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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Basic Zucchini Pancake

My mom calls this an “Italian Pancake” – I have no idea what makes it Italian (Google ‘Italian pancake’ and this does not come up)! But with this super easy, über-basic recipe you can definitely give it whatever cultural spin you want. This savory pancake is similar to vegetable fritters (less crispy and oily) or Korean zucchini pancakes called Hobak Buchim. When my mom made this years ago, I was blown away and asked her for the recipe. As a true home cook, she never used precise measurements but attempted to give me some guidance:

You’ll need:

  • 1 zucchini
  • 2 eggs
  • chopped deli ham (optionally of course)
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup of water (or broth for extra flavor!)
  • a large shallow pan
  • large spoon or small soup ladle
  • spatula
  • 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil

Makes about 2-3 pancakes about 6″ in diameter

Start off by washing, peeling and grating the zucchini with a medium cheese grater- you don’t want it to be too fine or else it starts getting mushy.

Combine the flour, eggs, broth or water in a large bowl then add your vegetable or meat ingredients last. Make sure it is well mixed and the zucchini is coated with the batter.

2014-03-31 18.50.18Heat the pan to medium and add the oil, wait until the pan is nice and warm-hot and drop about 3/4 cup of the mixture into the pan and cook like you would a breakfast pancake.

2014-03-31 18.32.26When you start seen bits of golden brown (after about 5-6 minutes) you can flip the pancake over and cook for about another 5-6 minutes.

2014-03-31 18.36.19These pancakes are delicious and best served piping hot. You can eat it by itself or get creative and eat it like a crepe! Below I made zucchini pancakes and added ham afterwards for a quick lunch!

2014-03-31 18.54.58You can go crazy with the recipe and substitute or add other vegetables or experiment with different types of squash. I would, however, avoid vegetables that have a high water content, cheese, or extra sauces so the pancake does not get soggy. Some ideas for additions:

  • bell peppers
  • jalapeños (for a KICK!)
  • mushrooms
  • fresh herbs
  • thinly sliced onions
  • sun-dried tomato slices
  • artichoke
  • julienned carrots
  • spinach
  • hashbrowns (!!)

Note: if you do decide to add much more ingredients then you may need to adjust the batter to make sure its well proportioned.

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Stir Fried Cabbage with Creamy Peanut Sauce

Here’s a holiday health break between all the holiday baked goods, peppermint mochas, and parties we’ve been indulging in. This awesome recipe from Fiterazzi Magazine will keep you eating your veggies all year long.

Whoever thought the bland boring (and inexpensive) cabbage could be transformed into such a delectable side dish! Break out the wok or sauté pan!

You’ll need:

  • 1/2 head cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 3 large carrots, julienned
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce (I like the low-sodium version)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of peanut butter (try crunchy or smooth!)
  • (optional) sesame seeds
  • (optional) lime juice or hot sauce

2014-07-21 18.48.48Instead of julienning the carrots, I actually took a vegetable peeler and “peeled” the carrots to get noodle-like thin strips.

Start off by making the sauce: mix the soy sauce, rice vinegar, peanut better and red pepper flakes together in a small bowl. Put aside.

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium or high heat. Then add the minced garlic and stir. Add in the cabbage and carrots and toss until cooked thoroughly and just slightly wilted.

Pour in the sauce and turn off the heat- mix well until the vegetables are coated with sauce.

Sprinkle with sesame seeds and garish with lime juice or hot sauce, if desired.
2014-07-21 18.53.41-1Add in a meat or tofu and you got a main dish, serve with brown rice or noodles. I pretty much just stood there and ate the whole dish!

A Sweet Thanksgiving

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Last night’s pre-Thanksgiving home made meal: Chicken with Mushroom and White Wine Sauce (Epicurious), Broccolini, Garlicky Red Mash Potatoes (Allrecipes). There was Pumpkin Creme Brulee (William-Sanoma) that followed.

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Yes the two of us ate all four of them….no shame.

A Sweet Thanksgiving

So thankful for my followers and readers! Hope you all have a warm, wonderful Turkey Day full of yummy food and good people.

I made some Delicious Pumpkin Bread last night for tonight’s festivities.

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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Pan Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon

Brussel sprouts have a bad rap for being one of those vegetables hated by every 6 year-old out there, along with broccoli and spinach. I dared myself to try something different and I actually fell in love with this dish!

This is a great, easy recipe with only 3 main ingredients! I adapted this from FN: Pan Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon.

  • 4 strips thick-cut bacon
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, halved
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

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Take 4 strips of thick bacon and cook them at a medium-high heat until crispy. I used turkey bacon as a healthy alternative, but I realize that it created less bacon fat to cook the brussel sprouts with later. Minor set back…that’s what butter is for!

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Transfer the bacon strips to a paper-towel. While the bacon was crisping up, I washed and chopped the hard stems off the brussel sprouts and split them into halves. Then, using the same pan, I melted butter. I tossed in the brussel sprouts and onions cooked it in high heat until the brussel sprouts were browned and a little burnt (about 8-10 mins). Brussels sprouts are like mini-cabbages with layers and layers of leaves, so even when they are split, give them enough time to cook thoroughly.

Tip: Apparently if you overcook them, they turn gray and soft. They will also develop a bitter, strong flavor and smell that is unappealing. 

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I love the bright green color! I cut up the turkey bacon into little bits and sprinkled it back in the pan. Mix evenly and there you have it- a simply, yet sophisticated side dish/entree.

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Give brussel sprouts a chance!

Baked Spaghetti Squash

This is a basic recipe for spaghetti squash, you can add almost anything you want to it as you would with regular spaghetti pasta- go crazy! This medium sized bright yellow squash is a great low-carb, low-calorie, healthy alternative to pasta. The first time I tasted it was actually in grad school when we got to eat in the fancy faculty cafeteria for some special occasion, quite honestly I did not like it. But my health-conscious roommate at the time was obsessed with the stuff and convinced me that it was all sorts of awesomeness. So now 2 years later I decided to give it another try.

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Recipe used: Food Network’s Baked Spaghetti Squash with Marinara (+ How To Video by Michael Chiarello)

Simple ingredients needed: black pepper, salt and olive oil + spaghetti squash.

Tools needed: baking sheet, foil, spoon, fork, and a heavy duty knife or clever.

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This was a near-fail, but I didn’t realize that I did not have a proper knife for the job and it was quite a struggle….

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But I did it! I cracked the sucker open and scraped out all the seeds and stringy stuff with a spoon.

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Take each half and coat it generously with olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Then turn them facing down on a baking sheet lined with foil. Bake for 30-40 mins at 450 F until the flesh is soft.

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Beautiful! Remove it from the oven and let it cool just enough so that you can hold it in your hand.

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Here’s the fun part: take a fork and start scraping the flesh out-layer by layer. The squash flesh actually becomes yellow-translucent “strains” of spaghetti! The spaghetti squash by itself is pretty bland, so you can add sauces, veggies and meats to it for flavor. Here I mixed it with some leftover (real) spaghetti and meatballs.

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Bon Appetit!