Category Archives: dinner

Dinner Last Night: twice-baked sweet potatoes + brussels sprouts salad

Dinner last night was out.of.this.world and I just had to share..

Gruyere, sage & browned butter (!!!!) twice-baked sweet potatoes from Pink Parsley  balanced out by a cranberry & pine nut brussels sprouts salad from The Daily Crumb.

When I say gruyere + sage + browned butter = love,

what I mean is gruyere + sage + browned butter = !<3 *<3 LOVE <3 *<3!

Both of these dishes were cah-raaaazy good and relatively simple to make.  Check them out for dinner tonight!

Corn, Zucchini, and Goat Cheese Orzo Salad

I realize it’s a little late in the game to be posting my favorite summer pasta salad recipe. BUT, this salad is simple, delicious and always a crowd pleaser, so I had to share. It also involves corn and squash, which are two of the Three Sisters, which is a Native American tradition, and the Native Americans helped us start Thanksgiving.

Which means technically this is a perfect summer AND fall dish. So there.

Corn, Zucchini and Goat Cheese Orzo Salad (adapted from Martha Stewart)

Ingredients

  • 6 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 pound orzo
  • 4 cups corn kernels (frozen corn works great)
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • 1 cup fresh basil, torn
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Directions

  1. Place zucchini in a colander and toss with salt. Place colander in sink and let sit 20 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook orzo according to package instructions. Drain and rinse under cold water; transfer to a large bowl.
  2. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium. Add corn and cook, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Add zucchini and red onion and cook for another 4 minutes, until zucchini is slightly tender. Remove from heat and add to the orzo. Stir in basil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and goat cheese. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Serve at room temperature.

In Search of Warmth

Temperatures over the past 48 hours have hovered between -5 and 20 degrees. COLD. Freeeeeeeezing. F.r.i.g.i.d.

There are exactly three food items that make me feel warm and toasty:

1. Brownies

2. Chili

3. Chocolate

So, I made some Nutella brownies. Then I made some chocolate-infused chili. CHOCOLATE-infused chili. As in chili with chocolate in it.

First things first – let’s discuss these Nutella brownies. Remember that GIANT jar of Nutella I discovered in my cabinet as a result of a grocery store blackout?

Yeah, it’s gone. These babies used up the last of it.

Also, the recipe I used said to mix the Nutella into the batter, but I felt like the Nutella flavor got lost that way. So, next time I will swirl the Nutella in the last minute so there’s nice little gooey pockets of it here and there.

Here’s what you need…

1 cup butter, unsalted

11/2 cups granulated sugar

2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

4 large eggs

1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup of cocoa powder

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup Nutella

1/4 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter, allow to cool, and mix it with the sugar, vanilla, and eggs.

Then, sift together the flour, cocoa, salt, and baking powder.

Mix the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined, add the chocolate chips, and pour into a greased 9×9 baking pan.

Melt the Nutella in the microwave until slightly runny, then dollop into the batter and swirl with a knife. Bake for 45 minutes.

Unfortunately I was fighting a losing battle against the sun and tried to cut the brownies 2 minutes after they came out of the oven in an attempt to catch a good “natural light” picture. The result is this crumbly, sad, albeit DELICIOUS, mess..

But trust me when I say it…these brownies are goooood. Served warm with a little vanilla ice cream? Even better.

I also wanted to shared this fabulous, healthy, yummy, filling, comforting turkey-chili-made-with-chocolate-recipe.

Once it has been mixed in and simmered for a few minutes, you can’t taste the chocolate. But I think it adds a whole other level of heartiness.

Get the recipe here.

Homemade Veggie Burgers

Yummers! Lately I’ve been trying to take my flexitarianism to a whole new level. *Cough* The truth: I had a few burger/bacon/chicken-filled weeks of complete carnivorism and I am trying to take it down a notch. The hardest part of trying to eat less meat, for me, is making sure I still get enough protein. Luckily, I found a recipe in Everyday Food magazine (amazing amazing – best subscription I have) for these EASY meat-free burgers. And the best part? Low fat, and packed with protein.
I have to be honest, though. Here is what the “burger patty” looked like when I followed the recipe:
Don’t you worry. I am a whiz in the kitchen. I put on my culinary thinking cap, rummaged in the cupboard for some bread crumbs, threw in another egg, and….
Success!

Topped with an avocado, sans bun (so yummy it didn’t need one!), and served with a side of sweet potato wedges. 
Here is the recipe (adapted from Everyday Food):
Ingredients
1/2 cup bulgur 
1 cup boiling water
1 (15 oz) can of pinto beans, rinsed and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup finely shredded carrot
1/2 cup shredded swiss cheese
1 tbsp finely chopped red onion
2 eggs
1/2 – 3/4 cup bread crumbs
salt & pepper
olive oil
Instructions
Combine bulgar with boiling water and cover until bulgar has absorbed the water (about 30 minutes). Place the bulgar in a fine strainer to drain excess water. Combine with remaining ingredients, seasoning liberally with salt and pepper. Form into 1/2 cup patties, and cook in a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat until brown on both sides and cooked through. 

Zucchini and feta couscous salad

Recently I’ve been getting inspired by We are not Martha‘s feta salad recipes. I had some Israeli couscous in my cupboard that I’ve been wanting to try out for-ev-er, so I came up with this yummy, simple salad!

Here’s what you need:
1 1/3 cup uncooked couscous
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/2 cup diced zucchini
handful of feta cheese
pepper to taste
Toast the couscous in 1T olive oil on medium heat for 5 minutes. Slowly pour in 1 3/4 cup boiling water. Cover and allow to simmer on medium-low heat for 12 minutes. Toss with remaining ingredients.
So easy and so good!

Potato and Rosemary Frittata

A gorgeous, scrumptious, EASY, one-pan-wonder.
Keeping with the Ithaca theme, tonight’s dinner came from the Moosewood cookbook. 
The ingredient list…
The easy-peasy steps:
1. Cook with your mom. It’s always better that way :)
2. Saute potatoes, onions, and garlic in olive oil (and a little butter!) until soft.
3. Add spices. We used rosemary, picked from the garden!
3. Pour beaten eggs over the potatoes. Sprinkle with cheese. Cover, and allow to cook over medium-low heat until the eggs are cooked through.
4. Stick it under the broiler until golden brown – about 2 or 3 minutes.
5. Cut, and serve. We tripled the recipe to feed the five of us, and even had some left over!
Bon appétit!

Zucchini Patties

I like to think I learned 75% of my cooking abilities from my mom, and 25% at the Cerasaro household. You see, Domenica was not only my best friend growing up, but also THE friend with THE pool. Which means… I spent 95% of my summer days at her house. Me and my blonde hair were all but adopted into her Italian family, and with this came lots of eating and lots of cooking. It was at Domenica’s house that I tried my first hamburger (at age 15, I am embarrassed to admit), learned about pepper cookies (oxymoron?), and discovered the beauty of meatballs. 
It is also where I was introduced to Zucchini Patties. Delicious, amazing, can’t-eat-just-one zucchini patties. And these little green pancakes have now been a staple in my own household, with the ever-growing batch of zucchini from our garden. Oooooh baby are they good. And easy to make!

Recipe – courtesy of Trace C.
1 medium zucchini, shredded
1 cup flour
2 eggs
1/4 cup grated cheese
Garlic powder
Black pepper
Olive oil
Mix all ingredients. Add spices to taste. Cook patties in olive oil on medium heat until golden brown.
That’s my stack! Go make your own!

Stella

Saturday night Mike and I had our date night at Stella in the South End. Usually “date night” means cooking dinner for ourselves at my house, so this was a nice change of pace. We were celebrating the official end of Mike’s first-year law school classes – wooohooo! We got a nice seat on the patio (for patio meal numero tres).

We started out with some hummus and bread. 
Due to the Boston water *crisis*, I replaced my water with a pink guava lemonade :)
I ordered the ricotta balls a buffalo mozzarella center – ohhh sooo creamy and cheesy and good.
With a side of asparagus -
grilled to perfection!
Mike got the seafood saffron risotto.
I do NOT like seafood and even I thought this was delish!
Except for this little friend lingering on the side.
Yuck.
We got warm pecan pie with vanilla gelato for dessert

Then we walked FIVE MILES from the South End –> home. So I don’t even feel guilty about dessert!

Bottega Fiorentina

Friday night after work I met up with Fina for one of three sequential outdoor patio meals, the first at Bottega Fiorentina on Newbury St. This weather makes it pretty impossible to be inside!! We had the perfect spot for people watching, and, of course, sipping Sangria.

Fina ordered the Butternut Squash Tortellini in a sage butter sauce.
And I got Linguine with pesto
Toooo much pesto for my tastes! 
So I filled up on bread instead.
Definitely recommended for a super cheap, super authentic Italian meal!

Ricotta gnocchi

Tonight I made homemade ricotta gnocchi. I’ve been wanting to make my own gnocchi forever, but always put it off because I thought it was really complicated and hard. Here’s what I learned: it’s actually so easy! Well, at least ricotta gnocchi is. I have yet to try making traditional potato gnocchi. Literally, you just combine your ingredients:

16 ounce container ricotta cheese, strained
1 egg
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 – 1 cup flour
That’s it!

Okay, okay, it’s slightly more complicated than that. But honestly, the hardest part was smooshing the dough into gnocchi form. Here is the full recipe:
Easy Ricotta Gnocchi
Serves 4
1 (16-ounce) container of whole-milk ricotta
1 large egg
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 – 1 cup flour
Set a strainer line with three coffee filters or paper towels over a bowl. Add the ricotta and let the cheese drain for about an hour. (This can be done several days in advance.)
In a large bowl, mix the strained ricotta, egg, cheese, and 3/4 cup of the flour until all ingredients are incorporated. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Check the dough by rolling a bit in your hand. It should be a bit tacky. If it clings to your fingers like bubble gum, incorporate more flour one tablespoon at a time until you reach a tacky, workable consistency. Refrigerate for another 15 minutes.
Before shaping, put a large pot of water on the stove to bring to a boil. Sprinkle a baking sheet with flour and set it close to your work space.
Sprinkle your hands and work surface with a little flour. Break off a tennis-ball sized piece of the dough and roll it into a thick log about 3/4-inch thick.
Using a bench scraper or sharp knife, cut the log into 3/4″ pieces. You can leave them as little ‘pillows’ or shape them into the traditional grooved gnocchi by rolling them off the back of a fork with your thumb.
Transfer this batch to the baking sheet and toss with flour to prevent sticking. Repeat rolling process with the remaining dough.
Add 1 tablespoon of salt to the water and half of the gnocchi. Gently stir the gnocchi to make sure they don’t stick. Once they bob to the surface, let them cook an additional 2 minutes. Remove gnocchi with a slotted spoon and transfer to a colander set over a bowl to finish draining.
Repeat with second batch of gnocchi.
Toss the gnocchi with sauce and serve immediately.
It doesn’t look quite as delish in the photo, but trust me – they were soooo good. 
Make them, NOW!