Friday, May 31, 2013

Pasta with Poblanos and Chipotle Sauce

I'll admit that when I first came across this recipe, I was dubious. It didn't sound super appealing to me, but it is definitely a hit. I like the bold and rich flavor from the chipotle sauce.

I've added lardons when I have them on hand, and they are great in this dish too. This dish is a little spicy so be careful with the chipotle. If you like it less spicy, you can cut back on it.

Pasta with Poblanos and Chipotle Sauce

1 large onion, thinly sliced (2 1/4 cups)
1/2 pound fresh poblano chiles, stemmed, seeded, and thinly sliced lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped bottled roasted red peppers (I prefer roasting my own)
1 pound ziti or penne
1 tablespoon chopped canned chipotles in adobo (careful with this - add half and then taste before adding more to be safe if you're worried about spice)
1 1/2 cups sour cream (I use low fat)
1 cup chopped scallions (about 1 bunch)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (or more. I love the fresh cilantro and am very generous with it)
raw green (hulled) pumpkin seeds (pepitas), toasted for garnish

Cook onion, poblanos, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in oil in a heavy medium pot over medium heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add red peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is tender, 2 to 3 minutes. 

Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain pasta. 

While pasta cooks, purée chipotles with sour cream in a blender. (I used my immersion blender)

Add purée to onion mixture with scallions, cilantro, 1/4 cup cooking water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to a simmer, stirring. Add pasta and toss, moistening with additional cooking water if desired. Season with salt.

Garnish with pepitas and fresh cilantro.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

You Can Do That!?!

Thumbs up!

I was so excited when I saw the recipe for Carrot Cake Pancakes on Smitten Kitchen - Andrew's two favorite foods are carrot cake and pancakes AND his favorite meal of the day is breakfast. I knew he was going to be so happy!

When I told him I was going to combine his two favorites, he enthusiastically responded, "You can do that?!?"

Yes! Yes, you can, and it's wonderful!!!

These are very tasty and easy to whip together. I wasn't a huge fan of the cream cheese topping. I thought it was too sweet, and I think I would prefer to just top these with some yogurt and toasted pecans or walnuts.

I could barely wait to eat these!

Carrot Cake Pancakes
from Joy the Baker via Smitten Kitchen 

Makes about a dozen 3- to 4-inch pancakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts (optional, I used pecans because we already had them)
2 tablespoons golden raisins (optional, I didn't use them)
1 large egg
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups finely grated carrots (from about a 3/4 pound bundle whole carrots) (hand shredded on the fine holes of a box shredder)
3 tablespoons butter, for griddle

Cream cheese topping
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup powdered sugar (I thought this was too sweet so I'd recommending using less sugar)
2 to 3 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Dash of ground cinnamon (I skipped this because the batter seemed very cinnamon-y already)
I also added some fresh lemon zest to brighten it up

Place a rack in the upper third of your oven and preheat to 200°F. This will keep the pancakes warmed as they’re fried in batches.

To make the pancakes: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and, if using, nuts and raisins. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, brown sugar, buttermilk and vanilla. Stir in carrots. Stir carrot mixture into dry ingredients, stirring until just incorporated. Let rest for five minutes while you make the cream cheese topping.

To make the cream cheese topping: In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese until fluffy and lump-free. Whisk in powdered sugar, two tablespoons milk, vanilla and cinnamon (and lemon zest if you'd like). If you’d like the mixture thinner, add the remaining tablespoon of milk (I didn't need to add this).

Over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a cast-iron skillet or griddle pan. Spoon 2 tablespoons batter into the hot pan per pancake (We normally like to make larger pancakes, but Deb advised that it's best to listen to the original recipe here and cook smaller cakes. They are easier to handle, which I also found to be true.), flipping once, until pancakes are golden on both sides, about 2 minutes per side.

Transfer finished pancakes to a serving dish or tray in the oven to keep warm while you repeat the process with the remaining batter, adding more butter as needed.

Serve warm with cream cheese topping.

And, if you serve bacon on the side, you'll have another loyal friend...

I love how Lola has her eye on the bacon in my hand, and Elsa is oblivious and staring at Andrew - a real sweetie that one.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

All American Salads

This long weekend I was in the mood for a good, old-fashioned summer barbecue. I wanted grilled corn, sausages with sauerkraut, potato salad and ice cold lemonade. I also wanted to make a traditional potato salad and Andrew’s favorite salad(!) – macaroni salad. I found the most all-American salads that I could on the interwebs, and we headed to Taos for a weekend of barbecuing and relaxing.

Just a warning, these are addictive salads. As I was making them, I thought to myself that I probably wouldn’t want to eat too much of them since there was so much mayonnaise in them. Mayonnaise is kind of a turn off for me so I figured I’d have a little and let Andrew eat the rest. Well, flash forward two days, and I was sitting at our kitchen table eating a plate of potato salad and macaroni salad with some potato chips on the side for good measure... for breakfast!

Rosanne Cash’s Potato Salad 

Serves 8

3 pounds medium red-skinned potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed
8 dill pickle spears, coarsely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
3 celery stalks, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 medium red onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
5 hard-boiled eggs, peeled, chopped
3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain; cool. Cut potatoes into 1-inch pieces and transfer to large bowl. Stir in pickles, celery, onion, eggs, mayonnaise, and mustard. Season potato salad to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.)

I found this to be better the next day after the flavors had melded a little better.

Modern Macaroni Salad 
Adapted slightly from Epicurious

Serves 6 to 8

16 ounces elbow macaroni
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/3 cups chopped drained bread-and-butter pickles
1 1/4 cups chopped celery
1 4-ounce jars sliced pimientos, drained
1 bunch of green onions, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped

Cook macaroni in large pot of boiling salted water just until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain. Rinse under cold water; drain well. Whisk mayonnaise, mustard, and lemon juice in large bowl. Mix in macaroni, pickles, celery, peppers, pimientos and onions. Season with salt and pepper.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Now, That's The Kind of Dog We Want to See in Movies!

Several years ago in Portland, Elsa and I were standing outside of a gelato shop waiting for Andrew. I was standing around the side of the building in the shade, and Elsa had sat down near the front of the building to get a good look at Andrew as he purchased our gelato. A family was sitting at the tables in front of the shop, and the kids were cooing over how cute Elsa is. After agreeing that she was the cutest thing ever, the grandmother emphatically announced to the whole family, "Now, that's the kind of dog we want to see in the movies!" The family wasn't paying any attention to me, and I don't know if they knew I could overhear them, but as you can imagine, my heart swelled with joy for my tiny cutie #37. All this way from the Los Lunas animal shelter, in the big city and everything, and she was still melting hearts with her cuteness. I have no idea what the family had been discussing leading up to this encounter - dog movie stars?? - but it made me extremely happy.

We always joke about Elsa becoming a dog movie star. Who are we to deny the people what they want after all? So, with that, I'm sharing with you a video I found on our camera this weekend of Elsa after a bath. Dogs are always so cute after baths with all their wriggling around and shaking. I love how Andrew directs me to let her wriggle a little more for the sake of the video!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Wishing I Could Get to the River...

Fishing on the Rio Grande last weekend. Water is awfully low...

Finding myself distracted today with this song running through my head and wishing I could get to the River. Being on the water always makes a day better. Luckily it is only a few short weeks until our first rafting permit.

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