Polenta with Sausage, Peppers, Fennel, and Real California Milk Cheese

This polenta with sausage, peppers, and fennel is outstanding. For so many reasons, if I may add.

To start, I experimented with using Real California Milk queso blanco and dry jack instead of the Italian standards - fontina and parmesan.

The flavors came out even tastier in my opinion because Real California Milk cheeses are where it’s at! Not a bad way to add to the three recommended servings of dairy per day by many trusted health organizations, right? You can read more about that here!

My second bragging right: Adrian and I made the polenta from scratch.

When I mean from scratch, I mean we grew Anasazi corn in our garden last summer and dried it. Seeing that we had some sitting on the shelf in a glass jar, we pondered what we’d do with it THIS time. In the past, we’ve made corn and wheat tortillas, a labor of love, so our goal this time was ease and simplicity.  

“How easy is it to make your own polenta?” we wondered. I found out that it’s easier than it sounds. Simply grind corn kernels to a fine consistency and you’re good to go.

Last but not least, I decided to add acorn squash to boost the nutrition! It worked like a charm. Did I mention that we grew the acorn squash and harvested it in JANUARY? That’s quite unusual for the Northern Hemisphere...

What can I say, it was a special polenta recipe.

You can make your own special polenta by following the recipe below!

Polenta with Sausage, Peppers, Fennel, and Real California Milk Cheese

Time: 1 Hour
Serves 4

[Sponsored]

Ingredients
12 oz pre-cooked Italian Chicken Sausage, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
1 red bell pepper, seeded, thinly sliced
1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
1 large fennel bulb, quartered, then cut into 2-inch pieces
1/4 cup fennel fronds, coarsely chopped
1 to 2 habaneros, seeded and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small acorn squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups Real California heavy cream
1 1/3 cup fine-ground polenta (not instant)
1/2 cups shredded Real California Milk queso blanco
1/4 cup Real California Milk Dry Jack, grated
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

To Garnish
Grated Real California Milk Dry Jack
Chopped parsley

Directions
Set oven rack to the top top position. Preheat broiler.

In a medium bowl, toss the  chicken sausage, bell peppers, shallot, fennel, fennel fronds, habaneros, garlic, olive oil, and sherry vinegar. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Transfer vegetables to a foil-lined baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes, until softened. Stir vegetables and roast for another 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Bring 2 inches of water to a boil in a large pot. Place squash in a steamer basket and steam for 15 to 20 minutes, until soft. Allow to cool slightly and puree squash in a blender with 1/4 cup cold water.

Return squash puree to the pot and add chicken broth, heavy cream, and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Slowly stir in the polenta and reduce heat to medium. Continue stirring occasionally for 20-30 minutes, until the polenta is tender and creamy.

Stir in queso blanco, dry jack, and nutmeg to the polenta and allow cheese to melt. Season to taste w/kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Add polenta to bowls and top with sausage and vegetables. Garnish with dry jack and parsley if desired.


If you loved this recipe, you will love my recipes for  Osso Bucco, Avocado Pasta with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, & Pizza Two Ways!

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Salmon Tikka with Everyday Dal Red Lentils

You might have guessed this by now, but discovering fresh and flavorful ways to cook at home is by far my #1 hobby!

One of my favorite brands to cook with for years has Maya Kaimal, so I couldn’t be more excited to see their products carried at Whole Foods Market 365 in Concord, CA. My local 365 carries Maya Kaimal’s most delicious (and vegan!) Everyday Dal pouches along with some seriously amazing Indian simmer sauces.

To celebrate, I made salmon with Maya Kaimal’s Tikka Masala sauce over Everyday Dal Red Lentils. The result: easy AND tasty! In the blink of an eye, you will have scrumptious dinner at your table with this recipe.

What’s even neater is that for the entire month of February, both of their product lines are on sale when you buy two!

Salmon Tikka with Everyday Dal Red Lentils

Time: 35 Minutes
Serves 2

Ingredients
2 (4 oz) Atlantic salmon fillets
1/3 cup Maya Kaimal Tikka Masala Indian Simmer Sauce
8 oz Greek yogurt
2 tbsp cilantro, roughly chopped
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground cumin
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp lime juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 (10 oz) pouches Maya Kaimal Everyday Dal Red Lentils

To Garnish
Cilantro leaves
Lime wedges

Directions
In a medium bowl, combine salmon and simmer sauce. Allow to marinate for 20 minutes.

Preheat broiler.

In a small bowl, add yogurt, cilantro, coriander, cumin, garlic, lime juice, and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer salmon to a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil for 10 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 145F. Remove from heat.

Squeeze lentils into a small pan and heat over low heat until warmed through, about 3-5 minutes.

Divide lentils between plates. Top with salmon and garnish with yogurt, cilantro, and lime wedges.


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Mushroom & Real California Brie Stuffed Pastry Wreath

What could possibly be better than an edible wreath? Especially wreath made of puff pastry and Real California Milk brie! It’s as delicious as it sounds and couldn’t be more perfect for the season.

Fun fact: The word wreath is derived from an old English word that means “to twist.” The definition couldn’t make more sense when you think about this wreath. It’s not only easy, but a lot of fun twisting around the puff pastry to form this cute holiday design.

Real California brie is an amazing cheese that melts in your mouth and is even better because it’s high quality and made with milk from real dairy farmers in my home state! Plus, Real California cheeses make for an excellent dose of protein, which is an important building block in your body.

I may not be psychic, but I do have a prediction for you: Your family will make this inviting and warm holiday spread with Real California Milk very soon!

Mushroom & Real California Brie Stuffed Pastry Wreath

Time: 40 Minutes
Serves 6-8 as an appetizer

[Sponsored]

Ingredients
2 tbsp Real California Butter
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 lb cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 ½ cups baby spinach
2 tbsp thyme, chopped
2 tbsp dry sherry
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
12 oz wedge Real California brie cheese, sliced into 1-inch pieces
1 egg, beaten

Directions
Preheat oven to 400F.

In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat butter over medium heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring until soft, about 4 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Cooking in two batches, stir in half the mushrooms, spinach, thyme, and sherry. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté mushroom mixture until the liquid is absorbed. Add mushrooms to a medium mixing bowl. Repeat process with second batch, adding additional butter if necessary. Allow mushrooms to cool.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out puff pastry into a round that is 1/4-inch thick. Transfer pastry to a parchment lined baking sheet. Using a large cookie cutter as a guide or a medium bowl, lightly score a 6-inch round in the center of the pastry without cutting all the way through. Make four cuts into the round to form 8 triangles.

Divide the mushroom mixture along the outer round. Evenly distribute 8 slices of brie over the mushroom mixture. Take the tips of each pastry triangle and wrap over the brie, pressing the pastry into the outer edges of the dough to seal. Top with the wreath with 8 additional pieces of brie. Brush the pastry lightly with egg and transfer to the oven. Cook for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.

Allow the pastry to cool on the oven rack for 5 minutes. Serve the wreath on a platter. Get ready to dig into some Real California cheesy yumminess!


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Pork Black and Bean Stew (Frijol Con Puerco)

If you’re looking for something different from the usual, try this Pork Black and Bean Stew! It’s spicy, comforting, and definitely hits the spot when it’s cold outside.

Not only is the stew pretty easy to make - the pork almost does the braising itself, but it’s a great way to get in your serving of beans for the week! Beans pack in tons of folate and have a bunch of fiber to boot! Not a bad way to balance out a meat stew.

I like my Mexican food spicy - so I used Spiceology’s sweet and spicy habanero blend. It’s super yummy and builds flavor that is different, and in my opinion, more rich than just using cayenne. You can make this stew as spicy or as mild as you like it. It’s going to turn out good no matter what.

Pork Black and Bean Stew (Frijol Con Puerco)

Time: 1 Hour, 30 Minutes
Serves 6-8
Adapted from Saveur

Ingredients
2 lb. boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2" cubes
1⁄2 cup canola oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp Spiceology habanero powder, or more to taste
2 medium white onions, thinly sliced
1 lb. dried black beans, soaked overnight
4 sprigs epazote or cilantro
1 lb. plum tomatoes, cored
1 medium jalapeño
2 baby radishes, very thinly sliced, for garnish
Cilantro leaves, to garnish
Cooked white rice, for serving
Lime wedges, for serving

Directions
Season pork on all sides salt and pepper.

In a large saucepan, heat 2 tbsp oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add pork to the pan, and cook, turning as needed, until browned on all sides, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pork to a plate. Cover and set aside.

Add two-thirds of the garlic, the habanero powder, and one-quarter of the onions to pan, and cook, stirring until soft, about 5 minutes.

Return pork to pot along with beans, epazote, and 8 cups water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until beans and pork are tender, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a 12" skillet over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes and jalapeño, and cook, turning as needed, until blackened all over, about 12 minutes. Allow jalapeño to cool. Stem and remove seeds if desired.

Transfer tomatoes and jalapeño to a blender along with remaining garlic and onions, and purée until sauce is smooth.

Return skillet to heat and add remaining oil; when the oil is hot, add sauce, and fry, stirring constantly, until sauce is slightly reduced, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and keep tomato sauce warm.

To serve, transfer beans and pork to a large, deep serving platter and drizzle with tomato sauce. Top with radishes and cilantro leaves, and serve with rice and lime wedges.


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Crudites Platter with Real California Milk Dipping Sauces

This holiday season, get your vegetable and dairy fix with Real California Milk dipping sauces! I know it’ll be a favorite at my holiday get-togethers.

Do you ever walk by the produce stands at farmers’ market and wish you could buy ALL of the vegetables? That is a problem I have a little too often.

Eyeing some of my favorite items like romanesco, watermelon radishes, and endives, I know it wouldn’t be ideal to incorporate all of them all into a single recipe, like say, pasta, or even in a traditional salad.

But I have a solution for all of your vegetable lovers out there - crudites! Crudites are a simple raw vegetable platter eaten by the French as an appetizer, typically with a dipping sauce. How healthy is that?

On a recent visit to Farmers’ market, I was inspired to finally buy all of the vegetables I wanted because I could easily serve them as crudites and pair them with two Real California Milk dipping sauces. Both with sour cream, but one with Dry Jack and one with cottage cheese. All amazing products from my home state that make for the easy, tasty, and convenient snacks!

After prepping the veggies on a Sunday, my husband and I had a full platter of healthy snacks to finish up by Wednesday. Thanks to the delicious Real California Milk dipping sauces, we thoroughly enjoyed eating raw vegetables between meals. Three to four servings of vegetables per person, per day = no problem! Amazing considering only 9% of Americans eat enough veggies.

Equally as cool as getting in my veggies, my husband and I were certainly getting in our recommended servings of dairy per day. Did you know that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend three servings of dairy foods each day?

That’s because dairy is nutrient-rich and when consumed as part of a healthy diet, it may help prevent diseases like osteoporosis, hypertension, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Note: one serving = 8 oz of milk, a 6-8 oz container of yogurt, or 1 ½ oz. of natural cheese.

So while Real California Milk dairy is tasty, fast, and convenient, it can also help you be your healthiest self! Not a bad combo of nutritional benefits in my opinion! So what are you waiting for? Dive into your Real California Milk dairy this holiday season!

Crudites Platter with Real California Milk Dipping Sauces

[Sponsored]

Time: 30 Minutes
Serves 8

Ingredients

Zesty Dry Jack Dipping Sauce
⅓ cup Real California Dry Jack cheese, grated
¾ cup Real California sour cream
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 anchovy, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Arugula & Cottage Cheese Dipping Sauce
½ cup Real California cottage cheese
¼ cup Real California sour cream
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
2 oz arugula
¼ cup chives, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Crudites
3 rainbow carrots, peeled, cut into ½-inch thick sticks
1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 small head romanesco, cut into florets
1 endive head, trimmed, leaves separated
2 zucchini, sliced lengthwise, ¼-inch thick
½ lb green beans
½ lb snap peas
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 small watermelon radish, sliced ¼-inch thick lengthwise, cut into quarters
1 bunch red radishes
1 bunch green onions, light and dark green parts, trimmed

Directions
Add all ingredients of Real California Milk Dry Jack Dip to a food processor. Blend until smooth. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste if desired. Add dip to a medium bowl. Set aside.

Prepare Real California Milk Arugula & Cottage Cheese Dip by adding all ingredients to a food processor. Blend until smooth. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste if desired. Add dip to a medium bowl.

Add dipping bowls to the center of a large platter. Arrange crudites around bowl until visually pleasing! Enjoy!


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Pan-Seared Chicken Thighs with Chanterelle Mushrooms


Want to know one of my innermost secrets? Go shopping with me in the produce section in Fall and Winter when fresh chanterelles are readily available and you will see a little twinkle in my eye!

I'm a sucker for these mushrooms that grow mainly in Fall and Winter. Because they're a little expensive, I like to reserve them for special occasions. But to be perfectly honest, nothing gets my cooking gears going like planning a elegant dinner with these golden fungi!

So what was the special occasion for my delicious chicken and chanterelle recipe below? Receiving a new 12" ICON griddle in the mail from J.L. Hufford, of course!

Perfect for this one-pan recipe, the ICON griddle is chemical-free, so it doesn't impact taste. It's also an amazing alternative to cast iron cookware. Designed to cook like a traditional cast iron pan, ICON pans are made in the USA, are 30% lighter in weight, have stay-cool handles, and do not scratch delicate cooktops and countertops. Their durable design allows you to sear, fry, sauté, and bake food in temperatures up to 800F. Did I mention you can use them on your induction cooktop?!

I had so much fun making this recipe in the ICON griddle. The wide surface area of the 12" pan allowed enough space for me to cook the chicken to crispy perfection in just one batch of cooking. The chanterelles also found the griddle to be a great vessel for soaking up all the flavors. With only one pan used, the clean up couldn't have been easier!

Want to order ICON products for your kitchen? Visit J.L. Hufford's website to find your favorite pan! You can also simply purchase this 12” griddle HERE on their website and Amazon. Use the discount code 20OFFICONDA to receive 20% off your order!

Pan-Seared Chicken Thighs with Chanterelle Mushrooms

Time: 1 Hour
Serves 4
[Sponsored]

Ingredients
2 lbs bone-in chicken thighs, skin on
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp butter, divided
½ cup shallots, finely chopped
½ cup onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb chanterelle mushrooms, sliced
4 sprigs thyme
1 ½ cups chicken broth, divided
¾ cups dry sherry
¼ cup heavy whipping cream
¼ cup crème fraiche
1 tbsp lemon juice
Tarragon leaves, for garnish
Lemon wedges for serving

Directions
Season the chicken thighs with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Heat 3 tbsp butter in a 12” ICON griddle over medium-high heat. Nestle the chicken thighs skin-side down in the pan and cook for about 6 minutes, without moving the chicken, until golden brown. Turn the thighs over and cook for 6 more minutes until browned on the opposite side. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook the chicken, turning every 6 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 165F. Transfer the chicken to a serving plate. Cover and keep warm.

To the same pan, add shallots, onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. Stir occasionally and cook over medium heat until softened, scraping up any browned bits, about 6-8 minutes. Add mushrooms and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Cook mushrooms, stirring, for 8 to 10 minutes, until tender. Add chicken broth, sherry, heavy whipping cream, any accumulated juices from the plate of chicken thighs, and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 10-15 minutes, until the mushrooms have soaked up most of the cooking liquid.

Remove the pan from the heat and pick out any large thyme sprigs. Stir in crème fraiche and lemon juice. Return the chicken to the pan, nestling into the mushroom mixture, and season with salt and pepper. Serve on plates and garnish with tarragon leaves and squeezes of lemon.


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Passion Toast: Lox with Real California Milk Queso Fresco!

Real California MIlk queso fresco pairs perfectly with lox toast and slices of tomatoes, onions, tarragon, and a squeeze of lemon! A healthy snack idea that incorporates dairy!

What do I when gifted a large bag of ripe passion fruit? Try it out in various recipes, of course!

I absolutely LOVE bagels with lox, Real California Milk cream cheese, and capers. After diving into the flesh of the first passion fruit I’ve tried in a while, I realized the pulp has some caper-like similarities in appearance, but it’s sweet and the colors are so pretty. Could this tasty fruit work as a substitute in one of my favorite snacks, I wondered?

Never shy to experiment, I decided to make some lox toast with a lovely Real California Milk queso fresco I had on hand. Pairing the queso fresco and lox exceeded all of my expectations in the flavor department, and you know what? The passion fruit pulp totally worked with garden grown tomatoes and tarragon! Yum yum.

This quick snack with Real California Milk queso fresco was actually way too fun to make. Not only does the finished dish highlight dairy’s versatility with all the delicious ingredients it can be paired with, but it also shows how dairy can make the snack even healthier. Fun fact: one serving of cheese contains 45% of your pantothenic acid, which helps your body use carbohydrates, fats, and protein as fuel. How cool is that?!

Passion Toast: Lox with Real California Milk Queso Fresco

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Time: 15 Minutes
Serves 2-3

Ingredients
4 oz Real California Milk queso fresco
2 tsp lemon juice
½ tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp tarragon leaves, chopped plus additional to garnish
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 petit sweet baguette, halved lengthwise, quartered
Extra-virgin olive oil
4 oz smoked salmon
2 small tomatoes, thinly sliced
¼ cup red onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp passion fruit pulp (about 2 medium fruits)
Lemon wedges (optional)

Directions

Preheat broiler to 500F.

In a medium bowl, add queso fresco, lemon juice, lemon zest, tarragon, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir until combined.

Lightly brush baguette slices on all sides with olive oil and lightly season with salt and pepper. Transfer baguette slices to the oven on the top rack and broil until lightly toasted, about 1-2 minutes. Flip over on the other side and cook until golden, about 1- minutes longer.

Spread queso fresco mixture over toasts. Top with tomato slices, lox, and red onions. Garnish with dollops of passion fruit pulp and tarragon. Squeeze with a wedge of lemon if desired and season with salt and pepper to taste.


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Remy’s Grahams Berry and Nectarine Crumble with Marshmallow Crème

I’m guessing most of my readers don’t know that it is Huckleberry season in California. You may not even know much about huckleberries, except Tom Sawyer’s friend was named after them in those well-known adventures written by Mark Twain.

Luckily for you, I am here to shed a little light on a berry-yummy fruit that is super fun to wild forage!

Huckleberries grow in the Northwestern United States and along some parts of the Pacific Coast. They’re actually pretty similar in flavor, shape, and size to blueberries. Not much is known about their nutrition, but since they’re berries, they have to contain antioxidants that are healthy for you, right?

My husband Adrian and I tried growing what we thought were authentic huckleberries in our garden a few years ago. They grew AMAZINGLY and we made serious amounts of jam with them. But we found out in the middle of growing the prolific plant that it was not a “true” huckleberry. In fact, it’s impossible to establish them from seed and they only grow in the wild, which makes them pretty special!

Fast-forward to a week ago when Adrian and I received a recommendation to hike at Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve in Oakland, CA. Having no idea that huckleberries grew there, we were a little curious to see several groups of hikers wild foraging around bushy brambles when we arrived.

After asking one hiker to clarify what the fuss was all about, we quickly learned that huckleberries grow locally AND are in season! The generous hiker gave us an extra sandwich bag, and we were able to forage a pint of huckleberries over the duration of our hike. It was sort of a dream come true.

With this big adventure under our belts, we wanted to make a big dessert! I immediately thought of a marshmallow crème that I’ve been wanting to incorporate with a Remy’s Grahams crumble and seasonal fruit. Remy’s Grahams make for the tastiest snack, so I knew they would make for the tastiest crumble!

Made by The Safe + Fair Food Company, Remy’s Grahams are a snack you can trust. The brand makes clean label, nut-free snacks, dessert mixes, and mac and cheese. You will not only feel great about giving them to your little one (and of course enjoying them yourself), but also feel safe to bring them into any situation where other children (or adults!) may have a food allergy.

So how was that crumble? It paired SO perfectly with the marshmallow crème, which is essentially a heavenly cloud of yum that should be served straight away into your mouth.

Ready for the recipe yet? It won’t disappoint!

Remy’s Grahams Berry and Nectarine Crumble with Marshmallow Crème

Time: 45 Minutes
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients

Crumble
3 (1 oz) bags Remy’s Grahams
3 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tbsp kosher salt
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp honey
5 tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp lemon zest
½ tsp cinnamon

Nectarines
2 ripe nectarines, cut into wedges
2 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp butter

Berries
1 cup fresh huckleberries or berries of choice
1 tsp granulated sugar
1 tsp lemon juice

Whipped Marshmallow
2/3 cup sugar
½ cup glucose
¼ cup water
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp granulated gelatin
3 egg whites

Directions

Crumble
Preheat oven to 300°F. Add graham crackers, flour, salt, and sugar to a food processor and pulse for until graham crackers appear crumbled.        

Add graham cracker mixture to a medium mixing bowl. Stir in melted butter, honey, zest, and cinnamon until well combined. Add crumble in an even layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown and crisp. Allow to cool completely.

Nectarines
In a medium bowl, add nectarine wedges, brown sugar, lemon juice, and stir to combine. Melt butter over medium heat in a large saucepan and add nectarine mixture. Stir nectarines occasionally until coated in syrup, about 4-5 minutes.

Berries
In a medium bowl, add huckleberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Lightly mash berries with the back of a fork. Set aside.

Marshmallow Crème
In a small saucepan, add sugar, glucose, water, and salt. Stir to combine and simmer until the temperature reaches 240°F. Remove from heat.

Combine ¼ cup of the glucose syrup and granulated gelatin in a small bowl. Stir to bloom the syrup and pour back into the saucepan. Whisk to combine.

In a stand mixing bowl, whip egg whites on medium-high for 1-2 minutes to form soft peaks. With the mixer on low, slowly drizzle the glucose syrup into the egg whites until all of the syrup is added. Increase the speed of the mixer to high and whip until the mixture has thickened and is slightly warm.

To Serve
Spoon marshmallow crème into bowls. Top with nectarines, berries, and graham cracker crumble. Serve immediately!


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Sweet and Sour Bangkok-Style Chicken with Chilies

Ketchup - it’s what’s for dinner! Okay, okay, it’s not only what’s for dinner. But did you know that ketchup is amazing in stir-fry dishes?

Ketchup is best used in sweet and sour recipes that can range from being super quick and easy, like this NYT Recipe for Stir-Fried Chicken with Ketchup, or still easy but with complex flavors, like the one I adapted from Chef Andrew Zimmern below! You may be surprised, but ketchup successfully builds an incredible sauce that’s tangy, bright, and delicious!

In making a stir-fry with ketchup, it’s important that I trust the ketchup I’m using. I adore Primal Kitchen’s Organic Unsweetened Ketchup because it’s not only organic, but it also contains ingredients I can trust. It’s even Whole30 Approved and Paleo Friendly! Plus, the color of the ketchup has a beautiful red hue and the ketchup flavor just pops! 

If you love Thai flavors, you’re going to enjoy this dish! In addition to ketchup, Thai ingredients like lemongrass, shallots, garlic, and turmeric are utilized to really make this dish exotic. The peas and carrots also add a nice healthy touch and a satisfying texture!

So what are you waiting for! Get your Primal Kitchen Ketchup (stir-fry) on!

Sweet and Sour Bangkok-Style Chicken with Chilies

[Sponsored]

Time: 1 Hour
Serves 6

Ingredients

Pickled Tomatoes
1 tsp sweet soy sauce (kecap manis)
2 tsp coconut vinegar or distilled white vinegar
2 tsp light brown sugar
1 tsp sambal ulek
1/8 tsp shrimp paste
1/2 tsp salt
3 medium vine ripe tomatoes, quartered

Bangkok-Style Stir-Fry
10 fresh birdseye chilies
4 lemongrass stalks, tender inner white part only, roughly chopped
8 shallots, chopped (2 cups) 
8 garlic cloves, peeled
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs  
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
Kosher salt
3 tablespoons peanut oil
1 cup Primal Kitchen Organic Unsweetened Ketchup
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup lightly packed mint leaves, coarsely chopped

Directions  
In a medium mixing bowl, prepare the pickle by stirring together the sweet soy sauce, vinegar, light brown sugar, sambal, shrimp paste, and salt. Add tomatoes and stir to combine. Allow pickle to marinate for at least 20 minutes. 

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the chilies, lemongrass, shallots and garlic. Puree, scraping the mixture off the sides as needed, until smooth, about 4-5 minutes.

In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with the turmeric, cinnamon and 1 tsp kosher salt. In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add half of the chicken thighs and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned on both sides, about 8 minutes total; transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining chicken.

Add the pureed chili mixture to the skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring and breaking up any browned bits from the chicken, until golden brown, about 5-7 minutes. Add Primal Kitchen ketchup, vinegar, sugar and 1/2 cup of water and bring to a simmer. Return the chicken to the skillet with accumulated juices and simmer over moderately low heat until the chicken is tender and cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium pot of salted boiling water, cook the carrots until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes; drain. Add the carrots and peas to the chicken and simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in the mint and season with salt. Transfer the chicken to a platter and spoon the sauce over the top. Serve With steamed Jasmine rice and pickled tomatoes.


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Real California Cheese Mushroom & Pesto Quesadillas

What better way to support strong bones & a healthy body than to get calcium and protein into your diet with...CHEESE! Check out my “Real California Cheese” Mushroom & Pesto Quesadillas for a sophisticated spin on quesadillas!  

If you’re a cheese lover like myself, you’d know that the key to the perfect quesadilla is the cheese! Instead of using just one kind of cheese for quesadillas, I like to use a Real California Milk shredded Mexican cheese blend for the filling. This blend typically combines the tart flavor of Monterey Jack, the rich flavor of sharp cheddar, and the mild flavor of Colby Jack. Getting to experience a blend of cheeses really adds flavor and variety, not to mention extra cheesy goodness!

As a Californian, I buy products with the Real California Milk seal because I know our state’s dairy products are produced the right away and are of the highest quality. When you buy cheese with a Real California Milk seal, you’re assured that you’re purchasing cheese made exclusively with Real California Milk by real cheese makers.   
       
Lucky for me (and you), I developed the perfect combination of quesadilla ingredients to knock your socks off AND to highlight Real California Cheese. The icing on the cake? Real California Fromage blanc! I had some extra in the fridge and thought, why not? It totally made this dish special.

Although the Real California cheeses have my heart, the epazote pesto also makes this quesadilla pop.  If you can’t find epazote, you can exclusively use fresh basil instead.

Pro Tip: before using adding the basil to the food processor: remove the stems and make sure it’s completely dry!     

Real California Cheese, Mushroom & Pesto Quesadillas

Time: 40 Minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients

Pesto
1 cup fresh epazote leaves
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup pine nuts
3 medium fresh birdseye chilies, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves
Juice of 1 lemon
¼ tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Mushroom Quesadillas
Extra-virgin olive oil
8 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped, divided
5 small dried birdseye chilies, sliced thin
1 bunch green onions, white and light green parts only, finely sliced
10 epazote leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups spinach leaves
8 (6-inch) flour tortillas
12 oz Real California Milk shredded Mexican cheese blend

To Serve
Lime wedges
Sliced radishes
¼ cup Real California Milk fromage blanc

Directions
In a small food processor, prepare the pesto by combining the epazote, basil, extra-virgin olive oil, pine nuts, birdseye chilies, garlic, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Blend until well combined. Set the pesto aside.

Heat 1 ½ tbsp extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Add half the mushrooms to the pan with ½ the garlic, ½ the chilies, ½ the green onions, and ½ the epazote leaves. Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Sauté mushrooms until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms to a plate. Repeat with remaining mushrooms.

Return all mushrooms to the sauté pan over medium heat with additional olive oil if needed. Add spinach and stir until spinach wilts, remove from heat. 

Lay out tortillas on a large plate or work surface. Spread about 1 tbsp pesto over each tortilla, followed by 1/3 cup shredded cheese and ¼ cup of the mushroom mixture. 

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add open-faced tortillas, one at a time to the skillet and allow cheese to melt slightly. Fold tortilla over with a spatula to form a quesadilla and press down lightly. When the bottom of the tortilla is lightly browned, carefully flip the tortilla over on the other side. Press down lightly and continue cooking for about 1 minute, until the tortilla is browned on the opposite side. 

Transfer quesadillas to a platter and keep warm. Repeat with remaining tortillas, adding additional olive oil if necessary.

Serve quesadillas on plates and garnish with remaining mushroom mixture, small spoonfuls of fromage blanc, pesto, and radishes. Squeeze over lime wedges if desired. 


If you loved this recipe, you will love my recipes for Chicken Mole Verde Tacos, Mushroom Tacos with Fried Eggs, and Health(ier) Chicken Enchiladas!

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