Entries Tagged as 'main dishes'

back to basics: burrata pasta

March 31st, 2016 · 5 Comments

Burrata-Pasta-2

When I started this site almost a decade ago (some of you may remember!), it wasn’t to write about clothes or makeup.  Or motherhood.  Or my career, or politics, or my thoughts, or about life in general.  I started this blog with a very specific purpose: to keep track of the recipes I made as I was learning to cook. 

After about two years of posting nothing but recipes on this website, I took a detour.  I read an article about how bloggers were revolutionizing the fashion industry by posting real-life outfits that they were actually wearing, instead of magazine spreads with professional models and stylists and photographers.  And I decided to add fashion to this blog, and the rest is history.  (Sort of.  Eight years later, I’m not sure that’s exactly what happened with fashion blogging, but that’s a topic for another day.)

But you know what I’ve heard, time and again, from readers of this site?  They loved the recipes. 

So, hey, guess what?  I decided to listen!

With a two-year-old and a full time job, I don’t have a lot of time to cook these days.  You probably won’t see me rendering duck fat any time soon. (For years, that post about duck fat was the most popular post on this blog, FYI.  Duck fat.  Ponder that for a moment.)

But I still love cooking.  Sure, there’s something wonderful about a lazy night eating takeout on the couch, but give me a quiet weekend, and you’ll still find me scoping out the farmers market, making a giant mess in our kitchen, and emerging with something delicious.  So when a few of you guys wrote to me in January and mentioned recipes, I thought, hey, while I take a few months to figure out where this blogging thing is headed… maybe getting back to basics for a while would be a good start.

But here’s a wrinkle in writing about recipes.

I don’t always use them. 

In fact, unless I’m baking, most of the time, I don’t use recipes. 

I’ve been experimenting in the kitchen for long enough that following a set of ingredients or directions sounds kind of… boring?  I guess that’s it.  The problem is, when you don’t use a recipe while you’re making a dish, it’s really hard to post a step-by-step recipe online after the dish is done. 

(This is not to say, “oh, I’m such a great cook that I don’t use recipes.”  In fact, it’s more often the opposite.  Not using recipes is often a total disaster.  I once made an entire stock pot of butternut squash soup, and at the last minute decided to pour a beer into it.  It was completely disgusting, and I had to throw out the entire thing.  That’s not a lone example; I could tell a dozen stories with the same ending.  But if I’m telling the truth about how I cook, the fact is, I mostly prefer to do things my way, disasters included, than to follow directions.)

For now, I’m going to experiment with a new way to write these up.  I’m going to tell you, as best I can, what I did to create a dish.  But I’m going to do it as a narrative, not as a set of ingredients and a list of directions. 

So here we go. 

This recipe starts with some pasta.  Right about now, you might be wondering, “What type of pasta is that?”  The answer is: I have no idea.  No clue whatsoever.  It’s a type that I saw at the grocery store and I bought it.  A quick Google Image search suggests that it might be called gomiti, but truthfully, I’ve never heard of that type of pasta before and that might just be a word that someone made up.  Can you use other types of pasta in this recipe?  Again, not a clue.  Probably.  I don’t see how it would make much of a difference.  Live wild and free, people. 

Where were we?  Oh right, pasta.  Boil the water for your pasta.  Add some salt, because that’s a thing that the Food Network told me to do at one point, supposedly it makes the pasta more flavorful.  In a separate pan, simmer the garlic in the olive oil.  Add tomatoes (break them up with your fingers or chop them), dried basil, dried oregano, dried parsley, burrata (again, chopped), parmesan, and spinach. 

Oh, what’s that?  You have some more questions?

How much basil should I use?  I wish I could tell you.  I just shook some into the bowl until I decided there was enough.  Great method!  Super easy to replicate!  Not.  Maybe a teaspoon?  I’m just making that up.  It could be more or less.  The other spices are easier: a large pinch. 

Why did you use burrata instead of mozzarella?  Because burrata is pretty much my favorite food on earth and I use it in everything and if you haven’t tried it yet, your life is literally incomplete.  Please do so right now. 

What’s burrata?  Shoot.  You got me.  I don’t know.  In starting to type this, I was pretty sure that it was a type of mozzarella, but Google tells me that I’m wrong.  It’s a separate type of cheese made from mozzarella.  Basically, it looks like a ball of mozzarella, but when you slice into it, it’s this creamy, liquid-y goop that just might be the best thing you’ve ever tasted. 

Back to the recipe(-ish).  Simmer all the ingredients for about twenty minutes.  Cook the pasta for the number of minutes it says on the box.  Drain the pasta, mix everything together, sprinkle some additional parmesan on the top, and serve!

That’s pretty much it!  It’s really yummy.  Basically, just throw the ingredients into a bowl and it’ll probably turn out fine.  I’m not sure there’s much you could do to screw it up.  (Don’t dump a beer in it.  Take it from me, that’s always a mistake.) Rough instructions below.  Go give it a try!

Burrata-Pasta

Tags: food · main dishes

shrimp and corn chowder

March 30th, 2015 · 1 Comment

Chowder-Header-Image

Spring hit Texas last week, although I know it’s been slow to arrive on other parts of the country!  But this dish is a pretty good compromise — it has the lightness of a summer chowder, but it’s warm and substantial for those last few chilly days.

These last few weeks have been insanely busy, but in a really good way!  Starting my law practice means that when I’m swamped with work, I’m actually happy about it — which is a pretty cool feeling.  However, it means that I have to be extra organized and motivated to make sure I can accomplish what I need to every day.  (Especially with a baby involved, that’s no small feat!) It’s been a huge challenge, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

But, onto this recipe: I wouldn’t say it’s exactly as “easy” as my usual slow cooker staples, although the effort is definitely worth it.  This is the kind of dish that’s great to make on Friday night, so you can have leftovers all weekend.  Chad really liked it, and it’ll be back in our rotation again soon! 

Chowder 8.Final

Shrimp and Corn Chowder

INGREDIENTS
1 16-ounce package of frozen corn
4 slices turkey bacon, diced
8 scallions, thinly sliced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups 2% milk
1 teaspoon Old Bay
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp
Salt and Pepper

DIRECTIONS

In a large stock pot, saute the turkey bacon until fully cooked, and set aside.  Combine 1 tbsp milk with the flour and heat together to create a roux, then add the rest of the milk, potatoes, scallions, seasoning, shrimp, and corn.  Simmer for about 2 hours.

Chowder 4.Final

Chowder 5.Final

Chowder-9Cr

Tags: food · main dishes

simple weeknight salmon

February 2nd, 2015 · No Comments

Salmon-3-with-Text

I’m always on the lookout for simple recipes that work for weeknights in our house — the kind of thing you can pick up in five minutes at the grocery store, without roaming the aisles for esoteric ingredients.  Dishes that are healthy and delicious, but above all easy

I love to cook, but once the baby is in bed, I’d rather sit on the couch and have a cup of tea than spend an hour dicing vegetables. 

So, I make a lot of meals in our slow cooker — twice a week at least.  This started before Bear was born, when I made meals ahead of time to freeze for those early weeks.  (Well-intentioned, but ultimately a wasted effort.  We got sick of them fast and wound up eating take-out.  Eh.)

But the slow cooker was a true life-saver was after Bear was born — on rough nights, Chad and I would eat dinner in five-minute shifts and then resume frantically trying to calm the baby down.  Cooking wasn’t a priority, and meals from the slow cooker don’t burn.  So that was all we ate for, oh, about six months. 

But lately… things have gotten a little easier.  Our son is about nine months old now, so this was a long time coming.  But most nights, now, he reliably goes to bed by 7pm, and Chad and I actually have a few hours of calm in the evenings.  We’ve even watched a little TV.  (Yes, this is a big deal.  Watching an uninterrupted television program is something that has been missing from my life for almost a year, and the return is glorious.)

And with that extra time, I’ve been making some slightly more ambitious dinners. 

Emphasis on the slightly.

Like this one.  Four ingredients, one pan.  It takes maybe five minutes of prep and 20 minutes or so of cooking.  Not exactly Julia Child-worthy, but it’s a big step up — and it’s delicious. 

Maybe in a few months I’ll be back up to baking cakes from scratch, but for now, this is easy, healthy, and good.  And that’s pretty much all we need.

Salmon-2

Simple Weeknight Salmon

INGREDIENTS
1 lemon
4 salmon fillets
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Spread olive oil over each salmon fillet, and then season with garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Squeeze the juice from one lemon over the salmon.  Slice the other lemon and place two small slices on each portion.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Salmon-1

Tags: food · main dishes

slow cooker vegetable stew

October 8th, 2014 · No Comments

Slow-Cooker-Veggie-Stew-Final-with-Text

Forgive me if I sound a bit intense here.

BUT ZOMG THIS RECIPE IS SO FREAKING GOOD.

It really shouldn’t be.  This dish is basically nothing more than a few fresh veggies, a little butter, and some cheese.  No rare and expensive spices.  No fancy cooking techniques.  Just dump it all into the slow cooker, and come back in eight hours.

That’s literally it.

And yet… so good.  So easy, so simple, so delicious — and so mind-blowingly good. 

The slow cooker has become my best friend in the kitchen lately.  No matter how many times the baby cries or the dogs need to go outside or the phone rings — nothing burns.  It has single-handedly saved our family from starvation (or, at least, from take-out) many, many times in the last eight months. 

As a former vegetarian, this stew is light enough for lunch and hearty enough for dinner over brown rice.  But when I cooked it for a guest, I added panko-crusted chicken breast to serve over the top — based on this gem of a recipe.  Totally easy and completely delicious. 

PS — If you look back at the panko-chicken recipe, you’ll notice me spouting off advice about picky-eater kids… I’ll be taking my own advice in just a few months! 

Slow-Cooker-Veggie-Stew-Final-2

Slow Cooker Veggie Stew

INGREDIENTS
1 pound baby carrots, diced
1 large onion, diced (about 1 cup)
2 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 yellow squash, cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 bell peppers, diced
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 cup white wine
10 leaves fresh basil, chopped
1 cup parmesan cheese
1 tbsp sea salt
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper

DIRECTIONS

Combine all the ingredients in a 6-quart slow cooker; stir to combine.  Cook on high heat for 8 hours.  Serve with additional parmesan cheese and fresh basil.

Slow-Cooker-Veggie-Stew-Final-3

Tags: food · main dishes

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken

January 27th, 2014 · 11 Comments

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Sugarlaws 3

Here’s the thing about our slow cooker:

We have owned it for YEARS.  I’m not sure if it was a present or just something I picked up one day, but we have a beautiful, fancy-schmancy one from All Clad, and we’ve had it for probably five years.

And up until a few months ago, do you know how many times I had used it?  Once.  (Conveniently documented on Sugarlaws, I used it to make beef chili back in 2009… during which I accidentally fed Chad a spoonful of straight cayenne pepper, oops!  He still brings it up.)

For a long time, I thought our slow cooker might go the way of the breadmaker — a bulky, essentially useless appliance that eventually we’ll either give away or toss when we run out of kitchen space.  But then a few months ago, I thought to myself: “Hey, these things are supposed to be really good for easy meals, and I’m about to have an infant on my hands in a few months, so anything that can make cooking dinner into a five-minute endeavor might be worth revisiting.”

And so I did.  This recipe is about the simplest, easiest thing ever — just a couple of ingredients, and you literally put them in a pot and check back in 5 hours. 

And when I did?  I went to lift a chicken breast out of the pot, and it literally fell apart on the fork.  Needless to say, a big grin spread across my face — this one was an instant success.

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Sugarlaws 2

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken

INGREDIENTS

3 large boneless skinless chicken breast halves
8 ounces barbeque sauce (I used Bulls Eye Original, because Chad is extremely picky about these things)
1/3 cup Italian salad dressing
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Sandwich rolls, split

DIRECTIONS

Place chicken in a slow cooker.  Mix together the barbecue sauce, italian dressing, brown sugar, garlic powder and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over the chicken.  Cover, and cook 4 hours on your slow cooker’s “High” setting. 

When the chicken is cooked, use two forks to shred the breasts.  Spoon generously onto sandwich rolls (I also like to add a layer of extra bbq sauce to the rolls) and serve. 

Makes enough chicken for 6 sandwiches.

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Sugarlaws 1

Tags: food · main dishes