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Archive for the ‘Cheese’ Category

One of my favorite things that my grandmother cooked when I was growing up was meatloaf. It was a traditional beef-based meatloaf. She topped it with mushrooms and I loved to dip it in ketchup. Yep, it’s the most simple meals that stand out in my mind.

I don’t make meatloaf often but when I do it’s usually a variation that is far from what I used to eat at my grandmother’s table. I first made this chicken meatloaf stuffed with spinach and cheese a few years ago after spotting it on Pennies on a Platter. I’ve made a few changes to the original recipe and I think they’re worthy of sharing with you.

What I enjoy most about this dish is that the individual elements come together for a delicious flavor combination. The chicken mixture is flavored with herbs and garlic and then stuffed with cheese and spinach and topped with marinara sauce and cheese. It makes for a great spin on Italian night. I usually serve it with an extra drizzle or marinara, pasta and a green vegetable or salad. The leftovers reheat wonderfully.


Mozzarella and Spinach Stuffed Chicken Meatloaf
(Recipe adapted from Pennies on a Platter)

Ingredients:
1 pound ground chicken
1 cup marinara sauce, divided
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, diced
1/2 large onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed (optional)
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained (squeeze all the water out)
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-inch loaf pan with foil, shiny side down.

In a large bowl, combine chicken, 1/4 cup marinara sauce, bread crumbs, herbs, fennel, garlic, onion, eggs and parmesan cheese and mix well.

Press half of chicken mixture into loaf pan, creating a one-inch indentation down the center. Leave one-inch thickness on all sides. Mix together spinach and 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese and spoon into the indentation. Cover with remaining chicken mixture and seal edges.

Top with remaining 3/4 cup marinara sauce and 3/4 cup cheese and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Let stand for 10 minutes and then lift out of loaf pan using foil edges. Slice and serve with additional marinara sauce, if desired.

Yield: 6-8 servings

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I discovered this beer bread recipe several years ago on the now defunct blog, Good Things Catered. I’d never made (or heard of) beer bread before and was amazed by how easy and delicious it was. Somehow I forgot about this recipe until recently. I was looking for an alternative to cornbread to serve with chili when we had friends over for dinner and remembered this beer bread. It was a huge hit with everyone and I have now served it to two different groups of company and received raved reviews from both groups.

The best thing about this bread is how easy it is to prepare. It has a short ingredient list, is assembled in one bowl and in the oven in five minutes. Also, the house smells amazing while it is cooking. I have made a couple of modifications to the original recipe and am posting my version below. Note,  I cannot link to the original recipe because the blog has been removed.

Please make this beer bread this winter and let me know what you think! I’m willing to bet it will become a favorite!

One Year Ago: Spicy Black Bean Soup
Two Years Ago: Cinnamon Rolls (YUM!)

Cheesy Beer Quick Bread
(Recipe adapted from Good Things Catered)

Ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1-2 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
A sprinkle of your choice of fresh or dried herbs, we like rosemary, chives, thyme, etc.
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar (or feel free to substitute other cheeses)
12 ounce bottle or can of beer (you could get fancy with this and use a lager or stout or you could be like me and save your good stuff. and use the random bottle of Bud Light you find in your fridge)
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a loaf pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, garlic and herbs. Add cheese and whisk to combine. Slowly add beer to dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Dough should be thick. Knead dough a couple of times until it comes together.

Place dough in prepared loaf pan and pour melted butter over. Bake 55-60 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean.

Yield: 8 servings


 

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I came up with the idea for this dish when I was desperately hungry in the grocery store tonight at 8 p.m. after a yoga class that nearly was the end of me. I planned on making sauteed grouper but of course by that time at night the seafood counter was down to one last sad fillet that was not coming home with me.

I picked up a few organic chicken breasts and decided to make Brie and Apricot Chicken with Almonds. Then I realized that I didn’t have apricot preserves and brie was going to run me at least six dollars. I started brainstorming ideas for what I could make with what was in my fridge.

And that’s how these delicious Sauteed Greek Chicken Breasts were born. I had all the ingredients on hand at home to make a Greek-inspired chicken dish. Rather than stuffing the chicken breasts, I took the lazy way out and made a tasty topping. It worked perfectly. The topping added so much flavor to the chicken. I pounded the chicken out thin to ensure that it cooked quickly, evenly and stayed tender and juicy.

I served the chicken with quick cooking couscous and green beans. This was a very simple meal for a weeknight that was on the table in less than 20 minutes. Both of us really enjoyed this dish and I will be adding it to my quick weeknight dinner repertoire.

One Year Ago: Broiled Blue Cheese and Bacon Tomatoes

Sauteed Greek Chicken Breasts
(Recipe source Bakin’ and Eggs)

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts, rinsed, trimmed and patted dry
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large onion,finely diced (or one small onion)
1/4 cup kalamata olives, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 lemon wedge
1 tablespoon (total) fresh basil and/or oregano, minced (or substitute 1 teaspoon dried)
2 ounces feta, crumbled

Directions:

Place chicken in a large Ziploc bag or between two sheets of wax paper and pound to about 1/4-inch thickness. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour flour into a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in the flour and shake off excess.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add olive oil and heat until shimmering. Place chicken in oil and saute about 3-4 minutes per side, or until golden brown and internal temperature is 160 degrees. Remove chicken from skillet and let rest on a plate, loosely covered with foil.

Add onion to skillet and saute for about 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic, olives and sundried tomatoes and cook for another minute or two. Add broth and a squeeze of lemon and stir, scraping up brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in fresh herbs and feta and spoon mixture over chicken.

Yield: 2 servings

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I came across this recipe in the August issue of Cuisine at Home and immediately added it to the following week’s dinner menu. I had a variety of cherry tomatoes from my brother in law’s garden and basil growing in my herb garden. A perfect combination!

These were extremely easy to put together and created a pretty impressive side dish. The flavor was fabulous – what’s not to love about homegrown tomatoes, goat cheese and basil? I went on and on to Brandon at dinner that these would be the perfect thing to make for dinner guests. I also think you could cut the puff pastry a bit smaller for an impressive appetizer. I served my tarts with sautéed grouper and a salad but these could easily be a meatless main course alongside a big salad.

One Year Ago: Summer Corn Dip (this stuff is so addictive! I’m making it for a party this week!)

Tomato Tarts with Goat Cheese and Basil
(Recipe source Cuisine at Home, August 2010)

Ingredients:

2 sheets puff pastry (a frozen 17.3 ounce box)
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
2 ounces herb flavored goat cheese
2 tablespoons milk
16 cherry tomatoes or varying colors (optional), halved
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil

Directions:

Thaw puff pastry according to package directions. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut one puff pastry sheet into four even squares. Place squares on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cut remaining sheet into eight strips about 3/4 inch wide and then cut the strips in half crosswise (to create 16 total).

Place four strips around the edge of each pastry square, overlapping the corners (see photo above). Lightly brush edges with egg mixture and bake until puffed and brown, 22-24 minutes.

Whisk together goat cheese and milk. Divide cheese mixture among centers of baked tarts, spreading with a spatula and pressing very lightly to slightly deflate the centers. Top cheese mixture with tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.

Return tarts to oven and bake another 5 minutes. Garnish with fresh basil and serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 4 tarts

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I can’t even tell you how many times Brandon has asked me to make fried green tomatoes. And it’s not that I don’t love fried green tomatoes, I just don’t fry foods at home. I finally caved when Brandon came home with green tomatoes from his brother’s garden and presented me with this recipe from his Garden and Gun magazine. (Note, if you haven’t read Garden and Gun you must pick up a copy. It is a great magazine!)

I decided to go all out and top them with pimento cheese. Fried green tomatoes topped with pimento cheese were one of the passed hors d’oeuvres at our wedding and were a huge hit.

I was really surprised by how easy these were to make. I fried them in my cast iron skillet. It was relatively painless and didn’t leave the house smelling “fried.” I was very pleased with the final result – the tomatoes were perfectly crispy on the outside and had a great texture on the inside. The pimento cheese topping really took them up another notch!

I admit that I am planning on making these again soon for fried green tomato BLT’s and I can’t wait! Take advantage of tomato season and give these a try!

One Year Ago: Tomato Pie (one of my ALL TIME favorites!!!)

Fried Green Tomatoes with Pimento Cheese
(Recipe source Garden and Gun for tomatoes and Bakin’ and Eggs for pimento cheese)

Ingredients:

FOR THE TOMATOES
4 to 6 green tomatoes, sliced
2 cups buttermilk (not fat free)
2 large eggs
2 cups White Lily (self-rising) flour mixed
1 cup stone-ground (medium) cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Generous pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups canola oil mixed with
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter (I just used canola oil!)

FOR THE PIMENTO CHEESE
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup pimentos (or chopped roasted red peppers)
Pinch cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste
Pinch garlic powder (if desired)

Directions:

FOR THE TOMATOES
Place sliced tomatoes in colander. Salt lightly, and let sit for about 5 minutes to help draw out moisture. Rinse under cool water and pat dry with paper towels.

Prepare wash by mixing buttermilk and eggs. Prepare dredge by mixing flour, cornmeal, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

Working one at a time, completely coat each tomato slice in the wash and then in the dredge, gently shaking off excess.

In a cast-iron skillet over high heat, bring butter and canola oil to 350 degrees (use a candy thermometer). Reduce heat to stabilize. Working a few slices at a time, fry the tomatoes until golden brown, turning only once (about 3 to 4 minutes total). Transfer each batch to drain on brown paper bags or paper towels.

FOR THE PIMENTO CHEESE
Mix together cheese, mayo, pimentos, cayenne, salt, pepper and garlic powder if using. Stir together and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Yield: 4 to 6 first course or side dish servings

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I was born and raised in Georgia and one of my favorite Southern foods is cornbread. Especially the old fashioned, slightly sweet variety that is baked in a cast iron skillet with plenty of butter and topped with honey. When I saw this recipe on Pink Parsley for Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread, I decided I would have to stray from my old favorite and give it a try.

I’m so glad I did. This is nothing like traditional cornbread but it’s a fun twist on the classic. The addition of sharp cheddar cheese, fresh jalapenos and scallions is delicious and I just have to mention how fabulous this smells when it’s baking. I made this to take to a family dinner and I had to use all of my willpower not to sneak a taste of it on the car ride over.

This recipe makes a ton. I served it to eight people and had a good bit leftover but the recipe could be easily halved and it also freezes really well.

I think this would be a perfect bread side item for a summer cookout. I also think it would be nice to make these as muffins if you’re feeding a crowd so that it’s easier to grab and go. Just some ideas for you!

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread
(Recipe source Pink Parsley, originally published in Barefoot Contessa at Home)

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups buttermilk
3 large eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra to grease the pan
8 ounces extra-sharp cheddar, grated
1/3 cup chopped scallions (3-4 scallions)
3 tablespoons fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced (2-3 peppers)

Directions:

In a large bowl, sift together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk, eggs  and butter. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in wet ingredients. Stir until just combined and then mix in 2 cups of the cheddar, scallions and jalapenos. Stir until just combined, being careful not to overmix.

Allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9 x 13 baking dish. Spread the batter into prepared baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining cheddar.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool slightly and cut into squares to serve.

Yield: 12 large servings (these would be really big!) or 24 smaller squares

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In the past I’ve been pretty indifferent to pasta salads. I never feel like they really deliver on flavor. I’ve been lucky in the past couple months to try two outstanding pasta salads. First there was the Whole Wheat Pasta Salad with Zucchini and Olives and last night my mother in law served this Orzo Salad as part of our joint birthday/Father’s Day celebration. (My birthday was last Wednesday and Brandon’s is this Tuesday.) I went back for seconds and took leftovers home for lunch. It is so full of flavor and I think it’s a very pretty and colorful pasta salad.

The ingredient list is a little long but the preparation is simple. I think it would be easy to cut down on the ingredients.  Although pretty, I don’t think it’s necessary to use three different colors of peppers and I also think you could get away with using one variety of olives instead of two. But I do recommend the recipe as is. I’m definitely keeping this one in my summer side dish lineup.

One Year Ago: Seared Tuna with Herbed Aioli

Orzo Salad
(Recipe source In Order to Serve: Christ Church Cooks II)

Ingredients:

1 cup uncooked orzo
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (rehydrated in hot water if necessary)
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/4 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup yellow bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons green olives, chopped
2 tablespoons black olives, chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Cook orzo according to package directions and drain. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Chill before serving.

Yield: 4 servings

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