Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tasty Tuesday--Pasta with Baked Cherry Tomatoes

This pasta was so light and tasty. The perfect pasta side dish, or main course, for summer. The recipe is from the Food and Wine, Best of the Best Vol. 13 cookbook. Chef: Lidia Matticchio Bastianich

3 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fine dry bread crumbs
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the pasta pot
1/4 teaspoon peperoncino flakes, or to taste
1 pound spaghetti, gemelli, or penne
10 plump garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 cup loosely packed basil leaves, shredded
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
4 ounces ricotta or ricotta salata

Arrange a rack in the center of the oven, and heat to 350. Toss the cherry tomato halves in a large bowl with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Sprinkle over tomatoes the bread crumbs, salt, and pepper flakes; toss well to coat evenly. Pour the tomatoes onto the parchment-lined sheet, and spread them apart in a single layer. Bake until the tomatoes are shriveled and lightly caramelized (but not dried out), about 25 minutes in all.
Meanwhile, fill a large pot with salted water, and heat to a rolling boil. When the tomatoes are nearly done, drop the pasta into the pot, stir, and return the water to a boil.
As soon as the pasta is cooking, our the remaining olive oil into a big skillet, set it over medium-high heat, and scatter in the sliced garlic. Cook for a minute or two, until it is sizzling and lightly colored, then ladle in about 2 cups of the pasta cooking water, and bring to a vigorous boil, stirring up the garlic. Let half the water evaporate, then lower the heat, stir in the chopped parsley, and keep the sauce barely simmering.
As soon as the tomatoes are done, remove them from the oven.
When the pasta is al dente, lift if from the water, drain for a moment, and drop it into the skillet, still over low heat. Toss pasta quickly with the garlic and parsley sauce in the pan, then slide the baked tomatoes on top of the pasta. Scatter the basil shreds all over, and toss everything together well, until the pasta is evenly dressed and the tomatoes are distributed throughout. Turn off the heat, sprinkle on the grated cheese, toss once more.
Serve the the shredded ricotta all over the top.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Playing Catch-Up

I've been pretty lazy about posting. I mean, one recipe a week and nothing else? Pretty bad considering it's summer and I'm not working. So, I'm going to do my best to play catch-up and fill you in on what's been going on around here for the last two weeks, or weekends, actually. 

Last weekend we had a wedding in Greenville. It was absolutely beautiful. The bride, Erin, was a friend of mine from college, and we spent our first year teaching together. The groom, Bullet (there's a great story behind this nickname but I won't get into it), has been a friend of Andy's since little league soccer. 
They actually met at our wedding 3 years ago!

Cocky was at the Rehearsal Dinner! 
The Tiger was, too, as Bullet is a Clemson grad, but we won't talk about that.

You may kiss your bride!

Tri Deltas

With Andy's parents

Father's Day was that Sunday after the wedding, so before heading back to Charleston, we had a yummy and relaxing brunch on the river in downtown Greenville to celebrate with Andy's dad.

And then we stopped in Summerville to grill out at my parents' house to celebrate Dad's day a little more with my daddio and brother.

And of course cutie-pie Lucy

So, that was last weekend. Let's move on to this weekend. Friday night we enjoyed dinner at our favorite place, Zia, with our friends Rob and Abby, and then they came over to our house to watch the Gamecocks beat Arkansas to advance to the College World Series finals! 
I love this picture!

And Saturday was the most fun day of all! We spent the day at the Kiawah dog beach with Megan & Cameron, Emily & David, and all the doggies--Birdie, Brady, Gracie, and Bennett. Once we hauled all of our stuff a mile to the beach, we had a great time! 




Where Bennett spent most of the day...chillin' on a chair.
Megan & Brady, Emily & Gracie, Me & Birdie

Emily, Birdie, and me on the way home after a long day in the sun!

So that's me playing catch-up. 
I hope you all enjoy your week! 

P.S. Go Gamecocks!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tasty Tuesday--Greek Panzanella

Make this now. It is the perfect fresh side for your next summer BBQ. Or, you could add some shrimp or grilled chicken and you have the perfect summer lunch. 
I first had this at my sister-in-law's sister's house. Did you follow that? I loved it so much I had to ask for the recipe. She said it was an Ina Garten recipe...go figure. She never fails! I only made a few small changes, and the results were fantastic!

Greek Panzanella
6 servings
Olive oil
1 small French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
Kosher salt
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/4 in. thick
1 red bell pepper, large diced
1 yellow bell pepper, large diced
1 container Campari tomatoes, diced and seeded
1/2 red onion, sliced in half rounds
1/2 pound feta cheese, cut in 1/2 inch cubes

For the Vinaigrette:
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread cubes and sprinkle with salt and cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 5 to 10 minutes, until nicely browned. Add more olive oil as needed.
Place the cucumber, red and yellow bell peppers, tomatoes, and red onion in a large bowl.
For the vinaigrette, whisk together the garlic, oregano, mustard, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper in a small bowl. While whisking, add the olive oil and make an emulsion. Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetables. Add the feta and bread cubes and mix together lightly. Set aside for 30 minutes to let the flavors blend. Serve at room temperature.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Tasty Tuesday--Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

We're really bad about not eating bananas fast enough in this house. I, for one, love bananas and always have. Andy on the other hand, kind of pretends to like bananas.  You should see his face when he's eating a banana. It's pretty funny. And then Birdie ends up eating half of it....like a human. So, we end up wasting a lot of bananas and I am tired of it! This time I decided to use those over-rippened bananas to make this yummy bread.

1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 ripe bananas, mashed (1 cup mashed)
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a loaf pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Mix in the oil, bananas, and eggs. Stir in the chocolate chips (do not over-mix!) and pour into loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour, or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.

The original recipe is from Rachael Ray. She uses a full cup of sugar, but I didn't think it needed that much since the bananas are naturally sweet. It turned out really good, but I'm still not convinced it's the best. Might have to do some recipe hopping for the perfect banana bread. Do you have any suggestions?

Weekend Recap

Good Monday morning everyone! I hope you all had a fantastic weekend, and aren't dragging too much this morning. Our weekend was just about perfect. 

Friday afternoon, some of my coworkers had the brilliant idea to host a "Pinterest Party." Duh! Best idea ever. Everyone made a dish or drink that they've pinned on Pinterest but haven't tried yet. All of the food and drinks were amazing. 

I made these Spanakopita Bites, which were so good. They were a big hit, luckily, I ate 4 or 5 before I left the house because they went pretty fast. I will definitely make these again as they were super easy and very tasty. Recipe is below!

teacher friends! Do you see me in the yellow dress in the back? This is what you get when you ask a man to take a picture!

Saturday I enjoyed a relaxing day at the pool reading this book while Andy played golf.
Have any of you read this book? My friend, Emily, recommended it. It is so good! I haven't been able to put it down!

Saturday night, we had dinner at one of our favorite spots, Rue de Jean, and shared our favorite meal there: Mussels in basil, garlic, olive oil sauce. So freakin' good. Especially with their crusty French bread dipped in the sauce. I'm getting hungry just talking about it. 
So I realize this picture looks kind of unappetizing, but these things are amazing!

Then, we met up with some friends at The Music Farm to see Fitz and the Tantrums. We love this band. Their music is so fun!
They were really good in concert, but as much as I love the Music Farm for its rusticness (I just made up that word), it doesn't have great acoustics or sound-quality. But the concert was fun anyway!

 The only picture we took of the night...stuffing our faces with hotdogs after the show!

Sunday, we headed up to Columbia with my parents and brother to watch our defending National Champion Gamecocks play in the Super-Regionals against Oklahoma. We left super early to tailgate for the game, however, it was a downpour the entire time. Miserable. Luckily, I made a batch of skinny margaritas so that kind of kept me happy. But I wasn't very smart and wore white pants. Who wears white pants in the rain? Seriously. 
Anyway, it stopped raining for about 10 minutes right before game time, but after sitting in the rain for 5 innings, they finally announced a "rain delay". And, of course, during this 45 minute rain delay, it didn't rain a drop. And as soon as the game started back up, the heavens exploded and it rained harder than it had all day. Needless to say, they canceled the game and it is rescheduled for today. But according to the weather channel, it is going to be just as rainy. So I will be watching the game from my dry, comfy couch minus pruney toes and muddy pants!

Perfect tailgating weather, no?

This would be the weather that was heading our way right at game time. 

With BOTH of our National Championship trophies during the 10 minute break from the rain.

 Here is the recipe for the Spanakopita bites. The original recipe is found here. I used pre-made phyllo cups, but she takes the time to layer sheet of phyllo in muffin tins, so if you want the real way, check her recipe out. She has some really yummy-looking recipes that I will definitely be trying out!

1 tablespoon butter
1 small onion, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
10 oz. frozen chopped spinach (1 package), thawed
6 oz. crumbled feta cheese
1 cup cottage cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
salt and pepper to taste
4 packages phyllo mini-cups, thawed (15 per package at 60 total)

Preheat oven to 350. 
Heat butter over medium heat in skillet. Add white and green onions and cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes.  Mix spinach, feta, cottage cheese, and egg in a medium bowl. Add cooked onions and season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Spread the phyllo cups on an un-greased baking sheet. Fill each cup with about 1 heaping teaspoon of the spinach-cheese mixture. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Insanity Update: We've been really bad about our workouts ever since our trip to NYC. However, TODAY is the day we officially get back on track and begin month two! Wish us luck!

On another note: I cannot believe I reached 200 followers last week! I am beyond thrilled and can't believe people actually read what I have to say! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Your comments always make my day! I am planning on doing a give-away (my very first) to celebrate reaching 200, but will need some help from my buddy Megan, since she's a pro! I'll let you know about it soon!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Meatless Monday--Black Bean, Quinoa, & Oat Burgers

I have to give Andy credit for this recipe. He saw it in his Men's Health magazine and suggested we try it out. I am so glad we did. These "burgers" are so good! And so easy. Messy, but easy.
You make a base of black beans, quinoa, and oats, but then you can add your own fillings and flavors. They provided 3 different options: Southwest Burgers, Curry Burgers, or Asian Burgers. Of course, we went with the Southwest for our first try.

Step 1: Combine the base ingredients

2/3 cup cooked quinoa
1 3/4 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
2/3 cup rolled oats (not quick-cooking)

Step 2: Assemble your flavorings

Southwest Burger
3 Tbsp barbecue sauce
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp chopped pickled jalapenos
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin

Curry Burger
3 Tbsp mango chutney
2 Tbsp yellow curry powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt

Asian Burger
3 Tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp five-spice powder

Step 3: Prep the burger mixture

Blend your ingredients in a food processor or blender, stopping as needed to scrape the sides, until the mixture is the texture of wet Play-Doh. If it's too thin, add more dry ingredients; i it's too thick, add more flavoring.

Step 4: Press into patties and sear

Set a nonstick skillet over medium heat and add 1 Tbsp olive oil. Transfer the bean mixture to a bowl and wet your hands (this is very important because the bean mixture is quite sticky). Scoop out the bean mixture and press into patties. Slip them carefully into the hot oil, one at a time, until the pan is full but not crowded. Cook the patties until they acquire a crispy crust, about 4 minutes on each side.

We're going to try the Asian Burger, next! I served these burgers with this Tomato, Corn & Avocado Salad

Nutritional Facts Per Serving:
170 calories, 7g protein, 28g carbohydrates, 6g fiber, 4g fat, 150mg sodium

Friday, June 1, 2012

Summa, Summa, Summatime!

Summer has finally graced me with its lovely presence, and I couldn't be more happy to welcome it back with open arms! 
This summer started off with a bang with my first trip to New York City.

I thoroughly enjoyed my first NYC experience. We went with Andy's parents, and they were so sweet to have put a lot of thought into each day's itinerary. I took so many pictures, but I'll try not to bore you with all of the the standard NY pics, and in attempts to keep this post at a reasonable length, I'll show you my favorite part of the trip...the food we ate! Are you surprised?

We arrived around lunchtime on Friday, and after checking into the hotel, we were off to lunch at the famous Carnegie Deli. The sandwiches are ridiculously enormous so we ordered 2 to split between the four of us. We ordered the hot pastrami sandwich.

Take a look at this literal mountain of meat.

It was mouthwateringly good. Especially with their house-made mustard. 
And, what do you know, Andy's doppleganger was staring down at our table! (Although I believe Andy looks more like John Krasinski).
It's Cameron from Ferris Bueller!
And, Seinfeld reference here, Andy had to order a black and white cookie. He ate it before I could take a picture!
being silly
Per my aunt's recommendation, we toured around the market of Eataly. It was pretty amazing. It's basically a market with all fresh foods directly shipped from Italy. If I lived in the city, I would be there everyday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

My, I love pasta.
 Making the pasta on-site.
Okay. Who cut the cheese?
That's a lotta cheese.

We stopped for coffee at a coffee shop in SOHO (I forgot the name of it). This is where I had the best iced coffee of my life, the Iced Cafe. It had two scoops of ice cream in it. How could you go wrong?

Then it was off to the East Village for our walking food tour. I'll try to keep this brief, so I will only show you my favorite parts of the tour. It seriously was one of the best parts of the trip. I would recommend it!

Stop 1 on the tour: Egg Cream

Who would have though that a place called "Gem Spa" would have such yummy egg creams? By the way, an egg cream is simply chocolate syrup and soda water. No eggs whatsoever. And it was surprisingly light and refreshing.

Stop 3: Veselka Coffee Shop for their famous Borscht. 

According to our tour guide, there are Ukrainian women in the kitchen making this stuff all day, everyday. For those of you who are asking what Borsht is, it's a beet soup of Ukrainian decent. It can be served hot or chilled. Our's was hot and was flavored with pork. I kid you not, this was the best thing I ate all weekend. It was amazing. Even Andy liked it, and he is hard to please!

 Looks pretty revolting, huh? Looks can be deceiving!

Stop 4: Papaya Dog

And, while the hotdog was absolutely perfect complete with spicy mustard and sour kraut, the highlight (if you want to call it that) of this stop on the tour is meeting our homeless friend who we'll call "Ratman." We'll call him "Ratman" because of the obvious....he was carrying a rat that was crawling all through his hair....which was in pigtails. It was quite frightening, and I realized in that moment, him walking through our tour group shouting profanities at us, that I am pretty sheltered. I wanted to snap a picture, but was too scared! But picture this: long curly hair in pig tails, rat crawling through said pigtails, lime green war paint on face, shouting profanities. It was fun.

 I enjoyed my dog, despite "Ratman"

Next: Momofuku Milk Bar for famous Compost Cookie

Um..she also makes "Cereal Milk Ice Cream". Genius. Pure Genius.

So, those were my favorite stops on the food tour. We did stop at a pizza place, but we weren't that impressed with it. So, our mission the next day was to find the most amazing pizza that we could. And I think we succeeded in finding Majestic Pizza.

 He's a happy boy.

Are you still with me? I know this is a long one, but if you still have the stamina to stay a little longer, here are a few more pictures of our weekend.

Dinner in the West Village with Andy's sweet cousin, Alex, who lives in the city.

Heading to my first Broadway show, Phantom of the Opera.

 All of us on the water taxi.

terrible picture of us with my cousin, Kevin, and his girlfriend, Jen. Kevin also lives in the city.

I hope you're still awake! Whew...that took a long time.