Category Archives: 30 min. or less

Molly’s Braised Kale and Spaghetti

Made this last night for supper, and it was good, though incredibly garlicky.  I had some curly kale to use up, and though her recipe calls for lacinato kale, I found that the curly worked well when I braised it a bit longer than the 20 minutes she calls for, with a little bit more liquid too. 

No picture from me- but Molly’s story about kale is a good read (as expected).

 

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Filed under 30 min. or less, Clean Eating, Main dishes, Pasta, Side dishes, Vegetables, Vegetarian

grilling pizza + white pizza sauce

For most of you, it’s that time of year again- when you don’t want to turn on the oven and heat up the whole house, but you’ve got nothing for dinner.  And there’s a limit to how many grilled hamburgers and brats and chicken wings a person can take. Believe me, I’ve hit that limit. It’s not pretty.

So what does a person do? The answer is simple, yet incredibly provacative: grilled pizza.  Easily customizable, ready with 10 minutes of prep and 5 minutes of grilling, warm and filling and as homemade as you want it to be.  It leaves your oven switched off, your house cool, and your hearts&minds (not to mention stomachs) satisfied.

Grilled pizza
1 pizza crust, store-bought or homemade
cornmeal
pizza sauce, store-bought or homemade
toppings and cheese
pizza peel or large flat baking tray
peanut or vegetable oil and basting brush.

Heat the grill to medium-high, or between 400 and 450 if it’s got a thermometer. Sprinkle cornmeal on your pan or peel, and lay out your pizza crust. Prep your sauce and toppings– this is going to move quickly so you’ll want to be prepared. Brush the top of the crust lightly with oil.

While the grill is warming up, clean the grates and brush them with oil.  Once heated, carefully flip your pizza crust onto the grate, oiled side down.  Brush the (new) top of the crust lightly with oil and shut the lid for 2 minutes. Check every minute after that to check for doneness- check the bottom for a dark golden brown color, and the top should be baking and taking on a light golden color as well. If the bottom is cooking too quickly compared to the top, decrease the heat and close the lid in 30-second intervals.

Once the bottom of the crust is cooked, take it off the grill with the baking sheet.  Close the lid to allow the grill to reheat.  Carefully flip the crust so that the golden-charred side is facing up.  Layer sauce (not too much!), toppings, and cheese as desired.  Slide the pizza back onto the grill, close the lid, and decrease heat if need, so that the temperature hovers near 400. Check every minute to ensure the bottom of the crust doesn’t burn but allow for the cheese to melt. If your cheese isn’t melting but your crust is done, close the lid and turn off the grill; let it sit for 2 minutes and check again.  Serve warm with beers or other summery beverages.

White pizza sauce
adapted from Food.com

Tops one medium-large pizza crust

1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 shallot
1 large clove of garlic
1/4 teaspoon each of red pepper flakes and dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon each dried oregano and dried basil
2-1/2 tablespoons flour
1 cup of whole milk (I mix 1/3 c. cream and 2/3 c. skim milk)
1/2 cup parmesan, asiago, or romano (asiago is my personal favorite, though all are great)
hearty pinch of flaky salt
lots of freshly ground black pepper

In a skillet or frying pan, melt together the butter and oil on medium heat.  Finely dice the shallot and garlic, and sautee for 2-3 minutes in the butter. Add in the herbs and pepper flakes; continue to stir and cook for one minute.  Whisk in the flour and cook for 2 minutes, but not so long that the flour darkens.  Slowly whisk in a little of the milk at a time, until you’ve got a nice white sauce.  Bring to a simmer; reduce heat to medium-low and fold in the cheese.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spread warm sauce over pizza and top with your favorite toppings: we love combinations of cooked chicken or sausage, spinach, grilled asparagus or artichokes, and of course, fresh mozzarella.

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Filed under 30 min. or less, Main dishes, Spring, Summer, Vegetarian

sprrrriiiing?

I’m not quite sure it’s spring here yet.  We’ve had days in the 60s, the tulips are ready to burst open, multiple frilly rhubarb leaves have unfurled, but now the weather people are predicting SNOW! (I will say that I’ll take snow over flooding any day and my thoughts are with everyone in the South who’ve got much worse weather than we do.)

But in my head (and my stomach), it’s definitely spring. I’m craving  my family’s traditionally “spring” foods, like new potatoes roasted with thyme and carrots cooked with a little butter and honey.

There are cats in open windows. Definitely a sign of spring.

We grilled a white chicken pizza with asparagus on Sunday- a perfect meal after a long weekend of patio- and firepit-building.

And, of course, we’ve been indulging in one of my favorite spring treats- roasted strawberries with boozy whipped cream. It’s a perfect combination, and of course the extra whipped cream is a natural accompaniment for your first-of-the-season cobblers and pies.

Roasted Strawberries

I didn’t get a picture of the roasted berries, but will try to remember to take one and upload later in the week.
Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Wash and hull 1 cup of strawberries.  Slice the large ones into quarters and the medium and small guys into halves.  Place on the parchment and sprinkle 1/4 cup white sugar over the top.  Toss gently to distribute the sugar and coat the berries evenly.  Roast on the bottom rack for 30 minutes; cool at room temperature for 10 minutes and transfer to a container to finish cooling in the fridge (or the freezer, if you’re as anxious as I am!)

Boozy whipped cream
And you thought the strawberries were a cinch?  This is truly the easiest thing in the world:

Set a small bowl and beaters of an electric mixer (or stand mixer) in the freezer for 5 minutes.  Assemble 1 cup of heavy whipping cream (avoid the ultra-pasturized if possible), 2 teaspoons white sugar, and 2 tablespoons of brandy, bourbon, or your favorite liqueur.  Begin whipping the cream in the cold bowl; after a minute, add the sugar and booze. Continue whipping until it’s set. Serve on anything and everything, including those strawberries.  And go outside to admire the flowers.

Also delicious served with angel food cake, pound cake, or short cakes!

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Filed under 30 min. or less, Condiments, etc., Desserts, Spring, Summer

Tangy shrimp-&-scallop pasta

I find it a bit discouraging that as spring is just starting, I get sick.

Deathly sick. 4-days-at-home-in-bed-and-drugged sick. Eat-nothing-but-PB&J-or-macaroni-and-cheese-that-your-husband-made sick.  There was no cooking, no post-writing, no picture-taking. Nothing besides a lot of coughing and a lot of sleeping.

But now, I’m feeling better. I felt good enough last weekend to make a pot of chicken stock, loaf of sourdough, and homemade pasta to go with this creamy seafood sauce.  Really, it sounds more impressive than it is. 90% of sourdough is waiting.  Same with chicken stock.  Making homemade pasta is much easier than it sounds.  Plus, this dish only takes 30 minutes, fridge to table.

But even though this supper is fast enough for a weeknight and not TOO damaging to your diet, it’s worthy of homemade pasta, too.  Maybe it’s just me, but any sort of seafood sauce feels dressy and special and worthy of homemade pasta.  Add a decent bottle of white, some crusty bread, and a salad with olives and onions, and you’ve got instant specialness.

What makes this different than a seafood alfredo or similar heavy-hitting white sauce is making a thinner (read: less fattening) sauce that is tossed directly with hot pasta, allowing the a lot of the sauce and flavor to be soaked right up by the noodles.  Reserve some extra pasta water; you can add more to thin down the sauce and increase the pasta-soakage. Or add white wine– it’ll compliment the lemon and the seafood.  You can also toss your sauce and pasta together in a big skillet with high sides, or in a large pot that you use to boil the pasta water.  (My 10-inch pan with 3-inch sides was just perfect for the full recipe.)

Tangy shrimp & scallop pasta
from this website

Serves 3-4

1/2 pound dry pasta, or homemade pasta with 3 eggs
1/2 pound shrimp, raw or cooked, deveined and de-tailed
1/2 pound bay scallops
2 T. butter or olive oil
1 small onion or scallion
2 garlic cloves
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 to 3/4 c. pasta water
4 oz. cream cheese or low-fat substitute
1/3 c. sour cream
1/2 t. dried red pepper flakes
3 T. freshly chopped parsley or 1 T. dried parsley (optional)
salt and pepper

If using frozen seafood, throw it in a bowl of cold water to start defrosting.  Put a large pot of salted water on to boil for pasta. While waiting for water, melt butter in a large skillet with high sides over medium heat, and dice onion and garlic. Add pasta once water is boiling.

When butter is melted and hot, add onion and saute 3-4 minutes, until onions are soft and nearly translucent; add in garlic and continue to cook for 2 more minutes.  Increase heat to medium-high, and add the lemon juice and pasta water to the onions. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the sour cream, cream cheese, and red pepper, and whisk or stir briskly to make a smooth sauce.  Allow to simmer for another 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add salt and pepper to taste (I used ~1/2 t. salt and freshly ground black pepper).

While all this is happening, keep an eye on your pasta.  Once it’s cooked al dente, drain almost all of the water, put it back into the pot, and set it off the heat with the lid on.  Also drain your seafood if you were defrosting.  With the sauce simmering, add in the seafood (and more pasta water if your sauce is getting thick); continue to stir and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, just enough to cook scallops through and turn shrimp pink (if using raw).  Reduce heat to medium and add the pasta to the sauce pan, tossing carefully to coat pasta with sauce and mix in seafood. Cook for 5-7 minutes, allowing pasta to soak up most of the sauce. Stir in parsley before serving and serve with grated Parmesan, if mixing fish and cheese is your thing (and believe me, it is my thing!).

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Filed under 30 min. or less, Main dishes, Pasta

Ritz cookies

Is this even a recipe?

I’m pretty sure it’s not.  But I still think that besides being my husband’s favorite, it’s the easiest Christmas “cookie” ever.

I have never seen these outside of my family’s holiday gatherings, though I’m not surprised… they really shouldn’t count as cookies.  But for whatever reason, they’re always loved.  Something as simple a creamy peanut butter spread between two Ritz crackers and dunked into melted chocolate bark shouldn’t be this good.

And yet, it is.

Ritz Cookies

Spread approximately 1/2 T of creamy peanut butter onto a Ritz cracker; add another cracker to make a sandwich. Dip in melted chocolate bark and lay on waxed paper til cool.  Stores in an air-tight container at room temperature for about a week, or in the freezer for a month or longer.

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Filed under 30 min. or less, Cookies, Desserts

Arancini

Arancini, or arancini di riso, are leftovers combined with street food.  Sure, they’ve got a “fancy” name, they’re a perfect appetizer or small plate for a dinner party or holiday gathering, and they taste complex with an exciting, cheesy surprise in the middle.  But in reality, arancini are the most effective way to use up leftover risotto.

One night in the fridge can turn creamy, delicate, filling risotto into a sticky, goopy, nightmare.  That’s all it takes.  And when you’re cooking for one or two or making it as a side, the fact that it makes horrible leftovers is a huge deterrent from spending the time it takes to make a good risotto. 

Which is probably why I like arancini so much- it helps me justify the 45 minutes spent making delicious risotto instead of putting my clothes away or cleaning off the dining room table, because I know that in a few days I can use up the leftovers for crispy, cheesy arancini.  Win-win, people.

I’ve made and enjoyed “traditional” arancini with ricotta or mozzarella in the center and coated in bread crumbs, but I prefer a stripped-down version with a bite of cheddar.  For this batch I used a cheddar that was made in our backyard (not literally)- Cow Caviar of Chippewa Falls, WI, who buys milk from small organic family farms in the area to make their cheese!  This cheese really exceeded my expectations, and it melted wonderfully in the arancini.  I think that any creamy, melty cheese would work fantastically in arancini, be it untraditional.

Arancini
adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

2 c. leftover, cooled risotto
2 eggs
1/2 c. flour + 1/2 flour for rolling
1/2 c. grated parmesan or romano
2 oz. cheese, such as mozzarella or a creamy cheddar, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 T. oil
salt and pepper

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs to blend. Add the risotto, flour, and parmesan, and mix well to combine (I use my hands).  Place the 1/2 c. into a wide shallow dish.  Roll about 2-3 tablespoons of the rice mixture between your palms; insert a cube of cheese into the ball, and then roll in flour.  Repeat until all the balls are prepared.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high until hot and shimmery, and reduce heat to medium.  Add the rice balls in batches and cook until golden brown and heated through to melt the cheese, turning as necessary.  (Mine get a bit flatter- almost like crab cakes- but that’s okay with me!)  Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and let rest on paper towels.  Serve warm with marinara for dipping (optional- we eat them plain).

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Filed under 30 min. or less, Side dishes

Sweet potato and parsnip latkes

While there’s still some Hanukkah left, I figured I’d post my favorite twist on a traditional favorite.

But even though Hanukkah only lasts 8 days and nights doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy these throughout the rest of the winter.  They’re a quick and easy way to use up the last few stragglers at the bottom of your veggie bin. And mix it up- or add a regular white potato or two to make them stretch if needed.

If you’re not sure about parsnips, give them a try in a combo dish like this, or as mashed (sweet) potatoes with parsnips. They’re sort of carrot-y, with a herbier, grassier flavor.  And, call me crazy, but I think I even detect a hint of coconut in there.  Maybe that’s why I think they balance so nicely with sweet potatoes and yams.

Sweet potato and parsnip latkes
Adapted loosely from Food Network

2 medium-large sweet potatoes
2 medium parsnips
1 small scallion
2 eggs
1/2 c. flour
1/2 t. thyme
dash of cayenne (optional)
salt and pepper
4 T. vegetable oil

Peel the sweet potatoes and parsnips, and then grate.  Thinly slice the scallion and mix into grate vegetables.  Beat the eggs in a separate dish, and then toss into vegetables; add flour and seasoning and mix to combine.

Heat vegetable oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium high. Once oil is hot, reduce heat to medium.  Drop large spoonfuls into the hot oil and press to flatten; cook on each side for about 3 minutes until golden brown.  Let rest on paper towels, and keep in a warm oven while frying the rest in batches.

And, of course, serve warm with sour cream and/or applesauce. Mazeltov!

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Filed under 30 min. or less, Fall, Side dishes, Vegetables, Winter