Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Pasta Carbonara

***I MUST PRE-APOLOGIZE TO YOU ALL FOR THE GHASTLY PICTURES IN THIS RECIPE! I was cooking at Daniel's house and, obviously boys don't have any pretty bowl or plates to cook with. Please forgive me!!!***
You'd think that given my obsession with Italian food, I'd have made a pasta carbonara before. Negative, my friends. I had never made it before last night because I was afraid of eating the raw eggs (I'm not exactly sure why that was my reason given that raw cookie dough is one of the most delicious things in the whole wide world). And, the hot pasta cooks the eggs so I needed to get over my fear. Anyways, I gave Daniel 3 choices for dinner and this was one of them. He (and I) is usually a little skeptical of me trying new recipes out on him because if I fail, then we both get cranky and are out of things to eat. But, I found a great recipe for this on Bethenny Frankel's website (here) and gave it a little twist to make it my own. If you're sick of spaghetti and bolognese (which we are!) then this is always going to be delicious and safe to try! And if you follow this recipe, it is low fat and healthy(ish)!

What you'll need:
Whole wheat spaghetti
3/4 cups skim milk (yes, skim)
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (that's the kind that looks like dust)
2 eggs
2 tbs. earth balance (the soy/vegan butter)
1 package pancetta (Trader Joe's has it!)
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
Kosher salt

1. Bring your pasta water to a boil and add kosher salt (this is your only chance to flavor the actual pasta!).

2. In a large skillet, cook the pancetta on medium heat until all the fat cooks out and it turns brown around the edges. Place it on a paper towel to drain.

3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl mix together the eggs, milk, parmesan, half of the garlic salt and half of the pepper. Set aside.

4. RIGHT when the pasta is done, drain it (reserve some of the pasta water to thin out the sauce if you need to) and add the above mixture to it. Toss immediately.

5. When all of the pasta is evenly coated, toss in the pancetta, garlic salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.

6. If the sauce is too thick, add a little bit of the pasta water at a time to thin it out.
7. Top with some fresh basil (and maybe a little more parmesan) and chow down!!!

enjoy :)

Roasted Caprese Pops

About once a month my two best girlfriends and I try to get together for a girl's date night. We cook up a frenzy, spend hours gossiping and catching up and discussing the latest "Housewives" endeavors (to Lindsay's dismay). Usually, we fill up on the appetizers before we even are able to get to the actual dinner. So this time we decided to just made an appetizer and a salad (I guess we didn't get the memo that they should be small appetizers and just one would have been good enough). Of course, we each made something Italian and with lots of cheese. But hey, who doesn't LOVE cheese?! Lindsay made a BEAUTIFUL pizza with burrata cheese (holy yumminess with that cheese! It's mozzarella and cream and just totally falls apart in your mouth!), Katie made one of the most (if not THE most) delicious salads I've ever had with craisins (which Lindsay doesn't understand), pears, strawberries, feta cheese, and a beautiful baby greens mix, and I made caprese pops. Hopefully you've all seen my original caprese salad recipe (here) with the roasted tomatoes. I changed it a little bit by using grape tomatoes instead of big roma tomatoes. I was also running short on time so I cranked up the temerature in the oven so they roasted quickly. They're not as sweet as the roma tomatoes but because they're so small, they worked very well. I bought some mozzarella cheese balls that were sitting in seasoned olive oil, and put them on toothpicks with some fresh basil. Because the tomatoes were so small, each pop made for the perfect bite! Next time you have only a little bit of time and need to make something that's not too filling but very satisfying, this is a great choice. The tomatoes can be served warm or at room temperature for a refreshing summer dish! P.S. You ABSOLUTELY can make this dish WITHOUT roasting the tomatoes (I just do NOT like raw tomatoes. ICK!).

What you'll need:
1 container grape tomatoes
1 container mozzarella balls (plain or seasoned is fine)
Olive oil & balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt & pepper
Fresh basil leaves
Tooth picks

1. Preheat your oven to 450* (if you're short on time. If you have 2 hours to spare, preheat to 275*).
2. Rinse your tomatoes then slice them in half, length wise, and place them in a large glass bowl.
3. To the bowl, drizzle olive oil, kosher salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar. Give it a good toss and place tomatoes on a baking sheet (no need to grease it because the olive oil will keep the tomatoes from sticking).
4. Cook for 20-30 minutes (if slow roasting at 275*, then cook for 1 1/2-2 hours).
5. Once finished cooking (your nose will know!!!) take them out and let cool for a few minutes so they're easy to handle.

6. Once cooled, place one half on a toothpick, followed by a mozzarella ball, basil leaf, and finally, the top half of the tomato. Repeat until you've used them all up and have enough to satisfy everyone!

enjoy :)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Pineapple-Mango Salsa

If you read my last post, you'll remember that we just had shrimp tacos for dinner. Want to know what made them better, even better than the tequila?! This salsa!!! The fresh fruit and the lime juice... oh my gosh, I could have eaten this by itself for a meal. Hmmmmm... Maybe I will!!! It's incredibly light and will make any boring old Mexican meal feel like something totally new and exciting! The contrast of the sweetness of the fruits and the spicy from the pepper and spices is just perfect. It would also go GREAT with fajitas or a quesadilla! P.S. kids will LOVE this. It's sweet and the colors are gorgeous!

What you'll need:
1 red bell pepper
2 ripe mangos
1 cup chopped pineapple
1/2 chopped red onion
1 ripe avocado
Juice of 1 lime (you can always add more!)
Salt & pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper

1. Cut your pepper (discard of the seeds, they hold all of the heat) into strips then chop it into chunks and place in a glass bowl.
2. Cut your onion into the same size pieces as the pepper and add to the bowl.
3. Cut your mango in half (I am not skilled at cutting fruit. If you aren't either, it's perfectly fine to enlist help!) and then cut into 1/2 inch chunks.
4. Do the exact same thing with your pineapple (I used frozen. Please do NOT use the canned kind. They have WAY too much sugar. Frozen or fresh is the ONLY way to go here!)
5. At the very end, add the chopped avocado to the bowl and top with the lime juice (it'll help the avocado from turning brown).
6. Toss everything in the bowl with the seasonings. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you're ready to serve.

enjoy :)

Tequila Shrimp Tacos

I have to admit, I have never been a really huge fan of shrimp. In fact, I’ve only really eaten it a handful of times before (I don’t count sushi, it’s fried or covered in sauce so that’s totally different). So I knew that going into this meal I really needed to “wow” myself. Well, friends, I can safely say that I did just that! And, according to the empty plates and bowl around me, I think El and Daniel enjoyed it, too J. I stumbled upon this recipe through Pinterest (originally from "Cook Yourself Thin," but I had to make it my own, of course!) about a month ago but never found time to make it. But, I gave El a grocery list and finally had no excuse not to make it. The best part about it is that it’s super low calorie, very tasty, and… flambéed with tequila (If you’re making it for people who don’t drink, you can surely omit the tequila and just add more seasonings)!!! Shrimp cooks rather quickly so this is a very easy meal for anyone to make, especially those of us with limited time! No need for fresh shrimp, the frozen (raw!!!) from the market is just fine! Paired with a DELICIOUS pineapple-mango salsa and some spicy beans, this is a PERFECT (and, of course, easy!!!) weekday meal! P.S. Yes, there is also a vegan version below (you didn't think I'd leave mommy out of this meal, did you!?)
What you'll need:
4 chopped garlic cloves
1/4 cup GOOD tequila (you can leave out, just add more spices and some water for texture)
4 tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. chipotle powder (if you don't have, then you can use anything else that's spicy like chili powder)
Salt & pepper (to taste)
1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce
1/2 cup shredded purple lettuce
1. Heat olive oil is a large skillet over medium heat and sauté garlic for about 1 minute (do NOT let it burn!!!)
2. Add all of the seasonings and let the flavors come together.
3. Add the shrimp and toss everything together, making sure each shrimp is getting seasoned well.
4. IF YOU'RE NOT BOBBY FLAY, SEEK ASSISTANCE HERE!!! PLEASE!!! CAREFULLY add the tequila to the pan and use a LONG match or stick lighter and flambé the tequila!

5. Add some salt and pepper and serve right away!!!
6. Serve with low carb or whole wheat tortillas, pineapple-mango salsa, shredded lettuces, and you're good to go!
enjoy :)
1A. For the vegan version, do everything EXACTLY the same, just substitute the shrimp for vegan chicken or a vegan shrimp!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Shiitake Mushroom and Arugula Pizza

Being the Jewish woman that I am, I tend to think very far ahead of time in terms of meals (sometimes it drives El and Daniel nuts, but how else are their precious tummies going to get fed!? That's what I thought...). Last night, before I had even started making dinner, I was already planning tonight's dinner. It was mommy's choice and she wanted pizza. About a month ago, we bought a pizza stone tonight was it's maiden voyage! I was really nervous but it ended out PERFECTLY!!!!!!!!!!!! Of course you can make pizza any way that you'd like it (with REAL cheese and REAL meat!), but this pizza was simple yet delicious. Shiitake mushrooms and arugula made it light yet delicious.
P.S. For those of you who have not had vegan cheese before, I suggest you try daiya on your next pizza. It melts so perfectly but stays ooozzzyyyy and gooey and it's just divine!

What you'll need:
1 whole wheat pizza dough (***put the dough in a large glass bowl with some olive oil and cover it with a damp towel for about an hour to let the dough rise***)
1 lb. shiitake mushrooms and crimini mushrooms sliced (1 lb. total!)
1 cup pizza sauce
2 cups arugula
Vegan pepperoni (or regular pepperoni for you carnivores)
1 bag mozzarella style daiya (or regular mozzarella)
Olive oil & lemon juice
Flour (for rolling out the dough)

1. Preheat your oven to whatever the package of dough says to do (if you're using a stone, follow the directions on the box).
2. Flour a large wooden cutting board and roll out your pizza dough as big as you can (if you're using a stone, now is the time to transfer the dough to the hot stone).

3. Spoon the sauce all over the dough, add some garlic powder, and sprinkle the cheese (leave about 1/2 inch around for the crust).

4. Layer the pepperoni on top of the cheese followed by the sliced mushrooms.

5. Cook the pizza in the oven until the crust gets nice and crunchy and brown (remember, follow the directions on your package of dough!)

6. While the pizza is cooking, whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice and toss with the arugula.
7. Remove the pizza, let it cool for a minute or two, slice it, then top with the arugula!


enjoy :)

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Steak Sandwiches

As usual, we had our family dinner in front of the TV tonight continuing with our Sunday night tradition. I was in the mood for chili or something else comforting because it was so cold today. But I was very pleasantly surprised when El told me we would be having steak sandwiches (marinated in Soy Vay) on baguettes. Ok, I could practically DRINK the Soy Vay. If you have never tried it, I COMMAND YOU TO DO SO RIGHT NOW!!! It's the most delicious marinade ever! It's soy and garlic and AHHH so good! The perfect cut of meat for this sandwich is top sirloin (Costco has a GREAT selection). It is tender and slices beautifully for these sandwiches. To keep the sandwich on the lighter side, we topped it with a simple arugula salad tossed in olive oil and lemon juice, some garlic aioli and dijon mustard. This was SUCH an easy meal and, ladies, if you want to impress your man (or men, if you want to impress your ladies), this is a PERFECT meal to try!!!

What you'll need:
2 lbs. top sirloin
2 cups Soy Vay (here it is)
Olive oil & lemon juice (for the arugula), about 2-3 tbs. of each)
1 cup balsamic glazed caramelized onions (we used the frozen kind from Trader Joe's)
French baguette
Condiments: garlic aioli, dijon mustard, etc...

1. Marinade your meat for up to a day ahead of time in the Soy Vay. Let it sit at room temperature for about an hour before grilling. Grill for about 5 minutes per side (for medium rare). FORK TEST THE MEAT TO MAKE SURE IT'S COOKED!!! Let rest.

2. Slice the baguettes on a diagonal and then down the middle about 3/4 the way so it stays closed (it'll hold the meat and arugula in place). Dress with your favorite condiments.
 3. Let the meat rest for about 10-20 minutes (you don't want the sandwich to be hot!) then slice it as thinly as you can get it.
3. Whisk together the olive oil and the lemon juice to make the dressing for the arugula. 

4. Begin assembling your sandwich with the meat on the bottom half of the baguette.
5. Toss the arugula and dressing together and plop on to the side of the baguette with the condiments (it'll stick better and you won't lose it all over your plate). Next, add the caramelized onions.
6. If you want to add some cheese, brie would be delightful! Thinly slice it and you're ready to go!

enjoy :)