Cottage Cheese Muffins with Sundried Tomato and Basil

I made a major discovery. Instead of your typical coffee shop muffin (super-sweet calorie bomb), these “muffins” are more like a hand-held souffle. They are delightfully savory, with cottage cheese, parmesan, sun-dried tomatoes, and basil. They made a fantastic lunch (I’ll take two, please) as well as the easiest grab-and-go breakfast ever. Even better than their taste is the fact that they have less than 125 calories each. It’s actually kind of unbelievable.

These muffins come from the amazing Heidi Swanson at 101 Cookbooks. As I have mentioned, my best friend of the same name (Hi, Heidi!) introduced me to Ms. Swanson’s work a couple years ago and I always do a quick search on her blog whenever I am looking for a healthy meal. I am beyond thrilled to be sharing these with you, and I hope you make them as soon as you can. This is one that just shouldn’t wait.

p.s. how do you like my makeshift muffin wrappers? I never remember to buy them at the store, but parchment paper made a great (and probably cheaper) alternative!

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Grilled Crostini with Fresh Chèvre, Tomatoes, and Basil

I hear that Labor Day is unofficially the end of summer. Technically, we still have 16 more days until Fall, so let’s stay positive here. I don’t think anyone has told my tomato plants a thing about this because they are turning out beautiful, ripe tomatoes like crazy! (I’m not complaining, I’m thrilled!). If you’re lucky like me, you are probably trying to find a way to use up all your end-of-summer tomatoes.

These crostini has been one of my favorite picnic recipes this summer. They are easy and pretty quick, but still tasty enough to seem like a treat, especially if you are using home grown or farmer’s market tomatoes. The smokey grill flavor makes the crostini extra-special, so I would recommend grilling if you can – but I did include the how-to for preparing the crostini in the oven.

Now go enjoy the last of the summer produce and weather!

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Zucchini Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits

I’ve been hearing that summer is over. It seems as though everyone is talking about boots and a chill in the air. Well…it’s been reaching to almost 100 here in Paso this week and the Farmer’s Market is overflowing with various colors and sizes of zucchini. It’s still summer and I’m not giving up on it just yet!

I’ve been in love with the Magda variety of zucchini – they are so pretty and not mushy at all, and they don’t have too many seeds. That’s what I used for this recipe, which I absolutely loved. I made a few swaps to the original: I used buttermilk instead of regular milk, because I just can’t resist a buttermilk biscuit. I also used half barely flour and half all-purpose flour – of course, using 100% all purpose would be just fine.

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We Olive Recipe Contest Winner: Burrata and Heirloom Tomato Panzanella

I have exciting news! We Olive, a great olive oil shop with a location here in Paso Robles, recently hosted a Facebook contest. To enter, you had to submit a recipe that featured California Olive Oil – not too hard to do for me, given the obsession with Pasolivo Olive Oil in this household. I submitted one of my very favorite recipes, Burrata and Heirloom Tomato Panzanella……and I was selected as a finalist! That means I won a $100 gift certificate to We Olive as well as a great prize package centered around the Paso Robles Olive Oil Festival, which my mom and I have attended together every year since it started eight years ago!

 If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might know that I posted a Panzanella recipe last summer. I am going to post the winning recipe here, because this recipe is new and improved with a better way of preparing the croutons – it makes a huge difference!

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Broccoli Cheddar Soup

My boyfriend has a lot of patience. We’ve been living together for a few months now, and at least once a week we have this conversation.

Tim: What should we do for dinner tonight?
Laura: I don’t know what do you feel like?
Tim: Whatever you feel like.
Laura: Ummm soup?

And then he’ll laugh because the amount of soup I eat is “unreal.” I could eat it every day.

This broccoli cheddar soup, from the amazing Heidi at 101 Cookbooks, is a soup that Tim actually got excited about, and it was realllly delicious! It also taught Tim the difference between shallots and scallions, which is very important (xo babe).

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Taleggio-Stuffed Mushrooms

I’ve got to admit it – I’m a total cheese snob. I blame my foodie parents – I got wedges of brie in my preschool lunchbox when the other kids got string cheese. My first winery job, at Vihuela in downtown Paso Robles, was fabulous because we shared a space with Vivant Fine Cheese – therefore, I lived on a strict diet of wine, cheese, and baguettes for almost a year (sorry, arteries!). I learned so much from Danika, from wine and cheese pairing to the particularities of making the perfect platter – what an education!

“More Taleggio? Do I need to stage an intervention?!” Yes, this is what Danika said to me when I was last in her shop. My mom and I have been obsessed with Taleggio lately! We usually just eat it on slices of baguette or on Triscuits, but this weekend I decided to get creative and tried it on stuffed mushrooms. If you like earthy, you will love this combo!

Taleggio is a soft, Italian, washed-rind cheese. A washed rind means just that – the cheese is periodically washed in a saltwater brine (or wine or beer!), which creates the ideal conditions for a red-colored bacteria to grow and impart a pungent smell and taste onto the cheese. Taleggio is nice and stinky, but has a surprisingly mild flavor. It is great on its own, and also makes a great gourmet grilled cheese. Visit your local cheese shop and try it – I think you’ll love it!

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Sweet Life Laur on the Your California Show!

Exciting news! Sweet Life Laur is on this week’s Your California Show! Host Randy White calls it a “Must Go-To Blog” in the introduction, and he called me Paso’s Rising Star on his Twitter! Wow!

If you’ve found me because you listened to the show, Welcome! I hope you enjoy my site. Please feel free to post any questions or comments about my recipes, and let me know how they worked for you when you try them. I love to hear success stories (or, un-success stories – I’m happy to help you fix it for next time!). Please “like” me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter, too!

On Your California, Randy interviews people from around the state who are involved with some form of wine, food, or travel. Earlier this week, Randy contacted me and asked if I would be on his show, and of course I said yes. (Listen to the clip for the full story of how he even found me). I was so excited when I heard from him, I couldn’t even believe it! The next day, I did the interview over the phone on my lunch break. Since it was a phone interview, I don’t have a cool picture of me in the studio with headphones and a mic to post…but maybe next time!

I mention Vivant Fine Cheese, Pier 46 SeafoodMeritage Wine Tasting Lounge, and Nature’s Touch in my interview, but I didn’t get the chance to go into how important it is to support the local economy. These are wonderful people who carry wonderful products and they should not go without mention…so a BIG thanks to them and more!

The segment is going to air on The Krush 92.5, our local Central Coast radio station on Sunday, September 4 at 10:00 am and Tuesday, September 7 at 6:00 pm. Although I encourage you to listen to the whole thing, my segment starts at 20:15. You can also download the free Podcast if you want to keep my voice on your iTunes forever…ha!

Just a little disclaimer: my content is not to be used freely. I want you to enjoy my photos and try out my recipes, but if I find them in a book or elsewhere online and you haven’t asked and linked back to me and given me proper credit, you’re in trouble…seriously. That being said, making one of my photos your desktop wallpaper is totally okay…but don’t blame me if your stomach growls every time you look at it!