Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Sausage Ragu with Mascarpone

This is another great recipe from Cooking with Lucas, available in his cookbook.  I first made it because I had all of the ingredients on hand, but my fam liked it so much that I made it a few times after that, too.  I use 500grams (about one pound) or fusilli bucati corti, a kind of round corkscrew pasta. I really like that shape here.  I always set aside some of the starchy pasta water right before draining.  I slowly add this to the sauce + pasta to make the sauce as creamy as I want.  Every time is different- sometimes I end up adding a lot, and sometimes just a little.  
Sausage Ragu with Mascarpone
adapted from Cooking with Lucas

500grams (1 lb) fusilli bucati corti pasta or similar
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 lb. bulk Italian sausage
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup of tomato paste
1/2 cup mascarpone
1 1/2 cup of red wine (or additional beef stock... use low sodium)
1 table spoon, fresh rosemary
1 cup beef stock
1 pinch of chili peppers, optional
Salt & Pepper to taste

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil, and salt the water with kosher or sea salt.  When it boils, add the pasta and boil as long as the package suggests.  Tests for doneness.  Before draining, set aside one cup of the pasta water.  Meanwhile, in a big frying pan, brown garlic, chili peppers, rosemary and sausage with the olive oil.

2.  After the meat is cooked through, add the wine or stock and let reduce in half. 

3.  Add the tomato paste and the stock, let it cook for ten minutes in low heat.

4.  Turn the heat off and combine the mascarpone, then toss with the pasta. As you are tossing, you can add in some of the pasta water to loosen the sauce and make it more creamy.  Do this if the pasta seems dry at all.  

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Sunday, May 16, 2021

Pasta al Limone

I absolutely love this past dish from Cooking with Lucas.  I made it twice a week for a few weeks when I first discovered it- lol.  You cook pasta and mix it with an uncooked sauce of cream, egg yolks, lemon juice, and cheese.  The heat from the freshly-drained pasta cooks the eggs.  You stir it vigorously then let it rest, covered, so the pasta has a chance to absorb the sauce and it thickens up.  This is great as a main dish, or as a side to grilled meat.  

Lucas has this recipe and many others available in his new cookbook.  Here is is first cookbook.  Both are so good! 

Note: I doubled the recipe for our fam- using a whole pound of pasta.  The original is 8oz- you can easily cut this in half and use 8 oz. 
Pasta al Limone
adapted from Cooking with Lucas

2 egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated Parmigiano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 lemon
500 grams or 16 oz dry spaghetti or other long pasta
4 tablespoons butter
fresh parsley
salt & pepper to taste

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil and add 2 tablespoons salt.

2.  In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks, cream, Parmigiano, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Grate the zest from the lemon into the bowl, then cut the lemon in half,  juice the lemon, and mix it into the egg cream mixture.

3.  Cook the pasta until done to your liking.  Drain the pasta immediately and add to the bowl with the lemon cream. Top with butter, then use two forks or a pair of tongs to gently toss the pasta until it is coated with sauce. Cover the bowl and let sit for 5 minutes to thicken. Can serve with additional parmigiana.

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Friday, May 7, 2021

Baked Beans

I loved these baked beans so much that I made them twice recently.  I've always hesitated making baked beans before because they all require molasses, and I don't like molasses.  I finally just decided to make them anyway and sub the molasses with honey, and it was so good.  I wish I'd tried it before.

I cut this recipe in half because I knew my boys wouldn't really like it.  I made an 8x8 dish of this.  I used one large can and one regular can of pork and beans.  I'll post my half recipe below.  It is easily doubled for a 9x13.
Baked Beans

2 cans of pork and beans (1, 15oz can; 1, 28oz can)
1 medium onion, chopped (yellow or sweet onion)
1 tablespoon butter (for sauteing onions)
scant 1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1/4 cup brown sugar 
4-6 slices uncooked bacon, each cut in half or thirds

1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees f. Spray an 8x8 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

2.  Sauté onions over medium to medium-high heat in butter until onions are tender and translucent.  Mix beans, sautéed onions, ketchup, mustard, honey and brown sugar until blended well. Pour in prepared baking dish. Top with uncooked bacon in single layer. Bake on middle rack of oven, uncovered, for 1.5-2 hours.  Beans are ready when the top is dark and caramelized. Serve warm. Enjoy!

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Monday, April 26, 2021

Cranberry-Glazed Almond Cookies (Gluten Free)

I loved these cookies! I bookmarked them awhile ago, during the holidays, and never got around to making them until now.  Back then, I bought a bag of cranberries and stuck them in the freezer with this recipe in mind.  I can't wait to make these again.  They turned out so well; for some reason I wasn't expecting much but they were so good.  
Cranberry-Glazed Almond Cookies (Gluten Free)

adapted from the Kitchn

1 medium lemon
2 cups super-fine or finely ground almond flour (192 grams, not almond meal)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large egg whites
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup powdered sugar

1.  Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.  Finely grate the zest of 1 medium lemon (about 1 tablespoon) into a medium bowl. Reserve the lemon. Add 2 cups almond flour, 1 cup granulated sugar, 2 large egg whites, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt to the lemon zest. Beat against the side of the bowl with a wooden spoon until so well combined the almond flour hydrates and forms a paste-like dough.

3.  Dampen your hands and form the dough into 1-tablespoon balls. (I just used a small cookie scoop.)  Place on the baking sheet evenly spaced apart.  Using the palm of your hand, press each ball down to flatten slightly until about 3/4-inch thick.

4.  Bake until the bottom edges and tops turn a light golden color, about 8-10 minutes. Take the baking sheet out of the oven. Using the bottom of a drinking glass or mug, press down on each cookie to flatten them slightly until 1/4-inch thick. Return to the oven and bake for 2 minutes more (I skipped this step with one batch and noticed no difference). Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool slightly while you make the glaze.

5.  Juice the reserved lemon until you have 2 tablespoons juice. Place the juice and 1 cup cranberries in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer until the cranberries start to burst and the juices reduce slightly, 2 to 3 minutes.

6.  Fit a fine-mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Add the cranberries to the strainer and press the fruit through with a spoon or rubber spatula. Be sure to scrape the underside of the sieve (that’s where you’ll find most of the strained pulp). You should have about 2 tablespoons fruit pulp in the bowl, discard the contents of the strainer.

7.  Sift 1 cup powdered sugar into the pulp and whisk until smooth and well incorporated. The glaze should be bright pink-red and glossy.

8.  Dip each warm cookie, top down, into the glaze. Let any excess drip off before inverting and returning to the rack. (I just spread on with a butter knife.)  Let cool completely; the glaze will harden as it sits.

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Thursday, April 22, 2021

Peanut Butter Brownies


These were so good and easy to make!  They had the perfect brownies texture. I also had everything on hand to make them.  They do require unsweetened chocolate, and I don't always have that on hand.  It's worth buying just for these brownies, though. 
Peanut Butter Brownies
1/2 cup butter
2 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs beaten
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup mini Reese's Pieces, optional

1.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease an 8 x 8 inch pan with cooking spray.  

2.  Melt the butter and unsweetened chocolate together over low heat in a medium size saucepan. Stir the mixture until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.  Remove the saucepan from heat and add the sugar. Stir well.  Add the eggs and vanilla to the saucepan, stir until it’s smooth.  Then add the semi-sweet chocolate chips, flour and salt. Stir until well combined.  Pour the mixture into prepared 8 x 8 inch pan.

3.  Pour the peanut butter chips, milk chocolate chips and mini Reese's Pieces to the pan. Give the pan a quick tap on the counter to get out any bubbles and then place it in the oven on the middle rack.  Bake the brownies for about 15-25 minutes.  (All ovens are different; check early so they do not overbake.  A toothpick should come out with a few moist crumbs.)

4. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool.  Cut into squares
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Monday, April 19, 2021

Corn & Sausage Chowder

I loved this flavorful corn & sausage chowder.  It was pretty easy to make too.  I reduced the recipe a bit, and it was still huge... we had leftovers for a few days.  I'll re-write the recipe the way I did it, below.  
Corn & Sausage Chowder
adapted from Carlsbad Cravings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb. hot bulk Italian sausage (if using links, remove casings)
1 medium yellow onion chopped
1 cup chopped carrots
2 1/2 cups Yukon gold potatoes peeled and diced into 1/4-1/2” cubes
2-3 cloves garlic minced
red pepper flakes to taste, optional
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 14.75 oz. cans cream style corn
2 cups corn fresh or frozen (not thawed) 
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 tsp EACH dried oregano, dried thyme, salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper1
1 bay leaves
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup half and half, light cream, or heavy cream

1.  Heat one tablespoon oil in a large soup pot/Dutch oven over medium heat-high. Add sausage, onion, and carrots and cook until sausage is cooked through and onions are tender.  Add potatoes, garlic, red pepper (if using) and sauté 30 seconds.

2.  Sprinkle in flour and cook an additional 1 minute while stirring (it will be thick).

3.  Stir in creamed corn, corn, chicken bouillon, bay leaves and all seasonings. Whisk in chicken broth.
Cover and bring to a boil.  Uncover and reduce to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are very tender, stirring occasionally so the bottom doesn’t burn.

4.  Stir in half and half/cream and heat through. Discard bay leaves. Taste and season salt/pepper to taste if desired.
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Friday, April 16, 2021

Penzey's Buttermilk Pie

I really enjoyed this old-fashioned buttermilk pie.  It was really easy too, since I used a pre-made pie crust I had on hand.  I just unrolled the crust, mixed the filling (which took about 5 minutes), filled the pie, and baked it.  The filling forms a firm eggy custard in the oven.  I want to try more of these type of old-fashioned pies in the future.  Using my own crust would make the flavor even better.  
Penzey's Buttermilk Pie
adapted from Penzey's

1 single unbaked pie crust
Pie filling:
13/4 Cups sugar
1 TB. (heaping) flour
1 stick butter, melted
3 eggs
1/2 Cup buttermilk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. Penzey's pie spice (or cinnamon)

1.  Preheat oven to 350°. For the filling, combine the sugar and flour. Add the melted butter and eggs and mix. Add the buttermilk, vanilla and pie spice and mix well. Pour into the pie shell and bake at 350° for 50-60 minutes until there is very little movement when you jiggle the pie. (You still want a little jiggle; will set up as it cools.)  Remove from oven and cool well before slicing, at least three hours. Great chilled as well.
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