29 July 2011

Double Take: Risotto Primavera

Risotto Primavera

Since my first successful foray into risotto well over a year ago, I’ve taken to making it frequently, particularly when shell peas are in season! There is just something about sitting down with a big bag of peas, and opening each pod individually to get the green globes, all lined up and sitting pretty, out of their homes and into the bowl. Some might end up not making it to the bowl, but that’s okay. The risotto will still be yummy.

I’ve developed a bit of a carefree attitude to making risotto these days. If I’m just making a pea risotto, I’ll throw a cinnamon stick into the chicken broth for about 10 minutes to give it extra flavor. I no longer measure, but just go with what feels/looks right. Don't worry though, I've left the original recipe's measurements intact so you get a good reference for starting out! 

25 July 2011

Egg Linguine turned Fettuccine with Italian Sausage and Zucchini Tomato Sauce

Homemade noodles in homemade tomato sauce.

Making pasta for the Daring Cooks challenge gave me the confidence I needed to try it again. And so I did. On a weeknight. When Bender and I were both hungry. Maybe it wasn’t the brightest idea I’ve ever had, but it ended up not being a terrible one. If you only ask me.

I was determined not to over-flour the dough this time. The Pappardelle as so difficult to roll out, and I had such a headache while doing it that it was actually a quite unpleasant experience. The noodles were pretty thick and chewy, not a favorite around here, despite Bender’s comment that they were well made (I’m beginning to think he might have said that in hopes that I wouldn’t make pasta again). Overall, I was okay with the final dish, but not pleased. So I had to make pasta again and make it tasty, right? Silly me, having to prove to myself that I can make something properly.

21 July 2011

Double Take: Pioneer Woman's Chicken Cacciatore

Chicken Cacciatore: chicken, peppers, onions, tomatoes,
mushrooms, and noodles.

I have had a strange relationship with bell peppers. As a kid, I loved them. Hand me a green bell pepper and some ranch dressing, and I'd go to town. It was the perfect snack. Well, really alfalfa sprouts and ranch dressing were the perfect snack, but bell peppers were a close second. As I got older though, my love of bell peppers faded. I began to dislike the side effects. And I began to taste them more than one should. When they were added to a tomato based dish, such as a tomato sauce, they completely overpowered the rest of the flavors in the dish. And I began to notice them in meatloaf. I got to where I would only eat my mom's meatloaf and bell peppers were the reason why.

18 July 2011

Secret Recipe Club July 2011: Cheesecake Bars

Fresh blueberries and cheesecake? Patriotic yumminess!

One of the blogs I lurk on recently introduced me to the Secret Recipe Club. This club is composed of food bloggers who are interested in increasing exposure to their blogs and the blogs of others. I immediately signed up. Unlike the Daring Cooks challenges, everyone makes something different. Each month I will receive the name of a blog and will be required to make one recipe from that blog. But here’s the reason I joined so quickly: I can pick any recipe from their blog that I want to make. I normally hesitate about such things because Bender is a pretty picky eater. But if I can pick the recipe, I’m pretty certain I can find something that even he would like. Are you interested in joining our little club? If so, click here to fill out the form!

14 July 2011

Double Take: Beef with Spicy Cocoa Gravy

Beef and Pork with Spicy Cocoa Gravy

The way I’ve been cookng lately, you’d think I lived in the Southern hemisphere. But though we are now at the middle of July, it hasn’t quite gotten hot yet. Oh, it’s toasty here this week (if you consider temps in the mid 70s upper 60s to be toasty), but when I woke up on July 1, it was a mere 49°F/9°C. Thus, my oven is still in use and I’m willing to use my stove for lengthy periods of time. Roasting in the kitchen does not cause me to roast, so I’m taking advantage of the cooler than usual weather and using my oven and stove as much as I can.  

Of course, poor Tabitha is not enjoying such cool temperatures. Oops. But maybe it’s okay since she has air conditioning and I don’t?

13 July 2011

Daring Cooks July Challenge: Homemade Pasta!

Pappardelle with Braised Beef Ragu

Steph from Stephfood was our Daring Cooks' July hostess.  Steph challenged us to make homemade noodles without the help of a motorized pasta machine.  She provided us with recipes for SpƤtzle and Fresh Egg Pasta as well as a few delicious sauces to pair our noodles with!

Whoa. I have to make pasta? Are you crazy? It was like pulling teeth to get me to make gnocchi.

07 July 2011

Double Take: Mexican Pulled Pork (Carnitas)

We were too busy eating our burritos to take pictures of them...
so you get pictures of my leftovers! 

I have been salivating over several recipes for carnitas for quite some time now. For some reason, I tend to frequent blogs that have recipes for carnitas. Maybe my love for Mexican food draws me to the blogs? When I was making my list of blog recipes I wanted to try, I came up with no less than three carnitas recipes. I decided we couldn’t make all three, so I added two to the list. But you see, apparently Tabitha had been mesmerized by the carnitas as well. She had also seen an episode of America’s Test Kitchen and had gotten the recipe. We settled on America’s Test Kitchen and were off!
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