Thursday, October 5, 2017

Grilled Brie and Pear with Fig Spread

If you think lunch has to be boring, then think again.  And don't believe for a minute that 'not boring' needs to be complicated.    Five, count them, just five ingredients, a skillet, and less than 20 minutes and you have a lunch that is lick-your-fingers-good.  It's the perfect sandwich for this time of year when the weather turns chilly and when juicy ripe pears are plentiful.  If you're looking for a way to use up all of the apples from your apple picking trip, go ahead and use your apples instead of pears, it will be just as delicious - I promise.

                                                                                                                Recipe developed for Dalmatia

photo: Paul Gelsobello Studio

To start, you're going to spread some fig spread on whole grain bread.  I always use Dalmatia, it's definitely my favorite, filled with delicious sweet fig flavor.  I used the Original when I made this, but they also have a Fig Orange spread that has a great orange zest note if you feel like changing things up a bit. 

And FYI, Dalmatia recently came out with a Fig Cocoa spread, that is nothing short of amazing. I wouldn't use it on this sandwich, but feel free to grab a spoon and eat it straight from the jar.

photo: Paul Gelsobello Studio

Back to the sandwich.  Make sure you use a nice hearty whole grain bread here so it can stand up to the intense flavor from the brie and fig jam. Pile on the pear and brie slices.

Eiffel Tower Triple Creme is my go-to for Brie, it's creamy and buttery with a subtle sweetness.  I leave the rind on because I like the contrasting flavor, but go ahead and remove it if you find that flavor too strong.

You don't need perfect pears for this, in fact, if they're just a little overripe they'll be even better  because they'll soften up quickly and be just that much sweeter.

Melt some unsalted butter in your skillet and grill these sandwiches until the bread is crisp and crusty outside and  the cheese turns into melty goodness, the pears soften and the fig spread oozes all over the pears.  Pure deliciousness in every single bite.

These sandwiches are good enough to pull off for dinner.  Pair with a salad or soup and you've got a super easy weeknight meal.

Grilled Brie and Pear with Fig Spread

Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Makes 2 sandwiches

4 slices whole grain bread 
1/4 cup Dalmatia Fig Spread - Original 
1 pear, thinly sliced 
4 ounces sliced Eiffel Tower Brie Cheese 
2 tablespoons butter 

Spread each slice of bread with 1 tablespoon Fig Spread. Arrange half of the pear slices on 1 bread slice then top with half of the brie. Place bread slice on top and press firmly. Repeat with remaining ingredients to make 2 sandwiches.

Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add sandwiches and cook, covered, 8 minutes until golden brown and cheese is melted, turning once.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Berry Vodka Mojito

Because it's National Honey month, because it's Friday, and because it's still hot as heck at the end of September, I've got your weekend cocktail all ready.

When I'm heading out for some weekend fun, I'm really in love with all of the cool cocktails they have just about everywhere.  The complexity that goes into them is really just mind boggling at times.  Simple syrups, liquors that I've never heard of, creative combinations, frothy egg whites, the list goes on.

But when I'm being my own bartender, I just want simple and good! And often, simply and good makes the best cocktail.  But ingredients do matter when you're letting the alcohol shine through.  So start with a good vodka.  My go-to choices for this vodka mojito are Belvedere or Tito's, but feel free to use your favorite.

I'm not a fan of sweet drinks, and I also like to maximize my alcohol input whenever possible to get the most bang for the calorie consumption :).  So this mojito is sweetened with KAS Krupnikas.  It's a spiced honey liqueur that adds a delicious sweetness and subtle spice note to the cocktail.  If you can't find that, another honey or sweet liqueur will work, or just use a little honey instead.

So Happy Friday.  Here's to the weekend!

2 sprigs mint
1 half lime, cut into 2 or 3 wedges
1/4 cup assorted berries
2 ounces vodka
1 ounce KAS Krupnikas (spiced honey liqueur)
2 ounces club soda

Muddle mint, lime and berries in a glass.  Add vodka and Kas and stir.  Fill glass with ice and add club soda.  Garnish with fresh mint, lime and berries.


If you are a fan of muddled fruit drinks, it's worth investing in a good muddler.  The pictured muddler is a stainless muddler by OXO and makes easy work of muddling.  Wooden ones also work well, and in a pinch a wooden spoon does the trick.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Chilled Avocado Soup

This chilled avocado soup is reminiscent of guacamole.  Just a bit of light seasoning lets the avocado and cucumber flavor shine through. It's so easy to whip up, it's perfect for everything from weeknight dinners to entertaining.   The flavor is creamy and rich, yet light and refreshing all at once. The pepitas on top give it a nice crunch.  Fabulous as a first course or light lunch or dinner. Top with crabmeat or diced cooked shrimp for a heartier dish.

Recipe developed for

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Beemster Sweet & Smokey Turkey Burgers

Nothing like sweet September days.  Not too hot, not too cold - perfect weather to be outdoors for anything and everything.  This time of year make it so easy to want to continue that fabulous grill season. Whether  you're planning a tailgate or need a new burger after months of ordinary beef burgers,  this turkey burger fits the bill. It gets a little sweetness from barbecue sauce and a whole lotta smokey from Beemster Smoked Gouda.  Adding the cheese and barbecue sauce to the ground turkey gives it a flavor boost and keeps it perfectly moist.  Topping these burgers with more sauce and cheese just seals in all of the great flavor.  Best of all,  you only need 5 ingredients and 30 minutes to get these burgers on your table.  

Recipe developed for Beemster

Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Makes 4 servings

1 pound lean ground turkey 
1 cup shredded Beemster Smoked, divided (about 4 oz.) 
1/2 cup barbecue sauce, divided 
4 1/2-inch-thick slices red onions, grilled if desired 
4 hamburger buns 

Combine turkey, ½ cup Beemster and ¼ cup barbecue sauce. Shape into 4 burgers.
Arrange burgers on grill and cook 6 minutes. Turn burgers over, then evenly top with remaining barbecue sauce. Cook 6 minutes then top with remaining Beemster. Grill 2 minutes or until Beemster is melted and burgers are thoroughly cooked.

Arrange red onion and burgers on hamburger buns.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Steak Tacos with Chipotle Slaw

I'm always looking for new Taco Tuesday ideas.  Honestly, I just love how you can take almost any combination of ingredients, wrap them up in a taco and they taste delicious! It's all about the flavor and textures coming together in every delicious bite.

This recipe seasons a tender skirt steak with taco seasoning, then tops it off with a spicy slaw and adds Crispy Onions for crunch. Easy and delicious!
Recipe developed for Ortega

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

Serving size: 6

1 package ORTEGA® Taco Seasoning
4 tablespoons lime juice, divided
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds skirt steak, or sirloin steak
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
4 cups shredded cabbage or cole slaw
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
12 ORTEGA® Taco Shells, warmed
ORTEGA® Crispy Onion Taco Toppers

Combine Taco Seasoning, 2 tablespoons lime juice, vinegar and garlic. Coat steak with mixture and marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes to 3 hours. Grill or broil steak to desired doneness.

Meanwhile, combine mayonnaise, remaining lime juice, honey and chipotle chili powder in a large bowl. Add cabbage and cilantro and toss to coat.

Slice steak and serve in Ortega Taco Shells. Top with slaw, Crispy Onion Toppers and your favorite taco toppings.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Bruschetta Chicken over Pesto Cauliflower Mash

Summer's not done yet and this quick and easy dinner idea takes full advantage of the all the things that makes summer food special.  Fresh tomatoes, from your garden or the farmers' market don't need much enhancement to turn them into this delicious bruschetta topping.  Just a touch of balsamic, fresh basil and some salt and pepper.  Serve the bruschetta over grilled balsamic chicken and put the whole thing over some pesto cauliflower mash.   Green Giant's Cauliflower Mash is so creamy and rich, you just might think you're eating mashed potatoes.  Yet they're still light enough for a summer meal.  Stirring in some prepared pesto gives it a nice little flavor boost to complement the bruschetta topping.  Best part....this entire dinner is on the table in just 30 minutes.  Easy, delicious and healthy!

Recipe developed for Green Giant

Prep time: 
Cook time: 

Makes 4 servings

2 medium tomatoes, chopped (about 2 cups) 
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar, divided 
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil 
2 tablespoons honey 
2 large garlic cloves, minced 
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves 
1 (20-ounce) package Green Giant Original with Olive Oil & Sea Salt Mashed Cauliflower 
2 - 3 tablespoons refrigerated prepared basil pesto *

Combine tomatoes, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper; set aside.

Combine remaining vinegar, honey and garlic. Pour over chicken and marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes to 3 hours.

Cook Green Giant Mashed Cauliflower according to package directions. Stir in pesto.

Remove chicken from marinade, discarding marinade. Grill or broil chicken until done. Serve chicken over pesto cauliflower and top with tomato mixture.

*Summer's a great time to make your own pesto with the abundance of basil either from your garden or farmers' markets.  But if you don't have the time or the desire, use one of the refrigerated pestos that are readily available.  They really are almost as good as home-made.  Rana is my favorite followed by Buitoni and Costo.  I always have some on hand to add a boost of flavor to my recipes.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Grilled Brats with Peppers, Onion & Gouda

The thing about summer food is that it's best kept simple, leaving you time to enjoy whatever it is that you love doing in the summer.  All you need to do for these hearty sandwiches is saute some veggies, grill some brats and grate some cheese.  Simple. Delicious. Satisfying.

If you prefer, the whole meal can be done on the grill.  Just place the peppers and onions in a foil pouch (use heavy duty aluminum foil to make the pouch) and grill for about 10 to 15 minutes turning occasionally.  And for added flavor, simmer the brats in beer for about 10 minutes before grilling.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 12 minutes

Serving size: 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large sweet onion, sliced
1 large red or green bell pepper, sliced
6 bratwurst
6 brat or Italian rolls split
4 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1 cup shredded Beemster Paradiso

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook 4 minutes or until softened. Add peppers and cook 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, grill brats until cooked and browned.

Arrange brats on rolls. Top with mustard, onions, peppers and Beemster.