Tags: Arugula, arugula pesto, Basil, Fettuccine, garlic, Lemon, Olive Oil, pesto
About two weeks ago, the Sunday after the bombings in Boston..I started to think about life in a whole new perspective. It’s not a perspective I might follow – just errant thoughts…pondering….weighing options.
These thoughts led to my remembering an old friend, someone who was there for me through thick and thin for many years, as I was for her. She had some issues that were alarming at times, so much so that I found myself unconsciously pulling away from her bit by bit..a slow, torturous break-up. She was starting to scare me and I told her that many times. She would just laugh wickedly.
Tags: apples, caramel, cottage cheese, Egg Noodles, Hanukkah, noodle kugel, sour cream, upside-down noodle kugel
So, it’s the 7th night of Hanukkah and I’m finally putting a Hanukkah post up. Why so late, you ask? (as if ‘late’ isn’t the norm for me) – because Thursday night was the first Hanukkah dinner we had at home and I didn’t cook or bake anything prior to that.
Yes, I know.. Hanukkah is associated with foods fried in oil, such as latkes and sfganiyot (jelly or whatever filling suits your fancy – filled doughnut) to commemorate the miracle of a one-day supply of oil miraculously burning and giving light for eight days. But, obviously we don’t just eat fried foods to celebrate Hanukkah, a misconception a former coworker of mine had for years..resulting in her scolding me for ordering a tuna salad sandwich for lunch several years ago..
“Lisa, give me that sandwich..you’re only supposed to eat fried foods during Hanukkah – get some fries!”
I’m dead serious.
Tags: BUTTER, Cheddar Cheese, Cream, Mac N Cheese, Macaroni and Cheese, Milk, roux, Sriracha, Sriracha Macaroni and Cheese, Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese
I know, three posts in a little over week. Every three days, I’ve had a post up. It feels like an assembly line of mediocrity (the Ego Lights haven’t been throwing me a cookie or two as of late). That said, I like to let each post I put up marinate a little before putting up a new one, so that’s part of the reason why I don’t post a few times a week, but, in this case.. I had a lot of catching up to do.
It won’t remain this way because I need a break for a few days. It probably takes me like 8 hours to get a post up because without natural light, each photo needs a lot of post processing, not to mention, I shoot hundreds of photos to increase my chances of getting a few that make it past auditions. Then I need to go over them with whoever is in the mood to help me sift through identical photos with a fine-toothed comb, and find one that looks just a little better than the others, namely, my masculine counterpart.
“OK, which one out of these 40 photos, that are almost identical, looks the sharpest? Which one really showcases the food the best?”
“Lisa, they all look the same, seriously”
“NO, the piece of chive, all the way to the left, in back, in that one, isn’t as sharp as the piece of chive in this one! Can’t you see that??”
That, in itself, is a two-hour ordeal.
Then, writing the post – I don’t think I have to elaborate on that. When I’m adding one of my BBFL memoirs, add another day, or week, plus an hour or two, to the 8 – unless I hit the deep zone. The deep zone is where I sort of astral-project myself back to those teen and young adult years, and I’m reliving it – in it, as I type it. As you would expect, I prefer to write about it in that zone. It’s a zone I cannot be broken out of until I’m finished. Hard to hit that zone very often with work and life in the way - hence the stories being weeks apart most of the time.
It’s funny, for someone who is still using free wordpress.com with the same theme I chose in 2008, and the same ugly header I’ve also used from the start, I’m sure picky about every other detail, huh?
I will be self-hosting and redesigning my blog at some point, but for now, I’m kind of comfy in my old, worn jammies.
Of course you can make it without the Sriracha. It’s delicious either way.
Speaking of comfy, For this month’s Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned the blog Quick and Easy, Cheap and Healthy. I think every word in that title is the antithesis of my blog. BUT, I loved her blog, especially a section called ‘Better Than The Box’ which basically means your favorite boxed foods like JELL-O or cookies, made from scratch. Once I saw this Mac ‘n Cheese, it was all over for me. Comfort food at it’s best.
At first, I was eyeing these sweet potato peel fries, in her Food Waste Fridays post (love all the cool ideas, sections, and tips she has) using the flesh of the sweet potato to make her sweet potato rice pudding, from one of her Secret Recipe Club assignments. A great way to use the whole sweet potato – BUT, again, once I saw the Stovetop Mac ‘n Cheese – it was love at first sight, and you can’t ignore love at first sight, even if it is only food and food probably won’t be sending you flowers or spooning you in bed. However, you will be spooning it…. into your mouth – or forking, whatever.
One thing that caught my eye was the use of honey mustard in lieu of dijon or regular mustard, which is usually the norm. I call this the ‘secret’ ingredient that really makes it pop. An underlying bit of sweetness that doesn’t affect the macaroni cheese flavor you’re used to, but makes you ponder it;
“Hmmm..what is it that’s making this taste even better?”
Not to mention, this is one creamy Mac n’ Cheese (I call it better than Boston Market, K or Annie’s O mac ‘n cheese)..and so quick to make, I doubt any of you who try it will go back to the boxed version as much as you usually do..the one we’ve all grown up eating at some point – although it stopped tasting like cheese a long time ago, at least for me.
I call the boxed versions yellow or orange macaroni snackies. No discernible flavor, but somehow, it still elicits the occasional craving.
Seriously, do any of you taste cheese in the K or Annie box of Mac N’ Cheese? I just taste a weird, artificial flavor that isn’t cheesy, yet, sometimes, in a pinch..I need to eat it…I don’t know why.
Of course I doctor it up with Sriracha and a handful of whatever real cheese I have on hand. I always have a box of Annie’s O or K on hand. It’s like a strange macaroni OCD, if I don’t have the purple or blue boxes in my cupboard, my cupboard seems naked. Now that I’ve discovered this recipe..I may be able to part with it forever – but then again, as mentioned, I don’t consider it macaroni and cheese, just a yellow or orange macaroni snack.
I highly recommend you try this, especially if you’re a fan of the purple or blue boxed yellow or orange macaroni snack or the Boston Market version. Add to it, if you like. Bacon is always phenomenal, as well as chicken, peas, ham, diced, hot peppers, etc..would be. Be daring, try a little minced ghost pepper in it! A little less heat, you say? How about a bit of habanero? A lot less? Serrano, chipotle, jalapeno etc..? As you can tell, I like a good kick to my Mac N’ Cheese.
I added Sriracha Sauce – love the stuff. You get cheesy, spicy heat, and that little ‘thing’ from honey mustard that makes you go ‘Hmmmm’ and then ‘Mmmmm’. Oh, I also added an extra cup of cheese to the sauce. That’s ok, right? ;D
I love hot and spicy food ..which is kind of weird since I couldn’t handle hot and spicy anything until my late 20′s. Before that, I remember ordering nachos, at Mexican Restaurants, on many occasions. My key phrase was “No jalapenos, please”. They added them anyway, and I’d have to pick them out one by one, because I didn’t want to send it back and risk a lugie in my guacamole. I think they enjoyed effin’ with me, or they were just hard of hearing. Now I ask for extra jalapenos, and barely get any.
When you have a few moments, check out Quick and Easy, Cheap and Healthy. So many inexpensive, healthy alternatives to the fatty stuff we all love…plus ways to not waste food via making a treat with what you’d usually throw out, and much more!
By the way..I’m making THIS chicken salad from her blog. next – with a few twists.
Extremely Creamy Stovetop Sriracha Macaroni and Cheese
Adapted from Quick and Easy, Cheap and Healthy, who adapted it from Taste of Home, with my revisions
About 4 servings
1/2 lb small sturdy pasta (such as Macaroni, Rotini or the like) I used Rotelli, which is larger
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon honey mustard
1/4 cup Sriracha Sauce (more or less, depending on how spicy you like it)
A large pinch of kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
3 cups really good mild, medium, or sharp shredded cheddar cheese (or a combination of your favorite cheeses) Try 4 cups, if you want it even cheesier! I did…and helloooo, I’m hooked forever.
1. Prepare pasta according to package directions – a little on the al dente side. While it’s boiling, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle the flour over the butter, and stir and cook until it’s well blended (this is your roux).
2. Cook the butter and flour, still stirring, about a minute or so, to make sure the flour is thoroughly cooked and there’s no raw flour taste.
3. Combine the milk, cream and chicken broth in a liquid measuring cup, and slowly pour into the flour mixture, stirring all the while to combine it thoroughly. Continue stirring mixture until it is smooth and well blended. Stir until bubbles start to appear, this is when it will start to thicken, and it can take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes until the sauce has thickened to the right consistency (think Elmer’s Glue, but a little looser – if you drag a finger across the back of a spoon dipped in the sauce, and the line stays crisp and clear – it should be ready).
4. Stir in the black pepper, kosher salt, Sriracha, and honey mustard. Remove from heat and stir in the shredded cheese. Keep stirring until the cheese is thoroughly melted, and you have a creamy sauce. Taste and season the sauce more if it needs it.
5. Drain the pasta and put back into the pot you cooked it in. Pour the sauce over the pasta and stir together until the pasta is thoroughly coated. Cover with the lid of the saucepan and allow it to sit for a few minutes to absorb the sauce. Serve in bowls topped with some chopped parsley or chives, a little more black pepper and pass the Sriracha for those who want more.
Click on the little blue frog below to see what the other SRC Group A bloggers made from their blog assignments.
Tags: #squashlove, baby bellas, gnocchi, Mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, pasta, Pumpkin, Pumpkin gnocchi, shiitake
I think I was an Italian Nonna in a previous life. You see, I have this uncanny ability to whip up perfect, homemade pasta, whether it be tortellini, orecchiette, gnocchi, fettuccine, linguine, ravioli, etc…you name it. I was never taught how to make pasta- just watched ONE, yes, ONE, cooking show where they demonstrated pasta making and then two months later, I decided to make ravioli, and it went without a hitch. The pasta was silky – like velvet, and a perfect bite. Not one ravioli opened up during cooking.
Then I made a lasagna from scratch, pasta and all. The guy I was dating at the time lived in a predominantly Italian neighborhood. He insisted we share the lasagna with some of his friends because it was that good. The general consensus was along the lines of;
“Woah, this is betta than my Mutha’s- you didn’t really make this, did you?”
“Come on, Lis, you bought this at Fairway Market, right?” *wink wink*
What the hell?
I’m not bragging, I’m extremely perplexed by this. Don’t get me wrong, I do thoroughly enjoy this ‘gift’. However, I don’t make pasta from scratch as often as I should – and probably won’t still.
Another perplexing part is the speed in which I make it. This is why I’m convinced I was an Italian Nonna in another life. It’s like second nature to me. I kneaded, cut, rolled, cut, and rolled on a fork, approximately 2 lbs of this pumpkin gnocchi, in about 30 minutes last night. It must have looked like someone was fast forwarding me when I was rolling the dough pieces on the fork. I felt like I was on a human hamster wheel, no end in sight, until I picked up that last 1/2-inch piece of dough -PHEW! This is crazy – where did it come from??
Well.this speed came in handy for this month’s Secret Recipe Club. I was assigned the blog, Everyday Mom. I made two recipes prior to this gnocchi.from her blog. The first was early in the month - Slowcooker BBQ beef. Coincidentally, she made this from another blog for the SRC a few months ago. It was gone so fast there was no way I could get a photograph of it without having my hand bit off. Not only that, the recipe has been passed on to several people, a forever recipe for them.
Yes, it was that good. I don’t use a crock pot very often, but now I’ve definitely caught the bug. If you make the Slowcooker BBQ beef, I made two changes to the recipe. I seared the beef prior to adding it to the pot, along with all the fond and juices, and cut the ketchup with tomato sauce. 1 cup each instead of 2 full cups of ketchup.
I had already made the decision that I wanted to bake something, especially with pumpkin, for the #squashlove bloghop, so instead of doing the slowcooker beef again, I chose her pumpkin streusel muffins. Herein lies the problem. Her recipe contains molasses, and I don’t like molasses with pumpkin, as I feel it overpowers it. I also didn’t want to use substitutions like maple syrup, or more brown sugar. This led to me going to a favorite pumpkin muffin recipe of mine, and trying to mesh it with hers. Not to mention, I wasn’t making any old pumpkin muffins, I was making jumbo loaded pumpkin muffins stuffed with cheesecake and topped with a toffee streusel (coming soon!). By the time I was finished and had taken photos, I realized this was nothing like her recipe..not even close.
This is how my pumpkin gnocchi, a last minute..as in VERRY last minute, idea, took shape. She has a recipe for potato gnocchi. I simply substituted pumpkin puree for the potatoes.. a bit of nutmeg for the garlic powder, used 00 flour – and there you have it. I’m so glad I made this, because I’m in love with it. The Creamy Mushroom Sauce I decided on comes from Chef Frank DeCarlo of Peasant and Bacaro restaurants – via, you guessed it, Martha Stewart again. I played with it a bit, tweaking it to my liking. For instance, I’m a multi-mushroom girl. If a dish calls for one type of mushroom, I scoff. I love to mix different varieties, especially since they each have their own special fungi nuances that take that dish to another planet. I used a mix of oyster, baby bellas, and shiitakes. I also reduced the butter by half, and cooked the sauce down a lot longer than the recipe calls for, to thicken it. Way too soupy after only a few minutes.
This is the best pumpkin gnocchi and sauce I’ve ever made. PLEASE try this, you will want to give me two big, fat kisses on each cheek if you do! Oh, and try the Slowcooker BBQ beef too. Trust me – it will be a forever recipe for you too, and well..sometimes dumping everything in a crock pot – then coming home to a hot, flavorful meal, is just too easy to pass up.
Don’t forget to check out Everyday Mom for some yummy recipes, and I’ve got two linky’s for you to click on, this time. The first, the blue frog below to see all the delicious dishes my fellow Group A SRC’ers chose from the blogs they were assigned. The second is for #squashlove. A month long bloghop where everyone cooked or baked something using some kind of squash. Mouth-watering creations so far!
Finally, don’t forget about my giveaway to honor Breast Cancer Awareness, HERE. It’s running until November
14tth 15th, 2011, so leave a comment to enter, and you just might win that baby pink Cusinart food processor. I’m even thinking of adding another so two people can win! Stay tuned!
November is #squashlove month!
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Please join in on the #squashlove fun by linking up any squash recipe from the month of November 2011. Don’t forget to link back to this post, so that
your readers know to come stop by the #squashlove event! The twitter hashtag is #squashlove.
Thanks to the below hosts of #squashlove. Be sure to visit their blogs to see their delicious squash creations!
Bakerstreet, Bloc de Recetas, Bon a Croquer, Cafe Terra Blog, Cake Duchess, Elephant Eats, Food Wanderings, Georgie Cakes, Hobby and More, Mike’s Baking, Mis Pensamientos, My Twisted Recipes, No One Likes Crumbley Cookies, Queen’s Notebook, Simply Reem, Skip to Malou, Teaspoon of Spice, The Daily Palette, The Professional Palate, The Spicy RD, Vegan Miam.
1. Put the pumpkin puree in a strainer over a bowl overnight or for at least 2 hours, covered in the refrigerator. Once drained of most water or liquid, cook it down until thick and dry. This will really concentrate the pumpkin flavor in the gnocchi. Let cool.
2. Combine the egg, nutmeg, salt and pumpkin puree until uniform.
4. Add enough of the flour into the pumpkin puree combination to form a soft dough that is not too tacky to work with.
5. Knead the dough for several minutes, until you have a nice, smooth ball. Cut the ball into 4 equal pieces, then roll each piece into a long thin cylinder, about 1/2 inch thick.
6. Cut the rolls into 1/2 inch pieces. Roll pieces in flour, shaking off any excess, if needed. (I keep a bit of the bench flour in a pile at the edge of my work space, just in case)
7. Roll the pieces over a gnocchi board or a fork to give them the ridges.
8. Cook the gnocchi in salted boiling water in small batches until it floats to the surface, about 2-3 minutes, remove and set aside to drain.
9. Toss gnocchi in pan with creamy mushroom sauce, then serve with extra cheese (your favorite Italian hard grating cheese) and julienned sage.