Choosing from the recipes this month proved to be just as difficult as usual for Pass the Cook Book Club. I almost made the Loaded Puff Pastry Sticky Buns but when push came to shove an entrée was more in demand than a breakfast pastry. I had already made ribs for a previous month so I went with the Spicy Macaroni and Cheese.
After Kita mentioned that she thought there was an uneven proportion of cheese to pasta, I decided to double the pasta instead of reducing the cheese. Because when is there ever too much mac and cheese? Also, the recipe originally called for cayenne pepper and sour cream but I did not have cayenne (apparently forgot to add it to my grocery list after finishing it off), so I used chipotle chile pepper and you all know how much I love substituting things like sour cream with Greek yogurt.
In the end, it was much better than the spicy mac and cheese I’ve made before but it wasn’t quite as creamy as some others. However, the flavors definitely outweighed the slightly less creamy nature. I especially enjoyed the textural addition of croutons on top. I will definitely reheat the leftovers in my toaster-oven to ensure those crunch-factors don’t get chewy!
One year ago: Chicken in Basil Cream Sauce
Olive oil is one of those things that I typically buy the generic store brand of. Mostly because it’s less expensive, and also because I generally cannot tell the difference unless using in a recipe where it is the main attraction. So when I received a bottle of Carapelli Extra Virgin Olive Oil to try out, I made sure to pick out recipes where I would be able to taste the difference.
The first thing I decided to make with my bottle of Carapelli Extra Virgin Olive Oil was herb infused olive oil. I got excited thinking about what I would cook with the infused oil once it was prepared, but to my disappointment it grew mold in the air-tight container stored in the refrigerator! Next time I’ll use a different method that doesn’t require leaving the herbs in the bottle. Thankfully I still had half a bottle remaining to try something else in the meantime.
After my failure to make infused olive oil, I decided to prepare something a little safer – homemade pesto. My basil plant had been growing out of control and it seemed fortuitous. This olive oil made me fall in love with my homemade pesto all over again. Pesto is definitely one of those things where the quality of the olive oil matters.
With the remaining small amount of olive oil, I decided to make crispy gnocchi by pan-frying cooked gnocchi in olive oil. This results in what you would expect – gnocchi with a crispy exterior. Served along with the Lighter Chicken Parmesan I shared yesterday, this meal was a hit!
What’s better than jalapeno poppers for an appetizer? Jalapeno poppers for dinner!
When I first made this dish, I cut the milk in half because it seemed like too much but also doubled the pasta because it was too little to pass for 4 servings (st least for me without any sides). It turned out absolutely fantastic but I felt like it would have tasted more like a jalapeno popper if the Parmesan was substituted with more cheddar. I realize that without the Parmesan it’s not really an Alfredo sauce and instead more of a mac and cheese sauce but I’m here for taste, not technicalities!
Since Bob also planned to make this meal, I told him about the modifications I had made and the additional changes I thought would be good (I also suggested cutting the butter in half but he didn’t try that). Turns out I was right about the cheddar making it taste more like a jalapeno popper, in addition to the other changes I had already made. I have written up the recipe to reflect those changes. The picture however, is pre-cheddar increase so the sauce doesn’t have much of a cheddar-colored tint to it. I may need to whip it up again for football viewing tomorrow!
One year ago: Hazelnut Praline Paste
I dropped that ball yesterday and missed posting for Single Serving Sunday. You may not have even noticed (which if that’s the case maybe I should rethink those posts), but in case you did my apologies. I had a quick single serving breakfast recipe that I had every intention of preparing and posting, but the first time it did not come out right and then I ran out of eggs and didn’t get to the store until it was too late to fuss over. Maybe by next weekend I will have it ready haha.
With one week until I need to send the final draft of my dissertation to my committee I have been in super-productive mode. Hence my lack of a post yesterday. I did next to nothing other than write all last week until Friday afternoon when my brain died. After sending my Introduction to my advisor I just couldn’t process nerdy thoughts, so I took the night off and hung out with friends Friday night. The rest of the weekend wasn’t as writing-productive as I would have liked, but I feel less tense and my apartment is cleaner. Accomplishments come in many forms.
For all my fellow stressed out people who are desperately trying to get things done while still getting some sustenance, here is a quick and healthy meal for you tonight. It’s kind of like those healthier pasta recipes that mix in fettucine-sized slices of zucchini. This time whole wheat spaghetti is mixed with broccoli slaw and tofu which has sauteed into a spicy-honey sauce and topped with peanuts, cilantro and green onion. It’s spaghetti gone Thai!
I forgot to tell you some news… I submitted a manuscript on Monday to be reviewed and hopefully published! One of two actually as I have a second coming right behind it. Just have to finish up some minor experiments before I can wrap it up but should be nearing completion within a couple days. Then all I have to worry about it reformatting them both to fit in my dissertation, and finishing the dissertation itself! Is that all?
Yes I am somehow still cooking for myself despite everything I freak out about on a daily basis. Besides, I am trying to soak up every last morsel of summer cooking. Some people have already started to embrace the fall flavors for cooking, but I am not ready yet! I cannot imagine eating anything pumpkin when it is still 90 degrees outside so I made this fresh summer gnocchi dish. The original recipe used corn on the cob, but I had some frozen kernels already and decided to use them instead. Saving money like a
baller grad student.
One year ago: Reese’s Peanut Butter Oatmeal Breakfast Cookie
Every day is a battle to actually prepare a meal at dinnertime for myself instead of opening a blue box of mac and cheese or swinging by Taco Bell. I am actually impressed by only caving once thus far. Oddly enough I spruced up that blue box by topping it off with some lentil soup and fried okra. That is what happens when you are hungry and rummage through the pantry and freezer for random items. Oddly enough it was quite delicious and I may have to do it again the next time I cave.
But on the days I do manage to cook it is rarely anything that takes more than 30 minutes of preparation. And yes, this recipe today falls into the category. It may look fancy and difficult but the hardest part is slicing the eggplant, unless you’re smart and pull out your mandoline (I own one but always forget). The next hardest part? Not eating the entire pan by yourself in one sitting. The creamy pesto was freaking amazing and I wanted to bathe in it.
Gnocchi is supposedly a filling pasta and most people I know can only eat about 8-10 morsels before claiming to be “full”. Yet I can house an entire package by myself without feeling the slightest discomfort. I am not claiming this to be a good thing, just a fun fact about my belly.
This gnocchi dish however was in fact very filling and for once managed to only eat the recommended serving size. Actually, finishing one serving left me feeling quite full and satisfied. And it was a quick prep recipe too, which I am in dire need of these days!
P.S. Today is actually National Waffle Day, but I didn’t have time to whip up a recipe for the occasion. Just sharing this info in case you wanted to celebrate on your own ;-).
Happy National Cheese Day! What better way to celebrate that with some pasta covered in it? When it comes to mac and cheese, I tend to prefer the stove top varieties bnecause they are creamier. I have never met a baked version that could compete. That was until this recipe happened because it just may be the creamiest baked mac and cheese ever.
When Lindsay (Love & Olive Oil) posted about this recipe and explained how many sub-par batches of mac and cheese she and Taylor had to eat before reaching the perfect consistency and flavor, I knew I had to make it with the exact same cheeses. It was surprisingly difficult to locate mild white cheddar in the grocery stores near me, but finally found one and it was well worth the hunt.
Don’t like Brussels sprouts? Leave them out or substitute for another veggie, such as broccoli. This creamy mac and cheese is the perfect base to which you can incorporate any of your favorite add-ins.
Posts on Sunday? Yes because it’s Single Serving Sunday! Remember the leftover avocado from the breakfast taco I shared last Sunday? Well today I am sharing a simple pasta dish that uses it for a sauce. Using some of the cooking water and a little bit of seasoning, the avocado turns into a creamy delicious sauce. You may even find yourself whipping this up in larger quantities when cooking for others. No one has to know how easy it was to prepare.
Add some red pepper flakes if you want a little kick!
On one of my most recent adventures to Nashville, I (of course) stopped in to Trader Joe’s to stock up on old and new favorites. This particular journey I found myself flinging all kinds of newly found items into my shopping cart. One item that became a projectile happened to be dried mini cheese ravioli. Just like a girl, I got all excited over their small cuteness.
Once I got them into my kitchen I found I couldn’t just throw them into just any old sauce – they were just too special. So I made a creamy pesto sauce by mixing pesto and Greek yogurt together and tossed in some roasted asparagus, garlic, and sun dried tomatoes. Roasting vegetables has become my go-to vegetable cooking method and the combination definitely did the mini raviolis justice. But feel free to use regular (less exciting) sized ravioli if you cannot find minis.