Sunday, December 18, 2011

Browned Butter Sage Cashews

Cashews........ Mmmmmmmmm........

There is something about these nuts that stand out from the rest.  They are not as hard as other nuts and feel luxurious to me.  Cover them in butter and I'm in heaven. 

So do yourself and favor and make these!  Browned butter gives the cashews a complimentary nutty flavor that is enhanced with sage, sea salt and little bit of honey.  These would make an excellent gift, and are sure to be popular next time you are entertaining! 

recipe adapted from The Kitchn

1/2 pound roasted, unsalted cashews
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 350° degrees. Spread the cashews on a cookie sheet and warm in the oven.

In a small skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring, until the butter begins to turn golden brown. Add the sage and cook, stirring, for another 1 to 2 minutes, until the butter is dark golden and the sage is frizzled but not burnt. Remove from heat and add the honey.

Toss the cashews with the butter mixture and add salt to taste.  Enjoy!  These also go extremely well with a Cabernet Sauvignon... just saying! :)

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Lemon Chia Seed Dressing

I kinda have really been into chia seeds lately.  Have you tried using them yet? If not, give them a shot.  They are PACKED full of good for you stuff and don't have a strong flavor.   Chia seeds are an excellent source of fiber, antioxidants, calcium, protein and omega 3 fatty acids. 

Actually.... when I came home from the store my husband thought I was crazy.  Like I lost my marbles (which I swear, he must lovingly think once a day).  Our conversation went sorta like this:

Me: Look babe, I picked up chia seeds for us!  They are really good for you.
Chris:  Huh??  Chia seeds.. like the chia pet?  (starts to sing the chia pet commercial song)
Me: Yes, but now you eat them instead of growing things with them.
Chris: You've lost your mind.

So I started out adding them into our smoothie's in place of flax seeds.  We have a bag of whole flax seeds that your body can't break down unless you have put them through a coffee grinder - which we don't have.  So instead of grinding them by hand, I welcomed the idea of trying out these so-called chia seeds.  Worked pretty good!  Then I started sneaking them into all sorts of dishes... oatmeal, cookies, salmon seasoning, even vegetable sautes.   I also realized they sorta look like poppy seeds, and could be used in their place.

This dressing is one of my favorite ways to use chia seeds, it's simple and light.  And it can be used on a ton of different salads!  I served this with my Apple and Pomegranate Salad.  In an effort to be healthy, you can replace typically used granulated sugar with stevia, agave, etc.   But feel free to use whatever natural sugar substitute you prefer.


1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
juice of one lemon
1/2 tsp chia seeds
1 tbsp agave syrup (or stevia/your choice of natural sweetener)


Whisk together all of the ingredients and enjoy right away.  Chi chi chi chia...........!!

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pomegranate and Apple Salad

Things are going OK in our house in terms of eating healthy through this holiday season.  We do really well throughout the week... and then the weekend comes.  Our weekend was full of lazy days and evening holiday parties.  And pizza ordered from the couch.  Does this ever happen to you??  So in attempt to turn things around, we made this salad and it was exactly what we needed.  The pomegranate seeds add a juicy and crunchy addition to the tart granny smith apples.  (Be sure to buy organic apples, I just read in multiple places it is the numero uno fruit to buy organic as the skin of regular apples contains the most pesticide.  You can also learn how to de-seed a pomegranate here).  I added walnuts give the salad a wonderful nutty layer.  For one of the holiday parties I went to on Monday, I did a pomegranate, goat cheese (of course) and walnut combination.  Very delicious, but I really think this one using apples is the best.  Did you also notice how this salad is not only seasonal, but also in holiday colors?  I just love it!!

Serves 4

2 organic granny smith apples, cleaned and thinly sliced
1 package of spinach
1 pomegranate, de-seeded
1/2 cup walnut pieces


Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss with your favorite dressing.  Be healthy and enjoy!

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Bundled Chicken with Goat Cheese and Fresh Thyme

This recipe was sent to me by one of my readers and closest friends, Adelina.  Adelina is the type of friend who seems like she was born in the kitchen and has long been the culinary go-to in our group of friends.  When we were in college, Adelina would be whipping up scrumptious eggplant parmesean while the rest of us would pat ourselves on the back for making a box of mac and cheese.  I once had the privilege of eating Thanksgiving dinner with her Italian family - it was an incredible foodie experience. She and her family simply know how to cook.  So when she sent me a message saying you gotta try this recipe, I knew immediately it would be good!  And, in her own words, it is absolutely AMAZING!

This is an excellent meal to serve to guests or when you really want to wow someone.  Little bundles of chicken are tied up with kitchen twine and stuffed with a fresh herb and savory goat cheese mixture.   The combination of shallots and vidalia onions add a hint of sweetness while a reduced white wine sauce finishes the dish.  As Adelina has taught me, fresh herbs are a must.  No dried substitutions, you won't get the same result.  Tip:  There is a trick to getting thyme leaves easily off the stem.  Hold the top of the stems and run your fingers down the stem to the base.  The leaves will come off easily in your fingers!

Serves 4

1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/3 cups thinly sliced shallots and vidalia onions (About 4 large shallots and 1/2 vidalia onion)
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces crumbled goat cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon fat-free milk
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (Cut them in half lengthwise and pound them out to make 4 pieces)
Salt and pepper to taste
Cooking spray
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth


Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper to pan; cook 12 minutes, stirring frequently. Cover, reduce heat, and cook another 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook 5 minutes or until golden. Cool slightly. Combine onion mixture, 1/4 teaspoon salt, cheese, parsley, milk, and thyme in a small bowl, stirring with a fork.

Cut chicken breasts in half lengthwise, and pound out until thin.  Place a spoonful of goat cheese mixture in the middle of each chicken piece.  Roll up and secure with kitchen twine.  (I use twine a lot in the kitchen, but it definitely takes some practice!!!) Sprinkle chicken bundles evenly with salt and pepper.

Return pan to medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan and sauté for 5 minutes. Turn chicken and cover.  Reduce heat, and cook 10 minutes or until chicken is done.

Remove chicken from pan and let stand 10 minutes.  Add wine to pan; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cook until reduced by half (about 2 minutes). Add broth, and cook until reduced to 1/4 cup (about 9 minutes). Serve with chicken.  Enjoy!

Do you have a favorite recipe you want to share?  Let me know!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash, Ricotta and Fried Sage Crostinis

This is such a great appetizer for entertaining in the Fall. I recently bought a few butternut squashs and wanted to do something fun with them.  At first your standard soup came into my mind but then I had the idea of an autumn themed bruschetta.  Bingo! To be honest, I have weakness for bite size food... I can't help it. I just love small pieces that pack a lot of flavor in just one bite.  The additional benefit of having a fondness for bite sized food is that when entertaining you never freak out over what to serve with cocktails or as an appetizer!  Bite size food/crostinis are simply a win-win.

These butternut squash crostinis are served with a ricotta and lemon zest spread.  The ricotta compliments the squash and gives it a soft fluffy cheesy bed to rest on.  Sage was an obvious choice as it goes hand-in-hand with butternut squash.  But I upped this classic pairing by lightly frying fresh sage in olive oil for a minute.   It's a definite must-do and worth the few extra calories :)  These crostini's can easily be prepped ahead of time and assembled as company arrives. 


1 2 lb butternut squash
5 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided plus more for drizzling
1 tbsp brown sugar
freshly ground sea salt & pepper
24 fresh sage leaves
1 cup part skim ricotta
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 whole wheat baguette, sliced
1 garlic clove
fresh lemon juice


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Clean, peel and dice squash into small pieces.  Toss squash with 2 tablespoons oil and sugar on a rimmed baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer. Roast, tossing occasionally until squash is golden & tender, 23-30 minutes. Let cool on sheet.

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add sage; cook until edges begin to curl and turn dark green, 1-2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, carefully transfer fried leaves to a paper towel to drain. Mix ricotta and lemon zest in a small bowl. Season with salt & pepper.

Slice baguette into 1 cm pieces and place on a baking sheet.  Drizzle lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Bake for 6-7 minutes or until lightly toasted.  Remove from oven.

To assemble crostini, top each piece with the ricotta mixture and then layer with a spoonful of squash. Drizzle crostini with lemon juice and olive oil. Sprinkle with salt & pepper. Top crostini with a fried sage leave and enjoy!

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