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Fast Fancy Finals Food: Pesto Pasta Salad

Every year as finals roll around I find that I have to sacrifice delicious food to get my study on! So, I have developed some fast but fancy finals food that takes less time but I still love eating! This pesto pasta salad tastes like summer- which is just the delicious motivation I needed to get through finals.

Ingredients:

  • Pasta
  • Pesto
  • Craisins
  • Goat Cheese, Mozzarella, Parmesan

Directions:

Pick a pasta, and make it as directed. Strain pasta and then put it back in the pot. Mix in pesto (mine defrosted from when I made it last summer- ingredients below), a handful of craisins, crumbled goat cheese, and mozzarella. Stir pasta until cheese is melted, and pour it in the bowl (sprinkle parmesan to taste).

Pesto Ingredients:

  • 4 cups fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 2-4 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
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Enjoy- And Good luck with finals!!

Sautéed Zucchini?

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You don’t like zucchini? I didn’t either. But zucchini is one of those vegetables that you can do anything with and you can find something that will make you happy.

IMG_7126     One of the things you can do is add herbs to help the taste. I tried frying this zucchini with…wait for it…mint! And it tasted great!

IMG_7127     All you need is some mint leaves, salt and pepper to taste. This is a great and quick addition to any pasta dinner that needs some more life/nutrients. Make a lot in one go and leave the rest in the fridge for the week.

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Mint Zucchini

1 large zucchini

5 mint leaves

Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Pour a thin layer of olive oil and mint leaves into a large skillet and heat on medium. While this heats up, chop up the zucchini into thin round slices. When the oil is hot, add in the zucchini. Add salt and pepper to your preference. Check the zucchini bottoms for browning, and flip to get the other sides cooked. Serve warm. If you want, you can leave of the mint.

Just because you’re in college doesn’t mean you have to eat poorly! Keep the essentials of the food pyramid in your diet whenever you can – and if zucchini doesn’t do it for you, try broccoli or cauliflower instead.

And in the Morning… “We’re Making Waffles!”

This past week Carmen and I met at my parents’ house in Massachusetts and offered to make brunch for my parents and their neighbor. So we pulled out my mom’s old waffle iron and played with this Belgium Waffle recipe we found at “Taste Of Home.” After figuring out the finesse of the waffle iron, we made some very tasty waffles with a bunch of different toppings (fresh fruit, chocolate chips, homemade raspberry jam whipped cream, and cookie butter). Check out the recipes! (photos by the wonderful Carmen)

Waffle Ingredients (we doubled the recipe):

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 eggs, separated 
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
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Directions:

1) In a bowl, combine flour, sugar and baking powder. In another bowl, lightly beat egg yolks. Add milk, butter and vanilla; mix well. Stir into dry ingredients just until combined. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; fold into batter.
2) Bake in a preheated waffle iron according to manufacturer’s directions until golden brown. Serve with strawberries or syrup. Yields about 10 waffles (about 4-1/2 inches).

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Homemade raspberry jam whipped cream ingredients:

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons (ish) of raspberry jam (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon of confectioners sugar (to taste)

Directions:

Mix sugar and jam into the whipping cream. Once it is thoroughly mixed, whip the cream until it reaches stiff peaks. I got this idea from a friend of mine and it is delicious; the jam makes a great flavor but the whipped cream isn’t too sweet!

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Lemon Ricotta Poundcake

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Hey everyone!

I finally just got a bread pan (I know, what took me so long??). I’d had this recipe for lemon ricotta poundcake laying around and had to try it. Lemon ricotta pancakes are amazing so the poundcake had to be too right??

This recipe is super simple and can be made for either 1 regular sized bread pans, or three mini ones.

Here’s what you’ll need:

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more to grease the baking pan
1 1/2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
zest of 1 to 2 lemons
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (less than 1 lemon, usually)

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Next get a medium bowl, and mix together your flour, salt, and baking powder. Set that aside for now. With a mixer, cream the butter with the sugar and ricotta cheese. Mix for about 3 minutes or so. Next, beat in the three eggs one at a time.

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Once that’s mixed in well, add in your lemon zest, vanilla, and lemon juice.

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Once that’s done, slowly mix in your dry ingredients.

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Pour the batter into your bread pan(s) and bake for 50-60 minutes.

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Let it cool and enjoy!

The Long Wait for Overnight Cinnamon Buns

Yeast. I think as a baker, there’s this unspoken rule to use it at least once. In all honesty, I hate using yeast: it’s temperamental, it’s high-maintenance and worst of all, it’s slow. If I wanted something quick and delicious, I would make something cinnamon roll pancakes (Carmen posted a recipe a couple of weeks back)… not wait hours for bread to rise. But, without using it, you lose access to all different kinds of bread. So, as this is crossing my mind, I’m trying to think of what to make. How can I ease myself into doing this? Why not do something overnight? I’ll be sleeping anyway, so why not capitalize on that time.

As a first attempt in the world of yeast breads, I made some overnight cinnamon rolls.

The recipe follows:

For 6 rolls:

Dough:

1/2 cup of warm milk (around 100ºF)

1/2 cup sugar

1 package (1 and 1/4 tsp) yeast

1/4 cup melted butter

1 egg

pinch of salt

2 cups all purpose flour

Filling:

1/2 cup of softened butter

1/4 cup of sugar

1 tbsp cinnamon

*Note: feel free to adjust the ratios for the cinnamon sugar

Steps:

Dissolve the sugar and yeast in the warm milk and wait for it to become foamy (~5-10 minutes)

Add the melted butter, egg, and salt and mix until well combined

Slowly incorporate the flour and knead until the dough is smooth (either by hand or with a stand mixer)

Place the dough somewhere warm covered with a towel until the dough has doubled in size

Once doubled, knock the air out and roll into a rectangle

Spread the softened butter and sprinkle cinnamon sugar (adjust for how sweet you want these to be)

Roll and then cut into 6-7 pieces

Place into a greased dish

This is what my rolls looked like:

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Let this sit in the refrigerator overnight and let it rise 1-2 hours the next morning.

Next morning:

Preheat the oven to 375ºF

After the second rise, bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown

They should look something like this:

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For a first attempt, it was alright. My housemates liked them, but I think they could definitely use a little more oomph. One key thing that I’ve learned from this is to use fresh yeast and try to maintain the temperature around 100ºF consistently during the non-overnight rises. My dough might also have been too dry, so using flour sparingly is also key. But overall, not too bad.

Good luck, and hopefully, your rolls turn out better than mine. If you have suggestions, that would also be great.

Pasta Al Forno with Pumpkin and Pancetta

CBC’s founder Carmen recently introduced me to this awesome website: Food 52. This resulted in HOURS of time spent browsing all the delicious recipes, and one fateful evening, (with the help of my friend Wei En) I decided to make Food 52’s recipe for “Pasta Al Forno with Pumpkin and Pancetta”

The recipe was cheesy and delicious, and was essentially a very fancy version of my favorite food: Mac and Cheese.

From the delicious aroma of frying pancetta, to the fabulous cheese and cream covered pasta, to the TASTY final product, this recipe was a hit!

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I couldn’t resist making a couple of changes to the recipe, so here is food 52’s version, with my edits.

Ingredients:

  • 13-4 pound cheese pumpkin or butternut squash 
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1/4pound pancetta, diced
  • 1pound conchiglie rigate (shells)
  • 2cups heavy cream
  • 1/4pound shredded fresh mozzarella
  • 1/2cup grated Pecorino Romano
  • 1/2cup fontina, coarsely grated
  • 1/4cup crumbled gorgonzola (I substituted gorgonzola for Goat Cheese) 
  • tablespoons ricotta
  • teaspoons chopped thyme leaves (I used a tablespoon of dried thyme and a tablespoon of dried rosemary)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Halve the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds. Cut the pumpkin into 8 equal wedges and arrange on two baking sheets lined with foil. Sprinkle the wedges with salt and pepper and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Bake for about an hour, until the pumpkin is caramelized and tender when pierced with a sharp knife. Remove from the oven and let cool until you can handle the pumpkin without burning yourself. (I skipped this step and used the puree that I had frozen from when I had pumpkins in the fall- [check out my process here] though I see no reason why you couldn’t used canned pumpkin as long as it was unsweetened). 
  2. In the meantime, crisp the pancetta in a medium saucepan over medium heat, about 10 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels, discarding the fat. (It only took me about 6 minutes, keep an eye on the Pancetta as it is easily burned!)
  3. Turn the oven up to 500 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta for exactly 5 minutes, drain and run cool water over it for about 10 seconds. Set aside in the colander.
  4. Scoop enough of the cooked pumpkin from the rind to make 2 cups. Combine this with the cream in a blender and puree just until smooth (be careful not to over blend, or you’ll whip the cream). (I mixed by hand and it worked just fine!) Scoop out some more of the pumpkin (you probably won’t need the whole thing) and chop roughly to make about a cup and a half. (I didn’t have enough pumpkin to do this step, and although the texture was a little different it turned out fine) 
  5. Combine the pumpkin and cream, puree with the cheeses, salt, thyme and pancetta in a large bowl and stir gently to combine. Add the pasta and the chopped pumpkin and fold together just until combined.(I also added salt and pepper at this point, as well as some extra seasonings: more thyme, rosemary, garlic, basil etc.)
  6. Spread the pasta evenly in a casserole or baking dish. Bake uncovered for 7 to 10 minutes, until the top is browned and the bottom layer of pasta is just tender.

Snickerdoodle Pie

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So I’ve had a pie crust sitting in my fridge for God knows how long, so I finally decided to put it to use, with SNICKERDOODLE PIE. Yes, you read that right. A cookie pie. Thank you Pinterest for this recipe.

This recipe is nice and simple and so delicious. I happen to love anything with cinnamon in it though. Apparently so does my room mate. Hey Jess 🙂

This is definitely best slightlyyy under-baked and eaten warm. Just like a cookie!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 single unbaked pie crust
  • 1 tablespoon raw or coarse sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons butter, melted
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour

First, you’ll want to preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Roll out your pie crust in a 9 inch pie dish.

Combine the coarse sugar and a 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon in a small bowl. Brush the pie crust with 2 teaspoons of melted butter, then sprinkle a teaspoon of the cinnamon and sugar mixture over that. Set this aside for later.

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Next, you’re going to make the syrup. YUM. Melt 1/4 cup of butter in a saucepan with your brown sugar, water, corn syrup, and the other 3/4 teaspoon of cinnamon. Bring it up to a boil, stir it to dissolve the sugar, keep it boiling for 2 minutes, then remove it from the heat and stir in 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla. Set this aside. (If you wait too long and a film forms on your syrup, you can just heat it a bit again and stir it.)

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Now you’re going to make your batter. In a mixing bowl, beat 1/4 cup of softened butter for about 30 seconds. Beat in your granulated sugar, powdered sugar, salt, baking powder, and cream of tartar. Once that is mixed well, beat in your egg and the 1 teaspoon of vanilla.

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Slowly mix in the milk, only beating until it is combined. Do the same for the flour.

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Pour the batter into the pie crust, and pour the syrup over the top of it. Sprinkle the rest of your cinnamon and sugar mixture over the top.

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Cover the edges of the pie crust with tin foil and bake it at 350 degrees for about 22-25 minutes.IMG_8040

Take the pie out, remove the foil, and continue to bake it for about 20 more minutes. If the center is still jiggly after that, give it a bit more time. The top of the pie should be golden and puffy. Try the toothpick test with it to make sure it’s ok.

Once it’s done, let it cool a bit (but still try to eat it warm!). This pie would be great with some vanilla ice cream on the side.

Enjoy!