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Posts Tagged ‘smitten kitchen’

I am always on a lookout for pesto. I love how you can use any type of a nut or seed along with any type of greens to whirl together amazing sauces. Check out a previous post about the different pesto that I have made… Pesto Galore.

While browsing the smitten kitchen site, I came across the pasta with roasted carrots and sunflower seed dressing. It sounded delicious and easy. I asked Julia if she wanted to help me make it and she enthusiastically said yes.

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The dish is easy to make… you add the roasted seeds, a handful of greens, some lemon zest, some garlic, salt, pepper, and some Parmesan cheese in a food processor and whirl it until it comes together. You then place the concoction into a bowl and then you add some olive oil and lemon juice and mix until it becomes a pesto/dressing.

For the carrots, you just trim, peel, and coat them with some olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast them until they are soft and somewhat charred. Once roasted, you cut the carrots any way that you wish (she mentions the size of the pasta that you are using).

Finally, you mix everything together into the boiled pasta.

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I have no idea why, but I did not pay close attention to the title and the actual ingredient list (hmm… distracted much!), but I thought that it required roasted pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds… same thing! I have made the dish 3 times already and not once did I use sunflower seeds. Ha! Nevertheless, I love the dish even with the pumpkin seeds. I will have to use sunflower seeds next time to see how it compares. But this is the beauty of a pesto… any seed/nut works!

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The dressing/pesto was a bit dry so I did add some pasta water to thin it, which made it easier to mix in with the pasta. I tend not use a lot of oil, so I always reserve some pasta water whenever I make pesto.

For the greens, I have used kale, lettuce (Boston, mixed greens, romaine), spinach… whatever I had on hand. All of them worked! Of course each probably added their own flavor, but not enough to not work in the dish.

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The end result after adding the olive oil and lemon juice.

The recipe requires some garlic, but I am not a big fan of raw garlic. On a recent trip to the market, I found some garlic scapes. I love garlic scapes, especially roasted or grilled. Adding the roasted scapes to the pesto was great!

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I have no idea (again!) why I have never roasted whole carrots. Aside from setting off my fire alarm each time I roasted them (my oven must be telling me that it needs a bath), they are so easy to make and no chopping required. They taste like candy! I am never chopping them ever again! I have not tried grilling whole carrots before… I am going to try that next time, in an effort to not set off my fire alarm.

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For the pasta, I have used ravioli (Julia’s favorite!), penne, and farfalle and all worked great! Deb mentions a few other possibilities in the recipe list, but I feel like any pasta that allows the pesto to coat works.

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If you are looking for a quick, easy, and delicious pasta, give this one a try! It even tastes good cold.

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Cooking has been a bit difficult lately, especially on a weeknight. I usually get home from work around 5:00, which means that I only have a few hours to play with Julia since her bedtime is 7:30. It also means that I do not want to spend very much time in the kitchen cooking. So I have been searching for quick recipes… I have found a few good ones.

Soup is a good weeknight meal. It usually makes a bunch, which means that you can have it a couple of times during the week. I have been loving this Leek Soup with Dill Oil, which I found on the 101 Cookbooks site. I have altered it a bit… I do not use any butter, I use an extra potato, I leave it chunky, and I do not add any of the items that she suggests (although they would probably be good to add). I have made it numerous times and it’s definitely a keeper. I usually serve it with a pressed sandwich, leftover pizza, or just a few slices of bread.

Gnocchi is one of my favorite foods. It’s comfort food for me, so it is another dish that I make all the time. I love it with pesto, prosciutto, spinach, goat cheese, and either pumpkin seeds or walnuts. I have also made it with a roasted tomato sauce. To roast the tomatoes, you simply slice a pint of tomatoes and add some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, some of your favorite herbs (I use parsley and oregano), and some capers. The capers are key, so do not omit them. The sauce is delicious, especially on gnocchi! :)

Another recipe that is one of my cooking staples is the Matchstick Pasta recipe, which I also found on the 101 Cookbooks site. This is by far the easiest dish to make! During one of my shopping outings I could not find any pomegranate seeds. I was so upset since I was really craving the dish. I decided to try dried cranberries as a substitute… it worked great!

Pizza is another staple… I find myself making it every week. I usually use Bobolis for the crust, which makes it easy. My favorite toppings are pesto, prosciutto, spinach, and goat cheese. A while ago I found this really delicious pepperoni by Applegate Farms, so I decided to try a peperoni pizza. I used tomato sauce, mozzarella, green peppers, mushrooms, peperoni, and a few thinly sliced onion pieces. It was so good! It is now part of my pizza cycle.

In my recent issue of the Whole Living magazine, I discovered a nice quick dish. You simply sautée some garlic with a few sprinkles of pepper flakes, then you add some chopped kale, and sautée it until wilted and cooked through. Lastly, you add some peas and cook them for a bit. Once done, you serve it with some cooked rice and topped with an over-easy egg. It’s so quick and delicious!

Another dish that I would like to mention is the Peanut Sesame Noodles, which I found on the Smitten Kitchen site. I made this dish recently and I was surprised how easy it was to make. I wondered why I do not make it more often. I did modify it a bit. I do not make the sauce in a food processor. I simply whisk it and it works just as well. I do not use tofu… I have topped it with cooked chicken (usually the rotisserie chicken from Wegmans) and shrimp.

If I am really pressed for time, sandwiches with sweet potato fries are my to go dish. I usually keep a bag of sweet potato fries in the freezer… I love the Alexia sweet potato fries. I also keep veggie burgers and fake chicken patties by Quorn. Chicken patties on a bun are a favorite. :)

I hope that a few of these dishes will become some of your favorite weeknight meals!

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A few weekends ago we were invited to a potluck dinner. I have been meaning to try the Apple Sharlotka recipe from Smitten Kitchen, so I decided to make it for the dinner. The recipe was a hit! Everyone loved it.

The recipe is super simple. The hardest part (and it’s not even that hard) is to chop the apples. The recipe requires 6 apples, so it takes a bit of time to chop them. Other than that, you simply beat the eggs with some sugar until it fluffs and then you add some vanilla and flour. That’s it!! It is the simplest dessert I have ever tried. And is delicious, which is a big plus.

Since the Sharlotka was for the potluck, I only had a small piece, so I decided to make it again. I happened to have some Bosc pears that I picked up from the market, so I decided to use them instead of apples. I only had 4 pears, so the fruit was bit scarce, but it still came out just as good. The pears definitely gave it a different taste… it was sweeter. I even cut the sugar by a ¼ of a cup. Next time, I will cut it even more if I use pears again.

One thing that I would like to mention is that the Sharlotka gets moister and moister every day. It is nice to try a piece once out of the oven (reminiscent of a just-out-of the oven piece of apple pie), but it is just as good the next day and so on.

If you like apples (or pears), definitely give the Sharlotka a try.

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I got inspired to cook again. With my food aversions, including not liking cooking onions and garlic, I have not been too inspired lately. It is kind of difficult not to cook with those two staples.

Kumquats

Kumquats

Joel mentioned that we should stay in and cook a nice dinner and watch a movie on Valentine’s Day. I was sold! I stayed home sick the day before Valentine’s Day and decided to watch the Food Network. One of the shows that I caught was Secrets of a Restaurant Chef. The host was cooking arctic char, which is a fish that is similar to salmon. She was also cooking a salad, which I thought would be really nice. Since I had some salmon that I picked up at the Public Market, I decided to try the recipes for Valentine’s Day. The menu included:

The dishes were simple to prepare and ended up tasting super delicious!

I never thought about wilting lettuce, but it was really nice! Also, the roasted pears, nuts, and cheese added great flavors. I used blue cheese and pecans for Joel, since I cannot eat blue cheese or pecans (they taste horrible still). For my salad, I used goat cheese and almonds. Joel raved about his salad, so I guess it worked. :) My version was just as nice.

Wilted romaine salad

The kumquat sauce was lovely too. It included kumquats, 1/2 a stick of cinnamon, orange marmalade, ginger, sugar, vinegar (I used rice vinegar), thyme, and jalapeno. It was tart and sweet. I was expecting it to be a bit spicy due to the jalapeno, but it was not. I guess I should have left some seeds when chopping it. It was really nice with the seared salmon. I have not tried arctic char before. I’ll have to try it once I can eat any fish again.

Seared salmon with kumquat compote

The cake was delicious, of course! I have made this cake dozens of times and I still have not gotten sick of it. It is always a big hit.

Espresso chiffon cake

The evening was lovely! The dinner was delicious and the movie was nice. We ended up watching “Crazy, Stupid, Love”. I loved it! It was funny and quirky. My kind of a movie and evening!

Joel and I

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As I mentioned before, I love traditions! Since the Rosh Hashanah holiday occurred this past week, I decided to have a small get together to celebrate it.

As usual, I found myself wondering what to make for the main dish. That darn brisket! :) After searching through a few of my recipes, I decided on the following menu:

The dinner was a success! The dishes worked nicely together.

While shopping for the Ratatouille Tart ingredients, I was very happy to find a new Wegmans brand puff pastry dough. The ingredients were simply flour, butter, water, and salt. How great is that!! Once baked, the dough was flaky and buttery. YUM! I really love the Tart. I have made it for a few gatherings and it has always been very successful.

I once again made the Majestic and Moist Honey Cake recipe that I found on smitten kitchen. I made the cake the day before my dinner party and it was great! It was very moist and flavorful. It actually got moister as the days past. So if you are looking for a delicious Fall cake but don’t want to slave in the kitchen the day of your dinner party, you should make this cake! :) (I did omit the required 1 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, and it was plenty sweet.)

Wishing you a sweet new year!

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