Very little remains of the box…  I devoured the apricot almond brittle (which is covered in chocolate!!!) in a week.  The Halva had a great texture- it melted in my mouth and wasn’t sweet at all so I loved it.  It was a nice 3:00 treat on Monday, when you really need the pick-me-up.  The tomato BBQ almonds and Good Bean bar came with me on a long walk and gave me the energy I needed.  I love that the stuff was not too sweet and just kind of hit the spot.  The unnamed dried fruit is cantaloupe melon- as you can see, I was so excited that I opened if before realized I need to take the picture.  It was perfect in a trail mix I make with nuts and dried fruit.  The only thing left is the chocolate bar (I’m saving it for a day when I really need it) and the Sunflower butter (PB&S for work next week).  Thank you tons Amanda- I’ve really enjoyed everything you sent!

Jalapeno Cheese Buttermilk Biscuit


Jalapeno Biscuits

Last time I made butter, I had all this liquid left from the first press of the butter.  It tasted amazing in these biscuits.  That being said, it’s much easier and still yum to use ready-made buttermilk.  Also, the cheese really affects the flavor, so definately use a cheese that you like!

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Quinoa Crust


Quinoa CrustI made a big batch of quinoa earlier in the week, and I have some left over today.  I was in the mood for a quiche, but didn’t feel like wrestling with a pastry crust (it’s hit or miss for me…).  Since the quinoa was ready to go, I decided to try a quinoa crust.  Surprisingly, it worked on the first try and was really easy to make.  I filled the crust with a mushroom, ramp, and basil quiche (recipe to follow).

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March Foodie Pen Pals


IMG_20140331_224410I remember having pen pals in grade school, and it would always be so exciting when a letter came in the mail!  With the whole email, texting, whatsapping, etc. I forgot how much fun it is to get unexpected things in regular old snail mail.  Enter foodie pen pals (http://www.theleangreenbean.com/foodie-penpals/), which is exactly what it promises to be.  Pen pals who love food, sending each other a random assortment of goodies with a note.   My March foodie pen pal was Kaycee from www.MyCraftyZoo.com.

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Orange Ginger Ricotta Pancakes


Orange Ginger Ricotta PancakesI’ve been playing with this recipe for a while, trying to get it to have the right consistency.  I finally settled on the recipe below.  It’s a fun twist on pancakes, and very different than the usual berries and chocolate.  I recently bought crystallized ginger bits from Penzeys, and somehow a few made it into the pancake (since I usually eat them like candy!).

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