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We’ve decided to participate in a nationwide event today, called Food Bloggers Against Hunger. In this post, Caitlin has put together a delicious low-cost recipe, followed by a call to action from Sarah. Please read and enjoy both, and we look forward to a conversation with you in the comments section.

— C & S

Cheesy red beans and greens quesadillas

by Caitlin Saniga

Cheesy red beans and greens quesadillas

These quesadillas definitely come in under the $4 daily budget, and they’re full of flavor and are fun to eat. If you’re not a fan of kidney beans, try black beans, edamame or olives.

  • olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • salt
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 8 6-inch tortillas (Corn or wheat is fine. I used corn.)
  • 1 cup torn spinach or arugula

In a medium pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the beans and cook until the skins start to burst, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle in the cumin, season with salt and toss to coat.

Assemble the quesadillas by sprinkling a thin layer of cheese on half of each tortilla. Top with a small scoop of beans, greens and another thin layer of cheese. Fold the tortilla over the fillings, and grill the quesadillas two at a time, pressing down on them with a spatula, about 1 minute on each side. Cook the remaining quesadillas this way, slice in half with a pizza cutter and arrange on a serving platter. Serve warm.

Makes 4 servings.

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A letter from the editors (OK, bloggers)FBAH

by Sarah Steimer

Two articles were published exactly one year and one day apart that illustrate an irony for my generation (born between 1980 and 2000, we’re considered “Millenials”). In the New York Magazine article from 2012, the writer describes a “young foodie culture” among my age group. These young, mostly urban people pride themselves on trying new restaurants and often documenting their experience. In addition to eating out, I know from informal surveys that many of my peers have been to at least one farmer’s market and enjoy preparing healthy meals for themselves. Appreciation for good food! Not a bad idenity to have.

But then there’s the irony.

“For the first time in modern memory, a whole generation might not prove wealthier than the one that preceded it,” the more recent New York Times article reported. Bring these two concepts together and you’re left with a clear issue: We want to eat good food, but we may not be able to afford it.

According to statistics from the No Kid Hungry campaign, 17.2 million households in the U.S. are considered “food insecure,” defined as having the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe food. Couple this with the knowledge that my generation isn’t likely to make more money than our parents, and it’s pretty obvious that our food insecurity problem is bound to get worse before it gets better.

The problem of food insecurity goes beyond simply being hungry. Not having the money to eat properly often snowballs into issues such as obesity and poor performance at school for children. The cheapest foods available are often those lacking nutritious qualities, which explains the link between low income and obesity (Hey America! Malnutrition is NOT just the skin-and-bones child in Africa, it’s also the overweight and out of breath child in Alabama! Malnutrition has many faces.). Children are often most affected by poor food habits, and even a short period of time without necessary vitamins and minerals can hinder brain development and affect their ability to focus.

We are not a poor country. Nutritious food is available, but we are not putting it within reach. The average daily food stamp benefit is about $4 per person per day. If you’ve priced fresh fruits and vegetables lately, you understand how unavailable those foods would be on current government assistance.

But let’s roll back to my first point, but Millennials’ appreciation for good food. As the adage goes, where there’s a will, there’s a way! My generation has proven its will, now let me present to you the way:

We’re urging you to write to your representative in Congress so he or she may support federal nutrition programs (think of the kids!).  Every generation loves to prove its older counterparts wrong, and I’d like to think that despite the (somewhat unnerving) economic road ahead, we can be the generation that stops hunger in America.

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by Caitlin Saniga

I made this galette when my mom came to visit for a few days. This was our first dish with heirloom tomatoes of the summer, and we were thrilled with it, having it for lunch and then for a snack after a day of sightseeing on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I wish I could cook for Mom every day.

Dough:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 teaspoons cold lemon juice
  • 5 tablespoons ice water

Filling:

  • 1 disk savory galette dough
  • 3 medium heirloom tomatoes, any color
  • 1/2 small onion, cut into thin rings
  • salt
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 ounces mild cheddar cheese, cut into thin slices + 1 ounce grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 green onions, chopped

Maybe this goes without saying, but it’s always a nice reminder. If you want the dough to be flaky and light, knead it as little as possible.  The ingredients should be just barely combined for the best results.

To prepare the dough, combine the all-purpose flour, whole wheat pastry flour, pepper, and salt with a fork in a large bowl. Scatter the cubed butter over top. Cut the butter into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter until the butter is in small pea-sized pieces.

Drizzle the lemon juice and water over the butter-flour mixture and combine using fork. The dough will come together just barely. Gently pat the dough into a ball and then a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and set it on the counter.

Slice the tomatoes. Remove the seeds with your fingers or a knife, and place them on paper towels to soak up some of the juice. Sprinkle with salt.

Line a baking sheet with parchment. Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin. Set the disk onto the floured surface and gently hit it a few times with the rolling pin to flatten it. Roll it into a 12-inch circle, flipping it over one time, and re-flouring the pin as necessary to prevent it from sticking. Hang the dough over the rolling pin to transfer it to the parchment-lined baking sheet.

In a small bowl, combine Dijon mustard and balsamic vinegar using a fork or whisk. Pour onto the dough and spread into a roughly 10-inch circle.

Pat the tomatoes dry with paper towels and arrange them, alternating with slices of cheese in a spiral on top of the dough. Top with onion rings, sprinkle with the shredded cheese.

Fold the 2-inch edge of dough over top of the filling, making a few pinches as you go. Brush the egg wash on the dough.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack, along with the parchment paper, and cool for 15 minutes. Top with green onions.

Cut into slices and serve immediately or store in the fridge for up to 4 days. To reheat the galette, place it on a baking sheet and heat at 350 degrees for about 4 minutes.

Makes 8 servings.

Recipe adapted from: 20 Something Cupcakes

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by Caitlin Saniga

BLT salad

Don't worry. If your bagel BLT idea goes bad when you've left the bagel in the fridge for too many days, you can turn the sandwich into this awesome salad.

For the croutons:

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder (Try adding just a few dashes.)
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder (A few dashes works here, too.)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 savory bagel (Plain, cheese, jalapeno, onion, or another flavor that would make a good crouton. Stale works, too.)

For the dressing:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Italian dressing
  • salt and pepper

For the salad:

  • 4 cups loosely packed spinach
  • 10 grape tomatoes, halved, or 1 Roma tomato chopped into pieces
  • 4 strips of bacon, cooked to a crisp, broken into bits
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese

To make the croutons, start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 teaspoons olive oil, onion powder, garlic powder and dashes of salt and pepper. Cut the bagel into bite-size cubes, anywhere from 1  inch to 1/2 inch thick. Put the bagel pieces in the bowl of oil and toss to coat. Spread bagel pieces over an ungreased baking sheet and place in the oven. Cook 8-10 minutes, or until bagel pieces turn golden.

To make the dressing, whisk together 1/3 cup olive oil, Dijon, Italian dressing and dashes of salt and pepper.

To assemble the salad, toss spinach, tomatoes, bacon bits, cheddar cheese, croutons and dressing, and divide between two bowls.

Makes 2 salads.

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by Caitlin Saniga

These crescent pockets make great snacks (or brunch!) but can easily be made into a meal by pairing with a side of vegetables, or as my Grandma recommends, a small salad and fruit.

Cheesy chicken broccoli crescent pockets:

  • 2 cups diced, cooked chicken (from 2 breasts)
  • 1 cup chopped broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons dried dill weed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons slivered almonds, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 2 (6-ounce) packages crescent rolls
  • 4 slices Muenster cheese, sliced into long strips (with a pizza cutter or flat-edge knife)

My grandma makes a version of these pockets that's actually a braided crescent loaf with the chicken and broccoli mix folded into the center. She slices it, and you eat it with a fork. It's one of her newer dishes, but the whole family loves it and we often request it for our birthday dinners.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix together chicken, broccoli, red bell pepper, garlic, Cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, dill weed, salt, almonds and onion.

Unroll crescent roll dough and separate into triangles. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the chicken mixture onto the wide end of the triangle. Fold the skinny point over the mixture and tuck the tip under the bottom. (To see how this works, check out an earlier recipe I did.) Place crescent pockets on a lightly greased baking sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven. Arrange strips of Muenster cheese over dough of each pocket, and sprinkle slivered almonds over. Bake for 10 more minutes. Allow to cool 5 minutes before serving.

Makes 16 pockets or 8 servings.

Recipe adapted from: my Grandma Janis’ recipe

Lemon roasted asparagus:

  • 2 pounds asparagus, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 teaspoon grated lemon peel

Roasting is my new favorite method of cooking vegetables. How would you guys feel about a vegetable roasting guide later in the year?

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

In a medium bowl, toss the asparagus in the oil, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet, and roast in the oven for 12-14 minutes.

Sprinkle lemon peel over the asparagus and toss lightly.

Makes 8 side-dish servings.

Recipe: Caitlin Saniga

Photos: Caitlin Saniga

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by Caitlin Saniga

You can't tell from this photo, but an important factor in Cincinnati chili is its soupiness. When you finish slurping up the spaghetti, there should be a pool of chili liquid at the bottom of the bowl. Some people use oyster crackers to soak it up. I used Cheez-its, which trump oyster crackers in my book. I also added some chopped raw onion as a topping.

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 (1 ounce) square unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 (10.5 ounce) can beef broth
  • 1/2 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 6 minutes.

Add beef, in batches if necessary, and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until browned.

Add chili powder, cinnamon, cumin, allspice, cloves, bay leaf, chocolate, beef broth, tomato sauce, cider vinegar and red pepper. Stir to mix well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 1 hours, stirring occasionally.

The chili is best if you refrigerate it overnight.

Remove the bay leaf. Reheat gently over medium heat. Serve over hot, drained spaghetti. Top with shredded cheddar cheese.

Makes 4 large servings.

Recipe adapted from: AllRecipes.com

*Throughout March, “Crock of…” will appear every Friday with our favorite chili recipes — all of which can be found here.

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By Caitlin Saniga

In the most basic terms, this is macaroni and cheese.

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups milk
  • 8 ounces orecchiette pasta (or mini shells)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • grated Parmesan cheese (for garnish)
  • pepper

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, and saute. Stir in flour and salt.

Add milk and pasta to saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and cover. Simmer for 15-18 minutes or until pasta is tender, stirring occasionally.

Add Cheddar cheese and stir until cheese melts. Garnish with Parmesan cheese, and sprinkle with pepper. Serve warm.

Makes 4 main-dish servings.

Recipe adapted from: AllRecipes.com

Photo: Caitlin Saniga

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by Caitlin Saniga

Pumpernickel pretzels make a good side dish to this sweet and salty grilled cheese sandwich.

  • 3 slices bacon, each cut in half
  • 3 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 small red apple, sliced into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
  • 4 slices sourdough bread
  • 4 slices cheddar cheese
  • brown sugar
Each sandwich consists of 2 slices of Cheddar cheese, 3 or 4 apple slices (sprinkled with brown sugar) and 3 half-slices of bacon

Each sandwich consists of 2 slices of Cheddar cheese, 3 or 4 apple slices (sprinkled with brown sugar) and 3 half-slices of bacon

Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook apple slices until golden, about 1 minute per side. Set aside

On 2 slices of bread, stack each with 1 slice of cheese, 3 or 4 apple slices (with a sprinkle of brown sugar), 3 slices of bacon, and another slice of cheese. Top each stack with another slice of bread.

Melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Use a spatula to evenly spread butter over cooking surface. Grill sandwiches until golden brown, 2 or 3 minutes per side. Cover skillet with a lid to make the cheese melt faster. Serve immediately.

Makes 2.

Recipe: Caitlin Saniga

Photos: Caitlin Saniga

*During the month of February, we’ll post six grilled cheese recipes as part of Grilled, Please — all of which can be found here.

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