Sunday, October 20, 2013

Spicy Sausage Pasta

Well it's been a while. And with good reason - the baby boy I was gestating made an early entrace on August 5th! He was seven weeks ahead of schedule and doing well despite a four week stay in the NICU. I am pretty sure I made this dish and took this photo well before his arrival. However, I have made this dish a few times since he came into this world because it is super quick, tasty, and only gets one pan dirty. The only modifications I make are to omit the salt (it gets enough with the broth, canned tomatoes, cheese and the sausage), and scale back on the cream. This easy recipe is one that is in our rotation.

Recipe from the blog, Kevin & Amanda
Serves 4
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb smoked sausage
  • 1.5 cups diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (10 oz) can Ro-Tel tomatoes and green chiles, Mild
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 8 oz penne pasta
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, each
  • 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions
  1. Add olive oil to an oven-safe skillet over medium high heat until just smoking. Add sausage and onions and cook until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  2. Add broth, tomatoes, cream, pasta, salt and pepper and stir. Bring to a boil, cover skillet, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until pasta is tender, about 15 minutes.
  3. Remove skillet from heat and stir in 1/2 cup cheese. Top with remaining cheese and sprinkle with scallions. Broil until cheese is melted, spotty brown, and bubbly.
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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Trader Joe's Cookie Butter Cookies

I've been hearing LOTS of talk about this cookie butter stuff Trader Joe's sells. It's like peanut butter, but it's made with speculoos cookies, basically, cookies that taste like those cookies from Delta Airlines. I bought a jar (obviously) and have piled this stuff on bananas, graham crackers...on a spoon directly into my mouth...It's super creamy, sweet, and a nice spice/cinnamon flavor. Naturally, the next step is to bake the cookie butter into something...a cookie seemed perfect.

These were super simple to pull together. Essentially a very similar recipe to peanut butter cookies made with the requisite butter and sugar. The recipe I found was from The Coterie Blog. Only change I made was to skimp a bit on the sugar, since the cookie butter itself was already pretty sweet.

Recipe makes approximately 2 dozen cookies:
  • 1/2 c. cookie butter
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1 1/4 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a mixing bowl beat butter and speculoos with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add 1/2 cup of the flour, the sugars, egg, baking suda, baking powder, and vanilla. Beat till thoroughly combined. Beat in remaining flour.
  3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  4. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 8-9 minutes or till bottoms are lightly browned.
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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Back from a hiatus with a Berry Galette

So, it's been a looooong time since the last blog post. But frankly, things have been busy! Since September, Chris has had his gallbladder removed, we moved from Madison, WI to Seattle, WA, started a new job, undergone IVF treatment, gotten pregnant, bought a house and moved. So, to say we've been a little busy is a slight understatement. I expect that I'll be able to restart the blog for a short while, but all bets are off in late September when we're expecting our first, a baby boy. Couldn't be more excited (and terrified)!

The rental we were in when we first moved to Seattle was pretty sad. Certainly not inspiring. Nor functional. But, this weekend we hosted my mother in law, sister in law, and brother in law in our new house (and awesome kitchen) for a Mediterranean feast of chicken pita sandwiches, steamed artichokes, hummus, tabbouleh, and this delicious berry galette for dessert. 

I love how the pastry dough turned out. I made it with the food processor, which really made the prep super easy, and I think contributed to the flakiness of the crust. I also love how I just kind of plopped the fruit in the center and folded the edges up messily around the pile of berries for "rustic" style if you want to call it that. Original recipe calls for blackberries or blueberries, but those were all sort of expensive at the store, so I added in the strawberries for a more economical choice. I think making this with peaches will be phenomenal as well. 

Here's the original recipe, courtesy of Williams-Sonoma.
For the flaky pastry dough:
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 24 Tbs. (3 sticks) plus 3 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 3/4 cup ice water

  • 4 cups blackberries, blueberries or a mixture
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbs. flour

  1. In a food processor, combine the flour and salt and pulse briefly to mix. Scatter the butter over the top and pulse just until the mixture forms coarse crumbs about the size of peas. Drizzle the ice water over the flour mixture and pulse just until the dough starts to come together.
  2. Transfer the dough to a work surface, divide into 3 equal pieces and press each into a flat disk. Set 1 disk aside and wrap the remaining 2 disks in plastic wrap for future use.
  3. Preheat an oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out into a 13-inch round. Fold the round in half, transfer to the prepared sheet and unfold the round.
  5. In a bowl, lightly stir together the berries, lemon juice, sugar and flour. Spoon the filling onto the dough, leaving a 2-inch border uncovered around the edge. Fold the edge up and over the filling, forming loose pleats. Bake until the filling is bubbling and the pastry is golden brown, about 25 minutes.
  6. Transfer the galette to a wire rack and let cool slightly. Cut into wedges and serve. Makes one 9-inch galette; makes 3 pastry dough disks total.

 Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Baking, by Lou Seibert Pappas (Oxmoor House, 2006).

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Kale Lasagna Rollups

So, the blogging has really fallen off in the last month. Here's the big news...WE'RE MOVING TO SEATTLE!! So, given that Seattle is two-thousand miles away from where we live now, and involves me quitting my job, finding a new place to live while getting our current home ready for sale and figuring out how the heck we actually get ourselves and the dogs across the country, I haven't been doing much cooking. Sadly, my CSA veggies were mostly eaten in super simple, non blog-worthy food (or even worse, not eaten at all) and our diet for the last several weeks has consisted of a lot of eating out (insert frowny face here).

But, as I realize I can't end the month of September without blogging SOMETHING, I thought I'd dig up a recipe I made a while back (before my life got turned upside down) and share it. This recipe is based off of one on for Spinach Lasagna Rolls. Since I had Kale on hand from the CSA, I thought I'd use that here. The original recipe called for frozen spinach, thawed and drained. Since my kale was fresh I
just chopped the kale, wilted the in a saucepan with about an inch of water with a covered lid, and then drained off the excess liquid. Overall, this was fairly simple to make, however I still managed to forget the Parmesan cheese in the mixture and so my rolls were lacking in salt. If I made this again, I'd highly recommend using a lot of sauce. I skimped because I didn't have a ton of sauce on hand and because ricotta tends to be a drier cheese this just was a little dry for my taste.

This would make a great freezer meal!

Here's the recipe, modified to include Kale instructions
  • 9 lasagna noodles, cooked
  • 1 bunch of kale (or use swiss chard, or spinach)
  • 15 oz fat free ricotta cheese (I like Polly-o)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • salt and fresh pepper
  • 32 oz tomato sauce
  • 9 tbsp (about 3 oz) part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. 
  2. Chop the kale into small ribbons or pieces. In a large saute pan with a lid, fill bottom with a little water (about 1/3-1/2 cup or so) and add kale, heating through until kale is softened to your liking. Drain out any excess liquid.
  3. Combine kale, ricotta, Parmesan, egg, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Ladle about 1 cup sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 12 baking dish.
  4. Place a piece of wax paper on the counter and lay out lasagna noodles. Make sure noodles are dry. Take 1/3 cup of ricotta mixture and spread evenly over noodle. Roll carefully and place seam side down onto the baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles.
  5. Ladle sauce over the noodles in the baking dish and top each one with 1 tbsp mozzarella cheese. Put foil over baking dish and bake for 40 minutes, or until cheese melts. Makes 9 rolls.
  6. To serve, ladle a little sauce on the plate and top with lasagna roll.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Chicken Tikka Masala from Scratch

I know, I know, it's been a while since I posted. Frankly, life has been crazy and a crazy life means I'm making recipes that just aren't blog-worthy. But, I wanted to spend some time cooking this weekend and tried two recipes out. This one, from the blog Use Real Butter, is completely worth the wait you've endured since my last post. 

I love chicken tikka masala. Love, with a capital L. Most Indian recipes are a bit daunting to me, usually calling for a pinch of a spice (or several spices) that I don't have, or a laundry list of ingredients and a whole lot of time. This recipe I found for Chicken Tikka from scratch did have a bit of a lengthy list of ingredients, but as I looked closer all the ingredients were ones I had on hand, and by prepping the chicken in the marinade the night before there wasn't a ton of work to be done to actually make this dish. 

This is so yummy. And now it's ultra dangerous for me to have this recipe in my arsenal because Chris declared it better than Swagat (one of the best Indian restaurants in Madison). Now, I'm not going to say that this is better than the Chicken Tikka Masala from Swagat, but man, it's really really good. 

Here's a note - double up the sauce recipe. Trust me, you'll need a lot of it to sop up with your naan bread.

Recipe from Use Real Butter
  • 1/2 recipe chicken kebabs (see below)
  • 3 tbsps vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 tsps minced garlic
  • 2 tsps peeled and finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 fully ripe tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground red pepper (cayenne)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsps sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick (approx 1-inch or 2.5-cm)
  • 2 tbsps butter
  • 1/2 lime, juice of (about 1.5 tbsps)
  • 1/4 cup (65 ml) heavy cream
  • 3 tbsps water
Chicken Kebabs:
  • 1 lb. chicken breast or chicken thigh, boneless and skinless
  • 4 tbsps vegetable oil (or 3 tbsps if grilling the kebabs)
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 lime, juice of
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 3/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp ground red pepper (cayenne)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsps plain yogurt
  1. Make the chicken kebabs: Cut the chicken into 3/4-inch (2 cm) cubes. Mix 3 tablespoons of the oil and the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl or ziploc bag. Add the chicken cubes and mix well to ensure even coating. If in a bowl, cover the chicken with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 1 day (I let it marinate for 24 hours). When done marinating, remove the chicken from the refrigerator. If baking the chicken then preheat oven to 450°F and spread the remaining tablespoon of oil over a baking sheet. If grilling, clean and lightly oil the grill, then fire it up! Skewer the chicken with pre-soaked bamboo skewers or as I prefer to use, stainless steel skewers. Try not to squash them too closely or they won’t cook evenly. If baking, set the skewers on the baking sheet and bake 8 minutes, turn and bake another 7 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink in the middle. If grilling, grill over high heat for 4 minutes, flip the skewers and grill another 3 minutes until done. Remove the chicken from the skewers. At this point you can refrigerate the chicken for a few days or freeze it for up to a month.
  2. Make the masala: In a medium saucepan (or a large one if you double or triple the recipe), heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, and ginger. Sauté until the onions become golden brown, stirring frequently for about six minutes. [Mine never got to golden brown, they got to translucent yellowish slightly brown.] Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the chopped tomato. Cover and simmer for a few minutes until the tomato softens, stirring occasionally. Mash it with the onions until it becomes a sort of mushy paste. Stir in the cumin seeds, coriander, paprika, red pepper, salt, black pepper and sugar. Let the masala simmer uncovered for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour the sauce into a blender (take care not to burn yourself as it will be hot) and purée until smooth.
  3. Put it all together: Return the masala to the saucepan and stir in the cinnamon stick, butter, lime juice, heavy cream and water. Set on high heat. Let it come to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Add the chicken and let simmer 5 minutes. Stir it every minute or so. Serves 3 to 4.
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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Garlic Scape Pesto Linguine

So, you just got garlic scapes from your farmer's market or CSA box, and you just made garlic scape pesto. What shall you eat it with? Pasta, of course!

This is a pretty versatile recipe in which you could use traditional basil pesto, and it is yet ANOTHER way to make a pesto sauce for pasta. Typically my pesto pasta recipes can be made with straight up pesto and pasta water to thin it out. However the sharpness of the garlic scape pesto warranted the pesto being cut with a little heavy cream and some cheese. What's wrong with a little heavy cream?

I garnished mine with some tomatoes and leftover pinenuts, which you can certainly omit. But, I like the color they add and the different flavor and texture they provided. This would be really good with Summer Zucchini Pasta with Pesto too.

The recipe written below will make enough sauce to coat 1/2 box of linguine.
  • 8 ounces dried linguine, pasta water reserved
  • 1/4 cup garlic scape pesto
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup shredded provolone or parmesan cheese - whatever you've got. I had provolone so that's what I used
  • 1/4 Diced tomatoes (optional)
  • 1 Tbs Pine nuts (optional)
  1. In pot of salted boiling water, cook linguine until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water and drain. 
  2. In large skillet on medium, heat pesto and heavy cream until bubbling. Add cheese, pasta and 1/4 cup of pasta water. Quickly stir and saute the pasta until sauce thickens. If sauce thickens too much, thin it with another splash of cream or pasta water. 
  3. Serve immediately, top with diced tomatoes and pine nuts.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Garlic Scape Pesto

A couple weeks ago I got garlic scapes in my CSA box. Not having cooked with garlic scapes before led me on a search for 1) what they are 2) recipes (of course). Apparently garlic scapes are just the green curly tops of a growing bulb of garlic. They have a fresh, mellow garlic flavor and hands down the most popular recipe made with garlic scapes is a pesto. Perfect! I love pesto!

I didn't have too many scapes on hand, so I essentially halved the recipe as my starting point and added more of whatever I needed as I went. My guiding recipe was from Dorie Greenspan in which I subbed pine nuts instead of the almonds in the recipe. Despite the garlic scape's supposed "mellow" flavor, my pesto was quite pungent and required a little more oil, cheese, and nuts than the recipe called for. Pesto is one of those things you need to taste as you go and tweak to your liking. I ended up tossing in a couple basil leaves too, since I had them growing in the garden.

Ultimately this is a delicious way to use garlic scapes. It made about 1/2 of a cup and was delicious made into a pesto pasta, and would be equally yummy as a dip for veggies, topping on crackers, or stirred into a pot of italian tortellini soup (which is what I plan to do with it in a couple days).

Recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan, halved below

  • About 5-7 garlic scapes with the "bulbous" part cut off, discarded and remaining stems rough chopped
  • 1/8 - 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 cup of pinenuts
  • 2 basil leaves
  • About 1/3 cup of olive oil
  • Salt, to taste
  • Squeeze of lemon juice (optional. If added will preserve green color and punch up the freshness)


  1. In food processor combine garlic scapes, parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and basil leaves. Pulse to chop up ingredients. With olive oil ready, turn food processor on and add olive oil and process until combined and smooth. Stop processor, taste and season with salt, lemon juice and any other ingredients you feel need increased...this is where you taste as you go, adding more as needed. 
  2. The pesto can be pretty pungent, but will mellow after a day or so in the fridge. Store in the fridge for a couple days tightly covered, or for a couple months in the freezer.