Posted: October 26th, 2010 | Filed under: Entree | Tags: baked pasta, best stuffed shells, freezer meals, prosciutto stuffed shells, stuffed pasta, Stuffed shells | No Comments »
Its been a busy few days. Ryan came home from staff retreat, I worked a good bit, cleaned, and spent some quality time with my kitchen. I really like making time to spend in my kitchen. I think its a lot like making time for any other priority — friends, husband, community, family, etc. And I looooove spending extra time in the kitchen, trying out new recipes, making the apartment smell amazing. So so on the menu for today? Stuffed Shells.
These stuffed shells are not your standard back of the box recipe. They have red onion and prosciutto sauteed with garlic, a whole bunch of spinach and a little bit of cream cheese for extra creamy-ness.
I also love the fact that the dish makes the whole place smell amazingly mouth watering. Ryan even gave it the compliment of “I’d pay twenty bucks for this.” (Thats a great compliment from the very quiet husband.) He even cleaned his plate! (Another feat for the very quiet husband.)
1 box jumbo pasta shells
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
4 oz thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 red onion, chopped
4 c spinach, shredded
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 c ricotta cheese
4 oz cream cheese
12 oz fresh mozzarella, chilled and cut into small cubes
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
5 cups of tomato sauce (I used a jarred spaghetti sauce)
Unsalted butter for dotting
Garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese, and fresh basil
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, cook pasta shells for 10 minutes. Drain, and rinse. Transfer to a bowl. Drizzle with oil and let cool. Heat oil in a large high-sided skillet over medium heat. Cook red onion, garlic, and prosciutto until the prosciutto starts to caramelize. Add spinach, cook until tender and wilted, stir in vinegar, cook until evaporated. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Stir in ricotta, cream cheese, mozzarella, and parmesan. Season to taste. Pour 2 1/2 cups of tomato sauce into the bottom of each of two 8×12 baking dishes. With a large piping bag pipe filling into each shell, about 32 in all. Pack shells into the baking dishes, cover with foil and freeze if desired. Preheat oven to 375F. Dot shells with butter. Bake, covered for 40 minutes. Uncover, and raise temperature to 450F. Bake until golden and bubbly, about 15 minutes more. Heat remaining cup tomato sauce, serve with shells. Garnish with parmesan cheese and fresh basil.
Posted: October 20th, 2010 | Filed under: Tarts | Tags: Apple pie, apple tart, cheddar apple tart, cheddar pie crust, cheddar tart crust | No Comments »
I love the feel of fall air when I wake up early in the morning — its crisp and cool and makes the apartment smell like fall leaves, and I get to throw on a sweater for wherever I’m going — and feel all fall like. This morning I met a friend for breakfast before work, and the air was perfect. Afterwards I ran a few errands to make the most of my time. When I got home I felt like I needed a little bit of dessert before work – (hey, it was almost noon, and I wasn’t quite ready for lunch yet) – so I flipped on the oven and warmed up a piece of the tasty apple tart I made last night. It was perfect. The crust was perfectly crisp, the cheddar makes the apples sing, and the – apples — oh, what says fall like terrifically soft and sweet apples?? I think it may be my most favorite apple baked good yet! And I also love the ease in making it. Simple simple simple. Not too many ingredients, doesn’t take too much time. So make it for your next dinner party, or fall festival, of if you just want something apple-y and delicious.
Apple Tart with Cheddar Crust
For the Crust
2 1/2 c all purpose flour
2 tsp salt
2 sticks unsalted butter
1/4 c ice water
1 c shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
Pulse flour and salt in a food processor until combined. Add butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. Add butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. Drizzle 1/4 c water evenly over mixture. Pulse until mixture just begins to hold together. Add cheese, pulse until combined. Shape dough into 2 disks, and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes or overnight.
For the Filling
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into 1/2 inch wedges
2 Gala apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into 1/2 inch wedges
1/2 c granulated sugar
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tbsp cinnamon
2 tbsp butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 375F. Roll the dough to 1/8″ thick and transfer to a parchment lined tart pan. Refrigerate until filling is ready to go. In a large mixing bowl toss the apples, sugar, flour, lemon juice, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon together. Pour into the crust. Bake until crust is golden and apples are tender. Brush with melted butter. Let cool and serve with ice cream, or just a big smile and a fork!
Posted: October 17th, 2010 | Filed under: Uncategorized | | No Comments »
Our trip to California was short but sweet — full of family and fun — we got to see the southern wine country in Temecula, explore old town, cuddle a sweet baby boy, and witness a beautiful wedding between Jay and Melissa. Here is the photo evidence of this –
Our last night in Del Mar there was a pumpkin patch right next to the hotel. I was enchanted by the lights, so Ryan obliged me and we walked over – a whimsical ending to a great weekend!
Posted: October 12th, 2010 | Filed under: Cake | Tags: best carrot cake, best carrot cake cupcakes, carrot cake, carrot cake with cream cheese icing, cream cheese icing, fancy pecans, toasted pecans | No Comments »
This has been a crazy week… and its only Tuesday! So, I have a job, I’m a barista at Starbucks. (In case you didn’t know, I was a barista as I finished up college, and while I looked for a post grad job.) I have to say, I really am enjoying it more this time around. I think its because my mindset is different this time, I don’t feel the pressure of what I’m doing for my “real job” after college, I’m not worried about trying to work my way up in an imaginary career when I wasn’t even sure what I wanted to do for life. (Which, I am fully aware has the potential to change as often as seasons change.) But I’ll say this, I’m not terrible at it, I enjoy work, and its not stressful. Which I love. And its teaching me the things I need to learn the food industry better, especially since I’m paying closer attention this time around to the things I need to learn to be successful in the food industry, to the things I’ll need to run a small business one day.
Also in life, we are packing up for a quick trip to California! (I’m super excited, I love California.) But even more exciting — we are going for a wedding– a wedding we’ve been anxiously awaiting — a wedding we can’t wait to be present for. Ryan’s brother Jay and his long time girlfriend Melissa are getting married this Friday. We are so excited for them. It is just crazy that we got married almost three years ago, and one right after the other the brothers have all gotten paired off, entering into marriage with some amazing women. (It makes holiday and family get togethers much louder and way fun.) So as we pack and reflect on family, I’m also thinking of recipes that remind me of home, of family, of comfort in the fall, of tradition and warmth — and so there are carrot cake cupcakes. With flavors and spices that are warm and welcoming, these are the perfect cupcake for the beginning of fall. (I live in Texas, its still not exactly sweater weather all day yet. So yeah, the beginning of fall, not the middle or end quite yet.) Slathered in a smooth cream cheese icing and topped with toasty pecans — its beautifully delicious and moist and the flavors are perfect together in each and every bite.
Other things I like about this recipe is just how easy it is. It doesn’t take long to put everything together, the cake can all be done by hand, and the aromas from each component pour through the kitchen making it all the more inviting.
Alyssa’s Carrot Cake
For the Cake
2 1/3 c self rising flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp all spice
1 tbsp orange zest
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2 c light brown sugar
1 c canola oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 c fresh orange juice
3 c carrot (very finely chopped in a food processor)
Preheat the oven to 350F, place liners in two cupcake/muffin tins. In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and orange zest. In another bowl, stir together the whole eggs, egg yolks, and brown sugar. Add the oil, vanilla and orange juice. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and stir in the egg mixture a little at a time, until just combined. Stir in the carrots. Scoop the batter into the cupcake liners, and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the centers are set and a tester in the center comes out clean. Cool to room temperature before icing and topping.
Cream Cheese Icing
1/2 c unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
Two 8oz packages of cream cheese
4 c confectioners’ sugar
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
In a large mixing bowl beat the butter until soft, add the cream cheese and beat until smooth. Blend in the sugar, vanilla and salt. Spread on top of each cupcake with an icing spatula.
2 c pecan pieces
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp salt
Preheat an oven to 350F. On a large baking sheet spread the pecans and roast until fragrant, about 10 minutes. While the pecans are in the oven place the butter and salt in a medium mixing bowl. When the pecans are ready, take them from the oven and pour them directly into the bowl with the butter and salt. (Thats right, don’t let them cool.) Flip or stir the pecans in the bowl with the butter and salt, letting them melt the butter and allowing the butter and salt to coat every pecan. Let cool to room temperature before topping each cupcake with a few pecan pieces.
Posted: October 10th, 2010 | Filed under: Uncategorized | | No Comments »
Tonight we got home after church around 9:30ish — we hadn’t eaten dinner yet technically, Ryan was going to stay up late working, and we needed to finish this week’s portion of The Gospel in Life Study together. So after he took a good long look at our almost empty fridge (we are going out of town this week, I don’t want to be wasteful!) I gave him several options to choose from that could be whipped up from what we have on hand. He requested that I make my “famous cream cheese pancakes.” Lets get this straight, these pancakes are only “famous” to my hubby. I believe they are his favorites of all the pancakes that I’ve tested on him. I’ve made them plain, with blueberries, with peaches and marmalade, covered in butter and maple syrup… served with fruit or bacon and coffee and orange juice… but tonight we went no frills… just plain pancakes with melted butter and maple syrup and some good strong coffee. Alyssa’s diner style, served at the breakfast bar, fresh and hot and quick, perfect for going through our Bible study together, working out our progressive sanctification together. And even better, I’ve mastered the amount for the two of us. It makes about five pancakes, split them up however you so choose. They are way better than anything that could possibly come out of a can, or even a box, if you ask me, and fresh ingredients are always better, especially since you know what is going into your body, no surprise you can’t pronounce them ingredients… so enjoy, morning, noon, or night.
Ryan’s Favorite Pancakes
1/4 of a 3 oz package of cream cheese, softened
1 small egg
1/3 c whole milk
1 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c self rising flour
1 tbsp sugar
For buttery maple syrup
2 tbsp butter
1/3 c maple syrup
1/4 tsp salt
Start warming up a griddle on the stove top, between medium and medium high heat and lightly grease. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk cream cheese until smooth and creamy; add egg, whisking well until light yellow and smooth. Add milk, butter, and vanilla whisking until blended well. Add dry ingredients, until just combined. (If you would like an addition, now is the time to add it.) Pour about 1/4 c (I use my favorite handy dandy spring loaded ice cream scoop) onto the hot griddle. Cook until the tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked. Flip and cook other side. For buttery maple syrup: In a small microwave safe syrup dish or bowl place the butter and syrup and heat on high for thirty seconds, or until hot and melted. Stir and pour over pancakes.
Posted: October 6th, 2010 | Filed under: Cookie | Tags: brown butter chocolate chip cookies, brown butter cookies, brown butter dessert, chocolate chip cookies | No Comments »
So there we were, looking at our freshly cleaned apartment, all picked up and ready for friends to come over and join in some GLEE fun. My no longer very messy kitchen was pristine and sparkling (as sparkling as laminate gets), the dishwasher was running, the floors were clean… it was all so pretty. But it didn’t last long. All it took was a few minutes of this pretty kitchen for my little brain to start thinking of ways to destroy it. (What can I say? I’m hopeless.) Cookies sounded terrific, and what I hadn’t tried yet was a brown butter cookie… how about that chocolate chip cookie with brown butter that I flagged ages ago? It was perfect. I had everything on hand and a few minutes before GLEE watching time… so off I went. (And don’t worry, my kitchen really didn’t get messy.)
But lets chat about something. A few of you may remember that awhile back I posted about my trouble with cookies. So I’ve been practicing, and I may also just be drawn to some great cookie recipes for some unknown reason (my calling as a cookie baker?). And I’m not going to lie, the cookies and I have been doing well lately. I recently made a terrific oatmeal cookie, and last night these amazing little guys. The brown butter really left a nice toasty after taste and the cookies were nice and soft with a thin crisp outside. They were super tasty… and don’t worry, they take all of fifteen minutes to prep, so you can have them ready for dessert tonight.
Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Whisking frequently, heat until butter turns golden brown. Let cool to room temperature. In separate bowl, add sugars. Pour in brown butter and whisk until smooth. Whisk in eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and kosher salt. Add dry ingredients to sugar mixture, and stir until just combined. Let mixture completely cool before adding chocolate chips (or they will melt). Fold in chocolate chips. Scoop dough with an ice cream scoop onto cookie sheet and flatten slightly. Bake 8-10 minutes, until tops are set and bottoms are just turning golden brown. Let them rest on the pan for a few minutes before transferring them onto cooling racks. Serve with a glass of milk and a smile.