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Creamy Sweet Corn & Chicken Sausage Pasta

It’s sweet corn season!!!

Creamy Sweet Corn & Sausage Pasta

I was so stoked when my CSA box this week included four ears of sweet corn.  Fresh corn is the best.  It can be a side dish, elevate even the most mundane pasta, and even become a dessert (and yes, you better believe this is happening in the near future).

creamy sweet corn & sausage pasta corn sliced

In fact, I was so excited about the first corn of the season that I actually cooked on a Saturday night.  That may not sound earth-shattering, but anyone who knows me knows that Saturday night is reserved for Chinese food.  Specifically, one of three dishes from House of Chan five minutes from my house.  I call at around 5:02, pick it up 15 minutes later, and am comfortably ensconced on my couch shortly thereafter.  So for me to choose cooking on a Saturday night is pretty major.

Creamy Sweet Corn & Sausage Pasta finished

And this pasta is totally worth it.  The sweet corn, summer squash, and onions meld with the mascarpone, Parmesan, and starchy water to make a comforting yet not heavy-feeling chunky sauce that covers the noodles and sausage for the perfect pasta marriage.  Add a little fresh basil and I’m in heaven.  The fact that it all came together in less than half an hour?  Even better. [Read more…]

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Balsamic Pasta with Toasted Garlic & Pine Nuts

Sometimes it’s the simple answers that are the best.

Balsamic Pasta with Toasted Garlic & Pine Nuts

I can be guilty of getting too fancy with pasta sometimes, trying crazy combinations of ingredients or always trying to think of something new. Pasta is the blank canvas, the starting place for a thousand meals. And sometimes I think I’ve tried them all. But when I saw this recipe, I was struck by its simplicity and also how all the flavors complemented each other so well.

Balsamic Pasta with Toasted Garlic & Pine Nuts done

It starts, as many things do, with a base of sauteed shallots and garlic. From there all you do is add balsamic vinegar for depth and bite, toasted nuts for protein and crunch, and some parmesan cheese to top it all off. It all comes together in about 15 minutes, and is a warm and comforting dish any time of the day or night. [Read more…]

Creamy Sweet Potato Pasta with Crispy Kale

The CSA box I got a couple weeks ago was—much like the rest of us here in Georgia—stuck between summer and winter. There were some delightful strawberries and spring-y butter lettuce, but a couple of sweet potatoes as well. I don’t give sweet potatoes much thought, generally, but the timing seemed perfect since I’d just pinned this recipe.

Creamy Sweet Potato Pasta with Crispy Kale

I’ve been really trying to focus on cooking and eating healthy when I’m at home (minus a few Chinese food-palooza Satuday nights), particularly since I’ve had a rash of delicious but indulgent lunches and dinners for work.

This recipe seemed to balance my need for comfort food that (especially chilly) day, but the presence of whole wheat pasta and adding creamy sweet potato to the sauce upped the healthy quotient.

creamy sweet potato pasta with crispy kale shallot garlic

Shallots, amirite?!

Creamy Sweet Potato Pasta with Crispy Kale finished

The sauce also has deeeelicious sauteed garlic and shallots to make a super flavorful base. I had a little trouble with the crispy kale (left it in the oven too long…yikes!) but overall this was simple and awesome and totally satisfying. [Read more…]

Baked Pasta with Broccolini, Kale, & Sausage

Mercy! It’s been over a month since I posted a real, honest-to-goodness main dish recipe here. I’ve had sweets and breads and pancakes, but nothing that’ll really stick to your bones.

Baked Pasta with Broccolini Kale & Chicken Sausage

I feel like I’ve been saying it all year, but it’s been utter madness lately. Work’s crazy, some travel, add in Thanksgiving, all the extra food and drinks around the holidays, and trying to finish everything up for the year. That means I’ve been keeping long hours and not eating remotely normally. Pretty much no fruits and veggies, and I don’t remember the last time I cooked a real meal. But last weekend it was so cold and dreary and I really wanted to get back to real life.

baked pasta with broccolini kale & chicken sausage baked

I wanted comfort food, but healthy, and this dish fit the bill. It’s got greens and crunch, tossed with golden sausage and firm pasta, all in the warm hug of creamy, garlicky bechamel and dots of gooey fresh mozzarella. Basically, it’s perfect.

baked pasta with broccolini kale & chicken sausage baked closeup

And fairly simple, all things considered. I was able to saute up the sausage and kale while the water boiled, then get everything else ready while the pasta and broccolini cooked, then stir everything together and pour it into the pan. Twenty minutes later, I had a big, golden, slightly crunchy masterpiece on my hands.

Baked Pasta with Broccolini Kale & Chicken Sausage closeup

The original recipe from Smitten Kitchen calls for broccoli rabe, which I couldn’t locate at my grocery store. I used broccolini instead (which isn’t quite the same, but can do in a pinch) and added some sauteed kale for some extra health and texture. Everything else was just right! [Read more…]

Parmesan Garlic Roasted Potatoes

You may have noticed that the number of vegetable sides are somewhat lacking on this site. I don’t know why, honestly. I like veggies. Really, I do. But it seems like when I’m browsing through Pinterest, most of the veggie sides I see are either a) complicated and time consuming, b) really unhealthy, or c) terrible sounding. A lot of the time when I’m making a meal, I focus on either the main dish or the dessert, and saute up some kale or brussels sprouts and call it a day. Or I’ll make a dish like pasta where the veggies are all rolled into the main dish and not even bother with sides.

Parmesan Garlic Roasted Potatoes

What you may especially notice if you browse through my Veggies and Sides section is that there are almost no potato dishes. Two in the past year and a half, to be exact. It’s not my go-to vegetable on account of all the starchiness and carb-iness with fewer of the health benefits that my green veggie friends have. My family loves potatoes and I grew up having them with many meals, but I just don’t typically gravitate there.

Parmesan Garlic Roasted Potatoes finished

I do love potatoes, though, when they’re done well. And these are. They’re also super easy. One of the things I dislike about a lot of potato dishes is the multiple steps they require—chopping, boiling, frying, mashing. As we’ve already established, I’m lazy. But the steps were pretty quick for this recipe, and I was able to throw together a fast, delicious side to go with some awesome grilled salmon.

Parmesan Garlic Roasted Potatoes finished2

The original recipe actually calls for fresh parsley, which I didn’t have on-hand. I swapped in fresh rosemary instead, which was perfect with the potatoes. The parmesan made such a tasty, golden crust on them that I can see making these over and over. They were even good as leftovers a few days later! [Read more…]

Frittata with Beets, Leeks, & Feta

Sometimes you just need to go back to basics.

A few (very insane) weeks ago I was still figuring out how to do things for myself after my surgery, just coming back to work (officially) full-time, rehabbing, and getting ready to head out of town for over a week. In short, I was pretty dang tired and feeling very “meh” about cooking or anything else that required even an iota of non-essential energy.

Beet Leek & Feta Fritatta

But I was also trying to get back to a normal life, including eating a lot healthier. While I was recovering from the surgery, convenience became a huge focus, so I ate a lot of Kashi pizzas, rotisserie chicken, and packaged ravioli. Not terrible, but not great either. So I told myself that ordering Thai food wasn’t an option and tried to find the next-easiest thing. That’s when I thought about a frittata.

The thing is, they feel kind of fancy, but they’re so simple. And you can make them out of almost anything. Seriously. Dump a bunch of leftovers in there, it’ll be great. I made it with leftover mac & cheese once, and it was awesome.

Beet Leek & Feta Fritatta closeup

Honestly, the only thing I had to actually pick up at the grocery store that Sunday was the beet and the leek, because I wanted to try something a little different. You may remember the frittata with goat cheese, sweet potato, kale, and red pepper, wherein the diced sweet potato and leek kind of caramelized on the bottom of the pan, forming a delicious crust. I’ve been meaning to try cooking with beets, so figured this was a great opportunity. But I had spinach in the fridge, a little bit of leftover feta sitting around, eggs, and cheese. What more do you need??

beet leek feta frittata beet

The beet was interesting in the frittata. One thing I didn’t anticipate was that it’s a little more watery than a sweet potato (so not as much caramelization), so I should have maybe patted the diced beets dry before cooking. Or even maybe roasted them. My first choice would have been a golden beet, but all they had was red (which stains everything). It was still great, and a nicely-different flavor combination. [Read more…]

One-Hour Skillet Focaccia Bread

Some days I feel like I have tried all the different bread recipes I need to. I mean, I’ve found several different kinds that are totally awesome, so why bother trying new recipes?

And then I stumble across a recipe like this and remember why—because sometimes you find a completely new kind of awesome to add to your arsenal. And by arsenal, I mean arsenal of carbs.

one hour skillet focaccia finished piece

I was making dinner the other day for myself and a friend, and was having decision issues. I finally decided to go with my pasta with goat cheese, roasted peppers, and chicken sausage since I could make that in my sleep, and also decided to try two new recipes—kohlrabi fries (recipe to come) and these delicious oat brown sugar strawberry shortcakes. Then, since I can’t seem to stop myself from overdoing it, I ran across this skillet focaccia bread and HAD to try it.

one hour skillet focaccia butter topping

It was surprisingly easy and also very forgiving (considering I forgot to follow one of the instructions). The texture was awesome, and I loved the flavor of the spices and parmesan cheese.

one hour skillet focaccia finished

But the best part was how fast it was. I’ve talked about how difficult it is to find a good bread recipe that I can make when I realize two hours before dinner that I forgot bread. Most of my great artisan recipes take at least 5 or 6 hours, and many of them are overnight. So to find something that can be on the table in 1-2 hours start to finish is pretty awesome.  [Read more…]

Black Bean, Chicken, & Spinach Quinoa Casserole

I’ve been doing a lot of desperation cooking lately. What is desperation cooking, you ask?

Well, it goes something like this on an average Sunday afternoon…I look in my fridge and pantry and I have NOTHING (how is that possible?!) but I’m so hungry and I have to eat something and oh my word what will I eat, I’m going to starve and die and my cats will eat my face! But wait! There are seven completely random ingredients sitting around—what can I make???

chicken quinoa veggie bake finished

The answer is generally something healthy, serviceable, and tasty enough, if not earth-shattering. This recipe was one of my better desperation-fueled culinary attempts, and definitely falls into that category. Great news is it’s good for you, with protein-packed quinoa and chicken, fiber-full black beans, and superfood spinach. And cheese. Always cheese.  [Read more…]

Giovanna’s Pasta con Pesto

I’ve long said that if I had to choose one scent and be able to smell only that for the rest of my life (who’s making me choose? why? don’t think about it that hard), I think it might be fresh basil. Fresh basil is one of the BEST smells in the world!

As I mentioned back in my tiramisu post a few months ago, I studied in Italy during college on a language immersion program, and I lived with this awesome couple named Pietro and Giovanna. Giovanna was an amazing cook and made us three- and four-course dinners every night, and also imparted a few of her family’s recipes to me. This and the tiramisu are the two that have become a permanent part of my recipe book.

pasta con pesto finished

I make this every week or two during the summer when fresh basil is plentiful and high-quality. It’s my #1 go-to recipe because it literally takes 15 minutes from start to finish. Basically, as long as it takes to boil pasta, that’s how long this dish takes.

As you’ll notice in the pictures below, I’m actually showing you pictures from two different times I made this dish (don’t be confused!), because there are two ways you can do it—the real way, and a slightly modified way with fewer ingredients. Both are really easy, it just depends on if you want to go to the trouble of buying two extra things.

pasta con pesto basil

First, I’m going to show you the weird secret to the best pasta con pesto. [Read more…]

Amish Country Bread

It’s that time of the year when I’m trying to use up all my yeast, baking powder, and baking soda before Passover so I don’t have to throw much out. I hate waste. So I’m officially back on my bread-baking kick. I started last weekend with this delicious, soft, salty bread.

amish bread finished

This recipe was super easy to throw together, even though I had some trouble with the texture of the dough. Mine was much drier than I think it should have been (maybe weather-related too?). However, it didn’t seem to make any difference—the bread baked up soft and chewy, with a nice crisp crust on the outside.

amish bread finished2

I used my handy-dandy enameled cast-iron dutch oven, and the lid makes an awesome seal that traps the moisture in, which gives you that crusty outside and chewy inside. If you don’t have a dutch oven, you can bake on a castiron griddle (or pizza stone or some other oven-safe contraption), with some ice water in a separate pan to create steam. [Read more…]

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