I just finished my easiest holiday shopping ever.
What makes it so easy you ask? Melina’s olive oil gift sets for all of our loved ones this year! No matter the level of culinary expertise, these little four packs of flavored olive oils are sure to please. I distinctly remember the first time I tasted real olive oil. I was in Italy in college and it was my first night, in a plaza in Milan. The complexity of the flavors and the, well goodness, of it is something I’ll never forget. I definitely have Italy flashbacks when I have Melina’s olive oil. I’m so excited to share that experience this holiday season!
I’m in love with Melina’s Pepperino chili pepper, garlic & rosemary infused olive oil. Pat and I have been using it like crazy! I finally had a weekend off after two straight weeks in the hospital and we celebrated by having a lazy morning at home, complete with breakfast. We made this spicy goat cheese and sweet potato egg skillet and elevated it a notch with a splash of Pepperino olive oil. I’ve been using it instead of my normal olive oil whenever I get a chance. It has the perfect amount of heat without that in-your-face sensation that adding hot sauce gives.
- ½ tsp Melina’s Pepperino olive oil
- ½ small onion, diced
- 1 T. smoked paprika
- 1 tsp. turmeric
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ⅓ c. water
- 1 sweet potato, in ½” cubes
- Handful of cremini mushrooms
- 2 eggs
- 2 ounces goat cheese
- Cilantro to garnish
- In a large skillet, heat pepperino olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, 4-5 minutes.
- Stir in paprika and turmeric and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in water.
- Stir in sweet potatoes, over with lid and let cook about 4 minutes.
- Add mushrooms. Cook covered until sweet potatoes are almost tender.
- Make a small well in the center and crack eggs. Sprinkle goat cheese on top. Cover and cook until egg whites are set.
Melina’s Gourmet Giveaway
Melina’s Gourmet is giving away one olive oil gift set to a lucky Running Blonde reader!
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This post if brought to you by Melina’s Gourmet Olive Oils! Thanks for supporting the sponsors that keep me running!
Have you heard of Cook’s Illustrated? They are my go-to recipe source when I want exceptional results and delicious recipes. Cook’s Illustrated is the brainchild of a bunch of science nerds who love to cook – just like me. They perfect basic recipes – like pie crust or Thanksgiving turkey – through countless recipe “experiments” until they have the ultimate of whatever dish you’re looking for. They come up with innovative techniques to fix a typical recipe flaw – like with this recipe for vegetarian lasagna. Typical vegetarian lasagna has a variety of issues, from soggy veggies to goopy ricotta. This recipe of theirs fixes that, by precooking the veggies and replacing ricotta with tangy cottage cheese.
I don’t normally share Cook’s Illustrated recipes on the blog, as it is a paid subscription service. I’m making an exception with this post to share one of my favorite recipes for their vegetarian lasagna because I want to spread the word about this awesome resource for chefs of all experience levels! I am absolutely not affiliated with Cook’s Illustrated in any way – other than being their biggest fan! Check it out here.
- No-Cook Tomato Sauce
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- ¼ c. chopped fresh basil
- 2 T. olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
- No-Cook Cream Sauce
- 2 c. (4 oz.) grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 c. cottage cheese
- 1 c. heavy cream
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp. cornstarch
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- ½ tsp. pepper
- Vegetable Filling
- 1½ lb. eggplant, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes (about 7 c.)
- ¼ tsp. kosher salt
- ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
- 1 pound zucchini, cut into ½-inch pieces (about 4 c.)
- 1 pound yellow squash, cut into ½-inch pieces (about 4 c.)
- 5 T. plus 1 tsp olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 T. minced fresh thyme
- 12 oz. baby spinach (about 12 c.)
- 12 no-boil lasagna noodles
- ½ c. minced pitted kalamata olives
- 12 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese (about 3 c.)
- 2 T. chopped fresh basil
- Make the No-Cook Tomato Sauce: Whisk all ingredients together in bowl; set aside.
- Make the No-Cook Cream Sauce: Whisk all ingredients together in bowl; set aside.
- Make the Lasagna Filling: Toss eggplant with 1 teaspoon salt in large bowl. Line surface of large plate with double layer of coffee filters or paper towels and lightly spray with vegetable oil spray.
- Spread eggplant in even layer over filters. Wipe out and reserve now-empty bowl. Microwave eggplant, uncovered, until dry to touch and slightly shriveled, about 10 minutes, tossing once halfway through to ensure that eggplant cooks evenly. Let cool slightly.
- Return eggplant to bowl and toss with zucchini and squash.
- Combine 1 T. oil, garlic, and thyme in small bowl. Heat 2 T. oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.
- Add half eggplant mixture, salt and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are lightly browned, about 7 minutes. Push vegetables to sides of skillet; add half of garlic mixture to clearing and cook, mashing with spatula, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir to combine garlic mixture with vegetables and transfer to medium bowl. Repeat with remaining eggplant mixture, 2 tablespoons oil, and remaining garlic mixture.
- Return skillet to medium-high heat, add remaining teaspoon oil, and heat until shimmering. Add spinach and cook, stirring frequently, until wilted, about 3 minutes. Transfer spinach to paper towel–lined plate and drain 2 minutes. Stir into eggplant mixture.
- Spray 13 by 9-inch baking dish with vegetable oil spray. Spread 1 cup tomato sauce in bottom of baking dish; shingle 4 noodles on top of sauce. Spread half of vegetable mixture over noodles, followed by half of olives, half of cream sauce, and 1 cup of mozzarella. Repeat layering with 4 noodles, 1 cup tomato sauce, remaining vegetables, remaining olives, remaining cream sauce, and 1 cup mozzarella. Place remaining 4 noodles on top layer of cheese. Spread remaining 1 cup tomato sauce over noodles and sprinkle with remaining 1 cup mozzarella.
- Lightly spray large sheet of aluminum foil with vegetable oil spray and cover lasagna. Bake for 35 minutes at 375F on the middle rack of your oven, until bubbling. Cool on wire rack 25 minutes. Cut into pieces, sprinkle with basil, and serve.
Today I want to share another recipe for homemade granola with you. This recipe was originally featured on one of my favorite healthy recipes, Rabbit Food for My Bunny Teeth, but I thought I would also post it here.
You’ve probably heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It’s true! An important part of your important breakfast is getting healthy protein so your body has energy to do everything you demand of it. Thanks to the pecans and almonds, this granola is protein packed. Plus, it features one of my favorite superfoods – chia seeds. These little wonders are rich in omega-3′s and fiber. This means they will help your heart and keep you feeling full all morning long.
Every time I share a granola recipe, I give a little homemade granola spiel. It goes something like this – granola is one of the most flexible and most forgiving recipes ever. It’s easy to make substitutions based on your dietary needs and what you have around the home. If you are gluten intolerant, make sure you buy gluten free oats. If you are vegan, use maple syrup instead of honey. You can use any type of nut from pepitas to walnuts and any type of dried fruit. There are a few secrets to perfectly toasted granola – make sure you spread the granola out on your baking sheet evenly and not too thick. To get clusters of granola, after removing it from the oven when it is still warm, use your hands to press it gently into clumps.
Protein Packed Chia Seed Granola
- 3 cups old fashioned oats
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1 cup chopped almonds
- 3 Tbsp chia seeds
- 1 Tbsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup dried fruit (I used cranberries)
- ¼ cup honey
- 3 Tbsp melted coconut oil
- ¾ tsp vanilla
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- Combine the oats, pecans, chia seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
- Stir in the dried fruit
- Stir in the honey, coconut oil and vanilla
- Spread evenly on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper and bake at 300F for 30 minutes, stirring halfway. Toss, sprinkle with the shredded coconut and bake another 5 minutes.
The end of September is approaching, but here in Northern California we are just starting to get our “summer” weather. I’m 95% thankful to have left the hot and muggy summers of Wisconsin far behind, but there’s still that remaining 5% that misses it as I sit here tapping away at my computer well before sunrise, wrapped up in a fleece blanket. No matter how nice it gets during the day in San Francisco, there will just never be one of those warm summer nights where you can sit at an outdoor table in a sundress with bare legs and bare shoulders. Le Sigh. It also doesn’t help that we live in a garden level (aka basement, aka one wall of windows) apartment in the Outer Sunset (aka fog belt of the foggiest city in the country).
Yesterday, I took the first part of a 14 hour exam that marks the end of the licensing process for me to become a ‘real’ physician. For USMLE Step 3, we’re all working full (or twice full) time jobs, so the expectation is to study a little, when you can and to just pass. Even so, for the last few days that I’ve been studying, I’ve completely slipped back into medical student mode. It’s so easy to forget that crushing anxiety and guilt that comes about doing anything but preparing for a big exam. Now that I have a big girl job, my nights and days off are mostly my own. That means I don’t have to feel guilty about watching the new season of The Mindy Project (love her!) or making and photographing a batch of strawberry jam for Running Blonde. During my entirety of medical school, there was this teeny black cloud of doubt and guilt that cast a shadow over most of life’s pleasures. “Do I really have time to enjoy myself like this right now? That big cardiology exam is just a week away….” I guess being back in that mind space makes me grateful that now I can separate work and life most days.
Ok, bleh. Back to more fun and interesting things, like saving the last of summer’s bounty in the form of this recipe for Old Fashioned Strawberry Jam. This recipe is pectin-free, as the seeds from the strawberries release a natural form of pectin to help this recipe ‘jell-up’. The recipe is easy, super-spreadable and delicious! Don’t be intimidated by canning. All you need are some mason jars and a big pot. There is also no reason to can this recipe if you plan to eat it within a few weeks of making it. Just keep it in the fridge after it’s finished.
Something that’s always on my mind when I’m working with fresh produce is the unseen chemicals and contaminants that are on the fruits and veggies that I buy. I make an effort to buy organic produce, both to keep myself and the environment healthier, but even so, it’s hard to know what is really on that innocent-appearing pint of strawberries. The way I think about it, pesticides are made to last through rainstorms, so how good can running water over your produce really be?
Jessica Alba started The Honest Company because she had similar worries about what she was putting on and in herself and her loved ones. The Honest Company sent me a bottle of their Fruit + Veggie Wash for me to review and I’m crazy for it. It naturally cuts through chemical residues and wax to get your produce truly clean. I can actually see the difference before and after. Because I tend to get lazy when I’m hungry, I make it a point to use my Fruit + Veggie Wash as soon as I get home from the farmer’s market or grocery store. Everything gets rinsed and sprayed down and left to dry for a few hours before I put stuff away in the fridge. That way, when I’m in the mood for a snack, everything is ready! Their Fruit + Veggie Wash is just one of the many Honest Company products that are now part of our routine at home.
- 2 lb. fresh strawberries, hulled
- 4 c. sugar
- ¼ c. lemon juice
- In a mixing bowl, crush strawberries in batches until you have 4 cups of mashed berries.
- In a heavy bottomed saucepan, mix together the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved.
- Increase heat to high, and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil, stirring often, until the mixture reaches 220 degrees F (105 degrees C).
- Transfer to hot sterile jars, leaving ¼ to ½ inch headspace, and seal. Process in a water bath.
- If the jam is going to be eaten right away, don’t bother with processing, and just refrigerate.
This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase at The Honest Company using these links, I get a small percentage of your purchase at no cost or extra effort to you! Thanks for supporting the brands that keep me running!
I’ve been sitting on this apricot quinoa granola recipe for wayyy too long, especially considering how good it is! Thanks to the gentle urging of some recent houseguests (thanks guys!), I’ve dusted off the recipe and have it ready to share on the blog!
It’s no secret that I’m a huge homemade granola fan. This recipe is unique because it has quinoa in it! When I think of quinoa, I think of a superfood that makes for a perfect summer salad dish or as a substitute for rice to make a dish healthier. When I was browsing the bulk granola section at my local co-op (where I get many of my granola inspirations), I noticed quinoa in a mix and new I had to try it! I have to say I was really pleased with the results. It’s a great way to add healthy protein to your breakfast and it adds a really interesting crunch.
Apricot Quinoa Granola Recipe
- 2 c. old-fashioned oats
- 1 c. quinoa (uncooked)
- 1 c. roughly-chopped pecans
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 c. dried apricots, chopped
- ¼ c. honey
- 2 T. coconut oil, melted
- 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- Combine and mix the oats, quinoa, pecans, salt, apricots, and cinnamon in a large bowl.
- Stir in the honey and coconut oil
- Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 20 minutes at 325F. Stir once halfway. Sprinkle coconut over and return to oven for 5 minutes.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool on baking sheet. To create clusters in your granola, when it is still warm, press handfuls of granola gently together.
- As with all of my granola recipes, this recipe is completely customizable and flexible! Swap our your favorite nut instead of pecans, or use a different dried fruit than apricot. I’m always changing the recipe based on what I have around the house!
I originally shared this recipe for how to make homemade Greek Yogurt on my friend Kinsey’s blog.The trick to delicious homemade yogurt is starting out with good ingredients. You only need two things – milk and a yogurt starter. I use organic whole milk to ensure I am making a high quality product. Whole milk makes the yogurt thicker and so much more decadent, but you can also use low-fat milk. You should choose a yogurt that tastes good to you, as it will determine how your final product will taste. Make sure your yogurt has live active cultures and is unsweetened.
For me, the trickiest thing about making homemade yogurt is that I have to be home for at least five hours to control the temperature! Luckily, yogurt is very forgiving. To keep the mixture at the required 110-115 degrees, I put it in a crockpot with the lid off on the “warm” setting and perch a thermometer on the edge. When it starts to get too hot, I just turn the crockpot off. It’s important to not move or stir the yogurt while it is incubating, as this can interrupt the process. Because I usually start when I get home from work, I leave the mixture in the crockpot overnight and then put it in the fridge when I wake up in the morning. Because the yogurt lasts for two weeks in the fridge, I usually make a larger batch using a gallon of milk.
Greek yogurt is special because it is strained to remove the whey. This makes it thicker and creamier! There are many different ways to strain the yogurt without having to buy special equipment. I talk more about that below.
How to Make Homemade Greek Yogurt
- 4 c. milk
- 3 T. unsweetened yogurt with live active cultures
- Food thermometer
- Mesh strainer, cheesecloth or paper coffee filters
- In a large pot, heat the milk until it reaches at least 180° F, stirring occasionally.
- Once the mixture reaches 180° F, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool to 110° to 115° F. You can speed the cooling process by plunging it into an ice bath – I use my sink.
- Combine one cup of warmed milk with your yogurt and stir gently to combine. Add this mixture back to the large batch of heated milk.
- For the next 5 to 10 hours, depending on desired flavor and consistency, keep the yogurt between 110° and 115° F. You can get creative with how you do this. As I mention above, I use a crock-pot with the thermometer tucked along the side. You could also use a thermos or an oven with just the pilot light on. They key is to check it often. The longer you incubate the yogurt, the thicker and tarter it becomes. Do not stir the yogurt during incubation.
- Cover the yogurt and refrigerate at least two hours before eating or straining to make Greek yogurt. If whey (liquid milk protein) separates out, just drain it off or stir it back in before eating.
- Straining the yogurt: Greek yogurt is thicker and creamier because the whey is removed before eating. This can be accomplished in a number of ways. I have a fine mesh strainer that I load up over a mixing bowl in the fridge overnight. You can also strain it through a couple layers of cheesecloth or even two paper coffee filters taped over a small bowl! No fancy equipment needed!
You can add just about anything to your yogurt to suit your preferences. For me, a drizzle of honey with some almonds and berries is the perfect finish. You could also try to add a few spoonfuls of your favorite jam.