Tag Archives: cheese

Ploughman’s Lunch Recipe by Ina Garten

I love Ina Garten! And if you don’t already, you will after this lunch spread! It reminds me of our Irish Pub Party, in a way. And it’s the perfect lunch for a Saturday picnic…or anytime, for that matter.

Here’s the ingredients from Ina’s “Recipe” from the Food Network:

  • Fig or lemon leaves, for decoration
  • Chunk of good English Cheddar
  • Jar of Chutney
  • Baked Virginia Ham, thickly sliced
  • Crisp apples, cut up
  • Celery stalks with leaves, cut in half lengthwise
  • Bunch radish, sliced in half
  • Soft Hard-Boiled Eggs (see Recipe here)
  • Baby carrots
  • Loaf of crusty bread, thickly sliced
  • Unsalted butter, softened

Dinner is Served: Quinoa Patties and Brussels Sprouts Slaw

I’ve been pinning delicious-looking recipes on Pinterest for months now, and finally took the time to actually try a couple of them!

Quinoa Patties with Asian Brussels Sprouts Slaw and Peanut Sauce

First, was the “Quinoa Burger” by Eating Well Living Thin. I prefer to call it a patty instead of a burger, but whatever you call them, I couldn’t stop eating them! Yum! Very good. I didn’t have cottage cheese, so I substituted greek yogurt, and it still worked well. I’m definitely making these again. They kind of had a falafel vibe. Yum! (Note: Make sure your oil is good and hot before you start cooking up the patties, or it’ll just soak in and stick to the bottom instead of acting as a barrier between the patty and the pan. Also, they cook better smaller than larger. Yea, the first batch didn’t turn out quite as well as the second.) 🙂

Then for our side, I made the “Crunchy Cabbage Salad with Peanut Dressing” by Tina Jeffers on the Bliss blog. I used Brussels Sprouts instead of Cabbage. It was a nice topper on the Quinoa Patty or as a side dish. Caution: don’t use too much of the sauce – it’s delicious, but potent. Also, I used chopped raw peanuts instead of cashews, because I had them on hand. By the way, if you’re looking for raw peanuts, check your local Asian Market. They almost always have the best price.

The Plated Piece: Bon Appetit!

Recipe: Mushroom Steak Topper (or Stuffed Mushroom Caps)

Bryan and I have worked on this recipe for a while. We’ve tried several different wines and think that Shiraz pairs with the Sharp Cheddar the best. As for the cheese, the sharper, the better! Garlic, butter, wine, and cheese: always a winner!


  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8-16 oz. White Button Mushrooms or Baby Portabella Mushrooms (for steak topper, quarter whole mushroom; for caps, carefully remove stems)
  • 1/4-1/2 c. Shiraz Wine (feel free to use your favorite wine)
  • 4-8 oz. Extra Sharp White Cheddar Cheese (for steak topper, shred; for caps, cube enough for one square to fit inside each cap)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


First, clean your mushrooms gently with a brush or soft towel (note: you should not use water on mushrooms, as it makes them spongy; I recommend organic, to be on the safe side). If you are making Mushroom Caps, gently remove the stems and discard or sautée on the side; if you are making the Steak Topper, quarter each mushroom, including the stems.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium low heat and add minced garlic. Add mushrooms to the skillet and brown (for caps, place top side down and flip half way through cooking). Sprinkle with salt and pepper as desired. Once the mushrooms are golden brown, add the wine to the bottom of the pan, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Once most of the wine has reduced, top with cheese and continue to cook covered for 3-4 minutes.

Mushroom Caps are an excellent appetizer or side dish. We typically end up making them as a steak topper, as it’s a less time consuming process in the long run. The mushrooms also make an excellent baked potato topper! Bon Appetit!

Recipe: Cheesy Cauliflower

This is my favorite way to eat cauliflower! And if you have someone in your family that thinks they don’t like cauliflower, try this recipe on them and see if they still don’t like cauliflower. You can eat this as a side dish, on a piece of toast (cauliflower sandwiches), or as a sausage dog topper (Bryan’s idea, and he seemed to really like it). Here it is:

  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1-2 shallots, finely sliced (optional)
  • 3 baby bella mushrooms, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 head of cauliflower, roughly chopped (discard stem)
  • 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/2-1 c. shredded cheese (sharp cheddar is our favorite for this recipe)

Heat butter and oil in large saute pan over medium low heat. Saute garlic (and shallots and mushrooms, if desired) for 1-2 minutes. Add roughly chopped cauliflower florets. Cook until softened (about 5-7 minutes). Stir in dijon mustard (feel free to add salt and pepper or Lawry’s seasoned salt, if desired). Sprinkle with cheese and continue cooking till cheese is melted. Serve hot.

My Dinner: I added a salad for additional color

Bryan's Dinner: Cheesy Cauliflower Sausage Dogs

Fool Proof Date Night – Lobster, Steak, and Fondue (Feb. 22, 2010)

This past Saturday was the perfect evening. Some of our closest friends, Dave & Rachel, met us at our house around 6 p.m. for an experimental dinner. I had coupons for lobster tails and fillets at Earthfare, and felt compelled to use them. So, we decided to experiment. Bryan had lobster mac n cheese in Buffalo on one of his recent business trips and has been waiting for the chance to experiment. And we all took part…

Rachel brought this delicious, fresh salad with spinach, black olives, beets, and cheddar cheese. And we topped it with organic Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing (also on sale at Earthfare).

Then we had some organic shell noodles, which we brought to a boil and simmered for 8 minutes (we used a little over half of the 1 pound bag). After draining, Bryan added 1/2 a stick of butter and 2 minced garlic cloves to the pot. Then he poured the noodles back in the pot and added about 1/3 c. of organic heavy whipping cream and a pile of organic cheese! (Thank you, Dave, for grating all of that!) We used about 6 oz. havarti, 4 oz. sharp white cheddar and 1-2 oz. asiago. Then, to top it all off, we folded in chunks of lobster tail. (To cook the lobster tails, cover with water, bring to boil, simmer for 8 minutes, then cool in ice water. Carefully remove meat from shell and chop into bite size pieces. Hint: Cook this in a separate pot as you’re cooking your noodles, and use the same timer.) We used two 3-4 oz. lobster tails. Adding one more would have made it perfect.

I had the privilege of cooking the steaks. Usually, I leave the meat to Bryan, but he was busy with his lobster cheese masterpiece. So, it was up to me. We pulled the meat out of the fridge about 45 minutes before Dave & Rachel arrived, so it would have time to come to room temperature. I seasoned both sides of the steaks with sea salt and cracked pepper and let it rest. When they got here, I heated the pan over medium high heat, added about 2 Tbsp. of olive oil, and 2 cloves of minced garlic. I quickly added the seasoned steaks and seared it for 2 minutes on each side, adding a pat of butter to the top of each. (Remember, don’t move the meat during this process. If you keep wiggling and checking the meat, the heat can’t do it’s job of sealing the moisture inside.) I pulled Dave & Bryan’s off and left mine and Rachel’s on for 1 more minute, since we like ours a little less rare. I bought two 6 oz. fillets, cooked them as two pieces (instead of four), then cut them just before serving. We kept them warm in the toaster oven on about 180 degrees Fahrenheit. This kept them warm without continuing to cook them. (By the way, the steak was a success, of which I was quite proud.) And we certainly didn’t need more than 3 oz. per person with the pasta and what was to follow.

After dinner, we had french press coffee, while enjoying each other’s company (and a little comedy show). Then we finished the evening with dessert reservations at The Melting Pot (a fondue restaurant in town). A full meal at The Melting Pot can be a bit pricy, but if you want the experience for a reasonable price, dessert for 2 is about $14. Dave & Rachel chose the milk chocolate turtle fondue and we got the dark chocolate Irish creme fondue. They brought each couple a plate with strawberries, banana slices, little squares of pound cake, Rice Krispy treats, brownies, and marshmallows, and a piece of New York style cheesecake. And while not exactly physically healthy, it was good for our mental health and the perfect ending to our double date night.

Baked Penne with Roasted Veggies and Chicken (Feb. 11, 2010)

Here’s another healthy favorite:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Chop vegetables into bite size pieces:
1 red pepper
2 zucchini
2 summer squash
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
1 leek

Place on baking sheet (I use large stoneware bar pan from Pampered Chef) with:
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Toss vegetables in oil gently and bake at 450 degrees F for 15 minutes (or until tender).

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta for 6-7 minutes (needs to still be hard on the inside; it will finish cooking in the oven):
1# whole wheat penne pasta

In a large bowl, mix:
1 large jar of Ragu Organic Original Marinara Sauce
1 c. ricotta cheese
8 oz. shredded part skim mozzarella
1 1/2 c. frozen peas, thawed
3 c. pre-cooked, cubed chicken (optional: without the chicken, this dish makes a great side dish or vegetarian meal)

Drain pasta and add to cheese/sauce mixture. Add roasted veggies. Toss gently and pour into greased 9×13 pan or large casserole dish.

Top with:
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. butter, cut into small pieces (placed on top of Parmesan to make a nice crispy topping)

Bake at 450 degrees for 25 minutes.

Serves 12. Could also be used as a side dish for a large party.

It is SO yummy!

Mushroom Mac ‘n’ Cheese (Feb. 8, 2010)


2 Tbsp. butter

1/3 c. flour

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

8 medium mushrooms, quartered

3 oz. swiss cheese, shredded

1 c. part skim ricotta cheese

1/2 c. 99% fat free chicken broth

1/2 c. fat free milk (or Lactaid)

1 c. whole wheat noodles


Cook noodles according to package directions.

Meanwhile, saute mushrooms and garlic in 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter. Season with salt and pepper.

In a separate pan, melt 1 Tbsp. butter over Medium heat. Slowly whisk in flour till a thick consistency. Whisk in chicken broth and milk till smooth. Add shredded cheese. Stir occasionally till thoroughly mixed and creamy. Add mushrooms.

Drain pasta and add to sauce. Serve.

For another twist, add 1 c. cubed cooked chicken or 4-8 slices of deli ham, chopped into small pieces.

Number of Servings: 4

Sausage Egg Casserole

We had a wonderful day today. Tonight, I taught my sister-in-law Julie a classic favorite from my mom, Susan Gons: Sausage Egg Casserole. It’s my favorite Sunday morning dish because I can make it on Saturday night and throw it in the oven as I’m getting ready on Sunday. It’s also a great dish if you get asked to bring something to a brunch or as a Sunday School treat.

10 slices of bread (or just enough to fit in the bottom of the pan)
2 Tbsp. butter
1 3/4 c. milk
16 eggs
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. basil leaves
1 tsp. parsley leaves
1/2 tsp. dill weed
2 c. cheddar cheese
1 lb. cooked sausage (or your favorite breakfast meat)
8 oz. jar mushrooms (or fresh, if you saute them before adding them to the pan)

Butter your casserole dish or 9×13″ pan. Place the bread in the bottom of the dish (feel free to remove the crusts first). Meanwhile, cook sausage until no pink remains.
Mix together milk, eggs, salt, pepper, and spices and pour over bread in dish. Sprinkle cooked meat, mushrooms, and cheese evenly over the top and push down into the egg mixture.
At this point, you can refrigerate the dish overnight.
Bake at 350F for 1 hour. Serve hot.
Thanks, Mom, for this one!