Fabulous day

5 04 2008

I love, love, LOVE Fridays.  There’s something so wonderful about having the whole weekend ahead of you to be productive, have some fun, spend time with the people you love, or just be lazy.  Today did not disappoint me.  I had a great day with my students, and I ended up staying at work until almost 7pm to do some much needed spring cleaning in my classroom.  I’m telling you – there is very little that excites me quite like clean, organized spaces.  Just the thought of returning to my organized classroom on Monday makes me a happy teacher. 

To top off my productive afternoon/evening, I decided to cook one of my favorite things tonight.  CLAMS!  I’m not even sure why I love clams so much, but I do.  And I had been thinking about clams all day.  During my lunch break, I searched Cooking Light’s website to find a healthy and delicious meal, and I found this:

http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=1072155

And then I just decided to wing it.  YUM.

This is not a pretentious, difficult meal to make.  This is a throw-stuff-together-and-love-it kind of meal. 

The super easy directions? 

1. Throw your favorite spaghetti in a pot.  I used Barilla Plus.

2. In a large pot, bring 1 cup of water to a boil.  Throw in some clams (but be sure you’ve scrubbed them first). 

3. In a small saucepan, sautee 1 clove of garlic and 1 small tomato (seeds removed). 

4. When everything is finished, toss it all together in the same large pot and add some salt and olive oil.

5. Serve the meal in bowls, topped with parsley. 

Yummity yum yum. 

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Broken lasagna with pesto and walnuts

7 03 2008

A couple months ago, Brett found a Food and Wine recipe called, Broken Lasagna with Walnut Pesto.  We adapted it and turned it into a super-easy-no-brainer-weeknight meal.  Here’s the result:

The real recipe can be found on the Food and Wine website.  Here’s my super simple version:  Break lasagna noodles into bite-sized pieces and cook.  When they’re al dente, toss together the lasagna noodles, pesto (you could make your own, but buy the store-bought version to fully give yourself a break!), toasted walnuts, and cooked chicken.  Then, dig in.  As my kindergarteners would say, “Easy peasy lemon squeezy!”





My first lasagna!

25 02 2008

I was flipping through recipes and searching for inspiration online this morning, and I came across more than one picture of lasagna. My mouth started watering, and I knew that lasagna should be my next recipe-to-be-blogged!

As I searched for the perfect lasagna recipe, I started reminiscing about my mom’s cooking from when I was a little girl. I used to hate ricotta cheese, and she used to make me my own separate lasagna with just mozzarella cheese instead. That’s love!

As I got older, I grew to love Mom’s original version of lasagna, complete with ricotta, mozzarella, and her homemade meatballs, sliced between the layers. Yum.

I would have loved to attempt Mom’s recipe, but I didn’t want to spend hours in the kitchen today. Still, my lasagna craving ensued. After reading another food blog (Annie’s Eats), I decided to try her recipe from allrecipes.com. The recipe didn’t look too complicated, and I figured I could whip up the lasagna without a problem. With some Italian bread with oil for dipping, I thought it sounded like the perfect Sunday meal.

I didn’t want to have to eat lasagna for the next week, so I cut the recipe in half and did a little improvising along the way. I ended up using a lot less mozzarella and more spinach than what the recipe called for. I also skipped the onions and added some garlic powder to the sauce.

Here are some pictures:

Overall: Lasagna success! I’m not sure why I was intimidated to make it, because I figured out that lasagna is pretty easy and very forgiving. I think I’ll play around with some of the layers next time and try some more veggies if Brett will let me get away with it!

Deep Dish Lasagna
From allrecipes.com

Ingredients:

12 lasagna noodles
1 lb. Italian sausage
2/3 cup chopped onion
½ tbsp. minced garlic
2/3 cup chopped parsley
3 cans tomato paste
15 oz. tomato sauce
2 cups water
1 ½ tsp. Italian seasoning
1 ½ tsp. basil
1 ½ tsp. oregano
1 lb. part-skim ricotta
10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
½ cup parmesan cheese
3 eggs
2 tsp. garlic salt
¼ tsp. pepper
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. Brown sausage with onions, garlic and half the parsley. Add tomato paste, tomato sauce, water, Italian seasoning, oregano and basil. Simmer for 5 minutes. In a bowl, combine remaining parsley, ricotta, spinach, parmesan, eggs, garlic, S&P. In a 9×13” baking dish, spread 2 cups of sauce. Begin layering with 4 noodles, half of the cheese mixture, a third of the remaining sauce and one cup of mozzarella. Repeat. The last layer will be noodles, sauce and mozzarella. Bake, covered at 350° for 45 minutes and then uncovered for 10 minutes.





Lemon gnocchi – Part II: The cooking begins!

21 02 2008

After hanging out in the fridge all afternoon, my gnocchi were ready to be cooked – or at least I hoped so! I started the lemon butter sauce – super easy – and started boiling some salt water in a large pot. When the water was boiling and ready, I was actually excited to dump the pasta in, but then I started to worry!

The recipe said that I needed to drop the gnocchi into the boiling water, wait until they rose to the top, and then cook them for one more minute. This is where I started to panic a bit. What would I do if they didn’t rise? Was I supposed to wait one minute after the last gnocchi rose to the top? I ultimately decided to just plop them all in and hope for the best.

As I hovered over the pot, the gnocchi miraculously started popping to the top!  I was thrilled that they were doing what they were supposed to do. I decided to relax a bit and wait until the majority of the gnocchi rose to the top, and then wait one more minute, as suggested by the recipe.

Here are my little beauties rising to the top:

After I drained the pasta, I pan seared them a bit and then gently tossed them in the lemon butter sauce. I couldn’t help myself, and I snuck a taste before Brett tried them – you know, just in case they were horrendous tasting.

The finished product:


Overall, I thought they were tasty – soft but a little crisp thanks to the pan searing. The lemon butter sauce was rich, so I was glad I didn’t use it all, and I skipped the scallions and topped my gnocchi with some romano pecorino cheese. Yum!

Meyer Lemon Gnocchi
Food & Wine, March 2008

Ingredients:
1 pound baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
3 large egg yolks
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons, preferably Meyer lemons
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chilled
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Salt
Snipped chives, for garnish
Bottarga, for garnish (optional)

Directions:

– In a medium saucepan, cover the potatoes and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately high heat until the potatoes are tender, about 8 minutes. Drain the potatoes, then return them to the pan; shake over moderately high heat until dry.

– Working over a large rimmed baking sheet, rice the hot potatoes in an even layer. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the lemon zest, 1 teaspoon of olive oil and the salt and pour over the potatoes. Sprinkle the flour over the potatoes and stir gently just until a dough forms.- Gently roll the dough into four 1/2 inch thick ropes. Using a sharp knife, cut each rope into 1/2 inch pieces. Roll each piece against the tines of a fork to make ridges. Transfer the gnocchi to the baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

– In a small saucepan, bring the chicken broth to a simmer. Remove from the heat and whisk in the 1 stick of butter, a few pieces at a time, until the sauce is creamy. Warm the sauce on low heat if necessary. Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt.

– In a large pot of salted water, cook the gnocchi until they rise to the surface, then cook them for 1 mintue longer. Gently drain the gnocchi, toss with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and transfer to a baking sheet until cool.

– In a large nonstick skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add half of the gnocchi and cook in a single layer over high heat until browned on the bottom, 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and repeat with the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and gnocchi.

– Reheat the sauce; pour it over the gnocchi and fold gently with a rubber spatula until they are evenly coated. Transfer to a platter and garnish with chives. Grate the bottarga on top, if desired. Serve.





Lemon gnocchi – Part I: The prep work

21 02 2008

Today I attempted the Food and Wine Meyer lemon gnocchi recipe, although I’ll just call my recipe lemon gnocchi since I didn’t use Meyer lemons.

It was a little tricky to make the recipe, because I didn’t really have any idea of what the dough should look like. I followed the directions carefully and had to improvise occassionally (example: I don’t have a potato ricer, so I used a fork to get a similar consistency).

Making the dough was actually easier than I anticipated, and the only challenging part was getting that gnocchi shape. I think I did a decent job; I’m just hoping they don’t all unroll when I pop them in the boiling water tonight!

The Food and Wine recipe wasn’t really clear on how to get the ridges in the pasta. They simply said to, “Roll each piece against the tines of a fork to make ridges.” Huh? I had to do a quick Google search to find some pictures on how exactly to do that, and I think my attempts were pretty good for my first try.

Here are a couple pictures of the raw gnocchi before their plunge into the bubbling water.