Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Roasted Cauliflower and Mushroom Carbonara

Carbonara is a great comfort food for me.  A classic carbonara includes eggs, cheese (Parmesan or Pecorino), bacon, and cracked black pepper - but variations can include grilled chicken, mushrooms, peas, and various veggies.  This recipe replaces grilled chicken with roasted cauliflower and it's just as delicious and even easier to make. 

This will be a simple post because this meal was so simple to make. :)  And also I just need to get back to my TV show...priorities, you know.

Roasted Cauliflower and Mushroom Carbonara
Serves 4 

1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
8 ounces mushrooms, quartered
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
8 ounces thin spaghetti (or pasta of choice)
4 ounces bacon cut into 1 inch pieces
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 eggs
1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
Fresh cracked black pepper
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

Toss the cauliflower and mushrooms in the oil, salt and pepper, place on a baking sheet in a single layer and roast in a preheated 400F oven until they start to caramelize, about 20-30 minutes, mixing half way through.

Start cooking the pasta as directed on the package. 

Cook the bacon in a pan, pour off all but a tablespoon of the grease from the pan, add the garlic, cook for 30 second and turn off the heat. 

Mix the egg, cheese, pepper and salt and parsley in a bowl.  Drain the cooked pasta reserving some of the water.

Mix the pasta, egg mixture, cauliflower and mushrooms into the pan with the bacon, adding reserved pasta water as needed.

Recipe adapted from Closet Cooking 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Maple Spice Glazed Donuts

Ryan & I love donuts...but I would say Ryan is definitely even more of a donut fanatic than I am. You basically cannot leave a donut lying around without him eating it - so it's no wonder that neither of us could wait until breakfast to eat one of these magical little circles of cake. 
Now that I know how easy donuts are to make, it will be incredibly tempting to make these all the time.  However, since they are baked, and you can play with the ingredients to make them even healthier - somehow they doesn't seem as bad for you. :)  I look forward to trying different flavors of donuts and you could also certainly substitute some of the milk and butter with Greek yogurt. These spiced cake donuts are a bit reminiscent of fall flavors but still delicious any time of year.  

What's your favorite kind of donut? :) If you love donuts as much as we do - you should definitely try making them at home!

Maple Spice Glazed Donuts
Makes 6 donuts


Maple Glaze 
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or maple extract (optional)

Spice Donuts
1 cup white-whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup almond milk
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Spray a donut pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.
Make the glaze first: In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and maple syrup together, whisking occasionally. Once the butter has melted, remove from heat and whisk in the sifted confectioners' sugar. Set glaze aside and allow to cool and thicken.

For the donuts:  Melt butter in a medium bowl.  Add vanilla, brown sugar, egg, and milk and whisk together.  Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and salt into the wet ingredients. Do not over-mix. The batter will be very thick.  (You could mix the dry & wet ingredients separately but I’m a fan of just using one bowl and simplifying the process.  Who knows if I’m completely ruining them that way or not but it’s easier!)

Spoon the batter into a large Ziploc bag and snip a corner of the bag to pipe the donut batter into each donut cup of the pan, filling 2 ∕ 3 –3 ∕ 4 of the way full.  You may have to scoop some out with a spoon to even them out if it is too difficult to pipe them with the bag.

Bake for 9–10 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Allow to cool for about two minutes and transfer to a wire rack set on a large piece of parchment paper or on a large baking sheet.

To glaze, simply hold the donut and dip into the glaze. Place the glazed donuts back on a wire rack to let the glaze drip down.  If you want to add swirls or stripes with the remaining glaze, you can add a little food coloring and drizzle lines across the glazed donuts.  I found that this makes a lot of glaze and I may have over-glazed them so next time I will either scale the recipe down or simply use less on the donuts and save the extra for something else.

Donuts are best served immediately. Leftovers keep well covered tightly at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Recipe adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Garlic Chicken with Kale & Wild Rice Casserole

My main focus of winter cooking tends to revolve around meals that will warm us up and make us forget how bitterly cold it is outside, even if that feeling is fleeting and only lasts through dinner.  In the summer my meal planning is simple and often non-existent since we mostly feast on burgers or anything we can throw on the grill, In the winter it's soup or chili, casseroles or curry dishes, etc.

One thing that is great about winter cooking is that most recipes tend to last for at least a few meals. That works out great for me because most evenings after a long day of work, I don't feel like doing much other than curling up under a blanket and watching TV...especially when it's pitch dark out at 5 pm.  Talk about depressing.  But at least I know this season is not forever...although in Wisconsin it certainly feels like it.

You could certainly make these recipes separate since they are so good just on their own, or you could simply pair the Garlic Chicken with plain rice if that's easier for you.  However, I found these two really compliment each other together.  If you're looking for a meal that will warm you up and last your family a couple days at least - then I recommend giving this a whirl.

Garlic Chicken with Kale & Wild Rice Casserole
Serves 4-6 (and leftovers to spare!)

For the chicken: 

3 tablespoons olive oil
4 chicken thighs (I used boneless skinless but I think that bone-in/skin on thighs would be delicious too!)
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
1 whole bulb of garlic, peeled, cloves separated
1 cup white wine (any wine that you like, since there will be most of the bottle leftover ;))
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 sprig fresh rosemary or teaspoon or so dried

Heat olive oil in a large skillet.  Add chicken and season with salt and pepper.

Cooking over medium heat, brown the chicken on both sides; about 4 minutes per side.  Remove chicken from skillet and set aside.

Add garlic cloves to the skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until golden; about 3 minutes. Be careful not to burn the garlic.  

Carefully add wine to the skillet.  Stir in parsley and add rosemary.  Transfer chicken back to skillet.
Cover and continue to cook over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, turning the chicken over half way through cooking. Add ¼-cup more wine if it looks too dry when you go to turn over the chicken.

Remove from heat.  Transfer chicken to serving dish and spoon the garlic sauce over the chicken.  Serve.
Kale & Wild Rice Casserole

2 large bunches of Kale, leaves torn
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
2-3 teaspoons thyme (dried – or more if using fresh)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 tablespoons flour
1 cup whole milk
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream, canned coconut milk (or just more whole milk)
4 cups cooked wild rice (I used a rice cooker to make this ahead.  Can even be done a day before)
1 1/2 cup Swiss cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large sweet onions, sliced into thin rings
Salt and pepper

Grease a 2-3 quart casserole dish. Set aside.

Heat a very large skillet (the largest you have!) over medium-high heat. Add all of the torn kale to the skillet and add 1 cup of water. Cover the skillet and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the kale is wilted. Once the kale is wilted and all of the water has been absorbed, remove the kale from the skillet and set aside.

Return the skillet to medium heat and add 2 tablespoons olive oil. When the skillet is hot, sprinkle in the mushrooms in a single layer. Don't stir them! Let them sizzle until they have caramelized on the bottom, about 2 minutes. When the bottoms are caramelized, toss them once and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Continue to cook without stirring for about 5 minutes. Now add the butter to the skillet and cook until the butter begins to brown. Once the butter is browned reduce the heat and add the garlic, thyme and nutmeg and cook for about 10 seconds. Now add the kale back to the skillet with the mushrooms, garlic and spices and toss well.

Sprinkle the flour over the kale and mushrooms and cook for 1 minute. Add the milk and chicken broth, bring to a boil and cook 2-3 minutes or until there is a thick sauce. Add the extra milk or cream and stir to combine. Remove from the heat and stir in the cooked wild rice. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Now wipe the skillet and add the olive oil, cook over medium-high heat. Add the onions and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until the onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes.  Continue to cook until the onions are golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Sprinkle half the cheese over the casserole and then add the onions and the remaining cheese. Bake the casserole for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the onions are crispy. Serve!

Recipe adapted from Half Baked Harvest

Friday, January 09, 2015

Apple Cinnamon Galette

As briefly alluded to in an earlier post, I have a love/hate relationship with making pies.  However, I think I found a solution.  Pies are not my thing, I can accept that.  But I think galettes are my new thing…and I’m perfectly happy with the compromise.  

Once you learn the concept of a galette (basically a pastry tart with hand-folded edges), the possibilities are endless.  Sweet fillings could include in-season fruits at any time of year.  Savory fillings could include vegetables, seeds, nuts, and cheeses.  I love that galettes allow you to be creative and give you the freedom to call imperfections “rustic” - the foodie artist’s version of abstract art. 

If you want to experiment with different fillings – I highly recommend reading the suggestions and tips found here.  

Apple Cinnamon Galette

5-6 small-medium apples (I used organic gala)
1 ½ sticks cold butter
2 cups flour
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon sugar
Ice cold water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup sugar (plus more for sprinkling)
1 tablespoon whole milk (or cream) 


1) Heat the oven to 400° F (if you have one, place a pizza stone on a low rack). Cut cold, cubed butter into your flour using a pastry cutter, two knives, or your fingers until the largest pieces of butter are about the size of a pea.

2)  Sprinkle ice cold water across the dough and shake the bowl to distribute. Use your hands to mix in the driest patches.  I would start with about ¼ cup water and work your way up until most of the dough is moist but not too much – you will want to be able to roll it out easily.  You can always add a little more flour if needed.

3) Press the dough into a flat, round disc, cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for 30 minutes or so. 

 4) While the dough is chilling, prep the fruit.  I used an apple peeler/corer which I highly recommend but you could also just peel the apples and slice by hand.  Try not to cut the apples too far in advance since they will brown and oxidize as they sit.  Sprinkle a little lemon juice on the slices to help prevent this.  Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on the apples and mix well. 

 5) Roll out your dough until it’s about 12-inches in diameter and about 1/8-inch thick (don’t worry about it being a perfect circle – remember, “rustic” is beautiful :))  Try not to roll too much, since those butter pieces need to remain intact in order for the dough to stay light and flaky. 

 6) Arrange the fruit on top, leaving about 1 1/2 inches clear around the edge of the dough. To fold the edges, fold the edge nearest to you toward the center. Rotate the galette and lift the adjacent piece of edge, and fold toward the center. The important part is really that there are no cracks where the juices will leak out during baking.  

7)  Brush milk on the crust edges. Sprinkle sugar on the edge. Place in middle rack for about 45-55 minutes, possibly more depending on how caramelized you want things. You can rotate halfway through; keep an eye on it to see how it's going. 

When it's done, lift the parchment paper with the galette onto a cooling rack. Wiggle the galette loose from the paper and gently pull parchment paper out while sliding galette to stay on cooling rack. This is important because it helps air out the underside, which can get soggy. Wait as long as you can until cutting the first slice, and enjoy!

It should stay good for a few days in the fridge and is delicious when warmed up a little bit.  A dollop of vanilla ice cream would add a nice touch but it’s great on its own as well.

I hope you try some different variations of galettes and please share your ideas with me! :)