Four Cheese Quinoa and Rice Casserole with Mushrooms, Asparagus and Spinach with a Creamy Brie and Aged Fig Balsamic Sauce

SAM_4313It’s that time of year for warm, comforting, cheesy casserole dishes. This recipe comes as a request from my friend, Kelli. I posted a question on Facebook asking what recipes you guys would like to see, and her request was a rice casserole.

So, I headed over to my friend, Faith’s, house today to have a picnic in her backyard on this beautiful fall day. We worked on this dish together and it turned into a great collaboration between the two of us. Faith made a delicious creamy brie and fig balsamic sauce with fresh garlic, onions, mushrooms and a fig balsamic vinegar that’s been aged 22 years. My main job was to cover the casserole in cheese- and lots of it. Smoked Swiss, Parmesan, Asiago, and Welsh cheddar were my weapons of choice. Makes 4 servings.

What you will need:
6 oz casserole dish and sauce pan

Four Cheese Quinoa and Rice Casserole with Mushrooms, Asparagus and Spinach
1 c cooked quinoa
1/4 c cooked brown rice
1/8 c vegetable broth
5 oz crimini mushrooms
1/2 bunch of asparagus
1 c fresh spinach
4 slices of smoked Swiss cheese
grated Welsh cheddar cheese
grated Parmesan cheese

grated asiago cheese
1/2 c diced scallions
a couple pinches of Italian seasoning

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook rice and quinoa according to directions on the package for each. Once both are done cooking, combine in a pot and add vegetable broth. Simmer for about 7 minutes or until the broth is absorbed. Line the bottom of the casserole dish with the quinoa and rice mix and pat down. Then, take the asparagus and cut or break off the hard, tough ends and discard them. Cut the rest of the asparagus into bite size pieces along with the mushrooms and layer it on top of the rice and quinoa. Layer the smoked Swiss cheese evenly over the top of the casserole, then grate the Welsh cheddar, asiago and Parmesan cheeses over top and sprinkle on some Italian seasoning. Bake for 25 minutes. You want the the cheese to be crispy and brown around the edges and nice and toasty on top. Then, cover the casserole with scallions and sprinkle more Parmesan cheese on top, set you oven to broil, and bake for another 3-5 minutes. Serve with with Faith’s recipe for creamy Brie and aged fig balsamic sauce.

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Creamy Brie and Aged Fig Balsamic Sauce
1 1/2 tbsp butter
3 shallots
3 oz mushrooms, chopped
2 tbsp aged fig balsamic vinegar
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 pinches of Italian seasoning
2 pinches of salt
4 oz Brie
1/2 c Greek yogurt

Heat butter in a sauce pan on low heat. Cut shallots into thin, uniform slices and add to the butter in the sauce pan. Continue to cook on medium low heat until onions become translucent, then add the chopped garlic, chopped mushrooms, Italian seasoning and fig balsamic vinegar. Continue to cook on low heat for another 5-7 minutes, then add the Brie and Greek yogurt. Simmer until sauce thickens and serve over the cheesy quinoa and rice casserole.

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Faith, sipping her coffee and contemplating how awesome our meal just was.

Baked Eggs and Biscuits with Mushroom Gravy

Baked Eggs and Biscuits with Mushroom Gravy

This recipe may just be the beginning of an ongoing series called “Eggs in holes”. Yeah, I know it’s been done before, but seriously, eggs baked in holes are amazing! And the possibilities are pretty endless. This recipe is somewhat of a twist on eggs benedict, but without any frying, meat (obviously), or hollandaise sauce. And it’s actually half of the calories of eggs benedict, with about 8 grams of protein per serving. It’s very easy to make and won’t weigh you down like a breakfast fried in tons of butter and oil. Makes 8 servings.

You can also add a layer of cheese on top of the biscuit in this recipe. A slice of smoked cheddar is highly recommended (I bought smoked cheddar just for this recipe and forgot to add it. Sad face).

What you will need:
1 can of 8 large buttermilk biscuits (not the flaky ones)
8 eggs
3- 4 sweet bell peppers, depending on the size
1 can of mushroom bisque (Amy’s makes and amazing mushroom bisque that’s thick like gravy)
fresh rosemary (or other herbs of your choice)
scallions, diced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, cut peppers into rings that are about 1/2 inch thick. Make sure not too cut them too thin since they will be holding the egg on top of the biscuit. Flatten out biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet (if you’re adding cheese, now would be the time to do it), making them wide enough to fit the pepper rings on top of them, then press the pepper rings into the biscuits. Crack an egg into each pepper ring and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the eggs whites have turned white. In a sauce pan, heat the mushroom gravy while the eggs and biscuits are baking. Once the eggs and biscuits are done, smother them in gravy and top with fresh rosemary and scallions and serve.

Scrambled Egg Muffins

Scrambled Egg Muffins

I was delighted to find one of my friends from out of town staying on my couch earlier this week. I’m even more delighted that she’s stayed at my house every night since. So, I woke up this morning and decided to make us all breakfast. Egg muffins are great for when you have company over. They’re super easy to make, inexpensive, and delicious! I used what I had on hand today, which was crimini mushrooms, mini sweet peppers, and red onion. You can also try adding in things like wilted spinach, fresh garlic, cheese, tomatoes- the list goes on and on. This recipe makes 6 egg muffins.

What you will need:
6 cup muffin tin
6 eggs
1/2 c sliced crimini mushrooms
1/4 c sliced mini sweet peppers
1/4 c sliced red onion
butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs and add sliced mushrooms, sweet peppers and red onion. Grease the muffin tin with butter and pour the egg mix to the top of each cup (and cover with cheese, if desired). Bake for 20- 25 minutes or until eggs are set and no longer runny. Serve with toast, hash browns and coffee.

Vegan Mac and Cheese Sauce with Gluten Free Quinoa Pasta

Vegan Mac and Cheese Sauce with Gluten Free Quinoa Pasta

This vegan “cheese” sauce is made with cashews and orange cauliflower, giving it a rich, creamy taste, along with nutritional yeast to give it a slight “cheesy” flavor. This recipe definitely hits the nail on the head when it comes to comfort food, while still being a healthier alternative to fatty cheese sauces filled with lots of heavy creams and butter. And there’s so many different ways to use it, it’s not just limited to mac and cheese! Top off chili with it, enjoy it with your favorite veggie dog, load up a baked potato with it, or pour it over broccoli with some hot sauce! The possibilities are endless! Makes about 6 cups of sauce. Any leftover sauce can be kept in the freezer.

What you will need:
a food processor and large pot
1 head of orange cauliflower (about 4 cups.) if you can’t find orange cauliflower, white will work just the same
1/2 c cashews (salted or unsalted)
1c almond milk
3/4 c nutritional yeast
1/2 c water
4 tbsp earth balance
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp yellow mustard
salt, to taste
fresh herbs to garnish. I used rosemary. Thyme, dill, sage or basil would also be great, too.

In a large pot, bring water to a boil and add cauliflower florets. Boil until very soft and tender, about 15- 20 minutes. Drain water, remove from pot and let the cauliflower cool. In food processor, combine the rest of the ingredients, aside from the garnish, and blend until creamy and smooth. Serve over gluten free quinoa noodles, rice, or any other comfort food that’s in need of a creamy, cheesy sauce.

Sweet and Spicy Sesame Edamame

IMG_6288This sweet and spicy edamame is HOT, with just the right touch of sweetness. With the use of Blaze Gourmet Hot Cranberry Love Hot Sauce from my favorite hot sauce peddler at the local farmer’s market, this recipe is not for the weak. Honey and jam add just a touch of more sweetness to compliment the spiciness in this dish.

What you will need:
12 oz frozen shelled edamame
1/8 c soy teriyaki sauce
1/8 c Blaze Gourmet Hot Cranberry Love Hot Sauce
1/8 c jam (I used blackberry jam)
a drizzle of honey
a sprinkle of sesame seeds

In sauce pan, thaw edamame on medium low heat. Add the rest of your ingredients and simmer on low heat until sauce has reduced, about 7-10 minutes. Serve plain, over rice or with sushi.

Top 10 Ways to Prepare Kale

Top 10 Ways to Prepare Kale

Do you feel lost in a world full of kale? Eatlocalgrown.com compiled a top 10 list of great ways to prepare kale. Not all of the recipes are meat free, like the kale soup, but it’s easy enough to leave out the meat products or substitute them with beans, lentils, mushrooms or your favorite fake meat.

Top 10 Ways To Prepare Kale from Eatlocalgrown.com

Roasted Purple Cauliflower

IMG_6257Admittedly, this was not my best recipe. I’ve never really cooked with cauliflower before, even though I love it (weird, huh?). I drizzled the cauliflower in oil and roasted it in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes. I then sauteed it in a pan with butter, rosemary, garlic, herb goat cheese, almond milk, and the rind from a block of quality Parmesan cheese (I think the goat cheese is where I went wrong). I topped it with a lemony sunflower, hemp and pumpkin seed blend and it was ready to serve. It wasn’t bad at all, but it didn’t stand out to me. It’s not a recipe the I’ll be looking forward to making over and over again in the future. So, I picked up orange and purple cauliflower at the local farmers market today and will be sharing the recipes that I come up with here, in the next week. What are your favorite ways to prepare cauliflower? What’s your favorite sauce to pair cauliflower with? Your suggestions are greatly appreciated!

Autumn Salad with Baby Kale, Red Apples, and Smoked Gouda in a Homemade Mustard Dressing

Autumn Salad with Baby Kale, Red Apples, and Smoked Gouda in a Homemade Mustard Dressing

The flavors of fall are upon us, so lets celebrate with great tasting fall food! The richness of smoked Gouda compliments the sweetness of red apple along with the tartness of the mustard dressing beautifully. Paired with yesterday’s recipe of curried butternut squash soup, you’ll have a meal that is guaranteed to satisfy! Makes two servings.

What you will need:
6 oz baby kale
1 red apple, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
3 oz smoked Gouda, diced into 1/2 cubes
4 hard boiled eggs
1 tomato
2-3 spoonfuls of stone ground mustard, depending on personal taste
extra virgin olive oil
apple cider vinegar
Bragg’s liquid amino’s

Prepare the hard boiled eggs. In mixing bowl, combine baby kale, smoked Gouda, red apples and tomato and drizzle with just enough extra virgin olive oil to coat the leaves. Add a touch of apple cider vinegar and a touch of Bragg’s liquid amino’s along with a couple spoonfuls of stone ground mustard. Mix until everything is evenly coated, then add hard boiled eggs. Serve with curried butternut squash soup or any other fall soup and sweet cinnamon toast.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup paired with Apple, Caramelized Onion and Sage Grilled Cheese

Curried Butternut Squash Soup paired with Apple, Caramelized Onion and Sage Grilled Cheese

The use of yellow curry and chili powder adds just a subtle kick of flavor to this creamy, autumn soup, while still using the traditional butternut squash soup seasonings of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. Pairing it with a smoked gouda and sage derby grilled cheese, sandwiched together with caramelized onions, red apple (sliced paper thin) and baby kale on a sweet, cinnamon bread, makes for the PERFECT combination of fall flavors.

Also, there’s no need to use a food processor for this soup, like most butternut squash soup recipes call for. I’ve found that mashing the butternut squash into the pot after it’s been roasted gives it the best consistency. It felt like eating adult baby food when I once tried blending it in the food processor, and no one wants that.

I used a very small butternut squash for this recipe that made 4 servings.

What you will need:
1 small butternut squash
2c onion soup broth
2 1/2 oz coconut milk
1/3 c yellow curry sauce (my favorite is the one from Trader Joe’s)
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp chili powder
a pinch of nutmeg
a pinch of clove
Coconut Greek yogurt to garnish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the butternut squash on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes or until tender. Remove the seeds and discard. In a pot over medium heat, add the onion soup broth, yellow curry sauce and butternut squash. Mash the squash into the pot with a spoon and add your cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, coconut milk and butter. Serve garnished with coconut Greek yogurt.

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Now, to make this delicious, savory grilled cheese, you will need sage derby cheese, smoked gouda, thinly sliced red apple, caramelized onions, and baby kale, all sandwiched between two slices of sweet cinnamon bread. Grill in a pan with butter and serve with curried butternut squash soup.

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Spaghetti Squash Baked with Eggs in a Tomato Mushroom Cream Sauce

Spaghetti Squash Baked with Eggs in a Tomato Mushroom Cream Sauce

This is my first time cooking with spaghetti squash, and I must say, I’m hooked. Not only that, I now fully believe that everything should be baked with an egg on it.

This recipe is very simple and can be made with a variety of different sauces and butters. I used a 50/50 mix of homemade tomato sauce and mushroom cream sauce. The mushroom sauce added more depth in flavor and helped thicken up the sauce. And to top it off, spaghetti squash already comes with it’s own bowl!

What you will need:
1 spaghetti squash
butter, enough to coat a baking sheet
1 part tomato sauce to
1 part mushroom cream sauce
2 eggs
fresh rosemary
fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and remove all of the seeds. Place spaghetti squash cut side down on an oiled baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes or longer, depending on the size of the squash. Remove the squash from the skin and add the tomato and mushroom sauce and mix well. Create a bowl in the middle of the spaghetti squash strands for the egg to sit in and crack an egg over each half of the squash. Continue baking at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes, garnish with fresh rosemary and thyme and serve.