Tag Archives: goat cheese

{Trader Joe’s Inspired} Roasted Butternut Squash, Caramelized Onions & Bacon Pizza

28 Nov

I must admit, sometimes I’m all about the easy route. After working all day, the last thing I want to do is cook a time-consuming meal.  By the time I get home, I’m really wishing I planned ahead and made a meal in my slow cooker so I wouldn’t have to do anything….but most days include me going to the store to get ingredients so I can feed myself that evening. For bad planners like me, I’m happy Trader Joe’s exists.

Trader Joe’s has a lot of things to make my busy life a lot easier! One of those items being premade whole wheat pizza dough. I know what you’re going to say, “Meghan, making pizza dough is super easy.” I know this buuuut I’m going for convenience. Since they make the dough, you still have the fun of rolling out the dough to the desired thickness (which I love) and their crust cooks up great! It tastes so good! (People will think you made it yourself, so we can keep this secret between friends.)

Another great item from Trader Joe’s is butternut squash cut into cubes. I hate hate hate peeling and cutting up butternut squash. Paying a little more for a bag like this is totally worth it for me.

As you can see from the title of this post, I made myself a pizza. The pizza – Roasted Butternut Squash, Caramelized Onions and Bacon – was inspired by ingredients bought at Trader Joe’s.

The first thing you need to do is set out the pizza dough for about 20 minutes. While you’re waiting for the dough, work on the prep steps for the pizza. Sprinkle the pre-cut butternut squash with brown sugar, salt, pepper and a little olive oil. Bake squash in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. While the squash is roasting, fry bacon pieces in a skillet. When the bacon is browned, remove bacon from the skillet but save the bacon fat. Put the onions in the skillet and cook in the bacon fat. Cook until caramelized.

If you time this right, all of your pizza prep work should be done within 20 minutes. Roll out your pizza dough and top with squash, onions, bacon, goat cheese crumbles and spinach. Pop pizza in the oven and 20-25 minutes later, you’ve got dinner!

Thanks to the time saver ingredients from Trader Joe’s, I spent little time in my kitchen and more time enjoying my evening! Do you have any time saver meals you love to make? If you do, share them in the comments section.

Roasted Butternut Squash, Caramelized Onions & Bacon Pizza

  • Pre-made pizza dough
  • 2 1/2 cups butternut squash, cubed
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 strips of bacon, sliced
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup goat cheese crumbles
  • Baby Spinach
  • 1 tsp chives, chopped (garnish)


  1. Pizza dough needs to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. Set oven to 350 degrees. On a roasting pan lined with foil, mix butternut squash, brown sugar, salt & pepper and olive oil. Cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes.
  2. In a skillet, cook bacon pieces. Once bacon has browned, remove from skillet and set on a plate lined with a paper towel. In the same skillet, cook onions in the bacon fat for 8-10 minutes.
  3. Roll out pizza dough on a floured surface. On a pizza stone or vented pizza pan, place pizza dough and top with butternut squash, bacon, onions, goat cheese and spinach. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Garnish with chives. Slice & serve!

Roasted Pear & Portobello Quinoa Salad

7 Nov

Isn’t funny how your cravings for food change along with the weather??

After Labor Day, I feel like everything Fall was pushed upon us. Pumpkin Lattes! Boots! Halloween candy!

But Chicago was still enjoying 70-80 degree weather days and I just wasn’t ready. Now that Halloween has passed, stores are already putting up Christmas decorations. (Thanksgiving is totally getting the shaft.)

50 degree weather leaves just enough chill in my bones to accept winter is right around the corner. So much chill that I was craving a warm salad. This isn’t a normal thing for me. Fruits or vegetables (that don’t require to be cooked to eat) must be stored in the fridge. Cold, crisp produce tastes so much better!

But there are times I manage to surprise myself. I came up with a Roasted Pear & Portobello Quinoa Salad on Monday night.

I cranked up my oven to 400 degrees and loaded a baking sheet with sliced pears, Portobello mushrooms, onions and garlic. 10 minutes is all you need. The pears are cooked but still firm. Portobello slices have softened just enough. And of course, the smell of roasting garlic and onions is just heavenly. As long as the quinoa is cooking by the time the pear mixture is in the oven, this salad will be on your table in 15 minutes. Quick & Easy!

This isn’t a salad I would be eating in the dog days of summer, but as long as it’s cold, a roasted warm salad isn’t such a bad idea after all.

Roasted Pear & Portobello Quinoa Salad, serves 6

  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2 pears, sliced
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 2 Portobello mushrooms, sliced thick
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1.5 cups quinoa, uncooked
  • 2.5 cups chicken stock
  • Baby Spinach
  • Goat cheese crumbles


  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix vinegar & oil to make salad dressing. Season with salt & pepper. In a large bag, add pears, onion, mushrooms and garlic. Add half of the salad dressing. Close bag and distribute salad dressing.
  2. On a lined baking pan, add marinated pear mixture. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. When done cooking, let the mixture cool for 2 minutes.
  3. In a sauce pan, bring quinoa and chicken stock to a boil. Cover and simmer for 12 minutes.
  4. Place baby spinach in a large serving dish. Place quinoa on top of spinach. The spinach will slightly wilt. Layer pear & Portobello mixture on top of quinoa. Sprinkle goat cheese crumbles. Drizzle the rest of the dressing.

New Recipe: Grilled Portabella Mushroom Sandwiches

9 Aug

This recipe is something I’ve been making for a loooong time. It’s probably my favorite vegetarian sandwich. I’m not reinventing the wheel here, but this sandwich is amazing.

I think the marinade makes this sandwich better than any portabella sandwich I’ve had in a restaurant. It’s filled with fresh herbs…. I guess it helps I work for a fresh herb company, but since it’s summer, all of these herbs (rosemary, thyme & parsley) are available at your local grocery store or farmers market.

Have I told you I’m obsessed with goat cheese?? I’m pretty sure I have… I try to sneak it into ANY meal where it makes sense. This sandwich makes sense. Load on the goat cheese. Please don’t be shy….

Not only is this sandwich great for a vegetarian at a BBQ, but meat lovers will enjoy it too! Portabella mushrooms are so thick and juicy. Then combine it with some roasted red peppers, grilled red onions, fresh basil and goat cheese on artisan bread — any carnivore will be lining up for this sandwich.

Grilled Portabella Mushroom Sandwiches, serves 4

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Pinch of red chile flakes
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 medium portobella mushrooms, stems removed
  • 1 red onion, sliced in rings
  • 1/2 jar of roasted red peppers, chopped
  • Loaf of artisan bread. (I used ciabatta)
  • 4 oz goat cheese log
  • 8-10 basil leaves


  1. Heat your gill to medium.
  2. Whisk together the vinegar, mustard, garlic, red chile flakes, rosemary, thyme, and parsley in a medium bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper. In a zip lock bag, add marinade and mushroom caps. Marinade up to 4 hours.
  3. Remove mushrooms from marinade, but save the marinade. Place the mushrooms on the grill, cap side down, and grill until golden brown and slightly charred, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn the mushrooms over and continue grilling until just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes longer. Drizzle olive oil on red onion. Grill 4 minutes per side.
  4. Remove the mushrooms from the grill and cut into slices. I did about 4 slices per mushroom. Place the mushrooms in a large bowl, add the marinade, and toss to coat. Chop onion and add to marinade. Let marinate at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.
  5. Toast bread on the grill. Let it get slighty charred. Remove from grill and spread goat cheese on both sides of bread. Top with basil leaves on both sides of bread. Add the mushroom onion mixture. If you have a crusty bread, make sure you get some of the marinade on the bread. It will soak right into it. Add roasted red peppers. This sandwich can be served warm or cold.

Just a quick vegetarian week night meal….

16 Feb

Remember the pesto I made earlier in the week? I promised it would show up again later in the week. So here it is…

Wednesday night for me includes watching Modern Family & Top Chef. This is my routine since I got back from Hawaii. I like it and not much will get in the way of my hot date with my TV.

With that being said, I’m not going to make some exquisite meal which requires more kitchen time than couch time. Quick meals on a night like this are a must…. so I give you Creamy Pesto & Goat Cheese Pasta with Spinach & Sun Dried Tomatoes.

Quick Meal = Quick Post.


Creamy Pesto & Goat Cheese Pasta with Spinach & Sun Dried Tomatoes (recipe serves 2)

  • 1 1/2 cups mini penne pasta, uncooked
  • 2 tbs butter or olive oil
  • 2 tbs flour
  • 1 cup skim milk, warm
  • 1/4 cup pesto
  • 1 tbs goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup spinach
  • 2 tbs sun dried tomatoes, cut julienne
  • 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a pot of boiling water, add uncooked pasta. Cook until al dente. Drain but save 1/2 cup of pasta water. (You may need it later.) Put the drained pasta back in the pot.
  3. In a sauce pan at medium heat, add butter and flour. Stir consistently until the paste has a light blonde color. Slowly stream in warm milk and keep stirring until all of the milk is in the pan. Your sauce will be thick.
  4. Add pesto & goat cheese to the sauce. Taste — add salt & pepper if needed.
  5. In the pasta pot, add spinach, sun dried tomatoes & pesto sauce. Stir and incorporate all ingredients. Add pasta water if the mixture needs to be thinned out. You probably won’t need to add the full 1/2 cup of pasta water; you can be the judge of what the recipe needs.
  6. Pour pasta into the casserole dish. Sprinkle cheese over the pasta. Bake for 10 minutes.

Want to impress someone? Make risotto

31 Jan

I laughed when I came up with the name for this blog post. Why? Well, I’m cooking this risotto for myself…. but I’m sure if someone was eating with me, they would be impressed. 🙂

Risotto isn’t the easiest thing to make. It’s a rice that demands a lot of attention, so this isn’t the type of meal that requires little effort. It includes constant stirring but at least your arms will get a nice work out. You’ll need to be patient to get the perfect al dente texture. Once you make risotto at home, you won’t need to order it at restaurants again. Risottos are rarely prepared made to order, so they miss the fine texture which you’ll get by cooking it at home.

Making risotto is a method, so you can add any ingredients you like. In this recipe, I’m going to add roasted red peppers, mushrooms, chicken & goat cheese. If you’re going to follow my posts for this week, you’re going to see these 4 ingredients in all of my recipes. I hope you’re starting to get my cooking mentality, “Cook what you have.” With just 4 ingredients, I’m going to come up with 3 different meals.

For the risotto, the most common short grain rice used is Arborio.  If you’re like me, I have hard time guessing how much dried rice (or pasta) I’ll need for a recipe. I’ve found 1/4 cup of uncooked Arborio rice will cook & expand to about 3/4 cup… which is plenty for me. This recipe is scaled to serve one person, so please make the adjustments if you’re cooking for others. Another tip, any liquid added to the risotto while cooking needs to warm. Cold liquid will shock the rice and keep it from cooking correctly.

This risotto was AMAZING!! The goat cheese makes this recipe so creamy & yummy… not to mention I never had to add any salt to the dish. All of the flavors melt into each other and it’s a really cozy meal. It takes “comfort food” to the next level. Make this dish and you’ll get lots of compliments! What’s your favorite meal to make when you want to impress someone??

Creamy Goat Cheese & Chicken Risotto (Serves 1 person)

  • 1 qt chicken broth
  • 3 tsp butter, divided
  • 4 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 onion, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/3 cup wine
  • 1/2 cooked chicken breast, cubed
  • 1/2 roasted red pepper, diced
  • 1 tbs goat cheese, additional for garnish
  • Basil for garnish (optional)


1. In a saucepan, warm the broth over low heat.

2. Warm 1 teaspoon of butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the mushrooms, and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Remove mushrooms and their liquid, and set aside.

3. Add 2 teaspoons of butter to skillet,  and stir in the onions & garlic. Cook 1 minute. Add rice, stirring to coat with butter, about 2 minutes. When the rice has taken on a pale, golden color, pour in wine, stirring constantly until the wine is fully absorbed. Add 1/2 cup broth to the rice, and stir until the broth is absorbed. Continue adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente, about 15 to 20 minutes. ( FYI – I didn’t use the full quart of chicken broth, I had about 3/4 cup leftover.)

4. Remove from heat, and stir in mushrooms, cooked chicken, roasted red peppers and goat cheese. Taste and add salt & pepper (if needed.)

5. Garnish with a small ball of goat cheese and fresh herbs if you have any on hand. Serve immediately and enjoy!