Fried Pasta

IMG_3625Do you ever have leftover pasta that you don’t know what to do with?  If you reheat it and sauce it, the result is a mushy, congealed mess.  One great solution is to fry it with a bit of olive oil.  It becomes crunchy and golden on the outside but tender inside.  Top it with your favorite sauce or just some grated parmesan.  It’s so good you might start making leftover pasta on purpose!

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Quick Weeknight Dinner: Rotisserie Chicken with Arugula and Blood Orange Salad

IMG_2858You don’t have time to make dinner?  Before you order a order a pizza, consider a simple meal like this.  Rotisserie chicken prepared by someone else with perhaps the easiest salad ever.  10 minutes tops.  The salad is simply arugula and blood oranges with a bit of lemon juice and olive oil.  Cut up the chicken, pull out the spicy dijon mustard, break off a chunk of a baguette and voila, dinner is served.

If you have time to wait but no time to cook, you could also roast your own chicken.  Really, it is the easiest thing in the world!  Take a whole chicken, rinse it, pat it dry (very important if you want crispy skin!), and add salt and pepper and maybe a lemon on the inside.  Pop it in the oven, wait an hour-ish, let it rest 10 minutes.  Simple and Delicious.

Of course, sometimes pizza is good too.

Egg Salad-ish

IMG_2191I’m all about the quick meals these days.  Between long days at school, homework to come home to, and a kitchen that currently has only one (yes, one) cooking utensil, I can’t seem to muster more than that.  Yet I still manage to eat healthy, tasty food.  This was a last minute, late-night improve and I have to say it came out well.  I served it with one of those famous French baguettes with some cheese and butter.  Bon appétit!

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Sunday Supper: Steak with Peppers and Onions in a Balsamic Reduction, Cauliflower Tart, and an Arugula and Fennel Salad

I love Sundays spent slowly cooking as you go about your day.  A little bit of cooking, a little bit of housework, back and forth in a lazy, roundabout sort of way.  This Sunday I really felt like fall foods and this menu matched my cravings.

This cauliflower tart was from a recipe that I’ve been eying on Epicurious.  Creamy and cheesy with caramelized onions and roasted cauliflower, it sounded perfect.  The inside ended up being exactly what I wanted but I didn’t love the crust.  The recipe called for a store-bought pie crust which was too sweet for an already sweet interior.  Next time I will make my own crust.  I’m thinking a savory rosemary crust would be delicious.

The salad was made by my dear friend Teagen who happens to be the salad expert (more about her in another post) and was composed of arugula, fennel, roast carrots, avocado, and scallions.  It tasted just like fall and the bitterness of the arugula was a nice contrast to the creaminess of the cauliflower tart.

I  took a couple of thick cut New York strip steaks out of the freezer.  We get them from our local meat CSA and are always excited when steaks are included.  At the farmer’s market, I picked up a couple of end-of-the-season peppers and onions.  Add to that a balsamic reduction (man, does that stink when you cook it!) and we had a simple and delicious main dish.

Steak with Peppers, Onions, and a Balsamic Reduction

Thick New York Strip Steaks

Sweet Peppers (I used red and yellow), Sliced

Red Onion, Sliced

Balsamic Vinegar (because you are making a reduction you do not need a really good bottle here.  I bought a $6 bottle of organic balsamic)

1.  Preheat oven to 400.

2.  Liberally salt and pepper steaks.  Heat a small amount of olive oil in a sauce pan over medium-high.  Add steaks and brown on each side.  Place on plate to the side.

3.  Add onion to same pan that you cooked the steaks in and cook until translucent, 3-4 minutes.

4.  Add peppers and cook with onions until soft.

5.  Add the steaks back to the pan and place in the oven until cooked until desired doneness.  If your steaks are not particularly thick and they have already cooked through you can skip this step.

6.  Place balsamic in a separate saucepan.  Bring to boil and simmer until reduced to about a 1/4 of the original amount and thick. This can be done ahead of time and keeps for several weeks.

7.  Rest steaks on cutting board for 5 minutes.  Thinly slice and serve in a dish with the peppers and onions and the balsamic drizzled on top.

Arugula and Fennel Salad with Roast Carrots

Arugula

Fennel

Baby Carrots*

Scallions

Avocado

Cumin

Lemon Vinaigrette**

1.  Preheat oven to 400.  Thoroughly wash and dry baby carrots.  Toss with olive oil and a sprinkling of cumin and place in pan in the oven.  Roast until soft and browned, stirring occasionally.

2.  Place arugula in salad bowl.  Shave fennel with a mandoline or slice very thing with a knife.  Add to arugula.
3.  Chop avocado and scallions and add to salad.

4.  Cut carrots into bite-sized pieces and add to salad.

5.  Lightly dress with vinaigrette.

*At the grocery store, the carrots referred to as baby carrots are often those small peeled carrot sticks.  Calling these baby carrots is a misnomer since these are actually normal carrots that have been peeled and cut into those weird cylindrical shapes.  What I am referring to in this post are actually baby carrots – the kind that you get at the farmers market that are small and still have their greens attached.  These are great because you don’t need to peel them before placing them in the oven.  If you use regular carrots, you will want to peel them and cut them into smaller pieces.

**Teagen made a dressing of her own concoction.  A simple lemon vinaigrette would also be lovely.  I like to make mine with lemon juice, a very small amount of white wine vinegar, olive oil, a bit of dijon and a smidge of maple syrup.  Not very exact measurements but it depends on your ingredients and taste.

Crab Cakes with Fennel and Arugula Salad and Homemade Mayonnaise

Okay, so I cheated a bit with this dish.  I bought pre-made crab cakes.  I know, I know.  BUT my farmer’s market has a seafood stand that makes amazing crab cakes and I wanted something fast so…  Anyways, to make up for it, I made homemade mayonnaise.

I have always been a bit intimidate by homemade mayonnaise.  Perhaps it’s the propensity to separate or the need for all that whisking.  Whatever the reason, this time I decided to tackle my fears.  Homemade mayo requires patience and a whole lot of whisking.  So much whisking that my elbow was sore for a good hour after.  However,  I am so glad I mastered mayo because it really, truly amazing and bears no relation to the stuff that comes out of a jar.

Crab Cakes with Fennel and Arugula Salad and Homemade Mayonnaise

Crab Cakes

Arugula

Fennel

Tomatoes (I used early girls)

Homemade mayonnaise*

Lemon

1.  Place ‘bed’ of arugula on each plate.  Cut tomatoes and place around arugula.

2.  Thinly slice fennel using a mandoline or a knife if you don’t have one.  Place on top of arugula.

3.  Mix some of the mayo with lemon juice to taste.  This is the ‘dressing’.  Drizzle over top of arugula.

4.  Fry crab cakes in a small amount of olive oil until golden and heated through. Place on top of arugula and add a scoop of mayo to each crab cake.

*I used this recipe from the NY Times and made it with olive oil: http://www.nytimes.com/recipes/12459/Mayonnaise.html

An easy weeknight dinner…

This is one of my favorite meals when I want something filling but simple.  It’s like an adult version of a stuffed, baked potato.  Comforting and warm, it’s still light and healthy enough that I feel good eating it.

It’s simple.  Dress a bed of arugula with lemon juice and olive oil.  Add a baked potato (I live to cover mine in a bit of olive oil and sea salt before baking so the skin is flavorful), a handful of shredded gruyère, green onions and/or chives, tomatoes, a spoonful of sour cream and salt and pepper to taste.  Comfort in a bowl.

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