Archives for posts with tag: dinner

Best Mac & cheese

The last few months have been a whirlwind. I’ve recently started a big project that I’m really excited to share with you. Earlier this year I signed a book deal with Stewart, Tabori & Chang, to turn Illustrated Bites into a book! I’ve been delaying announcing the news, because for a long time it seemed too good to be true. Last week I turned in my first chapter, so it finally feels real. Now that the ball is rolling, I felt ready to tell y’all about it.  The book is organized by season with four, five course meals that exemplify seasonal cooking. Like the blog, it will have illustrated recipes and how-tos, but it will have added emphasis on how to grow the produce yourself.  The working title is Illustrated Bites, From Garden to Table, to be released spring 2015.

2015 still seems like an unrealistic future date, but it will be here before I know it.  In the meantime, working on the book has totally consumed me. I’ve been trying hard to stay balanced, eat healthy, and get some exercise. To be honest though, all I want to do is eat comfort food and drink wine.  This mac & cheese recipe is comfort incarnate. It’s rich, flavorful, warm, and nostalgic. Also, it’s pretty easy to make. The last time I brought this to a pot-luck everyone went nuts for it.  If you’re looking for a crowd pleaser this Thanksgiving, I promise this one is a winner.

  • 1 lb. macaroni pasta such as cavatappi
  • 1 1/2 cups cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup grated mild cheddar
  • 1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoon Butter
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • salt and pepper
  1.  Preheat the oven to 400° F.
  2.  Boil and salt a large pot of water. Cook your pasta, until it’s super al dente. Your pasta box will have a recommend cooking time for al dente, just subtract a minute or two from that. Drain the pasta, rinse it with cold water, and set it aside.
  3.  In a sauce pot, combine the cream and the milk.  Add the bay leaves and gently warm, but don’t boil.  Set it aside.
  4.  In another sauce pot, melt the butter. When it’s foamy add the flour, and stir continuously until the mixture begins to brown. Remove the bay leaves from the half and half, and stir in about 1/4 of it into the flour and butter. Continue to stir, when the mixture is smooth, add a little more of the liquid.  Continue to slowly add the half and half, until it’s all incorporated.
  5.  Mix the gorgonzola and the cheddar into the sauce.  Stir in 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.
  6. Butter a 9x13in pan.  Put in the pasta, and pour the sauce over the pasta. Toss in the parmesan cheese and sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top.
  7.  Bake for 15-20 minute until it’s bubbling, and the breadcrumbs are brown. Serve hot!

I’ll continue to do new posts here, and give you updates on the book.  You can also follow my progress on Instagram and Twitter. I hope y’all have a great Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

 

Scallops and AsparagusMy sweetie, Andrew, usually takes the role as dishwasher rather than cook in our kitchen. He rarely cooks, but when he does, its always awesome. I’ve been super busy the last few months and with the increased workload I haven’t been cooking as much as I usually do. In my culinary absence, he’s definitely stepped up his cooking game.

This past Sunday, while I was busy with a project, I asked Andrew to run to the store and grab something for dinner. Fully expecting him to return with pasta, I was super excited when came home with sea scallops, asparagus, fresh herbs, meyer lemons, and wine… I have such a great boyfriend.

More about the scallops in a minute, I just want to share with you the aforementioned project I’ve been slogging away at this year. I’m doing an Illustrated Bites art show!! I’m super excited to bring Illustrated Bites out of the internet and into the real world. The show is going to be at The Curiosity Shoppe starting April 13. I’m putting my sign painting skills to work to make hand painted recipes and food illustrations. There will also be a little screen printed work and an Illustrated Bites Zine.

If you’re in the Bay Area, I would love if you could make it to the opening on Friday, April 13th 6-9PM. If you can’t make it to the opening, the show will be open for 6 weeks.

Here is a little sneak peek of some of the works in progress:

painted signs EAT

More about the show later, back to those sweet sea critters:

When you’re buying scallops, buy either the larger sea scallops or the smaller bay scallops. Avoid the tiny calico scallops, which are most often too rubbery.  Also, try to buy scallops that are “dry,” meaning that they haven’t been soaked in phosphates.

This scallop dish is delicious and easy.  It pairs nicely with roast asparagus, tied together by the lemon but standing apart in texture and flavor. Both dishes are done in 15 minutes or less. This is a gourmet meal, literally in minutes.  So, if you’ve got a hot date you’re trying to impress, but not a ton of time… this would definitely be a good meal to go with.

Scallops

Sauteed Scallops:

From Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything

  • 2 TBS Olive Oil
  • 1TSP Minced garlic
  • 1-1.5 pound scallops (sea or bay)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 TBS minced fresh chives
  1. Heat your skillet over medium-high for 3 minutes, then add the oil &  garlic. After 30 seconds, add the scallops and cook on each side for 2 minutes. (Shorter for those under an inch across, slightly longer for those over one inch.)
  2. Season them with salt and pepper as they cook and remove them to a bowl as they finish.
  3. Add the lemon juice to the pan, and reduce the liquid to a glaze. (1-2 minutes)
  4. Return the scallops to the pan, add the chives, and stir to coat the scallop with the sauce.
  5. Remove from heat and serve immediately

Roast Asparagus:

  • 1.5-2 pounds of asparagus, with ends trimmed off.
  • 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • lemon wedges
  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Place the asparagus in a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt.
  3. Bake until the thick part of the stalk can be pierced with a knife. About 10 minutes.
  4. Serve with lemon wedges.

FUN FACT: Did you know that scallops swim? I didn’t either!! I always imagined scallops just sitting on the sea floor, inactive and passive. Not so! Those little suckers can go. They look like a Mario Brothers character, or a little Pac Man. It’s fun to watch, I can’t get enough of these underwater videos.

marinara ingrdients

After looking back over my last several posts, I realized that you all probably think I never eat anything simple and healthy. I’ve mostly been writing about deep-fried, buttery, oh-so-delicious-but-oh-so-bad-for-you sweets, pies, and salty treats. Sure, some vegetables will show up once and awhile but they’re usually covered in cheese. It’s not that I never cook anything healthy, it’s just that it’s a lot more fun to make and write about indulgent dishes. Today, I’m going to switch it up a little and let vegetables take the lead.

I save most of my extravagant cooking adventures for the weekend. During the workweek I don’t get home until 6:30 or 7, so I usually make something quick and easy. Homemade marinara sauce is simple to make and takes only ten minutes to cook. If you want to be ambitious you could also make handmade pasta but I usually just boil whatever dried pasta I have around. The fresh sauce is thick, flavorful, and really satisfying. It really doesn’t compare to the thin, runny sauce from a jar. 

Homemade Marinara Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 medium tomatoes diced, or about 2 cups
  • 1/2 small onion diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic diced
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning blend
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  1. Heat the oil over medium in a large sauce pan and cook the onions until fragrant.
  2. Add the tomatoes, cover and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir and crush the tomatoes with a wooden spoon.
  4. Add the Italian seasoning and garlic, return the cover and cook for 3-4 more minutes.
  5. Stir in the salt and pepper and remove from heat.

Easy, right? This whole process can be done while you’re boiling the pasta. You really couldn’t ask for a quicker meal. I’ll usually saute zucchini for a side dish and maybe pan sear some chicken if I want some protein. All and all, it’s quick and healthy. Happy cooking!

pasta with sauce
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