Herb Goat Cheese Toasts with Roasted Tomatoes & Red Onion

Herb Goat Cheese Toasts with Roasted Tomatoes & Red Onion

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It’s been about 10 days since my last blog post and I couldn’t be happier to get back in the groove. Since coming back to NYC after a fabulous vaca in my hometown of St. Louis, life has seemed a bit crazier than normal. Maybe it was a few days without cooking gas and hot water (long story), maybe it was the inevitable homesickness that comes after going back home and spending time with my parents, or maybe it was an abnormal amount of items on my to do list last week. Most likely, it was a combination of all three and I was in need of a recharge. You see, I’m a creature of habit and routine makes me feel in control. So because routine is hard to come by as an adult, if I’m feeling a bit out of control, I need to center myself by refocusing on the things in my life that are routine. Thank goodness for Saturday, it was just what the doc ordered.

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Matt spent most of the day playing golf this past Saturday which gave me the day to gain some control. Morning yoga, lots of iced coffee, a trip to the farmers market and quality time in the kitchen. Amazing. But the most amazing part? The simply scrumptious goat cheese and veggie topped toasts I made for lunch using fresh and local bread from the farmers market. The flavors in these toasts are out of control. Tangy goat cheese, sweet basil, bright roasted cherry tomatoes and slow cooked red onion come together to create a total masterpiece. And so simple too!

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I’ve been thinking a lot about simplicity lately. I actually think about simplifying my life quite often. Whether my apartment or my wardrobe, it’s definitely a work in progress but I try to take steps toward decluttering and cleansing whenever possible. But recently I’ve been thinking a lot about simplifying my food and recipes. Don’t get me wrong, I love a complicated recipe that takes hours of time and loads of energy. After all, the kitchen is my happy place. But I really want to come up with delicious and wholesome meals that require less ingredients and less work. I can see my future and it’s going to be busier than ever, so I really have no choice but to start now to come up with lots of easy go-to dishes that allow me a little time in the kitchen to decompress while also getting healthy, clean food on the table quickly and seamlessly.

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Making a toast (aka an open face sandwich) is the perfect base for a simple dish. You can really top a good quality slice of bread with any combination of flavors. It’s kind of like a pizza, kind of like a sandwich, so what’s not to love? This recipe for Herb Goat Cheese Toasts with Roasted Tomatoes and Red Onion is the first of many toast recipes and the perfect dish to kick off my effort to create delicious and simple recipes for when life gets crazy.

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Herb Goat Cheese Toasts with Roasted Tomato & Red Onion
Servings: 4   Start to Finish: 45 minutes

Ingredients

1 pint Cherry Tomatoes
2 cloves Garlic, peeled & minced
Olive Oil
Sea Salt
1 large Red Onion
8 ounces Plain Goat Cheese
1/3 cup fresh Basil Leaves
4 thick Slices Fresh Bread (I love the whole wheat Peasant Round Loaf from Baker’s Bounty)

To Make

Remove goat cheese from fridge to soften.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut tomatoes in half. In a bowl, toss tomatoes with chopped garlic, 1 teaspoon olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Spread tomatoes out onto baking sheet in a single, closely packed layer. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven, toss, and bake again for another 30-35 minutes.

When the tomatoes go in the oven, start caramelizing the onion. Slice onion into half moon slices (1/4″ to 1/2″). Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a medium skillet. Add onions, toss to coat with oil and to separate the layers. Cook for about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low or medium-low. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 2 tablespoons water to onion. Cook for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and sweet. Add a tablespoon or two of water if the onions are getting too dry.

While tomatoes and onions cook, mix goat cheese with chopped basil leaves. Set aside. When tomatoes and onions are cooked, remove from heat to cool. Drizzle one side of each bread slice with 1/2 teaspoon oil and a pinch of salt. Toast in toaster oven or under broiler until lightly golden and crisp.

To assemble toasts, spread each slice of bread with 1/4 of the herbed goat cheese mixture. Divide tomatoes and onions evenly over toasts. Serve cold, warm or at room temp. Garnish with more fresh basil.

Road Tripping Foodie: NYC to Burlington, Vermont

Road Tripping Foodie: NYC to Burlington, Vermont

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To celebrate our 2 year anniversary, Matt and I planned a 3-day road trip to Burlington, Vermont. Burlington is home to the University of Vermont, where Matt went to college, and has become one of my favorite cities. It’s not too big, not too small, and there are plenty of vegetarian-foodie-approved-eats. So we took the day off work set out at 8:30 on Friday morning, bagels and iced coffees in tow, for our weekend adventure.

Friday Stop 1: Hanover, New Hampshire (Dartmouth College)
Hanover is right on the border of Vermont and New Hampshire along highway 91. We entered from the highway, greeted by a beautiful park overlooking a dreamy lake landscape. The main street is small, but the uniform brick buildings make it feel quaint and friendly. I had done some research, so we already knew we were heading to a Dartmouth classic for lunch, Molly’s Restaurant. Molly’s was a great decision. The restaurant is huge, and we got a good look at the hard-working brick ovens as we headed to the outdoor back patio. On a perfectly sunny day like this, we were in heaven. And then the bread basket came out. OMG. Warm, crusty, and soft. It was divine. Good start, Molly’s. I ordered a brick oven pizza with fresh tomatoes, spinach, broccoli, and caramelized onions, and we split a garden salad with ranch dressing. The menus was extensive and offered many vegetarian options, but when pizza is in the mix, it’s pretty much a given. The pizzas were as good as to be expected at a restaurant that offers only homemade dressings (a major teller that I always look for). Bellies full and happy, we made our way back to the car, but not before stopping at a cute clothing boutique, Bella, and taking a quick tour of the tiny campus.

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Friday Stop 2: Cabot, Vermont – Cabot Cheese Factory
From Hanover we headed to Cabot, Vermont where, you guessed it, Cabot cheddar cheese is made. We arrived at around 4pm, just in time to take the last tour of the day, sample all you can eat cheese (including an Everything Bagel Cheddar), and buy a few goodies at the store. The tour was totally awesome and although I loved Cabot cheese before this, I have a whole new love now. Cabot is a co-op, owned by the select north-east farmers who provide the milk. Their facilities are clean and their staff friendly and passionate. We learned that cheddar is supposed to be white, and that yellow cheese is dyed (at Cabot it’s dyed yellow naturally). The reason for making yellow cheese goes back to colonial times. Americans making cheese would color it yellow so that consumers were able to differentiate it from British-made cheddar. Now days, it’s the expected color of cheddar. Also, I learned that Cabot cheese is made using vegetable rennet (as opposed to animal rennet), making all Cabot cheeses 100% vegetarian. The whole experience at Cabot was perfect and I highly recommend visiting if you have the opportunity.

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Friday Final Stop: Burlington, Vermont – North Beach Camp Grounds
For this trip we decided to camp at a Burlington campground, partly because it’s a lot cheaper than a hotel, but also because we love camping. Located on Lake Champlain and just a 30-minute walk to downtown Burlington, North Beach Camp Ground was so much fun.This type of camping is known as “urban camping”, getting to experience both the great outdoors and the entertainment of a lively, small city. And because NBCG is right on the lake, we also got some solid sand and swim time. This isn’t private camping, the sites are pretty close together, but we expected that so we were not at all disappointed. By them time we checked in and set up camp we were exhausted, so we ate a delicious meal that we brought with us, Greek Pita Stacks with hummus, tzatziki, taboule, and feta cheese. The pita, hummus, and tzatziki were made from scratch, while I took a shortcut for the taboule, using Near East brand (it’s my favorite!). This is a great camping meal because it’s tasty, healthy, hearty and prepared completely in advance.

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Saturday: Campfire Breakfast, Beach Time, Exploring Burlington
For breakfast we ate another great camping meal. Lightly toasted whole wheat organic english muffins topped with avocado, Cabot cheddar, and sliced hard boiled eggs. Easy, delicious, and packable. We then headed to the beach before making the scenic walk along the lake into downtown Burlington for lunch and shopping. Matt chose the lunch spot located on Church Street (the main drag of downtown which is pedestrian access only). Red Onion is a casual, gourmet sandwich shop featuring sandwiches stacked on their extremely thick slices of homemade bread. My delicious and huge sandwich was made with soft sourdough bread, fresh spinach, raw mushroom slices, onion, mayo, and melty cheese.

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Saturday Night: Mexican Feast in Downtown Burlington
After some r&r at the campsite, we headed back to downtown Burlington for dinner via Uber (good move…cheap and fast). We put our names in at El Cortijo, a farm-to-table, very casual mexican diner with absolutely delicious, fresh food. While we waited, we walked a few minutes to a couple Heady Toppers (a beloved Vermont double IPA) at a dive bar on Church Street. The outside seating, people watching, and great beer made for a very enjoyable pre-dinner drink. When we finally sat down to dinner, we didn’t hold back. Homemade chips, guar, queso dip, and the best salve we’ve ever tasted followed by delicious burritos. Mine had sweet potatoes, kale, and chili crema and it was divine. This place is a gem!

Sunday Stop 1 & 2: Bagel Sandwiches & Shelburne Farms
We got an early start Sunday morning to make the most of our last day of the weekend. After packing up camp we headed to Henry Street Deli for bagel sandwiches. This little deli is a bit grungy, but don’t be fooled. The food is fresh and tasty and students flock to this inconspicuous spot for fast, fresh and cheap food. An everything bagel with egg, cheese and avocado was just what I needed. And then, just a 20 minute drive outside of Burlington is Shelburne Farms, our next stop.

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Shelburne Farms is a magical place. This 1,400-acre working farm was originally a summer estate turned into a non-profit education center for sustainability. We took the first tour of the day, which takes place primarily on a covered wagon pulled by a pickup truck. The grounds, including an Inn, farm animals, lake side floral and vegetable gardens, cheese making facility, and more, are breathtaking. By the year 2020 the farm will be completely self-sustaining using solar power. I loved every second of it. Of course, we bought goodies at this gift shop too which also included unlimited tastings of homemade cheese, dips, jams and mustards. A great way to start the day.

From Shelburne, we took the back roads for the majority of the drive back to New York, stopping a few times along the way if something caught our eye. The scenery, fresh air, and country music were rejuvenating, relaxing and centering, a perfect end to our long weekend and a sweet start to our next year together.DSC_1136