52Weeks · Home Cooking

Little Things

Caprese Grilled Cheese

No matter how fancy the meal, how exotic the ingredients, how elaborate the presentation it’s normally the simple dishes that stick with us.  Mom’s soup, Grandma’s candy cane cookies, Dad’s pasta sauce…those are the dishes that more often then not mean more than the most expensive dinner.  There is a reason, after all, that these are commonly referred to as comfort foods.  I can only guess what meals my future children will remember when they look back on their childhood, but if they are anything like their father this grilled cheese stands a chance of making the memory list.  It’s a switch on the standard grilled cheese, but nothing so elaborate that it “requires” a special occasion or a special trip to the grocery store.

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I’m sending this over to /52weeks as part of their lunch challenge, even though this sandwich will also great with a big bowl of soup for dinner.  At the end of the day, this sandwich is simple and delicious and perfect.

Home Cooking · Quick Weeknight Recipes

Doing Just Fine

Baked Eggplant with Lentils

 

There is nothing more relaxing and refreshing than the sound of rain, it just seems to make everything better.   After the dry summer that most of the country has been experiencing, I can only imagine that for many the rain is a welcoming relief.  I had originally been planning to spend this weekend switching out the garden and starting some fall vegetables, but Mother Nature seems to have other ideas and now I’m wondering if I’ll have a chance to plant the fall garden at all!  This summer has been the craziest and busiest summer I’ve ever had, and it’s not over yet.  I’m looking forward to October and the chance to rest, relax, and recover assuming that October allows for that.  Until then, my kitchen will be my safe haven since it isn’t large enough to house a clock or calendar.

Since Joe and I have been traveling so much the past few weeks my trips to the grocery store have been few and far between.  I have been focusing on using my pantry basics in addition to the fresh vegetables I’ve been growing.  This recipe features the first of my Black Beauty Eggplants as well as some more delicious tomatoes and fresh herbs.  When I started cooking I really had no idea where I was going with this recipe, which was evident by the large cast of characters I had sitting on the counters.  I thought about sauting the eggplant with some basil and serving over lentils, or doing an all-eggplant stir-fry.  In the end I decided to bake the eggplant and serve the lentils over them as a thick ragu style sauce.   The result was a very filling and rich dinner that only needed a small salad to go with it,  perfection!

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This recipe comes together pretty quickly once the eggplant has been salted.  For an alternate way of prepping the eggplant, press the cut slices between two plates lined with paper towels.  Failure to properly pre-treat the eggplant can result in a bitter aftertaste, which is probably why more than a few people have been turned off of this amazing vegetable.

Baking · Secret Recipe Club · Vegan

My Scene

Basil Focaccia Bread Machine Style

A second SRC recipe!  This time featuring a Blog from the amazing Group B.  Danielle is the brains behind Mostly Food and Crafts, a blog that features all sorts of delicious recipes and cute crafts.  I realized at a young age that crafting was not for me and am in awe of anyone who does pocess the crafting gene.   However I still checked out a few of them, just couldn’t resist the temptation!  Since I had a quick turnaround with this post I tore myself away from her craft list and started investigating recipes.   Oh my are there some good ones!  From curry rice to banana nutella bread to her recipe for Baked Potenta with mozzerella and basil…so many delicious options for such a small amount of time.  After eliminating a few options due to time constraints, I decided I needed a new fresh bread recipe that was different than anything I had tried before.  After all, part of the reason behind SRC is trying out things we wouldn’t normally go for.  With that in mind I decided that her Rosemary Focaccia was just right, even if I did have to turn the oven on.

In doing this I also found out that the standard dough setting on my machine is twice as long as the pizza dough setting, which resulted in a slight delay.  I did have to switch out the rosemary for half fresh basil, half dried rosemary.  I added the rosemary to the dough while I kept the basil as a topping with the olive oil, pepper, and salt.    I kept the same overall measurement (split), same cooking time, and experienced the same amazing results!  This bread was that something extra my dinner plans needed, I just didn’t know it!  The smell it gave my entire house was an added bonus, and just one more reason why I need to make this on a regular basis.

Thanks Danielle for such a great recipe, I can’t wait to try more!


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Italian

You Are

Mushroom Stuffed Shells

with

Pomodoro Sauce

I apologize for the lack of posting, work and wedding have been kicking my ass and unfortunately my time in the kitchen has been suffering.  While I’m still cooking, I’m falling back to my old faithfuls.  This recipe is one that I’ve been making for years but I decided to try something different this time and stuff it with more than just yummy cheese.  I also pulled out one of my favorite sauce recipes and splurged for some fresh basil since my summer supply has long since been depleted.   I did use canned tomatoes instead of fresh, but that was a judgement call after seeing the sad tomatoes at the store.  I try to avoid using canned produce as much as possible, but sometimes it has to be done.   Fingers crossed my vegetable garden will do great this year and I’ll be able to try canning some of my own vegetables.  Those are some canned vegetables I could certainly get behind!

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In wedding news, things are coming together and I thin I have everything figured out at this point.  We did our tasting this past Monday and it was amazing!  Fingers crossed my guests will enjoy everything as much as we did, tho I’m not worried since we have such a wide variety of thing for them to try.

Uncategorized

Shop Around

Latke

Comfort foods: things that warm you inside and out.  Soups, mac&cheese, pasta dishes, and anything involving potatoes always fall in this category.  Combining any of these dishes create a whole new level of comfort, and when it is snowing outside and the sky is grey this super comfort meals are the ones to go for.  For me there is nothing more comforting than a delicious soup, such as cream of broccoli, with delicious latkes.   Latkes use to be a labor of effort, that normally involved cursing while trying to cut the potatoes in to even pieces and then attempting to julienne them.  Then I got: the mandolin!  Suddenly things are easier and faster and my fingers are no longer at risk of being sliced/diced/julienned or otherwise removed! Needless to say between this and my immersion blender I am chopping, slicing, blending machine.  (yes i have a slight addiction to kitchen gadgets, but that’s okay).   [amd-zlrecipe-recipe:14]

In wedding news: invitations have been picked!  Have mailed the check to the venue and reserved the block of rooms.   I have an insanely crazy busy weekend coming up soon, just waiting for the MOH to get in town!  Still left to figure out: food, booze, music, and flowers.  (trying to not focus on that part tho…something about stress)

Simple and In Season

He did the Mash

Ravioli with Pumpkin Sauce

Simple and In Season

Happy (almost) Halloween!  The candy has been purchased, the (few) Halloween decorations have been placed out, and the fall chill is in the air.  I have never been a big Halloween person but this year I was inspired by all of the Halloween-ie recipes on the web and wanted to give it a go.  I realized early on in my quest that if I was going to do this, I needed to go with a pumpkin recipe. This was a tough decision for me since I am not a fan of pumpkin in its most popular form: the pumpkin pie. Be it lightly spiced, fresh roasted, or from a can I just don’t like it.  So I realized that in order to survive my personal pumpkin challenge I would need to prepare the pumpkin with something familiar and delicious.  My first thought was to do a version of the Top Chef pumpkin lasagna recipe, which Tiffani did during the first season, the logic being who doesn’t have lasagna.  I quickly gave up on this, realizing I didn’t have the time needed to properly cook the pumpkins given on how busy things have been lately.  Instead I decided to keep with the pasta, and do a simple pumpkin sauce to go over some cheese stuffed ravioli.

Ingredients: (serves 5)

  • 1 lb cheese ravioli
  • 1 tbsp EVOO
  • 1/2 vidalia onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups roasted pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan Cheese
  • pinch of pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes before adding the pumpkin puree, vegetable broth, and water.  Bring to a boil, then cover and allow to simmer for 10minutes.
  2. Meanwhile cook the ravioli per instructions, drain and return to pan.
  3. Stir the pumpkin sauce, then add the basil, cheese, and pepper.  Pour the sauce over the ravioli and gently mix.  Serve! 

I roasted my pumpkin the same day I made the sauce, but it could easily be roasted the day before.  I used this as my guide, adding a little bit of vegetable stock to the puree for a slightly looser mixture.  I also added some toasted pumpkin seeds for a quick crunch, which was the perfect final touch.  

Italian

Stick Together

Caprese Pizza

So I have survived my first cold of the season, hopefully it will also wind up being my only cold of the season.  This has resulted in a small back log of recipes so stay tuned for a large number of updates.  Last week was Joe’s birthday, so I did a week of his favorite recipes including this pizza recipe.  They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and the path to Joe’s heart is paved in cheese.  This recipe is not for the lactose intolerant, or for those counting calories but in my world calories don’t count on birthdays.

Ingredients: (serves 4)

  • 1 large pizza crust, pre-baked if needed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3 roma tomatoes, sliced
  • 15 basil leaves
  • 1 8 oz ball fresh mozzarella, dried and torn
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 425.  Coat the (pre-baked) dough with the olive oil then start layering on the tomatoes, basil leaves, and mozzarella.  Overlapping is strongly encouraged!
  2. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar over top.  Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until the cheese has slightly browned and the crust is golden.
The real trick is to make sure that the mozzarella is as dry as possible otherwise the pizza will become soggy and the crust won’t brown properly.  I learned this through trial and error and found the best way is to press the cheese between two plates lined with paper towels for 10minutes while in the fridge.