Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Chickpea Soup

I apologize for my long hiatus... I appreciate all of you that keep checking in only to find my mother-in-law's dip recipe.  Over the last few months, we have eaten... at home even... a few times I even found the energy to take photos of those meals.  You see, I have found a new respect for all those food bloggers that post weekly (some even more often!).   It takes a grand commitment and a great amount of energy.

All that aside, I was surprised how many times I reviewed my own blog for familiar recipes that can be thrown together.  For that reason, I am plowing forward.

One of the easiest and most comforting meals I've ever made is Mark Bittman's Chickpea Soup.  Another brilliant and more convenient version can be found on Fresh 365.  Each version is simple, satisfying, and is made with everyday pantry items.  Bittman uses dried chickpeas, but I've found that convenience is key with simple meals, so I prefer Fresh 365's version using canned chickpeas.  Either way, you are left with a simple and satisfying meal that is so easy to throw together.  Pretty darn cheap too.

Chickpea Soup

10 cups water
2 T olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 T salt, or to taste
1/2 a box of thin wholewheat spaghetti, broken into fist-sized segments {I do this directly over the pot to catch all those tiny pasta shards.}
1 can of chickpeas (i.e. garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
black pepper, to taste
Parmesan, freshly grated 

In a large pot, slowly cook garlic in oil.  Once lightly browned and caramelized, add water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Add pasta, chickpeas, salt and pepper.  Boil for 7-9 minutes (following directions on pasta packaging).  Serve with freshly grated Parmesan.

Serves 4.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Seminole Corn Dip

As I sit here perusing the internet for one of the simplest recipes of all time, Mexican Street Corn, I am reminded of another festive corn recipe, perfect for a large party like the one I'm planning.  I'm sure that every family has a variation of a recipe like this, it's just one of those types recipes.  Not quite as simple and weird as "Pink Cloud" from your family reunions.  Similar in assembly, but so much tastier.

Seminole Corn Dip
Recipe from Sherry Bowers

2 small cans of mexi-corn {corn kernels and peppers}
1 bunch of green onion, chopped
3-6 T picked jalapeno
8 oz real mayonnaise
8 oz sour cream
4 cups Mexican cheddar/pepper jack, pre-shredded
1 T cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste.

Drain both cans of corn and add to a large bowl.  Add all other ingredients and stir well.  Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.  Serve with lots of Fritos.

Serves 15-20.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Farfalle with Asparagus & Mushrooms

Here is another one of our family's tried and true recipes.  Actually, the first time I had this pasta, we weren't yet a family.  It was 5 years ago and I had been on 2 (maybe 3) dates with my husband.  This was one of the first meals he made for me and our great friend Hillary.  Then, David made it for lunch.  For me, it was second lunch... but I don't mind eating an extra meal to make a good impression on a boy.

We have made this recipe differently ever since.  Ingredients are occasionally left out, some times a random ingredient is thrown in. (David, I was not tricked with the fennel... not even a little bit.)  The important thing is to use ingredients that you like.

This is an incredibly simple dinner.  20-minutes simple.  You can have the entire recipe prepped by the time your water has come to a boil and the pasta is al dente. 

Farfalle with Asparagus & Mushrooms
Adapted from Giada's Family Dinners, page 149

1/2 lb farfalle pasta {This time we used baby farfalle, just because it's adorable.}
3 T butter
1 lb baby bellas
1 lb thin asparagus, trimmed, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
1 cup mascarpone cheese
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped {We've also used cashews and pine nuts.  Yum.}
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 T crushed red pepper
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the farfalle and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and saute until tender and most of the juices have evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the asparagus and saute until the asparagus is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Season vegetables with salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper.  In a large bowl, add mascarpone, nutmeg, and the farfalle. Stir until the cheese coats the pasta.  If you need to thin the sauce, add the reserved cooking liquid 1/4 cup at a time. Gently stir in walnuts and vegetables. Taste the pasta again for seasoning. Top with freshly grated Parmesan.

Serves 4-6.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Baked Gnocchi and Cheese

I'm in the midst of one of those amazingly restful weekends that I always look forward to (usually Monday around 11am) but rarely ever get.  This meal is just as decadent.  I can't imagine anything more luxurious than soft pillows of gnocchi smothered in cheese sauce.  Maybe a nap on a soft pillow...  I love weekends.

Baked Gnocchi and Cheese
Adapted from Cuisine at Home

1 17.6 oz package of gnocchi
2 T butter
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 T all-purpose flour {I used whole wheat flour, if you're curious about the color of my roux.}
1 cup milk
1/2 T stone-ground mustard
1/3 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
1/3 cup shredded Fontina cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper,  to taste
2 T basil, finely chopped
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan

Preheat oven to 375. Prepare gnocchi according to package directions. Drain and place gnocchi in a single-layer in a 1-1/2 quart shallow baking dish that has been buttered to prevent sticking.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Whisk in flour until it thickens and bubbles, then whisk in milk and Dijon. Continue to whisk mixture and cook until slightly thickened, about 3-5 minutes.

Combine Gruyere and Fontina, then add by the handful to milk mixture, stirring until melted before adding the next handful. Once all cheese is melted, season sauce with basil. salt and pepper.

Pour sauce over gnocchi and sprinkle with Parmesan over top. Bake gnocchi until they puff and the cheese is golden and bubbly, about 25 minutes. Let gnocchi rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 4 with a big leafy salad, because this meal is decadent!

Friday, April 8, 2011

eggs and honey

In my imaginary future I hope to live farther outside of town and have a few more pets.  I would love to collect my own eggs to make a Sunday omelet.  I would really enjoy swiping my own honey to spread on my homemade biscuits.  The idea of sustaining our family's food needs would be an amazing thing to accomplish, and I would definitely begin with eggs and honey.  Then, cheese...

Perhaps, I can get David on board more quickly with a well designed chicken coop and bee hive.  I've already got him sold on the cow.  Thank you, cheese obsession.

Modern Chicken Coop

Cedar Strip Beehive

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Potato Crostini


Lately I've taken comfort in cooking "the tried and true". Cooking without a recipe is my new yoga.  It brings a calming productivity to the end of a stressful day.  Hopefully, with enough practice I can "throw together" a meal like this without looking at a computer screen.  Luckily, this one is easy enough to read through once so you can focus on the enjoyment of the slicing and chopping.

Potato Crostini
Ever-so-slightly adapted from Fresh 365
20-25 of the teensiest red potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
4 T chopped chives
4 oz feta cheese, chopped or crumbled by hand
4 T pumpkin seeds
1 t fennel seed
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375F. Carefully wash each potato and place a baking sheet, be sure to cut down any larger ones to ensure they all have the same cooking time. Cover with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Bake 25-30 minutes, until potatoes are cooked through. Remove from oven and allow to cool.  Meanwhile, mix basil, chives, feta, pumpkin seeds, fennel in a large bowl.  Add potatoes and stir gently.  Return mixture back to baking sheet and continue to bake until cheese is melted and the potatoes begin to crisp. Serve with warm, crusty bread.

Serves 2 as entrée, 4 as a side dish.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Bittersweet Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am not one of those chocoholic girls.  I am one of those freaks that loves really fake, too sweet or too tart, gummi candy.  Gummi Bears have been the most difficult thing for me to give up, since becoming a vegetarian.  No, not bacon, or pepperoni... Although, I do miss pepperoni.  I'm also not much of a baker.  I love baked goods, but I don't have the precision or the patience of a chemist.  It's hard for me to follow a recipe.  Therefore, I've had more baking disasters than I'd care to remember.  That being said, I will bake my husband and my best friend a birthday cake every year and I will always make a cheesecake for Thanksgiving.  Other than these few instances, it is incredibly rare that anything sweet comes out of my oven (unlike my dear friend, Kasey).  This is one of those rare moments.

Bittersweet Chocolate Chip Cookies
Unabashedly taken from the back of the Ghirardelli bag

2 1/4 cups unsifted flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 t vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips (No, they are not a sponsor, just great quality and an amazing snack straight out of the freezer.)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Stir flour with baking soda and salt; set aside.  Beat butter with sugar and brown sugar at medium speed until creamy.  Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed until incorporated.  Gradually blend dry mixture unto creamed mixture.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Drop by tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.

Yield: 4 dozen cookies

I halved this recipe, made 4 cookies, and put the rest in the freezer.  To prepare dough for freezing shape it into a log for "slice and bake" cookies (better for sugar cookies) or shape cookies into tablespoon-sized balls and store in freezer bags (best method for any cookie with chips or nuts).  This is a great way to have fresh baked cookies without a lot of effort.  What do you do with 4 dozen cookies anyhow?