All “Dinner” Posts

Sweet Potato Soup with Buttered Cashews

I posted a picture of this soup in one of my more recent posts and knew I would be getting back to it before fall was over and before the holidays arrived. It was too good not to share. Soup is one of the traditions of autumn I look forward to most. This was the first time I made this particular soup and was very pleased with it and will most definitely be making it again before the season’s over. It was so simple to make and you would never have guessed it. These recipes are my favorite. Simple, yet delicious.

I found the recipe in my cookbook, Homemade (which I also highly recommend). This cookbook has over 200 from-scratch recipes. Teas, broths, cheese, mustards, chutney’s… to name a few.

Now that I’ve sold you, here’s how you make this soupy goodness…

Ingredients

1 onion, diced

2 leeks, washed and cut into rounds

3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 cloves garlic, chopped

dab of butter

1 glass white wine

4 cups veal or chicken broth

1 bay leaf

pinch of cayenne pepper (to taste)

1 can chickpeas (14 oz)

a few sprigs fresh oregano

Before serving

4 tbsp cashews

5 tsp butter

sea salt

for each bowl, 1 tbsp creme fraiche

Braise the onion, leeks, sweet potatoes, and garlic in the butter and add the white wine. Blend in the broth as well as the bay leaf and cayenne pepper. Simmer on low heat for 25 mins. Remove half of the vegetables from the pan and puree the other half with a blender. Replace the removed vegetables and add the chickpeas and a few leaves of fresh oregano. Serve the soup in individual large bowls each with 1 tbsp cashew nuts (briefly fried in the butter and sprinkled with a little sea salt) and a generous dollop of creme fraiche.

Would make a perfect accompaniment for thanksgiving dinner. Enjoy!

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The Perfect Pasta Salad

A few of you requested the recipe for this goodness when I posted this photo awhile back. Well, I didn’t forget. Here you are, my friends. It’s sooo easy and will be a real treat for your taste buds. Plus, it’s the perfect time of year to make this salad because all those yummy tomatoes are in season.

I got the recipe from the trusty Barefoot Contessa. She’s a genius.

DRESSING INGREDIENTS

  • 1 jar Sun-dried Tomatoes (7 Oz.)
  • 4 cloves Garlic
  • 3 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
SALAD INGREDIENTS
  • 16 ounces, weight Corkscrew Pasta
  • 1 jar Kalamata Or Assorted Olives
  • 1 pint Ripe Cherry Tomatoes (cut In Halves)
  • 10 leaves Basil (10-15 Leaves), Chopped Or Julienne
  • 1-1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, Freshly Grated
INSTRUCTIONS

Dressing:

In a blender combine sundried tomatoes, garlic, salt, pepper, and vinegar until tomatoes are chopped. Continue blending while drizzling in olive oil until mixed together.

Pasta:

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water until no longer hot.

Pour 2/3 of the dressing over the pasta. Add olives and toss together. Add remaining ingredients, tossing together and adding more dressing until the salad is coated to your liking.

Serve on a big platter with an extra sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

Hope you enjoy!

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Fig, Prosciutto, and Arugula Pizza

I absolutely LOVE fig season. Which is now, in case you didn’t know. Figs are an amazing fruit. They’re sweet, healthy and pretty. What more could you ask for?

So in honor of fig season, I made one of my most favorite pizzas: Fig, prosciutto and arugula pizza.

Here’s how it’s done…

Ingredients:

  • Pizza dough (I got mine from Trader Joes for like a dollar, but if you’re feeling particularly ambitious here’s a recipe for homemade crust)
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 4 Tablespoons Fig Spread Or Jam
  • Pint of figs (I like the green kind the best), quartered or halved, whichever you prefer
  • Kosher Salt To Taste
  • 12 ounces, weight Fresh Mozzarella, Sliced Thin
  • 6 ounces, weight Thinly Sliced Prosciutto
  • 1 bunch Washed And Rinsed Arugula
  • Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup Shaved Parmesan

**Recipe adapted from here.

Preheat oven to whatever the pizza dough package says or whatever the recipe your using says (their all different).

Slice up your pretty figs

Toss or roll out your pizza dough and my husband says to poke it with a fork. I do whatever he says when it comes to pizza (he used to be a pro pizza boy).

Spread some olive oil along the edges of the pizza dough.

Take your fig jam (or I think using fig balsamic would be AWESOME) and spread it all over the dough.

Sprinkle lightly with some salt and pepper and start placing your sliced up mozzarella all over the surface of the dough.

I know the prosciutto is already cured and doesn’t need to be cooked, but I like mine to have a little crisp to it. So I put mine on and cook it with the rest of the ingredients. Feel free to put the prosciutto on after the pizza has cooked if you don’t prefer it cooked.

Then add the best ingredient of them all…

The figs!!

YUM…

Generously grate some parmesan all over the pie.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until crust is golden and cheese is nice and bubbly.

Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with arugula and extra parmesan.

And Voila! Perfect, seasonal, fall pizza.

Hope you enjoy!

And stayed tuned for more fig recipes…

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My First…CASSEROLE.

Seriously friends, until last night I had never ventured into casserole land. I’m from the northwest, not the midwest. I never grew up on them and from what I had heard about them (i.e., greasy, fatty, all your leftovers thrown together–from potato chip-topped tuna casserole, soup-soggy green beans and other awful canned, processed foods) I had no interest at all.

That was until I saw this recipe from one of my favorite recipe sites: The Kitchn. All of the ingredients in this casserole are fresh and healthy…and it was even tasty! Gasp! Could I be warming up to the idea of casseroles? Well, if canned soggy green beans don’t define a casserole then maybe I could be.

Here she is…

Tomato, Broccoli & Mozzarella Pasta Casserole
serves 6

12 ounces farfalle pasta (also known as bowtie)
1 pound broccoli florets, FRESH
3 large ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped, divided
1 small onion, diced (I used a red onion that I had on hand)
4 garlic cloves, very finely minced
One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
3/4 cup chopped basil leaves, chiffonade, divided
1/2 pound fresh full-fat mozzarella, divided
3 large eggs
1 cup cottage cheese (4% milkfat or greater)
1 lemon, juiced
3/4 cup grated Parmesan, divided
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

This is a perfect end of summer dish too because tomatoes are (finally) ripening and there’s tons of basil to go around. At least in my garden and all my neighbors gardens. It’s also a perfect dish for the end of the month since many of these ingredients you probably have in your pantry. And it makes for awesome leftovers! So many wins with this dish.

First, chop up your veggies and herbs…

Then, go ahead and heat the oven to 375°F and lightly grease a 9×13-inch casserole dish with olive oil. Heat a large pot of water to boiling and salt generously. Add the farfalle and cook for 11 minutes or until barely al dente. Drain and return to the pot.

Steam the broccoli in the microwave or in a steamer basket on the stovetop, just until tender. Drain thoroughly and chop roughly into bite-sized florets. Toss with the cooked pasta. Add the chopped tomatoes to the pasta. Stir in the chopped onion and minced garlic, along with the drained chickpeas, and 1/2 cup of the chopped basil. Tear about 2/3 of the fresh mozzarella into thumbnail-sized chunks and fold this into the pasta mixture.

Whisk the eggs with the cottage cheese and lemon juice. Stir in 1/2 cup of Parmesan. Stir this liquid into the pasta mixture until well combined. Stir in the salt and pepper.

Spread the pasta in the prepared baking dish. Slice the remaining tomato into half-moons and arrange on top of the pasta. Tear the rest of the mozarella into bits and scatter between the rows of tomato slices. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese on top, and drizzle with olive oil.

Bake for 35 minutes or until the cheese on top has melted and the casserole is bubbling. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle the remaining chopped basil over top. Let stand for a few more minutes before serving.

And voila!

We had a side salad made up of whatever we had in our refrigerator.

And, of course, some french batard with olive oil and balsamic.

I think this will get us through the end of the month just fine…

P.s. I know it’s a vegetarian dish, but I can’t help myself…Next time I make this I think I’m going to add sausage!

Hope you enjoy, sweet readers!

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Spaghetti with Artichoke Hearts and Tomatoes

This is the best, end-of-the-month, easy, pantry dinner ever. You, most likely, have everything in your pantry right now…At least we do, especially at the end of the month. We practically live on pasta that last week of the month. If you don’t you have some of these ingredients, it is so easily adaptable and you can add whatever ingredients you do have.

If you want exact amounts see the recipe here (I know I use her a lot but, trust me, she knows how to make a mean pantry dinner and teaches me so much about using what I have).

Here’s how I did it…

First, melt some olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add about 1/2 a diced onion, 3 cloves of garlic (also diced), and saute for 2 to 3 minutes.

Add artichoke hearts and diced tomatoes. Stir and cook for 8 to 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Stir in about 1 cup heavy cream (I also used half-and-half because I didn’t have a whole cup of cream), and about a half a cup of chicken broth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook over low heat until heated through, then turn off heat.

I love the tangy, yet creaminess of this sauce. It’s perfection.

Cook the spaghetti (we happened to have whole wheat so we used that) and drain.

Add whatever fresh herbs you have in your refrigerator or garden! I used italian parsley, but anything will do really…chives, regular parsley, thyme, cilantro, whatever you’ve got!

Place drained pasta in a large bowl. Sprinkle with 1 cup Parmesan. Pour sauce over the top. Add extra herbs. Toss lightly to combine and coat; add a tiny bit of reserved pasta water if sauce seems too thick ( I didn’t need to because the half-and-half thinned in out a bit).

I also grilled up some chicken, as you can see. This pregnant lady needs her protein. So does the baby. And so does my man. It’s a win, win, win.

Enjoy!

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Lemony Basil Pasta Goodness

This recipe knocked my socks off. Seriously. It’s an amazing concoction of fresh lemon, cream, and basil that is a perfect summer dish. It is refreshing, loaded with flavor, and ridiculously easy. Three necessities for summertime cooking in my book.

Mmmm, the perfect, flavorful pairing.

Lots of parmesan….

Of course, lots of butter….

And, my husbands favorite…CREAM.

I also marinated the chicken for about 12 hours (you can marinate it as long as 24 though, the longer the better!) in this wonderful combination:

  • Olive oil
  • Juice of four lemons
  • Dijon
  • A bit of honey
  • A dash of salt

Then I cooked it up on my cast iron. But, if you have a grill I think that would be a perfect way to cook the chicken for this summery dish.

Cook up your pasta. Reserve some of the pasta water. Then, using the same pot you cooked the pasta in, melt butter over medium heat. Squeeze in the juice of 3 to 4 lemons. Whisk together. Pour in cream (and half-and-half, if you have it. I didn’t, and mine still had a consistency I was happy with). Whisk until hot. Dump in cheese and whisk until melted. Add salt and pepper. Sprinkle some basil and stir to combine. Check consistency, adding some of the hot pasta water to loosen the sauce, if needed.

Pour pasta and sauce into a large serving bowl. Sprinkle remaining basil all over the top, then add sliced chicken breasts. Serve immediately!

Hope you enjoy this as much as I did!

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Indian Fare and Sweet Surprises

So two things (as the title of this post indicates)….

1. I had a craving for indian food yesterday so I made one of the best recipes I’ve found so far and am about to share it with you.

2. My sweet, sweet husband bought me a new camera! He’s one of the biggest fans of my blog and wanted to support me in it, knowing the camera I had been using was just not cutting it (i.e., needing recharged batteries after one photo shoot, grainy photos that require way too much editing, you get the picture). How sweet is he? I know every girl says this, but I really do think I have the best husband in the world.

Here’s my first photo shoot with my beautiful new camera! I feel like I don’t even have to try with this thing…It’s that awesome.

You are about to have a real treat, my friends. Chicken Tikki Masala (and killer pictures). Goodness, this dish is to die for. Bursting with spices and flavor. Mmmm, you must make it ASAP.

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 whole chicken breasts
  • Kosher Salt
  • Ground Coriander
  • Cumin, to taste
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 whole large onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 chunk fresh ginger (about 2 inches)
  • 3 tablespoons garam masala
  • 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups basmati rice

Start by seasoning the chicken breasts with some kosher salt. Next sprinkle them on both sides with some coriander and cumin. Then coat the chicken breasts completely with the plain yogurt.

Set the chicken on a foil-lined baking sheet and place it about 10-12 inches below a broiler for 5-7 minutes per side. Watch carefully so as not to totally char the chicken. It should have slightly blackened edges. Remove from oven.

Next dice one large onion. In a large skillet melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Toss in the onions and sauté until they are slightly browned. As the onions cook, mince your garlic. Next, cut off the outer skin and mince or grate a 1 by 2 inch chunk of fresh ginger. Add the garlic and ginger to the onions.

Mmmm, garlic and butter. No recipe is complete without them.

Also throw in about 1 tablespoon of salt.

Next you are going to add about 3 tablespoons Garam Masala spice. And if you like it hot, this is also when you will add your hot chili peppers. I used a jalapeno.

Now you are going to add your can of diced tomatoes. Continue cooking and stirring, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze it.

Add about 1 tablespoon sugar. Let this mixture simmer on medium for about 5 minutes.

To a rice cooker add 2 cups Basmati rice, 4 tablespoons butter, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon Ground Turmeric and 4 cups water. Cover, turn on your rice cooker and walk away. If you do not have a rice cooker, cook your rice as usual but make sure that you use Basmati rice. I used brown Basmati rice in an attempt to be healthier.

After the Tikka Masala sauce has had a chance to simmer for a little bit, add in the 1 ½ cups of heavy cream.

Now, chop up your chicken breasts into chunks and stir them into the Tikka Masala sauce.

A handful of chopped fresh cilantro is a nice addition if you like cilantro. Serve the rice with the Chicken Tikka Masala over top. Make sure to have some Nann bread handy, too.

Would ya look at that?!

It really is to die for, people. You must make it. And when you do, I’d love to hear how right I am and how much it knocked your socks off.

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Corn on the Cob Done Right

I’m one of those crazy, festive people who will make something special or try a new recipe for every holiday. President’s Day included. I think more than being festive, I just love any excuse to eat good food. So with Memorial Day coming up, I thought I’d try and find a recipe with a different take on the traditional corn-on-the-cob that is often enjoyed on this holiday (along with the obscene amounts of BBQ’d meat, potato and pasta salads, chips, and wonderfully naughty appetizers that will be made, and devoured over the weekend)…

Corn-on-the-cob with Cilantro Lime Butter. That’s right, welcome to a whole new world of corn-on-the-cob, my friends. This recipe will knock your socks right off. Plus, it’s super simple. Double win.

First you’ll need some sweet corn…

About 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, sea salt to taste, a 1/2 lime, and, not photographed, the most important ingredient: BUTTER. About 1/2 a stick. Those amounts are for about 4 ears of corn. Adjust accordingly if you are having a bigger Memorial Day par-tay.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Soften the butter in the microwave for about 10 seconds, and mix all the ingredients thoroughly.

Then coat each ear of corn with the cilantro lime butter and wrap individually in foil. Roast for about 20-25 minutes.

And voila! A delicious new take on the beloved corn-0n-the-cob. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, and your body agrees with dairy, unlike mine, sprinkle a little cotija cheese on top.

Recipe found here.

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Asparagus 5+ ways

I love a lot of things about Spring, as you probably have guessed by now. Floral prints, wooden wedges, bare legs, longer and warmer days, more fresh fruits, and….

ASPARAGUS.

I can’t get enough of the stuff. It’s seriously got to be one of my favorite veggies. So since it is at it’s peak right now and it’s my favorite I had to do a post on it.

Here 5 different ways to cook asparagus I found around the web. Oh and check out the recipe I recently  did using this delicious vegetable.

Get a load of these:

Steak, Asparagus, and Chimichurri Pasta by Bitchin’ Camero

Grilled Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus by Three Many Cooks

(Easy peasy appetizers. Plus, if your body doesn’t hate dairy like mine does or you’re not on a diet, I’ve had this exact appetizer, except with cream cheese added into the mix. You just spread  the cream cheese on the prosciutto, then wrap it around the asparagus. Yeah, it takes these babies to a whole other level.)

Asparagus Panzanella by Martha Stewart

Asparagus and Gruyere Tart by Closet Cooking

Morel and Asparagus Sandwichs with Poached Egg by Martha Stewart

The peak season for asparagus is February through June. That means it ends next month. So if you want to cook seasonally, get yourself in that kitchen and put these recipes to use!

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Simple is Better

Being the carb-loving girl that I am, I am always on the look out for new ways to do pasta—especially when pesto is involved. So when I was browsing one of my favorite spots to find new recipes and spotted this one, I was on it. I also happened to have most of the ingredients for this recipe. Another bonus because I have been trying really hard to develop the skill of using what I have. I didn’t have all the ingredients, so I adapted the recipe (another skill I’m working on) and I was really happy with the results.

Ingredients

(My version)

  • 1/2 cup basil pesto (homemade or store bought)
  • 1 lb. of pasta of your choice (I used rigatoni)
  • 1 jar of sun-dried tomatoes, drained (but make sure to reserve 2 or more Tbs. of the oil)
  • 1 bunch of asparagus (trim ends and cut into 2 inch pieces)
  • 2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • Freshly grated Parmesan

(The original recipe calls for arugula also, which I think would freshen it up quite nicely. But I was a good girl and stuck to what was in my pantry)

For any of you who may be doubtful that this simple list of ingredients could yield such a home run, doubt no more. Simplicity doesn’t always mean dull and flavorless…Especially when it comes to Italian food. And this dish proves it. The pesto, of course, gave everything a great base of flavor but the sun-dried tomatoes and asparagus really sent this dish over the top.

This particular recipe had you pan fry the asparagus, but I have had the worst of luck cooking asparagus this way. Maybe it’s just me. I played it safe and stuck with oven-roasting them. Call me stuck in my ways, but this way is a guaranteed way to perfect asparagus. And asparagus is just too good, in my book, to take any chances.

That said, here’s how it’s done. First, take the cut up asparagus and spread it in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Generously drizzle olive oil all over the asparagus and sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper. Now just pop the pan into a PREHEATED 425-degree oven and roast the asparagus for about ten minutes. The secret here is for the oven to be very hot so the asparagus can begin to brown on the outside without overcooking and getting too flimsy. You want the finished asparagus to still have a bite to it.

While asparagus is cooking, bring some water in a large pot to a boil and begin cooking your pasta. Then, heat 2 Tbsp. of the oil from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes in a large skillet over medium heat. Add in the sundried tomatoes, and the cut up chicken until the chicken is done. Reduce heat to a simmer. When the asparagus is done add it in with the chicken and tomatoes until coated with those yummy sun-dried tomato oils and flavors.

When pasta is done, drain the excess water from the pot. And get a nice steamy facial while you’re at it.

Then add the asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes, chicken and pesto to the pasta and toss until well-combined.

Don’t forget to sprinkle with some Parmesan and voila! Simple, oh-so-tasty pasta pesto!

I served this warm, but for the upcoming summer months I might try it chilled!

Simple, versatile, and delicious. This recipe wins big time.

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