Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pasta with Bacon, Peas, and Goat Cheese

As I was perusing my GoogleReader for something different to make last night, I came upon Elly’s newest recipe.  I picked up the ingredients on my way home since we didn’t make it to the store on Sunday, and this turned out to be a delicious and quick weeknight meal.  The flavors of the creamy goat cheese w/the salty bacon were delish- Thanks Elly!  The only major change made was that I omitted the pine nuts and made ½ bag (8 oz) pasta.

8 oz. (1/2 bag) pasta (with some of the cooking water reserved)
4 strips bacon, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bag frozen peas
2 - 3 oz. goat cheese
freshly ground pepper and salt

Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water until al dente.
Reserve about 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking liquid and drain.
Heat a skillet over medium heat and then add the bacon.  Once cooked, remove the bacon, drain on a towel, and chop up.  Leave about 2 tsp. of bacon grease in the pan and discard the rest.
Add the garlic to the bacon fat and stir, just until fragrant.  
Add the peas and some of the cooking water (start with just a little  bit of the water; you can always add more), and then the pasta and bacon.
Once the peas have warmed through, add the goat cheese and stir until it coats the pasta, adding more pasta water if necessary.  
Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. 

Irish Carbomb Cupcakes

We have a friend whose birthday is on St. Patrick’s Day, and we celebrated with him on Saturday. I thought these would be a great addition to our party. They came out really great and were a big hit!
I followed SmittenKitchen’s recipe…thank you! For me this recipe made 28 cupcakes, and I added more Jameson and Bailey’s than was called for (adapted below). Otherwise, followed ingredients to a t -

1 cup Guinness Stout
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

Ganache Filling:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
3 teaspoons Jameson Irish whiskey

Baileys Frosting:
4 cups confections sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 tablespoons Baileys

Special equipment:
- 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer and a piping bag (though a plastic bag with the corner snipped off will also work). I did not have either, and improvised with a mini turkey-shaped cookie cutter. Since the frosting covers the hole, it doesn’t really need to be neat.
- Piping bag, modified ziploc, or syringe cake decorating set.

Make the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake cups with liners.
Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.
Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend.
Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend.
Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine.
Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 of the way.
Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, rotating them once front to back if your oven bakes unevenly, about 17 minutes.
Cool cupcakes on a rack.

Make the filling:
Melt chocolate; I used the microwave as per package instructions.
Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth.
Add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined.

Fill the cupcakes:
Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped/spooned (the fridge will speed this along but you must stir it every 10 minutes).
Meanwhile, using your cookie cutter, cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes. You want to go most of the way down the cupcake but not cut through the bottom — aim for 2/3 of the way.
I used a fork to help get the center out. Those are your “tasters”.
The recipe indicated to put the ganache into a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top, but I just used a spoon to fill them and it was slightly messy but did the job!

Make the frosting:
Whip the butter in the bowl with an electric mixer for several minutes until it is very light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time.
When the frosting looks thick enough to spread, drizzle in the Baileys and whip it until combined. If this has made the frosting too thin (it shouldn’t, but just in case) beat in another spoonful or two of powdered sugar.

Now the fun part - Ice and decorate the cupcakes:

I realized that my mother in law gave me a syringe decorating set similar to this one that I had never used, so I used this opportunity to test it out ... Hence the crazy cupcakes!

Crockpot Corned Beef & Cabbage

The classic St. Patrick’s Day dinner.  I am not the biggest fan of it but Chris loves it, so we had it.  It actually turned out better than I expected, and we *might* make it more than once a year now - I really liked it!
I used this recipe from allrecipes.com as a guide.

1 medium onion, sliced
4 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
6-8 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
3 cups water
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon pepper
1 -3 lb. corned beef brisket with spice packet
1 medium head cabbage, cut into wedges

Combine water, sugar, vinegar, pepper, bay leaf, and spice packet, stir until well dissolved.
Place onions, potatoes, and carrots in the bottom of the slow cooker.  Add beef and cover with liquid ingredients.  Top with cabbage. 
(Certainly not the most glamorous!)

Cook on low for 8-10 hours (we were close to 10 hours this time).
Make sure to remove the bay leaf before serving!
It was delicious :)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Slow Cooker Pineapple Chicken Thighs

This is a recipe we make fairly often.  We love the Asian flavors as well as easy slow cooker meals.  My version has been adapted from this version on allrecipes.

1 large package chicken thighs (boneless or bone-in, skinless)
3/4 cup honey
3/4 cup lite soy sauce
3 tablespoons ketchup
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon powdered ginger
crushed red pepper to taste
1 -20 ounce can pineapple slices, juice for the sauce and slices reserved.

Combine the soy sauce, honey, ketchup, pineapple juice, garlic, ginger and crushed red pepper.  Whisk well until the ingredients (especially honey!) are completely blended:

Add chicken to crock pot and cover with mixture.  Add some chicken broth if you need more liquid to cover the chicken (at least 3/4 covered).  Save pineapple slices in the refrigerator.
Cook on low for 8 hours.
When you get home from work (or 8 hours have otherwise elapsed), mix the chicken up and add pineapple slices to the top.  Cook white rice and serve!

Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes & Feta

I had sundried tomatoes and didn't know what to do with them...so I looked around on allrecipes.com for a quick and easy side-dish for which I had the ingredients!  This is the simple recipe I put together, and it came out pretty good...we would make it again!

Approximately 10-15 sundried tomatoes, diced
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 package angel hair or similar pasta
crumbled feta cheese
1-2 tsp Parsley
1-2 tsp Basil
2 cloves diced garlic
Cornstarch to thicken

Soak the chopped tomatoes in the broth while you prep the water and cook the pasta.
Shortly after starting the pasta, turn the heat on the sundried tomato/chicken broth, and add spices and garlic and simmer.

Use a few tbsp water with 1 tbsp cornstarch and mix well, then slowly add to the sauce to acquire desired consistency, just a bit thicker than it is.
Once the pasta is cooked according to package instructions, toss it in with the tomato mixture.
Add feta and mix in well - we served with oven roasted bone-in chicken breasts:


Cavatelli with Broccoli & Crushed Red Pepper

This is a great quick dinner with few ingredients that you can whip together in no time!

1 package frozen cavatelli pasta
1 large head broccoli or 1 pkg. frozen broccoli
~2 cloves garlic, crushed
EV olive oil
Parmesan cheese
crushed red pepper to taste

Cook cavatelli according to package instructions.
While pasta is boiling, heat oil and garlic in large saucepan and saute broccoli until cooked but still firm, stirring frequently.
When pasta & broccoli are done, mix together and add some more oil to coat.  Add Parmesan and crushed red pepper to taste (be generous w.the pepper!) and serve w/large salad.