Fresh corn ravioli with herb cream sauce

Every once in a while, I have a meltdown in the kitchen. I can usually handle it when things don’t go well, but this dish got the best of me. I first tried this recipe on Sunday, and much to my frustration it just wasn’t working out. The filling was too runny. I knew it as soon as I started stuffing the ravioli, but I kept going anyway. A verbal tirade ensued once I went to cut the squares and the runny filling oozed out from all sides. This was a stupid recipe with stupid instructions and stupid ingredients. Everything about it was stupid. Especially the corn. That was the stupidest part of all.

The corn, once pulverized, released quite a bit of water which I believe was the culprit of making the filling too runny. I made a half-ass effort to try and thicken it up by grating some parmesan cheese into it, but to no avail. I didn’t have anything else on hand to help thicken it up so I kept on going.

Look at that stupid filling.
Look at that stupid filling.

For each ravioli that held together, 2 more went into the pile of failures, seeping filling out onto my work area. Terry, bless her heart, trying to be helpful, suggested putting them in the oven and baking them. I wasn’t hearing it. “Just throw them in the oven and bake ‘em up, if they don’t work out, they don’t work out!” No. Thanks and please leave me alone. They were stupid and that was all there was to it.

Continue reading Fresh corn ravioli with herb cream sauce

Grilled corn and fire-roasted poblano risotto

Today I was inspired by a leftover ingredient from last week’s ancho-honey glazed tofu steaks. I have a whole can of chilies in adobo sauce to use before they go bad, so I based this entire dish on using the leftover sauce.

I thought it might be fun to try a southwestern/Italian fusion dinner. Lots of southwestern dishes use rice as the base, so I chose risotto. Plus, it was a great excuse to grill corn, even if it is a little premature for the season. I lucked out today because the corn I picked up was totally awesome and flavorful. Roasting the peppers over an open fire in the kitchen was pretty fun, too.

At first I was just going to use the adobo sauce as-is, but it packs a lot of heat that I didn’t want to over-power the rest of the flavors. Enter the trusty Greek yogurt. That worked well because risotto dishes are often finished with cream, so this was going to do the trick just fine.

Continue reading Grilled corn and fire-roasted poblano risotto

Ancho-honey glazed tofu steak with black bean sauce and tomatillo salsa

Ever since we got back from Vegas, I’ve had a dish I ate at Mesa Grill on my mind. I’ve been dying to try cooking it so this weekend seemed like as good a time as any! Especially since it was the perfect excuse to clean up the grill and put it to use for the first time this season.

This version is hardly complete, I’m missing two of the sauces (roasted red pepper and jalepeño crema), but the flavors were still really good. If you don’t want to fire up the grill, you could use a grill pan or broil the tofu.

I’m definitely making this one again – it’s got a lot going on, but it’s totally worth it!

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Cilantro oil

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Finished dish

Recipe modified from Food & Wine

Ingredients

Ancho honey glaze:

  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Cilantro oil

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup packed cilantro
  • ¼ cup water
  • Juice of 1 lime

Black bean sauce (the original recipe calls for raw beans which need to be soaked. I didn’t have time for that so I used a can.)

  • 1 can black beans (rinsed)
  • 1 large chipotle chile in adobo, stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 small red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup water

Tomatillo salsa

  • 2 small tomatillos
  • 1 jalapeño
  • Juice of one lime
  • Cilantro as much or as little as you prefer
  • 1/3 cup chopped red onion

1 14 oz package extra firm tofu
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
Directions:

  1. Preheat the grill. (Or you can use a grill pan.)
  2. Combine ingredients for the bean sauce in a food processor and blend until smooth and well combined.
  3. Transfer bean mixture to a saucepan, add salt and pepper and heat on a low flame, about 8-10 minutes or until warm. Be careful to not let it burn!
  4. In a small bowl, whisk the honey with the ancho chile powder and mustard and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Slice the tofu into two equal pieces and set over paper towels to drain the water. Coat the tofu steaks with the vegetable oil and season each side with salt and pepper. Place on the hot grill and cook on each side for about 2 minutes. After each side has been cooked, brush the glaze on the steaks and cook an additional 2-3 minutes each side.
  6. To make the salsa, chop all of the ingredients, mix in a bowl and coat with the lime juice. This can be done ahead of time and can be stored in the fridge.
  7. To make the cilantro oil, combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and mix until well combined. Strain mixture through a sieve, discarding any cilantro leaves that are left behind.
  8. Plate the dish by spreading the black bean sauce on the plate, then the tofu steak. Top with the tomatillo salsa and drizzle the cilantro oil around everything.

Broiled chèvre and avocado open-face sandwich

Summer weather was out in full force this weekend, and I took very advantage to soak up the awesome temps as much as I could. Yesterday I cleaned up the grill and put it to use for the first time this season, and today, after some quality time in the sun that included a snooze, breaking into my newest tome, The New Making of a Cook by Madeleine Kamman and a run, I decided a light dinner was in order.

This recipe was a great match for what I was looking for. Full of flavor and so easy to pull together, you could use this recipe for virtually any meal of the day. Top with a poached egg and serve it for breakfast, downsize the portion for an easy crostini appetizer or serve with a side of grilled vegetables for a light lunch!

Have fun with this one!

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Ingredients

  • Any bread of your choice
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • Chèvre cheese
  • Avocado, sliced
  • Cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • Greens of your choice (I used arugula microgreens)
  • Black pepper, salt and balsamic glaze

Instructions

Turn your broiler on to low. Drizzle olive oil over the sliced bread (be generous) and place in the oven on the middle rack.

Broil for 2-4 minutes, keeping an eye out not to let it burn, until light golden and crispy.

While the bread broils, prep your avocado, tomatoes and greens.

To make the balsamic glaze, heat ¼ – ½ cup balsamic vinegar in a pan and reduce until thickened.

To assemble, plate the bread and layer with the chèvre, then avocado, then tomatoes and greens. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle on the balsamic glaze.

Cavatapi with squash, chiles and hazelnuts

It feels like forever since I cooked a meal! We were in Las Vegas for a quick vacation earlier this week and I was looking forward to some sun, roulette, and of course, food! Everything we ate was to die for. We revisited Rao’s for their delicious shrimp scampi but the star of the trip was dinner at Mesa Grill, Bobby Flay’s place in Caesar’s Palace. Holy cow was that food good! I had the ancho chile honey glazed salmon and Terry ordered a special vegan chile relleno. Deliciousness all around. You can bet that I will be replicating that salmon dish fairly soon.

Also, since we returned, we received our first delivery from Blue Apron. The package was waiting for us when we got home and I have to say it was like opening gifts on Christmas morning. Every ingredient comes perfectly portioned out, clearly labeled and there are also these adorable ‘goodie bags’ that package up the garnishes and smaller ingredients for each dish. Each recipe also comes with detailed, easy to follow instructions that you can keep in case you want to make the dish again. We’ve had 2 out of the 3 meals so far and both have been really good. I’m not sure how long we’ll keep up with the service, (we got this first delivery as a gift subscription) but for now, it’s fun and exciting to get to play with some new ingredients.

Feeling very inspired by the amazing food we had in Vegas, I was ready to get back into the kitchen. I opted for this pasta dish, which may be a little out of season, but nevertheless, I was dead set that this was going to be our dinner.

The surprise in this dish is the mint. I wasn’t sure how the flavor was going to come through, but after one good bite with all of the elements on it, the mint totally stood out. If you make this, don’t skip the mint! This was so good we practically devoured the entire thing.

My one recommendation would be to shorten the amount of time they say to cook the butternut squash. I would cook it for about 3 minutes instead of 5 because by the time everything was done, the squash was a tad over-cooked.

Delicious!!

cavatapi

Recipe from Bon Appetit
Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 12 oz. fresh orecchiette or other fresh or dried small pasta
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ small butternut squash, peeled, cut into ½” pieces (about 2 cups)
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, divided
  • ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan plus more for serving
  • ¼ cup blanched hazelnuts
  • 4 Tbsp. torn fresh mint leaves, divided
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350°. Spread out hazelnuts on a small rimmed baking sheet and toast, tossing occasionally, until golden, about 6 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop; set aside.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente (about 5 minutes for fresh pasta). Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add squash and cook, tossing occasionally, until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, just until garlic begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Immediately add ½ cup pasta cooking liquid to keep garlic from burning; reduce heat to low and gradually add butter, swirling skillet and adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until a thick, glossy sauce forms.

Add pasta to skillet with squash and sauce and toss to coat. Add lemon juice, ¼ cup Parmesan, 2 Tbsp. mint, and remaining ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes and toss to combine; season with salt and pepper.

Serve pasta topped with reserved hazelnuts, more Parmesan, and remaining 2 Tbsp. mint.

DO AHEAD: Hazelnuts can be toasted 5 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

Pad thai pizza

I concocted this little recipe a few years ago, and now, for the first time I’m putting it down on paper. I had other plans for dinner this weekend, but this just sounded better and I haven’t made it in a while. Plus, the kitchen is closing early tonight in order to be ready for the season premiere of Mad Men!!! I’m excited but also irritated that they’re copping out and splitting the final season into two seasons. Greedy much? Gah! Anyway….back to the food.

I love pad thai, it’s really versatile and you can probably make it a hundred different ways. My brilliant idea was turn it into a pizza. It’s got all the same flavors and ingredients as pad thai, just not the noodles. (And no scallions either because I hate those, so include them if you’re into that sort of thing).

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Once it’s all pulled together, it’s going to be a bit of a mess to eat. Keep a fork handy!

PS – this peanut sauce is really good and could be used for any other recipe that calls for peanut sauce.

pad-thai-pizza

Recipe

Peanut Sauce

  • 2tbs creamy peanut butter
  • 2tbs teriyaki sauce
  • 1tbs sweet chili sauce
  • 1tsp honey

Pizza

  • 1 pizza crust (If you want to make your own, I have a recipe here. Today I just used a store-bought one.)
  • Tofu (or other protein of choice)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup cilantro (or more or less depending on your taste)
  • 1/4 cup peanuts
  • Fresh bean sprouts
  • 1 lime

The peanut sauce is going to be your base, so mix to incorporate all ingredients and spread it over the pizza crust. Toss the tofu in what’s left of the sauce. Throw the tofu on top of the pizza and cook according to crust package ingredients.

While the pizza is cooking, scramble the eggs, set aside.

Chop the peanuts and the cilantro and mix them together.

When the pizza is out of the oven, top with (in this order) the scrambled eggs, sprouts, then the peanuts and cilantro.

Squeeze lime over pizza before serving.

Dinner for one: Pan-seared salmon with spinach and pink grapefruit pinot noir sauce

I made A LOT of food this weekend. It started with the tomato-basil soup I made on Saturday, to be served on Sunday for a family lunch. I cooked so much I didn’t even take a picture of the soup, but it’s a really good recipe, so if you want to try it yourself, here’s the original recipe. I definitely recommend getting roma tomatoes. Don’t substitute! Also, don’t forget to add a little sugar to cut back on the acidity.

Also part of today’s menu was stuffed mushrooms and banana split bites for dessert.

Since we had leftovers, Terry had those and I chose to make a separate dinner for myself – this pan seared salmon recipe. I knew I was going to want a good and easy dinner, so I looked for some salmon recipes and found this one on The Food Network website, courtesy of Emeril Lagasse.

Continue reading Dinner for one: Pan-seared salmon with spinach and pink grapefruit pinot noir sauce

Tortellini for Terry

It’s Terry’s birthday today and I took the day off work for the sole purpose of fixing her a yummy birthday dinner. It was supposed to be a surprise, but I just can’t seem to keep my mouth shut when I’m trying to pull one over on her, so I told her a few days ahead of time that I’d be home all day cooking for her. I didn’t tell her what I was making, so there was still some surprise to it when she got home.

Since we’re well into Spring, I wanted to take advantage of seasonal ingredients so to start, I made asparagus soup for an appetizer. I found this particular recipe to be just ok – I saw some recipes that had red potatoes and I think next time, I will add them. It would add a little more texture and depth, I think. The flavor was good enough, even without the potatoes. I served it chilled because the flavors popped more than when it was hot. No picture of this one because it honestly wasn’t that visually compelling.

Continue reading Tortellini for Terry

Triple threat

It was busy in the carrot kitchen today! I made 3 dishes and spent as many and more hours cooking. I barely noticed the time passing by. I guess that’s because I think cooking is FUN.

I started out with raspberry lemon ricotta bread. The recipe was for muffins, but I was feeling like a badass so I decided to make bread instead. Aside from it totally falling apart when I took it out of the pan (must have taken it out too early), it turned out delicious and made an excellent pre-dinner dessert. I think I just made up a new course! Try it yourself – the recipe is right over here.

I just finished what will be our main dish – quinoa salad with black beans, tomatoes and corn. I’ve been making some pretty heavy and not-so-healthy dishes lately, so it was time to lighten things up a bit. This dish is super easy, tasty and totally healthy (aside from the cheese, I guess). Protein-packed and flavorful, it would easily serve as a great filling for a wrap. I bet some avocado would taste great on top, too.

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For our appetizer, we started with these baked zucchini stacks, which turned out to be what I was most excited about all day. OMG so good. They make me crave summer. I’ll tell you how to make them here.

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Oh yeah – don’t forget to follow me on Instagram!

Recipe borrowed from Simply Recipes.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, well rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup diced red onion
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn, defrosted, OR 1 cup of fresh corn, parboiled, drained and cooled (approximately the amount of kernels from one ear of corn)
  • 3 medium tomatoes, seeded and cut into chunks
  • 5 ounces Queso fresco, Queso Panela, fresh Mozzarella or other mild farmer’s cheese, cut into 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, including tender stems, packed
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil

Put the rinsed quinoa, salt and water into a pot and bring it to a boil. Cover and simmer gently until the quinoa absorbs all the water, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Place into a large bowl and fluff up with a fork to help it cool more quickly.

While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the rest of the salad. Soak the red onions in the lime juice and set aside. Soaking the onions in lime juice (or lemon juice or water) helps take the edge off of them. Mix the prepped black beans, corn kernels, tomatoes, cheese, jalapenos, cilantro, and oil into a large bowl.

When the quinoa has cooled, mix it into the bean mixture. Add the red onion and the lime juice and add salt, more oil or lime juice to taste. Serve at room temperature.

New Orleans BBQ Shrimp

It’s new recipe day! I found this one earlier in the week and was drawn to it because it involved some flavors I don’t typically work with. I pretty much love anything made with shrimp, so this was a no-brainer. As is always the case, I needed to make a vegetarian version for Terry, so I grabbed some tofu for her share.

Full disclosure: the store I went to didn’t have the right sized shrimp and I didn’t feel like making an extra trip, (lazy today) so I got the largest they had. (Fun fact, did you know that shrimp are not sold by size, as in small, medium, large, but rather how many equal a pound? The recipe called for 21/25 shrimp, but all the store had was 26/30. It seems like a small thing, but these kind of details really do make a difference.)

I have to admit, the amount of butter in this dish is a bit startling. And to be honest, I wanted to quit when I got to the 8th tablespoon of butter, but I always follow a new recipe as instructed the first time I make it. Into the pan went the 9th and 10th tablespoon of butter.

Look at all this butter.

allthatbutter

I have to let you know that as easy as some things are to do, even when you’re really good at something, you can still screw it up. My pan was too hot and my first 2 tablespoons of butter burned and I also burnt the garlic. I had to trash it and start over. So if anyone has any tips on how to cook garlic without burning it, I’m all ears. It trips me up every now and then, but I expect I will master it eventually.

This dish is pretty easy to make, and despite my hesitation with the butter quantity, it was really good. Even the tofu version. The sauce was delicious and was perfect to soak up with bread. If I ever make this again, and I’m not sure I will, I would cut back on the butter and amp up the seasoning. I like spicy food and this could use a little more heat, too.

Happy Saturday night, folks. Here is the original recipe, courtesy of Kitchen Riffs.

Now go cook!

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