My gnocchi fell apart between boiling and pan searing with browned butter. It made for a gooey mess of a meal. They tasted good. But what wouldn’t after being tossed in butter and fresh thyme and topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese?
After my failure I started reading a little more about gnocchi and came across an article by Tom Colicchio that includes a nice little video of the chef at Craft making gnocchi. I was very encouraged to read that the first time you make gnocchi you will probably not get it right. Thank you, Mr. Colicchio.
I used this recipe from Giada (like how I just use her first name like we’re old pals?) for the proportions and this article and instructions from Fine Cooking for the method. Maybe mixing the two was one of my problems. I will probably try the Colicchio method, but it strikes me as one of those things you have to do a lot to get the feel for. Good thing potatoes are cheap because I think this is going to take me a while.
Honestly the process is not a long or arduous one, but getting the right feel for the dough seems to be the tricky part. It’s kind of like bread baking. My mom and I went out to my great aunt’s once to have her teach us how to make her incredible Swedish rye bread. She didn’t use a recipe, didn’t use times for rising or baking, she just knew what it was supposed to look and feel and smell like. While mom and I came prepared with pencil and pad in hand, we weren’t able to go home and recreate the bread with our notes. So I’m not going to be down on myself about this, I’m just going to have to keep doing it if I want to get it right.
Next time I will do the following things differently.
- Bake instead of boil my potatoes.
- Cut open and rice the potatoes right onto my work space right after baking.
- Make and shape the gnocchi right before I want to cook them. (I let them sit our for a couple hours…)
- Boil just until they float to the surface to avoid overcooking.
- Ice them down before saucing.
I will let you know how batch #2 comes out. I’m going to try to convince my sister to make some with me. Cooking is always more fun with someone else, especially when you’re unsure about what you’re doing and someone else can laugh about it with you when it turns into a big mess.
Dough Before Rolling
Dough Rolled Out
Cute Little Gnocchi
The internet is a great place to peruse recipes and get new ideas for healthifying your meals. I think I made that word up. I like comfort food. I like cheese, cream, sugar, butter, bacon, chocolate and all things bread. Unfortunately, eating like that all the time would mean big trouble. So I sometimes like to find ways to lighten up those calorie laden foods, even if it’s just a touch, so that we can enjoy them more often.
There are all kinds of tricks and substitutions people come up with for lightening up old favorites. Sometimes you find something that sounds great, almost too good to be true…which a lot of the time means it is and the final product is not what you’d hoped it would be. I once found a recipe for scalloped potatoes that used skim milk. Skim milk! No cream! And it claimed to be the same creamy potato dish without all the fat. They lied. I ended up throwing the majority of it away. So, I was worried about these enchiladas. I love the idea of using non-fat greek yogurt instead of sour cream or a cream sauce, but wasn’t sure if it was going to work out. But I’ve seen lots of recipes that make the substitution, so I gave it a try. Thankfully this was one of those times that taking a chance worked out and we had a delicious dinner with a little less guilt than usually comes with a plateful of enchiladas.
The original recipe came from Meals and Moves, a blog I hadn’t come across until yesterday. I changed very little, and would make just a couple additional changes when I make these again. I used corn tortillas, because I believe there is no other way to make enchiladas. I added cilantro, garlic, jalapeno and just a bit more cheese to the filling. Next time I might add chopped green bell pepper to the veggies, maybe a little more chicken and the whole jalapeno, seeded for the spice sensitive (like myself these days). But feel free to go for it with the seeds. I’ll meet back up with you in September when I can handle it without a serious case of heartburn. Too much information? Sorry.
If you’re looking for a good side dish to serve with these enchiladas or any Tex-Mex meal, try this black bean and corn salad from Whole Foods. It also makes for a good salsa and can be adapted to fit your tastes. I like to add chopped tomatoes.
Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas with Greek Yogurt
- 10 corn tortillas
- 6-8 green onions, chopped
- 1/2 jalapeno, diced small
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 can chopped green chiles (7-8 ounces total)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 cups cooked shredded chicken
- 1 1/2 cups non fat Greek yogurt (a little more for topping)
- 1 cup salsa verde
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2-1 cup shredded cheese (montery jack, colby jack, etc.)
- 1/2-3/4 cup chopped cilantro (and a little extra for garnish)
- Heat a drizzle of oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the green onions and the jalapeno and saute for 3-4 minutes. Then add in the garlic and cook for another minute or so. Add the green chiles, cumin and a dash of salt and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Mix the chicken into the warm vegetables and set aside.
- Combine the yogurt, salsa verde and cilantro in a bowl. Add all but 1 cup of the yogurt mixture into the chicken mixture. Add 1/4-1/2 cup of cheese to the chicken and mix to combine.
- Heat corn tortillas in 2 batches in the microwave, wrapped in slightly damp paper towels for about 30 seconds or until they are pliable.
- Coat a 9×13 pan with cooking spray. Fill the center of a tortilla with about 1/3 cup of filling, roll up and lay seam side down in the pan. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Some of your tortillas may crack, but it’s not a big deal. (If you have extra space, extra tortillas and extra filling, cram another enchilada or 2 into the pan.)
- Spread remaining yogurt sauce over the enchiladas and then sprinkle with 1/4-1/2 cup of cheese.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until cheese is melted and edges have started to brown.
- Garnish with a little yogurt and chopped cilantro.
This vegan salad is wheat free, gluten free, oil free and soy free! Big deal. I don’t care a whole lot about stuff like this. I am not a vegetarian, much less a vegan, though there are times I cook vegetarian meals or order a vegetarian pizza, with extra cheese, please. I don’t worry about soy, or oil, or gluten, or wheat. I do not make stuff like this. Ever. But I did today. And…I liked it.
Some time in the last year I started following this blog, Eating Bird Food. No doubt this was one of those stages when I told myself that I would start eating better. I don’t eat poorly, but I also don’t make “health” food a big priority in my life. I definitely do not worry about wheat and gluten, and thankfully I don’t have some allergy that requires me to. I eat stuff that tastes good and makes me feel good. Though I have been known to eat too much of the “tastes good” (darn you Cabdury Mini Eggs!) and then I have less of the “feel good”.
So, why did I even make this salad if I am not into food like this? It just sounded really yummy. So I made it. And it was yummy. It made for a nice, fresh, lunch that left me feeling really good. I might even consider making it again. The dressing is creamy and nutty and has a nice flavor from the ginger and curry. The vegetables are perfect together and different enough in flavor and texture to be interesting. The sweet apples and cranberries are a perfect contrast to the rest of the savory flavors. The fennel is genius. Make sure it is sliced as thin as you can get it. Raw fennel can be overpowering if the pieces are too big.
Dressed salads do not typically hold up overnight. This one was still crunchy and delicious after 24 hours in the fridge, so I was able to make lunch out of it 2 days in a row! Crossing my fingers about tomorrow! If you wanted to have it all week, just dress each individual serving when you want it to avoid soggy salad.
The recipe for this salad is from the cookbook Let Them Eat Vegan! and was posted on Eating Bird Food this week. She’s made and reviewed some other recipes from the book, and they all look pretty tasty. I’m not about to give up my cheese, beef and bacon, but I have been convinced that eating vegan isn’t disgusting! But it’s also not a lifestyle choice I’m going to make for myself. I will, however, stop cringing at vegan recipes. You might even see more vegan recipes on my blog…
- Make dressing and refrigerate.
- Slice and julienne the fruit and vegetables (except the apples) and refrigerate.
- Chop the almonds and measure out the cranberries.
Doing all this the day before will make assembly a breeze.
Kale Salad with Curried Almond Dressing
- 1 small to medium-size apple, cored and julienned (3⁄4 to 1 cup), tossed in 1tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 1/2 – 3 cups chopped or julienned kale (leaves cut/torn from stems and stems discarded)
- 1 1/2 cups grated carrot
- 1 cup very thinly sliced or julienned fennel
- 1/4 cup cranberries or raisins
- 2/3 – 3/4 cup Creamy Curried Almond Dressing (or more, if desired; recipe follows)
- 2 to 4 Tablespoons sliced or chopped raw almonds
- Extra salt and pepper to taste
- 1⁄2 cup raw almonds
- 2 1/2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup or agave nectar
- 2/3 cup water (or more to thin as needed; see note)
- 1 very small clove garlic
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 1⁄2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
- 1⁄4 teaspoon curry powder, or more to taste
- Place the apple, vegetables, and cranberries in a bowl and toss.
- Add the dressing, starting with about 2⁄3 cup and adding more as desired, if you want a thicker coating of dressing.
- Toss to coat well, then let sit for 5 minutes or more to allow the kale leaves to soften slightly in the dressing.
- Serve, garnishing with a light sprinkling of almonds and extra salt and pepper, if desired.
- Using a standing blender, food processor or an immersion blender and deep cup or jar, puree all the ingredients (starting with 1⁄2 cup of the water) until very smooth.
- Add additional curry to taste, and additional water to thin as desired. Dressing thickens with refrigeration.
This is a meal I made fairly frequently when Ben and I first got married. I rediscovered it in an old pile of recipes I’d torn out of magazines (that need some serious organizing) and I’m glad I did. It’s easy, quick and delicious; all things I appreciated back then when I was teaching full time, and all things I look for in recipes now that I work at home full time. The ingredient list is short, there is very little prep, and you can have this on the table in about 45 minutes. Serve with rice, this orzo from Martha or with some good crusty bread to soak up the sauce. The tomatoes get nice and soft, becoming just delicious squished on a piece of bread with a little of the warm feta.
This recipe was in an old issue of Food Everyday and I was happy to find it on Martha’s website also. In reading the reviews online, a lot of people opted to used basil instead of mint, which I am sure is fantastic. I personally like the mint, but I know some people who wouldn’t. Other than that change, I’ve never felt the need to change anything. I will say that this isn’t great leftover, as is the case with most seafood in my opinion. So make a half recipe for 2 people, a full recipe for 4.
Baked Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta
From Martha Stewart
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 thinly sliced scallions
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined large frozen shrimp, thawed, tails removed
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh fresh mint, plus more for garnish
- 4-6 ounces feta cheese
- Preheat oven to 475°F with rack set in upper third. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Add scallions, garlic, and oregano; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add tomatoes. Cook over medium, stirring occasionally, until no liquid remains in skillet, 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add shrimp and mint to skillet. Stir to combine; transfer to an 8-inch square (or other shallow 2-quart) baking dish. Crumble feta over top.
- Bake until liquid is bubbling, cheese is beginning to brown, and shrimp in center of dish are opaque, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with additional chopped mint.
You have no doubt seen those bars on Pinterest, and floating around on the internet called slutty brownies. I saw them posted on Pinterest by one of the last people I would have ever expected to allow the word ‘slutty’ to appear before her eyes, much less repin a recipe with the word in the title. I immediately clicked on it when I saw her pin. These things are ridiculous, and I mean that in a very good way. A layer of Oreo cookies is sandwiched between a chocolate chip cookie layer and a brownie layer. They make my mouth water and I’m pretty sure that looking at them just made my yoga pants stretch out a little more than they already were. By the way, I did not do yoga in these pants today. In fact, I did nothing. Oh no, I vacuumed. That’s something.
So here they are. The slutty brownies. And don’t you see what I mean? Don’t you just feel a little fatter after looking at them?
Photo from whatsgabycooking.com
Anyway, the link I clicked on led me to the Londoner. She uses boxes of mix, which is totally fine in my opinion, especially with something called slutty brownies. The easier the better. Another recipe, from What’s Gaby Cooking, uses scratch made cookies and brownies. I typically don’t have that kind of time or patience, so I admire you, Gaby! Jessica Simpson is apparently craving these brownies during her pregnancy, and I don’t blame her.
Now that you’re expecting to see how my slutty brownies turned out (and how much weight I gained after eating the entire pan), I did not actually make slutty brownies. I just wanted to talk about them. But I did make a three layered bar that brings together shortbread, dulce de leche and brownies. I made the shortbread cookie and used a can of dulce de leche and a box of brownie mix. I think they would have been better with a scratch brownie, which really isn’t all that hard to do and I wish I’d done it. Next time.
Everyone seemed to like these. The salt was nice next to the sweetness of the brownie. The combination of textures, crunchy, sticky and gooey was quite delicious. The only changes I might make would be to use more dulce de leche and, like I said above, make a scratch brownie. You could add chocolate chunks or nuts to the brownies, I’d probably use pecans, but I’m biased. Toffee pieces might also be really tasty, but that might be overdoing it…but not as over the top as the slutty brownies,
Shortbread, Salted Dulce de Leche & Brownie Bars
- 1 cup butter, cold and cut into cubes
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- pinch of coarse salt
Dulce de Leche
- 1 can of dulce de leche
- a couple pinches of flaked sea salt
- 1 family size brownie mix (for a 9×13 pan)
- ingredients called for on the box (eggs, oil, water)
- Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until mixture resemble coarse sand. Do not overmix.
- Press mixture into a 9×13 pan (greased if desired, I did not grease my pan). Make sure to push the mixture slightly up the sides. When you pour the dulce de leche on top you do not want it to touch the sides of the pan or it will burn and stick during baking.
- Bake at 325°F for about 20 minutes. Let cool completely.
Dulce de Leche
- Pour dulce de leche into a microwave safe bowl and microwave in 20 second increments, stirring in between, until it is smooth enough to spread easily.
- Spread dulce de leche over shortbread layer evenly, making sure it does not touch the sides of the pan.
- Sprinkle salt evenly and lightly over dulce de leche.
- Prepare brownie batter according to package directions and pour evenly over the dulce de leche layer.
- Bake at 350°F for 40-45 minutes. Check for doneness on the brownie layer and bake a little longer if batter is not cooked in the middle.
- Let cool for at least an hour before cutting.
Ben and I took our first vacation without Carson at the end of March. We had a really nice time being alone and getting a break from life at home. We missed having our little guy around, especially when we went to La Jolla to watch the sea lions. But having the opportunity to go see a movie on a whim and not worry about getting home for nap time or bed time was a treat. It was a nice little escape for us.
We stayed in the Gaslamp Quarter, close to downtown, at the Hilton Gaslamp. We were really close to restaurants and walked to dinner a couple of nights from our hotel. Parking down there would have been a nightmare.
Our last night there we splurged big time and stayed at the Coronado in an ocean view room. It was purely wonderful.
Instead of posting about each restaurant we visited on our vacation, here are the iPhone photos I took of our food on the trip.
We found most of the places using Urbanspoon, but also took some advice from Guy Fieri of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Adam Richmond of Man v. Food and Brian Malarkey of Top Chef.
Here are the places we ate, where they are, whether or not I would go again, and food tips.
- Bread and Cie: Hillcrest, would go again, we had sandwiches and a cupcake which were good, but I think it is probably best for breakfast, breads and pastries…the bread was terrific.
- Escape Fish Bar: Gaslamp, definitely would go again, small and quaint, try the seafood chowder and the tacones.
- Broken Yolk: Pacific Beach, from Man v Food, might go again, basic breakfast foods.
- Searsucker: Gaslamp, Malarkey’s restaurant, would go again for a splurge and make reservations, my favorites of this meal were the pork butt main and the brussels.
- Kono’s Surf Club Cafe: Pacific Beach, would not go again, fun atmosphere and view, but food was just so so.
- Bare Back Grill: Gaslamp, would not go again, a good place to drink, but not for great food. I got a Living Social deal on this one, so it didn’t hurt as much that it was a bust.
- Con Pane Rustic Breads and Cafe: Point Loma, would go again, cinnamon rolls are ok, the bread plate is huge and good for sharing.
- Leroy’s Kitchen + Lounge: Coronado, would go again, local, fresh and sustainable, everything was delicious.
- Crazee Burger: North Park, Diners, Drive Ins and Dives find, would go again, yummy and unique burgers, nice, thin and crispy fries.
One of my most favorite things was going to the Del Mar farmers market. I got a couple of delicious blood oranges, some French pastries from a local bakery, and of course some freshly made kettle corn. We could have easily eaten lunch there with all the local vendors, but we’d had a late and filling breakfast. I highly recommend going to a local farmers market for some tasty food anytime you get the chance.
Our last day in Coronado.
One of the great things about having a pantry that’s on the small side is that it is next to impossible to lose track of food, only to find it years later. I don’t have to get elbow-deep in my canned goods to find a can of tomatoes. My small food storage also keeps me from stocking up on things I don’t need…I do have a snack bowl on top of the cabinet for my assortment of gummy candies and what remains of Carson’s Easter goodies. But candy is a need, right?
Anyway, when I came across this recipe on Eatingwell.com I knew that I had about 3/4 of a box of thin spaghetti because I see it every time I get something from the pantry, so I added this to my meals for the week. I was already planning to buy chicken for chicken parmesan, so I was able to buy a 4 pack of chicken breasts and know that they would all get used that week. That makes me happy.
The recipe calls for a bag of vegetable medley, but I just used veggies that we like; broccoli, red bell pepper, snap peas, frozen edamame and carrots. Since I was using more like 11-12 ounces of spaghetti, I increased the amount of vegetables I used to about 20 ounces. I really like there to be a lot of vegetables in pasta dishes, so you may not want to use as much as I did. I used 1 medium sized broccoli crown, 1 red bell pepper, 5 small carrots, 1 small bag of snap peas, and 8 ounces of frozen edamame. I kept the sauce pretty much the same, but did end up adding more soy and a drizzle of sesame oil at the end. The sriracha is spicy. I like spice, so I used 2 teaspoons of the stuff and definitely felt the heat. If you are not a fan of spicy foods, use 1/2 a teaspoon in the sauce, taste it and add more if you’d like.
A mistake I made with this was adding all of my vegetables at once. The carrots were a little under cooked, so if you’re using carrot slices, don’t slice them too thick and make sure to give them a head start in the boiling water. The broccoli, bell pepper, snap peas and edamame cooked easily in the 3-4 minutes of cooking time.
To make this meal even faster to fix, use shredded rotisserie chicken. Buy bagged vegetables that are ready to go, or chop your veggies the morning of or the night before. You can even make the sauce ahead of time and refrigerate it. The heat from the cooked pasta and hot water will loosen it up as it will be stiff coming out of the fridge. You can serve this warm or cold. We ate it both ways and it was delicious.
Peanut Noodles with Chicken and Vegetables
Adapted from Eatingwell.com
- 2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 10-12 ounces thin spaghetti
- 16-18 ounces of vegetables (broccoli, snap peas, bell pepper, carrots, edamame) carrots, broccoli and bell pepper cut into pieces
- fresh chopped cilantro, optional
- 1/2 cup chunky, natural peanut butter
- 2-3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1-2 teaspoons chile-garlic sauce (Sriracha), or to taste
- 2-3 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
- 1/2-1 teaspoon sesame oil
- Cook the chicken. In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil, salt water, then add chicken, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Remove chicken from water and let cool slightly before shredding into bite size pieces.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add pasta and cook for 4 minutes, add carrots if using and cook for a minute, add the rest of the vegetables and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Reserve about 1 cup of pasta water then drain and rinse with cool water.
- Make sauce by whisking peanut butter, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, sriracha and sesame oil in a large bowl. Stir 1/2 cup of pasta water into the sauce. Toss in pasta, vegetables and chicken. Add in more pasta water to moisten pasta to your liking. Mix thoroughly so that all the veggies, pasta and chicken are coated with sauce. Garnish with cilantro if desired.
When I found myself with a stale baguette, a can of cherry pie filling and more milk than could easily fit in our fridge I knew that bread pudding was the answer to all of my problems.
I had a pot roast on the stove that I’d just spent quite a bit of time preparing, so I wanted something simple. A few recipes involved a cooked custard base, but with my laziness I kept searching. Oh, Paula Deen. You sure do know how to make rich and delicious desserts with little to no effort. You are dangerous, Paula. No scalding of milk or tempering of eggs. Just measure, whisk, pour and bake. This recipe is plain and simple and so it was easy to adapt to what I wanted to do. Here is her original recipe.
The original recipe is baked in a greased 9×13 pan, definitely the simpler option and what I would do if bringing this to a potluck dinner or a casual dinner. But I wanted to make some individual puddings. Paula doesn’t require a water bath for her large bread pudding, but I wanted to make sure there weren’t any issues with the texture or consistency, so I used a water bath for my individual puddings.
This is a great dessert to make for a dinner party because you can make them ahead of time and reheat them. When you sit down for dinner or as people start to finish their meals, stick them in the oven and they are ready to go when you finish.
Cherry Bread Puddings with Almond Brown Sugar Streusel
Adapted from Paula Deen
Makes 10 individual puddings
For the puddings
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 5 large beaten eggs
- 2 cups milk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 4 cups cubed stale baguette
- 1 can of cherry pie filling (you will only use about half of the can)
For the streusel:
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease 10 6-ounce ramekins.
- Mix together granulated sugar, eggs, and milk in a bowl. Add vanilla and almond extracts. Pour over cubed bread and let sit for 10 minutes to give the bread time to absorb the liquid.
- In another bowl, mix and crumble together brown sugar, butter, and almonds.
- Using a 1/3 cup measure, pour a scoop of the pudding and bread mixture into each ramekin. Then take about 1 tablespoon of cherry pie filling and plop it in the middle. Use a knife to push the pie filling around in the ramekin without mixing it too much. Top each pudding with some of the streusel.
- Using 2 9×13 pans or a large roasting, arrange ramekins so that they do not touch each other. Have 4-6 cups hot water ready to go, I just used hot water from the tap. No need to boil it. Place the pans in the oven then pour hot water around the ramekins so that it comes up 1/3 to 1/2 way up the sides without getting any water into the ramekins.
- Bake for 40 minutes, remove from the oven and water bath and let cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Refrigerate for at least an hour to let the puddings finish setting. Serve cold or warm in the oven again for 15-20 minutes at 350°F.