back to basics: burrata pasta

March 31st, 2016 · 56 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

raspberry baked brie

November 16th, 2015 · 10 Comments

Smuckers 10.Final

For the past few years, my attempts at holiday entertaining have been pretty limited.  There was the year Chad and I cooked a turkey while our newborn napped, and then ate pumpkin pie and went to sleep at 9 o’clock.  There was the year I burned the potatoes, followed by the year that my entire extended family ate take-out because I was afraid of burning the potatoes two years in a row.  (I wish I were kidding!)

And yet, starting in October, any time I consider a new recipe, this little voice in the back of my head starts asking: Would this work for a dozen people?  Could this recipe be a holiday recipe?  Because if there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that holidays are the ultimate test of any recipe: they have to be easy, simple, and virtually foolproof. 

So this year, I have a plan.  My plan involves cheese wrapped in puff pastry because what plan involving those ingredients could ever go wrong?

The best thing about this plan?  This recipe only has four ingredients (really!) and it’s spectacular.  Your friends and family will fall all over themselves complimenting your skills in the kitchen, and you can just keep your lips zipped about the fact that it takes less than five minutes to prep.  You’re welcome!

My secret weapon is Smucker’s Fruit & Honey Fruit Spread, which is naturally sweetened with honey for perfect balance of tart and sweet flavor!  It’s the perfect complement to rich cheese and fresh berries — and it’s made with simple ingredients and no preservatives, so it’s a product that I’m happy serving to my family.  I used the Triple Berry Fruit Spread in this recipe, but you have to try to Blueberry Lemon!  It’s out-of-control delicious. 

To make my raspberry baked brie, I paired brie cheese with Smucker’s Triple Berry Fruit Spread and fresh raspberries.  The result was an amazing combination of melted cheese, softened berries, and crisp pasty.  The whole thing was melt-in-your-mouth delicious!

For more inspiration, check out a ton of other recipes using Smucker’s Fruit & Honey on their website!

This post was created in partnership with Smucker’s. As always, all opinions are my own!

Smuckers 2.Final

Smuckers 5.Final

Smuckers 8.Final

Tags: appetizers · food · sponsored

maple-bbq chicken sandwiches

November 5th, 2015 · Comments Off on maple-bbq chicken sandwiches

KC 2.Final

Right before our son arrived, I spent several weeks building up a major stash of BBQ chicken. For weeks, while we devoted round-the-clock care to our new addition, Chad and I ate frozen barbecue chicken… and it basically saved our lives. We managed to pull off reasonably healthy, hearty meals within a few minutes, any time we needed them.

And the best thing about this recipe? It’s made in a slow-cooker, so it doesn’t take hours of prep or cooking time out of your day. Just mix together the ingredients, and come back in a few hours for perfectly cooked, melt-in-your-mouth chicken. When I make BBQ chicken in the slow cooker, I love to shred it with two forks for a pulled-pork-style finished product, which is absolutely delicious. And you’ll never notice the swap of chicken as a healthier main ingredient! This recipe is delicious, easy, and super simple to make. What more could you ask for?

I’m particularly excited to share this recipe with you guys, because I used the most delicious KC Masterpiece Kansas-City-Style barbecue sauce for this recipe. Texans have a big rivalry with Kansas-City barbecue sauce, but this one was completely delicious. Tangy and sweet, it was the perfect complement to the hint of maple syrup I added to this recipe!

KC 3.Final

Maple BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

INGREDIENTS
5 large boneless skinless chicken breast halves
12 ounces KC Masterpiece Kansas City Barbecue Sauce
1/2 cup italian salad dressing
2 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Sandwich rolls, split

DIRECTIONS

Place chicken in a slow cooker. Mix together the barbecue sauce, italian dressing, brown sugar, maple syrup, 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 6-8 sandwiches.

KC 9 (2).Final

KC 6.Final

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of KC Masterpiece.  The opinions and text are all mine.

Tags: food · main dishes · sponsored