Well, Folks - it's been a great year! I look forward to keep sharing delicious and (sometimes) healthy recipes with you in the years to come. Until then - here are my most pinned recipes of 2013!
#1 - This healthy version of Shepard's Pie with Sweet Potato and Turkey. I find this funny because the photos from this post are so bad!
#2 - Homemade Meat Ravioli - yum!
#3 - Homemade Spinach Ravioli. The raviolis are popular!
I've written about my favorite lasagna recipe before, but it was years ago and I think it needs to be revisited - especially now that my neighbors confirm it is the best lasagna they have ever had.
The cast of characters is pretty simple, but I think what makes this lasagna stand out is the use of veal and white wine. It's a bit different from the standard, but that's what makes it special.
I really like for my veg to be finely diced for this ragu, so that there aren't any big chunks. But I did not make those perfect cuts on my own - I use a veggie chopper. It's fast and it makes everything uniform.
The other thing that makes this ragu great is that it is simmered for up to 5 hours. That low and slow cooking brings out all the flavor. I highly recommend using San Marzano tomatoes in this, they are just the best.
Americans might be used to the type of lasagna with ricotta and mozzarella, which is fine but not very authentic. This version has a creamy bechamel (aka my favorite food) and tons of Parmesan, and it is just so dreamy.
I really went all out for this batch and made my own lasagna noodles for the first time. It is certainly not necessary to do that, but I do think it took it up one final step to perfection. I did have several issues while doing this, though. The learning curve is pretty steep. Don't try to be clever when you roll out your own pasta and leave the sheets really long - trust me, it makes them almost impossible to cook. Now I know why the store-bought ones are short. I'm also going to edit the pasta dough recipe in the original post because it was awful and really soft and hard to work with.
Anyway, go make the best lasagna of your life. You will thank me. Recipe here.
I am trying to eliminate, or at least greatly reduce, my carb intake. But, man, I just really love pasta. If anybody else is struggling with this, and I'm sure there are many, this is a really great recipe. I know what you're thinking - it's not the same - and you're right, it's not. But I don't think you will miss the pasta when you discover how much flavor and texture these have!
Mmmm - veggies. I got my mandoline out, thinking it would make this a breeze, but it turns out that my particular one really sucks at using the whole length of the vegetable. So I switched to this bad boy and it worked brilliantly.
The colors! Now I really like using spaghetti squash if I have a great sauce, but this recipe has more color and flavor, making it great on its own.
Bonus - I followed the recipe and used red onion and garlic, but I think that you could use shallot in place of both and make it even simpler! Super bonus - it cooks in less than 5 minutes!
Sauteed Vegetable Julienne
adapted from Skinny Taste
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz zucchini, cut into julienne strips (with a mandolin or peeler)
8 oz yellow squash, cut into julienne strips (with a mandolin or peeler)
4 oz (1 medium) carrot, cut into julienne strips (with a mandolin or peeler)
salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and onions and cook until fragrant, 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more.
Increase heat to medium-high and add the remaining vegetables, season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook until the vegetables are tender-crisp, about 2-3 minutes. Adjust salt as needed and serve hot.
You know that Forrest Gump quote, "Jenny and me was like peas and carrots."? I could not stop saying that while making and eating this dinner. The classic duo of peas and carrots, back together again in the form of soup and risotto.
This pea soup has a base of English peas, sugar snap peas, and leeks. So much green!
But more importantly, it has bacon. You start by crisping the bacon and removing it. Then, in the same pan, you cook celery, onion, and leek in the bacon fat before adding chicken stock and rosemary. Meanwhile, blanch the peas.
I have been wanting to learn to make my own pasta for years, so I was super jealous when my friend Melissa (you know her by now) got a pasta roller for Christmas. I had been thinking about getting the Kitchen Aid attachment (versus the hand crank kind) but it is very expensive and I had read reviews about them breaking and being hard to clean. Melissa said that her manual roller was very easy to use, and invited me over to try it out / teach me how to use it.
Our first experiment was Spinach Ravioli with a Creamy Tomato and Veggie Sauce - yum!
The first step is to make the filling. Saute diced onion in butter, then add in frozen spinach (thawed and drained) to cook out any liquid.
Add in ricotta, Parmesan, and an egg yolk.
About a month ago I got really excited about juicing after watching a documentary called "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead." The man in the film goes on a 2 month long juice fast, which I was definitely not prepared to do. I wasn't even prepared to do the more standard 7-10 day juice fast. But I did like the idea of using juices to consume large quantities of raw vegetables in a more palatable manner. So I bought a ton of veggies and went to work.
I started with a recipe from the doc's website and added a little to it, using carrots, bell pepper, apple, ginger, golden beet, fennel, and mango.
Gorgeous color! I used too much ginger, though, it had quite a kick.
I don't know about you, but I am not a huge fan of raw carrots. Warm spiced carrot soup with tahini on a cold day, though? Yeah, I'm a big fan of that.
This is another dish brought to you by my vegetarian lunches with Melissa at Smells Like Brownies. She pulled together a couple of recipes to come up with this one.
Carrots, onion, garlic, coriander, and cumin all go into the pot with vegetable stock.
Holy Mockingjay, Batman - I am so excited about this post! Food 'n Flix and Cook the Books have teamed up to do a double post for The Hunger Games, with Heather from girlichef hosting! Announcement post is here.
The Hunger Games is the first book of a trilogy about a dystopian alternate timeline where war has reduced America to 12 Districts ruled by a Capital. As punishment for a rebellion, all 12 Districts must offer up 1 boy and 1 girl between the ages of 12 and 18 as a tribute to compete in the Hunger Games each year. These children must then fight to the death in a televised spectacle with only 1 survivor. To make things even worse, all of the Districts are purposefully kept in a state of starvation except for the District of the winner - which is given ample food for a year until the next Hunger Games (hence the name). Food, therefore, is extremely important and a focus throughout the series.
The protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, is an extremely tough teen who would do anything to protect her family and especially her little sister, Primrose. When Prim is selected as Tribute (a death sentence for the timid 12 year-old), Katniss volunteers to take her place. Before being entered into the death-match proper, the Tributes are primped and pampered and paraded around the Capital. It is here that Katniss experiences luxury and an overabundance of food for the first time in her life.
Her favorite dish is a Lamb Stew with Dried Plums - it is mentioned frequently and even sent to her as a present when she is fighting for her life. I decided that the stew would be the perfect dish to make for this post, served on some wild rice that seemed fitting for the setting. I also served it with goat cheese rolled in herbs (inspired by the cheese that Primrose makes from her prized pet) and rustic seed bread (inspired by Peeta - Katniss's love interest and fellow Tribute, whose family owns a bakery).
We had been meaning to try out Michael Mina's signature restaurant, Bourbon Steak, for quite a while, and when we finally did we were not disappointed - except by the steak.
We started out in the lounge, where we perused their massive and innovative cocktail list. I had the 1919, with aperol, grapefruit bitters, prosecco, and a sugar cube - a perfect aperitif. There were many more drinks on the list that I would love to try as well; we might have to come back for an evening at the bar.