Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tomato Jammin'

Crostini with Goat Cheese and Roasted Tomato Jam
Angie and I have shared an office space for the past few years and have bonded over many things, food definitely being in the top-three. Almost a month ago, she gave birth to her fourth child, Quinn, a adorable baby boy. Having gone through the various ceremonies of motherhood (several times), Angie opted for a post-pregnancy baby-viewing party rather than a traditional shower . . . that way she could enjoy cocktails with the rest of us! I always like finger foods for parties and have lately been on a roasting kick. These disappeared from the table quickly . . . super easy to prepare! 

- 1 lb. Roma tomatoes, sliced crosswise 1/4" thick
- salt and peper
- 1 baguette, sliced crosswise into 1/4" slices
- 8 oz. spreadable goat cheese
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. dried basil
- 1 tsp. dried thyme 
- 6 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 clove garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 425˚ F. Line a baking sheet with foil an arrange tomato slices in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and dried herbs. Drizzle 2 Tbsp. olive oil evenly over tomatoes. Roast in oven for 20-30 minutes until tomatoes soften and begin to brown. Allow them to cool slightly on the baking sheet before removing. Place in a bowl or airtight container to spread on crostini before serving. Jam can be made 48 hours ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 350˚F. In a small bowl, whisk together 4 Tbsp. olive oil with 1 tsp. salt and minced garlic. Brush one side of each baguette slice with oil and place on a baking sheet oil side up. Bake in oven for about 25-30 minutes until slices of bread are toasted and begin to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool complete before topping.

Top each slice of toast with goat cheese and then about 2 tsp. tomato jam. Serve on a tray at room temperature . . . with a cocktail in your hand. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Poppin' Poppers!

Jalapeño Burger Stuffed Peppers
Before I left for the weekend, my sweetie came home with an inspired dinner idea. "Have you ever had stuffed peppers?" Have I? Hell yes! My mom's basic burger and cheese stuffed bell peppers made a frequent appearance in the family's dinner rotation . . . and we loved them. I began to mull over my variation on this recipe when Matt suggested somehow incorporating all the spicy goodness of a jalapeño popper in this endeavor. I suggested taking it to the next (and obvious) level of adding bacon. Fast, easy, and full of heat, this is a great dinner with a kick.

- 5 red and green bell peppers, sliced in half lengthwise, seeds, and stem removed
- 1 lb. ground hamburger
- 1 14.5 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes with green chilis
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 1/2 c. shredded pepper jack cheese
- 2 Tbsp. dried bread crumbs
- 3 green jalapeño peppers, stems, seeds, and pithy parts removed, finely diced
- 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
- 3 sliced thick-cut bacon, diced
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

Cook bacon in a small skillet over medium until it begins to turn brown, remove with a slotted spoon and allow bacon to drain on a paper towel-lined plate, reserve rendered bacon fat. Return skillet to heat and add diced jalapeño peppers, cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from fat with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel with bacon.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil over medium in a medium sized skillet. Add diced onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook until they soften and turn translucent. Add ground beef to onions, sprinkle with more salt, pepper, and ground cumin. Cook over heat with onions, breaking burger apart with a wooden spoon until brown and cooked through. Remove from heat and drain excess fat and liquid. Return to medium heat and add canned tomatoes. Stir to combine and heat for about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, combine cream cheese, cooked bacon, and diced jalapeño peppers. Stir until thoroughly mixed together. Set aside.

In a 13x9" baking pan arrange halved peppers cut side up. One at a time, fill peppers. Spread about 2 Tbsp. full of cream cheese mixture on the bottom of each pepper, top with a scoop of hamburger mixture, top with a sprinkle of breadcrumbs and shredded cheese. After all the peppers are filled bake in oven for about 25-30  minutes until mixture is hot through and peppers begin to soften. Eat up!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Faster Than You Can Say, "Soup's On!"

Super-Fast Tortellini and White Bean Soup 
 In the last couple weeks I found myself unexpectedly taking on the directing duties for the department's spring production of a devised vaudeville show. While I was happy to help my colleague out, who had to leave town before his show fully materialized, the extra responsibility kept me out of my kitchen. My long hours at the theatre coupled with my sweetie's recent string of closing shifts led to some late night dinners. There are times I don't mind starting a more elaborate meal at 10 p.m. and there are others when I just want to stuff the first thing I see in my face when I walk through the door. This fast and easy soup recipe was a nice compromise - a quick and savory solution to warm you from the inside out in the hours before bedtime. The Parmesan rind is a great way to add a ton of flavor. Try it out.

- 1 qt. chicken broth
- 4 oz. pancetta, diced
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 2 shallots, minced
- 1 15 oz. can white cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 handful fresh spinach leaves, rinsed
- 1 9 oz. package cheese tortellini
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 Parmesan cheese rind, plus extra grated Parmesan cheese for sprinkling

Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add panetta and cook over medium heat until it begins to brown. Remove from pot with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Set aside. Add remaining olive oil and minced shallots to the pot, season with salt and pepper, and cook over medium heat until the shallot soften, about 3-4 minutes. Add carrots and cook over heat for about 3 minutes. 

Add the chicken broth, beans, Parmesan rind, and spinach leaves, and bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes for beans to soften. Add tortellini and boil for about 6 minutes, until they are cooked through. Add cooked pancetta to soup and stir to combine ingredients. Season soup with additional salt and pepper. Serve with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.