Sunday, March 25, 2012

Rigatoni In Creamy Tomato Sauce

2 Tbs unsalted butter
3oz "pepperoni," finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 Tbs sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream, warmed
1 lb rigatoni
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves

1) Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add "pepperoni" and onion, cooking until onion is soft (3 to 5 minutes), stirring occasionally. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute longer.
2) Add wine and cook, stirring, until almost evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and sugar, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in heavy cream. Season with salt.
3) While sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add rigatoni and cook until just tender, about 10 minutes or as package label directs. Combine with sauce and basil. Serve.

Review: I found this recipe and kept it, thinking I would simply omit the pepperoni. However, when I pulled the recipe out to make it this week, I reconsidered and bought vegetarian pepperoni. It was worth it. The sauce was a nice, creamy flavor, but the "pepperoni" gave it a kick of flavor that wasn't over powering. I definitely liked the sauce. However, I timed the pasta wrong and couldn't let the sauce simmer as long as it should have. So my sauce was a little runny, but was still completely delicious!

Adapted from:

Monday, March 19, 2012

Couscous With Swiss Chard & Tomatoes

1 pkg Israeli couscous
1 Tbs olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 lb plum tomatoes, cut into 1-inch long, 1/4-inch wide strips
freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch Swiss chard, tough stems removed and cut into 2-inch long, 1/2-inch wide strips
1/3 cup white wine
5 to 7 large basil leaves, stacked, rolled tightly, then cut crosswise into very thin strips

1) Cook the couscous according to the package directions. When the couscous is tender, use a fork to fluff and separate.
2) Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic; cook for 1 minute, stirring, until just softened but not browned. Add the tomatoes, then season with salt and pepper to taste; cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3) Add the chard and white wine; cover and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the chard starts to wilt. Uncover, stir and cook for about 3 minutes, until the chard has completely wilted. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 5 minutes, then add the cooked couscous and toss to incorporate. Remove from the heat.
4) Gently stir in the basil, then taste; adjust the seasoning as needed. Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Review: First and foremost, I want it known that the chard I used was flamingo pink! Though, this was a little disappointing. I chose to grow this particular variety in my garden this summer, because I had never before seen that color. As soon as I received the seeds in the mail, I found the variety sold at Whole Foods. So, I won't be all that unique, but at least I know it's going to be yummy! And, then I can make this dish again. This was awesome, savory and filling. The tomatoes and chard gave the dish a nice garden taste, but then couscous added a comfort food taste. It also made plenty of food, so I had leftovers!

Adapted from:

Sunday, March 18, 2012


We find some of the most interesting things during our Saturday night forays to the grocery store. Last night, we stumbled upon the kiwiberry. This little crate cost us $5, but we justified the cost by doubting we'd ever see them again. We originally thought these were just baby kiwis, but they're totally a different species! They look like kiwi on the inside, but the skin has a bit of a tart taste. They were quickly eaten and I'm sure they're full of nutrients.

Pot Pie

I recently made a potpie and upon realizing the sauce was actually gravy, my creative juices began flowing. I pondered how easy it would be to whip up a potpie on the fly. I have a standard pie crust recipe that I love, and I could mix premade gravy with chopped veggies and tempeh:

I buttered a pie pan and put a bottom layer of pie crust in the pan. I added the chopped veggies and half of the tempeh (diced). I poured the gravy over the mixture and topped it all with the top layer of pie crust. I put it into a 350F oven and after half an hour, the crust was still soggy and fairly raw. I increased the temperature to 375F and after another 15 minutes, the gravy began bubbling out and the top crust began browning. The pie was no longer something I'd take a picture of, as it was just a bubbling over, edible mess. It was hot and filling, but seemed to be lacking some flavor. My husband and I pondered the solutions. I believe the next time I attempt this, I will add garlic and thyme. I will also bake at 375F and believe it will be done in about 30-35 minutes.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Brown-Butter Toffee Blondies

1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup toffee bits

1) Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 9x13 inch baking pan.
2) In a saucepan over medium heat, cook the butter until it turns golden brown; remove from heat, and let cool. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
3) In a large mixing bowl, combine browned butter and both sugars; stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Add eggs. Using an electric mixer, beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla, and beat to combine. Add the flour mixture, walnuts and toffee bits. Mix until thoroughly combined, and pour into prepared pan.
4) Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes (do not overbake). Let cool completely and cut into squares. Blondies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.

Review: We had the task of bringing dessert to a family function, with the instructions to not use chocolate as a niece gave it up for Lent. My husband and I pulled out the cookbooks and weighed our options. We looked at cake recipes, pie recipes and bar recipes. We kept finding fault with different flavors and ingredients. Finally, I stumbled across this one and it sounded easy and yummy. However, I had to visit four different stores before I found toffee! All the baking sections offered chocolate covered toffee bits, which was taboo. Walgreens actually sold a bag of old-fashioned toffee candies. I had to unwrap each one and then my husband got to smash them to bits, which he greatly enjoyed. Luckily, all of the hard work paid off as these were DELICIOUS!! The family cleared out 2/3 of the pan this evening. I got to bring home the leftover third, but I doubt it will last. This was deliciously buttery, sweet and chewy. I liked this better than brownies any day!

Adapted from:

Heirloom Eggs

We bought these on sale last night at Whole Foods. $2 for 6 eggs is a little pricey, but we wanted to try something new. These were a slight blue and had a bit of a buttery taste. They were totally worth trying, but not something I'll be dying to try again.

Eggs in action (with vegetarian bacon, of course):

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Brown-Braised Fingerling Potatoes

1/2 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup vegetable broth
2 Tbs olive oil, divided
1 Tbs unsalted butter, divided
2 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme, divided
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
14 oz fingerling potatoes, halved
1 shallot, sliced lengthwise, into 8 pieces
1 clove garlic, minced

1) Combine wine and broth in measuring cup. Heat 1 1/2 Tbs oil and 1 1/2 tsp butter in 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp thyme and salt over bottom of pan. Arrange potato halves (cut-side down) and shallot in skillet. Partially cover, and cook 6 minutes, or until potatoes are browned.
2) Add wine mixture, and simmer, partially covered, 7 minutes (brown bits should loosen on their own). Add garlic, remaining 1 1/2 tsp oil, 1 1/2 tsp butter and 1/2 tsp thyme, and cook 1 minute. Garnish with remaining 1 tsp thyme.

Review: I think I cooked this too low, as few of my potatoes browned. Regardless, this was incredibly tasty! The sauce that was created from this concoction was so tasty that I made sure the potatoes were served with a little extra! It was savory, but a little sweet. This was a great side dish to some fake chicken nuggets.

Adapted from:

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

"Sausage," Cauliflower & Kale Potpie

2 Tbs olive oil
1 pkg refrigerated Italian "sausage," cut into 1/4-inch rounds
1/2 onion, chopped
1 Tbs fresh rosemary, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups vegetable broth
1 bunch kale, torn into bite-size pieces
2 Tbs white wine vinegar
1 small head cauliflower, chopped
2 sheets puff pastry (one 17.3oz pkg)

1) Heat oven to 400F.
2) Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the "sausage," onion, rosemary, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper, and cook, stirring, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the broth and simmer until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the kale, vinegar, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper and cook, tossing, until the kale is wilted, 2 to 3 minutes.
3) Pour this mixture into a large bowl and add the cauliflower, tossing until combined. Transfer to a 9x13-inch baking dish and top with the puff pastry, covering the potpie filling (1/3 of a sheet will be leftover).
4) Bake until the pastry is golden and the filling is bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Review: This is one of the few times where I took a recipe that used meat and made it vegetarian. Shopping for the ingredients was a chore, as we've been doing the bulk of our grocery shopping at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. Apparently Trader Joe's does not sell a white wine vinegar. Whole Foods only sells one type and it's organic and expensive. Whole Foods had a Champagne Vinegar on sale and we snagged that, thinking it was close enough! I also lamented that Trader Joe's didn't have puff pastry anymore. Whole Foods had one brand, which cost $12 for the package. Forget that! I picked up Pepperidge Farm's puff pastry at Target for a little over $4, but I hate that they use high fructose corn syrup! Regardless, I love puff pastry and it's flaky yumminess. And, the sauce was essentially gravy, a staple of a good potpie!

And, this is what I did to the 1/3 sheet of puff pastry that was left over - make snacks!

Adapted from:

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Crispy Noodle Cake With Kale & Mushrooms

2 Tbs, plus 2 tsp, peanut oil, divided
1 17oz pkg precooked yakisoba noodles
1 large bunch kale, stems and ribs removed, coarsely chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
8oz fresh shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
3/4 cup vegetable broth
2 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs dry sherry
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp cornstarch

1) Preheat oven to 325F, and set baking sheet on rack inside.
2) Heat 1 Tbs oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Arrange noodles in even layer, pressing down firmly. Cook 4 to 5 minutes, or until noodles are golden brown on bottom. Carefully place large plate over skillet and invert noodles onto plate. Add 1 Tbs oil to skillet and slide noodles from plate back into skillet to brown second side. Cook 2 to 3 minutes more, then slide noodles onto hot baking sheet in oven.
3) Add 1 tsp oil to skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add kale and saute 2 to 3 minutes more, or until just wilted. Transfer to plate. Heat remaining 1 tsp oil in skillet and add carrot. Cook 2 minutes, then add mushrooms, and cook 3 minutes more. Stir in garlic and ginger; cook 1 minute. Combine broth, soy sauce, sherry and sugar in small bowl, then add to skillet. Bring to a simmer and cook 3 to 4 minutes more, or until mushrooms are tender. Whisk cornstarch with 2 Tbs water and add to skillet, stirring until thickened. Stir in kale. Remove noodles from oven, and transfer to large platter. Pour mushroom mixture over noodles and serve.

Review: This recipe sounded so difficult, so I kept looking at it and putting it back in my pile of recipes to someday be made. But, I wanted to be brave and attempt this! I found yakisoba noodles in the produce section at A&P, but not in a large package. I bought two small packages, which almost equaled the amount that the recipe called for. As I went to put the noodles into the skillet, I lamented about having to break up the package (it's like a block of ramen noodles). My husband took one look at what I was doing and insisted I stop and just use them as is, making two neat noodle cakes. Genius! It is super easy to flip two little blocks than one huge mess!! So, this worked out perfectly and gave us two large dinner portions. It was so yummy and the crispness of the noodles was a great balance to the softer vegetables. This also had an amazing smell as it cooked, thanks to the fresh ginger!

Adapted from: