Roasted Beets with Feta

It’s beet season! I think beets are one of those vegetables that can often get a bad rap. They look kind of funny when you pull them out of the ground…they stain everything…and they do have an earthy taste. Then again, I grew up eating beets (albeit out of a can, but I did eat them) so I guess it’s one of those vegetables where you love ’em, or you don’t.

The best way to get your beets ready to eat is to roast them. Because of the sugar, they carmelize really nicely and sweeten right up. All you need to do to roast them is trim off the greens, wrap each beet with aluminum foil, and roast for about an hour or two or until they soften (see recipe below). Let them cool and use your hands to gently peel off the skin under running cold water (it seriously rubs right off). You may or may not want to wear gloves during the peeling process because there is plenty of magenta-colored juice under that skin!

This recipe was given to me by my husband’s step mom, who made this with some beets they had also received from their Fresh Fork basket. My father-in-law is not a fan of beets, but really liked this dish. I’m not sure if it made him a believer (beet-leiver? Ha!) of sorts, but she was was really pleased with the result and forwarded it to me. And now, I share the love with you.

Roasted Beets with Feta

from Allrecipes.com

  • 4 beets, trimmed of greens
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (or more to taste)
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400*F. Wrap each beet individually in aluminum foil, and place onto a baking sheet or into a muffin pan (to keep them from rolling around). Bake the beets in the preheated oven until easily pierced with a fork, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. While the beets are in the oven, make your vinaigrette: whisk together the shallot, parsley, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and red wine vinegar in a bowl until it blends. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and set aside. Periodically whisk together to keep the dressing emulsified.
  3. Once the beets are done, remove them from the oven and let cool. Discard the foil and peel the beets under cold running water, and cut into 1/4 inch slices. Again, you may want to wear gloves or you risk staining your hands!
  4. Place the sliced beets onto a serving dish or into a bowl and pour the vinaigrette over the beets, and sprinkle with feta cheese.

imageI have to admit, my picture is a bit terrible…but you get the idea.

This is a great side dish to share with others, or just to keep all for yourself (if you like beets, like I do). The leftovers lasted maybe a day or two, tops.

Maybe my recipe will make a beet-liever out of you. Maybe you’ll make it and still hate beets! But I figure it’s at least worth a shot, especially if you are looking for a vegetable that is a bit more in season for this time of year.

Enjoy!

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Jalapeño Coleslaw

Summer is all about cookouts, and with it being late summer, these gatherings are still in full force. I’m not complaining one bit – the next few weekends for us are filled with plenty of get-togethers with friends and family. Obviously, it’s good to have several ‘entertaining’ dishes up your sleeve for these occasions.

My husband is a big fan of coleslaw. With me, I could take it or leave it – at least, the stuff that you see pre-made at the deli and/or sold in bulk. I had never tried my hand at homemade coleslaw up until a week or two ago. Now that I have, it might be safe to say that I’ve turned a corner of sorts.

Don’t let the name fool you – this coleslaw does have a jalapeno pepper in it, but it isn’t overpowering at all. It gives just a bit of a bite.

Jalapeño Coleslaw

adapted from Serious Eats

For the Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 3 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped – I used the stuff that they sell in the tube. Love it.
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

For the Slaw:

  • 1 large head of green cabbage
  • 1-2 carrots; peeled and grated
  • 1 large jalapeno – stemmed, seeded and diced (unless you want it super hot)
  1. Make the dressing: whisk together all dressing ingredients. Set aside (or in the refrigerator).
  2. Make the slaw: Using a mandolin, shred the cabbage; if you don’t have one, then finely chop it by hand.
  3. Combine the cabbage, carrot and jalapeno in a large bowl. If serving right away, pour dressing over vegetables and toss to coat. Add salt, pepper and/or sugar and season to taste. If serving later, refrigerate the slaw until ready to serve (or transport in a cooler). Mix everything together when it’s time to eat.
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I know, I know. Functionality over plating…

 

I really enjoyed this dish. We brought it over to a friend’s house for a cookout where they were serving pulled pork sandwiches. It paired really well together. The cumin, lime juice and pepper give this coleslaw a Southwestern flair to it; you could easily serve this with chicken or with fish tacos, too. It tastes wonderfully fresh and beats the store-bought slaw, hands down. Then again, homemade dishes beat store-bought ones anyways, right?

They say Labor Day is the end of summer, but don’t let it – keep on enjoying this great weather!

Asparagus and Goat Cheese Salad

Hi everyone! Long time, no post. Sorry to those of you who read my blog often – it’s been one heck of a month over here. I’ve been relatively busy during the week with concerts and school wrap-up…and then we’ve been go-go-going almost every weekend (minus the one where I stayed home on a Friday with a stomach flu). There hasn’t been a lot of time for culinary inspiration; my Saved folder on Feedly has grown immensely and the Cooking Light magazines have piled up a bit. However, I’m happy to say that I have 12 actual days left until the end of the school year, and 15 until I jump back in at the bakery for the summer 🙂 Things are starting to slow down…and fewer things are better than slowing down for summer 🙂

Last weekend I had the pleasure of flying down to North Carolina to see my brother-in-law (and now my new sister-in-law) get married in Durham. It was a gorgeous wedding and it was great to see so much family and friends (we stopped in Clayton Sunday night to visit some good friends of ours); better yet, we managed to bring  spring weather back to Northern Michigan! I had a lot of time in airports and vehicles to catch up on reading blog posts, magazines, and even a book on my Kindle…glorious. On our flight back north, I am came across this recipe, and knew that it would be the perfect dish to make that evening to help us ‘detox’ from our weekend. It was a snap to make, and Mike & I both really enjoyed it.

Asparagus and Goat Cheese Salad

adapted from Cooking Light (May 2014)

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • a sprinkle of salt and pepper
  • 1 lb asparagus spears, trimmed
  • 2 cups mixed baby lettuce/spinach greens
  • 2 oz goat cheese, crumbled
  • 3 tbsp chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1 tsp dried tarragon
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley

For the dressing:

  • 1 cup water
  • rind of 1 lemon, julienned
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp white wine
  • juice of 1 lemon (use the one that you skinned)
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • another sprinkle of salt and pepper
  • 5 tsp olive oil
  1. Combine the teaspoon of olive oil, the asparagus, and a dash of salt and pepper in large bowl and toss to coat. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the asparagus and cook until the asparagus is lightly charred. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. In a measuring cup, pour in the water. Microwave for 2 minutes or until water just boils. Add the lemon rind; let it stand 20 seconds. Drain the water and reserve the rind. 
  3. In a small saucepan, add the rind, orange juice, and sugar. Whisk together, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low; cook until the mixture reduces to about 3 tablespoons.
  4. Combine the wine, lemon juice, mustard, salt & pepper in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Gradually add the five teaspoons of olive s oil, stirring constantly with a whisk. Stir in orange juice mixture.
  5. In a large bowl, layer the lettuces with the asparagus. Top with the cheese, pecans and herbs. Drizzle the dressing over the top; toss if desired.

 

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I’m actually relatively new to the use of cast-iron skillets. I’ve had them in my cupboards for a long time, but wasn’t exactly sure how to use them other than over an open flame when camping. So, shoring up the asparagus in the skillet was a very easy tech week that I can use again and again, especially on nights where I don’t want to fire up the grill. I must note that I also used the cast iron toast the pecans; another technique that I’ve never tried. They were amazing on the salad and if you are not allergic, make sure that you include them when you make this.

If you love asparagus as much as we do, then I highly recommend this salad. The combination of asparagus and goat cheese is not one that I would’ve thought of before, but I really enjoyed the combination of flavors. And of course, homemade dressing beats anything out of the bottle, any day.

I’m really excited to add this to my repertoire of salads!

Chopped Caprese Salad

I made this yesterday for lunch – and it was fantastic. I didn’t really measure out how much of anything I put in since it was just for me – but you have to try this! The kalamata olives take this salad to the next level and I’ll probably eat this one for lunch today, too!

In Her Chucks

Chopped Caprese Salad - In Her Chucks

After nearly three years as a loyal CSA subscriber, I can honestly say, my weekly boxes have converted me in ways I never thought possible.  Once upon a time I used to feel lost and overwhelmed by the site of unwanted veggies but now I can honestly say I am a beet buff, a kale craver and most recently a proud tomato lover.

And if it weren’t for the help of my CSA, I don’t think those conversions would have been possible.  Week after week, they provided me with bunches of soil dusted root vegetables, luscious leafy greens and perfectly plump tomatoes.  And because I wouldn’t dare waste any of it, I had to get creative.  And slowly but surely, I became more and more excited to get these items in my box.  And today, I will pretty much eat anything.

Now, I know Caprese Salads aren’t anything new.  I…

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Fiesta Bean Salad

This side dish, with Latin seasonings, is a great sidekick for tacos, enchiladas, or anything grilled. I served these with some of Skinnytaste’s Grilled Cilantro Lime Shrimp Kabobs (recipe coming soon). The dinner was quick, easy, and delicious – which means it’s perfect for the two of us! The fresh CSA tomatoes, garlic, and cilantro made this dish absolutely spectacular.

Fiesta Bean Salad

adapted from Skinnytaste

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
  • a dash of salt
  • 1 (15-oz) can black beans, rinsed & drained
  • 1 (15-oz) can chickpeas, rinsed & drained
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/4 red onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 medium avocado, diced
  1. In a small bowl, combine the garlic, lime juice, oil, cumin, crushed red pepper, and salt. Set aside; this is your dressing.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the beans, chickpeas, tomatoes, onion, and cilantro. When you are ready to add the salad – add the avocado & dressing; mix to combine.

    Fiesta Bean Salad & some amazing shrimp

    Fiesta Bean Salad & some amazing shrimp

I assembled most of this salad in the morning before I headed out to band camp for the day – when I got home, I mixed up the dressing. Once the shrimp were finished cooking, I added it to the salad, along with the avocado.

If you are a person that really loves vinegar, you can also add some jalapeno flavored vinegar to this – it gives it just a little bit of heat with a bit more acidity and tang, that blends perfectly with the lime juice.  This dish could go with absolutely anything with a Latin flavor to it; something tells me that this will make an appearance on our table another time this summer.

We both agreed that this salad was great!  It made quite a bit of salad, so much so that Mike was able to take some for lunch the next day. Perfect counterpoint to anything grilled – as you see in the picture and with my next post!

Roasted Beet & Goat Cheese Salad

We’ve finally hit springtime in northern Michigan. The trees are blooming, my perennials are returning…and we have a chance of snow flurries tomorrow…yep, it’s spring 😉

I love how in the springtime, there’s new seasonal foods to add to your diet & cooking rotation, to really change things up a bit. Our CSA starts in about a month from now (yay!!!!) and I’m looking forward to that weekly box of farm fresh produce. Until then, I’m left to checking out the local grocery stores – our local organic food store does a great job of marketing local farms’ lettuces, carrots, and other vegetables that they’ve grown in their greenhouses.

Now that it’s spring, vegetables are starting to taste better and I’m feeling a bit more adventurous. Salads are a quick and easy solution for dinnertime when you don’t feel like firing up your crockpot.This salad that I’m writing about today is, in a nutshell – EASY – using a few simple ingredients that you can find pretty much anywhere right now.

I chose this recipe from the book The Cook & The Gardener by Amanda Hesser. It’s a cookbook as well as a documentary about spending a year in France. I absolutely adored it and plan on re-reading it this summer. I highly suggest that you check this book out – it’s got so many great ideas about using seasonal ingredients, and emphasizes that delicious food doesn’t have to be complicated.

Roasted Beet & Goat Cheese Salad – adapted from The Cook & The Gardener

  • 2 large beets, trimmed
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper
  • 4 large handfuls of lettuce – I used a mesclun mix
  • 4 oz soft goat cheese
  • 1 1/2 tbsp thinly sliced chives
  • For the dressing:
  • 1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp best-quality olive oil (trust me, it makes a difference!)
  • kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper (to taste)
  1. Heat the oven to 400*.
  2. In a roasting pan, toss the beets with olive oil and a pinch of slat. Roast in the heated oven until the beets are tender; about 1 hour or so. Remove from the oven & let cool.
  3. Once the beets are cool, put on some latex or rubber gloves – or else your hands will stain from the beet juice. Peel the beets under cool running water and cut each beet in half through the root. Slice into wedges, and set aside.
  4. Place the lettuce in a large bowl. Then, in a small bowl, whisk the mustard, salt & pepper, and vinegar. Pour in the olive oil in a slow stream, and whisk quickly so that it emulsifies & creates a thicker dressing. Taste, then add more of the ingredients if you so desire.
  5. In another seperate, small bowl, crumble the goat cheese into small pieces. Season to taste with pepper. Add the chives and mix together until well-blended.
  6. Pour the dressing over the lettuce and toss to goat. Add the beets & cheese to the bowl, and serve – you can either mix it all around, or just place them on top.

beet salad

This salad tastes very light and fresh. I’m in the process of experimenting with making my own salad dressings and this is a great recipe to get your feet wet, so to speak. My husband was very impressed with this salad also and was surprised by how much he liked it, too.

Beets tend to get a bad reputation and I’m not sure why. They’re actually pretty good! The only way I had really eaten them before this recipe was either pickled, or out of a can with catalina dressing (that’s how I ate them as a kid…I dunno, it was good). I think that this is my new favorite way to eat them – you can be sure that this recipe will come back once they’re back in my CSA box.

German Potato Salad with Kielbasa

Yet another Rachael Ray recipe today. I have these two great cookbooks on my shelf and every now and then I like to dig them out and see what I can dish up. Since we’re trying to eat a little healthier in our house, I like to try and make adaptations to the recipes to make it a bit more waistline-friendly.

I grew up eating kielbasa all the time (I believe that kielbasa & sauerkraut was my favorite dish at the age of 5) and this was a great new dish for me to utilize it in. My mom & dad bought the kielbasa for us from the West Side Market while we were in Cleveland for Thanksgiving. It’s a leaner, smoked version that you can also eat without heating up. Yes, you read that right…and it tastes pretty good that way, too 😉

The link below will, believe it or not, take you to a review of the cookbook on the Weight Watchers website. Had I seen this article before I cooked this dish, I would have used their recommendations for making it healthier. Oh well – it was worth every. single. bite.

German Potato Salad with Kielbasa – adapted from Rachael Ray

  • 2 lbs red-skinned potatoes, quartered
  • 8 slices center-cut bacon
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, quartered & sliced thin
  • 1 large head kale
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup stock
  • 1 lb lean kielbasa, cut into half moons
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped (1/8 cup dry works too)
  • black pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 400*F.
  2. Place the potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and boil the potatoes until they are cooked through.
  3. Meanwhile, arrange the bacon on a slotted broiler pan and place in the middle of the oven. Bake until crisp (10-12 minutes). Cool, chop up, and save for the end of the dish.
  4. Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion and saute until tender.
  5. Add the kale, a little at at time, until it is all wilted. Add the vinegar & stock, and turn off the heat.
  6. In a small nonstick skillet, cook the kielbasa until it begins to brown.
  7. Drain the potatoes and return to the pot. Add the kale/onion mixture and fold in. Add the bacon, parsley, pepper, and finally the kielbasa. Serve hot.

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I admit that the picture does not do this dish justice.

This dish was great reheated the next night while waiting for my band to arrive for a basketball game. I also really liked how well the kale & potatoes joined – I tried a kale & potato dish over the summer that was an epic fail, so it felt almost like a successful do-over. While this ‘German potato salad’ isn’t too authentic, it’s still really delicious.

This recipe was a little more than 30 minutes, but during the time it look to boil potatoes and bake the bacon (seriously – I am going to do that technique again!), I was able to take a shower, having gone for a run at the gym after school. It was great to have a few moments to do something else while dinner was cooking.

If you are a fan of kielbasa, I really suggest that you try this dish.