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.

Zucchini-Potato Fritters

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2 zucchini
2 medium potatoes1/4 c bread crumbs
2 eggs, plus 1 egg white
1/4 c Parmesan
salt and pepper to taste

Shred the zucchini and peeled potatoes using a box grater or mandoline with a julienne plate. Squeeze the extra liquid out of the veggies, then add a teaspoon or two of salt, then set aside to let the salt pull out even more moisture. After 10 minutes or so, squeeze the extra moisture out, quickly rinse, then squeeze again. Set it on a paper towel to take out any remaining moisture that’s going to come out. I’ve done the fritters without draining them well, and 1: they pop all over the place in the pan, and 2. they taste watery to me, so it’s really worth draining them. Mix the veggies with the rest of the ingredients. Grease a skillet and heat over medium. Place a heaping tablespoonful of the mix on the pan, spreading it out a bit. Don’t overcrowd the pan! When one side is golden brown, flip and cook the other side. Serve hot.

Ritz Chicken

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1 lb chicken tenders
1 c sour cream
1 stack Ritz crackers
1 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp paprika
dash of Cayenne

Take the crackers and spices and blend them in the food processor. You can also just crush and mix, if you don’t want to dirty your mixer. Set up a dipping station with sour cream on one plate and the cracker mix on another. Dredge each tender in sour cream, then coat completely with the crackers. Place in a greased Pyrex dish, trying not to overlap too much. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.

I love this recipe way more than I thought I would. It’s crunchy on the outside but so juicy inside. The sour cream really keeps in the moisture. I was inspired by a recipe my grandmother and mother make, using mayonnaise and Italian breadcrumbs, but I didn’t have mayonnaise, so I used sour cream, and it grossed me out less. I mean, the original recipe is delicious, but I don’t like handling mayo by itself.

Eggs in Chickpea Hell

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1 c tomato sauce (I used vodka sauce because I always have it)
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 pinch each of clove, cinnamon, and ginger
1 egg
1/4 c Parmesan cheese

Heat the tomato sauce over medium heat. Add the chickpeas and spices and cook for 10-ish minutes, or as long as it takes to shower. You’ve had a long day and need a shower. Crack the egg into a ramekin to make sure you don’t break it or get any shells in it, then slowly pour it into the sauce. Sprinkle the cheese over the egg, then cover and cook for 3 minutes. Can be served over rice or as-is.

Mario Batali has an “eggs in hell” recipe that’s a lot like this, but I wanted chickpeas in mine, so . . . this recipe got a very clever name . . .

Fisherman’s Pie

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4-5 Yukon gold potatoes
3/4 c milk (This is the biggest stab in the dark ever.)4 tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste

11 oz spinach (the big box at the store)
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
2 c milk
fresh thyme (I used a good-sized branch from my plant.)
salt and pepper1 lb cod or other meaty, mild fish

Peel and dice the potatoes, and get them fellers boiling in salted water. Wilt the spinach and set aside. Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan, then add the flour. Cook at medium heat until it smells like a cooked pie crust. Slowly add the milk. You might want to switch to a whisk to reduce lumps, but as Chef John always says, hot roux, cold milk, no lumps! Add the thyme, salt, and pepper, and cook, constantly stirring, until the sauce had thickened. After around 30 minutes, the potatoes should be cooked, so drain them, then return them to the pot, add the butter, and mash ’em! Add milk until you get proper mashed potato consistency: spreadable but still able to hold its shape when plopped.

Preheat the oven to 350. Oil an 8×8 glass dish, then salt and pepper the bottom. I know I sound insane, but trust me*. Place your fish on the baking dish (See?? Now it’s seasoned!) in a single layer. You might have to cut your fish a bit. Salt and pepper the top of the fish. Add the spinach in an even layer, then pour the white sauce over the top. Spread on the mashed potatoes, then bake at 350 for around 45 minutes or until the fish flakes. (You’re allowed to dig around in there.) Let the casserole rest for 10 minutes before serving. I recommend making this when you know it’ll all get eaten that night, as this doesn’t reheat particularly well.

*I lied, you’re trusting Chef John again, as this is totally his recipe. Search for it on Youtube if you doubt me!

 

 

 

Baked Stuffed Mushrooms

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4 large portobello (portabella? I have no idea what the correct spelling is, and neither does Firefox) mushrooms
1 onion
1 clove garlic
2 cups spinach (about half of a 5 oz pack)
1/3 c Panko bread crumbs
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/3 c mozzarella cheese.
salt and black pepper to taste

Scrape the gills off of the mushrooms and cut off the stems, if there are any. Preheat the oven to 375, drizzle the mushrooms with oil, and bake them for 10 minutes while you prep the filling. Finely dice the onions and garlic and saute in a large wok-ish pan oil until translucent and aromatic. Add the spinach and reduce heat to low. Once the spinach wilts, add the bread crumbs, vinegar, salt, and pepper, then turn off the heat. Add the cheese and stir until just combined. Take the mushrooms out of the oven and spoon the mixture into the center of each mushroom. Return to the oven and bake for 15 more minutes.

 

 

Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs

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1 spaghetti squash
oil

1 sweet onion
1 large can diced tomatoes
1/2 c stock
1 sprig basil
salt and pepper

1 lb ground beef
1 clove garlic
1/2 c bread crumbs
1/2 c stock
1 tsp salt

Slice the spaghetti squash in half. Drizzle with oil and bake for 50 minutes to an hour at 375. While that’s baking, dice the onion and saute in a large pot until translucent. Add the tomatoes and stock. Chop the basil, and add that, along with the salt and pepper. You could totally add some oregano or parsley, too, if you’re into that. Let it simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Mix all the meatball ingredients until well combined. Put tablespoon-sized dollops in the sauce to poach. Don’t worry too much about how they look; they’ll break apart when you mix everything anyway. Put the lid on the pot and cook on medium-low for another 30 minutes or so, until the meatballs are cooked all the way through.

Once the squash is cooked, let it cool. Once it’s cool enough to handle, scrape the inside with a fork. The strands will come off looking like noodles. Separate any chunks of squash and mix it with the hot sauce. Again, the meatballs will kind of fall apart, but I don’t mind. If you do, then mix a little sauce in with the squash and serve the rest on top of the squash. It might be fun to serve this in the shells of the squash, if they don’t fall apart, but mine totally fell apart, so I didn’t.

Amaranth Cereal

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1 c raw amaranth2 c water
1 c milk (you can use cow’s, soy, almond, whatever you like!)
1 c chopped strawberries
1 basket blueberries
1 c crushed or chopped pecans
2-3 tbsp maple syrup

Cook the amaranth per the directions on the package. It cooks up a lot like rice, so if it doesn’t say, just cook it like rice. Transfer the cooked amaranth to a bowl and gradually add in the milk until it’s the consistency of oatmeal or grits. You may have to use more or less milk for the right texture. Mix in the other ingredients and serve warm! You could also add chopped apples, cinnamon, honey, agave, bananas, basically however you like!

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins

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1 c canned pumpkin
1 c brown rice flour (or any other gluten-free flour, but I like brown rice best)
1/2 c coconut oil (or olive, Canola, etc. I think the coconut tastes great in this. Olive makes it taste much richer, and Canola’s just neutral, though apparently, we’re not supposed to use Canola oil? Oh, well, I still do, for my own kitchen.)
1/2 c agave (or honey, or brown sugar, or heck, regular sugar! Do whatever you want with this recipe; you’ve got options!)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg

Just mix it all together! Fill greased muffin tins about half-full, then bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes. These spoil within a few days, so eat ’em up, or keep ’em in the fridge!

Again, I normally don’t like gluten-free pastries and breads, but these are pretty good! When I first started making them, they were always gross and dry, but the addition of an egg and some more oil really helped make the nice and cakey. You can make these with mashed carrot, grated zucchini, applesauce, or probably any number of fruit or vegetable. You might want to add some golden raisins or nuts to this as well.

Marsala Carrots

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1 lb carrots, peeled and sliced into even strips
3-4 shallots
2 tbsp oil or butter (I prefer butter, big surprise.)
1/2 c Marsala wine (or sherry, or cheap red wine, if you’re really in a bind and just HAVE to have these carrots NOW)
1 tbsp brown sugar

Boil the carrots for around 15 minutes to soften them up while you prepare the glaze. Slice the shallots into rounds, like little tiny onion rings. (And now I want shallot rings. Someone make them for me!) Cook them in the oil or butter until softened and lightly browned. Add the wine and sugar and mix well, cooking until the alcohol is gone. (You’ll stop smelling it in the steam.) Add in the carrots and cook for about 5 minutes, until the glaze has thickened and the carrots soak up the liquids. Goes wonderfully with roasted red meat!