Friday, April 4, 2014

Pickled Beet-Goat Cheese Tart + Giveaway!

I was recently asked to review a new pie-themed cookbook, Teeny's Tour of Pie. I am a big pie-lover, so I jumped at the chance.  My favorite thing about this cookbook is that it contains recipes for some really unique pies...I am the sort of person with a million cookbooks on my shelf, so I don't really need yet another recipe for pumpkin pie.  You'll certainly find some of the classics in here, if that's what you're looking for, but there are also unusual flavor combinations that you can't find elsewhere.  A few that caught my eye were green chile apple pie with cheddar cheese crust, sweet roasted almond pie, grapefruit-pomegranate pie, and chai cream pie.  And, of course, this pickled beet-goat cheese tart.

This is one of those recipes with a lot of elements, but you will be so happy when you sit down and take a bite!  Luckily, many of the elements can either be made ahead, or (gasp!) purchased.  I made the beets a couple of days ahead, and ended up purchasing the candied walnuts at Trader Joe's.  You could also buy the beets (just make sure you get something high quality, like these from Happy Girl -- you wouldn't want to make this with cheap canned beets) or even the crust if you're feeling short on time.

Once you've got all the elements made (or purchased), they all get layered together into an amazing combination of flavors.  I thought this pie sounded good when I read the recipe, but I was still blown away at how tasty it was!  Even my somewhat anti-beet fiance liked it.  The combination of pickle-y beets, creamy goat cheese, sweet onions, crunchy walnuts, and a buttery crust is simply divine.

And, it is your lucky day, because I have a copy of Teeny's Tour of Pies to give away to one of my readers!  Simply comment below with your favorite kind of pie (either sweet or savory) to be entered to win -- U.S. mailing addresses only, please.  Make sure you leave your contact info so that I can get in touch with you if you are the winner.  Thank you so much to Food Lion for generously sponsoring this giveaway...I know you are going to love this cookbook as much as I do!  Give them some love on Facebook if you are so inclined.  I will announce the winner next week, along with another yummy pie from Teeny.

Pickled Beet-Goat Cheese Tart (adapted from Teeny's Tour of Pies)
Serves 4

For the beets:
1 to 1-1/4 pound beets
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 T apple cider vinegar
1-1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Scrub and trim the beets, but don't peel.  Place in a large saucepan, and cover with water by 1 inch.  Bring to a boil, and cook until tender, about 20-30 minutes (depending on the size of the beets).  Let them cook, and then slip off the skins under running water and slice thinly.  Whisk together the vinegars, sugar, and salt in a bowl, and then add the beets and very gently stir to combine.  Let sit in the fridge,covered, at least 3 hours before using.

For the crust:
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 T sugar
6 T cold butter, cut into small pieces
2 T cold vegetable shortening
2 T cold vodka
1/4 cup cold water, and more as needed

Whisk together the flours, salt, and sugar.  Cut in the butter and shortening using a pastry cutter or two knives, until the larges pieces of butter are the size of peas.  Sprinkle in the vodka, and stir together with a fork.  Sprinkle in the water, a tablespoon at a time, stirring with a fork after each addition.  You may need to use a rubber spatula or your hands at the end -- the goal is a fairly sticky ball that holds together well.  You may need to add more or less flour.  For the ball into a flat disk, wrap in plastic, and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour before using.

For the candied walnuts:
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup walnuts

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and line a baking sheet with foil.  Whisk together the sugars and salt in a medium bowl.  Add 2 T water, and whisk until smooth.  Add the walnuts, and stir until evenly coated.  Spread evenly onto the prepared baking sheet, and bake until the sugar begins to brown, about 20 minutes.  Let cool.

For the caramelized onions:
Olive oil
1/2 medium red onion, peeled and very thinly sliced

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the oil, and let it heat up for a couple of minutes.  When the oil is hot, add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized.  This should take 15-20 minutes.  Let cool until warm or room temperature.

To assemble:
Flour, to roll out the crust
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbed

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment.  Roll out the chilled crust into a 12-inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick, using a little flour to keep the dough from sticking.  Transfer the crust to the parchment-lined baking sheet.

Arrange the beets on the crust, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges.  You might not use all the beets -- basically, you want a single layer with some edges overlapping and no gaps.  Scatter the onions and goat cheese on top of the beets.

Fold up the edge of the crust so that it slightly overlaps the filling.  Bake 30-40 minutes, until the crust is cooked through and the cheese is browned.  Sprinkle with the candied walnuts and serve.  Leftovers are great at room temperature the next day.

I was provided with a complimentary copy of this cookbook for review purposes.  All opinions and recipe-testing are my own.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Chicken Enchilada Mac and Cheese

I am kind of obsessed with this macaroni and cheese.  It's one of those dishes that is just total comfort food.  You've got all the ingredients of mac and cheese, with chili powder, salsa, and chicken mixed in.  Not the prettiest dish, but it sure is delicious!  You could also add some bell pepper or another veggie to make this a little more balanced, although sometimes a big bowl of cheese and pasta is just what one needs.  :)

A few notes: This dish will be quicker if you start with cooked chicken.  I cooked up a couple of extra chicken breasts when preparing a chicken dish earlier in the week, which worked well.  You could also use rotissere chicken.  Another important thing to keep in mind is that the sauce will look really gross when you are making it...salsa, spices, scallions, and chicken broth all mixed together just do not look very pretty.  Don't the time you add the cheese, chicken, and pasta, everything will come together and be totally yummy!

Chicken Enchilada Mac and Cheese (adapted from Food Netowrk Magazine
Serves 4

12 ounces dried macaroni
3 T butter, divided
1 bunch scallions, chopped
2 tsp chili powder
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup prepared salsa
1/4 cup flour
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
1-1/4 cups milk
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend
2 cups cubed or shredded cooked chicken

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the macaroni, and cook until al dente.  Drain and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, make the sauce. Melt 1 T of the butter in a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the scallions, chili powder, 1 tsp salt, and a few grinds of pepper.  Cook, stirring, 2 minutes.  Add the salsa, and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes, until the scallions are softened.
3. Reduce the heat to medium, and add the remaining 2 T butter.  Stir to melt the butter, and the sprinkle in the flour.  Cook, stirring, until a paste forms, about 1 minute.
4. Gradually whisk in the broth, followed by the milk.  Work slowly to prevent lumps of flour from forming.  I'm not going to lie - the mixture is going to look pretty gross at this point, but have faith -- it will be delicious in the end!
5. Once all the liquid is added, bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 6 minutes.
6. Add the cheese, and whisk until just melted.  Then add the macaroni and the cooked chicken, and stir to combine well.  Cook for another 3-5 minutes or so, stirring often, until everything is heated through.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Oatmeal-Date Muffins

We picked up some dates at the farmer's market, and I used them in these tasty muffins.  These muffins are kind of like portable oatmeal, stuffed full of rolled oats and dates, and with a cinnamon-brown sugar topping. Yum! The topping is what really makes these muffins special, so don't skip it.  Even with the extra step, the muffins are really easy to put together, even in the morning when you might not have had coffee yet.  I often find low-fat muffins don't keep too well, but these did, so you can make a batch and stash them in an air-tight container for breakfast all week.

Oatmeal-Date Muffins (adapted from More-With-Less, via The Kitchn)
Makes 10-12 muffins

1 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 T baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup dates, chopped
1 cup milk
1/4 cup olive oil
1 egg, beaten

For the topping
2 T brown sugar
2 T flour
1 T olive oil
1 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat the oven to 425.  Grease a muffin tin, or line with paper muffin cups and spray with a little oil.  (Because these muffins are low in fat, it's important to grease even paper liners so they don't stick.)
2. Whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a mixing bowl.  Stir in the oats and dates.
3. In a large measuring cup, whisk together the milk, olive oil, and egg.  Pour into the dry ingredients, and stir together until just combined.  Divide among the muffin cups (10 for larger muffins, 12 for smaller mufins).
4. Mix together the topping ingredients in a small bowl until crumbly.  Sprinkle evenly over the muffin batter.
5. Bake 15 minutes.  Enjoy warm, or let cool and store in an airtight container for a few days.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Pizza Night!

Pesto, fresh mozzarella, goat cheese, red peppers, and chopped walnuts.  Yum!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Homemade Granola

Are you as crazy about March Madness as I am?!  I don't usually follow college basketball (although I enjoy going to games), but something about March Madness is just so much fun!  So far I am tied for first in my office pool...with seven other people.  :)

Another thing I've recently become obsessed with is homemade granola.  My friend Nina made me some a few months ago, and I recently got her recipe and have been eating it pretty much constantly ever since.  The recipe is infinitely customizable -- I have the first combo I made listed below, but you can mix and match the nuts and dried fruit as you like.  Last time I made it with cashews, sunflower seeds, and dried cranberries.  So good!  I like my granola sprinkled over yogurt, with some fresh berries if I have any on is pretty much the perfect breakfast!

The other nice thing about this recipe is that it is so easy -- mix everything together with your hands, spread it out on a cookie sheet, and bake.  So easy you can actually make it in the morning, if you have a bit of extra time.  This would also be a great recipe to make with kids since the measuring doesn't have to be exact and the mixing is a little messy.

Homemade Granola (adapted from Elizabeth Rider, original recipe here)

2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup cashews, coarsely chopped
3 T maple syrup
2 T olive oil
1 T sesame seeds
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Big pinch of salt
1/2 cup raisins

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil, and spray with oil.
2. Combine the oats, pecans, cashews, honey, olive oil, sesame seeds, vanilla, and salt (i.e. everything except the fruit) in a bowl.  Mix together with your hands until everything is evenly incorporated.  Spread the mixture out in a thin, even layer on the baking sheet.
3. Bake 10-20 minutes, until the granola is as toasted as you like.  Stir in the raisins while still warm.  Let the granola cool completely, and then store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Mustard-y Quinoa, Potato, and Sausage Salad

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Although I don't have an Irish dish for you today, I do have a green one!  This hearty salad is absolutely delicious.  The potatoes, sausage, and quinoa all make this dish suitible for a main dish, and the arugula adds a peppery lightness.  The mustard-y dressing pulls everything together perfectly - yum!  As long as you store the arugula separately, the salad stores well in the fridge and is a great option to pack for lunch.

Mustard-y Quinoa, Potato, and Sausage Salad (adapted from Serious Eats)
Serves 2

1/2 cup quinoa
1 pound fingerling potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large pork sausage, removed from casing and crumbled
2 T olive oil
1-1/2 T whole grain mustard
1-1/2 T minced fresh tarragon
2 cups arugula

1. Cook the quinoa in boiling water, according to the package instructions.
2. Place the potatoes in a pot, cover with cold water, and sprinkle with salt.  Bring to a boil, and then simmer until tender, about 5 minutes.  Drain.
3. Meanwhile, saute the sausage over medium-low heat in a non-stick skillet, until crisp.  Transfer the sausage to a paper towel-lined plate using a slotted spoon, and reserve the rendered fat in the pan.
4. Transfer the reserved fat from the sausage to a jar with a tight-fitting lid.  Add the oil, mustard, tarragon, and 1/8 tsp salt.  Screw on the lid, and shake well until combined.
5. Gently mix 1 T of the dressing into the potatoes while they are still warm.  When the potatoes are cool, mix with the sausage and arugula, and then toss with the remaining dressing.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Butternut Squash and Gorgonzola Pizza

We make a lot of homemade pizza -- it's easy and so delicious! Plus, it's always fun to try out new topping combinations.  I saw this pizza in a recent magazine, and knew I had to try it.  I love the combo of butternut squash and blue's got that fabulous combination of sweet, salty, and a little funky.  Add walnuts for a little crunch, and you've got the perfect pizza! I also added some thinly sliced bell peppers because we had them in the fridge.  The only downside of this pizza is that you only use a small amount of squash, since it's very thinly sliced to allow it to cook through in the pizza's brief cooking time.  Just make sure you have a plan to serve squash at another meal during the week, and you're all set.  :)

Butternut Squash and Gorgonzola Pizza (adapted from Food Network Magazine)
Serves 2-4, depending on serving size and sides

1 pound pizza dough
Olive oil
4 ounces crumbled gorgonzola or other blue cheese
1/3 cup very thinly sliced butternut squash (easiest to do if you buy cubed squash and use the rest of the package for another meal)
1/4 green bell pepper, very thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.  Set up your pizza pan however you like it (i.e. greased, lined with foil, etc.)
2. Stretch out your pizza dough and place it on your prepared pan.  Generously brush the entire crust with olive oil (all the way to the edges).  Sprinkle evenly with the blue cheese, and then arrange the squash and bell pepper in an even layer.
3. Bake the pizza for about 11 minutes, until the crust is almost done.  Scatter the walnuts over the pizza, and cook for another 2-3 minutes.  You want the crust to be nicely browned, the cheese to be melted, and the squash and peppers to be softened.
4. Let the pizza sit for a few minutes before slicing and serving.