Cucumber Roll ups

I’m a sucker for all those cheesy and fried appetizers I’ve been seeing especially with Superbowl Sunday coming up this weekend. I wanted to share an option like these Cucumber Roll Ups that are easy to do that offers a healthy option and can also feed those who are gluten free, vegetarian, even vegan.
Slice cucumbers the long way to make cucumber roll ups for a healthy, vegetarian, gluten free bunch of bites for a party Slice cucumbers the long way to make cucumber roll ups for a healthy, vegetarian, gluten free bunch of bites for a party

[Read more…]

Signature

Biscuit Eggs Sausage and Cheese Breakfast Casserole

Every year I spend New Year’s Day watching the Rose Parade on TV if I’m in the US. Last year I was in Japan, but I was back to my tradition this January 2, 2017 (they moved it because they don’t ever hold it on Sundays traditionally). There was even a memorable year I was in Los Angeles and my sister (attending USC Law School at the time, now this year celebrating her first New Year’s as a mother to a 3 month daughter) even helped arrange my mom and other sister to get seats and watch it in person. It was incredible being able to see all the breathtaking details of the flowers, though I did miss a bit of the announcer highlights they narrate on TV.
Watching the 119th Rose Parade in Pasadena on New Year's Day Watching the 119th Rose Parade in Pasadena on New Year's Day Watching the 119th Rose Parade in Pasadena on New Year's Day Watching the 119th Rose Parade in Pasadena on New Year's Day

This year to accompany the bottle of sparkling that I cheered the parade on with as I watch, I also prepared this incredible Biscuit Eggs Sausage and Cheddar Breakfast Casserole. You can prepare everything for this Biscuits Breakfast Casserole the day before and then just pop it in the oven, which is perfect for a non morning person or after a long night up. I like how this casserole basically puts all of breakfast – like a breakfast that would have Biscuits and Sausage Gravy as one item, and Cheesy Egg on the side, all together in every bite.
Recipe for Biscuit Eggs Sausage and Cheese Breakfast Casserole

[Read more…]

Signature

Cheese Stuffed Mini Peppers

I think these appetizers of Cheese Stuffed Mini Peppers are adorable because of the way you can get multiple colors with the orange, yellow and red which are so cheerful, and then presentation wise the way they stand up in little rows or formations so bravely. These are vegetarian but can be made vegan if instead of feta and cream cheese you use Tofutti or some other vegan cream cheese.
Recipe for Cheese Stuffed Mini Peppers, easy peasy and are adorable because of the way you can get multiple colors with the orange, yellow and red which are so cheerful, and then presentation wise the way they stand up in little rows or formations so bravely

It does take a little time to stuff these, but I just did it sitting on the couch while watching Gilmore Girls. You can go faster if you pipe these into the peppers, but pushing them in with a little butter knife like I did will also do the trick.

These are perfect for a holiday gathering or potluck as you can just get a 1-2 pound bag of these and with approximately a pepper person get your lil cheese stuffed mini peppers soldiers in line or in wreath or tree formation or whatever you’d like! A 1 pound bag yields about 15 or so mini peppers, at least it did for me.
Recipe for Cheese Stuffed Mini Peppers, easy peasy and are adorable because of the way you can get multiple colors with the orange, yellow and red which are so cheerful, and then presentation wise the way they stand up in little rows or formations so bravely

Ingredients:

  • 1 16 ounce bag of mini sweet peppers
  • 5 ounces of fresh, soft feta cheese or alternatively goat cheese
  • 8 ounces of cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 4 tablespoon chives, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves worth of minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • salt, to taste
  • ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Cut off top about 1/2 inch from the stem to make the hat, and also cut at the bottom about about 1/2 an inch so the pepper can stand upright. Remove the seeds from the top and inside the pepper if any (most of the seeds will be at the stem), and rinse and dry the peppers.
  2. As the peppers are finishing drying, in a mixing bowl combine the 5 ounces of fresh soft feta cheese, the 8 ounces of softened room temperature cream cheese, the finely chopped 4 tablespoons of chives, the 3 cloves worth of minced garlic, teaspoon of red pepper flakes, tablespoon of olive oil, teaspoon of lemon juice. Mix well until everything is a smooth creamy texture

    Recipe for Cheese Stuffed Mini Peppers, easy peasy as you combine the feta, cream cheese, chives, garlic, olive oil, red pepper and bit of lemon juice and mix until smooth

  3. Now, it’s just a matter of filling the peppers and topping them with its matching hat! After you are done, you can serve now or refrigerate until ready to serve (say the next day!)

Recipe for Cheese Stuffed Mini Peppers, easy peasy and are adorable because of the way you can get multiple colors with the orange, yellow and red which are so cheerful, and then presentation wise the way they stand up in little rows or formations so bravely Recipe for Cheese Stuffed Mini Peppers, easy peasy and are adorable because of the way you can get multiple colors with the orange, yellow and red which are so cheerful, and then presentation wise the way they stand up in little rows or formations so bravely

An alternative way to serve these cheese stuffed mini peppers is that instead of whole like you see above, to cut the peppers in half length-wise instead. Then you don’t need to deal with the stuffing… but I couldn’t resist this because I just found it so stinkin’ cute!

What’s your favorite holiday appetizer to bring to a party?

Signature

Wild Rice Recipe with Apples and Pecans

Did you know that when you eat an apple, there’s a strong chance that it’s a Washington apple? The state of Washington grows almost 2/3 of all the apples in the United States, which is the 2nd biggest national producer of apples behind China. September and October are the peak of apple season, so I think this texturally awesome Wild Rice Recipe with Apples and Pecans of a rice dish really celebrates the bounty of autumn. The mix of brown and wild rice is healthy, but has crisp tart bites from the apples and butteryness of the pecans. Though I make it most often in the fall and winter, I just like this all year round as a side dish.
Wild Rice Recipe with Apples and Pecans - a great textural dish that also celebrates apples in the fall and is a wonderful side dish to many mains Wild Rice Recipe with Apples and Pecans - a great textural dish that also celebrates apples in the fall and is a wonderful side dish to many mains, here with a chicken breast stuffed with broccoli and cheese

The original recipe calls for 1 cup of brown rice and 1/8 cup of wild rice, but you can save yourself making that mix by purchasing packaged blended rice (I used Lundberg Wild Blend, a mix of Long Grain Brown Rice, Sweet Brown Rice, Wild Rice, Whole Grain Wehani Rice, and Whole Grain Black Japonica Rice). Lundberg Farms are family farms now owned by 3rd and 4th generation of the family and they have always been caretakers of the land. They have a strong philosophy of sustainable, organic, eco-farming.

“Leave The Land Better Than You Found It.”
– Albert Lundberg

They didn’t sponsor this post or ask me to do anything: I just really like this mix as an alternative to the Thai Jasmine rice I normally have as a staple or Seeds of Change Brown Rice + Quinoa. The Wild Blend has the best texture with its blend – you can find it nationally at Whole Foods, and locally here in Portalnd I see it at New Seasons and Zupans all the time. Plus, I appreciate their commitment to the earth while still providing healthy and delicious products to consumers.
Lundberg Wild Blend, a mix of Long Grain Brown Rice, Sweet Brown Rice, Wild Rice, Whole Grain Wehani Rice, and Whole Grain Black Japonica Rice

I’ve made a version of this with quinoa, but I added a lot more herbs and used walnuts instead and it turns out a little dryer to go with dishes that are already a little buttery or have a lot of sauce (say Chicken Kiev), while this original version is more on the buttery side and I stuck with a mix of brown rice and wild rice here.
Wild Rice Recipe with Apples and Pecans - a great textural dish that also celebrates apples in the fall and is a wonderful side dish to many mains Wild Rice Recipe with Apples and Pecans - a great textural dish that also celebrates apples in the fall and is a wonderful side dish to many mains

The original recipe also calls for adding salt to the broth when making the rice but I did not, plus I used low sodium vegetable broth. You can easily get away with just using water to make your rice instead of broth as well, but using broth can add extra flavor (though I think you get the most depth if you use chicken broth but then it wouldn’t be vegetarian).

The yield of this is enough for four – six people as a side dish (six if they only get about a cup of cooked rice each).
Wild Rice Recipe with Apples and Pecans - a great textural dish that also celebrates apples in the fall and is a wonderful side dish to many mains, here with a chicken breast stuffed with broccoli and cheese

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cup brown and wild rice blend
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped apple
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large pot, heat the vegetable broth to a boil and then add the rice. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot with a lid. Simmer to cook the rice for the next 40 minutes or so, stirring every once in a while so there is never rice that gets burnt at the bottom. You can substitute this with other packages of wild rice, brown rice, even quinoa if you would like – you will have to adjust the ratio to grain ratio accordingly.
    Lundberg Wild Blend, a mix of Long Grain Brown Rice, Sweet Brown Rice, Wild Rice, Whole Grain Wehani Rice, and Whole Grain Black Japonica Rice
  2. Meanwhile , as the rice is simmering and cooking, in a medium sized skillet, melt the butter. Saute the pecans in the butter until the pecans are golden brown and smell nice and toasty. Remove pecans from the pan and set aside on a paper towel to cool. I admit I usually make twice the amount in the recipe because I keep snacking on half of it before I put it in the rice…
    Wild Rice Recipe with Apples and Pecans - the pecans are toasted in butter until golden brown
  3. In the same pan that should still have a bit of butter, now add the olive oil, and sauté the chopped onion until the onions are translucent. Add the chopped apple and saute for a few more minutes based on your preference of how cooked or raw you want the apples to be. Add the nutmeg and if you’d like, more salt and pepper to taste.
  4. When the rice is done, stir in the apple onion butter mixture as well as the pecans and serve hot, warm, or even room temperature – they are all good.
    Wild Rice Recipe with Apples and Pecans - a great textural dish that also celebrates apples in the fall and is a wonderful side dish to many mains

I like this dish as a savory way to enjoy apples instead of what you usually find, which is in dessert. Do you have a savory apple dish you like – what is it?
Wild Rice Recipe with Apples and Pecans - a great textural dish that also celebrates apples in the fall and is a wonderful side dish to many mains Wild Rice Recipe with Apples and Pecans - a great textural dish that also celebrates apples in the fall and is a wonderful side dish to many mains

Looking for another savory apple loving recipe? Check out my previous post: Apple Slices with Brie and Walnut and Honey or Agave Nectar, easy and pretty and awesome for a party (I made mine for a women’s wine get together!)
Red and Green Apple Slices with a bit of Aloutte Smoked Bourbon Brie, Walnut and Agave Nectar

Besides the regular fall apple picking opportunities that abound now, this weekend also is the Hood River Valley Harvest Fest outdoors along the Hood River waterfront and for an indoor festival option at the Portland Expo Center is the Portland City of Cider Festival.

Signature

Tomato Pie Recipe with Fresh Cheeses and Uncooked Cherry Tomatoes

I’ve always wanted to make a tomato pie or tart. Particularly, one with the farm fresh cherry tomatoes during the peak of their season. But, I have a unique problem in using tomatoes at my home: F loves them. Loves them so much that he always makes sure he knows which bag they are in and that they are at the top, and then as soon as the groceries are in the car he grabs the cherry tomato container and eats them on the way home. He can finish a Costco size container of cherry tomatoes before we’re even in front of our house as he eats them like an addict, popping them in his mouth one after another.
Tomato Pie Recipe with Fresh Cheeses and Uncooked Cherry Tomatoes Tomato Pie Recipe with Fresh Cheeses and Uncooked Cherry Tomatoes

One time we bought them right at the farm and as we were stuck in the traffic leaving Sauvie Island, he complained his mouth felt a bit muddy. But he still finished all the tomatoes before we even crossed the bridge. Clearly he has a serious problem… Cherry tomatoes never last long in our home.

For this recipe, I purchased 4 pints of tomatoes the night before. Since they were gone by morning, I forced him to go get replacement ones, and finally I was able to make the tomato pie I’ve been waiting for. The 4 pints of cherry tomatoes that he brought back and you see partially in these photos, both on the Pie I made for lunch and the “extras”, were gone before dinner.

I used cherry tomatoes here because I love how they burst with a bit of pop of flavor. And, I particularly love this recipe because you only have to cook the pie crust- the tomatoes are NOT cooked (although they can be) so that you can taste them at their most juicy.
Tomato Pie Recipe with Fresh Cheeses and Uncooked Cherry Tomatoes

This recipe was inspired by a few things. Southern Tomato pie is a concoction with tomatoes in pastry with cheese and mayo – and I wanted one less rich, aka without the mayo (though there’s nothing wrong with mayo!). I saw a version of Southern Tomato pie that included along with those requisite ingredient also adding in summer corn kernels and I loved the idea of that extra texture. I additionally seared mine ok the pan for extra smokiness.
Tomato Pie Recipe with Fresh Cheeses and Uncooked Cherry Tomatoes and (optionally) seared corn to really celebrate the flavors of freshness

Also, similar to tomato tarts, I picked a cheese combo other than the regular cheddar and mozzarella because I wanted different flavors than essentially a variation of pizza or bruschetta – instead here we’ll be using goat cheese and ricotta mixed with scallions (as inspired by O&O Eats’ Tomato Tart with a Scallion Goat Cheese Filling) and the previously mentioned corn. The best ricotta is one you make yourself – it’s super easy, and you can find my version here for homemade ricotta on this blog post. Using fresh cheeses like goat cheese and ricotta adds creamy texture but still tastes light.
Tomato Pie Recipe with Fresh Cheeses and Uncooked Cherry Tomatoes and (optionally) seared corn to really celebrate the flavors of freshness

You can make your own pie crust if you’d like (or make this a tart), but I used premade pie dough. Because of that this entire process took about 35 minutes for me as I did the prep for the filling while the Pie Crust baked.

Ingredients:

  • 1 9″ Pie Crust (your own recipe or purchased)
  • 4 ounces of plain chevre / goat cheese
  • 4 ounces (about half cup)  fresh Ricotta
  • 2-3 chopped scallions (about half cup)
  • 1/2 cup of Cooked corn kernels (approximately one ear of corn)

Directions:

  1. Pre-bake the pie crust according to your recipe or instructions on the package. Make sure you use pie weights or other weights like beans, rice, etc. to weigh down the Pie (placed atop parchment paper) after using a fork to make an even amount of holes.
    Tomato Pie Recipe with Fresh Cheeses and Uncooked Cherry Tomatoes starts with a pie crust that you prebake before adding the cheeses and tomatoes
  2. Meanwhile, while chopping the scallions, you can additionally sear the corn kernels like I did –  a teaspoon of butter melted in a pan on high heat, add in blanched corn kernels and let sit there untouched for at least 7 minutes before stirring to sear. Alternatively steam or grill the corn per your preference because they should already be cooked.
    Tomato Pie Recipe with Fresh Cheeses and Uncooked Cherry Tomatoes uses optionally some summer corn, I like to sear mine for an additional little bit of smoky flavor
  3. In a bowl, mix together the goat cheese, ricotta, scallions and if you choose to add it, corn (let it cool a little, don’t add it to the cheese fresh from cooking so it doesn’t melt the cheese mixture too much). For other flavor variations you might try flavored chevre instead of plain.
    Tomato Pie Recipe with Fresh Cheeses and Uncooked Cherry Tomatoes uses a mix of chevre, ricotta, and scallion or green onion
  4. Spread it carefully in the pie than top with the cherry tomatoes- I placed them in whole to get the burst with every spoonful, or you can choose to halve them. You may also want to consider already cutting the Pie into six pieces before topping with the tomatoes so each piece has nice whole grape tomatoes.
    Tomato Pie Recipe with Fresh Cheeses and Uncooked Cherry Tomatoes Tomato Pie Recipe with Fresh Cheeses and Uncooked Cherry Tomatoes
  5. Sprinkle a little corn on top to fill in gaps between tomatoes.
    Tomato Pie Recipe with Fresh Cheeses and Uncooked Cherry Tomatoes and (optionally) seared corn to really celebrate the flavors of freshness

Pair this with a glass of white and eat this al fresco to fully celebrate all the bounty of this late summer and early fall season!

Have you had tomato pie before? What is your favorite recipe using cherry tomatoes?

Signature