Saturday, August 31, 2013

Crispy Tomato and Goat Cheese Bruschetta

This is the best bruschetta for toast and goat cheese loving husbands. I've made it many ways with varied toppings, but this one has been declared greatest of all time. I usually prefer regular French or Sourdough bread for the best tasting bruschetta, but this recipe goes very well with whole wheat French bread. Pour on the olive oil and you can't go wrong.

This would not have been possible without Laura's tomatoes from The Urban Homestead. I didn't grow tomatoes this year so I've been enjoying hers! She is such a wonderful friend to have traded veggies with me, even though I only had one cucumber to give out at the time. I did use fresh basil from my garden, which is doing very well and inspiring many pesto recipes.

If you are looking for a great place to get goat cheese, Harley Farms in Pescadero has some amazing cheeses. I love goat cheese, especially since it has much less lactose than cows milk cheese. If you ever get out to the West Coast or are a Californian looking for a fun day trip, go to Pescadero. It's a tiny town right on the coast, about 20 miles south of Half Moon Bay--pumpkin growing country! There's an awesome restaurant called Duarte's, where they make the most delicious olallieberry pie. You won't miss it, as there are only two restaurants in the whole town, which is on one street. There's also a general store, a post office, a fire station, and a single stop light. Behind all of this is Harley Farms, where you can spend a good hour watching the baby goats play and tasting the amazing selection of goat cheese and olive oils. They also make ceramics and goat milk lotions, and they sell fresh eggs.


6 slices whole wheat French bread loaf
extra virgin olive oil
minced garlic
3-4 roma tomatoes, sliced
3 sprigs fresh basil
goat cheese


1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Lay slices of bread on nonstick baking sheet. Using an olive oil pourer or a spoon, pour olive oil over each slice of bread. No drizzling here, just pour it on carefully so that it drenches the bread, but doesn't spill over the slice. The bread will soak it all up during cooking.

2. Spread minced garlic on each slice--as much as desired. I put about a 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic on each bread slice. Lay down tomato slices to cover bread, and then coat tomatoes with olive oil either by drizzling with a spoon or spraying.

3. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until tomato slices are roasted. Timing will depend on how thick your slices are. Remove from oven.

4. Add teaspoon size dollops of goat cheese onto the bruschetta or slices if you have a log. Bake for five more minutes in the oven. Cheese will be gooey and creamy. Remove from oven and add torn basil. Serve with your favorite wine.

I have a problem with not properly photographing food when it's finished--I have a tendency to eat it right away.
I know a certain Chihuahua who loves goat cheese.
Pescadero Beach

Harley Farms

Mama goats at the farm.

Baby goats playing.

Eric petting the baby goat.

That's my hand petting the cute baby goat.
Beautiful little goat cheeses with edible flowers and herbs, also apricot and pistachio and sun dried tomato.

Crock Pot Italian Wedding Soup with Turkey Meatballs

I have the best dog of all time. After spending hours yesterday creating this amazing soup, I went to store it in the refrigerator and missed the shelf completely, letting go of the container so that it hit the floor and exploded everywhere. An entire quart of chicken stock and turkey meatballs spilled in growing puddles all over the kitchen floor and all I could do was watch. My neighborhood was stunned into silence at the expletives issuing from my apartment. Even Eric and Mia, who witnessed the whole disaster, had no words.

My chicken loving Chihuahua stood there in shock, as the scent of warm chicken stock filled the air. Even minutes later, once all the shock was past, I was in tears, and Eric began consoling, Mia continued to stand there, just watching, being the best dog that there ever was. It's possible she could sense how sad her mommy was (though I doubt it). The more likely reason was the training we've just started helped her "stay" for the treat until she was given the command. Though, there was definitely some confusion and intuition there. I imagine what was going on in her little brain was something like: "Mom just went crazy over this chicken stuff, she's really stressed out and I want to please her by being a good girl. I'm going to stay and then she'll give me chicken." She was so good that after I cleaned up the bulk of the mess, she got to clean up the rest.

Honestly this was one of my worst food fails ever. I could care less about spilt milk--I made each and every single one of those tiny turkey meatballs by hand. I drove to the store for the sole purpose of buying little star shaped noodles. And it was about 80 degrees in my kitchen. It was such a stupid clumsy accident that I can really only blame it on the fact I had changed into my glasses very early this particular evening, as I was having irritation in one of my eyes. My glasses are a whole prescription higher than my contacts and I can't see out of them nearly as well. I've been putting off buying new lenses for two years and I really need to get new ones. This was the last straw.

Poor mom. Poor meatball soup. It really was delicious! At least I was able to take a few pictures before it went on the floor. I even enjoyed a couple small bowls. I will definitely make it again, and I hope someone else will, too!


1/4 lb ground turkey
1 egg
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
1/3 cup parmesan cheese (or nondairy alternative)
1/8 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon Italian seasoning

2 cups unsalted chicken stock
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup fresh baby spinach, packed
1/4 cup tiny uncooked noodles
fresh parsley, coarsely chopped


1. To make the meatballs, combine turkey, egg, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, parsley, salt and pepper, and Italian seasoning in a small bowl. Mix with your hands until all ingredients are well blended.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and spray a medium size casserole dish with cooking oil. Using a tablespoon to scoop, shape mixture into bite size mini meatballs and place in casserole dish. They can be close together but not touching. Cook for 15 minutes.

3. While meatballs are cooking, prepare your broth in the crock pot. Add chicken stock, onion, carrot, garlic powder, and salt and pepper. Save the greens and noodles for later.

4. When the meatballs are done, add them to the chicken broth in the crock pot. Cook on high for two-three hours. During the last 10-15 minutes of cooking, add noodles and stir. Set a kitchen timer to help. When there are three minutes left, add the spinach and stir. Once the timer goes off, remove from heat. Serve topped with parmesan cheese and parsley. Don't spill.

Dairy Free Nacho Cheese

A snack I am always missing at baseball games is nachos and cheese, piled high with jalapeños. It's a serious craving. I've been wanting to create this recipe for a while now, and it's become one of my new favorite things. I thought it would be a long shot to recreate the taste of nacho cheese using non-dairy products, but I totally surprised myself. It was very simple. The key is to use sweetened almond milk (without flavoring) and a soy cheese.

If you are looking for a good cheese to use, I really enjoy the soy cheddar from Milk Pail market in Los Altos, CA. This is what I can get locally. I love the taste, the only problem is that it doesn't stretch or melt as well as other brands. Check out your local whole foods market or specialty food store to see if they make their own and give it a try! I also recommend Trader Joe's three cheese soy blend, and Daiya Cheddar Shreds, which are soy free and probably the best for you.

Remember, don't base your opinion on soy cheese by what it tastes like out of the wrapping. Cheese alternatives always taste better cooked and with other ingredients added--like hot sauce! I think this would be perfect with chopped peppers added in, but I chose to eat mine like stadium nachos: tortilla chips covered in cheese then piled with jalapeños. There is no good picture of this because I was busy eating it and watching football.

I especially created this to accompany the first Pittsburgh Steelers preseason game. It was almost perfect, but only because the Stillers lost. They proceeded to lose each following preseason game as well, which is not a good sign for the upcoming season. So sad. At times like those, the only comforting part of the game is the food.

The Pittsburgh Pirates were still going strong for a while, but who knows? My husband and I were at AT&T Park to see the Pirates play the Giants last weekend and the Pirates also lost. That was a bummer. The comforting thing there was not just the awesome stadium food, but that we were not the only Pirates fans! We met up with a few members of Eric's family who were also at the game, and we saw some people with Pirates gear on. There were probably more in secret. I don't blame them--it was Giants territory. Anyway, I hope to be making this nacho cheese for the Pirates World Series games. Let's go bucs!


1 cup sweetened almond milk
1 cup shredded soy cheese product
1 tsp hot sauce
1/4 cup pickled jalapeños, finely chopped *optional
salt and pepper to taste (depends on salt content of soy cheese)


1. In a saucepan over medium low heat, bring the almond milk to a simmer.

2. Add in shredded soy cheese, stirring frequently until melted. The last unmelted bits may require vigorous stirring for up to 10 minutes, but they will melt and the sauce will thicken considerably. At this time add hot sauce, salt, and pepper if desired and to your taste. Remove nacho "cheese" from heat and add jalapeños the way you like them.