Sunday is National Monte Cristo Day (9/17), proving once again that we Americans love to celebrate all things food. The yummy dish reminds me of a collision between French toast and a lunch box ham sandwich – the traditional version, a favorite during my childhood, is made with ham and cheese book-ended between white bread, dipped in an egg mixture and then pan fried or even deep fried (gasp) with raspberry preserves and powdered sugar to garnish! Crazy yum!
Of course, I’m anything but traditional so today I’m sharing my even more brazen version of this classic sammie – a Beef Blue Cheese Monte Cristo with Cherries! Read on to get all the juicy details and recipe. Continue reading →
I have a thaaaaaaaaaang for pears, eating right out of hand and using them as the star ingredient in healthy desserts. If I was a partridge, I’d never fly out of my pear tree –the fruit is just so dang delicious and nutritious. Pomegranate Roasted Pears with Pine Nuts & Blue Cheese is a super simple yet sorta fancy-schmancy dessert or side dish that can be made in 30 minutes!
Today, I am bringing you tidings of comfort (food) and joy in honor of National Comfort Food Day (December 5th). I believe it’s no coincidence that this feel-good food holiday is falling on a Monday. And, not just any Monday, but the day after I struggled through a cold, windy and rainy marathon.
Honestly, I’m still feeling a little chilled to the bone, depleted, and licking battle wounds, and embracing the opportunity to take a MAJOR rest day, hang out in my PJs and fuzzy slippers, and make comfort food my new best friend.
Y’all know I typically eat reasonably, mostly clean . . . but I’m never going to deny myself food I’m craving for comfort every now and then. Sometimes your body is telling you to eat these things for a reason, other times it’s strictly soul satisfying. Regardless, when you let go of the guilt and give your food worries a rest day, it tastes even better!
Bacon & Blue Cheese Mac – Ahh, most any pasta dish is comforting, but mac and cheese is a like coming home after being away from loved ones for too long. The addition of blue cheese and bacon makes the reunion even better!
Comforting Chicken & Rice Soup – When it’s drafty and cold, and your feeling run down and even under-the-weather, this easy chicken and rice soup comes to the rescue in a snap. And, while slurping up a big bowl is comforting to the core, it’s also a healthy choice!
Root Beer Float Fudge – Imagine if you could have the yummy flavor of root beer and vanilla ice cream in fudge format? Well, you can thanks to this recipe I develop a few years back for the magazine Simple & Delicious. While, I wouldn’t eat the whole pan at once, I certainly say CHEERS to a piece for a sweet treat.
Pre-make chimichurri by adding all ingredients to small blender or food processor. Pulse on and off in 10 second increments to break up ingredients into coarse sauce. Set aside.
Heat large skilled to medium-high. Add sliced sirloin and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 to 4 minutes. Beef will be ready to remove from pan once lightly browned on edges and pink has been just taken off center. Remove from skillet and drain on paper towels.
n same skillet (reserved with a tiny bit of beef fat and bits) add onion slices and cook over medium high, stirring as need, for about 6 to 8 minutes or until softened and beginning to caramelize. Add beef back into skillet with onions along with tomatoes, salt and red pepper flakes; stir to combine.
Meanwhile, heat Panini press or clean skillet to medium-high heat.
Butter outer sides of two slices of bread and layer each side with mozzarella. Place slice of bread, butter side down, on pan and top with ¼ of beef mixture. Add top piece of cheese and bread.
Cook for approximately 3 to 4 minutes per side until bread turning golden brown and cheese melting. Repeat for remaining sandwiches.
To serve, lift up tops of sandwiches and drizzle with chimichurri. Serve hot.
The holiday season is imminent and busy shoppers are filling their baskets with hams, birds and beef roasts to deck out dinner table. But, let’s not talk turkey, let’s talk eggs! With Thanksgiving, Christmas and all the other equally celebratory winter holidays that people hold near and dear, many of us will find ourselves hosting guests. And, in my experience, guests are always ready to eat from sun up to sun down. I’m happy to all my ravenous revelers, in fact I love cooking for company — I just don”t like to feel rushed in the morning.
My easy Artichoke and Blue Cheese Egg Bake comes to the rescue on so many levels – it’s simple to make, can be prepped the night before and kept in the fridge until next morning, can be make in individual servings or in one big family-style pan, and . . .most, it just tastes delicious!
Artichoke and Blue Cheese Egg Bake makes is a beautiful recipe for brunch or breakfast. Lovely for holiday entertaining.
Who wants a bland, boring breakfast when the flavors of blue cheese and artichokes are ready to add extra AMAZING to the day?! Also, there are tomatoes and a ton of spinach in this recipe, so it’s also kinda like eating a salad for breafast or brunch. This statement makes even more sense when I tell you that blue cheese dressing is one of the secret ingredients!
I actually posted this egg recipe in January 2104 after developing for Litehouse Foods using their award-wining Simply Artisan Reserve Blue Cheese Crumbles and OPA Blue Cheese Dressing (made with Greek yogurt). Because it has been so popular, I decided to refresh the photos — oh, and also it will be featured in an upcoming 2017 food calendar! Ooh, I wonder if it will be the centerfold — keep you posted!
This is the perfect breakfast to power up for all that upcoming Black Friday shopping or as a simple, light dinner when you come home from the shop-a-thon and need quality protein and healthy veggies for recovery.
What do you like to serve holiday house guests for breakfast? Are you running in a Turkey Trot this week? What has your best shopping deal been so far (I know it’s early) — please share in the comments, XOXO – Jennifer
Artichoke Blue Cheese Baked Eggs
Wake up to bold and beautiful baked eggs featuring artichokes, blue cheese, spinach and tomatoes. Easy to prep night before and then just stick in the oven.
Lightly spray 4 ramekins or small gratin dishes with baking spray. Coarsely chop spinach and divide evenly among dishes.
Drizzle even portions of blue cheese salad dressing over spinach and sprinkle with red onion.
Slice grape tomatoes in half and drain liquid from jar of artichoke hearts. Place tomatoes and artichokes around perimeter of dishes.
Gently crack 2 eggs over top of spinach mixture, taking care not to break yolk. Repeat for remaining 3 personal-sized baking dishes. Sprinkle tops with chives. This may also be made in a 8” to 9” round baking dish with all the ingredients for “family style.”
Place dishes on a rimmed baking sheet and place on center rack of oven. Back for approximately 20 minutes or until egg whites have set and yolk has achieved desired level of doneness.
Remove from oven and sprinkle tops with an even portion of blue cheese crumbles. Let cool for 2 to 3 minutes before serving.
Football parties, tailgating and fall season gathers require dip to draw people together. Just think of all the great gossip, high-fiving and friendly smack talk that has gone down in, what I like to call, the “Chip and Dip Zone.”
But, maybe you hesitate to enter the ZONE for fear of the cheesy dip – is it made of mystery processed “cheese,” loaded with fat upon fat, or just boringly bland? I’ll admit, these thoughts cross my mind, especially flashbacks of tepid fake orange stadium cheese on stale round tortilla chips. That’s why I came up with my Lower-Fat Blue Cheese & Fire-Roasted Tomato Queso – it’s bold and it’s better for you made with REAL ingredients.
I think you’ll definitely widen your mind (and mouth) in appreciation for my Blue Cheese & Fire-roasted Tomato Queso. This unique cheese dip marrieds the audacious attitude blue-cheese with the smoky laid-back goodness of tomatoes roasted over flames. I’ve used my fav brand of blue cheese (Simply Artisan Reserve Blue Cheese Crumbles) and canned fire-roasted tomatoes which. Of course, canned tomatoes are convenient and taste great in recipes, but did you know that they contain more lycopene (a free-radical destroying antioxidant) than those fresh off the vine? It’s true!
While this cheese dip recipe requires a whisk, it’s quite easy prepare, coming together in just 15 minutes or less– and you can keep it warmed for a party but pouring into a small slow cooker. It was first whipped up to celebrated International Beer Day with Litehouse Foods. Using low-fat dairy products help keep this snack sensible in moderation and, if you are on a gluten-free diet, it is easy to swap out flour used in the roux with a gluten-free flour blend (I use Living Now Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Flour, it’s inexpensive and provides the right texture for my recipe)
Serve Lower-Fat Blue Cheese & Fire-Roasted Tomato Queso with veggie sticks, artisan chips, or chunks of crusty bread. I’ve even reheated the leftovers and poured over cooked zoodles and topped with shrimp for an impromptu “pasta” dinner.
If you are hosting a huge football party, you might want to consider adding my Healthy Snack Stadium to your spread of snacks, appetizers and game-day grub.
[Tweet Not yer stadium cheese dip! Lower-Fat Blue Cheese & Fire-Roasted Tomato Queso #fitfluential #livinglitehouse”]
What football team(s) are you rooting for this season? Are you typically an at-home or stadium spectator? Please share in comments, xoxo Jennifer
Blue Cheese & Fire-roasted Tomato Queso
Up your game day grub with this lightened up queso featuring the bold flavors of blue cheese and flame-kissed tomatoes. It's even a winner at dinner served over zoodles or pasta!
In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, warm milk (without boiling), stirring occasionally.
At the same time, heat butter in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until melted. Add flour to melted butter and whisk continuously, cooking until it is bubbling and has turned lightly golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes.
Stream in heated milk, whisking continuously, and continue to cook over medium heat until mixture bubbles and thickens slightly. Add cheeses and whisk well until melted smooth and incorporated. Add Italian Herb Blend, dried red pepper flakes, green onions and drained tomatoes, stirring until combined.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour into serving bowl and garnish as desired.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mamas out there! If you’re looking to surprise your mom with a gourmet treat my Blue Cheese & Walnut Stuffed Strawberries are a bold choice! I always see chocolate-dipped berries at the store, but this sweet-savory fruit option makes the perfect prelude to dinner, especially when paired with a glass of wine or sparkling water.
This fruit and cheese recipe is also a spectacular appetizer to bring to either a fancy cocktail party or casual backyard get-together. It can just be our little secret that this healthy recipe only takes 15 minutes or less to prepare, and no cooking! And, I’m partial to Artisan Reserve Blue Cheese Crumbles from Litehouse Foods, look for it in the gourmet cheese section of your market. Recipe at the bottom of the post!
And, speaking of healthy, yummy food, I want to announce that the Fit Foodie Race Weekend will be in Austin June 24 – 26, 2016. You DO NOT want to miss the epic event for the health-minded epicurean! I have been an ambassador for the race all three years it’s come to Austin, and it is absolutely my favorite 5k! Hosted by Cooking Light and Health Magazine, this is a food and fitness lover’s weekend dream come true – running, workouts and really good food! There are pre-race parties and post-race parties and yoga, workouts, cooking demos and an over-the-top expo area – as they say, calories burned, calories earned! The Fit Foodie Race Weekendreally is amazing! Plus, this year, marathon superstars Bill Rodgers and Ryan Hall will be making appearance – I’m bringing my selfie stick! Early registration is only $35 for the 5k and entrance into the John Hancock Vitality Village. Plus, use my discount code FITFORK for an additional 10% off! Register HERE!
Do you have a favorite fruit appetizer? Have you ever run the Fit Foodie 5k (in addition to Austin, the race is also in San Diego, Fairfax and Tampa)? Or, tell me one of your top fun 5ks! Please share in the comments below – xoxo, Jennifer
Not only is it Monday, but it’s raining! I’m going to brighten up my mid-day meal with this Strawberry Blue Cuke Salad (aka Strawberry Blue Cheese Salad with Cucumber and Snap Peas), it’s bursting with fresh flavors and a palette of eye-popping colors. It’s definitely the super-delicious, super-healthy silver-lining to being stuck-inside over the lunch hour!
I originally developed this recipe for the Living Litehouse Blog as a way to feature their insanely delicious Chunky Blue Cheese Dressing. Head over there to check out my Four Tips for a Sensational Salad. I know all the salad-eating secrets and how to keep the love for lettuce alive – I should, since I gobble up about 365 big salads a year!!
Meanwhile, make a bowlful of this beautiful goodness and share family-style with those you love. I’m showing this salad as a side today, but I’ll often turn it into apan sauteed shrimp, grilled chicken breast, or chickpeas to add some sustaining protein for the day.
Or, bottle up this easy salad in a mason jar to take for lunch on-the-go at the office, school or gym. Just remember the number one tip with jar salads, put the dressing on the bottom and layer upward according to the durability of the ingredients – heartiest go low, fragile an prone to wilt go higher. Check out more jar salad tips here. Due to my Kitchenaid Spiralizer Attachment addiction, I processed the cucumbers up into twisty-twirly ribbons. But, feel free to use slices or julienned strips. Enjoy!
Prepare cucumbers with spiralizer or use vegetable peeler to make long ribbons by swiping end to end. Place prepped cucumber in colander and rinse away any seeds (even “seedless” have some) and let drain for 5 minutes.
Hull and quarter strawberries.
Cut sugar snap peas in half crosswise or larger ones in thirds. Slice a few open lengthwise at the seam to show off peas inside.
Layer in jar in this order: dressing, cucumbers, strawberries, snap peas, and blue cheese. Or, toss with dressing and serve in bowl or on platter.
The inspiration for this super easy recipe is “colcannon,” a traditional Irish dish made from creamy mashed potatoes and kale or cabbage. Potatoes and Irish culture or forever linked, as we all learned in history class – at one point leading up to the mid-17th century Great Potato Famin, it was said that the average Irish laborer ate 10 pounds of potatoes a day and for three-fifths of the population it was the primary fuel of life.
Okay, eating such a potato-centric diet causes dietary imbalances, but potatoes ARE a smart choice as a side dish to protein and other fruits and vegetables in your healthy diet. Tubers are packed with wholesome nutrients including complex carbohydrates for quality energy and vitamins and minerals, especially iron, magnesium, vitamin B-6 and vitamin C.
It’s no blarney, you are guaranteed to love my Kale Pesto Potato Fries Two Ways with Blue Cheese Sauce — just remember not to call them French fries, Irish fries is more fitting! The kale pesto is a snap to make in the food processor, and can easily be done while the potatoes are baking in the oven. Make another batch or use leftovers on pasta, fish, chicken, pizza and more. BTW, the pesto is nut-free so everyone can enjoy!
As for prepping the potatoes – you can use a spiralizer, a mandolin, finely julienne by hand or cut into fatter wedges, it’s the cook’s choice! I’ve used tried-and-true Russet potatoes in this dish, you could use whatever variety potato you like – on super busy days, I’ve also even hacked the recipe with frozen shoestring potatoes.
To add a blast of bold to the Irish recipe, I serve Kale Pesto Potato Fries Two Ways with the Big Blue Ultra Premium from Litehouse Foods. This incredibly creamy and rich dressing is made with extra chunks of handcrafted Artisan Blue Cheese for maximum flavor—a bowl filled for dunking is like a pot of gold at the end of a cheese-lover’s rainbow.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line large rimmed baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
Scrub, dry and leave peel on potatoes. Use spiralizer, mandolin or sharp knife to cut potatoes into ⅛" to 1/4” thick pieces. If preferred, cut potato into 1/3” wedges.
Place the strips (or wedges) in large bowl and sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper, tossing to coat well.
Bake thin fries for 35 to 40 minutes, using tongs to toss halfway through cooking time. Wedge fries may need to cook for 5 to 10 additional minutes.
Thin fries are done when at least half are crispy and golden brown. Thicker wedge fries will be turning golden brown on the sides.
While fries are baking, add kale, olive oil, salt, garlic, parsley, lemon juice and almonds to food processor and pulse until very finely chopped and ingredients incorporated.
Remove fries from oven and toss with pesto while still hot. Serve with blue cheese dressing drizzled on top or served to the side as a dip.