Baked Tomato Risotto

I didn’t think I would enjoy making this as much as I did. When it comes to cooking, I’m really into the “under 30 minutes and less than 5 steps” category. Once you start adding in multiple processes and using scary words like “bechamel,” I begin slowly backing away. I mean, do you realize that multiple sauces and mixtures means more dishes to clean? Haven’t you people heard of one pot wonders? Why can’t every recipe read, “Add all ingredients to bowl. Stir. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.”*

*note to self – great idea for a cookbook

However, when I saw this dish on Giada’s show, it seemed too delicious to pass up. But I was shocked at how easy this was to prepare. And it included a lot of stirring, which if you’ve had a stressful week can be very relaxing, in a hippie, zen-like sort of way. Let’s break it down. Continue Reading →

Kale Salad with Lemon, Parmesan and Breadcrumbs

Things I have learned in the past 24 hours:

1. If a company gives you your very own business credit card, put it into your wallet immediately. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT put it on your desk right before your sister helps you do a major cleaning of your home and you get all trigger happy with throwing away trash. Eventually the line that divide “trash” from “credit card” becomes blurry.

2. Always keep a nice change of shoes & shirt in your car. Inevitably there will come a time when you will decide to go to work in “comfy” clothes, i.e., jeans, a T-shirt and ripped Toms. This is the day you will forget you have a networking function after work with no time to change in between.

3. Do not drop your phone into bowls of soup. This might seem obvious but apparently I need a refresher lesson.

4. A perfect Bellini after work will always make you feel better. Always.

5. If you go home, change into sweats, and eat a big bowl of this kale salad, it’s basically like you worked out. Science. Plus – this salad is insanely addictive and you will love every moment. Just do it.

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Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Shells

This was one of the last dishes that I photographed before the move, so it will be the last recipe post with photos taken from a maximum 2 feet away because I had no room in my kitchen. Watch out world – wide shots are coming soon!

Even though this was one of the last recipes I made in my LA apartment, it is also possibly  the first dish I’ll make in the new home. These shells are simple to make and great comfort food during the winter months. If you have a couple of casserole pans to spare I recommend doubling the recipe and freezing some shells for later use; they should be fine in the freezer for at least a month. There are few things better than coming home after a long day, dreading the thought of cooking and then remembering you have some delicious pasta shells waiting for you to just throw them in the oven.

And in case you were wondering – no, we’re not in our new home yet. Our fingers are crossed that we’ll finally be moving in tomorrow and Chase and I will be able to resume an activity that has been missing from our lives for far too long:

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Tomato and Parmesan Benedict

Seriously, this post was meant to go up like, a month ago. But no one told me it was September so I just totally missed it. I mean…it was August for a minute and then I wake up and suddenly it’s the middle of October. Ummm…is there someone I can blame for this? Shouldn’t a memo have gone out or something??

Thank goodness this recipe is just as good in October as it was in August. Roasting the tomatoes means that this will taste good year round since it develops the flavors of even the most bland grocery store tomato. And honestly, anything tastes good if it’s drowning in a cheese sauce, am I right?

I’ve been hesitant of making a benedict due to the fact that recipes with more than 3 steps often overwhelm me. However, this dish might seem complicated, but it looks much scarier than it actually is. Let’s do this, shall we?

First we’ll discuss the one step I don’t have a picture of since I just spaced out on the whole “photos/camera” thing: roasting the tomatoes. I would do this first since it takes the longest and the tomatoes can be set aside until you’re ready to use them.

Slice a tomato into 1/4 inch slices. Lay flat on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast at 450˚F for about 25-30 minutes, or until they have cooked down and are beginning to caramelize. Set aside until you’re ready to use them.

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Super Simple: Gnocchi with Pesto and String Beans

I have a love of cooking, but what I don’t love spending long hours in the kitchen. Although I enjoy experimenting with new flavors and relish the rush I feel when a recipe turns out just right, I’ve never been one to enjoy slaving away over recipes that involve hours of simmering, or precise instructions in which a shaky hand can ruin an entire dish in seconds. I want recipes that get me in and out of my kitchen and on with life, but still leave me with plates of food that were not prepared from a box or in a microwave.

So, instead of trying to convince anyone of my superior kitchen prowess (which I don’t have), I’m trying to embrace my love of simpler recipes. This is a new favorite that is definitely going to be showing up in my kitchen quite a bit more: gnocchi cooked with some chopped green beans and tossed with a fresh pesto. If you’ve never made pesto – don’t be afraid of it. The food processor makes everything for you and no matter what ratio of ingredients you add, it is incredibly difficult to make it taste bad. Trust me, I would know. As for the gnocchi, I didn’t make these from scratch, but I’ve found some really great packaged ones that you simply cook for a few minutes in boiling water. Saves me time and still tastes just delicious. Winner, winner, gnocchi dinner. (I know, right? I am stunningly clever today.)

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Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Pasta

If I ever cook for you, I suggest you clarify as to whether this is a recipe that I’ve made before or not. If I tell you it’s the first time, please proceed with caution. I tend to be a bit lackadaisical when trying a new recipe, meaning the process goes something like this:

I find a recipe like this one and then skim through the instructions. Notice I said skim. Picking up key phrases like “red peppers” “place on baking sheet” and “roast in oven”,  I then take a couple red peppers, place them on a baking sheet, and slide it in the oven. It’s possible I’ll go check the recipe to see how what the oven temperature should be set at, but I also might just guess.

After a little while, I check on the peppers, which seem to be getting pretty dark. I wonder to myself, “Should I be turning these over or something?” I go back to the recipe, which inevitably says, most likely in bold print, “turn at least once while roasting.”

Honest to goodness, why does anything I cook ever turn out? I like to cook alone in the kitchen not because I enjoy solitude, but because I don’t want people making fun of me, or asking pesky questions like “should that pot be boiling over like that?” What a buzz kill.

A note – this original recipe had pine nuts in it. Did I use pine nuts? No, because I didn’t notice they were included until I was about to blend the sauce. And I don’t keep things like that on hand, since it would make life way too easy. If Chase had been around, I would have asked him to go to the store for me, which is why he’s taken to wearing headphones or jumping in the shower whenever I’m cooking.

Seriously, I do cook really tasty dishes. After the 2nd or 3rd try. Although, it should speak volumes that even my first attempt at this recipe was fabulous. Imagine what you’ll be able to do with it.

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