Thursday, May 27, 2010

Capellini Piedmontese

I love Italian food. I also love the Food Network. So it makes sense that trying Giada De Laurentiis's recipes is something I would do. One of my bridal shower gifts was her "Everyday Pasta" cookbook. While I try to get around to my various cookbooks and test recipes as much as possible, I hadn't used her cookbook in a while. The last recipe I made from this book was an artichoke pesto. Sticking with this theme, this pasta dish is a walnut pesto.

It has a fancy sounding name, capellini piedmontese, so I was expecting a fancy pasta. It looks very pretty- adding the bell peppers does make a difference- and tasted good, but I wasn't as happy with this dish. First, it was very oily. I know that pesto dishes are oily, but I think if I make this again, I will definitely cut back on the amount of olive oil. Second, it seemed to be lacking something to give it a more distinctive flavor- it needed a 'kick.' Overall, it was good, but not great.


Walnut Pesto-

2 cups (lightly packed) fresh flat-leaf parsley
3/4 cup toasted walnuts *
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
3 garlic cloves
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced
1 orange bell pepper, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced
2 leeks, thinly sliced crosswise and well rinsed
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 pound capellini or angel hair pasta
8 ounces fontina cheese, cut into small cubes
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

* To toast nuts, spread them on a baking sheet and place in a 350 degree F oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until fragrant and golden brown; stir them once or twice as they toast and watch to see that they don't get too dark. (You can also toast them in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, tossing as they toast.) Transfer to a bowl to cool.

For the pesto, combine the parsley, walnuts, thyme, and garlic cloves in the bowl of a food processor; blend until finely chopped. With the machine running, gradually add the 1/2 cup of oil, processing until well blended. Season the pesto with the salt and pepper.

Heat the 3 tablespoons of oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bell peppers, leeks, and the finely chopped garlic. Saute until the bell peppers are crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the capellini and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring often to prevent the pasta from sticking together, about 4 minutes. Drain, reserving 2 cups of the cooking liquid.

In a large bowl, toss the pasta with the pesto, bell pepper mixture, and cheese, adding enough reserved pasta water to moisten. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.

Monday, May 24, 2010

"Healthy" Chocolate Chip Muffins

I have many fond memories of chocolate chip muffins: getting them while living in the dorms at Illinois State University, hot from the oven, and stopping by Einstein's bagels in uptown Park Ridge to get one for breakfast before leaving with my family on our summer trips to Glen Arbor, Michigan.

So a few days ago I had a sudden craving for a good chocolate chip muffin. But as I'm trying to eat healthier, I added 'healthy' in front of my recipe search for these delicious muffins. I'm not sure how healthy you can actually get with a muffin (unless you are eating bran, which I've never had, and don't ever want to have,) but decided it was worth a try.
So, here is recipezaar's take on "healthy" chocolate chip muffins.


1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder1 banana
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips1/4 cup almonds

*A quick note before I continue: our milk went bad this morning, and as I didn't feel like rushing to the grocery store and was halfway through mixing ingredients, I substituted half and half. I'm sure this added to the caloric intake, but I didn't taste a difference. I also didn't have almonds on hand, so omitted those. But I do think they'd make an excellent addition.

1.) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.

2.) In a small bowl, sift together whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, and baking powder. Set aside.

3.) Mash together the banana and brown sugar. Mix well.

4.) Add the melted butter, eggs, milk and vanilla into a bowl. Beat together until well blended.

5.) Stir the flour into the wet ingredients, including the banana and brown sugar mixture. Fold in the chocolate chips and almonds.

6.) Pour the batter into the muffin cups, about 3/4 full. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until done.

Here they are:
They were very good- they seemed more filling then a regular muffin, I think because of the addition of whole wheat flour. There was also a nice banana flavor, which was a sweet surprise. I know that tomorrow I will be enjoying one of these with my morning cup of coffee.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Jop Chai

I've had this recipe for quite some time, and when looking through my recipe boxes for some new things to cook this week, I decided it was time to try it. I was a bit hesitant as it's an Asian dish with a soy product (both of these things my husband doesn't like- though he'll tolerate the former.) I also was eager to just try something completely different, and thought it'd be good to expand our taste buds.

I'm happy to report that it was excellent- be sure you get the bean thread noodles, or the dish will have an entirely different taste and texture. I also added green onions to this, as I had some I was trying to use up. This is accompanied nicely with green tea.

Jop Chai (recipe taken from Moosewood Simple Suppers)


4 oz. bean thread noodles
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onions
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups thinly sliced red bell peppers
8 oz. veggie crumbles


1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil

1.) Soak bean thread noodles in hot tap water to cover until soft, about 15-20 minutes. When soft, drain and cut the noodles into 4-5 inch lengths, then toss them with dark sesame oil or vegetable oil.

2.) When the noodles soak, heat the vegetable oil in a large pan and add the onions and garlic, saute 2 minutes.

3.) Add the cabbage and saute a couple of minutes.

4.) Stir in the red bell peppers and continue to saute until veggies are crisp-tender.

5.) Add the veggie crumbles and cook about 2 minutes.

6.) Combine the sauce ingredients and add to the vegetables.

7.) Add the drained noodles and cook 2-3 minutes, until the noodles have absorbed most of the sauce. Serve hot.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mediterrean Chicken with Orzo

When visiting Chicago last weekend for Mother's Day, my mom and I decided to make a chicken dish- mainly because I've never cooked chicken before and wanted to learn how. This recipe was recommended by a friend of my mom's because it was healthy and easy. This Betty Crocker recipe was both of those- and tasty too!