Cheesecake with Raspberry Coulis

21 Feb

Happy (Belated) Valentine’s Day!

I had some extra time this weekend and was able to make my sweetie something sweet for a little Valentine’s Day celebration. I decided I was going to make cheesecake with a raspberry/strawberry coulis, however as I was gathering up the ingredients I quickly realized I didn’t have exactly what I needed. I had already gone to the store so I was determined to use what I had which is how I ended up with so many pecans in my crust and pomegranate liqueur in my coulis… Right as I was about to start I had the idea to make the cheesecake in more of a bar form and cut little hearts out using a cookie cutter (super corny I know…but I just couldn’t help myself hehe).

Thankfully the final product turned out and I now have a new crust and fruit coulis recipe to experiment with in the future.

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1 cup crushed graham crackers
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tbls brown sugar
  • 8 tbls melted butter
Filling
  • 1 lb. cream cheese (room temp)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp flour
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Fruit Coulis
  • 1 1/2 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 1 tbls PAMA liqueur (pomegranate liqueur)
  • 1 tbls freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/8 cup granulated sugar

Directions

Serves: 6-8

Time: 30 min (prep) & 65 min (cooking)

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

To make the crust process the pecans and graham crackers in a food processor and then add the flour, brown sugar and the butter. The dough should start to come together soon after the butter is added. Press the crust dough into a 9×13 pan and bake for 15 minutes.

Increase the oven temp to 400 degrees. For the filling mix cream cheese, vanilla and eggs until blended. Add sugar and blend, add flour and blend, add heavy whipping cream and blend until the mixture is very smooth. This could take a few minutes. Pour onto the crust and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes and then turn the oven down to 250 degrees and back for 30 more minutes. The middle of the cheesecake should look like it has just set. Turn oven off crack the door and let cool in oven for about 60 minutes (this prevents cracking). Refrigerate for about an hour before cutting out the hearts.

The fruit coulis is quite easy. Put all ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.If desired, push the coulis through a fine mesh sieve to catch the raspberry and strawberry seeds. The fruit coulis can be made up to two days in advance and kept in an airtight container in the fridge.

To serve, garnish cheesecake with fruit coulis and fresh raspberries and strawberries.

Enjoy!

Goat Cheese Dip with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives & Basil

29 Aug

I’m a dip girl. I love how easy and convenient they are. I tend to heavily favor dips as my app of choice and have quite a few that I am excited to share! The dip I am posting today is one of my favorites and one that I make quite often, not only because it is mostly goat cheese (yum!) but because it’s a cinch to make and always a crowd favorite. It takes all of 5-10 minutes and then it’s ready to enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 12oz goat cheese (room temp)
  • 4oz cream cheese (room temp)
  • 1-2 Tbls sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1-2 Tbls kalamata olives
  • 2-3 Tbls fresh Basil (chiffonade)
  • Aged Balsamic
  • Olive Oil

Preparation

Serves: 6-8

Time: 5-10 minutes

All of the additions are “to taste” so taste as you go and if you feel you need more of anything just add it in.

I usually use about 2 Tbls of balsamic and 3-4 Tbls olive oil.

Enjoy!

Watermelon Mint Salad

19 Aug

August always feels a little rushed to me. I usually spend the month trying to squeeze in those last outings and get togethers with friends and family and making sure I spend as much time outside as possible since I know the Minnesota Winter is right around the corner… And as it goes with busy schedules it’s a challenge to really sit back, relax and truly appreciate the time that you are spending with your family and friends.

With that being said, I was just recently able to spend some quality time with a good group of girlfriends of mine at one of their houses enjoying the summer weather out on her deck. We try to get together once every 6-8 weeks which with everyone’s schedule can be a little tricky but this time most of us were able to make it and we enjoyed a few summer salads and some grilled pizzas. Everyone always brings something and it turned out to be a fantastic spread! One stand out dish was a watermelon mint salad, pretty much summer in a bowl I think; so crisp, refreshing and light! I am hoping to make this salad one more time before the summer has passed us by…and by the looks of my calendar I will have plenty of chances!

Ingredients

  • 1 small seedless watermelon cut up or “balled” into bite size pieces
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil and 1/2 cup red wine vinegar. (use as much as you need to coat all watermelon chunks)
  • 1/2 of a sweet onion thinly sliced
  • a bunch of mint roughly chopped (I’d say about 1/2 to 1 cup)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

Serves: 4-6

Time: 10 minutes

First ball or cut watermelon into bite size chunks. Mix red wine vinegar, salt and pepper together and slowly
add oil while whisking. Gently mix mint, onion and melon together in bowl or carved out half melon rind and pour vinegar mixture over the salad.

Enjoy!

Quinoa Salad with Veggies and Grilled Chicken

5 Aug

So life tends to happen…and as it goes I have fallen behind on posts but have no worries things have finally slowed down and I am able to get back in the swing of things. The recipe below is one of my summer staples. It is easily modified to whatever veggies you have in your fridge and can be done on the stove top or the grill, which I prefer since here in MN our grilling months are numbered…

This recipe is so versatile which is one of the reasons why I love it so much. Another reason is that it takes me back to a great family vacation memory – years ago we were in Laguna Beach visiting friends of my parents and Hilde (the hostess) made the most FANTASTIC grilled chicken. Now it could have been the fact that I was on vacation, or that I was a little delirious from all that lounging on the beach but I decided I had to have the recipe and have been loving it ever since.

Feel free to play around with this! I have made it many times with couscous or rice and a multitude of different veggies. It just so happened that I picked up some zucchini, squash and fresh sweet corn at the Farmers Market this past weekend.

Quinoa Salad with Veggies and Grilled Chicken

Marinade

  • 2 Tbls Honey
  • 1 Tbls Coarse Mustard
  • 1/2 Cup Balsamic
  • 2/3 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Lemon, juiced
  • 1 Lime, juiced
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste

Quinoa

  • 1 Zucchini
  • 6-8 Baby Bella Mushrooms
  • 1 Yellow Summer Squash
  • 1-2 Ears Grilled Sweet Corn
  • 1 Cup Quinoa
  • 4 Chicken Breasts
  • Salad Greens
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette (I used my favorite store-bought dressing)
Preparation
Time: About 45 minutes
Serves: 4
Combine marinade ingredients together in a bowl. Split into two, one for the chicken and one for the veggies. Marinate the chicken anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours. Cut the zucchini, squash and mushrooms into chunks and marinate them for 30 minutes. While the chicken and veggies are marinating, soak the corn in cold water for at least 20-30 minutes.
Heat the grill to medium/high and put the corn on. The corn takes about 25-30 minutes on the grill. You can easily check its progress by pulling down one of the ear’s husks. After about 5-10 minutes put the chicken on and then create an aluminum foil “tray” for the veggies and put them on the grill as well. Add a bit of veggie marinade a couple of times to the aluminum foil tray while they are grilling.
As the chicken and veggies are grilling, prepare the quinoa. In lieu of water when I am making any sort of rice, couscous or quinoa I use chicken broth. I think that it adds a nice flavor but feel to free to use water or vegetable broth as well.
After you take the veggies and chicken off the grill and let the chicken rest for about 5-7 minutes, toss the salad greens with the balsamic vinaigrette, cut the corn off of the cob and mix the veggies in with the couscous. Plate the salad greens and top with couscous and one sliced chicken breast.
Enjoy!

Bruschetta with Egg and Lobster

3 Jul

This Father’s Day my dad asked for a surf ‘n’ turf dinner. He wanted steak and grilled lobster. So sticking with the steak and grilled lobster dinner I thought it would be fun to have a lobster appetizer as well. I had been wanting to try out a recipe that I found in the Taste section of the The Star Tribune  – Bar La Grassa’s Lobster Bruschetta. I was so excited to see that Isaac Becker, chef and co-owner of Bar Las Grassa, was willing to share this fantastic recipe! It is not only a great appetizer but also a unique one. It is one of my favorite apps on their menu and I thought what a great time to try out my hand at it??

The poaching liquid looks a bit daunting with all the ingredients it needs but it is totally worth it. The lobster meat picks up all the different spices which creates a wonderful depth of flavor. The addition of cream cheese to the scrambled eggs and a drizzle of truffle oil at the end makes this luxurious dish even richer. I have to say it was a very fun dish to make and although it came out pretty well I am definitely no Isaac Becker…

Bruschetta with Egg and Lobster (Bar La Grassa)

Poaching Liquid

  • 1 gallon water
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 celery rib
  • 1 white onion peeled and diced large
  • 1 T chili flakes
  • 1 T fennel seed
  • 1 T mustard seed
  • 1 T peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 handful of fresh thyme
  • 2 T kosher salt
  • 1 lemon cut in half
  • 1 orange cut in half
  • 1 1/2 lb raw lobster meat (I used raw tail meat)

Bruschetta

  • 1 small baguette
  • 1 garlic clove
  • meat from lobster
  • 2 oz cream cheese, diced into small pieces
  • 4 large eggs, beaten until light yellow
  • chopped fresh chives for garnish
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 1 T kosher salt
  • white truffle oil for finishing drizzle

Preparation

Total Time: 30 – 40 minutes

Serves: 4 – 6

Bring all poaching ingredients to a light boil. Add lobster and poach for about 3 minutes or so. Strain liquid, take lobster meat out of shell and roughly chop into small chunks.

Broil the bread slices to make crostinis. Rub the garlic clove over the crostinis and set to the side.

Place butter, lobster and cream cheese in a non-stick pan. Heat up until the butter and cream cheese starts to melt. Add eggs and cook until soft but still a little runny (eggs will continue to cook themselves when you turn the heat off). Place egg mixture on garlic crostinis, sprinkle with fresh chives, finish with a drizzle of truffle oil and enjoy!!

Grilled Pizza with Goat Cheese & Figs

21 Jun

I have been told that I talk a lot about goat cheese…which would be a fair statement as goat cheese is arguably one of my favorite foods (if that counts as a specific food??). I pretty much use anything as a vehicle to enjoy it. This past Friday night the vehicle of choice was grilled pizza. Additions of carmelized onions, figs sautéed in balsamic and peppery arugula picked from my little herb pots on our balcony were fantastic! I paired it with a crisp yet smooth Sauvignon Blanc which rounded out the meal perfectly.

Grilled pizza a unique way to use the grill if you want an alternative to the usual meat and fish menu. You can customize the pizza to your liking and it grills up in less than 15 minutes. Just be sure you are at the ready when the pizza is flipped – you have to put your toppings on quickly otherwise the pizza dough will cook faster than it takes the cheese to melt. It is also important to note that all of your toppings should be fully cooked (especially meat) before you put them on your pizza.

Grilled Goat Cheese & Fig Pizza

  • 6 – 8 oz. of goat cheese (choose the softer kind so it spreads easier)
  • 1/4 Cup sweet onions
  • 6 dried Turkish or Calimyrna figs
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp good aged balsamic
  • 4 T. butter
  • 1 small pizza dough round (I got mine at an Italian restaurant that sells fresh pizza dough daily)
  • small handful of fresh arugula
Preparation
Total Time: 30 min
Serves: 2
Heat 2 T. butter in a pan and saute onions on medium high until they become soft and start to caramelize/brown, about 7-10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat 2 T. butter in another pan and add sliced figs, brown sugar and balsamic. Saute until the figs are warmed through and sugar has started to caramelize, about 7-10 minutes on medium high heat. Keep an eye on the figs though to make sure the sugar doesn’t burn. Transfer both to a bowl and reserve. Feel free to pour any extra butter/sauce left from the onions and figs into the bowl as well.
Heat grill to high and let it warm up for about 5-7 minutes. Spread out your pizza round and drizzle olive oil on one side. When the grill is nice and hot lay the dough olive oil side down and turn the grill down to medium/high heat (if using propane). After about 5-7 minutes the dough should have grill marks and be a golden brown. Oil the top and flip the pizza. This is where you want to add your toppings. Spread the goat cheese and sprinkle the onions and figs on the pizza. If there is any extra butter that was in the bowl with the onions and figs make sure the drizzle that on too (yum!). Close the top and grill for another 5 or so minutes. When the bottom of the pizza is golden brown and has grill marks it is time to take it off the grill. Toss arugula on top, finish with a drizzle of the aged balsamic and enjoy!!

Orzo with Basil and Parmesan

5 Jun

I. Love. Fresh. Basil. I put it in everything I can and what better way to have this versatile herb shine through than a simple Orzo pasta dish. This dish is quite easy and takes about a half an hour from prep to table. A great weeknight meal for anyone short on time or who doesn’t feel like spending too much time in the kitchen.

Orzo with Basil and Parmesan (Adapted from allrecipes.com)

  • 2 T. Olive Oil
  • 1 chopped Shallot
  • 1 minced Garlic Clove
  • 1 Cup uncooked Orzo
  • 4 Cups chicken broth (use Vegetable broth for Vegetarian dish)
  • 1/4 Cup dry white wine
  • 1 Can diced tomatoes liquid discarded or 1 cup diced fresh tomatoes
  • 1/2 – 1 Cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 – 1/3 Cup Basil chopped chiffonade style – reserve some for garnish
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Preparation
Total Prep Time: 30min
Serves: 4
Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Saute shallots and garlic until fragrant. Stir in Orzo and saute until lightly browned. Add white wine and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Add chicken broth, cover and cook until Orzo is slightly past al dente and most or all of the liquid is absorbed. If it looks like the Orzo needs more broth feel free to add more 1/4 cup at a time.
When Orzo is cooked remove from heat and stir in Parmesan and Basil. Garnish with reserved Basil and serve immediately (with some good crusty bread if desired).
Enjoy!