Woopsie Spinach Rigatoni

Today is a perfect example of how good meal intentions can go south very quickly. Not all recipe attempts work or turn out delicious. We have made a meal and then thrown out the meal and ordered a pizza. We always keep a frozen pizza in case we don’t want leftovers or a new recipe doesn’t work out. This time we were able to save it. Cooking is like chemistry experiments. You fail…A LOT and that’s ok. Sometimes you need to take risks and just try. You can’t get better if you don’t try.

What I attempted to do was a no potato spinach gnocchi from my Vegetarian Bible cookbook.

The book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Vegetarian-Bible-Editors-Favorite-Recipes/dp/1450807844/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1459300026&sr=1-2&keywords=vegetarian+bible

spinach gnocci before disaster

Look at those beauties. Well….they completely broke apart when added to boiling water and turned back into it’s original mixture.

spinach mixture for pasta

In a slight panic we decided to keep going and just do a rigatoni (always keep a pasta on hand) and mix it with this….stuff

Final product…

spinach rigatoni pasta

So. If you want to make this surprisingly delicious pasta, here you go.

Time: Uhhhh 30 minutes? Not sure…I was doing a lot of on the fly stuff.

Skill level: WAY easier than what I was trying to do.

Amount: 4 big servings

You need:

Pasta and spinach

  • 4 cups rigatoni
  • 2 packages of frozen, chopped spinach
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
  • salt and pepper

Sauce

  • 3 (8oz) cans No Salt Huntz tomato sauce
  • 2 (6oz) cans Contadina tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 6-7 minced basil leaves

Do this:

Pasta and spinach

  1. Cook spinach according to directions.
  2. Drain the spinach thoroughly
  3. In a large mixing bowl mix the spinach, ricotta, parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Cook your pasta according to the box. Drain and place back in pot.
  5. Mix your spinach mixture in with the pasta.

spinach rigatoni pasta before sauce

Sauce

  1. In a sauce pan add all the ingredients and mix.
  2. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low.
  3. Simmer covered for 15 minutes.

Enjoy our woopsie spinach pasta!

 

 

 

Nathan’s Biscuits and Gravy

biscuits and gravy

As the title suggests I give all credit for my ability to cook biscuits and gravy to our good friend Nathan. I made a few modifications to his original recipe and that’s what you will see below.

Time: 30-40 minutes if you do them at the same time

Skill Level: Easy 

Amount: 12 biscuits and about 4 cups of gravy (If you like a lot of gravy, and thick gravy, it’s not enough for all 12 biscuits)

You need:

buiscuits and gravy ingredients

Biscuits

  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 3/4 tsp of salt
  • pinch of sugar
  • 4 Tbl of soild fat; butter, lard, bacon fat, etc…. (I use butter)
  • Large sour cream

Gravy

  • 1 lb breakfast sausage
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3-4 cups of whole milk (MUST BE whole milk)
  • 1/2 -1 Tbl seasoned salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

Do this:

Biscuits

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine flour, salt, and sugar
  3. Add the solid fat by crumbling it into the bowl. With butter I just cut it into tiny squares and add it. MUCH easier. Try not to let your fat melt before adding. 
  4. Add the whole container of sour cream and mix with a fork and then by hand to get all the flour incorporated. This will be a very sticky wet dough. 
  5. Spray a baking sheet
  6. Using spoons, make large balls out of your dough and plop them on your baking sheet. You should get 12 balls.
  7. Bake until full cooked through and golden brown (20-25 minutes)

pre-cooked biscuits

Gravy

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat
  2. Add sausage, break it apart into small pieces with spatula. Cook until fully cooked through.
  3. Reduce the heat to med-low and sprinkle flour on little by little to allow sausage to soak up.
  4. Once all the flour is in continue to cook for 1 minute
  5. Pour in milk and mix
  6. While stirring often, cook the gravy until it thickens (15-20 minutes) Gravy will thicken a lot once off the heat. Keep in mind while reducing down.If it gets too thick you can add more milk.
  7. Add seasoning salt, pepper, and cayenne.

cooked biscuits and gravy

biscuits and gravy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crockpot Chicken Salsa on Steroids

My mom makes chicken salsa and this is an amped up version of that. Super easy and super yummy. Perfect weekday meal.

Time: 8 Crockpot hours + 15 min prep

Skill Level: VERY easy

Amount: 5-6 servings (with rice)

You need:

  • 3 frozen chicken breast
  • 1 large jar of salsa
  • 1-2 poblanos, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 can whole kernel corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Taco seasoning (optional)
  • 1 cup rice, cooked

Do this:

  1. Add everything but the rice to the crockpot
  2. Mix
  3. Cook on low for 8 hours
  4. Shred chicken
  5. Serve over rice

chicken salsa

 

Maang Chi’s Steamed Pork Buns

pork steam buns

My parents visited over Easter break and it was also my mother’s birthday! For her special day I decided to make something that takes effort and would impress. I immediately decided on the Maang Chi steam pork buns. These are super delicious, something you wouldn’t think one could make on their own from scratch, and all around impressive.

Maang Chi’s website: http://www.maangchi.com/

Maang Chi’s Steam Pork Buns + Video: http://www.maangchi.com/recipe/jjinppang-mandu

Before attempting this recipe I HIGHLY recommend you watch her video. Especially for the folding part of the dough. It’s hard and will make a lot more sense if you just watch her.

Time: 2.5-3 hours (Active) YES this takes a long time but it is worth it. 

Skill Level: Difficult – The stuffing/folding of the dough is the hard part. 

Amount: 16 steamed buns

You need:

The dough

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tsp rapid rise yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbl vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 16 PAPER cupcake cups

The filling (NOTE: If you want to use mixed frozen veggies you can.)

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 small carrot, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 bunch green onion, chopped
  • 2 cups mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbl vegetable oil

Do this:

The dough

  1. In a large bowl mix the warm water, yeast, salt, oil, and sugar until yeast is dissolved.
  2. Add flour, mix, and then knead for 2-3 minutes. Dough should not be sticky.
  3. Cover dough and set aside in a warm place for 40-50 minutes
  4. Knead dough again for 1 minute to remove any air/gas bubbles
  5. Cover dough and set aside again in a warm place for 30 minutes

The filling (Start this while your dough is rising the first time)

  1. Place the onion, carrot, zucchini, green onion, mushroom, and salt in a large bowl. Mix and set aside for 15 minutes.
  2. Drain the vegetables through a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth. Squeeze and press the veggies to get out as much water as possible.
    • The reason we do this is because we want the final filling mixture to be fairly dry otherwise it will ruin the dough. Another option is to cook the veggies and drain afterwards. Either method is fine. 
  3. In another bowl, add the pork, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and black pepper. Mix by hand and set aside.
  4. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the veggies and saute for 7-10 minutes or until onions become translucent.
    • Drain veggies if they are wet or if you did not drain at the start. Remove as much moisture as possible.
  5. Place veggies back in the bowl and place the skillet back on the burner over medium-high heat.
  6. Add the pork mixture to the pan and cook until all the pork is fully cooked through. Drain any excess moisture.
  7. Add the pork to the veggies and mix together.

Making the buns

Divide your dough into 16 even dough balls. At this point you should have something like this….

NOTE: I tried using tin cups but they did not allow for as much rising in the steamer. USE PAPER CUPCAKE CUPS! Also I have extra dough balls off to the side so you can not see all 16 in the picture.
pork steam buns line up

  1. On a floured board, roll out each dough ball to approximately 4 inches.
  2. With the rolled dough in your hand, add filling (~2 Tbl)pork steam bun assembly
  3. Lift and stretch the edges of the dough around the filling while pressing together to seal up the filling in a cute little dough circle
  4. Repeat with remaining dough. You will have a lot of left over filling. We used the filling to make fried rice to go along with the steamed buns.pork steam bun leftover filling
  5. Place buns in your steamer. We do not have a double steamer so we can only do 8 at a time. pork steam buns before steaming
  6. Steam the buns for 20 minutes
  7. ENJOY the spoils of your hard work.

pork steam buns

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fried Jalapeños

For a while we were buying a bag of fried jalapeno things for our salads. They were ok, but mostly breading. They had very little jalapeno in them, so I did the only sensible thing and made my own. These are stupid fantastic for salads, nachos, or whatever!

fried jalapenos

IMPORTANT NOTES: Be careful if using bare hands while handling the jalapenos. Do not touch your eyes or skin. Gloves are highly recommended for men to avoid….accidents. I don’t like the house to smell like frying oil for days so I like to crack a window while cooking. 

You need:

  • Jalapenos – As much as you want. My pictures show about 8.
  • ~1/4 cup corn starch
  • ~2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • ~2 cups oil

Do this:

  1. Slice the jalapenos into thick pieces
  2. Dump the jalapenos in a 1 gallon baggie along with corn starch and shake to coat them. (Sides do not really get coated well)
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until smooth. You need to really mix them otherwise you get clumps and it’s difficult to work with.
  4. Pour out on a clean plate the panko bread crumbs
  5. Individually take each slice of jalapeno and dip them in the egg wash and then coat with bread crumbs. Place off to side.
  6. Heat oil in skillet on med-high until very hot. (You can test if it’s ready by dropping in a jalapeno and seeing if it sizzles.
  7. Dump in your batch and cook until all pieces are golden brown stirring to flip them over . (5-7 minutes).
  8. Place on a plate with paper towels to drain and cool.
  9. Enjoy.

 

begining fried jalapenosbefore frying jalapenosfried jalapenos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pasta with Prosciutto and Peas

There’s a pasta with prosciutto that is served in a Parmesan wheel at a restaurant called Carlucci’s. Once you have had this, there is nothing you crave more. This is why once I saw America’s Test Kitchen do Tagliatelle with Prosciutto and Peas, I had to make it!

http://www.americastestkitchen.com/

http://www.americastestkitchen.com/recipes/8267-tagliatelle-with-prosciutto-and-peas?ref=Recipe_feature_21

Current season recipes are free. Old seasons require a subscription. FYI

This is delicious. Not as good as Carlucci’s, but hey we can’t have everything.

 

Pasta and Prosciutto

 

Time: 20 mintues

Skill Level: Must be able to boil water

Amount: 4-6 servings 

You need:

  • 6 oz thinly sliced prosciutto
  • 1 Tbl unsalted butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • Salt and  pepper
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound of pasta (The recipe calls for tagliatelle, but I used some whole wheat cheapo linguine noodles and it was just fine)
  • 1 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 oz grated parmesan cheese (~1/2cup)
  • 2oz grated gruyere cheese (~1/2cup) THIS CHEESE IS IMPORTANT b/c gruyere actually will melt and not turn to clumps in your pasta…Doing all parmesan will.

Do this: 

  1. Slice 5 ounces prosciutto crosswise into strips and set aside.
  2. Mince remaining 1 oz prosciutoo.
  3. Melt butter in skillet over medium-low heat. Add shallot and some salt. Cook until softened – 2 minutes.
  4. Add cream and minced prosciutto. Bring to a simmer.
  5. Cook stirring occasionally until cream mixture reduces to ~1 cup (5-7 minutes).
  6. In a large pot, cook pasta according to directions on the box. When finished, reserve 2 cups of cooking water, drain the pasta and return to pot.
  7. To the pasta, add 1 cup of the reserved cooking water, the cream mixture, prosciutto strips, peas, parmesan, gruyere, and 1 tsp of pepper. Toss until pasta is coated. Add more cooking water as needed.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Crockpot Mongolian Beef

This week we tried a recipe I found on Pintrest. http://therecipecritic.com/2015/08/slow-cooker-mongolian-beef/

I forgot to take a picture.

After much consideration, I have decided to post the good and bad on this blog. Not all recipes turn out. In fact some get thrown out. Like any experiment there is a lot of room for failure, and that’s ok!

This recipe was good not great. I liked it but not enough to want to make it again next week. I think if I were to do it again, I would change it a bit or try a different recipe all together. The sauce seemed too sweet? Not sure what it was, but it did not wow me. Maybe it will wow you? At least it’s easy.

Time: 6-8 Crockpot hours

Skill Level: Extremely easy

Amount: 4 servings 

You need: 

  • 1 1/2 lbs flank steak
  • 1/4 cups of cornstarch
  • 2 Tbl olive oil
  • 3/4 cups soy sauce
  • 3/4 cups water
  • 3/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • green onions for garnish
  • Rice – cooked for serving with

Do this:

  1. Cut flank steak into thin strips. Coat pieces with cornstarch.
  2. Add everything except the green onions and rice to the crockpot.
  3. Cook on low for 6 hours or until meat is tender and cooked through.
  4. Serve over rice with green onions.