Friday, January 29, 2010

Roasted Vegetable Linguine with Torn Fresh Basil

This is my first recipe attempt from my Vegetarian Times subscription - yay! I always read the magazine (think I've received it 4 times since ordering it), and have big dreams of the delicious food I will make.

For my first recipe, I couldn't have picked better. The roasted vegetables made the house smell divine! This recipe is listed in their Valentines Dinner article for specific reasons... apparently asparagus spears have a lot of vitamin E, which boosts fertility and stamina (Hmm, never heard that. Myth?). They also say basil is known by the Italians as "kiss-me Nicholas". What I would like to know is, who's Nicholas?! The Italian Romeo? Wait, wasn't Romeo Italian? Forget it.

This dish is delicious, with or without it's sex boosting skills, or the basil (which I had washed, set aside for later, and then forgot to add! Drats). Although, I also think the basil would have been delicious.

Both Tim and I gave it two thumbs up. The sauce is really light but with deep flavors from the reduction. Will be great to make with fresh tomatoes in summer, for just ourselves or when we have friends over. Definitely guest worthy.

Roasted Vegetable Linguine with Torn Fresh Basil
from Vegetarian Times, Feb 2010

* I roughly halved the recipe (meaning, I halved most of the ingredients, but added a bit more of the things I knew I would really like - such as the sauce and tomatoes) which made enough for 2 people.

2 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms (Laura's note: I used button mushrooms, which were great)
1/2 lb. fresh or frozen asparagus, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1 small onion, coarsely chopped (approx. 1 cup)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced (approx. 2 teaspoons)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 13.25 oz. package whole-wheat or white linguine (Laura's note: I used a half package and it only fed 2 hungry adults as a main course)
1/2 cup torn fresh basil leaves

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss together mushrooms, asparagus, onion, oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes in large roasting pan (I did this first in a bowl, then spread them out on my pan). Roast 20 minutes (only took me 14 minutes!), or until mushrooms and onions begin to brown, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

Start your pasta water, if you haven't already.

Add tomatoes to pan, and roast 7-10 minutes more, or until tomatoes shrivel and soften. Transfer vegetables to bowl.

Add wine to roasting pan, stirring to scrape off any stuck-on bits from bottom of pan. Place roasting pan on burner over medium heat, and simmer 2-3 minutes, or until wine has evaporated by half; OR return roasting pan to oven 5 minutes, and let wine cook off (this is what I did, very easy!).

Meanwhile, prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta, and reserve 1/2 cup cooking water. Stir reserved cooking water into reduced wine in roasting pan.

Return pasta to pot. Add wine mixture and vegetables, and toss over medium-low heat until heated through. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Stir in torn fresh basil leaves, and serve immediately.

Cooking note: I don't have a roasting pan, so I used a cookie sheet with a lip. I plan to buy a roasting pan, as it wasn't the best idea, but it worked. The wine reduction, which I did in the oven for 5 minutes, helped take off a lot of the burned bits. Just took a bit of elbow grease to get the rest off.

Guten appetit!

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Perfect Baked Potato

Yes, I said 'baked potato'. You may be asking yourself, does someone really NEED a recipe for 'baked potato'? And again, the answer is 'yes'. But thank you for asking.

It may be simple, but that's the beauty of it. And frankly, for all other recipes requiring a baked potato (such as twice baked potato), you simply wash and throw the potato in the oven to cook. That's all I'd ever done.

Well, if you want to eat a plain potato with a few toppings, that simply wont do. There is a way to make a potato pop with flavor.

Skeptical? You'll have to make this super simple recipe and tell me what you think.

I made it for Tim and I when we caught the flu a couple weeks ago. It was the perfect lunch for people whose tummy's couldn't handle anything heavy, spicy or rich. I loved it so much, I've made it a couple times since. I can't believe I forgot how delicious baked potatoes are - especially loaded with broccoli and cheese, or cottage cheese and butter. Mmmm.

Enjoy my friends. The flu and colds are among us. I hope you're all staying healthy!

The Perfect Baked Potato
from FoodNetwork

Heat oven to 350 degrees and position racks in top and bottom thirds.

Wash potato (or potatoes) thoroughly with a stiff brush and cold running water. Dry, then using a standard fork poke 8 to 12 deep holes all over the spud so that moisture can escape during cooking.

Here is the key: Place in a bowl and coat lightly with oil (there was nothing light about my oil coating, but it wasn't dripping oil). Sprinkle with kosher salt and place potato directly on rack in middle of oven. Place a baking sheet on the lower rack to catch any drippings.

Bake 1 hour or until skin feels crisp but flesh beneath feels soft. Serve by creating a dotted line from end to end with your fork, then crack the spud open by squeezing the ends towards one another. It will pop right open. But watch out, there will be some steam.

NOTE: If you're cooking more than 4 potatoes, you'll need to extend the cooking time by up to 15 minutes.

Guten appetit!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Parmesan Pasta

Since I mentioned one of my current favorite dishes in a post last week, thought I should follow-up with the recipe. It's not difficult, it's not exact, it's simply delicious!

The best part about this dinner? When you have nothing else planned, it can be whipped up in less than 10 minutes - flat. And I can almost *guarantee* you have all the ingredients in your kitchen.

When you are still trying to get your footing after having a baby (we're talking about almost 1 year later), menu planning just doesn't happen. When I don't menu plan, with at least a rough idea in my head, grocery store trips are disastrous. I buy food I don't end up eating. I don't end up with all the right ingredients for any dish, but a lot of 'close calls'. And we never eat side dishes anymore (even when I have a zucchini to make spears, I usually forget to start the process before our main dish is already done - ha).

But, amidst the chaos, I wouldn't have it any other way. I know things will settle down. And I have YEARS to menu plan. Stella got her groove back, I'm sure I will too. In the meantime, when I have nothing to make for dinner, I know I can still get an excited smile from my husband when I say we're having Parmesan Pasta. (and it only takes me 10 minutes!)

This is not the most flattering picture, but it still makes my mouth water to look at it

Believe it or not, I got this recipe from Costco. Not off a box, not in their mailing, but from the sample lady who was making it to try and sell some pasta. We doctored it up a bit, and so can you. Add some steamed broccoli, shaved carrot strips, or fresh diced tomatoes in summer. The possibilities are endless! Hope you enjoy.

Parmesan Pasta
adapted from the Costco lady

1/2 package of whole wheat spaghetti noodles (we love the Garofalo brand at Costco)
1/4 cup olive oil (not EVOO)
1/4-1/2 cup shredded fresh Parmesan (again, we like Costco's brand, it has a bit more 'bite')
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
Pinch of garlic salt

Boil the noodles, drain and return to pan.

Pour the olive oil over your noodles, and toss to coat evenly. Sprinkle the remaining ingredients over the pasta and toss again to combine. Serve warm.

Makes enough for 2 adult dinners.

Guten appetit!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Fall Salad

Yes, it's winter. We've long since passed fall. But, fall and winter foods are pretty much the same. Comfort food.

However, amidst the casseroles, soups and cookies, there are a few recipes that stand out from the crowd of 'comfort food'. Salads (as a category) would count as one of the stand outs, since they're not in demand as much during this time. To brave the season, a salad needs to be pretty unique to pair well with the heavier winter dishes.

Ding! Ding! Ding!

We have a winner, Pat... 'Fall Salad', come on down!

Served at our very large family Christmas Eve dinner, this salad received rave reviews. I ate it with mac & cheese, mashed potatoes and some grilled winter vegetables. The meat eaters also had what I ate, plus prime rib. Everyone was happy with this salad. And although salads don't strike you as 'fall' or 'winter' food, it seemed like a comfort dish. The balsamic dressing, with candied walnuts - yum!

I hope you enjoyed your holiday dinners as much as we did.

Fall Salad
adapted from Tyler Florence, Food Network

Candied pecans:
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup raw pecans

Maple-balsamic dressing (this makes enough for a large salad, or keep the leftover refrigerated and use within the week):
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Lettuce - approximately 3 heads, or 3 packages pre-washed lettuce (the recipe calls for: 1 head endive, 2 hearts frisee, 1 large radicchio)
1 pear, sliced
1/4 cup shaved Parmesan

To make the candied pecans, set a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add the butter and sugar and once it has melted, toss in the pecans and continue to toss to coat and cook evenly, about 1 minute. Transfer to a sheet tray lined with waxed paper (use 2 forks to separate pecans) while you prepare the salad.

Make the dressing by combining the Dijon and balsamic vinegar in a large mixing bowl. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while you whisk to emulsify. Add the maple syrup and season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Assemble salad by tossing greens and pear slices in a large mixing bowl with maple-balsamic dressing. Top with shaved Parmesan and candied pecans.

Guten appetit!

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Years Resolutions

1. Start cooking new recipes again! I do sometimes, but not nearly as much as I used to. Tim has made a couple comments and I'm surprised that's all it's been! I've been bad, and boring in the kitchen. I'm a broken record lately... pizza, lemongrass tofu, parmesan pasta, quesadillas, take out/go out - repeat. Although, Tim could probably eat quesadillas every night for the rest of his life! But seriously, new recipes. Coming soon.

2. Only post once a week. Sorry '2x/week', it just isn't working out between us. It's me, not you.

3. I will no longer apologize for tardy posts. See #1.

Remember last years new years resolution? A half-hearted 'use my slow cooker'. I never did, but I knew I wouldn't (does that make it better or worse?). We'll see how well this years resolutions hold up.

(p.s. #4, Use my slow cooker more. I WANT to, I really do. But will I? Anyone's guess.)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year - A Classic Bellini Cocktail

When we were in Venice a few years ago (one of our first trips after moving to Munich), we stopped in at Harry's bar and I tasted my very first Bellini. Yum.

While the recipe calls for 'white peach puree' and on the blog, they are rather snobby about not using anything else, I would have no problems substituting another peach. Whatever sweet delicious peaches you have at the market, go with it. Seriously, peach and prosecco?! You can NOT go wrong.

Champagne or prosecco alone are fun, but if you're looking to make an extra special night of it (new years or any other event), try a Bellini. And invite me to your party. xo

This recipe comes from Rob Chirico's Hair of the Dog.

1 ounce white peach puree
3 ounces Prosecco

Peach puree:
1 pound white peaches
Simple syrup (1 part sugar dissolved in one part water), as needed

Peel, pit and puree peaches through a food mill; then strain through a fine sieve or China cap into a pitcher. Add simple syrup to taste if peaches are too tart, and refrigerate until cold.

To make the Bellini:
Make sure the white peach puree and Prosecco are both very cold. Following a ratio of 3 parts Prosecco to 1 part white peach puree, serve in a well-chilled highball glass or Champagne flute.

Guten appetit, and happy new year!