Category Archives: Cooking

Pineapple Jicama Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette

Pineapple Jicama Salad

This salad is sweet, tangy and delicious. I originally read a similar recipe in a magazine while sitting in the waiting room at my dentist’s office. I was intrigued because I love love pineapple, but it had cucumber in it, which I absolutely abhor! Cumber is one of the four foods in the world that turn me into a picky eater toddler throwing a tantrum at the dinner table. I will not eat them. I do not like them touching my food and I will sit and pout if they are near my plate (bananas, celery and eggplant would be the others). I have been using a lot of jicama this summer and thought that it would make a great substitute for cucumber. It has the same kind of crunchy texture.

I served this salad with a side of chips for a super chunky chips and salsa kind of thing. You could also serve it over a bed of mixed greens or it would also go great with some grilled shrimp or tequila lime chicken as well.

Pineapple Jicama Salad

Pineapple Jicama Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette (gluten free)

Ingredients

    For the Vinaigrette:
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2-4 Tablespoons olive oil (I used 3)
  • For the salad:
  • 1/2 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into chunks
  • 1 small jicama, peeled and diced into cubes
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 avocado, pitted and diced

Instructions

    For the Vinaigrette:
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk together until well blended. Set aside. (Vinaigrette can be made ahead of time and will keep in the fridge for about 1 week.)
  2. For the salad:
  3. Combine all ingredients, except the avocado, in a bowl and mix together. Add desired amount of vinaigrette and toss to coat. Salad can now be kept in fridge for up to 4 hours or served immediately.
  4. Right before serving add avocado and gently toss to to coat avocado with dressing, but be sure not to mush it too much.
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Gluten Free Blueberry-Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake Bars

Gluten Free Blueberry-Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake Bars

Cheesecake is one of the few desserts I actually go out of my way for. I kind of really love cheesecake. And this cheesecake is delicious. Using ricotta instead of traditional cream cheese really makes the cheesecake seem both rich and creamy, but without the heaviness cheesecakes normally have. I also think that the blueberry and lemon flavors really help keep the cheesecake feeling light and summery almost. I think a fruit centered cheesecake is much more appealing in the summer than something super rich and chocolatey.

Definitely make sure you let these cool overnight! You cannot skimp on the cooling time with these ones. But trust me, it’s totally worth the wait. The blueberry and lemon flavors really, really develop and get nice and friendly together the longer they And since this cheesecake is cut up into bars, it makes a great dessert for picnics, barbecues or when you need a portable dessert (obviously leave the blueberry sauce off to keep it clean and portable!).

Gluten Free Blueberry-Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake Bars

Recipe from Our Best Bites.

Ingredients

    Crust and Topping Layers
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, very cold
  • 1 large egg, separated
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon zest
  • Cheesecake Layer
  • 15 ounce container ricotta
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, plus one egg white
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ cup frozen blueberries
  • Quick Blueberry Sauce
  • 1 ¼ cups frozen blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 3 tablespoons sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8×8 baking dish with nonstick spray and set aside.
  2. To prepare crust and topping, combine sugar, flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium sized mixing bowl and stir to combine. Use a large-hole cheese grater to grate butter into flour mixture, or alternately cut butter into small chunks and add to flour mixture. Use clean hands to break up butter and flour mixture until it resembles large crumbs. Add egg yolk from separated egg (reserve egg white for the next step) and add to crumb mixture. Quickly toss to incorporate egg yolk into crumbs. Remove half of crumb mixture (about 1 ½ cups) and lightly press into the bottom of prepared baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes and then remove from oven. Add lemon zest to the remaining crumb mixture, stir to combine, and set aside.
  3. To prepare filling, place ricotta and sugar in a food processor and process until smooth and creamy (about 1-2 minutes), scraping down sides as necessary. Place mixture in a mixing bowl and stir in flour, vanilla, eggs, plus the reserved egg white from the first step, and lemon juice. Whisk to combine and pour mixture over crust in pan. Sprinkle ¾ cup blueberries over the top of filling and then top with the reserved crumb mixture. Bake for 40-50 minutes. Bars should be just golden on top and slightly jiggly in center when shaken. Remove and let cool completely. Cover, and Place in fridge overnight to chill. When ready to serve, slice into bars.
  4. For Sauce: Combine all ingredients. Bring to a simmer and cook for 3-5 minutes, smashing berries with a fork. Cool. Sauce will thicken once cooled and chilled, adjust consistency by adding water until desired consistency is reached.
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Mango Chicken Salad with Blue Cheese Vinaigrette

Mango Chicken Salad with Blue Cheese Vinaigrette

This salad has it all; sweet, salty, cheesy, and all delicious. Mango, blue cheese and broccoli are some of my favorite foods, but never in a million years would I think of combining them. Ever. But somehow, it totally works. The flavor combinations definitely make for a very unique meal.

I definitely plan on making this salad again, but next time I think I might add a couple of other things to make it even better. Adding some toasted cashews or almonds would add a great crunch to the salad. I could also imagine substituting the chicken for shrimp (maybe even coconut shrimp for more of a tropical twist).

Mango Chicken Salad with Blue Cheese Vinaigrette

Mango Chicken Salad with Blue Cheese Vinaigrette

4 salads

Ingredients

    For the Vinaigrette:
  • 1/3 cup white-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • For the Salad:
  • 6 cups torn romaine lettuce
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 mango, pitted, peeled, and cut up
  • 12 ounces chicken breast
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups broccoli florets

Instructions

    For the Vinaigrette:
  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk together. Season to taste and set aside.
  2. For the Salad:
  3. On a serving platter place romaine lettuce. Top with blueberries and mango; set aside.
  4. Season chicken breast with salt and pepper. In a large skillet cook chicken in 1 tablespoon of the butter with minced garlic over medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes or until no longer pink, turning once. Transfer to a cutting board; slice. Allow to cool slight and arrange atop salad.
  5. In the same skillet cook broccoli in the remaining tablespoon garlic butter over medium heat for 4 to 6 minutes until tender. Place atop salad. Drizzle salad with blue cheese vinaigrette. If desired, sprinkle with blue cheese.
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Halloumi, Snap Pea & Tomato Quinoa Salad

Halloumi, Snap Pea, Tomato & Quinoa Salad I’ve been on a bit of a halloumi kick lately. Normally I would feel bad about sharing recipes with ‘exotic’ ingredients in them, like halloumi, but now that Trader Joe’s now sells this amazing cheese, I would hardly count it as exotic anymore. This salad is not only quick and easy to make, it is delicious too. The snap peas and tomatoes around here are absolutely delicious at the moment. Their sweetness combined with the salty halloumi help makes every bite delicious. The dressing is light and flavorful. It really adds to the salad and helps all the delicious flavors come together. Halloumi, Snap Pea, Tomato & Quinoa Salad

 

Halloumi, Snap Pea & Tomato Quinoa Salad

Ingredients

    For the Dressing:
  • 4 Tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 Tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
  • 1/2 Tablespoon fresh basil, minced
  • 1/2 Tablespoon fresh chives, minced
  • For the Salad:
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 pack Halloumi, cut into slices
  • 1/2 pound cherry tomatoes
  • 4 ounces snap peas, cut into pieces
  • 12 ounces mixed spring greens
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa

Instructions

    For the Dressing:
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Mix to combine and set aside.
  2. For the Salad:
  3. In a large pan heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add halloumi and cooked until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Flip and repeat on the other side. Place cooked halloumi on paper towels to drain excess oil.
  4. In a large bowl, combine greens, snap peas and tomatoes and about half the dressing. Toss to mix all the ingredients.
  5. Divide between 4 serving bowls. Top with about 1/2 cup of the cooked quinoa and 2-3 slices of the halloumi and serve.
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Tomato Basil Spread

Basil Tomato Spread

A few weeks ago I was up visiting my best friends and her husband and pugs in San Francisco. They have the cutest farmers’ market right around the corner from them on the weekends and we took a visit before I had to head home. One of the stalls (Hummus Heaven) was selling absolutely delicious hummus and pita chips. They also had some incredible dips and spreads. I fell in love with the tomato basil spread. It was light, tangy, garlicky and fresh. It was delicious with pita chips, but I also used it for dipping veggies, crackers and as a sandwich spread. All wining combinations.

Since I (tragically) have no clue when my next visit to San Francisco will be, I decided I needed to attempt to recreate it. I will say that the original was a little more creamy (almost mayo/aioli like), but I wasn’t really in the mood to keep adding oil or mayo to get mine to the same consistency. I thought that some greek yogurt might take it more in that direction, but it didn’t. It did help it make it more like a dip or sandwich spread, which was perfect for me. I did save a little of the original to do a side by side taste test and that my version is  just as good as the original, if not a little bit better.

Tomato Basil Spread

Ingredients

  • 4+ cloves garlic
  • 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano, dried
  • 10-15 basil leaves, roughly torn
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt, plain

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse to combine until desired consistency is reached (I did mine so it was very smooth).
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Cold Rice Noodles with Peanut-Lime Chicken (gluten free!)

Cold Rice Noodles with Peanut-Lime Chicken

My wonderful friend Andrea introduced me to this meal when I was visiting her and her husband in DC last summer. It was love at first bite. She also introduced me to my first food blog (Smitten Kitchen), so I really have a lot to thank her for. This recipe also happens to be from Smitten Kitchen (did everything just come full circle?).

This meal is one of my all-time favorite summer time dishes. The ingredient list and instructions might look a bit long and daunting, but once all the chopping and slicing is finished, it’s pretty easy to get together. I will be quite honest and admit there are a few things in here that I would never be caught eating by themselves (I’m looking at you cucumbers!), but put them all together with some peanut sauce, cilantro, and lime, it’s hard not to like everything in this meal.

Despite my reservations about cucumbers (and bell peppers too), I left the recipe nearly all the same, except for using chicken breasts and all gluten-free ingredients. I also used more cilantro than mint and basil, but that’s just because I love cilantro (I’m lukewarm on basil and barely acquaintances with mint). Luckily, just about everything in this recipe can be adjusted to every individual taste. When you serve this delicious meal up, it’s kind of like a noodle-taco bar scenario. Everything is prepared separately and you get to pick and choose what you do and don’t like, which makes it good for a small crowd. And I am happy to report that this meal is one that gets better with age. The leftovers are even better than the original meal!

Cold Rice Noodles with Peanut-Lime Chicken

Cold Rice Noodles with Peanut-Lime Chicken

Ingredients

    For the Dipping sauce:
  • 6 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
  • 6 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 12 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
  • Small Thai or Serrano chiles, thinly sliced, to taste
  • For the Peanut dressing:
  • 3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 9 tablespoons lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 one-and-a-half inch chunk ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 6 tablespoons natural unsalted peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • For the Chicken and noodle salad:
  • 1 1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 6)
  • 8 ounces dried rice vermicelli or other rice noodles
  • 2 small cucumbers, cut in 1/4-inch half moons
  • 2 medium carrots, cut in thin julienne
  • Additional vegetables, as suggested above
  • Small handful basil or mint or cilantro sprigs, or your favorite of the three (torn or roughly chopped)
  • 4 or more scallions, slivered
  • 1/4 cup crushed or chopped roasted peanuts
  • Lime wedges (to serve)

Instructions

    Make the dipping sauce:
  1. Whisk ingredients in a small serving bowl, making sure to dissolve the sugar. Leave to ripen for 15 minutes. Refrigerate any extra and use within a few days.
  2. Make the peanut dressing:
  3. In a blender or food processor, puree all ingredients to a smooth sauce, about the thickness of heavy cream. Pour into a serving bowl.
  4. Marinate the chicken:
  5. Stir together 1/2 the dipping sauce and 1/3 the peanut dressing (you can eyeball this) in the bottom of a low-sided bowl or dish. Add the chicken to the mixture and toss to coat. Let marinate at least 15 minutes.
  6. Cook the noodles:
  7. Bring a large pot of water to the boil, then turn off the heat. Add the rice vermicelli and soak for 7 to 8 minutes. (Package directions may vary; check for doneness by tasting.) Drain when noodles are al dente, and cool under running water. Fluff and leave in strainer to drain well.
  8. Cook the chicken:
  9. Grill the chicken on an outdoor grill, a stove-top grill pan, or run under the broiler until nicely browned, about 3 to 4 minutes a side. Let cool slightly, then chop roughly into 3/4-inch pieces.
  10. To serve:
  11. At this point, you can place everything on a large serving platter, with piles or small bowls for noodles, vegetables, chicken, the dressing and marinade and toppings (peanuts, herbs) and let your family and friends put it together in their own bowls as they wish.
  12. Or, you can assemble it for everyone as suggested:Toss vegetables with 1 tablespoon dipping sauce in a small bowl. Divide the cooked noodles among 4 to 6 bowls. Top each bowl equally with vegetable mixture and chopped chicken. Toss each bowl with 2 teaspoons of each the dipping sauce and dressing, or more to taste (we wanted more). Add the herbs, peanuts and scallions to each bowl and serve with additional dressing and dipping sauce on the side.

Notes

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

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Gluten Free Drunken Shrimp with Veggie Fried Rice

Drunken Shrimp with Veggie Fried RIce

Sticking with this week’s loosely Asian inspired theme, this is a fairly quick , easy and very delicious recipe.

The shrimp stir-fry makes for a quick meal and is great for a weeknight meal. These shrimp are absolutely delicious. I thought the shrimp and their sauce was the perfect topping for the fried rice, but noodles or even a salad could work just as well. I used this recipe to clean out my vegetable door. I just used whatever I had on hand, but you can use any veggies you want.

Veggie Fried Rice

 

Drunken Shrimp with Veggie Fried Rice

Shrimp adapted from this recipe from Chow.

Ingredients

    For the Rice:
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 large onion (I used 1/2 red and 1/2 white to clean out the fridge)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas, defrosted
  • 10 green beans or snap peas, chopped
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 2-3 Tablespoons gluten-free Tamari
  • 1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 3 green onions, finely sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesames
  • For the Shrimp:
  • 3 Tablespoons low-sodium gluten-free Tamari sauce
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed (seeded if you don't like spice) and thinly sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 12 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, tough outer layer removed and cut into 4 pieces
  • 1/4 cup vodka

Instructions

    For the Rice:
  1. Preheat a large skillet or wok to medium heat. Add sesame oil. When oil is heated onion, garlic, bell peppers, peas and carrots and sauté until tender.
  2. Add the rice to the veggie mixture. Pour the soy sauce on top. Stir and fry the rice and veggie mixture until heated through and combined. Top chopped green onions and sesame seeds and serve.
  3. For the Shrimp:
  4. Place the soy sauce, garlic, jalapeños, cilantro, lime juice, oil, and sugar in a shallow dish and stir to combine. Add the shrimp and lemongrass and stir to coat. Let marinate for 10 minutes at room temperature.
  5. Heat a large frying pan over high heat until hot, about 3 minutes. Add the shrimp mixture and cook until the shrimp are bright pink, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully add the vodka. Return the pan to high heat and cook for 1 minute more or until the alcohol smell has dissipated. Remove the lemongrass pieces and serve the shrimp and sauce over rice.
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Easy Vegetable Frittata

Easy Vegetable Frittata

This week I am sharing some of favorite brunch recipes. I absolutely love brunch and summer weekends seem to just demand them. These recipes don’t demand too much cook and can mostly be prepared ahead to time, which gives you more time to relax, enjoy your weekend and enjoy some extra mimosas with your friends.

This frittata is pretty much perfect if you ask me. It’s easy to make, it can help you clean out your vegetable drawer and it reheats wonderfully. I just used the vegetables I had on hand, but you can add just about anything you want to this frittata. Broccoli, bell peppers, jalapeños or fresh herbs, like basil or chives, would all be great additions.

Easy Vegetable Frittata

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 2+ cloves garlic, minced
  • 6+ large mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 1 tomatoes, chopped with seeds removed
  • 1 cup baby spinach, roughly torn or chopped
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (I used extra sharp cheddar)
  • 6 large eggs
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a baking dish (I used a 9 inch pie dish).
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until beginning to brown. Then add the green onions, mushrooms and garlic and cook until mushrooms begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and spinach. Sauté for an additional 1 to 2 minutes or just until the spinach is wilted. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper.
  3. In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs, cheese, salt, and pepper.
  4. Finish cooking in the oven for 25-35 minutes, until the eggs have completely set in the center.
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