Thursday, April 21, 2011

Leisterlicious- this ones for you...

So, over a year ago, I promised my friend Alyssa that I would give her our pasta with white bean sauce recipe.  I am just now getting that checked off my to do list.  This comes originally from a cookbook Scott and I were given when we got married called the "Family Circle Cookbook, New Tastes for New Times."  It's now probably more like old tastes for past times, but we still go to that cookbook an awful lot and have found lots of winners.    This particular pasta we've made the most often, and it is always a hit.  It's also quick, and could be made lowfat (if you use less cheese)   Hope that you have a chance to try it and love it as much as we do.

Ingredients:   1/2 box or a little more of pasta-- 
             (we prefer penne or farfalle, but there are lots of good choices, pick your favorite kind.)
White Bean Sauce Ingredients: 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
2 cloves of garlic thinly sliced
1 cup of baby carrots, thinly sliced
1 or 16 oz. can of white beans 
1 - 11/2 Cups of Chicken Broth
1 teaspoon leaf sage crumbled 
     (we've also used ground sage in a pinch)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2-4 Tablespoons of lemon juice (we love lemon, so we add extra)
1/2- 1 Cup of grated Parmesan (the original calls for 1/2 cup - we use a whole cup)
3 Tablespoons chopped parsley
cook pasta according to package directions.
Meanwhile: heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat... add garlic and cook for about a minute (don't let it burn!) Add carrots- cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add beans, broth, sage and salt-- cook 5 minutes mashing about 1/4-1/3 of the beans against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon (this is what makes the sauce creamy- but without using cream or milk!)
Add lemon juice and cook 2 minutes.  Add Parmesan and parsley-- drain pasta and add to skillet-- toss with sauce.  so so good!!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Hiya cupcake!

Boxed cake mix isn't my thing. I'm never impressed. But sometimes it is what I have on hand and have time for.  A trick to improve them:  Throw in an appropriate flavored jello pudding and an extra egg. It makes the cake lighter and moister.
These are made from a french vanilla cake mix with a box of french vanilla pudding thrown in and the aforementioned extra egg.
What this project was really about today was to have something to put icing on. I  just was in the mood for frosting.  So I tried a version of a quick vanilla buttercream frosting.  It turned out great and really was super easy.

 3 cups confectioners sugar
1 cup room temperature butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or another extract in a flavor you love)
1-2 Tablespoons of whipping cream

On low- mix together sugar and butter.  Once it's blended, increase the speed to medium and beat for 2-3 minutes.  Then add the extract and cream and beat for another minute until it's the consistency you like.
For the pink ones shown here - i added Marichino cherry juice for color.. it added a hint of flavor, but not enough to matter. A cherry liqueur would have worked better but this is what we had.

The best part = watching my kids faces when they licked the beaters or the icing off the cake. Total fun.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Drive through annoyances...

Dear Taco bell drive through employees,
Just to be clear about our interactions:
When I pull up and you ask me "How are you today?"
 I assume you are asking me how I am.  And so, I will tell you how I am, and then, because you seem to be trying to start some kind of relationship, I will ask you "and how are you?"
 This is called "politeness" or an even bigger word "etiquette."  FYI.
If after I ask "and how are you?" you say nothing
really nothing- not a sound--then I have no idea what is supposed to happen next.
Is our relationship over?  Do you want met to order?  Are you distracted? Are you high and having a party back there?  Did the machine I am talking to and staring at desperately  break?  I don't know.  I just am left wondering- what the hell is happening here?
so let me ask are you familiar with the term "rudeness"? I think you are.
 I'd like to suggest that next time- you just cut to the chase.  Let's skip this awkward non-relationship forming and ridiculous chitchat that has no purpose.  let's acknowledge that you and i are not friends, we haven't met and most likely you do not care about how I am doing.  I am sure you are not doing well, overall, because you are at work, people are mean, and your job often sucks.
so let me suggest that you start by saying:   "May I take your order" or really-- just say ANYTHING THAT IS HELPFUL!!!  and i will respond by placing my order for some really cheap yet crappy food.
If you do not do this next time (and I assume you won't) I will assume that our current system is not working and I will take this as a final sign from God that i should not be eating at Taco bell.  Sad for both of us really.  Cheap, crappy, but delicious.  Sad to lose you.
All of that said, I do hope that you are well and that this might help both of us get through our day quickly and easily with less relational mess.
Sincerely and hopefully yours,

PS_ Chic-fil-a employees who read this-- just know that when I say "thank you" , and you say "my pleasure"- i also know it is not usually a pleasure and your forced to say that, but that is a system I can live with.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Easier Than You'd Think

My mom has a lot of great stories about her time in nurses training school.  She was there in the late (very late) 1950's and it was definitely a different era.  From what I can tell, women smoked and drank a lot then, had a really good time with their girlfriends and broke a lot of rules... oh wait- that may not be so different.

Well, one thing that was different is that a required part of her nurse training included a "nutrition" course.  I put that in quotes because they had a hellofa different view of what "nutrition" meant.  Mom did not excel at the "Nutrition" course because it was really a basic cooking course that included some odd skill-sets and my mom would rather be out swimming, camping or partying with her girlfriends than trapped behind a stove.  I would have LOVED this part of her training.
It turns out -- they taught her how to make souffles.  Seriously.  Souffles were essential to good nursing (remind me some time to tell you her story of how they cooked a whole chicken in an autoclave-- yep-- that's the machine they used to sterilize surgical tools, and blow up their dinners.  that's right. she blew up a chicken)
Anyhow- back to the souffle:

 Are souffles great nutrition??  Probably not.
But, because of this experience, when I decided I wanted to make souffles, but was concerned they'd be too challenging, my mom was quick to tell me that they would NOT be a problem for me.  She thought it was completely within my cooking abilities.
 But I had been led to believe from a variety of 1970's & 80's sitcoms and movies that souffles were very complicated and would "fall" really easily.
Well, television has told me many lies, but this is among the biggest and my mother was right.
A souffle is easier than you'd think.
I made these chocolate ones for Scott's Birthday last week- and they were truly the most delicious dessert I've ever made.  So tasty, light, fantastic texture, truly chocolaty flavor-- this is my new favorite thing.
delicious beyond measure

I am not a huge fan of Emeril, but i love his Chocolate Souffles:


  • 3 teaspoons butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup Grand Marnier


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter 6 individual ramekins. Sprinkle each ramekin with 1 teaspoon sugar. In a large metal bowl, set over a pot of simmering water, melt the chocolate, whisking it occasionally. Remove the bowl from the heat. In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites with 1/4 cup of the sugar until stiff and glossy. Whisk the egg yolks into the chocolate one at a time, add the Grand Marnier, and whisk in the remaining sugar. Fold in the egg whites and blend until smooth. Pour the chocolate mixture into the prepared ramekins. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and bake until they are puffed and somewhat firm, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve with the chocolate sauce listed below--and powdered sugar if you want it...

Chocolate Sauce:
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 pound semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Combine the half-and-half and butter in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Heat the mixture until a thin paper-like skin appears on the top. Do not boil. Add the chocolate and vanilla and stir until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool or don't-- just dump it on whatever you love... it's soooo good!!!

Anyhow- hope you get a chance to make these- they are wonderful, and let me repeat,  EASY!