Roasted Garlic + Fresh Cherry Tomato Pasta.

September 6, 2014 § Leave a comment

I need to get something off my chest. Something that’s been bugging me and I just need to talk to someone about it. Thanks for listening. Aren’t you happy you stopped by?

I’ve fallen in love. With heirloom tomatoes. Fallen hard. I’ve been putting them in everything from salads and roasts, to fresh off the vine and even tried out this killer tomato jam recipe.

Yet, these tomatoes do not reciprocate my love. They are about to break my heart and leave me lonely and cold in the throes of fall and winter. A true definition of a summer fling, hot and heavy, and about to come to an abrupt end.

BTW – whoever said all good things must come to an end never sunk their teeth into a juicy peach on a hot day. Or a fresh tomato sprinkled with just enough sea salt to keep you coming back for more. 

If my love affair is going to end, then I’m going to enjoy it until they disappear from the farmer’s market shelves, and my life, for good (or at least until next summer). 

And since love affairs are all about indulgence — today I am putting them in some pasta. A simple sauce made with a homemade roasted garlic butter (yes, roasted garlic butter), and topped off with fresh basil, and just that touch of parmesan cheese. This sweet and salty dish is easy to throw together, and is a great way to send out summer with a bang.

And isn’t everything better with pasta, anyways?

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Roasted Garlic + Fresh Cherry Tomato Pasta

Serves about 4

Ingredients:

For the Roasted Garlic Butter:

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 head of garlic

4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temp.

For the pasta:

2 pints (about 3-4 cups) cherry or plum tomatoes, halved

1/2 lb. elbow or ditalini pasta (or other medium shaped pasta of choice — these work great as they turn out to be the same size of the tomatoes, so each bite of equal importance)

Salt & pepper to taste

Fresh basil, for garnish

Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Begin by roasting the garlic for the butter (you can do this days in advance if you wish, just store the final product in the fridge wrapped in plastic wrap until you’re ready to use). Preheat oven to 375F. Grab the head of garlic, and slice off enough of the top so that each clove is exposed evenly. Drizzle with olive oil, and wrap in tin foil. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until soft, fragrant, and browned around the edges. You can literally smell when it’s done. All over your house.

Let the garlic cool and squeeze into a heat-safe bowl. Add in your room temperature butter, and mash together with a fork. Cover and place in the fridge until you’re ready to make the pasta — as it comes together in no more than 20 minutes.

Bring a large pot of water to boil and add the pasta. Meanwhile, grab a large sauté pan and bring to heat on medium. Add the roasted garlic butter, and as it melts add in the halved tomatoes. sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Toss occasionally, and let the tomatoes cook down for 15-20 minutes. The sauce will start to bubble, the tomatoes will release their juices and shrivel a bit (this is a good thing). Let it simmer until it comes together and your sauce is ready to go. Add more salt or pepper as desired. 

Drain your pasta. Add it to a large bowl. Drizzle in the tomato sauce. Garnish with freshly chopped basil, and of course parmesan cheese. Because pasta cannot be had without cheese. Period.

 

Bacon, Corn & Tomato Salad.

August 14, 2014 § 1 Comment

Hi all. Remember me? I know. It’s been ages. I’ve been busy. Traveling. Working. Traveling. Drinking. You know, the usual.

I won’t beat around the bush and I’ll get right to it. My favorite season is here: summer! And that means one really awesome thing as August comes into full bloom….fresh corn & heirloom tomato season. And to me, there really is no better way than to eat them fresh as they come. The corn shaved right from its husks. And tomatoes diced and devoured for all their juicy goodness.

I can also tell you I have made this salad no less than 5 times in the last 2 weeks. What can I say, I’m a firm believer that you can never have too much of a good thing.

And this salad couldn’t be easier to throw together. Eat it immediately, share it with friends, bring it to lunch, and save it for leftovers. If it makes it that far. Coming together roughly 30 minutes, you’ll soon know why this is a new staple in my kitchen.

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Happy Summer, everyone!

Bacon, Corn & Tomato Salad
Serves 4

Ingredients:

3 ears fresh corn
1/4 cup barley (dried), yields about 1 1/2 cups cooked
1 pint plum or heirloom tomatoes, halved or diced into 1-inch cubes
5 slabs maple smoked or applewood smoked bacon
1 Tbsp. low-fat mayonnaise of choice
1 tsp. dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Begin by bringing a large pot of water over high heat. Add your freshly shucked corn, cover, and let simmer for roughly 20-30 minutes. You will know it’s cooked through when they turn bright yellow, and a fork or knife easily pierces through the kernels.

Meanwhile, add 1 cup water to a medium bowl and add in barley. Bring to a boil, then let simmer and cover. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes, until tender and chewy. Add in more water if necessary (and if you, like me, absolutely suck at cooking rice and grains perfectly the first time around).

In a medium skillet, add your slabs of bacon and cook until crisped to your desired state of perfection. I prefer mine extra-crispy. This will take roughly 5-8 minutes. Let cool on a paper-towel lined dish to soak up the extra grease, and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, get out a large bowl. Dice your tomatoes, through them in. Grab the bacon, crumble it up, and add it in. Once the corn is done, shave it off the cobs and add to the bowl.

Lastly, grab a small bowl to make your dressing. Add in the mayo, lemon juice, dijon mustard, salt and pepper to taste, and whisk away. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Dress your salad, and toss in the barley when finished. Lightly toss, and serve immediately. Will also last in your ‘fridge for up to 3-5 days. If you can make it that long.

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A Valentine’s treat for all.

February 14, 2014 § Leave a comment

Valentine’s Day is here. And I know you have a special someone in your life. We all do. Whether this person is a romantic partner or not, we all have a someone

A someone that is always there. A someone that we call when we get good news. A someone we call when we get bad news. And even a someone to call when we buy a bag of Doritos after a long day of work that makes the whole day worth it, and you know only this someone can appreciate that as much as you. 

So today, whether your special someone is your boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, partner, best friend, mother, or grandmother — remind them what they mean to you. And not just today, but every day. Let today be a reminder that we should always be telling someone we love them. Life is short. It’s complicated, and its tough. We will get our hearts broken. We will be hurt. But we will also be loved. Tremendously. And for that, we should rejoice.

So I made some treats for you. Make these for your special someone. Because nothing says I love you like chocolate. And a little labor of love means so much more than a hokey hallmark card.

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Candied Orange Peels Dipped in Chocolate

Makes about 60-70 peels

3 large oranges

1 1/4 cup sugar

1 cup water

4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate

First thing’s first. Peel your orange. Try to keep the rind in-tact as much as possible. And don’t worry about the pith (that’s the white bitter part we normally don’t like to eat). We will take care of that in a bit. Dice your peels into thin long strips. Set aside. Meanwhile, bring three medium-large pots of water to a boil. Add the orange peels and boil 3-4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set in the second pot. Repeat this process in each of the three boiling pots. This gets the bitterness out of the orange peels for candy-making. If you don’t have three pots, just strain them, rinse the pot, and fill back up with water and bring to a boil. Once they’re done in the final boil, strain and set aside. Meanwhile, wash your pot out with soap and water, and add the sugar and 1 cup of water. Simmer, and wait until the sugar has dissolved. Add your orange peels and simmer for 1 – 1 1/2 hours. Until the peels are soft and translucent. Get out a wire wrack for cooling, and place onto of a baking tray. When the peels are done, let them dry out for at least 1 hour. Toss in sugar once they begin to dry. 

Meanwhile, melt your chocolate in a double-boiler on your stove, or in the micro (my favorite way). Set aside. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Once orange peels are cooled and hardened, dip half in the chocolate and set onto the tray to cool. Try not to devour them all before they dry. Place in bags, and spread the love to your friends and family. 

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Polenta Cookies. And a big cup of coffee.

February 3, 2014 § Leave a comment

Are you about as sick of this polar vortex crap as I am? Look, I can handle winter, I was born in the frozen tundra of upstate, NY — but I’ve just about had it. I am typing this as I watch the weather forecast for the next week. Snow, rain, cold, a “break for a day” then more snow, rain, and cold. Someone get me out of here.

Good thing I have 32 official days left before I leave the country for 2 months. There is a light at the end of this tunnel. If you are one of the few people that actually read this blog, and know me in my personal life, then you know I will be leaving on March 7th for a pretty transformative experience. Traveling to Southeast Asia & Europe. Coming back when the bank account runs dry, and my cravings for an American meal just can’t stand any longer. I’ve tried to be healthy in the meantime, but like I said, this polar vortex crap has gotten the best of me. It’s time for some cookies to go with that big of coffee in the morning. I need it. I deserve it. And so do you.

These cookies are a northern Italian treat, and a refreshing twist on a standard shortbread cookie. Super easy. Easy enough to make, and devour 3-4 in one sitting with your morning cup of Joe. I love how the crunchy polenta plays with the soft cookie. I added orange marmalade for fun. I’m nothing if not a improvisor. Feel free to sub-in your favorite jam or preserve that’s sitting in your fridge feeling lonely. This is a great simple treat to whip up in a hurry. And to have for breakfast. Especially for breakfast.

So pour yourself a cup of coffee. And have a cookie. We have all earned it.

Polenta Cookies with Orange Marmalade

Cookies

Yields 30-38 cookies

Ingredients:

12 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup yellow cornmeal, ground

2 egg yolks

Zest of 1 lemon

Salt

Orange marmalade, will need roughly 1/4 cup for filling

This dough comes together in no-time. Simply bring the butter to room temp, and mix in a bowl with a stand or hand-mixer with flour, cornmeal, salt, zest, and sugar. Lastly, add in the egg yolks and pinch of salt to balance it out. Refrigerate until hardened a bit, up to 1 hour or overnight. Preheat oven to 350F. Roll into small balls of roughly 1 tablespoon, and poke a little indentation in the middle to fill with marmalade. Spoon in roughly 1/4 tsp – careful not to poke through the bottom, these cookies spread a bit and are super-thin. Bake for 10-15 minutes until just browned on the edges. Let cool and set on a wire rack for cooling. Buon appetito.

A New Year. And a Kale & Butternut Squash Tart with a Cauliflower Crust.

January 15, 2014 § Leave a comment

I’ve never been one for resolutions. It seems the more you make them, the more they get broken. And who’s to say they have to start on Jan 1? My goals for 2014 were laid out long before my NYE festivities. And I pretty much rang in 2014 the same way I spent 2013… friends + alcohol + a sprinkling of a few bad decisions. Sorry, Mom.

My goals in this culinary world are still going strong. I am lucky enough to have a pretty kick-ass job, and I am preparing to go on a 2 + month long journey through this world. South East Asia. Europe. The Mediterranean. And anywhere else I can go before my bank account runs dry. So, in the meantime, home-cooked, healthy meals are an absolute necessity.

Enter this recipe. I have a few mini tart shells that I love cooking dinner in. Make a big pot of something, divide it into the shells, and reheat them all week. Voila! Lunch and dinner are served (not to mention, in perfect portion control). I used some inspiration from this Food52 recipe, and a fellow blogger’s idea to create a crust out of cauliflower. Hello, gluten-free, healthy, and insanely good meal, I cannot wait to devour you. Feel free to use a large tart shell if that’s all you have, or even a springform pan. Swap the filling and add meats, more veggies, or whatever you have handy. Make your resolutions easier on yourself, after all, its the little things in life that make it all worth while. 

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Kale & Butternut Squash Tart with a Cauliflower Crust

Yields 8 small tarts, or 1 large tart

Ingredients:

Crust:

1 medium cauliflower head

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup almond flour/ground almonds

1 egg

Salt & pepper to taste

Filling:

Olive oil

2 cups diced butternut squash

2 garlic cloves

1 12 – 16 oz. bag of kale, diced and rinsed

Salt & pepper

1/3 cup nonfat Greek yogurt

 

Begin by making the crust. Preheat your oven to 400F, and butter or spray your tart shells liberal (this is a sticky one, so be careful). Get out your food processor, and dice up your cauliflower. Remove the stems, you will only want the florets for this. You may need to grind them up in batches, as not to overload the processor. Then, add the parmesan, egg, almond flour, salt and pepper to taste. Divide evenly and spread in a thin layer among the shells using your hands or a spoon or off-set spatula. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden and set. Let cool, and make the filling.

In a large sauté pan, heat 1-2 Tbsp olive oil on medium high heat. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, no longer than 1-2 minutes. Don’t burn! Add the kale, in batches if necessary, and wilt down. Season liberally with salt & pepper. Add in the diced butternut squash, and cover with a lid. Cook for a remaining 5-10 minutes, just until the butternut squash begins to soften. Remove from heat, and mix in the nonfat Greek yogurt. Feel free to substitute sour cream, or even ricotta cheese if that’s all you’ve got handy. Fill your tart shells evenly with the kale + squash mixture. Bake another 5 minutes, until just set. Remove, cool, eat-up. 

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Almond-Grape Cake. Gluten Free. And still delish.

December 22, 2013 § Leave a comment

Now, let me preface this by saying I am not a gluten free expert. I don’t have a sensitivity to gluten and am in no way, shape, or form, able to give a ton of advice on how to bake with alternative flours. But, the fab folks at Food52 have a great article on it. If that’s your sort of thing, check it out.

I recently moved out of a building I lived in for 3 years. And in NYC, it might as well have been 20. I was also lucky enough to live next door to some amazing people, and I was also double-y (is that even a word?) lucky to have made a life long friend out of one special gal. My guinea pig and recipe tester many nights, she recently had to cut gluten out of her diet. But, I wouldn’t let this stop me from making her a fab cake.

It is the holidays, after all. And what better way to show people you care than by making them something a little extra special? Use their favorite ingredients. Something that says “I know this is what you love, so I am giving you just a little bit of love. In the form of a cake.”

Because, sometimes, it’s the little things in life that matters. Or really, most of the time.

OK, sorry, sappy time over. Time to eat some cake.

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Almond-Grape Cake.

Adapted from Food52

Ingredients:

4 large eggs

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1/2 tsp pure almond extract

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 1/2 cups almond flour

1/2 cup brown rice flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

zest of 1 orange

1/2 cup halved red, seedless grapes

Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, using your hand held beaters, or stand mixer with whisk attachment, whip the eggs and sugar together until it has doubled in volume, and is pale in color & light and fluffy. Add the almond extract, whip for another minute. Add the room temp butter, whip for another minute more until it is all incorporated. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl sift together the almond flour, brown rice flour, baking powder, salt, and orange zest. Slowly add in the flours to the egg/butter mixture in batches, folding with a spatula or large spoon — as to not deflate the eggs. Take as much time as you need. Pour the batter into your greased 8 or 9 inch cake pan, and stud with the halved grapes. Bake for roughly 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and it is browned around the edges.

A birthday. Some great friends. And Red Velvet Cookies.

December 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

If you know me at all, then you know I can’t celebrate so much as a Friday night without a homemade baked something-or-other. And some wine. Definitely some wine.

So when it came time to celebrate a birthday for one of my oldest, and very bestest friends (FYI, girls will always use that word when describing friends, whether we are 5 or 50), in NYC — dessert had to be made. One of her fave flavors is red velvet, with that classic cream cheese frosting. I thought cake was a bit much for 4 girls at dinner — who are we kidding, we would never devour a whole cake after eating a big spread of guacamole & tequila.

Cookies were the easy answer.

Then, this invention happened. If a whoopie pie fell in love with a cookie, this is what you’d get. A little bit cake-y. A lot of bit moist. And every bit delicious.

When you want your loved ones to feel your love this holiday season. Or simply want to impress your co-workers with a killer cookie at your annual cookie swap. You make these. What I love about this recipe is that it’s super adaptable. Swap out the red velvet for a PB&J cookie — add 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter to the batter, and skip the cocoa powder & food coloring. Add your favorite jam instead of frosting, and voila — PB&J whoopie pie deliciousness.

Get creative here, this one’s a keeper.

Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Makes 13 sandwiches, or 26 cookies

Ingredients:

For the cookies:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temp

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 large egg

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup cocoa powder

3-4 Tbsp. buttermilk

2 Tbsp red food coloring

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

4 oz. cream cheese, at room temp

4 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temp

1 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Begin by preheating your oven to 375F, and lining a cookie tray with either a silpat, or sprayed parchment paper. These cookies are moist, so they will stick otherwise! In the bowl of your stand mixer, or bowl with hand held mixer, cream the room temperature butter & sugar together until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add your vanilla extract and 1 egg, beat until just combined.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl whisk together your dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder. Add in 3 small batches to your butter/sugar mixture and beat on low until combined. Thin out in between mixes with the buttermilk. Last, add your red food coloring to desired coloring (may need more if you like them deeper).

Use a small ice cream scoop, or a large heaping Tablespoon to spoon onto cookie tray. These spread out considerably, so be sure to leave at least 1 1/2 inches in between cookies as they bake. Bake for 8-10 minutes, these don’t take long! Let cool while you whip up frosting.

Make the frosting. Start by making sure your butter and cream cheese are at room temp. Otherwise, this will take you years, and give your bicep a serious workout! Cream together butter, cream cheese, vanilla, and powdered sugar to desired consistency. This will make enough to put about 1 Tablespoon of frosting in between two cookies. Frost. Devour. Try to share. Sharing is caring.

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