Monthly Archives: February 2007

I *know* you’re tired of TV food…

Ok, maybe not, but I’m always amazed at how little this particular dish tastes like one of my favorites, spinach-artichoke dip, though it has many of the same ingredients. This is decidedly grown-up. If you’re really grown-up, you can add capers to it, I bet that would be great… if only I liked them!

spinachartichokepasta

Eww, what is that slop? Oh, spinach artichoke pasta. Yum!

It’s occured to me that my blog writing style is very much like my awkward teenage self’s social style. It’s so nervous about its’ own existence that it tries to blurt out the bare essential facts and then hide in the corner. Maybe as I accumulate more posts I’ll feel more like my voice belongs in the virtual world, but until then I plan to fake it. 🙂

Speaking of faking it, both The Roomie and I are sex educators. I guess that shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, as the link between sex and good food has been well documented. What that means for you, though, is that you can expect periodic sexual health/ gender policy blips on this page at random intervals… and the first one is here: If you are or know a female between the ages of 9 and 26, please go/ encourage her to go get the HPV vaccine. HPV is the most commonly transmitted STD, and is estimated to cause approximately 70% of cervical cancers, which are potentially deadly. You can’t get the vaccine later in life than 26, and there is no HPV test for men…so, women, better safe than sorry.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled deliciousness. I love this pasta, and have since I tried Whole Foods’ spinach-artichoke dip. I fell in love with it; it’s nothing like those other dips. You can taste the artichoke! And the spinach! There’s barely any cheese, it’s healthy and…. yet, it still tastes good. So good that I created this recipe to maximize its’ goodness– doesn’t everything taste better with pasta?

For each serving, gather:
olive oil
1/4 onion, diced
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 cup vegetable stock, chicken stock, or water (amount may vary according to taste)
2 cups of spinach leaves, sliced into thin ribbons
1 cup of artichokes (fresh cooked, frozen, or canned), sliced thinly
1/4 of a tomato, diced, or a couple of cherry tomatos
1 tbsp tomato paste (optional)
1 generous serving of pasta (I like cheese tortellini)
lemon juice, cream, salt, pepper (to taste)
parmesan cheese for serving

This is one of the only dishes I make in which the order really matters. First, put a giant pot of pasta water up to boil, that way it’s ready when you’re ready for it. Then, lightly coat a large skillet with olive oil and sautee onion bits until golden brown. Add garlic and red pepper (optional) and sautee for another 30 seconds or so, until you can smell the garlic. Add spinach and broth/ water, and heat until the leaves cook down. Put pasta in pot, then add artichokes, tomato, and tomato paste to the skillet. Reduce heat and simmer, adding spoonfuls of pasta water as needed to achieve your preferred texture (I like mine chunky but not dry.)  When pasta is cooked, drain it. Quickly add a squirt of lemon juice and a dash of cream if you like, and salt/pepper according to taste. Serve with parmesan cheese. Toss together. Done!

This is a great, fast, weeknight dish, especially when paired with a glass of white wine– and healthy too. Enjoy!

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Lest you should think my blog name was false advertising…

I’m headed out of town this weekend to enjoy the snow in New York (why does this sound unpleasant already?) and to pick up a bridesmaids dress (ah, that’s why!) Sadly, because I’ve been busy and out of town a lot, I also had tons of stuff in the fridge that was plotting… oh yes, it wanted to go bad while I was away. But really, I’m much too clever for that.

So what does one do with spinach, tomato, cabbage, onion, pepper, and brie?

dinner

The sandwich was pretty simple– a roll, some brie, a tomato, and spinach sauteed with garlic until it gave up all hopes of life– all tossed into the oven at 350 for about 5 minutes, when the brie melted.

Sweet and sour braised cabbage… much more complicated. I started off with two pieces of bacon in my trusty large frying pan, but you could just as easily start off w/ 2 tbsp of butter or olive oil. I heated the bacon until almost crispy, then added a red onion, sliced thinly. Once the onion had condensed and brightened in color, I added a small head of red cabbage and 1 red pepper (though the blogosphere seems to recommend apple), sliced thinly. Note: I find it easiest to cut the cabbage into quarters and slice away from there.

After sauteing for a few minutes, I added 1/4 of a cup of vinegar, 1/4 cup of raspberry jelly, and 1/8 cup of soy sauce.
You could certainly cut out the jelly with good results, but I wanted sweet and sour rather than savory. I then simmered the mixture on low heat, covered, for about a 45 minutes. At the end of that time, I added 1 tbsp of Dijon mustard, 1 tbsp horseradish, and some cracked black pepper to add heat; you could probably do this with any mixture of peppers and other spicy condiments, but my absolute favorite is the mustard. Something about mustard and cabbage is counter-intuitively wonderful. (I’m not pregnant. I swear.)

After simmering the mixture until the rest of the liquid evaporated, about 15 minutes, dinner was ready, and while the courses didn’t exactly match, I was happy with both. Now, if only I could learn to hold my liquor….

This entry is part of Sweetnick’s ARF 5-a-day Friday. Check out the other entries here.

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C is for Cookie

In honor of my new blog, a certain much-maligned holiday, and finally having the kitchen for my own projects after entertaining all week, I spent tonight baking sugar cookies.

Amanda

I bet you didn’t expect sugar cookies to look like that! One of the advantages of the recipe that I used is that it’s very flexible. The roomie loves chocolate, so at the end of the baking I tossed a teaspoon of cocoa into the last scraps of batter and made her a few chocolate-chocolate chip cookies. That’s love, you know.

The recipe is pretty standard: Take 2 sticks of butter and a cup of sugar– beat together until fluffy, add 1 teaspoon vanilla (I always add about double), an egg, and 2 tbsp of some semi-solid dairy product. I used leftover creme fraiche from My Husband Cooks’ Creme Fraiche Clouds, but sour cream or yogurt would work equally well. Add a few pinches of salt, a teaspoon of baking powder, and 3 cups of flour– at this point, I like to add chopped up chocolate bits to half. Set the dough aside in 2+ sections wrapped in saran wrap for at least an hour, roll out to 1/8 to 1/4″, cut, then bake at 350 for about 10 minutes, or until the edges are golden-brown.

Hearts

Of course, most of the fun is in decorating said cookies. For the chocolate cookies in the first picture, I added a sprinkle of confectioners (powdered) sugar as they came out of the oven. The hearts above had cinnamon candies, sprinkles, fruit candies, and brown sugar on top…

Star

…and the stars had red sugar and– my favorite– conversation hearts on them. You could really put anything within reason or nothing at all on them and they’d still taste good. I haven’t tried them yet, as I overindulged this weekend, but The Roomie assures me that they’re yummy enough to stand alone.

They better be– if it weren’t a special occasion, I’d be rolling the dough up into a “snake” 2 inches in diameter, refrigerating it, and slicing off the cookies. ^_-

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