Goat Cheese-Stuffed Red Peppers

Red Peppers

These beauties are called Lipstick Peppers. They are sexy, aren’t they? Red, lucious, puckered and ready for a mammoth, sumptuous smootch. And I am, indeed, completely head-over-heels in love with them.  My husband often brings these home from the farm along with a similar variety called Carmen Peppers. Both have more sweet flavor than a basic red bell pepper, though you could easily use bell peppers for this recipe instead.

Just like any person you love, the first thing you’ll want to do to these peppers is change them. (Insert sarcastic emoticon here.) To make these peppers even better than they ever thought they could be, stuff them with the uber-lucious cheese of all cheeses–goat cheese–and serve them alongside a juicy, medium-rare cheeseburger. The goat cheese and peppers are alternately creamy, tangy, and sweet and go perfectly with a savory burger. I love this combination so much, I’ve actually thought of putting the stuffed peppers right on top of the hamburger. Maybe next time. Let’s not go overboard, okay? We’ll want to keep some excitement in the relationship for when things get a little boring later on.

 

 Stuffed peppers before cooking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stuffed Peppers with Hamburger 3

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

 

These peppers would go perfectly with any beef dish, or just eat them by themselves for a great vegetarian meal that is quite filling on its own. Either way, the combination of goat cheese, bread crumbs, garlic, and olive oil makes any relationship palatable.

 

Goat Cheese Stuffed Red Peppers

1 cup fresh bread crumbs

1.5-2 oz goat cheese (I love Belle Chevre)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 medium red peppers (I use Carmen or Lipstick peppers, but you could use any type of red peppers for this. Just remember that larger red bell peppers will require about twice the filling)

 

Slice peppers in half lengthwise. Remove seeds and ribs.

Mix the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl.

Stuff each pepper not too tightly, but not too loosely (I usually heap the stuffing a bit).

Place stuffing side up on a parchment- or aluminum-lined cookie sheet. Roast for about 20 minutes on 375 degrees, or until the stuffing starts to brown.

Chicken and Cous Cous with Cucumber and Goat Cheese

People, I don’t have to tell you…it’s hot. In about mid-July I was still using my oven–I couldn’t part with it. But now? Well, me and the oven are through. I’ve broken up with it and told it to go find love in a more northern clime. It’s not going to get any here. I will consider making up with it in mid-October, right about the time I’m craving pumpkin bread. I’m a user.

For now, I’m only considering recipes that require stove-top cooking for under 20 minutes. That’s all I have to give. Rices and pastas are great for this time of year because many of them you can eat hot or cold and they just don’t require much cooking. Plus, you can add anything you have on hand, and you’ve got yourself a fairly substantial meal.

Have you ever tried pearl cous cous? I LOVE IT. Pearl cous cous is larger than regular cous cous–meaning each individual piece of pasta is about the size of a stud (earring that is. I know what you were thinking). I love the texture more than regular cous cous and it seems so much more filling to me.

  Cucumbers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This a great dish for the summertime, when it’s too hot to cook, and you’ve got so many cucumbers, you are running out of things to do with them. Start out by chopping up a cucumber. Season it with salt and pepper. I always use sea salt to season vegetables.

  Cucumbers + Pine Nuts

 

 

 

 

Add toasted pine nuts

 

  

Cucumbers + Pine Nuts+ Goat Cheese

 

 

 

 

Add goat cheese

 

 

Cucumbers + Pine Nuts + Goat Cheese + Chicken

 

 

 

 

Add cooked chicken breast

 

  Cucumbers + Pine nuts + Goat Cheese + Chicken + Cranberries  

 

 

 

Add dried cranberries

 

    Cucumbers + Pine Nuts + Goat Cheese + Chicken + Cranberries + Cous Cous

 

 

 

Add cooked pearl cous cous

 

 

  Cucumbers + Pine Nuts + Goat cheese + Chicken + Cranberries + Cous cous + Basil

 

 

 

 

Add herb of choice. I like basil.

 

 

 

 

That’s it! This can be served warm or cold. Enjoy! 

 Final_Chicken and Cous Cous with Cucumbers, Pine nuts, Cranberries and Goat Cheese

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken and Cous Cous with Cucumber and Goat Cheese

Serves 2-3

Feel free to play around with these ingredients. Glenn said he would have preferred a little less cucumber. I on the other hand, normally don’t really like cucumber, but I loved it in this dish. I think it really worked well with the goat cheese.

1 medium cucumber, chopped and seasoned with salt and pepper

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

2 oz goat cheese (I absolutely love Belle Chevre goat cheese. It’s local and it’s so creamy and tasty.)

1 large chicken breast, cooked (I seasoned mine with sea salt and pepper and cooked it in olive oil in a cast-iron skillet)

1/4 cup cranberries

1 cup pearl cous cous (cooked according to package instructions). I added a sauteed Vidalia onion to this (about a 1/4 cup of onion)

Salt and pepper to taste

Handful of chopped basil on top (parsely would also be good)

Banana Coconut Ricotta Muffins

Banana Ricotta Coconut Muffins

My husband told me the other day about peanuts and Coke. Apparently there are people in this world who dump peanuts into Coke and drink it like that. Am I the last one to hear about this? Am I just too young? Or too Yankee? Isn’t there something in the Bible about not mixing salted legumes with a syrupy carbonated beverage? Yeah, I think it’s in Leviticus. Glenn the blasphemer says it’s delicious and is completely unrepentant about how much of it he drank as a cherubic little blonde southern boy. I can just hear him now saying “Yes ma’am!” and “I’m fixin’ to drink this Coke with peanuts!” He says the saltiness of the peanuts mixes with the sweetness of the Coke, and two things just don’t seem to fit together end up making something that might make a little tow-headed Glenn slap his grandma! And you can’t get more Southern than peanuts + Coke, by the way.

Southerners seem to be really good at this–putting stuff together that just doesn’t seem to fit–and making it taste wonderful. Have you ever heard of mayonnaise cake? It’s sounds downright nasty at first; but if you think about it, mayonnaise has the tanginess and creamy consistency of sour cream. I know I’ve put sour cream in cakes before…haven’t you? So, maybe it’s not such a stretch.  

Mixing Banana Coconut Ricotta Muffins

Last week I had some homemade ricotta cheese left over…just enough to feel guilty about throwing away, but not enough to do much with. So, I decided to try it in muffins. With a little maneuvering to make sure the ricotta was balanced out by a wetter dairy product (um, that would be milk, and “wetter” is not a good word), this recipe came out great. The muffins are so moist and have a slight tang–as if I had added buttermilk or sour cream. The sweetened coconut is an excellent contrast and adds texture. A sprinkle of turbinado sugar (or just regular granulated sugar) creates a nice sweet crunch on top. 

Yes, those are my feet.

 Yes, those are my feet.

 

I don’t care how hot it is outside, these are absolutely worth the 18-20 minutes your oven is on.

   Banana Coconut Ricotta Muffins Side Shot

 

 Even peanuts + Coke couldn’t compete.

 

Muffins with Butter part 2

Macaroni and Cheese with Dried Sungold Tomatoes and Proscuitto

 

Blog Macaroni and Cheese 017My dad told me that his mother would make a cake and a pie every week. Oh Grandma, the standards you’ve set are simply too high for me to reach! But perhaps there is something I can aspire to. When I was eight years old my parents took us to my grandmother’s house for some sort of holiday or special dinner. She made macaroni and cheese. Real macaroni and cheese. You know, like not from a blue box. With bread crumbs on top. And real, actual cheese that came from a cow. And what did I do? This Gen-Xer turned her nose up. “No thanks grandma! I’ll take the stuff in the blue box with powdered cheese. Thanks though!”

My poor mother coaxed me to eat it by telling me this was homemade macaroni and cheese, and I should thank my grandmother for taking the time to make it. Bleh.

Like most of us, with age I’ve come to understand there is absolutely no contest between the boxed stuff and the real stuff. And I’m perfectly happy with just simple mac and cheese with pasta and cheese and maybe some onions and mustard powder. But last night I had about ten teeny tiny Sungold tomatoes and some proscuitto left over from this pizza recipe and, heck, who doesn’t like cheese + ham + tomatoes? Nobody in this house. Especially this guy:

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So, to get as much flavor out of the tomatoes as possible, I cut them in half, placed them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, sprinkled them with some olive oil, salt, and pepper, and let them dry in the oven at 225 for about an hour. Of course, you can do this ahead of time, and put them in the refrigerator. If you have larger tomatoes, you’ll have to dry them longer; but these adorable little guys didn’t need much. For extra flavor, put some unpeeled garlic cloves on the cookie sheet too.

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For the macaroni and cheese, I always start with a roux, add milk, mustard powder, bay leaf, and onions, and finally the pasta and cheese. Grandma would be proud. For this recipe, I added the dried tomatoes, and their flavor had really concentrated after drying them. I also added two large slices of proscuitto, torn into small peices.

Making a roux

Making a roux

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add milk, onions, and seasonings

Add milk, onions, and seasonings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add the cheese, tomatoes and proscuitto

Add the cheese, tomatoes and proscuitto

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Bake this for about 30 minutes (or until it’s bubbling and the cheese on the top begins to brown) at 350 degrees. Rather than put the whole concoction in another casserole dish, I just bake it right in my *oven safe* dutch oven. It’s easier, and someone in this house (husband) doesn’t have to wash more than one dish. We like to keep the customers happy.
 
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By the way, dried tomatoes are great on pasta, on pizza, or just by themselves. Drying tomatoes is great for reviving icky winter tomatoes that don’t have much flavor. I got the idea from smittenkitchen.com.

 

Macaroni and Cheese with Dried Sungold Tomatoes and Proscuitto

Fills a small dutch oven or a small casserole dish (if you’re using a 13 x 9 dish, double the recipe. We love mac and cheese in this house, but that’s simply way too much for us).

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons all purpose flour

1 tablespoon powdered mustard

3 cups milk (I use skim, but feel free to go wild and use 2% or !! WHOLE!)

1 small onion, chopped

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 lb pasta (like elbow macaroni or penne)

12 oz of grated cheese that melts well (I always experiment with the cheeses, depending on what I have. Last night I had about a 3 oz mozzerella,  3 oz ricotta*, and about 6 oz of cheddar. My other favorites, if I remember to get them beforehand, are gruyere and fontina)

4 oz grated parmesean to sprinkle on top

 

  1. Heat water (plus dash of salt) in large pot and cook pasta–I usually take it off the heat about 2 minutes earlier than the directions call for since it will continue to cook in the oven.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  3. Melt butter in dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat. When melted, add the flour and mustard and whisk continuously for about 5 minutes
  4. Add milk, onion, paprika, and bay leaf, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally
  5. Once milk has thickened a bit, add the all the cheese except for the parmesean
  6. Stir in the cooked pasta and mix it well until the cheese is all melted
  7. Mix in the proscuitto and tomatoes
  8. Sprinkle grated parmesean on top
  9. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until the mac and cheese is bubbly and browning on top.

*ricotta does not necessarily melt well, but it is a soft cheese and is tasty even if, in the end, it isn’t thoroughly melted.

I promise not all my posts are going to be pasta and/or pizza with lots of cheese (though there is plenty of that!). I’ll get some lighter things on here soon. My rule of thumb is, when I make something heavy, I eat 1/2 a portion and save the rest for leftovers.

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

When I think of cheesemaking, I think of sitting under a cow or goat for fresh milk, stirring said fresh milk in a giant heated vat, and adding enzymes that I would buy, um, where exactly does one buy enzymes?  But thanks to David Lebovitz and Simply Recipes, I realized that making ricotta cheese at home is frighteningly easy (frighteningly because I’ll be making it every night!).

Making ricotta cheese, step one.

Not cheese yet

All you have to do is bring whole milk, whole milk yogurt, vinegar, and salt to a boil and let the mixture gently boil for one or two minutes.

Almost cheese

Almost cheese

Take some cheesecloth (which you can buy at pretty much any grocery store), and place it inside a large bowl. Pour the mixture in the bowl, making sure the edges of the cheesecloth stay above the mixture.

Take up the cheese cloth, draining the whey from the curds, and tie it (you may need an extra pair of fingers) to a long spoon or spatula. Hover it over a deep bowl (mine wasn’t quite deep enough) or the sink (as above). Let it drain for about 15 minutes. You can serve it immediately, put it on pizza or pasta, or put it in the refrigerator for up to three days.

 

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Homemade ricotta is much much better than any ricotta you get from the grocery store. It has a fresh, milky smell, and is perfect on this recipe for pizza with fresh vegetables and proscuitto. I’ve also used it in muffins (gasp!) to replace buttermilk or sour cream. If you do use it as a replacement for these, just make sure you balance the recipe out by adding a bit more milk so it doesn’t get too dense.

Homemade Ricotta Cheese (adapted only slightly from Simply Recipes

Makes 2 cups

2 quarts whole milk

1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (I use Fage)

Optional: 1/2 cup heavy cream (I did not use this, but if anyone does, tell me how you like it)

2 teaspoons white vinegar

1 1/4 teaspoons salt (the original recipe calls for 1 tsp. of salt, but I thought it could have used more)