thegingerchef

Recipes from My Kitchen

Cheese, Cheese, and more Cheese

I love cheese.  I love all things cheese.  When I have a chance to get together with my friends, I usually make things cheese-related.  So recently, when us gals got together, I made two cheese appetizers.  They are very simple, very easy to throw together – in fact, I was only missing one or two ingredients for both dishes, everything else I had on hand!!

The first dish:  Apricots and Cheese

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Ingredients:

a pack of dried apricots
1 oz. of cream cheese
1/4 C. (or so) of blue cheese (to flavor)
1 Tbsp butter
1 tsp sugar
1/4 C chopped walnuts
Fresh Rosemary

Sautee the walnuts (finely chopped) in the butter in a pan.  When they are slightly toasted, add the tsp of sugar, then 1-2 tsp of fresh, chopped Rosemary.  Sautee 1-2 minutes, then remove from heat.

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Mix the cream cheese with blue cheese.

 

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Layer the apricot with the cheese mix, then top with the herbed walnuts.  Eat in a bite-sized amount 🙂  *GREAT* savory appetizer!!

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The second recipe:  Mini Cheesecakes

Ingredients:
1/3 C Panko
1/3 C Ground walnuts
1/2 tsp dried Basil
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
1 4-oz package feta cheese
1 egg
2 Tbsp sour cream
2 Tbsp chopped Kalmata olives
Fresh Basil
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I only needed a small amount of these cheesecakes, so I cut most of the recipe in half (including the egg).   For the crust, heat the oven to 350, and line a mini-muffin tin with cupcake papers.  Mix together the Panko, Walnuts, and butter.  Press a Tbsp of so of the crust-mix into the bottom of the muffin cups (I used the end of my pestle).

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In a bowl, mix the cream cheese, feta cheese, and egg until well combined (the less lumps the better).  Add the egg and the sour cream.  When well-mixed, add on top of the walnut crust (~1 Tbsp per tin).  Bake 12-15 minutes until the filling is set.

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Cool outside of the tin pan for a few minutes.  Top each cheesecake with the olive/basil mix before serving.

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These are both super savory dishes.  They’re great for a gathering, easy finger-food.  Hopefully you enjoy them as much as I did!!

 

 

 

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Shells with Olives and Ricotta Salata

So, besides sticking to seasonal ingredients, I also occasionally try to use ingredients I already have on hand.  As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, the grocery store is super exciting for me – there are so many products, so many new things to try, so many possibilities.  If you check my pantry, you’ll see random things I pick up thinking about future meals.  Today’s case-in-point was anchovies (ohmygoshiloveanchovies) – and I have a great recipe that uses them, subtly, for some excellent flavors.

Side Note: I collect recipes from a variety of sources.  Sometimes from blogs I read, I subscribe to a few magazines (Rachael Ray (thanks, Amanda!!), Everyday Living, Food Network to name a few).  I try to credit the source, but a lot of the times I have no idea where the recipe hailed from, so I apologize in advance.  Since this one is a “30 minute meal” and uses the term EVOO, I’m going to guess it’s a Rachael Ray.

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Ingredients:

Box of pasta shells
Olive Oil
7-8 flat Anchovy fillets
Small Chile Pepper (or 1-2 tsp crushed red pepper)
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 C mixed green and black olives, chopped~1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp white wine
1/2 C flat-leaf parsley
1 C crumbled ricotta salata (or queso blanco, or other)

When you drain out the pasta, save a little of the water; stir it into the sauce pan.  Pour the pasta into a bowl, top it with the pan sauce, and the ricotta salata.  I didn’t have that, so I used queso blanco – the dish is very salty, so you don’t need a horribly salty cheese.

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While the pasta water is heating up, heat some oil in the skillet and add the anchovies.  Stir until melted into the oil – but fair warning, if it’s too hot, the anchovies will pop with the oil and you’ll have anchovy-grit all over your kitchen.

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 When the anchovies are melted, add in the chile pepper and garlic, stir for about 3 minutes.  Add in the olives and lemon juice.  Pour in the white wine to deglaze the pan.  I didn’t have any wine, so i used a little butter and water – turned out just fine.

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Bread Salad

So, I opened up my Blog to post for the first time in a while…and I realize it’s been a year, to the day, since my last post!  Talk about odds.  I finally found some time to sift through my recipes (though my actual recipe collection hasn’t gone through it’s overhaul…yet).  I try to get foods that match with the seasons – comforting, heavy foods in the winter, and light, veggie-filled foods in the summer.  So today, not only did I pick a great summer recipe (at least, I think so ;-)) but I picked one that is perfect for summer – you can grill it!!

The Ingredients are simple –

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Day old Baguette
Chicken Breast
Cucumber
Tomato
Basil
Olive Oil
Red Onion
Feta Cheese
Black Olives
Lemon Juice

Cut up the chicken breast into two or three pieces, season with a little salt and pepper, and grill until cooked through (20-30 min).  Take a chunk of the baguette, slice it in half, drizzle a little oil on it, and put on the grill for about 5 minutes (just enough to char it, like croutons).

*Note – I’m not a griller, so I cooked my chicken on the stove, and broiled the bread in the oven – worked perfectly.

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While the meat is cooking, thinly slice up the red onion, cut the tomato into quarters then into small pieces, dice up the cucumber, and toss it into a bowl with the feta, olives, and basil.   Drizzle a little olive oil over the veggies and mix.   Top with a tablespoon or so of lemon juice.  Stir.

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When the chicken is done, cut into bite-sized pieces; do the same for the bread.  Spread the veggies on a plate, top with the chicken and the bread.   Ta-da!!!  I’m telling you, this is crazy-good.  Thankfully, I had enough for lunch leftovers tomorrow – cause I was not done enjoying this for dinner.

Enjoy this summer sensation.  And…it’s good to be back 🙂

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