We’re moving in 12 days! I’m starting to wonder why we thought moving 7 weeks before my due date was a good plan! I’m actually very excited, just anxious and stressing a bit. My sweet mom came down and helped me for a few days last week. We didn’t pack the entire kitchen, but that process is beginning. I plan to have the kitchen pretty much packed away by the beginning of next week. That last week I plan to eat easy breakfasts, freezer meals, give Carson a lot of convenience foods (and his weight in strawberries of course) and explore the take-out situation in our neighborhood. I’ve already stocked up on paper plates, plastic utensils and cups. I don’t want to find myself packing plates and silverware at 2 am the night before we move.
Eating restaurant food is probably going to get old after a few days. I like cooking and knowing what goes into our meals. So I want to cook a lot in the coming week. The problem with that is how unprepared I have been recently when it comes to groceries. And if I’ve forgotten something, I have little to no desire to take Carson to the store for one item. One night last week I made dinner with what we had around, which was an adventure. And a pretty tasty adventure. So tasty, in fact, that I typed this recipe up right after we ate so that I wouldn’t forget it. The picture doesn’t do it justice, but casseroles in general are just plain unattractive.
I made fried chicken earlier in the week. Since 2 people can’t (and shouldn’t) eat an entire chicken we had quite a bit left over. My thought for dinner began with that chicken. I knew we had rice, but I couldn’t think of what else I was going to throw in my chicken and rice dinner. So began the scavenging. Squash from Farmhouse. A shallot. Green onions. A half bag of spinach. The remains of a box of chicken broth. The rest of a carton of sour cream. Leftover white cheddar cheese. And a packet of Lipton chicken noodle soup mix. This was going to be dinner. The biggest gamble was the squash. I roasted it and figured if I didn’t end up using it in the casserole I could snack on it and give some to Carson. It ended up being really great and something I would definitely repeat.
Chicken and Rice Casserole with Roasted Squash and Spinach
- 2-3 cups 1/2 inch cubed squash (I used patty pan and butternut)
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 6 green onions, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 4-6 ounces fresh spinach
- 1 cup white medium grain rice
- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 1 package Lipton chicken noodle soup mix
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4-1/2 cup shredded white cheddar cheese (optional but delicious)
- Roast Squash: Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss seeded and cubed squash with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 20-30 minutes, tossing about halfway through. Set aside.
- Heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and 1/2 tablespoon of butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Once hot, add in shallot and cook for 2 minutes, add in green onion and cook 2 minutes, then add in garlic, stir and cook for about 1 minute.
- Stir in the rice, stir and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add in the spinach and cook until slightly wilted. Turn off the heat and mix in the chicken and roasted squash.
- Pour in the chicken broth, soup mix, sour cream and milk. Stir until well combined.
- Reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Pour into a greased 9×13 pan and sprinkle with the cheese, if using.
- Cover tightly with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 10 more minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.
The last month has been a crazy one, and the next two aren’t going to be any different. We are moving from our sweet little rent house into a lovely suburban home with 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a nice big kitchen with garbage disposal, and enough counter space not to have to balance pans on top of the coffee maker. Yes. I have done this. Life will be so good. And about 5 weeks after we move in we will have a new baby on our hands, and so life will be a totally different kind of crazy. Can that be an acceptable excuse for why I haven’t blogged in a month?
I have been cooking, but haven’t been taking pictures of any of it or recording it anywhere. This is a big time bummer. One of my favorite things about having this blog is being able to search for a recipe I’ve made in the past and be reminded of what I did to change it that made it better, or the things I didn’t like that I’d change the next time around. When I don’t update the blog, I don’t have those recipes…unless I managed to write notes on them and put them somewhere safe…which is a rare event. So today I am playing catch-up.
One of the things I’ve had the luxury of participating in this summer is the Farmhouse Delivery here in Houston. When the bushel of local fruits and veg arrive on my doorstep carried by a shaggy headed hipster jamming out to whatever cool music is playing through his earbuds, I get positively giddy. Some of the items we receive are no-brainers. Peaches and blackberries are perfect in my morning yogurt and granola. Cucumbers, sweet peppers and the sweetest cherry tomatoes known to man get sliced and tossed into salads. Potatoes, onions, corn and slicing tomatoes have also been part of our meals. But then we get stuff like patty pan squash and eggplant. What am I going to do with this? I haven’t figured out the patty pan yet, but did find a use for the eggplant. So Farmhouse Delivery, thank you for helping me to explore more in my kitchen. And thanks, Sarah, for the recipe! I feel more of an obligation to use the produce fully since, well, we paid for it, AND it’s fresh and local and delicious. If I forget about a grocery store peach in the back corner of the fridge drawer I toss it out. If I were to forget a farmhouse peach I would probably cry a few tears and have a little memorial service for the sweet and forgotten little guy. On to the recipes…
Spinach, Basil & Walnut Pesto
A big bag of fresh basil came one weekend, and so I made 2 batches of this pesto. We ate it on pizza with mozzarella and farmhouse tomatoes. Another night I mixed it in with penne pasta and chopped cherry tomatoes topped with grated Parmesan. The leftovers from that meal got mixed with lots of mozzarella cheese, more pesto, more tomatoes and then baked in a casserole topped with Parmesan bread crumbs. So many easy and delicious dinners out of one batch of pesto.
- 4 cups baby spinach
- 2 cups basil
- 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- Rinse and pat dry spinach and basil.
- Put greens in the bowl of a food processor, pour walnuts over, sprinkle with salt and begin to pulse. While pulsing, add olive oil in a stream until desired consistency is reached. Taste and add more salt if needed.
- Transfer to a lidded container and store covered in the fridge or freeze for later use.
Quinoa Mac and Cheese Casserole
I’ve made this twice now. It is sure to become a regular on our dinner menu. The great thing is that you can change the vegetables, spices and cheese to make it fit your tastes or what you have available. I used an onion from Farmhouse in this recipe, but other than that it’s a grocery store produce meal. Don’t worry, I’m not getting all snooty about my produce…at least not forever.
Adapted from Eat, Live, Run
- 1 1/2 cups dry quinoa
- 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 3 green onions, chopped
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 6 ounce bag fresh spinach
- 8 ounces mushrooms, chopped
- 1 cup milk
- 2 cups grated white cheddar cheese
- 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp dry mustard
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Heat a drizzle of oil over medium heat in a large, deep saucepan. Add the onion, bell peppers, scallions and saute for about four minutes, just until bell pepper has started to soften. Add the mushrooms and spinach and cook until spinach is wilted. Add the garlic and continue sauteing for another 30 seconds.
- Add quinoa to the pot, followed by the chicken broth, salt, dry mustard and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until all liquid has been absorbed, stirring just a couple times.
- Add 1 1/2 cups of the grated cheese and milk. Stir to combine then pour into a greased 9 x 13″ casserole dish.
- In a small bowl, combine the Panko and the remaining cheese. Sprinkle on top of casserole and bake for about 30 minutes until golden.
Mediterranean Eggplant and Quinoa Salad
Eggplant, onion, zucchini and tomatoes from Farmhouse and then a great punch from the lemon dressing and an herby freshness from the parsley and mint make this my kind of summer meal. My sweet sister helped me find a recipe to use up my eggplant without feeling like I was eating eggplant. I used her suggestions of using quinoa instead of barley, and adding in a can of chickpeas and crumbled feta. This has made a terrific lunch the past couple days.
From Sarah, Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
- 2 small to medium eggplants, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 2-3 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1/2 onion, halved then sliced
- 10 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup chopped scallion (from 1 bunch)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 1/2 cups quinoa
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 3 cups reduced sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 lb cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed
- 1/3 cup Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives, pitted and halved
- 1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
- 4-6 ounces crumbled feta
- Roast eggplant and zucchini: Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 425°F. Toss eggplant and zucchini and onion with 5 tablespoons oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl, then spread in 2 oiled large shallow (1-inch-deep) baking pans. Roast vegetables in oven, stirring occasionally and switching position of pans halfway through baking, until vegetables are golden brown and tender, 20 to 25 minutes total. Combine vegetables in 1 pan and cool.
- Cook Quinoa: Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 3- to 4-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook scallion, cumin and coriander, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add quinoa and cook, stirring until well coated with oil, 2 minutes more. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until all of liquid is absorbed and barley is tender, 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Transfer to reserved shallow baking pan and spread to quickly cool, uncovered, to room temperature, about 20 minutes.
- Make dressing and assemble salad: Whisk together lemon juice, sugar, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 2-3 tablespoons oil in a large bowl. Add quinoa, roasted vegetables, and remaining ingredients to bowl with dressing and toss until combined well.
While in Austin a few weeks ago my sister took me to Elizabeth Street Cafe. Eat here if you ever get the chance. It’s a French-Vietnamese cafe, which may sound strange to you (it has to a couple people I’ve told about my meal) but the marriage translates into delicious bánh mì, bún and pho as well as sweet eclairs and delicate macarons. We didn’t actually have dessert here since we’d already made plans to have ice cream at Lick. Go there too.
This was one of the yummiest meals I’ve had in a while. Vietnamese cuisine has a way of leaving you totally satisfied but not stuffed. I think it’s the abundance of fresh veggies and herbs, differences in textures and the heat and intense flavor of the sauces. We shared the pork belly steamed buns, pork bánh mì on house-made baguette, and the keffir lime fried chicken bún. All delicious.
This meal inspired me to make my own Vietnamese noodle bowl at home. I decided on a Vietnamese turkey meatball instead of fried chicken. Thanks to my Farmhouse delivery last weekend I had fresh carrots and cucumbers to use in the bowl. I made the dressing for the bún, nuoc cham. It’s a basic Vietnamese dipping sauce of lime juice, fish sauce, peppers, garlic, a touch of sugar and water. I think this a really great summer dinner. Fresh crisp veggies and herbs with warm meatballs and a spicy cool heat from the sauce.
I baked the meatballs instead of pan frying. I think there was too much liquid in the meat mixture because the baked meatballs were sitting in a pool of meatball juice (you know what I’m talking about, and it ain’t pretty) so I had to drain them. They tasted delicious and with some tweaking they could definitely be something I’d make again. Although, these meatballs I know are good and could easily be used here. The recipe below makes about 35 meatballs. I wanted to have enough to make bánh mì later in the week, which we did (2 nights in a row, in fact). Cut the meatball recipe in half if you’re only planning to use the meatballs for one meal with some leftover.
The meatballs do take some time to prep with all the chopping you have to do, and the chopping and slicing doesn’t end there. The bún is full of shredded lettuce (I used iceberg but you could use romaine) julienned carrots, cucumber slices, chopped cilantro and mint. So get your best knife and cutting board ready! I made the meatball mixture, dressing and chopped everything during nap time. This made dinner time pretty easy. All I had to do was scoop and bake the meatballs, and cook the rice noodles.
In looking at different recipe for bún I saw other vegetables used like bean sprouts, daikon and red radish. Traditionally beef is used as the protein as in this recipe from Leite’s Culinaria that looks dleicious. But pork can also be used, like in this recipe from Fine Cooking which is making me crave grilled pork at 9 in the morning.
Vietnamese Turkey Meatball Bún
(Makes about 35, you may want to cut this recipe in half)
- 2 pounds ground turkey
- 5 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
- 3 small shallots, finely chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons minced ginger root
- 2 stalks of fresh lemongrass, tender white inner bulb only, minced
- 4 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint
- 2 tablespoons chopped basil
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Nuoc Cham (Dressing)
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 6 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons ginger, minced
- 1 red or green Asian chile, or serrano chile, sliced into thin rounds
- 1/2 head iceberg lettuce, shredded (or you can use romaine)
- 6-8 ounces of rice noodles (this depends on how many people you’re serving and how much you like noodles. We used 5 ounces and it made 5 servings.)
- 1 cucumber, sliced into half moons or halves
- 6-8 carrots, peeled and julienned
- 4 green onions, sliced
- chopped cilantro
- chopped mint
- chopped basil
- chopped peanuts
- sriracha (if you need more heat!)
- If baking right away, preheat the oven to 400°F. Position a rack in the top third of the oven.
- Combine the turkey, fish sauce, shallots, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, herbs, egg, salt and pepper and mix with your hands until well combined but without overworking the mixture. At this point you can either refrigerate the mixture in the bowl, form into balls and cover and refrigerate on the pan, or form into balls and bake right away.
- Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Using slightly moistened hands, roll the mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls. Transfer the meatballs to the prepared baking sheet and bake them for 15-20 minutes, until they are lightly browned and cooked through.
Nuoc Cham (Dressing)
- Combine warm water and sugar and stir to dissolve sugar.
- Stir in the remaining ingredients and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Cook rice noodles by bringing a pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and remove from the heat. Let sit for about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse the noodles in cool water.
- Layer in deep, wide bowls: lettuce, noodles and meatballs. Arrange vegetables and herbs around the sides. Sprinkle with peanuts and green onion and drizzle with nuoc cham. Toss everything together and enjoy using fancy chopsticks (or a nice reliable fork!).
This recipe has been bookmarked in my Pastry Queen cookbook for a couple years at least. The photo of these always makes me pause and swoon a little whenever I’m flipping through the pages. You’ll have to buy the cookbook to see it. My photo doesn’t come close.
I find it hard to resist the sweet, bready, ciannamony, yeasty goodness of a cinnamon roll. My favorite rolls are at The Upper Crust Bakery in Austin, Texas. They’re a totally different type of cinnamon roll with a crunchy cinnamon sugar coating instead of a gooey frosting. If you’re ever in Austin, you must go get one.
The problem with me and cinnamon rolls is the commitment (and the mess). Make the dough, let it rise, make the filling, roll and fill, cut and place in the pans, rise again, bake, frost or glaze, then enjoy…if you even have the energy at that point. And if you want to make these fresh for breakfast you have to either get up at a ridiculous hour or use some time management skills to get them ready for a morning rise and baking. So much work! But these are well worth the effort. You can even freeze them for later, which does require some work on the front end, but you get yummy cinnamon rolls straight from the oven without having to touch a bit of flour.
For some reason (could have been the 2 lonely potatoes on the counter) I just felt compelled to commit to these last week and am so very glad I did. I baked 2 pans of these rolls and there are 3 more in my freezer that are a mere overnight thaw and hour rise away from being enjoyed. Yes, this recipe makes 5 pans of cinnamon rolls. So make sure you either need to feed a hungry army, give these away as gifts or have room in your freezer and save them for later. Oh, and make sure you have 2 good sized bowls for rising. The recipe says to let the dough rise in one bowl and then divide it in half. Well, I do not have a bowl big enough for that and I don’t know who does…except for maybe my mother-in-law. So I divided the dough in half before rising and still had to use 2 of my biggest bowls.
The pecans are optional. I made one half of the rolls with and the other half without. If I’d really been thinking I would have baked one pan of the with and one pan of the without, but I wasn’t thinking. So all of my rolls with pecans are in the freezer. I am sure they’ll be delicious since most baked goods are better with pecans.
Using mashed potato in these rolls gives them a lighter texture than your normal roll. They don’t taste like potato. They are just slightly sweet, unless you drench them in frosting (like I do). If you bake and don’t eat all the rolls in the same day, cover and refrigerate the rolls. Warm in the microwave for 10-15 seconds to recreate the fresh-from-the-oven flavor. Store for 3-4 days at most in the fridge. They’re just not as good after that.
Jailhouse Potato Cinnamon Rolls
From The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather
- 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled, quartered, boiled and mashed
- Reserve 3 cups of potato water
- 1 oz active dry yeast (4 pkgs.)
- 3/4 cup plus 1 tsp sugar
- 2 sticks butter, melted and slightly cooled
- 3 eggs
- 2 tsp salt
- 9 cups flour
- 4 cups toasted pecans, optional (I used 2 cups and made half with and half without pecans)
- 4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon
- 2 sticks butter, melted
- 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- Grease two 9X13 disposable foil pans (you will probably need more pans, depending on how many rolls you end up with. I used 5).
- Wash, peel and quarter the potatoes and boil until fork tender, 10-15 minutes. After boiling the potatoes, set aside 3 cups of the potato water and let cool to 110 degrees using a candy thermometer, or to the temp of hot water coming out of the faucet.
- Mash potatoes in a large bowl, set aside. Sprinkle yeast over the water, stir until dissolved, add 1 tsp. sugar. Allow to rest for 5 minutes until foamy.
- Whisk the mashed potatoes and 3/4 cup sugar together. Add the melted butter, eggs , salt and potato water and mix until smooth. Switch to a wooden spoon, and add the flour 3 cups at a time, mixing until combined. Mix until all the flour is incorporated.
- Place the dough in 2 large greased bowls. Cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place until the dough is doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
- Leaving the dough in the bowl, flour your hands and punch it down until it deflates. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. At this point the dough can be refrigerated until the next day. You can proceed from here, but it is easier to handle the dough after it has chilled.
- With floured hands, remove one batch of the dough from the bowl onto a well floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll into a 1/4 inch thick rectangle. About 20 X 10. Spread the rectangle with half the butter, then half the brown sugar mix, then half the chopped pecans.
- Starting with the long side, carefully roll the dough. Using a very sharp floured serrated knife, cut each roll crosswise in 2 to 3 inch slices. Place the slices, cut side down, in the foil pans spacing about one inch apart so they have room to expand. Make sure the end flap of each roll is set snugly against a side of the pan. Repeat with the other bowl of dough.
- At this point the rolls can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and a layer of foil and frozen up to 3 weeks. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight or for one hour at room temperature and continue following the directions from this point. Leaving them covered, set the rolls in a warm draft free place and let them rise until they get puffy, about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Remove covering and bake the rolls for 20 to 25 minutes or until light brown.
- Combine icing ingredients with a whisk and drizzle over warm rolls.
When it comes to pesto, I tend to think only of the basil and pine nut variety. This one is my favorite. But there are so many combinations of herbs and nuts that you can use to make pesto! I find basil and pine nuts to be on the pricier end of the spectrum, so using cheap ingredients like cilantro and peanuts make this a wallet friendly pesto as well as a delicious one. The pesto is tossed with some linguine and shredded chicken to make for a complete meal.
My Everyday Food magazine on the iPad is proving to be quite the handy resource. I can put the iPad in my cookbook holder. I don’t have to print out the recipe, and I don’t have to have my big laptop next to the stove and sink. In addition to being convenient, there are a lot of quick and simple recipes, like this one.
I didn’t change much about the recipe. I used less pasta than the recipe calls for. I did this for a couple reasons. I’d rather have more stuff in my pasta dishes and less pasta. Also, my pasta was a 1 pound package. I’d rather use half and have enough to use later for another recipe instead of using 3/4 and trying to incorporate 1/4 into a meal. I had some pesto left over, so I should have just used the 3/4 pound.
The recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, but spice hasn’t been my friend lately. So I left that out. I used a little more ginger, added shredded rotisserie chicken for some protein, and used 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and found that to be plenty. But start with 1 tablespoon, taste and adjust as you see fit.
Martha says you can use the entire bunch of cilantro, including the stems. I’m not sure if the same is true for basil and parsley. I would think parsley would be since the two are so similar (I’ve bought one instead of the other at the store on more than one occasion). Basil, I don’t know. But since basil leaves are so big it isn’t a difficult task to remove them from the stem.
This cilantro peanut pesto has inspired me to search out some other interesting pestos. Here is a kale and walnut pesto from Lauren of Healthy Foods for Living. And Cookie + Kate’s arugula and walnut pesto sounds amazing.
Cilantro Peanut Pesto Pasta
From Everyday Food
- 1 bunch cilantro, 1/4 cup leaves reserved for serving
- 1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled
- 1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into chunks
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest plus 2 tablespoons juice
- 1 teaspoon light-brown sugar
- 1/3 cup roasted peanuts, divided
- 2 to 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 to 3/4 pound spaghetti or linguine, cooked according to package instructions
- 2 cups shredded chicken (optional)
- In a food processor, combine cilantro, garlic, ginger, vegetable and sesame oils, lime zest and juice, brown sugar, and 1/4 cup peanuts. Pulse until a coarse paste forms. Season with soy sauce and pulse to combine.
- In a large bowl, toss pesto with pasta. Stir in shredded chicken.
- Roughly chop remaining peanuts and sprinkle over pasta along with cilantro leaves.
The last meal I made from Martha Stewart Everyday Food was just ok, so I was a little apprehensive about this one. It sounded like it had to be delicious, though. Zucchini and fresh corn tossed with ricotta cheese, pasta and fresh basil. It was a nice, light dinner served warm, but an even tastier lunch the following day right from the fridge. This is a good summer pasta.
I changed some of the cooking methods. The recipe calls for grilled zucchini left over from another meal, which is a great way to use leftovers, so use extra veggies if you have them on hand. It also says to boil the corn with the pasta. I just chopped the zucchini and sauteed it with the corn. Basil and dill are the herbs in the recipe, but I just used basil. I meant to add some fresh parsley, but forgot about it until my plate was almost clean. I added some chopped grilled chicken Ben had made the night before. I might serve this along side grilled chicken next time instead of mixing it in, at least the first night we eat it. I think they would look good next to each other. And then the chicken would have pretty grill marks and not look as pale and sad as it does in this picture.
The corn is wonderfully sweet and crunchy. The basil is spicy and one of my personal favorite herbs for summertime. The ricotta is not heavy or overwhelming, it just adds a light creamy coating to everything. The only thing I found to be missing was salt. I salted the pasta, salted the veggies and salted the sauce, but still I wanted more. Now that I think about it, a nice squeeze of lemon juice might have done the trick. Acid is important…at least that’s what they say on Top Chef. So taste as you go along and definitely taste after mixing everything up to adjust as you see fit and let me know if you try lemon juice.
Here are some other changes. I used bowtie pasta (and a little penne to make 3/4 pound) but I think you could easily get by with 1/2 pound of pasta. Just throw in another zucchini or two and another ear of corn. You can use fat free ricotta, but low fat might give you more of a creamy and substantial feel. Grill the zucchini and the corn if you can. While I loved the way the corn tasted I couldn’t stop thinking about how much better it would be with slightly charred smoky corn. Grill it on the cob, then cut it off. If you grill the zucchini, use a grill basket or cut the zucchini into long thick strips to grill it, then cut it into proper sized pieces after it cools a bit.
Does anyone have any great tricks for cutting corn from the cob? I always make a ridiculous mess and throw bits of corn all over my kitchen. Please advise.
Basil Ricotta Pasta with Corn and Zucchini
From Everyday Food
- 1/2-3/4 pound short pasta, such as campanelle
- 1 cup reserved pasta water
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup ricotta
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
- 4-5 small zucchini, sliced and then quartered
- 1 3/4 cups corn kernels (from 2-3 ears)
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn, plus more for serving
- 2 cups chopped, cooked chicken (optional)
- In a large skillet heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat. Add zucchini and corn and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes or until zucchini is slightly softened but not squishy. Season with salt and pepper.
- Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain.
- In a large bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup pasta water, ricotta, and Parmesan. Add pasta mixture, zucchini, and basil, and toss to combine. Add more pasta water if necessary to create a light sauce that coats pasta. Season with salt and pepper and top with more basil and Parmesan.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with this lemon cream pie. Nothing at all. Simple flavors, creamy filling, slightly tart and slightly sweet with a crunchy, buttery crust. There is one lone slice left in the fridge and I am tempted to eat it for breakfast. It can’t be any worse than a donut, right?
This came about at the last minute the other night when some sweet friends brought dinner for us after I’d been out of town all week. Since they were bringing everything, I said I’d make something for dessert. It was 5 o’clock. As fate would have it, I had everything I needed for this pie, including a box of Mi-Del graham crackers that, in my opinion, took this pie to a place it would never have gone with a box of Honey Maid. They’re more substantial in texture and flavor and provided a great base for the pie.
I started this pie at 5 and we ate it at 8. With 2 hours of that being chilling time this pie is pretty quick and easy. And there isn’t really an hour of active time since cooling time for the crust and pie is factored into the hour. What I’m saying is that if you’re in a time crunch and want to give something more impressive than a box of Oreos to dinner guests, make this pie.
Lemon Cream Pie
From Real Simple
- 9 ounces graham crackers
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1/2 cup lemon juice (I didn’t get quite this much from the lemons I had, so no worries if you have the same problem)
- 1 1/2 cups whipped cream
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- Heat oven to 350° F.
- In a food processor, process the graham crackers until fine crumbs form. Add the butter, granulated sugar, and ½ teaspoon of the salt and pulse until moistened.
- Press the mixture firmly into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate, using a straight-sided dry measuring cup to help.
- Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the edges are dry and set, 16 to 18 minutes. Let cool.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, condensed milk, lemon zest and juice, and the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt.
- Pour the mixture into the crust and bake until set in the center, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool and then refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.
- Using an electric mixer, whip the cream, confectioners’ sugar and extracts on medium until soft peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Spread on the pie, sprinkle with the additional zest, and serve immediately.
It is grilling season, and we’ve been taking full advantage of it on the weekends. We had dinner from the grill both Saturday and Sunday night. Last night we even ate outside. It was wonderful. I love this time of year.
Saturday night Ben grilled steaks, I made these potatoes and a green salad. If we ate this every night of the week Ben would be the happiest man on earth. Around 5 that afternoon my plan for a side dish went about as far as potatoes, but I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with them. Mashed is always a good choice to accompany steak, but I didn’t feel like something loaded with butter and cream. So we had roasted potatoes that had been tossed with brown butter and fresh thyme. Ben said, “We need to have this meal again.” I think we will.
When garlic cooks and gets nice and brown it is spectacular and crunchy. When garlic burns, it turns bitter. I burned my garlic. So next time I would throw the garlic in with the potatoes when they had about 20 minutes left instead of at the beginning.
Thyme and Brown Butter Roasted Potatoes
- 2 russet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Brown butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Watch it closely and swirl the pan periodically to keep it from burning.
- Combine warm butter, thyme and salt in a large bowl. Add in the potatoes and toss to coat.
- Pour potatoes onto a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil or parchment (I used Reynolds parchment/foil pan liner with great results).
- Bake at 400°F for 40-45 minutes, stirring the potatoes around so that all sides can get nicely browned every 15-20 minutes. Toss garlic with potatoes when they have about 20 minutes left to cook.
- Let cool on the sheet for a few minutes, then serve.
Springtime calls for desserts like this. Fresh flavors that don’t weigh you down or make you feel too full. This light citrus cake is filled with fresh raspberries and topped with a sweet cream cheese glaze-like frosting. It was the perfect end to the Mother’s Day lunch we had last weekend with some of our friends. The kids played in the pool while we sat outside enjoying the perfectly warm and breezy weather while eating our cake. I’d enjoy a day like that again anytime.
This recipe is from Cooking Light, and I chose it because I’d made it years ago and remembered it being really tasty. The original recipe calls for lemonade concentrate, which I could not find. Weird, right? They had all kinds of juice concentrate, and lots of frozen drink mixers, but no lemonade. I used limeade instead and it was great. My only complaint with the use of juice concentrate in this recipe is that you’re left with a lot left over. If I’d been thinking about not being wasteful, I’d have frozen the rest in ice cube trays and used them to ice down a pitcher of punch or something. But I don’t always think about stuff like that when it matters. I think about it after I’ve tossed what I could have saved.
I added the berries in the middle of the cake because I thought it needed some color and berries are a perfect match for citrus. Blueberries would have also been nice in the center, or a combination of the two. I squished and flattened the raspberries as I layered them on the cake to make sure they made a nice even blanket of berries.
A good thing to know about the cake is that the tops get sticky. When you take them out of the pans to cool, set them bottom side down or else the tops will stick to the cooling racks and make you very frustrated when you try to move them. I am speaking from personal experience and am trying to save you some heartache.
The frosting/glaze gave me some trouble when I frosted/glazed the cake. It’s not thin, like a glaze, but not quite thick enough to be used as frosting. It could be the concentrate that makes the consistency a bit sticky and strange, but it still tastes good. I thought about adding more sugar, but didn’t so as not to make it too ridiculously sweet. The final product wasn’t as pretty and clean as I would have hoped, but it was delicious. I made the cake the night before and refrigerated it overnight. This cake stores very well in the fridge. I did notice a little sugary crunch to the frosting when eaten cold from the fridge, but not so much after it had warmed up slightly. This recipe is one that I’ll come back to. I might try it as cupcakes for a baby shower I’m helping with in June.
Carson enjoyed this cake. Or maybe he just enjoyed the fact that I was letting him have his way with a real fork and a nice big slice of cake…
Lemon, Lime and Raspberry Layer Cake
From Cooking Light
- 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
- 3 tablespoons thawed limeade concentrate
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large egg whites
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/4 cups low fat buttermilk
- 1 cup fresh raspberries, rinsed and drained
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons thawed limeade concentrate
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 8 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
- 2-3 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Grease and flour 2 8-inch cake pans.
- To prepare cake, place first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 5 minutes). Add eggs and egg whites, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda; stir well with a whisk. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat well after each addition.
- Pour batter into cake pans; sharply tap pans once on counter to remove air bubbles.
- Bake for 25-35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.
- To prepare frosting, place butter, cream cheese, concentrate, zest and vanilla in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until fluffy. Add powdered sugar, and beat at low speed just until blended (do not overbeat). Chill 1 hour.
- Place 1 cake layer on a plate; spread with 1/2 cup frosting. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Store cake loosely covered in the refrigerator.