Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Crispy Fried Goat Cheese Salad

  A few weeks ago I went to the Schoolhouse Cafe in Paoli, Wisconsin with a couple friends for lunch.  Paoli is a tiny little town with a few shops and this wonderful cafe.  The schoolhouse was built in 1854 and became a cafe in 2008.  I've been there a few times and each time I've really enjoyed the food along with the atmosphere.    
I had the Goat Cheese Salad (mixed greens, pecan encrusted goat cheese, pears, strawberries, grapes, blueberries with a balsamic vinaigrette).  It was so good, especially the fried goat cheese!  I don't know when I'll get back to the Schoolhouse so I had to try and recreate this salad at home.  I didn't have any pecans so I used seasoned bread crumbs and it turned out great!   
 The first thing you want to do is put the goat cheese in the freezer for about 15 minutes to firm it up so it’s easier to slice.  I used 4oz log of goat cheese but it’s easy to scale up or down, depending on how many people you’re feeding.
After slicing put a little flour and slice of cheese in your hand
and flatten.
Next coat cheese with flour, then dip in egg
and then coat with the bread crumb mixture.
At this point you can fry or put in refrigerator until ready to use.
Goat cheese is rich so one slice was enough for the salad as a little goes a long way.

Fried Goat Cheese:

4 oz. goat cheese log
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
pinch of freshly ground pepper
pinch of kosher salt
1 eggs, beaten
1/8 cup of flour
olive oil

Salad: (This is what I used but any fresh fruit would work)

Mixed greens
(Beets would also be a good addition as they go so well with goat cheese)
Candied walnuts 
Serve with a balsamic vinaigrette

1.  Put goat cheese the in freezer for about 15 minutes so it firms up for better slicing. 

2.  While cheese is chilling,  put the panko in a bowl.  Add the parsley, thyme,  garlic powder, pepper, and salt.  Stir to combine.  Set aside. 

3.  Beat the egg in another bowl.  Put the flour in a small bowl.  Remove cheese from the freezer.  Using a sharp knife, slice it into 4 pieces.  Flatten each piece using a little flour in the palm of your hand.  Put the cheese in the flour.  Flip it to coat on both sides.  Place the floured cheese into the beaten egg.  Flip it to coat with egg on both sides. Lastly, put it into the seasoned panko breadcrumbs.  Flip it to coat on both sides.  Put it on parchment lined  plate. Repeat with the rest of the cheese. This may be done ahead of time and kept chilling in the refrigerator until ready to sauté.  

4.  Coat the bottom of a shallow pan with olive oil. Set it on the stove over medium high heat. When the oil is heated, set the cheese down gently in the oil.  Repeat with the rest of the cheese.  Sauté until golden brown on both sides.  Remove it from the pan and transfer to a paper towel.

Serve warm on top of salad.
Yields about 4 pieces of fried goat cheese.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Favorite Potato Salad

It has been awhile since I posted a new recipe.  This recipe for potato salad isn't new but an all time favorite.  I've been making it for years and I'm surprised I've never posted it.  Today we are having a cookout and this potato salad is always requested.  It's a basic recipe and turns out perfect every time.


2 eggs
2 lbs. new red potatoes, cut into bite size pieces (about 7 cups when cut up)
1/3 cup celery, diced
1/3 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I only use Real Hellmann's Mayo)
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons yellow mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

  • 1.  Place cut potatoes in a large saucepan; add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cook 10 to 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain well.  
  • 2.  Meanwhile, place egg in small saucepan; cover with cold water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer about 15 minutes. Immediately drain; run cold water over egg to stop cooking. Peel egg; chop.
  • 3. Place cooked potatoes, chopped eggs, celery and onion in large bowl. 
  • 4.  In small bowl, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, salt and pepper; blend well. Add dressing to potato mixture; mix gently to coat. Cover; refrigerate at least 1 hours or until serving time.
    Serves 6

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

EASY Crock Pot Chicken Taco Meat

It doesn't get any easier using a crock pot and only 3 ingredient to make this chicken taco recipe.  We love Mexican food and this chicken is great for tacos, nachos and even on a salad.

2 lbs chicken breasts (if frozen, make sure they are thawed) 
1 packet taco seasoning
16oz jar salsa (I like to use Medium Restaurant Style Tomtits Salsa, it's thick and flavorful)
Taco toppings: tomato, lettuce, avocado , cheese, sour cream, cilantro, etc


Sprinkle chicken breast on all sides with taco seasoning.  Lay breasts in bottom of crock pot then pour in salsa.  Cook on low for 4 hours, or high for 2 hours, or until chicken breasts are tender. Shred chicken and mix with some or all of the cooking liquid and continue to cook for another 15-20 minutes.
Serve on taco shells or tortillas with all your favorite toppings.

Serves 6-8

Monday, March 16, 2015

Blueberry Baked Steel Cut Oatmeal

This was my first attempt at making baked oatmeal and if I had known how good this was I would of been making it all winter long!  I don't usually eat oatmeal once the spring weather appears but this oatmeal will continue to make an appearance.  I really like that it can be made the night before and baked in the morning.  The nuts rise to the top for a crispy topping with the creamy oats underneath and the sweet blueberries throughout.  If there are any leftovers it warms up wonderfully in the microwave.

I found this great recipe on Alexandra Cooks blog.  Check out her blog.  

I'm looking forward to making this again.  I want to try it with dried cherries and pecans or apples and walnuts but this blueberry and walnut combo is a keeper.     

2 cups 2% or whole milk
1/3 cup PURE maple syrup (don't use flavored maple pancake syrup)
1 large egg
3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 cup Steel Cut Oatmeal (don't use rolled oats)
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 - 1 cup blueberries

1.   In a bowl, whisk together the milk, maple syrup, egg, butter, and vanilla.   Add oats, nuts, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  Stir to combine and store mixture in fridge overnight. 
2.   Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Give mixture a good stir.  Scatter berries into an 8-inch square baking dish.  Pour milk-oat mixture over the berries. 
4. Bake for 40 minutes, turn oven down to 350 degrees and continue to bake 20 more minutes or until the top is golden brown and the oat mixture has set. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.

Yield: about 6 servings


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Coconut Shrimp Curry

I try a few new recipes a week and lately nothing has been that good except for tonight.  We LOVED this Coconut Shrimp Curry.  So good and so flavorful with a touch of spice.  I especially loved how easy it was to make.  Prep the ingredients and the dish will come together quickly.  I adapted the recipe from Jo Cooks and Mel's Kitchen Cafe.  Check out their blogs, they have some good looking recipes.   

PREP TIME:  15 mins
COOK TIME: 20 mins

    For the shrimp marinade:

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice 
  • 1pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (I like the 26/30 shrimp per pound)

  • For the sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 small zucchini, slice and quarter 
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teas[ppm kosher salt
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can coconut milk (found in the asian isle) 
  • Garnish with fresh cilantro
  • Hot cooked rice for serving
  1. In a bowl, toss the shrimp with marinade.  Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the  oil over medium heat until hot.  Add the zucchini and stir fry until slightly brown.  Remove with slotted spoon and set aside.  Add the onion to skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the pepper, ginger, salt, garlic, coriander, turmeric and curry powder.  Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring often, until the mixture is very fragrant and the onion is soft, about 3 minutes. Add the undrained tomatoes to the skillet and cook about 1 minute. Increase the heat to medium high and  add the coconut milk, stirring to combine (I used a whisk). Bring the mixture to a boil and add the zucchini, shrimp and any accumulated juices from the marinade.  Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until the shrimp are lightly pink and cooked through, about 2-4 minutes.  Serve over hot, cooked rice and garnish with cilantro.
Serves 4

Friday, January 23, 2015

Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Shells

This isn't the best picture, it's a picture of the leftovers.  But, I must say, these are just as good the next day.  I made these during the holidays for family and then again for friends this last weekend.  This recipe is a keeper!  I love the cheese filling with spinach, mushrooms, garlic and roasted red peppers. It's packed with flavors I love. The recipe makes two pans (about 50 shells) so it will feed a crowd.  You can always freeze a pan or cut the recipe in half.  

The recipe comes from Tina at Epicuricloud.com.  Check out her blog and recipes, she's one amazing cook!  Also, check out her recipe here as she has step by step instructions with beautiful pictures. 

Tina's recipe is vegetarian and I'm sure it's delicious as is but I made a few changes.  I added Italian Sausage to the marinara sauce,  I used 1/2 ricotta and 1/2 cottage cheese just because my Mom always used cottage cheese in her filling and that's how I like it and I also used more sauce and cheese but that's about it.  Here's the recipe with a few of my changes.  

Makes about 50 stuffed shells- 2 (9" x 13" x 2" inch baking dishes)  - about 12 servings                                                                                                     


1 (16-ounce) pkg. ground Italian sausage
This is my favorite brand of Italian Sausage

3 (24-ounce) jars marinara sauce, divided -( use one jar to put on         the bottom of the pans before you layer in the stuffed shells)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 sweet onion, chopped

8-ounces crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, diced

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 (12-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained & chopped

2 (10-ounce) boxes frozen chopped spinach, thawed & squeezed dry 

1 (16-ounce) container ricotta cheese

1 (16-ounce) container cottage cheese

3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

2 egg

3 cups mozzarella, shredded & divided

1 1/2 (12-ounce) boxes jumbo shells pasta (You'll only need about 50 shells)

salt & water for boiling pasta


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat a large pot of salted water to boil for pasta.
In a large pot brown sausage.  Drain grease and add back to pot.  Add 2 jars of sauce and cook 10 minutes.  Set aside.

Add oil to large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and sauté 3 minutes until softened. Add mushrooms, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper to pan.  Cook, stirring frequently, for about 8 minutes or until softened.  Add  roasted red peppers, spinach and stir until well combined.  Turn off heat and allow to cool a bit.

Cook your pasta 2 minutes less than package instructions as they will cook more in the oven.  
Drain your pasta and pour onto a greased rimmed baking sheet to cool.
In large bowl (also mixes well in stand mixer) combine ricotta, cottage cheese, Parmesan, eggs and 1 cup of the mozzarella.  Stir to mix.  Stir in the spinach mixture.

Pour 1/2 of a jar of marinara sauce in bottom of  each 13" x 9" x 2" baking dishes (2) and spread evenly.

Fill each shell with about 2-3 tablespoons filling.  Arrange them in each pan in a single layer.  

Spoon sauce (with Italian sausage) evenly over filled shells and sprinkle each pan with 1 cup cheese.

Cover dish with foil.  Bake covered for about 1 hour. 


To Freeze: assemble, wrap well and freeze. Thaw them in the refrigerator overnight before you bake them.