Peach, Arugula, & Gorgonzola Pizza

You’d think that working at a pizza place for five years would have burned me out on pizza. Or going to school in the land of deep dish pies. Or having one of the single.most.amazing pizza restaurants just two blocks away from my apartment.

Peach, Arugula, & Gorgonzola Pizza

But no. I still can’t and don’t get enough of it. But, I don’t just want the standard cheese and sauce anymore. I need flavor, I need texture, I need…well…I need more of this pizza.

Peach, Arugula, & Gorgonzola Pizza

It’s fruity and sweet, but substanstial and filling. It’s got a small bite of peppery flavor from the arugula and a salty kick from crumbled gorgonzola. Plus a whole other layer of flavor from the balsamic reduction drizzled over top at the end! Swoon! It’s like summer. But pizza.

I cut corners here by using a store-bought whole wheat crust, feel free to use homemade if you’ve got the skill or patience (I have neither). It’s summer, I can’t wait for dough to rise. Not when I need pizza. And you need this pizza. Now.

Peach, Arugula, & Gorgonzola Pizza

Peach, Arugula, & Gorgonzola Pizza (serves 4 – 8)

1 container store bought whole wheat pizza dough

1 TBSP olive oil

2 peaches, thinly sliced

3 cups arugula

1/4 – 1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola

balsamic vinegar reduction (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a floured surface, roll out dough to a 1/8 inch thick circle (mine was about 16 inches around) and place on pizza pan. Alternatively, if you don’t have a round pan, you can use a square pan and simply press the dough into it.

Drizzle olive oil over prepared crust and bake for 10 – 12 minutes, or until edges begin to brown. Pop any wayward bubbles with a knife to release steam.

Top partially baked crust with half of the sliced peaches, a layer of arugula, the remaining peaches and sprinkle with gorgonzola. Return to oven for an additional 5 – 7 minutes, or until cheese has just begun to melt and arugula is wilted.

Drizzle with balsamic reduction and slice into 8 equal pieces. Serve immediately.

For the balsamic reduction:

Pour 1 cup of balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat, allow to simmer for 15 – 20 minutes, or until liquid has reduced by over half.

Peach, Arugula, & Gorgonzola Pizza

Pizza = summer = pizza

 

Double Berry Breakfast Parfaits

I accidentally made a perfectly patriotic parfait! (Yay alliteration!)

Double Berry Parfaits

I had an abundance of blueberries and strawberries languishing in my fridge, too much Greek yogurt, and a hankering for something different for breakfast. And I wanted to put something in old mason jars because I though it was very Pinterest-y of me. And I’m obnoxious.

Double Berry Parfaits

These Double Berry Greek Yogurt Parfaits were just the ticket. Super quick to make, full of protein and fiber, and naturally sweet, they are perfect for the morning or an afternoon snack and a wonderful post-workout treat!

Double Berry Parfaits

Double Berry Parfaits (serves 2)

2 cups plain Greek yogurt

1 ½ cups sliced strawberries

1 pint fresh blueberries

Honey, optional

Cinnamon, optional

In mason jars or bowls, begin layers with ¼ cup of Greek yogurt, followed by a layer of strawberries and then blueberries. Repeat layering process until yogurt and berries are gone. If desired, add a drizzle of honey and sprinkling of cinnamon to yogurt layer before adding berries.

Store any uneaten parfaits covered in fridge for up to two days.

Double Berry Parfaits

‘Murica

 

Strawberry & Goat Cheese Salad

Sometimes it is so tempting to not pack a lunch for the office. Sometimes I just want those extra ten minutes to sleep or drink coffee or play with my hair. Sometimes I am uninspired by what I see in my fridge. Sometimes I just plain don’t feel like making lunch.

strawberry and coat cheese salad

So I go out. I zip to the Whole Foods five minutes away and peruse the aisles for something to eat (grocery shopping when hungry may actually be considered some form of torture). I usually end up in the prepared food/salad bar section of the store trying to narrow down my choices. A few weeks ago I found a “Seasonal Selections” salad filled with berries, nuts, and goat cheese. I had to have it! So I did…for about $8. For. A. Salad.

strawberry and coat cheese salad

I am ashamed. It’d be one thing if the dish would stretch to two meals, but let’s be real, I rarely leave leftovers as it is and a salad surely won’t make the cut. It was delicious, just like I thought it would be, but it wasn’t entirely worth it. Plus, I did the math (which in itself is huge!) and realized I could spend about twice that much on ingredients and make the same kind of salad 6 times over!

And that’s exactly what I did. This Strawberry and Goat Cheese Salad is light, summery and perfect for on the go lunching or those days when making food is the last thing you want to do. Sweet berries, tangy cheese and filling nuts on a bed of crunchy greens? Yes please!

strawberry and coat cheese salad

Strawberry & Goat Cheese Salad (serves 1)

3 cups lettuce blend (I like Spring Mix and Romaine)

1 cup sliced strawberries

1 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

1 oz.  walnut pieces

balsamic vinegar, optional

Pile lettuce on plate and top with strawberries, nuts and cheese. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with salt and pepper, if desired.

strawberry and goat cheese salad

Whole Foods, Schmole Foods.

Browned Butter Banana Layer Cake

My momma is a pro at making cakes. I, on the other hand, have never been that good. My mom’s cakes always rise beautifully, are cooked perfectly and taste delicious. Granted, sometimes my mom gets a little help from Betty Crocker, but I know for a fact that the woman can make a mean chocolate cake from scratch.

browned butter banana layer cake

My cakes, more often than not, are less than ideal. The edges get done before the middle, they’re gummy, or, my personal favorite, they get stuck in the pan. I still eat them (umm, hello? It’s cake.), and I’ve even figured out a way to make them passable for others.

browned butter banana layer cake

See, I’ve figured out an easy fix for a cake that’s a bit sunken in the middle. A generous layer of frosting along the entire cake to make it level! It disguises the small crater and is an excellent excuse to use extra frosting. Not that I’ve ever needed an excuse for that.

Would leveling the top off to the sunken part work too? Probably. But there’s no extra frosting involved in that. Go ahead, judge away.

browned butter banana layer cake

I did the exact same thing when I made this cake the first time. I used a springform pan for all the batter because I had yet to get 9-inch round cake pans. That one sure backfired. While the cake was delicious it was so sunken in the middle that there was easily an inch of height difference between the edge of the cake and the middle. That made for a lot of frosting. My recipe testers didn’t complain, but I knew I could do better.

And so this is better. This is a Browned Butter Banana Layer Cake. With Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting. It’s by no means perfect, but it doesn’t need to be. A moist (hate.that.word.eww) cake that’s a bit caramelly from a healthy dose of browned butter. It’s the heft of a good piece of banana bread that’s then smeared with a tangy and warm cream cheese frosting. Game changer. Game over.

browned butter banana layer cake

Browned Butter Banana Layer Cake 

2 1/2 cups flour

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, browned and cooled

2 cups dark brown sugar

4 eggs, at room temperature

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 cup sour cream

1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 3 – 4)

1 recipe Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe follows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans and line with parchment paper, butter paper as well.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.

Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, until thoroughly incorporated. Stir in vanilla. Add dry ingredients in three batches, alternating with the sour cream, mixing thoroughly to combine. Gently stir in bananas.

Divide batter among pans and bake in preheated oven 30 – 35 minutes, or until cake just begins to pull away from the edge of the pan and a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cool cakes on wire rack for 30 minutes before turning out and allowing to cool completely.

To frost: Level the top of one cake with a serated knife and spread with a thick layer of cream cheese frosting. Top with other cake layer. Coat entire cake in a light layer of frosting (this is what’s commonly known as a “crumb coat”), and put in fridge for 15 minutes to firm up. When cake has set, frost generously with remaining frosting.

Serve immediately or store cake lightly covered at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting 

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened to room temperature

1 8-oz. block cream cheese, softened to room temperature

2 tsp. vanilla extract

6 cups powdered sugar

large pinch salt

2 tsp. cinnamon

3 – 4 TBSP milk or heavy cream

Cream together butter and cream cheese until light. Add vanilla, powdered sugar, salt, and cinnamon and slowly begin to mix. Add in milk, one tablespoon at a time, until frosting is thick and creamy.

Leftover frosting can be stored in fridge for up to one week.

browned butter banana layer cake

Wait…can I play this game again?

Sweet Potato and Lentil Salad

In grocery stores back home the deli cases offer a huge selection of what they call “salads” though none of the dishes actually have lettuce or greens in them. It’s a very Midwestern thing, I think, to have these giant bowls of goodness loaded with mayonnaise, pasta, potatoes, meats, and occasionally vegetables and to sell them for only $4.95/pound.

sweet potato and lentil salad

There’s potato salad (Polish or German, there’s a difference), pasta salad, tuna salad, fruit salad, grasshopper salad (a delicious combination of Cool Whip, mint flavoring, green food coloring, and crushed Oreos). The list goes on.

The traditional Midwestern response: “Kale? Escarole? Radicchio? Just who do you think you are? Those don’t belong in a salad! Now go get me a can of cream of mushroom soup for tonight’s hot dish…”

sweet potato and lentil salad

Aaaaaaaaanywho. That loose definition of what constitutes a salad led me to make this delish dish. Creamy sweet potatoes, protein-packed lentils, tart apples and meaty mushrooms are combined to make an incredibly filling vegetarian dish. A drizzle of balsamic reduction and a healthy sprinkling of a nice salty cheese balances out this warm and filling Sweet Potato and Lentil Salad. Make a large batch of it at the beginning of the week and eat for days or make for a group and a delicious side dish to go along with a roast chicken.

sweet potato and lentil salad

Sweet Potato and Lentil Salad (makes 4 servings)

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

¼ medium red onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced

1 tart apple (such as Cortland), chopped

1 medium sweet potato, steamed, peeled, and chopped

1 cup cooked lentils

Balsamic vinegar reduction, see recipe below

2-4 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, for serving (optional)

Salt to taste

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, stirring to coat with oil, and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add mushrooms, sprinkle with salt, and cook until mushrooms begin to soften and release juices. Add remaining oil, apples, sweet potato, and lentils. Cook until warmed through, about 5 – 10 minutes.

Divide among bowls and top with balsamic vinegar reduction and cheese. Serve immediately.

Balsamic Vinegar Reduction

½ cup balsamic vinegar

Place vinegar in a medium saucepan and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 – 10 minutes, or until reduced by half, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly. The reduction will thicken as it cools.

sweet potato and lentil salad

Totally worth $4.95/pound.

Oatmeal Protein Pancakes

I am not the biggest fan of pancakes. Even though I’ve posted about them twice before, I really and truly prefer waffles (waffle recipe coming soon, promise!). I guess what I am really not a fan of is restaurant pancakes. They’re always so heavy and dense. Whenever I eat them I feel so sluggish and lethargic and I’m usually not hungry when lunch rolls around, which is a major disappointment for me.

oatmeal protein pancakes

Making pancakes at home though, that I can do. Even on a weekday. Even when I’m starving after a workout and want food asap. Even when I’m running around getting ready for work. I still make time for these pancakes, since they don’t take much time at all. Most of the “prep” work is done the night before so all I have to do in the morning is blend and pour. The part that takes the longest is waiting for my coffee to finish brewing so I can enjoy it alongside these Oatmeal Protein Pancakes.

[Read more…]

Blackberry & Blue Cheese Salad

“Woa! What’s that?” he asked as I slipped the lettuce into the cart. 

“Umm…salad mix?” I said, more question than answer. How did he not know what salad mix was? 

“What do you do with it?”

“Umm…make salad.”

“Should I get some? Should I be eating this?” He slipped a container of the greens onto his pile.

blackberry and blue cheese salad

On and on it went. My neighbor and I were grocery shopping and we were both experiencing a culture shock. He didn’t understand why I wanted fresh carrots and I was flabbergasted as to what one person could do with 10 frozen pizzas. He tried to convince me of the advantages of  a 2 for 1 sale on baked beans (just…no) and I tried to get him to buy 18 eggs instead of just a dozen. 

crumbled blue cheese

Clearly, our tastes don’t align, but the shopping trip was still fun. I’ve never seen someone get so confused in the bread aisle. And I definitely know he’d be very confused about this salad. Cheese on a salad? Nuts on a salad? Fruit on a salad? Yes, yes, and yes. This salad is so big and filling and fresh. Creamy and salty blue cheese (I got some fancy brand from Whole Foods – their cheese selection is my kryptonite). Crunchy and satisfying nuts. Sweet and juicy blackberries. Pile them high on a bed of mixed greens and vegetables and this is a perfect spring salad to enjoy for a quick dinner.

blackberry and blue cheese salad

Blackberry & Blue Cheese Salad 

2 cups mixed greens

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cup cucumbers, peeled and sliced

2 TBSP red onion, sliced

1/2 cup blackberries, halved

1 oz (about 1/4 cup) pecan halves

2 oz. crumble blue cheese

Pile ingredients onto a large plate or toss in a large bowl, drizzle with balsamic vinegar or favorite salad dressing. Serve immediately. 

blackberry and blue cheese salad

…or share with a neighbor. Or maybe not.

Breadcrumb Stuffed Baked Tomatoes

I’ve had this fascination lately with eating “Brupper.” (That’s “breakfast-for-supper” for the uninformed.) It’s partly due to my love of all things breakfast food and partly due to my laziness. By the time I get home from my internship (and an hour stuck in traffic) all I’m thinking is “FOOD! GET ME FOOD NOW!!!”

Breadcrumb Stuffed Tomatoes

So, eggs and toast have been a staple the past week. I find some veggies to throw in the eggs or on the side and – boom – complete meal.

Not wanting to eat scrambled or fried eggs for the umpteenth night in a row, I decided to get a little creative and put the eggs and toast inside the vegetables.

Breadcrumb Stuffed Tomatoes

With a little ingenuity and a quick round in the oven (my minuscule amount of patience is even thinner by night’s end), these Breadcrumb Stuffed Baked Tomatoes were ready in no time. They’re a healthier take on classic stuffed tomatoes, using egg whites in place of oil and a a full-flavored cheese used sparingly in place of a less flavorful, but more caloric one.

Breadcrumb Stuffed Tomatoes

Breadcrumb Stuffed Baked Tomatoes (makes approx. 6 small or 4 large tomatoes)

6 small tomatoes (about 2 inches around), I used chocolate tomatoes, but regular vine-ripened will work too

3 slices whole-wheat bread, toasted and cooled

2 egg whites

1 tsp. salt

1 TBSP crushed basil leaves

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup grated Gruyere cheese

2 TBSP olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a small baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

Using a paring knife, cut into the tops of the tomatoes at a 45 degree angle and cut a circle around the top. Remove the top and discard. Using a spoon, scoop out the flesh and seeds of the tomato, being careful not to pierce through the skin.

Arrange the hollowed out tomatoes on the prepared baking dish and set aside.

Roughly rip the toast into the bowl of a food processor and process until they form coarse bread crumbs. Add the egg whites, salt, basil, and cheese and blend until fully incorporated.

Fill the tomatoes with an equal amount of the breadcrumb mixture, pressing filling in firmly. Drizzle stuffed tomatoes with olive oil and bake in preheated oven for 15 – 20 minutes or until flesh is tender.

Remove and allow to cool slightly before serving.

Breadcrumb Stuffed Tomatoes

Brupper of champions.

Browned Butter Walnut Blondies

Today’s the day. Today’s the day! Today is THE day! TODAY IS THE DAY!!!

browned butter walnut blondies stack

For those of you who don’t know, today I leave for Savannah. Today is the day my dad and I head south for four days of food, food, and more food.

I already plan on going to Back In the Day Bakery at least once a day. Maybe twice. After pouring over the cookbook like it’s the latest great American novel (to me, it is), I’ve found so many things I want to try – both at the bakery and in the kitchen.

blondies overhead

I’ve already become smitten with the idea of their Drunk Blondies. I can’t wait to order one (ok, three) and just go to town. Until I’m actually in Savannah though, I’ve occupied myself by making my own blondies. Lots and lots o’ blondies, chock full of walnuts and brown sugar and the omnipresent browned butter. These Browned Butter Walnut Blondies don’t have bourbon – but that’s kind of okay. I’m not even going to attempt to outdo Griff and Cheryl when it comes to that, no way. The obvious substitution then is browned butter (isn’t it always?).

blondies stacked

I would write more about them, but I’m too excited and anxious about leaving. Trust me, I plan to talk (write?) your ear off when I get back from vacation. If you want to stay up to date with my Savannah shenanigans follow along on Twitter and Instagram. And bake a batch of these blondies to get a little taste of the south, right in your own kitchen.

Browned Butter Walnut Blondies (makes 24 squares)

2 ¼ cup flour

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. baking powder

¾ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

½ cup (1 stick) butter, browned

½ cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature

1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed

½ cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla

2 TBSP brewed coffee, at room temperature

1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray or butter a 9×13 baking dish, line with foil or parchment and butter again, set aside.

Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, pour the browned butter over the second stick of butter and stir to combine. Add the sugars and mix on medium-high speed until light, about 2 minutes. Add in eggs and vanilla, mixing until light and fluffy, about another 2 minutes. Stir in coffee.

In three batches, add the dry ingredients to the wet, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Stir in walnuts when only a few streaks of flour remain and mix until everything comes together.

Bake in preheated oven for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the center is still slightly jiggly (it will firm up as it cools).

Remove from oven and place on wire rack until completely cool before cutting into squares.

Bars will keep at room temperature in an airtight container for 4 days.

Recipe adapted from the Back In The Day Bakery Cookbook

browned butter walnut blondies

I should probably finish packing…

Caramelized Red Onion, Cabbage & Stout Handpies

I’m not late with this. Nope, not a minute late. See, these delicious looking handpies down there, suuuuuuuure they would’ve been wonderful for St. Paddy’s Day. Perfect, even. Alas, papers beat out Patrick on Sunday. I spent over five hours in the library. And four hours the day before. That’s nine hours more than I ever anticipated being in the library this year (my academic advisor is weeping right now).

cabbage hand pie

I knew it was too good to be true. Last week was obviously a fluke. Getting two recipes posted on time. Pssh. I used up all my promptness by turning in final papers a full TWO DAYS early. You win some, you lose some.

cabbage and stout handpie

And you’ll win if you make these handpies. How else are you going to use up the cabbage and beer leftover from this weekend’s festivities? Springy and light, these pies are filled with caramelized red onions and red cabbage, melty Kerrygold Dubliner & Irish Stout cheese, all sandwiched between a cheese and stout crust. Perfectly portable and totally doable for more than St. Patrick’s Day. Trust me.

cabbage hand pie 2

Caramelized Red Onion, Cabbage, & Stout Handpies (makes about 8 pies)

For the crust:

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ tsp. salt

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes and chilled

¾ cup grated Kerrygold Dubliner with Irish Stout Cheese

¼ – ½ cup heavy stout beer (I used Bell’s Special Double Cream Stout)

1 egg + 1 TBSP water, lightly beaten

For the filling:

2 TBSP olive oil

½ medium red onion, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage

½ – 1 cup stout beer (whatever’s left of the bottle from the crust)

1 tsp. dried thyme

½ cup grated Kerrygold Dubliner cheese

Whisk together the flour and salt. Using a pastry cutter or fork, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse sand. Stir in cheese. Pour in ¼ cup beer and stir to moisten dough. Add remaining beer 1 TBSP at a time until a shaggy dough forms. Turn out onto a lightly flour surface and knead dough a few times to bring together. Pat dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.

While the dough chills, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, 30 seconds to a minute. Add cabbage and cook until it begins to break down, about 5 minutes. Pour beer over mixture. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove cover and continue cooking until liquid has evaporated. Stir in thyme to warm mixture.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

To form the pies: on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/8 inch thick. Using a cookie cutter (or, in my case, a mini tart pan turned upside down) cut out an even number of crusts. Place half on prepared baking sheet. Top crusts with about 2 – 3 TBSP of the caramelized vegetables before covering with about 1 TBSP of cheese. Place another crust over top and press with fingers or fork to seal edges.

Brush lightly with egg wash and cut small slits in top to release steam while baking.

Bake in preheated oven for 20 – 22 minutes until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted.

Remove from oven and cool on wire rack until warm enough to handle easily.

Pies are best served the day they are made but will keep for two days in the fridge.

Crust adapted from Food Network, filling adapted from Martha Stewart

cabbage and stout handpies

That’s the last time I do schoolwork ever early.

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