Thursday, June 28, 2012

Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower, Garlic and Walnuts

As promised, here is the dish I served at last weekend's dinner party.  This dish had amazing flavor - a creamy roasted garlic sauce, oven roasted cauliflower then topped with toasted walnuts.  And surprisingly it also tasted very good reheated (just add some pasta water before refrigerating).  I really like how the cauliflower was tender and took on a sweet flavor after the roasting.  This is a nice light dish that was definitely company worthy. 

Recipe Source:  ATK Pasta Revolution

Also, if you are looking for a good table wine that isn't too expensive, this brand was recommended by the folks at Trader Joe's (under $5).  It went well with the dinner - a red that wasn't too heavy or had too much of a "bite"

Hope you enjoyed the posts this week from start to finish!

Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower, Garlic and Walnuts Serves: 6-8 Calories: na Prep Time to Table: na
Recipe : American Test Kitchen Pasta Revolution

-2 head garlic
-6 T olive oil pls 1 tsp
-2 T fresh lemon juice
-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
-1 head cauliflower
-1/4 tsp sugar
-1 lb campanelle pasta
-1/2 cup parmesan or romano cheese grated
-1/4 cups toasted walnuts, chopped coarse

1. Cut garlic to expose cloves; drizzle with each with ½ tsp olive oil and wrap tight in foil (cut sides up). Roast at 500 degrees until very tender about 35-40 minutes. Cool packet for 10 minutes, unwrap and gently squeeze out garlic into a small bowl. Mash with fork then add lemon juice and pepper flakes and then slowly whisk in ¼ cup olive oil (at this point place a rimmed baking sheet in oven and let heat for about 10 minutes)
2. Cauliflower – remove outer leaves and cut stem flush with bottom. Cut head pole to pole in 8 equal sections. Toss with 2 T oil and place on the heated baking sheet (cut side down), combine 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper and sugar and sprinkle evenly over cauliflower. Roast until browned and tender – about 30 – 35 minutes. Remove and cool slightly and cut into ½” pieces
3. Cook pasta al dente and be sure to remove 1 cup of pasta water before draining and set aside. Return pasta to pot, add cauliflower, garlic sauce and cheese and ¼ cup pasta water. Season with S&P and additional lemon juice if desired. Toss to combine and use more water if needed. Serve and sprinkle walnuts on top


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Happy Hour

It's 5 o'clock somewhere! This post goes along with the dessert post from the other day... so now I'm going to the beginning of our night - drinks and appetizers.  With a little help from Pillsbury's Fun Summer Recipes booklet, we created this drink that was light, refreshing and perfect for a warm summer night.  I'm giving it a new name and calling it:

Peachy Keen
1.  In a small saucepan, heat 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water and a 2" piece of fresh ginger that has been peeled and chopped.  Bring to boil for one minute or until sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat, cover and steep 15 minutes.  Strain; discard ginger and chill until cold.
2.  In a large pitcher combine syrup, 2 cups chilled white grape juice (peach and mango flavored), 1 cup vodka, 1 cup Moscato type wine (or nonalcoholic sparkling white wine), and 2 T fresh squeezed lime juice.
3.  Serve over ice and peach slices; garnish with lime wedges if desired.
It's good and it's strong so you may want to cut back a bit on the alcohol or maybe not :-)

The appetizer tray

Appetizer Platter

One of my go-to appetizers that is always a big hit is the Roasted Red Pepper Dip.  After you read the ingredients, I'm sure you will want to give it a try!

Source:  Betty Crocker December 2002 Appetizers
Take 5 large red peppers, roasted on a grill until skin is blistered and evenly browned (looks black); then place in a plastic bag and seal for about 20 minutes; remove skin, seeds and stem; chop in 1" pieces.

In large bowl combine peppers, 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion, 2 cups pitted and chopped Kalamata olives, 8 oz block of feta cheese cut in 1/2" pieces.

In separate shaker combine, 1/4 cup olive oil, 3 T fresh lemon juice, 2 cloves garlic minced, 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, and 2 tsp dried oregano leaves.  Shake well and pour over other ingredients and toss well.

It can be chilled or served at room temperature with baguette slices.

I've also been known to serve the leftovers heated a bit and served over grill chicken... pretty tasty that way too!


I don't think I mentioned it but we were celebrating our friends 30th anniversary - it was this past January but we have had some challenges getting together until now!  I sent them this invitation - hahahahaha... pretty funny, huh?  

You are cordially invited to dinner in celebration of your 30th Anniversary

Next post will be be main course...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Life's Short-Eat Dessert First!

Do you ever look at the dessert menu first before ordering your dinner??  I am known to do that!  This is a dessert I made for a dinner party I recently hosted and thought I would share this first and the main course another time!  Just because I couldn't wait!  I found this on Pinterest and must give credit to the blogger who originally made this

Source:  Black Dog::Food Blog

It was delicious and though it may look hard to do, it wasn't too bad - a little putzy. I followed her recipe exactly (only leaving out the expresso powder)

Grab a fork and dig in

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Pasta and Shrimp With Wine Sauce

Tonight's dinner was a little bit of this and that from what I could find in the refrigerator, freezer and cupboards (and liquor cabinet!)  Part of the sauce is made from sweet vermouth and dry white wine - after the alcohol cooks off, you are left with a sauce that is quite tasty and not heavy.  I also had a couple of peppers, fusilli pasta and another one of my staples, frozen shrimp (thawed and patted dry).  All this added with some spices and garlic turned in a great weeknight meal that The Fisherman really enjoyed.  Italian bread goes great with this dish to sop up the extra wine broth.

Recipe Source:  Original

And I bet you are wondering what you could do with the extra Fusilli... well, you could make a Fusilli Jerry! (any Seinfeld fans out there? :-) 

Pasta and Shrimp in Wine Sauce Serves: 3-4 Calories: na Prep Time to Table: 30 minutes
Recipe : Original

-8 oz spiral pasta cooked
-1 small red pepper thinly sliced
-1 small green pepper thinly sliced
-8 oz. shrimp
-2 T butter
-1/2 t minced garlic
-1/2 t dried oregano
-1/2 t dried basil
- ¼ to ½ red pepper flakes
-1/2 c chicken broth
-1/4 cup sweet vermouth
-1/2 cup dry white wine

1. Prepare pasta as directed
2. Melt butter in large skillet and sauté garlic, oregano, basil, S&P and red pepper flakes until garlic is golden; add peppers and sauté until tender crisp
3. Add shrimp and cook about 3 min each side until done and remove from pan
4. Add chicken broth and simmer about 5 minutes; add vermouth and wine and simmer another 2 minutes; add shrimp and then toss with pasta


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Burrito a la Deb

Leaving work today and hearing it was about 95 and the heat index around 100 - I knew I did not want to heat up my kitchen or even stand at the grill.  But I also knew it was time to actually cook a meal!  It had been awhile since I had the kitchen open for business.  So I headed off to Target with no list but a semi-plan in my head and maybe because the exit passed right by Chipotle that plan turned into home-made burritos.  I only needed to make some rice and heat up the beans and chicken.

The ingredients were easy to find - first up pre-packaged beans and the rice - we've had this rice before and it tastes really good and is done in about 15 minutes

Lately for recipes that call for cooked chicken, I have this bag of frozen strips on hand that only needs defrosting

Other ingredients included

The burrito was assembled in this order

Then carefully rolled up and ready to eat - they are quite large but The Fisherman managed to eat 2!  ssshhh don't tell him I told you!

Not quite like Chipotle but very tasty indeed!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to The Fisherman!  I knew our girls would not be coming down for a visit so I suggested that we go to the mighty Mississippi for a little fishing.  Of course he is always game for that so the kitchen was closed today for some R&R and hopefully some fish!

We were preparing to go and I suggested that we needed some drink coolies, he was fine with that and even commented how when the guys go, they don't think of bringing stuff like that.  So off we went,  a bit down the road I asked if he had hand sanitizer in the car so when we eat (we bought subs on the way) we could clean our hands... well, that brought a snicker.  So I said "well, you are putting bait on the lines, don't you want to clean your hands to eat?"  Apparently not - note to self - don't eat the Cheezits from last fishing trip!

Our first stop:

It was  a beautiful day when we arrived in Lake City MN:

Boat getting prepped:

On the water....

I'm multi-tasking - reading and fishing! (Oh, the water today was a lovely mocha brown color - ick)

Only a pink reel will do!

Time for lunch

Hmmm... pass

Surprise - while we were on the water, Kristina and Benj called and wanted to meet us so they arrived just in time for the weather to switch... I decided at this point to stay on shore and sit in the car and read.  They headed out - rain and all! 

My view

90 minutes later they came back...

We had a quick tasty beverage and headed back home where it was sunny and 80;  I think the worst part was not getting one nibble the entire day!

But our day was not over yet - I treated The Fisherman to dinner - his choice

 The end!!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Oriental Pasta Chicken Salad

Oriental Chicken Pasta Salad
Who is looking for a new salad to bring to that potluck or picnic OR just wants something new in their rotation??  Well, I have the recipe for you!  I knew it was a keeper when The Fisherman took one bite and said "wow!"  It is a wonderful combination of Asian flavors, chicken, veggies and pasta.  Almost all our favorites in one dish.  It came together quickly (~ 15 minutes) but needs at least 90 minutes to "chill out".  I had not realized that when I got home from the club and didn't start it until 6.  So dinner was a little late but worth the wait (and I got a cat-nap in).

Recipe Source:  Better Homes and Gardens Chicken Dinners

One ingredient that I could not find at Target (hmmm...not surprising) was baby corn... you know the little cute ears that are in other Chinese meals.  So I substituted regular corn - not bad but next time I will go to a real grocery store to find a can.

Also, I could picture this meal in a Chinese container and eating it right out of the carton... how ever you decide to partake - you will love it!

Oriental Chicken Pasta Salad Serves: 4 Calories: 501 Prep Time to Table: 15 minutes plus chilling time
Recipe : BH&G Chicken Dinners

 -8 ozs cooked spaghetti or linguine, rinsed well in cold water
-4 oz. corn, drained or thawed
-1 ½ cups cooked chicken chopped
-1 small cucumber thinly sliced -1 small red pepper cut into thin strips
-1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots
-1/2 cup chopped green onions or chives
-1/3 cup rice vinegar
-1/4 cup olive oil
-3 T soy sauce
-1 tsp sesame oil
 -1/2 tsp sugar
 -1/2 tsp dry mustard
-dash hot pepper sauce

1. In large bowl combine first 7 ingredients
2. Combine last 7 ingredients in a screw top jar and shake well
3. Pour over salad, toss gently and chill 2-24 hours
4. Gently re-toss and serve


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Grillin' and Chillin'

Sometimes simple meals are the best.  The Fisherman loves grilled sausages with sauteed peppers.  I also had a craving for them and needed something simple to go along on the side.  This salad was a snap to make!  A few simple ingredients, some chilling time and it was ready to go!

Recipe Source: adapted from Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade

In a large bowl, whisk together 3 T white vinegar, 1T  olive oil, 1/2 t sugar, 1/4 t sea salt, 1/4 t fresh black pepper.  Add 4 cups slaw mix, 1/2 cup drained mandarin oranges cut in half and 2 T chopped fresh chives.  Mix well and chill for about an hour.

This was a very refreshing salad and I would definitely make it again.  

Sunday, June 10, 2012


I've been on a dessert kick lately... between book club, girls' night in and this treat for a co-worker's last day of work, I feel like Becky Homecky! Don't worry the Fisherman is still getting fed :-) but he is also enjoying "sweet week"

Last week I overheard Ms. A saying she loved yellow cake and chocolate frosting and since most nights I have don't really have much going on (empty nester, TV reruns and my on-again, off-again love affair with the Twins), I decided to make these from scratch.  I googled The Best Yellow Cake and found this recipe on SmittenKitten.  A thing I would definitely do differently, cut this recipe in half! - she states it would make about 22-24 cupcakes, I got 40!  The frosting recipe was an oldy but goody at Wilton.

So Ms. A - it was nice working with you and best of luck as you start your new adventure in Salt Lake City!  Keep in touch!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Book Club Night

Tonight I hosted book club to discuss our latest read - The Likeness by Tana French.  Most really enjoyed the book and a couple years ago we read her first book called In the Woods. Her novels take place in Ireland and she typically takes one character from a previous book and creates a new story line in the next novel - murder mysteries... Colonel Mustard did it with a rope in the library - oh wait, that is Clue!

I really was looking forward to hosting so I made a couple different desserts - the first one was a fruit tart made with puff pastry.  I took a sheet of pastry and rolled it into a 10"x12" square, placed it on parchment paper, scored with a knife giving a 1" edge being careful not to cut through the dough, brushed the edge with some beaten egg and sprinkled sugar.  This bakes in the oven for about 18 to 22 minutes at 375 or until golden and puffed.  After baking press down the middle section to flatten it (it puffs up quite a bit).  Cool to room temperature.

The filling was made with 6 oz. softened cream cheese and 1/3 cup heavy cream whipped together until smooth.  Add about 1 tsp lemon zest and 3 T of powdered sugar and beat well.  This mixture is carefully spread onto crust.  Top with your favorite fruits.  I also took about a 1/2 cup of apricots preserves, melted a bit in the microwave and drizzled on top.  You could do without this step and just stick with the fruit.

The second dessert was my Limoncello Cupcakes.  I know I have said this before but I really love lemons...they are so lemony :-)   Everyone really liked both desserts and we just sat on the deck enjoying a beautiful night discussing the book but also what is going on in our lives.  Two more people have kids getting married in the next 9 months.  We are starting our 5th year of "clubbing"

Our next read is Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn - sounds like a good summer read.  Anyone else in a book club?  What are you reading??