Mushroom Goat Cheese Tart

I’m excited to share an original recipe! Well I’m sure a savory vegetable and chicken tart is not really that original, but I did create this without following any recipes and had fun in the kitchen! IMG_2202I went a little overboard at the grocery store when mushrooms were on sale and I needed to figure out what to do with 16 oz of white mushrooms… if you don’t like mushrooms, that’s totally okay- this recipe is versatile and you can put almost any of your favorite combination of toppings on a puff pastry sheet and you’ll get a delicious savory tart!  IMG_2199For this tart I used…

  • about 10 oz mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2-3 teaspoons of crumbled goat cheese (my fridge is constantly stocked with Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 cup of diced grilled chicken breast
  • 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, prepare as directed on package
  • 1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)

Tools you will need:

  • pastry brush
  • measuring cup
  • measuring spoons
  • small pan
  • fork
  • cookie sheet
  • parchment paper or a silicone mat

IMG_2180Pre-heat your oven to 400ºF.

Start by lightly cooking the chopped mushrooms in a pan with a little bit of olive oil at medium heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook until mushrooms are soft, about 3-4 minutes.

Remove from heat and let it cool while you prep the pastry sheet. IMG_2182Gently roll out the thawed pastry sheet on a cookie sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper.

Fold in each side about 1/2 inch in to give it a border. If you want to get fancy, you can press the tines into the edges to create a pattern. Totally optional! IMG_2184This next part is not optional, but really important for the puff pastry to not puff up in the middle. Take the fork and poke holes evenly through the center. IMG_2187Now take the cooked mushrooms and spread it evenly on the pastry sheet. IMG_2188For the next part, if you have ever built your own pizza this is not that different. Pile on other toppings in whatever pattern you want to create.

I laid down strips of bell pepper in alternating colors over the mushrooms and sprinkled spoons of crumbled goat cheese and spread the grill chicken pieces over the whole thing.IMG_2191For the final touch, dip a pastry brush into the egg and cover the edges with a light egg wash. IMG_2192IMG_2194The puff pastry box said to bake this for 20-22 minutes, but I needed to bake it for a total of 30 minutes until the edges looked golden brown and the goat cheese had a slightly toasted tinge to ensure that the whole tart was fully baked. IMG_2200Let the tart cool for about 10 minutes and cut with a knife or a pizza cutter. Serve warm with a nice side salad. IMG_2203The puff pastry was flaky and crispy along the edges and the creamy goat cheese balanced out the sweet bell peppers and the umami of the mushrooms. As a meal entree, the chicken definitely helped give it some more fullness.

I always have a pastry sheets stored in the freeze just in case I want to whip up another tart!

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Oven-Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

 

Happy November readers! Here in Seattle, we are definitely feeling that autumn chill, pulling out those heavy coats, chugging hot toddies, and bouncing off the walls from leftover Halloween candy. I don’t usually get to do much for Halloween, not that I don’t like the holiday, I just usually am too lazy/busy to join in the festivities. But this year, I had some classmates who have never carved pumpkins before so we had ourselves a little carving party.

This was a great chance to keep the seeds and roast some healthy snacks! Man, have you guys ever hollowed out a pumpkin before? It’s a lot of (messy) work!  22933674832_84259c2dd1_o

The last time I got to carve a pumpkin was probably when I was like 9! That was also the last time my dad kept the seeds and roasted them. My boyfriend and I decided to carve something cute and easy: we looked up a lot of ideas on the net and settled on characters from Totoro– a very famous childhood anime movie. This is mini totoro and the soot gremlin. Aren’t they cute!

Okay – back to the cooking! Pumpkin seeds are also known as “pepitas”. They are super healthy, loaded with fiber, protein, iron and magnesium. I love tossing a handful of shelled seeds into salads, oatmeal, or quinoa. Course, they are also awesome as snacks. There’s lots of recipes online on how to roast these but I just found this one from Popsugar that has foolproof steps.

You’ll need:

  • the seeds (It’s okay if you have the stringy, gooey pumpkin insides stuck on them)
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • black pepper or whatever spices you like
  • a big bowl
  • a paper towel/towel
  • a cookie sheet
  • foil

Start off by filling up the bowl with cold water and soaking the seeds for about 15 mins. This will get most of the membrane off like magic! Drain and spread them out on a towel or paper towel until they are completely dry. I actually left mine out overnight, but maybe 4 hours is enough. Blotting with a paper towel may help too.
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When you are ready to make the seeds: preheat your oven at 350ºF and cover a cookie sheet with foil.

Toss the dried seeds with a tablespoon of olive oil or enough so that each one is lightly coated. Sprinkle salt and spices in so that they are evenly covered. I used Trader Joe’s “Everyday Seasoning” that just has tons of stuff in it from black pepper to garlic to paprika!

In about 15 minutes you get crispy, golden pumpkin seeds!  22759072040_bac8de6861_o

Let them cool and them store in an airtight container.22933656162_99695a74d6_o

Snack on and snack happy everyone!

Easy Creamy Spinach Dip

Summer means BBQs, pool parties, and picnics – and this is one of my go-to recipes for something fast and easy to make but also a crowd pleaser. This creamy spinach dip is great if you don’t want to show up empty- handed but want to bring more than chips and a jar of salsa.
20356543796_e5cb85f384_oThe first time I had this was 10 years (!) ago when my one of my roommates made it, I thought it was magical…she said it’s Knorr. I’ve been making it for BBQs every since. It uses simple ingredients that you can find in most major supermarkets, even the water chestnuts (Hint: they usually hide in the “Asian” or “Ethnic” food aisle.) 

20194822858_d971bd28e3_oThe best part is your shopping list is at the store, pick up a packet of Knorr vegetable recipe mix (there’s other brands of veggie mix out there but I just have not tried it.) and get started. 

  • 1 package of 10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 16oz container of sour cream (use Lite if you’d like)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (again use a lite or “olive oil” version if you want)
  • 1 packet of Knorr vegetable mix
  • 1 80z can of water chestnuts, drained and chopped (optional)
  • 3 green onions (optional)

20194816858_fa0a4fc41e_oOkay, it’s not very pretty or appealing when you are making it and in such large quantities, if you are freaked out by how much mayo goes into this like I was, breathe….it’s worth it in the end! Super easy steps: prep all your ingredients, dump it all in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Cover with saran wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill. Very important to give it the full 2 hours (or more) to chill and to really let the vegetable mix “meld” with the other ingredients.

A few tips:

  • make sure the spinach is “chopped” – you don’t want stringy leaves of spinach hanging from people’s mouths. Awkward.
  • use clean hands to squeeze out the water from the thawed spinach- it’s the best way to get all the water out and I’d usually squeeze in small fistfuls and at least twice
  • unless you or someone really loathes water chestnuts- I highly recommend adding them in. They really add texture to the dip and a great crisp crunch that balances out the creaminess.
  • This goes great with any sort of veggies (cucumbers, carrot sticks, bell pepper slices, celery) or crackers but my absolute favorite pairing is French baguette slices! I usually pick up two fresh baguettes from the store bakery section and ask them to slice them up for me.
  • Serve in a hollowed out bread bowl for extra fancy presentation! 20382795205_81dee26520_o

Hope you all are having a wonderful summer (with good people and good food)!

Spinach Dip Mini Bread Bowls- Tailgate Snacks

I’m still learning a lot about my new home city, first thing I learned: Seattle loves the Seahawks. When professors walk into class wearing blue and green jerseys- you know this is serious. I was invited to my first tailgate party (well semi-tailgate, we watched the game from the comfort of the warm indoors). My first thought was “what should I bring?!”

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When it comes to football, I’m pretty clueless, but at least knew that tailgating entailed a specific type of food. This isn’t a fancy-chocolate-ganache-fruit-tart kinda thing, this is a nachos-chips-and-dip-burgers kinda thing.

I admit, I enlisted the help of Google: “tailgate appetizers”

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I found Picky Palate’s Baked Spinach Dip Mini Bread Bowls and I was excited to try it out.

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  • 13.3 oz roll of refrigerated french bread loaf (Pillsbury is a good choice)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups baby spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, minced (or 1/2 teaspoon of Trader Joe’s minced garlic)
  • 3 oz softened cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon chili pepper powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Start off by preheating the oven to 350°F and spraying your mini muffin pan with cooking spray. Pop open the french bread dough package.

Anyone else get really freaked out when it *pops*?

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Slice the whole roll into about 1 inch thick pieces. The recipe said it only makes 10 but I managed to make about 1 1/2 dozen minis. Re-roll, flatten, and press the dough into each muffin cup.

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In a medium bowl: add the cream cheese, sour cream, parmesan cheese, chili powder, garlic salt, salt and pepper. 2014-12-14 10.49.48

Add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a pan and heat to medium. Cook the spinach for about 2 minutes and add the garlic then cook for another 1 minute. The spinach cooks very quickly so be careful not to overcook.

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Add the cooked spinach to the mixture- stir and mix until well combined. If the cream cheese was not quite softened it’s okay the hot cooked spinach helps melts it. Spoon the dip mixture into the dough cups.

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Sprinkle some shredded mozzarella cheese on each and bake for 16-18 minutes until the tops and edges just start turing brown.2014-12-14 10.58.35

I had a problem stopping myself from “taste testing” more than 1 because they were so yummy!! The creamy cheese and spinach was a perfect balance for the warm fluffy french bread.

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I made these for the first time so I stuck with the basic recipe but imagine the possibilities of adding sausage, artichoke, jalapeños, or bacon! 2014-12-14 11.34.21

These were a hit and redeemed me as a San Franciscan among hard-core Seahawks fans.

Italian Kale Chips

Decided to try out something savory and healthy to balance out all those sweet postings I made about cakes! So a few Sundays ago I made a lovely morning trip to the local farmer’s market at 9th & Irving and I brought home all sorts of good finds like heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil, and kale! I have always wanted to try making my own kale chips and I found this great recipe with video instructions from Kath Eats Real Food.

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Of course it’s always better to use fresh ingredients, but if you are like me and often buy too much food that sits in the fridge, the slight pro to this recipe is that even if you have some not-so-fresh kale it will still come out great because you are baking it anyways.

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You start by removing the tough stems and spines of the kale and coating all the leaves in olive oil and seasoning. I made my Italian flavor by using the left over oil from a container of marinated mozzarella balls! (Hey why not?) and added some kosher salt. Make sure it’s kosher because regular salt will be too salty.

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I also added a packet of parmesan cheese left over from our pizza order the other night! Make sure all the leaves are coated evenly. Lay all the leaves as flat as possible on a cookie sheet and bake at 375 for about 15 mins when you see the edges start turning brown and the leaves have shrunken significantly. Leave out for a few minutes to cool and transfer them to a paper-towel lined plate.

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They came out so crispy and delicate and packed with flavor! This is the best guilt-free snack ever! I love kale, but now I found another reason to love it!

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Oven Baked Zucchini Chips

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I love zucchini aka Italian Squash. It’s one of my favorite veggies that available all year round and cheap to buy. My no-brainer prep method is just to slice it into thick “coins” and pan fry it with some olive oil and black pepper. I saw these zucchini chips on Pintrest and definitely needed to try it.

I hate wasting food and I had a leftover packet of parmesan cheese topping from Pasta Prima Ravioli from Costco and it was perfect for this recipe. The original recipe calls for parmesan, garlic powder, and black pepper.  DSCN3193

I’m not very good at measuring thickness but you are suppose to cut the zucchini into 1/4 inch thick coins.

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A neater way to grease the cooling rack saturate a paper towel and just wipe it evenly over the rack.

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Got ready to dip the zucchini slices in soy milk (unsweetened of course).

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Then coat the slices evenly on both sides, the cheese should stick pretty easily to the milk.

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Lay the slices evenly over the rack. My slices were pretty small and some occasionally fell through the slots.

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Once you get all your slices coated with the cheese mixture, set your kitchen timer for 30 mins.

DSCN3207 I had this cute owl timer I got for Christmas!

30 mins later…I get these lovely golden brown, slightly-shrunken zucchini “chips”. Allow them to cool on the rack and they will become more crunchy than when you first take them out of the oven.DSCN3209

They came out wonderfully as far as color and taste, it could have been a little crispier thought.

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A great healthy snack and satisfies your salty/ savory snack craving.

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Broccoli Bites

I stumbled upon these little broccoli bites on one of the internet’s latest form of time-wasting: Pintrest. The site is a great way to find ideas and inspiration, especially for cooking and crafting. These broccoli bites are adapted from Stacey Snacks.

Even though broccoli is one of those “yucky” foods scorned by picky children all over the world along with veggies like brussel sprouts and peas, I absolutely love broccoli! They’re inexpensive, versatile and known as a healthy “cleanser” for your body.

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It was also a great way to use up cheese left over from my Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables recipe and my Chili recipe.

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I did not have “Italian bread crumbs” so I mixed some Italian seasoning with Trader Joe’s organic bread crumbs and it worked out!

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Less clean up for me! The best kind of recipe: all the ingredients in 1 bowl!

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Instead of making patties with my hands, it was actually faster and neater to use a mold. I used a plastic 1/5 cup measuring cup and packed in the mix so that it stayed together when i dropped it on to the parchment paper.

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Flipping them over half way through is definitely important, gave them good golden crispy shells.

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They came out great, however when I taste-tested it was not as awesome as I expected. It has a great broccoli flavor and was not too mushy in the middle, I still feel like it needed something more….like a dipping sauce or something. I have found myself nom-ing on them each meal or when I feel like I need to snack on something.