Caprese Style Quinoa Bake

This was soooooo yummy.  Hubby and I like to eat meatless so this was actually great by itself for a meal, but it makes an awesome side dish as well for those who want a more rounded-out dinner.  The boys liked it, too, though they aren’t crazy about chunks of tomato.  A regular caprese uses fresh, delicious mozzarella, so by all means use it if you’ve got it.  However, I didn’t have any so I used goat cheese instead.  It was awesome!  This dish came out tasting like warm, comforting, creamy tomato soup with some chew.  Delicious.

caprese quinoa

Caprese Style Quinoa Bake

3 cups cooked quinoa

1 cup pasta sauce

2 T tomato paste

1/3 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

1 cup Mozzarella (or 4 oz. goat cheese)

2/3 cup grape tomatoes, halved*

1/4 cup fresh basil, cut into ribbons

salt & pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350*. Cook the quinoa- 1 cup quinoa + 2 cups chicken broth.

2. In a saucepan heat up the pasta sauce and tomato paste. Once warm, stir in the cream, parmesan, salt & pepper, half the tomatoes, half the basil, and half the mozzarella or goat cheese. Stir until heated through and everything is melted and smooth. *I didn’t have grape tomatoes so I diced up a large one.

3. Spray a baking dish (I used a 4×7 but you can go up to an 8×8 or 9×9). Pour in quinoa mixture and top with remaining tomato and mozz/goat cheese.

4. Bake for 15 minutes, then broil for an additional 2 or 3, until cheese is gold and bubbly.

5. Remove from oven and top with the remaining basil ribbons.  Allow to sit for a few minutes before serving.

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Black Bean & Goat Cheese Quesadillas with Chipotle Aioli

On our last night of vacation on the Crystal Coast the boys and I had an awesome tapas dinner at a local restaurant. While everything was to. die. for. (I truly need to figure out how to make their entire menu) one thing that we tried that I had to replicate ASAP was the black bean quesadilla and chipotle sauce.

Now their version had Monterey Jack and havarti cheese but I didn’t have either of those. Plus I like stronger cheeses that don’t lose their flavor when melted. Since I had several cheeses to choose from we decided to mix and match, so while the goat cheese was my favorite and matched beautifully with the black beans and the aioli, there were three kinds in all: goat cheese, cheddar and feta, & cheddar and smoke gouda (this one was Hubby’s favorite.)

So you can see how simple it would be to swap out flavors and see what you like best. Just don’t forget the aioli!

blk bn quesadilla

Black Bean Quesadillas

1 can black beans (I use organic)

1/4 cup finely diced onion

1 T butter

1/4 tsp cumin

salt & pepper

2 or 3 T fresh chopped cilantro

flour tortillas, large or small

cheeses of your choice, diced or shredded

In small saucepan, heat over medium-high and melt butter. Add in chopped onion and let cook for several minutes.

Stir in the cumin and cook a few minutes more. It’ll smell awesome.

Pour in the can of black beans, juice and all. Salt and pepper. Stir and simmer for 20 minutes.

Drain extra juices if there are any. Stir in the fresh cilantro.

Place some cheese on a tortilla and spoon some bean mixture over it. Add more or another cheese on the beans and top with tortilla. *I use a countertop Foreman grill to make my quesadillas. You can use a skillet on the stove(careful turning those tortillas) or the oven.

If you are using large tortillas you will have better luck filling them with more mixture because you will fold one half over the other, making a half cirlce-shaped quesadilla.

Chipotle Aioli

1/4 cup mayo

1 tsp sriracha

1/4 tsp chipotle seasoning

Combine and whisk all ingredients together. Refrigerate until ready to use (at least an hour if possible). Taste and adjust seasonings.

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Spinach & Goat Cheese-Tilapia Roulade with Tarragon Bechamel

Truth is some dishes just don’t photograph well, which is why although I HAVE attempted some of the recipes on the last two menu plans such as Greek Chicken, Pear & Pecan Muffins, and Chicken Pad Thai. None of them came out all that great and definitely weren’t photo quality. However, that is not the case with these tilapia roulades. The picture may not be ideal, but the taste was pretty delicious. (Even Number Two ate it up. Bonus!)

This recipe started out as one for stuffed salmon. It sounded awesome but I didn’t have any salmon handy. Then I had another recipe for an herb & veggie stuffed sole (rolled up), but alas, I didn’t have half of those ingredients either. What I ended up with was an improvisation using what I had on hand, using the two other recipes as a guideline. Usually this kind of innovative  cooking does not serve me well, but this time I have to say it was pretty darn good.

tilapia roll1

Spinach & Goat Cheese Tilapia Roulade 

4 filets tilapia, thawed and room temp.

1 cup frozen spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed out

8 oz. goat cheese, divided

6 oz. sour cream

salt & pepper

1 tsp basil

1 tsp chives (I used dried)

Preheat oven to 350*. If fish fillets are thick you can slice through them and make two fillets out of one, which make them roll much easier.

In a bowl combine 6 oz. of the goat cheese, the sour cream, spinach, herbs, and salt and pepper. Mix well.

Spoon and spread mixture on top of fish and roll each piece up. You can use toothpicks to keep the rolls together.

Place into a baking dish (spray dish or line with parchment paper first) and cover.

Bake about 25 minutes, or until fish is done.

tialpia roll2

Tarragon Bechamel

2 T butter

2 T flour  *Cornstarch for GF

4 T heavy cream or milk

1/4 cup chicken broth (plus more if needed for consistency)

salt & pepper

2 tsp tarragon

This fish definitely needed a sauce. As usual when I’m cooking I do a lot of it by eye. I try to make the measurements accurate for you, but with something like this it’s easy to eye-ball it and thicken, or thin, as needed. Bechamel is good for so many things but I find it rather bland and not quite worth all the extra calories. Hence, the tarragon. Believe me, it just makes it awesome.

Get the milk or cream and chicken broth bubbling in a small saucepan with the last 2 oz. of the goat cheese. Make sure the cheese melts and blends in. Add the tarragon. Make your roux and add it slowly, as needed.

*You can start out with your roux (1 part melted butter to one part flour) and add the cream and broth to it. It might actually be better to control your thickness this way, but what the heck, I always do things the hard way. Just make sure you allow time for the tarragon to get in there and do its thing 🙂 After that it’s all just about combining, whisking, (and not burning of course) and getting the sauce only as thick as you want it.

Serve it over the fish roulades.

I also put my roulades over some fresh garden tomato slices. Heaven!

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Olive Tapenade Pasta

Who loves pasta? And tomatoes, and goat cheese, and tapenade? {Oh, me….me!}

You do, too?

Well, I have the perfect go-to meal for you. And the best part is there aren’t any rules on what you can add, either.

All you need are four simple ingredients and about 15 to 20 minutes. Viola!

Olive Tapenade Pasta

12 oz. pasta, such as bowtie or radiator, cooked according to package directions

10 oz. jar of green olive tapenade (or roasted red pepper)

4 oz. goat cheese

handful cherry tomatoes, halved

salt & pepper to taste

Once the pasta is cooked and drained, return the noodles to the pot and add the goat cheese, stirring until melted in.

Next add the tapenade and mix until everything is combined and warm. Stir in the tomatoes.

*The tomatoes are optional but they really add something to this dish.

If you don’t like tomatoes there are lots of other things that would be excellent.

Substitute the pasta for rice pasta and you’ve got a gluten-free meal! 🙂

Flat Bread Heaven

I came across this simple recipe so long ago I can’t even remember when…maybe a dozen years ago? I have made this a variety of ways but I always come back to the original. I love this flat bread. It is so good and wholesome.

1 piece whole wheat flat bread

1 oz. goat cheese

1 plum or roma tomato, sliced or diced

fresh basil leaves (it’s a matter of taste)

Broil for a few minutes. I use my toaster oven and do a quick toast as well to get the bottom.

EXTRAS:

I always use a cooking brush (a small paint brush- about 1 inch. wide) and brush a very thin layer of EVOO over the bread. Then I cut up the goat cheese and sprinkle it over the bread. It’ll soften pretty quick so then you can smooth it out over the bread if you want. A little goat cheese goes a long way, and it’s better to smooth it out some so that little pieces aren’t rolling off your wedge as you’re trying to eat it.

Any type of tomato will do. If you want sliced, slice them thin. Diced tomatoes tend to roll off the bread (I had that problem today in fact!) but makes biting into it all easier.

I’ve used dried basil in a pinch so if you don’t have any fresh don’t let that stop you. Fresh tends to shrivel up when heated, so use a lot. I love basil and no recipe could possibly call for enough. I used fresh today and as you can see, it shriveled up quite a bit. It was still tasty but clearly I didn’t use enough.

I’ve also used feta and provolone cheeses. I love feta! But this does not make for a low-fat meal, so stick with the goat cheese.

Enjoy!