Fresh Strawberry Brie Bites

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Need an appetizer for a party?  Or a refreshing dessert after dinner?  This recipe serves both needs!  Fresh strawberries washed and hulled deliver color and sweetness when paired with creamy brie and fresh basil leaves.  Balsamic glaze provides a sweet yet savory finish for a fabulous combination!

Strawberry Brie Bites with Balsamic Glaze (makes 20-24 pieces)

1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled

Fresh basil, one leaf per strawberry (about 20-24)

1 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 pound Brie cheese, cut 1/4-inch slices into 1-inch squares (20-24 pieces)

Toothpicks or small bamboo skewers

Pour balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan and gently simmer for 20 to 30 minutes until the glaze is thick and coats a spoon (consistency of chocolate syrup). Set aside and allow to cool in pan.

Prepare a serving dish with a light coat of oil or cooking spray. Start stacking ingredients with a piece of brie as the base. Add basil (leaf should curve up to catch the glaze).  Next, add the strawberry (hulled side down). Spear stack with toothpick and drizzle with glaze. Arrange on the prepared serving dish. Enjoy!

Note: Any unused balsamic glaze can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for several weeks. 

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Spinach Artichoke Quinoa Egg Bake

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Try the traditional pairing of spinach and artichokes with the ancient grain quinoa baked together with eggs and cheese.  The result?  Deliciousness!!

This is a great brunch recipe.  To prep this ahead of time, simply follow the recipe through until the step”Preheat the oven”.  The contents of the 9 x 13 pan can be covered and placed in the refrigerator.  When ready to cook, remove the dish from the refrigerator, uncover and finish the recipe.  Enjoy!

Spinach, Artichoke, Quinoa Egg Bake (serves 8-10)

1-1/2 cups quinoa, uncooked

1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cups milk

4 eggs

1-14 ounce can artichokes, drained and chopped and drained again

10 ounce package of spinach

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1-1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

1/2 teaspoon each:  salt and freshly ground pepper

In a medium pot, heat 3 cups water until boiling. Add quinoa, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 12 minutes until water absorbed and quinoa unravels. Prepare 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Pour cooked quinoa into baking dish.

Preheat large skillet on medium heat and add olive oil. Sauté onion and garlic until onion is translucent. Add artichoke and spinach. Add contents of skillet to quinoa in baking dish. Season with salt and pepper. Mix to combine.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together milk and eggs. Mix in Parmesan and 1 cup mozzarella. Pour into baking dish and gently mix into contents. Sprinkle casserole with remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella. Bake for 30 minutes and serve hot.

Thanksgiving Sides

Thanksgiving is upon us!  Time with family, a break from work and school, and great food all mean that there is so much to look forward to!  Here are two new sides you may want to try for Thanksgiving:  Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad and Oven Baked Butternut Squash Risotto.  What’s unique about both of these is that they can meet the special dietary needs- gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian, and nut free- of anyone coming to dinner. If you are looking for something easy, yummy and good for everyone, try these!

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Lemon Zest (serves 6)IMG_3114

1-1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts

1/4 cup roasted sunflower seeds

1/4 cup yellow raisins

2 peeled hard boiled eggs, diced (optional)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Prepare Brussels sprouts by trimming bottoms and removing discolored or tough outer leaves. In a food processor with a grating attachment (or with a box grater), grate sprouts. Collect into a medium bowl (about 10 ounces total). Toss with sunflower seeds, raisins, and eggs (if using). In a separate small bowl, whisk lemon juice, vinegar and mustard. Drizzle in olive oil, whisking to combine. Add zest and shallots. Toss salad with dressing.

This salad can be served immediately or place in fridge for up to an hour. Toss again before serving and season with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Adapted from www.chow.com

Oven Baked Butternut Squash Risotto (serves 6)IMG_3115

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup finely chopped shallots

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped

1-1/2 cups Arborio rice

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled and diced (4 cups)

4 cups vegetable stock

1 bunch curly kale (or Lacinato/Tuscan kale), tough stems removed and cut into ½ inch strips (about 4 cups loosely packed)

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium Dutch oven or oven proof pot with a lid, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Sauté shallots until soft, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add rice and cook, stirring frequently, until edges of rice are translucent, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and add wine. Stir and cook until wine is absorbed. Add squash and stock, bring mixture to a boil. Stir in kale. Cover and transfer to oven. Bake for 20 minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Serve hot and garnish with parmesan. Enjoy!

Adapted from Meatless by Martha Stewart

HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!!

‘Anytime’ Mini Stratas

Mini Stratas

Stratas seem like they’re reserved just for special occasions.  Made from bread and eggs, this dish typically takes some planning including an overnight in the fridge before cooking. That explains the annual strata recipe I make for our family’s Christmas brunch.  But, to my great surprise, I found a brilliant new way to enjoy strata.  Make them MINI.  Thanks to the Power Up Muffins in the 2015 ‘The Dairy Good Cookbook:  Everyday Comfort Food from America’s Dairy Farm Families’, I am sharing my newest favorite strata recipe and calling it ‘Anytime Mini Strata’.  In fact, I just made these after church for my family this weekend.  Not only did everyone enjoy them, they were simple to assemble, sit to soak for only 10 minutes and bake in just 20 minutes. Here it is!

Anytime Mini Strata (makes 1 dozen)Anytime Mini Stratas

6 large eggs

1 cup plan non-fat Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon each:  onion powder, garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 cup packed spinach, chopped

1/2 cup sliced mushrooms

1 cup cubed whole grain bread

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray.  Using a whisk, beat eggs in medium bowl with yogurt.  Add up to a tablespoon of water if mixture to thick to blend.  Whisk in onion and garlic powders, salt and pepper.  With a spoon, mix in cheese, bread, spinach and mushrooms.  Let stand for 10 minutes.  Stir once again and evenly distribute amongst the 12 muffin cups.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until they are golden brown.  Allow a few minutes to cool before serving. Run a small knife around each to help pop them out of the muffin cups.  Enjoy!

Meatless Monday: Black Bean Cakes with Chipotle Sauce

Black Bean Cakes

I recently made these Black Bean Cakes for family dinner and served them on slider rolls.  YUM!  My meat-loving son enjoyed them, too!

Black Bean Cakes with Chipotle Yogurt Sauce (makes 10 small cakes)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup diced sweet onion

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup diced red bell pepper

1 teaspoon each: cumin, chili powder

1/2 cup grated sweet potato

1- 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs

1/2 cup milk

Chopped cilantro, as garnish

Chipotle yogurt sauce: 1 cup whole milk Greek yogurt, 1-2 chopped Chipotle peppers, 1 teaspoon adobo sauce, 1/4 teaspoon cumin. Mix ingredients thoroughly and chill.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Heat oil in a medium skillet and sauté onion, bell pepper and garlic for 3 minutes, until onion is translucent. Stir in cumin, chili powder and sweet potato. Heat until spices are fragrant. Remove from heat.

Place beans in a bowl and roughly mash with a large fork or potato masher. Stir in contents of skillet and combine. Sprinkle in bread crumbs and pour in milk. Stir again to combine. Divide mixture in half and make 5 equal cakes from each half. Place on an oiled baking sheet. Spritz top of cakes with oil. Place in middle of oven and bake for 5 minutes until cake tops begin to crisp. Flip and bake 2-3 minutes more (when second side gets crispy). Serve on a platter with a dollop of Chipotle Yogurt Sauce and garnish with cilantro. Enjoy!

Black Bean Cakes were adapted from Simple Gourmet

Meatless Monday: Sweet Butternut Squash and Chick Pea Curry

Sweet Butternut Squash and Chick Pea CurryYou’ll enjoy the heartiness of this meatless recipe with its slightly sweet and savory flavor.  The sweetness in this curry dish originates from a small butternut squash and a pinch of cinnamon. Prep time and cook time both require 15-20 minutes.  You can save some prep time by purchasing squash that is already peeled and diced (only 12-16 ounces needed).  You may just need to adjust the dice to make smaller.  Enjoy this delicious dinner!

Sweet Butternut Squash and Chick Pea Curry (serves 6)

1-1/2 pound butternut squash, peeled and diced (1/2 inch)

1 tablespoon coconut oil (or vegetable oil)

1-14 ounce can ‘lite’ coconut milk (unsweetened)

1 medium sweet onion, diced (about 1 cup)

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons minced ginger

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 tablespoon tomato paste

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1- 15 ounce can chick peas, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup sweet green peas (fresh or frozen)

Basmati rice or Naan bread

In a large skillet, heat oil and sauté onion, ginger and garlic for about 3 minutes until onion becomes translucent. Add coconut milk, curry, tomato paste, and cinnamon. When mixture boils, add squash and sweet green peas. Cover and simmer on low until squash is tender, 10-15 minutes. Uncover skillet and add chick peas. Heat through and taste. Adjust flavor with a sprinkle of curry powder, salt, and/or a pinch of sugar. Serve on a platter surrounded by triangles of toasted naan bread or over basmati rice. Enjoy!

Portobello Pesto Egg Bake

Portobello Pesto Egg Bake

My husband is a big Costco shopper.  And I have learned to enjoy creating a meal from the new items he brings home.  This was a yummy dinner we had this week… all of these ingredients came from Costco!  Who knew?!

This recipe works for breakfast & brunch, lunch or a light dinner.  

Portobello Pesto Egg Bake (serves 4)

4 portobello mushrooms, cleaned with stem removed

1/4 cup pesto (try my pesto recipe!)

4 eggs

1 cup baby spinach

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

2 green onions, sliced

4 slices provolone cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Brush caps lightly with olive oil.  Place cap side down on a baking sheet.  Spread a tablespoon of pesto on the gills of each mushroom.  Bake 10 minutes.  Crack egg on top of mushrooms.  With the raw egg on top, carefully return to oven for 5 minutes for soft yolk or 10 minutes for solid yolk. (For the egg to rest on top of the mushroom, the surface of the mushroom needs to be concave and at least 4 inches wide.  Another option to is to crack each egg into a non-stick fry pan and cook to desired doneness and add to mushroom cap after a total of 15-20 minutes in oven). When the mushroom and egg are cooked, add 1/4 cup spinach to each and top with a slice of cheese.  Return to oven for 2-3 minutes, until cheese melts and spinach wilts.  Serve immediately garnished with grape tomatoes and scallions.  Enjoy!

Meatless Monday: Avocado Egg Pita

Avocado Egg Pita

Easy and yummy!  It’s a great recipe to make when you find a ripe avocado to enjoy.  I served this for breakfast in a class last week…every plate was left clean!  It works well for lunch, too.

Avocado-Egg Pita (serves 2)

2 pocketless Greek pita, preferably whole grain

2 egg

1 large ripe avocado

1 lemon

Salt & pepper

2 teaspoons EVOO

2 tablespoons feta cheese

Brush pitas with oil. Toast on both sides in a hot skillet until beginning to crisp. Mash avocado and spread equally on each pita, drizzle with fresh lemon juice. Fry eggs in skillet, cook ‘easy over’ and season with salt and pepper. Place cooked egg on top of each pita and sprinkle with feta. Enjoy!

Jack O Lantern Quesadillas with Midnight Salsa

Jack O Lantern Quesadilla

Maddie’s quesadilla at ‘Kid’s Halloween Class’ October 25, 2014

Another fun recipe for Halloween that is sure to put a smile on your kids’ faces.  All you need are whole grain tortillas, beans and shredded cheddar; they bake in the oven for just 10 minutes.  You can serve them with your favorite salsa but I provided a recipe for ‘Midnight Salsa’ for you to try. Enjoy!

Jack O’ Lantern Quesadillas (makes 4)

8 small whole grain soft tortillas

1 cup canned refried beans (fat-free)

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a tortilla on a cutting board. With the sharp tip of a paring knife, carve triangle shapes for eyes and a crescent shape for the mouth. Repeat with 3 more tortillas. Place the other four tortillas on a baking sheet, spread each with a 1/4 cup of beans. Sprinkle each with a 1/4 cup of cheese. Next, top each with the carved tortilla and place in oven for 10 minutes (until cheese is bubbly and browning begins). Serve with Midnight Salsa*.

*Midnight Salsa (makes 2 cups)

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup corn kernels

1/2 cup chopped tomatoes

1/3 cup chopped red onion

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon cumin

Place all ingredients into a small bowl. Toss well and chill for 20 minutes.

Meatless Monday: Tuscan Quinoa Casserole

 

VEGGIES!

What I love about this dish is the hefty load of veggies that are nicely and flavorfully incorporated into this casserole.  Serve it as a main dish or a side.  It works well in both roles!

Tuscan Bean and Vegetable Quinoa Casserole (serves 6)

1-1/2 cups quinoa, dry

2 tablespoons olive oilTuscan Quinoa Casserole

2 cloves garlic, minced

15 ounce can chick peas, rinsed and drained

1 zucchini, diced

2 bell peppers, 1 red/1 yellow, diced

1 large carrot, diced (or 1 cup baby carrots, sliced)

1/2 cup diced red onion (1/2 large)

juice from 1/2 lemon

3/4 cup parsley, chopped

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

1/2 cup skim milk

1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped

1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Red pepper flakes, to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook quinoa as directed per package, undercook by 5 minutes.

In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté garlic and vegetables (zucchini, bell peppers, carrots, red onion) in olive oil until vegetables are tender. Season with salt, pepper and oregano. In a large bowl, combine quinoa, sautéed vegetables, lemon juice, and parsley. Stir in milk and cheese. Add red pepper flakes, to taste. Transfer to a prepared 9×13 baking sheet. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup parmesan cheese. Bake 30 minutes uncovered. Serve warm. Enjoy!