Vegan Roasted Fennel & Beets Salad with Arugula, Avocado, Pistachios & Goat Cheese

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Fennel is a divisive vegetable.  The sharp licorice flavor is either something you love or hate, it seems.  But, as with garlic, the flavor of fennel mellows into something else entirely – when you roast it.  It becomes soft & sorta sweet & it compliments this salad nicely.

I used arugula but any mixed greens or baby spinach would work, too.  I added pistachios but any nuts would work – especially if you toasted them a bit first.

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I used this lovely blood orange olive oil but regular olive oil would work.  I used the dark balsamic – but white balsamic would be lovely, too.

And for the goat cheese – I used this stuff (below).   It has the texture of a soft goat cheese & was really delicious.  If you eat cheese – real goat cheese or feta would also work.

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Vegan Roasted Fennel & Beets Salad with Arugula, Avocado, Pistachios & Goat Cheese

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

4-6 beets (red or golden – no matter)

1 large fennel bulb

2 fists full of arugula or other greens

1/4 cup pistachios

1 avocado – cubed

Vegan soft cheese (or real goat or feta cheese) – quantity up to you

Olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

S&P

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Wrap the beets in foil.  No need to even wash them – as that will happen later.  If they are large (mine were about the size of ping pong balls) – cut them into smaller chunks.

Cut the fronds off the fennel (saving some of the dilly leaves for garnish) & cut the bulb in half.  Place on a cooking sheet & drizzle with olive oil.

Place the beets in foil on the cooking sheet with the fennel & roast 30-45 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.  The beets might take longer than the fennel.

When the beets cool – wash them under running water & rub the skins off.  Cut into bite-sized pieces.

Slice up the fennel.

Place some greens on each plate.  Top with beets, fennel, avocado, pistachios & crumbled cheese. Drizzle with olive oil & balsamic.  Garnish with fennel leaves and S&P.

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Rustic Pizza with Vegan Sausage, Broccolette (Broccolini), Shaved Brussels Sprouts, Mushrooms, Farmers Cheese, Goat Cheese and Micro Arugula

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Pizza.  Everyone loves pizza.   So many ways to top them – and I have posted dozens.  Look HERE & scroll down for a recap.

This one I am posting today was quite a show stopper.  I used broccolette – which Wikipedia describes as “a cruciferous vegetable derived from a cross between broccoli and the Chinese kale called gai lan. Also known by the trade names broccolini and aspiration, broccolette has a milder, sweeter taste than broccoli and features thin, tender stalks that can be cooked whole without peeling.”

It looks like that there – next to my shaved Brussels sprouts.

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You could use regular broccoli – if you prefer.

I used Farmers Cheese because I had never seen it before & I was curious.  Look at it there.  Doesn’t it look delicious?

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Here is what Wikipedia said about this cheese: “In the United States, farmer cheese (also farmer’s cheese or farmers’ cheese) is pressed cottage cheese, an unripened cheese made by adding rennet and bacterial starter to coagulate and acidify milk. Farmer cheese may be made from the milk of cows, sheep or goats, with each giving its own texture and flavor.”

In fact, it is sorta like a denser cottage cheese & very mild in flavor.

I also used herbed goat cheese & one of these vegetarian sausages.

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I also used that micro arugula because I LOVE arugula, that micro shit is pretty & it has a really powerful flavor.  Regular arugula would be fine – just not as pretty to look at.

So – like with most of my pizzas – I only list ingredients here – because topping quantities are up to you.  I like thin crust – you might like thick.  I like light amounts of sauce & cheese – you might prefer to go deep dish.  So – I will just leave it up to you.

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Rustic Pizza with Vegan Sausage, Broccolette (Broccolini), Shaved Brussels Sprouts, Mushrooms, Farmers Cheese, Goat Cheese and Micro Arugula

INGREDIENTS

Pizza dough (I always make THIS)

Vegan sausage

Broccolini – chopped small

Brussels sprouts – shaved

Mushrooms – sliced

Tomato sauce (I used a really chunky homemade one I had left over – but you use your favorite one)

Goat cheese (or vegan alternative)

Farmers cheese (or vegan alternative)

olive oil

garlic – minced

S&P

Semolina flour (for rolling the dough) – VERY optional

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 450-500 degrees.

In a large saute pan, heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil & saute the sausage, broccolette, Brussels sprouts & mushrooms until soft.  Add the garlic & saute another minute. Add some S&P.

Roll out the dough in some semolina or other flour.  Semolina will give the crust the speckled look you see here & really seems to add some crunch.  Regular flour is fine, though.  Put the dough on a greased cooking sheet or on a cooking sheet topped with parchment paper.  Top with sauce, add the sausage & veggies.  Crumble some of the cheeses on top.

BE SURE YOUR OVEN HAS REACHED FULL TEMPERATURE.  Cook for about 13 minutes – but time depends on your oven & the density of your pizza & your own preferences.  When it looks golden & the cheese are browned & soft – it should be done.

Top with arugula & eat that bad boy.  Alone.  Rejoice!

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Zucchini Squash Blossom White Pizza with Goat Cheese and Ricotta and Mozzarella

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

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My favorite place on Earth, Super King, carries unusual & seasonal produce & now is the season for zucchini blossoms.  I LOVE ZUCCHINI BLOSSOMS!  Almost irrationally.   They have a flavor so subtle as no almost be indiscernible & easily overwhelmed.  They are most frequently served stuffed, breaded & fried but that is just so unhealthy – I can bring myself to do it anymore.

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So – I made this pizza – because I had leftover, homemade dough & just felt like pizza.  Does anyone ever NOT feel like pizza?  I blended the goat cheese with an equal part ricotta in an effort to add subtle flavor but nothing so strong it overwhelmed the zucchini blossoms.  This is a very delicately flavored & mild pizza.  Pretty to look at & yummy to eat.

I also used the last bit I had of this shitty grated cheese.  A fresh mozzarella is infinitely more desirable.  PLEASE use some of that instead.

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Zucchini Squash Blossom White Pizza with Goat Cheese and Ricotta and Mozzarella

INGREDIENTS

Pizza dough (I make THIS in my bread machine & use it over several days)

Zucchini blossoms

Goat cheese

Ricotta cheese

FRESH mozzarella cheese

Chives and/or micro greens as garnish

S&P

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 450-475.

The amount of cheese you want it up to you but I mixed equal parts goat & ricotta & then added a bit of S&P to that.

Carefully, snip out the pistol with scissors or by pinching with your fingers.  The pistol is the nubby thing growing out of the center of the flowers.  Pinch off the stems.  Don’t worry if they tear.

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Now – just assemble your pizza.  I have really come to love parchment paper.  Nothing really sticks to it & it is nice to photograph, as well.  Anyway – get your pizza pan out & spray it with cooking spray or line it with parchment.

Roll the dough out & put it on the cooking sheet.  Then – assemble.  I started with my bullshit grated mozzarella.  You should use fresh stuff (the sort sold in water), if you can.  I added some blossoms, randomly, & dolloped the whole thing with the ricotta/goat cheese blend.  I cooked it about 12 minutes but you cook it until it looks done to your liking.

Garnish with snipped chives or micro greens & maybe more S&P.  Mmmmmmmmmm!!!!

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Decadent Goat Cheese & Creamy Burrata Pizza with Arugula

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Sometimes I feel guilty when I post a string of similar recipes, like two or three pizzas or a bunch of cauliflower or rice dishes but, the fact is, I am posting my actual meals.  And, when I make pizza dough, I usually make enough for three or four pizzas.   Because I am not a professional blogger, in that, this blog doesn’t generate income, I am not in the position some bloggers are to make things specifically for the blog, whether they intend to eat it or not.  Furthermore though unrelated, all my photos are taken with my i-phone which has developed a penchant for powering off randomly.  Like – at 54% – it thinks it is out of juice & shuts down until I find a charger – at which point – it is instantly back at 54%.  It is infuriating!  Especially when I am trying to photograph a piping hot pizza so that I can eat it while it is still warm.

Anyway – I talk myself out of feeling lazy when I post these similar recipes by telling myself that my readers are likely to have the same leftover ingredients that I do and that they might actually appreciate a new idea about how to reinvent them.  That said, yesterday I found myself with fresh pizza dough, a few leftover caramelized onions, arugula & some leftover spicy red sauce.  From these humble ingredients was born my Decadent Goat Cheese & Creamy Burrata Pizza with Arugula!

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I never really think that pizza is a recipe, per se, in that the amount of toppings is a personal preference.  I do not typically go for a lot of cheese but I was really in the mod for gooey goat cheese & I had the burrata – so – I went for it & I am happy I did.  If you do not have burrata – just use any fresh mozzarella and put it on the pizza with the goat cheese rather than closer to the end as you do with the creamy burrata.

Again – here is the pizza dough recipe I use & I make it in my bread machine.

PIZZA DOUGH

MAKES FOUR 12-OZ. BALLS

INGREDIENTS

2 tbsp. sugar (⅞ oz.)
1 tbsp. olive oil, plus more (½ oz.)
½ tsp. active dry yeast
5½ cups “00″ flour, preferably Caputo Pizzeria Flour (1 lb. 12 oz.) (or just use regular, organic flour – like me.)
2 tbsp. kosher salt (¾ oz.)

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Combine sugar, oil, yeast, and 2 cups cold water in bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook; let sit until foamy, 8-10 minutes. Mix flour and salt in a bowl. With motor running, slowly add flour mixture; mix until a smooth dough forms, 8-10 minutes. Transfer dough to a greased baking sheet; cover with plastic wrap. Let sit at room temperature 1 hour.

2. Divide dough into 4 balls; transfer to a greased 9″ x 13″ dish; brush tops with oil. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate 48 hours (or get impatient like me & use it immediately).

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I also used leftover caramelized onions from my Caramelized Red Onion & Gruyere Pizza with Egg & Arugula.

Caramelized Red Onion

INGREDIENTS

Pizza dough at room temperature

1/2 large red onion – sliced

1 TBS olive oil

1 TBS butter (or vegan alternative)

1/2 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS

Caramelize the onion by heating the olive oil & butter over med-low (NOT HIGH) heat.  Add the onion and salt & sugar and saute – stirring frequently – for about 20-30 minutes or until they are soft & brown & before they burn.  Mine crisped a bit on the edges & I liked that!  Set aside.

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I also used leftover spicy basil marinara.

For the spicy basil marinara

1 6 oz can tomato paste

2 28 oz crushed tomatoes

30 grape or cherry tomatoes – quartered

1 TBS olive oil

6 garlic cloves – chopped

1/2 cup chopped basil

1-3 tsp crushed red pepper – optional

S&P to taste

DIRECTIONS

Heat the olive oil over medium heat & saute the garlic for about 30 seconds.  Add the tomato paste & fry another minute or so.  Add the crushed tomatoes, chopped tomatoes & basil & about 1 cup of water.  Add the crushed red pepper – if using.

Simmer covered on low for 30 minutes or more.

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Decadent Goat Cheese & Creamy Burrata Pizza with Arugula

INGREDIENTS

Pizza Dough – recipe above or your favorite dough

Pizza sauce – recipe above or your favorite version

Tomatoes – sliced thin (optional)

Caramelized onions (optional) – recipe above

Goat cheese

Burrata (or fresh mozzarella)

Arugula

S&P to taste

Crushed red pepper (optional)

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to a full 450-500 degrees.

Prep the ingredients.

Assemble the pizza!  Roll out the dough & put it on a greased cooking sheet.  Top with sauce, tomato, caramelized onion & goat cheese.  Add fresh mozzarella now – if you aren’t using burrata.  If using burrata – bake about 7-10 minutes & then add the burrata.  Bake another 3-5 minutes or until the crust is done to your liking & the goat cheese is just starting to color.  If you used burrata – you are really just trying to warm it through but do not cook it until it dries out.  The whole point of burrata is its excessive creaminess!

Top with S&P & some fresh arugula & crushed red pepper (if you like extra kick).

Slice this fucker up & eat it alone.  I won’t tell.

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Pan-Seared Beet & Caramelized Onion Pizza with Goat Cheese & Arugula

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

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I was in the mood for beets & goat cheese & considered making little towers but then pizza flashed in my mind & this pizza was born.  I decided to pan-fry the sliced beets rather than roast them because I thought it would save time but then the caramelizing of the onions took as long as roasting the beets would have – so you might just wanna roast them.  Less calories that way.

If caramelizing the onions seems like a pain in the ass, you can lose them but they really do add a nice layer to the flavors.  I adore arugula & am equally pleased by cold greens on hot pizza but this this is also a very optional choice.

I used a homemade dough but your favorite dough will do.

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Pan-Seared Beet & Caramelized Onion Pizza with Goat Cheese & Arugula

INGREDIENTS

Pizza dough (I used THIS)

1 large beet (peeled & either sliced thin or roasted whole at 400 for about 40 min)

1 large onion – sliced

Olive oil or butter

1/2 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

Goat Cheese

Grated pizza cheese

Arugula

Parsley (or mint) chopped

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DIRECTIONS

If roasting the beet – basic instructions are HERE.

Heat an oven to 450 degrees.

If pan-searing the beets, heat 2 TBS of butter or olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.  Cook the raw, sliced beets, flipping frequently, until they are tender & beginning to brown.  Drain on a paper towel.

Add another 2 TBS butter (or olive oil) to the same pan & caramelize the onions by sauteing on med-low heat.  Add the salt & sugar & stir them every 5 minutes or so.  They should brown & caramelize nicely in about 40 minutes.  Be careful not to burn them.  Nice caramelizing instructions are HERE.  Drain them on a paper towel.

Roll the dough out to your pizza size.  I smeared some basil-infused oil on it – but any olive oil will do.

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Layer some grated cheese on the dough then the onions.  I put my onions on the top & they kinda got overcooked.  Protect your hard-earned caramelized onions by covering them with the sliced, pan-seared (or roasted & sliced) beets.  Pinch some dollops of goat cheese on there.  Another little drizzle of olive oil is nice here but optional.

If your oven really is at 450 – and you want it to be – this should cook up nicely in about 8-12 minutes but that depends a lot on the thickness of your dough & density of toppings.

Top with chopped parsley or mint & put a handful of raw & naked arugula on it.  Slice it.  Eat it.  Look forward to red pee tomorrow!

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Lazy Night Creamy Goat Cheese & Tomato Pasta

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

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This is a very easy, cheater’s version of a pasta sauce.  I was feeling very lazy & determined to make a creamy & comforting pasta dish using stuff I had around.  Two things I had around were these guys.

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I also had a hunk of goat cheese.  The result was this dish.  As you can see from the photos, my basil was on its last legs but it was still tasty!  Easy, easy, easy, fast & delicious!  The sauce comes together in less time than it takes to cook the pasta.  Try it!

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Lazy Night Creamy Goat Cheese & Tomato Pasta

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

1/2 lb of your favorite dry pasta

olive oil

2 garlic cloves – minced

1 (10 oz) can Campbell’s sun-ripened yellow tomato soup (or another variety – if you choose)

1 (10 oz) can Rotel (or diced tomatoes)

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese – grated

4 oz goat cheese

1 tsp crushed red pepper

S&P to taste

Garnishes: fresh basil, chopped tomatoes, parsley, grated Parmesan, crumbled goat cheese

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DIRECTIONS

Cook the pasta.

In a stock pot – heat a TBS or two of olive oil.  Add garlic & crushed red pepper.  Cook for one minute then add the Rotel, canned soup, Parmesan & goat cheese.  Stir to blend & season with S&P.  Add a little hot pasta water if it seems too thick.  Toss with cooked & drained pasta, garnish as you will & devour.

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Fig & Gruyere Quesadilla with Balsamic Glaze & Honey or Fig, Spinach & Whipped Goat Cheese Pizza with Honey

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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I can’t resist figs now when I see them at the store.  They are beautiful to look at and so delicate & versatile – I love them.  But they tend to go bad fast so, when I buy them, I end up eating fig everything.  To extend their shelf life, I put them in a Ziplock baggy & put them in a single layer on a shelf in the fridge.  That seemed to add a day or two to their lifespan.

These are not really recipes.  These are really just suggested ways to use figs.

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Fig & Gruyere Quesadilla with Balsamic Glaze & Honey

INGREDIENTS

Flour tortilla

Gruyere cheese – sliced

Figs – sliced

Honey

Balsamic vinegar

DIRECTIONS

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Bring some balsamic vinegar to a boil & then reduce to a simmer.  In 20 minutes – my 1/4 cup of balsamic reduced to only one or two teaspoons of glaze – so boil down an appropriate quantity.

Layer the cheese & figs on a tortilla, fold it over & grill it on both sides until the cheese melts & the tortilla browns.

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Slice it up & drizzle with honey & the balsamic glaze.  MMMMM!

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Fig, Spinach & Whipped Goat Cheese Pizza with Honey

INGREDIENTS

Pizza dough (mine is HERE)

Spinach

Figs – sliced

Mozzarella – grated

Goat Cheese

Cream cheese

Olive oil

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DIRECTIONS

To get whipped goat cheese – simple blend goat cheese with some cream cheese at approximately a 2 to 1 ratio, like – 4 ounces goat cheese to 2 ounces cream cheese.  Go heavier with the goat cheese if you want that flavor to be stronger.

Now just roll out your dough, put it on a greased baking sheet and smear some whipped goat cheese on it.  Layer some spinach & drizzle with olive oil.  Add figs & then some grated mozzarella & bake at about 450-500 (be sure the oven is at full temperature before putting pizza in there) for about 12 minutes or until the cheese melts & the crust browns.  Drizzle with honey!

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Roasted Jalapeno & Goat Cheese Mac & Cheese with Candied Jalapenos

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

OK – this is the best fucking mac & cheese I have ever made!  It was made out of crap I had in my fridge that I needed to use before it went bad.  Look how wrinkled & sad this orange pepper is:

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I had leftover whole wheat penne (and I added some freshly cooked macaroni):

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And some random cheese:

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The only ingredient I had to go buy was soy milk.

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So – armed with a selection of bits & pieces & a desire to TRY my new candied jalapenos – I invented this dish.  Candied jalapenos take about ten minutes and are a revelation!!!!   MAKE SOME!  This entire mac & cheese recipe?  A few steps, sure – but all easy.  And I promise you – the flavor of the cheeses & roasted jalapeno contrasted against the sweet, candied jalapenos is worth the price of admission.  This is THE BEST mac & cheese I have ever tasted.  Seriously.  This can be tweaked easily so do not give up if you hate goat cheese or don’t have a wrinkled, old, orange pepper.  Just improvise!

I apologize for the less than inspired photography – but I wanted to get my eat on & my drink on!  Can you blame me?

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Roasted Jalapeno & Goat Cheese Mac & Cheese with Candied Jalapenos

INGREDIENTS

Candied jalapenos (recipe HERE) – they take 10 minutes so DO IT!

8 cups cooked pasta (1 1/2 lbs dry pasta??)

6 oz goat cheese

6 oz fresh mozzarella – sliced

2 cups grated cheddar (or other cheese) blend

1 bell pepper – diced

1/2 onion – diced

2 roasted jalapenos (or just raw – diced) – use more or less to suit your taste

2 scallions – chopped

olive oil

2 cups milk (or vegan alternative)

2 TBS butter

2 TBS flour

S&P to taste

DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 350.

Cook the pasta you are using according to package directions, drain & put in a large mixing bowl.

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Char the outside of the jalapenos until they blacken.  You can do this directly on the burners or by broiling in the oven.  Once blackened, seal them in Tupperware or wrap them in foil for about 15 minutes.  This will sweat the skin off.  Then, under cool running water, roll the blackened skin away & squeeze off the tops & remove the seeds.  Then – chop the jalapenos finely.

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Heat 1 TBS olive oil in a frying pan & saute the roasted (or raw) jalapenos, onions, scallions & bell pepper until soft – maybe 5 minutes.  Dump them onto your cooked pasta.

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Melt the butter in a pan over med-high heat.  Whisk in the flour.  Whisk smooth.  When it gets thick (and that will be almost immediately) – add the milk slowly – allowing the mixture to thicken each time.

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When you add the last of the milk – also add the goat cheese & the grated cheese blend.  Melt & dump onto the pasta & stir to combine completely.  And S&P to taste.

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Pour this into a greased casserole pan.

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Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven & add the sliced mozzarella & some candied jalapenos.

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Bake another 10-15 minutes.  Remove from the oven & allow to rest 10-15 minutes.

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Then – serve it with maybe some more roasted jalapenos or candied jalapenos – or both.

Then just shovel this into your face & be prepared to blame menopause for your impending girth.  Or a massive tumor.  Whatever.  Just eat this glorious stuff without caution or guilt.  Feel free to get drunk, too.  Who’s watching?

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Pasta with Roasted Beets & Goat Cheese

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

This is super easy & really pretty delicious.  Not a lot of ingredients and, once you’ve roasted the beets, it comes together in the time it takes you to boil pasta.  Mine there is sitting on a bed of spinach but I don’t recommend putting spinach in this.  It is just there for aesthetics.

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Pasta with Roasted Beets & Goat Cheese

INGREDIENTS

2 large beets (or several smaller ones) – I used red & golden varieties

3 garlic cloves

1/2 cup Parmesan – grated

5 oz goat cheese

Olive oil

S&P to taste

Mint or parsley or basil as garnish

DIRECTIONS

Toss the beets & garlic cloves in a little olive oil, wrap in foil & roast at 425 for 30-45 minutes – depending on their size – or until they are tender.  Let them cool & then peel them & cut them into chunks.  Reserve a handful of small cubes of beet for garnish later.

Boil your pasta.

In a food processor, puree the rest of the beets & Parmesan & roasted garlic & 1-2 ounces of the goat cheese & one cup of water until very smooth.  Add S&P to taste.

Put 1 TBS olive oil in a saute pan & heat the beet puree through.  Do not burn it!

Drain the pasta & add it & the beet puree to a bowl & mix until all your pasta is a deep magenta. Serve on plates with extra dollops of goat cheese, a few cubes of roasted beet, whatever herb you selected to garnish it with & some fresh cracked pepper!

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Pistachio & Gruyere Pizza with Red Onions & Goat Cheese Rosemary Cream

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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I wanted to make a pizza without going to the store.  I had dough, Gruyere & the rosemary cream sauce left over from my Roasted Cauliflower pizza effort.  I had a bag of shelled pistachios from Trader Joe’s & I had a red onion.  The images here show a dough rolled thin to the point of being a flatbread.  I had a scant amount of the rosemary cream left so it was used sparingly.  I used too little Gruyere as well.  The result was an austerely topped but really pretty pizza.  In the future, I would go thicker with everything.  In fact – I would add a few gobs of goat cheese, too.  The rosemary cream recipe below omits the roasted garlic that was used in the Roasted Cauliflower Pizza recipe – primarily to simplify this recipe & skip the step of roasting garlic.  You could certainly add the step back if you have the inclination.  Conversely – you could omit the rosemary cream altogether – especially if you go heavier with the other toppings & add goat cheese.

So – in closing – this was a tasty & unusually flavored pizza.  I just recommend you go thicker with your dough & apply the toppings with a heavier hand.

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Pistachio & Gruyere Pizza with Red Onions & Goat Cheese Rosemary Cream

INGREDIENTS

GOAT CHEESE ROSEMARY CREAM (if using)

5 oz goat cheese (or just use goat cheese directly on the pizza – skipping this cream recipe)

2 TBS butter

1 1/4 cups heavy cream (or 1 1/4 cups Mexican Crema mixed with 1/2 cup water)

dry rosemary – a TBS & a pinch – chopped finely or crushed with a mortar & pestle.

3-4 sprigs fresh rosemary

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Pizza dough – homemade or prepared

Handful shelled pistachios – quantity to taste

Gruyere – grated – quantity to taste

1/2 red onion – shaved very, very thin

1 TBS fresh rosemary – chopped

Fresh Parmesan – grated – as garnish

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DIRECTIONS

For the rosemary cream sauce (if using):

Heat 2 TBS butter in a stock pan.  Add the rosemary sprigs and simmer a minute then add the heavy cream.  Bring almost to a boil then reduce heat to low, cover & allow the rosemary to steep in the cream.  You can actually remove it from heat altogether & let it steep several hours – if you feel like it.  If using immediately – let it steep for 15-20 minutes then whisk in the goat cheese.  Add a pinch of dry rosemary.  Right before using, remove & toss the fresh rosemary sprigs.  If the cream sauce is too thick, add water.  If it is too thin, cook it down a bit.

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Assemble the pizza by rolling the dough out, not too thin, and topping it with the cream sauce (if using) and Gruyere, pistachios, shaved red onion & chopped fresh rosemary.  Add dollops of goat cheese – if you have it.  My pizza here did not have extra goat cheese & I believe it suffered for it.  Bake at 450 degrees until cheese melts & bubbles & the crust browns.  I added a little grated Parmesan as a garnish.

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Spicy Three Cheese Pinto Bean Dip with Grilled Jalapeno

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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I made this with dry pinto beans mostly because I am somehow more proud of myself when I do – but that is a completely unnecessary hassle.  In fact – I am going to pretend I did not – and post this recipe suggesting canned beans.  It is a surprisingly yummy dip – especially when served with the totally unnecessarily home-fried corn chips.  Store bought chips are perfectly fine.

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Spicy Three Cheese Pinto Bean Dip with Grilled Jalapeno

INGREDIENTS

5 cups canned pinto beans – drained & rinsed

2 jalapenos – roasted, seeded & peeled

1 small onion – diced

1 cup cilantro

1 heaping tsp ground cumin

4 oz goat cheese

12 oz grated mozzarella

2 cups grated cheddar

S&P to taste

GARNISH OPTIONS – roasted tomatillo & jalapeno salsa, more chopped cilantro, diced pickled jalapenos or green chiles, pico de gallo, sour cream, hot sauces, grilled corn.

CHIPS!

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DIRECTIONS

Roast the jalapenos on a grill or in a grill pan or under a broiler (watching & rotating them very carefully) until they are blackened.  Place in an airtight container until they cool & then roll the skins off under running water.  Seed them & dice.

Puree about 3/4 of the beans in a blender or food processor with enough water that they blend completely smoothly.  Add the onion, cilantro, grilled jalapeno & the cumin & puree completely.  Transfer the blended beans to a soup pot & add the remaining beans & all the other ingredients.  Heat until all the cheeses melt & everything is heated through.  This might require a bit more water to get the dip to a good consistency.  Taste it and add S&P to taste and maybe add a hot sauce if it isn’t spicy enough.

This is best served in a heated container – like a small, serving crock pot or chafing dish because it tends to set very thickly when it cools.  Or – serve a small quantity of it in a bowl while the remainder sits on very low heat on the stove.  Simply replenish the serving bowl as needed with warmed dip from the stove.  Garnish with something of your choice to make it look pretty.

The grilling of the jalapeno is nice – but not 100% necessary.  You could also do this with dried beans either soaked over night or quick soaked (allowed to sit off heat in boiled water, covered for an hour).  They will still require a few hours of cooking beyond this though before they are soft enough to blend.

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Brown Rice Arancini or Fried Rice Balls with Three Cheeses

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

vromans front

vromans back

I love arancini which are simply breaded rice balls traditionally made with risotto.  I made these once with grits (recipe HERE) & absolutely loved them – maybe more than the risotto variety.  They froze & reheated very well, too.

Looking at my giant container of bulk rate brown rice – I thought – why not try making arancini with brown rice rather than arborio?  And so I did.  I fried mine but I think you can bake these at 425 degrees for 20-30 minutes & get virtually the same (and somewhat healthier) result.

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Brown Rice Arancini or Fried Rice Balls with Three Cheeses

INGREDIENTS

4 cups cooked brown rice

3-4 eggs

1 tsp each of S&P

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp dried basil

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1/2 cup grated Parmesan (or grated Gruyere)

Fresh mozzarella AND/OR goat cheese – cubed

Olive oil (enough for frying the arancini – if you are frying – less if you are baking them)

2 cups bread crumbs or panko (maybe more)

1 cup flour (maybe more)

several sprigs fresh rosemary – finely chopped

additional chopped parsley as garnish

And you might was some spicy tomato sauce to serve these on.

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DIRECTIONS

Cook the rice & allow it to cool.

Blend the rice with ONE egg, salt, pepper, oregano, basil and grated cheese.

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In the palm of your hand scoop a small quantity of this mic & press a cube of either mozzarella or goat cheese (or other cheese) into the center & add more rice mix on top.  Form into a ball about the size of a golf ball.  Place onto a wax paper lined cooking sheet & repeat until all the rice mix is gone.

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CHILL the arancini at least 30 minutes so they can solidify a bit.

Pre-heat your oven to 425.

To assemble – mix the chopped rosemary into the flour.  Put the flour in one bowl, whisk the two eggs in another bowl & place the breadcrumbs or panko in a third bowl.  Dredge each rice ball first through the flour then the egg & then the breadcrumbs.  You might need to add more flour or egg or breadcrumbs to the bowls to complete all the arancini.

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If frying – heat enough olive oil to reach about half way up the rice balls.  Fry in small batches, placing the finished balls on a cooking sheet in the warmed oven until all are fried.

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OR – skip the frying & simply drizzle a little olive oil on the arancini & bake them all at 425 for 20-30 minutes or until the balls are evenly golden.  They might require being turned a bit.

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I serve these with my easy arrabbiata sauce and extra chopped parsley as a garnish.  Again – these freeze & reheat very well.

Enjoy!

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Cheesy Three Cheese, Potato & Broccoli Deep Dish Torte

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

This is another recipe born of ingredients I had at hand & a desire not to waste them.  I recently looked into what I spend on groceries each month.  I was horrified.  I live alone.  I eat twice a day & usually have a tofu dog every day for lunch.  I don’t eat meat & I seldom spring for the GORGEOUS fresh seafood at my local Gelson’s (and by seldom – I mean less than once a month – at most).  Sure – I made Thanksgiving dinner for 11 this year & have hosted several dinner parties in honor of my boyfriend’s visits but jeez!  As of this week – I have spent an average of $717 a month on groceries!!!!   That does include wine & random investments in costly ingredients like hazelnut oil & a bottle of Chartreuse but still.  I live on pizza, pasta & tofu dogs and I VERY rarely spend even $10 on a bottle of wine.  My boyfriend drinks canned Bud Lite.  I shop at Costco and Smart & Final – not Whole Foods, Bristol Farms – or even Gelson’s.  How could I possibly be spending that much?  Yet, confounding as it may be – it appears to be the truth.  So – you will be seeing a lot more economically-minded recipes coming up & lots of things with repeat ingredients as I try to use up stores I have of various things.  And my wine might have to transition to the boxed variety.  That’s sad.  It’s sad when you are so determined to drink wine that you need to chug the first glass just to make the second glass taste remotely palatable.  The third is usually pretty smooth after that.  Will I need to drink the first box quickly to make the second box taste good?  That seems downright excessive.  But – you will know the answer to that if my blog drops off and you spot me huddled under a freeway overpass with my three dogs, in a threadbare crew jacket from old acting job like Father Dowling Mysteries – and red wine glass stains curling up from over my top lip – giving me a distinctly Joker-like expression.  Something like this:

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Speaking of homelessness – I have to share my new favorite dog on Earth with you here.

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LOOK AT THAT PICASSO FACE!!!!  Here is her story:

CT, NY, NJ MA or PA
~REMEMBER WHEN LUCY WHO WAS DEFORMED FROM AN INJURY CAME TO AMERICA, EVERYONE WANTED TO HELP HER? WELL, IT’S BEEN OVER A YEAR NOW & LUCY IS STILL WAITING FOR A FUREVER HOME. WHERE IS EVERYONE? PLS SHARE/ADOPT THIS ANGEL 

SO SHE CAN GET THE LOVE SHE DESERVES.~
Lucy has survived the unimaginable. Used repeatedly as a breeding dog and then discarded to the streets of Colombia, she was found starving by a good Samaritan, her jaw and nose badly broken. A SFTH adopter and volunteer heard about her plight and arranged for her to fly to NY, where she has been receiving rehabilitation ever since. We had a specialist examine her, and although her facial bones never healed properly, she can eat, drink and has no pain whatsoever, so we decided not to put her through extensive and unnecessary surgery. Anyway, we think she’s beautiful the way she is! Lucy is great with people and she adores small dogs, probably because they remind her of the many puppies she’s had over the years. Her foster mom tells us that Lucy is very easy going and low maintenance. The only thing our little couch potato loves more than having a backyard to explore, is having a couch to come back to and nap on! Lucy is spayed 100% healthy, up to date on her shots. Please call Beth at 347 242 0459 you would like to adopt our Special Girl.
Lucy is currently in a wonderful foster home with her trainer in CT, not boarding (that was last year). We’re only going to adopt her out to a home in CT, NY, NJ MA or PA. We’d prefer to keep her close so the person or family will be able to visit her a couple of times so they can get to know her and Lucy can get to know them. We’d like to adopt her out as the only dog or to someone pit savvy with a well balanced small dog. And we would love for Lucy to have an enclosed backyard which she has now and LOVES!
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Isn’t she amazing???  Are you in the northeast?  Can you adopt her?
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Anyway – like my smoked salmon, potato & asparagus torte – this dish is VERY easy to prepare & could feed 6 as a main course pretty easily, more as a side dish.  I used the cheeses I used here because I had them already.  Any cheese could be substituted but you would need at least one creamy cheese (like the goat cheese) to keep the consistency right.  Maybe use cream cheese or ricotta or Boursin or something.  Even feta.  I also used smoked cheddar – because I had it.   I used it in all – including the top layer of this torte.  It was a mistake.  It doesn’t melt well & the other cheesy mix burned.
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Undeterred – I simply peeled the thin burned layer off (including any burned cubes of the cheddar) and topped the torte again with a pizza blend mix I had of grated cheese – like I had with a cauliflower gratin torte I made for Thanksgiving – seen here:
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So – I recommend this method.
Also – as an aside – I used broccoli in this recipe that I had frozen myself a month or so ago.  I found I had a lot of broccoli & spinach & I was leaving town &didn’t want it to spoil.  So – I divvied it all up into little baggies & froze it.  Thawed – they came out pretty much like any frozen vegetable (of which I am no fan) and did not taste as good as they might have if used in recipes in their fresh state.  No more freezing asparagus or broccoli & definitely not spinach – for me.
If you own a food processor – I cannot impress upon you strongly enough how much I encourage you to make this torte crust yourself.  It is ridiculously easy & takes 5 minutes.

Homemade Herbed Tart Crust Pastry

enough for TWO tarts

INGREDIENTS

3 cups flour

12 TBS butter (salted, if possible) – CHILLED and cubed

2 eggs

1+ TBS fresh thyme (or diced fresh sage or fresh parsley or fresh oregano) – OPTIONAL

water

1/4 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS

Mix the salt & flour together in your food processor (or in a bowl – as this dough could be made by hand – just not by me).

Pulse in the butter until it is incorporated into the dough.  Pulse in the fresh herbs.  Pulse in the two eggs.  Add water 1 TBS at a time until small lumps of dough form.

Divide the dough into two balls & on a lightly floured surface, roll the two balls into disks large enough to line your tart pan.  I rolled one out – and lined my tart pan.  The other, I kept in a ball, rolled it in some flour & then wrapped it in plastic wrap to keep in the fridge for another tart another day.

When you line your tart pan – press the dough in gently, starting from the center & work to the edges.  You can wrap the  pastry over the rim & then cut away extra, for a cleaner look.  I go more rustic & press it in more willy nilly.

Refrigerate your pastry-lined tart pan for at least 30 minutes.

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Cheesy Three Cheese, Potato & Broccoli Deep Dish Torte
INGREDIENTS
1 crust – either frozen or from the recipe above.
4 TBS butter
8 oz heavy cream (or milk or half & half)
2 garlic cloves – chopped
2 potatoes – peeled, boiled until soft & sliced 1/4 inch thick
3 celery stalks – diced
1 large onion – diced
1 lb broccoli florets – steamed al dente (or frozen)
1 TBS fresh thyme (optional)
3 eggs
3 oz smoked cheddar (or other strongly flavored cheese) – cubed
4 oz goat cheese (or other soft cheese)
6 oz grated cheese – either provolone, jack, cheddar, mozzarella or a blend
3 oz ADDITIONAL grated cheese as a topping
S&P to taste
DIRECTIONS
PRE-HEAT oven to 350 degrees.
Press your crust into a spring form (or other) deep pan.  Chill for at least 30 minutes.
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Meanwhile – peel, boil & slice your potatoes.  Try not to overcook them.  A potato is cooked if you pierce it with a knife or fork – lift it from the water – and it falls off on its own.
Steam or blanch your broccoli also trying hard not to overcook it.
In a bowl or food processor – blend the heavy cream, eggs, goat cheese, 6 oz grated cheese, fresh thyme and S&P.
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In a saute pan, melt the butter & saute the onion & celery.  When they soften, add the garlic & saute another minute.  Mix in with the broccoli.
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To assemble the torte – put in a layer of sliced potatoes – using half, then half of the broccoli/onion mix, then dot with half your cubed smoked cheddar (press the layers down here to get maximum density) and cover with half the heavy cream mixture.  Repeat the potato then broccoli, cubed cheese (and pressure)  & heavy cream layers.  Top with the 3 oz or more of grated cheese.
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Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or so – or until your top layer of cheese is melted & begins to turn golden.
Let the torte rest, unmolested, for at least 15 minutes.  Slide the blade of a knife between the crust & pan before releasing the spring form (if using).
Slice it up & serve!
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Spinach & Pea Pesto Linguini with Three Cheeses & the Sheena Metal Experience

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

Yesterday – the heat was downright uncivilized.  Well over 100 degrees – ALL DAY.  I have no AC in my house so my three dogs & I walked around with our tongues hanging out while experiencing a sometimes vague and sometimes overwhelming sense of claustrophobic panic.    I had to do an interview at 6pm in the valley which meant driving even deeper into the inferno but my car has AC & I was pretty certain the radio studio would, too, so I was counting the seconds until I could leave.  Around 5pm – I was starving but it was way too hot to try to cook anything & I didn’t have time to eat anyway.  Still – like we all do – I looked in my fridge for things I knew were not in there.  A fridge which, incidentally, required a major repair this week.  My house is beginning to have too many things in common with Grey Gardens in general – a course I am temporarily powerless to reverse – but a fridge that lets a gorgeous burrata sour in the span of a day is just unacceptable.  A girl has to eat!  Even if she has to eat amidst squalor & ruin – much of it caused by bad, bad dogs – she still has to eat.  And cook.  And write about it.  And stuff.  So I called Wilshire Refrigeration – and the repairman arrived in a few hours to break the terrible news to me.  My 15 year old Sub-Zero had a cancer – a leaking freon coil thingamajigga & it had to be cut out.  I was told by my friend that had recommended Wilshire Refrigeration to me – that I was likely to get very timely, competent & friendly service – and I DID – but he also warned me that I would likely walk funny for a few days afterward.  And I can report to you now that a $1000 repair bill DOES somehow feel like an ass rape.  But so does a fridge full of warm beer & rotting dairy, mayo & eggs.  So – $1000 later and after bidding adieu to the repair guy – I walked – like a bowlegged cowboy – back to my kitchen to put everything that was salvageable back into my restored chilling appliance.

But I digress.  At 5 last night – I glanced in my fridge for a snack.  There was nothing that fit the bill but there was a collection of ingredients that I spontaneously decided would whip nicely into a cool pesto that I could mix into pasta upon my return from the interview.  I had 10-15 minutes before I had to leave so – I made the following delightful concoction:

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Spinach & Pea Pesto Pasta with Three Cheeses

serves 2 (Use more pasta to feed however many you have.)

INGREDIENTS

4 packed cups fresh spinach
1 packed cup fresh basil
2 cup frozen peas – 1 cup for the pesto – 1 cup for the pasta
1/2 cup olive oil
water – 1/4 cup or more
2 oz goat cheese
2 oz feta cheese
(or 4 oz of either one – Goat or Feta)
Fresh mozzarella (the stuff stored in water) – to taste – diced
4 cloves garlic
1/2 tomato – diced (more if you are feeding more than 2)
fresh parsley – chopped
S&P to taste
1/2 lb dried pasta
DIRECTIONS
In a food processor blend the basil, spinach, garlic, olive oil, s&p, feta, goat cheese, 1 cup of peas – adding only as much water as you need to get the proper consistency.
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NOTE – This will make 2-3 cups of this pesto – FAR more than you need for 1/2 lb pasta (which serves 2 – in my opinion).  In fact – it is way more than you need for the whole box of pasta.  So – use the extra on crostinis or as a condiment on sandwiches or as a base to a pizza or for just more pasta.
Cook your pasta according to the directions.  In the last minute or two – add 1 cup of the peas to the water.  Drain.
Put the pasta & cooked peas in a bowl & toss with a few tablespoons of the pesto.  Add more if you think it needs it.  Arrange the pasta on plates & top with a little more pesto, chopped tomato, chopped mozzarella & parsley.  And go heavy with the parsley.  It has a lovely, fresh taste & is not just a garnish!!!  🙂
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After I whipped up the pesto – using unthawed frozen peas – I put it in the fridge for a $1000 chilling – and walked my aching ass to the car to head to the valley for my interview.
The radio studio is in Sherman Oaks.  The waiting room looks like this:
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Pictures of past guests (like Noah Wyle & Mini Me) lined one wall.  After about 20 minutes of listening to an Irish author be interviewed just before me – I was called in for my part.  Sheena was SUPER duper nice, smart & funny.  The interview went as well as I could hope & I really enjoyed myself – both because of the civilized temperature in there & because of the charm of my hostess.  The entire interview can be heard HERE.  I show up at about the 62 minute mark.
Once that was done, I stepped outside into the smokey dusk (a fire was blazing near the Getty).
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No surprise there was a fire as I wasn’t entirely sure I was safe from spontaneous combustion myself.  I got into my car & checked the temperature.
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104!!  At 7pm!!!  Ugh.  Still – smog & fires make for pretty sunsets & nice light for photographs.
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So – I cranked up the AC in the car & headed home to boil up some pasta & try my newest pesto creation.  And let me tell you – it was REALLY good!  And so easy!  And good for you!  So try it!!!
Cheers~