Roasted Beet & Goat Cheese Stacks

Not very many people like beets. They definitely are an acquired taste, a taste I strongly suggest you try.  The first or second time may still gross you out, but I am telling you, try them prepared homemade or professionally (NOT FROM THE CAN) and you will be pleasantly surprised.  They are sweet, yet Earthy and rich in various nutrients.

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Last year, I was out to dinner in Chicago celebrating my sister’s Master’s graduation.  We were at a restaurant known for their chicken and waffles, which were amazing.  Our table tried the beet appetizer on the menu, most guests at the table skeptical and uninterested.  However, the stacks of deep purple goodness were welcomed and thoroughly enjoyed.  Ever since we had this recipe I have wanted to create some type of beet stack similar to this one.  Unfortunately, Bryan is not a fan and so I never buy any while at the store.

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Fortunately, Bryan’s mom planted beets in her garden this year so I received my first batch of beets last week.  You can’t get much more organic than produce from your own backyard.  I can’t wait to have a large yard one day so I can have my own garden!  So when Bryan came home with the bag of beets I knew I wanted to create a stack like the one in the restaurant.  I wanted it to be a simple bite that I could enjoy before our dinner  (Grilled Chinese BBQ Pork Tenderloin) and not be full.

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I had some delicious, creamy goat cheese in the fridge that I sliced into small medallions as the 2nd star in my stack.  A simple sprinkle of parsley from my balcony garden and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar completed my creation.  These are very easy (although a bit messy, they stain your hands pink) to prepare and very beautiful.  Prepare these stacks and encourage your guests to try them.  So don’t be shy and quickly move on to your next blog, give the beet a try!

roasted beet & goat cheese stacks

Recipe by: Sara
Prep Time:  5 minutes   |||   Cook TIme: 1 hour   |||   Servings: 4  |||   Difficulty: Medium

Ingredients:
~8 beets (2 per person, depending on size)
~4 oz goat cheese
8 garlic cloves, peeled
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp parsley, chopped
salt and pepper

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.  Remove the stems and greens from the beets.
3.  Place the beets on some tin foil, leaving enough room to wrap up into a pouch.  Add the garlic cloves to the beets and drizzle with olive oil.
4.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and close up the foil pouches.  Place in oven directly on the rack.
5.  Once fork tender (about an hour) remove and use a paring knife to remove the peel.
6.  Cut the beets horizontally and stack them back up alternating with the goat cheese.
7.  Sprinkle with the parsley and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar.
8.  Serve warm or chilled.

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Raw Rainbow Corn Salad

{a bowl of summer}

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August 1st.  Wow, is it just me or has this year flown by?  I honestly cannot believe it is already August.  That being said, summer is in its last month & before I know it Bryan, Chase and I will be heading out to the apple orchard for our annual fall trip.  Then we will be bundled up trudging through the snow to go pick out the perfect Christmas tree.  But just not quite yet…. There are far too many summer days to soak up & recipes to create.

Has anyone tried to freeze corn on the cob before?  I see them at the grocery store, but am thinking about trying it out so I have some of this amazing summer sweet corn for the winter.

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This summer corn has appeared in several of my recipes and oftentimes is our side dish.  Not only are they so easy to make, but there are so many ways to cook (or not) them.  I grilled the corn, which I used in the Kale & Corn Salad I posted on Paige’s site.  I also added them to my summer Shrimp & Corn Chowder.  For this recipe, I left the kernels as is, straight up raw off the cob.

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Originally, I made this salad for my sister & her husband’s going away party.  If I do say so myself, it was a pretty decent hit.  I whipped it up for one of my girlfriend’s bachelorette parties…again a successful dish.  It also makes for some great leftovers.  All of the flavors meld together & become bolder as they sit.  Another added bonus, the beautiful colors.  I used literally every color of the rainbow.. ok I didn’t use blue so I made sure to use a blue bowl for serving.  This dish is definitely eye-catching & I loved photographing it!

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If you know how to chop & you love an easy, yet crowd-pleasing dish this is your winner.  No cooking involved.  Simply chop, mix, serve.  I hope you are enjoying these beautiful (cool in MI) summer nights & taking time to cook delicious food, relax with family & truly enjoy life!  I know I am :)

Raw Rainbow Corn salad

Recipe by: Sara
Prep Time:  15 minutes   |||   Cook TIme: 0 minutes   |||   Servings: 8-10   |||   Difficulty: Very Low

Ingredients
8 ears of corn, husked & silk removed
1/2 orange bell pepper, diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 lime, juiced and zest
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chipotle seasoning
1 Tbsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
5 oz queso fresca, crumbled

Directions
1.  Remove the kernels from their cobs by placing a coffee cup upside-down in a large bowl.  Hold the cob vertically, using the base of the coffee mug as its platform.  Use your knife to slice down the cob.  The kernels will fall into the bowl.
2.  Add all other ingredients, except about 1 oz. of the cheese.  Stir together.
3.  Chill in the fridge until ready to serve & top with remaining cheese.

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Easy Shrimp Tostadas

It’s been over a week since I logged into this bad boy.  I didn’t really have an agenda for this week’s menu and as you know if you have been following along for awhile, I tend to come and go from my blog from time to time.  There are 3 recipes that I have been dying to share so I want to take the time to get back at it.  Sometimes, life just gets in the way.  There has been a ton going on at work, some great things actually, that have required my undivided-extra-time-in-the-office-outside-of-work attention.  Possibly more on that to come at a later date.

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Anyways enough of that mumbo jumbo and onto this post because it does not disappoint!  I get a lot of food magazines and I never will stop getting the actual magazine.  I have gotten one on my Nook before, but I love tearing the magazine articles out and stashing them in my “to make” binder.  This binder has been around for quite some time so if you have lived with me before you’ve probably seen it.  I use these clippings as blog inspiration and that’s where this post comes into play.

The binder is expanding each week and so I been making a good effort to try out all the recipes I saved.  If you follow me on Instagram you probably saw my post a few weeks ago of the picture of the shrimp tostadas.  My binder is organized (somewhat) according to genre.  There are about 6-8 shrimp tostada recipes so I learned from those clippings to produce this one.  The main recipe is based off of a Cooking Light original.

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No time for dinner?  No problem.  This is yet another Dinner In Twenty recipe.  It actually can be prepared in less time than that if you make your toppings ahead of time too.  If you saw my post on Paige’s blog last week, you read that I like to try to incorporate Mexican into my weekly dinner routine.  We love the spicy, bold flavors of Mexican cuisine and they typically are quick to prepare.

One of my favorite components of this recipe is the Spicy Black Bean Salsa I posted on A Dose of Paige.  You will have to visit her website to get that portion, trust me it’s definitely not one you want to leave out!  The link is below.  I hope you enjoy this yummy and Not So Doughie recipe!

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easy shrimp tostadas

Recipe by:  Sara
Prep Time:  15 minutes   |||   Cook TIme: 4-5 minutes   |||   Servings: 4   |||   Difficulty: Low

Ingredients
8-10 (6 inch) corn tortillas
1 lb medium shrimp, peeled & deveined
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 avocado, diced
1 Roma tomato, small dice
1/2 cup plain, low-fat Greek yogurt
1 lime, juiced
1/4 tsp Chipotle Chili Powder
Chipotle Black Bean Salsa
4
 oz queso fresca
chopped cilantro

Directions:
1.  On a baking sheet, toss the shrimp with the cumin, oregano, cayenne, salt and pepper.  Spread evenly and bake at 350 degrees for 4-5 minutes or until pink.
2.  In a bowl, combine the avocado, tomato, Greek yogurt, and lime juice.  Season with salt, pepper and chipotle seasoning.
3.  Lay out your corn tortilla and layer with the bean salsa, shrimp, avocado spread, cheese and chopped cilantro.
4.  Serve with a dash of hot sauce if preferred.

Enjoy!

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Grilled Chicken with Chiptole Peach BBQ Sauce

{a spicy peach}

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Who doesn’t love a sweet, juicy peach during the summer?  Seriously, if you don’t like peaches I am curious as to why not?  I get pretty excited the first time I see the stocked peaches at the grocery store.  Chase loves peaches, he would eat 10 in one sitting if we let him.  They are frequent visitors on our dinner plates (and breakfast and snacks for me) during the summer.  A fresh cut up peach stirred into some yogurt with a bit of granola – such a yummy (and healthy!) breakfast.

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What’s in a peach?

For a medium peach, there is about 60 calories.  These delicious gems contain a dose of vitamin c, potassium and vitamin A.  If you need a bit more fiber in your diet, grab a peach!  Nutrients in peaches aid in inflammation and help lower your cholesterol.  Careful however, because they do contain sugar, but it nature’s sugar so no added crap here.  The peach is actually from the rose family, originating from China.  China & Italy are the top peach growers.  Be careful not to eat that pit though!  They are poisonous, but if you dry it out on the counter then put it in the fridge for a bit, plant it and you could maybe have yourself a little peach tree!  You will have to move south to keep it growing and if you are lucky it may sprout.

So there’s a bit of peach info for you, now onto the recipe!

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I love incorporating peaches into different recipes, their unique flavor is subtle, yet noticeable.  In addition, they add the perfect amount of sweetness to a recipe.  Two summers ago, Chase and I grilled some chicken and topped it with a peach salsa of sorts.  We left it raw and it was a refreshing touch to the smokey chicken.

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This time around, I wanted to combine it with the smokey and spiciness of chipotle peppers.  If you aren’t a big spicy food fan, this isn’t quite your recipe, but there’s an easy switch!  Just eliminate the chipotle pepper :)  The peaches are cooked on the stove until melted, their natural sugars completely exposed.  A quick pulse in a food processor and this meal’s star is ready.  Definitely another Dinner in 20!  I hope you enjoy my perfect summer BBQ recipe!

grilled chicken with chipotle peach bbq sauce

Recipe by:  Sara
Prep Time:  2 minutes   |||   Cook TIme: 20 minutes   |||   Servings: 4   |||   Difficulty: Low

Ingredients:
4 chicken breasts
1 small shallot, minced
2-3 medium sized peaches, diced
1/3 cup ketchup
1/4 cup prepared BBQ sauce [Sweet Baby Rays]
juice from 1/2 lemon
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 chipotle pepper & 1 tsp of the adobo sauce
1/2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp cilantro, finely chopped
salt & pepper

Directions:
1.  Generously season the chicken with salt and pepper.
2.  In a small pot, add the garlic and shallots.  Cook for about 2 minutes.
3.  Add the peaches, ketchup, BBQ sauce, lemon juice, and chipotle peppers + adobo.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat.
4.  Simmer for about 10 minutes or until the peaches have completely softened.
5.  Remove from heat and pour contents into a food processor.  Add the cilantro.
6.  Pulse until completely smooth.  Season with salt and pepper.
7.  Using a brush to paint the BBQ sauce onto the chicken breasts.
8.  Heat a grill over medium-high heat.  Place the chicken on the grill, not directly over the heat.
9.  Cook on each side about 5-8 minutes, depending on thickness.  Paint a bit more BBQ sauce on each time you flip the chicken.
10.  Cut into slices and serve with additional sauce.

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Enjoy!

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Summer Corn & Shrimp Chowder with Bacon

{the summer soup}

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I used to hate soups.  I never was a big fan of them growing up.  Chicken noodle soup was served when you were sick, but soup was never a frequent visitor to the dinner table.  I did LOVE beef stew.  However, stew is not soup is not chowder.  In my old age, I have grown to love soups, stews, chowders, bisques, gazpachos etc etc.  They definitely appear on my dinner menu often, but in the fall & winter more.

However, I don’t discriminate soup in the summer so I add some delicious summer flavors to keep it light.  You’ve probably noticed a decent amount of posts including corn lately.  Well, it is summertime and I really cannot get enough of it.  [I will be posting a Mexican Corn Salad shortly where I use the corn straight up off the cob.]  This recipe uses the corn’s kernels and “pulp” to add creaminess to the broth.

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So what exactly is the difference between a stew, chowder, and soup?  I did some research to answer this question for you…..

  • SOUP:  Liquid is very thin.  Can be cream based or broth based.  It is majority liquid with some, if any, added pieces
  • CHOWDER:  Broth is thickened using an agent such as flour and has more “stuff” in it than liquid.
  • STEW:  Mainly solid pieces of veggies & meat cooked in a small amount of liquid (beer) cooked slow resulting in a gravy base.

Based off of these Sara-determined definitions, this is a soup because I didn’t use any flour as a thickening agent.  I am still going to call it a chowder because I like the word chowder and there is more “stuff” than liquid.

This is the ultimate summer soup.  It has many bold flavors, is light, creamy, salty, sweet, and in my chowder, spicy.  If you aren’t a shrimp fan, substitute crab or lobster – yum!  This dinner sounds a bit fancy, but it is yet another “Dinner in 20″ meal.  It requires one pot too which makes for easy clean up :)

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summer corn & shrimp chowder with bacon
Recipe By:  Sara
Prep Time:  5 minutes   |||   Cook TIme: 20 minutes   |||   Servings: 4   |||   Difficulty: Low

Ingredients:
3 slices of thick bacon, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme
2 garlic cloves, minced
4-6 ears of corn, husks and silk removed
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled & deveined, cut into pieces
1/2 cup milk [I used fat-free]
1 tsp hot pepper sauce
dash of cayenne pepper
salt & pepper
Optional:  cilantro, cheddar cheese

Directions:
1.  Cut the corn kernels off the cobs over a bowl.  Squeeze any excess “juice” from the cores.
2.  In a dutch oven or large pot, heat over medium and add the bacon.  Cook until crispy.  Remove about 2 Tbsp from the pot & set aside.  If there is a lot of grease, discard all but about 2 tsp.
3.  Add the onion and celery & saute until softened, about 6 minutes.
4.  Add the garlic & thyme and saute an additional minute.
5.  Add the corn and any pulp acquired during cutting and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil.
6.  Reduce heat to a simmer and add the shrimp.  Cook for 2 minutes.
7.  Stir in the milk.
8.  Season with salt and pepper and cayenne.
9.  Serve with cheddar cheese, cilantro and remaining bacon pieces.

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Enjoy!

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Grilled Corn & Kale Salad

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Hey everyone!  Happy Tuesday!  I am excited to announce that I will be a recipe contributor to A Dose of Paige.  What does that mean?  Well, you may remember when Paige & I swapped blogs a while back.  She shared a DIY for spices jar labels & I shared a DIY homemade taco seasoning on her blog.  We loved doing the swap and both had a ton of great feedback from our readers.  That being said, she asked if I would contribute a monthly recipe to her blog.

Be sure to check out her blog every 3rd week of the month for a delicious dose of Paige.  June’s pilot recipe features a lot of fresh ingredients while using the grill.  Grilled Sweet Corn & Kale Salad!  Yum.  Sweet & smokey corn, crunchy kale, juicy tomatoes.  Have I got you intrigued yet?  Head over to her blog to get all the details:

A dose of Paige:  Grilled sweet corn & kale salad

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Mexican Quinoa Bake

{keen-wah}

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I am assuming by now everyone has heard of quinoa.  It’s the new black of the grain world, even though some others are trying to stomp it out (barley, bulgur etc…)  I can’t really remember when I first tried it, but I know I liked it.  I mean, it really doesn’t taste like anything.  The little granules have a nice little crunch to them, but not that “ew this is a raw piece of rice” crunch.  They also allow sauces and spices to adhere well to the pieces therefore taking on great flavor.

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So like I said you probably heard the name quinoa, but do you know how great it is for your health?  No?  Well read on for some fun facts about the grain.

+  Did you know the grain is from the GOOSEFOOT species?

+  Quinoa is actually a seed.

+  The food  has earned it spot on the prestigious SuperFood list.

+  It is a great source of protein, containing all 9 essential amino acids

+  Gluten allergy? No worries here, quinoa in gluten-free.

When it comes to grains, I typically am grabbing the couscous off the shelves at the store.  Lately, I try to avoid carbs so rices and pastas haven’t made an appearance on my dinner plate.  However, after religiously documenting my food intake with My Fitness Pal I noticed my daily fiber being rather low.  After reading some articles, I decided that quinoa would be the best grain to add to my diet – high in fiber (keep me full longer), high in protein, and lower in calories.

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So be prepared to see the good old quinoa around this blog here often in upcoming posts.  First on the menu, Mexican Quinoa Bake.  Hearty enough for a meal or satisfying as a side dish served with tacos (leave out the black beans).  This casserole has a bit of a heated punch to it, but not too powerful. The quinoa absorbs the flavors and gives tremendous texture.

Mexican quinoa bake

Recipe By:  Sara
Servings:  6-8 [depending on entrée or side]   ///   Prep Time:  5 minutes   ///   Cook Time:  30 minutes

Ingredients:
1 cup dry quinoa
1 can Southwestern style dice tomatoes
2 Tbsp taco seasoning or 1 packet
1 small can of diced green chilis
1 cup frozen corn
4 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese + 1/4 cup for topping
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 can black beans, drained [optional]
sour cream, hot sauce

Directions:
1.  Bring 2 cups of water to a boil.  Add the quinoa and stir to combine.
2.  Reduce heat to a low simmer and cook covered for about 15-20 minutes or until the water is absorbed.
3.  In a casserole dish, combine the diced tomatoes, chilis, seasoning, corn, 4 oz. cheddar and beans if using.
4.  Add the cooked quinoa and cilantro, stirring everything together.
5.  Top with more shredded cheddar and a bit of the cilantro.
6.  Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
7.  Put on broiler and let cheese brown for about 30 seconds.
8.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream or hot sauce.

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