Posts Tagged With: Cheese

Saag Paneer (Spinach Curry with Fresh Cheese)

I love Indian food – the spices in Indian food are just so different from other cuisines!

Here’s a good weekend meal since its going to take a bit of time to press the homemade simple cheese and to allow the flavors to mingle.


  • 8 c. whole milk
  • 1/4 c. plus 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 5 tsp. salt
  • 4 pounds spinach, well rinsed and thick stems removed
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 serrano chiles, seeded
  • 1 piece ginger (3 in.), peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 TBS vegetable oil
  • Seeds from 7 cardamom pods
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 TBS ground coriander
  • 1 TBS ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 canned tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 c. whole-milk yogurt
  • 2 tsp. garam masala

Line a colander with 2 layers of cheesecloth and set in the sink. Bring milk to boil in a large pot over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Let it boil 30 seconds (remove from heat if it starts to boil over) and stir in 1/4 cup lemon juice. Milk will curdle, separating into cheese curds and a clear yellow whey. Pour into cheesecloth-lined colander.

Rinse curds with cold water. Pull up edges of the cheesecloth, gently squeeze out as much water as possible, and form curds into a 6-in. disk. Put cheesecloth-wrapped disk on a large plate, top with a large cutting board, and weigh down with a heavy pot. Put in the refrigerator and let press at least 3 hours and up to overnight.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside. To boiling water, add 3 tsp. salt and the spinach. Cook 1 minute, then drain and transfer spinach to ice water. Swirl around to cool spinach and drain again. Use your hands to squeeze water from spinach. Set aside.

In a blender, whirl garlic, onions, chiles, ginger, and 1/4 cup of water to make a paste. Set aside.

In a medium pot over medium-high heat, add oil, cardamom, cloves, bay leaves, and cinnamon. Cook until spices darken, about 2 minutes. Add reserved onion paste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens and darkens, about 15 minutes. If the mixture starts to stick, add 1 tbsp. of water at a time, stirring, to help loosen it.

Stir in coriander, cumin, and turmeric. Cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add tomato and yogurt. Cook until thickened slightly, about 3 minutes. Stir in spinach and remaining salt. Turn heat to low and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until flavors are blended, about 30 minutes.

Cut paneer into 1/2-in. cubes and gently stir into spinach mixture. Cook until paneer is heated through, about 2 minutes. Add garam masala and remaining lemon juice. Adjust salt and lemon juice to taste. Serve hot, with flatbread or rice.

Recipe from Sunset

Categories: Entrees, Indian, Recipes | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

White Chile con Queso Fondue with Chorizo

Game Day is COMING!  I can’t believe its here already!  Sadly, couldn’t tell you who’s playing but I know I’m excited for the social opportunities that come with the “big game.”  Its all about the parties.

Part of the reason why I can’t believe its here already is because it marks the one year anniversary of correcting my feet – surgery numero uno was the day after the Super Bowl last year. Its been an interesting year with the feets but I’m happy to say that they’re at about 90% and I even wore heels TWICE last week.  That’s a huge deal for a vertically-challenged, shoe-lovin’ woman!

But you probably don’t care so much about my feet and my love for shoes as you do about food.  So onwards…

To me, the Super Bowl is a big giant excuse to eat really unhealthy for a day.  Anyone share that sentiment or am I just looking for excuses?  Regardless, I’ve got an awesome dip for you!

Looking to “theme” your game day food (it drive me BONKERS if foods don’t at least kind of go together, even finger foods.  I’m OCD you could say), then check out these posts from my Mexican-themed New Years that could/should be prepared for game day!


Avocado, Orange, and Pomegranate Salsa

Mexican Fruit Salad

You might as well throw in some pico de gallo, guacamole, and of course some quality tortilla chips.  These are my FAVORITE (heck, I even eat them without dips!).


  • 12 oz. spicy Mexican chorizo sausage, crumbled
  • 12 oz. queso fresco, crumbled
  • 1 8 oz. package cream cheese, cubed
  • 1 c. Mexican crema or sour cream
  • 1 c. pico de gallo
  • 3 TBS tequila
  • 1 TBS cornstarch
  • 2 TBS water
  • Mexican hot sauce to taste (optional)

Place the chorizo in a large fondue pot over medium heat.  As the sausage begins to cooks, stir frequently to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pot.  When the sausage is almost cooked, add the cheeses, crema, pico de gallo, and tequila.  Keep whisking until the cheese melts.  The mixture should become smooth after about 5 minutes.

In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the water and add the mixture to the fondue.  Stir until slightly thickened.  Taste and add hot sauce if desired.

Serve immediately over low heat.

Adapted slightly from Hallie Harron’s Not Your Mother’s Fondue

Categories: Appetizers, Mexican, Recipes, Sides, Snacks | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Healthy Homemade Mac ‘n Cheese

Update on the surgery (in case you’re curious or missed the memo that this blog is going to get pretty boring for the next two months.  Everything went well on Monday and my foot is supposedly straightened but I can’t confirm that (I NEVER ever look at the surgery site until its completely healed, it really grosses me out).  I’m definitely in pain now that the block wore off, but trying to keep busy by blogging a few posts that I didn’t get to before the operation and working on photo books.  Hopefully these sentences make sense because vicodin and I don’t always play nice together.  Moving on…

This recipe was on the cover of one of my recent issues of Cooking Light that came in the mail.  Branden and I were really curious about this recipe, especially as lovers of homemade mac.  I was really unsure about subbing heavy cream and pounds of cheese with low fat milk and butternut squash.  How could this possibly be delicious (or at least taste like traditional mac and cheese)?  Seriously, Branden came home from work while I was throwing it in the oven and asked if I had high hopes for it…I admitted I still wasn’t sure.

To our suprise, this is actually good.  Like, really good.  For those of you with kids that hate veggies, try this out, they won’t ever suspect there’s a pound of squash hidden in there.  Cooking Light somehow found a way to take a traditionally 900 calorie meal and make it about 400 calories per serving (I think they were so successful because of the cheeses chosen – much stronger cheeses than in most mac and cheese dishes).  That in and of itself is enough to make me add this recipe to my collection.  Is it as good as its full-fat sibling?  Not quite (because let’s be honest, cream and lots of gooey cheese is hard to compete with), but it is pretty darn close.  Branden and I both really enjoyed this recipe and will be making it again for sure.

I did add a couple things to this recipe to make it a little more adult-ish…nutmeg, white pepper, and truffle oil.  These three flavors lended a earthy taste to the dish that I really liked.  Omit them for a more classic taste (and the original recipe).


  • 3 c. cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 1-pound squash)
  • 1 1/4 c. fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 c. fat-free milk
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 3 TBS truffle oil
  • 2 TBS fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/4 c. (5 ounces) shredded Gruyère cheese
  • 1 c. (4 ounces) grated pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/4 c. (1 ounce) finely grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
  • 1 lb. uncooked cavatappi
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 2 TBS chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 375°.

Combine squash, broth, milk, and garlic in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat.

Place the hot squash mixture in a blender (you can also totally use an immersion blender here if you have one – I did because I hate dirtying extra dishes). Add salt, pepper, white pepper, nutmeg, truffle oil, and Greek yogurt. Remove the center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Place blended squash mixture in a bowl; stir in Gruyère, pecorino Romano, and 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano. Stir until combined.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain well. Add pasta to squash mixture, and stir until combined. Spread mixture evenly into a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add panko, and cook for 2 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Sprinkle evenly over the hot pasta mixture. Lightly coat topping with cooking spray.

 Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with parsley, and serve immediately.

Categories: American, Entrees, Pasta, Recipes | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Restaurant Review: Melt Bar & Grilled

I have  a confession…I have no pictures from this wonderful slice of heaven because I got so excited about my meal when it was set down in front of me (and not to mention I was starving after a day in the sun at the pool and a drink or two at the bar while waiting for our table), that I dug right in and scarfed half the sandwich before I even knew what hit me.  So sorry, but you’re just going to have to the trip to Cleveland and experience Melt Bar & Grilled for yourself!

Anyways, I’ve been hearing about Melt Bar & Grilled for awhile now and as a lover of anything cheese, I knew I had to check this place out.  On a random Tuesday evening last week, a couple girl friends and I decided to make the hour trek up to Cleveland to experience the awesomeness that I’ve seen featured on The Food Network so many times.  Oh.  My.  Goodness.  If you’re not a fan of cheese or are lactose intolerant…stay away (although they do have vegan cheese and vegetarian options if that’s your thing).

Let’s start with the bar.  You’re probably going to get the chance to experience the bar because the wait is forever!  Even on a Tuesday evening, we waited over an hour for a table.  So what are a couple of cute girls to do?  Bottoms up!  The beer list is extensive and since I really can’t seem to acquire the taste of beer, I was pleasantly surprised to see Wyder’s Pear Cider and a local hard cider both on tap.  I was also intrigued by their reasonably priced mixed drinks and settled on a Lavender Mojito for $4.75.  YUM!  This traditional mojito had lavendar buds muddled in with the mint and sugar which made for a summery twist.  I will be trying this one at home soon!

And for the grand finale…the reason I neglected to take any pictures!  I ordered the July special: Firecracker Chicken.  This delicious calorie-bomb consisted of blackened chicken with 3-pepper blackening rub, fresh avocado, grilled pineapple, and pepper jack cheese crammed between two thick slices of homemade bread, smothered in butter, and toasted to melty, gooey perfection (yes, my mouth is watering as I write this).  Seriously, the flavor combination here was unbeatable with the spicy chicken and cheese, cool avocados, and sweet grilled pineapple.  A grilled cheese lover’s dream come true.  And as if it can’t get any better, every sandwich comes with a heaping pile of fresh cut fries and homemade slaw.

So if you’re up in Cleveland, Ohio, look at Melt Bar & Grilled- it was worth every second of my two-hour round trip to experience it!

Categories: American, Restaurants | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Hurry Up Summer: I’m Hungry for BURGERS!

I can’t take credit for today’s post at all.  I had a REALLY long day starting at 5 a.m. last Friday and didn’t get home until 8:30 p.m.  I had asked/demanded that Branden prepare dinner before I got home so I could just relax after my day upon arrival.  He’s a really good cook and his dinner he came up with didn’t disappoint at all!

We are both incredibly ready for warm weather and all that comes with it- grilling, summer veggies and fresh herbs, eating outside, and fires in the back yard.  Seriously, I can’t wait and Friday’s dinner didn’t help me with my patience.  About a month or so ago, we got a Williams-Sonoma catalogue in the mail that had an absolutely incredible looking stuffed burger on the front.  My mouth was watering and we’ve been dying to try it.  Branden was able to track down the recipe and ended up making his own creation based off the original.  Our burgers were accompanied by grilled green onions and asparagus and roasted sweet potato fries (a weakness of mine, especially with some homemade aioli!).

I’ll start with the sides first before I move on to the burgers.  We love grilled veggies.   Quite frankly, my favorite way to make asparagus is on the grill- I just love the little bit of char that forms on the spears.  I also really like the fact that its pretty hard to make asparagus mushy on the grill.  I like my veggies crunchy, so grilling (or broiling in the winter) is my cooking method of choice.  Toss in some fresh garlic, sea salt, fresh cracked pepper, and olive oil and you’re good to go.  I’ve been known to grill a whole bundle of asparagus and eat the entire thing myself– no fork needed!  This method also works wonders on green onions that almost turn sweet on the grill (a perfect way to use those leftover onions in the crisper that often go to waste).

Now for the burgers.  Yum.

Branden mixed his 80/20 ground beef with chili powder, cayenne, cumin, white pepper, fresh cracked black pepper, minced roasted garlic (from a jar), and Worcestershire sauce.  I wish I could give you exact measurements, but he kind of threw things in as he went (and did a wonderful job, I might add!).  The original recipe called for stuffing the burgers with pepper jack cheese, but we had an “incident” last summer with stuffed burgers, so Branden decided to play it safe and melt the cheese on top.

And for the fixin’s!  Branden grilled fresh kaiser rolls from the bakery that were rubbed with a bit of olive oil to make them toast up nice.  He also grilled fresh red onions.  And if it couldn’t get any better, he fried thick-cut peppered bacon until crisp.  And even better yet was the avocado mash!  The combination of the heat of the burger seasonings and pepper jack cheese with the cool avocado, salty bacon, and sweet grilled onions was bliss in my mouth!  I instantly was reminded why I yearned for summer and the opportunity to create magic on the grill.  These burgers were amazing.  I know that it helps that my husband knows his way around a grill, but the unbeatable flavor combination here helped knock this burger out of the park.  We will definitely be making these again and will probably have to have some friends over to enjoy as well because they’re too good to keep to ourselves!

Avocado Mash/Guacamole:

  • 2 large avocados, preferably Haas, peeled and pitted
  • 1 TBS fresh lime juice
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 1/2 TBS chopped fresh cilantro

In a bowl, combine the avocados and lime juice and mash them together with a fork. Season with salt and stir in the cilantro.

Categories: American, Entrees, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Branden’s Birthday Dinner a.k.a. Mexican Fiesta Part III

  • Yellowfin Tuna & Coconut Poblano Ceviche
  • Roasted Red Pepper Guacamole
  • Enchiladas Suizas
  • Classic Margaritas on the Rocks

The moment you’ve all been waiting for (or should’ve been): The Enchiladas!  These were so good that Branden and I fought over who got to have the leftovers (and we’re lucky there were any to begin with) and then Branden asked if we cold make them this weekend, too.  Seriously, we’ve made a LOT of different enchilada recipes from scratch in this household and this one tops them all…by far.  I think this particular recipe was a hit for two reasons: the roasting process for the sauce ingredients and the use of a rotisserie chicken  instead of boring boneless, skinless chicken breasts. 

I also liked this recipe because its easy.  Yes, I said it, homemade enchiladas that are easy.  Recipes that we’ve made in the past required literal hours slaving over tomatillo sauce and shredding chicken with two forks.  Who needs it?  This recipe requires you roast the veggies for the sauce (I did it all on one sheet pan) and pull chicken from a store-bought, already-cooked bird.  And those are about the most labor-intensive parts of this process.

  • 1 purchased roasted chicken (2-2 1/2 pounds)
  • 12 oz. fresh tomatillos, husks removed
  • 1/2 medium onion, cut into thin wedges
  • 2 fresh jalepeno peppers
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 14.5 oz. can diced fire roasted tomatos, undrained
  • 3/4 cup pack fresh cilantro sprigs
  • 1 cup Mexican crema or one 8 oz carton of creme fraiche or sour cream
  • 1 TBS all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 12 6″ corn tortillas
  • 2 TBS vegetable oil
  • 3 oz Chihuahua or Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (3/4 cup)
  • Cilantro Sprigs
  1. Preheat broiler.  Carve or pull meat from chicken.  Using two forks, shred meat.  Measure 2 1/2 cups of the chicken for this recipe.  Save the remaining for another use.
  2. On a large baking sheet combine tomatillos, onion wedges, chile peppers, and garlic.  Broil 3 inches from heat about 14 minutes or until tender, with black spots and pepper skin blisters, turning once during broiling.  Cool slightly.  With gloved hands, use a paring knife to peel as much skin from the peppers as possible; halve and seed peppers.  Core tomatillos.  Reduce oven temperature to 350° F; adjust oven rack to center of oven.
  3. In a blender, combine broiled vegetables, undrained fire-roasted tomatoes, and cilantro.  Cover; blend until smooth.  Add Mexican crema, flour, and salt.  Cover and blend briefly until smooth.
  4. In a medium bowl combine shredded chicken and 1/2 cup of the tomatillo mixture.  Spread about 1/2 cup of remaining sauce in bottom of 3-quart rectangular baking dish.  Set aside.
  5. Lay tortillas on a backing sheet.  Brush both sides of each tortilla lightly with oil.  Bake for 2-3 minutes or just until softened.  Remove from oven.  Stack tortillas and wrap in foil.
  6. Removing one tortilla at a time, divide chicken mixtureamong tortillas, spreading evenly over each tortilla.  Roll up tortillas.  Arrange rolled tortillas, seam side down, in the prepared baking dish.  Pour the remaining tomatillo mixture over tortillas.  Top with shredded cheese.  Bake, uncovered, about 25 minutes or until heated through and cheese starts to brown slightly.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.  If desired, garnish with cilantro sprigs.

I stuck to this recipe for the most part, but I did use a little extra garlic and added some crushed red pepper to the sauce for a little more heat.  I also topped the enchiladas with more cheese than recommended because, let’s be honest, I LOVE me some gooey cheese!  I wasn’t able to find Mexican crema at my grocery store, but I did find creme fraiche and it worked perfectly fine.

For those of you who are interested, here’s the nutritional info for the recipe as it reads (per enchilada): 357 cal., 23 g fat (9 g sat. fat), 108 mg chol., 736 mg sodium, 18 g carb., 3 g fiber, 22 g prot.

Categories: Entrees, Mexican, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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