Monday, March 29, 2010

Farfalle with Asparagus, Sun-dried Tomatoes, and Boursin

This dish is a quick, delicious way to enjoy pasta in the springtime. The asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes, and lemon zest add brightness and rich flavor to the dish. However, the star of this meal is the Boursin. It's a creamy French cheese that is flavored with garlic and herbs. The Boursin takes this dish from a simple, pasta casserole to a creamy, dreamy comfort food.

Farfalle with Asparagus, Sun-dried Tomatoes, and Boursin

2 chicken breasts, shredded (I used the breast meat from 1 roasted chicken)
1/3 C. pine nuts, lightly toasted
8 oz. Farfalle (bow tie) pasta
14 Medium asparagus spears, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 T. olive oil
4 large garlic cloves
1/3 C. sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 C. Parmesan or Romano cheese
2/3 C. (4 oz.) Garlic and Herb Boursin
1 T. fresh dill, chopped
1 lemon, zested and juiced
salt and pepper, to taste.

Place the pine nuts in a small, dry skillet over medium heat. Shake constantly until evenly toasted on all sides, about 4 minutes. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the pasta and cook until barely tender, about 8-10 minutes. Add the asparagus to the water and cook until tender-crisp, 1-2 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta/ asparagus water. Drain the pasta and asparagus and set aside.

Set the pot over medium heat and heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and lightly browned, 1-2 minutes. Return the pasta and asparagus to the pan, then add the reserved cooking water. Add the tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, Boursin, dill, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Toss to combine. Stir in the pine nuts. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Corned Beef and Cabbage

For St. Patrick’s Day I was really looking forward to trying Corned Beef and Cabbage for the first time. My parents would always make it and St. Patrick’s Day was the only time I could get it. There are a lot of different recipes online and in cookbooks that you can try. I decided to use my slow cooker because I wanted a no-fuss meal. Plus, when you use the slow cooker, the meat is guaranteed to be tender and fall apart – yum!! I also used a combination of chicken stock and beer rather than water to infuse even more flavor into the meat while it cooks. When looking to buy your meat, I recommend purchasing a “flat cut” of corned beef. This cut is thinner and it’s less fatty. In the slow cooker, you don’t have to worry about it being tough – it will fall apart with a fork and be perfectly tender.

The great thing about this recipe is that the measurements are not exact. Feel free to add more or fewer vegetables and seasonings depending on what you prefer. Don’t worry – you won’t ruin it because all of the flavors will combine and infuse with the meat nicely.

One thing that I will say about slow cookers, however, is that you need to be careful when cooking vegetables. Overcooking the veggies is really easy to do and mushy veggies are a sure-fire way to have a disappointing and soggy meal. Every slow cooker is different, so I recommend checking your veggies at least halfway through. If it seems like they are cooking fast, add the cabbage sooner. You can always keep the slow cooker on warm if dinner is ready before you’re ready to eat!

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did on St. Patrick’s Day!

Corned Beef and Cabbage

1 Corned Beef – flat cut (I used Vienna brand - buy any size that will feed your family!)
1 large box of stock, chicken or beef (about 4 cups, enough to partially cover the meat)
1 bottle of beer, optional
Pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste
4 Bay leaves
4 Garlic cloves, roughly chopped
3-4 Carrots
1 Onion, cut into large chunks
10 Red Potatoes, halved
½ to 1 head Cabbage, cut into wedges

Place the corned beef in your slow cooker and add the spice packet (if one came with your corned beef, mine did not). Add the stock, beer, garlic, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Cook on low for 4 hours. Add potatoes, onions, and carrot. Cook on low 2 hours. Add the cabbage and cook on low 1 hour. When everything is finished cooking, remove the Corned Beef and let it rest 5 minutes. Slice with a knife or chunk apart with a fork. Serve with juices and vegetables - enjoy!

I also like to serve Corned Beef and Cabbage in a bowl because I like all of the juices - however you prefer, it will be delicious!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ginger Spice Cookies

These cookies are a twist on a classic Ginger Snap cookie. They include a variety of spices - ginger, cloves, even cayenne pepper. Don't be afraid of the spices!! When incorporated into these cookies, you get the slight bite of a ginger snap but the sugars and molasses keep them sweet and delicious.

The Ginger Spice cookies are great with a cold glass of milk or a hot cup of coffee. Enjoy!

Ginger Spice Cookies

Makes about 44 cookies