16 February 2018

Pasta with Alfredo Sauce, featuring a surprise ingredient!

You know I'm always freezing pureed summer squash at the end of the season, and then it just sits in the freezer getting freezer-y tasting.  You can use the same amount of any squash puree--canned pumpkin, butternut squash, whatever--to give this sauce some heft and an extra infusion of veggies.  Think of it as a cheesy smoothie for your pasta...or maybe not...

Squash Alfredo with Fettucine

Serves 4

12 oz box fettucine
2 tablespoons butter
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup pureed squash
1 cup plain almond (or other) milk
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 cups pack baby spinach leaves

In large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta for about 8 minutes or until tender. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, and set aside.

Meanwhile, in large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and cook garlic for about 30 seconds.
Then, whisk to combine in the squash and milk. Add in the grated parmesan, salt and pepper. Let the sauce simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir in the spinach and continue to cook until leaves are wilted.
Add the pasta to the sauce and stir to coat.  If it's too thick to spread evenly through the pasta, you can add a little of the cooking liquid, a couple tablespoons at a time, until it's smooth. Top with fresh parley and parmesan for garnish.

09 February 2018

My hygge = fried chicken

When I was growing up in the south suburbs of Chicago, we would occasionally get Brown's Chicken, a chain known only to the locals that served a southern-ish version of fried chicken that is still, and will always be, my ideal.  But now that I am an occasional visitor to the Nashville area for both family and business trips, I've also become totally sold on Nashville Hot Chicken (it's just fried chicken that may or may not be spicy, guys). When I found out there was a place claiming to make the real deal in hipster, foodie Fort Collins, Colorado, I was so skeptical I had to try it.

It's called Music City Hot Chicken (next door to the wonderful Black Bottle Brewing), and it is amazing! It's not terribly cheap (you pay for the luxury of sitting in a clean place in a safe neighborhood, I guess), but it's a mountain of food.

My tasty meal on a particularly cold day in January.

Let's start with the fried chicken: it's super crunchy, only a little greasy, and the batter is super thick, so you're getting a ton of tasty coating on each bite. I've had both hot and green chili seasoning, and they are both great. For a medium-to-medium-plus girl, hot is about as far as I'll ever go up the spicy scale.  The green chili (not a traditional flavor, but what the hell, it's FoCo) reminds me ever so slightly of Indian food. The leg quarter is a ton of food (maybe too much for me, pictured above), and the chicken tenders are juicy white meat and very generous in size. as well.

The dipping sauces, I kind of don't get.  The spicy remoulade and honey mustard didn't add anything special to the chicken, but the Fireball maple syrup was great with the green chili, if you like that sort of thing.

Mac and cheese is definitely made from scratch with pimento cheese.  The baked beans are a great balance of sweetness and tang, and I think they are my favorite.  Haven't had any other sides, but the waffle looks very fluffy and nice, too.

The blues/funk/R&B they play over the system is the cherry on top, but it's way too loud in the dining room.  Sit at the bar if you want to be able to talk at all. The servers are exceedingly competent (food comes out hot and shockingly fast) and friendly, making this perhaps the only bar I have ever enjoyed sitting at.

I don't think these guys are in any danger of going out of business anytime soon, given the crowds I've seen at lunchtime.  But hurry up and go--it's as comforting as any of the stupid candle-and-oversized knit throw photos floating around Pinterest. This is a version of hygge I can wrap my brain around.

02 February 2018

Baked Rigatoni with Pumpkin Puree

This works just as well with any pureed squash that you preserved last fall (you crazy hippie, you) or canned pumpkin, which stands in for cream to hold things together in a much healthier way. Leftovers reheat beautifully, but this is also strangely delicious cold at, say, midnight. 

Baked Rigatoni with Pumpkin Puree

Serves 6-8
2 cups pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin
1 pound rigatoni or other medium-sized pasta (like large shells)
2cups heavy cream
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 chipotles in adobo sauce, finely chopped
2 cups fresh spinach leaves, washed and torn
2 teaspoons dried oregano

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a baking dish with butter or cooking spray.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta for exactly 5 minutes, drain and run cool water over it for about 10 seconds. Set aside in the colander.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin  with the cheeses, salt, garlic. chipotles, spinach, and oregano. Add the pasta  and fold together just until combined.
Spread the pasta evenly in a casserole or baking dish. Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes, until the top is browned and the bottom layer of pasta is just tender.

26 January 2018

Mocktails featuring: pineapple

You guessed it folks, I bought a pineapple at the store today, so here are some more mocktails featuring everyone's favorite Hawaiian import. These are large-batch recipes so you can force your friends to finish our Drynuary with you, haha!

Pineapple-Jalapeno Mocktail

Serves 4

4-5 pieces of small pineapple pieces
1 jalapeno
few cilantro leaves
2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 cup pineapple juice
1/2 chilled sparkling water or soda
1 teaspoon sugar or agave (optional to adjust sweetness)

In a small mixing bowl, muddle a few pineapple pieces, a small piece of jalapeno, some lime juice, a few cilantro leaves and agave. Divide the muddled mixture into four serving glasses. Add ice cubes followed by Pineapple juice and then top with sparkling water or soda.


Pineapple-mint Shrub

Serves 6

1 pound fresh pineapple chunks (about 2 cups)
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons finely diced fresh ginger
1 cup roughly chopped fresh mint
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
club soda or seltzer

Mix the pineapple chunks, sugar and fresh ginger. Put in a container with a lid and refrigerate for 1-2 days.

Macerate the fresh mint. Add it to the pineapple, sugar, and ginger mixture. Continue to refrigerate for another 1-2 days.

Add the apple cider vinegar, stir and refrigerate for another 1-2 days. It helps to keep the timing written on the container top, so you know when you added each ingredient

When ready to serve, (straight or on the rocks) strain out the fresh mint and add club soda or seltzer to taste.