Category: Cooking

Gnocchi with pink sauce

When Mr. T says there’s a specific food he likes I start searching for ways to make it. We’ve had gnocchi for years, but only recently has Mr. T commented how much he likes gnocchi. So, I was excited when I read this recipe for gnocchi on smittenkitchen. I had the ingredients and I didn’t need to purchase any special equipment to make it! Score!

I started making this receipt in the afternoon since I knew this would take a few hours, baking the potato alone took about an hour. While this took me a few hours to make this time, I know it will be much easier next time around, especially when I’m not working on a powerpoint project at the same time.

grated russet potatoes

beginnings of gnocchi

Gnocchi Quarters

SmittenKitchen’s recipe says to add 1 1/4 cups of flour but I found my dough was almost perfect after the first cup of flour. I added approximately 1/8 cup  more and the flour seemed to be at the needed consistency. When I rolled out the dough I added some flour on the cutting board to help with rolling. I believe it helped to not add the full additional 1/4 cup of flour or the dough may have been too dry.

Rolling the Gnocchi

Rolling out the Gnocchi

Gnocchi Line-Up

LIttle Gnocchi Nuggets

Mr. T also loves pink sauce so that’s what went with the gnocchi. I’m still looking for the right pink sauce. Something with the perfect blend of spices and cream, without being too heavy. I can’t say whether Pioneer Woman’s sauce was that perfect combination, since I had to alter the sauce a bit–I didn’t have fresh parsley and only had dried basil. I think the fresh herbs would have enhanced the flavors in the sauce.

Gnocchi plopped in pink sauce

Homemade Gnocchi and Pink Sauce Dinner

Roasted Vegetable Pasta

About 4 years ago I had a very bad experience with our tv cable provider. One day our cable suddenly stopped working, so I called the cable company, and spent weeks on the phone with them, restarting the cable box over and over again. Finally they believed that it wasn’t a user issue, and they sent a technician to come out. It turns out our next door neighbor had moved out a few weeks prior and the cable company had come out to disconnect their cable. Unfortunately, they actually disconnected our cable instead!

We spent another year with cable and then cancelled it. Unfortunately, we can’t even stick an antenna in the roof to get basic channels. The only reasons I really miss cable are The Food Network, Divine Design, and when the olympics roll around.

Fortunately, the iPhone app is able to slightly satisfy my appetite for The Food Network, slightly. The other night I watched Giada At Home and she made a pasta with roasted zucchini, squash and cauliflower. I love zucchini and squash, and have always wanted to try cooking cauliflower. This roasting method seemed very easy, so I decided to try it.

I forgot to take pictures of the finished pasta product, but I will definitely be making this dish again. Yum!

Roasted Vegetable Pasta
Adapted from Giada at Home

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water. Drain when done.

Slice a zucchini, yellow squash and half a small cauliflower into small pieces (approximately 2 inch pieces) and chop a garlic clove and place all of the vegetables and garlic onto an oiled (using cooking spray) sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil, toss to coat, and arrange into a single layer. Then put this into the preheated oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until golden brown and tender. After this is done cooking you can sprinkle salt and pepper. A tip Giada gives in the episode is to salt the vegetables after the cooking or else the salt will draw out the natural juices in the vegetables and can end up steaming instead of roasting the vegetables.

Brown a little bit of meat, I had sausages in the freezer, so I thawed these and browned them up in a skillet. I transferred the meat to the (currently empty) pasta pot and put some vermouth in the skillet to pick up some of those browned pieces stuck to the pan. I then poured this into the pasta pot as well.

Once the vegetables are done, place them in the pasta pot, put the pasta on top, and put a 1/2 cup of grated parmesan in and toss it all together.

Then whisk together approximately 1/4 cup of olive oil, 2 Tbs red vinegar, 2 Tbs dijon mustard, 1 Tbs honey, salt and pepper in a small bowl until smooth. and pour this over the pasta mixture and toss again.

Then enjoy!

Chicken Tarragon Fricassee

I always seem to have either too many fresh herbs or no fresh herbs in my house. Some herbs, like basil or cilantro, are easier for me to use up, and not completely waste. However when I need just one sprig of tarragon, I’m at a loss as to what I should do with the rest of it. So I did a google search to find other tarragon recipes and came across this one on theKitchn for Tarragon Chicken Fricassee. According to Webster’s dictionary, a fricassee is “a dish of pieces of meat (as chicken) or vegetables stewed in stock and served in a white sauce”, which to me sounds like a thick soup. I guess that’s what it ended up being, I ended up with a lot of leftover sauce, but that may be because I would rather have more of a rice dish than a soup. Guess that might defeat the purpose of a “fricassee”. For those that like to drench their rice or noodles with sauce, making a fricassee is probably for you. One note, is to use a large pan to cook all of this. In hindsight it would have made things much easier if I had use my dutch oven instead of a larger skillet, namely so I could easily put the chicken into the sauce for the second cooking without spilling sauce all over my stove.

Tarragon Chicken Fricassee
from theKitchn
Serves 8

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided (I used half butter and half olive oil, I figured the heavy cream later would cover some of the butter flavor)
10-12 pieces of chicken (I used 11 thighs, the original recipe calls for 1 whole chicken, cut into 10 pieces)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 onion, cut into thin slices
1/2 cup white wine or champagne (I used vermouth)
2 cups chicken stock
4-5 sprigs fresh tarragon
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, minced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Heat two tablespoons of butter in a large braising pan over medium to medium-high heat. Coat each chicken piece in flour, tapping to remove excess, and add to the pan. Generously season the pieces with salt and pepper. Cook, flipping occasionally, until the chicken is lightly golden but not browned, about 8 minutes. Remove the chicken and set aside.

Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in the pan. Add the onions and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to high, pour in the wine and cook until reduced by half. Add the stock, chicken pieces, and tarragon sprigs and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until chicken is very tender, approximately 45 minutes. Remove the chicken to a serving platter and tent with aluminum foil.

Increase the heat to high and reduce the cooking liquid by half; then turn heat to low. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and cream. Whisk a few tablespoons of the hot chicken liquid into the egg yolk mixture, then pour the egg mixture back into the pan. Stir the minced tarragon and lemon juice into the sauce. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve with egg noodles or cooked white rice. Garnish with additional tarragon leaves, if desired.

Mexican Salad – so cal style

Mr. T always wants to have a mexican salad, he grew up eating them and really likes them. I never grew up eating them, and don’t really pay a lot of attention to them when they’re on a table (think potluck). But I had a lot of leftover hard shell tortillas and decided to make a mexican salad for him. I did a quick internet search and found an epicurious recipe which looked good, and it was good! I did make some slight adjustments, namely because I didn’t have all of the ingredients, and quite frankly I didn’t want to buy radishes and jicama for this one dish.

When I asked Mr. T what he thought of the mexican salad, he stated that he liked it a lot; but it was more like a “west coast” version of the mexican salad. Maybe it needs fritos or thousand island dressing to make it a real mexican salad.

Either way, this was a great salad for a warm summer night.

Raspberry Buttermilk Cake

Every week Mr. T and I get together with a group of friends for dinner. This group of friends are couples from church who

Berries and cream biscuits

 

I made these strawberries and cream biscuits this morning, with a few slight changes, since I didn’t have everything Deb listed. She listed basic ingredients so it is pretty pathetic that I didn’t have all of it.

Copied from Smitten Kitchen

2 1/4 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon (15 grams) aluminum-free baking powder
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
6 tablespoons (85 grams) cold, unsalted butter
1 cup (about 130 grams) frozen berries (my modification)
1/4 cup heavy cream (my modification)
3/4 cup 2% milk (my substitution)

Preheat over to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In the bottom of a large, wide-ish bowl, whisk flours, baking powder, sugar and salt together. Add butter, either by cutting it in with two knives or a pastry blender (alternatively, you can freeze the butter and grate it in on the large holes of a box grater; a tip I learned from you guys) cut it into the flour mixture with a pastry blender, breaking it up until the mixture resembles a crumbly meal with tiny pea-sized bits of butter about. Gently stir in the strawberries, so that they are coated in dry ingredient, then stir in heavy cream. (I like to use a rubber spatula to gently lift and turn the ingredients over each other.) When you’ve mixed it in as best as you can with the spatula, go ahead and knead it once of twice in the bowl, to create one mass. Do not worry about getting the dough evenly mixed. It’s far more important that the dough is not overworked. Generously flour your counter. With as few movements as possible, transfer your dough to the counter, generously flour the top of it and with your hands or a rolling pin, gently roll or press the dough out to a 3/4-inch thickness. Cut into 2 1/2-inch circles with a floured biscuit cutter or top edge of a drinking glass, pressing straight down and not twisting (this makes for nice layered edges) as you cut. Carefully transfer scones to prepared baking sheet, leaving a couple inches between each. You can re-roll the scraps of dough, but don’t freak out over how wet the dough becomes as the strawberries have had more time to release their juice. They’ll still bake up wonderfully. Bake the scones for 12 to 15 minutes, until bronzed at the edges and the strawberry juices are trickling out of the biscuits in places. Cool in pan for a minute, then transfer to a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Freezer Hot Pockets

I was looking for some healthier frozen food options for Mr. T. to take to work with him. Even though I love Trader Joe’s their frozen foods are really not very healthy–especially considering the amount of sodium! So, while looking online I came across Money Saving Mom’s website and her project “4 Weeks to Fill Your Freezer“. The Homemade pizza pockets sounded really good, and Mr. T. used to eat them all the time, so I decided to give it a try. They were really easy to make, and are really good. It was the first time I had actually made my own dough, and it was surprisingly easy. It seems like a great dough to use for homemade pizza in the future too. Next time, I’ll add more sauce, cheese, and just filling inside. I will probably make my own sauce also just to be more cautious about sodium intake and I think add some greens, like arugula into the pocket. I used chicken sausage for some of the pockets and turkey pepperoni in others, and had some left over swiss/gruyere shredded cheese–but I can see that any cheese really would work in here. I stuck two in each freezer bag and Mr. T. just grabs a bag every morning before work. Great stuff! I’ll post pictures of the final result soon.

Easy Garlic and Roasted Tomato Pasta

A restaurant close to me, Coogies Cafe, sells a Quinoa Linguine that is amazing. The blending of various flavors always leaves me wanting more and I eat more than I probably should. But since I can’t eat there every day I decided to try and replicate the recipe. I tried using Quinoa Linguine at home but it wasn’t very good. I’m not sure if it’s how I cooked the linguine, but I decided it’s not worth the price to use it. So, I use other type of pastas instead (read, any pasta). First I take cherry tomatoes, cut them length wise, drizzle them with olive oil, salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar and roast them in the oven. Sometimes I do them really quick, (30 min or so at 350 degrees) and sometimes I do them slower (like 1.5 hr at 200 degrees). The slower I cook them the more intact the tomatoes stay. Someday I will try this with roma tomatoes, but that takes a few hours to roast and I usually don’t plan well enough in advance to do this. While that’s roasting I slice a handful of garlic cloves length wise, then cook them in hot olive oil. Watch this carefully, you want to turn them and make sure they brown, but do not burn them. Then I take them out and let them drain a bit on a paper towel. I use already cooked and shredded chicken, cut them into smaller, bite-size pieces and heat them in the pan I just cooked the garlic in. I also put in arugula just so they wilt a bit. Then I put in the cooked pasta, and toss. Then I add the roasted tomatoes, feta cheese and cooked garlic. You may need to add a little more salt and pepper at the end to taste. It’s an easy pasta with a lot of flavor. One of my favorites!

Martha’s Cobbler Recipe

This recipe was passed down to me from Mr. T’s mom.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

4 Tbsp margarine
1 c. sugar
2 c. flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 1/2 c. milk
1 3/4 c. sliced fruit (fresh or canned)

melt margarine in over in 13x9x2 pan

Mix sugar, flour, and baking powder with whisk. Add milk and stir just until moistened. Pour on Margarine. Do Not Stir.

Add fruit on top of the batter, and sprinkle another 1/2 c. sugar over the top.

Bake about 45 minutes. Serve warm.

Cinnamon Bread

It’s been cold and rainy all day. Some may say think that since I live in Southern California I shouldn’t complain about having a few rainy days here and there… and while that’s true, it also makes it that much harder when the day is icky. I mean two days ago it was sunny and beautiful! But with this rain, there will soon be green grass and beautiful orange poppies blooming. That does make the rain worth it. I just try to stay inside all day long. I did go to the grocery store for a bit to buy a few staples–and the necessary items to make homemade cinnamon bread from The Pioneer Woman’s site. I’ve been eyeing this recipe for a couple days, I’m not sure what drew me to the recipe. I usually stay away from things calling for yeast… But ever since my grandma-in-law showed me how to make bread I’ve felt a need to make more bread. If only to prove to her that her time wasn’t wasted in showing me how to make bread. Of course this cinnamon bread did not require kneading… but it did require two 2 hour rise times, which means it also required incredible patience from me! Of course while I waited I also made homemade tomato soup from Smitten Kitchen’s recipe and Alton Brown’s homemade hot chocolate, which by the way, I recommend excluding the cayenne. I love cooking, and when it’s raining outside what better way than to spend the day by the warm oven. Of course sitting by the fireplace with a great book would be nice too! Too bad I finished the Harry Potter series years ago, this is definitely the type of day that called for an adventure book.