mixed greens salad with dijon champagne vinaigrette, toasted walnuts, and herbed goat cheese wrapped in basil leaves

via she likes to eat

a little over a year ago, my other half took me to a cooking class at whole foods for a birthday present. it was, truly, one of my favorite gifts he has ever given me.

we went together, after leaving the girls at home with my parents, and cooked an incredible menu with about 5 other couples. we laughed, ate well, drank good wine, and met new people while learning a few new things in the kitchen. for real, it was one of my favorite nights ever.

the menu included a wonderfully hearty beef stew with wild rice, a rustic berry tart, buttery biscuits, and this lovely salad. the whole technique with the goat cheese really intrigued me, as i had never seen it done before but thought was crazy brilliant. at our station we had a little bit of the goat cheese leftover after wrapping the rest in the basil leaves.. you can bet i ate that straight out of the bowl. and the dijon vinaigrette has become a staple in my house, one of my favorite basic vinaigrettes that can go on pretty much any salad.

mixed greens salad with champagne dijon vinaigrette, toasted walnuts, and herbed goat cheese wrapped in basil leaves
makes 6-8 salads

ingredients

6 cups mixed greens (i like to use a combo of bibb, romaine, and spinach), cleaned + rinsed

1/3 cup walnuts, toasted + chopped

3/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup champagne or white wine vinaigrette

1 tbsp dijon mustard

1 tsp agave nectar, or honey

4 oz plain goat cheese, at room temperature

small bunch basil leaves (you’ll need about 8-10 large-sized leaves)

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped*

1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped*

olive oil

coarse sea salt & freshly ground pepper

directions

1. in a small bowl, stir together the goat cheese, lemon juice, and a drizzle of olive oil. (if your goat cheese is harder, add a little more olive oil to soften.) add a small pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper – a couple twists of the grinder. mix well, cover with saran wrap, and place in fridge to chill.

2. preheat oven to 350. spread out walnuts on a dry cookie sheet. roast in the preheated oven for 5-7 minutes. place on drying rack to fully cool.

3. in a mason jar, mix 3/4 cup olive oil, vinegar, dijon, agave/honey, and another small pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper. shake vigorously until well incorporated.

4. after the goat cheese mixture has had at least 15-20 minutes to chill, remove from fridge. on a clean surface or cutting board, remove stems from basil leaves and roll each leaf out flat. place a bit of goat cheese mixture onto the base of each leaf, and then roll the leaf up, wrapping the goat cheese mixture completely with the leaf. once rolled, using a serrated or very sharp small knife, carefully (saw the knife gently back + forth as to not break the leaf) slice the rolled leaf into small sections (you should get about 3-4 slices per leaf.) continue until all basil leaves have been used and sliced.

5. in six or so salad bowls, begin to assemble the salads. first the greens, then the basil leaf/goat cheese slices, sprinkle with toasted walnuts, and drizzle generously with vinaigrette.

*i stress using fresh herbs here, if possible.

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goat cheese & thyme quiche with hashbrown crust

goat cheese thyme quiche with hash brown crust

seems like i’m kind of stacking up the goat cheese recipes lately – like with these biscuits and this queso fundido. i would probably entertain the idea of dedicating my entire blog to the love of goat cheese, if i didn’t love chocolate so much.. and baking.. and bread.. and cookies.. and mexican food.

when i see a recipe with goat cheese in it, i immediately put it in my “to-make stack” (well, unless it has loads of tomatoes or mushrooms – sorry folks, can’t do it). this recipe is inspired by/adapted from a martha stewart dish – i added a few things and cut the recipe down in size a little, for ease. seriously y’all, the end result was awesome. the warm, gooey goat cheese and the crunchy hashbrown crust turned out to be such a great match. the thyme really adds a lot of flavor and the sour cream makes it super creamy. it’s the perfect dish for a brunch or even lunch, next to a bowl of warm tomato soup.

goat cheese & thyme quiche with hashbrown crust

ingredients

2 tbsp butter, melted

1/2 package frozen shredded hash browns, thawed (about 4 cups)

9 eggs

1 cup sour cream

4-5 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

1/4 tsp dried thyme

2 whole green onions, chopped

sea salt & freshly ground pepper

directions

1. preheat the oven to 375. coat an 8 inch pie dish evenly with olive oil cooking spray.

2. in a large bowl, combine thawed hashbrowns, melted butter, 1 egg, 1/4 tsp sea salt, and 1/8 tsp pepper. mix well with a spatula. press into prepared pie dish (also up the sides) with the spatula. place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until set, about 15 minutes.

3. in another large bowl, whisk 8 remaining eggs. add sour cream, goat cheese, 1 tsp sea salt, thyme, and pepper – mix well. pour into pre-baked crust and sprinkle the chopped green onions evenly over the top. bake until set (gently tap the side of the pie dish -the filling should jiggle slightly in the middle but not on the sides), about 30-35 minutes. serve while still warm.

enjoy!

goat cheese & thyme quiche with hashbrown crust

monterey jack & goat cheese queso fundido with hatch green chile vinaigrette

monterey jack & goat cheese queso fundido with hatch green chile vinaigrette | via she likes to eat

these days, life is a little crazy.
we have two little ones and a very busy schedule. somehow we, well i, got away from one of my dearest loves: entertaining/taking care of people in our home. the house is often a mess and  i get stressed over the day and sometimes it’s just too much to handle making dinner and trying to clean the place. all that said, i am working on it. we are making plans and inviting people over to watch basketball games, tidying up as best we can while still knowing a little mess IS OKAY – a daily reminder of one of my favorite mantras, present over perfect (thanks to my friend shauna, who encourages so many with this quote + chapter from the lovely bread & wine).
and it sure makes it easy when i have something yummy ready in the kitchen that i am dying to share with someone.

this recipe is one of those things. although i could have easily taken it out of the oven, grabbed a bag of tortilla chips, walked back to my bedroom, locked the door, and eaten the entire thing all by mineself. and then licked the bowl wholeheartedly.

monterey jack & goat cheese queso fundido with hatch green chile vinaigrette
adapted from bobby flay

ingredients

for the vinaigrette:

one 4 oz can hatch green chiles, drained & chopped

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

2 cloves garlic, sliced

1/2 tsp agave nectar

1/4 cup sunflower seed or grapeseed oil (or an oil with mild flavor)

for the queso:

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp all purpose flour

1 cup whole milk

4 cups grated monterey jack cheese (about 1 1/2 eight ounce blocks)

5 oz goat cheese, crumbled

2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

sea salt & freshly ground pepper

blue corn tortilla chips, for serving

directions

1. to make the vinaigrette, combine the chiles, vinegar, garlic, agave, and oil, plus a good sized pinch of the cilantro in a blender and puree until smooth. season with salt & pepper.

2. to make the queso: melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. add the flour and cook, constantly whisking, about 1 minute. add the milk and cook, constantly whisking, until slightly thickened, about 3-5 minutes. remove from heat and whisk in monterey jack, one handful at a time (don’t add the next handful until cheese has completely melted). add a scant 1/4 tsp salt, and a bit of pepper to taste.

3. turn on the broiler. scrape the melted cheese mixture into an 8 inch baking dish. scatter the crumbled goat cheese over the top, covering evenly. broil until golden brown in spots, about 5-7 minutes. remove from the oven and let it sit for 5-10 minutes, to allow the cheese to set. drizzle the vinaigrette over the top* and sprinkle with chopped cilantro. serve warm with tortilla chips.

*i drizzled about 1/2 of the vinaigrette just after it came out of the oven. as we ate, i drizzled more on top.

enjoy!

goat cheese biscuits

goat cheese biscuits

if you are like me, i had you at “goat cheese”.

goat cheese is one of those things you pine for. i love cheese, all kinds, but goat cheese is on a different level. the creaminess, that tang.. it lovingly forces you to close your eyes after each bite and savor it. and these biscuits do it every justice. this recipe is adapted from my friend shauna niequist’s book, bread and wine. i have only made one small change (added a bit more goat cheese) for they are perfect as they are.

these biscuits are fabulous with a big bowl of hot chili, a hearty soup, or on a cold morning, lightly toasted, with butter and strawberry preserves. they have become a new tradition on our thanksgiving and christmas tables and i hope on yours too.

goat cheese biscuits
makes 12

ingredients

2 cups flour

3 tsp baking powder

2 tsp salt

1 cup plain yogurt

6-7 tbsp cold butter, divided

5 tbsp goat cheese, crumbled

1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

directions

1. preheat the oven to 425 and place a 10-inch pan or rimmed cookie sheet into the oven while it’s preheating.

2. in a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt and whisk to incorporate. cut 4 tbsp cold butter into small pieces, then cut into the flour mixture. add the yogurt and goat cheese and stir to combine.

3. remove the pan from the oven and place a tablespoon or 2 of butter (depending on the size of the pan) into it. as the butter melts, spread it around, making sure it covers the entire pan’s surface. divide the batter into 9-12 biscuits (depending on how big you want them) and place them in the pan (in a smaller pan they will fit pretty tightly).

4. brush the tops of the biscuits with 1 tbsp melted butter. bake for 14-16 minutes until browned on tops and bottoms. about 2-3 minutes before they are done (when the tops are just beginning to golden) remove from the oven and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese (if it’s freshly grated, it melts much better). cook the remaining 2-3 minutes, and serve warm.

enjoy!