Friday, August 22, 2014

White Pimento Cheese w/ Burst Cherry Tomatoes and Chia Seeds

                                                                                                                                                                This is a simple and delicious spread that will not only compliment the cracker, but also veggies or any plain or multi-grain  bread as a standalone finger or full sandwich.  It is  also an amazing addition to burgers!
Pimento cheese or "caviar of the south" has been a Southern favorite for decades.  The original ingredients include sharp cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, pimento, salt, pepper and a few colloquial ingredients, depending on the region.  It is also popular in the Philippines.
I took the traditional and historically popular pimento cheese spread, and put my own personal spin on the recipe to deliver the same satisfaction with different and wonderful elements like removing the mayonnaise and replacing it with plain low-fat Greek yogurt, sharp white cheddar instead of traditional sharp cheddar and a host of other flavor builders to enhance the flavor profile.  The recipe is quick and easy to prepare and my family loved it.   This spread may be made ahead of time and this version will keep for 2 days, not that it will last that long!     
8 oz. sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
1 c. plus 2 tbsp. plain low-fat Greek yogurt
1 small clove garlic, pressed or finely minced
2 tbsp. pimento, drained and roughly chopped
1 tbsp. Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 tsp. sherry peppers sauce, optional
Chia Seeds
Olive oil for drizzling
In a medium bowl, combine cheese, Greek yogurt, garlic and sherry peppers.
Using processor or immersion blender, blend until desired texture is achieved, I like to leave it slightly chunky for texture.
Fold in parsley and pimento.
Garnish with Chia Seeds.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups.


Friday, August 8, 2014

Rustic Yellow Squash and Brie Cream Sauce Smothered Gnocchi

Squash is a delicious and nutritious way to feed your family , and is gentle on the budget, especially if you grow your own.  I came up with this sauce to utilize some freshly steamed squash I had on hand.  I created a coarse and creamy sauce to compliment some potato gnocchi I purchased .  The Brie lends a subtle yet amazingly creamy texture to the squash, which I blended, seeds and all , including all the nutrients and fiber, with my immersion blender.  I used turmeric, which is a wonderful antioxidant and popular spice in Indian cooking for brightness and to add to the whole yellow squash effect.  Parmesan cheese, milk and butter help round the sauce out and pairs well with pan seared chicken or pork!
1 500 gram pkg. potato gnocchi
2 c. sliced, steamed yellow squash
2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. AP flour
1 c. 2 % milk
2 oz. Brie
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. turmeric
olive oil for drizzling
Prepare gnocchi according to package instruction, in salted water and drained.
Meanwhile, melt butter over medium high heat and add flour.
Cook flour for about one minute, then add squash puree, and milk.
Reduce heat to medium and cook until thickened, stirring often, about 5 minutes.
Once thickened, add Parmesan, garlic, onion powder, turmeric and SPST.
Drizzle in a little olive oil and toss with the hot gnocchi.
Garnish with olive oil and fresh parsley if desired.
Makes about 5 servings.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Summertime Loaded Portobello Wraps

This recipe screams SUMMER and many of the fantastic flavors and smells that we seek, during these hot months . The portobellos are marinated, grilled and sliced, then  layered with amazing and surprising complimentary vegetables like mixed spring greens with kale, julienne of cucumber, slices of fresh peach, along with some mozzarella and bacon for a smoky, salty finish.  Whole wheat tortillas help bring in some fantastic whole grain goodness while sweet and tangy sauce ties things together. Very  filling without the feeling of sluggishness. This wrap is light and fragrant and you don't have to feel guilty if you eat more than one.  The bacon may be omitted for an equally delicious vegetarian meal or a perfect menu item for Meatless Monday or less meat any lunch or lite dinner!
2 portobello mushrooms, about 8 oz., wiped clean and trimmed if necessary
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp. fish sauce
2 tbsp. sherry
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt free seasoning
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 cucumber, seeded and julienned, about 1/2 cup
1 large peach, peeled and sliced, about 1/2 cup
4 oz. mixed spring greens with kale
1/2 c. shredded mozzarella
4 oz. cooked, crumbled bacon, about 5 slices, optional
4-8 inch whole wheat tortillas
Sweet Chili Ranch Sauce:
1/4 c. sweet chili sauce
1/4 c. good quality ranch dressing
2 tbsp. fresh chopped parsley
1 clove garlic, pressed or finely minced
Combine sauce ingredients and set aside.

Combine worcestershire, fish sauce, sherry, olive oil, salt free seasoning and pepper flakes.
Place portobellos in a shallow dish and pour marinade over them, flipping several times to coat.
Marinate for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat grill pan to medium high heat.
Once hot, grill portobellos for about 4 minutes on each side, and let rest before slicing on bias.
Arrange slices equally among tortillas and follow with cheese first, then veggies and fruit.
Drizzle with sauce.
Secure sides with toothpick and cut in half on a bias.  Makes 4.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Zucchini and Caramelized Onion Hummus( Gluten Free)

This recipe was a real treat to create and was received very well by the family.  With the costs of store bought hummus through the roof these days, it's a shame many don't take the time to just make it at home.  Prep is a breeze and the results speak for themselves.
Hummus is  a great canvas to try new and different flavor combinations to suit your personal tastes.  There are countless possibilities and you will save in the process . I enriched my recipe with fresh zucchini from the garden and caramelized onions.  Garbanzo Beans or chick peas are rich in potassium, iron, protein and dietary fiber.  They also contain Vitamin B6 and magnesium.  Paired with some fresh veggies and whole wheat pita bread or toasted tortillas and you have a wonderful spread and smiles to that do the same from the first bite!  I even threw in some fried hog jowl to pair with the country-feel that beans alone can create!
2 c. thinly sliced zucchini*
2 c. thinly sliced yellow onions*
1 15 oz. can Garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 tbsp. Tahini
3 small sprigs of Lime Thyme
4 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 tbsp. butter, optional but recommended
1 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for drizzling
In a large saute pan over medium high heat, melt butter and add olive oil.
Once hot, add zucchini, onions, thyme and garlic.
Cook for about 2 minutes or until fragrant and reduce heat to medium.
Continue to cook, stirring periodically, until reduced to about 1 1/2 cups and the onions are golden , about 25 minutes.
Remove sprigs of thyme.
Meanwhile, puree or mash Garbanzo beans in a small bowl, this will be very thick, but the veggies will lend its creaminess when combined.
Add tahini.
Once veggies have cooled just slightly, combine them with mashed garbanzos in a folding fashion, drizzling in some olive oil and stirring with rubber spatula until incorporated evenly.
Transfer to serving bowl and drizzle with more olive oil if desired. Makes about 2 cups.
I served this dish at room temperature.
*I used a mandolin for super thin, super easy slicing!!