Pumpkin Pasta with Balsamic Sage Brown Butter Sauce

Despite the summer-like weather on Sunday, we had the most fall-filled day.  After Big Guy being away all week and then me being away all weekend we felt quite like ships passing in the dark.  Thankfully we were able to spend quality time on Sunday afternoon together.  Not only did we visit the pumpkin patch and put together our “fall” display in the front yard, but we made a fall-inspired dinner of pumpkin pasta.  

The pasta requires only two ingredients.  That’s right, two.  In a food processor, pulse together one can of pumpkin puree with flour until it forms a dough ball.  From there, the pasta noodles come together quite easily if you have the pasta attachment for your Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer.

The sauce is made by browning butter with whole garlic cloves and fresh sage leaves.  Once brown, remove the sage and garlic, and add in white wine and balsamic vinegar.  Allow the sauce to simmer before adding in your cooked pasta.  Toss and then serve with roasted pumpkin seeds, manchego cheese and fresh nutmeg (my special addition).

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This dinner hit the spot.  Not only did it feel my belly but it was nice to enjoy a stress-free (well, mostly stress free…the pasta water pot overflowed and let’s just say it wasn’t pretty) meal together after a long week away from Big Guy.

Pumpkin in food – like it, love it or hate it?  

I’m all about REAL pumpkin being in food but I find that some of the “pumpkin spice” items are taking things a little far…like been jerky.  Just no.

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Mac and Cheese Stuffed Peppers

Our garden still thinks it’s summer so we have an abundance of bell peppers begging to be used.  In attempt to use them up, I started thinking and researching about recipes I’ve seen utilizing bell peppers – but in an indulgent way.  Because it was Sunday and that’s what weekends are for.  Thanks to Pinterest, I came across a recipe I saved three years ago and knew it was the perfect recipe for Sunday:  Mac and Cheese Stuffed Peppers.

An incredibly creamy mac and cheese is made with three delicious cheeses by first making a roux with butter and flour.  The roux then thickens whole milk (so rich!) before adding in a little mustard powder, salt and pepper along with the cheeses.  I left out the cayenne pepper because I used a chipotle cheddar that brought plenty of heat to the dish.  Once the cheese sauce is made, add in your cooked pasta.  I used a fun spiral shaped pasta but you can use any kind of pasta you want.

The peppers are stuffed with the mac and cheese and then topped with crushed Ritz crackers that have been mixed with a little melted butter (this was my favorite part).  Place the stuffed peppers in a baking dish with a little marinara sauce at the bottom.

Bake!  And then devour.

maccheesepeppers

Comfort food at it’s finest. I found the marinara to be a fun Italian twist to mac and cheese. I think this would be a great way to get kids to eat some veggies because hello, don’t all kids LOVE mac and cheese?

Creamy, dreamy, carbalicious mac and cheese!

Homemade Creamed Corn Pasta with Fried Herbs

It’s no surprise that Big Guy and I love to spend time together in the kitchen.  And sometimes we take a “simple” recipe and turn it into quite the adventure.  But the truth is, it’s almost always worth the time, the effort and the mess.  A recipe for creamed corn pasta peaked both of our interest due to all the corn that we have stashed in the freezer.  But we couldn’t just use store bought pasta – oh, no – we had to make our own.

The pasta came together rather “easy” this time around (there was one pasta episode where we almost gave up completely and a voice or two was raised – not naming names).  And while Big Guy was making our noodles, I spent a little time making the creamed corn portion of the dish.  When I hear “creamed corn” I can’t help but think of my grandmother, Mimi, and her creamed corn.  It’s simply one of my favorite side dishes and I remember looking forward to it at all holiday gatherings.  To make this version of creamed corn, fresh corn is cooked in butter until caramelized, about 5-8 minutes.  Once the corn is lightly browned, add in the fresh thyme, garlic and crushed red pepper flakes.  Then add in the milk (I used 2%) and allow the mixture to simmer.  At this point, I reduced the heat to low and allowed it to hang out while we finished up the pasta.  I ended up adding a little more milk to thin it out.  Finally, add in the cooked pasta and the parmesan along with some of the salted cooking water.  I added a good 1/2 cup or more of cooking water to get the consistency I wanted – it’s going to depend on your pasta.

The plate of pasta was topped with fried herbs (thyme and basil) and then I finished our plates with a little lemon zest.  That was a very good idea.

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Absolutely incredible.

We were blown away by this dish.  Such simple ingredients became an absolute stunner of a dinner with a little love and a little mess.

 

Hawaiian BBQ Quesadillas

Ever since I had quesadillas with my Momma last weekend, I’ve been craving another quesadilla.  Thankfully, Big Guy was game and that’s just what was on the menu Friday night at the beach.  Instead of going the “traditional” Mexican route, I switched things up and make Hawaiian BBQ Quesadillas with a few tweaks.

Instead of using raw chicken, I went the rotisserie route.  I simply bought a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken breast from the grocery store and shredded the chicken while it was still warm. I made the same BBQ sauce and tossed the shredded chicken in the sauce.  Other changes:  I omitted rice (I’ve never had rice in a quesadilla and honestly, don’t think they need it).  I also omitted the jalapeño because we were using chipotle gouda cheese.  Finally, I used a pre-made guacamole.  I know, how dare I do such a thing.  It wasn’t because I didn’t want to make my own – the grocery store at the beach simply NEVER has rice avocados.

To make the quesadillas, I slathered a little butter (my secret to crispy quesadillas) on one side of the flour tortilla and placed it in a hot skillet.  I topped the tortilla with a little cheese and then layered on the saucy chicken, grilled onion and grilled pineapple before topping with more cheese (I used a chipotle gouda) and the other buttered tortilla (buttered side up).  Flip once golden and allow the other side to cook.

To serve, cut into quarters and add a dollop of guacamole.

bbqquesadilla

Now I’m craving another one…

Honey Garlic Butter Shrimp with Coconut Rice, Fried Plantains and Avocado

There are no words for how delicious this dinner was on Sunday evening.  It’s insane how much flavor is packed in one bowl of food.

At the beach I picked up a pound of our favorite shrimp that we then marinated in a mixture of olive oil, honey, garlic, ginger, jalapeño (I used one), cumin and cilantro.  We let our marinate for a few hours but you can let it rest from 30 minutes to 24 hours.  The coconut rice is a must!  Jasmine rice is cooked in coconut milk instead of water for the creamiest and richest rice that has the slightest hint of coconut flavor.  Don’t skip this step!  I added a pinch of salt once the rice was cooked.  The plantains are also something you cannot skip.  I repeat, do NOT skip the plantains.  Plantains can be found in most grocery stores – in fact, I picked mine up at Walmart.  Yellow plantains are best for frying – a little sweeter than the green/less rice plantains.  The plantains are fried for 1 to 2 minutes on each side and then sprinkle with flaky salt as soon as they come out of the hot oil.

The shrimp take such a short amount of time to cook – so do this last!  Melt a small amount of butter in a pan and then sauté the shrimp until almost cooked through.  Add in the butter and allow it to melt and simmer with the shrimp until browned – but NOT burnt.  Remove from the heat and stir in the coconut milk.

Serve the shrimp by spooning the rice into the bowl and then top with the tantalizing shrimp, crispy plantains and creamy avocado.  Give the whole bowl a pop of freshness with a sprinkle of fresh basil.

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I promise you’ll love this dish.  So many flavors.  So many textures.

And despite saying I have no words for this dish, I just wrote 315.

Cheesy Fontina, Caramelized Onion, Chorizo and Artichoke Pizza + Peach and Prosciutto Pizza

Whenever my brother, Taylor, and I get together we seem to find a way to make pizza.  And this past weekend was no different.  On Friday evening, after arriving at the beach, we got to work on two totally different pizzas.

Taylor was in charge of prepping the dough in advance and I made sure we had all the necessary ingredients.

On the first pizza:

Layer of the best marinara sauce you can get your hands on
Caramelized onions
Cooked chorizo, garlic and chilies in adobo
Marinated artichokes
Fontina
Manchego
Basil

And on the second pizza:

EVOO
Fresh mozzarella
Juicy, sliced peaches
Prosciutto
Basil
Balsamic reduction

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And while both pizzas were incredibly delicious, my favorite was the sweet peach and salty prosciutto combination.  SO YUM.

But seriously, Taylor and I joke about opening up a pizza joint one day…

 

 

 

 

 

Grilled Artichokes with Bagna Cauda + Roasted Rack of Lamb with Basil Goat Cheese Sauce

This past Saturday was quite delicious!  We were graced with not having ANYTHING on our calendar so we spent most of the afternoon at the pool before heading home to feast on an amazing dinner.

artichokes

I’ve never tackled grilled artichokes at home and while they take a little bit of time, they really are quite easy to make.  I had watched Giada make them on a recent episode of “Giada in Italy” (I wanna go!) and that is the recipe I used.  Big Guy and I also watched a YouTube video on cleaning artichokes that was very helpful – I had no idea how hairy and spiky they are inside.  And I also have a whole new appreciation for jarred artichoke hearts and completely understand the cost now.

To make the artichokes, you combine white wine, water, lemon juice + the lemon halves, thyme, rosemary, a bay leaf, and salt in a large pot.  Add the artichokes (after cleaning!) cut-side down and bring the water to a simmer with a top on the pot.  Simmer for 10 minutes or until tender.

Remove the artichokes and drain.  Drizzle with EVOO and a sprinkle of salt and grill about 4 minutes on side.  The artichokes are then dipped into a luscious mixture of olive oil, garlic, salt and butter.

grilledartichokes

I simply love cooking new things in the kitchen with Big Guy.

For dinner, we made a roasted rack of lamb with an incredible goat cheese sauce.  I prepped the lamb and the carrots before we even left for the pool.  Simply process EVOO, garlic, oregano, basil, ground cumin, lemon zest and crushed red peppers in a food processor.  Season the lamb liberally with salt and pepper then rub the marinade over the top.  Arrange the carrots around the lamb on the baking sheet.  Cover and let chill in the refrigerator.

The lamb is roasted at 425 degrees for 15 minutes and then flipped and roasted for 5-10 more minutes.  Allow to rest 10 minutes before cutting.

And with the lamb the most delicious goat cheese sauce.  Simply combine room temperature goat cheese, 2% Greek Yogurt, honey, basil, lemon zest plus salt and pepper.

lamb

Those carrots were better than I ever expected and the lamb was cooked to perfection.  Please don’t leave off the goat cheese sauce – it’s TOTALLY necessary.

I am forever grateful for our little date nights at home.  A time to just relax and enjoy one another.