Fig, Arugula and Goat Cheese Pizza with Balsamic Caramelized Onions

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This time last year: Iced Sugar Cookies (2012) & How To: Cut and Deseed a Pomegranate (2013)

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I grew up eating fig newtons. That’s about as close as I got to figs.

A box would show up in the pantry if we were lucky, or if my grandmother was coming into town, and my brother and I would sneak one every chance we could!
Fig newtons were not a staple, but they sure were delicious.

I went backpacking through Peru last summer. It was six weeks of the most life I have ever lived, day after day after day. I hiked, I helped build homes, I learned about ancient Incan medicine, I danced in cobblestone bars, I ate avocados fresh from the market like they were going out of style, and I tried, but failed, to learn the names of countless beautiful fruits I had never seen before.

One of those days I was sitting with my group of fellow backpackers, at a beautiful patio table in the courtyard of our hostel in Cusco, and someone brought out an enormous plastic blue bowl full of fruit. They had cut these exotic creations, cleaned them, and here they was- sitting like a pile of jewels, right in front of us.
I ate each piece slowly, trying to imprint those flavors, that beautiful creation, into my memory. It was in this slow and respectful indulgence, that I found myself face to face with my first fig.

It sounds silly, but I think I actually gasped at how beautiful that first fig was! The inside of a fig, in case you have not had this privilege yet, looks like a stained glass window! It has hundreds of tiny little seeds, and a vibrant pink color. There is no other word, but stunning. I will never forget it. The other thing that will not allow me to forget this moment, is the feeling that I should have seen a real fig prior to this moment in my life! We have figs in the states as well, why were fig newtons my primary exposure? I remember laughing at myself as I asked the Spanish name of this familiar fruit, and bit into it with delight.

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This pizza does not have fresh figs (however if you have access to them, you should absolutely include them!), however it does have fig jam. Maybe I was feeling nostalgic, or maybe I was feeling creative, or bold, or adventurous. Whatever the reason, my new all-time favorite pizza recipe ever, has roots in a little big of nostalgia, a little bit of adventure, and nothing but delicious ingredients.

> So- dig in! It’s good to live life fully.

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Ingredients:
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 white or yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar (Fruit flavored if you have it! I used a cherry balsamic vinegar!)
  • 1 Naan pizza crust
  • 3 Tablespoons fig jelly/ preserves
  • 1/2 cup Arugula leaves (about 1 handful- more or less to preference!)
  • 1/2 pear, cut into thin slices
  • 1/4 cup cranberry goat cheese
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese, to preference
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.
  2. Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a small pan over medium heat.
  3. Once hot, add the onion slices and sauté until soft and light brown.
  4. Stir in the balsamic vinegar, cooking for an additional 30 seconds, and then remove from the heat.
  5. Spread the fig jelly in an even layer over the pizza crust, and top with a layer of arugula.
  6. Arrange the pear slices and caramelized onion over the arugula, and then cover with goat cheese and shredded parmesan to your preference!
  7. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the crust toasted!
  8. Serve warm and enjoy!
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Notes and Tips!:
  • Source: A Rented Kitchen
  • Like this recipe? Try these other delicious dishes from A Rented Kitchen as well! (recipe links found below):

 

Oven Roasted Balsamic Caprese Kabobs

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This time last year: Vegan Sweet Potato Quinoa Chili with Homemade Tortilla Chips (2012)

Leonardo Da Vinci said that “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”  I think this recipe can attest to that.

With only five ingredients, probably 75% of which you already have in your kitchen, you will be amazed at how delicious such a simple recipe is. And if you’re like me, you’re likely to be amazed that this incredible and delicious possibility has been living in your kitchen all along and you are just now discovering it! Sneaky recipe!

The flavor combination is simple. You’ve had it before. However, as Di Vinci said, there is something about simplicity that can be so beautiful, so delicious, and so right; so give it a try!

In addition to being 100% delicious, this recipe is not going to break the bank, take up too much of your time, and can keep for several days in the fridge! Win-win-win.

SO, what are you waiting for? Get cooking! Something simply delicious is waiting.

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Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces of mozzarella balls (I used Bel Giosio Mozzarella balls!)
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil + more for the pan
  • Salt and/or garlic powder (as desired)
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped basil (fresh or from your spice rack!)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F, and brush a baking sheet with a light layer of olive oil.
  2. Toss the cherry tomatoes with the remaining olive oil and balsamic vinegar (add a dash of salt and/or garlic powder if desired!)
  3. Arrange the tomatoes on the baking sheet and cook for 10 minutes, or until soft, wrinkly, and plump, but not yet popped.
  4. Once cooked, remove the tomatoes from the heat and allow them to cool for 10 minutes. Then arrange them on skewers, alternating between tomatoes and mozzarella balls. Sprinkle with basil and serve warm!

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Notes and Tips!:

  • Source: A Rented Kitchen
  • Like this recipe? Try these other delicious dishes from A Rented Kitchen!

Strawberry Goat Cheese Quesadillas with Mint and Caramelized Onion

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The World’s Most Delicious (and EASY!) Chocolate Cake (2014)

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I don’t know about you all, or if this is just a Georgia thing, but there are strawberries Everywhere! It’s awesome!

For the last few week I have been eating strawberries like they are going out of style, and I have no intention to stop.

My normal method of eating strawberries is to slice them up and put them in my morning oatmeal or on top of a bagel. However, I have grown to really love strawberries in the main course and in side dishes. People do not expect to see strawberries in their wraps or in their salad, but I have never received a complaint!

So, if you’re feeling a little springy, healthy, and like trying something new, give these delicious quesadillas a try! Strawberries on the dinner table or in the lunchbox will make everybody happy. 🙂

Come back soon!

Love, Sarah

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Ingredients*:

  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 box of button mushrooms
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Black Cherry Balsamic Vinegar (or regular BV)*
  • 1 pint of strawberries, rinsed and sliced thin
  • 5 sprigs of mint leaves, rinsed and diced
  • 6 ounces honey goat cheese
  • 10 whole wheat tortillas* (Use gluten free quesadillas if needed!)

Directions:

  1. Slice the onion and mushrooms into small strips/ bite size pieces.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and mushrooms and sauté, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and beginning to brown. Stir in the balsamic vinegar, and cook for another few minutes until the onions look slightly caramelized. Remove from heat.
  3. Assemble the quesadillas by spreading a layer of goat cheese on a tortillas. Top with sliced strawberries, diced mint leaves, and a hearty spoonful of the onion/mushroom mixture.
  4. Place in a large frying pan over medium heat, and top with another goat-cheese spread tortilla. (Do not use oil or non-stick spray! The oil will make the tortilla soggy and ruin the quesadilla!). Cook for a few minutes on each side, remove from the skillet, and cut with a pizza cutter.
  5. Serve warm and enjoy!

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Notes and Tips!:

  • I made these quesadillas for a potluck, which is why there are 10 tortillas listed. Feel free to half the ingredient list to fit your own serving needs!
  • Looking for Black Cherry Balsamic Vinegar? I got mine at a specialty Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil store in Kansas City, however grocery stores such as Whole Foods also carry a variety of vinegars, and any fruit flavored balsamic vinegar will have a similar affect! If all else fails, regular BV will also work well!
  • Like this recipe? Try these other spring dishes from ‘A Rented Kitchen’ (recipe links found below photos!):

Balsamic Mushroom and Fruit Summer Salad

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Wow summer has flown by.  Usually summer is my season with the most cooking, because I have the most free time, however this summer has been a very different story.  My last ten weeks have been entirely consumed by three summer courses, a part time job, an internship, one week as a camp counselor, a trip to the lake house, and moving into a new house.  So much for slowing down!

I know from personal experience that when life gets too busy, cooking is often one of the first things pushed aside. Instead of taking the time or energy to cook a nutritious meal, we often end up turning to junk food, microwaveable options, and eating out.  Guilty as charged.

There is hope though! This salad is something I whipped together over my lunch break this afternoon, and was so pleasantly surprised at how quickly it all came together, and how delicious it tasted, that I knew I had to share it with you.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I did, and I hope your August is filled with porch swings, slow evenings, ice tea, and friends.  I’m still holding out hope for that slow summer pace  🙂

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Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 4-5 large button mushrooms
  • 2 cups mixed spinach leaves
  • ¼ cup rinsed blueberries
  • 4 large strawberries, sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons crumbled goat cheese (as desired)

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Teaspoon olive oil
  • Juice from ¼ of an orange
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon agave (a little more if the balsamic is too strong for you!)

Instructions:

  1. Heat 1 Tablespoon of oil in a small frying pan.  Rinse and slice the mushrooms, and add to the frying pan once hot.
  2. Sautee for one minute, then drizzle 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar over the mushrooms and cook for a few more minutes, flipping occasionally.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the salad dressing ingredients in a small cup and whisk thoroughly.
  4. Toss the spinach leaves in a medium-sized bowl.  Add the sliced strawberries, blueberries, and crumbled goat cheese over the top.  Then add the warm mushrooms and top with a drizzle of dressing.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

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Notes and Tips!:

  • Try marinating your mushrooms in the dressing for a few hours prior to sautéing them for a fuller flavor!
  • Vegan? Leave out the goat cheese and replace it with a vegan cheese substitute if desired!
  • Like this recipe? Try these other delicious dishes from ‘a rented kitchen’ and make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss a thing!

Homemade Fresh Tomato Sauce with Basil, Mushrooms, and Baslamic Vinegar

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It’s officially spring here in Richmond, thank the Lord! I was starting to think spring would never come. However, it is here and I am so so thankful.  It is funny how a week of sunshine and warm weather has made my conscious imagine that I have more free time than I really do (no brain, it is not summer yet, keep working!), as well as immediately start craving some of those fresh summer dishes we all know and love so much (cough cough balsamic bruschetta and blueberry mint lemonade!).  I know it is not truly summer yet, and in many ways that’s a very good thing, but nonetheless I have been really craving some fresh summer-ripened tomatoes this week. Thus, I present to you my favorite, quick and easy, homemade pasta sauce.

With fresh tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, veggies and spices, this simple concoction will please both meat eaters and veggie heads alike! It is so easy to just buy a great big jar of pasta sauce at the store, however when you do that you often get a very long list of preservatives and unpronounceable ingredients. With this homemade pasta sauce, you’re only getting the best fresh and natural ingredients. I can also guarantee that none of those store bought sauces will be nearly as satisfying and delicious as this homemade sauce. That’s the nature of fresh tomatoes and basil for ya!

Give it a try, and happy spring!

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Ingredients:

  • 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • ½- ¾ diced yellow onion
  • 1 ½ cups sliced mushrooms
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (+ ½ teaspoon garlic powder- optional)
  • 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes (with the juice!)
  • 2 diced vine tomatoes (medium sized)
  • 5 large Basil leaves
  • 2 Tablespoons capers
  • 2 teaspoons Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • Topping optional: Rosemary, additional sprinkle of oregano or basil, shredded cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Once the oil is warm, add the onions and allow to cook for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Next, add the mushrooms to the pan and allow to cook for another few minutes.
  4. Add the diced garlic to the center of the pan and allow to cook for 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Then thoroughly mix into the onions and mushrooms. You can add the garlic powder later if you want additional garlic seasoning- I did, but I love garlic.
  5. Add the canned diced tomatoes (with all the juice!), the fresh diced tomatoes, basil leaves, garlic powder (optional) capers, balsamic vinegar, and oregano. Mix together well and allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring regularly, or until most of the tomato juice has disappeared.
  6. Serve over a fresh bowl of pasta and top with additional herbs and a sprinkle of dried Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

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Notes and Tips!: