Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Fresh Linguine with White Sauce

Here's another recipe for a romantic date at home, served with a slice of Italian Bread.

I love noodles. Since I got the pasta attachment for my KitchenAid, I can't get enough of fresh pasta. Bill usually doesn't like linguine, but he loved this meal. Homemade makes all the difference!

It actually takes less than an hour to cook this whole meal. Since the pasta is fresh, it takes less than five minutes to cook. As long as the chicken was prepared ahead of time, the sauce is pretty fast to cook as well. We had some leftover Chicken Under a Brick from a weekend dinner party and it was full of flavor, perfect for this meal.

Fresh Linguine
2 servings

2/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg

White Sauce with Chicken
3 tbsp butter
1/2 onion, chopped
1 cup milk
1/2 tomato, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp dried basil
2 tbsp flour
1/3 cup grated Romano cheese
1 cup cooked chicken, cubed
2 oz fresh spinach

Make the pasta dough with the flour, egg and salt. Carefully mix the egg with a fork on top of the flour. Gradually incorporate the flour and make a soft dough. Once most of the flour is incorporated, knead with your hand until it's smooth.

Divide the dough into three to roll out with a pasta roller. For this recipe, I stopped at level 6. Cut the pasta. Dust with flour to prevent it from sticking together. Before sauce is completed, cook the pasta in boiling water for 4 minutes.

To make the sauce, melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Cook the onion for 3 minutes. Add the milk, and stir in tomato, garlic, salt, black pepper and basil. Cook for 5 minutes. Whisk in the flour, one tablespoon at a time. Cook for 3 minutes or until thickened. Stir in Romano cheese, chicken, and spinach. Cook until spinach is wilted and the chicken is heated. Add the drained pasta to the pan and toss in the sauce. Serve with a slice of bread. Enjoy with a glass of wine!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Bread of the Week: Italian Bread

Another great recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice is the Italian Bread.

With the recipe, we made a loaf and four rolls. Now, we're set for the week!

Two techniques were used: pre-fermented starter called biga, and a make-shift hearth oven with a pan of steaming water and spraying the walls for the first two minutes. This produces a crunchy crust and soft center. The aroma was irresistible.

Bill says it's almost as if we bought it in Italy! We store the loaves in paper bags to keep the crust from softening.

Top down view.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Raspberry Champagne Cream Cake

Cake! Is what's for dinner tonight.

Today's my birthday and my husband is making me orzo before we celebrate with cake.

I baked over the weekend; having a weekday birthday really cuts into cake baking time. Here's the recipe I used for the cake. It calls for a box of white cake mix. It seemed easier for me to use my own flour and baking soda than going to the store, so I looked for a recipe for white cake mix.

I used a sparkling wine with a raspberry note to it, and you can totally taste the wine. When I was done baking, the bottle was empty, even though the recipe only calls for 2 cups. Cheers!

And I loved the frosting! Marshmallows are much easier to work with than egg whites. But, I'd like the cake to be fluffier, so that's what I'll be aiming for next time.

For the raspberry sauce, I used about a bag of frozen raspberries and two tablespoons of sugar. It was yummy, and makes the presentation even prettier, don't you think?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sour Cream Spinach With Toasted Pine Nuts

Easiest, healthiest, most delicious side dish ever.

Sour Cream Spinach With Toasted Pine Nuts
10 oz fresh spinach, rinsed but not dried
1/8 tsp salt
3 tbsp sour cream
Pine nuts, toasted

Heat a nonstick pan over medium high heat. Add spinach and sprinkle salt over it. Put a lid on for 3 to 4 minutes until spinach has wilted. Mix in sour cream. Top with pine nuts.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Caramelized Onion, Spinach and Feta Quiche

I've always loved caramelized onions. My mom used to make it with eggs and I could eat the whole platter all by myself, with rice on the side. This quiche is just delicious with caramelized onions. And spinach. And feta. There's layers and layers of flavor. It's good for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Great for dinner parties (unless you planned on having leftovers). I got too caught up in the partying and forgot to take pictures of individual slices. Oh well, next time.

Caramelized Onion, Spinach and Feta Quiche

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
8 tbsp chilled butter, diced
4 tbsp iced water

1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
2 medium onions, sliced
1 cup frozen spinach, defrosted
4 oz Feta cheese, crumbled
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Salt & pepper

Prepare crust by cutting butter in the flour and salt mixture until it resembles coarse cornmeal. Add iced water until dough comes together. Refrigerate at least half an hour. Roll out the crust for the pan and refrigerate for another half hour. Preheat over to 400. Line the pie crust and add baking beans (or rice). Bake for fifteen minutes. Remove the foil and bake the crust for another ten minutes until golden brown.

Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add sliced onions. Sprinkle on salt. Stir occasionally over medium heat for fifteen minutes or until caramelized. Add a layer of spinach, a layer of onions, and a layer of feta in the tart.

Mix eggs and heavy cream in a mixer. Add Parmesan, nutmeg, salt & pepper. Pour custard into the tart.

Bake in the oven for 40 minutes at 400 degree.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Reuben Sandwich

A good Reuben has warm cheese and delicious dressing. My husband got me hooked on Dorothy Lynch. I've always liked french dressing, but this stuff is incredible. I can't get enough.

Homemade bread seals the deal.

Reuben Sandwich
Rye Bread
Swiss cheese
French Dressing

Spread butter on rye bread. Build sandwich with Swiss, Pastrami, dressing, sauerkraut. Grill to perfection.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Bread of the Week: Rye

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My favorite sandwich has to be a reuben. I like all hot sandwiches, but ruebens are extra delicious because of the sauerkraut. A quick inventory of my fridge reveals sauerkraut, french dressing, cured beef, and cheddar (good enough). Time to make some rye bread.

Not a surprise to anybody I'm sure, I turned to my trusted Bread Baker's Apprentice, which has a recipe for two colored rye bread. This is my first time making rye. I was astounded at how much flour needed to make two loaves of bread. I double-checked, no, triple-checked the recipe. For the dark rye, I used cocoa instead of caramel coloring to give it that rich dark color. They came out crusty on the outside and soft on the inside.

The spiral bread was surprisingly simple, exactly the same way you'd make any other loaf of bread, just with layers.

The marbled rye was a little difficult to seal together. I think I will knead it a couple times after the dough is gathered together next time.

And then we made sandwiches! But I was enjoying a lazy Sunday so we didn't grill our sandwiches. Homemade bread is tasty either way, and there's plenty of bread left for a proper reuben soon (with Swiss)!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Coconut Pound Cake

Ok I messed up. I was trying make a cake where the inside has a different color and flavor from the outside. It was kind of a disaster. But the cake! The cake was delicious, and I couldn't resist sharing it. This recipe is adapted from flour.

Coconut Pound Cake
3 eggs
2 1/4 cup flour
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 tsp vanilla

chocolate cake butter cream (optional)
1/2 butter, softened
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 cup pound cake crumble

Beat eggs in stand mixer until smooth and lemon colored. Transfer to another bowl. Mix flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in stand mixer. Add the butter and mix on low until the mixture resembles cornmeal.

Stir in eggs, coconut milk, and vanilla. Pour into a oiled and floured cake pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Cool in the refrigerator for at least two hours.

Cut the cake in half and scoop out the middle for 1 cup of cake, however you want. Add cocoa powder and crumble in the food processor. Cream butter with powered sugar, and mix in the cake. Add the butter cream back in the cake.

Do you want to see how disastrous my first attempt at cake carving was? It was not a pretty sight. I will make it prettier next time, I promise.

Presentation aside, this cake is amazing. I'm not a big fan of coconut (I know, how strange considering I love curry and piƱa coladas), but I almost ate the whole thing before I added the buttercream. So creamy and fragrant. Yum. Time for another slice.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sweet Potato Ravioli

Got my pasta roller for's time to make some sweet (potato) ravioli! It's another one of Bill's favorites. I can't remember how many times we go to a new restaurant, and I would ask him, "You're getting the ravioli, aren't you?" And the answer is nearly always "Yep!" This dish has very few ingredients, yet it's so delicious! Another great dish for date night at home.

Sweet Potato Ravioli
Makes two servings

1 cup sweet potato, cubed
1/3 cup grated Romano cheese
1/2 tsp rubbed sage
Ground black pepper
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg
Olive oil and Romano cheese to serve

Cook sweet potato in salted boiling water for 15 minutes. Mash it and add Romano cheese, sage, and pepper.

Make pasta dough and roll out into sheets. I use a pastry cutter. It's less uniform than a ravioli cutter, but it works. Fill pasta with sweet potato filling and seal with a second square. Press the middle lightly.

Uneven ravioli adds character, no?

Cook for 7-9 minutes.

Serve with olive oil and more cheese!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Cheez-It Macaroni and Cheese

What food would you prepare for a zombie apocalypse? I'm pretty sure my husband would stash a closet full of Cheez-Its. After a week of Chinese buns and melon-y desserts, I decided it's time to make some of Bill's favorites. This recipe fills four ramekins. We each ate two :)

Cheez-It Macaroni and Cheese
Makes 4 servings

2 cups cooked macaroni
1 tbsp butter
1/2 onion, chopped
2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 tbsp flour
1 cup milk
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp paprika
Salt & pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup shredded cheddar, divided
1/4 cup Cheezit crumbs

Cook macaroni for 9 minutes in salted water. Drain.

Melt butter in a skillet under medium heat. Add onion and parsley and cook for 3 minutes or until tender.

Stir in the flour. Mix in the milk, nutmeg, paprika, salt and pepper to taste, and cook for ten minutes. Stir in Parmesan, half of the cheddar and cooked macaroni. Pour in a baking dish or four ramekins.

Smash some Cheez-Its, stir in the remaining cheddar, and top it on the mac 'n' cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Serve with hot sauce. Good for stay at home date nights!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Friday Flashback: First Date

My husband and I met during our sophomore year, in January, some time before the super bowl. Bill invited me to watch the super bowl with some of his friends. Even though it was not very personal, we always talk about it as if it was our first date, and recount the hilarity involving a couch sawed in half and put back together.

I don't know if we'll get to watch the super bowl this year, but I'm sure glad we watched that one back in our sophomore year. <3

Speaking of first dates and love, have you sent out your valentines yet? Whether it's a facebook message, e-card, or old-fashioned snail-mail, it's a good excuse to reconnect with old friends. Our friends have scattered across the country since college (we were guilty of moving to Alaska), so I want to take this chance to say "I'm thinking of you!"

I found this adorable heart shaped hairpin pattern on pinterest, and easy pouch pattern on Lion Brand Yarn. It's an easy project to use up your scrap yarn and show your besties that they mean the world to you!