Saturday, February 25, 2012

Orecchiette Pasta with Chicken in a Creamy Rosemary Lemon Sauce

Last weekend I was craving pasta like a mad woman. Nothing else would have satisfied me other than a steaming hot plate of Italian noodles with some sort of creamy sauce poured all over  and in it. So I headed over to Trader Joe's and began wandering around their dried pasta section when my eyes fell upon a package of orecchiette pasta. I'd never had orecchiette before, but always thought it'd be great for saucy pasta dishes since they're basically like little scoop-bowls. So I picked up a package, came home, and decided to make a creamy rosemary lemon sauce for it (one of my co-workers had brought in several dozens of lemons to work from their lemon tree and I had smuggled a few back home). Instead of using a heavy cream base for the sauce, I tried to make it healthier by using olive oil, 1% milk, and whisking in a tablespoon of flour. Then I melted in a tablespoon of goat cheese towards the end of the preparation to help thicken it. Once I finished preparing the dish, which was wonderfully simple to do, I tried it, and loved it. And I mean loved. Jeremy tried some too and loved it as well. It was basically just a big pasta-y lemon-y love fest. So if you like pasta, lemons, rosemary, cream sauces, or some combination of the former, I really recommend giving this a try.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Buttered Rum Cupcakes and a Pirate Giveaway

A few months ago my good friend Amanda told me that she was having a book published. So, of course, I immediately inquired as to what the book was about, and she responded, with an ample amount of glee: "LADY PIRATES!" I love an adventuresome tale, so when Lily and the Golden Lute came out this past month, Amanda gave me a copy which I read immediately, laughing hard and often. It's not your typical pirate fare, The Revenge (the pirate ship the book follows) is owned by eccentric millionaire Lily, and her crew is entirely made up of strong, smart, and biting female pirates. They get into many hilarious misadventures and there's tales of love along the way as well, but what I most loved and appreciated about the book was its wide variety of compelling female characters. They may not all be simultaneously athletic, smart, and talented, but every female character possesses at least one of those traits, usually two, which is fairly rare in adventurous fiction where males tend to take the lead roles and women the more subservient ones. Through their biting wit and saucy sword fights, the pirate crew of The Revenge really made these past couple weeks much happier for me, as work has been kind of stressful lately. So, in honor of Amanda's book, I made these delicious cupcakes, which also helped to make my week better. I was very pleased with how easy they were to make, (I used Pillsbury buttermilk biscuits instead of making the dough from scratch), and the rum and butterrum sauce heated up and baked all together with the biscuits was amazing. I don't know if it was the amount of rum in the cupcakes or how great they tasted that filled me with such joy, but I figured that as long as I was happy it didn't really matter.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Spicy Goat Cheese & Butternut Squash Triangles

One of my favorite meals is butternut squash ravioli with melted goat cheese and a dab of chili garlic sauce. I know it sounds random and weird and kind of terrible, but it's actually incredibly delicious. Something about the creamy salty tanginess of the goat cheese combined with the sweetness of the squash and the kick of the chili creates a very pleasant and comforting taste. So when I was brainstorming about what fingerfood to make for the superbowl last weekend, I decided to use the dexterity of my nimble Greek fingers to create the same flavor combination, but wrapped up in buttered filo dough. Filo dough is a very thin sheet of dough that is about as thick as a piece of paper. It can be bought in the frozen dessert area of your grocery store, usually located by the frozen pie crusts. Make sure you get the flat sheets for this recipe, not the shells or shredded filo. It can be tricky to work with because it is fairly fragile, and you need to assemble whatever you're making quickly because about 30 minutes after you break the seal of the package the filo will start to dry out and become brittle. But when you do filo right, the taste and texture more than rewards you for your efforts. I also love this recipe because the triangles came out at the perfect single-serving size, making them a great appetizer for parties and sporting events.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Chocolate Blackout Cake with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting and a Giveaway

Last Friday was me and Jeremy's six-year anniversary. When I got home from work Jeremy surprised me with a mini picnic on the living room floor, candles lit all over the place, and the best card ever. That night we went out to a fancy dinner at Waterloo & City, an English-style gastropub, and had an amazing meal. It was my first time going to an expensive/fancy restaurant because I usually try to budget my spending really well, but we figured that after six years together we deserved to go to a nice restaurant. I had wanted to make a cake for our anniversary, but couldn't get it done during the week, so last Saturday I decided to continue the fancy trend and make a fancy blackout cake with strawberry cream cheese icing, strawberry preserves, and chocolate ganache. I got the blackout cake recipe from King Arthur Flour but changed it a little bit to make it more moist, and I used this tutorial from I am Baker for the frosting technique I applied to the sides of the cake. We loved the cake, it was just beautiful to look at and was incredibly rich, so word to the wise, when you're serving it cut a smaller piece than you would think you'd need, as you get full from it very quickly.