Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Southwestern Salad with Spicy Citrus Dressing

I made this salad during last week's heat streak. It's cool, crunchy, colorful, and quick. I like the flavor the lime zest adds, and the salad dressing is spicy and citrusy. The salad is great with or without the dressing. As always, you add as little or as much of the ingredients as you want; adjust to your taste. Other things to add that I didn't: jicama for crunch, diced mango for sweetness, chicken for protein. Options are endless!

Southwestern Salad
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can crispy sweet corn, drained and rinsed
1 (8 oz) can diced water chestnuts
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (a big handful)
1 jalapeƱo pepper, minced
1 - 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lime: juice and zest
Protein boost: add chopped cooked chicken!
  1. In a large tupperware bin, add ingredients. Place top on and shake to mix. Sprinkle with cumin powder if desired.
Spicy Citrus Dressing:
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. Combine ingredients in a small container with a tight-fitting lid. Shake until the salt dissolves.
  2. Pour over salad only right before serving. (So if you're eating the salad over a few days, put some salad on a plate and then dress. If you pour dressing over the salad then let it sit, the salad with go bad/get soggy sooner.)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Prosciutto & Goat Cheese Egg Casserole

It has been almost a month since I've written to you all - where did March go?! Spring break, midterms, and now nationals for swimming in Atlanta - it's a busy month. Thanks for being so patient; let me make it up to you with a super easy, gourmet tasting recipe: Prosciutto & Goat Cheese Egg Casserole. For those in Bloomington, I've got leftovers, so come and eat them.

My family came down to visit this weekend, and I wanted to treat them to a good breakfast. I'd been saving this recipe for the right occasion and this was it. Mom, Ali, and I love goat cheese, so I figured they'd like it. I thought Kev would be a tough sell, but he enjoyed it too. Dad said it reminded him more of a quiche than of Mom's egg casserole (which is a classic); this is more of a ladies' brunch meal. Everyone was happy. 

The mustard and basil lend aromatic touches to the saltiness and tang of the prosciutto and goat cheese. I served it with watermelon, which complemented the goat cheese well. It was a great big breakfast to keep us energized for our hike in Brown County - it was beautiful.

Also, the leftover ingredients will make a great salad - prosciutto, goat cheese, watermelon, basil - my mouth's watering already!

Prosciutto & Goat Cheese Egg Casserole
14 - 18 slices whole wheat (lite) English muffins
6oz prosciutto, thinly sliced
8 oz goat cheese, crumbled
8 oz shredded provolone or mozzarella
1/4 cup chopped green onions (about 2/3 of a bunch)
6 tablespoons fresh basil, sliced (two big handfuls)
Wet Ingredients
5 large eggs
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  1. Spray a 9"x13" baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Halve your dry ingredients into two piles as you'll be making two layers: 
    1. Line the bottom of your dish with English muffins, cutting the slices to fit if necessary. 
    2. Place the prosciutto slices evenly over the bread.
    3. Crumble the goat cheese and provolone, and layer half of each of the prosciutto. 
    4. Sprinkle with half of the green onions and basil.
    5. Repeat steps 2.1 - 2.4 for the second layer: bread, prosciutto, cheese, and greens.
  3. With the remaining English muffins, tear into 1/4" pieces and sprinkle over the top. They'll form a crust when baked.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together your wet ingredients (egg, milk, mustard, salt, pepper). 
  5. Pour the wet mixture evenly over the dry layers. Cover and let sit in fridge overnight.
  6. The next morning, preheat the oven to 350F. While it's preheating, uncover the egg bake and let it sit at room temperature.
  7. Bake until the center is set, about an hour.
  8. Serve with fruit (watermelon is a great choice!) and coffee. Enjoy (we did)!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sea Salt and Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies have been touched by God.
Seriously. God has blessed these cookies. We're talking divine cookies.

Sea salt. Dark Chocolate. Dash of vanilla. 
Heaven, melting straight from the oven. 
It took the utmost resistance to keep myself from eating the whole bowl of dough. And then from eating the entire batch of warm, gooey cookies as they cooled. In all honesty, next time I make them, I'll use a little less salt, or maybe fine sea salt instead of course sea salt. Either way. Your preference.
I know spring break is in a week and it's Lent so many of you are hating me right now for posting this recipe, but they're made with love for my wonderful friend, Lee, who just received an offer with Ingersoll Rand in North Carolina. Lee, I'm so happy for you--you deserve this more than anyone! So here are some cookies hahaha

Touch of God Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Bibberche
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 stick of cold butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 bar (4oz) Ghirardelli dark chocolate or bittersweet chocolate 60% cacao
  1. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix well.
  2. In a large bowl, place butter and sugars. Mix for three minutes on a low setting with an electric mixer. (I used a hand-held one and it was fine; I just mixed for a little longer.)
  3. Add the egg and the vanilla to the butter/sugar mixture, remaining on the low setting.
  4. Slowly and in batches add mix in the flour mixture until it is all just combined. 
  5. Taking the chocolate bar (still in the wrapper), smash it with the end of a spatula or other utensil. Be sure to hit it enough so that it will crumble into small pieces.
  6. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in the chocolate pieces. Place the dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F and clean up.
  7. Scoop rounds of dough and place them on two cookie sheets, ideally lined with parchment paper, leaving about two inches between each cookie.
  8. Bake the cookies at 350F for 10 - 14 minutes, rotating them at 6 minutes. 
  9. Once finished, let the cookies cool for several minutes on the cookie sheets before removing them.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Brown Sugar Broiled Grapefruit

I almost missed grapefruit season! Thankfully though, I got a craving before spring hit, so I can enjoy them for awhile yet. Grapefruit is one giant oxymoron: filling and light, tart and sweet, "grape" and citrus. Delicious and delicious. Oh wait...

When picking out citrus, I like to give the squeeze test. This works really well for the tarter fruit, like limes, lemons, and grapefruit. Don't choose them based on color or size as much as by how they feel. They should be firm yet giving; too squishy and they're bad, too hard and they won't be juicy or sweet. If in doubt, feel them all and choose the slightly more squishy than hard ones. 

Grapefruit is great raw and cool from the fridge, but I like to broil mine with a little sugar to warm it up and sweeten it. This is quick, easy, and great for those watching what they eat. Got to love winter fruit :)

Brown Sugar Broiled Grapefruit
1 grapefruit, halved
spoonful of brown sugar
  1. Set the oven to its broiler setting (high)
  2. Spread the brown sugar over the grapefruit.
  3. Make an aluminum foil bowl, set the grapefruit in it, and place on highest shelf in oven. 
  4. Broil, 5 - 7 minutes, caramelizing the sugar on top. 
  5. Enjoy as breakfast or as a side (approximately 78 calories per half)

Dijon Roasted...Brussels Sprouts?

As I write this blog, my arch enemy, brussels sprouts, are roasting away in the oven. (My computer just autocorrected me; who knew there were five s's in brussel*S* sprouts?) Back to the arch-enemy. I despise Brussels sprouts. Ick. My siblings and I would groan anytime Mom made them. Truth be told, Mom hated them too, but Dad likes them, so they randomly made an appearance at the table. It was always awful. 

But today, I'm giving them a chance. I recently saw a recipe that looked slightly appealing--crispy roasted sprouts in a lemon garlic dipping sauce. So I bought the brussels sprouts and have in the meantime lost the recipe. Nuts. So, we're skipping the garlic dipping sauce. And since I'm super skeptical about Brussels sprouts, I added a Dijon mustard sauce. I'll let you know the verdict...

...MOM, I'VE DONE IT. Brussels sprouts have been made that do not initiate the gag reflex. They're crispy and mustardy and don't taste like brussels sprouts. These are pretty darn good. I'll even make them again. 

Dijon Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Some Brussels Sprouts
Dijon mustard
Olive oil
Salt & pepper

  1. Acknowledge the fact that you are about to cook brussels sprouts and pledge to keep an open mind.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  3. Prepare the brussels sprouts by cutting off the stem and removing the dark, outer leaves. then quarter the sprouts into wedges.
  4. In a bowl, mix together Dijon mustard and olive oil, keeping the ratio about 2:1 (in favor of the olive oil). I used a cereal spoon and did two big scoops of Dijon and about four of the olive oil. 
  5. Stir in the sprouts wedges until well-coated. Spread in one layer, cut-side down, on a cookie sheet or roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Bake at 400 for roughly 15 minutes. Hopefully you'll be surprised (and satisfied) with the taste!
Okay, so they still look gross. They're brussels sprouts. I'm no miracle worker.