How Sweet’s Brown Butter Garden Vegetable Pasta Skillet

 How Sweet It Is is my all-time favorite blog. Creator and writer Jessica has such unique recipes and I love her writing style. She inspires me because she is a self-taught home cook who has followed her passion for food and cooking and turned that into a successful blog and soon-to-be released cookbook titled Seriously Delish. I already pre-ordered my copy and can’t wait to see what city’s she will be visiting for book signings and events. Fingers crossed for Boston!

On top of Jessica‘s busy schedule she just announced on her blog that she and her husband will be expecting their first child this December. In honor of Jessica’s big announcement I made one of my favorite recipes of hers – Brown Butter Garden Vegetable Pasta Skillet.

This recipe is great for the summer because you can use any fresh vegetables you find at your local grocery store or farmers market. I altered the recipe slightly using mozzarella instead of provolone because that is what I had in the fridge (but I have made the recipe with provolone here). I also highly recommend getting fresh corn and cutting it off the cob rather than using frozen.

If you haven’t tried a recipe with brown butter I advise you do so ASAP. It adds a great depth of flavor that you can’t get otherwise. Here is a link to Jessica‘s post on exactly how she browns her butter, with pictures!

Congrats to Jessica and her husband on the announcement of their December arrival as well as the release of Jessica‘s first cookbook on September 2nd!

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Recipe adapted from How Sweet It Is

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 box of whole wheat penne pasta
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 zucchini, chopped into large pieces
  • 2 ears of fresh corn, cut off the cob
  • 1 cups of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons of parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Parsley (optional)

 

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the penne according to the package directions.

Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a cast iron skillet over a medium heat. Add the onion, zucchini, corn, tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper. Saute for 10-15 minutes until softened, stirring occasionally. If the vegetables begin to burn turn the heat down to low.

While the pasta and vegetables are cooking, heat a small sauce pan over a medium heat. Add the butter and whisk constantly until it is bubbly and brown bits appear on the bottom (approx. 5 minutes). Remove the butter from the heat and set aside.

Turn the heat off under the vegetables. Drain the pasta and add to the vegetable pan. Add the parmesan cheese and drizzle in the brown butter. Mix well then top with the mozzarella cheese.

Put the skillet in the oven and cook for 10 minutes, or until the mozzarella is bubbly.

Remove and garnish with parsley and extra parmesan cheese.

 

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Here is a picture from when I made this recipe with provolone cheese instead of mozzarella.

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Fettuccine with Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce and Sweet Peas

I have had a bunch of recipes for a cauliflower alfredo sauced pinned on Pinterest just waiting for a chance to test out. After reading a few different ones I knew I wanted to make one that had lots of garlic and nutmeg to give the sauce some flavor and depth.

Going completely no-carb is not an option for me, I love pasta too much. After two weeks of not having pasta AT ALL I was excited to make some. With penne or smaller shaped pasta I usually can taste a definite difference in the whole wheat or whole grain kinds but not with fettuccine or linguine. Since I have been trying to eat cleaner I am happy to find a whole grain option that I enjoy and doesn’t lack in quality of flavor.

While this dish wasn’t the prettiest to photograph I was really happy with how it turned out! It was full of flavor and not as heavy as a traditional alfredo sauce. I also liked that the sauce stayed in tact and did not turn oily when heating up leftovers.

This will definitely be added into my dinner rotation and I want to try out a cauliflower sauce risotto as well. It is such a good base sauce that can used for so many dishes – There is even a whole eCookbook written about it by the blog Pinch of Yum!

IMG_3629 Recipe adapted from Julia’s Album

WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup of heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (you could use Parmesan cheese as well).
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 2 cups of frozen peas
  • 1 box of whole wheat fettuccine
  • Parsley (optional)

Clean and remove the cauliflower from the green leaves. Chop into fairly large pieces. Place in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and let cook for 30 minutes. Drain reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.

Boil and cook the fettuccine according to package directions. During the last 2 minutes of cooking you can add in the frozen peas.

Meanwhile, place the pot you cooked the cauliflower in back on the stove over a medium-low heat. Melt the butter and add the diced onion. Let saute for 4-5 minutes or until translucent. Add the mined garlic and cook for another minute. Add the heavy cream and parmigiano-reggiano cheese. Cook for 1 minute, stirring continuously, until the cheese melts.

Remove from the heat.

Add the drained cauliflower back into the pot with with onions and garlic. Using an immersion blender, blend until creamy adding in the reserved pasta was back in as needed to loosen the sauce. Season with pepper and nutmeg. You can keep the sauce warm over a low heat on the stove if your pasta is not ready yet,

** If you do not have an immersion blender you can use a food processor or blender. 

Drain the fettuccine and peas and put back in the cooking pot. Pour the cauliflower sauce over the pasta and mix to combine. You can add more of the cooking water here if the sauce is still too thick.

Serve with more parmigiano-reggiano cheese and parsley (optional).IMG_3630

 

 

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Ranch Goat Cheese Dip

Normal people try to diet or eat healthy before summer.

That would be the smart thing to do.

Not me. I blame in on the extensive cold weather we had right up until  June. Cold weather makes me crave warm and hearty dishes while warm weather I am all about the salads and grilled meats and veggies.

Thanks a lot winter.

While I always try to eat healthy (I definitely have my splurge days every so often…hello  Sundays?) I decided to really crack down over the past two weeks. A friend of mine did a low carb diet the entire month of May and she looks fantastic. It was all the motivation I needed to make some simple changes to what I have been eating. I can honestly say after two weeks I already feel better and have a lot more energy.

While I can never cut out carbs completely since I love pasta too much, I have decided to go with a mix of low carb/clean eating dishes so there is plenty of variety. It is so easy to get bored when you don’t have options.

One of my coworkers had this dip at work last week. I tried some and loved it! I knew I had to make it ASAP. Not only is it tasty but it’s extremely easy to make and you don’t need many ingredients.

Serve it as a party appetizer or just snack on it at home with your favorite veggies or crackers!

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 WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

  • 11oz of goat cheese (1 log)
  • 1.25 cups of plain greek yogurt (I used Chobani but you could also use sour cream)
  • 1 packet of Ranch seasoning mix
  • Additional garlic and onion powder if desired
  • Assorted vegetables  (I used baby carrots and cucumber)
  • Assorted crackers (optional)

 

Combine the goat cheese, greek yogurt and ranch seasoning in a food processor. Process until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Taste and add additional garlic and onion powder if needed.

Serve with assorted fresh vegetables and/or crackers.

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Nespresso Pop-Up Dome: VertuoLine Coffee and Espresso Machine

If you have noticed the gold dome that has popped up in Dewey Square right across from South Station with a line out the door every morning I recommend you go in and check it out before it is gone!

It is a pop-up from Nespresso to debut their VertuoLine coffee and espresso machine. Don’t be intimidated by the line, it moves quickly.IMG_3438

Walking into the dome I was directed to a coffee station where a Nespresso employee greeted me and asked if I would like coffee or espresso. I chose coffee and went with the hazelnut flavor. IMG_3440 As the coffee was being brewed I learned all about the VertuoLine machine which can brew both coffee and espresso at the touch of a button. No setting changes needed.

Water in the machine heats for 15-20 seconds. Using centrifuge technology each coffee or espresso capsule is spun at 7,000 rotations per minute helping to blend the coffee with the hot water. Each cup is topped off the perfect amount of naturally created foam (crema).

The individual capsules have a bar code on the outside so the machine knows whether you are brewing a coffee (8oz cup) or espresso (1.4oz cup).

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I am not a regular coffee drinker but will grab a cup here and there from Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts or Boston Common Coffee. I never drink Keurig coffee because I think it is too watery.

However, after trying a cup from the VertuoLine I was completely sold on the machine and the coffee it brews. I need a cup of this in my life every day. I didn’t even need to add much milk thanks to the crema.

If you stop into the pop-up dome they serve your coffee in a great plastic to-go cup. I enjoyed my at my desk and made sure to tell all of my coworkers about it. Some of them even headed back to the dome in the afternoon for a second cup.

Yes, it’s THAT good.

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If you can’t make it do the pop-up dome stop into any Nespresso location near you for a complimentary tasting.

I just added the VertuoLine machine to my Amazon Store so you can easily order the machine right from my page and bring the coffee shop right into your own home!

Have you gotten a chance to try coffee or espresso from the VertuoLine yet?

If not, you can find a Nespresso store right on Newbury Street:

Nespresso
7 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02116

800.562.1465

Dinner and a movie with Top Chef’s Tom and Gail

Monday night my friend Jaime, my roommate and I went to Theater 1 at the Revere Hotel for an advanced screening of the new movie Chef.

The movie is about Chef Carl Casper, a gourmet chef at a prominent LA restaurant who quits his job after refusing to compromise his creativity to please his boss. Starting up a food truck Chef Casper hopes to showcase his passion and style of cooking while piecing back together his broken family.

Jon Favreau wrote, produced, directed and starred in this heartwarming movie that features an all-star cast including John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman and Sofia Vergara.

The film debuted at SXSW in Austin, TX back in March getting great reviews with many saying it was the first movie that actually portrayed the life of a chef the most accurately. No surprise since Favreau worked directly with LA chef and food truck owner Roy Choi of the Kogi Truck. Not only did he study how to cook, he studied the lives of all of the chef’s he worked and small details such as typical places they get burned while cooking, types of tattoos they had, and their demeanor in the kitchen.

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I had never been to the Revere Hotel before and I loved this funky statue they had in the lobby. Everything was really clean and I liked the decor – if I didn’t live in Boston I would definitely look into this hotel as an option to stay at. It is so close to Back Bay it is an easy walk on a nice day.

I also need to check out their roof deck one night after work. Cocktails, cabanas, and a great view sounds like the perfect spot on a warm night.

I am not into going to clubs but if you are check out Emerald Lounge, the night club located within the Revere Hotel.

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When the lobby doors opened we were treated to complimentary beer, wine and cocktails from Food & Wine magazine. 

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When we entered the theater there was a whole table with movie snacks including popcorn, assorted candy bags and Twizzlers.

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Dinner was prepared by Chef Barry Maiden of Hungry Mother in Cambridge, MA. We were served Cubano’s with a side of cuban black beans.

Cubano’s related directly to the movie so it was a very fitting and tasty choice! These were traditional cubanos made with ham, pork, swiss cheese, pickles and mustard.

I haven’t been to Hungry Mother yet but it is on my list and I definitely want to check it out soon after getting to try some of Chef Barry’s food.

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And then came the highlight of the night.

We were sitting in our seats and my roommate spotted Tom Colicchio and Gail Simmons – the judges of Bravo‘s hit TV series Top Chef, one of my favorite shows. The 12th season is currently filming in Boston.

Needless to say, we FREAKED out.

Along with being judges on Top ChefGail is the Special Projects Manager at Food & Wine and Tom is the chef/owner of the Craft Restaurants.

We approached them to say hi and tell them what big fans were were. They were so nice and friendly and even chatted with us a little about their filming in Boston. They even let us take a picture with them before the movie started.

This one is getting framed and hung up in the house!!

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Before the movie started a special taped messaged from Jon Favreau was played for the audience. He told us a little bit about his experience writing and preparing for this film.

Chef the movie was wonderful! I will definitely be watching it for a second time. If you are a foodie like me I think you will really enjoy it as well.

After the movie we were treated to warm churros and chocolate sauce. Churros are one of my favorite desserts and Chef Barry Maiden‘s are some of the best I’ve had! I was thrilled when he was standing next to the table and I was able to tell him him person how great everything was.

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This night is going on the list of one of the best of 2014 – maybe even ever!

Have you gotten to see Chef yet?

If not, check it out and let me know if you liked it!

Theater 1 at the Revere Hotel
200 Stuart Street
Boston, MA 02116

617.482.1800

 

Hungry Mother
233 Cardinal Medeiros Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02141

617.499.0090