Thursday, April 11, 2013

Pasta with Asparagus & Egg

I recently started getting produce through Bountiful Baskets. My latest box had two bunches of asparagus, so I found myself looking for different ways to use it other than just steaming or roasting or grilling (my usual ways). Happily, I'd just received an update from Family Balance Sheet and it was "20 Ways to Make Asparagus"! Perfect. Timing.

At first I was going to make the Curried Quinoa & Asparagus Salad listed in her roundup. But when you have an almost-17-year-old teenager who is becoming quite a rock star in the kitchen, you might find that the last two cans of garbanzo beans have been used to make hummus. So I made the Linguine with Asparagus & Egg from her roundup instead (The recipe is from Martha Stewart. I can overlook the origin because it was delicious). I made it just as the recipe instructed sort of as the recipe instructed. I didn't have linguine, and used spaghetti instead, and I cooked the eggs over-easy instead of poaching them, and I sprinkled the eggs with smoked paprika while they were cooking. It was really, really tasty. The only thing I'll do differently next time is to add some thinly sliced green onion to the pasta and asparagus.

OK, in the spirit of full disclosure, I also cooked a full pound of pasta (not the 3/4 lb listed in the recipe) and took out about 1/4 of it for my little girls to eat. There was no chance they'd eat it with the asparagus in it. And I didn't dare leave it all in and then add the asparagus (per the original recipe) because for sure they'd be able to tell their pasta had been contaminated. So I cooked the pasta all the way, reserved some cooking water, used tongs to remove the pasta to a colander, returned the pasta-water-filled pot to the stove, and cooked the asparagus separately. It's good I did it this way, though. It took longer for the asparagus to cook than the 1 minute indicated in the Martha recipe, so if I'd added the asparagus to the pasta for the last minute of cooking it wouldn't have been cooked enough. Even if I wasn't reserving some of the cooked pasta I'd do it the same way I did this time. For the recipe below, I'm going to pretend you don't need any extra, uncontaminated pasta.

Pasta with Asparagus & Egg (adapted from Martha)
printable recipe

3/4 lb linguine, spaghetti, or fettuccine
1 lb thin asparagus, sliced in half lengthwise
4 tablespoons butter
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4-1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
4 large eggs
coarse salt & freshly ground black pepper
smoked paprika

1. Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling. Add the pasta and cook to al dente. Use tongs to remove the pasta to a colander and return the water-filled pot to the stove. Bring it back to a high simmer, add the asparagus, and cook until al dente, 3-5 minutes (be careful, don't overcook it). Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water, and drain the asparagus over the pasta; drain well but don't rinse. Return the pasta and asparagus to the cooking pot. Add 2-3 tablespoons of the reserved cooking water, the butter, green onion, and Parmesan cheese, and toss gently to melt the butter and mix well.

2. Heat a medium non-stick skillet over medium heat and spray with non-stick spray. Cook the eggs over-easy, sprinkling with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika to taste before flipping them over.

3. To serve, divide the pasta & asparagus between 4 large bowls or plates, and top each with 1 egg and extra Parmesan cheese.

Makes 4 servings.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Green Monster Cake

I've decided to start posting the occasion cakes I've made over the last few years. Hopefully you'll be inspired for one of your own cakes! :)

I've mentioned before that my husband loves apple pie and other apple-related desserts. If given a choice between an apple treat and some other kind of treat, he will almost always choose the apple.

Several years ago (2007, if we're being exact), I asked my husband what he would like for his birthday. He asked for apple pie. My middle girl, who was 4 at the time, overheard our conversation and said, "But you don't want just apple pie, do you Daddy??"

Apparently, in her sweet 4-year-old mind, a birthday without cake just. wasn't. right. The apple pie was a given, so we let her decide what kind of cake he should have. It took her about 10 seconds to decide: A Green Monster Cake.

Even in 2007 I'd been making cakes for a long time, but this was a new one for me. It was so fun to make!

I started with three, 2-layer round cakes, an 8-inch, a 6-inch, and a 5-inch. I stacked them using the doweling method and then carved the cake to sort-of resemble this monster shape. (the shape didn't have to be exact since I was going to cover it with loads of frosting) I lightly iced it with green buttercream, and then used more buttercream and a giant star tip to make the pull-out hair. I made the eyes and purple horns, nose, feet and tail with purple fondant. I had some edible gold-colored dust left-over from another cake, and used it on the claws, horns, warty nose, eyelids, and to put dots on the tail.

As you might imagine, my cute girl thought it was wonderful :)

Happy caking!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Herb & Fennel Crusted Pork Roast

I made this Herb & Fennel Crusted Pork Roast for our Easter dinner last weekend. We had it with a bunch of yummy sides including Smoked Paprika Potatoes and my sister's mac & cheese. I love to roast meat because it's so easy--put it in the oven and wait until your meat thermometer tells you it's ready. The meat thermometer really is the key to making a great roast. If you don't have one it is definitely something I think everyone ought to have, even if you only use it a few times I year. This is the one I have. I got it at Walmart for about $12. Love it.

This roast combines tender, juicy meat inside with a really nice flavorful crust on the outside. After dinner I realized I should have made a sauce with all the fantastic drippings, but in the hurry of getting everything on the table I didn't think of it. I'll have to make one next time and link it to this post. Something for you to look forward to, right? ;) 

Herb & Fennel Crusted Pork Roast

1 2-lb'ish pork loin roast (boneless)
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1 tablespoon fennel seed, crushed with mortar & pestle
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1. Heat your oven to 400deg. Spray a 8x8 baking pan with non-stick spray, and place the pork roast in the pan.

2. Combine all of the crust ingredients in a small bowl and mix well to combine. Using your finders, gently spread the mixture evenly on the top and sides of the roast. 

3. Insert the probe of your meat thermometer into the roast so that the tip is in the middle, and roast for 45-50 minutes, or until the internal temperature reads 150deg (the temperature will continue to rise about 5 deg while the roast rests). Remove the roast from the oven, cover loosely with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

A 2-lb'ish roast will serve 4-6 people.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (for eating)

I eat raw cookie dough. I admit it freely and openly. I know they say you're not supposed to eat it raw. But I do. Sometimes I eat enough raw cookie dough that I don't want any cookies ones they're cooked. I've never gotten sick. That's not to say that, with my risky behavior, I won't get sick. Someday. I suppose.

Now, if you're not the risk-taking type like I apparently am, and long to know the gloriousness that is raw cookie dough, then you will be so happy I posted this recipe my daughter found from Julie at Willow Bird Baking! This is the Chocolate-Chip Cookie Dough from her post. She also has recipes for Sugar Cookie Dough and Cake Batter Cookie Dough...! 

This dough has all the fantastic parts of regular kill-you-if-you-eat-it-raw cookie dough, like the butter and sugar and chocolate chips, but it doesn't have the egg (or any leavening ingredients, since you won't be cooking the dough. Please don't cook the dough, on matter of principle and also because it won't work). To replace the wet of the egg, Julie has us simply add a bit of water until the dough is the consistency we want, depending on what we're going to use it for.

Wait. What do I mean? What could it be for besides simply eating with a spoon out of the container ..standing in front of the open fridge...with my back to my kids so they don't see what I'm doing? How about adding a bit more water to make the dough a bit looser and using it as a dip?? Or using mini chocolate chips and using the dough as a cake filling?? I know. This is totally rocking your world, now, isn't it?

Enjoy. And you're welcome.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough (for eating) (from Willow Bird Baking)
printable recipe

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt, depending on how you like it
2-3 teaspoons vanilla, depending on how you like it
1 cup chocolate chips

In a medium bowl mix together the butter and sugar until smooth. Stir in the flour, salt, vanilla, and chocolate chips. Add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough is the consistency you want.

Makes about 1-3/4 cups safe-to-eat cookie dough.

Note: Don't try to bake this cookie dough. You will be disappointed.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Hot Spinach Salad with Pine Nuts & Cranberries

I hope you had a great Easter weekend! I may or may not have indulged in way too much candy, great food, and desserts. You, too? Then you need this fantastic salad. Look at all the green spinach--Yum! This salad is more proof that side dishes don't have to be sad.

I found this salad from Nest of Posies via Pinterest, and it is so easy and so tasty and so full of good, healthy stuff. Her recipe doesn't have exact measurements--a handful of this and that--so I measured what I used to make it a bit easier for you. I may have gone overboard with the pine nuts, though, so feel free to use a bit less if you want.

A quick note: take the skillet off the heat a little bit before you think the spinach is done wilting because it will continue to cook down for a few minutes.

Hot Spinach Salad with Pine Nuts & Cranberries (from Nest of Posies)

1/2 cup pine nuts
1/4-1/3 cup bottled balsamic vinaigrette
1/2 cup dried cranberries (I used 50%-less-sugar Craisins)
6 oz fresh baby spinach

1. Heat a 12-inch non-stick skillet (or cast iron skillet) over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and toast them, stirring often, until fragrant and starting to turn brown, 3-5 minutes. Remove the pine nuts and set aside.

2. Add the balsamic vinaigrette to the skillet (it will splatter a bit when it hits the heat, so be careful). When it gets bubbly add the cranberries and spinach. Immediately toss and turn the spinach with long tongs until it starts to wilt and cooks down a bit, 2-4 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve immediately.

Makes about 4 side-dish servings.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...