Roasted Beet, Goat Cheese, and Mint Grilled Cheese

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I have previously mentioned  I sometimes try to recreate a dish I had at a restaurant. Here is a good example. Lion Bridge Brewing Company, located in the Czech Village in Cedar Rapids, not only brews some tasty beers, but their kitchen creates some excellent food as well. The Mint and Beet Grilled Cheese is one of my wife Susan’s favorite sandwiches. The sandwich is described on their menu as “local roasted beets, mint oil, and warm goat cheese.” Susan has been begging me to recreate it.

I have, but with a few minor tweaks. First, we love beets and I didn’t think the original version had enough beets. Lion Bridge also dices the beets. I think the sandwich is more structurally sound if the beets are sliced. Secondly, they use mint oil while I used fresh mint. I believe the mint oil makes the flavors too pronounced. You want the mint to be subtle.

Here is what I did:

Roasted Beet, Goat Cheese, and Mint Grilled Cheese

Ingredients

1/2 pound roasted beets (2 medium sized beets)
1 sprig fresh mint (leaves only; about 12 leaves)
4 ounces plain goat cheese
4 slices sourdough bread sliced about 1/2 inch thick.
unsalted butter

Directions

Preheat oven to 425°F. Cut tops and root tip from beets. Wash and place on a baking sheet. Roast beets for about one hour or until the beet is soft and can be easily pierced with a fork. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Peel the beets when they are cool enough to handle. The skin should slip off relatively easily. Slice the beets into about 1/4 inch slices and set aside. The beets can be roasted ahead of time.

While the beets are roasting, set the goat cheese out to come to room temperature. Remove the leaves from a sprig of mint. Chop the leaves and slightly muddle the leaves in a small bowl. The muddling will release some of the mint oil from the leaves. Add the softened goat cheese and blend the cheese and leaves together so the mint leaves are well distributed. Set aside.

Heat griddle to medium-high heat.

Butter one side of each slice of bread. Spread one-half of the goat cheese and mint mixture on the non-buttered side of two of the slices of bread. Top the goat cheese with beets. Place the halves with the goat cheese and beets on the heated griddle facing up and top with the other slice of bread buttered side up. Grill until golden brown, about three minutes.

Slice in half if desired and serve.

 

 

 

Chèvre, Garlic, and Chive Stuffed Bone-in Chicken Breast

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Chèvre, Garlic, and Chive Stuffed Bone-in Chicken Breast plated with bacon weaved roasted Brussels sprouts and an almond rice pilaf.

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Stuffed and seasoned breasts in a cast iron skillet ready to cook.

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Admit it.  Most recipes for chicken breast are pretty bland and tend to be dried out. That’s because most recipes are for boneless and skinless chicken, the two things that give the chicken flavor and help the breast retain moisture.

This recipe has relatively few ingredients and comes together rather quickly. It could easily go from start to on the table in under an hour.

Although the directions in this recipe are for cooking in an oven, I have easily cooked this on a gas grill with great success too.

Chèvre, Garlic, and Chive Stuffed Bone-in Chicken Breast

Ingredients

4 ounces softened goat cheese
4 cloves garlic minced
Zest from one lemon
2 tablespoon chives minced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 medium bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, about 1 ½ pounds
Olive oil
½ cup unsalted butter

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Mix the goat cheese with the lemon zest, garlic and chives until well blended. Set aside.

Loosen the skin on the chicken breasts by running your fingers underneath it but leaving it attached at the edges. Then, working from the narrow end of the chicken breast, cut a deep slit into the breast and as far into the breast as you can go. Carefully create a cavity inside the breast without cutting through the other end or making the entry point wider than 1 ½ inches.

Divide the goat cheese mixture into six equal parts. Stuff a portion of the goat cheese mixture into the slit in one of the chicken breast, pushing it as deep as possible into the slit. Use a toothpick or two to hold the slit closed if necessary. Stuff another portion of the goat cheese mixture under the skin of the chicken breast. Massage your fingers across the top of the skin to spread the cheese into an even layer and covering as much of the breast as possible. Repeat with the other chicken breasts.

Place breasts in a large cast iron skillet, drizzle and rub in a little olive oil, and season with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Place breasts in preheated oven. Meanwhile, melt a half cup of unsalted butter in a sauce pan and heat until just beginning to brown. After the breasts have cooked for 15 to 20 minutes, baste them with the melted butter. Continue cooking for another 15 to 20 minutes or until the skin is brown and crisp and an instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the breast reads 165°F. Remove breasts from oven, baste one final time with butter in skillet. Tent with foil and let rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

There’s an app for that: Stuffed Mini Peppers

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I am always on the lookout for quick, easy appetizers. Here is a great one for your fall parties and tailgating. The sweetness of the mini peppers balances the tanginess of the chèvre, and the herbs help kick things up to a level your guests will enjoy.

Ingredients

½ cup panko breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
20 to 25 mini bell peppers, washed
10 ounces goat cheese, softened
4 ounces cream cheeses, softened
2-3 tablespoons of your choice of herbs such as chives and thyme, chopped
black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add panko bread crumbs and sauté until crumbs are golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.

Slice peppers in half lengthwise. Do not remove stems. The stems are simply for presentation. Remove seeds and place in large bowl. Drizzle remaining olive oil over peppers and toss to coat the peppers. Then arrange peppers on a baking sheet and set aside.

Mix goat cheese, cream cheese, herbs, and pepper with a fork in a small mixing bowl until well combined. Spoon or pipe the cheese mixture into the pepper halfs. Sprinkle toasted panko bread crumbs evenly over peppers. Bake peppers for approximately fifteen minutes or until peppers are tender and the goat cheese is warm. An additional two to three minutes under the broiler may be needed to give the panko topping a little extra browning and to help heat the cheese.

There’s an app for that: Prosciutto wrapped, cheese stuffed dates

This quick appetizer goes together very quickly. Your guests will be very impressed and think you spent way more time making them than you actually did.

Ingredients

2 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature
2 ounces) mascarpone cheese, a room temperature
¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
16 dates, pitted
8 thin slices prosciutto, halved lengthwise
16 toothpicks or cocktail picks

Directions

In a small bowl, mix together the cheeses and basil and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Gently pull the dates apart and stuff with about ½ teaspoon of the cheese mixture. Close the dates around the filling. Wrap a piece of prosciutto around each date and secure with a toothpick.

Arrange the stuffed dates on a platter and serve.