Prosciutto Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Smokey Cheese

There are two people in the world who I think appreciate wine and cheese as much as I do: my sister and my friend Sara.

This past week, I was visiting my sister before I start a new job tomorrow (wish me luck!).  We did wedding things and of course there was wine and cheese.  One night, while enjoying some wine with cheese and prosciutto, we had a great idea.

Let’s put it all together with dates, because dates are always a good idea (and Jesse’s mom loves to give us boxes of dates and we love it).

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Smoked cheddar. Dates. Prosciutto. 

Awesome flavor combos.

Normally, I’m all for bacon wrapped dates, but I think I actually prefer prosciutto for a few reason:

  1. It’s thinner.  Someones I feel like the bacon can be so thick that you have to bake it forever and your risk the date getting charred.  Sometimes the bacon also overpowers the dates and filling.  This is the perfect balance.
  2. Less baking time.  Prosciutto doesn’t need to be cooked.  So you put it in the oven long enough for the cheese to melt and the prosciutto to get a little bit crispy (about 10 minutes).

This is really a non-recipe.  I can’t tell you exactly how much cheese I put in each date, because each date is different but here’s roughly what you’ll need.

Trust me, you’ll want to make these for your next wine and cheese party.

Prosciutto Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Smokey Cheese

Medjool dates, washed and pitted
Smoked Cheese (such as smoked cheddar, smoked gouda, this time I used smoked cheddar with caramelized onion from Trader Joe’s)
Prosciutto or Jamon Serrano (I tried with both and both were great)

Pre-heat oven to 400F.  Pit your dates by cutting a small slit down the side, then pulling out the pit.  Where the pit was, slide in little chunks of cheese then pinch the date back together.  Next take some prosciutto and wrap it around each date.  I used about half a slice for each date.

Lay on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and prosciutto is crispy.

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Serve with wine and enjoy!

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Hatch Chile Spaghetti Squash and Cheese

You know how everyone has certain staples that they keep in their pantries?  I feel like for most people that’s things like canned tomatoes, pasta sauce, pasta. Basics that you can use to throw together a meal pretty quickly.

For me, it’s canned beans and tuna.  Classy. I know.

I rarely ever buy pasta.  It’s one of those things I just don’t even think to buy.  But I’m human and I love mac and cheese.  Sometimes I want that cheesy goodness, but I don’t feel like going to the store to buy pasta.

So I’ll be honest.  This is one of those things I threw together because I haven’t been to the grocery store in almost two weeks (I know, how am I surviving right?).  Spaghetti squash will last a good while on the counter, and I roasted some hatch chiles that Melissa’s Produce sent me a week ago, so we’re good to go.  But don’t worry, just because I threw this together with ingredients on hand, doesn’t mean it’s not delicious.  I’ve been eager to use those hatch chiles and this was seriously delicious.

I think you’ll love it!

hatchspaghettisquashandcheesetextHatch Chile Spaghetti Squash and Cheese

1 spaghetti squash
1 tbsp olive oil
2 fully cooked sausages, diced (optional)
2 tbsp flour
2 cups milk
2 cups cheese
2 hatch chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Poke holes in your spaghetti squash with a sharp knife and microwave for 5-10 minutes.  The cook time will vary depending on the size of your spaghetti squash.  You’ll know it’s ready when you can run your knife through it fairly easily.

While your spaghetti squash is cooking, heat oil in a large pot.  Once oil is hot, add sausage and brown until crispy on medium/high heat.  Once the sausage is browned, turn the heat down to low and add flour.  Toss with sausage and let it brown a minute or two.  Slowly stream in milk while whisking, breaking up any clumps in the process.  Once the milk is incoporated, add cheese and hatch chiles.  Stir until cheese is melted, taste and season with salt and pepper to your desired amount (I only added a few pinches because I don’t like things too salty).  Turn off heat and set aside.

Now go back to your spaghetti squash.  By now it should be cooked and cool enough to handle.  Slice in half, then spoon out the seeds.  Using a fork, fluff and pull out the strands of the squash.  Add the spaghetti squash to cheese sauce and stir until well combined.  Garnish with extra cheese and hatch chiles if you’d like then serve and enjoy!

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The spaghetti squash I used was enormous.  I’ll be eating this for a few days, but no complaints there.  This has an awesome kick from the hatch chiles, but it’s cooled by the creamy, cheesy sauce.  You can also easily make this vegetarian by omitting the sausage (or using vegetarian sausage).

What I also love about spaghetti squash dishes (oh hey, remember the Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Squash I made a while back?), is that it doesn’t feel too heavy. While I’m not claiming that this is healthy, I feel a little bit better about eating it than a full plate of pasta.  I think you could make this a bit healthier by reducing the amount of cheese and adding some greens in there.  We all need a little more kale in our life.  I’ll try throwing some in there next time.

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I’ll definitely make this again!

What are some of your pantry staples?

Tomato and Ricotta Salad

I’m currently having a love affair with full fat ricotta cheese.

It has to be a full fat thing, because I’ve had ricotta before, but none as delicious as this.  It’s just the regular whole milk ricotta from Trader Joe’s. Nothing fancy.  Usually, I buy part-skim, but this time all I could find was full fat.

That was the best thing that could have happened.

Now I’m obsessed with ricotta.  I want to put it on everything.  In fact, I have been putting it on everything lately, but this is my favorite combination:

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  It makes for the perfect appetizer or light meal.  It goes great with wine and doesn’t weigh you down.  You can probably go dancing after eating this and feel great. TomatoRicottaSalad1

Tomato and Ricotta Salad

2 tomatoes, sliced
2 tbsp (or more) ricotta cheese
2 tsp Chipotle Olive Oil*
1 wedge lemon
salt/pepper to taste

Slice tomatoes, top with ricotta, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Drizzle with chipotle olive oil and finish with a squirt of lemon juice.

Serve and enjoy!

*I got my olive oil from Antica Olive Oil.  If you don’t have Chipotle Olive oil on hand, I would recommend extra virgin olive oil with some crushed red pepper flakes or chipotle powder.  If you’re not a fan of heat, your favorite olive oil will work.

I loved everything about this.  I had it for dinner this past Friday (before a fun flamenco show), then again on Saturday night and then for lunch on Sunday.  What can I say? I know what I like!

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I’m definitely making this for my next gathering.  It’s easy, fresh, delicious and super easy to scale up or down depending on how many guests you have. It also goes great on bread if you’re looking for finger foods!

 

What’s your favorite way to eat ricotta?  After this Lemon Ricotta Cake, this tomato/ricotta combo might my favorite!

Spicy Black Bean and Kale Grilled Cheese

So a few weeks ago I told you about how Green Mountain Mustard sent me some of their mustard for me to try.  I originally proposed to make a grilled cheese sandwich and then stumbled upon the epic idea that became my German Nachos(ish).  But ever since, I’ve been thinking about how delicious their mustard is, because really it is, and how I NEED to make a grilled cheese with it.  But not just any grilled cheese, an amazing one and so I finally did.

Yesterday, all I could think about was grilled cheese, and since it was Meatless Monday, why not make something epically delicious to show the world how wonderful meatless can be.

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I mean. Can we take a minute and observe the cheesy goodness?

 

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Now I’m going to have to come clean with you.  I probably ate this in about 3 minutes.  I didn’t have a stop watch, but before I knew it, it was gone.  I think that’s a good sign.  Then my mouth was a little bit on fire, because this mustard is straight up PICANTE.  If you’re a fan of spice, you’re going to love this.  If spicy isn’t your thing, it’s cool.  We can still be friends, use regular mustard, or skip it.

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Spicy Black Bean and Kale Grilled Cheese

1 tbsp onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 tbsp cilantro finely chopped
1 kale leaf, veined and chopped
1/3 cup black beans, cooked

1/4 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tbsp butter, softened
2 slices of whole wheat bread*
1 tbsp Barn Burner, Red Habanero Mustard

2 slices sharp white cheddar

Grease small skillet and turn on to medium heat.  Add onion, bell pepper, and kale.  Sautee a few minutes until soft.  Add black beans, cilantro, cumin and salt and pepper.  Cook a few minutes then transfer to plate.  Using a fork, mash beans lighly and set aside.

 

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(Note: I didn’t fit all of this in the sandwich so I just ate it on it’s own and it’s delicious. The end.)

Spread bread with butter and turn over then spread with mustard.  Lay 1 slice of cheese on each side (on the mustard side, since you’ll be grilling the buttered side).  Spread one side with black bean mixture and put the sandwich together.

Place sandwich on griddle heated to low.  Cook a few minutes until golden, flip and cook a few more minutes until golden and cheese is melted.  Remember when it comes to grilled cheese, slow and steady wins the race.  In case you forgot here are my tips for fabulous grilled cheese.

 

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Serve immediately and slice if desired.

*Note: I got my bread at Black Market Bakery. If you’re in OC, try it! Amazingly delicious, fluffy and fresh! Also free of preservatives!

This combo was amazingly delicious.  Obviously I’m biased, because I LOOOOOVE black beans, but you should definitely give this a shot.  I think this would be even more amazing dipped into sour cream, because who doesn’t love dipping sandwiches in sauces?

Please also note that if you decided to add bacon and avocado to this, I wouldn’t judge you.

If I could, I would invite you all over for this spicy black bean grilled cheese, but since we’re far away, make it and tell me if you love it.  How does that sound?

What’s your favorite grilled cheese combo?

German Nachos (ish): Baked Fries with Sauerkraut, Sausage and Muenster Cheese Sauce

I love mustard.  No really.  Like a lot.  For as long as I can remember, mustard has been one of my favorite condiments.  Even the cheap yellow mustard you get on Subway sandwiches (no mayo, extra mustard please).  I love it.  It adds such a nice flavor profile to most foods.

But fancy mustard, that’s a whole different ball game.

Recently, I got in touch with the guys at Green Mountain Mustard.  They make fancy pants mustard, but in the least pretentious way possible.

But anyway, these guys know mustard.  They sent me two jars of their mustard so I could make an EPIC grilled cheese sandwich.  While the grilled cheese sandwich is still  in the works, I had this idea and had to make it asap.  It involved one of the mustard flavors they sent me: Deli Dirt.  Their Deli Dirt tastes like all the goodness of a deli put into one little jar, and this mustard is THICK.  It’s basically the consistency of hummus, which is awesome.

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I’m in love.  And thus, this creation was born:

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One of the things that I love about mustard is that it adds a ton of flavor to food without a ton of fat (or calories).  You know I like to make things as light as I can.  So while this looks fatty and decadent, it’s a little bit lighter than you would think (please note, I’m not actually saying this is healthy, but it’s better than eating something deep fried). mustardfries3

Oh and I should probably mention that I had no idea what to call this.  I couldn’t really call it a “Pile of Deliciousness,” which is what it is.  So instead I thought of a more Pinterest-friendly name: German Nachos (ish).  Ish is a really important qualifier here.  Enjoy.

German Nachos (ish): Baked Fries with Sauerkraut, Sausage and Muenster Cheese Sauce

3 large potatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Deli Dirt mustard
1 sausage (bratwurst are tasty. true story.), sliced
1/2-1 cup sauerkraut
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp Deli Dirt Mustard
1 cup milk (I used non-fat)
3 oz Muenster cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 425F.  Slice potatoes into fry shape.

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Toss with 2 tbsp of olive oil and 1 tbsp of Deli Dirt.  Sprinkle with salt and lay on a cooling rack that is placed over a baking sheet.

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This will help your fries get crisp all around and keep the bottoms from burning.  Bake 30-40 minutes or until fries are golden and crispy (start checking them after about 30 minutes, since everyone’s oven is different and you might have cut yours thinner than mine).  While your fries bake up, have a dance party.  This is not optional.

10 minutes before your fries are ready to go (aka 20 or so minutes after you put them in the oven), brown your sausage in a pan and set aside.  Then make your cheese sauce.

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Melt butter in a sauce pan, add flour and stir together.  Cook for 2 minutes or until golden.  Stream in milk very slowly while whisking to break up any clumps that form.  Once you’ve added all the milk and whisked smooth.  Whisk in the mustard and cheese.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Now assemble.  Lay some fries on a plate.  Top with sauerkraut (you’ll note in the recipe I said 1/2-1 cup, because I love sauerkraut and ended up adding a ton more after I photographed, but if you don’t care for it as much, add less) and sausage, then drizzle with cheese sauce.  Serve immediately.

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This recipe will serve 2-4 people.  Confession: Jesse and I devoured the entire thing.  I don’t feel guilty.

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The perfect bite will include a bit of potato, sauerkraut and sausage.  I promise it’s delicious.  If you wanted to keep this low carb, I bet this would be delicious if you replaced the potatoes with spaghetti squash.  Ok, I might have to try that ASAP.

I can’t wait to try more recipes with this awesome mustard.  Don’t worry, grilled cheese is coming soon!

Do you love mustard? What’s your condiment of choice?

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

I’m thinking of changing my blog subtitle to:  A blog about balancing health with a constant desire to eat cake.

Because that’s really what it’s about.  I love baking and making deliciously fatty food, but I spend the better portion of my life trying to figure out how to be healthy and fit.  It seems like the two just don’t go together, but I think I’m making it work and this is a prime example.

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It’s not “skinny” anything.  It’s Cauliflower Pizza.

I’ve been seeing Cauliflower Pizza crusts all over the internet for a while.  Cauliflower is slowly becoming the new Kale.   You know, the healthy thing that we all need to be eating all the time.  I still eat kale all the time, but I’m seriously enjoying finding new ways to cook with cauliflower.  Let’s let this food trend continue!

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Cauliflower Pizza

12 oz cauliflower (1 bag from Trader Joe’s), grated
1/2 cup percorino romano cheese, finely grated
2 eggs
salt and pepper to taste1/3-1/2 cup pizza/pasta sauce
1 cup Monterrey Jack Cheese, grated
Toppings: Caramelized Onions, Sausage, Any other toppings

Pre-heat oven to 425F.

In a bowl, mix together grated cauliflower, percorino romano, eggs salt and pepper.  Press onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Try to get it as thin as you can so the pizza turns out nice and crisp.  Bake about 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden.

cauliflower pizza

Remove from oven, spread with pasta sauce, then sprinkle with cheese and desired toppings.  I used pre-cooked sausage, caramelized onions, and artichokes.  Put back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes or until your pizza is nice and crispy and golden!

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Allow to cool a few minutes.  Then serve and enjoy! This recipe makes one large pizza.

I was a fan of this.  But let’s be clear.  Just like the two-ingredient paleo pancake DOESN’T actually taste like a pancake, this isn’t REALLY like pizza.  That said, it’s still super tasty!

Jesse and I agreed it really does taste like cauliflower and egg, which we were pleased with.  I think if I had pressed it more thinly throughout, it would have tasted better because the crispy edges were awesome!

So be sure to press it really thin when you try this!

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I definitely want to try making this again.  Next time I think I’ll do caramelized onions, goat cheese with prosciutto and arugula.  Sounds awesome right?  This is a good template recipe that you can adapt to fit basically any flavor profile, while staying a little bit healthier.

What would you put on your cauliflower pizza?