I’ve been gearing up for a little event I like to call the “Super Bowl of Red Carpets” — ladies and gents (but probably mostly ladies), the Oscars are upon us. I’ve been digging around to find a perfect recipe for my mini celebration (read: me sitting on the couch by myself with a cocktail and snacks, ready to tweet my heart out), and let me tell you: I’ve been consumed by how many delicious things you can do to spice up regular popcorn. I’ve landed on a perfect blend of savory and sweet: popcorn drizzled in sea salt and honey butter (inspired by this recipe!), served it up in festive theater-style boxes so I feel like I’m at the movies! Do you have any Oscars-viewing traditions? Oscars Popcorn

I’m not going to lie, I really enjoyed being snowed in this weekend. It was such a great excuse to be lazy, watch movies (saw To Catch a Thief for the first time!), and of course make some delicious comfort food. As part of my ‘get-your-relax-on’ strategy I made one of my favorite indulgent concoctions that  I call ‘fat pasta’ (I’ll let you guess why). It was the perfect splurge for a cold wintry Sunday, yum! Sad to have to leave my house and deal with the aftermath of the storm today, I want my snow day to last for a just a little bit longer. DSC_0008 copyDSC_0025

Fat Pasta.
 
Ingredients
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • 1 Box of bowtie pasta
  • 3 Slices of bacon
  • 4 Cloves of garlic
  • Flour
  • 2 Boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Paprika
  • Onion Powder
  • Frozen peas
  • 1 Cup of light cream
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • Granulated sugar
  • Salt & Pepper
Instructions
  1. Start a pot of boiling water
  2. Chop 3 slices of bacon into small bits, heat a skillet over medium heat and drizzle EVOO in pan, begin to brown the bacon
  3. Mince 4 cloves of garlic, add to pan
  4. Dredge cubed chicken in flour, season with paprika, onion powder, salt and pepper
  5. Add chicken to skillet and sauté (add EVOO as needed)
  6. Cook pasta as directed -- in the last two minutes of the pasta's cooking time, add in a handful of frozen peas, then drain and set aside
  7. Remove chicken, bacon and garlic mixture from pan and set aside, and melt 2 tbsp of butter in with leftover EVOO
  8. Whisk in 3 tbsp of flour until the mixture begins to thicken
  9. Whisk in 1 cup of light cream, 3 tbsp of parmesan cheese, and ¼ tsp of granulated sugar, continue to whisk until sauce thickens
  10. Stir in pasta and peas, top with chicken, bacon, garlic mixture.
  11. Season with salt and pepper, garnish with more parmesan.

 

Baking can  be a daunting task when you have a tiny apartment kitchen, but I powered through the minimal counter space dilemma this weekend and made some mini pecan pie tarts. The recipe was simple and it was a nice relaxing way to spend my Sunday afternoon.  Now if only doing the dishes was as rewarding as popping those sweet little bites in my mouth!

This weekend I had major order envy when one of my girlfriends had an amazing eggplant caprese sandwich while we were out to lunch on Newbury Street. I was still thinking about yesterday afternoon and decided to make a salad version for dinner with my own twist. Breaded eggplant with some tomatoes and mozzarella, topped with sun-dried tomato pesto — it was such a nice combination of fresh summer flavors!

 

It has been a zillion degrees in my apartment for the past few weeks with this heat wave in Boston, which means I have been quite lazy with making dinners at home. I saw a recipe that required no stove time in this month’s  House Beautiful and it finally inspired me to cook something up besides take out. This recipe was a perfect simple summer meal;  I added on some grilled corn for a little extra color and flavor, and it turned out delicious!

Over the holiday weekend one of my friends hosted a pasta-making get together. I’ve never made fresh pasta before — it seemed way too complicated for me — but I was happily surprised to see it wasn’t too difficult at all! I helped with the dough making process, but my expertise was really in the eating portion of the night. I could have had a dozen servings, it was so delicious!

My boyfriend bought me the new Gwyenth Paltrow cookbook, “My Father’s Daughter” and I have been reading it over and over again drooling over the delicious pictures inside. I bookmarked a few of the recipes to try out this week — a salad dressing and stuffed artichokes — and over the course of my cooking experiment I learned that:

1. Artichokes are very photogenic. Dinner may have been a bit late because of an impromptu photo shoot.

2. Gwyenth Paltrow  knows her way around a vinaigrette. I’m having dreams about her chive dressing.

3. Turns out, I don’t really love the taste of artichokes. But the French bread and tomato stuffing? Scrumptious.

I took my gazillion recipe cards and print outs and tears from magazines and finally organized them all in clear sheet protectors in a binder that matches my kitchen. It feels good to be organized and makes the “what am I going to make for dinner” nightly dilemma a bit more manageable after a long day of work.

I put this off for a long time because I had a lofty goal of writing all of my recipes out on pretty letterpress recipe cards and storing them in a recipe box. But this was a much more practical solution and is protecting my recipes from the splatters and crumbs in the cooking process. How do you organize your recipes?

I was hoping to post pictures of my New Years Eve decorations this morning, but they just need a little more tweaking tonight (and by tweaking I mean my boyfriend drove me to the craft store at 9:00 last night so I could buy more glitter — he is a saint).

In lieu of glittery decorations this morning, you will have to subside on a recipe I threw together for dinner this week. I think every issue of the Rachel Ray magazine has some variation of her peas and ricotta cheese pasta dish. I adapted it by tossing in some of my own ingredients, it’s simple, quick, and deliciously rewarding.

Start by boiling a box of pasta of your choice (I used shells, because they trap the cheese and peas quite nicely).  While the pasta is boiling, chop and brown 2-3 links of sausage in a small pan (I used sun tried tomato chicken sausage). If you’re truly talented at multi-tasking and can boil water, brown sausage, and take on an additional step… put some frozen peas in the microwave to warm them up. Next, empty half a small container of ricotta cheese into a bowl (about a cup) and toss it with some garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. When the peas are warmed they can be mixed into the ricotta cheese (reserve a few to sprinkle on the top). When the sausage is fully browned, add a handful of pine nuts to the pan and let them toast for just about a minute (they burn easily, so keep them moving around the pan). Drain the pasta and reserve a dash of the pasta water (if you’re using shells you can really just quickly drain them and throw them back into the pot, they’ll hold some water naturally because of their shape). Finally, mix the ricotta and peas in with the pasta. Spoon the sausage and nut mixture, and any reserved peas on top of the pasta and finish with some parmesan cheese. Eat and enjoy!

I absolutely love cooking, but its a total challenge in my pitifully tiny excuse for a kitchen. This weekend though I was motivated left and right to cook… first ol’ Martha tempted me with pictures of her Christmas brunch. Caramel drizzled camembert anyone? How about a fried egg in a steaming hot popover? Holy drool Martha.

I also indulged my indulgent side and watched Julie and Julia with a glass of wine on Saturday night. Is it possible to gain weight from watching someone cook? Who cares, anyone that loves butter that much is all right with me.

Inspired, I made an attempt at beef bourguigon on Sunday night, and it was heavenly… and for anyone that wants my review: the book, and the recipe, were better than the movie. But isn’t that always the case?