Mandy's Marvelous Meals

Recipes, tips, tricks, and my journey into cooking fabulous food!

Grilling Cheese Anyone???


Last week I mentioned that I had planned to write a post about my recent trip to Whole Foods. I have a love/hate relationship with Whole Foods. On one hand I absolutely love Whole Foods…on the other hand I hate their prices!! I really can’t imagine shopping there all the time. I just cannot bring myself to pay that much for groceries! Nonetheless, Hubby took me there on Memorial Day and I was in heaven! I love the produce and all of the fresh, natural stuff! What I love the most, however, is all the cheese!!! Thank goodness for Hubby’s voice of reason or I could’ve easily spent $200 in just cheese! Not to mention an hour perusing the cheese section. Since it’s only two of us…and we can only consume so much cheese (and even 2 weeks later we’re still using up the two blocks that I bought) Hubby was right to keep me under control. 🙂

My super-cool find this trip to Whole Foods was “Yanni Grilling Cheese”. As you all know by now I love to grill…so anything that has the word “grill” in it will be hard for me to resist. We threw it in the cart and brought it home. I did a quick Google search to see what this stuff was all about and came across a few blogs that mentioned marinating the cheese before grilling it. I thought this seemed like a good idea and luckily for me (because if it came out bad I’d be out $5!!!) it was. It tasted so good and the way it grilled up was so awesome…I don’t even know how to put it into words! Even if you are not a cheese lover like myself…if you ever come across this in a store…you must buy it! You will be pleasantly surprised.

I served this with some smoked ribs and smoked corn salad and since the corn salad had basil I decided to make a basil marinade. The recipe below makes a decent amount of marinade…so if you don’t like to waste things like me you can use it for something else. Since you’re not marinating meat you can re-use the leftover marinade safely. I ended up using it on some chicken breasts, but I was thinking it would probably have made a nice dressing for pasta salad. If any of you decide to use this on anything else let me know how it turns out.

I would suggest marinating the cheese overnight to get a really intense flavor, but even if you only marinate for an hour or so it will still come out with a nice accent to the cheese flavor itself. So here’s to the awesomeness of Whole Foods….even if it does put a big dent in the wallet!

Basil Dressing/Marinade

½ cup fresh basil

2 cloves garlic

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

¼ c. olive oil

Salt & pepper to taste

 

Put all ingredients into a blender and mix until well combined and basil and garlic is chopped.

Place cheese in glass dish and pour marinade over the top. Cover and marinate for at least 1 hour.

Grill the cheese per the package directions, about 2 minutes per side.

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Grilled Veggies


This weekend marks the unofficial start of summer and it also means “Grilling Season” (although for those of us who love to grill I’m sure this started already!).

For those of you who have been following my blog and are more interested in some of my “healthier” posts, I just wanted to say that despite my lack of posting about my weight loss journey and Slimmed Down Sensations, I am still going strong (just not as quickly as I’d hoped)!  I’m still filling up with lots and lots of veggies and made this side the other night with dinner. It does have a higher Weight Watchers Points Plus value because of the oil, but I’ve played around with it a bit and found that this was the minimum amount of oil I could use to get that great flavor. Throughout the meal I couldn’t stop mentioning how awesome the veggies were! I completely cleaned my plate!!

 For me to rave about vegetables is MONUMENTAL!! This makes a really big portion and is very filling. I used a grill basket to put everything in. You could do this on foil, but you won’t get the same chargrilled taste. Also, if you are very particular about the texture of your veggies you may want to add the different veggies based on the length of time they’ll take to get done…for instance the carrots, broccoli and eggplant will take a little bit longer than the asparagus & onions. I put everything on at the same time and the asparagus, onions and even the broccoli were a little bit softer than they should have been, but this really didn’t bother me because the overall flavor was so good I didn’t even think about the texture. You could also par-boil the carrots to soften them up and they won’t need to be on the grill for so long.  You can pretty much add whatever veggies you want, but for me the veggies listed in the recipe have been the best combo I’ve tried so far.

 So without further ado…here is my grilled veggie recipe (modified from an Emeril recipe ).

Cheers to Grilling Season!!!!

Grilled Veggies (Makes 4 servings; 1 serving = 4 Weight Watchers Points Plus)

(Source: Emeril Lagasse)

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil

1 tbsp. chopped fresh oregano

1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

1 small eggplant, cubed

4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced

6-8 asparagus spears, cut into 1″ pieces

1 small head of broccoli, chopped

1 small onion, sliced

  1. In a medium bowl whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and fresh herbs.
  2. Prepare vegetables as stated above and add to a large Ziploc bag.
  3. Pour marinade over vegetables and place in refrigerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. Preheat grill to medium heat and place vegetables in a grill basket over direct heat for about 10 minutes.
  5. After the first 10 minutes move grill basket to indirect heat for another 10 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender.
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Grilled Polenta


This is a really yummy, easy and unique side dish! It is one of those things you should serve for company because they’ll think you worked really hard to make it and you’ll definitely impress them. It will just be our little secret that it is so simple!! Don’t have a grill? The polenta can be pan fried as well (but I prefer the grilled version 😉 !) You can also try switching it up with different cheeses.

USA Pans Mini Loaf Pan

Also, I’d like to mention that I had recently purchased this mini loaf pan made by USA Pans at Bed Bath & Beyond. I wanted to make mini pound cakes and typically I buy Wilton pans, but they didn’t have the one I needed so I came across this one. It was a little on the pricey side and that shiney silver made me a little skeptical that it actually was good quality and non-stick. However, I really didn’t have a choice because I needed the pound cakes for that same evening. I was pleasantly surprised by how good this pan is. It is really durable and I have had no problems in regards to sticking…everything pops out with no problem (this may be one of the best non-stick pans I’ve ever used). Plus, it feels good to actually purchase something that is made in the U.S.A.!

Grilled Polenta (Makes 8 servings)

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

1 1/2 cups milk (whole or 2%)

1 cup instant polenta

1-2 tsp. salt (to taste)

1/2  tsp. pepper (or to taste)

2 tbsp. butter

1/4 cup gorgonzola cheese crumbles

    1.  In a medium saucepan bring the milk and chicken stock to a boil.

    2. Reduce heat and add the polenta, pouring in a steady stream while whisking.

    3. Whisk continuously until thickened about 2-3 minutes.

    4. Remove from heat and stir in the salt, pepper, butter and cheese.

    5. Pour hot polenta into cake pan and allow to cool.

    6. Place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours (can be made up to one day in advance).

    7. When ready to grill remove polenta from cake pan, if using a round pan cut into 8 slices.

    8. Brush each piece of polenta lighty with olive oil and place on a preheated grill for about 3 minutes per side until heated through.

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Golden Cornbread


This is my favorite cornbread recipe. It has a great texture, it’s moist and it is has just the right sweetness. It is also really quick and easy to make and so much better than the boxed kind. I made this to go with our Smoked Ribs, for a real southern barbecue meal!

Delicious!

Smoked Ribs, Green Beans & Corn Bread

Cornbread (Makes 12 large servings)

1 cup flour

1 cup corn meal

2/3 cup sugar

3 ½ tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 cup milk

1 egg

1/3 cup vegetable oil

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a glass 9×13” baking dish with nonstick spray.  Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well until there are no lumps.
  3. Pour batter into prepared baking dish and bake for about 20 minutes.
  4. Cut into 12 large pieces, or 24 small pieces. Serve warm.
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Grilled Asiago & Parmesan Twice Baked Potatoes


In yesterday’s post I mentioned that I served my grilled lamb chops with a side of grilled twice baked potatoes. So today I am sharing that recipe. It has a unique blend of flavors by using ricotta cheese, asiago & parmesan. Typically you find that most twice baked potatoes are made with sour cream. Grilling them makes the skins super crispy and tasty and the inside ultra creamy! For this recipe I do not typically measure my ingredients so I’ve listed in the recipe below what I feel is a good starting point. It is best to taste as you go and adjust your spices and cheese according to your own taste.

These definitely go well with any meat dish and are a nice change from the usual kinds of potato sides that you come across!

Grilled Asiago & Parmesan Twice Baked Potatoes

2 potatoes

1/4 cup ricotta cheese

1/4 cup freshly grated asiago cheese

1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. smoked paprika

1 slice thick cut bacon

2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Prepare potatoes by washing and scrubbing with a vegetable brush.
  3. Bake potatoes in preheated oven for 45 minutes-1 hour (or until fork inserted into potato goes in easily).
  4. Remove potatoes from oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Cut a small circle in one side of each potato and scoop out the insides. Place the insides in a mixing bowl.
  6. To the potato insides, add the salt, pepper, garlic powder, smoked paprika and ricotta and mix on medium speed until smooth.
  7. Add the asiago and parmesan cheeses, mixing again until well combined.
  8. Add the potato cheese mixture back into the potato shells.
  9. Wrap each potato in foil and place on the grill over medium heat for 10 minutes.
  10. Place the bacon on the grill as well and cook until crisp. You can add this at the same time as the potatoes over indirect heat and they will both be done at the same time.
  11. When potatoes are done, remove from foil and carefully scoop back any filling that may have melted out and over.
  12. Crumble the bacon and add evenly over the potatoes.
  13. Finally, top each potato with the chopped fresh parsley.

 

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