Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Spinach & Sun Dried Tomato Ravioli

On Monday night, Austin and I went to Whole Foods to get some groceries.  Seemed pretty run of the mill, right?
Pull up, run in, get some milk, eggs, and bread, overpay then go back home.  That was the plan.  And we carried out that plan, there was just one thing that stood out as odd.  

In the parking space next to ours was an older man, covered from head to toe with grey hair.  When I say, covered from head to toe, I mean it.  And I know it because he was totally nudies in the Whole Foods parking lot.
Now I know Boulder is kind of known for being a hippie town and people are open-minded and everything, but I don't really want to see that right before I go buy some bananas.

Anyway, we moved on, bought our eggs, and then made some dinner.  It was a good welcome back from the East Coast!
For the Filling:
1 egg
15 oz. ricotta
1 pkg. frozen spinach, microwaved per packaging directions
1/4 c. sun dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. nutmeg 

1 pkg. wonton wrappers
1 egg 
1 Tbsp. water

1.  Mix together all filling ingredients.  

2.  Mix together egg and water to create an egg wash.  Drop teaspoons of filling into each wonton wrapper, brush egg wash onto edges,  then fold opposite corner to opposite corner (creating triangles) and press closed with a fork.  Continue until all are filled.

3.  If cooking immediately, drop into boiling water and cook until raviolis float to the top.  If freezing, lay out raviolis in a single level onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  Cover with parchment paper and continue layering raviolis.  Freeze overnight.  When frozen, remove from cookie sheet and store in a ziploc bag.

*To cook frozen raviolis later, do not thaw - drop pasta into boiling water and drain when they float to the surface.

4.  Serve warm with your favorite sauce or sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Jalapeño Lime Spritzers

I just got back from a weeklong beach vacation on the East Coast with my family and loved every minute of it.  But now, I am having a hard time readjusting to normal life.

Everyone says that they need a vacation from vacation.  I need that.  And a drink!

You can probably tell by now that I kind of like my drinks spicy, and this spritzer is my favorite so far.  It is easy to make and even easier to drink!
*Serves 4
3 c. club soda
1/2 c. fresh squeezed lime juice
1/4 c. agave
1 lime, thinly sliced
1 jalapeño, thinly sliced (seeds removed)
4 oz. citron vodka

1.  Combine all ingredients in pitcher.  Serve over ice.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Summer Carbonara

I used to work the worst job in the world.  That's probably an exaggeration, but most days it really didn't feel like it.

I didn't have enough work to do and I was bored more often than not.

So what I would do for about 39 hours a week was 'stumble upon' websites.  If you think Pinterest is a time-gobbler, you have no idea what kind of time that little "Stumble" button in the corner can eat up!
Oh the things you can find on the interwebs these days!  Like this!  And this!  And this!

The internet is an amazing place.  So amazing that time can just slip away from you and before you know it, it's late and you're hungry.
This pasta recipe is a perfect weeknight meal that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.  I threw in some leftover corn and cherry tomatoes, but you can add any veggies that you have on hand or leave them out completely.  This is a no-stress meal.
Recipe from Austin!
1 lb. spaghetti
2 c. cubed pancetta, rind removed (bacon works too)
2 tsp. olive oil
1/4 c. vermouth (or dry white wine)
corn removed from 2 ears of corn
1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
4 eggs
3/4 c. freshly grated parmesan
1/2 c. heavy cream
black pepper

1.  Heat a large pot of water for the pasta.

2.  In another large pan, cook the pancetta cubes in the oil until crispy.  Pour vermouth over pancetta and let it bubble away until most of the vermouth cooks out of it.  Remove the pan from the heat.  Add corn and tomatoes.

3.  In a bowl, beat together eggs, cream, parmesan and pepper.  Set aside.

4.  Cook the pasta until it is al dente.  Remove 1/2 c. pasta water before draining.

5.  Place the pancetta back on the heat, add pasta to pan (if it won't all fit into that pan, use the pan you used to cook the pasta instead).  Stir together until well combined.  Remove from heat.  Add egg, cream mixture and toss quickly.  Thin with pasta water, if needed.

*Usually, when I am combining the pasta with the egg mixture, I turn the heat back on very low if the eggs don't seem like they are cooking enough - just for about 90 seconds.

6.  Top with more fresh ground pepper and nutmeg.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Little Cheddar Meatloaves

There's this game that I really like to play.  My sister, Darcie introduced me to it a few years ago and basically you ask people questions about their favorite foods but you word it in this way: "If you had to eat one [type of vegetable/thing for dinner/pizza topping] for the rest of your life, what would it be?"

The wording is important because it's not just your favorite food, it's the food that could eat a million times and still never get sick of it.  
For me, fruit is easy.  Peaches.  You can make scones and pies and cobblers out of peaches.  You can eat them sliced or whole or peeled or poached.  You can do anything with a good peach.

Vegetable: Sweet Potatoes.  Again, so many things you can do with a sweet potato, plus they're just perfect all by themselves!
Dinner?  Dinner is much harder for me.  There are a lot of things that I really like to eat for dinner, but every. single. night?  

When I asked Austin the same question, he didn't even hesitate before saying, "Meatloaf!"  

I'm telling you, this game tells you a lot about people.

I have to say though, it's a good choice.
Recipe from Alton Brown
1 lb. ground beef
1 egg
3/4 c. milk
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 c. quick-cooking oats
1/2 c. chopped onion
1 tsp. salt
2/3 c. ketchup
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. mustard

1.  In a large mixing bowl, combine (with your hands, works best) ground beef, egg, milk, cheese, oats, onion and salt.

2.  Shape into 8 mini loaves and place in a greased 9x13" dish.  

3.  Combine ketchup, brown sugar and mustard then spoon over the meatloaves.

4.  Bake at 350˚ for 45 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 160˚.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Sage Biscuits

When I cut the sage from my "garden" yesterday, I knew exactly what I wanted to make.  These sage biscuits.  Perfectly simple and delicious.
The only ingredient I didn't have on-hand was the buttermilk.
After searching the first store's shelves and asking if they had any buttermilk hiding in the back, I left empty handed.  Next store down the road - same story.  I drove across town to the 3rd store, and there were 4 left!  4!  I never thought that there would be such high demand for buttermilk!
What are you all making out there that requires so much sour milk?
But luckily, I did not give up in my pursuit, because these biscuits didn't disappoint.  So if you're one of the people that bought buttermilk recently and you have a little leftover, whip these up!
Recipe from The New York Times
2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. butter, chilled
1/4 c. chopped sage (I used pineapple sage, because that's what I planted)
3/4 c. + 1 Tbsp. buttermilk
1 Tbsp. melted butter

1.  Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

2.  Dice butter and add to flour mixture along with sage.  Cut in with a pastry cutter or fork (should be very coarse).

3.  Stir in buttermilk until just combined.  Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and with lightly floured hands, knead a few times.  Shape into a square and cut into 9 biscuits.

4.  Place on baking sheet and brush tops with melted butter.  Bake at 450˚ for 12-14 minutes, until golden brown.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Lemon Beet Salad

It's that time of year again!  Parents are taking their kids to Target and picking out the perfect style of mechanical pencil that is going to ensure that their child is not ridiculed.  They're getting name brand glue and new lunch boxes.
The first day of school is fast approaching and it has me wanting to buy some new pens and organize my life and my thoughts.  
It also has me reminiscing on those days, pulling out my regular white glue, when all the cool kids has sparkly gel glue.  At lunch, looking in my lunchbox to find a cheese sandwich on white bread with butter when the other kids had lunchables.  
What gets packed into a lunchbox is a big deal.  It determines friendships.  So make this salad, but please do not send the leftovers off with your kid in some eco-friendly tupperware.
5 large beets
1 Tbsp. olive oil + 1/4 c. olive oil
1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
zest from 1 lemon
juice from 1 lemon
coarse sea salt & pepper

1.  Trim beets.  Wrap loosely in foil with 1 Tbsp. olive oil, salt and pepper.  Bake at 400˚ for 45-60 minutes.  Let cool.

2.  Take skins off beets by rubbing in a paper towel.  Cut in chunks.

3.  Mix together 1/4 c. olive oil, parsley, lemon zest and lemon juice.  Pour over beets.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Super Simple Lemonade (or Lemon Drop!)

Last night, I cranked my oven up to 500˚, which I know is crazy since it was already above 90˚ outside.  Who in their right mind would do that?
Only crazy people do that.

But, I wanted to make a cheesecake and this cheesecake has some pretty specific baking instructions.  Temperatures change partway through, the cake sleeps in the oven overnight.  It's a process.  And it makes the most delicious cheesecake you'll ever eat!
You might wonder why I'm talking about cheesecake when this post is for a lemonade/lemon drop recipe.  Well, apparently my oven doesn't like to get that hot.  It let me know it's feelings by filling up the house with smoke, setting off alarms, and generally stinking up the place.
So today, I'm giving it a break.  Here is a recipe that requires no oven or stove.  It's so easy, you'll never buy lemonade again.
And if you'd like, add a little vodka to the mix and have yourself a cocktail!  After almost burning down the neighborhood last night, I think that's exactly what I deserve!

LEMONADE/LEMON DROP (on the rocks)*
3 lemons, cut into wedges
1 c. sugar
vodka, optional*

1.  In a medium mixing bowl, combine lemons and sugar.  With a muddler or pestle, smash up all the lemons, getting as much juice out as possible.

2.  Strain into pitcher (makes about 1.5 quarts).  Add cold water (and ice) to fill container.

3.  Rub a lemon wedge around the edge of glass, dip in fine sugar.  Fill glass with ice.  Pour lemonade over the top and garnish with a thin slice of lemon.

*For the Lemon Drop, omit the water.  In each glass pour 1/2 oz. vodka over ice then top with strained lemon juice/sugar mixture.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Peaches 'n Cream Bundt Cake

Have you seen that car insurance commercial where the guy drives into his garage with the bikes on top of his car?  It shows the damaged car and the bike rack with bikes still attached on the ground behind the car.  His agent is helping him go through the paperwork.
What it doesn't show is the sick feeling in his stomach as he hears the noise of it hitting.  Well, I recreated that scene (thankfully, to a much lessor degree) last night and I can tell you, his heart sunk through the floor mats when he realized what he just did.
After reattaching the bike rack, regaining my composure and telling Sheldon (my Fit's name) how sorry I was that I hurt him, I needed to feel in control again.

Feeling in control really equates to one thing only: baking.
And this cake was the perfect thing to remind me that I can do at least one thing right!

This cake comes together easily.  You don't have to go to the grocery store and get cake flour to make it and when it's done, you can breathe a sigh of relief and know that life is still good.

This cake is magic.
Recipe from Martha Stewart
3 sticks butter, plus (1 Tbsp. for pan)
3 c. plus 2 Tbsp. flour, (plus 1/8 c. for pan)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
4 peaches, peeled, pitted and diced
2 1/4 c. sugar
6 eggs, room temp.
1 1/4 c. sour cream
1 1/4 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1.  Butter and flour a 14-cup bundt pan.  Mix together 3 c. of the flour, baking soda and salt.

2.  Toss peaches in the remaining 2 Tbsp. flour to coat.

3.  Beat together 2 sticks butter and 2 cups sugar on medium-high until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time.  Add in flour mixture and sour cream.

4.  Fold peaches and vanilla into batter and pour into prepared pan.  Tap pan on counter a few times to release any air bubbles to the surface.

5.  Bake at 350˚ for 1 hour.  Transfer to wire rack inside a jelly roll pan.  (If you don't have a jelly roll pan don't worry - it just contains the mess, but it's not necessary.)  Let cool 15 minutes in pan.

6.  Melt remaining 1 stick of butter.  Combine cinnamon with 1/4 c. remaining sugar.  Release cake from pan and invert onto rack.  Brush cake with butter then sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over the top.  Keep working your way around the cake until the whole thing is coated.

Cake can be served warm or cold.  Feel free to top it with some whipped cream too!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Pineapple Margaritas

On my facebook page the other day, I asked, "is it ok to make a cocktail at 3 o'clock in the afternoon if it's 'for work?'"  And quite frankly, I was surprised how many people condoned my day drinking.  
It's not like I was tailgating.  It wasn't a holiday or even my birthday.  This was just a normal Wednesday.  
I take that to mean, a lot of you out there have had a rough week at work.  So this is your Friday night treat!  Let's see if we can make it to 5:00!
coarse salt
chili powder
1 c. tequila
1 c. pineapple juice
1/2 c. fresh lime juice
1 1/2 Tbsp. agave nectar

1.  Rub the rims of 4 glasses with lime then dip in coarse salt mixed with chili powder.

2.  In a martini shaker, add ice.  Pour tequila, pineapple juice, lime juice and agave over the top.  Shake and strain into the glasses.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Vanilla Ice Cream

Ice cream flavors can be a really divisive issue between people.  For whatever reason, people just cannot seem to understand why someone would like something other than what they like.

If you love Rocky Road, how could anyone ever prefer Neapolitan?  If chocolate's your thing, why would people want to ruin it with cookie dough and fudge swirls?

So, needless to say, people are often confused when I tell them that my favorite flavor is vanilla.

Usually, they respond, "Just Vanilla?!"  "A plain vanilla shake?!"  Well, it's not just, plain vanilla!  It's delicious and it's a classic!
I think that this ice cream might be able to bring some people around to my camp though.  This is by far the best vanilla ice cream recipe I have ever tried.  Actually, it's the best ice cream recipe that I've had period.

And if that's still not enough to convince you - there's always hot fudge and caramel toppings!
Recipe from Alton Brown
2 c. half and half
1 c. whipping cream
1 c. minus 2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. peach preserves
1 vanilla bean

1.  Split and scrape out the vanilla bean.  In a medium saucepan combine all ingredients including the hull of the vanilla bean.

2.  Cook over medium heat until the first bubble comes to the surface (170˚).

3.  Once cooled, pour into a tupperware and refrigerate overnight.

4.  Pour contents into ice cream maker and follow manufacturer's instructions.  Serve soft right out of the ice cream maker or place in the freezer to harden.

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