Clams with Bucatini

Sometimes, you just need a bowl of pasta that screams comfort and Summer all in one. This pasta is close to my heart for a number of reasons, one being it lets me taste the ocean without physically being there. Chris and I decided not to do any trips this Summer, since we are saving for a nice Fall trip. It sounds fine, at first, but as the mid-July slump took over, I found myself desperately needing to be by a large body of water, soaking in the sun, and eating the fruit of the sea. It’s a Summer tradition for most folks who grew up on the East Coast. I felt something missing all Summer and I realized that was why. What are some of your favorite Summer vacations? (more…)

So back to the pasta. I have never, ever cooked anything that was considered alive. In fact, I had cooked my best friend a lobster dish a few weeks back. Instead of paying for the cheap whole lobster, that I would have to kill myself, I opted for the much more expensive lobster tail option. I just couldn’t bring myself to do the deed. I saw this recipe for clams and pasta in the July issue of Food Network’s magazine. It had everything I wanted out of Summer: briney, lemony, buttery pasta with tender, sweet clams mixed throughout. I cooked a lot of garlic, then added the wine, then gently placed the clams on top, covered the pot and walked away for 7 minutes. Opening that pot was the most beautiful surprise. All of the clams were widely open, soaking it the wine and garlic they had just been cooked in. See my notes on caring for the clams at the bottom! This recipe is too easy and too delicious not to make. I made it again this weekend and was equally satisfied! Be sure to serve this with tons of napkins! A lot of slurpin’ with happen! Happy pasta making!

Chicken Milanese with Spicy Tomato Peach Salad

I find the best inspiration for cooking isn’t found in endless recipe searches on the Internet nor through a quick scroll through Pintrest. Going to the market and seeing what’s in season really gets my wheels turning. It’s like I’m a contestant on Chopped but without the stressful time limit. I have a few basic recipes in my head that I can alter to whatever I’m feeling for that day. I don’t need to get my Iphone greasy by trying to read a recipe as I go. This is cooking from the soul, my friends. (more…)

Chicken Milanese is an Italian classic that leaves you with a blank canvass with what to place next to it. To keep it on the lighter side, a salad seems to be the best option. I love combining sweet with savory so this Chicken Milanese with Spicy Tomato Peach Salad was a no brainer. Make sure your tomato and peach are perfectly ripe and you got yourself a show stopper. Spicy frisee pulls all of the elements together. Did I mention this is incredibly quick? Oh and butter.

Our chicken breasts are traditionally breaded and cooked in some olive oil and butter for good measure.

While our chicken cooks, our salad is combined. Capers are necessary here. Look at that cute peach peeking through. I’m soooooo glad it’s (almost) Summer!

I also pan-fried some prosciutto for one last crunch. So glad I did! A lot of people don’t enjoy prosciutto but when you fry it, its flavor changes. Check it out! I know there are a few more steps I didn’t picture but this recipe is very easy and ideal for a hectic week. Happy dinner or lunch making!

Steakhouse Pie

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Ever since I came across this issue of Bon Appetit magazine, my homemade pizza world drastically changed. Never will I ever buy store bought pizza dough again. There just isn’t a comparison. From how easily the dough stretches, to its pan tossed texture, and how simple it is to make, store bought pizza dough is not welcome here no more. I hope you are encouraged to brave the world of rising yeast and join me in changing how you view homemade pizza! As epic as that sounds, nights that I make pizza are not that epic. I recently made this hearty Steakhouse pizza pie for friends and it was an immediate hit. Chris and I also take no shame in eating a pizza pie for date night, even if there are yummy leftovers to look forward to the next day. At this point, I know you probably scrolled down to the ingredients list and immediately cast off this recipe because of how long it looks. Don’t fret! I’m here to comfort you in saying you probably have most of those ingredients sitting in your pantry, just waiting to be used! For the sake of your overall happiness, I really hope you try this goody out! No room for disappointments!

Here is the link for the best pizza dough! Bon Appetit Grandma-Style Pizza Dough

Blood Orange Mousse Trifle

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This dessert serves 4 people or allows you to go back for seconds on your date night. I like having options, especially when it comes to dessert. I also like having desserts I can make ahead so I don’t kill the mood when I have to leave the couch for 30 minutes to make a dessert. I’m a “throw it together” kind of gal. I do want to warn you, you WILL have leftover caramel sauce so feel free to throw it on your morning pancakes or waffles, stir it into your coffee, or just eat it out of the jar with a spoon. No judgement here. Blood oranges taste pretty similar to regular oranges but their gorgeous, deep purple juice is what sets them apart. This Blood Orange Mousse Trifle is the perfect balance of fresh, sweet, and buttery; the perfect end to a decadent meal! Just the thing to cure our Winter blues!

Tip: If your pound cake looks a little dry, try soaking it in a very sweet wine 10 minutes before serving. Just place the cake in a bowl and drizzle the wine in (about 1/4 of a cup) and let sit for 10 minutes.

Winter Stuffed Shells

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Saturday and Whole Foods are the only two words that will make Chris get out of his comfy sweatpants and brave the crowds with me to grocery shop. Whole Foods will have tons of samples out, I guess making his trip more enjoyable (and mine too! Who am I kidding?). Last year, they had this interesting Gouda titled, “Winter Gouda.” I didn’t need to know what was in it, I was already intrigued. The cheese was a salty and mellow Gouda, studded with flecks of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. The combination was out of this world! It also inspired me to take those flavors to the next level. What could be better than a beef and tomato stuffed shell, bathing in a glorious spiced Gouda sauce? Not much. This recipe might be for a little more than two people but no one hates the idea of easy leftovers! Winter Stuffed Shells is warm, comforting with a spicy edge, and something you probably don’t normally have on your menu.

Clementine Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

Disclaimer: I made these cookies for Christmas and even had a Christmasy blog post ready for you. BUT, I didn’t get the chance to post so can we just act like it’s 2 weeks ago? Thanks in advance! (more…)

When we were kids, my siblings and I saved the stockings on Christmas morning for last. Although the items inside of them were much smaller than our gifts under the tree, I looked forward to “opening” my stocking the most. When the depression of all the gifts have been opened sets in, it was great to have another something to look forward to. There was never anything of too much value except for some candy and random little gadgets and knick knacks but one thing I always looked forward to was the chocolate orange. You know what I’m talking about. It was an orange, made completely out of chocolate with a hint of orange flavoring. Being a kid with too much adrenaline on Christmas morning, the best part about the orange was that you had to keep it in its orange foil and wack it against something hard. What happened after that was magic. When you tenderly peeled back the foil to reveal the chocolate orange, the orange literally split into clean, perfect slices, like a real orange! Pure, blissful, chocolatey magic!

Maybe that wonderful orange is why I naturally feel inclined to combine refreshing citrus with creamy chocolate at Christmas time. Like citrus, these clementine dark chocolate chip cookies are delicious all year round and you can change which citrus you use! But for me and this holiday season, it’s all about the heavenly combo of clementines and dark chocolate. These cookies are best enjoyed at any party or by a cozy fire.

Our ingredients are gathered. Our basic chocolate chip cookie recipe but with dark chocolate chips and clementine zest. We can hang with this!

Eggs,vanilla, flour, sugar, baking soda, clementine zest (you could use orange here, too!), dark chocolate chips, brown sugar (my nickname for my husband), salt, and butter.

The zest is combined with the granulated sugar first. We really want the oils from the zest to infuse the sugar. This reminds me of a sunset on a snowy winter day. Too much?

The butter is creamed with the sugars. My favorite part!

We add our eggs and vanilla. Keep mixing!

I mean….

Now, our flour! It’s ok if we make a mess; it’s the way of the cookie.

Chocolate chips are added and stirred in manually. This also allows for you to incorporate any left out flour from the edge of the bowl.

Instant gratification.

These cookies are so good! I can’t believe I didn’t make these many Christmas moons ago! They are crisp but chewy. They have some body but are completely soft. Everything you want in a cookie! Try the clementine dark chocolate chip cookies! There are plenty of snow days ahead to enjoy them! Happy cookie making!

Ham and Gruyere Panini with Rosemary Onions

Is anyone else up to their elbows in Thanksgiving leftovers? My creativity to reinvent them is running thin and I don’t know if my stomach can accept anymore stuffing. But before I get entirely tired of the ham I made (my husband hates turkey), I always make this sandwich. Ham and I got off on the wrong foot 20 years ago when my parents made me eat some ham before I could be excused from the dinner table. It was the longest night of my life and I swore never to humor ham like that again. But as the years passed and my emotional scars from ham started to heal, I thought I would give it another shot. Ham ain’t so bad! It’s all about how you make it (brown sugar and Cognac glaze, anyone?). Plus, I do love having leftover ham sandwiches and when you adorn them with onions and rosemary, you’re in for a real treat! It’s perfect for a quick weeknight meal and it’s oh so comforting. It also gives you an excuse to dust of that panini maker you asked for on your wedding registry but barely use. The sweet, mustardy onions paired with the smokey ham and nutty Gruyere makes for the best panini. It just feels like the holidays all wrapped up in a sandwich. I’m sure this wouldn’t be so bad with turkey either. There’s only so many turkey pot pies you can make, ya know? Let’s get moving on our Ham and Gruyere Panini! (more…)

Our leftover ingredient line up:

Crusty bread, butter, fresh rosemary, gruyere, dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, ham, onions, and brown sugar.

Our onions are cooked until a luscious golden brown then we add more butter (surprise, surprise), brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and dijon.

The mixture is finished with a little chopped rosemary. If you have some thyme left over from Thanksgiving, feel free to add that instead.

Now, we layer! If you are at all a professional sandwich maker like myself, you know the layering process is incredibly important and should be taken very seriously. Grab your bread and out some ham on it. See what I mean? Precision is key! We top the ham with that delicious onion mixture.

Then, just as you thought things couldn’t get anymore complicated, we take grated gruyere and using all of the strength within us, sprinkle on top of the onion mixture. I know, I know. I’m asking too much of you but we will persevere!

Finally, our sandwiches are topped with a buttered slice of bread and some more rosemary is sprinkled on top. Whether you use a panini maker or a stovetop skillet, make sure there is some butter melted so the bottom of the sandwich gets plenty of love.

Wait for it…money shot! Just kidding. Sandwiches are a little camera shy but I wanted you to see the magic that is happening inside this sandwich. It’s buttery, it’s rich in flavor, and it’s the perfect way to use up your holiday leftovers. Happy panini making!

French Onion Mashed Potatoes

‘Tis the season of casseroles. We all have our dirty cookbook pages marked, begging to be opened and rediscovered because everyone just has to have YOUR green bean casserole or we have our unrealistic attempts of “something new this year” bookmarked on our laptops. Oh and don’t even get me started on the pies. As overwhelming as creating a memorable holiday can be, it’s good to have a game plan and here is your play by play for Thanksgiving….sike. I agree it’s helpful to have a game plan but unfortunately we live in a world of unpredictable chaos that can either make or break your day. That’s a lot of pressure for said game plan! My go to recipes are ones I can easily prepare the day or night before and all they need is a simple trip to the oven. Now, I understand some recipes would be hard to make the day before or even become not so appealing (I’ve made mac and cheese for 5 years in a row now for 10+ people so I get it) but maybe our chopping, slicing, and dicing can be done the night before just so you don’t accidentally hurt yourself on the big day. Not a sermon, just a thought. (more…)

You probably think that I’m some kind of mashed potato guru or that Thanksgiving day is my Olympics but let me let you in on a little secret: this was my second time making mashed potatoes…ever. In all seriousness, mashed potatoes have scared me and I always sucker my wonderful sister-in-law into making them. Pathetic I know. I decided to brave these taters and I’m oh so glad I did! I love french onion soup so I wanted to really stick to those simple but hearty elements of the soup. Meaty, dark onions, crusty croutons, and a gloriously cheesy topping. These potatoes were easy, cheesy, creamy and perfect for any Thanksgiving table!

Our ingredient line up:
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From Top Left to Right: Butter, onions, heavy cream, fresh breadcrumbs, garlic, Worchestshire sauce, Gruyere cheese, fresh thyme, beef stock, and golden potatoes.

I didn’t mention brown butter is involved because I wanted to surprise you so SURPRISE! You can’t go wrong here. Embrace the butter. We add our heavy cream, fresh thyme, and garlic to the brown butter and let it simmer. You could just add this to the mashed potatoes and be done. But why would you want to be done when cheesiness is just around the corner?

But not this corner! Here, we have the “french onion” part. The onions are cooked down and drenched in Worschestshire sauce and beef stock making them nice and meaty. Think French Onion soup here. That is the inspiration after all.

Next, we layer out potatoes. Spread half of the potatoes in a greased casserole dish.

Add onions (making sure that luscious broth is also included), and breadcrumbs (our “croutons” here).

Then top with the nutty Gruyere. Rinse and repeat. Also, indulge every need to snack on the Gruyere as you cook. I always shred just a little bit more than I need for snacking. You’re the cook!

Now, I wanted to show you the delicious layers from this angle. Can you see the broth from the onions seeping into our wonderful potatoes? That’s magic and perfect moisture for our potatoes so they won’t dry out. Just bake this off in the oven.

Serve this hot! Right out of the oven! And I wouldn’t be offended if you added a little gravy from Thanksgiving dinner to these potatoes. Happy tater making!

Thyme Chicken Pasta Bake with Mushrooms and Fennel

Pasta bake. I think it sounds a little bit more dignified than just a “casserole”. Not that there is anything wrong with a good casserole, they have just gotten a bad rap through the years. I don’t know if it’s because of the less than fresh contents inside of the casserole or just the thought of making it for one dinner and having leftovers for days. Growing up, my mom made a simple casserole we always looked forward to. It was mini pasta shells, canned tuna, a dash of cayenne pepper, and the liquid gold itself, velveeta cheese. I loved the spiciness and comfort of the dish. I also long for the days where the taste of velveeta overrides the guilt of eating something that isn’t actual cheese. Casseroles are great for the colder months but also great for families on the run. I’m all about the Make Once Get Two out of the deal meals where you make one for dinner and freeze the other. Just pop it in the oven whenever you get the hankering for a cozy but quick meal. Now, doesn’t that sound better? (more…)

Instead of opening a can of this, a container of that, and dumping it into a pan to be baked, I opted for a fresher take here. This pasta bake is inspired by one of our favorite dishes in Colonial Williamsburg. It consists of crepes stuffed with chicken and mushrooms and baked in a creamy sauce. It’s the perfect cure after a long and cold day of walking the cobblestone streets. Instead of making crepes, I substituted with pasta. I also added some licoricey (not a word, sorry!) fennel that sweetens as it cooks. Thyme makes everything a little bit better with it’s lemony yet slightly smokey flavor. It’s perfect for the cold months ahead and even more perfect with a glass of your favorite white wine!

The ingredient line up:

From Top Left to Right: Parmesan, garlic, shredded chicken (don’t get me started on my rotisserie chicken rant, it’s a life saver), milk, nutmeg, fresh thyme, breadcrumbs, onion, flour, fennel, cream, butter, and mushrooms. Somewhere in there is the pasta too. You just can’t see it. But it’s there. I didn’t forget it.

We make a rich, creamy sauce with our onions and fennel. Then, we just throw everything in. You won’t miss that canned stuff one bit!

Throw in our pasta. It doesn’t get easier. I love how the farfalle look here.

After a little oven time, the top gets brown and crunchy. Sprinkle with parsley to add a little color. I didn’t have any parsley… This is warm, comforting, and so simple to throw together. Perfect for the rainy, cold weather we will be having this weekend! Happy pasta making!

Oatmeal Cookie Apple Crisp

I know you’ve been apple picking and I know you are up to your ears in apples. I’m trying to help you. Just hear me out. Apple crumbles all day. Or apple crisps if you like. Or apple cobbler. Or apple brown betty. It’s up to you! One thing I want to put to rest today, though. The difference between the desserts I just mentioned. When I began my blogging adventure, I wanted to make sure I was being “politically” correct when titling my recipes. I know I wasn’t the only one confused so here ya go! It is one of those things that will be debated until forever but I’m going to stick to this explanation: The difference between cobblers, crisps, and crumbles. But in all seriousness, if you are baking delicious fruit with warm spices and making your house smell amazing, no one gives a rip what you call the thing. Just be sure to serve with ice cream. (more…)

This crisp was such a pretty lady. I took waaay too many pictures but she’s just so photogenic. Like, do you really want anything else? I know this crisp isn’t too original, except for its topping. Instead of the usual streusel topping we all know and love, I decided to melt my butter and make more of a cookie topping. Oatmeal cookies are so comforting and full of flavor, I thought nothing could be better atop bubbling, juicy apples. I had all of the pure intentions in the world of adding dried cherries (instead of raisins) to the topping but realized I had forgotten said cherries on my grocery list. Next time dried cherries. Next time.

Our crisp ingredients (pun intended):

From Top Left to Right: Apples (make sure they are full of flavor and are sweet), sugar, melted butter (maybe my guilt was trying to crop the butter out of the picture), spice mixture #1, walnuts, brown sugar, vanilla, flour, fresh orange juice (trust me), spice mixture #2 (can we pretend I didn’t say #2 on a food blog? K, thanks), and oats.

We mix our apples with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, sugar, flour, orange juice, and vanilla. That’s it for the filling! Wasn’t that easy peasy? You could just bake this if you wanted to without the cookie topping but why would you want to? Why? Oh and do you like how I didn’t peel my apples? I had a hungry husband and mother in law giving me the “if you take one more picture of food…” stare.

Our dry ingredients are mixed then made undry (sooo not a word), by our butter. I use salted butter whenever butter is needed so I didn’t add more salt here. If you use unsalted, add some salt for balance. The dried cherries would want it that way.

Then, all we do is use bowl A to top pie plate B. Get those clean paws ready for some dirty work!

Voila! Isn’t that so dazzling? It was right here I realized I didn’t use the full amounts of brown sugar and granulated sugar the recipe calls for. Wanna see what happens next? Click this link! Jk. Just scroll down.

I literally sprinkled the dang sugars over the cookie topping. What’s a desperate girl to do? Don’t be like me. Use the full amount of everything. Please and thank you. Isn’t it prettier, though? It looks as if it was kissed by a snow angel. Sorry I just said snow. Too soon?

We bake until, you guessed it, hot and bubbling. Use the sharp point of a knife to make sure the apples are soft. Serve in ridiculously adorable plates.

Do you know they make salted caramel ice cream that is sold in grocery stores? Well, I do. Happy crisp making!

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