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Tantalizing Tomato & Halloumi Salad.

Pan-Fried Halloumi Cheese & Tomatoes With Lebanese Pickles, Lemon Juice & Oregano.

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I’ve had a love affair with Middle Eastern food for some time now and it’s my all-time favorite type of food. Recently, I discovered grilled halloumi cheese on the menu of one of my go-to restaurants in Charlotte. Halloumi is a type of cheese from Cyprus made from goat’s milk which is often served grilled because of its density. I wanted to serve the halloumi with tomatoes and pickles to help balance out the richness of the cheese. The acidity of the lemon juice and pickles really brings out the flavors of the cheese. Although eating cheese like this may seem odd, I promise you that it’s actually quite amazing. I promise you will love it!

Serves ~5 as a side dish.

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz halloumi cheese, sliced (you can sometimes find this at a regular grocery store, but it will be cheaper purchasing at an International/Middle Eastern grocery store)
  • Lebanese vinegar pickles (you can find an International/Middle Eastern grocery store – American style pickles should not be substituted for these)
  • 5 plum tomatoes, sliced
  • 3-4 tbsp lemon juice
  • oregano
  • sea salt

Begin by layering the the sliced tomatoes and pickles onto your serving dish.

Heat a non-stick pan on medium/high heat and spray with cooking spray. Once hot, add the sliced halloumi to the pan. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side, until lightly browned.

Once the cheese is cooked, place on top of the tomatoes and pickles. Drizzle the lemon juice evenly over top with a sprinkling of oregano and sea salt. Serve immediately after cooking the cheese tastes best when warm.

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Korean BBQ Pulled Pork Tacos.

Crock Pot Korean Barbecue Pulled Pork Tacos With Honey-Sesame Slaw.

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I am a recent crock pot owner and this was the very first dish that I cooked with it! I was really excited to make a pulled pork because I never have before and cooking big pieces of meat can be intimidating to me, but since crock pots are basically fool-proof, I was excited to see how it would turn out. Living in the South, we see a lot of classic pulled pork, so I wanted to make pulled pork with a bit of a twist and went with an Asian flare. The meat turned out perfectly and flavors of the sauce were amazing. Super easy to make and beyond delicious. The crunch and tang of the slaw topped on the juicy meat made for a perfect taco. I cannot get over how easy a crock pot makes things!

Adapted from this recipe.

Makes ~15-20 small tacos.

Ingredients:

~Korean Barbecue Pulled Pork

  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup tamari
  • 4 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 4 tbsp ketchup
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 4 tbsp hoisin sauce (found in the International/Asian isle of the grocery store)
  • 2 tsp crushed chili paste (found in the International/Asian isle of the grocery store)
  • 2 tbsp chopped or crushed garlic
  • 2 tbsp chopped or crushed ginger
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 5-6 lb pork butt, bone in
  • 20 small, soft corn tortillas

~Honey-Sesame Slaw

  • 5 loosely packed cups shredded/thinly sliced green cabbage (about 1 large head of green cabbage or you coulud also buy pre-shredded cole slaw mix)
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • 3 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup tamari
  • 1 tbsp chopped or crushed ginger
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp sesame seeds

Begin by making the barbecue sauce. In a mixing bowl, add the water, tamari, rice vinegar, ketchup, honey, toasted sesame oil, hoisin sauce, chili paste, garlic, ginger and whisk well to combine.

Add the sliced onion to the bottom of the crock pot and put the pork butt on top. Pour roughly 1/3 of the sauce over top of the pork so it has an even coating. Turn the crock pot on high and cook for 8-9 hours. Save the remainder of the sauce for later.

After the pork has finished cooking, remove the meat from the slow cooker onto a large plate or cutting board. Use a strainer to drain the liquid from the bottom of the crock pot, keeping the onions and adding them back into the slow cooker. Remove the bone from the pork butt (it should come right off) and also remove any visible fat. Use two forks to shred the meat and then add the it back into the slow cooker with the onions. Pour the remaining barbecue sauce onto the meat and mix well. Put the crock pot on warm to keep the meat hot while serving.

To make the slaw, begin by making the dressing by mixing the rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil, tamari, honey and ginger in a small bowl and whisking together. Put the cabbage and green onion in a serving bowl and pour the dressing over top along with the sesame seeds, tossing well to combine all the ingredients.

The corn tortillas are best when warm, so I recommend wrapping them in tin foil and putting in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes prior to serving.

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Mexican Street Corn Dip.

Roasted Corn Dip With Sour Cream, Lime, Cojita Cheese & Jalapeño.

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Mexican street corn is a type of street food that is popular in Mexico and throughout the US. The dish typically consists of corn on the cob coated in mayonnaise or sour cream, cheese, salt, lime and other seasonings. I wanted to make this for our recent housewarming party, but since corn on the cob can be difficult and messy to eat, I decided to take the main ingredients of Mexican street corn and turn it into a dip for easy eating. Luckily, the concept worked and the dip turned out delicious. It retained the same flavors and feel of street corn and tasted great with corn chips.

Serves ~8-10.

Ingredients:

  • 32 oz frozen sweet corn, thawed
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup grated or crumbled cojita cheese
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1/4 cup mild pickled jalapeño slices, chopped
  • sea salt, to taste
  • smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • corn or tortilla chips

Begin by roasting the corn. Spread the thawed corn out evenly on a large baking sheet and drizzle the olive oil over top along with a dash of sea salt and a light dusting of smoked paprika. Cook in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes. Once cooked, put the roasted corn into a large mixing bowl and set aside to cool.

Once the corn has cooled to room temperature, add the sour cream, lime juice, chopped jalapeño, cojita cheese and season with another dash of smoked paprika and sea salt. Mix well to combine. When serving, top with a little sprinkling of paprika and cojita cheese and serve corn or tortilla chips.

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Mind-Blowing Mushroom Pizza.

Baby Bella & Cremini Mushroom Pizza With Creamy Herbed Goat Cheese & Crispy Pancetta.

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This pizza is made of some of my favorite things and the end result is so, so good. Instead of sauce, the base of the pizza is a creamy spread made of tangy goat cheese, subtly sweet mascarpone and flavorful herbs. The mushrooms add an earthy and rich flavor and the pancetta… well, bacon makes everything better. I can’t wait to make this again… mmmmm!

~1 pizza makes about 9 small pieces and serves about 6 as an appetizer or 3-4 as a main dish.

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz fresh pizza dough (I bought pre-made but you could also make your own)
  • 4 oz soft goat cheese (room temperature to soften)
  • 4 oz mascarpone cheese (room temperature to soften)
  • large handful fresh dill, chopped
  • large handful fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 oz diced pancetta, uncooked
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt/pepper to taste

Begin by cooking the mushrooms. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large pan on medium heat and add in the mushrooms. Cook for about 15 minutes or so, stirring around often, until the mushrooms have softened and turned a brown color. Season with a dash of salt and pepper.

In a small pan, cook the pancetta on medium-high heat (do not add any oil) and cook for about 5 minutes until the pancetta is crispy. Once cooked, drain the pancetta on paper towel to remove the excess grease and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix the goat cheese, mascarpone, dill, parsley together with a dash of salt/pepper and stir well to combine.

Roll the pizza dough out to create your desired flat bread shape (I went for a rectangular shape) and put the dough on a greased, non-stick baking sheet or pizza pan.

Now the fun part – time to assemble the pizza! Start by spreading a generous coat of the goat cheese mixture on top of the dough and then layer on the mushrooms and pancetta. Finish with the Parmesan cheese over top and cook in a 375 degree oven for about 25 minutes, or until the crust is lightly browned and the top is melty.

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