Blog Archives

Free-For-All Friday: Baked Pears With Blue Cheese, Walnuts and Honey

I don’t really eat dessert. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate it, because I love me some chocolate. But it’s just not something I consume — or make — very often.

My very good friend Annie was helping me brainstorm some ideas for blog posts and she suggested a fall-type dessert, a sort of teaser for the impending season.

We came up with baked pears with blue cheese and honey, and walnuts for texture (and because I had some in my freezer patiently waiting to be used up).

Delicious on their own. Dynamite when combined.

Delicious on their own. Dynamite when combined.

This recipe is super simple and a crowd-pleaser, perfect for when you want to impress company. Pears are in season and you can choose a local honey to showcase on this dish. It’s a savory dessert with enough sweetness to leave that tooth of yours satisfied.

And let’s be honest, you can never go wrong with blue cheese. Even for dessert.

Baked Pears with Blue Cheese, Walnuts and Honey

Serves 4

What You Need

  • 2 Bartlett or Anjour Pears, halved and cored
  • EVOO, for drizzling
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2-3 Tbsp. blue cheese, crumbled (reach for the good stuff)
  • 2-3 Tbsp. walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • Your favorite honey, for drizzling
  • Fresh thyme, optional

What You Do

  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. On a lined baking sheet, lay the pear halves cut-side up. Drizzle with EVOO and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. If using thyme, sprinkle the leaves on.IMG_6726
  3. Bake the pears for about 20 minutes.
  4. Take the pears out of the oven and fill each half with blue cheese. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes.IMG_6742
  5. Remove the pears from the oven and let sit for about 3 minutes. Add chopped walnuts on top and drizzle with honey. Serve one half to each guest.IMG_6744 IMG_6754
  6. Take a bite and realize how deliciously savory dessert can be.

Tips and Variations

  • Toast the walnuts beforehand in the oven for about 5 minutes, or on a stove top in a dry pan over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
  • Use pecans instead of walnuts.
  • Top off with dried cranberries for even more of a fall flavor
  • Sprinkle the pear with cinnamon or cardamom instead of salt and pepper before putting it in the oven for more of a sweet flavor.
  • Use pears that are ripe, but firm.
  • Skip the honey and make this an appetizer by serving it on top of arugula with a balsamic dressing.

IMG_6750

What’s your favorite fall flavor? Tell me in the comments!

Free-for-All Friday: Pesto, Change-O!

Sometimes, you just need a change. So you cut your hair (and subsequently cry about it), or dye it; you take a short road trip; you try out your hand at feng shui (the couch looks great in that corner, by the way); etc.

Well, I needed a change. It took me a while to think about what I wanted and then *pesto!* — it came to me.

IMG_6568

Normally, pesto is made with fresh basil leaves, toasted pine nuts, garlic and olive oil. But change was in the air.

Arugula is easily my favorite green (also called rocket) and I had tons in my fridge…. like three packs. It’s not a problem until you have four.

Pine nuts are delicious (I used them in Monday’s meatless recipe), but they’re also expensive. And the little voice in my head said “reach for the walnuts.” So I did.

IMG_6542

This pesto takes just 15 minutes to make, from start to finish, including all the prep work (and clean up). You don’t need a food processor, a mini chop will work just fine.

Pesto is something that each chef, cook, mom, kitchen-dominator makes their own. Tweak as necessary, and don’t be scared to stray away from the measurements. Use them as a guideline and make this arugula-walnut pesto yours.

Enjoy summer arugula in a new way. And tell basil not to worry, he’ll make an appearance soon enough.

Arugula-Walnut Pesto

Necessities

  • 2 handfuls of fresh wild arugula (roughly chopped if using a mini chop)
  • 1/2-3/4 cup raw walnuts, toasted
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic (to taste)
  • Half a lemon, juiced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan
  • EVOO

Assemble It

  1. In a mini chop or food processor, combine garlic, walnuts and arugula. Chop until well combined.IMG_6562 IMG_6564
  2. Add salt and pepper and then slowly add EVOO while mixing until desired consistency. If you’re using a mini chopper, you won’t be able to stream in the EVOO. Just add a tablespoon or two at a time and then chop until desired consistency.IMG_6566
  3. Add parmesan and lemon juice and blend again.
  4. Taste! If it needs salt, or more nuttiness, add ingredients as necessary. Make it your own.
  5. Add to any and everything — especially pasta. Oh, and lick the spoon. This stuff beats brownie batter by a mile.IMG_6571

Variations

  • Use toasted almonds
  • Roast your garlic for a more mellow flavor
  • Add red pepper flakes for some heat
  • Use lime juice instead of lemon juice
  • Try it out with different greens, like kale, for a boost of beneficial vitamins
  • Toss in some sun-dried tomatoes

IMG_6569

Meatless Monday: Warm Goat Cheese Salad with Pears and Walnuts

Last week when I was at the grocery store picking up my mozzarella for my risotto balls, I happened to glance in Goat Cheese’s direction.

Cheese of the goat

It was just sitting there, calling out for me. Some might call it fate. And what do you do with fate?

You fry it.

Exception to the rule

Now, I know last week I said fried food wasn’t really my thang, but that doesn’t include cheese. Cheese is always the exception.

Goat cheese is a “love-or-hate-it” kinda food. I happen to love the creamy, tangy, grassy cheese. LOVE. And I was flipping through my big Bon Appetit cookbook and stumbled upon this recipe.

It’s the perfect, decadent meal for Monday, because when everything else is miserable, at least your plate of food isn’t! (I’ve got a bad case of the Mondays, can you tell?)

Feel free to play around with it. The recipe calls for endive, but I just used a mixed green salad. I love endive, though, and think it’s a wonderful addition. Use pecans instead of walnuts or apples instead of pears. Use EVOO instead of walnut oil. Use panko instead of bread crumbs (I did!).

And if you’re serving this for more than one person, well, put an extra fried goat cheese round on top of your plate. You deserve it.

Happy eating!

What You Need (Serves 4):

  • 1 1/4 cup fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried
  • 11 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, cut into 8 rounds
  • 1 egg, beaten to blend
  • 2 tablespoons plus 3/4 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons walnut oil
  • 8 cups mixed baby greens
  • 2 heads Belgian endive, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 large ripe pears, peeled, cored, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts

What You Do

  1. Mix breadcrumbs and thyme in glass pie dish. Season goat cheese with salt and pepper. Dip cheese into beaten egg, then into breadcrumbs, coating completely. cover and refrigerate until ready to use. (Can be prepared 4 hours ahead.)
  2. Whisk vinegar and mustard in small bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in 1/2 cup oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Combine mixed greens, Belgian endive and pears in large bowl.
  3. Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add walnuts and sauté until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Transfer to plate using slotted spoon. Reduce heat to medium. Working in batches, add cheese rounds to skillet and cook until crisp and brown on outside and soft on inside, about 2 minutes per side.
  4. Toss salad with enough dressing to coat. Divide among 4 plates. Using metal spatula, place 2 cheese rounds in center of each salad. Sprinkle with walnuts.

Perfect Monday dinner

Wordless Wednesday: Pomegrantes

Click on the picture for Sunday's Sneak Peek Recipe

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 115 other followers

%d bloggers like this: