artichoke and goat cheese strata

Lots of thanks to Maggie for starting us off!

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Some people say that artichokes are too much work to prepare and eat and then not worth all the effort.
I don’t care if I actually had to go scavenging for wild artichokes in a dark and woolly wilderness with a artichoke seeking warthog guide.  There is no challenge too great when artichoke is the reward.
Needless to say, I was down for this recipe.

Also?

Goat cheese?  Hullo?  Do you even know me?  (Ok, probably, you don’t know me.  Here’s a tip.  Maggie loves goat cheese.  Almost as much as artichokes.)

I don’t really know what a “strata” implies, but who cares.

So, without further ado….

Artichoke and Goat Cheese Strata from March’s Cooking Light

Prep Work: Pretty minimal.  Mincing up shallots, cutting up bread, and crushing the garlic were the most work-y bits.  Also, make sure to **defrost your artichokes, otherwsise you end up having to futz around defrosting them in the microwave.**
Overall Time: Long.  Cooks for 50 minutes, so is definitely not ideal for a weeknight quickie.
Difficulty: Totally easy.
Yum Factor: It was very good.  I would make again.
Serving Size: Since this said it would make 6 servings, but a serving was 286 calories, we made it 4 servings instead, which made for a completely satisfying meal.
Leftover Factor: Microwaving it for lunch the left day did not retain the slight crunchiness of the bread bits on top that had gotten toasted in the oven.  So it was missing that aspect, but otherwise still good.

Ingredients

  • 1  teaspoon  olive oil
  • 1/2  cup  finely chopped shallots (about 1 large)
  • 16 ounces* of frozen artichoke hearts, thawed, and coursely chopped
  • 2  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2  teaspoon  dried herbs you have, like fennel seed, savory, and thyme (or herbes de provence if you roll that way)
  • 1 3/4  cups  1% low-fat milk
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 4  large eggs
  • 1/3  cup  (about 1 1/2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • about 5 cups of cubed bread loaf.  I used a hearty whole wheat.  5 cups was about half of the loaf.
  • Cooking spray
  • 3/4  cup  (3 ounces) crumbled goat cheese, divided

* The recipe calls for 10 ounces of artichoke heart, but the packages I found were 8 ounces, so I got two and then just included it all.  Seemed pretty good to me!

What to do with all those ingredients:
Heat oven to 375° and lightly spray an 8 x 8 inch ceramic/glass baking dish with cooking spray.

1.  Saute your minced shallots in a large frying pan over medium heat with your olive oil.

After about 2 minutes, when the shallots are getting a bit translucent, dump in the artichokes and garlic and stir those around a bit for another 8 minutes.  Take the pan off the heat and mix in your herbs.

2.  Whisk up your milk, eggs, salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Add in the parmigiano and the bread, and mix carefully so as to maintain your bread cubes.

Then, mix in the artichoke and shallots into the large bowl with the bread mixture.

3.  Put about half of the mixture into an 8 x 8 inch ceramic or glass baking dish.  Then layer in half of your goat, then the rest of the bread and artichoke stuff and then the rest of your goat cheese.

4.  Stick the dish in your 375° oven.  Go watch America’s Next Top Model.
Come back 50 minutes later.  There should be some toasty, crusty bits on the top.
Serve up into 4 servings  (roughly 430 calories.)


recipe signup!

I finally got my magazine in! Yay!

I’ve had several people say that they’re in, so I’m gonna start next week!

I’m hoping to post twice or three times a week.

Next week, I’m gonna make and post the White Pizza with Tomato and Basil (p. 46) on Thursday of next week. I’ll let y’all pick a recipe before I go claiming lots of others.

So, in the comments, leave what recipe you want to try and which week in March you want to post. I’ll get a calendar up when it starts to shape up a little.

I’m excited to get started!


cook with me!

The last month has been kinda busy, and I have a feeling March is gonna be similar. And I’m up to my elbows in fiction. So I thought that we’d have a magazine club instead of a book club in March!
I know it breaks with tradition. It’s not really a book, but it is food. So it qualifies, right?
It’s much less of a commitment, financially and emotionally. And so much fun.
Here’s what you do.
1. Go buy the lastest Cooking Light. (Or, if you’re like me, just wait and wait and wait for it to come in the mail even though you saw it at Barnes and Noble last week.)
2. Pick a recipe.
3. Make it! Either as published or (if you’re like me) with your own twists and turns.
4. Write a post about it. Take a few pictures. Shoot it to me in an email.
That’s it!
I’m hoping to have it in the next few days I’ll get the stinking magazine. I’ll create a list of recipes and a calendar for posting. Then you can just sign up!
Just go get the magazine already!

what’s next?

I’ve really enjoyed the last 2 books, but I’m kinda tired. And loving fiction.

I also don’t know how to keep momentum up. With both books, we’ve started so excited and then kinda puttered out.

I had an idea today. Since there is “food” in the title of the blog, what would you think about a cookbook for our next selection? We could each make something from each section….

Reactions?

Suggestions?

 


reaction and overview

You know, the more I process this book, the more I think about the size of things.

When I started this process of figuring out my story, I was expecting myself to make some huge all-encompassing life change. I thought I’d somehow find the funds to quit my job and open a coffee shop. I thought I’d have this huge emotional shift where suddenly everything would make sense and I’d be even more in love with my life.

But I’m starting to realize that my story, like everything else in my life, only moves along when I make the next best choice. And those choices don’t appear life-shattering when they happen. They appear like every other decision we make in our lives. I look at my central stories right now and their humble beginnings.

The decision to apply for a job.

The decision to start running.

The decision to be thankful.

The decision to finally not attach my self-worth to my size.

All decisions that almost seemed minor at the time, decisions that I didn’t know if I’d follow up with or be committed to. But these were decisions that stuck and completely changed the course of my story.

“When we look back on our lives, what we will remember are the crazy things we did, the times we worked harder to make a day stand out.” p. 208

I have a lot of days in my life that run together. I want to take the time to remember. I want to take the time to create adventure and wonder and memorable scenes. And, just as importantly, I want to be like Bob. To write down everything I remember. To remember the moments that define me, even the small ones. I want to not only be excited about the story that I’m telling, but to also remember the story that brought me to who I am today.

“But it’s like I said before, about writers not really wanting to write. We have to force ourselves to create these scenes. We have to get up off the couch and turn the television off, we have to blow up the inner-tubes and head to the river. We have to write the poem and deliver it in person. We have to pull the car off the road and hike to the top of the hill. We have to put on our suits, we have to dance at weddings.” p. 214

I think this is a great place to end up so close to the Lent season. I want to think about the distractions in my life and snuff them out. I want to play in the rain. I want to take risks as they present themselves. I want to be brave and seek adventure and make every day a day that propels my story forward.

And these things that propel my story? They don’t have to be grand gestures. I can go for a run. I can write a handwritten note. I can make a gift for a friend. I can continue to be thankful. I can follow through on my commitments. And guide my story, one day at a time.

What am I doing to make my story meaningful? Memorable? Am I living out my story every day? At every opportunity?

My greatest hope is that I can continue to stand before you and yell an emphatic “YES!”

Thank you all for coming on this journey with me. I am glad to call you friends.


chapter 34 – Afterword

I have absolutely fallen head-over-heels in love with book club. And with you guys. Here’s why:

“A good storyteller doesn’t just tell a better story, though. He invites other people into the story with him, giving them a better story too.” p. 236

This is what we’ve done here. We’ve created an arena where we’re involving each other in figuring out where our stories are going. We discuss it here. We discuss it on our blogs. We are exploring together. We are taking action together. And I love that.

As I look at the story I’m telling, I not only look at what story I want to write in my future but also what parts of my current story do I want to continue and what parts do I need to close already.

I think a large part of my story is my Thankful blog. (I know this is old material for most of you, but hang in here.) Every day, I post a picture on the blog and on facebook of something I am thankful for.  And I have been shocked at the reaction. People started thankful blogs of their own. And facebook blew up on me. I get comments and questions from people I haven’t spoken to in years. I get random “likes” from my parents’ friends. I’ve seen other people do similar projects. A friend of mine, who created a thankful album of her own, works at a local college and they created a Thankful group on facebook. A lot of people joined (over a thousand) and posted phrases or pictures of things they were thankful for in November. It blew me away.

I feel like I invited people into my story. I took a story that was dark and bleak and miserable and I created something beautiful. And I stay committed to that story. Because I never know who needs a reminder that day. I never know who I may strike a chord with.

How can you invite people into your story? Have you already started doing that? Have you felt vulnerable? What has that process been like for you?


chapters 31 – 33

“She was a terrific and deliberate woman.” p. 220

Now that is the story I want to tell. I want to be terrific and deliberate.

I don’t know what to say about the chapter about Jim’s wife, other than I read it over and over and over.

I don’t know what to say about this whole section. Other than it warmed my heart. And gave me hope and lit my passion. For a lot of things.

So what do you have to say?