Bolognese! Caprese! Molto Bene!

First things first, I need to say SORRY that I have been away from my blog for so long! With school and recent traveling, I haven’t been cooking much (just eating a TON). I am currently visiting my family in Minnesota, and last night my mother was craving pasta. Fortunately, pasta is my soul food, and honestly, my soul needs a little mending right now. So I decided to see if I could get some of my powers back. 

I started with a bolognese recipe from bonappetit.com, but honestly it was missing a lot, so I adapted the recipe in my own way. Bolognese is a hearty meat sauce with a full and rich flavor, enriched with red wine and plenty of aromatics such as onion, celery, and carrot. I also added mushrooms, and next time I think I will add some fennel root as well. Once the ground meats are browned (bolo typically has ground pork. beef, and veal, but I couldn’t find veal), tomato paste and beef stock (or broth) is added. I simmered that for an hour. It reduced really nicely. After that I added a cup of whole milk and let that simmer another 45 minutes. I also added some butter. Finally I seasoned it to my liking and added more tomato paste. 

As an appetizer I made a caprese salad. It was by far the best caprese salad I have ever made. I found the most gorgeous heirloom tomatoes. After you slice them, make sure to season them with salt! The mozzarella I found had the most perfect texture. I also made an aged balsamic reduction (just reduce 1/2c balsamic with 1T sugar and salt to taste). My mom had some big basil leaves growing in her garden that completed the dish. Just a sprinkle of freshly cracked pepper and not five minutes later the plate was demolished. 

Perfect Buttermilk Pancakes

Here’s a recipe for quick and easy pancakes that will make you stomp your stupid box of Bisquick right into your kitchen floor. 

Although, if you like bland, cardboard tasting pancakes, be my guest. 

If you’re ready to upgrade to crispy, buttery, fluffy pancakes full of life and wonder, read on. You deserve it. 

Crispy Buttermilk Pancakes (yield: 5 portions)

  • 2c flour
  • 2T sugar
  • 4t baking powder
  • 1t baking soda
  • 1t salt
  • 4T melted butter (plus more on the griddle)
  • 2c buttermilk
  • 1.5t vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • Maple syrup (pure maple is the best!)
  1. Combine dries (first 5 ingredients).
  2. Combine liquids in a separate bowl (make sure the shake the buttermilk carton before measuring).
  3. Heat skillet on medium heat (you may have to turn up or down until you find what works best)
  4. Add wets to dries with a rubber spatula. ((Attention! DO NOT OVER-MIX PANCAKE BATTER—EVER! That is when you get those flat, boring pancakes. My picture is a little small but you want LUMPY batter and UNMIXED flour. People in my family were asking left and right if my batter was mixed enough. I told them yes, yes just wait. And they all loved the pancakes incredibly!))
  5. Melt 1T butter per batch of pancakes until the foam subsides. Add 1/2c batter for each pancake. Cook until golden brown on one side, flip, cook, top with more butter, pure maple syrup, then devour. Melt more butter with each batch (also, wipe off burnt butter as it collects). 
Pretty simple right? And you’ll be called The Breakfast Champion from here on out.

These might make a good Easter brunch next week!

Enjoy!

Rachel

p.s. I have a refrigerator again so I’ll be cooking!

Healthy Salad!—Grilled Chicken, Roasted Red Beets, Goat Cheese, Pomegranate Seeds, Blackberries, and Balsamic.

Last night I made one of the greatest salads I have ever had. 

All with random ingredients in the house. Lot’s complementing flavors, nice and light, and healthy, too! 

If I can make this in 20 minutes so can you. Just follow this guide! 

Make sure to wash your greens! Even if they are pre-washed. 

Now, the most intimidating component—the beets. Roasting beets is easy! Smaller ones are easier. Just wrap in foil and roast at 400F until a knife slips out with ease. 

I actually found some cooked beets that weren’t in a can! They were in the produce section and sealed in an air-tight package. 

I cut the beets and soaked them in 4T balsamic vinegar while I made everything else. By doing this you add a little acidity to the beets (VERY delicious), and eventually I added 1T of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt. Once you add the oil, just give it a brief whisk with the beets and now you have a delicious balsamic-beet dressing. 

I actually threw the blackberries into the dressing too with the beets. By the time I ate the salad the blackberries were a little mushy—but in a really pleasant way. I think I’ll do that again next time. BUT WASH THEM FIRST. : ) 

The pomegranate seeds were in the fridge from the last dish I made. You can buy pomegranate seeds OR you can teach yourself an easy way to seed a pomegranate.

How to get the seeds out of a pomegranate—fill a mixing bowl with water. Wash the outside of the pomegranate (so you don’t contaminate the water). Chop the pomegranate into chunks and put them in the bowl. With your hands in the water, peel the segments open and ease the seeds out. The seeds will sink to the bottom and the pulp will float to the top. Simple! No salad is complete without a crunch. I love croutons don’t get me wrong! But the seeds were the perfect addition to this salad.

Get your grill hot. Season your chicken breast with salt and pepper. Grill until heavenly charred and cooked through. Rest 5 minutes before slicing! 

While the chicken is resting, give your dressing another quick whisk. Add the greens to the dressing bowl and toss. Plate. Top with chicken, goat cheese crumbles, and if you’re like me you’ll add some fresh ground pepper.

Then very simply—DEVOUR!

-Rachel

ramake89@aol.com

Quick Post!—Orgasmic Red Peppers

Happy Holidays to all!!! I hope everyone is having a safe and wonderful break. It’s very busy over at my house. We have my mom, dad, three sisters, brother, brother-in-law, two nieces and two nephews at the house. Tomorrow night I am cooking an incredible Italian Christmas dinner!

Here’s a sneak peek at the menu: 

  • Caprese Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes
  • Antipasti Plate - Prosciutto, Salami, Parmigiano Reggiano, Sicilian Olives, Braised Artichokes, Roasted Red Peppers with Garlic and Herb-Roasted Mushrooms.
  • Garlic Soaked Baguette
  • My Incredible Meat Sauce with Fettucini. I simmer the meat sauce all day long. My Mom requests it every time I’m home! 

Tonight I am doing a little prep work. I started with roasting the red peppers. I used an open flame to char every side of the pepper, then transferred them to a bowl and covered them with plastic wrap for a half hour. The plastic traps the steam, which helps the peppers cook completely and will help loosen the skin from the pepper. Meanwhile I made a garlic olive oil to store the peppers in. I slowly simmered 15 smashed garlic cloves in olive oil until the garlic began to caramelize. I let it cool while the peppers were cooling. Then I removed the skins from the peppers, sliced them, and combined them with the oil. Pretty easy and fun little snack! They are pretty orgasmic—like candy. Try it out sometime! Great in salads, on sandwiches, pizza, pasta, or on their own! Here’s a couple pictures!

Soon I will be making big, soft, chewy gingerbread cookies with my nieces and nephews. But for now I am off to enjoy my mom’s pork roast with gravy! 

Merry Christmas to those celebrating!! 

Happy Holidays to everyone! Be safe but have fun!

Rachel

Fettucini with Zucchini Cream Sauce, Garlic, Pancetta, Basil, and Black Pepper

Last night I was in the mood for something kind of simple. Pasta always comes to mind, and with the chill last night, something creamy sounded even better. This pasta dish has pancetta in it, and I will show you how I made this exactly. But, I don’t think that I would add the pancetta next time. The warm bacon-y flavor cooked out and left me disappointed. What would be even better with this is some sliced chicken. Also, you could throw in some frozen peas for a hint of sweetness, too. Other than that, here’s what you do!

  • 1# fettucini (I only cooked 1/2#)
  • 3-4 sm zucchini or 2 lg, sliced very thin
  • 4 oz pancetta, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced thin
  • 1/2 c heavy cream
  • about 1/2 c grated parmesan cheese 
  • 5 basil leaves, chiffonade
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes
  • salt, LOT’S OF BLACK PEPPER, and olive oil

First, get your mise en place ready. Mise en place means ‘put in place’. It’s when you do your ‘veg prep’ and any steps that need to be done ahead of time. The first thing you should do is slice your pancetta. I couldn’t find thick cut pancetta, so I had to use these wimpy slices (That is why the flavor cooked out so quickly). If you can find thick cut pancetta, cut them into small chucks. Either cubes or ‘batonnet’ is fine. Heat up some olive oil (about 2T) on medium-low heat. Add the bacon and ‘render’ it slowly. When you render, the fat melt and the bacon slowly crisps up. Yum. 

While the bacon is rendering, slice your garlic cloves. Then slice your zucchini. I used a mandolin (I love my mandolin <3), but you can use your knife, too. Just try to get the slices the same thickness, an 1/8th of an inch, no thicker! 

When the pancetta is ready, add the garlic and saute for about 2 minutes. Smell that? Ridiculous. Add the zucchini coins with about a teaspoon of salt and LOT’S OF BLACK PEPPER! I can’t stress this enough. The pepper is somewhat a star in this dish. The pepper stands out in the cream, and trust me it’s delicious. 

Stir the zucchini occasionally, but let this cook for 30-45 minutes. Honestly, I cooked mine for about 45 minutes. But we have a stove from the 50’s. It has buttons, not knobs that turn. Our options are ‘boil’, ‘simmer’, and ‘barely warm’. It’s hard to control heat, but we have learned how to do it. You want the zucchini to cook completely, and start to break down even. You WANT it to be part of the sauce. Zucchini is nutty and warm…mmm now I’m thinking some toasted pine nuts would have been good with this, too. 

Anyways, let the zucchini cook! Let it cook and cook and cook. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Cook pasta to al dente, drain, and reserve. A little drizzle of olive oil will help keep the pasta from getting sticky, just don’t put it back on the heat! Oh! And save about a cup of the cooked pasta water. It will help bring your sauce together at the end.

When it’s ready, add 1/2c of heavy cream and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Turn the heat to medium and let the cream thicken. If there is too much olive oil and the cream looks funky, add a tablespoon of butter. Keep stirring slowly! Then, add about 1/2c of grated parmesan cheese. I didn’t measure at this point. I just added some, stirred, tasted, added some, stirred, tasted until it was to my liking looooving. 

Add the pasta to the sauce and toss with tongs to coat. Add some of the pasta water to thin it out and make it more creamy. Taste it again! Think of what it needs…more salt?…probably more pepper…more pasta water…grated parm? Add whatever you think it needs.

And then, eat it the proper way…by devouring. 

Rachel

See what leftovers can do?

I made this dish completely on leftovers we had on the house. It turned out AWESOME. I was very happy with it. It was easy, too. I don’t have a recipe obviously, I just went with it, but here’s a vague idea of what I did. I must do it again! 

We had a couple of lamb chops left from the other night, so I used the food processor to mince that along with a bunch of garlic cloves. After that I minced some chile in adobo and marinated the meat along with the paste from the chile can as well. SO good. Perfect spice. Juicy lamb. 

Oh yeah, I threw in some ground hot Italian sausage to the mix, too. 

I decided to make a salsa with things from around the house. Corn, chickpeas, black beans, and pimento peppers. On top in some smoked chipotle chile powder, salt, pepper, and lime juice/zest. 

I tossed in whole cilantro leaves and the vinegar from the jarred pimentos. It added the perfect amount of acidity. This was so fragrant and fresh. So, so good. 

I sliced some onions thin and chopped up some cilantro with salt, pepper, lime juice and lime zest. 

Then Brian charred the hell out of them in his glorious cast iron skillet. 

I wanted to make some kind of avocado cream sauce to cool off and balance all of the heat put into the dish. I took mashed avocados and pureed them with sour cream, salt, pepper, and lime juice. It was SO good. I was eating it by the spoonful. You know of my avocado obsession (how could you not). This is a new sauce I’ll put on everything possible. 

Oh yes, I also folded in some small chunks of avocado to give it a little more texture. Fantastic. : )

Once everything was ready we cooked all the meat with some more lime zest and juice. 

We mixed the onions, meat, and white rice together and stuffed it into some hot charred tortillas. Ugh, what a beautiful sentence to read. 

The result? 

Spicy, mouthwatering, fragrant, flavorful, diverse, smoky, creamy awesomeness. 

Chipotle lamb and sausage with rice, fresh salsa, and avocado cream.

It seems as though my niche lies in Southwestern cuisine. Not surprising at all. 

Today is the first day that has been sunny and beautiful. I need to go outside!!

Hope you have a nice night. Grub on : ) 

<3, Salty.

Cherries

Combine port wine, dried cherries, sugar, and some water to taste. Reduce on medium until the liquid becomes a syrup. The cherries became plump again, and had a somewhat golden color from the heat. Beautiful. I love this on a pork chop, with cheeses (a mild Italian cheese would work—my team in garde manger just paired this with a cheese called Bra Tenero), or on ice cream. 

Perhaps a hot brownie soaked in half-melted vanilla bean ice cream and then topped with a far-too-generous spoonful of these. 

Hell, just eat them all warm and syrupy from the pan.  

Enjoy! : ) 

<3 Salty.

Pasta, pasta, pasta (Will I ever be sick of pasta?)!

I made this dish up randomly the other day. It’s very me—pasta, Italian sausage, onions, garlic, yellow squash, zucchini, fresh mozzarella, black pepper, and basil chiffonade. Those are all of the ingredients that you need. The process, also, was VERY simple. You can do this in less than an hour! 

So why don’t you? 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1/2 # pasta, ditalini
  • 1 jar tomato sauce (I go for the most basic sauce if I can. You don’t need any special additions or anything fancy. Just plain tomato sauce. Look for 5 ingredients or less.)
  • 3 T butter, unsalted
  • 1/2 # sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 zucchini, 1/4 in thick, sliced on the bias
  • 1 yellow squash, 1/4 inch thick, sliced on the bias
  • 1 sm. onion, sm dice
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 calls fresh mozzarella, 1/4 inch slices
  • 4-5 T basil, chiffonade
  • salt/black pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 
  2. In a saute pan on medium heat, combine the Italian sausage, zucchini, yellow squash, and onion. Cook completely without caramelization (as long as you cook on medium or medium-low, your veg/meat should not get color). When all is cooked, add the garlic and saute 2 minutes, until garlic is fragrant. 
  3. Meanwhile, boil salted water and cook the pasta according to directions. Strain. Toss with butter first, then pasta sauce. 
  4. In a 8x8in dish, spread 1/2 of the pasta on the bottom of the pan. Add a layer of all the meat and veg. Spread the second half of the pasta on top of that. 
  5. Lay the mozzarella slices on the top. Crack lot’s of fresh pepper on top! Add the chiffonade basil on top, cover with foil, and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake about 10-15 minutes longer, until slightly browned on top.
  6. DEVOUR!

Don’t be silly people. Go make this. It’s simple. You’re a fool if you don’t! 

Have a beautiful day. 

<3, Salty.

Carbonara

Last week I made a really simple dinner—Carbonara with Garlic Knots. This took less than an hour, and not much prep work was needed. You can do this! So you should. : ) 

Garlic Knots

  • 1 # pizza dough
  • flour, for dusting
  • 1/2 c olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c grated parmesan
  • parsley, chopped
  1. Dust a flat surface with flour. Knead the dough. Use your fingertips to flatten and spread the dough until it is about 1/4 inch thick. 
  2. Using a pizza slicer, but the dough in half, then cut each half into strips about 1 inch across.
  3. Tie each strip into a knot and arrange on a greased sheet pan. Bake as the directions say until they are golden brown. 
  4. While baking, mince the garlic with some salt and mash it into a paste. Add to the olive oil. You can also heat the oil a bit on low to infuse the garlic into the oil. Just be sure it doesn’t get too hot. 
  5. When the knots come out of the oven, brush with the garlic oil, then sprinkle with grated parmesan and parsley. 

Carbonara

  • 1 # ‘fresh’ pasta (you can usually find this in the cold section)
  • 8 oz pork belly, batonnet 
  • 1 1/2 c parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 c frozen peas
  1. Whisk to combine the parmesan, eggs, and black pepper.
  2. Render the pork belly on low heat. Meanwhile, season a stock pot of water and bring to a boil. Cook fresh pasta about 3 minutes, or until al dente. 
  3. Remove the pork from the pan and add the pasta in. Ladle in some of the pasta water (the starch in the water will help thicken your sauce). 
  4. Add the Parmesan mixture, and continue to add pasta water to form the sauce. 

Voila!! Devour. 

Happy Friday everyone!! I’m off to NJ to have some fun!

<3, Salty.

Filet Mignon with Pearl Onions in a Red Wine Sauce and Oven Roasted Baby Potatoes.

A couple of nights ago I made a pretty simple dinner for Dan and I. He raved about it a lot though, which made me feel pretty good. So if I can do it than so can you. 

Set oven to 400 degrees. Put baby potatoes in a single layer of a foil-lined baking dish. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper. Add springs of fresh rosemary and garlic cloves. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 40-50 minutes, until cooked through. 

Bring water to a boil. Cut the tip and root end off of pearl onions. Blanch for about 1 minutes. Strain. While warm, peel the onions. Caramelize in a saute for about 4 minutes.

Sauce made to taste: Combine red wine, red wine vinegar. Water. Sugar. Salt. Pinch red pepper flakes. Bay leaf. Reduce until syrup consistency. 

Rub both sides with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Get your pan piping hot and sear both sides. Then finish in a 400 degree oven until medium rare. 

Tah-dah. 

I know the picture quality is terrible. Sorry. Hoping to buy a new camera this month. 

I have a mid-term in Nutrition tomorrow that I hope to ace. Wish me luck. Also, I got my externship manual back. I passed! I’m feeling really sick today and woke up to make this post. Back to bed I go. Have a great night and a good rest of the week! 

Any questions or comments can be sent to my ‘ask’ box. : ) 

<3, Salty.

Vietnamese Egg Rolls

Vietnamese Pork Egg Rolls. Simple, I promise. Get to it, it’s worth it!

Vietnamese Egg Rolls

  • 1# ground pork
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 t ground ginger
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 6 scallions, sliced thin on the bias
  • 2oz cellophane noodles (we couldn’t find any, so we used rice noodles)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 package egg roll wrappers
  • Canola oil (or whatever you prefer) 
  • Don’t forget dipping sauce! We picked a sweet chili garlic one that was great.
  1. Mince shallots and garlic. Combine those with the ground pork, ginger, and salt. 
  2. Cook on the stovetop until there is no pink. While pork is cooling, grate carrots cut scallions, and re-hydrate the rice noodles as the package directs. 
  3. When ready, make an egg wash (beaten egg with a splash of water), brush the edges of the wrapper with the wash. Assemble veggies like the picture, then roll.
  4. Fry in hot oil and drain on a paper towel. Fin. 
  5. Devour :D

Any questions? Send into my ask box. Enjoy! 

: ) 

<3, Salty.

Hey gang! Made some cookies with peanut butter, milk chocolate, white chocolate, and a little cinnamon. YUM! Get to it!
2 c all-purpose flour
1&#160;t baking powder
1/2&#160;t cinnamon
1/2&#160;t salt
1+1/2 sticks butter, room temp
1/2 c peanut butter
1 c light brown sugar
1/2 c granulated sugar
2 eggs
2&#160;t vanilla
1 c milk chocolate chips
1/2 c white chocolate chips
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
In a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and peanut butter together for 2 minutes. 
Add both of the sugars. Beat 2 minutes more. 
Add the eggs and vanilla until combined.
In three segments, add the flour mixture.
Fold in both chips.
Bake at 350 for 10 minutes, rotating halfway through.
And that&#8217;s all she wrote! 
I&#8217;ve been working at the pastry station for the past couple of weeks. I&#8217;m in heaven. Been feeling really great at work. I need, need, NEED to bring my camera to work more. Hope you&#8217;re all doing wonderfully. 
Miss the blogging world.
&lt;3, Salty.

Hey gang! Made some cookies with peanut butter, milk chocolate, white chocolate, and a little cinnamon. YUM! Get to it!

  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1+1/2 sticks butter, room temp
  • 1/2 c peanut butter
  • 1 c light brown sugar
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 1 c milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c white chocolate chips
  1. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
  2. In a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and peanut butter together for 2 minutes. 
  3. Add both of the sugars. Beat 2 minutes more. 
  4. Add the eggs and vanilla until combined.
  5. In three segments, add the flour mixture.
  6. Fold in both chips.
  7. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes, rotating halfway through.

And that’s all she wrote! 

I’ve been working at the pastry station for the past couple of weeks. I’m in heaven. Been feeling really great at work. I need, need, NEED to bring my camera to work more. Hope you’re all doing wonderfully. 

Miss the blogging world.

<3, Salty.