Portion Fail

This one is for my family, friends, and children’s friends whom I frequently tell, there is always enough food on the table for a few more…

This one wasn’t entirely my fault, I found a recipe on Epicurious for Cavatappi with Broccolini, Brown Butter, and Sage. It looked delicious and easily scaleable for 2. I even had a ½ pound of some leftover pasta that I thought would be perfect in the recipe.

Then I went to the grocery store… I had decided to add chicken, of course they come 2-3 in a package and thought to myself, that’s fine, I’ll freeze the other. Then they didn’t have broccolini, and I thought that’s ok I’ll go to the other store on the day I make it. Well it wasn’t me who went to the store, it was my husband on his way home from work. He didn’t think one bunch of broccolini looked like it was enough, and then he decided that the baguettes smelled wonderful.

I have another failing, I hate wasting food, and I didn’t have another use for broccolini. So, I cleaned and cut all of it, realized that it was way to much for 2 of us and it would overwhelm the dish if I didn’t use an appropriate amount of chicken and past. So I cut the whole package of chicken into thin strips and and I found another partial package of pasta.

I also used some leftover Italian dressing to cook the chicken (one more thing out of the fridge) and of course ended up with enough for 2 and 4 lunches.

So yes, there is always enough, it was delicious, for dinner, and for lunch.

It was also easy enough for a weeknight, 45 minutes total.

Cavatappi with Broccolini, Brown Butter, and Sage

Cook Time: 30 minutes Servings: 4-6 Source: epicurious.com

INGREDIENTS

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lb. chicken breast, thinly sliced
  • 3 T. Italian dressing
  • 2 bunches Broccolini (about 1 pound), ends trimmed (substitute broccoli rabe or broccoli)
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound cavatappi pasta (or your favorite ribbed pasta)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
  • 15 fresh sage leaves, torn
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with water and ice and set aside.

In a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat sauté the chicken in the italian dressing until cooked through, 3-5 minutes. Remove the chicken from the skillet with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add 1 tablespoon kosher salt and the broccolini to the boiling water and cook until crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a spider or slotted spoon, transfer the broccolini to the ice water to stop the cooking and let cool. Keep the pot of water boiling for the pasta. Drain the broccolini in a colander, and set aside.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente, about 2 minutes less than the directions on the package. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta in a colander.

Reduce the skillet to medium heat, add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute. Add the blanched broccolini and season with salt and pepper, sauté until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the broccolini to a medium bowl and set aside with the chicken.

Wipe out the skillet, return it to medium-low heat, and add the butter. When the butter has melted, add the sage leaves and cook until the butter turns amber brown and the sage shrivels, 4 to 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper then stir in the cooked pasta until incorporated with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the reserved pasta water (or more until the pasta is cooked as desired). Stir in the reserved chicken, broccolini, and Parmesan cheese, adding more pasta water until you achieve desired creaminess.

A Promise

My husband and I are now “empty nesters,” we dropped off our youngest at college yesterday. I’m proud that both of my boys are ready for college and are excited to go, on the other hand I miss them. I miss not only them, but also the activity they bring to the household and their friends.

Before I dropped of my youngest to suffer a year of Doeren food, he made me promise that I would not stop cooking just because he and his brother weren’t home to enjoy it. He knows many moms that quit cooking when their kids went away to school, he wanted to make sure that he still had home cooking to look forward to when he came home.

It’s one of the things that I remember looking forward to enjoying, I certainly wouldn’t deprive either of my boys of that joy. So I’m going to try to get back to posting meals so that they have something to look forward to (and while they read they can think of home).

This evening was my first opportunity to cook without either of them, it was just my husband, me, and my in-laws. Every time our group gets smaller, I find it difficult to cook, so I went with something simple, and a dessert inspired by the beer we had on our way home.

My MIL made a wonderful salad, with black beans, avocado, jicama, white cheddar, and a lime dressing.

For the main course we had grilled ancho chile pork tenderloin, corn on the cob with mint-feta butter, a mint orzo, and grilled bread.

I finished it off with a Mexican Chocolate Cake adapted from Nourish and Fete.

It was delicious as a Sunday dinner, but is also simple enough for a weeknight meal.

Ancho Chile Pork Tenderloin

Entrées, Grilling, Pork

Prep Time: 40 Cook Time: 45 Servings: Yield 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

    2 tsp. lime zest
    2 teaspoons ground cumin
    1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
    1 teaspoon brown sugar
    2 teaspoons kosher salt
    2 pork tenderloins (about 1 pound each)

DIRECTIONS

Finely grate 2 tsp. lime zest into a small bowl. Stir in cumin, chile powder, brown sugar, and 2 tsp. salt.

Rub pork tenderloins with spiced salt and allow to rest for ~1 hour at room temperature or up to overnight, refrigerated. Prepare grill for direct high heat grilling. Sear each side until grill marks appear and then alter to indirect heat and continue cooking until cooked to medium-medium rare (~135-140°F) then cover with foil and rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Corn On The Cob With Mint-Feta Butter

Vegetables, Vegetarian

Cook Time: 10 minutes Difficulty: Easy Servings: Serves 4 Source: Gourmet | August 2009

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 T. unsalted butter, softened
  • 3½ ounces feta, finely crumbled
  • 1/8 cup mint, finely chopped
  • 4 ears corn, large, shucked, each cob broken in half
  • pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. salt, rounded

DIRECTIONS

Stir together butter, feta, mint, and salt in a large bowl with a bit of pepper.

Cook corn in a large pot of boiling water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer with tongs to butter mixture and toss until well coated.

Mint Orzo

Servings: 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 ounces orzo
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1/2 cups chopped red onion
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper

DIRECTIONS

Cook orzo as directed on package until al dente (~2 minutes shorter than directions). Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook onion and mint until onion softens and starts to brown, 9 minutes. Stir cooked orzo into onion with ~1/8 cup cooking water.

Mexican Chocolate Cake with Cinnamon Frosting

Cakes, Cheesecakes, Cup Cakes, Desserts

Prep Time: 25 mins Cook Time: 35 mins Servings: 8 Source: nourish-and-fete.com

INGREDIENTS

For the Cake:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 Tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 5/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Frosting:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly coat eight 6-7 ounce ramekins with cooking spray; set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in the cocoa and espresso powder, followed by the water and sugar, whisking each addition until smooth. Remove pan from heat and set aside to cool for about 5 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, pepper, and chocolate chips; mix briefly and set aside.

Return to the butter-chocolate mixture. Lightly beat egg and vanilla, then temper with 1-2 tablespoons of the chocolate mixture, then add to the remaining mix and whisk until they are fully incorporated. Gently stir in the flour mixture using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, then pour batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 25-27 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, beat butter until smooth using a stand or electric mixer. Add salt and vanilla, then beat again to incorporate.

Add powdered sugar and 2 tablespoons milk, and beat until smooth and fluffy, starting on low speed to blend, then increasing the speed to high. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed to ensure everything is well-mixed, and adjust the consistency as needed by adding more milk or powdered sugar. Finally, beat in the cinnamon.

Frost and garnish cake as desired.

Happy Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo and the eldest home from college made it a double day to celebrate. My husband suggested pork tenderloin and I wanted something new so I went to Epicurious.com to find something unique. I came across a recipe for Ancho Chile Pork Tenderloin with Brussel Sprouts and Squash, which I made almost exactly as stated, I had to swap Delicata for Acorn Squash. And my husband found a Chocolate Cake with Mexican Chocolate Frosting; that recipe also required a single edit, the pictures in the post are not Serrano Chiles, they are Fresno Chiles, so I used those instead. Additionally, I don’t have 6″ cake pans so I had to use my 8″ pans, I reduced the time to 15 minutes in my convection oven.

Ultimately delicious.

Asian Dinner

My husband got me a traditional wok for Christmas along with the burner grate so that I could put it right on my stove. It has inspired me to find new stir fry recipes. Last week one caught my eye and I got the chance to make it today.

It was in my March Bon Appétit, Better-than-Takeout Stir-Fried Udon. It lead me to look it up online and read the review. With a few alterations it was awesome. I also decided that it need a side, so I decided to make wontons. I haven’t ever made wontons before, but the search on Epicurious that led me to that recipe made me decide that it was possible.

My father-in-law told me that it was in my top five meals, so it’s easy to say that it was a hit.

My mother-in-law made an amazing salad with a ginger sesame dressing, it was a pleasure to share it with both friends and family. The edited recipes follow.

                      

Sichuanese Wontons in Chili Oil Sauce

Shellfish, Side Dishes

INGREDIENTS

1 oz (20g) piece of ginger, unpeeled

10 oz (150g) ground shrimp

1 egg, beaten

1 tsp sherry

1 tsp mirin

1 tsp sesame oil

Salt

Ground white pepper

6 tbsp finely sliced spring onion greens

14 oz (200g) package of wonton wrappers

Flour, to dust

To serve:

6 tbsp sweet aromatic soy sauce

4 tbsp chilli oil, with its sediment

3 Tbsp crushed garlic

4 tbsp finely sliced spring onion greens

DIRECTIONS

Finely chop the shrimp in a food processor. 

Crush the ginger with the flat of a cleaver or a rolling pin and put it in a cup with just enough cold water to cover. Place the shrimp, egg, Sherry, mirin, and sesame oil in a bowl with 1 1/2 tsp of the ginger water and salt and pepper to taste. Stir well. Finally, add the spring onion greens.

Fill a small bowl with cold water. Take a wonton wrapper and lay it flat in one hand. Use a table knife or a small spatula to press about 1 tsp of the shrimp mixture into the center of the wrapper. Dip a finger into the cold water, run it around the edges of the wrapper and fold it diagonally in half. Press the edges tightly together and lay on a flour-dusted tray or large plate.

Bring a large pan of water to a boil over a high heat. While you are waiting for the water to boil, prepare a serving bowl with the aromatic soy sauce, chilli oil with sediment, and crushed garlic to taste.

When the water has come to a boil, drop in the wontons. Stir gently to make sure they do not stick together. When the water returns to a rolling boil, pour in a small cup of cold water to calm it down. Repeat this one more time. When the water has come to a boil for the third time, the wontons should be cooked through (cut one open to make sure). Remove the wontons with a slotted spoon, drain well, and divide between the prepared serving bowls. Scatter each bowl with some of the spring onion greens. Serve immediately, stirring everything together before digging in.

                      

Stir-Fried Pork Udon

Entrées, Pork, Tested and Approved!

INGREDIENTS

4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

2 cups shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps sliced

2 cups broccolini or broccoli chopped in 1” pieces

8 cups very coarsely chopped napa cabbage

1-2 serrano pepper, thinly sliced

1 lb. udon noodles

1.33 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

1 pounds ground pork

2 bunches scallions, white and pale-green parts coarsely chopped, dark-green parts thinly sliced

1.33 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2/3 cup mirin

1/2 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, plus more for serving

DIRECTIONS

Prepare the udon according to the package directions and set aside into a warm bowl. Toss with sesame oil.

Heat 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté shiitake mushrooms and place in the bowl with the udon. Sauté the broccolini and add to the bowl. Add cabbage and serrano pepper to the wok and cook, tossing often, until edges of cabbage are browned, about 4 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, tossing often, until thickest parts of cabbage leaves are tender, about 4 minutes longer. Transfer the cabbage to the bowl with noodles.

Heat additional vegetable oil in same skillet over medium-high and add pork, breaking up and spreading across surface of pan with a spatula or tongs. Cook pork, undisturbed, until underside is brown, about 3 minutes. The pork will never brown if you’re fussing with it the whole time, so when we say “undisturbed,” that means keep your paws off it and let the heat of the pan and the pork do their thing. When pork is browned, break up meat into small bits. Cook, tossing, just until there’s no more pink, about 1 minute. 

Add chopped scallions (the pale parts), ginger, and red pepper. Continue to cook, tossing often, until scallions are softened and bottom of skillet has started to brown, about 1 minute. 

Add udon mixture, mirin, and soy sauce and cook, tossing constantly, until noodles are coated in sauce (be sure to scrape bottom of skillet to dissolve any browned bits), about 45 seconds. Remove from heat and fold in 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds and dark-green parts of scallions. Top with more sesame seeds before serving.

Pork 4 Ways

A recipe on epicurious caught my eye the other day, Slow-Cooker Chipotle Orange Tacos. It had a second recipe associated with “Next-over” Chili-Orange Pork Stir-Fry. The thought of making one dish and getting a second later in the week with my current busy schedule was incredibly enticing.

The ingredients were good, both recipes were solid. On top of that, my husband got me a stovetop wok for Christmas that I had been waiting to try. I only had one concern it called for 6 pounds of pork and the first recipe said it served 4-6 and the second said 4. With the oldest off at college I rarely serve four, and by my estimation I would say that 6 pounds would serve 12 people.

I decided to keep the initial recipe the same with respect to quantities, and ended up with pork for 4 meals: the initial tacos, the stir fry, nachos, and breakfast wraps. We actually had the breakfast wraps twice!

I did change it from a slow-cooker recipe to an instant pot recipe. I’ve always found it to be hard to get everything in the slow cooker in the morning; it makes me late to work and sets my day off wrong, with the instant pot I can set it up when I get home and take care of my evening activities while it cooks.

I didn’t take a picture of the tacos, I should have, but they looked very similar to the epicurious post and I wasn’t considering creating this post at that time.

For the stir fry I reduced the amount of green beans, and next time I would cut them in half, but no other edits were necessary.

The nachos are a simple dish, it’s been awhile since I made them. I don’t really have a recipe, I simply crisped up the shredded pork with some of the extra sauce and a bit of onion in skillet with a touch of olive oil and then spread it on good tortilla chips, my favorite are from the Ann Arbor Tortilla Factory. I then topped it with cheese and cooked it under the broiler until the cheese was melted. The final topping included thinly sliced jalapeño, diced avocado, tomatillo salsa, and sour cream. My husband whipped up a spicy margarita and dinner was served. Perfect.

Breakfast was equally easy, I simply sautéed some red onion then added the pork and a bit of hot sauce. In the same pan I fried my egg, not beaten, just with a quickly broken egg yolk. I wrapped it in a soft tortilla and topped the pork and egg with cheese and hot sauce.

                      

Chipotle-Orange Pork Tacos

INGREDIENTS

1 (6-lb.) skinless, boneless pork shoulder roast, preferably untied and cut into 2 equal pieces

2 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. kosher salt

2 Tbsp. dried oregano

1 Tbsp. brown sugar

1 Tbsp. chili powder, preferably chipotle

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. finely grated orange zest

1 cup fresh orange juice

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

6 garlic cloves, lightly crushed

Corn tortillas, sour cream, cilantro, pickled red onions, and hot sauce (for serving)

Special Equipment

A 6-qt. (or larger) slow cooker

DIRECTIONS

Rub pork all over with 2 Tbsp. salt. Let sit at room temperature 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix oregano, brown sugar, chili powder, cinnamon, orange zest, and remaining 2 tsp. salt in a small bowl. Rub all over pork, then transfer pork to slow cooker insert. Add orange juice, lime juice, and garlic, then toss to coat. Cook on manual high pressure for 1 hour with natural release (see note) until pork is super-tender and falls apart easily when raked with a fork.

Using tongs, transfer pork to a rimmed baking sheet and let cool slightly. Strain juices left in instant pot through a fine-mesh sieve into a large heatproof measuring cup or bowl. Let sit 10 minutes, then spoon off and discard fat. Transfer 1/2 cup juices to a resealable container and chill to use in Chile-Orange Pork Stir-Fry.

Using 2 forks or tongs, shred meat into bite-size pieces, discarding any larger pieces of fat. Transfer 2 cups meat to a resealable container and chill for Chile-Orange Pork Stir-Fry, or reserve for another use. Return remaining meat (you should have about 6 cups) to instant pot along with 1 cup strained juices. Keep warm until ready to use.

Serve shredded pork with tortillas, sour cream, cilantro, onions, and hot sauce for assembling tacos.

Do Ahead

Pork can be marinated 1 day ahead. Cover instant pot insert with plastic and chill. Pork can be cooked 3 days ahead. Shred, then chill in an airtight container along with juices; rewarm gently before serving.

NOTES

• Set cook time for 20 minutes per pound on high pressure for fresh pork loin
• Set cook time for 30 minutes per pound for frozen pork loin.

*If you have cut your pork loin into smaller roasts, set for the time of the largest piece of meat (i.e., if you have two 2 lb roasts, cook for 40 minutes instead of 80 minutes total.)

                      

“Nextover” Chile-Orange Pork Stir-Fry

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup Chipotle-Orange Pork juices

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

2 Tbsp. soy sauce or tamari

1 Tbsp. finely grated fresh ginger (from one 2″ piece)

1/4 cup vegetable, canola, or grapeseed oil

4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 cups leftover shredded Chipotle-Orange Pork

½ lb. green beans, trimmed, halved

1 tsp. kosher salt, divided

1/2 head of Napa cabbage, sliced about 1″ thick

DIRECTIONS

Stir pork juices, vinegar, soy sauce, and ginger in a small bowl or measuring cup; set aside.

Heat oil in a large (12″) high-sided skillet over medium-high. Fry garlic, stirring often, until golden brown and crisp, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate; set aside.

Carefully scatter pork in an even layer in hot oil and cook, undisturbed, until deeply browned and beginning to char on underside, 4-5 minutes. Stir pork, then push over to one side of skillet. Spread green beans in empty side of skillet, season with 1/2 tsp. salt, and continue to cook, undisturbed, 1 minute. Stir to combine with pork and cook, stirring occasionally, until green beans are lightly charred and pork is extra crispy, 3-4 minutes. Add cabbage and season with remaining 1/2 tsp. salt. Pour reserved pork juice mixture over and stir to combine. Remove from heat and top with reserved fried garlic.

Christmas Save

We have a wonderful Italian restaurant about a mile from our house (dangerous, I know); they make all of their pasta and sauces fresh. To save myself trouble, I typically order a lasagna for Christmas Day and pick it up on Christmas Eve.

This year I got distracted, while I was supposed to pick up the lasagna at 1 pm, I didn’t remember until 8 when they close. I called immediately, they would still have patrons inside. Sadly, when I called, I was informed that they had sold all orders that weren’t picked up.

As I sat stunned, (how could you sell my Christmas dinner?!?), I started to think about what I could do to make sure that I could still serve my guests. Thankfully just a small group, but still 9 people in total.

My youngest went to the basement freezer to see what I had, since I make it a point to freeze my extras. He found 2 quarts of pork mushroom ragu. Upstairs in our kitchen freezer, I found a quart of marinara (our Italian restaurant always sends sauce with their calzones). I also had two pounds of Italian pasta in the pantry and 4 cups of shredded mozzarella in the fridge. My MIL offered up 3 links of Italian sausage from her freezer, a package of fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, and a pint of her Bolognese sauce.

Today I put it all together. I started by putting all of the sauces together in a pan to meld the flavors. I also cooked the pasta a couple minutes shy of al dente. The Italian sausage, I seared, then sliced it, and returned it to pan to brown it on the sides. Lastly, I diced the fresh mozzarella and sliced the fresh basil.

In a full tray I mixed everything together except the shredded mozzarella with some additional pasta water. I topped it with the shredded mozzarella and covered the tray. I baked it for 40 minutes at 350, then removed the cover and continued cooking for another 10 to brown the cheese on top.

With a Caesar salad from my MIL and take and bake bread, dinner was saved, based on the reactions everyone was very happy with the result.

Merry Christmas!

Pasta with Mushrooms and Prosciutto

With on already in college and the other headed there next fall, I find myself more frequently cooking for two. When we were just married, I didn’t have the skill set I do now, nor was I brave enough to attempt to use the ingredients I now love.

So this is new ground for me with my current repertoire. It’s also a mental challenge because I’ve been looking at recipes and determining if they are scalable, just in case we had extras stop by, trying to think about what I can reduce is different. I don’t frequently like to go out, but I find myself considering it.

In looking through my recipes today, I came across this gem. I have actually made it for about 12, it was a challenge, it came together very quickly for 2. I didn’t even go to the store until 5. I had to get the mushrooms and prosciutto along with a few things for dinner and dessert tomorrow.

When I went to select my mushrooms they had a great variety so I picked one I knew and one I hadn’t cooked with before, Shitake and Maitake. While the names are similar the appearance and taste are dramatically different. I removed the tough stems and did a few rough cuts with my knife and tore any large remaining pieces.

Don’t be tempted to increase the Proscuitto, the amount is perfect, it adds a richness to the dish, but you don’t want to overwhelm the mushrooms. Do make sure you use fresh thyme and definitely save some for the top. It was amazing.

Pasta with Mushrooms and Prosciutto

College Option, Entrées, Pastas, Pork, Quick Meals, Tested and Approved!

INGREDIENTS

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil

2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto (about 6 slices)

1 pound mixed mushrooms (such as chanterelles, maitake, oyster, crimini, and/or shiitake), torn into bite-size pieces

2 medium shallots, finely chopped

1 teaspoon thyme leaves, plus more for serving

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth

12 ounces pappardelle or fettuccine

 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

DIRECTIONS

Heat ¼ cup oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium. Arrange prosciutto in a single layer in pot and cook, turning once or twice, until crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.

Heat remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in same pot over high. Cook mushrooms, tossing occasionally, until browned and tender, 5-8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add shallots and 1 tsp. thyme, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until shallots are translucent and softened, about 2 minutes. Add stock and reduce heat to low. Bring to a simmer and cook until only a thin layer of stock coats bottom of pot, 5−7 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente, about 3 minutes less than package directions.

Using tongs, transfer pasta to pot with mushrooms and add 1 cup pasta cooking liquid. Crumble half of prosciutto into pot. Increase heat to medium, bring to a simmer, and cook, tossing constantly, until pasta is al dente and liquid is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Add cream, return to a simmer, and cook, tossing, until pasta is coated, about 1 minute. Remove from heat, add butter, and toss to combine. Taste and season with salt if needed.

Divide pasta among bowls. Top with more thyme and crumble remaining prosciutto over; season with pepper.

Squash for Breakfast

My mom brought me a ton of squash from her garden; this is a treat for me. Unlike my sister, who opposes all orange vegetables, I love squash. I flagged this recipe immediately when I saw it in my October issue of Bon Appétit.

Aside from neglecting to mention the eggs in the recipe, it’s perfect. Definitely leave the egg yolks runny so that the yolk drips down into the hash.

Butternut Squash and Chorizo Hash

INGREDIENTS

1 Tbsp. (or more) extra-virgin olive oil

8 oz. fresh chorizo, casings removed

1 lb. butternut squash (about ½ of a medium squash), peeled, cut into ½” pieces (about 4 cups)

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

4 eggs

Lime wedges and cilantro leaves with tender stems (for serving)

DIRECTIONS

Heat oil in a large heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high. Cook chorizo, breaking up into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon; reserve skillet with fat.

Add butternut squash and onion to reserved skillet and cook over medium-high, adding more oil if needed and stirring occasionally, until golden brown and tender, 10-15 minutes. Stir in chorizo. 

In a separate skillet cook eggs sunny-side up. Serve the hash, topped with an egg then squeeze a lime wedge over and top with cilantro. Serve with additional lime wedges for squeezing over.

Cajun Shrimp Pasta

My husband has been posting more pictures of the meals I prepare that I do, this is an issue and I will try to focus on being more diligent with my writing.

I store in my recipe files a number of recipes for later, things that catch my eye that I want to eventually try. While doing my menu planning on Sunday I came across a recipe for Cajun Shrimp Pasta that I had saved; it was originally posted by another blogger, The Cozy Apron. I’ve tried a few of her recipes with good success. My only complaint on this one is that it’s a bit mild for my taste buds.

It came together very quickly, so definitely do your prep work first. Gather your ingredients:

I only had linguine, so I used it, but the fettuccine, a wider pasta, would have been nice. Bow tie pasta would have also been good.

Rather than a small onion, I had half of a red onion leftover from another recipe, I simply chopped them to a finer dice. I also only found diced fire-roasted tomatoes, a quick spin in the food processor converted them to “crushed”. Last but not least, I firmly believe that garlic cloves should all be large, the head I peeled open today was full of tiny cloves, so I used about 12 so that I had the right amount; they were wonderfully fragrant when I added them to the skillet, perfect.

Based on my earlier comment definitely use the cayenne pepper and the red pepper flakes.

After the prep the cooking is quick and dinner is served. I also made a quick garlic bread.

 
Cajun Shrimp Pasta

Entrées, Pastas, Shellfish, Tested and Approved!

INGREDIENTS

    10 ounces uncooked fettuccine
    1 pound medium peeled and deveined shrimp (16/20 count)
    Avocado oil
    1 1/2 teaspoons cajun creole seasoning
    1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
    Pinch cayenne pepper
    Salt
    1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    1 small onion, finely diced
    1/2 cup (about 4 ounces by weight) finely diced roasted red peppers from a jar
    6 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
    Pinch red pepper flakes
    1 tablespoon tomato paste
    14.5 ounce can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
    3/4 cup chicken broth
    3/4 cup heavy cream
    1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

DIRECTIONS

Cook the fettuccine about 1-2 minutes shy of al dente according to the package instructions, and keep warm.

Add the shrimp to a bowl, and drizzle in about 1 tablespoon of avocado oil, and sprinkle in the cajun creole seasoning, the granulated garlic, and a pinch or two of cayenne pepper, if using; toss to coat.

Place a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, and drizzle in about 2 tablespoons of the avocado oil; once hot, add the shrimp and sear it on the first side until golden-brown and crusty, about 2 minutes; flip and sear a minute or so more, until crusty on the other side; remove from the skillet and set aside.

To that same skillet add in the butter plus another small drizzle of the avocado oil if needed, and add in the diced onion along with the diced roasted red peppers, and stir; saute together for about 2-3 minutes, until softened and slightly golden.

Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes (if using), along with the tomato paste, and cook for about 30 seconds or just until aromatic. (I even like to sprinkle in an extra dash of the cajun creole seasoning that I used on the shrimp at this point as well.)

Add in the crushed tomatoes, the chicken broth and the heavy cream and stir to incorporate, and allow the sauce to gently simmer for about 2-3 minutes just to slightly thicken; then give it a little taste to see if any additional salt is needed.

Add the fettuccine into the sauce, along with about half of the shrimp plus about half of the chopped parsley, and gently toss to combine, cook for 1-2 minutes more, until the pasta is cooked.

If serving directly from the skillet, top with the rest of the shrimp and the parsley, and serve “family style”. Or, pour the pasta into a serving dish or platter, and then top with the rest of the shrimp and sprinkle over the rest of the chopped parsley.

Recipe Testing

Today, I’m testing a Bon Appétit recipe. It looks amazing, but one reviewer panned it: Slow-Roasted Cod with Bell Peppers

The bell peppers look awesome! The first thing I’ve done is split them and removed the stem, ribs, and seeds, and given them a coating in olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Into the oven they go!

Know your broiler, mine is really good, so it only took 10 minutes to char the skins compared to the recipe’s stated 15-20.

Now they are in a bowl tightly covered with Saran Wrap; after they steam for 10 minutes the charred skin is easily removed.

Rather than tear the peppers I just gave them a coarse cut before tossing them in my dish with their juices, garlic, pepper flakes, and vinegar.

Then I “nestled” in the cod and seasoned it.

While it baked, I made the caper onion dressing.

Dinner is served!