Tag Archives: cheese

Roasted Vegetable & Avocado Medley

In a “Hail Mary” effort to fit back into my pants before tonight’s hot date, I decided to eat something mildly healthy. As an added bonus, it’s the first day of spring and this recipe just might make me look less like Rosie O’Donnell in a bathing suit when summer rolls along.

Regarding tonight’s dinner date, I have high hopes. Supporting reasons for this include:

1. My date has not yet tried to feel me up in a dark alleyway.
2. He has not yet found my blog.
3. I am 90% certain he is not secretly gay.
4. Yesterday, an ugly bird shit on my head. Apparently this is a good omen.

With any date, it’s important to detox beforehand and wear something figure flattering, but not slutty. Which is unfortunate because I may have just eaten a slice of birthday cake and forgotten to launder half of my wardrobe. So I suppose the corset will have to do.

But even when I don’t need to squeeze into a corset, I love fresh vegetables. Not as much as I love cake, but they have their moments. This little diddy that I threw together showcases all of the fresh, flavorful, juicy, creamy, and acidic flavors that nature has to offer.

I like to consider avocado a vegetable to excuse the quantities I eat it in. In this dish, the avocado almost coats everything, giving it a luscious and rich texture that it just to die for.

To make this springtime wonder, you’ll need:

  • 1 zucchini, cubed
  • 1/2 avocado, cubed
  • 2 tomatoes, cubed
  • 1/8 c mild soft cheese, cubed (I used goat’s milk mozzarella and it was a good decision. Slightly melted with the roasted veggies and gave it a tang.)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp fresh basil, cut into strips
  • salt & pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium-low heat. Add the zucchini and cook until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until warmed through. Combine in a bowl with avocado and cheese. Add olive oil, lime juice, salt, & pepper and mix. Top with basil ribbons.

And for the record, I am not really wearing a corset. I’ll save that for the second date.

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Cream Cheese & Jalapeno Thumbprint Cookies

For the thousandth time, you think I am crazy.

And for the thousandth time, I say to you: “Yes. I though we went over this already?”

Submitted for the approval of the midnight snack society, I present to you the product of last night’s impulse purchases at Whole Foods: peanut butter thumbprint cookies with cream cheese and jalapeno jelly.  These cookies join the ranks of Rosemary Lemon Cookies with Olive Oil Glaze, Chocolate Dipped Potato Chips, and Strawberry Ricotta Cheesecake with Balsamic Drizzle in my slightly deranged collection of not-so-sweets.

There is method to my madness, people. Let’s take a moment for some arithmetic:

Peanuts + Spicy = Delicious. Think Pad Thai.
Cream Cheese + Spicy = Delicious. Have you ever eaten one of those cheese blocks smothered in jalapeno jelly? You should.
Peanut Butter + Cream Cheese = Delicious. Was this ever in question?

So, if A+B, B+C, and A+C all equal delicious…. we must be on to something exponentially better.

Eat your heart out, Giada. I’m coming for you and your perfect hair and your beach house, too.

I wish I could find a way to make these cookies prettier, but jalapeno jelly wasn’t really made for food styling. They are kind of like the ugly duckling children that you almost love more because you feel sorry for them.

In a related story – God, I hope my kids are pretty.

Here is my version of the recipe, using a modified version of Sunny Anderson’s thumbprint cookie as the base:

Ingredients

  • 1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup), room temperature
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Sugar for rolling (optional)
  • 1 package cream cheese
  • 1 jar jalapeno jelly

Directions

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, add the butter, peanut butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar and blend all ingredients on medium-high until creamy. Turn off the mixer and use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl, pushing everything back towards the center. Then add the vanilla, egg, and salt and blend until combined. Lower the speed of the mixer and add the flour in 1/2 cup intervals. Between each addition be sure to completely blend in all the flour and scrape the sides again as before.

Using a tablespoon, scoop out the dough and roll into a ball between your hands. Then roll the formed ball in the sugar (if using) and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat for the rest of the balls, making sure to separate them on the sheet by about 1-inch.

Once all the balls are on the baking sheet, make an indentation in the center of each using the rounded end of a wooden spoon, the back of a rounded teaspoon, or your good old fashioned thumb. Bake for about 9 minutes and remove to a wire rack.

Fill each with 1/4 tsp cream cheese and 1/4 tsp jelly.

Eat in large quantities before and after dinner. Or at work. Or in your car. Or while reading my blog. This is a judgment-free zone, people.

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Cheesy Garlic Bread with A Fried Egg

Garlic and egg?

Yes, garlic and egg.

You think I am crazy. Let’s not get ugly here, people – I much prefer the term “dangerous.” My palate and I live on the edge. Plus we had very few ingredients in the cupboard to work with last night.

But remember – the only thing crazier than my ideas is the deliciousness they create.

Begin with cheese. This is the secret to every great savory dish. Always begin with cheese.

Toast yourself some bread, preferably Whole Foods “seeduction bread.” So witty, those Whole Foods folk.

If you are feeling decadent, toast it in a pan with butter. As I nearly vomited during my spin class last night, I felt a little butter was necessary. Don’t want to go getting too thin, now. Then no one will believe that I can cook unless I change my name to Giada (bitch).

Once the bread is toasted, rub it with a clove of garlic. But don’t use the whole thing unless you are trying to ward off the Cullen clan, which I would never want to do.

Garlic bread, meet cheese.

Heat the broiler, and stick these little friends in for 3-4 minutes, until bubbly and browning.

Oh, lordy. What could possibly make this better?

Yep, that’ll work.

Stare at the cheesy bread for a while and admire its beauty. When you have sufficiently gawked, top with the fried egg.

Even though you’re bursting with joy and rainbows right now, try not to cry. It’s embarrassing for everyone.

Okay, now you can cry. It’s just too beautiful to hold back the tears.


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The Only Way to Improve Cheesy Garlic Bread

…put an egg on top of it. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s mouthwatering post. In the meantime, I am off to make another one of these bad boys.

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Strawberry Ricotta Cheesecake with Sweet Balsamic Drizzle

At the risk of causing an insurgent uprising here at RFTL, I am going to make a confession: I am just not that into cheesecake. I ask that you please postpone setting your vehicle ablaze and fashioning war paint from eyeliner until after I explain myself.

Cheesecake is pretty nice and creamy, but I feel the same toward boring desserts as I do toward boring people. Both lack depth and have a slim-to-none chance of getting anywhere near my mouth.

But this cheesecake is so very different. It dances with surprising and delightful flavor combinations. This is the cheesecake you bring home to mom.

The inspiration for this recipe came from one of my all-time favorite desserts: Ellie Krieger’s Balsamic Strawberries with Ricotta Cream. Ellie Krieger is a goddess of healthful and delicious food. So I thought to myself… how can I make this recipe more fattening? Turn it into a cheesecake.

The base recipe that I used is Giada’s Honey Ricotta Cheesecake. I like how she takes credit for the recipe that was clearly written by someone else, as that woman has never held down a bite of cheesecake in her life.

I made my own strawberry concoction to swirl in, as well as a balsamic drizzle that I macerated some of the strawberries in. The swirling is a particularly amusing part of the cheesecake process. You start with a cake that looks infected with leprosy and end with a design worthy of gracing a shower curtain. At least.

And now I shall put you out of your misery, and give you the recipe for what I believe might be the only cheesecake worth making.

Ingredients

Crust

  • 8 oz biscotti
  • 3/4 stick melted butter 

Filling

  • 1 (12-ounce) container fresh whole milk ricotta, drained
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange blossom or clover honey
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 4 large eggs

Strawberry Swirl

  • 1 package fresh strawberries
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 1/4 c sugar

Balsamic Drizzle

  • 1/4 c balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • Fresh basil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Wrap the outside of a 9-inch springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides with 2 layers of heavy-duty foil. Finely grind the biscotti in afood processor. Add the melted butter and process until the crumbs are moistened. Press the crumb mixture over the bottom (not the sides) of the prepared pan. Bake until the crust is golden, about 15 minutes. Cool the crust completely on a cooling rack.

Blend the ricotta in a clean food processor until smooth. Add the cream cheese and sugar and blend well, stopping the machine occasionally and scraping down the sides of the work bowl. Blend in the honey and orange zest. Add the eggs and pulse just until blended.

To make the strawberry swirl, remove the stems of the strawberries and puree them. Add orange juice and sugar and simmer over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves.

Pour the cheese mixture over the crust in the pan. Spoon the strawberry mixture on top and swirl with a toothpick. Place the springform pan in a large roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake until the cheesecake is golden and the center of the cake moves slightly when the pan is gently shaken, about 1 hour and 5 minutes (the cake will become firm when it is cold).

To make the drizzle, heat the vinegar and sugar over medium-low until mixture thickens slightly. Soak some sliced strawberries in this for topping.

Transfer the cake to a rack and cool 1 hour. Refrigerate until the cheesecake is cold, at least 8 hours and up to 2 days. Garnish with fresh basil, strawberries, and drizzle. Cut the cake into wedges and serve.

And in case you were wondering… this particular slice was eaten. Partially by my dog. That should teach me to conduct photo shoots on the floor.

That was delicious! …now I want more.

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