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:

TomatoRicottaSaladtext

  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!

TomatoRicottaSalad3

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!

Advertisements

Eggplant Rolls with Goat Cheese

In the past week, I flew to New Jersey, drove to New York, prepared for a wedding, went to a wedding, drove back to New Jersey, took a plane back to California with a stop in Chicago, then drove from Orange county to Riverside for a graduation.

On Sunday, I was in 4 different states all in one day.  It was amazingly busy but totally worth it.   The wedding I went to was fantastic.

saragabecar2It was my friend Sara’s wedding.  You might know her as the Biscotti Queen.  She’s the lady who taught me to make biscotti, so clearly it was a wedding I couldn’t miss.   Their wedding was one of the most fun and unique weddings I’ve ever been to.

There was no assigned seating (or even enough tables for everyone to sit at), instead you mingled around, stood at cocktail tables, sat around fire pits, in adirondack chairs and generally enjoyed the company of great people.

Instead of a sit down dinner, the night was filled with amazing appetizers and desserts.  I thoroughly enjoyed the smores.

IMG_4297One of the many appetizers served was Eggplant Rollatini, perfect given Sara’s very Italian family.  As I was looking through my photos of the wedding mixed with some photos of foods I made before heading to New York, I realized that the day before I left I unknowingly made my own non-Italian version of Eggplant Rollatini.

I won’t call it Eggplant Rollatini, because it’s not exactly the same.  I’ll call it Eggplant Rolls with Goat Cheese

eggplantrollstext

Eggplant Rolls with Goat Cheese

1 eggplant
1/4 tsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste
4-6 oz goat cheese
1 tbsp capers
4 tbsp fresh chopped herbs (I used basil, oregano and sage)
1 can diced tomatoes, with juices
1/3 red bell pepper
1/2 a small onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 Tbsp olive oil (plus more for brushing eggplant or use cooking spray)

Pre-heat oven to 400F.  Slice eggplant lengthwise into thin slices.  Lay on a baking sheet, spray with cooking spray or brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt pepper, and paprika.  Bake for 7 minutes, flip then bake for another 7-8 minutes.  Remove from oven, turn oven down to 350F.

In the meantime, make your sauce.  In a blender, blend together tomatoes, red bell pepper, onion, garlic and 3 tbsp fresh herbs.  Add salt and pepper if you like (I only added pepper since I used canned tomatoes).

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large skillet, add sauce.  Cook for 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally while you prepare the rest of your eggplant.

eggplantbaked

In a bowl, mix together goat cheese, capers, and 1 tbsp of herbs.  Once your eggplant is cool enough to handle, lay some of the goat cheese filling on the eggplant then roll and place seamside down into the sauce.  Repeat until you’ve rolled all your eggplant (you might have some left over filling which I like to sprinkle on top after baking).

Bake for another 10-15 minutes, sprinkle with remaining goat cheese/herb filling and serve.  One eggplant (depending on the size) should serve 2-3 as a main dish.

eggplantrolls2This eggplant was totally different from the one at the wedding, but in my opinion equally delicious.  Let’s be honest, anything with goat cheese is amazing and I love lightening up heavy dishes like this.   I should also note it passed the taste taste from Jesse and my co-worker from New Jersey.

That totally makes it legit, and now it has an amazing memory of an awesome wedding attached to it.

Overall, the travel and craziness of the weekend were totally worth it.  I got to visit an amazing friend, see a few others (although I missed a few friends I didn’t get to see), and was so happy to be a part of a wonderful couple’s special day.

I have so many other things to tell you about.  What do you want to hear about next? An AMAZING salad?  More about this wedding? Do you need a dessert in your life?  Tell me!

Chipotle Fish Tacos

Cinco de Mayo just happened.  You’re probably tired of Mexican food, but let’s be honest Corona and Guacamole don’t really qualify as Mexican food.  That doesn’t really qualify as food.  That’s a snack.

And it’s Tuesday.  Taco Tuesday.  How about some tacos?

assembletacotext

Trust me.  You need these tacos in your life.

I remember the first time I ate these tacos.  Jesse made them for me, pretty early on in our relationship, and I was skeptical.  But I swear it was love at first bite.  I’m talking about the tacos here.

fishtaco2

Ever since that first time, I’ve probably had them a dozen times with a million variations: shrimp, chicken, etc.

But these are the best.

Chipotle Fish Tacos

3 pieces of tilapia, cut into small pieces
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 an onion, diced
1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro
Juice of 1/2 lime
salt and pepper
1-2 cups cabbage, thinly sliced
1 diced tomato
1/4 cup mayo
1 tbsp sriracha*
a few lime wedges
1 avocado sliced
6 tortillas

Heat oil in the pan.  Add 1/4 of onion (so you’ll have 1/4 of onion left for putting on the tacos) and cook for a few mins.   Add fish and chipotle (depending on how hot you want it use 1-2 or more, for less spice just use the adobo sauce, not the chile itself), cook for a few minutes until fish is no longer translucent.  Stir in juice of 1/2 lime, about a tablespoon of cilantro and season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

taco ingredients2

Stir together sriracha and mayo.  Thin out with some lime juice or water.  Depending on how spicy you like it, the ratio of sriracha to mayo  might be different for you.  Add a bit, try it and add more if you’d like.

Now you can start assembling your tacos (this recipe will make about 6 tacos).  Heat up your tortillas.  Start by laying some fish in the center.

assembletaco1

Then you add your ingredients of choice.  We like to have it all on a plate at the table and assemble as we go.

taco ingredients

Lay on the cabbage, tomato, onion, cilantro and avocado.

assembletaco2

Then drizzle with sriracha mayo.  Squirt with a wedge of lime and devour.

fishtaco1

That’s exactly what I do.  I devour these, because they’re amazing.

Happy Taco Tuesday!  What’s your favorite kind of taco?

I love fish tacos, but I think shrimp tacos are my favorite.

Brie Tomato Basil Grilled Cheese Sandwich and My Top 5 Tips for the Perfect Grilled Cheese

So remember when I finished the Paleo Challenge, I learned I needed to eat actual meals instead of snacks for dinner?

Well I’m trying to get better at that.  I’ve been trying to incorporate more salads into my dinners, like the Roasted Beet Asparagus and Arugula salad in my last post.   But today and yesterday were long days.  I’ve been stressed and I’ve had a headache since I woke up today.

To remedy all that, I did two things:

1. Went to the Good Will

Thrift shops in Orange County aren’t as cheap in the song, nor are they as cheap as they were in Central NY.  But I still managed a few good finds.

thriftfinds

A tart pan for $2.50, a lovely oval shaped plate for $4.99 (over-priced in my opinion) and a cake plate for $2.50.  I also managed to find a rotating cake stand that will be great for frosting cakes.

2.  Grilled Cheese

brietomatoebasilgrilledcheese3

Let’s be more specific.  Brie Tomato Basil Grilled Cheese.

Now don’t get me wrong, traditional caprese with mozzarella is lovely, but seriously.  This sandwich is out of this world.

Last week someone asked me for tips on a good grilled cheese.  Obviously it’s all a questions of taste but here are…

My Top 5 Tips for Making the Perfect Grilled Cheese

1. Good Bread.  If your bread sucks, your grilled cheese will too.  Don’t you dare you sliced white bread.  Invest in some good bread.  I used Trader Joe’s Italian Bread.  Tasty enough.  Orange County is seriously lacking in good bread bakeries.

2. Make sure there’s cheese on both sides of the bread.  If you’re putting something other than just cheese, you need to make sure the cheese is on both sides.  The cheese is the binding agent.  If you don’t have it on both sides, it’ll all fall apart.

3.  Use Real Butter.  If you’re going to make a grilled cheese, now’s not the time to be healthy by avoiding butter.  No.  You’re choosing to make grilled cheese.  If you wanted a healthy meal, you’d make a salad.  Use butter.  It makes your bread golden, toasty and delicious.  Don’t skimp.

4. Mustard.  Unless you’re making a grilled cheese sandwich with some sort of jam, mustard almost always makes a grilled cheese taste better.  Cheese and mustard just go together.  I’m not talking about yellow mustard.  I’m talking tasty dijon-style mustard or the kind with the wonderful mustard seeds in it.  If you hate mustard, you can ignore this comment.  But if you like mustard, trust me.  Give it a try.

5. Low and slow.  Don’t turn the flame on high! Heat your pan to medium/low.  It might take a few minutes for it to get golden and for the cheese to melt, but that’s way better than a burnt piece of bread with hard cheese in the middle.  Be patient.  It’ll be tastier.

That’s pretty much there is to it.  Oh and if you use sliced Kraft American Cheese or Velveeta… You’re dead to me

Brie Tomato Basil Grilled Cheese

2 slices of amazingly tasty bread of your choice
a big pat of butter
1-2 oz brie, sliced (keep the rind! it’s tasty!)
3-4 tomato slices
1-2 basil leaves, chopped

Spread each slice of bread with butter on one side.  On the other side, layer cheese tomatoes and basil.  I try not to use too much cheese because brie is pretty strong, so I put half the cheese on one side and the bread and the other half on the opposite half of the other piece (does that make any sense?  See the pic below)

brietomatoebasilgrilledcheese2

Heat pan to medium/low heat.  Place sandwich, butter side down on pan.  Cook about 3 minutes per side or until golden all around and cheese in the center has melted.

brietomatoebasilgrilledcheese1

Serve with a bowl of soup and enjoy!  I had it with a bowl of Trader Joe’s Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato soup.  Tastiest soup from a box ever.  I promise!

Added bonus: This month is National Grilled Cheese Month.  I have no idea who decided that but I support, and so should you.  Eat Grilled Cheese Today!

P.S. Dunking is encouraged.

brietomatoebasilgrilledcheese4

Roasted Beet, Asparagus and Arugula Salad

As much as I advocate cake and pie eating, I really want you to eat vegetables too.

Lots of vegetables.

They’re good for you.  Sometimes sugar and butter need to take a back seat and we need to have something good for you.  Like this salad.

Salad1

Roasted Beet, Asparagus and Arugula Salad

2-3 fresh beets
3-5 cups arugula1/2 lb asparagus, cut into 1″ pieces
1 tomato, sliced
2 oz goat cheese
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp honey
2 tsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
fresh chopped parsley (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 400F.  Thoroughly wash beets, then wrap beets in aluminum foil.  Place on a baking sheet and bake for 45 mins to 1 hour, or until tender.  Allow to cool.  Peel and slice. (Note: You can roast a bunch of beets and once and store them in the fridge for about a week in the roasting foil.  Peel and slice when you’re ready to serve them)

Steam asparagus for about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and rinse with cold water.  Set aside. (You can do this while the beets roast, or you can plan your next vacation)

Make dressing by mixing together balsamic vinegar, olive oil, honey, dijon mustard, salt and pepper.  Whisk until well combined.

Lastly, assemble the salad.  Start with a bed of arugula, layer on the tomatoes, asparagus, beets and goat cheese.  Drizzle with dressing and serve!  This salad will feed 2 very hungry people or 4 as a side salad.

Salad2

Eat it up!

Cóctel de Camarón: Shrimp! Yes, Please!

So today, was a crazy day.  Ok it totally wasn’t crazy.  I was just exhausted.  I somehow had the bright idea of going to crossfit twice in a 12 hour time span…  I hurt real bad right now. I don’t recommend it.  Give yourself at least 24 hours between workouts.  It’s a good idea.

But work outs aside, today was a bizarre day for me in terms of personal realizations.  Way back when, I used to use SparkPeople to track calories, but I hadn’t logged in for almost a year.  So this morning, I randomly did…

I saw my last log in was after I got back from Italy where I ate my weight (and then some) in Nutella, Pasta and Gelato for nearly 6 months.  Since then, I’ve lost 18 pounds.  That’s kind of a lot on someone who is only 5’3″

I guess getting back home, eating normal meals and exercising a few times a week served me well (even if Paleo didn’t…).

So in honor of the fact that my butt (among other things) shrank, let me tell you about an actual meal (as much as I love cake, it’s not a meal) that is more or less balanced, light and delicious too.

cocteldecamaron2

I would consider this to be moderately healthy.  Depending on what you serve with it that is…

cocteldecamaron3

It involves shrimp, tomatoes, onions and a few splashes of (unhealthy) secret ingredients:

ingredients

Cóctel de Camarón

3 cloves of garlic
1/2 onion, diced
1 lb Shrimp, peel on
2 cups clamato
1-2 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp orange soda
2-3 limes
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Salt
1 Avocado, sliced
Tostadas, for serving

In a blender (I used my magic bullet), blend together 1/4 of an onion  (reserve remaining diced onion) and 3 garlic cloves with some water.  Once it’s smooth, add to a sauce pan.  Fill with water until about 2-3 inches from the top.  Add some salt (or a pinch of bouillon) and bring to a boil.  In the meantime, rinse your shrimp and place in a metal mesh strainer.

Cook shrimp in the broth by dipping the strainer into the broth, like this…

shrimpbroth

Once the shrimp is cooked (pink all over, be careful to not overcook), place in a bowl over some ice.  You might have to do this in batches.

Next take about 2 cups of the cooking broth and place in a large bowl.

ingredients2

Add about 2 cups of clamato, ketchup, lime juice and orange soda.   Be careful, it’s a science.  Taste it along the way to see how it is.

mixingingredients

Stir it all together and set aside.  Next peel your shrimp (alternatively you could peel your shrimp before cooking then put the skins in the broth to help give it more flavor).  Now you’re ready to assemble.

shrimp

Start by putting a good amount of diced tomato (1/2 cup?), onions, cilantro and Serrano chili in your bowl.  Then add the shrimp and avocado.  Last pour the broth/clamato mixture over your shrimp.  You want a good amount in there because it gives it great flavor.

cocteldecamaron

From there, you’re pretty much ready to go.  But don’t forget one important thing…

pacifico

A beer.  Because life is all about balance and a cold beer tastes great with this dish.

Serve with tostadas, extra lime, salt and hot sauce (optional).  This will serve 2-3 people.

cocteldecamaron1

Whoever said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach as probably right, but they forgot that the way to a woman’s heart is the same direction.  I wish I could take credit for this, but I can’t.  It was made entirely by an awesome boyfriend who makes ridiculously tasty things.

He makes me generally healthy meals, while I make him cookies and pies.

Clearly, a little bit of both is necessary.  Eat some shrimp and vegetables, as well as some cookies and wine.

What was the last healthy meal you had?