Friday, March 16, 2012

We Won a Kreativ Blogger Award!


The darling and talented Melissa of ChinDeep was kind enough to bestow upon us The Kreativ Blogger AwardWoo-hoo! This award is a way to for bloggers to show appreciation for each other, to let their peers know that their voices are valued. We are so grateful to be a part of this inspiring blogging community of people from all around the world! 

The first responsibility as an award recipient is to list 10 random facts abut oneself. Here are mine:
  1. My favorite sandwich is a sliced, hard-boiled egg with lots of lettuce, red onion, cream cheese and mayo. Sounds weird, but TRUST ME. So good.
  2. I don't think a dish had ever had too much garlic in it for me.
  3. My favorite color is purple. For many years, when I was growing up, green was my favorite color. Then I realized I look terrible in green; it gradually lost my favor.
  4. I had job in high school at a restaurant where I worked with Sandra ("Sandy" we all called her) Bullock, who was a waitress. She was incredibly cool and nice. She left when she was cast as the Bionic Girl in a TV movie.
  5. My favorite book is "To Kill a Mockingbird." My son is named after Atticus Finch.
  6. I hate roaches so much that I cannot even kill them. Those exoskeletons are crunchy and make me want to hurl. 
  7. We decided not to find out the gender of our baby when I was pregnant. I had a very strong feeling it was a boy. And I really didn't want a lot of pink or blue stuff. 
  8. I don't remember much about my delivery, due to exhaustion and medication (had a c-sec after about 30 hours of labor), but my husband says the first thing I said was, "I love my baby."
  9. My sister and I both have literary names. I was named after the book Justine by Lawrence Durrell and my sister is named after the writer Flannery O'Connor. Our father was an English teacher.
  10. "Wet on paper" is like nails on a chalkboard to me. What is "wet on paper?" you ask. Imagine licking a paper napkin. The way your tongue catches on the napkin. Ugh, gives me heebie-jeebies. 

The second responsibility is to pass this award on to six other blogs. Here are some that I like and admire (making sure that I don't duplicate those I already listed on our Versatile Blogger Award post): 


Congratulations, friends! Now it's your job to pay it forward...

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Roasted Cabbage Wedge Salad with Yogurt Gorgonzola Dressing

I have this weird fondness for the wedge salad. Or, rather, I have this fondness for what I want the wedge to be: crunchy, salty, rich, fresh, a taste explosion! Somehow, I always end up disappointed. And I blame the iceberg lettuce. J'accuse!

Now, I totally get that the iceberg is the foundation of the wedge and I'll concede that it is delightfully crunchy. However, it is so watery and flavorless that—even with loads of heavy dressing and bacon and whatnot—I never really get that taste explosion I crave.

So, I decided to make a wedge salad with more depth of flavor, more nutrition, and less junk than the standard. To start, I needed a new foundation and I selected: cabbage. This cruciferous veggie is inexpensive (I got some organic on sale for St. Patrick's Day for only 79 cents a pound!) and so good for you; a cup rings in at over 65% of your daily recommended Vitamin K and 42% of Vitamin C.

I don't know about you, but I don't want to skimp on the amount of dressing on my wedge. So I made a blue cheese dressing with a yogurt base; it provides goodies like calcium, protein, and probiotics for fewer calories than a mayonnaise-based dressing. The tangy freshness of the dressing provides a great balance to the earthiness of the roasted cabbage.

Ingredients
yield: 4 servings
  • 1/2 head green cabbage, tough outer leaves removed 
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil
  • 2 strips bacon (optional)
  • salt and freshly-ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped grape tomatoes
  • 1-2T chopped scallions

Yogurt Gorgonzola Dressing
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2/3c crumbled Gorgonzola* (or other blue cheese)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2T chopped scallions
  • salt and freshly-ground pepper
*Check your labels: only cheeses made from pasteurized milks are recommended during pregnancy.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Leaving the core intact (so it doesn't all fall apart), cut the halved cabbage into four wedges. Brush oil on both sides of each wedge; arrange on baking sheet covered in parchment paper. Season with salt and pepper. If using, place 1/2 strip of bacon on top of each wedge. 


Put in oven for about 30 minutes, gently flipping each wedge about halfway through the cooking time. I put the bacon aside at the halfway point, turned the wedges, and placed the bacon back on top of each wedge so it could also continue cooking and getting crispy. 

In the meantime, assemble your blue cheese dressing. In a bowl, combine yogurt, cheese, garlic, lemon juice and scallions. Add salt and pepper to taste, keeping in mind that the cabbage and the bacon will also provide salt to the dish.



Roast the cabbage until it is tender with browned, crispy edges. The bacon should be well-done and crunchy. At this point, you could just squeeze some lemon juice on top and call it a day - it would made a lovely side dish as is!


But I set out to make a newfangled wedge salad and, by gosh, that's just what I did! Top the warm cabbage wedges with a big ol' dollop of dressing, some chopped tomatoes, the reserved scallions; crumble the bacon across the top and you're all set.


The caramelization brings out the cabbage's sweetness, just like in our Cauliflower Popcorn.

Don't skimp on the chunky dressing. I sure didn't.

Lovely layers of roasted cabbage.

Sure, it's not exactly the wedge salad from your favorite steakhouse. But I hope you enjoy my new twists on a classic, just the same. I sure did.



Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Green Grilled Cheese Sandwich - Spinach, Avocado, and Gouda Goodness


When I was in my first trimester, one of the few foods that actually appealed to me was a grilled cheese sandwich. I had one practically every day; I guess the carb-y, salty, protein-filled meal just hit the spot in those early, queasy days. I made my sandwiches with the best quality ingredients—organic cheese, sprouted bread, extra virgin olive oil—but I knew they weren't ideal meals. 

Grilled cheeses are still just a once-in-a-while treat for me. This green version features spinach and avocado. It is bright and decadent; you probably shouldn't eat it all the time, but when you do, you can feel pretty good about it! 

A word about the bread I used: I got mine from a fabulous bakery called Bread Alone that has a stall at our farmer's market. My loaf was an organic "peasant bread," which is a wide, rustic bread that is chewy and delicious; I sometimes see it sold as "Tuscan bread." If you're using regular sandwich bread, you could probably use four slices and make two separate sandwiches. 

Ingredients
yield: 2 servings

  • 2 slices peasant bread 
  • about 1 1/2 cups baby spinach, washed and dried
  • 1/4 avocado
  • about 3 oz smoked gouda (extra sharp cheddar would work well, too)
  • extra virgin olive or coconut oil for grilling
  • salt, to taste
  • Tabasco or other hot sauce, to taste (optional)

Beautiful, verdant spinach brightens up any sandwich.

Y'all know that I worship the avocado, right?

Pack the spinach into a small food processor and chop. Add the avocado and process a bit more. Spinach and avocado are both nutritional powerhouses; they are especially good sources of folate, which is crucial during pregnancy to prevent birth defects.


It should turn into a nice paste.


I roughly chopped the gouda, then threw it in the processor and pulsed a few more times, until the pieces of cheese are small and dispersed throughout. If you'd prefer to shred it, just fold the shredded cheese into the avocado-spinach paste. This is a good time to sample a bit of the mixture and add salt and/or hot sauce, to taste.

Spread evenly over the slices of bread. At this point, you could certainly throw these under the broiler and you'd have two fabulous, open-faced sandwiches.


But the draw of a grilled cheese is too strong for me. So I closed up that bread, brushed some oil on the outside, and grilled it for a couple of minutes on each side over medium-high heat. The bread should be golden and crispy; the cheese should be ooey and gooey.

Warning: it is so ooey and gooey that—when you take a bite—some of the filling may squish out of the other side. Keep a napkin handy, my friends.


 I took a ridiculous amount of pictures of this darn sandwich. Food porn!



And, yes, I did say earlier that this yields two servings. Seriously, it is a rich and filling sandwich and you will feel good if you split it with someone and have a little soup or salad on the side. If you can't help yourself and you end up feeling overstuffed, don't come crying to me, missy!



UPDATE: Ann of Sumptuous Spoonfuls (who has guested posted for us) featured her version of this recipe with a lovely review!

UPDATE: Our sandwich has been featured on She Knows in celebration of National Sandwich Month!
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