Asparagus, Fingerling Potato & Goat Cheese Pizza

Day 3 of Vegetarian week - we're pizza-ing it up tonight ya'll. Holler!

I saw this recipe and just couldn't pass it up. Pizza, potatoes, and goat cheese? HOLD THE PHONE! I decided to serve this with a quick arugula salad with fresh ground pepper, sliced grape tomatoes, red peppers, cucumbers, and a light drizzle of Italian vinagrette. The pizza came out so incredibly delicious! The potatoes and goat cheese added a creamy texture, the asparagus gave a nice crunch, and the flavors came together in what is probably one of the oddest and tastiest concoctions I've had in quite a while! Five stars fo sho.

Oh, and in unrelated news, my dog smells like vanilla. Why is this so? Well, we just don't know.

Asparagus, Fingerling Potato & Goat Cheese Pizza
serves 2 with a lot of leftovers, as many as four

5 ounces fingerling potatoes
Cornmeal (for sprinkling)
Pizza Dough (I used pre-made sprouted whole wheat dough)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 garlic clove, pressed
4 green onions, thinly sliced, divided
1 1/3 cups grated whole-milk mozzarella cheese (about 6 ounces)
4 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, crumbled
8 ounces asparagus, trimmed, each spear cut in half lengthwise, then crosswise into 2- to 3-inch pieces
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Place potatoes in small saucepan. Add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Sprinkle with salt. Bring to boil and cook until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain. Cool. Cut potatoes into thin slices.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Sprinkle rimless baking sheet with cornmeal and place pizza dough on it. Mix 1 tablespoon olive oil and garlic in small bowl. Brush garlic oil all over dough. Sprinkle 3/4 of green onions over, then mozzarella, leaving desired amount of crust. Top with potato slices and goat cheese. Toss asparagus and 1 tablespoon oil in medium bowl. Scatter asparagus over pizza. Sprinkle with Parmesan, then lightly with salt and generously with pepper.

Bake pizza until crust is browned and asparagus is tender, about 18 minutes. Transfer to cutting board. Sprinkle with remaining green onions, the cut into slices.

Grilled Portabella Parmesan

For day two of Vegetarian week, I decided to make this recipe for Grilled Portabella Parmesan that I found on epicurious.com. It was quick and easy, and didn't call for too many ingredients! It was definitely surprisingly tasty and very filling. We had one and a half medium-sized portabellas a piece, along with some sliced fresh carrots & cucumbers for a cheesy, happy, yummy, meat-less extravaganza!

Slightly modified for the correct portion sizes, to accomodate an indoor cooking situation, and a little less cheese to up the healthy factor - modified version is below. Bon appetito!

Grilled Portabella Parmesan
serves 2

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 large garlic clove, pressed
3 large portobello mushrooms, stemmed, gills scraped out
1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
1/4 cup, plus about 1 tablespoon finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, divided
3 1/3-inch-thick heirloom tomato slices
4 thin slices of Fontina cheese

Preheat broiler to high. Whisk extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and pressed garlic clove in small bowl. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Arrange portabella mushrooms on rimmed baking sheet, gill side up. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spoon generous tablespoon dressing into each mushroom; ensuring each is coated, and set aside. Stir ricotta cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, and 1 1/2 tablespoons basil in a small bowl, salt and pepper to taste.

Place mushrooms on non-stick baking sheet, gill side up. Broil until edges begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Remove from broiler and place 1 tomato slice into each mushroom. Divide ricotta cheese mixture atop sliced tomatoes, spreading to cover. Top with Fontina cheese slices, dividing equally. Sprinkle a pinch of Parmesan cheese over each. Place the mushrooms back in the broiler and cook until mushrooms are soft and cheese is melted, about 7 - 8 minutes more. Plate mushrooms, sprinkle with remaining basil, and drizzle any remaining marinade over top.

Daily Happy - Random Act of Kindness

Today, on my way to Microsoft, I stopped at a Starbucks downtown. As I was about to walk in the door, a couple stopped me and asked if I had a dollar or two so they could get something to eat. They looked to be in their mid-forties and the guy had a cane. They sort of smelled, and they clearly were carrying the extent of their belongings on their backs. I said what I always say (because it's always true), "Sorry, I don't have any cash on me" and started to go on my way. Then something stopped me. I decided to help these people out, so I asked if they wanted something from Starbucks. I hooked it up with coffee and some pastries.

I normally don't do this (mainly because there are so many homeless people / bums in the city that one could go entirely flat broke helping them), but like I said, something made me stop and reconsider. Hopefully this random act of kindness helped make a difference in their day; but I know that it made me feel like I did something good, so it was worth the $11, ya know?


Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

I love the food blogging community because the more time I spend in it, the more inspired I am to try new recipes. Stuffed cabbage is something I THINK I've had before, because it sounds really yummy to me, but I can't really remember who made it or how they made it. I came across a recipe on Smitten Kitchen's blog and decided to give it a shot!

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
adapted from Smitten Kitchen's recipe
serves 4 - 6
1 head green cabbage
1 pound lean ground turkey breast
1 small to medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 carrot, shredded
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
1/2 cup uncooked long-grain brown rice
1 to 2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 15oz. can low-salt organic tomato sauce

Cut the core out of the cabbage but leave it whole. Place it, with the empty core area facing up, in a large bowl. Boil a small pot of water and pour the water over top and let it "cook" for 10 minutes.

Heat the oil in a deep large saute pan. Cook the onions until they are soft, about 5 minutes, then add the carrot and celery and saute until they are soft. Season with salt and pepper, transfer to a bowl and let it cool. Mix in the turkey, rice and tomato paste and season again with salt and pepper.

Drain the cabbage. Pull off large leaves and cut out the large vein (about halfway up the leaf). Pat dry, then put a couple spoonfuls of filling in each leaf (depending on the size of your leaf) and pull the sides to overlap before rolling into a log-like shape. Make sure they are rolled tightly so that they stay together; I used toothpicks to keep them intact. Place the rolls in the same large, deep pan as before, and pour in the tomato sauce to just cover the rolls. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat, simmering covered on the stove on low for about 45 minutes. Serve immediately.

Served with mashed potatoes, this was a hearty, comforting meal that both my husband and I really enjoyed! We also had a LOT of leftovers, so feel free to make this and then freeze half if you aren't cooking for a crowd.

Stainless Steel Thumb's Seared Black Cod with Thai Flavors

So, a lovely lady that I went to college with is like this totally amazing and incredibly talented chef in New York, and she has a blog I like to read called Stainless Steel Thumb. The recipes always sound so good that I almost have a coronary (and her presentation consistently reminds me that I have NO idea what I'm doing). I've always been completely and utterly terrified to try any of the dishes because they look so complicated that I was sure I would just ruin them. Until...black cod went on sale at Whole Foods. I had black cod for the first time at Sullivan's downtown Seattle and I was awed by the beautiful texture and mild flavor. It was love at first bite. I bought a large filet (not cheap), got it home, and realized I had NO IDEA what to do with it. Luckily, my brain remembered a post on Stainless Steel Thumb for black cod, and I decided it was time to try out one of the recipes. I'm sooo glad I did!

Stainless Steel Thumb's Seared Black Cod with Thai Flavors
For the ingredient list, check out the link above.

Some of the ingredients were a little exotic, so I made just a few substitutions:
  • For the fish marinade, I used date sugar instead of palm sugar.
  • I didn't have the time or ingredients to make the ginger oil (see Moral #1 below), so I just used a tiny bit of sesame oil and some sprinkled some ginger in.

That's it! The rest I did exactly to the recipe. I can't rave enough about how incredibly delish this was. Even the simple slaw had so many flavors that came together in a way I'd never expect. And now that I have all these new ingredients in my kitchen, I'm finding that I can't stop experimenting!

#1 - Ginger root is NOT the same as ginger. Don't test this.
#2 - Don't be scared to try something new. You might surprise yourself. And if not, then you'll still have a lot of cool new stuff to play with.

The end.

Crispy Black Bean Tacos with Feta and Cabbage Slaw

Starting off Vegetarian Week with a bang!

Wow, wow, wow! Do you ever find a recipe that sounds sort of okay, so you decide to give it a try, and it comes out so yummy that you kind of want to make it every day? Well, that happens to me on occasion, and it happened tonight! Golden corn with fresh chopped red peppers completed the meal. I made some minor modifications to the original recipe - you can see my modified version below.

Crispy Black Bean Tacos with Feta & Cabbage Slaw
serves 2

1 15-ounce can organic low-salt black beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon taco seasoning
5 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 cups coleslaw mix (shredded carrots, cabbage, and red cabbage)
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 package blue corn tortillas
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
Bottled sriracha hot sauce

Place beans, cumin and taco seasoning in small bowl; mix and partially mash. Mix 2 teaspoons olive oil and lime juice in medium bowl; add coleslaw, green onions, and cilantro and toss to coat. Season slaw to taste with salt and pepper.

Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add tortillas in single layer. Spoon 1/4 of bean mixture onto half of each tortilla; cook 1 minute. Fold tacos in half. Cook until crisp, about 1 minute per side. Fill tacos with feta and slaw. Pass hot sauce alongside.

The original recipe called for chipotle hot sauce, but I didn't have that. I have sriracha, though, and MAN is that stuff good! I have to thank Kat from Stainless Steel Thumb for introducing me, because I'm not quite sure how I lived without it!

Biggest compliment ever: Hubs chowing down on his third (or maybe fourth?) taco and declaring "This could be in a restaurant!" He didn't even notice that the entire meal was entirely vegetarian.


Daily Happy - Life is Good!

SO sorry for the lack of posting, dears. Things have been crazy to say the least! In the past four weeks, I've launched some crazy programs at work, got a new job offer, accepted it, celebrated Keith's 29th birthday, said goodbye to some great people at my last job, and spent a week in Michigan training (as well as visiting friends and family). Oh, ya know, nothing much. :) But life is great and I couldn't be happier!

One thing I haven't been slacking on is cooking, though! I have a slew of great recipes that I just need to post up, and a renewed sense of purpose! I am going to try and do "themes" for one week intervals that will hopefully help me target your interests and keep focused. The theme for this week is Vegetarian - seven days of meatless deliciousness, focusing on meals where you won't even notice the meat is missing! Some other ideas are: Eggs, Italian, Gluten-Free, Grilling, No-Cook, and Make Ahead.

Welcome to Vegetarian Week and if you have any suggestions for future themes, feel free to shoot them over!


Salad Bowl

Sometimes I want to eat a simple, healthy dinner, but a salad just isn't going to cut it. The perfect solution (at least for me) is a salad bowl! It's basically a layered salad with rice, lettuce, and whatever veggies you desire. I made one for dinner last night and thought I'd share:

Salad Bowl
Long grain brown rice, cooked and cooled
Romaine lettuce, shredded
green peppers, diced
red peppers, diced
red onion, thinly diced
kale, shredded
carrots, chopped
celery, chopped
cucumers, diced
bean sprouts
Garlic Lime chicken, optional
sea salt
Italian seasoning
dressing of choice - I used Jalapeno Ranch

Layer the brown rice and Romaine lettuce in a bowl. Dump the rest of the ingredients together in a large bowl and squeeze a lime over top. Season with the sea salt and Italian seasoning, and mix well. Spoon the mixture over the rice and lettuce, and top with the chicken (if using). Drizzle just a small amount of dressing over top, and enjoy!

Garlic Lime chicken:
Crush a clove of garlic and spread over a boneless, skinless chicken breast. Take half a lime and squeeze the juice on top. Salt and pepper to taste, and grill until cooked.

You can make this vegetarian by subbing out the chicken for beans or chickpeas, or just omitting altogether. Play around with different seasonings, veggies, and dressing to keep things fresh. You can make extra and eat for lunch the next day, too (which is what I did). YUM!