Spaghetti with Roasted Cauliflower, Smoked Sea Salt, and Breadcrumbs

IMG_0015 IMG_0016IMG_0017

During the week, I regularly feel like a crazy person.  I run from job to job and eat more meals than I care to admit in the car.  This is not ideal for a number of reasons.  One: crumbs. Two: it’s incredibly unhealthy to eat on-the-go.

On certain weeknights, I have enough time to prepare dinner.  Even on nights when I have the time, though, I typically gravitate towards recipes I either know very well, or ones that will take me a short amount of time.  You know, something in between opening a can of Spaghettio’s and roasting a turkey.

IMG_0018

This past week I created an easy pasta dish with minimal, yet special ingredients that my family really enjoyed.  It is a wonderful reminder that good, fresh ingredients trump complicated recipes almost every time.  I was also happy to experiment with the smoked sea salt that I purchased a few weeks ago.  I enjoy the smoky flavor, but find that it works best when it is in the background.  Something that makes your guests say, “What is that?”

IMG_0019

Spaghetti with Roasted Cauliflower, Smoked Sea Salt, and Breadcrumbs

4 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
1/2 tsp smoked sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
1 lb spaghetti
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs

Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Place cauliflower on a baking sheet and toss with smoked sea salt, pepper, and olive oil.  Spread out cauliflower so that it is in a single layer.  Roast for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown and tender.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.  Cook spaghetti according to package directions.  Drain pasta, and toss with roasted cauliflower, breadcrumbs, and crushed red pepper (may use more if you like it spicy!).  Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkling of parmesan.  Enjoy!

Homemade Take-Out

IMG_1132

One of my favorite things to do is to not do anything.

I’m sure you understand.  And I’m sure I sound like a really fun person.  I promise I am.

Let me explain…

When given the choice between getting dressed up on a Friday night and staying in my yoga pants with a good flick and great food, I’m going to choose the latter.  For me, it makes the fancy nights that much more special.  They almost always end up being fun and I think it’s because they are the exception to the norm.  Which is yoga pants.  And food.  God, I need to get back to the gym.

Anyways, another great benefit to staying in is that you can make your own homemade take-out.  It almost always guarantees that you save some bucks AND you can control the ingredients making it a healthy alternative to your usual greasy pizza place from down the street.

My main squeeze and I have been experimenting with gluten-free recipes lately.  When I’m not baking pies, that is.  A few weekends ago, we made our first gluten free pizza and buffalo wings with blue cheese dip.  It was delightful.  And yes, I wore yoga pants.

IMG_1134

I think the buffalo wings were the highlight of the night.  I love a good spicy chicken wing and what’s better than blue cheese dip? Oh that’s right… literally nothing.  We baked the wings and tossed them in our favorite buffalo sauce.  So easy.  Here’s a link to the blue cheese dip provided by the incomparable Ina Garten.  I die for her.  She’s everything.

Chunky Blue Cheese and Yogurt Dip: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/chunky-blue-cheese-and-yogurt-dip-recipe/index.html

Our attempt at making gluten free pizza crust was a success in the sense that we did it.  I don’t know if there will be a day when we will crave gluten free crust over regular pizza, but maybe the universe will surprise us.  I used this recipe from the Minimalist Baker.

Gluten free Pizza: http://minimalistbaker.com/the-best-gluten-free-pizza-crust-sauce/

Xanthan gum was perhaps the most challenging ingredient to locate.  Ever.  Of all the ingredients of everything I’ve ever made.  I finally found it at a natural foods store.  I should add that I didn’t bother to ask anyone who worked at any of the establishments that I searched.  For some reason, I challenged myself to finding a needle in a haystack all by myself.  ‘Twas cute.  The bottom line?  Make your own take out sometime.  A portion of the excitement from the night was due to the fact that we spent time together in the kitchen.  You know, romantic stuff.  Enjoy dudes!

IMG_1136

Chicken Fricassee

or Fricassee de Poulet a L’Ancienne.

Um, excuse me…what!?

French.  I know.  Even by just looking at the name, I feel fancier and more sophisticated.  The French know what’s up.  I will be traveling to Paris for the first time next summer and I can hardly contain my excitement. I am hoping that they will present us with Chanel bags as we exit the aircraft.  I don’t think that’s an unrealistic expectation.

IMG_0004

Since I have many months before I actually get to experience France in all it’s romantic glory, I have to settle for delicious French meals at home.  Woe is me.  Not really though, because the French seem to do everything right when it comes to delicious, rich, and special meals.  This dish is in between a saute and a stew, and is perfect for a Sunday dinner as the weather gets crisp and cool.  Chicken fricassee is totally comforting and delicious.  I served mine with a slice of crusty sourdough bread to dip in the rich and velvety sauce.  Heaven.

IMG_0003

If you can’t eat this at a small cafe on the streets of Paris, then why not make it at home?  It amps up any regular evening and immediately makes dinner a special event.  Plus, it’s always nice to have an extra one pot meal in ones repertoire.  Less to clean up, amiright?  Below is the link to the recipe that I used off of Martha Stewart Living.  That Wisconsin girl can cook.

IMG_0002

Chicken Fricassee:  http://www.marthastewart.com/925889/chicken-fricassee

Enjoy!

What’s cookin’, good lookin’?

IMG_0006

Lately, a lot of my weekend time has been spent in the kitchen.  For some, that may seem like a chore and the opposite of how one would want to spend their weekend hours, but for me it is bliss.  Not to mention, on certain weekends I have the most wonderful sous chef/boyfriend/handsome devil who helps with clean up and small tasks AND he works for free!  Ok, he usually requires a kiss or two.  And he gets to eat whatever I am whipping up, but I’ll do almost anything for someone willing to clean dirty dishes for me (and I like some eye candy in the kitchen, for reals guys).

This past weekend it finally felt like Fall outside.  I also accidentally played a Christmas cd in the car and I refuse to apologize for it.  Christmas: it’s coming.  To celebrate the change of season, I made my first real pie.  I say “real” because I have made some crostadas and tarts in the past, but this was my first mandatory pie dish/double crust/cross your fingers it doesn’t turn to a liquidy mess REAL pie.  Guess what?  It looked fancy and it tasted even fancier.  Obviously, I instagrammed it.  I mean, who do you think I am?

IMG_0005

Well, I’ll tell you who I am…a professional pie baker.  Ok, that might be a slight exaggeration and I may be setting myself up for serious failure in all my future pies, but I did something right with this one.  Boyfriendsouschefman had the first slice with me and thought it was the bomb.  It was the first time I’ve used a combination of butter and shortening in my pastry dough and I think that may have been the key to my success.  Additionally, the recipe I used (from Smitten Kitchen) required that I warm a baking sheet in an extremely hot oven prior to baking the pie.  This allowed the bottom crust to bake evenly when I placed it on top of the already hot baking sheet.  Note that the recipe is altered slightly in the bottom review in order to balance the spices better.  I will probably eliminate the lemon zest entirely when I try the recipe again because I’d rather taste the cinnamon than the zing from the lemon.

IMG_0001

The resulting pie is buttery, flaky and delicious.  I had some extra dough leftover after trimming the sides, so I rolled it out and cut out cute heart shapes to decorate the top.  Adorbs.  I got some amazing and HUGE honeycrisp apples from the farmer’s market and used those instead of the McIntosh apples called for in the recipe.  Here’s the link to the amazing blog, Smitten Kitchen, and the recipe that I used:

http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2006/11/cinnamon-sigh/

Enjoy!