Herb Cheese Logs

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Guess what? You can freeze goat cheese. Who knew?

I had no idea. According to the internet, soft cheeses freeze quite well, actually. This opens up all kinds of ideas for different types of goat and sheep’s milk cheeses. This cheese is mild and delicious. Not overly “goaty” like a lot of aged goat or sheep’s milk cheese. Perfect on crackers, toasted baguette slices, on top of a baked potato, in your favorite salad, sprinkled over your favorite pasta dish…the options are endless. You can make it sweet with zest and agave nectar or savory with herbs and spices. I’ve used sweetened goat cheese with breakfast crepes and it was amazing. Get creative!

Goat’s Milk Cheese Logs

*Makes four 4-5 inch logs

1 Gallon Raw Goat or Sheep’s Milk

3 Tablespoons Kosher Salt + more for seasoning later

Juice of 10 Organic Lemons, about 1 Cup Fresh Lemon Juice

About 2 Tablespoons Organic Chives, chopped

About 2 Tablespoons Organic Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped

About 1 1/2 Tablespoons Organic Thyme, chopped

About 2 teaspoons Chopped Garlic ( I used the organic garlic that comes in the jar)

Ground Pepper

I have a new obsession. Making my own goat’s milk and sheep’s milk cheese! Once you try it, you won’t believe how incredibly easy it is.

I’ve read that it’s important to use raw milk because pasteurized milk doesn’t clot the same way. If you’re able, I would suggest trying to find a local organic farm where you can buy the raw milk.  And then of course, use organic lemons and organic herbs. I buy organic and all natural whenever possible. It just makes sense to eat pure, clean, food as much as I can.

But as you probably already have experienced yourself…pure, locally grown food comes with a little sticker shock.

I paid $16.58 for 1 gallon of raw goat’s milk. One gallon of goat’s milk made into cheese gives you about 12 ounces of cheese. That’s about $1.38 per ounce. Expensive, but really no more than you pay in a grocery store. And the satisfaction of making it yourself and knowing exactly what is in it and where the ingredients come from…priceless!

So give it a try, you won’t be disappointed, I promise:

In a large dutch oven or stainless steel pot (do not use aluminum) add several inches of water and bring to a boil. Boil for about 5 minutes to sanitize.  I carefully sloshed it up and around the sides. Drain, add the milk and salt, stir. Heat to 185-190 degrees stirring frequently. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t scald on the bottom of the pan.

Meanwhile, line a large strainer with the cheesecloth. I used all of the cheesecloth in the small package I purchased. Just fold it over and make sure it drapes over the sides. Place the strainer over a deep bowl.

When the milk reaches 185-190 ish degrees, remove from heat.

Slowly stir in the lemon juice. It starts to curdle right away.

Add a pinch of parsley, chives, and thyme, reserving the rest for after the cheese has drained. Allow to rest for 25 minutes in the pan.

After it has rested, pour slowly into the cheesecloth. Allow to drain for about 30 minutes.

Do yourself a favor though…keep an eye on it and don’t go check your blog or your Facebook page while you’re waiting for it to drain. Because you’ll end up with this:

And more importantly this…

Carefully pull the sides of the cloth in and twist into a ball, carefully squeezing out some more of the liquid. Allow to rest and drain for another 25 minutes or so checking and draining the bowl every so often so that it is not sitting in its own liquid.

Remove the cheesecloth from the strainer and scrape the cheese off with a spoon into a bowl. Add the remaining herbs and garlic and stir to combine.

Taste and add a bit more kosher salt and a few grinds of good peppercorns.

On a clean working surface pull out a piece of plastic wrap and fold in half. Spoon goat cheese onto the middle of the plastic wrap in a small row.

Gently roll up one side of the plastic wrap and snuggle it over the log. Roll the log to the other end of the plastic wrap, twist the ends tight and tuck under.

Continue to do this with the remaining cheese or if you’re going to use it within a couple of days, you can also make it into one large log or any shape you like, really.

Once all of the cheese has been rolled, refrigerate for three hours. Remove from fridge, roll in one more layer of plastic wrap, cover in tin foil, enclose in a freezer bag and freeze up to one month.

Meatless Monday – Sheep’s Cheese Bruschetta & Veggie Salad with Marinated Chickpeas

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This is a new adventure for me. Like a lot of people, we are major meat lovers. In an attempt to cut out some of the red meat in our lives, I’ve decided on Meatless Mondays and Fish Fridays with a couple of chicken or turkey dishes in between on the weekdays. And who knows? Maybe we’ll like this whole meatless thing so much we’ll have a few days during the week where we go “vegetarian”. We’ll save the red meat and delectable desserts for the weekends!

There are all kinds of depressing statistics out there that you can Google. People who eat red meat several times a week have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and all different types of cancers. It can double your risk of arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and endometriosis. And I won’t even go into the whole organic versus non-organic thing. Hormones, genetically engineered corn feed…EEK! Anyway, as much as I love red meat, it’s time to switch it up a bit and it’s a welcome change. I’ll get to try a variety of new recipes and if I think they’re good, I’ll pass them on to you.

Tonight’s meal was wonderful (if I do say so myself!), and I don’t feel like I was missing out on anything by having a meatless dinner. The salad was refreshing and the marinated garbanzo beans added a lot of flavor. The bruschetta was amazing and the goat cheese mixed with the tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic, and balsamic vinegar? Delectable!

Marinated Chick Peas

1 Can of Chickpeas (Garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained

Drizzle of Olive Oil

Drizzle of Rice Vinegar

1/2 Tbsp. Fresh Basil, chopped

1 1/2 tsp. Fresh Oregano, chopped

Ground Pepper

Place the chickpeas, herbs, olive oil, vinegar, and pepper in a small bowl. Stir and allow to marinate for at least 1 hour.

Veggie Salad

I didn’t write down measurements for this. It will depend on how large your family is, and pretty much everyone knows how to make a salad.

Baby Spring Mix

Baby Spinach

Romaine Lettuce

Red Onion

Yellow & Orange Bell Pepper

Sugar Snap Peas, sliced in half lengthwise

Broccoli

English Cucumber

Compari Tomatoes, quartered

Sheep’s Cheese Bruschetta

1 Box Gluten Free Pantry French Bread & Pizza Mix

1 Tbsp. Dried Basil

1 Tbsp. Dried Oregano

1/2 Tbsp. Dried Garlic

4 Compari Tomatoes On The Vine, diced

2 Tbsp. Fresh Basil, chopped

2 Cloves Garlic, diced

1 1/2 Tbsp. Red Onion, diced

Drizzle of Olive Oil

Drizzle of Balsamic

Crumbled Sheep’s Milk Cheese, about 1/4 block

Preheat oven and mix the boxed bread mix according to the directions, except use olive oil instead of vegetable oil. I also used almond milk.  Stop mixer and add the dried basil, oregano, and garlic. Mix on high for 1 more minute. I placed my dough in a french bread pan. If you don’t have a french bread pan you can try to make a mold out of heavy-duty aluminum foil (it makes 2 loaves) or bake it as directed on the box. This is what a french bread pan looks like:

Once the bread is done, allow to cool for 30 minutes.

Slice into bruschetta size slices and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Toast the bread on each side until it is lightly golden brown. While it’s cooling, prepare the topping.

Place the tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic, red onion, drizzle of olive oil, and drizzle of balsamic vinegar in a small bowl.

Stir and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Place about a tablespoon of the tomato mixture on each slice of toasted french bread.

Next, add the crumbled sheep’s milk cheese.

Place under the broiler until the cheese is bubbly and browning on the top.

Serve warm with a beautiful salad and your favorite wine.

Simple & Full Of Flavor

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A lot of people consider chicken and salad to be a “diet” meal. Not me, and here’s why. First of all, chicken can be prepared at least one hundred different ways and I could certainly say the same for salad. If your idea of chicken and salad is steamed or heaven forbid…boiled chicken, and a plate full of iceberg lettuce, then you need to venture out into the world of flavor and variety.

My husband recently returned from a skiing trip in Utah and brought me the most wonderful olive oil and balsamic vinegars. Wonderful doesn’t even come close to explaining the intense flavors. Unbelievable would maybe be a more appropriate description. A pleasantly shocking experience. I’ve tasted quite a few vinegars and oils over the years and these by far rank in at #1. My husband tried several different varieties and settled on 3 different bottles to bring home (wrapped inside his ski boots to keep them safe). California Garlic Olive Oil, Blackberry Ginger Balsamic Vinegar, and 18-Year Traditional Balsamic. Such an incredibly thoughtful gift for a foodie like me. The creative minds at Mountain Town Olive Oil Co. certainly know their stuff. I can’t wait until we have the opportunity to head their way together so I can taste every single thing they make.

Mountain Town Olive Oil Co. Park City Utah

Yesterday I stood in the kitchen the entire day making a “Thanksgiving” feast, pie included, for our Valentine’s Day dinner. I was looking forward to something simple tonight but wanted to prepare something that would support my new gifts from my husband nicely. Something simple, but full of flavor. Every single bite I took I had to tell my husband how good it was! I’m sure he was thankful that I was enjoying his gifts, but honestly, I couldn’t stop talking about it. Right now, I have the bottles sitting next to me as I type this and things keep running through my mind like, “What else can I eat with those right now?” It’s a good thing I’m out of GF bread. But tomorrow…well, tomorrow is another day where I’m already envisioning bread, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar for lunch….

Grilled Chicken Breasts & Vegetable Salad

(This makes a large salad & 4 chicken breasts. I try to make a large salad every 4 days with different ingredients to keep in the fridge to munch on, making it easier to get our daily veggie requirements. There are 3 of us, but this meal would easily feed a family of 4 or 5 for dinner.)

4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, rinsed and dried

Olive Oil, extra virgin

Sea Salt & Pepper

Smoked Paprika

1 tsp. Oregano

1 tsp. Thyme

4 Cups Romaine Lettuce, chopped or torn

4 Cups Spinach Leaves, stems removed

1 Cup Carrots, shredded

1 Cup Mushrooms, sliced

1/2 Cup Fresh Green Beans, diced

1 Cup Broccoli, sliced small

2 Green Onions, sliced

4 Compari Tomatoes, quartered

About 1/4 Of A Goat Cheese Block, crumbled

Your Favorite Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar

Dry chicken breasts, place on plate and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt & pepper, and smoked paprika. Sprinkle with 1/2 of the oregano and thyme. Turn breasts over and repeat process. Set aside.

Prepare the romaine lettuce and spinach.

Prepare the carrots, mushrooms, green beans, broccoli, green onions, and tomatoes. Pre-heat grill on medium to medium high (this will depend on how hot your grill gets).

Crumble the goat cheese.

Assemble the salad, refrigerate, and place chicken on hot grill. I like to grill mine for 7-8 minutes on each side. This ensures that they are tender and juicy.

Remove chicken from grill. And allow to rest for about 5-8 minutes.

Slice, plate the salad, add the chicken, and drizzle with your favorite olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Veggie & Goat Cheese Flat Bread

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When I went gluten-free, all I could think about was bread. Well, pretty much any carbohydrate that I wasn’t supposed to consume really. At first it seemed as though I would just have to learn to live with what was being sold in the small gluten-free isles at our local grocer or just go without. But then a wonderful thing happened! I started to educate myself about this whole gluten-free life. I visited new grocery stores, websites, and learned great gluten-free living tips from other allergen avoiding people. My whole world opened up and I started to experiment with other products and even started creating my own recipes. Not only could I eat well, but I was eating much healthier than I had been, and didn’t feel like I was missing out on all of the gluten foods I used to eat.

This flat bread is made with a packaged focaccia mix called, Chebe. The product is also in my Product Reviews section if you’d like to learn more. One thing I realized when I was trying new products is that I didn’t always have to follow the directions on the package. So if you’re one of those sticklers for following a recipe or the directions on a package exactly, my advice to you is loosen up a bit, they aren’t the boss of you! Experiment, think of other ways you could use it, or other things you could add to it. Get creative and get cooking!

Veggie & Goat Cheese Flat Bread

Flat Bread Crust:

1 pkg. Gluten Free Chebe Focaccia Mix

1 tsp. dry basil

1 tsp. dry oregano

4 tsp. chopped garlic

2 Tbsp. plus Extra Virgin olive oil

6 Tbsp. almond milk

2 eggs

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Pour Gluten Free Chebe mix into large bowl. Add basil, oregano, 2 tsp. of the chopped garlic, olive oil, almond milk, and eggs.  With a fork, stir to combine.

With your hand, knead in bowl until the dough comes together and is somewhat smooth and formed into a ball. Set aside.Cut parchment paper to fit a baking sheet. Place parchment paper on counter and dust with gluten-free flour (I used Mama’s Almond). Place dough ball on floured parchment and sprinkle more flour on top of the dough.

Roll dough out to fit parchment, leaving about 2 inches or so around. Place parchment and rolled dough on baking sheet.

Place the remaining 2 tsp. of garlic in a small bowl or ramekin and add the 1/8 cup olive oil. Prick the dough all over with a fork. Brush dough with olive oil and garlic. Be generous.

Bake for 20 minutes, remove and set aside.  (If I’m making this for a party I bake the crust in the AM, let it cool, and cover it with plastic wrap on the counter until I’m ready to top and bake it again.)

Sauce, Veggie, & Goat Cheese Topping

For the sauce:

While your crust is baking begin making the tomato sauce.

1 can of fire roasted tomatoes

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes

2 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped

1 Tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped

3 cloves garlic, whole

Place ingredients in order, in a blender and process until smooth.  Set aside.

For the veggie & goat cheese topping:

1 1/2 cups Cremini mushrooms, sliced (Did you know Cremini mushrooms are baby Portabellos, and much less expensive?)

1 cup zucchini, sliced on the diagonal

2 cups bell pepper, sliced (I did a mixture of orange & yellow.)

1/2 cup red onion, sliced and then roughly chopped

about 2 hand fulls of fresh spinach

2 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped

1 Tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped

1 pkg. goat or sheep’s milk cheese (In the block, not the log.)

Prepare all of your veggies and herbs, crumble cheese. Set aside.

Spread a generous amount of the prepared tomato sauce on the flat bread crust. You will probably have some left over, depending on how saucy you like your crust. If you do have left overs, I had about 3/4 of a cup, you can place it in a plastic container or plastic freezer bag and freeze it for next time. Next, layer the spinach first, then the mushrooms, zucchini, onions & peppers, and top with the goat cheese. Once I had it together I tossed it lightly with my fingers to mix the cheese into the peppers and onions.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20-30 minutes until edges are golden and cheese is lightly bubbly. Sometimes I also like to put it under the broiler for another 8-10 minutes, I did not do that this time.  If you do it will slightly brown your cheese and the edges of your veggies and is very good.

Remove from oven, cut into squares, serve and enjoy!