Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Farfallini with White Beans

This pasta has evolved over the last couple of months, and it makes a really good meatless main dish.  

2 (15-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, drained
2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans
1 pound farfalline pasta (farfalline is a little bow-tie shaped pasta)
2 large onions, chopped
5 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 pound hard salami, diced
2 TB fresh basil or 1/2 tsp dried basil - or to taste
1 bag baby spinach, roughly chopped
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spread diced tomatoes in a single layer on a sheet cake pan and roast in the center of the oven for about 30 minutes.  Tomatoes will dry out slightly and juices will begin to carmelize.
  2. Drain beans into a large colander and rinse with cold water.  Leave the beans in the colander.
  3. Saute onions in 1/4 cup olive oil until translucent.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add garlic to the pan and continue to saute until onions are just starting to brown and garlic is fragrant.
  4. Cook pasta in salted water according to package instructions.  When pasta is done, dip out 1 1/2 cups of the water pasta cooked in and reserve.  (I use a large mug or a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup.)  Pour pasta and remaining cooking water over the beans in the colander to drain the pasta - the hot pasta will heat the beans.  Return the pasta and beans to the pasta pot.  Drizzle with 1/4 cup olive oil and stir gently.
  5. Add onions, sun dried tomatoes, salami, roasted tomatoes, and fresh basil to the pasta.  If mixture seems dry, add some of the reserved pasta water and stir.  (The longer the dish sits, the more pasta water it will absorb.  I usually end up adding almost all of the reserved pasta water.)
  6. If you are not going to serve the pasta immediately, cover the pot and place in a 300 degree oven to keep warm.
  7. Just before serving, fold in the baby spinach, adjust seasonings, and serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Perfectly Baked Salmon

This salmon gets rave reviews whenever I make it.  If you are lucky enough to have any left over, it's wonderful served over a salad of field greens with an orange vinaigrette. 

1 salmon fillet
2-3 TB extra virgin olive oil
Lemon pepper to taste

Heat oven to 425 degrees.  

Rinse salmon in cool water and blot dry with paper towels.  

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Spray foil with vegetable oil spray.

Lay salmon on foil, skin side down.  Drizzle olive oil over salmon and spread evenly with your finger tips. Sprinkle generously with lemon pepper.  

Bake salmon 10-12 minutes until thickest part of salmon is almost ready to flake.  Remove from oven and cover loosely with foil.  Let sit for 3-5 minutes until thickest part of salmon flakes easily.  Serve immediately.  

Favorite Lentils - adapted from Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa)

I was looking for a new lentil recipe when I stumbled across this gem from Ina Garten (a.k.a the Barefoot Contessa). Of all the Ina Garten recipes I've tried, I can't think of anything that hasn't been absolutely delicious. The lentils live up to Ina's reputation.

1⁄2 pound lentils
1⁄4 cup good olive oil
3 cups chopped yellow onions
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (I used 1/2 tsp dry thyme)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1 1⁄2 cups chopped celery (4 stalks)
1 1⁄2 cups chopped carrots (3 carrots)
1 1⁄2 cups chicken stock or chicken broth (don't use bouillon cubes - the end result will be too salty)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons good red wine vinegar

Place the lentils in a heat-proof bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside for 15 minutes, then drain.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a saute pan, add the onions, thyme, salt, and pepper and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the drained lentils, celery, carrots, chicken stock, and tomato paste
. Cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Add the vinegar and season to taste. Enjoy!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Belgian Waffles for Breakfast

Sundays at the D'Alba home are busy, busy, busy EXCEPT for the first Sunday in April and the first Sunday in October.  And then, everything comes to a halt except listening to our prophet and general authorities speak in General Conference.   How I look forward to these Sundays!

Living in the East, Conference begins at noon - which gives us hours, yes hours, with no obligations on a Sunday morning.  On such a morning, what could be better than piping hot Belgian waffles?  Not much.  (The hot buttermilk-coconut syrup, bananas, and whipped cream kind of put these over the top, in a really good way.) This recipe comes together incredibly fast which means, of course, getting out of the kitchen quickly.

Belgian Waffles

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 TB powdered sugar
pinch of salt
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted and cooled
2 cups milk
3 eggs, separated
1 TB vanilla

Preheat the waffle iron.  In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, powdered sugar and salt.  Add butter, milk, vanilla and egg yolks and whisk to combine.  In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.  Gently fold the egg whites into the batter, mixing just until most of the egg whites are incorporated.

Brush waffle iron with oil.  Ladle batter into waffle iron and bake according to the directions for your waffle iron.  Makes about 7 waffles.

NOTE:  Waffles are best eaten "hot off the iron" - but if you HAVE to hold them so everyone can eat at once, keep them in a warm oven.  Heat oven to 250 degrees.  Place a metal cooling rack in a jelly roll pan in the oven.  As waffles are finished baking, place them in a single layer on the prepared pan in the oven.  But trust me on this one - once you start cooking waffles, good luck getting people to wait until the waffles all are cooked.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Instant Sunshine - kind of

It's been a cold dark winter, and it seems like it's been going on forever. . . well, at least since last October or so.  And while I'm ready for spring, mother nature just isn't cooperating.  Until then, I've added a splash of color with a new tablecloth. . . or two.

With 45 inches of bright fabric and a few minutes of sewing, I get a pop of color that brightens my spirits.   Buy the fabric on sale, and my spirits are even brighter.

For each tablecloth:

Purchase 45 inches (1 1/4 yards) of 44/45 inch cotton or polyester/cotton fabric.   If there are printing marks ( color squares or writing) on the selvages, you will need to trim and hem those ends.  Otherwise, turn the cut ends under twice and sew with a straight seam.  I find it easiest to press each end under about 1/4 inch, then fold the fabric again and press it.  By taking a few minutes to press the hems before sewing them, I don't have to pin the hem.  Anything that makes life a little easier works for me.

These tablecloths can be used by themselves on small kitchen tables.  For larger tables, put the new tablecloth over a solid color tablecloth.  It makes a bright accent.  For about $5.00 per tablecloth (with fabric purchased on sale), I'm smiling each time I walk through the kitchen.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Homemade Microwave Popcorn Packs

Last week I did a stress management workshop during a multi-stake singles conference. Because both men and women attended, I wanted a favor that all could enjoy. And because the workshop was on stress management, I was looking for a favor that wouldn't cause any guilt or additional stress. These microwave popcorn packets seemed to fill the bill.

Put 1/3 cup popcorn in a brown paper lunch sack. Fold down the top twice and tape it. Wrap each bag with ribbon and attach a flower cut from cardstock. Slide instructions under the ribbon on the back of the packet.

I customize the instructions based on the event. Super Stress Poppers could easily be changed to Birthday Poppers, or "Here's to a great pop" for Father's Day. . . you get the idea.

There you go - an easy, inexpensive favor that can be color coordinated to any party or event you are hosting.

If making the packets to cook microwave popcorn for yourself, you don't even need to tape the bag. Fold down the top of the bag twice, lay the bag flat in your microwave oven, and microwave 1-3 minutes or until the popping slows to 1-2 pops per second. Add desired seasonings and enjoy. (And for the frugal among us - you can re-use the lunch sack for additional batches of popcorn.)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Relaxing Foot Soak

Here's an easy foot soak that also makes a nice favor. I called this version "De-stressed Soles" because I handed them out at a stress management workshop. You could call it anything you want.

I use 1/4 cup of the mix in a 3" x 4" plastic bag. Lately, I've used jewelry bags from WalMart. They are inexpensive - but they don't seal at all well. This means you need to fold down the top of the bag and staple it before stapling on the label (otherwise the mix leaks out of the bag). The decoration is a piece of folded ribbon stapled to the back at the same time the label is stapled on.

Relaxing Foot Soak

1 1/4 cups Epsom salts
1 1/4 cups kosher salt
1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup cornstarch

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Stir with a whisk until combined. Pour into jars or small bags and use within a few weeks.

Each recipe makes 10-11 individual packets using 1/4 cup of the mix in each bag.