Sunday, December 19, 2010

Pasta Twists With Beer-Cheese Sauce

8 oz pkg tricolor corkscrew macaroni or rope macaroni (gemelli)
2 medium carrots, bias-sliced
1 small zucchini, coarsely chopped
1 cup mushrooms, quartered
2 Tbs margarine or butter
2 Tbs all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1/4 cup beer
3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1) Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain; keep warm.
2) Meanwhile, for sauce, in a medium saucepan cook carrots, zucchini, and mushrooms in margarine or butter until vegetables are tender. Stir in flour. Add milk all at once. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 1 minute more. Add beer and heat through. Remove pan from heat. Gradually add cheddar cheese, stirring just until melted. If desired, season to taste with salt and pepper.
3) Arrange pasta on individual plates or a large platter. Spoon the sauce over pasta. Makes 4 main-dish servings.

Review: This was quite an interesting dish.  I used New Castle Brown Ale, as Mike said that would be the best fit to go with the cheese flavor.  As it was cooking, we both marveled at the smell - it smelled like baking bread (though Mike said it smelled like popcorn).  Unfortunately, this sauce is more yeasty than cheesy.  I was hoping for cheesy.  :(

This Week's Planned Menu

Pasta Twists With Beer-Cheese Sauce

Pasta & Jarred Sauce, as I'll be packing for vacation!!!

Happy Holidays!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Pumpkin & Black Bean Burritos

1 Tbs olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs chili powder
2 tsp cumin (ground)
1 can beans (black or kidney, drained and rinsed)
1/2 cup water
1 tsp oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1 can pumpkin puree
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped
2 Tbs cilantro, chopped
6 tortillas
sour cream, salsa, cheese (all optional toppings)

1) Heat the oil in a pan.
2) Add the onion and saute until tender, about 3-5 minutes.
3) Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30-60 seconds.
4) Add the chili powder, and cumin and saute for about a minute.
5) Add the beans, water, oregano, salt and pepper and cook until most water has evaporated.
6) Remove the beans from the heat and mash half of them with a fork.
7) Mix the pumpkin puree, chipotle peppers and cilantro and warm in the microwave.
8) Place some of the pumpkin mixture and some of the bean mixture and into a tortilla and wrap it.
9) Top with salsa, shredded cheese, sour cream etc.

Review:  I didn't mash the beans, as I figured it was a burrito and needed some substance to it.  I used the special Mexican sour cream we've recently fallen in love with, and added cheddar cheese.  This was a nice lunch and made about 5 burritos for us.  Yum. 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

"Regular" Lasagna

Mike looked up a plain lasagna recipe and made this tonight.  Although, this was made with fake meat.  I'm not sure if that continues to qualify this lasagna as "regular."

This Week's Planned Menu

"regular" lasagna (Mike is craving "regular" food, not sure what I've been feeding him . . .)

Israeli Couscous With Saffron, Olives & Spring Vegetables

Penne With Olives & Feta

Fresh Mushroom Fettuccine

Green Beans, Ginger & Mushroom Saute


Pumpkin & Black Bean Burritos

Friday, December 10, 2010

Saffron Pilaf With Roasted Vegetables

1 cup jasmine, basmati, or wild-pecan long grain rice
1 14.5 oz can vegetable broth
1/4 cup water
1/8 tsp saffron threads or dash ground saffron*
2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 red sweet pepper, diced in large chunks
1 large zucchini, diced in large chunks
1 eggplant, diced in large chunks
1 oz herbed semi-soft goat cheese (chevre), crumbled
2 Tbs coarsely chopped hazelnuts or pecans, toasted

1) In a large saucepan combine rice, vegetable broth, water, and saffron. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, about 15 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed; keep warm.
2) Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine oil and garlic; brush over sweet pepper, zucchini, and eggplant. Roast vegetables on a cookie sheet in a 375F oven about 20 minutes or until tender, turning once. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
3) Stir into cooked rice. Top with goat cheese and nuts. Makes 4 servings. 

*Note: You may substitute 1/4 teaspoon turmeric for the saffron.

Review:  This was originally calling for grilled vegetables, but it's freezing outside.  So, I tweaked the recipe to use roasted vegetables.  I also substituted regular goat cheese, as I had plenty in the fridge.  I haven't had any luck getting it to crumble evenly, so I just melted it into the recipe.  This was pretty tasty, but it only made about three servings.  It may have been designed to be a side dish. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Penne With Grape Tomatoes & Mozzarella

12 oz penne
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 pint (8 oz) bocconcini (small fresh mozzarella balls), halved, or 8 oz fresh mozzarella, cubed
2 Tbs fresh thyme leaves, plus more for garnish
2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs white-wine vinegar

1) Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, according to package instructions. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water. Add chickpeas to pot; immediately drain pasta mixture, and return to pot.
2) Add tomatoes, bocconcini, thyme, oil, and vinegar to pasta. Toss, adding reserved pasta water a little at a time to create a thin sauce that coats penne (you may not need all the water). Season with salt and pepper; toss to combine. Serve, garnished with additional thyme

Review:  Mike made this for me tonight and we tweaked this along the way.  We had leftover marinated mozzarella balls in the fridge (from Costco) and ultimately used them in all of their glory.  Meaning, we didn't add extra olive oil, thyme or vinegar.  The mozzarella had so much oil and marinade seasonings already, we figured it was enough.  And, it was!!  Using these made this recipe soooooo much easier to make and it was incredibly delicious!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mushroom & Zucchini Enchiladas

2 Tbs oil
1 large onion (sliced)
1 lb portobello mushrooms, diced
1 lb zucchini, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp oregano
3 cups salsa verde
12 small corn tortillas
1 cup jack and cheddar cheese (shredded)

1) Heat the oil in a pan.
2) Add the onions and cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes at medium-high heat.
3) Add the mushrooms and cook until they release their moisture and it has evaporated, about 10-15 minutes.
4) Add the zucchini and cook until just tendder, about 4-5 minutes.
5) Add the garlic, cumin and oregano and cook until fragrant, about a minute.
6) Remove from heat and mix in a cup of the salsa verde.
7) Spread 1/4 cup of the salsa verde over the bottom of your baking dish.
8) Fill the corn tortillas with filling, roll them up and place them in the baking dish with the seam on the bottom.
9) Pour the remaining salsa verde over the tortillas and sprinkle on the cheese.
10) Bake in a preheated 350F oven until the cheese is nice and bubbling and starts to brown, about 20 minutes.

Review:  This was SUCH a pain to make.  I had a lot to do tonight and dicing all this produce wasn't the best plan.  I used baby portobellos (way cheaper), which meant more cleaning and dicing.  Fortunately, this was incredibly tasty.  I had way too much filling, which I tossed the extra into the bottom of the bowls we ate out of (Mike was the photographer tonight and forgot to get a shot of the served up enchiladas).  I used La Victoria Salsa Verde, and a can of La Victoria's green enchilada sauce.  I've always preferred the red sauce, but I'm quickly becoming a fan of the green.  This stuff is tasty!!!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Delicata & Acorn Squash + Sage Lasagna

the squash layer:
1 acorn squash
2 delicata squashes
olive oil
salt and pepper
3 tsp dried sage

the ricotta layer:
1 15oz tub of part-skim ricotta
1/4 cup grated mozzarella
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 Tbs olive oil
salt and pepper

flat no-bake lasagna noodles
fresh sage leaves
olive oil for drizzling or spraying

1) Preheat oven to 400F. Next, carefully cut each squash down the middle. (Ideally you would do this by slicing off a bit of the rounded side of each squash in order to have it lie flat and then, using the safe-bagel-cutting method of placing a hand on top to steady the lying-flat, horizontal squash and cutting horizontally.  
2) Then you can scoop out the seeds from the halves, brush them with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast them face-down in a baking dish at 400 degrees for one hour. Once they cool off, scoop out the insides and whisk them all together with a tablespoon of olive oil, dried sage, and more salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. 
3) Grate the two cheeses and mix all the ricotta layer ingredients; set aside.
4) Brush your baking dish, preferably ceramic, with olive oil, and set down 3 noodles. Spread the squash mixture, then 3 more noodles. Spread the ricotta mixture in one layer, and then, of course, more noodles. End with the squash layer and more noodles and grate some mozzarella and parm on top. Arrange 12 or so fresh sage leaves on top. Drizzle top -- especially hitting the sage leaves for a fried effect -- with a little olive oil and cover with foil. Bake for a 45 minutes to an hour, at 350F, until top is browned. Let it cool and serve.

Review: Well, my grocery store has a habit of letting me down.  This time, it's because they didn't have any delicata squashes, though I've seen them there for the past several weeks!!  So, I opted for one acorn squash, one golden acorn squash and one golden nugget squash (which was much smaller than the other two).  Here are pics, as they aren't commonly known squashes:

As you can see, it made for a quite colorful layer of squash:

Ultimately, it was a beautiful lasagna.  It had a great flavor, including the sweetness of the squash, the cheesy layer and the flavorful sage.  Yum!!!  However, it did take over two hours to make, so it won't be made very frequently.

This Week's Planned Menu

Delicata & Acorn Squash + Sage Lasagna

Spaghetti & jarred sauce  

Mushroom & Zucchini Enchiladas

Penne With Grape Tomatoes & Mozzarella

Saffron Pilaf With Grilled Vegetables

lunch - Black Bean Chili With Winter Squash
dinner - Christmas Party with the ISU cohorts, we're bringing a riesling

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Pumpkin Dumplings With Radicchio

1 15oz can pure pumpkin puree
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup flour
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 small head radicchio, sliced into 1/4-inch strips (about 2 cups)
2 Tbs chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1) Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin puree, eggs, flour and 1 teaspoon salt to make the dough.
2) In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and red pepper flakes and cook until softened, about five minutes; remove from the heat and set aside.
3) When the water comes to a boil, use a teaspoon to scoop up the dough and form a dumpling, then carefully slide the dumpling off the spoon and into the boiling water. Continue forming dumplings until half the dough is used. Cook until the dumplings float, then simmer for about two minutes; remove with a slotted spoon and add to the saucepan with the onion. Repeat with the remaining dumpling dough.
4) Return the saucepan with the onion to medium-high heat. Toss in three-quarters of the radicchio and stir gently until just wilted, about two minutes; season with 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste. To serve, divide the dumplings and sauce among four bowls and top with the remaining radicchio and parsley.

Review:  My father-in-law sent me a link full of Vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes.  This was one of the many yummy treats.  I was pretty excited to make these, because I love dumplings (but not chicken), but hadn't found a vegetarian version.  These were tasty, but I doubled the flour to make them substantial.  And, I used whole-wheat flour.  Therefore, I had the oddest foam while my dumplings boiled, due to the whole wheat shedding, along with the color of the pumpkin:

But, they came through just fine.  Mike loved the dumplings, but wasn't a fan of the radicchio.  I have to agree it was kind of bitter.  I also believe the dumplings would be better with a bit of minced onion mixed in with the batter.  So, I think I'll make these again, but will need to find an alternate base, as I don't like the idea of other greens. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Butternut Squash & Linguine

1 box linguine
2 tsp olive oil
1 Tbs minced garlic
4 cups butternut squash pieces (about 1-inch pieces)
1/2 cup dry white wine, or vegetable broth
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage or 4 tsp dried sage
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese, blue cheese or shredded Parmesan cheese
Additional cheese, optional
Toasted chopped walnuts, optional

1) Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to pan; cover and keep warm.
2) Meanwhile, in large nonstick skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic; cook and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in squash, wine and salt. Simmer 12 to 15 minutes just until squash is tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in sage.
3) Toss squash with pasta and cheese. Sprinkle with additional cheese and walnuts, as desired.

Review:  This was surprisingly easy to make!  Especially since water takes so very long to boil in our high altitude!  I used goat cheese and toasted walnuts to finish this off.  The original recipe also suggested prosciutto or bacon, but I of course nixed that idea!  And, I forgot to add sage.  Oops.
This had a wonderfully sweet and tangy combo that perfectly balanced.  Yum!!