Creamy Dreamy Dip

Hi Friends!

Happy Tuesday! I figured I’d stop in and share my latest obsession: Creamy Cheesy Dip/Spread (made in about 5 minutes with a blender). Seriously… I think I’ve made this dip about 5 times in the last month (3 times for social gatherings and 2 times just because I couldn’t stop thinking about it). I make it a little differently each time, but this way seems to be my favorite.

And if you have these ingredients… how can you go wrong, really?!

Three of my favorite things....

Three of my favorite things….

This is super easy to make and can be made with so many different flavor combinations… serve it with some sliced baguette, a good dip chip or some veggies… I’m also loving it as a spread on sandwiches.

Sorry for the lack of photos… but I didn’t think that blended cheese would photograph well.

Noelle’s Creamy Dreamy (cheesy) Dip:

*adapted from a cream cheese box–I can’t find it on the Organic Valley website or I would link it for you.*

  • 1 package cream cheese, softened.
  • 1 (8 oz) brick cheddar cheese (I am a big fan of Cabot Extra Sharp)
  • 8 oz. Plain Greek Yogurt/Sour Cream
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 tsp. onion powder or chives.
  • 2-3 tsp. smoky paprika
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • a few good cranks of black pepper
  • Juice of half a lemon (optional)

Grate your cheddar cheese.

Add all ingredients into food processor/blender–EXCEPT your cream cheese and lemon juice. Pulse until everything is chopped/well combined.

Add in remaining ingredients and pulse for a few more minutes until everything is incorporated.

Scrape into a bowl and cover. Refrigerate for an hour or so before serving–this allows the flavors to really come together.

Want to add in some veggies? Throw in some broccoli, spinach or kale.

This dip is real good. Please try it!

 

 

Advertisements

Scenes from a Full Weekend and a Confession

Hi Friends!!!

Life has been moving pretty fast around these parts lately…I’m looking forward to some much-needed time off and a road trip with Farmer Ben, later this week (Georgia and South Carolina, here we come!).

This weekend, I went to a women’s conference with some ladies from my church in Worcester, MA…this was a completely new experience for me and one that I needed.

I actually hemmed and hawed about going because, well… I just felt like I wouldn’t have time…but I made time and it was so worth it!

Not only did Natalie Grant lead worship (so powerful!), but we got to see some great speakers. I learned a lot and came back feeling refreshed and empowered.

Please excuse my blurry fan-girl photo...

Please excuse my blurry fan-girl photo…

My favorite speaker was definitely Valorie Burton.

Valorie Burton...I wish you could see the shoes she had on!

Valorie Burton…I wish you could see the shoes she had on!

I mentioned that this conference was something I needed and I found Valorie’s workshop especially relevant to some things I am dealing with right now.

I got home from the conference really late and Farmer Ben and I were up bright and early on Sunday Morning to volunteer with our church for our Faith in Action Sunday… basically, the congregation divides up into groups and does various service projects around town…

Our group went to a local park and raked leaves…for three hours. By the time we left the park, we had 97 giant bags of leaves and a ton of piles that we just didn’t have the man-power to bag. Needless to say, I am sore today and have some really attractive blisters on my hands.

After volunteering we went to my mother’s house and took a quick shopping trip… I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but I absolutely despise shopping at Wal-Mart…This shopping trip reminded me why. I think I’ve had my fill of misbehaving, screaming children and rude people for the next three years.

We dropped my mom off and then headed to our friends’ house to make a quick dinner.

I made this mac & cheese from Pinch of Yum and fooled their son into eating butternut squash. Not only was it delicious, but it only had 1 cup of cheese in a double recipe!

Delicious.

Delicious.

After dinner, I whipped up these cookies…they were also a hit.

Farmer Ben and I finally made it home at about 9pm and I immediately went to bed.

Other than that, life has been good…

We’ve been going to the market.

$1 for this entire bag of "imperfect produce"

$1 for this entire bag of “imperfect produce”

This was $38...$20 for local meat and cheese.

This was $38…$20 for local meat and cheese.

Hubby bought me some beautiful flowers from a local farm….

IMG_20130928_105254_088

And we’ve been enjoying the weather. I finally got to break in my sweet orange wind-breaker from the race.

IMG_20131001_182709

And now for a confession… 

My biggest frustration at the moment is that I haven’t run since my marathon. I took a few days off for recovery and, much to my dismay, ended up having to work both jobs for the entire week following the race.

Running a marathon and then working 12-15 hour days for five days is not conducive to recovery.

That Saturday, I was going to go for a short run but I started having a weird pain behind my knee. It hasn’t gone away. It’s more annoying that downright painful and almost feels like a snap or a pinch…does that make any sense?

It’s not my knee… but I don’t know how else to describe it. I did some google-ing and am guessing that it’s either a baker’s cyst or a meniscus but doesn’t feel painful enough to be either.

I did notice that the pain was a little more annoying this past week, depending on what I am doing. Yesterday, it was pretty uncomfortable and by the end of raking it was burning.

Any ides as to what this is?

I broke down and went to a walk-in doctor but honestly, he was no help. He felt around and played with my knee, stood back and said, “Well, I don’t know what’s wrong with you…I have no idea what to tell you!”

Super helpful, right? I did, however, finally get a full physical, for the first time in at least five years.

I don’t think I’ll be returning to that doctor as, honestly, I found him a bit kooky (and that is saying a lot, coming from me), but it’s nice to know that as far as he could tell, I am perfectly healthy.

Anyway, I have a friend who works for a knee specialist and she offered to get me an appointment… it sounds silly, but I am putting it off because I am convinced it’s actually nothing and will feel silly if I turn out to be right.

These are the things that go through my head… sigh.

Well…that’s all for now… It’s going to be a short work week and a lot of driving. I cannot wait!

What have you been up to? What are your weird aches and pains? Cooky doctors-discuss. Butternut Squash, yes or no?


Scenes from a Long Weekend-Part II: Garden Eats

In my last post, Dad, Eileen, Gary and I were in Saranac Lake getting our local food on… I managed to pick up a few goodies….

My new addiction...

My new addiction…

 

I have a weakness for goat cheese....

I have a weakness for goat cheese….

After bringing Farmer Ben a surprise coffee, I took Gary and my Dad for a long walk on a bike path by the lake. It was hot…and sticky.

I then rushed home to clean-up and make some more delicious eats….

Here is what I whipped up….

Avocado-Tomato Bruschetta

Bruschetta... under a mountain of parmesan

Bruschetta… under a mountain of parmesan

What you’ll need:

  • 1 baguette…preferably local
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for drizzling on bread
  • 2 large tomatoes (or 3-4 small-medium)
  • 15 fresh basil leaves (approximately)
  • 1 tbsp. or a splash of balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt and cracked pepper to taste
  • 1 avocado

What to do:

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Mince garlic.
  • Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat, add garlic. Stir…cook garlic until it softens-do NOT let burn. This won’t take long. Pour garlic and oil into a metal mixing bowl and set aside.
  • Chop/dice tomatoes (this will be depend on how big you want your chunks to be–side note: chunks is not an appetizing word.) Add to mixing bowl with garlic and oil. 
  • Also, if you don’t want soupy bruschetta, drain some of the juices before adding to bowl.
  • Chop basil. (tip: stack some leaves on top of each other, roll them length-wise and slice into thin strips) Add to mixing bowl.
  • Add in remaining balsamic, salt and pepper and stir. Set aside
  • Slice baguette on the diagonal into 1/4 -1/2 inch slices. Place on baking sheet and drizzle lightly with olive oil.
  • Place in oven and let brown. Meanwhile, dice up your avocado and add to the bruschetta mixture–do NOT do this until ready to serve.
  • Remove toasted baguette from oven and top with bruschetta mixture.

If you’re feeling extra naughty, grate some parmesan over the top.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

Garden Delight Pasta

wpid-2013-08-31_19-04-03_1.jpg

(Or…trying to use up all the veggies on your counter/in the fridge pasta)

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 lb whole wheat pasta (I used angel hair)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion (or 1/2 a giant onion like I used…), diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1 medium eggplant, chopped
  • 6 large kale leaves, sliced (I just ripped it up)
  • 2 large Swiss Chard Leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped (about 1-2 tbsp.)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 large tomato, chopped (or, if you have leftover bruschetta mix, that will work too!)
  • 3 oz. goat cheese (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

What to do:

  • Heat water for pasta and cook according to package
  •                  While your water is boiling….
  • Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.
  • Add in onion, until it starts to soften.
  • Add in zucchini and eggplant, stirring occasionally, be careful not to let veggies stick/burn. Reduce heat to medium low. (This should take about 10-15 minutes, depending on your veggies/size of pan)
  • Add in Swiss chard and kale, cover and let wilt. Stirring occasionally.
  • Stir in cooked and drained pasta (it should be hot) and mix in remaining ingredients.

Remove from heat and Serve hot. Makes 4-6 servings.

Favorite seasonal meal? How do you use up all of your leftover veggies? Goat cheese in pasta, yes or no?

Stay Tuned for Scenes…Part 3!


Um, What are you Drinking?

I finished Eat & Run by Scott Jurek.

Awesome book. Great story-telling, interesting (and tasty!) recipes. Great information. In all honesty, I probably would have finished it in a day or two, but my schedule hasn’t allowed for much down time…regardless, I enjoyed it…I’ll probably end up buying this book.

Am I going to immediately go vegan now that I’ve read it? No.

But I will be adding a lot of his recipes to my current rotation. Scott’s “Holy Moly Guacamole?!” Anytime, anywhere. I whipped up a batch the other night…Farmer Ben and I had devoured it by the next day!

After last night’s run, I made a little refresher Scott named the “Coco Rizzo Cooler.”

This drink is surprisingly light and not-too sweet with just a hint of coconut. The chia seeds add a fun texture. Scott recommends this for before, after or during a long run. I don’t know if I’d drink it during…but it is tasty for an after run treat. It’s got some really good stuff in it!

I had a serving this morning in place of my usual coffee pick-me-up.

The really good thing about this is that it’s great on it’s own…but I can see it being equally delicious with a variety of other ingredients (crushed ice and rum, maybe?)…experiment!

It’s not very pretty, but it’s fun!

Mason Jar Tupperware. It's a thing.

Mason Jar Tupperware. It’s a thing.

Anyway, I didn’t have the exact ingredients…so here’s my version:

Coco Rizzo Cooler

Adapted from Eat & Run

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup plain cooked rice (I used jasmine)
  • *1 cup almond-coconut milk (I always get Blue Diamond’s Unsweetened Variety)
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tbsp. agave nectar or  maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp. chia seeds

*The original recipe called for coconut milk… either way, be sure to read the label. Buy the milk, NOT the drink.

What to do:

  • Combine all ingredients except the chia seeds in a blender. Blend until completely smooth. (I had a few chunky bits because I overfilled my blender and had the beginnings of a  Coco Rizzo disaster…oops.)
  • Pour into a large container that has an airtight lid (I used two giant mason jars), add the chia seeds and give it a good shake.
  • Keep refrigerated. Serve chilled and  shake again before drinking.

Can be poured into a glass or bottle, if you are on the run. Makes 4-5 servings.

Enjoy!


Roasted Garlic and Arugula Pesto, Two Ways

I’m embarrassed to admit this, but up until last weekend, I had never oven-roasted garlic. My chef husband probably judged me for this. Luckily he was at work while I was playing in the kitchen so he missed the huge mess I made.

I can saute garlic like a champ, but now, after trying the roasted variety, I don’t know if my life will ever be the same.

Seriously. I may or may not have stood over my oven, shoveling an embarrassing amount of baguette into my mouth and burning my fingers as a result of not wanting to waste any of this delicious-ness that didn’t make it into the above mentioned pesto.  It happens.

Do you see all the delicious-ness in the pan?!

Do you see all the delicious-ness in the pan?!

If you’ve never roasted garlic, here is an excellent tutorial, courtesy of the Pioneer Woman. It’s crazy easy and totally worth it.

I must note, that I only roasted my garlic for about 30 minutes, but I think it’s because my oven is possessed and chooses its own temperature… but that’s a different story… Moral of this story, use your best judgment for roasting times.

Anyway, onto the pesto.

Sidenote:

I don’t know if you knew this or not, but it rained like crazy in Upstate NY last weekend…like 8 inches of rain in three days. Or, if you live near Whiteface Mountain, you got three feet of snow. In May. I’m not kidding. This made national news…

Yup, this is real life.

Yup, this is real life. Courtesy of ORDA/Whiteface and AP

Luckily, I missed the snowfall. And just got stuck with wind, rain and cold. And it was in this lovely weather that I ventured outside to pick arugula from the garden. Brilliant, I know.

Yup, worth it.

Yup, worth it.

But I had to… I had pesto on the brain. And it was totally worth it.

Roasted Garlic & Arugula Pesto

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of garlic
  • 2 cups arugula (less if you want a less peppery pesto)
  • 2 good handfuls spinach
  • a few tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (more or less depending on how wet you like your pesto)
  • 4 sun-dried tomatoes (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

What to do:

  • Rinse spinach and arugula and let dry.
  • Roast garlic (if necessary, see tutorial link above). Once garlic is cooled, gently squeeze cloves out of the skin (also in tutorial).
  • Put all ingredients in a blender. Pulse until smooth.

The pesto will be perfectly delicious at this point. So you can serve over warm pasta with or without lots of parmesan cheese, spread on a baguette…or store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.

Roasted Garlic and Arugula Pesto Version 2.0: Rollatini

Additional Ingredients:

  • Goat Cheese, about 4 oz.
  • 1 package lasagna noodles.
  • Diced tomatoes (Optional)
  • Mozzarella (Optional)

What to do:

  • Cook lasagna noodles according to package, drain and lay out on a cookie sheet to dry/cool.
  • Pre-heat oven to 375.
  • Prepare a large casserole dish by putting a thin layer or diced tomatoes or tomato sauce in the bottom, set aside.
  • Prepare pesto exactly the same way as above. Transfer to a medium-sized dish and mix in goat cheese. (If you don’t like lasagna noodles, you can just add the kicked up pesto to cooked pasta of your choice…or bread.)
Tangy, creamy goodness.

Tangy, creamy goodness.

  • Using a rubber spatula, spread pesto-goat cheese mixture along 2/3 of the lasagna noodles, as pictured below. If using diced tomatoes, sprinkle those on as well (be sure to drain so they don’t get soggy).
So colorful!

So colorful!

  • Roll noodles spread-side first.

2013-05-25_17-48-27_596

  • Place prepared noodles, open-end down, in prepared casserole dish.
  • Top with leftover diced tomatoes.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, covered.
  • Uncover and bake an additional 10-15 minutes or until noodles are hot.
2013-05-25_19-19-14_949

Without cheese, delicious.

If using cheese, add at the same time as you top noodles with  diced tomatoes.

Follow same baking instructions. Bake until cheese is browned and bubbling.

With cheese. Delish.

With cheese. Delish.

Makes about 5 servings (2 rolls per serving).

Happy Thursday!


Ch-Ch-Chia Oatmeal?!

So as you may or may not know, I recently read Born to Run.

Mind=Blown.

Anyway, chia seeds are discussed in the book and I totally bought into the hype. I immediately went to the co-op and picked up a small container (in case I didn’t like them). And yes, if you’re thinking of the infamous Chia Head, these seeds are the same…and so much more!

After purchasing this tiny super-food, I set out to find ways to use them. I used them in a gluten-free flatbread recipe as a substitute for gelatin (they worked better than expected), we also put them in smoothies.

Thus far my favorite way thus to eat them is in overnight chia oatmeal.

image

So pretty! Don’t mind my floured counter–tortilla making happened about five minutes before-real life.

This is super easy, and kind of fun to make. Below is the version I’ve been making most recently, but as usual, this is easy to adapt and change to your liking.  I’ve seen some recipes call for adding sweeteners, but in my opinion, the fruit is enough. I’ll leave that up to you.

When mixed with liquid, the chia seeds get a fun gelatinous texture, similar to tapioca.

It’s also pretty great because you get tons of fruit in your first meal of the day  and you can just grab it and throw in your purse (great for people like me who are bad about eating fruit and are always running late for work in the morning).

If you’re like us, you have an abundance of mason jars in your house and are trying to figure out how to use them when not canning.  Today, you’re in luck. You don’t have an abundance of mason jars? That’s okay, any airtight container will work.

Overnight Chia Oatmeal:

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup rolled or steel-cut oats (I don’t remember what we have, either will work), uncooked
  • 1 tbsp. Chia Seeds
  • 1/2 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 banana, sliced
  • 1 Saturn peach, pit removed and chopped (a regular peach or 1/2 cup frozen/canned peaches will also work, just avoid anything with added sugars or syrups).
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used regular whole milk but almond or coconut milk would also be wonderful)
  • 1 pint mason jar with lid (if you’re missing the lid, use parchment paper and cover with ring, or use any airtight container).

Optional Toppings:

  • Nuts of your choice
  • Coconut
  • Nut Butter
  • Chocolate shavings
  • Cinnamon

What to do:

  1. Combine all dry ingredients in jar, add milk. Seal, give the container a few good shakes and place in the fridge.
  2. Let sit overnight and eat for breakfast with or without the toppings of your choice.
image

A slightly different version, morning after.

That’s it. Boom Done.

PS. I’ve totally been holding out on you but I will be back. Pinky Promise. The delicious-ness and ridiculous-ness to follow will be worth it…at least I hope so.


Overnight Black Beans

I woke up this morning to a delicious aroma wafting ever so delicately into my bedroom. Wiping the sleep from my eyes, I thought about what this smell could possibly be…. after about five minutes of sniffing and drooling, I finally realized…

“Oh yeah! Overnight Black Beans!” 

Last night, I pulled out the slow cooker and set it up so I’d have lunch ready at 6 am. Special thanks to Aunt Terry for our sweet crock-pot. So fancy!

Love this thing!

Love this thing!

You see, I am all about food prep/easy cooking these days. I’ve been ridiculously busy and I don’t see any signs of my schedule opening up…in fact, it’s only going to get busier in the next few months. So, in order to keep myself (and Farmer Ben) sane, I’ve been scouring some of my favorite food blogs, and discovering new ones, to find easy-to-put-together meals…and when that fails, I pester the hubs.

Luckily, we keep a supply of good staples in our house and that makes the whole food prep thing a lot easier. I can take no blame for this, Farmer Ben is totally responsible for keeping the kitchen well stocked and for that I am so thankful. He’s the best…and not a total space cadet like his wife.

Anyway, I was going to do a chicken crock-pot meal…but I over-estimated our chicken supply (see space cadet note, above). Black beans were next on the list.

Let me tell you, these beans were the such a good idea!  So easy and soooooo gooooooooood.

Perfection

Perfection

The beans came out perfectly, just a little bit of crunch but not too hard and not too soft.

What you’ll need: 

  • ~2 cups dried black beans
  • **3 cups chicken or vegetable stock (water will also work)
  • About half an onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 Serrano peppers (I was going to chop but after squirting pepper juice all over myself, I threw them in whole).
  • 1 tbsp. taco seasoning (cumin, pepper, paprika, salt, pepper, etc.)
  • About 1/3 cup of Farmer Ben’s JD Barbecue Sauce (you could also use a hot salsa, chili sauce or a savory/spicy barbecue sauce–avoid the sweet stuff!) 

What to do: 

Rinse and drain beans. Pick out any stones/non-bean items.

Throw all the ingredients into crock-pot and give it a quick stir.

Turn crock-pot on low and forget about it for 8 hours (I started mine before I went to bed).

Serve over rice, with a fried egg or with tacos/nachos. Perfection.

**Note: Depending on how dry/wet you like your beans, adjust the liquid. These would have been just as good with 2 cups of chicken stock for a drier bean, I had some extra liquid but the beans were still firm and so not mushy. If you’re using 3 cups of beans (or a 16 oz package), use 3-4 cups of liquid. 

Enjoy!