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.

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.

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.

Eggs Fried In Peppers

I eat eggs every day. Sometimes multiple times a day. Eggs are quick, easy, and full of protein. They satisfy me after a tough workout or keep me full during my long shifts at work. While I don’t think it’s excessive (it’s normal to go through two dozen eggs solo in one week, totally normal) it can get a bit boring.
So when a friend sent me a link on Facebook showing me a new way to prepare eggs my first thought was “Man, how come I didn’t think of that!” and my second was “I know what I’m having for breakfast tomorrow.

Read more »

Pest-faux: Kale and Roasted Garlic Pesto

I’m in a chilly community center gym. The smell of burnt coffee, thick in the air, barely covers the stale sweat still lingering from basketball games gone by. Metal folding chairs groan with the tiniest of movements. I stand up nervously, my palms slick with sweat.

Hi, my name is Amanda…and I have a problem. I…I am addicted to beauty products.

Hello, Amanda! A chorus of similarly inclined individuals greets me.
While this scenario is completely imaginary, my affection for, and obsession with, beauty products is not. I often open my bathroom cabinets looking for something specific only to have different bottles, tubes, and jars come toppling out. Naturally, what I was searching for is nowhere to be found. Right there I swear to myself that I am done. No more. I am through buying these stupid things!
And then, one way or another, I find myself sidling up to the makeup counter. Again. Greeting an eager saleswoman while ogling the latest shade of eye shadow.

Or meandering along the hair care aisle. My fingers lightly tracing the brightly colored bottles. Fluorescent lights buzzing overhead, just begging me to buy yet another bottle of thermal styling spray.
But I don’t cave. I don’t. I think about the drawers in my bathroom, the stacks in the hall closet. Teaming with products I could never hope to finish in this lifetime, no matter how much hairspray I use.
Lately, I’ve been feeling that way about kale. I buy a bundle at the grocery store because it is cheap and delicious and filling. Yet, no matter how much I eat, no matter how much I sauté with garlic or throw in salads it is still there! Kale. Looming in my crisper drawer. The bunch never getting any smaller.

Read more »

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