21 October 2016

The easiest (guest-worthy) pasta dish you will ever make

This is one-pot pasta at its best: in the amount of time it takes to cook the pasta, you end up with a creamy, comforting dish that rivals any crappy take-out you're considering picking up on your way home from work.  Last-minute drop-ins? It works for that, too. 

Creamy Pasta with Mushrooms
Serves 4
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons sliced sun-dried tomatoes
4 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1/2 pound fettuccine pasta

Bring a pot of well-salted water to boil.  Cook the fettuccine according to package directions together with the sliced mushrooms. 

When pasta is al dente, drain the pot, reserving about a ½ cup of water.  Stir in the garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, and cream cheese, along with about 2 tablespoons of the pasta water to start.  You should have a creamy sauce; if it’s too thick, keep adding more pasta water, one tablespoon at a time.  Then stir in the Parmesan cheese and chopped thyme and serve.

14 October 2016

Fall edition: favorite blogs

You can keep your pumpkin spice, I love me some cider in October!  Tried-and-true Sunset magazine has a lovely little post on how to cook with cider. I especially love   the sparkling root vegetable smash.

The First Mess (besides having an adorable set of sketches), has my current favorite recipe for squash, which I grow every year to please others, but often struggle to eat happily. The crispy squash bowl with dill cream is perfect and easy in every way, and it is my go-to lunch whenever I'm home to cook it.

It's from last year, but this one-one chicken autumn chicken dinner is the easiest way to throw all the best of fall in the oven at once (and the most comforting, and the best for last-minute entertaining...)

One can dream...here's 20 beautiful European destinations for fall travel. And since it's post-tourist season, I hear the housing's cheaper...

Closer to home, the Rockies offer some pretty spectacular views, too, as does the Midwest!

07 October 2016

Last-ditch summer recipes

I don't know where you all are coming from as you read this, but here in the Rockies, it's still (sort of) summer, and I am scooping up every tomato, squash, and peach I can!  If you're in the same boat, or you're able to get your hands on some discounted, imperfect produce nearby, here's what I'm making this weekend:

Tomato Pie: a Southern favorite lightened up a bit here with the removal of all the mayo (?!?!) There's still a ton of cheese, though...

Serves 6

1 whole wheat pie crust, prebaked
4 large tomatoes
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons green onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 375 F. Cut the end of the tomato off, and scoop out the seeds (this will keep your pie from being too watery). Once the seeds and the majority of the juice have been removed, cut the tomatoes into disks. Next, combine the cheddar, mozzarella, green onions, salt, and Greek yogurt in a bowl. Line the tomatoes directly on top of the crust. Sprinkle the basil on top of the first layer of tomatoes. Layer any leftover tomatoes on top of the basil. Top with the cheese, Greek yogurt mixture. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top. Bake at 375 until cheese is melted and bubbly, about 30-35 minutes.

Allow to cool about 10 minutes before cutting.

Happy Hour Snacks
Zucchini Rounds

Makes 8 servings

2 zucchini
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil (about 24)
3 ounces goat cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Slice zucchini into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. (You should have about 24 slices.) Lay out on large platter; season with salt and pepper.

Place a sun-dried tomato on each slice, then top each tomato with a pinch of goat cheese. Sprinkle tops with chopped chives, and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil; serve.

Super Quick Peach Galette    

Serves 6-8

1 whole wheat crust (refrigerated roll-out variety)
1 lb peaches, about 4 medium, not overly ripe
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon butter

Slice peaches into 1/2″ thick slices. Place peaches in a medium bowl and sprinkle with flour, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. Stir gently with a spatula just until combined.

On a sheet of parchment paper, roll the dough into a 12″ circle. The parchment paper makes transferring and cleanup a cinch! Place the parchment paper and dough into a rimmed baking sheet.

Arrange the peaches in circles over the dough working from the outside in. Leave a 1.5″ to 2″ dough border. Discard any excess juices from the peaches, or your galette may overflow. It will be plenty juicy without the extra syrup. Dot the top of the peaches with small chunks of 1/2 tbsp butter.

Fold the edges of the gallette up and over the peaches, pinching the overlapping edges together to form a nice seal. Try to patch up any cracks in the dough. Bake for 18-22 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the peach juices are syrupy. Let sit 15 minutes before serving.

30 September 2016

Four days and 1835 miles in Montana

I spent several days driving around Montana to teach little (and some not so little) fluties of all ages, and while I definitely spent more time in the car than I did eating and drinking, I can tell you about a coupla good places...

BOZEMAN seems nice, but I only stopped for coffee at Cold Smoke, and it was amazing. It was also very necessary at that point in the day.

The campus is sweet, and historic downtown is beyond charming.  Had an espresso and nabbed some free WiFi at ZooTown Brew and a super delish pear and bleu cheese monte cristo at Plonk.

Jakers had great waffle fries with gorgonzola sauce, and they bring pico and chopped bacon to pour over the whole mess. They're also open late(ish) and the bartenders will cater to your every need. 

OK, you're probably never going to go here, but there was a randomly amazing Southern-style BBQ place that I cannot stop thinking about. It's called Ray J's, it's beautiful inside, and it is the real deal. The service was also very fast, which is handy, because you might be trying to get out of Malta quickly (I'm teasing, you guys were great...) Here is my weird but perfect pulled pork salad:

I did not have nearly enough time in this quaint little city, but I did enjoy a caprese panini at Bistecca, authentic Hungarian goulash and a tasty Red Lodge Oktoberfest at, of all things, Oktoberfest, and HOMEMADE STROOPWAFELS and coffee at Caramel Cookie Waffle. OK, I needed a lot of coffee on this trip 

The best meals, of course, were spent with kind people and their snuggly dogs all across the state, including the juiciest burger I have ever had (stuffed with gorgonzola, mayo, and chives), and the last of the summer's corn on the cob right off the grill.  Thank you, Montana, for a great stay!