Farmers Market at University of Rhode Island’s East Farm

While cruising around Rhode Island a couple of weekends ago, we stumbled upon a great farmer’s market at East Farm, a part of the University of Rhode.

If you are in the area, check it out:

URI East Farm
RT 108
Kingston, RI

Delicious local goat cheese.  So fresh!  Sampled some of the horseradish goat cheese which was spicy but not over the top.  Also bought a pesto variety – big party hit!

My compliments to the goat

Fresh Oysters from Matunuck Oyster Bar & Farm.

Orzo Casserole

Simply put, this dish is quick, delicious and leaves you with plenty of leftovers.  It’s also versatile to make, you can use whatever vegetables or cheese you have on hand.  Try adding black olives or sun dried tomatoes.  And the beauty of it all is that, if you want, you can make it ahead of time.  Either pre-assemble and keep covered in the fridge or freezer until ready for the oven or fully cook when you have some down time.  Cut into portions and freeze for later use.

Orzo Casserole


1 cup orzo
3/4 cups sliced mushrooms
2 cups frozen spinach (or about 4-5 cups fresh spinach, steamed)
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp olive oil
1 cup Weeknight Marinara Sauce
2 1/2 tsp goat cheese (or 1/4 cup crumbled feta)

Cook orzo according to package directions (about 7 minutes) until al dente.  Drain and drizzle with olive oil.

In same saucepan you cooked pasta in (less dishes rule!) heat remaining olive oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and mushrooms and saute 3 minutes.  Add spinach and season with salt and pepper.  Cook for 5-7 minutes. Let cool for 3-5 minutes.

In a lightly greased baking dish spread out 3 tablespoons of the orzo into an inch thick layer.  Add 3 tablespoons of sauce evenly over the orzo.  Spoon on the spinach and mushroom mixture (about 1 cup).    Crumble on 1 tsp goat cheese.  Repeat with remaining orzo, sauce, spinach and goat cheese.

In a preheated 400 degree oven, cook the casserole for 15 – 20 minutes.  Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Quesadilla & Creativity

Sometimes, you just need to look and the fridge and see what fits your fancy on any given weeknight.

That’s a reason why quesadillas make a great weeknight option.  Take whatever you have on hand, place it in a tortilla, heat in a skillet and dinner is ready in less than 10 minutes.  Your inspiration can be traditional such as cheese & beans or more upscale like leftover grilled fish with veggies.

With only a 3 ingredient filling and some salt and pepper, Monday night’s quesadillas definitely hit the spot.  A whole serving a veggies was even sneaked into the crispy, crunchy outer tortilla.

Still feeling hunger hanging around after I was finished, I contemplated having an apple for dessert.  But I craved more of the warm tortilla from my dinner.  So I combined the two and had a fabulous dessert quesadilla!

Goat Cheese, Ham & Pea Quesadilla


1 whole wheat tortilla
1 oz. goat cheese
1 or 2 slices Canadian Bacon (or deli ham or turkey bacon)
1 cup green peas (defrosted and heated)
1 tsp olive oil
Salt
Pepper

In a non-stick skillet over medium high heat, heat olive oil.  Spread goat cheese on entire tortilla.  On one half of the tortilla place peas, pushing down slightly (so they don’t go all over the place).  Layer bacon over the peas, season with salt & pepper and fold other half of tortilla over.  Place in skillet & place another pan with a weight on top so that it crisps up well (I used a full tea kettle).  Cook for 3-4 minutes or until browned well on one side.  Flip over and cook another 3 minutes.  Slice into quarters and enjoy!

Apple Pie Quesadilla

3/4 apple, diced (about 1 cup)
Cinnamon
Nutmeg
Pinch of Salt
1 tsp walnuts
1/2 tsp butter
1/2 tsp Olive Oil
1 whole wheat tortilla
1 tsp agave nectar (or honey)

In a non-stick skillet over medium high heat, melt butter.  Add diced apple  and walnuts and season with cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Stir to combine.  Cook apples for about 3-4 minutes or until softened.  Spread agave on one half of the tortilla.  Place apple/walnut mixture on top of agave and fold other half over.  Place in skillet & place another pan with a weight on top so that it crisps up well.  Cook for 3-4 minutes or until browned well on one side.  Flip over and cook another 3 minutes.

Pizza, Pizza!

Pizza get’s a bad rap.  Dough & cheese, can’t be healthy right?

While it should not be a daily indulgence, pizza can certainly be a part of your healthy weekly menu especially if it’s homemade. And if you have the dough already made, your pizza will be ready in less time than it would be if you called your local pizza shop.

With all of the possible toppings, you’ll never have the same pizza twice!

Thursday’s dinner was all about the pizza.  Instead of just sauce and cheese, I made two types, mushroom with goat cheese and ham & cheese.  Both were so good but seriously, the ham and cheese version tasted just like a grilled cheese sandwich! Served with a side of green veggies, this meal was nutritionally complete, satisfying and very tasty.

Mushroom & Goat Cheese Pizza
Ham & Cheese Pizza

The best thing about homemade pizza is that there really is no recipe, you can create whatever you want using whatever happens to be in the fridge!  That being true,  below is how these two pies came together.

16 oz whole wheat pizza dough
Flour
Olive Oil

Mushroom & Goat Cheese Pizza

3/4 cup Weeknight Marinara Sauce
4 cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp goat cheese, crumbled
Olive Oil
Salt
Pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Divide pizza dough in half and roll out to desired thickness.  Spread on sauce leaving a small border around the edges (you can drizzle the crust with some olive oil and salt too).  In a small skillet heat olive oil over medium-low heat.  Add slices mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes, turning over at least once.  Place mushrooms on the pizza and sprinkle with goat cheese.  Place in oven for 20 – 25 minutes.

Ham & Cheese Pizza

3/4 cups Weeknight Marinara Sauce
2 slices Canadian Bacon (deli ham is good too), cubed
1 1/2 oz. cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
Salt
Pepper

Pre heat oven to 375 degrees.  Roll out the second half of the pizza dough.  Spread on sauce leaving a small border around the edges (you can drizzle the crust with some olive oil and salt too).  Arrange bacon and then cheese on top of pizza.  Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.

I ate 2 slices of the ham & cheese pizza (pictured with a bite missing!) and then went back for a small slice of mushroom and goat cheese.  All served with some greens, of course. Another good thing about pizza, it reheats well for lunch the next day (or is good cold!)

Tips & Tricks

On buying vs. making pizza dough

Homemade pizza dough is definitely fun to make and I suggest you make a few big batches and freeze to have on hand.  However, in case you don’t have any homemade on hand during the week, Trader Joe’s makes a great whole wheat dough that only costs $.99 so stock up while you are there!

** Sorry about the late post (this was from last week).

Weeknight Tomato Sauce & Raviolis

Don’t be fooled by the name of this sauce.  While it’s certainly possible to whip up during the week, it’s best when made ahead of time.  Refrigerate or freeze the sauce  and use it when you need it most.  Having this on hand makes weeknight dinners super fast while keeping all of the flavor you want.

Weeknight Marinara

Continue reading

Butternut Squash, Goat Cheese Mac & Cheese

champagne!

So my apologies but we were so hungry when I made this Butternut Squash & Goat Cheese Mac & Cheese that I forgot to take a photo!  Bad food blogger, bad! Anyways,  instead I give you this photo which always makes me laugh.  This time last year I spent over two weeks in Ireland with my family where we were visiting my sister abroad.  During the last few days while the parents went to Paris, my sister and I jumped over the Irish Sea to spend some time in London.  We had been up late the night before our early morning flight (Ryan Air is awesome!) and as we exited the terminal there was a huge champagne display staring us in the face.  I couldn’t resist.  We purchased a bottle to enjoy back in the hotel room that waited for us.  Lets just say, the room that welcomed us was not what we envisioned, nor was it what was advertised.  But we made the best of it and that meant chilling Veuve in the teeny tiny sink because heaven forbid a hotel have an ice bucket, right?

Anyways, less about the booze and back to the food.  The recipe below was one of those accidental recipes as in “I was in a rush and tried to make butternut squash ravioli but only ended up making a mess”.  It was late on  a Sunday night so mac & cheese was the perfect replacement.  Measurements below are approximations as I didn’t have much patience for pen & paper at the time.

Enjoy!

Butternut Squash & Goat Cheese Mac & Cheese
3 slices bacon, diced
1/2 lb pasta (I used penne)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups cubed, roasted butternut squash*
2 1/2  tbs butter
2 tbs flour
2  cups milk
3 tbs Parmesan cheese
3 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs**
Salt
Pepper

In a skillet over medium high heat render bacon until crispy.  Place bacon in bowl lined with paper towels and drain 3/4 of bacon drippings from pan (only need about 1/2 tsp).  Lower heat to medium low and add garlic.  Cook 1 minute and then begin to melt the butter.  Once melted, whisk in flour until combined.  Cook for 5 minutes then add milk.  Whisk until smooth and bring to a boil.  Once at a boil, lower heat and stir in cheeses, nutmeg, cinnamon.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Stir in butternut squash & bacon crumbles.

Cook pasta al dente and drain.  Combine drained pasta and cheese sauce.  Spread in casserole dish and sprinkle with breadcrumbs and some extra Parmesan cheese.  Bake in preheated 350°F oven for 25 minutes, placing under broiler for last 5 minutes.

*  Cube butternut squash into 1 inch pieces.  Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Spread out on baking sheet and roast in 400°F oven for 25-35 minutes or until fork tender.

** Quick fresh breadcrumbs:  Toast bread in toaster or oven until slightly browned and dry.  Place in food processor and pulse until desired consistency (I like medium fine breadcrumbs for this).

Spice Rubbed Pork Chops with Peach Salsa

Peaches are one of my favorite summer fruits because they are extremely versatile and can be used in both sweet and savory dishes.  And how could I not adore something which is found in the fabulous Italian cocktail the Bellini, classically made with peach puree and prosecco.

However, even with all of the options available,  I  found myself unable to decide what to make with the beautiful peaches I bought at the farmer’s market.

My mind kept wandering back to grilled peaches.  The heat of the grill would carmelize all of the sugars in the peach which would create a wonderful crust.  But what would I serve with the peaches?  I could have gone the dessert route, add some vanilla ice cream and call it a night but I still needed to eat dinner.

It was a gorgeous night outside and wanting to take advantage of great grilling weather I decided I would make grilled pork chops.  But not just any pork chops.  These pork chops would be bursting with flavor from a spicy rub and finished off with a kicked up peach salsa.

The recipe below is easy and requires very little time to prepare.  And since the pork chops are grilled, it is a great choice for summer when you can’t bear to be stuck inside the kitchen.

The salsa recipe makes a little more than is needed for the pork chops but I’ve included some additional uses at the bottom of the recipe.  Trust me, it won’t go to waste!

Grilled Pork Chops with Peach Salsa

Spice Rubbed Pork Chops with Peach Salsa

Printable Version

Peach Salsa (makes about 4 cups)

2 1/2 cups peaches, diced
3/4 cup red onion, finely diced
1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
1/2 tsp Serrano or jalepeno pepper, seeded and diced
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp honey
1 tbsp cilantro, chopped

In a large mixing bowl (non-metal) combine all ingredients.  Chill at least 15 minutes before serving.

Spice Rubbed Pork Chops (serves 2)

2 bone in pork chops
1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp pepper

Place all spices in a mixing bowl and combine thoroughly.  Sprinkle spice mixture generously over pork chops (which should be at room temperature) and rub pork chops until fully covered.

Preheat the grill to medium heat (350o – 400o).  Place pork chops on the grill cooking about 5 minutes on one side.  Flip and continue cooking on opposite side approximately 5 more minutes (for about medium rare).  Remove from grill and cover with aluminum foil.  Let rest for about 5-10 minutes.  Serve with peach salsa.

Additional uses for salsa:

♦ Peach salsa crostini:  Slice either ciabatta bread or a french baguette into 1/2 inch thick slices diagonally.  If using goat cheese, grill sliced bread then spread goat cheese on top and place 1tsp salsa on each crostini.  Can also use brie cheese by placing thinly sliced brie on bread and placing in the broiler for about 1 minute.  Place 1 tsp of salsa on each crostini.

♦ Spice up sandwich wraps:  Use the salsa in your everyday sandwich wrap such as turkey or roast beef to give some it extra flavor and heat.

♦ Use to spice up a plain omelet

Globe Trotting with Asian Style Ribs on a Rainy Day

For the better part of June, mother nature had been the decision maker when it came to our weekend plans.  Every Monday we’d come up with fabulous sunny weather plans but by Thursday we would come to the disappointing realization that a rainy weekend was inevitable.

Two weekends ago was no exception to the rule.  We had planned to spend the weekend out at my parent’s house on LI, hit up a NY Mets game, do some BBQing & go to the beach.  I was very excited!  But sadly our elaborate plans were nixed by the time Friday rolled around.

Ultimately we still spent the weekend out on the island and it actually wound up being a very relaxing break from the city.  I was still bummed, however, that I was not able to put together a BBQ.  I was having dreams of ribs all week!

After some consideration & a grocery trip to Fairway Market we decided that we’d satisfy our cravings for ribs by making them in the oven with an Asian style glaze.

As we were ending our shopping trip both of us started getting hungry and made a quick stop at the cheese counter to pick up a light appetizer.  Near the counter I spotted membrillo (made from quinces) and knew its sweet and slightly tart flavors would taste fabulous with a tangy, salty Spanish cheese.  Not wanting to go the traditional Manchengo route, we sampled two Spanish semi soft goat cheeses.  The first (I forget its name) just didn’t have enough zest to balance the candy like membrillo and we moved on.  The winning cheese was amusingly called “The Naked Goat” and while its name certainly made us notice it in the counter, its flavors and tangy kick made us pay attention to it.

Upon arriving home I put out a quick tray of cheese & moembrillo on Carr’s crackers (sorry for the bad phto, had to snap it on my Blackberry before they were all gone!)

IMG00264Stopping off in Spain before heading to Asia 😉

As I suspected, the cheese held up perfectly with the quince and I was reminded how much I love salty and sweet combos.

As I nibbled on some of the appetizer, I began to get the glaze ready for the ribs.  Unfortunately, I was in somewhat of a rush (hungry family!) so I was not able to get the exact recipe down but the general idea is below (in descending amounts):

Low Sodium Soy Sauce

Rice Vinegar

Hot Chili Oil

Honey

Garlic, chopped (does not need to be precise since it is going into the food processor)

Fresh ginger, chopped (again, does not need to be precise since it is going into the food processor)

Lime zest/juice

Thai red chili paste

Red chili flakes

Place all of the ingredients in your food processor (or blender) and blend until combined and ginger and garlic are very fine.  (note: if you do not like heat, feel free to reduce or omit the chili ingredients).

Season the ribs (which should be at room temperature) lightly with pepper.  Brush some off the sauce on the meaty side of the ribs and place meat side down in a baking dish lined with foil.  Pour remaining sauce over the ribs, making sure to cover the bottom of the dish.  Place foil over the top of the baking dish.

Bake in a 425°F oven (preheated) for approximately 1 hour.  Remove from oven, remove the top foil and turn the meaty side up.  Brush on remaining sauce and place in the broiler for 5-7 minutes or until the outsides are slightly crisp.

Garnish with some sliced green onion.

DSCN2135_v2

On the side I served udon noodles with sliced snap peas & sauteed shiitake mushrooms and all tossed with soy sauce, chili oil, rice vinegar and some of the remaining ginger.

I also put together a quick pickled “slaw” of daikon & carrot.

DSCN2127_v2

DSCN2125_v2

Enjoy!!

Goat Cheese & Vegetable Flatbread Pizza

Goat Cheese & Vegetable PizzaWith long work days and over an hour long commute home, I often don’t have time to make extravagant meals during the week. Instead I rely on a handful or so of quick & healthy meals that I can be sitting down to enjoy in less than 30 minutes and can modify depending on what I’m craving or what’s in the fridge.

To cut back on baking time this flatbread pizza actually uses whole wheat tortillas, an item you can almost always find in my kitchen. Feel free to use pizza dough if you have more time (or patience!). The vegetables are also easily interchangeable depending on what is in season, what you like or just what’s in the fridge.

1 cup Portobello mushrooms, cubed
1/2 cup zucchini, cubed
1/2 cup red bell pepper, cubed
1/4 cup onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup red wine
1 whole wheat tortilla/wrap (I used Food for Life Ezekiel Organic Sprouted Whole Grain Flourless Tortillas)
1 tbs goat cheese (I have also made this with 1 Laughing Cow spreadable Swiss Cheese wedge – it’s equally good!)
1 tbs Parmigiana Reggiano Cheese
1 tsp Olive Oil
Salt & pepper, to taste
Red chili flakes (optional)

In a small pan heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions & red bell peppers. Cook 2-3 minutes until softened and add zucchini & mushroom. Add salt and pepper to season. Cook another 2 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook 1 minute. If using, add red chili flakes. Pour wine in and scrap the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Cook 1-2 minutes

On a baking sheet lay out the tortilla. Spread goat cheese on tortilla, leaving about a half inch border.

Remove pan from stove and let cool 1 minute. Pour vegetables onto tortilla, covering the goat cheese. Sprinkle Parmigiana cheese on top. Place in broiler for 5 minutes until cheese is melted and edges are crispy.

Note: I like a lot of veggies on mine so sometimes it’s messy to eat. You can cut back on the amount of veggies if you wish.

Enjoy!!