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.
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…
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.
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.
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.