I love pasta. A lot. It’s like bread but in a different form and with more seafood (because always seafood). I had the best lobster ravioli of my life in a fabulous little bistro in Boston a few years ago, and I still dream of it. The key? The vodka cream sauce. So I thought it was about damn time to start making some of this cream sauce myself. And you know what? It’s super easy. The only part of this recipe that a well stocked kitchen may not contain at any given time is cream. Otherwise, I know most of us are ready to bang this out with little to no notice.
- Saute 2 chopped garlic cloves, 1/2 cup chopped onion and 1/4 cup minced shallots in butter – 3 to 5 minutes to bring out the flavor
- Add 1 TB tomato paste to the pan along with a generous dash of red pepper flakes (depending on preference for level of heat) and cook until you can smell the spice (1 to 2 minutes)
- Remove your pan from the heat and stir in 1 cup of freshly sliced tomatoes (I use the little guys from the garden – so good!) and 1/3 cup vodka
- At this point you are going to cook it all down until the alcohol cooks off (7 to 10 minutes)
- If you want your sauce to be super smooth, you can pour it into a blender. I leave it with the little chunks – the texture is an added bonus
- Slowly add 1/2 cup of heavy cream to your sauce (because healthy and delicious) and heat until warm.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
This sauce is pretty amazeballs right out of the pan, but if you have guests or someone who may judge you, I suggest pouring it over linguine with garlic butter sauteed shrimp. And of course, green onions to garnish because duh.
See? Easy. Now I’m hungry…
I have one of those friends. You know. The friend with whom you make the pact of ‘should we not be married by 30, we will move to Vermont together and make and sell applesauce at the end of the driveway and be awesome spinster aunties.’ Ok, so this may be a mix of too many viewings of Baby Boom and a mutual love/fascination/obsession with Practical Magic (btw I am totally Aunt Franny) but it actually happened. Sadly we lost touch for a few years after my 4000 mile move to Alaska, and we both did end up tying the knot (both just squeaking through that 30 year cut off), but we’re back together – in a totally platonic life partner bff kinda way – and the texts are flying fast and furious. With a 4 hour time difference, a shop busy with customers all day, and 2 kiddos under the age of 3 on our collective plates, texting is the easiest. (And no one can overhear you bitch and whine from the next room).
We often send each other photos of what we are canning, processing, cooking or eating as we fancy ourselves to be super cool urban homestead hipster chicks (without any of the negative connotations of course). And one night after a glass or two of my favorite red vintage from a box, I decided that we were going to photograph our dinners each night to send along to the other. It has been a lot of fun, and I think both of us are not only upping our game (I informed the husband last week that we needed all new dinnerware because what we have just isn’t going to cut it for my plating aspirations and photographing anymore. You know, those black square plates I insisted on getting when we moved in together.) but getting some great ideas. It can be really hard to break out of that same 10 dinner rotation – There is absolutely nothing to cook! No recipes in the world!! – much like looking at your literally bursting closet and screaming you have nothing to wear.
I’m having fun with this little project. Not just because it’s an excuse to send more texts to my comrade Auntie Jet…well, maybe that’s the biggest part of it. And hey, if some publisher wants in on this, I bet we could get on board with that, too.
We brined our first poultry for Thanksgiving and it was amazing. Since then we’ve been brining all of our chickens and they are pretty out of this world. It’s the easiest thing to do and basically guarantees a super juicy a delicious bird.
- Add a gallon of water to a stock pot
- Pour 1 cup kosher salt, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 3 bay leaves, a handful of peppercorns, 2 cloves chopped garlic and a generous sprinkling of red pepper flakes to the water. If you have a lemon on hand, cut that in half and add to the water (a few squirts of lemon juice will also work)
- Heat until the salt and sugar have dissolved and allow to cool fully
- Add bird and allow to marinate – at least 4 hours (I like to leave the stock pot on the deck outside in the winter all day)
When the bird is done, remove it from the water and pat dry. Season as you would normally, but omitting the salt (it’s already salted). Cook as you would a roasted chicken and be amazed. Yum.
I few people asked me if I had any great dinner roll recipes this Thanksgiving. Truth be told, I didn’t. However! I do have a great hamburger roll recipe, and thought, why couldn’t that be used? So I gave it a try myself and omg…..those rolls are so good. Follow the recipe just as you would for the hamburger buns, but form smaller dough balls. Slather with butter. Shove in face. Repeat.
We did the traditional Thanksgiving spread, including mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, giblet gravy and stuffing (not much of a healthy vegetable to be seen – I’m ok with that), and of course, a giant turkey. Like, 23 pounds of giant turkey. I know – that’s huge. But of course we use all parts of it and feel that if you’re going to go through the trouble of brining and basting and whatevering, you might as well make it a big ass bird. The stock has already been simmered in the pressure cooker, and the meat has been separated for leftovers, etc (I can’t wait for the husbands epically awesome turkey enchiladas tomorrow – homemade enchilada sauce from scratch – with turkey drippings!!).
When life gets a little tough, a friend of mine and I joke around about moving to a commune on our own to be hippies and live on the land like crazy independent Amazon women. We have most of the necessary skill sets covered (booze making, cooking, clothing design, bread and butter production and a newly drafted ninja has the security aspect of the program under control – as soon as we have cheese making under our belts we can pack our bags) to make it a totally viable option in our overstressed entrepreneurial brains (no, it’s not really going to happen…I know…). Should our super fabulous commune never come to fruition and I am forced to move to a straight up hippie ranch I have come to realize that I make some damn tasty lentils.
Lentils have gained the reputation for being the peace loving legume, but they are truly more than just that – they are simple and delicious. We make them every other week or so and it seems I’m making larger and larger batches to ensure that we have some leftovers for a lunch or two – they are so good we can’t stop eating them. The recipe below is for a ‘medium’ 6 helping batch.
- Add 2 cups of lentils (you choose the color – we use the yellow/brown guys) and 5 cups of water or chicken broth to a large pot and bring to a boil with 2 bouillon cubes and a bay leaf
- Add 1/2 cup chopped onion and 2 chopped medium carrots to the pot and simmer for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally (you may need to add more water)
- The lentils will start to sort of break down (we like them mushy – I pretend I’m Oliver Twist), and at this point add another 1/4-1/2 cup of chopped onions and another 2 chopped medium carrots (contrasting texture! It makes mouths happy). Slowly simmer for another 8 minutes or so
At this point you can add whatever you else you like or have on hand. We have been known to chop up the lone leftover pork chop no one wants and throw that in. Leftover Christmas ham makes for super awesome lentils, and of course, a little cooked bacon makes everything better. Last night we chopped up the last reindeer sausage link that has been haunting the freezer and added a little bacon. Of course if you are one of those veggie only people, you can skip this step and add whatever else you choose.
- After your additions have had a few minutes to meet and mingle with their lentil neighbors, salt and pepper to taste. I also like to add a little garlic powder or salt as well as cayenne pepper
It’s just good stuff. And talk about cheap! You’re looking at perhaps a $3 meal here and it’s delicious. Maybe if you get good enough at making them, you too can join a hippie commune!
This recipe (or rather, a photo of a recipe) has been going around Pinterest forever and we finally gave it a try: Wonton Tacos. They are super easy, and super delicious and have definitely just made it onto our “quick party food for the masses” list.
- Place wonton wrappers in a muffin pan and preheat your oven to 400*
- Fill wrappers with your already cooked and seasoned taco meat that has chopped white onion cooked within (I use ground turkey instead of ground beef – better flavor, less grease, more thumbs up) – a spoonful or so
- Top with chopped cabbage, jalapenos and shredded pepperjack and cheddar cheese
- Bake for 6-8 minutes
- Top with a dollop of sour cream and chopped scallions
- Eat some. Repeat. Repeat again.
I’m pretty excited to take these for lunch tomorrow as well. Recipe makes 24 little cross culturally delicious wonton tacos.
EDIT: There was 1 single wonton leftover….I had 7 or 8….someone else ate all the rest. I think this means they get the seal of approval!