BLUEBERRY SPINACH SALAD WITH BLUEBERRY VINAIGRETTE

I used to think that chefs ate like kings every day. I mean they have all this culinary talent in a kitchen loaded with amazing equipment and a pimped out pantry.

Truth is, we seriously suck at feeding ourselves. By the time I’ve spent a 12 hour day making other people food, the last thing I want to do is make one more stinking thing. And after you’ve made the same exact dish, plated the same exact way like a thousand bazillion times, it kind of loses its charm.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that eating Golden Grahams straight out of the box does not qualify as dinner and that caffeine is not a food group. Not on any planet.

As a working single mother of three, time is a precious commodity. Like so rare I cry tears of joy when I can sleep in past 7 am now. Quick and easy is my middle name.

Anytime I can get at least three food groups on a plate in under 10 minutes, I consider it a major victory!

This Blueberry Spinach Salad is just that – you throw all the salad ingredients into a bowl and toss and all the ingredients for the vinaigrette into the blender and done. Easy as pie.

Ingredients

For the Salad
  • 10-12 oz. baby spinach
  • 1/2 c. strawberries, quartered
  • 1/2 c. blueberries
  • 1/4 c. toasted pecans
  • 1/3 c. goat cheese, crumbled
For the Blueberry Vinaigrette

 

For the Salad:

Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and toss gently to combine. Serve with Blueberry Vinaigrette.

For the Blueberry Vinaigrette:

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and puree till nice and smooth. Shake well before serving. Will keep in the refrigerator for about a week.

 

This entry was posted in Recipes.

MASCARPONE MACARONI AND CHEESE

You know what makes Mondays better? Holidays.

Since every Monday can’t be a holiday, thank God for macaroni and cheese!

See? Doesn’t this look like it would make Monday better?

This is a great mac’n cheese for someone who has never made homemade before because there’s no béchamel sauce – you simply whisk the wet ingredients together and pour them over the top of the cooked noodles, sprinkle it with the bread crumb topping and pop it in the oven, Easy peasy.

And the best part is that is tastes like heaven! Creamy, cheesy heaven. You can thank me later!

Mascarpone Macaroni and Cheese
Yields: 4 servings

  • 8 oz. elbow noodles, cooked al dente according to package directions
  • 4 oz. Mascarpone cheese
  • ½ c. sour cream
  • ¾ c. half and half cream
  • ¼ grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ tsp. dried sage
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. white pepper

    Bread Crumb Topping:
  • 1 c. fresh bread crumbs
  • ½ tsp. dried sage
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs. butter, melted
  • Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 2-quart casserole dish with nonstick spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together Mascarpone cheese, sour cream, half and half, Parmesan cheese, sage, salt and pepper till nice and smooth. Add prepared noodles and toss gently to coat. Pour into prepared casserole dish.

In a medium bowl, combine bread crumbs, sage, garlic, butter, and a pinch of salt and toss until the bread crumbs are evenly coated with the melted butter. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the noodle and cheese mixture.

Bake 15-20 minutes until it’s heated through and the bread crumb mixture is a light, golden brown and crispy.

This entry was posted in Recipes.

TOMATO BASIL SOUP

I’ve really missed blogging.

I’ve missed having a place to whine and reflect. I’ve missed the creative outlet. I’ve missed playing around with my camera and trying to master taking photographs of ice cream before it melts.

Most of all I have missed my fellow bloggers. I am truly amazed and humbled by how kind and supportive so many of you have been through this crazy upheaval in my life. Humbled and incredibly grateful!

So thank you, for your emails, your tweets, your messages on Facebook, your comments, and for being here with me as I grow a little, fail a little, and learn loads along the way.

And speaking of learning experiences, have you ever tried to photograph a bowl of soup? Seriously, how hard can it be? It’s not like it moves or anything.

I took 193 pictures of this bowl of soup. I kid you not.

It’s a darn good thing that it’s really good soup because I was seriously considering hurling the bowl off my balcony…

What did I learn?

First of all, set up your shot, bowl and all and then ladle the soup into the bowl. Otherwise when you carry it, it will leave unsightly little rings around your bowl. SO NOT COOL!

Second, wait for it to cool down before trying to photograph it. The steamy lens look is also not cool

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. good and flavorful tomatoes, cut into chunks and seeded
  • 1/4 c. olive oil, divided
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 28 oz. can San Marzano Tomatoes
  • 2 c. chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 c. loosely packed basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1 tsp. fresh oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place heirloom tomatoes on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tbs. olive oil, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Toss to coat. Bake in preheated oven 35-45 minutes until nice and tender.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large stock pot, saute onion and red pepper flakes in remaining 2 tbs. olive oil. When soft and translucent, add garlic and cook 2-3 more minutes.
  4. Add San Marzano tomatoes, juice and all to the sauteed onion and garlic. Add chicken stock, basil, thyme, and oregano. Top off with the roasted tomatoes, including the juices that dripped from the pan.
  5. Simmer over low heat 30-35 minutes to allow the flavors to really blend well together. Either pass the soup through a food mill or use an immersion blender to achieve the desired thickness. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

 

This entry was posted in Recipes.

OH…THE PLACES I’VE BEEN

I’ve sat down to write a blog post at least fifty times, and each time I find I don’t know what to say. It’s like writing a letter to a long lost friend and you just don’t even know where to start.

So I’ll just start by saying that I’ve missed all of you. I miss having a place to vent and catch up with friends, new and old. I miss knowing what’s happening in your lives. You move me and inspire me every day, and I really need that in my life right now.

I used to think my parents were insane when they would mumble things like “where does all the time go?” And “Man this year really flew by.” I was desperately afraid of turning into them. Yet here I am wondering where the hell this past year has gone.

What on earth, you may ask, have I been doing this past year? Since it obviously hasn’t been blogging…

Well, I got my first job as a pastry chef. That’s the biggest news. Most days I love it. Other days I feel like I’m in way over my head and I’m waiting for someone to catch on and tell me the gig is up. I frequently come home cut and/or burned and smelling like a bizarre mixture of buttercream frosting, seafood, and I’m sad to say, sweat with the bottoms of my feet so sore that all I want to do sit down and never move again.

Bet you didn’t know being a chef was so glamorous, did you? All kidding aside it’s like I’ve finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up. It’s truly extraordinary, despite smelling badly and the scars I will eventually need a plethora of tattoos to cover up.

My son has been working on his driver’s license, and my teenage daughter has been working on driving me crazy with her newfound love of texting and stupid boys, and worse texting stupid boys. Being a teenage girl must be harder than I remember because it blows my mind that anyone can cry that much. I’m sure I was NOT like that when I was younger.

Meanwhile my youngest has been doing her best to make me feel good every day by reminding me how old and tired I look all the time. Sweet isn’t it?

I’m busy enough that picking up The Grammercy Tavern Cookbook now qualifies as reading a book, and my daily dose of news involves the pop radio station telling me which 52 celebrities supposedly have herpes. For reals… (A side note– if Derek Jeter ever asks you out, tell him hell no!)

I’m a full season behind on The Walking Dead and Glee – so PLEASE don’t spoil them for me. And I have been sleeping on an unmade bed for three days now because I just can’t be bothered to put clean sheets on it. I tell myself I’m just doing my part to keep the mattress industry going strong.

When I’m lucky, all the planets align and I have an entire day off with nothing to do and can spend the day playing with my camera and catching up on my favorite blogs. Pretending I still have a life that doesn’t revolve around my kids and my white coat. Pretending is the key word here.

I’m thinking I may need to rename my blog Le Cirque du (insert something catchy here that I’m just too tired to think of) after the three ring circus it has become. Some days I’m seriously not sure if I’m the ringmaster of just one of the clowns.

But enough about me, how have you all been? Any exciting news I’ve missed?

This entry was posted in Blog.

LIGHT SPRING VEGETABLE FETTUCCINI ALFREDO

Judging by my fair skin and blue eyes, you can probably see I’m not even remotely Italian. I’m Swedish with a little stiff-ass Brit thrown in for good measure – which, between you and me, explains a few things…

I don’t remember ever eating Parmesan cheese growing up that didn’t come from a green can, and I hated didn’t really like it. It was weird and, like the whipped cream at Starbucks that won’t melt, highly unnatural.

That being said, I have always loved Fettuccini Alfredo.

Shortly after I got married, I decided that my ability to bake anything that involved sugar, butter, chocolate, and/or copious amounts of cream was not enough to sustain me through my adult life. I wanted to learn to “cook.” You know, stuff that didn’t have chocolate in it…Crazy, I know!

Alfredo was one of the first recipes I attempted. Let’s just say it was um…gross. That’s the word I’m looking for. Like I said, that stuff from the green can doesn’t melt. Like at all… I had this bowl of pasta floating in cream with little flakes of white stuff that looked like dandruff floating in it. Ugh.

Needless to say, we went out to dinner that night!

Years later, once I had developed an appreciation for REAL Parmesan cheese, that does in fact melt, I decided to try it again.

I still love Alfredo, but it fills me with this insane guilt every time I eat it. I’m seriously convinced that my butt actually grows while eating it. Then I start weighing how many stomach crunches and miles of bike riding I’d need to do to work it off, decide it’s not worth it, and eat something else entirely. (Usually ending with chocolate – not sure how I manage to logic that one out!)

By now I was on a mission to find an Alfredo that tasted like Alfredo without that dense heaviness. Somehow throwing in some spring vegetables eases some of the guilt as well. My husband calls it girl math – the veggies cancel out the fat from the cream. Whatever. It totally works for me.

Be warned, when finished it will appear thin, still very much like cream, and not AT ALL like that crapola that comes out of a jar. (Not being a snob, because I do admit to eating that on occasion when I’m lazy.) TRUST ME. Pour it over your pasta and taste it! It has all of the flavor, without that heaviness. And you can always sprinkle a little more Parmesan over the top if you’re feeling wild like that…

Light Spring Vegetable Fettuccini Alfredo
Serves: 4

  • 8 oz. fettuccini, cooked al dente
  • 1 c. half and half
  • 6 tbs. butter
  • ½ c. grated parmesan (NOT FROM A GREEN CAN)
  • 8 oz. assorted steamed spring vegetables

Prepare pasta al dente according to package directions, and steam vegetables.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan or sauté pan, bring half and half and butter to a simmer over medium-low heat. Make sure you don’t boil it.

Drain pasta and vegetables and place in a large bowl. Add parmesan to cream mixture and stir. Pour Alfredo sauce over pasta and vegetables and toss gently to coat.

This entry was posted in Recipes.