Brie Bites with Fig Jam

Brie and figs…my two favorite things! The cheesy sweetness of this appetizer goes so well together and is such an easy last-minute dish to put together. I bought already cooked phyllo shells, and didn’t melt the brie cheese to make this even quicker. Next time I will put it in the oven for a bit to melt the cheese and I bet it will be that much tastier!

Brie Bites with Fig Jam

baked brie bites

Ingredients
1 package of already cooked mini phyllo shells
6 oz. brie cheese, about 1 wedge
¼ cup fig preserves
¼ cup chopped walnuts

Directions
Place a cube of brie cheese in each shell. Add a dollop of fig jam on top of the cheese. Sprinkle each shell with some walnuts. Put on a pretty platter and serve!

Recipe Source: http://phyllo.com/2013/11/07/baked-brie-phyllo-shells-with-fig-preserves/

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Savory Waffle: Cheddar & Scallion Waffle with Mustard Syrup

sweet and savory waffles

After an impromptu waffle iron buy last night, we decided to make waffles this morning! This savory waffle is delicious with the mustard syrup! And the best part is, it is so easy to make!

Cheddar & Scallion Waffles with Mustard Syrup

cheddar and scallion waffle

Ingredients (Makes 4-6 waffles, or 1 Belgium waffle)
Waffles:
1 cup flour
1/8 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp baking soda
1 egg
3/4 cup of milk
3/4 of 1 stick of butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup of shredded cheddar (I used monterey jack)
3-4 tablespoons of scallions, chopped

Mustard Syrup:
1/2 cup syrup
1/8 cup dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt

Directions
Waffles:
1. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a large bowl.
2. Whisk the milk, the cooled melted butter and 1 egg in a separate bowl until combined; pour into the flour mixture and stir until just combined. (A few small lumps are fine.)
3. Preheat a waffle iron; lightly brush with vegetable oil, then fill with batter three-quarters full and cook until the waffles are golden and crisp.

Mustard Syrup:
1. Combine the syrup, mustard and salt in a saucepan over medium heat.
2. When the mixture begins to bubble, turn the heat to low. Stir until well combined.
3. Pour into a serving container and serve immediately.

Pour the syrup over the waffles to serve and enjoy!

Recipe source: http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/recipes/haylie-duff/mustard-maple-syrup.html and http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/top-notch-waffles.html

Reuben Dip

I love reuben sandwiches so when I came across this reuben dip my jaw dropped. The dip is just as good as the sandwich, especially when served along side of little slices of rye or pumpernickel bread 🙂

Reuben Dip

reuben dip

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound diced corned beef (have the deli cut a large chunk for you, or I have found it packaged before)
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1 cup sauerkraut, drained
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 Tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 Tablespoon spicy brown mustard
  • cocktail rye or pumpernickel bread

Directions

  • In a medium bowl, combine corned beef, cream cheese, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, sour cream, ketchup and mustard. Spoon into a greased, 1-quart baking dish.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Serve warm with rye bread.
  • I added more cheese on top afterwards because I wanted it to be more cheesey 😉

Recipe source: http://noblepig.com/2008/09/reuben/

Quinoa and Spinach Un-Mac n’ Cheese

This recipe takes my favorite mac and cheese to a whole new level. Instead of pasta, it uses quinoa which adds protein and cuts back on the carbs. Adding the spinach adds a little vegetable to the dish making it that much more healthy! This recipe has been added to my list of favorite comfort foods!

Quinoa and Spinach Un-Mac n’ Cheese

quinoa and spinach unmac n cheese

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Quinoa
  • 3 tablespoons Butter
  • 3 tablespoons Flour
  • 1 1/2 cups Milk
  • Freshly Grated Nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Shallot (minced)
  • 8 ounces Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/2 cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese (divided)
  • 1 bag Fresh Baby Spinach
  • 4 tablespoons Butter (melted)
  • 3/4 cup Panko Breadcrumbs

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare a casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Cook the quinoa according to the package instructions.

In a sauce pan over medium heat, add 3 tablespoons of butter and the shallot. Cook until the shallot is slightly soft then whisk in flour. Continue to whisk until a paste forms and becomes light golden in color.

Whisk in the milk and increase the heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil while whisking. Stir in nutmeg and salt along with the cheddar cheese. When the cheese sauce is smooth, remove from heat.

In a large bowl, mix cooked quinoa, cheese sauce, spinach and half of the parmesan cheese. Transfer mixture to the casserole dish. Top with the remaining parmesan.

In a small bowl, stir together the melted butter and panko breadcrumbs. Sprinkle over the casserole and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.

Recipe source: http://abc.go.com/shows/the-chew/recipes/quinoa-spinach-un-mac-n-cheese-dana-urbinati

Chicken Parm Casserole

As it gets closer to fall, I am excited for all the comfort food that will come with it! Here is one of my favorites. This one is for those who like chicken parmesan but are annoyed with how long it takes. Here is a quick, healthy twist on your favorite.

My husband and I love having wine and cheese nights. When we do, I like to shop in the gourmet cheese section and get a variety of gourmet cheeses to try. I luckily had a block of truffle cheese left over and thought I would use it in this dish. I didn’t have enough of the yummy cheese to cover the dish, so I added shredded mozzarella that I had on hand.

 Chicken Parm Casserole

Chicken Parm Casserole

Ingredients

-Chicken, cut into strips or bite size (I buy chicken pre-cooked to save time)
-2 cups tomato sauce
-2 cups shredded mozzarella (or any kind of grated cheese)
-Pasta (optional)
-hot sauce (optional)
I used a little bit of my favorite Sambal chile paste in the sauce to add a little spice. You can also use red pepper flakes if you prefer a less spicy dish.

Directions

If you are including pasta in your dish, you’ll want to start by boiling water and cook the pasta el dente.

If you are not, you will want to start the layering process:
-Spray a casserole dish with oil, or butter
-Add the cooked chicken to the bottom of the dish (pasta would go before the chicken if you are adding pasta)
-On top of the chicken, spread an even layer of tomato sauce (and hot sauce if you prefer)
-On top of the sauce, layer your shredded cheese
-Drizzle the cheese with olive oil (I used garlic infused olive oil to give it a little more flavor) to create a cheesy crust. And feel free to add more cheese if you like 🙂

Put the casserole dish in the oven at 350 degrees until the cheese melts, approximately 10 minutes.

© 2014 Life Of a Russians Wife

Lemon Cumin Chicken with Homemade Pesto

I love finding recipes that turn chicken into something spectacular. This dish does just that! The homemade pesto is so delicious, and what I love about pesto is you can use it on absolutely anything! I love to make pesto in abundance and use it throughout the week.

Lemon Cumin Chicken with Homemade Pesto

lemon cumin chicken with homemade pesto

Ingredients

Marinade:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Zest of 1 large lemon
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 large lemon)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Four 4- to 6-ounce boneless skinless chicken breasts
Pesto:
1 1/2 packed cups fresh mint leaves (about 1 large bunch)
1 packed cup baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (see Cook’s Note)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (from 1/2 a large lemon)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Vegetable oil cooking spray

Directions
For the marinade: In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper flakes until smooth. Add the chicken and toss until coated with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. (Can also be made in a resealable plastic bag.)

For the pesto: In a food processor, blend the mint, spinach, cheese, walnuts, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper until chunky. With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil until smooth.

Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Spray the grill lightly with vegetable oil cooking spray. Remove the chicken from the marinade. Discard the marinade. Grill the chicken until cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Place on a platter and serve with the pesto.

Recipe source: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/lemon-cumin-chicken-recipe.html

Basil Chicken Parm

Are you a fan of chicken parm? Then you have to try this recipe!

This recipe puts a new twist on chicken parm. Instead of using marinara sauce, it uses basil pesto! Mmm! Using the basil keeps this dish light, and if you make the pesto from scratch (super easy) it becomes that much more healthy!

Baked Basil Chicken Parm

basil chicken parm

Ingredients

  • 4 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup Basil Pesto
  • 1/2 cup Low fat mozzarella cheese

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375F/190C.

2. Trim all visible fat and tendons from chicken pieces, then cut each chicken breast lengthwise into 2 or 3 pieces.

3. Spray a 9″ x 12″ (or 8.5″ X 12.5″) baking dish with non-stick spray, then spread 1/4 cup basil pesto over the bottom of the dish. Lay the chicken strips over the pesto, then spread 1/4 cup more basil pesto over the chicken.

4. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil (or use a baking dish with a tight-fitting lid) and bake the chicken for 25-30 minutes, just until chicken is barely firm and cooked through. (Don’t cook too much at this point, or the chicken will be overcooked by the time the cheese is melted and browned.)

5. When chicken is barely cooked through, remove foil and sprinkle chicken with 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese (or more!).

6. Put the dish back into the oven without foil and cook 5 minutes more, just until cheese is melted.

Recipe source: http://laurenconrad.com/blog/2013/11/baked-pesto-chicken/

Cheddar and Scallion Garlic Bread

I bought this Scallion Garlic butter at whole foods the other day and I had a whole stick of it. I have been using it with eggs, using it to cook meat and fish but still had quite a bit left. I saw that Giada made this cheddar and scallion garlic bread and I thought, “I have all those ingredients in one stick of butter!” So this recipe was super simple for me because most of the ingredients were already marinading together, all I had to do was add the cheddar cheese!

Below are the ingredients in case you don’t already have a stick a butter that has those ingredients in it. Even if you don’t already have a pre-made butter, this recipe is really easy and super yummy! I will never eat garlic bread the same way again!

Cheddar and Scallion Garlic Bread

cheddar scallion garlic bread

Ingredients

8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded or coarsely grated
6 ounces butter, at room temperature
4 scallions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1  loaf ciabatta bread, cut in half horizontally

Directions

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a food processor, combine the cheese and butter. Process until the mixture is smooth. Add the scallions and pulse until combined. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Spread the cheese mixture on the cut sides of the bread. Sprinkle a little bit of shredded cheddar cheese on top of the spread for extra cheesiness! Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes until golden.

Using a serrated knife, cut the bread into 1-inch thick slices and serve.

Recipe source: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/cheddar-and-scallion-bread-recipe/index.html

Pasta with Spicy Pesto

Anything pesto I love (you will see that in posts to come). Pesto is an easy, healthy sauce that keeps well in the fridge. You can make pesto in batches and use it on pasta or use it as a spread on sandwiches! Again, since my husband is a fan of spicy food, I kicked my love for pesto up a notch and added a special ingredient that gives it a nice kick.

Fusilli with Spicy Pesto

spicy pesto pasta

Ingredients

Pesto:
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 (~2-inch long) jalapeño pepper, stemmed and coarsely chopped
2 cups grated (4 ounces) Asiago cheese
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 ounces baby spinach
3 ounces arugula
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound fusilli pasta

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water.

For the pesto: In a food processor, combine the walnuts, garlic, jalapeño, cheese, salt and pepper. Process until the mixture is smooth. Add the spinach and arugula and process until blended. With the machine running, gradually add the olive oil.
(If you don’t like things spicy, remove the seeds from the jalapeño pepper. If you like it more spicy, add more than just 1 jalapeño).

Place the cooked pasta and pesto in a large serving bowl. Toss well and thin out the sauce with a little pasta water, if needed.

Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with Asiago cheese and serve.

Recipe source: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/fusilli-with-spicy-pesto-recipe/index.html

Spicy Pasta

My husband loves anything spicy so I have learned to cook and find recipes that involve some sort of spice-factor. My tolerance for something spicy has definitely changed since I’ve met him!

This pasta is a great mix between my love of cheese and his love of spiciness!

Pasta with Chilies

Spicy Pasta

Ingredients

1 lb. orecchiette pasta (or any shape pasta you prefer)
4 tbsp. olive oil, divided
3 tbsp. chopped garlic
2 fresh jalapeño peppers, seeded, sliced thin, plus extra for garnish
2 cups grated Gruyere cheese

Directions

1. Prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving ½ cup pasta water.

2. Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and chilies; saute for 2 minutes.

3. Add cooked pasta, reserved water, 2 tbsp. olive oil and cheese. Turn heat to high. Stir constantly to keep cheese from clumping. When liquid is evaporated, transfer to bowls and garnish with jalapeños.

Recipe source: http://recipesfordisaster.wikispaces.com/Pasta+with+Chilies

What I like about this pasta is that it uses jalapeños. I like jalapeños because if you take out the seeds in the jalapeños, they aren’t necessarily spicy but rather give off that distinct jalapeño flavor. If you do want to add more heat to your pasta, I suggest using a stronger chili, or not discarding the seeds.