Thursday, November 1, 2012

So I know I'm behind on posting recipes...

But we've been a little preoccupied. A Girl and Her Kitchen is now eating for two!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Noodle-less Lasagna, It’s a Thing, Really.

I think by typing that phrase alone I’ve irrecoverably damaged a little piece of my carb-loving-self. But it’s true, somehow I’ve managed to create something that satisfies even this die hard pasta junkie. It started as way to follow meatless Mondays. I mean, who doesn’t love veggie lasagna!? But then I realized my effort to eat healthier (i.e. meatless Mondays), were totally thwarted by the delicate sheets of pasta I was tucking between all those layers of healthy veggies. Argh. Alas, my noodle-less lasagna was born whereby my bounty from the Sunday farmers market would be roasted and gently layered between blankets of sweet and spicy tomato sauce, supported of course by creamy mozzarella (I haven’t gone completely mad people; it’s mostly healthy.) This is so utterly and completely satisfying I’ve made it every week for a month!

My noodle-less lasagna is built around two core ingredients: good tomato sauce, which I make myself but if you have a jarred sauce you love, go for it; and a diverse array of veggies, some of which must include veg that are long and can be but into lasagna noodle type shapes. I use eggplant and a mixture of zucchini and squash cut into wide thin strips as my base and top to keep the ‘lasagna’ together and it totally works. Throw in whatever you like in between! I’ve used mushrooms, roasted peppers, sautéed kale, corn, spinach, fennel…you name it. The trick is all the veggies have to be cooked before you assemble the lasagna. But trust me, one bite of tender roasted vegetables dancing in a tangy and tomato-y sauce with layers of melty cheese….seriously. It’s good. Really really good. And ridiculously easy to make.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Midweek Meals: Hearty Chicken Bowl with Kale and Mushrooms

One of my biggest kitchen conundrums is chicken. What to do with the endless bags of boneless, skinless chicken breast we all drag home from Costco, right?! Don’t get me wrong, I quite enjoy chicken and I know white meat is good for you and all that (even though I secretly cheer for team dark meat). But I just get foodie writer’s block when it comes to this most basic of chicken meals at times. So this week I did a little inspiration hunting. There’s this book I have with like a million chicken recipes. Truth be told, they’re pushing it a bit with all the chicken in that book, but one in particular I adore. It’s this creamy pasta number (surprise, surprise, I was drawn to the dish based on cheese and pasta) with woodsy mushrooms and a tangy sauce. After rummaging around the pantry and frig, I found what I needed and got to work. It’s almost a one pot wonder…almost. I combined sautéed kale spiked with red pepper flakes, creamy white beans, white wine, lemon juice, sweet carrots and peas, earthy mushrooms with chunks of perfectly cooked chicken tossed with tender pasta…a weeknight bowl that was great for leftovers and very satisfying. Feel free to change it up, toss in what you have laying around and make a mid-week feast out of it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Roasted Fennel with Parmesan

Fennel was not a vegetable we ate a lot of growing up but as an adult, and as a member of the produce mecca of the land known as northern California, I've grown to simply adore fennel. I actually quite dislike licorice flavor as odd as that is and since fennel is reminiscent of this flavor profile, I found it surprising how much I love it.  But once roasted, the flavor mellows, develops hints of caramel, which when mixed with the cheese bite of the Parmesan, blew my mind. This is such an easy vegetable side.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Tasty Homemade Salad Dressing in Under 3 minutes

I have no idea why people buy salad dressing anymore. It is so unbelievably easy to make with a few ingredients you probably have in your pantry already. My favorite go to salad dressing is a zippy little number featuring balsamic vinegar. It’s sweet and tangy and works with just about any veggies or proteins you could through into a salad bowl. And the most time consuming part of the dressing is mincing shallot, which takes about a minute and a half, so it’s a whip it up whiz of a recipe. The best part, make extra and store it in old mason jars or jam jars. Keep it in the frig and pull it out when you need it…just like store bought products but better for you and much cheaper. Try this once and I promise you’ll never look back. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Baked Mushroom Risotto with Caramlized's a thing, really!

I love risotto. I mean who doesn’t! It’s a creamy, lusciously decadent starchy dish that soothes the soul right down to the foodie core. The only issue I have with risotto is the stirring. It’s easy to make but time consuming as you tenderly add ladles of broth, stirring each one in allowing the rice to take its sweet old time absorbing the liquid until you get a fluffy, melt in your mouth consistency. I think there is a time and place for the care one has to put into making traditional risotto and it better be for someone you really like because standing over the stove stirring for 30+ minutes can be a pain. Until recently, I had no idea there was another way to my risotto heart until I stumbled across Ina Garten, in all her Hampton glory, making…GASP…BAKED RISOTTO (cover your ears Nana)! Once I managed to pull my chin off the floor, I did some digging. This baked risotto is like a thing…it exists…people make it, and LIKE it! I was having some friends to dinner last night, a combination of carnivores and vegetarians and of course my go-to veggie entertaining dish is risotto but after a 10 hr workday, I did not feel like stirring for hours, no matter how much I love my guests. So off I went in hunt of the baked mushroom risotto and inspiration was found with theKitchn’s baked mushroom risotto with caramelized onions.

I made some changes but in the end, this dish was a serious hit. My friend’s husband had I think 3 helpings! It took some prep work but I think it’s worth it. The recipe called for the surprising addition of balsamic vinegar, which I added less of than called for but loved as well as a few other additions of my own. And seriously, caramelized onions on top of risotto….yes please! So next time the risotto urge bites you, try this and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Marinated Goat Cheese

I was walking through the grocery store the other day and stumbled upon the cheese section ... ok, ok I was hording over the cheese section like a little cheese lord. Let's be honest, I make a bee line for the dang cheese section the moment I walk into the store. My obsession with cheese not withstanding, on this particular day I found a tub of marinated feta cheese. Of course I had to try it and what I found was soft cheese swimming around in this lovely pool of tangy olive oil with the tartness of a mildly sweet vinegar and spices. It was delicious! Crumbled on salads, over pastas, spread on crackers....or if you are like me, with a fork standing with the frig wide open. Love at first bite. I make all my own salad dressings so I figured, really, how hard can this be. I opted to take a stab at marinating goat cheese because I buy these massive logs of it at Costco and quite frankly, I'm swimming in goat cheese right now but you could absolutely make it with feta (truth be told I also marinated feta I bought at my farmers market...swoon!!) This is a great party hosting trick too!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Balsamic Sauteed Swiss Chard Spiked with Goat Cheese and Raisins

Another summer beauty....rainbow chard. I love swiss chard. It's a tender but hearty green with colorful stems that makes a fantastic side dish. It's a magical bed for any main and this version brings a slight sweetness to the party. I sauteed the chard with slightly caramelized onions, balsamic vinegar and a dash of red pepper and then dot creamy and tangy goat cheese over the top while it's still warm and watch it melt down the edges of the greens. This is a fantastic side dish for my balsamic and mustard spike lamb loin chops. If you had the time, you could certainly fully caramelize the onions, but that would add maybe 30 minutes to the cooking time so I opt for a long saute with a spiked of balsamic to give you a similar flavor. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Oven Roasted Artichokes

Summer always brings an abundance of vegetables. Personally, I quite adore artichokes. They are delicious and have so many uses. Growing up I remember mounds of steamed artichokes sitting next to glistening bowls of melted butter. A steamed artichoke is never a bad thing, but I've been thinking....there must be another way. Roasting vegetables is like the world's gift to the home cook because it's easy and everything comes out super tasty so I figured, let's see how an artichoke does. The idea here is kind of roast-steam combo because you seal the artichokes in little tinfoil packages so they cook all the way through without burning. I stuffed mine with a spin on a classic Italian combination of sharp and salty pecorino, sweetly tart lemon, crunchy panko bread crumbs and garlic. The artichoke gets soft but with a rich deep flavor and you don't need a dipping sauce for these guys. You'll be licking your fingers though.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Short Ribs with Tagliatelle

Can you imagine a dish where the deep richness of shaved dark chocolate mixed with the salty bite of grated pecorino mingling atop a heading bowl of tender fresh pasta slathered in a rich and meaty sauce? Well Giada De Laurentiis and her everyday Italian recipe did and thank god she did because this is one of the easiest dishes that makes you want to climb into the bowl and roll around in the sauce. It is that good. Seriously. I don’t make a lot of dishes with short ribs. They are a pretty inexpensive cut of meat and you have to cook the heck out of them for a tender result, but it’s worth it. This dish uses a lot of standard pantry ingredients with the exception of the pancetta but honestly, you can substitute in bacon. And then it sits there, in the pot, bubbling away doing all the work so when it’s done, you just shred the meat, toss the sauce with the pasta and away you go! Magic. Pasta and meat magic. That’s my kind of food. And the richness of the meaty sauce is enhanced by a surprising supporting actor….shaved dark chocolate gives a smooth, slightly sweet and unctuous depth to this dish. And let’s face it, the idea of putting chocolate on pasta is just cool. I also add some pecorino because I love the play of the salty with the sweet. I made this on a week night. But I work from home so I can trot down to my kitchen and spend 20 minutes getting it together. After that it just cooks on its own. I highly recommend this one for your next special meal….it’s a hit at dinner parties.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Ravioli Party

We hosted several friends for a ravioli party this past weekend and it was delicious!! We opted for one vegetarian and one meat filling using everyday Italian recipes and two pounds of fresh pasta dough later we were all rubbing our bellies and moaning from fullness but it was so worth it. For the veggie filling (which you can make slightly less veg friendly by adding bacon, because as we all know, bacon really does make everything better) we caramelized a red onion mixed with tender braised kale, creamy ricotta and a salty bite of Parmesan. When topped with a spicy tomato sauce, it was a real winner. But then the meat ravioli came out... and I have to say, while I love love love kale, the pork filling really blew us away. I knew we were in for a treat when I pulled the roasted pork shoulder out of the oven and could barely keep myself from scarfing the whole thing down in one full swoop! When paired with cheese and spices and browned ground pork (yes, more pork!) we were hard pressed not to eat all the filling before it made it into the dough! It was salty and meaty and superbly succulent. Paired with a brown butter sage sauce, it’s another dish you want to climb into the bowl with and do the backstroke. These recipes are pretty straight forward and with some extra hands and a bottle or two of wine, a ravioli party can be an easy way to host and feed your favorite people.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Brunch Magic with Boozy Baked French Toast

I adore brunch. It’s part of San Francisco’s food soul. We know how to Brunch in this city and we take our late morning meals very seriously. So it’s no surprise my family opted for a brunch mother’s day fiesta. We actually got to do it two weekends in a row since my folks were in town visiting the weekend before mother’s day and then the in-laws came over on actual mother’s day. The one drawback of hosting is the hostess is always running about the kitchen and prancing in and out of conversation like a little food fairy. For once I wanted to sit and chat and enjoy relaxing while also hosting so I turned to my girl, smittenkitchen for some ideas and man did she deliver! I played with her Baked Boozy French Toast recipe and it was a major hit. Super easy; prep the night before and then throw it in the oven the day of. That’s it. I paired it with soft scrambled eggs (ie. cook low and slow stirring constantly and you get the creamiest eggs ever) and some bacon that I baked off in the oven (400 degrees for 15 mins). I threw together a quick fruit salad (or have your brother-in-law do it which was what I did the second weekend) and an easy berry compote (optional but awesome) and we were set. I could spend the morning sipping far too many mimosas and not hoarding over the stove. So next time you want a brunch that wow’s the table but doesn’t make you wish you could clone yourself, try this French toast. It’s brunch magic!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Balsamic and Mustard Spiked Lamb Loin Chops

It happened again. I saw lamb at the store and! It’s getting a bit ridiculous I know. But lamb is sooooooooooooo good! I can’t resist! This time it was a beautiful package of lamb loin chops…petite, easy to marinate and a fast cook. I soaked mine in a mixture of sweet balsamic, salty and tangy grain mustard and the umami goodness of Worcester sauce along with some fresh rosemary and olive oil. They were tender and succulent and burst with flavor. Paired with sautéed kale spiked with bacon (BACON!), shallot and a touch of red pepper flakes (with a dash of lemon juice), this was a weeknight knock out of the park meal.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Shrimp and Peas Pasta – A Week Night Wonder

This is a fast meal, full of bright, spring flavors that won’t weigh you down in the middle of the week using everyday Italian ingredients. I love shrimp. The most important thing to remember about shrimp though is not to overcook them. 2 minutes per side and that’s it. They’ll keep cooking anyway. You want them just pink and curled in on themselves so they burst when you bite into them. Paired with the sweet crunch of sautéed snap peas, the heat from a few red pepper flakes, warmth of a bit of white wine and the zing of fresh lemon juice and you’ve got yourself a bowl of greatness! I serve this tossed with whole wheat pasta, usually Farfalla because it’s roughly the same size as everything else but use whatever you like.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Old School Seasoned Breadcrumbs = Tasty Breaded Pork Cutlets

This week was a bit of a throw-back to my childhood. Any time I use pre-seasoned breadcrumbs I think of being a kid. These days we have all these fancy breadcrumb options, like panko, that are fantastic additions to everyone’s pantry, but once and a while I feel nostalgic and breakout the Italian seasoned breadcrumbs my mom used to cook with. Costco had a salt on pork cutlets, so we’ve been eating a lot of them. They’re great because they cook up fast and taste fantastic. I mixed my old school seasoned breadcrumbs with my mom’s favorite sprinkle cheese, pecorino, for a cheese, salty crust. If you use thin cutlets, they take less than 3 minutes to cook per side and you don’t use a ton of oil so it’s not exactly a terribly unhealthy dish. Paired with my sweet and tender roasted broccolini, you’ve got a meal in 12 minutes!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Fresh Pasta Carbonara

Handmade pasta can’t be beat. Honestly, it is so worth the work. Truth be told, once you get the hang of it, making your own pasta is really not all that hard. It just takes some patience and a pasta roller. I got mine from a stoop sale in Brooklyn for $10 and it is one of the best kitchen tools I have. You can make a big batch of fresh pasta at once and freeze what you don’t need in smaller freezer bags. Toss the frozen pasta into boiling water and it not only separates easily in the water but also takes no more than 3 minutes to cook! Fresh pasta is simply the bees knees in my carb-loving opinion. And it was a strong desire for a heaping bowl of tender, delicate hand-cut pasta that led me to take a stab at tagliatelle and smother it in carbonara for this week’s pasta dream dinner. A creamy, indulgent and rich sauce, speckled with bit of cured meat that’s actually rather easy to make served over a pile of fresh pasta in all of its delicate glory. SWOON!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Roasted Lamb Shanks - a lamb love affair

I am having a full blown love affair with lamb. Seriously, someone needs to stage an intervention. It’s a tender and fantastically flavorful meat and no matter how cute and cuddly they are, lamb freaking taste goooooooood (sorry veggies, it’s true!) One of the best cuts of lamb is the shank and the easiest way to enjoy a lamb shank is to roast it. Roasting is like god’s gift to the lazy cook. I mean seriously, it works for everything. I mean it! Meat, veg, you name it…roasting it is bound to make it awesome. Wrap that lamb up with some herbs and spices, toss it in a low oven and leave it the heck alone. Go play cards, have a beer (or two), watch a movie….it’s the smartest way to kick back, enjoy a lazy afternoon and yet make people think you are a goddess in the kitchen. Not only will your home smell like heaven, but your dinner plates will be scraped clean by anyone you serve this to.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Creamed Chard and Breaded Pork Cutlets

SmittenKitchen might be one of my favorite food blogs. She’s hilarious, endearing and makes damn fine food. I found myself this week with a package of pork cutlets and a massive bunch of swiss chard without any bright ideas on what new take I could employ with seemingly standard ingredients. SmittenKitchen to the rescue! No only did I find an epic recipe for creamed swiss chard (seriously amazing discovery, which when pared with the spectacular fresh onions and garlic I found at the farmers market made one hell of a side dish) but she also was nice enough to share a delightful recipe for crunchy breaded cutlets!  I was in heaven (and so was husband when he came home to pipping big plate of creamy chard and tangy yet cheesey breaded pork). And so I bring to you my take on a SmittenKitchen classic.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

White Bean and Turkey Sausage Pasta Bowl: A weeknight wonder!

I love pasta. I readily admit that my lust for pasta and all carbs basically drives my life in the kitchen. And I am shameless about it. I'll do anything to justify eating pasta. Case in point, my white bean and turkey sausage weeknight pasta. While rummaging around my frig I came upon the last remains of a bag of spinach that was nearing death. So I decided to dip into the pantry and riff on the whole sausage and peppers idea with a twist. This dish is a great way to use up some of those pantry items and frig staples like chicken broth, yogurt and lemon that make a tangy and tasty sauce for this dish. Coupled with turkey sausge I found in the freezer and a jar of roasted peppers, white beans and sundried tomatoes, I soon had myself a feast! Husband loved it. We will definitely be making this one again!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Taco Tuesday: Yogurt Spiced Chicken and Roasted Veg

Holy taco night Batman! All this traveling has made me a fiend in the kitchen. Tuesday is typically taco night at many of our local Mexican restaurants, but this past Tuesday we brought the tacos home. I was eyeing a package of guacamole in the frig and decided what better way to eat my favorite Mexican dip than with homemade chicken tacos! We went all out. Husband even invented a new pickle by repurposing the leftover juice from our pickled jalapeños to pickle some carrot sticks. I pulled out my magic jar of Crisco, which I use maybe once a year, and whipped up homemade tortillas (which are surprisingly simple to make) that we stuffed to the brim with tender chicken marinated in a seasoned yogurt, crisp pickled carrots, roasted peppers, chopped spinach, my favorite guacamole, cheese and a spicy creamy topping. A few coronas later and we were rubbing our satisfied bellies.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Kale and Caramelized Onion Cannelloni, with Spicy Tomato Sauce

I’ve been traveling a lot recently for work such that I think Virgin America is going to offer I start flying the plane because I know the route to DC so well. This also means less time in the kitchen for yours truly, so when I finally touched down this weekend after a ton of time on the road, I knew one of my first welcome home activities would be to whip up something tasty for dinner.

My weary head could think of nothing more welcoming than warm and comforting baked pasta smothered in spicy sauce, speckled with gooey cheese. I love making fresh pasta….it’s soooooooo delicious and to be honest, not all the hard. You just need the right tools and a bit of faith. Store bought dried pasta simply can’t compete. After a trip to the farmers’ market I found some gorgeous kale that I wanted to work into the dish too. And thus was born my new favorite…cannelloni, a baked pasta in the shape of big cigars filled with gooey goodness. I stuff mine with a mixture of spicy braised kale, sweet caramelized onion, tender sautéed spinach and creamy ricotta, topping it off with a spicy, roasted tomato sauce. It was divine.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Leftover Magic: Weeknight Chicken ‘Cacciatore’ Pasta Bowl

Grilled or roasted chicken is a pretty standard leftover. It sits there eyeing you from the cold depths of your refrigerator challenging you to do something inventive and delicious with it. Most of us slap it on a sandwich, mix it with mayo or toss it onto a salad. But I’m talking about repurposing with a purpose, a little reinventing. A sad leftover Costco chicken threw down the gauntlet in my kitchen last night and I am proud to say I knocked it out of the park, putting that chicken in its place with my spin on a family favorite, chicken cacciatore, revamped for a weeknight easy meal and a warm bowl of goodness.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Old School Lasagna with Meat Sauce Gets Us Back in the Saddle

To my faithful readers and food enthusiasts alike, it has been WAY too long since my last posts and for that I owe you all an apology. I took an unexpected hiatus you see. We bought a house and then we headed off to Italy…and then to Africa and then life just seemed to get in the way.  It’s been one hell of a year folks, but I’m back and I’m hungry for more food adventures. Thought I’d kick things off again with an ode to my roots….meat sauce, cheese, pasta…mmmmmmmm oh yeah it’s my unapologetic homemade meat lasagna folks and it is a doozy!

This one is not for the faint of heart. This is a dish that oozes hominess with sweet yet spicy meat sauce smothered over al dente sheets of pasta tucked between layers of creamy, gooey cheese all bubbling over the side of your favorite casserole dish. With mother nature turning her wintery eye on San Francisco this week, I though it apt to share this “hide out on your couch cause it’s too damn cold outside” dish.

I have to give a nod to my girl, Alex Guarnaschelli, whose Old School Lasagna was my inspiration for recreating a childhood favorite.