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Kid-Friendly Recipe: Pasta with Browned Butter

22 Jul

This is the best thing there is. Period. End of discussion.

Grace’s hippie sister here, popping in with a quick, kid-friendly recipe.

Remember when you were little, and you hated spaghetti sauce, so you’d bug the crap out of your mom to get her to let you eat noodles with butter and Parmesan cheese instead? Yeah, our mom wouldn’t let us do that very often, either. Most of my adult life has revolved around doing crap Mom wouldn’t let me do when I was little.

The whole skip-the-sauce-and-go-straight-for-the-noodles thing gained an air of legitimacy about 10 years ago, when I had my first encounter with the Old Spaghetti Factory’s awesome spaghetti with browned butter and mizithra cheese, which — the menu assured us — was a great favorite of Homer (the blind poet from ancient Greece, not the fat guy from The Simpsons) while he was writing The Odyssey. As an English teacher, I considered this complete justification for eating as much of the stuff as I wanted.

I was pretty amped when the Old Spaghetti Factory decided to share its recipe for this awesomeness in the Riverfront Times’ annual cookbook. I was even more amped when I found out how ridiculously easy it was to make.

This is the part you throw away. Unless you're me, in which case you savor its salty, buttery goodness while nobody's looking.

Start your pasta. I like capellini because it cooks fast and has a nice texture, but a fatter pasta will work just as well. While the pasta cooks, melt a stick of butter — realbutter, not margarine or “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Toxic Waste” or whatever else you’ve got — over low heat. Stirring constantly, bring the butter to a boil. It will froth and bubble and do all kinds of outrageous things. Just keep stirring until it settles down, takes on an amber color, and smells like heaven. At this point, remove it from the heat and pour it through a strainer to remove any scorched solids. (Have you ever eaten browned butter residue out of a strainer? If not, then, uh, I haven’t either.)

Cheese + butter = awesome.

Drain your pasta, top with embarrassing amounts of grated cheese — the restaurant uses mizithra, a Greek cheese made from sheep’s milk that tastes better than anything else on the planet, but Parmesan will work just fine in a pinch — and drizzle with the browned butter. One stick of butter makes two servings. Unless you’re me, in which case, we’re going to need a bigger boat.

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Quick Recipe: Cajun Shrimp with Cheese Grits

14 Jan
 
Spicy shrimp and cheese grits: the perfect winter warmup.

Red Fork Hippie here, dishing up a warm, hearty way to begin or end a chilly January day: thick, buttery cheese grits spiked with bacon and topped with sauteed shrimp in a spicy roux.

Be forewarned: This ain’t diet food.

The recipe is a riff on an idea I swiped from my favorite Cajun restaurant, Chicory and Chives, which is an awesomely awesome place to have brunch on Saturday mornings, but which also happens to be several miles (and two or three construction zones) away from Red Fork, making it a less-than-ideal choice for weeknight dining. Continue reading

Low-Carb Recipe: Slow-Cooker Olive Turkey

13 Jan

For a text-only version of this recipe and complete ingredients listing, click here.

Plain turkey drumsticks get a saucy makeover in this easy dish.

Note: I see James Ramsden also has a poultry-and-olive combo on his own blog this week, albeit Morrocan-style in his case. I guess great minds think alike!

Turkey drumsticks are a great sale find at our local grocery store, and I love thinking up new ways to present them. I also love using my Crock Pot as much as possible when I’m restricting carbs. It keeps meal preparation fun and gives me something to look forward to all day, instead of staring at yet another bunless hamburger when I get home. 🙂

The combination of dark meat and slow-cooking keeps this version moist and tender, and the Mexican ingredients are a perfect match for stronger-flavored game poultry. Continue reading

Winter Recipe: Spinach Tortellini Soup

12 Jan

To view text-only version of this recipe and complete ingredients listing, click here.

These greens will warm the "snowy day blues" right out of you.

Nothing’s better than coming in out of the snow to a piping hot bowl of soup, but what happens when you don’t have hours to let the kettle simmer before dinner?

This soup recipe can be thrown together and cooked in under thirty minutes, and it’s got all the hearty flavor of something that’s been bubbling for hours.

If you can’t find frozen or refrigerated cheese tortellini at your local discount grocery store, you can substitute using either cheese ravioli, or just regular boxed pasta noodles + a little bit of grated parmesan cheese in the soup.

Start by melting a tablespoon of butter/margarine in a deep pot over MEDIUM burner heat. Once melted, throw in about a cup of diced onions. (I keep these in the freezer so I don’t have to mess with chopping them every night.) Continue reading

Vegetarian Recipe: Linguine Pesto

11 Jan

Like dining out, only cheaper. And faster.

Grace’s hippie sister, reporting in from Oklahoma with a knockoff of a recipe from her favorite upscale Italian restaurant.

I knew I’d spent way too much time hanging out with Italians when I caught myself adding red wine and olive oil to a batch of Hamburger Helper.

Grace and I grew up surrounded by Italians: Alegnanis, Berras, Calcaterras, Camaratos, Cerniglias, Colombos, Dell’Eras, DeTomasis, Ferraris, Garavalias, Garegnanis, Garnatis, Gualdonis, Marlows, Pisonis, Quaglias, Ranchinos, Sollamis, Spezias, Trapanis, Venegonis … you get the idea.

Somehow, I managed to land in Tulsa — where the Mexican and Lebanese influences tend to dominate the culinary landscape — but while you can take the girl out of Herrin, apparently you can’t take Herrin out of the girl: A cursory glance at the cabinets on a recent Friday afternoon revealed that while I was out of milk, bread, and most other staples, I had plenty of garlic, two kinds of olive oil, and at least seven different types of pasta on hand.

I heard the basil plant on my windowsill calling my name, so I pinched off some leaves and broke out the food processor. It was pesto time. Continue reading

Easy Recipe: Scarborough Fair Turkey

17 Dec

(This post brought to you by Emily; the wonderful turkey she made for Thanksgiving is definitely a worthwhile venture for your Christmas dinner table as well!)

–Gracie

Thanksgiving doesn't get any simpler than this quick turkey recipe.

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme
Remember me to one who lives there,
She once was a true love of mine….

— Anonymous

What do Simon and Garfunkel have to do with Thanksgiving? Plenty, if you’re Grace’s hippie sister (which I am).

The popular ’60s duo’s recording of the traditional English folk song “Scarborough Fair” includes the lines above. In medieval England, plants were assigned meanings, so the herbs mentioned in the song actually represent character traits such as strength, courage, love, etc.

The herbs mentioned in the song also happen to taste good in poultry dishes, so I decided to give my Thanksgiving turkey a little folk-hippie twist this year. The results were so good — and the preparation so simple — that one could just as easily use this recipe for a weeknight supper. Continue reading

Simple Recipe: Quick & Easy Salmon Teriyaki

1 Dec

For a text-only version of this recipe and complete ingredients listing, click here.

This is a great recipe for when the pantry and crisper drawers are looking low. It’s also a dead ringer for the Carribean salmon platter from Red Lobster. You can keep frozen salmon (or other fish) at the ready for these kind of evenings because fish filets really don’t take very long to thaw even when you haven’t planned ahead.

Plus, it just tastes delicious. It kills me that I sometimes will spend an hour or more in the kitchen whipping up something my family eats without comment, when this little baby is ready in under 30 minutes, requires few ingredients and always draws compliments. That’s life, I suppose. 🙂 Continue reading

Slow-Cooker Recipe: Chicken Stew

30 Nov

Grace’s sister here, checking in with a spur-of-the-moment recipe that turned out better than I expected.

The other day, I had a craving for chicken pot pie — or, more accurately, chicken pot pie filling. I wasn’t particularly interested in the crust. I just wanted the stew inside.

A bag of frozen vegetables and a couple of chicken breasts later, I had something lovely simmering in my Crock-Pot. Continue reading

Amazing Recipe: Deep-Dish Pizza Pie Quiche

24 Nov

To view a text-only version of this recipe and complete ingredients listing, click here.

This was so much better than it had any right to be. I think it's my new favorite food.

Oh. My. Goodness. I need for all of you reading out there at home to know how wonderful this is. Because it is. Truly, it is. Is-is-is, is…IS.

Yum.

I made this quiche for a Saturday brunch when I knew meals would be happening at random odd times later in the day. The family needed something to tide them over, and I needed something to do with the pepperoni left over from making homemade minestrone. Continue reading

Healthy Recipe: Chicken Fiesta Salad

25 Oct
Note: Gracie is up to her eyeballs in work, so Emily is sharing her own family’s version of Fast Salsa-Ranch Chicken Salad below.

This colorful salad is as tasty as it is pretty.

Gracie’s hippie sister strikes again.

My husband likes taco salad. I’m not usually a big fan, but this particular version is so protein-packed and easy to make that it’s hard to go wrong with it. Continue reading