Tag Archives: Olive oil

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


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.



Filed under Dinner A la Diethood, Home

Whole Wheat Focaccia Bread

I love a good bread.

And I especially love that bread when it has been made for me by someone else.

You want to know what I don’t love?

(I’m not going to mention any names)

When I get to a dinner party and discover that everything on that table was prepared by the hands of your local grocer; petite quiches, jalapeno poppers (at a dinner party?) and other finger foods from Sam’s… a cake from Sam’s bakery… and, the one thing that infuriates me the most… sliced bread… also bought at Sam’s.

Are you kidding me?

You just invited me to a dinner party that was catered by your local Sam’s. Why on Earth didn’t you just tell us to meet you at the cafe over at Sam’s instead?

Come on, at least make the bread!

Please allow me to show you how easy it is to make a really good bread that you can wow your guests with. It tastes oh so yummy good, it takes one hour flat to make it, and your guests will love it just because it sounds foreign. 🙂

Whole Wheat Focaccia Bread

You will need:

  • 1 cup White Whole Wheat Flour (I use King Arthur)
  • 1 cup AP flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 package (.25 oz.) instant dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 cup of water, divided
  • olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary


  • Preheat oven at 475.
  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, yeast, and garlic salt; stir well to combine.
  • Stir in 1/4 cup of water, mix, then stir in the rest of the water slowly, until all of the flour is absorbed.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly for about 1 minute.
  • Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil.
  • Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes. I always put it on top of my warm stove and the rise is done within 20 minutes.
  • Grab the dough and knead it again, briefly, on a lightly floured surface.
  • Roll the dough into a rectangular shape, about 1/4 inch thick, and place it on a lightly greased baking sheet.
  • Dimple the bread with your index finger.

  • Brush the dough with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder, oregano and rosemary.
  • Bake the bread for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on desired crispness.
  • With a sharp knife, slice the focaccia into wedges and serve it with garlic sauce, or cut it into squares and make little bite-sized sandwiches.

(recipe soon… it’s a darn good samwich!)

That’s it! How hard was that?

Please, if you’re going to have friends over for dinner, bake something, anything! The bread is probably the easiest thing you can attempt to make.


Filed under Dinner A la Diethood, Home

Asparagus Soup

Before I introduced solids to my daughter, plenty of family members and friends made sure to share some horror stories with me about their picky eaters. I soon found out that they were not lying.

Our prepping before dinner time went something like this:

Carrots? Waaaah! Peas?! Waaaaaaaah! Geez, Ana…Mother of … how about Pears?!? Smiles from ear to ear.

I soon learned that she was a fan of fruits, but veggies were going to take a bit of convincing… Or not.

I came home one day with some groceries, and in her usual manner, she began to take everything out of the bags. As she continued, she grabbed some asparagus and without any reservations, she just had a go!

I sat there and stared at her in disbelief. I then quickly took it from her because I had heard that asparagus should not be eaten raw. Even though I didn’t believe it when I heard it, when it comes to munchkin, I believe everything and anything. And I wanted to avoid a choking episode. Besides, have you ever tried raw asparagus? Um… I don’t like it. I love it when it’s cooked, but not raw.

Needless to say, and all parents can relate, I could not get over my excitement with the whole asparagus incident. And because I thought she loved the asparagus, I quickly got my ingredients together and started working on one of my favorite soups: Crème D’asperges.

Guess what? She HATED IT! My husband and I could not get enough of it and there she was making that ewwwww face at us. What the? The answer to that came a couple of months later…

We recently figured out that it wasn’t the vegetables that she didn’t like; she just is not fond of vegetables in a pureed form. She loves veggies so long as they are not mushy.

I wish kids could talk from day one – this guessing game sucks.

Asparagus Soup

(adapted from Epicurious)

You will need:

  • 2 pounds green asparagus
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 to 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche or heavy cream (I use a cup of 2% milk instead)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste


  • Cut tips from 12 asparagus
  • 1 1/2 inches from top and halve tips lengthwise if thick. Reserve for garnish.
  • Cut stalks and all remaining asparagus into 1/2-inch pieces.

  • Cook onion in 2 tablespoons butter in a 4-quart heavy pot over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened.
  • Add asparagus pieces and salt and pepper to taste, then cook, stirring, 5 minutes.

  • Add 5 cups broth and simmer, covered, until asparagus is very tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
  • While soup simmers, cook reserved asparagus tips in boiling salted water until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes, then drain.
  • Purée soup in batches in a blender until smooth, transferring to a bowl and return to pan.

  • Stir in crème fraîche, or a cup of milk, then if needed add more broth to thin soup to desired consistency.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Bring soup to a boil and whisk in remaining tablespoon of butter.
  • Add lemon juice and garnish with asparagus tips, or with mint. The cooked asparagus tips went to Ana. 🙂


Filed under Dinner A la Diethood, Home

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


  • 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.


Filed under Home

St. Trifun’s Day: Sausage Stuffed Eggplant

I mentioned in my previous post that along with St. Valentine’s Day, we also celebrate St. Trifun, the Guardian of wine and wine makers. As a matter of fact, St. Valentine’s Day is a fairly new phenomenon in many parts of the world, including Macedonia, but it has somehow grown to be celebrated amongst the younger generations along with St. Trifun.

In honor of St. Trifun, on the 14th of February a great celebration takes place in many city squares in Macedonia with a program that includes agricultural and cultural happenings, and the famous Wine Fair. The priests say a prayer, and the pruning season is symbolically marked with the pruning of the three church wine grapes.

Here’s a photo of our little grape vine in our backyard:

Pruning – February 14, 2011:

Throughout the day we prepare and serve Macedonian specialties, sing Macedonian songs, and taste delicious Macedonian wines!

Sausage Stuffed Eggplant is one of those specialties that we enjoyed last night for dinner. Made with our very own homemade sausage, lots of garlic, and a touch of Мајчина Душица – Mother’s Soul, or Thyme, as it is called in this part of the world.

You will need:

  • 4 eggplants, halved lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 pound of sausage, your choice of sausage, but I recommend one with a bit of heat,  YUM – casings removed
  • 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Scoop out the flesh of the eggplant, chop, and set aside.

  • Season the empty shells with salt and pepper, and coat with some olive oil; set aside.
  • Heat olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium high heat.
  • Put in the sausage and garlic, and saute until sausage is evenly brown.

  • Mix in the chopped eggplant.
  • Season with parsley, thyme, salt and pepper.
  • Stuff the mixture into the eggplant shells and place them in a baking sheet filled with 1/4 inch water.

  • Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
  • Take out and sprinkle cheese on top.
  • Bake for another 5 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.

Serve with your favorite red wine.


Filed under Home, Macedonian Cuisine