Thursday, April 29, 2010

Fettuccine With Leeks & White Beans

2 Tbs olive oil
1 lb leeks (about 1 bunch), sliced and cleaned
coarse salt and ground pepper
2 cans (15.5oz each) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 tsp dried sage
12oz fettuccine
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley

1) In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-low heat. Add leeks, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring often, until softened, about 10 minutes.
2) Add beans, broth, and sage to pan; with a potato masher, mash about one third of beans. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer. Cook until sauce has thickened but is still soupy, about 10 minutes. Cool; transfer to a covered container, and refrigerate until ready to use, up to 2 days.
3) Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 2 minutes less than package instructions suggest. Drain; rinse under cold water until cool.Transfer to a bowl, and toss with remaining tablespoon oil to coat. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use, up to overnight.
4) In a large (5-quart) saucepan over medium heat, bring sauce and lemon juice to a simmer. Stir in cream and Parmesan. Add pasta; cook, stirring, until heated through, 2 minutes. Serve sprinkled with parsley and more cheese, if desired.

Review: I totally didn’t mash any beans, because I dumped them in before reading the part that called for mashing. Oops. This was really yummy, but seemed to be lacking something. I pondered the addition of capers, but Mike didn’t like that idea. He thought it needed something different, but wasn’t able to come up with an idea, either. It didn’t stop us from eating it all, though!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Chipotle Dip

2 scallions
2 to 3 small canned chipotle chiles in adobo plus 1/4 teaspoon adobo sauce
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream

1) Finely chop scallions. In a bowl whisk together all ingredients with salt to taste. Dip may be kept, covered and chilled, 3 days.
2) Wearing protective gloves, mince enough chipotles to a paste to measure 1 1/2 tablespoons.
3) In a bowl whisk together all ingredients with salt to taste. Dip may be kept, covered and chilled, 3 days.

Review: I forgot to take a picture! It’s an orange dip. I’m sure we can all picture that. :P This was spicy, I won’t lie. However, I love spicy and though I took this to a school function, I believe I ate half of it. I could have drank it, it was so yummy. I served it with a 3 lb bag of tortilla chips from Costco. I also shoved all ingredients into the blender and called it good once I saw no chunks. Way easier than the above directions!!!!!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Two Pea Pasta With Ricotta & Tarragon

coarse salt and ground pepper
12oz gemelli or other short pasta
12oz sugar snap peas, stem ends removed (and, if necessary, strings)
1 pkg (10oz) frozen peas
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs chopped fresh tarragon, plus more for garnish (optional)
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

1) In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 3 minutes less than al dente. Add snap peas; cook 2 minutes, add peas, and cook 1 minute more. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water; drain pasta and vegetables, and return to pot.
2) Toss pasta and vegetables with butter, tarragon, and ricotta, adding a little reserved pasta water as needed to create a thin sauce that coats pasta; season with salt and pepper.
3) Divide pasta among four serving bowls, and garnish with tarragon, if desired. Serve immediately.

Review: This dish was mostly peas, and light on the pasta. My bag of peas were 12oz and I didn’t want to toss 2oz of peas back in the freezer. I also used 15oz of ricotta, since there was so much food. It made a lot of food and was filling. However, I’ve decided I really don’t like tarragon. It makes things taste sweet and perfumey. This dish was too sweet and I wasn’t a big fan. Mike liked it, however, and I believe most people will.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Lasagna Primavera

1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for foil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups whole milk
2 pkgs (10oz each) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 pkg (10oz) frozen peas
1/2 lb carrots (4 to 5), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 container (15oz) part-skim ricotta
1 large egg
1 pkg (9oz) no-boil lasagna noodles (12 to 16 noodles)
1 lb part-skim mozzarella, shredded
1 cup grated Parmesan

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium; add flour and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes (do not let flour mixture darken); whisk in milk. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, and cook, whisking occasionally, until thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add spinach, peas, and carrots; season with salt and pepper. Set sauce aside.
2) In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, egg, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and teaspoon pepper.
3) In the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, spread a thin layer of vegetable sauce. Layer noodles, half the remaining vegetable sauce, another noodles, half the ricotta mixture, half the mozzarella, and half the Parmesan; repeat.
4) Cover dish with lightly oiled aluminum foil, and place on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake 45 minutes, uncover, and bake until bubbling and browned, about 20 minutes more. Let cool 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Review: I hate frozen spinach, so I used the big package of baby spinach that’s found at Costco. I think we buy one of those every week! I think it may have been too much, as my deep lasagna pan was filled to the top. Which meant it bubbled over something fierce the entire time it cooked. Oh, the house stunk from the smell of burning primavera sauce. Gross. The lasagna was super yummy and rich, which made up for the smell. And we were able to freeze some portions for lunches on the rare days when we don’t have leftovers. Ah, now off to scrub the oven. Thank goodness I discovered the awesomeness of Bon Ami today. :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010


There will be few blog posts this week, as I’m revisiting old favorites. Yum!

Also, I had a busy day planting my garden. Hopefully I’ll have more success this year, as I learned from last year’s mistakes, and I started the garden earlier in the season. So what am I growing?

Ozark Beauty Strawberries (leftover from last year, I should have fruit this year!)
Black Beauty Zucchini (an heirloom)
Golden Squash Zucchini
Red Bell Pepper (thank goodness, these are $2-3 a piece at the grocery store!)
German Johnson Tomatoes (an heirloom & it's pink)
Sweet Basil
Gerbera Daisy (leftover from last year, thanks Kim!)
Janik Morning Glories (my nieces’ gift just keeps on giving) =)

And, of course, I still need to start a container of cat grass and I have lots of catnip growing in the bathroom. Also, my garden is still organic and in containers. It’s an interesting garden, but it’s a fun way to help out the grocery bill.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Cucumber, Radish & Watercress Sandwiches With Truffled Goat Cheese

9oz soft fresh goat cheese
1/2 cup chopped watercress
1 tsp truffle oil
12 very thin slices white bread
1 bunch radishes, very thinly sliced
1/2 English cucumber, peeled, thinly sliced

1) Blend goat cheese, watercress, and truffle oil in processor until just combined. Season with salt and pepper. Place bread slices on work surface. Spread each with goat cheese mixture, dividing equally. Set aside 24 radish slices for garnish. Top 6 bread slices with cucumber slices, then remaining radish slices. Sprinkle with pepper. Top with remaining bread slices, cheese side down. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Wrap individually in paper towels; chill.)
2) Trim sandwich crusts. Cut each sandwich into 4 squares. Transfer to platter. Top each with 1 radish slice and serve.

Review: I made this a little differently. Instead of actually making sandwiches, I sliced up a baguette and topped it with the cheese mixture, then cucumber, then radish. They were a big hit at my tea party today. :)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Chickpea & Feta Salad

2 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs olive oil
1/2 cup minced leek (white part only) or red onion
2 cups baby spinach leaves
2 cups cooked chickpeas, or 1 15-oz can, rinsed and drained
2 medium carrots, grated
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds
2 heads romaine lettuce, cut into 1/2 inch thick ribbons
1 15oz can diced tomatoes, drained, optional
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
Balsamic vinegar, for drizzling

1) Whisk together lemon juice and oil in bowl. Stir in leek, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Set aside.
2) Roll 7 or 8 spinach leaves into tight cylinder, then slice into thin strips. Repeat with remaining spinach leaves.
3) Combine spinach, chickpeas, carrots, bell pepper and sunflower seeds in large bowl. Stir in leek mixture, and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
4) Divide romaine among 8 plates, top with chickpea salad and arrange tomatoes around salad, if using. Garnish each serving with 1 Tbs feta, and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

Review: I tweaked this recipe. I left out the lemon juice, but substituted Balsamic vinegar. That was yummy and didn’t have the acidic feel that lemon juice has. I also left out all the greens, so that I could store the salad in the fridge. The recommendations said to eat the salad the day it’s made, or the spinach would wilt and get soggy. Well, I like having leftovers, so I had one container for the “salad” and poured it over baby spinach and mixed greens right before eating. Yum, and I have leftovers!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Spring Pea-sto With Penne

1 lb penne pasta
1 pkg frozen peas, defrosted
1/4 cup lightly toasted pine nuts
1 cup packed basil leaves
6 to 8 sprigs fresh tarragon, leaves stripped
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano, plus more for serving
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

1) Bring a large pot of water up to a boil then season water with salt and cook penne to al dente. Heads up: you will need to reserve 1 or 2 ladles of starchy cooking water, 1/2 to 3/4 cup, before draining the pasta.
2) Place 1/2 of the peas in the bottom of a large serving dish. Place the rest of the peas in a food processor with the pine nuts, basil, tarragon leaves, cheese and olive oil. Add a little salt and pepper, then process the pesto into rough paste, adjust seasonings.
3) Pour starchy water over peas in bowl then add pesto. Pour hot, drained pasta over the pesto and toss vigorously to coat and combine. Adjust seasoning and serve, passing extra cheese at the table.

Review: I never have time to defrost my frozen veggies. So, after I toasted the pine nuts, I tossed the peas into the warm skillet and they defrosted pretty quickly! This was so yummy, I couldn’t believe it. It had the traditional pesto taste, but the added sweetness of the peas was a welcome addition. I’ll definitely make this again!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Fettuccine With Lima Beans, Peas & Leeks

12oz fettuccine
1 10oz package frozen lima beans
1 cup frozen peas
2 Tbs olive oil
2 leeks (white and light green parts), cut into half-moons
kosher salt and black pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tbs chopped fresh tarragon
1/4 cup grated pecorino or Parmesan

1) Cook the pasta according to the package directions, adding the beans and peas during the last two minutes of cooking. Drain.
2) Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks and season with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender (but not brown), 8 to 10 minutes. Add the cream and cook until slightly thickened, 3 to 4 minutes.
3) Add the pasta and tarragon to the skillet and toss to combine. Sprinkle with the cheese before serving.

Review: This wasn’t anything spectacular, but it was yummy and filling. I’ve been using leeks more often, but I hate cleaning them. There’s always dirt between the layers and it’s just a pain to make sure every last bit of dirt is gone. Yuck.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Quick Moroccan Tagine

Spice Blend
2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp sweet or smoked paprika
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

2 Tbs olive oil
1 large leek, cut into 1-inch-thick rounds
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch triangles
4 medium potatoes, peeled and halved
1 15oz can, rinsed and drained
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 dried apricots, quartered
1/2 cup dry-cured black olives
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1) To make Spice Blend: Combine all ingredients in small bowl.
2) To make Tagine: Heat oil in pot over medium-high heat. Add leek and bell pepper; saute 3 minutes. Add potatoes, chickpeas, garlic and Spice Blend; cook 30 seconds. Stir in apricots, olives and 2 cups water; season with salt and pepper, if desired. Cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Serve sprinkled with cilantro.

Review: I left out the apricots, because - ew. I also used regular black olives, as there’s no way I’m going to find dry-cured black olives in Idaho. Although, I really want to try them! I also managed to forget to put cilantro on the dish once it was done. Oops. However, this was a flavorful dish that I found to be pretty yummy. I served it over bulgur, but it can be served over couscous or rice, too. Yum.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Bow Ties With Broccoli Pesto

6 Tbs blanched hazelnuts, plus more for garnish, optional
2 cups broccoli florets
1 1/2 cups loosely packed parsley leaves
1/4 cup, plus 2 Tbs olive oil, plus more for drizzling, optional
1/2 cup mint leaves
1 1/2 tsp capers, rinsed and drained
5 large garlic cloves, peeled
12oz farfalle pasta

1) Toast hazelnuts in skillet 3 to 5 minutes, or until golden, shaking skillet often. Cool, coarsely chop, and set aside.
2) Meanwhile, bring large pot of water to a boil. Cook broccoli in boiling water 2 to 3 minutes, or until tender. Remove with slotted spoon. Drain, and rinse under cold water. Drain again.
3) Pulse hazelnuts, broccoli, parsley, oil, mint, capers and garlic in food processor until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
4) Cook farfalle according to package directions in broccoli cooking water. Reserve 1/4 cup cooking water before draining. Toss farfalle with pesto and pasta cooking water. Garnish with toasted hazelnuts, if using, and drizzle with olive oil, if desired.

Review: This was a bit too garlicky. I’d recommend scaling the garlic down to 3 cloves. Even with the garlic overkill, this was super yummy. We topped our dish with some Parmesan cheese and made it even yummier. Now, if I could just convince Dreamfield’s to make farfalle.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


We rearranged the living room, as our blinds became destroyed by the cats jumping into the window from the top of the shoe caddy.  So, now I get watched while I cook.  From the stove, I typically just see the ears and eyes of Dmitri peeking around the corner.  This pic is a better shot of his silly antics. 

Spaghetti With Chunky Tomato Sauce

8oz (2 cups) sliced white mushrooms
1 red bell pepper, cut into chunks
1 large leek, white part only, cut into chunks
2 Tbs olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs dried oregano
2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 15oz cans diced tomatoes
1 15oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup red wine
8 cups baby spinach leaves
8oz spaghetti

1) Place mushrooms, bell pepper, leek and garlic in bowl of food processor. Pulse until ingredients are coarsely chopped.
2) Heat oil in large saucepan or stockpot over medium-high heat. Add mushroom mixture, and season with salt and pepper. Cook 3 to 5 minutes, or until vegetables are softened and most of liquid has evaporated. Stir in oregano, thyme and red pepper flakes, and cook 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add tomatoes, chickpeas and wine.
3) Cover, and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add spinach, and cook 3 to 5 minutes more, or until spinach has wilted.
4) Meanwhile, cook spaghetti according to package directions. Serve spaghetti topped with sauce.

Review: I wasn’t very successful with the pulsing until coarsely chopped. I managed to get pureed, and it took quite a bit of doing to get all of the vegetables chopped down. Unfortunately, the puree looked like regurgitated food (which Mike kindly pointed out). When mixed with the rest of the ingredients, it looked like a decent sauce, so it can be saved!! It was yummy and very flavorful.

Sicilian-Style Cauliflower With Pasta

Kosher salt, as needed, plus 2 tsp
3/4 lb penne
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
5 cups 3/4-inch cauliflower florets (about 1 to 1 1/4 lbs)
1 large shallot, sliced into thin rings
2 cloves garlic, smashed
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons golden raisins
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon capers
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2 tsp fennel seeds, optional
Freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbs pine nuts, toasted
3 Tbs chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano, plus more as needed

1) Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat, then salt it generously. Add the penne and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente?o tender but not mushy. Drain the pasta in a colander set in the sink. Transfer to a large bowl.
2) Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cauliflower, shallots, and garlic, and cook, stirring, until the cauliflower is well browned, about 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, 2 teaspoons salt, water, vinegar, raisins, honey, capers, thyme, bay leaf, fennel seeds, if using, and season with black pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until cauliflower is fork tender, about 7 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the pine nuts and parsley. Remove and discard the thyme and bay leaf.
3) Toss vegetables and pasta together along with the pecorino. Drizzle with additional olive oil, if desired. Serve immediately, passing more cheese at the table.

Review: I left out the golden raisins and the fennel seeds, because I thought that sounded gross. I think that worked for the best. This was pretty tasty and was quite filling. I especially liked the combination of toasted pine nuts and capers. Yum.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Creamy Barley With Tomatoes & Greens

2 Tbs olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
kosher salt and black pepper
2 cups quick-cooking barley
1 28oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup dry white wine
8 cups torn mustard green leaves (from 1 small bunch) or spinach
2 oz Taleggio or Brie (rind removed), cut into small pieces
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (2oz)

1) Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes.
2) Add the barley, tomatoes, wine, and 2½ cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the barley is tender, 12 to 15 minutes.
3) Add the mustard greens, Taleggio, and ¼ cup of the Parmesan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mustard greens are tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Divide among bowls and sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup of Parmesan.

Review: I couldn’t find quick-cooking barley, so I used rolled barley. I’m not sure what the difference is, but Mike insisted I had bought instant oatmeal! I also used baby spinach and Brie. The dish was pretty easy to make, but it didn’t look very appetizing. It was filling and hearty, however. Which is great for our snowy, cold, April day!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Pasta With Brie, Mushrooms & Arugula

12oz penne
1 Tbs olive oil
1 lb button mushrooms, quartered
1 small red onion, sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
kosher salt and black pepper
8oz Brie, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 cups baby arugula

1) Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta water, drain the pasta, and return it to the pot.
2) Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and onion and cook, tossing occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to release their juices, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the wine, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook until the mushrooms begin to brown, 5 to 6 minutes.
3) Toss the pasta with the Brie and reserved pasta water until the pasta is coated. Stir in the mushroom mixture and arugula.

Review: I used some shallots instead of red onion. I also used baby spinach instead of arugula, as Mike always thinks arugula is too bitter. Mike also asked that I recommend leaving the brie at room temperature, as I cleaned up the brie and put it back in the fridge while I made the rest of the dish. Therefore, when I added the brie and served it, it was an odd mix of hot food and cold cheese. The dish was “ok.” I thought it would be yummier than it was and was a little disappointed. I’m not sure what went wrong.