Friday, April 29, 2011

Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Cheese on Crostini

Easy & fabulous!


8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature*
1/4 c. chopped sun-dried tomatoes in oil, plus 1 t. oil from jar
sea salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and stir together.

To prepare crostini:
Slice French bread diagonally, brush with olive oil, toast in oven, then rub with fresh garlic.
Top with cream cheese spread.

*Note:  In place of cream cheese, I always use raw milk yogurt "cream cheese".  It's easy - simply line a sieve with a coffee filter, add the yogurt, then allow the whey to drain off overnight in the refrigerator, giving it a consistency similar to cream cheese.  Works great!

Quinoa Salad with Asparagus and Roasted Chicken

My friend Julia came up with this combination of flavors!  I don't have an official recipe and still need to perfect the vinaigrette, but it was delicious anyway.

red quinoa, cooked according to package directions
asparagus, cut into 1" lengths and lightly steamed
roasted chicken breast, sliced
toasted pecans
goat cheese
sun-dried tomato vinaigrette
sea salt and pepper to taste

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Asparagus and Sun-Dried Tomato Pizza

This recipe inspired me to make up a batch of sun-dried tomatoes and well as some raw-milk ricotta cheese - worth every ounce of the effort!

Source: Inspired by

thin asparagus spears, cut into 1" lengths
sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil), sliced or chopped
ricotta cheese
prepared pizza crust
sea salt and pepper

Brush pizza crust with oil from sun-dried tomatoes.
Drizzle asparagus with sun-dried tomato oil and toss.
Layer ricotta cheese, asparagus, and sun-dried tomatoes on crust.
Season with salt and pepper.
Bake at 500 degrees for 5-8 minutes or according to crust directions.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Asparagus with Lemon Butter


Source:  adapted from

Coarse sea salt
Ground pepper
1 1/2 lbs. asparagus, trimmed
1 T. butter, melted
1 t. grated lemon zest
1 T. fresh lemon juice

Steam asparagus spears in steamer basket in large saucepan.  Remove and place on serving platter.
Mix butter, lemon zest and lemon juice; drizzle over asparagus and toss.
Season with salt and pepper.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Spring-Vegetable Couscous with Chicken

Easy and yummy!  I had leftover roasted chicken from last night's dinner - just right for this recipe.

Source:  Everyday Food magazine, May 2010

3 T. unsalted butter
4 scallions, whte and green parts and thinly sliced crosswise
2 wide strips lemon zest
1 1/4 c. water
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/2" pieces
1/2 c. frozen peas
1 c. couscous
leg and thigh meat from 1 rotisserie chicken, torn into bite-size pieces
1 T. lemon juice

2 T. chopped fresh parsley

In medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat.  Add scallion whites and cook, stirring constantly until softened, about 3 min.  Add lemon zest and water; season with salt and pepper.  Cover pan and bring liquid to a boil, then add asparagus and peas.  Return to a boil and stir in couscous.  Add chicken and remove pan from heat; cover and let sit 7 min.  Add lenom juice and parsley and season with salt and pepper.  Fluff couscous with a fork and serve.

Serves 4

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Asparagus with Vinaigrette and Toasted Almonds

Love the vinaigrette and toasted almond combo!

Source:  Everyday Food magazine, June 2008

coarse sea salt
ground pepper
2 bunches asparagus (about 2 lbs. total), tough ends removed
1 T. Dijon mustard
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1 T. heavy cream
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. sliced almonds, toasted

Set a steamer basket in a large saucepan.  Fill with enough salted water to come just below basket; bring to a boil.  Prepare a large bowl of ice water; set aside.

Place asparagus in basket.  Cover, and steam until crisp-tender, 4-6 min.  Transfer asparagus to ice water to stop cooking; let stand until cool.  Drain well, and pat dry with paper towels.  Season with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, whisk together mustard, lemon juice, and cream.  Whisking constantly, add oil in a steady stream; whisk until combined.  (To store, refrigerate asparagus and vinaigrette separately, up to 1 day.)  Arrange asparagus on a platter, top with vinaigrette and toasted almonds, and serve.

Serves 6

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mushroom and Asparagus Risotto

To give the Gourmet Mushroom Risotto recipe below a new twist, simply cut asparagus stalks on the diagonal into 1" lengths, steam lightly (2-4 minutes), and add to the risotto at the end.

Gourmet Mushroom Risotto

6 c. chicken broth, divided
3 T. olive oil, divided
1 lb. portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced*
1 lb. white mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 shallots, diced*
1 1/2 c. Arborio rice**
1/2 c. dry white wine*
sea salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 T. finely chopped chives
4 T. butter
1/3 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a small saucepan, warm broth over low heat.

Warm 2 T. olive oil in a large saucepan over med-high heat.  Stir in mushrooms and cook until soft, about 3 min.  Remove mushrooms and their liquid and set aside.

Add 1 T. olive oil to skillet and stir in shallots.  Cook 1 min.  Add rice, stirring to coat with oil, about 2 min.  When rice has taken on a pale, golden color, pour in wine, stirring constantly until wine is fully absorbed.  Add 1/2 c. broth to the rice, and stir until broth is absorbed.  Continue adding broth 1/2 c. at a time, stirring continuously, until liquid is absorbed and rice is al dente, about 15-20 min.

Remove from heat; stir in mushrooms with their liquid, butter, chives and Parmesan.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

*My notes:
I used only white mushrooms instead of the two varieties.  I didn't have any shallots on hand, so I substituted 1 part garlic to 2 parts onion.  And, I skipped the white wine.  Still, a great recipe!
**The Arborio rice is the secret to the creamy, risotto texture.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sesame Asparagus

The sesame seeds give simple roasted asparagus a new twist.

Source:  Adapted from Everyday Food magazine, March 2004

1 1/2 lbs. thick asparagus
2 T. olive oil
sea salt
1 1/2 t. sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Trim ends from asparagus; cut stalks into 2" lengths.  Place asparagus on a rimmed cookie sheet; drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt.  Toss to combine.

Spread asparagus evenly on cookie sheet.  Roast 10 minutes, turning asparagus halfway through.  Add sesame seeds, and continue roasting until asparagus is lightly browned in spots and tender, about 5 minutes more.

Serves 4

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Chili Con Carne

Adapted from Taste of Home Magazine

This is the perfect chili recipe – thick, hearty and full of flavor. I like to make double or triple batches in the summer with fresh tomatoes and peppers from the garden and freeze it.

2 lbs. ground beef
2 T. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium onions, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1-1/2 t. salt
2 T. chili powder
1/8 t. cayenne pepper
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. dried oregano
1 bay leaf
2 (16-oz.) cans tomatoes with liquid, chopped
1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste
3 beef bouillon cubes
1 c. boiling water
1 (16-oz.) can kidney beans, undrained

In a large pan, brown ground beef. Drain and set aside. In the same pan, heat oil; sauté garlic and onions over low heat until onions are tender. Stir in green pepper, salt, chili powder, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, cumin and oregano. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring until well mixed. Add bay leaf, beef, tomatoes with liquid and tomato paste. Dissolve bouillon in water and add to soup. Simmer, covered, for about 1 hour. Add kidney beans; simmer 30 minutes longer.
Yield: 8-10 servings (about 2 ½ quarts)