Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

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1 sweet onion
2 cloves garlic
3-4 sardine fillets, packed in oil, not salted
1 28oz can San Marzano tomatoes (or other whole tomatoes in sauce, but really, San Marzano’s the best)1 28oz can tomato sauce
4 oz sliced black olives
4 oz capers and their brine
1 tsp Cayenne (at least! I added lots)
1 glug red wine (I dunno, 1/4 cup? You know a glug when you do it.)
2-ish tablespoons chopped basil (I used two good branches of my cute boxwood basil)

Finely dice the onion and saute until the edges begin to color. Finely dice the garlic and add it, along with the sardine fillets*. Break up the sardines as you saute the garlic, and when it breaks into tiny pieces, add the tomatoes and sauce. Let it cook for a minute, smashing the tomatoes a bit, then add the olives, capers, cayenne, and wine. Let simmer for at least 10 minutes while you cook the pasta. Right before serving, add the basil. Don’t you *dare* skimp on the sauce when you serve it!

I am so amazed at how freaking good this ended up being. Like, I assumed it’d be a typical tomato sauce, but it is so much more. SO. MUCH. MORE. I don’t know why, but the combination of the sardines, capers, and Cayenne is just perfect together. Puttanesca means whore in Italian, and the story is that the sauce got its name because it’s hot, quick, and easy, but either way, it’s an excellent meal, fairly light if you don’t eat a pound of it, and the sauce reheats well, too. Next time, I would definitely add more olives, but I know this is going to become one of my regular recipes.

*Traditionally, puttanesca uses anchovies, but I wasn’t paying any attention when I picked up my groceries because I was tired after finals, but I don’t think it suffered from the fish mix-up.

Chicken Meatballs with Pesto

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PESTO
1 lb ground chicken
1 egg
3/4 c breadcrumbs
1/2 c stock
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
black pepper

MEATBALLS
2 c fresh spinach
1/2 c fresh basil
1/2 c pine nuts
2-3 garlic cloves
1/4 c Parmesan cheese
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c stock (maybe more, to thin out the sauce so you have enough to cover the meatballs)

Mix all the meatball ingredients together until well combined. Cover and refrigerate while you prep the pesto. Put all the pesto ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Roll the meat mixture into 2-inch balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil, making sure none of the balls are touching. (Trust me, this makes clean-up muuuuch easier. That pesto sticks!) Spoon the pesto over each meatball so that it’s completely covered. (You might want to save some or make another batch if you’re having these meatballs with pasta.) Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until fully cooked. I’m sure there’s an internal temperature to go by, but if you cut one open, you’ll know if it’s still raw. Serve with pasta, rice, or on their own.

I thought these would just be a good way to sneak some spinach into my diet, but these are actually really amazing! They’re very soft, but the bottoms are so crispy, and the spinach pesto (as opposed to basil-based) is very mild but flavorful.

Spicy garlic pasta with chicken

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1 chicken breast
1 tbsp soy sauce
pinch of Cayenne
4-5 cloves garlic
1/4 c olive oil (regular experienced olive oil, NOT extra virgin*)
another pinch of Cayenne
a few ounces of thin spaghetti

Boil up your pasta. While that’s going on, peel the garlic, and chop off the root end. Carefully slice the garlic into thin rounds, making sure to keep them about even in thickness. Add the olive oil and garlic to a saucepan and turn the heat to medium. You want the garlic to toast in the oil, so don’t even think about turning away from the pan, not even for a minute. Garlic goes from almost toasted to blackened in, like, 3 seconds. Once the garlic is toasty and golden brown, turn off the heat and add a 1/4 cup or so of the pasta water to the sauce to slow the cooking. I know, the water’s boiling, so how does that slow it down? I dunno. I guess oil holds more heat than water, since its boiling point is higher. Either way, it works. Add the first pinch of Cayenne to the sauce. Dice up the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Stir fry with the soy sauce and second pinch of Cayenne. Drain the pasta, and mix everything together in a pot. You should follow this meal up by going on a date, because your breath is going to be fantastic, and you’re not going to sweat all over everything from all that Cayenne.**

*Extra virgin olive oil, contrary to its name, has impurities in it that make it taste fabulous on salads but make it burn at temperatures over 350 degrees. Ergo, olive oil that’s been worked over a few times can take more hot action. If you know what I mean.

**I lied. You’ll be a gross, sweaty, stinky mess, but you’ll chase away vampires and colds.

Quiche à Frigo Vide

1 deep-dish pie crust
6 eggs
1 splash (1/4 cup?) of milk or cream
1 pack bacon (approx. 10 slices)
6-8 oz. kale
1 handful fresh parsley
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
dashes of thyme, nutmeg, and Cayenne

Pre-bake the pie crust at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes*. Cook the bacon and crumble. Chop up the kale and wilt it for a few minutes in a saucepan over low heat. Chop up the parsley. Whisk the eggs, milk/cream, and spices, making sure it gets a bit fluffy. After the things you cooked are cool**, add them, the parsley, and half of the cheese. Add it to the pie dish***, top with the rest of the cheese, and cook at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes, or until the egg sets. Let it cool for 5 minutes before cutting. Serve hot, cold, or at room temperature. Quiche is just awesome like that.

I love quiche. It seems fancy, but it’s just eggs and whatever’s in your fridge in a pie crust. It’s also a good way to sneak in some vegetables. I’m moving in a week or so, so I’m trying to just get rid of stuff, and the quiche willingly took all my extra food and made something delicious. Add or remove whatever you like: good additions are onion, tomato, spinach, chicken, leftover fish, etc. Use more cheese, if you like, but that’s all I had left.

*This is optional, but I feel like it keeps the bottom of the pie from getting mushy.

**Otherwise, you’ll cook the egg, and you don’t want to do that yet.

***You’re about to cook it anyway, so what does it matter if the hot pie crust gives it a head start?

Eggs Benedict Cumberbatch

Hollandaise sauce:
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 stick of butter (1/4 cup)
Cayenne

2 bagel thins
4 slices Canadian bacon
4 eggs
paprika for garnish

Blend the egg yolks and lemon juice in a blender or food processor. While the blender is running on high, slowly drizzle in the butter. When you’ve got a light, fluffy sauce, mix in a little Cayenne and salt, if you like. Reserve.

Start boiling a pot of salted water. While it’s heating up, toast the bagel, and microwave the bacon. Crack an egg into a bowl, swirl the water so you get a little bit of a vortex going (it helps keep the egg together), and quickly drop the egg in. Continue with the rest of the eggs. Keep a close eye on the pot, as it can quickly boil over with eggy foam, and you don’t want that getting in your burners. Cook for about 4 minutes, then drain. Place the bacon on the bagel, then place the egg on top. Top with Hollandaise and a pinch of paprika.

My local grocery store is the absolute worst and didn’t have English muffins, so I had to use bagel thins. I actually like them better than English muffins, since they get crispy and can be easily cut through.

Shepherd’s Pie

1 deep-dish pie shell
1 lb ground beef or fake beef crumbles
3-4 average-sized potatoes
1 c milk
3 tbsp butter
spices
1/2 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350. Poke some holes in the shell (to keep it from puffing up and to take out some of your anger at the cold weather. Don’t poke too hard, though; you don’t want to pierce through the aluminum tin.) and cook the empty pie shell for 10-15 minutes or until it’s not so dough-y. Peel and dice the potatoes, and boil them until a fork pierces a piece easily (around 30-45 minutes).  Drain the potatoes and return to pot. Add milk*, butter, salt, and pepper and mash. (Note: If it’s, like, 11:30, and you don’t want to go through the trouble of making real mashed potatoes, I won’t tell if you use boxed flakes.) While the potatoes are cooking, cook the beef thoroughly (or warm up the fake beef), drain**, and season. Place the beef in the pie shell, then spread the mashed potatoes over the top. Top with shredded cheddar and bake for 20 minutes or so, until the cheese is melty and starting to brown. Don’t serve with vegetables, because dude, who needs vegetables when you’re eating meat and carbs inside of carbs?

*1 cup is a wild guess in the dark. I always eyeball it, so just add little splashes of milk until you get frosting consistency. Don’t cut down on the butter, Only fools have potatoes without tons of fat.

**DUDE,  whatever you do, DO NOT drain animal fat directly into your sink. It will clog so fast, and that will be gross. I either pour mine in a disposable paper cup, or I line a jar with aluminum foil and pour it on. When it’s solid, you can just throw it away.

Chicken Tikka Masala

1/2 cup plain yoghurt
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon curry powder*
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
dash of ginger
dash of allspice
dash of ground cloves
dash of black pepper

1 – 1.5 lbs chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 can low sodium condensed tomato soup
splash of cream
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 teaspoons sugar
more of the spices listed above, to taste

Mix the yoghurt, lemon juice, and spices together in a plastic bag. Add the chicken pieces and marinate. (The timing’s up to you. I did 7 hours.) In a large pan, stir-fry the chicken pieces. Once they are thoroughly cooked and begin to brown, drain and return to pan. Add the condensed soup, curry powder, sugar, and cream. Stew for 20-30 minutes (or however long it takes to cook your rice). Serve over rice. (Didn’t I just tell you to cook some?)

*I feel like I’m cheating with curry powder, but you get so much variety in one little jar: coriander, fenugreek (What is that?), tumeric, cumin, etc. I don’t feel like buying all that, and good curry needs lots of spices. Besides, you’re making a chicken tikka with canned condensed tomato soup; you do not need to be pretentious. Just make sure your curry powder doesn’t have cilantro in it, if you hate cilantro. (All the best people do.) Also, pro-tip: coriander is cilantro seeds, but it doesn’t taste like dead soap! Hooray!

“That” Casserole

A recipe from my mom! Thanks, Mom! We didn’t have a name for this casserole while growing up, and I refuse to retrofit it with some kind of more appropriate name.

6 oz thin egg noodles
1 lb ground beef or Boca crumbles
16 oz can tomato sauce
4 oz cream cheese
8 oz sour cream
handful chives/scallions
grated cheddar cheese
usual spices

Boil the noodles until al dente. Drain and put in a lightly oiled Pyrex dish. Cook the beef with spices, and once all the pink is gone, add the tomato sauce. Heat through, and pour the mix on top of the noodles. Heat the cream cheese if it’s cold, and mix with the sour cream and finely chopped chives. Spread this mixture over the meat sauce. Finally, grate* some cheddar on top of the whole thing, and place it in the oven for 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees. Let it cool for 10 minutes, or however long it takes to transcribe and post a recipe, before serving.

*I know bagged, pre-grated cheese is super-convenient, but it’s really much tastier if it’s freshly grated. Plus, then you don’t have to worry as much about mold and bacteria. It’s like ground beef compared to a big chunk of meat: more surface area for a long time means more chance for gross stuff to grow. If you hate cleaning a cheese grater (God, it’s a pain!), then grate a little potato or apple after the cheese: it cleans out the sticky stuff really well.

QUICKIE: Fake Curry

1/2 can chickpeas
1/3 to 1/2 cup pasta sauce (I used vodka sauce because that’s what I had)
1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
dash Cayenne
dash ginger
tiny pinch of cloves
chives (optional)

Mix everything together until heated through and serve over rice, pita, naan, whatever. So tasty and so cheap! If I had some tumeric and cumin, I’d have added that, and if you like cilantro (I think it’s nasty), Wikipedia tells me that’s a good addition to curry.