Sunday, May 29, 2011

Fruit Salad

Joey & I made fruit salad today for a Sunday Dinner. It's really nothing special and not worth posting here. We tossed together watermelon, pineapple, strawberries, oranges and blueberries. Summer is here! The reason I'm telling you about it though is that yesterday I came across this fantastic tutorial for cubing watermelon. I didn't personally try this method but Joey did and it worked like a charm! I am so bad at cutting watermelon normally so this was awesome, way less wasteful and not as messy! Give it a try for your next summer party!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Fresh Cavatelli with Eggs & Bacon

Last week, Joey sent me this recipe for pasta with eggs and bacon. We seemingly had all the ingredients at home so it was a great recipe to try.

On a whim, I decided to see if the local market had any fresh cavatelli. I was in luck and picked up a half pound of ricotta cavatelli (which means the pasta dough had ricotta in it) for the recipe. However, when I was getting ready to make it I decided that the 1/2 lb of pasta wasn't enough and added the remainder of some dried rotini I had in the pantry. The resulting different textures from the fresh pasta and dried added a new layer of deliciousness to the dish. But this would be cheaper if you just go with dried pasta...

I didn't exactly follow the recipe in terms of exact ingredients but I did follow the cooking instructions and the result was a very satisfying stick-to-the-bone macaroni and cheese esque pasta dish. Joey thought it needed something like maybe a few sprigs of basil to freshen it up. I can see that. I will add that next time. And oh yes there will be a next time.

Ingredients (the real recipe here)
1 T + 1/4 t salt, divided
2 T Olive oil
2 T Butter
8 oz bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
5 large eggs
1/2 lb fresh cavatelli pasta
1/2 lb dried small noodle pasta such as penne or rotelli
1 C mozzerella cheese, shredded
1/4 C fresh parmesan cheese, shredded
1/4 C chopped fresh basil (opt.)

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil
2. Meanwhile, shred cheese and slice bacon. Set aside.
3. Break the eggs into a bowl and add 1/4 t salt. Beat with a fork until the yolks are broken,
4. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add butter and melt.
5. Add the cut bacon to the skillet and cook until browned and crispy, stirring occasionally to get all sides browned (this took me like 10 minutes)
6. As the bacon starts to brown, add the dried pasta to the boiling water along with 1 T salt and cook 2 minutes.
7. Add the fresh pasta to the boiling water and cook an additional 4-5 minutes.
8. When the pasta is cooked, drain and add the noodles to the bacon mixture
9. Toss the pasta with bacon and coat in oil. Add the egg mixture and cook stirring 2 minutes or less until eggs are just scrambled and custardy. Turn off the heat.
10. Add the cheese to the pasta and stir until melted
11. Toss in the basil if using and serve immediately

*This is a picture of Rigatoni with Eggs & Bacon. We've made this now with rigatoni, cavatelli and linguine. The smaller or longer pastas work best--the rigatoni didn't stick well to it.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Cornish Hens with Bruschetta Panzanela & Broccollini

Cornish Hens are a delectable memory from my childhood. On very special occasions my dad would roast a couple of hens and we would feast! So, when I saw that Cornish hens were on sale I had to buy them. The package came with two which is enough hen to serve 4--or possible 5 if one of your meat eaters is selective.

I chose to make Bobby Flay's recipe for Cornish hens which makes an entire meal so you really don't have to think much about it later. The only change I made was that I used fresh spring garlic (which looks like a spring onion) in the dressing part and as a result I felt that the garlic wasn't really there and didn't stand out much. Also, I was unable to get the roasted garlic to form much of a paste and so the hens didn't taste anything like garlic despite a full head being used. I blanched the broccolini but it didn't really get cooked through so it was pretty crunchy and only the trees were really cooked well.

I liked this recipe but I feel like a lot of things didn't go right for me. It was still delicious, it was just not what I expected based on the recipe reviews. And I mean, what happened to all that garlic?!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

New Product: Near East Wheat Salad

I can't really claim this is a new product, but it is new to me. I am not often frequenting the couscous and rice aisle but yesterday I thought it would be a nice change of pace. After learning that couscous is calorie laden, I turned to the Near East brand Wheat salad. This starch has less calories than couscous but a very small portion. The thing is, I could eat twice as much for the same calories! I was sold.

Near East Wheat salad is a combination of bulgur wheat and spices. To prepare it, I added a chopped tomato, 1 T olive oil and a splash of lemon juice. This salad is satisfying and delicious. I'm disappointed I only packed myself one serving! One could obviously make this themselves, but being unfamiliar with my likeness for bulgur I just bought the prepared package. In the future, I may make the entire salad myself.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Pork Chops with Tangy Rhubarb Chutney

Rhubarb has always haunted me. I assume it is delicious because it is red (like strawberries!) but then raw it is harder than the hardest celery and extremely bitter. I've had it before at Grandma's house because she grew it in her back yard but I don't recall how I felt about it. So this spring, when I saw a recipe in Real Simple for Pork Chops with a Rhubarb chutney I was intreged and had to try it.

Then tradgey struck. Even though it is the height of spring, rhubarb was nowhere to be found. It avoided me at two different farmer's markets, it wasn't at the grocery store I went to, and it certainly wasn't growing in my yard. And yet, I set the recipe aside and knew I would make it. Fast forward to today, a little bird told me that rhubarb was available at Albertson's. So I checked the recipe online and rushed over to Albertson's after work to get some rhubarb before it all disappeared.

This dish was Carrie tested and husband approved. The tangy rhubarb chutney is a nice addition to the pork. I used thin pork chops which have the advantage of cooking really quickly (about 6 minutes!) and you get more of the rhubarb flavor. I served this dish with strawberries and sauteed spinach and garlic. It was a really satisfying meal without any starch necessary!

Pork Chops with Rhubarb Chutney
2 T olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped (I used only 2/3 of my really small red onion)
salt & pepper
1/2 lb rhubarb, sliced 1/2 inch thick
3 T sugar
1 t red wine vinegar (I used balsamic because I forgot to buy RWV)
1 1/2 t ground coriander or other seasoning
1/4 cup water
4 pork chops (I used thin, the recipe calls for thick)

1. Heat 1 T olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, 1/2 t salt, 1/4 t pepper. Cook, stirring until tender - 5-7 minutes.

2. Add the rhubarb, sugar and water to the onions and cook until rhubarb is just tender 4-6 minutes. Add 1 t vinegar at the end and remove from heat.

3. Meanwhile, heat the other 1 T of oil in a large skillet. Season the pork with the coriander, salt and pepper and cook until browned and cooked through. Serve pork with chutney on top.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Mascarpone Frosting

As you may recall, we had quite a crisis the day before Easter rushing around town looking for marscapone for our Easter tart. In a moment of extreme annoyance after stopping by several stores, I grabbed the only flavor I saw, Tirimisu Marscapone. Why Ralph's thought they should carry that version instead of the plain one is beyond me. Eventually we found the plain kind and this coffee-flavored kind was shelved in the deep dark of the refrigerator. I waited until the holiday dessert feast died down and then I decided to use it.

I thought the coffee flavor would go really well with chocolate cake. Sure I could make actual tirimisu but I don't really know how much I love that stuff, so I decided on something different.

I searched the internet for a way to lighten up the mascrpone, although I figured I could use the same method we used on our tart and just whip it with heavy whipping cream. Luckily, I found a recipe that insisted I add a little sugar (i'm not one to complain!). The mascarpone frosting that resulted was something between cream cheese and buttercream. It was light and airy but rich and delectable. I spread it between layers of chocolate cake and served. Delightful! Unfortunately the coffee flavor was pretty much masked after mixing. If you want the coffee flavor to stand out I recommend that you either steep some coffee in that cream and then strain and chill or add a little espresso to the mixture.

Also, you may notice I'm hiding a lot of the cake from you. That is because it really was not a pretty presentation. The thing is I wanted to make one of those awesome cakes I've been seeing around where they only frost the top and between the layers. I also wanted my cake to be square. What I forgot with this method was that the edges that I cut would not be pretty in the least. So the cake looked kind of haphazard cat and the hat style. It still tasted great but next time I want an unfrosted edge cake I'll use loaf pans for better presentation. This frosting though did have the advantage of being really easy to spread!

I cannot find the recipe I followed. Sorry fellow blogger...

Mascarpone Frosting (with cake)
8 oz mascarpone cheese (coffee flavored okay, you probably won't notice it)
1/2 t vanilla extract (optional)
coffee beans for steeping cream (optional as well, I didn't try this but that's what we do for coffee ice cream so I think the same method would work).
1 C heavy whipping cream
1 C powdered sugar

1. In a stand mixer, mix all ingredients until combined and fluffy. DO NOT OVERMIX or your mixture will turn to butter (I know from experience). Spread on cake of your choice.