Gouda & Brussels Grilled Cheese

Like most lactose-tolerant Americans, cheese is a pretty large staple in my diet. The discovery of the Costco cheese selection entailing far more than my standard Tillamook cheddar has done nothing but enable this addition, but I’m not sad about it. Gouda, specifically smoked Gouda, is one of my favorites and I purchase it nearly as often as I do medium cheddar. The smokiness is perfect with burgers and sandwiches and as a snack, and it never takes us long to go through the pretty heft block.

Brussels & Gouda Grilled Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

The Brussels mac & cheese from a few weeks ago combined three of my favorite things: Gouda, Brussels sprouts, and carbs. Although I decided not to do a grilled cheese series this year, I felt this combination would be perfect for celebrating National Grilled Cheese Day, which is this coming Friday.

Garlic Brussels sprouts and smokey Gouda are possibly my favorite combination to-date and the veggies adds a smidge of health to this delightful meal. Gooey Gouda and crispy bread are always a lovely textural juxtaposition and this sandwich is no exception. I opted to use a few of my favorite Olivelle products in my creation but if your kitchen is not stocked with 2/3 of their store the standard versions work just great.

Brussels & Gouda Grilled Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

A little paprika adds a nice punch to the flavors without overpowering anything, but you can adjust up or down as preferred. With all the rich insides I kept my bread neutral and used my favorite seeded bread from a local bakery, On the Rise Bread Co. This robust wheat bread complemented everything nicely without being too complicated, and I’d recommend a similarly neutral whole wheat bread for this particular sandwich. For the meat-centric folks, some chopped bacon would go well, although I found it to be plenty delicious in its inherently vegetarian state.

Brussels & Gouda Grilled Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

My loaf was fairly narrow so you may need to adjust the sprouts and cheese accordingly if your slices are larger. In my opinion extra sautéed Brussels sprouts are not a problem so just add an extra to your pan and you’ll have a small appetizer of the leftovers that don’t fit.

If you’re cooking for a crowd, you can roast the Brussels in the oven and then cook the sandwiches in a bigger pan or griddle to get more done at once. With just one sandwich I didn’t want to turn on the oven but for a family it’s probably worth it to streamline the process.

Brussels & Gouda Grilled Cheese

 

Celebrate National Grilled Cheese Day this Friday with a fancy sandwich and take a classic up a notch. Brussels or Gouda not your thing? Check out some of my other options like Beet & Feta or Huckle-bacon Brie!

Gouda & Brussels Grilled Cheese

Makes one sandwich

Ingredients

1 Tbsp (Caramelized Garlic) olive oil, divided
3-4 Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 Tbsp minced red or yellow onion
1/4 tsp smoked paprika, to taste
pinch of (Hickory Smoked) sea salt, to taste

2 slices neutral wheat bread (I used On the Rise Seeded)
1/3 cup shredded smoked Gouda, to taste

Directions

  1. Add 2 tsp oil to medium pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the Brussels, garlic, onion, salt, and paprika.
  2. Sauté until Brussels are cooked through and lightly browned. Remove to a plate and set aside.
  3. Reduce to medium-low and heat remaining oil.
  4. Top one slice of bread with 1/3 of the cheese, sprouts, and another 1/3 of the cheese. Top the other bread slice with the remaining cheese.
  5. Transfer both slices open-face style to the pan. Cover with a lid and cook until bread is lightly browned.
  6. Flip the cheese bread atop top sprouts and cook an addition 30-60 seconds on each side to allow the filling to stick together.
  7. Serve immediately, optionally  topped with an additional sprinkle of paprika.

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Turmeric Lentil Soup

We’ve officially entered spring here in Montana, with sunny skies and temperatures in the 40s. I’m confident (and hopeful) we will still get a few snowstorms but I am also happy about clear roads and only needing light layers for bike commuting. While we wait for the inevitable heat to arrive, there is still time to enjoy a few more soup recipes.

Turmeric Lentil Soup {{Baking Bytes}}

With a bag of lentils in the pantry begging to be used up, and a hankering for the flavors of curry, this entree fit the bill perfectly. A light sweetness from the carrots is brightened in both color and flavor by the magic of turmeric, and a little heat from ginger and red pepper flakes rounds out every mouthful. Pureed soups can be a bit odd in texture, but the creaminess of the coconut milk balances it nicely. It is perfect topped with a scoop of rice and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, and gave my crafting buddies and an excuse to try making homemade naan. (Verdict: yum)

Turmeric Lentil Soup {{Baking Bytes}}

I doubled this recipe and put it in the slow cooker to avoid standing over the stove, but it comes together in less than 30 minutes in a pot. Leftovers are great and surprisingly versatile. You can continue on the bowl of soup method, of course, but it’s also excellent treated more as a sauce on a giant pile of rice (M’s preference), or for a Buddha bowl if you’re looking to amp up the produce and lighten the meal a bit.

As is, this recipe is completely vegan, but if you’re interested in a omnivorous protein boost, thinly sliced steak or chicken is a delicious addition. (M opted to grill it with a bit of curry powder, which turned out excellent.) For the vegetarian folks, it also pairs nicely with a fried or soft-boiled egg, and works just as well for breakfast in this fashion as it does dinner. Lastly, if you end up with just a bit left, whisk it with a little olive oil and use it as a fun salad dressing.

Turmeric Lentil Soup {{Baking Bytes}}

This recipe is quick and easy and, with the exception of fresh ginger, comprised entirely of ingredients we nearly always have on hand. Surprisingly filling and flavorful, I’m planning to add it to the repertoire all year long.

Carrot & Lentil Soup

Adapted from Budget Bytes
Servies 4-6

Ingredients

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1-2 Tbsp freshly grated ginger

1/2 Tbsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

3-4 carrots, chopped
1 cup lentils (uncooked)1
3-4 cups water2

1 (13.5oz) can coconut milk
1 tsp salt, to taste

1-2 cups jasmine rice, uncooked

Directions

  1. In a large pot over medium heat, warm the olive oil.
  2. Add onion, garlic, and ginger, and sauté until onions are softened and translucent.
  3. Stir in turmeric and red pepper, and cook for another minute.
  4. Add carrots, lentils and water. Bring to a boil and simmer on low heat until carrots are softened, 15-20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, cook the rice according to package directions.
  6. Stir in the coconut milk and salt and use an immersion blender to puree to desired texture.
  7. Taste add extra spices if necessary.
  8. For the slow cooker: optionally do steps 1-3 and then add all ingredients except coconut milk to the crock. Cook on high for 2-4 hours, then stir in coconut milk and puree as desired.
  9. Serve hot, with a side of rice and naan; refrigerate leftovers.

Notes

To help avoid slight greenish tinge you see in my soup, use red or yellow lentils.

For a thicker soup, use three or so cups of water. For a thinner soup (more akin to a curry), use the full four cups.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts Mac & Cheese

Macaroni and cheese, for me, is the epitome of comfort food. Hot, cheesy, and nostalgic, it’s something my mouth would happily every day. Typically, however, it’s not a particularly healthy meal so I don’t make it often. I have my childhood favorite, the Gruyere version already on here, but when I saw this slightly lighter and more vegetable-forward recipe I knew I had to try it.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts Mac & Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

Brussels sprouts are one of my favorite vegetables and since they go so well with everything, I knew they’d be an excellent addition to mac and cheese. Using this opportunity to christen the cast iron skillet I got on Black Friday, I made a few adjustments ended up with a recipe I might like even more than the one I grew up with.

Since I prefer the crispiness and light charring from the oven, I opted to roast my sprouts separately. This not only maintains the flavor profile I prefer, but allows you to make the streamline the process a little bit since you can start the sauce while they are baking. Cut them into bite-sized pieces (probably halves or quarters) and they will bake quite promptly.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts Mac & Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

With some homemade venison & pork Italian sausage in the freezer, and smoked Gouda in the fridge (thanks, Costco), I opted to incorporate both into this recipe. I love the creaminess of Gouda and the smokiness blends perfectly with the sausage. My version has a little kick, so with a bit of paprika added to the sauce the whole thing comes together very creamy and just a little spicy. The roasted sprouts bring a little color, a complementary flavor, and an extra nutrient boost to the whole dish.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts Mac & Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

Despite being slightly lightened with the use of almond milk, the sauce is still thick and creamy, just the way I like it. You can make your own with different spices, or keep it simple with just salt and pepper. I didn’t add any in this round, but I think some baby spinach would stir in nicely.

I topped mine with additional cheese and popped it under the broiler, but if I’m honest this step really didn’t feel necessary. You do you, but if you are crunched for time it’s 100% okay to skip it. (I will probably skip it in the future.) Alternatively, if you’re a die-hard crumb topping fan, you can finish the dish with that instead.

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The whole thing comes together in about 30 minutes, which makes it just as great for weeknights as it is for meal-prep days. If you have leftovers, it reheats great in the microwave with a splash of extra milk, remembering to stir a couple times to keep it creamy.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts Mac & Cheese {{Baking Bytes}}

PS – This recipe is easily made vegetarian; just skip the sausage and use 2 Tbsp butter or olive oil for the sauce instead.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts Mac & Cheese

Adapted from Ambitious Kitchen
Serves 4-6

Ingredients

8 ounces pasta of choice

1 lb Brussels sprouts, halved or quartered
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1/2 lb Italian sausage
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 whole wheat flour (or all-purpose)
2 cups milk (or unsweetened substitute, I used almond)
6 oz smoked Gouda, shredded (or cheese of choice)
1 tsp (smoked) paprika

optional toppings
2 oz smoked Gouda, shredded
freshly ground pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. On a baking sheet, add 2 Tbsp oil, garlic powder, and Brussels sprouts. Use your hands to toss until sprouts are well coated, then spread evenly on the pan.
  3. Bake 20-25 minutes, to desired crispiness. Set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, boil noodles to al dente according to your pasta’s directions. Drain and set aside.
  5. Also meanwhile, in an oven-safe skillet over medium heat, cook the sausage until browned. Remove the sausage to a paper towel and drain all but 2 Tbsp of the oils.
  6. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant.
  7. Whisk in the flour and continue to cook until a paste forms, about 30 seconds.
  8. Slowly stream in the milk, whisking constantly until smooth, then add the paprika.
  9. Increase the heat and bring to a boil, then reduce back to medium and simmer until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally.
  10. When the sauce has thickened like a gravy, stir in the cheese until completely melted. (Depending on the type of cheese, this can take a bit; cheddar melts much faster than Gouda.) Add additional spices as desired.
  11. Fold in the Brussels sprouts, sausage, and pasta until well mixed.
  12. Serve as is, or top with additional shredded cheese and broil until melted and golden.

Notes

Would also be great with some sautéed or fried spinach!

To reheat leftovers, add a splash of additional milk and heat in the microwave, stirring every minute or so, until creamy and hot.

Philly Cheesejoes (or Stuffed Peppers)

Every now and then I come across a recipe on Pinterest, make it within the week, and decide it’s now a regular staple. This is pretty rare not only because I very quickly forget about things, but also because it requires a level of timing such that I haven’t bulk-cooked anything super recently. This recipe from Dinner Then Dessert is one such example of everything working out nicely.

phillycheesejoes3

I am a big fan of cheesesteak sandwiches; they are my go-to order from Pickle Barrel here in Bozeman. Actually that’s a lie, they are literally the only thing I’ve ever ordered there. When I discovered you can get one extra topping for free, the additional bell peppers radicalized my world. (Possibly a slight exaggeration.)

phillycheesejoes1

However, they are not even a little healthy and often served in exorbitant quantities, so it’s not a meal I eat often. I did figure that being able to control the portions would be better, and so toyed with the idea of making them myself. In reality, thinly cutting steak for sandwiches sounded like way too much work so I put that thought on the backburner until I came across this genius idea of using burger instead.

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Much faster prep and cooking time with all the same delicious flavors. It’s also a bit easier to eat since there are no long pieces to bit through, and you can reheat it easily before putting it on your bun of choice. Wins all around.

Philly Cheese Peppers {{Baking Bytes}}

Since I discovered this recipe during my lower-carb endeavors, I also made a few into stuffed peppers for me. (M kindly let me photograph his sandwich before he ate it, with only minimal frowning.) This method is also super delicious, and easy to prepare in bulk. The built-in container makes it great for meal prep and reheats pretty well if you cut it in half first. (With mini peppers it’d also make a tasty appetizer.)

Philly Cheese Peppers {{Baking Bytes}}

Ooey, gooey, cheesy goodness abounds in this delightful entree, so warm your belly and your soul with these tasty sandwiches or peppers.

Philly Cheesejoes (or Stuffed Peppers)

Adapted from Dinner Then Dessert
Makes 6-8

Ingredients

1 lb ground elk, venison, or red meat of choice
2 Tbsp butter (or Sweet Cream Butter Olive Oil)
1 medium yellow onion, minced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
2 gloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp ketchup
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp Smoked Balsamic Vinegar (optional)
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp Kosher salt (or Spicy Bacon Sea Salt)

1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 cup cold beef broth (or 1 tsp Better than Bouillon Beef + 1 cup cold water)

8+ oz provolone cheese, diced (if doing stuffed peppers, reserve enough thin slices for garnish)

Directions

  1. In a large (cast-iron) skillet over medium heat, press the meat into the bottom of the pan.
  2. Let cook until a nice crust forms on the bottom of the meat, then break up and stir until at least 50% of the meat is cooked.
  3. Remove the meat (drain the pan if you wish), then add the butter.
  4. When the butter is melted (or oil is heated), add the onions and bell peppers and sauté until softened and onions are translucent.
  5. Return the meat to the pan and continue cooking until all the meat is cooked through.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together the broth and cornstarch until completely combined.
  7. Whisk in the ketchup, Worcestershire, and spices.
  8. Stir the sauce into the pan and let the mixture simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes.
  9. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese until nice and melty.
  10. Serve hot on toasted whole wheat hoagies with a side salad.

For stuffed peppers:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut the tops off 6-8 bell peppers and remove the seeds.
  3. Place in a baking dish with about 1/2 cup water and bake until softened to desired amount.
  4. Follow directions above, reserving thin slices of provolone if desired.
  5. Fill peppers with meat mixture, top with additional provolone and pepper, then broil on medium until cheese is melty and lightly browned. Serve hot!

Beet & Walnut Pesto Pizza

Throughout college it seemed every event boasted free pizza, and by the time I graduated I was approximately 110% over it. To this day, I have pizza through work often enough that I rarely crave it on my own and when I do, I want it to be very non-traditional. We are fortunate enough to have a number of excellent pizza places offering some truly different varieties, and luckily one of those is a place that can seat 16 people for lunch with almost no notice.

Beet & Walnut Pesto Pizza {{Baking Bytes}}

My favorite pizza there, to date, is a lamb sausage and fig concoction that does my favorite sweet and savory situation without being overwhelming on either one. I’ve yet to recreate this largely because I want it to remain special enough to order out, and also because fig jam is not high on my list of things to try. Last summer they suddenly switched their menu, removing my go-to and forcing me into trying something new. (I know, woe is me.) Fortunately, however, one of their summer options inspired a new favorite combo.

Beet & Walnut Pesto Pizza {{Baking Bytes}}

Beet and walnut pesto lends a lovely color and a unique flavor in lieu of a traditional red sauce, and truly brings it up to the next level. I topped mine with additional beets (because why not), thinly sliced sausage, and toasted walnuts. Goat cheese and spinach make a perfect garnish to round out the flavors and add a pop of color to the finished meal.

Beet & Walnut Pesto {{Baking Bytes}}

Homemade pesto is shockingly easy and now that I have my own food processor (thanks, parents!) I will surely be making more of it this summer. This particular recipe is a wonderful fall or winter version, and a perfect accompaniment to unique sandwiches, quesadillas, and of course, pizzas. The beet flavor is not overly strong, with may appeal better to the more skeptical folks in the audience, but for the beet loves it means you get to top it with even more beets. Win-win for everyone.

Beet & Walnut Pesto Pizza {{Baking Bytes}}

I used a blood orange olive oil from Olivelle for my pesto, but you can substitute a standard one if needed. Considering adding just a smidge of extra lemon juice or orange extract to pump up the citrus level a little bit, but it’ll still be delicious (and pretty!)

Beet & Walnut Pesto {{Baking Bytes}}

I enjoyed the savory aspect of the sausage added here, but for a vegetarian option you could use salted nuts instead. Goat cheese adds a nice tang while the mozzarella offers the gooey cheesy experience we all know and love. Altogether, it’s a sweet and savory combination that is truly different than your average pizza.

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Beet & Walnut Pesto Pizza

Adapted from Honest Cooking
Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients

beet walnut pesto
1 rounded cup cooked beets1
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 – 2/3 cup freshly grated parmesan
1 oz Blood Orange Olive Oil (or regular)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp whole dried rosemary
1/4 tsp Vanilla Bean Sea Salt (or regular)

for the pizzas
4 personal-sized pizza crusts (or one regular)
1/2 cup beet walnut pesto
1 cup freshly grated mozzarella
1 medium beet, roasted and diced1
1-2 sausages, cooked and thinly sliced (optional)
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped

1/2 cup baby spinach
4 oz goat cheese
fresh rosemary
freshly ground pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat over to 450 degrees (or as directed for your dough.)
  2. Add all pesto ingredients to a food processor and blend until all ingredients are combined. Adjust consistency with additional oil if desired.
  3. For the pizzas, spread crust evenly with pesto and top with half the mozzarella.
  4. Arrange beets, sausage, and toasted walnuts on the pizza, then top with remaining mozzarella.
  5. Bake as directed, minus about five minutes, or until crust is beginning to crisp and the mozzarella is melty.
  6. Sprinkle pizzas with goat cheese and rosemary, and arrange a few leaves of spinach across the top.
  7. Bake an additional 5 minutes or until goat cheese is warmed through and spinach is lightly wilted.
  8. Serve hot with freshly ground pepper and a glass of wine.

Notes

If you’re short on time or hate dyeing everything pink, there is no shame in using the pre-cooked variety! Our Costco carries them in packages of ~5 which is just perfect for a batch of pesto and a couple of pizzas.