#EasterWeek: Whipped Ricotta Salad

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Wait a minute.

Wasn’t it just Christmas?

Am I allowed to admit I feel like I haven’t reached a level of organization for 2018 yet?

And we’re talking Easter!?

Well, since we’re talking about it, might as well cook about it!

This year’s #EasterWeek, hosted by Christie of A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures, convenes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and providing you plenty of time to come up with your perfect Easter menu. (Easter is April 1st – that’s 13 days from now!)

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

To start your menu, I propose a light and bright, spring-timey salad.

This salad comes from the cookbook Happy Cooking: Make Every Meal Count … Without Stressing Out by Giada De Laurentiis and is featured in her Las Vegas restaurant.

I quite like ricotta cheese, but when I have leftovers I never know what to do with it besides make some lasagna, ravioli, or pasta sauce. I have done muffins before, which is quite delicious.

With an almost full container of ricotta in my refrigerator, I selected one of Giada’s cookbooks hoping she’d know what to do.

Guess what.

She does!

This salad is both refreshing and satisfying.

The basil vinaigrette paired with the fresh tomatoes and the creamy ricotta reminded me of a caprese salad.

Whipped Ricotta Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 C packed fresh basil
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 tbsp + 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided use
  • 1 C whole milk ricotta cheese, chilled
  • 3 C baby greens salad mix (I used a blend of kale and spinach)
  • 1 C cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 lb sugar snap peas, trimmed and halved

Steps:

  1. Make dressing: Place basil, toasted pine nuts, vinegar, salt, and red pepper flakes into a food processor and blend. Add in 3 tbsp of the olive oil until the dressing comes together. Set aside.
  2. Using an electric hand mixer, whip the ricotta with the remaining olive oil and a pinch of salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, gently toss the salad green, peas, and tomatoes with the dressing.
  4. Plate: Spoon whipped ricotta onto a plate and top with the salad. Serves 4-6 people.

Whipped Ricotta Salad for #EasterWeek from Sew You Think You Can Cook

Be sure to check out these other great Easter recipes:

Broccoli and Blue Cheese Gratin by A Day in the Life on the Farm

Bunny Cinnamon Rolls by Family Around the Table

Bunny Mary by Culinary Adventures with Camilla

Carrot Roll Cake by Cookaholic Wife

Chocolate Dipped Robin’s Egg Cookies by Amy’s Cooking Adventures

Crunchy Easter Bird Nest Granola Bites by Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck Survive Despite a Whiskered Accomplice

Deviled eggs with creme Fraiche and herbs by Simple and Savory

Easter M&M Blondies by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks

Easter Mini Chocolate Rum Cupcakes by Daily Dish Recipes

Egg Benedict Quiche by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures

Orange Ricotta Pancakes by Jolene’s Recipe Journal

Puff Pastry Eggs with Ham and Cheese by All that’s Jas

Sausage and Spinach Pie by Karen’s Kitchen Stories

Tsoureki – Greek Easter Bread by Caroline’s Cooking

Whipped Ricotta Salad by Sew You Think You Can Cook

SRC: Nectarine Caprese Salad

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It’s Secret Recipe Club Reveal Day! In the Secret Recipe Club, each participating blogger is assigned a blog from another participating blogger and secretly searches their site for something to recreate. The accompanying blog post then goes live on reveal day! So while I was immersed in my assigned blog, someone else was picking through mine! I’m so excited to be part of this group, to see what on my blog peaks other’s interests and to stumble upon new blogs and new recipes.

Tara introduced me to The Secret Recipe Club and ever since I was accepted into this fun blogging group I’ve been waiting for this day to come. The day I’d be assigned her blog, Tara’s Multicultural Table. (Tara was assigned my blog August 2014) When I saw my assignment pop in my email, I was on a walk with my mom and I literally yelled, “Yes!” and threw my arms up in the air. (You can go ahead and ask her! If you know her, that is.)

I have a dedicated Pinterest board to Tara’s blog so there wasn’t any stealthy searching for me to do this month. I’ve even commented on just about every post on her page in support of her incredible blogging career that’s blossomed over the past few years. Tara’s blog is quite different from mine and her dedication to her passion for international cuisine leaves me in awe. I don’t know how she keeps up with it! She is also the mother to two. Her kids love to join her in the kitchen and you can see fabulous photos of family bonding interspersed among stunning food photography.

Tara and I have known each other for 7-8 years, now. Our husbands were in the same ROTC class at Auburn and we were stationed in the FL panhandle together for 4 years. After that we parted ways and are hoping to be stationed together again soon!

Memorial Day 2015 we were able to reunite after almost a year apart at their home in the DC area. I got the opportunity to cook with her once again and witness her photography station. As if the timing couldn’t be perfect, we’ll be joining forces again this weekend when she comes to visit, I can’t wait for her to meet Treat! She is Firecracker’s godmother and we are godparents to Claire. The friendship we created in Florida has only grown while we’ve been separated, talking in one form or another almost daily.

tara&lauren

Okay, enough mushiness. On to the food!

I have made multiple recipes from Tara’s blog already, most posted on Sew You Think You Can Cook. There are even two or three dishes on my camera waiting for the right time to share them with you. I didn’t use those for today’s reveal though.

I gave Stuart a list of 4 things to pick from Tara’s blog: Burnt Honey Ice CreamCarrot Cheddar Crackers, Nectarine Caprese, or Popcorn Tacos. It wasn’t until after handing him the notepad with the choices that I realized we got to try the ice cream first hand during our visit last year (we’re the friends mentioned for the tea she made in her review of the cookbook, too)! The popcorn tacos have been haunting my dreams ever since she posted them and you’ll be seeing them pop up here eventually (pun slightly intended). Same goes for the crackers, I’m always looking for ways to get more veggies in Firecracker’s diet.

Stuart decided on the caprese though, and I am glad he did. While it’s quite a simple option, it’s entirely delicious. Particularly when stone fruits are ripe and readily available in these summer months. I served this salad as a starter to salmon with roasted root veggies – quite the healthy night! I have decided, without question or fail, that I do not like yellow peaches. White peaches however are fantastic. I didn’t know if the same would be true for nectarines so I picked up both varieties. Turns out, I enjoy both varieties of nectarines but would recommend the yellow for this recipe. My knife cuts weren’t exactly restaurant worthy so I decided to layer my salad instead of stack it the way Tara had.

Nectarine Caprese Salad (1)  Sew You Think You Can Cook

Nectarine Caprese Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 C balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2-3 ripe nectarines, sliced
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • fresh basil, julienned

Steps:

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the balsamic vinegar and honey. Reduce by about 1/2. Set aside.
  2. Layer mozzarella slices and nectarine slices. Season with salt. Drizzle with balsamic reduction. Garnish with fresh basil.

*This recipe is adapted from Tara at http://tarasmulticulturaltable.com/nectarine-caprese-with-honey-balsamic-reduction/*

Nectarine Caprese Salad for #SecretRecipeClub from Sew You Think You Can Cook

To see the other bloggers who participated in The Secret Recipe Club this month click here:

#WaffleWeek2015: Hummus Waffles with Sausage and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

#WaffleWeek2015 Hosted by Kim @ Feed Me, Seymour

Waffles are in my top five favorite foods, so when I found out there was a blogging event completely surrounding waffles I just had to join in! Thank you to Kim of Feed Me, Seymour for allowing me to barge in!

I have six different waffle recipes on this blog, all of which appeal to the first meal of the day (not that that stops us from having waffles for dinner once a month!). I thought it would be fun to take this festive occasion to share a waffle intended for dinner (or lunch).

These hummus waffles are studded with Italian sausage, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh basil. I was tempted to rename these waffles “pizza waffles” because that’s exactly what the flavor profile reminded us of! I did feel that that title would be slightly misleading as there isn’t any cheese in these waffles. I do think adding in some shredded mozzarella would be welcome to really take the pizza concept to the next level – and provide marinara for dipping!

I wasn’t really sure how to eat these waffles, but we still topped this savory creation with maple syrup (no butter, though). We loved the savory sweet combination, so give it a try!

IMG_5329 (2)I was skeptical on how my son would handle these waffles. He, like his mother, loves all breakfast foods, but I wasn’t sure if the texture of the add-ins would throw him off. The answer was not even a little bit! He ate an entire waffle on his own.

Hummus Waffles with Sausage and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Ingredients:

  • 1 C flour
  • 1 C white whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 C milk
  • 1/2 C hummus
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 sausage link, casings removed and fully cooked
  • 1/4 C chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil (I used Gourmet Garden lightly dried basil)

Steps:

  1. Preheat waffle iron and spray with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk in the eggs and milk. Add in the hummus and olive oil, mixing until combined (it will be thick). Fold in the cooked sausage, sun-dried tomatoes, and basil.
  3. Drop 1/3 – 1/2 C of waffle batter onto the prepared waffle iron and cook until golden.

*This recipe is modified from Gina at http://www.runningtothekitchen.com/savory-hummus-waffles/*

Hummus Waffles with Sausage and Sun-Dried Tomatoes for #WaffleWeek2015 from Sew You Think You Can Cook

And keep that waffle iron hot for these other great recipes:

Appet-affles

Breakf-affles

Waffl-ides

Dessert Dish-affles

Tomato and Bean Salad

Late spring and summer this year have been fairly wet. All of the rain yielded quite the tomato crop over in my neighbor’s yard. Which means just about every week I’m being given fresh homegrown tomatoes! (Black cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, and roma tomatoes) I’ve even been handed two quarts of homemade tomato sauce.

This pregnancy I’ve found that I adore tomatoes. BLTs have been shamelessly scarfed down for lunch at least once a week, and those cherry tomatoes turned into my favorite salad (tomatoes, thinly sliced onion, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, S+P).

I took a play on that aforementioned salad and added beans and basil to make a heartier potluck contribution at a church function.

Tomato and Bean Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (15 oz) white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 very large heirloom tomato, chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil (I used Gourmet Garden lightly dried basil)
  • 1 heaping tbsp minced red onion
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp agave
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic

Steps:

  1. In a large bowl, gently toss together beans, tomatoes, basil, and onion.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegars, oil, agave, and garlic. Season to taste with S+P.
  3. Dress salad and keep in refrigerator until ready to serve (at least 30 minutes).

*This recipe is adapted from Rebekah at http://rebekahrose.blogspot.ca/2015/07/bloggerclue-white-bean-tomato-and-basil.html*

tomato bean salad | sew you think you can cook

CIC: Basil & Lemon

CIC-header
We’re setting our thoughts and minds on spring and summer with today’s Crazy Ingredient Challenge. When it was announced that Lemon and Basil were to be February’s ingredients my first thought went to muffins.
Lemon and Basil is a pretty classic combination – perfect for seafood, chicken, and pastas. I wanted to try going in a different direction by baking!
I was scrambling to get this recipe made and photographed. With the winter storms that have been blowing by I didn’t get a chance to get to the grocery store until Wednesday night. Hey, at least I’m not in the Northeast! First thing Thursday morning these babies were baked. Happily the sun was shining and there was a lot of light being reflected off of the white snow. I did have to take down the beach towels that are duct taped to the sliding glass door. Yes, folks, beach towels have been severely downgraded now that we live in Ohio! They now protect against drafty doors and windows, act as a resting place for snowy wet boots, and are used to protect the carpet underneath my son’s booster seat when he’s eating. Okay, that last use might be an upgrade. 😉
These muffins are bright and help you forget about the negative temperatures outside. They make you want to lie down on those beach towels amongst green grass and flowers reading a good book.
There is a lemon sugar glaze that gets poured over the muffins after pulling them out of the oven – I didn’t use all of the glaze and even used more than was probably necessary. I also found these muffins to be a little too eggy for my personal preference – next time I’ll see if it would work with just 2 eggs.
This recipe makes 12 muffins.
Lemon Basil Muffins
Ingredients:
  • 1 stick butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 C sugar, divided use
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 C sour cream
  • zest 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1 C flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • juice of 1 large lemon
Steps:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer cream together the butter and 3/4 C sugar.
  3. Add in the eggs until combined. Add the sour cream, lemon zest, and basil. When incorporated add the flour and baking powder. Mix until a consistent batter is achieved.
  4. Pour batter into 12 lined muffin cups. Bake 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out cleanly.
  5. Whisk together remaining sugar with the lemon juice. Spoon lemon-sugar mixture over top the muffins while hot. Allow to cool in the muffin tin 10 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.
Lemon Basil Muffins | Sew You Think You Can Cook
To see the other bloggers who participated in this month’s Crazy Ingredient Challenge click on the link below.

Creamy Tomato Soup

I feel like I am writing a “before and after” puzzle for Wheel of Fortune with these three latest blog posts. Mexican NOODLE soup – CREAMY chicken NOODLE soup – CREAMY tomato soup. But I couldn’t possibly have a week of soups without the classic combination of Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese!

I do not say this lightly. This is the BEST tomato soup I’ve ever had. What takes this soup above and beyond other tomato soups is the use of basil and Parmesan cheese.

In fact, this soup has already been made twice. The first time I halved the recipe and made it on the stove top (see the original for a slow cooker version).

IMG_1798The second snow of the season, first of the year, occured on January 6th. Schools and the base were closed. That shovel I bought back in the fall was about to get it’s first use because we still had to take my son to his 6 month doctor’s appointment. Just as Stuart bundled up to go shovel the driveway we saw our wonderful neighbor using his snow blower on not just our driveway, but the sidewalks, and a couple other neighbors’ driveways, too! As a thank you I made them this soup. I doubled my first version so we could have some again as well.

Tomato Soup to go

Creamy Tomato Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp butter, divided use
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2/3 C tomato sauce
  • 2 C chicken broth
  • 1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 C heavy cream
  • 1 C shredded Parmesan cheese

Steps:

  1. Melt 1/2 tbsp butter in a pot over medium-high heat. Saute onion until tender, season with S+P. Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  2. Add the tomato sauce, chicken broth, diced tomatoes, and basil. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cover. Cook for 1 hour. Stirring occasionally.
  3. Remove from heat and blend using an immersion blender. (If you don’t have an immersion blender carefully pour soup in small batches into a standard blender.) Return to low heat.
  4. In a small saucepan melt remaining 1 1/2 tbsp butter over medium-high heat. Create a roux by whisking in 1 1/2 tbps flour. Cook about 1 minute, until roux is lightly golden. Whisking constantly, slowly add in the cream. Whisk until there are no lumps.
  5. Add cream mixture to the blended tomato soup. Melt in the Parmesan cheese. Simmer soup for another 20 minutes, uncovered.
  6. Serve with your favorite grilled cheese!

*This recipe is modified from Tiffany at http://lecremedelacrumb.com/2014/09/slow-cooker-tomato-basil-parmesan-soup.html*

Creamy Tomato Soup | Sew You Think You Can Cook

 

Caprese Steak

As previously promised, here’s another steak recipe on Sew You Think You Can Cook. This one features a beautiful cut of steak, seared, topped with tomato and fresh mozzarella and baked to perfection. Top it with fresh basil and balsamic vinegar reduction and you have a restaurant quality dinner right in your own home.

I found this idea while perusing Foodgawker and thought it looked simple enough for my handy kitchen helpers to do. Funnily enough, neither of them actually read the recipe, or apparently listened to me when I told them how to prepare the meat. Mom declared that this one was Stuart’s to make because it involved grilling. It does not. And Stuart kept trying to go outside to the grill!

I guess when they think steak, they think grilling. Most probably do. But this recipe sears it off in a skillet to get a beautiful crust and then finishes in the oven. This cooking method creates perfectly juicy steaks.

Caprese Steak

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 C balsamic vinegar
  • 3 steaks
  • 1 beefsteak tomato
  • fresh mozzarella cheese
  • fresh basil

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a small skillet reduce balsamic vinegar until reduced by half.
  3. Season steak with S+P.
  4. In a cast iron skillet over high heat cook both sides of the steak, 2-3 minutes until an even sear is achieved.
  5. Top steak with slice of tomato and mozzarella cheese. Bake until the reach a desired internal temperature.
  6. Garnish with fresh basil and top with balsamic.

*This recipe is adapted from K at http://www.onthewoodside.com/2013/11/seared-filet-with-tomato-and-fresh.html*

Caprese Steak