Newlyweds navigating their way through married life – and the kitchen

Monthly Archives: July 2012

Dark Chocolate Goat Cheese Brownies

Goat Cheese Brownies

sticks make great snacks


Yesterday marked our one month anniversary with Hairy (aka Hair Maclare, Hair Bear, Bubba, Bubbaloo, Bud, Buddy – he’s definitely having an identity crisis).  And luckily, there wasn’t much on the agenda for this weekend, so we got to spend lots of  time with him after being away last weekend.  Lots of walks – an outside beer in Davis Square – a trip to the park – and getting to meet his Auntie Ash and Uncle Sean! They were nice enough to invite us over for dinner so we could catch up and so that they could meet Hairy before he morphs into a 100 lb. monster.

Goat Cheese Brownies


Ash and Sean are fab cooks – they always try new things and somehow I get the sense that in all their attempts at new recipes, there has never been a disastorous outcome.  Their recipe selection and cooking skills are just that good. Sean made this fantastical Lobster Ceviche and Ash concocted a light and delcious corn chowder and Arugula Salad (another recipe that I stole from her) that were perfect compliments to the meaty steaks we had.  A fantastic meal!  And, they are such good hosts that when Hairy piddled on their really nice rug, Ash didn’t even bat an eyelash, but quietly cleaned it up while Dave and I (worst puppy parents ever) enjoyed our cocktails out on the porch.  Ooops.  Ah well, at least he’s cute right?

In addition to Ash’s delicious pie crust french fries with blueberries (GENIUS), I made Dark Chocolate Goat Cheese brownies.  The Vermont Brownie Company  has a version of these that I’ve had a few times and thought “Wow – who ever would have thought cheese would be good in a brownie!”.  There’s lots of recipes for them out there, but this one from My Fancy Pantry stuck out quite frankly because it seemed really easy and really delicious.  And it was.  Oh and they were.

Dark Chocolate Goat Cheese Brownies

Goat Cheese Brownies
*My Fancy Pantry

*yields about 2 dozen small/1 dozen large brownies

 1 batch of brownies, prepared–but not baked
(I used Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudgey Brownie Mix)

 1 large dark chocolate bar- cut into chunks

 8 oz. goat cheese

 2 tbsp. honey

 1 tbsp. all purpose flour

 2 tbsp. cream cheese

 1 egg

1) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease your baking pan (I used a 9×13).

2) In a large bowl, prepare your favorite brownies–homemade or from a mix–and stir in the dark chocolate chunks.  Set the brownie mixture aside.

3) In a separate bowl, combine the chevre, honey, flour, cream cheese and egg.  Beat the ingredients together until the mixture becomes nice and smooth.

4) In the greased baking pan, add half of the brownie mixture.  Spread it out so that it covers the entire bottom.

5) Now, add spoonfuls of the goat cheese mixture on top of the brownies you just spread in the pan.  Spoon the rest of the prepared brownie mix on top, as well.

6) Using a plastic knife or a butter knife, make swirls and zig-zags throughout the spoonfuls of chevre mixture and brownie mix, creating a pretty swirled pattern.

7) Bake the brownies in the pre-heated oven until the center is set but still quite fudgy.  (Follow the baking directions for whichever brownie mix or recipe you used– I baked for about 25 minutes).

8) When the brownies are finished, remove them from the oven and let them cool.  Once they’re completely cooled, remove from the pan and freeze–or cut and serve.

The fudgey factor of these is beyond – they are so stickey and gooey that I would highly recommend keeping them frozen, or at least chilled (definitely not out at room temperature for too long).

Hopefully, these were good enough to cancel out the trail of puppy pee 😦

Dark Chocolate Goat Cheese Brownies

It’s Saturday morning, and it was a late night watching the opening cermonies! But WOW – truly amazed by everything that went on.  I myself was even scared at the 100-foot Voldemort. I imagine there were many children (annnnd maybe 30 year olds) having nightmares last night!

There’s this great place near my work called Russo’s – it’s like a farm stand on steroids.  Fresh fruit and produce, with an amazing bakery, flowers, and a killer prepared foods section.  They really encourage buying local, which is awesome because it gives local vendors from the boston area a chance to showcase their stuff.  And I would like to shake the hands of the bakers at Our Daily Bread (which sadly, apon googling, I found out has closed :() who created the Chocolate Babka that was the base of this morning’s french toast.  It was like a thick, texas toast, with thick swirls of chocolate throughout.  OMG.  It’s been sitting in the freezer, just waiting to be utilized for a mind-blowing french toast breakfast, and today was the day.  And what a day it was!

French Toast with Goat Cheese Drizzle

French Toast with Goat Cheese Drizzle


1 Loaf of thick bread
(Challah works really well – or any kind of thick country-style bread)

3 eggs

1 -1/2 cups milk

1 tbsp. cinnamon

4 0z goat cheese

2 tbsp. maple syrup

1/2 tbsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

pinch of nutmeg

pinch of cinnamon

sliced strawberries

1) Turn an electric skillet or non-stick skillet to high heat.

2) Slice the bread into 1/2″ – 1″ thick pieces.  Set aside.

3) In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs milk and cinnamon.

4) Dip each piece of sliced bread in the egg/milk/cinnamon mixture.  Place on hot electric skillet for about 3 minutes, and then flip over and cook other side for 3 minutes (until golden brown).

5)  To make Goat Cheese Drizzle:  Place goat cheese, maple syrup, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon in a small saucepan over medium heat until goat cheese in completely melted, stirring continuously.

6)  Drizzle goat cheese compote over french toast slices and top with sliced strawberries.

The goat cheese drizzle was the perfect compliment to the rich and chocolatey slices of french toast.   Even if you used regular bread as the base for the french toast, it would still be delightful!  This drizzle would probably also be good served as little ‘fruit appetizer’ dip with all different types of fruits.

Did I feel a little guilty stuffing my face with french toast as I watched the best athletes in the world do their thing?  Maybe a little bit, but I think they would have gladly joined me on the couch and done the same 🙂

French Toast with Goat Cheese Drizzle

Skinny Mudslides

Too delish to wait for an official photo shoot – you get the idea though 🙂

I know, I know – it’s goat cheese week and I’m posting a recipe for Skinny Frozen Mudslides.  But I had a REALLY good reason for cheating on goat cheese tonight: my cousin Krissy is in town from Atlanta and heading down to the cape tomorrow for a couple weeks of R&R (jealous).

Skinny Mudslides

When she’s not drinking mudslides, it’s Whiskey & Diet Coke

The Cape is a special place for us, filled with childhood mems of the summers we spent there.  When we were little, fun at the Cape meant bike riding, spending so much time in the ocean that our skin pruned, and the occasional french braid fest (except Krissy was the only one with a bowl cut, so she could never get a braid in her hair – pretty sure she’s still bitter about it)  Then we started to grow up, and once we all turned 21 we realized “MAN there are some tasty drinks that pair quite well with the smell of salt water and sand between your toes!”.

One drink in particular – frozen mudslides.  It’s like dessert in a cup – drunk through a straw – and there’s vodka in it.  Be still my heart.  However, indulging in one or two of these cocktails will probably wipe out your entire caloric intake for a day – between the ice cream, the vodka, the baileys, the chocolate syrup, the kahlua (ohhhhh I’m getting the shakes, I want one right now!)

So to start Krissy’s vaca off right, I concocted what I believe to be a ‘skinny’ frozen mudslide – and not to throw rose petals at myself or anything, but damn.  It was gooood.

Skinny Mudslides

*yields 2 mudslides

1/2 cup fat free vanilla frozen yogurt

1 cup fat free milk

2 shots vodka

2 tbsp. sugar free chocolate syrup

2 tbsp. Bailey’s Irish Cream Flavored coffee creamer
(can be found in the refrigerated section at the grocery store – near the milk)

1/2 tbsp. MAXWELL HOUSE International Latte MOCHA powder
(powder only – can be found in your grocer’s coffee section) 

(about 1 full tray)

1) Take 2 – 160z. plastic cups (I think mudslides taste better in plastic cups – classy I know) and line them with the chocolate syrup (you could also just add the syrup to the mixture before you blend it, or at the top, but I think this just makes the cup look pretty 🙂

2) Combine all other ingredients in a blender and blend until all the ice is crushed.  You can always add more ice too if it’s not your desired thickness.

There you have it – one of the best summer-time drinks of all time, without the all the guilt.

And  If I have done my calculations correctly, each drink is only 7 weight watchers points, which I know still seems like a lot for just one drink, but compared to a whopping TWENTY NINE points for a ‘Non-skinny’ mudslide, well I’d say it’s quite an improvement!

So I hope you enjoyed the ‘skinny frozen mudslide’ sidetrack – back to goat cheese next time! Promise!

Fried Goat Cheese Balls

It’s installment numero dos of Goat Cheese Week, and apon exploring the world of Goat Cheese Recipes, I’ve realized that it’s gonna be a tough week picking from so many delicious looking ones!

Although, I gotta say this 2nd one was pretty darn easy –

Step 1:

Step 2: Enter ‘Goat Cheese’ in search bar

Step 3: Behold a recipe for ‘Fried Goat Cheese’ – DING DING DING we have a winner!

This recipe from The Hungry Mouse has been liked, pinned and repinned over and over again –  that + the word ‘fried’ was good enough for me.

Fried Goat Cheese Balls

I added just a couple touches of my own – instead of slices of goat cheese, I rolled each slice into a small ball instead.  Another thing I did, which I really think made a delicious difference is to mix the Panko Breadcrumbs with crumbled Funyuns – yes – Funyuns – the salty, dried onion ring from Frito Lay that is a snack that I believe is often overlooked, but everytime I revisit it, I think to myself “man, I gotta eat these more often”.

Fried Goat Cheese Balls
*Adapted slightly from The Hungry Mouse

*yields about 16 goat cheese balls

1 – 8oz log of goat cheese

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

1/2 cup crumbled Funyuns
(you could pulse in the food processor for a few minutes for a fine crumb, or just crumble w/ your hands)

1 tsp. dried parsley

1 tsp. dried thyme

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. ground ground black pepper

pinch of kosher salt

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup of flour

olive oil

1) In a small mixing bowl, combine the panko, crumbled funyuns, parsley, tyme, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Set aside.

2) In another small mixing bowl, beat the two eggs and set aside.

3) Put the flour on a small plate or shallow bowl.  Set aside.

4) Slice your goat cheese into 1/4″-1/2″ thick slices.  Take each slice between the palms of your hands and roll into a small ball.  This will get pretty sticky so you could put some flour on your hands to try to decrease the stickiness.  Place each goat cheese ball on a wax or parchment paper lined cookie sheet.

5) Fill a non-stick skillet with about an inch or so of olive oil.  (Since the goat cheese is in balls vs. slices, the thicker your oil, the easier it is to get an even ‘fry’ on all sides).  Once the oil is heated, drop each goat cheese ball gently into the olive oil, turning occasionally with a pair of tongs or spoon, until golden brown on all sides.  Try not to crowd the balls – I’d say maybe put about 6-8 in at a time.  If they’re too crowded, you’ll get more of a ‘steamed’ cheese ball vs. a ‘fried’.

6) Remove each ball from oil and place on a paper towel-lined plate and let cool for a couple minutes.  Best served warm!

Fried Goat Cheese Balls

Pretty sure you’re going to love these 🙂 Perfect appetizer that’s easy, delicious and made with FUNYUNS!

Goat Cheese Week

We’re baaaaack – boy what a week it’s been! I feel like I’ve been to China and back (or maybe just the west coast) but in the last week, Dave and I flew to San Fran, drove to Sacramento, then drove to Lake Tahoe, then drove back to San Fran and then flew home!  It was a whirlwind trip, but there were several things that made all the travel well worth it.

1)  The Riehls and Little Joey – great hosts – who knew you could sample beer and parent at the same time?

Goat Cheese Week

2) The Sierra Nevada Brewery – delicious food and even more delicious beer!

Goat Cheese Week

3) Lake Tahoe Wedding celebration for my step-sister Samantha and her husband Scott! Pictures could never do it justice – absolutely gorrrrrge!

Goat Cheese Week

Goat Cheese Week

4)  Golden Gate bridge = most awesome bridge ever (terrible shot of us – instead of asking one of the 92484905840594 people there to take a pic of us, we took our own!)

Goat Cheese Week

So we’re back to life, back to reality, back to cooking!

This week, I thought it might be fun to do a series of recipes with one common ingredient, and this week’s ingredient ladies and gents isssss……(drum roll) GOAT CHEESE! I used to think “If it comes from a goat, I’m not eatin’ it” but now, goat cheese is one of my favorite cheeses – like a tangier cream cheese.  And I’ve just come to realize how versatile an ingredient it really is.

We got home from CA, and after picking up Hairy and spending lots of time playing with him to make sure he didn’t forget us, there was little time to grocery shop.  So last night’s dinner was a ‘cabinet creation’.  After not watering our herbs for almost a week, we were pleasantly surprised to find out that not only were they alive and well, but growing like weeds! Especially the basil!  I had found this recipe from Prevention RD for Roasted Red Pepper and Goat Cheese pasta and thought “Yum” – and luckily, we had all the makings of it in our seemingly bare cabinets!

Modified a smidgen, here’s part 1 of goat cheese week:  Roasted Red Pepper, Goat Cheese and Basil Pasta, adapted from Prevention RD’s recipe.

Roasted Red Pepper, Goat Cheese and Basil Pasta
*Adapted from Prevention RD


2 tbsp. olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 small onion, chopped

1 – 7oz bottle of Roasted Red Peppers, rinsed and drained and then chopped into small pieces

1 cup of crushed tomatoes
(I used the basil flavored kind)

4 oz goat cheese

1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

1) In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and onion and sautee until fragrant (about 2 minutes) stirring constantly to make sure the garlic doesn’t burn (burnt garlic = yuck)

2) Add the chopped roasted red pepper and tomatoes and simmer over low heat for about five minutes.

3)  Add the goat cheese and stir until it’s completely melted into the sauce.

4)  Take the sauce mixture and transfer to the food processor.  Add the fresh basil, salt and pepper, and pulse until it becomes a sauce-like consistency.

5) Serve over cooked pasta!

Usually, cabinet creations aren’t my favorite, but this particular time, I think we have a winner!  This sauce was so easy to make and a complete departure from your run of the mill tomato sauce.  The goat cheese added a rich and creamy texture and the roasted red peppers a bit of sweetness.  So good.  And as I was stuffing my face, I started thinking of all the things you could do with it!  You could serve it as a hot dip, with sliced baguette and veggies, or even use it as the base for a pizza (although Dave thinks it would be too watery on a pizza – one more challenge I’ll be happy to take him up on) But all in all, a definite keeper!

Stay tuned for more delicious goat cheese installments this week!

How to Make Dole Whip
“Whennnn you wish aponn a staaaaaaaaaar – makes no difference who you aaaaare – anyyything your heart desiiires will commme toooo youuu!” – a simple line from a simple song that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside because it brings me back to all of the memories I have of one of the most magical places on earth – Disneyworld.

How to make Dole Whip

‘Princesses’ for the weekend!

I’m starting to forget things lately – “Did I already wear this shirt to work this week?” “Did I already say that or was I just thinking it” “Did I put underwear on today?” – Ok – the last one is a stretch (hopefully the days of forgetting to put underwear on won’t be for a lonnnng time).  But, I remember my first trip to Disneyworld like it was yesterday.  Tricia, my best friend from home, and her parents lived 10 houses from my mom and I and when I was in 6th grade, they invited us to come and spend February Vacation with them in Disneyworld. I remember the plane ride, the bus ride to the Vacation Club, what we ate, our first rides – I even remember outfits that I wore. I fell in love the minute we landed.  It was a trip that became a tradition – year after year, the Garrity’s would invite me to come along with them, and I couldn’t pack my bags fast enough.  And then last winter, myself and 5 of my bestest friends from home headed to the most magical place on earth for the Princess 1/2 marathon, another Disney experience that I will never in my life forget.  Probably the most fun and unique race I’ll ever take part in and one of the most amazing weekends spent with friends. I’m sure there’s quite the range of opinions about Disneyworld and all it has to offer, but for me, it’s a place that no matter how old I get, I get that same feeling I did when I was 12.

How To Make Dole Whip

Indulging in Dole Whip (except Casey – she’s not a fan – we took her temperature, don’t worry)

Besides Mickey and Minnie, the Spectro Magic parade, splash mountain, the monorail, and those giant turkey legs that everyone walks around with, there IS one thing in Disneyworld that is truly magical – and that ladies and gentlemen is Dole Whip.  Disney is one of the only places in the world that has it, which is why whenever I go, I make it a point to indulge.  It’s a combination of two of my most favorite things on earth – ice cream and pineapple.  It couldn’t be more refreshing on a hot day (or a cold one).  It’s light and creamy.  It’s just awesome.

I found a recipe online from Prudence Pennywise for Dole Whip, and while I was skeptical that this frozen heaven could be recreated, I figured I’d give it a shot.  And coincidentally, Dave and I are headed West for a few days, where we’ll be making a pit stop in Sacramento to see Tricia, her husband John, and the newest member of the family, Little Joey! He has no idea how many Disney adventures and Dole Whips he’s got in store!

*Taken from Prudence Pennywise


2 – 20 oz cans Dole crushed pineapple with juice

2 tbsp. lemon juice

2 tbsp. lime juice

1/3 cup sugar

1 and 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, whipped

1) Drain pineapple; reserve 2 tablespoons juice. Set aside.

2) Place pineapple, lemon juice, lime juice, sugar and reserved pineapple juice in blender or food processor container; cover and blend until smooth.

3) Pour into two 1-quart freezer zipped bags and store bags flat in freezer.

4) Freeze 1-1/2 hours or until slushy. Stir pineapple slush gently into whipped cream until slightly blended, in large bowl.

5) Return to freezer until completely frozen, about 1 hour and serve.

So the verdict? Definitely reminiscent of one of Disney’s best hidden gems, however, I think unless you’re eating it sitting outside of the Swiss Family Robinson Tree House while watching Tigger and Winnie the Pooh sign autographs, it’s not quite the same.  Definitely delicious though!  I actually froze it overnight, and it gave the Dole Whip somewhat of an ‘icy’ texture vs. ‘creamy’, so I would definitely recommend only letting it freeze an hour or so and serving it then vs. letting it sit in the freezer.

So until we return from the West Coast…..

“Now it’s time to say goodbye – to allll our company – M-I-C (see ya real soon!) K-E-Y (why? because we like you! M-O-U-S-E!”

Roasted Corn & Tomato Salsa

Do you ever have those moments where something happens and you’re like “Woahhh – WEEEEIRD” – coincidences always blow my mind!

Sometimes I feel like a kid in a candy store when I start looking for new recipes to try – there are just SO many creative, fun and absolutely delicious recipes out there.  People’s imagination with food makes my head spin (in the good way!)

Last week, I was cyber-stumbling over all these great looking recipes that I wanted to try.  One of them being from Erin at Naturally Ella for Roasted Tomato and Corn Salsa.  I love fresh salsa, especially in the summer time.  I could eat it with a spoon, a fork, a knife, but prefereably with nice salty tortilla chips and frosty margarita.  The salsa sounded delish, and the blog post associated with it was even cuter, as she dished to readers about her surprise engagement!  Love engagement stories!  So I added it to the recipe ‘que’.

Then yesterday, who popped up right next to me on Tastespotting? Erin and her Roasted Tomato and Corn Salsa! Weeeeeird right? So I took that as a sign and while there were no chips or margharitas to accompany it, it was a perfect accompanyment to an otherwise unexciting piece of grilled chicken.  Modified it a tad (mostly to save on time) but it was awesome.  Thanks Erin and congrats on your engagement! Let the wedding planning begin 🙂

Roasted Tomato & Corn Salsa (the quick version)
*Adapted from Naturally Ella


12 oz package of heirloom tomatoes, chopped
(or just plain roma – I personally like the orange and red combo)

3 tomatillos, husked, rinsed and diced

1 ear of sweet corn
(remove corn from cob)

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 cup of cilantro, chopped

1 tbsp. chili powder

juice of 1 lime

1 tbsp. olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1) In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add minced garlic for about a minute, until fragrant, then add chopped onion and cook for about a minute more.

2)  Add the tomatoes and tomatillos to the onion & garlic and sautee for 2-3 minutes, until tomatoes become tender, but not cooked through.

3)  Add the corn to the mixture last, and sautee for about a minute more.

4)  Transfer the tomato/onion/corn mixture to the food processor.  Add cilantro and pulse until you reach your desired consistency.

5)  Transfer the pureed salsa mixture to a large mixing bowl.  Let cool for about 10 minutes.  Then season with chili powder, lime juice and salt and pepper.

Oh boy was this yum! By sauteeing the vegetables, I saved a little bit of time vs. roasting them in the oven, but was still able to get that ‘roasty’ flavor vs. when you make the salsa with the vegetables in their raw form.  It’s crazy the difference in taste between the two!

Roasted Corn & Tomato Salsa

I was so preoccupied with Salsa, I didn’t even see my little buddy getting himself stuck underneath the shelf – someone apparently doesn’t know just how big he’s getting!

Roasted Corn & Tomato Salsa

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