Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ginger Lime Shrimp Quinoa with Red Pepper and Yellow Corn

Hope "ya'll" had a great Thanksgiving!  We spent the holiday in Paula Deen's hometown, Savannah GA and also visited what I consider to be the South's best kept secret- Beaufort, SC.  Both cities provided a ton of beauty, history and exceptional food.  If you indulged like we did, then this week is all about Thanksgiving damage control!

Actually, Chris and I have decided to make a commitment between now and Christmas to fill our body with healthy and nutritional things. Our Fall weekend get-a-ways have been fun and we have eaten at some amazing restaurants, but with a looming trip to the Caribbean with my husband's family between Christmas and New Years, things have to change!  The next few weeks of recipes are going to be about using fresh, unprocessed food and seasonal ingredients.  Though there might be a couple with some butter or sugar in one or two, because well, we're not perfect ;)

This recipe is one I threw together and loved the resulted flavor combination.  Healthy quinoa is topped with a ginger lime shrimp and accented with crunchy yellow corn and bright red pepper.  The flavors are bold yet taste fresh and simple.  I didn't write down how much of the red bell pepper and carrots I used (oops), so just eye-ball it to your preference.  Give this recipe a try if you're looking for something different!


1 cup quinoa
1 tbsp lime zest
1/4 cup lime juice
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro
Red bell pepper chopped
Carrots chopped
1/2 cup yellow corn
1/4 lb shrimp
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
peanut oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp cumin
pinch of cayenne pepper
Sea Salt to taste


Prepare quinoa as directed to on box and set aside.  In a medium skillet heat oil and add garlic and ginger.  Saute for 2 minutes.  Add shrimp and cook for 3 minutes on each side until they are no longer opaque.  Add lemon juice, corn, carrots and red pepper and saute until soft.

To make the dressing, whisk together lime juice, lime zest, peanut oil, cumin, salt and cayenne pepper.  Combine dressing with shrimp and quinoa.  Serve either warm or cold!

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits

Growing up my family always served biscuits with Sunday dinner and definitely at all of our family get-togethers.  As a kid, I was an extremely picky eater and refused to eat anything except the main meat and the biscuits.  No veggies for me, not even mashed potatoes!!  I probably ate 2 or 3 biscuits with every meal.  I remember one time my Mother told me I wasn't allowed to leave the table unless I finished my green beans.   So when I thought she wasn't looking, I brilliantly managed to hallow out my biscuit and stuff it to the gills with the veggies on my plate.   I thought I was so sly. 

Looking back,  I realize she probably knew all along.  I also can't believe how limited my taste buds were.  Ahhhh, I am glad to say my taste buds have developed.  But when I crave comfort food, I always seek out biscuits.  These are great for an occasional treat.  They are buttery, fluffy and delightfully cheesy.  You will want to have 2 or 3 even if you don't have any vegetables to hide! 

recipe source: Ina Garten

2 cups all purpose flour, plus more as needed
1 tbsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 cup cold buttermilk, shaken
1 cold extra-large egg
1 cup grated extra-sharp Cheddar
1 egg, beaten with 1 tbsp milk


Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  In a large bowl, add flour, baking powder and salt and mix together.  Slowly add the butter and mix until the batter is in small clumps, the size of peas as Ina says. 

In a small bowl, combine the buttermilk and egg.  Whisk lightly.  Quickly add this mixture to the flour mixture with the mixer on low.  In another small bowl, mix the cheddar and a handful of flour.  With the mixer still on low, add the cheese to the dough.  Mix until it is all roughly combined.

Place the dough on a well-floured board and knead lightly about 6 times.  Roll out the dough until it is about 2 inches thick.  Use a biscuit cutter to cut biscuits, re-rolling scrapes to keep making biscuits. 

Place biscuits pieces on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Brush the top of each biscuit with the egg wash.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until the tops are browned and biscuits thoroughly cooked.  Serve hot with a little bit of garlic butter or alone as a snack!  Enjoy!

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Green Beans with Goat Cheese, Tomatoes & Almonds

This recipe is from Southern Living.  I have never read Southern Living, but since I started cooking and now live in the South, I periodically sneak a few peaks while in line at the grocery store.  I am terribly guilty of such behavior.  In fact, I saw this recipe and went straight home looked it up on their website.  Sorry for not buying you Southern Living!  This recipe has got some good stuff though -  I felt like it called my name.  Well, almost anything with goat cheese calls my name :)

The crisp green beans pair well with the soft and creamy goat cheese.  The shallots and tomatoes bring color and brightness, while the almonds add a satisfactory crunch.  The only thing I changed was substituting white wine vinegar for sherry vinegar and I halved the recipe because it was only Chris and I.  We served it with a turkey Chris smoked last weekend and they tasted delicious together.  Definitely a great idea if you want to jazz up your thanksgiving sides. This even tasted good cold the next day with left overs for lunch!

Serves 6-8

1/2 cup crushed almonds 
2 pounds haricots verts (tiny green beans), trimmed 
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar 
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice  
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper  
1/3 cup olive oil  
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved  
2 shallots, thinly sliced 
2 garlic cloves, minced


Preheat oven to 350°. Bake almonds in a single layer in a shallow pan 6 to 8 minutes or until lightly toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.  *Be careful, I forgot to time this step ended up burning the almonds during 3 different attempts

Cook green beans in boiling salted water to cover 6 to 8 minutes or until crisp-tender; drain. Plunge beans into ice water to stop the cooking process; drain.

Whisk together vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a large bowl.   Add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until blended and smooth.  Add cherry tomatoes, shallots, garlic, and green beans.  Toss to coat.

Top green bean mixture with crumbled goat cheese and toasted almonds.  Enjoy!!

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hot Apple Cider with Rum

As I mentioned in this post, two weeks ago my husband and I made a weekend trip to NYC to take in the sites, visit some friends and have a little fun.  We have a tradition that while visiting any big city, we try to take in the sights with a cocktail on the top of a the highest building we can find.  We first did this in Bangkok 3 years ago and it was such a memorable drink/view.  In New York, we weren't disappointed.
Chris and I had cocktails at at two different spots over the course of 5 days.  First we went to the top of the Gansevoort Hotel which provided a beautiful view and an interesting crowd.  But our favorite rooftop spot was at 230 Fifth.  This place was awesome.  It was huge, had no cover or exclusive VIP lists, great music and expansive views of midtown and the Empire State Building.  When you got off the elevator, you were handed a red fleece snuggie-like hooded blanket to help keep you warm in addition to their rooftop heaters.  When you looked around it was kind of like you were at some secret meeting of the red-robed cult.  But as someone who is always cold, I loved it!!!  What kept us really warm was the hot apple cider drinks with rum.  Since apple cider is prevelant in the markets now, I had to re-create this yummy and warming cocktail at home.

This would be a great drink to serve over Thanksgiving, because who doesn't need a little rum over the holiday?? :)


1 part dark rum (we used Sailor Jerry)
2 parts apple cider
1 orange, peeled and sliced
3-5 cinnamon sticks
1 handful of cloves


In a medium sauce pan combine all of the ingredients and heat over low heat until warm.  Serve in a glass mug and garnish with additional orange slices and cinnamon!  (You also easily could substitute this cocktail with Bourbon or other dark liquor that you have on hand).

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Grana Padano and Fig Appetizer

Last weekend Chris and I made an impromptu decision to fly up to New York for a weekend of fun at the very last minute.  It was crazy - I literally woke up Thursday morning with an early yoga class in mind, and after a phone call from my husband, four hours later, I had purchased a plane ticket and was waiting to board an airplane.  It was probably the most spontaneous thing we have ever done.  In the past 5 years Chris and I having traveled all over the world together but we had never been to the Big Apple together.  One of the places we visited was Murray's Cheese Shop in Greenwich village.  This place is AMAZING.  I was like a deer caught in head lights trying to take in all the beautiful displays and varieties of cheese.  Cheese Heaven!!!

We ended up buying an incredible cheese that we sampled called Grana Padano.  This cheese is less nutty and salty, a much more delicate cheese compared to your regular Parmesan.  Think of Grana Padana as Parmigiano Reggiano's high-maintenance cousin.   We learned that it is made throughout the Po River Vally in northeastern Italy, and the cheese requires the raw cow milk of two milkings, which is then partially skimmed, cooked twice and bathed in brine before aging.  Serious stuff.  Grana means "grain" noting the cheese's fine, flaky, granular quality and sweet, nutty bite.  Murray's insists upon a 20 month age, and such high standards call for a worthy wine.*

So if you are in need a new appetizer for thanksgiving, or entertaining this holiday season?  I highly recommend you serve these simple and rustic cheese hors d'oeuvres.  Any type of Parmesan goes wonderfully with a high quality fig spread or preserve.  The fig spread is rich and sweet and pairs well with the nutty cheese.  I used Dalmatia's Fig Spread which I found in the gourmet section of my local grocery store.


1 whole wheat batard
1 jar of fig spread or fig preserves
1 block of good quality parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


Line a small baking sheet with foil.  Cut batard into 1cm thick pieces and evenly spread out on baking sheet.  With a pastry brush or an olive oil mister, add a little bit of EVOO on each piece of bread.  Season with salt and pepper and toast in a toaster oven or on in the broil until golden brown.  Remove from oven.  Top with a a little bit of fig spread and cheese.  Enjoy!

*source: Murray's Cheese Shop

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Glazed Acorn Squash

I have never bought an acorn squash before though I always notice them in the grocery store.  Actually I used to think they were puuuurely for decorating and not eating.  But now that I enjoy cooking, frequent the farmer's market, and read recipes for fun, I understand that they can be delicious!  One of the things I enjoy most about writing Cheese Please is not only documenting my growing cooking skills, but also pushing myself to experiment with new things.  It is sooo easy to get stuck preparing the same familiar 2-3 vegetables.

I am extremely happy with this elegant and delicious fall veggie.  I just adore the scalloped edges of an acorn squash when sliced.  This recipe is also very simple to make, I have a feeling I will make this over and over again.  Roasting the acorn squash slices in brown sugar gives them a pretty glaze and enhances a delicious sweetness to the dish that is just enough.  It is also a tad bit healthier than using gobs of butter.  Though I wanted something simple, this recipe could be easily expanded by adding additional spices such as a pinch of cayenne, cinnamon, nutmeg or rosemary.  Or how I may roast them next time, with parmesan, similar to my zucchini crisps

Serves 2

1 acorn squash, halved, seeded and cut into 1/2" crescent slices
Vegetable oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2-3 tablespoons of dark brown sugar


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and evenly brush with vegetable oil.  Spread squash pieces on the baking sheet and top with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle each piece with about 1 tablespoon of brown sugar.  Bake for 5 minutes and then flip.  Salt, pepper and sprinkle the remaining brown sugar on the squash pieces.  Bake for an additional 20 minutes until roasted.  Enjoy!

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Apple Walnut Muffins with Maple Cream Cheese Icing

Are these muffins?  Cupcakes?  Not sure... but once you taste one you won't care.  I made these last weekend to have on hand while my parents were in town visiting.  I have found that having muffins on hand while you have guests works out really well.  Sometimes your guests will arrive starving, or wake up earlier than you and it's nice to have something available so they can help themselves.  These delicious, moist and fluffy muffins will make you happy, whether you have guests or not!

The apple walnut combination makes this a perfect recipe for fall when apples are readily available at the markets.  Almost any variety of apple can be used.  The maple cream cheese icing is flavored with a pinch of cinnamon and is such a treat.

Recipe from A Cup of Sugar... A Pinch of Salt

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 cups apples, peeled, cored and diced
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

For the frosting:

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 ounces (or 1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon maple extract
1/2 cup confectioners sugar


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a small bowl, mix eggs, buttermilk, and oil. Stir into flour mixture just until moistened. Add diced apples and walnuts.

Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until center of muffin springs back when lightly touched. Cool muffins on a wire rack.

For the frosting, with a mixer combine the cream cheese, butter, cinnamon and maple extract.  Add the sugar and beat until smooth.  Top the muffins liberally and garnish with a few extra walnuts and confectioners sugar!    If you want to get a little crazy, make a few mini muffins like I did :)

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