Cheesy Garlic, Fresh Tomato Bread with Oil & Balsamic Drizzle

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Cheesy Hot Garlic Bread with Tomatoes, Drizzled with Olive OIl and Vinegar

(Becky, the Mama.)

What fun  Rachel and I are having hearing back from readers enjoying We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook. Here’s one I got a kick out of today from Linda: “Becky I’m only on page 18 and I’m laughing out loud like a nutcase. You really have made a career out of telling on yourself! OMG, too funny and you’re not exaggerating, not even a little? Starting with misplacing your car keys in Nashville, your suitcase exploding at the airport, you can’t find your car once you arrive in Fort Worth, then when you do, the battery is dead? I’m dying over here.”

grunge image of a field

People often ask my daughter (now co-author), my friends, my husband, “Come on, tell the truth. Is Becky making this stuff up?” All they can say, with a slow head shake is, “We only wish she were.”

As I read the fun note above, I was in the middle of posting this episode on Facebook:
Leaving hotel room today. Close door, get 4 big suitcases in hall.
Me: “Uh I took my glasses off again.”
Greg: “Did you leave them in the room?”
Me: “I might have.”
All four  of our keys are behind locked doors so Greg goes to get new ones. Upon his return, I say, “I also can’t seem to find my cell phone.” He enters the room and turns it upside down. I look on the carpet, I’ve been sitting on the phone in the hall. I find my glasses, in the case where I put them in my suitcase. I don’t remember doing that AT ALL. We close the door pick up our things and go on. Greg never gets mad, not even testy. No matter how many times we exit a hotel room this way.

Life has been so busy lately with the book’s release and travel and finding things I have lost,  that when I do cook I want it to be fast and easy and delicious. One of the things I enjoy the most at some of the great Italian restaurants we’ve visited on our trip to Oregon this week, is fresh homemade bread dipped in a little plate of olive oil, good aged balsamic vinegar and a little garlic. Heaven.

Recently I found a way to turn Heaven into a quick snacky meal or a wonderfully easy appetizer for a bunch. Cutting a nice fresh loaf of French bread lengthwise, I sprinkled it with cheese, then layered sliced fresh garden tomatoes, followed  tiny pinches of salt, pepper, basil or oregano (fresh or dried, whatever you have on hand), a little fresh grated garlic. Pop this in the oven until the cheese melts and tomatoes are sizzling. Then, here’s the fun part: drizzle it all with good olive oil and balsamic, cut in slices and serve with plenty of napkins.

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Cheesy, Garlic, Fresh Tomato Bread with Oil & Balsamic

1 French baguette, sliced in half lengthwise

1 cup grated cheese (I used mozzarella, some white cheddar and feta. Use any combination you like.)

2-3 tomatoes (my baguette was small so Roma tomatoes were perfect size), sliced

Pinch fresh salt

Several turns of fresh pepper

1 t. dried oregano, or 2 t. minced fresh basil

1 clove fresh garlic, grated

¼ cup olive oil, approximate

2 T. good aged balsamic vinegar

Directions:

Preheat Oven to  400 degrees

Put both baguette halves on a baking sheet, cut side up.  Sprinkle about ½ cup grated cheese on each side.  Slice tomatoes and place atop both pieces of bread, overlapping slightly as shown.  Sprinkle each half with a little fresh salt, some turns of fresh pepper, the herbs and garlic.

Place in oven for about 5 minutes or until baguettes are hot, cheese is melted and tomatoes are sizzling.

Drizzle the baguettes with oil and vinegar, slice in 3 inch pieces and serve hot.  (With plenty of napkins.)

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Savory Turkey Burgers with Quick Mango Red Pepper Chutney

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(Becky, the Mama.)

A family story pops up almost every Thanksgiving.   Decades ago, my adorable cousin Kenny, about age five, tiny and wearing enormous glasses took a bite of the day’s celebrated roast bird, smiled, and then with a slow southern munchkin voice, asked my mom, “What kind of chicken is this Aunt (pronounced “Ain’t”) Ruthie?  Tur-key?”

I must confess, I’m not a big fan of turkey (even cousin Kenny’s “chicken kind of turkey”) — as it too often tends toward dry and flavorless.  I’ve found three exceptions, however.  One is a  recipe for marinated grilled turkey tenderloin. Moist, delicious,  a family favorite.  Another is a savory-sweet recipe for Asian turkey meatballs.  Finally there is this creation for savory turkey burgers loaded with flavor and topped with a sweet and spicy quick mango red pepper chutney.  It’s beautiful on a serving plate, plus budget and waistline friendly dish. Yummy paired with a side of jasmine rice and my simple sesame avocado  cucumber salad.  For vegans or vegetarians,  trying grilling Field Roast Apple Sage Sausages, and then simmer them in the sauce a few minutes before serving.

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Savory Turkey Burgers with Quick Mango Red Pepper Chutney

Makes 6 to 8 patties depending on size you prefer

Burgers

1 lb ground turkey (you can also use ground beef if you prefer)

1 lb  sweet Italian turkey sausage, out of casing and crumbled

2 t. seasoned salt or grill seasoning

1 egg

1/3 c. soft bread crumbs

Sauce

½ cup chicken or veggie broth

1 /4 c. brown sugar

1 T. Dijon mustard

1/3 c. red wine or balsamic vinegar

Pinch salt and pepper

1 fresh mango diced (Or 3/4 c. fresh pineapple, chopped, is also delicious if you prefer)

1 roasted red pepper, diced

2 green onions, chopped

Directions:

Mix the ingredients for turkey burgers together and form into patties, any size you like.   Grill or sauté with a little olive oil until brown and caramelized on the outside, cooked through on the inside.  (You can cover the pan once the burgers are brown on the outside and let simmer a bit more if they need to cook through more on the inside.) Remove from pan to a plate, cover with foil to keep warm and let juices redistribute.   To the same skillet, add veggie broth, brown sugar, mustard and vinegar to skillet. Turn heat on high to bring to boil and then back heat down to a simmer,  until sauce begins to get thicken.. Add mango, red pepper and onions, pinch salt and pepper continue to cook until the chutney is hot again.  Serve a spoonful of warm sauce over turkey patties.

Vegan or Vegetarian Alternative: Use Field Roast Apple Sage Sausages, split down the middle length-wise. Brown in a little olive oil, then continue recipe above.

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This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Savory Turkey Burgers with Quick Mango Red Pepper Chutney
The recipe URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-ZD
This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook


Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Sweet Potatoes in Maple-Mustard-Balsamic Glaze

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(Becky, the Mama.)

So what do you call someone who makes vegetables the “Star of the Show,”  and doesn’t eat meat — but also doesn’t get nervous if a ham hock touches her pinto beans,or shrink back when a spoonful of beef gravy is ladled over her mashed potatoes, and sometimes considers “bacon” to be in a food group all its own?

I thought I might be alone in the sea of food-preference categories until, that is, I stumbled on the term “flexitarian.”

If this is a new term to you, as it was to me,  here’s the basic  scoop:  A flexitarian diet is one that is plant-based with the occasional inclusion of meat products.[In 2003, the American Dialect Society voted flexitarian as the year’s most useful word and defined it as “a vegetarian who occasionally eats meat” in 2012, the term was listed for the first time in the mainstream Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.

I still enjoy cooking for the meat-eaters in my family, so I will continue to post recipes now and again that include beef, chicken or seafood and fish.  However, my Daughter The Beautiful Healthy Vegan, has apparently influenced my food preferences over the year we’ve been writing this blog and our book together.   It all began when I noticed that after experimenting with eating “Rachel’s way” when I visited her or she came to our home,  my stomach would feel so nice and flat, even after eating a good-sized plate full of delicious food.

I made the decision to  go  95% vegetarian for a month, after having been served two really horrible, dry, meat-based meals while on vacation.  The thought of meat, at that time, began to nauseate me and it was freeing to just do away with it altogether.  Turns out this was the easiest dietary change I’ve ever made.   I found I was actually relieved to have an excuse to double up on the veggies and by-pass meat (or have just a bite or two if it really looks and sounds good).

One benefit of being a vegetarian is that you start to look at veggies in a whole new way.  Since they will make up the bulk of your meal, you really want them to taste incredible, to come out of their former dull side-kick status and tap-dance into their own spotlight.

This dish, made of roasted Brussels Sprouts, sweet potatoes and almonds, then drizzled with a butter, maple, mustard and balsamic glaze,  will steal the show away from just about any hunk of cow or chicken..   You could serve it as is, or over some pasta, gnocchi, brown rice or quinoa.   The almonds can be left whole for extra crunch or chopped or slivered.. your preference.  Toasted walnuts are be delicious. It is also yummy and a bit more filling  with some  sliced and browned Field Roast apple sage sausage (my favorite vegan meat substitute).  To easily  extend it to the meat eaters in your home,  add a little crumbled brown Italian turkey sausage.

Most people are convinced by the growing research about cancer and heart-disease prevention, that they should eat more plant-based foods.   What Rachel and I will try to do is make this “good-for-your-health edict”  sound less like a punishment and more like a privilege by continuing to  offer easy, mouth-watering recipes that you will be excited about making, serving, and eating!  Just look at these veggies showing off as they take center stage:

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Sweet Potatoes in Maple Mustard Balsamic Glaze

1 – 2 T. olive oil

1 lb fresh Brussels Sprouts, stems trimmed and cut in half

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cute in bite-size cubes

3 cloves fresh garlic, peeled

1/2 t. sea salt  and 1/2 t. pepper

5 T. maple syrup

1 T. brown or Dijon mustard

1 T. butter

2 t. balsamic or red wine vinegar

1/3 cup almonds, toasted  (May use whole almonds, chopped or sliced.  May also substitute walnuts.)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Squiggle olive oil over large baking pan or cookie sheet.  Lay Brussels sprouts and sweet potato on the pain, along with garlic cloves. Toss all of this gently in the oil with your two clean hands, coating all sides of veggies.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Let roast for 20-30 minutes, turning once during the middle of cooking, until the veggies are starting to turn brown in places, and caramelize.

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Mash the roasted garlic with a fork and then gently toss it with the roasted veggies in a heat-proof serving bowl.

In a small saucepan, heat syrup, mustard and butter together and let boil and simmer until thickened a bit, like a glaze.  Remove from heat and stir in vinegar. Pour over veggies and gently stir.  Add more salt and pepper if needed, to taste.  Garnish with toasted almonds.

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This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Sweet Potatoes in Maple Mustard Balsamic Glaze
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-Vl


Peachy Balsamic Chicken

My daughter Rachel posted a story about her “nesting instinct” gone wild in the kitchen this week. I am now close to menopause but my husband would swear that I have the strongest nesting instinct of any woman who has ever lived.  And the most quirky one. The thing is,  my nesting instinct is to make a literal ‘pack rat’s nest’ out of our bed.

Every night Greg climbs into bed and  hands me various and sundry items he finds on and under the bedspread. Last night it was a camera. (Before you get the wrong idea: I was posting pics of food on my blog.) There is always the standard computer, books, paper and pen, eye glasses, but other items that have made their way into our bed-nest include, but are not limited to: earrings, scissors, credit cards, clocks, various food stuffs, Legos, lost keys and checks. Greg actually loves to find things: looking for lost golf balls and coins makes him happy. I am sure he was a champion Easter Egg hunter as a little boy. So he rather gets a kick out of what unusual items he finds each night, nestled  among the sheets and blankets.

Last night I was in the bathtub when I heard Greg shout, with a Eureka!-like tone in his voice: “I just found your running shoe under the covers a the bottom of the bed!”

When I happened upon this recipe, a variation of one that Rachael Ray made on her show, I was almost as thrilled as Greg was to find my missing shoe in the bed. It’s definitely a “Eureka!” dish. Very few ingredients, very little time, very inexpensive and the sauce is so scrumptious, you’ll want to eat it with a spoon. I made this twice for two different groups of girlfriends, serving it alongside risotto and a a crisp salad.  They lapped it up!  Another of my best “go-to” recipes, this one yields lots of praise and requests for the recipe, for so little effort on the cook’s part.

Peachy-Balsamic Glazed Chicken

Becky’s Peachy Balsamic Chicken

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

2 T. olive oil
6-7 boneless chicken thighs
grill or steak seasoning (or your favorite seasoned salt)
1/2 c. chicken or vegie broth

1/4 c. aged balsamic vinegar
1/3 c.  peach preserves or jam (or try orange marmalade, cherry or apricot jam/ preserves if you prefer)
1 T. grainy mustard (or hot Chinese mustard)

1/3 c. chopped green onions for garnish

Lightly season both sides of chicken pieces with your favorite seasoned salt. In a hot large skillet with about 2 T. olive oil, saute and brown boneless chicken pieces on high heat until both sides are golden brown and chicken is cooked through. (You may want to turn down heat and cook with a lid on top if the chicken doesn’t get done in the middle, after the searing.) Remove pieces at this stage on to a platter and cover to keep warm.

In same skillet, pour in chicken broth, balsamic vinegar and peach preserves and mustard, stirring to loosen all the good bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to medium high. When the sauce is reduced and syrupy, add chicken pieces in, coating both sides as you lay them in the sauce. Simmer until the sauce thickened a bit more and chicken is hot. Garnish with chopped green onions. (Apologies — no green onions on hand, so none in this picture.  But they are truly wonderful, so add them if you’ve got them!)

Vegan Variations: This glaze, above, is fabulous drizzled over a dish of roasted butternut squash and walnuts or sauteed tofu. Just sub vegetable broth for the chicken broth.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Peachy Balsamic Chicken
The URL: https://welaughwecrywecook.com/2012/05/04/apricot-balsamic-glazed-chicken


Balsamic Roasted Garlic Veggies

“I don’t like asparagus. I don’t like broccoli. I don’t like onions. I don’t like garlic. I don’t like vegetables. Well, I do like corn … and potatoes. I like potatoes.”

This was my husband when we first got married.

I don’t remember cooking much in our first year of marriage. In fact, I have no idea what we ate. I hardly have a single memory in that tiny galley kitchen. Between Jared’s aversion to all things that made food delicious to me and the hideous marbled yellow laminate counter tops with cracks on the corners, I must have felt less than inspired.

When we moved to a new town house with a bright white kitchen near Galveston, I suddenly found myself looking for excuses to be in the kitchen. I started shopping at Farmer’s Markets and reading food blogs and became determined to get Jared to love veggies. Little by little, I found ways to prepare certain vegetables in a way he would eat them. He’ll eat onions if they are caramelized or chopped fine and sauteed in a dish. He’ll eat his peas in a split pea soup. And I can get him to eat almost anything wrapped in a tortilla and dipped in salsa. Thank goodness, because in a crazy turn of events, before we moved out of that town home a year later, we had become full on vegans.

The preparation that finally got Jared raving and begging for veggies was roasting them. If it’s coated with a little evoo and seasoning and crisped up to perfection (to him that includes a few burnt bits on the pan), he’s a happy husband and a happy veggie eater!

This method works wonderfully with asparagus, any root vegetables, broccoli and cauliflower, onions, even chickpeas. Try it with a vegetable you think you don’t like and see if it changes your thoughts on it.

Roasted Vegetables with Roasted Garlic

Roasted vegetables are easy enough to serve up on a weeknight and beautiful enough to serve to guests for a celebration dinner.

Rachel’s
Balsamic Roasted Garlic Veggies

Ingredients

(Note: The vegetable  list is just a guideline. Use whatever you have in your refrigerator or is on sale at the market. The seasoning ingredients listed are for about 4 cups of vegetables.)

Potatoes, chopped (small, soft-skinned work great, but Idaho & sweet potatoes are wonderful too)

Carrots, chopped

Onions, quartered (leave one end in tact so they don’t get burnt)

Peppers (bell peppers, sweet tri colored peppers, poblanos) (seeded & quartered)

Broccoli (cut into “trees”)

Cauliflower  (cut into “trees”)

Zucchini (chopped into large chunks or long ribbons)

Squash (chopped into large chunks or long ribbons)

2 T (maybe more) Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 T. Balsamic Vinegar

2 t. Salt

2 t. Pepper

1 T. Italian Seasoning Blend

A full head of garlic

Directions

Preheat oven to 400. Spray large cookie sheet with nonstick spray.

Put all the veggies except the garlic in a large mixing bowl, and drizzle 2 tbs of olive oil over the veggies. Toss until all of the veggies are lightly coated, adding more olive oil if needed. Don’t drench them or you’re veggies won’t get crisp. (The amount of olive oil varies because some veggies soak up more, like cauliflower, and others hardly absorb any, like peppers.)

Add balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning, and toss again. Pour veggies onto the cookie sheet and spread around. If they are piled on top of each other, use a second pan.

Take the garlic, remove the lose skin, and chop the top of the head off the garlic so the inside of each clove is exposed. Place the bulb on a piece of foil and drizzle the top of the bulb with olive oil. Wrap the foil around the clove. Add the foil wrapped garlic onto the pan of veggies (sitting upright). Check this tutorial out if you need a visual.

Bake the veggies and garlic for approximately 40 minutes. The potatoes and carrots take the longest to cook, so cook until they are soft in the middle and crispy on the outside.

Remove the garlic from the foil and allow to cool for a few minutes. Carefully either squeeze the garlic out (like toothpaste), or use a fork to remove each clove. Toss in with the roasted veggies. The garlic is delicious and really elevates roasted veggies! Your friends will most definitely track you down for the recipe. Trust me.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Balsamic Roasted Garlic Veggies
The URL: https://welaughwecrywecook.com/2012/04/24/balsamic-roasted-garlic-veggies