Tag Archives: Cooking

Roasted Red Pepper Sandwiches with Herbed Goat Cheese Served on Focaccia Bread

Remember those tasty, squared little focaccia samwiches from my focaccia bread post?


If you are entertaining at home this weekend, these mini samwiches (I love calling it a “samwich”) are something that you will want to serve. They are crunchy, creamy and delicious.

Serve them at your next party, or you can just stick them in your lunch box; they are great any way that you want to enjoy them.


You will need:

  • 1 homemade focaccia bread, cut up into squares
  • Red Peppers, 1 per sandwich (my bread recipe should yield 8 to 10 sandwiches)
  • baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • Herbed goat cheese spread

For the goat cheese you will need:

  • 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 package (3 oz.) of goat cheese


Directions:

For the Peppers:

  • To roast the peppers, preheat the broiler and line a sheet pan with parchment paper, or grease it lightly.
  • Cut peppers in half, lengthwise, and remove the seeds and stems.
  • Place peppers cut side down on the sheet pan.
  • Broil for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Place the peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
  • Peel when cooled.

For the Herbed Goat Cheese Spread:

  • In a small bowl combine all of the ingredients except for the goat cheese, mix well.
  • Coat the goat cheese with the mixture, press the mixture into the cheese with a fork and combine well.
  • Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. If you have the time, prepare this a day ahead; the longer it sits, the better it tastes.

Assembling the Sandwiches:

  • Spread the herbed goat cheese on two squared slices of focaccia.
  • Layer the portobello mushrooms on one slice, then follow up with the roasted pepper.
  • Cover with a slice of focaccia, and serve.


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Filed under Dinner A la Diethood, Home

Semi-Homemade Cream Cheese Pizza

Judging by some of the comments and emails I received regarding my last post, it seems as if though I was either unclear or I was misunderstood. I think I was misunderstood. Blame it on my accent. (I don’t really have one)

Some of my readers seem to think that I might be a food snob?!? Me?! The girl that makes Pistachio Pudding from a box?

I am far from a food snob – and I do not aspire to become one, either.


The hosts of that party invited us to a “Dinner Party”, and they made it sound as if the party was going to be some sort of a Black-Tie Affair. They even asked me to bring, “that incredible” Chocolate Pie.

I spent four hours on that Chocolate Pie, plus chill time. They spent an hour at Sam’s to buy all the pre-packaged food, and probably another hour to set up.

Again, don’t get me wrong, I do not care that they bought it all from Sam’s, I just wish I wasn’t told that this was going to be a fancy, shmancy “Dinner Party”.

So now I am going to prove to some that I am definitely not a food snob, and that I do make things that come in a box! 🙂


Take this pizza for instance. You will probably never ever see me at a Pizza Hut, but you will definitely see me in the Baking Aisle at the grocery store reaching to grab one of these pouches:

I’ve blogged about this before. It is my favorite mix for a pizza crust and I use it very often.

Sunday was a day to relax, so instead of whipping up something from scratch, I decided that we were going to have a semi-homemade pizza, topped with cream cheese, ham, mozzarella, parmesan, onions, and baby portobella mushrooms.

Semi-Homemade Cream Cheese Pizza

You will need:

  • 1 Betty Crocker Pizza Crust mix
  • 1/4 (2 oz.) of a package of cream cheese, or you can use Neufchatel cheese
  • 1/2 cup baby portobella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup of your favorite ham, diced, or you can use leftover baked/grilled sliced chicken
  • 1 small onion, red or yellow, sliced crosswise
  • 1/2 cup of part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:

  • Preheat oven at 450.
  • Make the dough according to the directions on the package.

  • Bake the dough for 7 minutes.
  • Let it cool.
  • Turn the oven down to 400.
  • Once cooled, spread the cream cheese evenly over the crust.

  • Add the rest of the toppings.
  • Bake for 12 minutes, or until the mozzarella cheese is melted.
  • Sprinkle with a handful of parmesan cheese, cut and serve.

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Apple-Coconut Bites

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Why? How?

To begin, apples contain vitamin C, and vitamin C greatly improves our immune system. Secondly, apples are rich in flavonoids which are said to prevent heart disease. And finally (well not really – I can go on and on but for the sake of keeping your attention, I’ll just make this the last reason), apples, believe it or not, can satisfy a craving for chocolate! Thus, if you’re trying to watch those calories, but can’t get your mind off chocolate, have an apple and forget about that Snickers/Twix/Hershey’s bar.

I try to eat one apple a day, every day, whether the phrase holds true or not. But…there’s always a “but”… there is one sort of apples that I can’t eat:

Red Delicious.

Yeah. Red Delicious, in their raw state, will not make it anywhere near me. I just don’t like the bread-y texture. But the emphasis here is on the word,”raw”.

When my dad brings apples to me, he always, and I mean always, brings me batches of Red Delicious apples, knowing that I don’t like them. I am going to make an assumption here and say that the reason why he continues to buy these for me is because he likes what I end up doing with them. He will never admit to this, but I can’t come up with any other reason as to why he persists with these apples.

When I saw the basket in front of my garage door the other day, I knew that dad was most likely craving an Apple Pie or Apple Cake, but since I just made that for us not too long ago, I looked through my recipes for apples and picked out one that I had not made in ages. This recipe was featured in one of the many Macedonian Cookbooks that I have, and it was part of their Lenten Series Recipes.

These Apple-Coconut Bites are very sweet, a bit crunchy, and extremely refreshing and delicious.

Apple-Coconut Bites

You will need:

  • 4 Red Delicious Apples, peeled, cored and grated.
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 Orange, zested and juiced, you will need the zest and the juice
  • 1/2 cup of almonds (or any other nut that you prefer), chopped
  • 1 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:

  • In a 2 quart saucepan bring together the water and the sugar and bring to a boil.
  • Cook for a minute longer and add in the grated apples.
  • Mix in the orange zest, orange juice and the chopped nuts.

  • Continue to cook over medium heat until the syrup has been absorbed by the apple mixture. This might take around 20 minutes.

  • Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool down a bit before putting it in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  • In the meantime, mix together the coconut and cinnamon, and put in a shallow dish.
  • Pinch off a bit of the apple mixture and shape into balls by rolling between the palms of your hands. This will be a sticky situation, so if you prefer, you can use powder-free vinyl or latex gloves.
  • Put the apple bites into the coconut mixture and roll around until coated.

  • Place all the apple bites into a plastic container, cover, and allow to set in the freezer for 2 hours, or put them in the refrigerator over night.

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Filed under Home, Macedonian Cuisine, Sweets. Now. Please.

Apple Walnut Cake with Simple Syrup

Monday morning. Hubby is at work, munchkin is taking a nap, and I am in the kitchen… Where else would I be? But, today’s kitchen duty is special; I am following a recipe to the “T”! Why? Because it’s my mother-in-law’s recipe. And you know what that means: it better be the best apple cake that I have ever made! 🙂

Fortunately Unfortunately, my in-laws live across the oceans, rivers, mountains, and seas, and they will not be able to taste my creation. But, don’t worry, their son is here and he will definitely know if this cake is like Mama’s, or not. We will find out soon. Munchkin and I are going to surprise him by taking a piece of this cake to him at work. He will be so excited!

And through the magic of the internet, soon is here (lunch with daddy was fun!) and the verdict is in: He loves it! In his own words, “Not quite like my mom’s…it must be the different climates, environment, oven (bla bla bla)…but I love it! It might even be better than mom’s!”. Cha-ching!

The only thing I did different was the addition of apple slices on top of the cake. Maybe that is why he thought it was better? Shrug

The cake really is delicious. Moist, light, and sweet. Thanks for the recipe, Mama!

My Mother-in-Law’s Apple Walnut Cake

You will  need:

  • 3/4 cup instant wheat grits
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 4 apples, grated

For the Simple Syrup

You will need:

  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 cups of sugar

Garnish:

  • 1 apple, quartered then thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients, excluding the apples and walnuts.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients.
  • Add the mixture to the dry ingredients and stir in the apples and walnuts.
  • Mix it all together until well blended and let stand for about 20 minutes.

  • Put the mixture in a 9×13 cake pan and bake at 375 for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.

In the meantime prepare the simple syrup.

  • In a medium saucepan combine sugar and water.
  • Bring to a boil, stirring, until sugar has dissolved.
  • Allow to completely cool.

When cake is done, let it cool for a couple of minutes.

  • Cut the cake into bars while it is still in the pan, then pour over the cooled simple syrup (see the bottom of the recipe for tips on simple syrup).
  • Let cake stand on the counter for 30 minutes so to absorb the syrup.
  • Lastly, cut an apple into thin slices, toss them in a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice, then arrange them on top of the cake. Drizzle a bit of the syrup on top of them.

About simple syrup:

If the cake is cool, you need hot syrup.

If the cake is hot, you need cold syrup.

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Chicken Breast with Homemade Croutons and Peas

Nearly 20 years ago my father came home from a routine check-up at the doctor’s office. He walked inside the house, said, “Dobar Den”, or “Good Day”, and walked straight to the refrigerator. He opened up the door and began to empty it out. My sister and I thought something was definitely wrong because our dad never cleans!  Few moments later he walked out of the house with a garbage bag that contained most of our food. He then moved onto the pantry, and lastly he cleaned out the cupboard with all the snacks.

Later on that night we found out what had happened:

My father’s doctor warned him that if he did not stop eating the food that he was eating, he would die before the age of 50. At that time my dad was only 36.

His blood pressure and his sugar levels were inside the danger zone. His eating habits were out of control; a bucket of ice cream would be gone in three days, he would eat half pound of feta cheese with each meal, and his favorite meal was any type of grilled meat with a side of Taratur. And lets not get into what he ate in-between meals.

But, within days our kitchen looked like the kitchens at Weight Watchers; lots of chicken, lean meat, vegetables and fruits galore, and plenty of brown rice and whole wheat bread.

My dad is on the same diet to this day, and according to his doctor, his body’s age is 42 even if he really is 56.

The preparation of this meal reminds me of those days; my mom trying to hang on to the flavor without adding in the extra fixins.

Chicken Breast with Homemade Croutons and Peas

You will need:

  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 3 cups frozen peas
  • 1 cup of mushroom gravy
  • 1/4 cup Light Italian Dressing
  • 2 – 3 cups of whole grain homemade croutons

Whole Grain Homemade Croutons

You will  need:

  • 8 slices of whole grain bread, cut up in cubes
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • In a large saute pan, pour in the olive oil and stir in the garlic.
  • Add bread cubes, and toss to coat.
  • Season with oregano, salt and pepper, toss and spread on a baking sheet.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, or until crisp and dry. Set aside.

For the Chicken:

  • Heat olive oil in skillet on medium heat.
  • Add in the chicken breasts and cook for about 3 min on each side or until brown.
  • Stir in peas, mushroom gravy, and dressing, then bring to a boil.
  • Spoon the croutons on top of and around the chicken in the skillet.

  • Cover and simmer on medium-low heat for approximately 15 minutes.
  • Serve warm.

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