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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Portabella Mushrooms With Kale and a Garlic Butter Sauce Over Quinoa

I always find it interesting that the simplest recipes always generate the most questions and requests for the recipe. This doesn't bother me at all. In fact, I'm flattered!

My life and eating habits have revolved a lot around vegetables lately since my palette hasn't really wanted any meat. The inspiration for this dish came from my sister's friend who lives up near Albany. Michele is another food lover, and we send each other text messages of our latest dishes and concoctions. She is also a vegetarian and has opened my eyes up to a lot of combinations I never would have tried if I was eating a hamburger for dinner every night. :-) I should really think about renaming this dish "The Michele" instead. Hmmmmm....

Anyway, this is a quick (and I mean, QUICK) weeknight dinner. The ingredients are very simple, but you are welcome to add your favorites flavors as always.

What you will need:
- a small sauce pot (to boil the quinoa)
- a skillet (for the veggies)
- 1 cup of quinoa
- 2 cups of water
- a small container of sliced portabella mushrooms
- 2 handfuls of baby arugula
- butter
- olive oil
- a half of vidalia onion, sliced thin
- 2-3 cloves minced garlic
- garlic powder, to taste

As you look at the "What you will need" list, you're probably wondering, why aren't there measurements for the butter and olive oil? Allow me to explain. I cooked this recipe to taste, and so should you. I like my veggies very soft and very garlic-y. (That's a real word. Trust me.) I was making a butter sauce with my mushrooms to go over the top of the quinoa, so I ended up using more butter and olive oil. If you only want the flavoring and not a sauce, you might opt for less of those ingredients. You get the idea. Every chef's dish is as good as they make it. As long as you make it, taste it while you're cooking, and enjoy've done a great job. That's how I look at it. :-)

Ok, so get your water boiling in your sauce pan and add the quinoa. Bring it to a boil, then turn it down to a simmer and cover for roughly 15 to 20 minutes. The quinoa should have "opened" and look like small spirals.  While that's going on, heat some butter and olive oil in your skillet. Leave the skillet at about medium to medium low. Add the fresh garlic and garlic powder in the pan as well and stir it around so it all combines. Add your chopped mushrooms and coat them in your butter garlic mixture. Stir them every few minutes until they're nice and tender. Remove them from the heat and onto a place.

In the same pan, add a little more butter, olive oil, and garlic. You're going to repeat the same process with the arugula, but you may not need as much this time. Arugula is extremely delicate and it will start to wilt as soon as it hits the pan. I cooked my arugula until it was just coated and it had just begun to wilt. Also remove the arugula from the heat when it's done.

To plate this meal is also really simple. Do you see a pattern here? Simple. Simple. Simple!  Serve yourself a helping of quinoa. Add a bit of arugula to the top of the quinoa. This is where your vidalia onion slices come in, and they're completely optional. (But they're really tasty, I promise.) Just lay a few slices of onion over the warm arugula. It's a nice surprising crunch later. Last, but not least, add a few scoops of the warm mushrooms with garlic butter sauce over the top. Voila! That's it. Your meal is complete, it's healthy, and it takes no time at all.

I didn't add any salt to this dish, but feel free to add it to your mushrooms or quinoa. I added lots of garlic flavor to my veggies and sauce because I feel quinoa doesn't have a lot of its own flavor. That's my opinion. Either way, I hope you enjoy this delicious and hearty meal. If you try it out, please take a picture and add it to my Facebook food page at: The Delicious Bite Facebook Page  I always love to see what you guys come up with!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Just In Time For Valentines Day...or This Snow Day.

Greetings! I have been wanting to post this recipe for such a long time. Honestly, I have been sitting on it for over a month now. I make it, I eat it, I photograph it, and I tell myself to write it! It never happens. I've told myself over and over again that I've been depriving you guys of the ultimate chocolate decadence. Still, no write up.

So as I sat in my living room last night during the mother of all snow storms, I started to think about comfort food. I wanted a small bite of something sweet and chocolate-y. Yes, chocolate-y is a word. ;-) You're probably thinking I got up and made my delightful recipe again, but I didn't. I made a promise to myself I would share the recipe with you in the morning. Oh...I haven't even told you what the dessert goodness is! Look no further for a fantastic molten chocolate lava cake recipe. This recipe is not for the faint of heart. It will melt in your mouth, solve all the problems in your day, and it will be the ultimate nightcap to your evening. The best part about this entire procedure is that it makes 2 servings...yes, 2 servings!! One for you, and get to decide if you want to share the other one with someone. I shared it with my husband and I got rave reviews. Have a date for Valentine's Day, or do you want to do something special for your significant other? This is a showstopper. It's also a great recipe if you have young kids because the ingredients are so basic, and it really is very easy to put together.  Let's take a look at what you'll need to get started a.s.a.p!!

What you will need:

-          Cooking spray
-          2 small Ramekins or other oven safe baking cups
-          ½ cup semi sweet chocolate chips
-          1 cup powdered sugar
-          3 Tbsp butter, melted
-          3 Tbsp flour
-          1 egg
-          1 egg yolk
-          Powdered sugar, for dusting
-          Baking tray
-          Microwavable bowl or double boiler

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray the inside of your Ramekins with cooking spray and set them on a baking tray. In a microwave safe bowl, or over a double boiler, heat the butter and chocolate together and stir. I don't have a double boiler, so it was really easy to use the microwave. Just be sure to do it in increments so you don't burn the chocolate. Mix until all the chocolate is smooth and incorporated. You can use a whisk to get out any lumps. Who likes lumpy chocolate? Next, stir in your powdered sugar and mix well. The batter will be pretty thick like a brownie batter. Be sure to get all the sugar thoroughly mixed in. Add your eggs one at a time and your batter will begin to loosen up. Last, but not least, add the flour. See how easy that is? It all goes in one bowl. Just follow the steps.

Divide the batter into the Ramekins, and place them on your baking sheet. Bake your Lava Cakes for 12 minutes. If they look too gooey, and don’t look done to you, leave in for another minute or two. They are supposed to be soft and "lava-like" in the center, but they should at least look to have a cake-like crust on top. Allow the cakes to cool for a few minutes. Before removing the cakes, slide a knife around the edges. Invert onto a plate and sprinkle with powdered sugar. The cake will be gooey and velvety smooth on the inside. Try to contain yourself! Enjoy!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Who Wants Breakfast?

I've said this to you guys before, but I really don't care for breakfast. These days I absolutely have to eat something in the morning to avoid feeling sick for the rest of the day. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

The inspiration for these pancakes came from an old high school friend, Jill. She was telling me when she was pregnant with her son, she couldn't stop eating breakfast. Now again, me not being a fan of breakfast, I couldn't even begin to think about what she meant. But since our talk, I have really wanted pancakes!!! Fluffy, buttery, light, and covered with syrup. Is there any other way to eat them? So I pulled out the griddle, grabbed some ingredients, and made myself a very happy girl. You can really thank Jill for this recipe and these pancakes. Without her, I may not have gotten back into the kitchen any time soon. These pancakes couldn't be easier. Try some this weekend, or if you're ambitious, have breakfast for dinner! :-)

What you will need:
- 1 1/2 cups of flour
- 3 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/4 cup 1% milk
- 1 egg
- 3 Tbsp butter, melted
- 1 tsp granulated sugar (optional)
- a pinch of salt

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar together in a bowl. The sugar is completely optional if you don't feel like using it. I like my pancakes to be a tad sweet, and it really compliments the copious amounts of syrup I'll add later. ;-) In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, and butter. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients and mix. 

Heat your griddle, or if you're like me, your pan, to medium-medium low. Cook each pancake till golden brown and puffy. These will sincerely be some of the best pancakes you'll ever have. Garnish with butter and lots of syrup. Add fresh blueberries or strawberries on top if you have them. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Much Needed Update

What do Ginger Ale, Saltine crackers, and plain pasta have in common? Well, those are the foods I've been eating for the past 2+ weeks. Thank you for asking. No, I'm not sick, and no, I don't have the flu. I've grown fond of my following here on The Delicious Bite, so I thought I would share some really exciting news with you all. I'm actually pregnant! Yes, you read that correctly. Can you believe it?! I'm so excited!!

The reason I'm telling you all of this is because I know I haven't posted any recipes or blogs in a while. Believe me, I've been trying. I have lost most of my appetite. Nothing is appealing to me! How can this be?! ME!! Losing my appetite!!! It's unheard of. I feel like I have been neglecting all of you because I can't look at most food, smell it, let alone eat it. I'm told this doesn't last very long, so I will be back in action and cooking up a storm in no time. I do have a chocolate lava cake recipe that I am going to share with you tomorrow or the next day. You can check out pictures of the amazing dessert in the photo album on my Facebook food page.

Once again, thank you for being SO patient. I'll continue to post and interact with you via Facebook. We can still have all out foodie chats, so don't worry about that. And please continue to post your pictures and recipes, and don't be afraid to suggest meals and recipes to me when you have them. :-)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Blue Cheese, Apples, and Maple Bacon

I thought I'd give you two blog posts today since I haven't written anything in about a week. The holidays really take up a lot of your time! Jeez! Now that I'm home again, and I have time to myself to actually kick back, I naturally want to cook something. When I want to relax with some good food, I'm all for simple, yet delicious, bites. I'm happy with small plates at restaurants because then I'm able to try multiple plates of food. Tell me how that's bad? :-) I almost thought about having a wedding full of appetizers instead of a full sit down dinner. Don't we always enjoy the cocktail hour more than the actual meal? Well, I do. There's a great bistro in Ellenville, NY called Aroma Thyme Bistro, and it's worth checking out! The inspiration for this appetizer comes directly from their new menu. They offer a wide variety of local and vegan entrees and there's something for everyone. If you're far from New York, and some of you are, here's a way to recreate this bite just as I did.

What you will need:
- a small block of good Blue Cheese (I used Roquefort)
- 2 slices of bacon, cut into lardons (small pieces or chunks)
- 1 Red Delicious apple, diced
- pure maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp Allspice

Preheat a small pan to medium and cook your bacon pieces until they're nice and crispy. Take the bacon bits out of your pan and let them drain on some paper towels. To your pan, add the diced apples and be sure to coat them in the oil from the bacon. Add a small drizzle of maple syrup over the apples just enough to make them glisten. The syrup is very sweet, so it goes a long way. Once they're cooking nicely, add your Allspice to the pan and mix. The goal here is to get the apples to soften so they have a tender bite. Cook them about 5 minutes.

When the apples are soft, remove them from the pan and add the bacon back to the pan. Coat the bacon with a little more maple syrup and cook for about a minute. This is a very quick process because your bacon is already cooked, and you just want to coat it with maple syrup for flavor.

Chop your blue cheese into chunks or blocks. Make sure you don't get small blue cheese crumbles. It wouldn't be a problem if you got blue cheese crumbles. You could just eat the mistake and then go get more cheese. The right kind. :-) Drizzle the bacon with syrup across the plate first. Layer the apples on top of the bacon syrup. Lastly, place chunks of blue cheese strategically all over the plate. Enjoy with wild abandon! I promise you'll love this. :-)

Poached Eggs with Spinach Hash and Walnuts

Breakfast for you tomorrow? I think so!!
Welcome to the one shining moment in my life when I will tell you...I think I found something I'd eat again for breakfast. Yes, you heard me. It's something other than a bagel and cream cheese that will get me eating breakfast more often. I've said before that I really don't love breakfast unless it's in the form of a soft, chewy bagel loaded with cream cheese. MMMMmmmm. Give me a hot cup of coffee and I'll be your best friend in no time. Thanks to a back issue of Cooking Light magazine, I made my husband extremely happy this morning. Not only is this dish filling and full of flavor, but it's HEALTHY too. You can start feeling good about serving this entree in 3...2...1.

What you will need:
- 10oz box of spinach, thawed and squeezed
- 1 cup of baby bella mushrooms, chopped
- 1 large shallot, sliced
- 3 slices of bacon, cut into small pieces
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried sage
- 1 Tbsp garlic powder
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1/2 cup Fontina cheese, grated
- 1 Tbsp of vegetable oil (reserve this
- a splash of red wine vinegar (optional if you don't have any)
- a small pot of simmering water
- 1 egg per person
- White vinegar for poaching
- Truffle oil (completely optional)

Begin by preheating your skillet and adding the chopped bacon pieces. Cook the bacon until it releases most of its fat and becomes crispy. Remove from the pan using a slotted spoon, and transfer to a plate lined with paper towel. Don't throw out your bacon fat because you will continue to cook your veggies in the same juices. At this time, you can also get a small pot of water simmering on the stove for your poached eggs. Once the bacon is on the paper towel, add the shallots and garlic to your pan. Sautee for about two minutes and then add your sage and thyme. Cook the spices into the shallots and onion for about 1-2 minutes. Add your chopped mushrooms. The reason I use baby bella mushrooms (which is just another name for portabella mushrooms) is because they are hearty and add body to the dish. Almost like meat without, you guessed it, the meat! :-) If at this point you feel like you don't have enough liquid for your veggies, you can add the reserved tablespoon of vegetable oil.

Moving right along here, you're going to sautee your mushrooms with the garlic, shallots, and spices. Cook till the mushrooms are starting to soften, but don't let them get too mushy. Add in your spinach (which you squeezed all the water out of, right?), add some garlic powder, and add the red wine vinegar. I only used a splash of the vinegar because it's a strong flavor and I didn't want my mixture to taste acidic. If you want more, you can add it. Once the vinegar is incorporated and absorbed into the spinach, add your grated cheese. The heat from your veggies will melt the Fontina. I may or may not have added more cheese. I'm not saying how much! ;-) Siiiiiiiigh. There's nothing better. Cheeeeeeeese. :-) Add the walnuts to your spinach mixture and allow the nuts to toast up for just a few minutes. Don't let them burn.

Let's get started on the eggs. I'm not one for poaching eggs all the time, so if you have a better way you like to poach eggs, by all means. This is the simplest way for me to poach an egg. Take a slotted spoon to the pot of simmering water and start stirring in a circle. Essentially what you're doing is creating what looks like a whirlpool. Crack your egg into the swirling water and allow the egg to cook for about 3 minutes. You still want the yolk to be runny and delicious, so don't leave it in there forever. You can repeat this process with the rest of your eggs. Remove the eggs from the water with a slotted spoon and lay them on a plate right over the spinach hash. If you're feeling fancy, drizzle a tiny bit of Truffle oil over the top.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mashed Potatoes with Kale

With the holidays coming up, I seem to always turn to foods which are comforting. Who am I kidding?! I love comfort food any day of the year, I love creamy food, I love dishes with cheese, butter, and anything decadent. It's not just because the holidays are coming up; this is me. I almost had you fooled for a second, didn't I? ;-)

But seriously, I love Christmastime because I think you can do some really great things with your holiday menu. It's the time of year when people like to indulge in great foods and desserts. Why not? When I saw a recipe for mashed potatoes with kale, I couldn't stop thinking about them. Not only will they be perfect with dinner on Christmas, but what's the harm in trying out the recipe BEFORE Christmas? And by before Christmas, what I really mean is last night for dinner. I planned my whole dinner menu around these potatoes. Yes, I was thinking about them THAT much! (I actually sent a few text messages to my friends yesterday telling them about this potato recipe. No, I'm not kidding. You know who you are!!) :-D

I slightly altered this recipe from one by Giada DeLaurentiis. Whether or not you really love kale, or kinda like it, this side dish will have you texting YOUR friends in the middle of the day!

What you will need:
- a few large Russet or baking potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed and peeled, plus 1 extra clove minced for the kale
- 1 package of frozen kale, thawed
- 1 small onion, minced
- 3/4 cup fat free chicken broth, divided (organic, if you can find it)
- 4 Tbsp butter, room temperature (and more if you're feeling saucy that day) ;-)
- 4oz. (half a stick) of Philadelphia cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- olive oil
- salt & pepper

Chop your potatoes into roughly 1 inch cubes. No need to be precise because you're mashing them up anyway. Put all of your potatoes in a pot with enough cold water to cover them. It's very important to cook potatoes in cold water because if you wait for it to boil and then add the potatoes, the outside cooks faster than the inside. That's not going to get you creamy mashed potatoes. To the water, add some salt and your crushed garlic cloves. The garlic goes right into the water and you will discard them later. Allow the spuds to boil for 20 minutes. You'll have no problem mashing after that.

While your potatoes boil, prepare your kale. In a small pan, add your minced onion, a swirl of olive oil and some salt and pepper. Sautee for a few minutes until they're translucent. Add your one minced garlic clove and cook for about 30 seconds. To the pan, add your kale and sautee until the kale is covered with the onions and olive oil and heated all the way through. Add about a half cup of chicken broth to the kale and continue cooking. The kale will start to absorb the flavors of the broth. You're really trying to flavor the veggie as much as possible at this point. I used frozen kale because it is what I had in my freezer. I cook all the time with fresh kale, and it's delicious, but will take you a few minutes longer to cook it down. If you're in a hurry, go frozen. Same nutrients, freshness, and everything else that comes from the fresh version.

Drain your potatoes in a collander, and throw out your garlic pieces. Transfer your potatoes to a bowl and mash with a potato masher. Here's when you can throw everything together and mix, mix, mix! Add the cream cheese, butter, 1/4 cup of broth, Parmesan cheese, kale mixture, and salt and pepper. Mix everything together, and make sure to work the softened cream cheese into those potatoes. It should completely melt into the warm and creamy dish. I always taste my food for seasoning at this point. You can add more or less salt and pepper. (Or add more cheese. Or cream cheese. Who's watching??) ;-) Serve these while they're hot and delicious.

Note: They're even better the next day!! The garlic and onion really sets into the potatoes and they are really, really flavorful. If they seem too thick for you, when you reheat you can add a dash more of broth and some more cheese if you need to. I thought it was fine with a little more broth and some salt. Perfect! Perfect! Perfect!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Spinach, Feta, and Red Pepper Quiche

Easy weeknight meals. We're all looking for them. I love to cook, so there are times when I think I want an easy meal, but I really want to chop things up and get creative in the kitchen. The crock pot is a good option, but I don't always plan ahead enough to get everything I need into the crock pot in a timely manner. I usually think of ideas for dinner while I'm at work. Anyone with me on this? This quiche allows me to fulfill my destiny of wanting to chop things, and then I also get a delicious, healthy meal I can just pop in the oven. So go figure out something fun to do for 55 minutes while your dinner cooks. :-)

What you will need:
- 1 deep dish 9 inch pie crust, thawed
- 4 large eggs
- 8oz of plain Greek yogurt, 0% fat if you can find it
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 medium sized red pepper, diced
- 1 package of frozen spinach, thawed and drained
- 1 1/2 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1 Tbsp of dried basil
- a container of reduced fat Feta cheese
- a drizzle of olive oil
- salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Have your pie crust on the counter to thaw if you haven't done so already. (Don't panic if you forgot. You'll have a perfectly thawed pie crust in 15-20 minutes. No big deal!) Heat a small pan on medium and add your onions and olive oil to the pan. Sautee for about 4-5 minutes until they are soft. Add the red pepper and sautee for another minute or so. All the veggies will cook down in the oven, so you don't have to soften them too much.
 Add the spinach and garlic to the pan. Cook a few minutes more until fragrant. Remove the pan from the stove and allow the mixture to cool for a few minutes.

While your spinach mixture is cooling, put together your egg mix. Into a medium bowl, add the eggs, Greek yogurt, and basil. Using a whisk, mix everything together.
 Add salt and pepper to taste. If your mixture is cool enough, add the spinach and pepper mixture directly to the bowl and stir.
Here's a little trick I like to incorporate into this dish before I put it all together. Sprinkle some feta cheese right on the bottom of the crust. You'll have a creamy, cheese-y layer between your dough and your eggs. It's really tasty! And again, you can never go wrong with more cheese! Haven't you learned that about me yet?? More cheese!!! I like my blend of veggies and Greek yogurt to be thick. When I add everything together it's almost the thinner consistency of a spinach dip. If that's not something you like, you can add a dash of milk or cream to your recipe.
Moving right along. Sprinkle your cheese down and then pour your mishmash of vegetables over the top. If need be, spread the batter to the edges with a spoon.
MMMMmmmmmm...looks good already, doesn't it? Don't eat it yet! You still have to bake it! ;-) Into a preheated 350 degree oven, and you'll have healthy dinner in 55-60 minutes when it's golden brown.

What variations will you use in your quiche? These just happen to be some of my favorites. Post your thoughts and comments below, and as always, enjoy!!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Bacon and Leek Risotto with an Egg

Mpfm pfmmrp drfp! Oh, I'm sorry. I really shouldn't talk with my mouth full, but this risotto is beyond amazing! I can't stop eating it! haha. I love, love, love risotto in all its forms and with any ingredients available to me. My favorite is mushroom risotto made with unique wild mushrooms and drizzled with truffle oil. I have made that entree more times than I can count, and while it is an indulgence, I always try and look for other variations. 

To date, this is one of the tastiest, most flavorful dishes I have ever made. I don't always love what I make, let's be honest. It can taste great, but it doesn't WOW me. Sometimes to me it is just cooking to get dinner on the table. I can tell you I will remember this meal for months to come.

I work just so I can buy wonderful ingredients to cook with. I always try and plan my meals each week so I can go to the grocery store just once. ONCE. That usually never happens. This delightful meal had me running to Adam's at almost 6pm last night for the freshest ingredients. I can't say I really minded. ;-)

This recipe is from a back issue of Bon Appetit Magazine. I followed the recipe as it was written except for the part about the egg. I'm really not a lover of eggs, so I had to make the egg the way I wanted it if this meal was going to work for me. The recipe called for poached eggs on top, so if you decide to make this, that is the egg that is really supposed to go on top. :-) The recipe serves 6 people, so you will have a lot of leftovers depending on who you're cooking for. 

What you will need:
- 6 large eggs
- 5 cups low sodium, low salt chicken broth (I use College Inn)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 6 slices of bacon, diced or cut into small pieces
- 2 cups leeks, sliced thin (about 2 large)
- 1 1/2 cups risotto rice
- 3/4 cup dry white wine
- 3 Tbsp chopped Italian parsley
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
- Additional chopped parsley and Parmesan for garnish

My heart is pounding as I write up this is so GOOD!! haha. Start by pouring your chicken broth into a small pan and bringing it to just below a boil. Turn the broth to a simmer and put a lid on it. When you cook risotto you need to make sure your broth is nice and hot before you add it to the risotto. This is an important step and a good one. 

Next, add the olive oil to your pan and add the bacon. Let the bacon cook down and become all crispy, crunchy and just amazing. Take a nice deep inhale as you're cooking because this is, indeed, one of the best smells EVER. ;-) BACON!! Your house will smell really fragrant for the rest of the night. It's a win/win.

Once the bacon is crisp, remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon, and let it drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Don't drain the bacon fat from the pan! I know, I know, it's not exactly part of your healthy diet, but you can make an exception just this ONE time. Moving along, add your sliced leeks to the pan and sautee. Do this for a few minutes until they soften, and be sure not to burn them. While the leeks cook they will absorb all the flavors of the bacon. Yum, yum, yum. Take about 2 tablespoons of the leeks out of the pan and put them in a bowl to the side. 

Take the risotto rice and add it to your pan of deliciousness which contains your leeks sauteed in bacon drippings. At this point you're toasting the rice, and it really brings out the nutty flavor of the grains. Do this for about a minute. I know it sounds weird, but don't skip this step either. All these little things make a difference.

Add the white wine to the pan and let the grains absorb the liquid. The risotto really begins to cook at this point. Begin adding the broth a ladle at a time. With each ladle full of broth, the rice will start to absorb the liquid and you will see it begin to grow. It will take about 20 minutes for you to add all the broth and for it to absorb. Don't add the next scoop of broth until the rice soaks up the previous spoonful.

The key to a good risotto is to keep stirring. This isn't the kind of dish you can make and walk away from. You have to stand there and keep stirring otherwise it doesn't work. Just keep stirring. (That reminds me of the movie Finding Nemo. "Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming." haha Just keep stirring!) Once the broth is finished, you should see a nice creamy risotto. 

To the finished pot add the butter. Stir the butter briskly into the rice so the starches are really released. Add the bacon, cheese, and parsley until incorporated. 

Last, but certainly not least, is the egg. I'm sure this probably sounds really weird to you, and I'm sure you can't imagine everything coming together, but this really does make sense. As I said earlier, the recipe calls for a poached egg, but I'm really not partial to poached eggs. I cook an over-easy egg on the stove because the yolk will still be runny. That's the consistency you want for the egg. If you like poached eggs, and you know how to make one, by all means! The combination of the egg, and then the egg yolk opening over all the other delicious flavors in the's seriously a stunning meal. 

Go to your kitchen right now and see if you have the ingredients to start making this dish. Sometimes it's worth it to go out and spend a few extra dollars on fresh and delicious ingredients. You'll have plenty of leftovers, and the best part is, you don't have to share if you don't want to. :-) Bon Appetit!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Cavatappi with Butternut Squash, Blue Cheese, and Walnuts

Every year around this time, I become obsessed with butternut squash. Chopped, pureed, in a soup, in the name it, I want it. The best part is that it's always readily available. This year I have made an unbelievable discovery. Well, it's actually very believable, but let me say it allows me to eat so much more squash! Woohoo! Green Giant has a bag of squash which is already cut into little pieces. If you've never tried to cut your own squash, it's a gigantic pain. Some may say otherwise, but I think it's a lot of work and buying the bag is much easier. It's perfect! I get a huge bag at BJ's for $5.00. Can't beat that. 

I found this recipe in a magazine, and it immediately caught my eye because of all the delicious flavors, but it REALLY got me because it is only 300 calories. Yes, 300 calories. 307 to be exact, but I think my revamped version is lighter because I swapped out a few ingredients for lower calorie foods. My recipe last night was using the last of my squash, so I only used about 2 cups of squash for this whole dish. I chop the pieces a bit small so it really goes throughout the whole dish and so I can stretch what I have.

What you will need:
- Jelly roll pan or pie plate
- Olive oil
- 2 cups butternut squash, more or less, cubed
- 2 cups Cavatappi pasta
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 2 Tbsp garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 3/4 cup 1% low-fat milk
- 2 tsp flour
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup toasted walnuts
- 1/2 cup of blue cheese crumbles
- salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In the pie plate, toss your butternut squash, olive oil, brown sugar, and salt & pepper. I like tossing my squash in brown sugar because it caramelizes in the oven and really gives it a sweet, sticky taste. My favorite! Roast your squash in the oven for 20 minutes stirring halfway through. The squash will acquire a shiny coating and be slightly browned. That's when you know they're perfect. Remove them from the oven and set aside to cool.

In a small pan, add a tiny swirl of olive oil and cook the walnuts for about 2 minutes. They burn very easily, so once you start to smell them, they're done. It's that quick. Set those aside to cool as well.

Put a large pot of water on the stove to boil. Be sure to add salt to the water when it begins to bubble, and add your macaroni to the water. While it's cooking, begin your sauce. In a small sauce pot, cook the shallots and garlic until fragrant. Add a 1/4 cup of your milk. In a small bowl, mix together the remaining 1/2 cup of milk and egg yolks with some salt and pepper. Take a few teaspoons of the hot liquid and add it to the cold mixture. This is called tempering. Adding cold liquid quickly to something hot can scramble eggs, and we don't really want that. Once you have tempered the mixture, slowly add it to your sauce pot with the shallots and garlic. Stir to combine and then add your flour. Turn the heat up until it just begins to boil and begin whisking the mixture. Lower the heat and continue whisking while the mixture becomes thick; almost like a cheese sauce. And guess what? There's no cheese in this creamy sauce! It's such a cheat because it makes you feel as if you're being really bad with a decadent dish full of fat. It's so nice to know you're really not. It becomes so thick and velvety, and you can smell all the garlic and shallots. It's incredible how this becomes a sauce. Stir for a few more minutes until it's creamy and the eggs are good and cooked.

Drain the macaroni and add it right back to the pot. Add the squash to the pasta and add the sauce mixture right on top. Toss together to coat every last piece of pasta. You'll want to get them all covered, believe me! :-) Serve in individual bowls and garnish with a sprinkling of nuts and about a tablespoon of blue cheese. This is one creamy pasta dish you don't have to regret! :-)