Avocado Strawberry and Goat Cheese Sandwhich

These past couple of weeks I’ve been wandering around in a fog of powdered sugar as I work on all kinds of fun cupcake orders for friends. And although it’s been a blast, my usual cooking and experimenting have had to take a back seat. Needless to say, I didn’t want to miss another Pinteresting Monday so I decided something quick and easy would do the trick- enter Avocado Strawberry and Goat Cheese on toast! When I first saw this recipe on Pinterest, it sounded crazy enough that it just had be to good but I didn’t get to try it out until this weekend. I am glad to say my instincts about it were spot on! This was an easy, delicious and light-meal option full of goodness – and it’s extremely pretty, don’t you think? 

Avocado Strawberry and Goat Cheese Sandwich (from Edible Perspective: this is  for the hot version of the sandwich but there is also a cold version if you prefer) 

Avocado Strawberry and Goat Cheese Toast

2 slices of bread 

1 avocado

4 medium strawberries, thinly sliced

goat’s milk mozzarella, thinly sliced (or any style goat’s cheese works well)

1t unrefined coconut oil (butter would be fine too if you don’t have coconut oil)

1T balsamic vinegar

1t lemon juice

1/8t salt

black pepper + sea salt to top

Avocado Strawberry and Goat Cheese Toast

Toast the bread and place on a cooling rack [avoids sogginess] to stay crisp but not hot. 

Turn your oven on to broil.

Mash the avocado with a fork and then mash in the lemon juice + salt.

Add oil to a small pan over medium heat. 

Once hot, add the strawberries + balsamic, cooking for 3-5min until softened but not falling apart.  Stir/flip a few times.

Add as much avocado to the toast as desired and add 1 layer of cooked strawberries.

Top with a thin layer of goat cheese.

Broil until melted, about 1-3min.  If you’re using more of a crumbly goat cheese, be careful it doesn’t burn.

Avocado Strawberry and Goat Cheese Toast
 

 A lot of the time, wacky sounding combinations end up being true favourites. I can’t wait to explore more recipe ideas with these flavours.

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Blackened Chicken and Cilantro Lime Quinoa with Greek Yogurt Avocado Puree

Pinteresting Monday

I love making food that is good for your body and your soul but those two are not always compatible in the same bite!  Yes it’s wonderful when you find a ‘healthified’ sweet treat, or comforting dish that has been given the ‘skimmed’ treatment, but can we all just be honest for a moment?…..it’s not as good as the real thing. This doesn’t mean we give up on eating the healthy versions more than the non-healthy ones (on the contrary it’s nice to have options when you want a quick fix and don’t want to indulge) but constant compromise can be so uninspiring. My hubby feels so cheated when I present him with an alternative low fat dish cloaked with a superior title like Chicken Alfredo using Greek Yogurt or Spaghetti Squash. If it’s presented as Creamy Squash he will be fine and enjoy every bite (as long as it’s tasty) and I have to say, I understand where he is coming from. I don’t mind eating a slimmed down version of fried chicken but I won’t go round proclaiming that it’s better than the real deal. Or that if somehow someone invented a way to eat real chocolate cake with no calories and the benefits of a multi-vitamin, I would chose the zucchini version! (If only, right?!) However, the most successful healthy dishes we come across are the ones that stand up proud in their originality and are just simply delicious! Today’s Pinteresting Monday recipe is exactly that! It’s the perfect blend of fresh and zesty ingredients with earthy warm spices, food that is good for you and most importantly it’s not trying to be something it isn’t! We love it and I wouldn’t change a thing!

Blackened Chicken and Cilantro Lime Quinoa with Greek Yogurt Avocado Puree (from Baking with Blonde)

Blackened Chicken with Cilantro Lime Quinoa

2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
½ Teaspoon of Paprika
¼ Teaspoon of Salt
¼ Teaspoon of Pepper
¼ Teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper
¼ Teaspoon of Onion Powder
¼ Teaspoon of Cumin
1 Teaspoon of Olive Oil
2 Cups of Low Sodium Chicken Stock
1 Cup of Quinoa
Juice and Zest from Two Limes
A Dash of Salt and Pepper
2 Tablespoons of Cilantro, chopped
2 Avocados
½ Small carton of Greek yogurt
Teeny bit of milk to thicken sauce to desired consistency
Blackened Chicken with Cilantro Lime Quinoa

Combine all the dry seasonings in a small bowl. Mix them together and then season both sides of each chicken breast. (I double and triple these spices and keep the mix in a small air tight container for whenever I want to make this chicken- just one step to make it easier.)

Add the teaspoon of olive oil to a large pan or skillet. Heat the olive oil for a minute over medium/high heat. Add the chicken breasts to the pan. Cook for seven minutes on each side with the lid on.

Add the chicken stock and quinoa to a medium sauce pan. Bring to a simmer over medium/low heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for ten to fifteen minutes with the lid on, until all the stock has been absorbed.

After the chicken breasts have cooked all the way through, remove them from the pan and let them rest for seven minutes before slicing them.

Add the warm quinoa to a large bowl. Toss in the lime zest, lime juice, salt and pepper, and chopped cilantro. Mix to combine.

Serve the sliced chicken breast on top of the quinoa. If you find the blackened seasoning too spicy, you can add a quick and easy avocado cream sauce to cool it down. (You should add this regardless- it’s delicious!)

*to make avocado sauce, combine avocado, Greek yogurt, teaspoon of lemon juice and a little cilantro in a mini-food processor. Add milk to obtain desired consistency.

Blackened Chicken with Cilantro Lime Quinoa

 This dish is also wonderful the next day and the avocado sauce is delicious in a chicken or turkey sandwich!

Chicken Pitta with Greek Yogurt and Cucumber Relish

Pinteresting Monday

Greek Yogurt

It seems that everyone has joined the whole Greek yogurt craze now in the States which is great for me because it was only available at specialty food stores for the first few years I moved here. Greek yogurt is yogurt that has been strained to remove the whey (the lactose/milk sugars) which is why it is thicker and has a unique sour taste. This process means it can be used at high temperatures in cooking, is higher in protein and is easier on the stomach making it perfect for those of us who are lactose intolerant. Contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t mean that all yogurt in Greece and Cyprus is strained (or called ‘Greek yogurt’ for that matter!) You can buy both regular and strained yogurt in the supermarket. Strained yogurt can be made with sheep’s milk (more traditionally found in the villages- and my favourite!) or cow’s milk, and is present at every meal like a condiment; especially good with grilled meats and roasted potatoes. Furthermore, you will find it on dessert menus served with chopped walnuts and drizzled honey.

In the states when we say Greek yogurt we are really just referring to the cow’s milk and strained variety . Even then, not all “Greek” yogurts in the States are made equal! A lot of the american brands, I am sad to say, don’t really capture the same thick texture or signature sour flavour which makes strained yogurt so delicious. Fortunately, FAGE (pronounced fa-yeh)

fage

is a Greek dairy manufacturer who has set up shop in the United States due to the increase of demand from Greek settlers. Their more authentic strained yogurt is easily available everywhere, even Walmart! This is the only strained yogurt I really like and it’s the one I recommend for today’s Pinteresting Monday (and any!) recipe; Chicken Pitta with Greek Yogurt and Cucumber Relish.

 I am always a bit dubious about trying a recipe that is supposed to be ‘Greek’ because it will sometimes mean it’s not authentic! And the following recipe, although delicious, is completely unauthentic even in its name as I will shortly explain. However, with a couple of tweaks this is a favourite at our house and definitely worth sharing.

Grilled Chicken (deconstructed) ‘Tzatziki’ from Style at Home by Tracey SyvretTzatziki is a Greek dip made with thick strained yogurt, minced fresh garlic, salted cucumber and dried mint or dill. This recipe is not for Tzatziki but for a cucumber relish without yogurt which is why I have adjusted the name to be more culturally accurate!

Chicken Pitta with yogurt and cucumber relish

For chicken marinade: I skipped this whole section and just bought Lemon Pepper Rotisserie Chicken from the grocery store! Saved me hours and made this an easy weeknight meal.

  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice + 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tsp hot sauce
  • 1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • Pinch salt
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

For cucumber relish: This relish really is flexible. I take out ingredients that either my husband or I don’t like, and substitute the parsley for dried mint.

  • 1 English cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup seeded, finely diced tomato
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red onion
  • 6 tbsp coarsely chopped and pitted black olives
  • 4 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh parsley 
  • 2 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh dill
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tsp fresh lemon juice

Directions
1
 To prepare chicken marinade, whisk all ingredients except chicken breasts together in a bowl. Combine marinade with chicken breasts in a large zip-lock bag, seal and gently shake to evenly distribute marinade over chicken. Place in refrigerator and chill for 2 to 4 hours
Again, I just used rotisserie chicken so I skipped this whole bit and saved myself some time and aggro!

2 Meanwhile, prepare the cucumber relish. Lay cucumber slices in a sieve placed over a bowl and sprinkle with pinch of salt. Leave for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until cucumbers soften and their liquid begins to drain into the bowl. Stir occasionally. This is definitely worth the wait however, if you forget to do this in advance (like I often do) it’s not the end of the world! I just let it drain while cutting up the other veggies and chicken by which point the cucumbers are fine.

3 Combine the tomato, onion, olives, parsley, dill, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Stir in drained cucumbers, then cover the bowl and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours. Again- although it makes the relish wonderfully delicious over time, I have skipped this when in a hurry and just enjoyed the leftovers all the more the next day!

4 Grease grill and preheat to medium-high. Remove chicken from zip-lock bag and discard marinade. Grill chicken breasts until cooked through, about 15 to 18 minutes. Remove chicken from grill, let rest for a few minutes and slice thinly on the diagonal. (again I just chopped up rotisserie chicken) Lay chicken slices on top of each pita round and divide relish evenly among them. Garnish with a little extra yogurt and serve.  I ALWAYS serve this with plain Fage yogurt to keep it closer to the Tzatziki idea and because it just tastes awesome! 

Chicken Pitta with yogurt and cucumber relish

What I truly love about this recipe is that it’s like eating a healthy chicken gyro in the middle of the week without any of the guilt but all of the flavour and comfort! Plus it’s really easy and quick with the swap for store bought rotisserie chicken.

Caramelized Pear and Gorgonzola Quiche

pinteresting monday favEver since I can remember, quiche has been a classic in cafes across Britain and so, although French in origin, it makes me feel very nostalgic and homesick every time I enjoy a slice.  Sometimes Mum would take me to the cafe at BHS (British Home Stores) when we were out shopping in Wood Green on a Saturday. It was the highlight of our trip and I recall all the great English cafe classics like enticing Eclairs,  snow capped cream cakes, Chocolate Gateau with bright red cherries, sandwiches with tiny green watercress leaves peeping out the sides and of course my favourite, Quiche Lorraine. I am sure that BHS was not (and is not) a gastronomic giant and that their quiche was probably nothing to write home about, but it was there and part of my whole exciting Saturday shopping experience. I didn’t really think about quiche much when we moved to Cyprus in my teens but then our love was rekindled during college after I had returned to the UK. A friend and I spent a day touring round London (something I hadn’t done in years) and we found ourselves wondering around Hyde Park. It was lunch time and we stopped into the Serpentine Cafe on the river for their lunch buffet. As we walked along the table, there was my old pal sitting on a beautiful classic china serving dish and all the magic returned instantly. 

I have been craving quiche for the last few weeks and decided it was time for a reunion. Although the hubs really likes quiche, he has some serious problems with certain classic ingredients like tomatoes, or broccoli. So I turned to Pinterest (as I do in so many of these situations!) and looked around for a quiche recipe that would win his heart. And boy did I find a winner! It was only right that I share it for Pinteresting Mondays and I hope you will not be intimidated by the recipe because it was actually extremely easy and worth every minute of prep! As usual my notes are in bold

Caramelized Pear and Gorgonzola Quiche

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caramelized Pear and Gorgonzola Quiche (brought by to you by Closet Cooking)

Filling
Ingredients:
1/4 cup pancetta or bacon, diced
1 large shallot, diced
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 pears, cored and sliced into bite sized pieces
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 cup gorgonzola or other blue cheese, crumbled
1 pre-baked walnut butter pie crust (see below)
1/4 tsp of salt and a pinch of pepper (I felt that it needed a little extra salt but it could have been my pancetta wasn’t salty enough)
Directions:
1. Cook the pancetta and shallot in a pan.
2. Add the butter and let it melt.
3. Add the sugar and cook until bubbly, about 3 minutes.
4. Add the pear and saute until tender, about 3-5 minutes. Allow to cool for about 5-10 minutes
5. Mix the pears, eggs, half and half, thyme and gorgonzola in a separate bowl and pour it into the pre-baked pie crust. I didn’t add the pears into the egg mixture until they were cool because I didn’t want to risk the eggs scrambling before going into the oven. 
6. Bake in a preheated 375F oven until golden brown on top and set in the center, about 25-45 minutes.
Caramelized Pear and Gorgonzola Quiche

Walnut Butter Pie Crust (Pâte Brisée)

 I definitely recommend using this crust, the walnut flavour is mild enough not to bother someone who hates walnuts (like my hubby) but compliments the pears and Gorgonzola perfectly. Plus it’s super easy and, apart from letting it rest, takes no time at all.

(makes 1 crust)
Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup ground walnuts (toasted before ground)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
8 tablespoons (1/2 cup or 1 stick) unsalted butter (cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes)
4-5 tablespoons water (cold)
Directions:
1. Pulse the flour, ground walnuts, salt and sugar in a food processor to mix.
2. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal, about 6-8 times.
3. Add a tablespoon of water at a time pulsing in between until it starts to clump together.
4. Place the dough on a clean surface and shape it into a disc.
5. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour.
6. Roll the dough into a 12 inch circle about 1/8 of an inch thick on a lightly floured surface.
7. Place the dough into a 9 inch diameter spring form pan with the edges going up the side of the pan. I used a deep Pyrex pie dish and it worked fine. I forgot to spray it but the quiche slices came out perfectly because of the buttery crust.
8. Place a piece of parchment paper in the pie and fill it with rice or beans to hold it down.
9. Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 15 minutes.
10. Remove the parchment paper and weight and poke the bottom of the crust with a fork a few times.
11. Bake until a light golden brown, about 10 minutes.
Caramelized Pear and Gorgonzola Quiche
It was a huge hit and we were even more excited to have leftovers for a couple of days! I can’t recommend this quiche recipe enough.

Avocado Chicken Parmigiana

pinteresting monday fav

For the second post on my new weekly feature, Pinteresting Mondays, I decided to share a  great recipe from Cuisine Paradise. Who doesn’t love Chicken Parmesan? Crunchy succulent chicken with seasoned tomato sauce and crowned in hot bubbly cheese. It naturally follows then that a recipe entitled Avocado Chicken Parmigiana would catch my attention instantly. The thought of adding a layer of fresh creaminess just seemed to make perfect sense and I couldn’t wait to try it. In fact, it sparked inspiration for a cool twist which I also tried and have posted below. This recipe is easy and relatively healthy so I hope you try it for yourself.

Avocado Chicken Parmigiano

Avocado Chicken Parmigiana recipe and photo taken from Cuisine Paradise. (my comments are in bold)

2 Chicken Breast Fillets, halved lengthways

1/2 Cup Plain Flour

2 Tablespoons Fresh Milk

2 Eggs

1 1/2 Cups Dried Breadcrumbs

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil/Cooking Spray

1/2 Cup Tomato Pasta Sauce

2 Avocado, Sliced 

1/2 Cup Grated Mozzarella Cheese

1/4 Cup grated Parmesan

Place chicken breast in a clear plastic bag (alternatively between 2 sheets plastic wrap), using a rolling pin or meat mallet pound until 0.5cm thick. Place flour and breadcrumbs on two separate plates and lightly whisk milk and egg together in a shallow bowl. I added half of the Parmesan in with the flour. Coat 1 piece of chicken breast in flour (shaking off excess), dip in egg mixture then coat in breadcrumbs using your fingertips pressing down to ssecure. Place on prepared baking tray and repeat the same process with the remaining chicken breast. Lightly spray or brush the prepared chicken with oil, bake for 8 minutes(turning after 4 minutes to have even colours on the breadcrumbs) in preheated 200 degree Celsius(392°Fahrenheit) fan-forced oven. I have a gas oven so I had it on about 400F and it just needed a little longer than a fan-assisted oven would need. Remove from oven and spread each chicken breast with 1 heaped tablespoon of pasta sauce. Arrange avocado slices over sauce and sprinkle with decent amount of mozzarella cheese and remaining Parmesan. Return to oven and bake for another 5 – 7 minutes or until golden and chicken is cooked through.
It was delicious and I think the better quality (or homemade) tomato sauce you use, the better. I also recommend using freshly shaved Parmesan for the best possible flavour. As promised here is an alternative recipe. You can always follow the above instructions for the chicken but I don’t use store bought breadcrumbs (I just don’t through them fast enough so they always go stale plus I like to add a variety of spices depending on what I am cooking) so here is my recipe in full.
 
Southwest Avocado Chicken Parmigiana (serves 2)

Southwest Avocado Chicken Parmigiana

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 large chicken breast

4 large wholewheat crackers

1/2 cup of oats

1 egg

1/2 cup of Greek yogurt

1 tbsp of dijon or stone ground mustard

1/2 tsp of lime juice

1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp of the following spices and herbs: paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder.

1/2 cup of your favourite salsa

1 avocado sliced

1 cup of Mexican blend shredded cheese

Put crackers, all spices, oats and Parmesan cheese in the food processor and pulse until breadcrumbs (not too fine). Spread crumbs onto a flat plate. Mix yogurt, egg, lime juice and mustard into another bowl and set aside. Line a baking pan with foil or parchment paper, and cover well in cooking spray. Pound chicken breast (not quite as thin as the previous recipe) and then cut in half so that you have two good sized schnitzels. Dredge in yogurt mixture and let the excess drip off. Place into breadcrumbs turning over until both sides are well covered. Place onto baking pan and then spritz with more cooking spray on top. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes at about 400 F turning at half time. Remove from oven and top with plenty of salsa, avocado slices and then cover in cheese. Place back in the oven for 10 more minutes or until cheese is bubbly.

Southwest Avocado Chicken Parmigiana

New Weekly Feature

pinteresting monday fav

If you have read anything I have written over the past year, you will see that I absolutely love Pinterest and it has literally revolutionized my life! Of course I believe in order to have a healthy mentality about Pinterest, you have to be a mindful consumer. It is easy to get obsessed (I definitely went through that phase) and spend hours re-pinning but more so I think it can become a source to fuel unnecessary dissatisfaction with your life, body image, possessions etc. So I present this obvious caution. Pin what inspires you, pin things you want to try, pin the exciting but don’t let Pinterest make you feel inadequate as a person; whether it’s about who you are, how you look, the kind of parent/spouse/friend you are, or the possessions you have. You can’t put the world’s best chef, best artist, best athlete, funniest comedian, the furthest traveler, wisest scholar etc into one perfectly designed room and realistically compare yourself to all of them and come out feeling awesome!  But, some of their work will be beautiful to look at, inspire hard work, provide great insight and make you laugh when you need it most. That to me is what Pinterest has added to my life (and also its a place for me to put things I find on-line and want to remember because I have the worst memory!)

Having said all that, I am starting a new feature on the Grumbling Belly entitled Pinteresting Mondays! I weekly (in fact multiple times a week) try out new recipes I have found on Pinterest and thought it was about time to start sharing all the great food I have discovered. I won’t be pinning just anything, only the recipes I have really liked, or slightly adapted. I have no interest in berating a recipe that didn’t come out right or insensitively marring someone else’s hard work in their kitchen. If you are interested in following my Pinterest Boards, click here. I would be happy to welcome you into my Pinterest world but you might learn more about me than you bargained for!

For our first Pinteresting Monday, I thought we could explore my all time favourite soup; Tom Kha Gai (Thai flavours with chicken and coconut milk). When I lived near Chattanooga TN, my husband and I frequented a fantastic Thai restaurant (Rain Thai Bistro) and were completely enthralled by each item on their menu. Every time we visited, we had the hardest time choosing what to order especially for an appetizer. Basil rolls or tom kha gai….it was like choosing between our (non-existent) children! So, when I came across a recipe for Tom Kha Gai on Pinterest, I was all in! Now, we could have it at home as often as we wanted and eliminate the dreaded moment at Rain when the server came for our order. I bought all the necessary ingredients, came home, recipe in hand, and a sense of trepidation began stirring in my stomach….what if it wasn’t as good, how could it be? could any soup match the excellence of Rain? Fortunately the recipe is sooooo easy that it was ready in about 20 minutes and my anxiety did not last long! I couldn’t believe how delicious this soup was and even my husband, who is the real Thai tester, could not stop umming and ahhing. I recommend this whole heartedly and have some cheats to make it even easier (and perhaps a little cheaper).

Tom Kha Gai

originally found on myrecipes.com submitted by Jiranooch Shapiro, from Anchorage, AK. (My comments and suggestions are in bold.)

Tom Kha Gai

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 can (14 oz.) coconut milk (I don’t recommend using light coconut milk if you prefer your soups to have a silky texture)

1 can (14 oz.) reduced-sodium chicken broth

6 quarter-size slices fresh ginger * (or 2 tbsp of tube-see below)

1 stalk fresh lemongrass, cut in 1-in. pieces* (or 2 tbsp of tube-see below)

1 pound boned, skinned chicken breast or thighs, cut into 1-in. chunks 

1 cup sliced mushrooms

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce** (nuoc mam or nam pla) (I always use about another 1/2 tablespoon for extra flavour.)

1 teaspoon sugar (this can be omitted without any loss of taste, esp if you add more fish sauce)

1 teaspoon Thai chili paste (Siracha is my favourite)

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup fresh cilantro

(* If you don’t frequently make other recipes with ginger or lemongrass, they can be expensive to buy and go to waste quickly, so here is a trick I have discovered. Purchase a Gourmet Garden tube of fresh lemongrass and ginger. I have always found them at the local grocery store (even Walmart!) in the fresh herbs section. They last for three months and are the best mess-free convenient alternative. I don’t recommend all their herbs but these two options are very comparable to the fresh ones.)

(** you can find Thai Fish Sauce from most grocery stores in the Asian section. It might seem a bit pricey but it lasts for ages)
In a medium saucepan, combine coconut milk, broth, ginger, and lemongrass and bring to boil over high heat. Add chicken, mushrooms, lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, and chili paste. Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is firm and opaque, 5 to 10 minutes. (I do no less than 10 minutes for deeper flavour) Discard lemongrass (if using fresh stalks, otherwise the type from the tube just disintegrates and you don’t need to remove it). Garnish servings with basil and cilantro. (I actually add basil and cilantro the last couple of minutes and I recommend only using fresh herbs here.)

Tom Kha Gai

 

 

 

This soup makes about 4-5 servings and is even better the next day . Once you buy the tube of ginger and lemongrass, and get the fish sauce, this recipe is so easy to shop for and make on a busy week night.