Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Toasted Caprese Sandwiches

I'm a carnivore. What can I say, steak makes me drool. I can track the scent of grilling chicken from miles away. BBQ pork? I can put them away, trust me. Me, a vegetarian? HA.
I'd laugh in your face.
Until you show me these. What's delicious, smells like heaven, is packed with flavor and awesome? This toasted meatless caprese sandwiches, that's what.

{Toasted Caprese Sandwiches}
Serves two
French baguette, cut into two sections and sliced in half
Handful of fresh basil
4 ounces fresh Mozzarella, sliced into triangles
1 tomato, thickly sliced into triangles
2 tablespoons balsamic 
2 tablespoons pesto
Pepper and crushed red pepper, if desired.


Pre-cut the baguette, mozzarella and tomato. Pre-heat broiler.
To assemble:  Spread one tablespoon of pesto on each section of baguette. Layer on tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. Drizzle liberally with balsamic. Sprinkle with pepper and crushed red pepper.

Place sandwiches under the broiler on an ungreased baking sheet until lightly toasted. Serve while hot!

Modeled after the "Half Baked" from the indescribable Spoon Market & Deli, which I mention here for their heavenly scones, these come pretty darn close. Make, eat, repeat.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

So I've been reading this book: In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan (a must-read!) in which he tells me to eat food. not too much. mostly plants. So while I refuse to cut out refined sugar and my beloved processed Cracklin' Oat Bran as per his recommendation, I can try to follow his advice to eat food — meaning whole foods that haven't been processed beyond recognition (sorry poptarts).

So I made these peppers using fresh vegetables, whole grains, goat cheese and fresh herbs. Michael Pollan, I think I can do this.

{Quinoa Stuffed Peppers}
4-6 multi-colored Bell Peppers, tops, seeds and membranes removed
2-3 tablespoons chopped onion
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 cup portabella mushrooms
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 cans (15-oz.) tomato sauce with 1 teaspoon sugar stirred in
4 oz. goat cheese
chives, cilantro or fresh herbs of choice

Cut a thin slice from stem end of each pepper to remove the top of the pepper. Remove seeds and membrane; rinse peppers. In a large saucepan, cover peppers with water and boil for about 4 minutes. Drain.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Cook onion and mushrooms until sauce, then stir in cooked rice, salt, garlic and 1 cup of tomato sauce. Cook until hot. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Stuff peppers with rice mixture. Stand peppers upright in an un-greased square baking dish. Pour remaining tomato sauce over peppers.
Cover and bake about 45 minutes. Uncover and bake about 15 minutes or until peppers are tender. Sprinkle with goat cheese, red pepper flakes and pepper.

These vegetarian stuffed peppers are packed full (literally) of flavor and the goat cheese just puts the whole experience over the top. I love these with sriracha, salsa, cilantro and lots of extra sauce. Who needs meat?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream

It's strawberry season, arguably the best time of year. Sun time, lake time, green-grass-and-blue-skies time, a time for campfires and s'mores, picnics, wine on the patio and wiffleball. A time for sundresses and beach towels, fireflies and bare feet. The lemonade flows, the grill is fired and strawberry shortcake makes its nightly appearance at the table.

And it's HOT and some of us live in upstairs apartments with no air-conditioning. Alongside the aforementioned pastimes, celebrate the season in style and cool off with ice cream packed full of strawberry goodness and bursting with pure strawberry flavor!

{Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream}
Based on Jeni's
1 pint fresh strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1-1/2 cup heavy cream
1-1/2 cup whole milk
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
3 eggs, pasteurized*
3 tablespoons vanilla

*To pasteurize your own eggs, simply cover the eggs in a pot of water over the stovetop and, using a thermometer, bring the temperature of the water to 140-142 degrees for 2-3 minutes. Transfer to cold water immediately. Easy peasy.

For strawberries: Wash and hull 1 pint of fresh strawberries. In an 8x8 baking dish, mix strawberries with sugar and roast at 375 degrees for 8 minutes, or until slightly soft. Cool, then blend roasted berries with the lemon juice in a blender or food processor. Measure out about 1/2 to 1 cup of the puree, more or less depending on how strong of strawberry taste you prefer. Set aside.

For ice cream: Mix together cream, milk, sugars and eggs in a medium-sized saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring to melt the sugars. Simmer for 5 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and add in vanilla and strawberry puree. Cool mixture in refrigerator or ice bath.

When completely cool, make according to ice cream freezer instructions and store in an airtight container, covering the ice cream with parchment or wax paper to prevent freezer burn. Add frozen strawberries, if desired.

Happiness is a cold bowl of strawberry ice cream.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Spiced Blueberry Baked Oatmeal

Ready for one of those breakfasts that actually makes you excited to wake up in the morning? So excited that you actually wake up before the alarm? This coming from the girl who typically hits snooze six times just to grumpily roll out of bed at 8 a.m. 

But for you, dear spicy blueberry baked oatmeal, I will happily wake, and before 8 a.m. at that. That's saying something.

{Spiced Blueberry Baked Oatmeal}
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1 cup almond milk (or milk of choice)
2 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 banana, if desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together oats, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, mix together vanilla, butter, eggs and milk. Combine wet and dry ingredients. Add in blueberries and bananas, if using.

Pour batter into either a 9x9 baking dish or several ramekins. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until brown at the edges.

I like to eat this piping hot, drizzled with either milk or vanilla greek yogurt and, on sweet days, maple syrup. Then topped with lots of fresh fruit. It is so good in the morning, for dinner, as dessert, and it is perfect for re-heated breakfasts on the go.