Valentines Day always tends to send the blogosphere into a tizzy with all things red, chocolate, heart-shaped, and/or shareable, and despite my irregular blogging habits over the last year or two, I seem to be no exception (see these Mexican Chocolate souffles for two or the little valentine cheesecakes for two– two surprisingly popular posts, mostly due to the for-two-factor!). This year, I was feeling a bit lazy about planning any sort of special dessert (especially because Stephen nearly always prefers chocolate chip cookies to anything else I might make), but then it occurred to me that one needn’t go dessert to get valentiney, and I had enough fun to want to blog about it! Valentines Day isn’t a particularly big deal around here, but we do like to try to do something involving cooking together, and this fits happily into that category.
I totally love soft pretzels, but most of the time I am far too lazy to make anything yeasted. Somehow, scaling the recipe back to just make a handful (well, a couple handfuls) of pretzels made it feel much more approachable, which was good because I decided to make these, dough-rising and all, at like 9:30 pm on a weeknight. It may have been a tad foolish given the timing (definitely not a bowl-to-belly in 30 minutes kind of snack), but it was surprisingly doable, and when we had the pretzels in hand it was all worth it. If you have some quick yeast (I didn’t), I bet you could shave the waiting down even more. Even with normal waiting time, I felt like the recipe made enough pretzels that my effort was justified, but not so many that I was shaping and poaching all night just to be left with a Super Bowl amount of snacks that we could never take down on our own. It made for a lovely Valentine preview snack!
If it wasn’t obvious already, I sort of fell out of the habit of blogging. Work got busy, I got married…I could blame those things, but basically I just stopped doing it! I don’t feel guilty about it (though I do miss it!), nor will I make any specific promises as to my renewed commitment to blogging regularly or anything. All I really know at this point is that I still cook, I still like to preserve a record of recipes we’ve tried and enjoyed, and I felt like blogging about this recipe.
We’re always on the lookout for good lunch salads, particularly ones with a nice balance of greens and grains as well as some tasty mix-ins. When I came across the idea of this salad on Serious Eats, I couldn’t help but lust after the concept, though we made a couple little changes in the execution. We’ve been pleased enough with the result that it’s joined our repertoire!
Does blue cheese dressing merit its own post? Like, without an accompanying salad recipe? I wouldn’t have believed it but I’ve gotta say…yes, yes it does.
Tuna noodle casserole from a box was a staple in my house as a kid. I daresay I liked it then, but as an adult it’s rare that I even think of the stuff. But when I saw a recipe in Bon Appetit for a re-invented homemade version at this time last year, I tore it out right away and planned to make it. Surely even this humblest of casseroles deserves a second chance, right? I mean, you’ve gotta admit that creamy sauce + noodles + anything, baked until bubbly, has potential. Anyways, after I resolved to make the stuff I promptly lost the page and forgot about it for a year, but when I found the recipe yesterday I knew we would have it for dinner. It is time, my friends, to revisit tuna noodle casserole, sans box.
We recently discovered a local farm that produces ridiculously delicious chorizo, and have been enthusiastically exploring things to do with it. First we made tacos with it, and then scrambled it with eggs. Then we made chorizo sandwiches, and sprinkled it on salads. Finally, we were thinking it might be nice to try it with pasta, imagining something reminiscent of this, when I happened upon a recipe for a spicy pasta and sausage bake from America’s Test Kitchen. With a few tweaks, the dish became an amazing way to enjoy chorizo, pasta, and all the spicy, cheesy warmth of a good casserole.
Unfortunately, I recently discovered that cheesecake is delicious. For ages I thought I didn’t like it, at least not enough to seek it out, and this helped me avoid the cheesecake-lust that I now imagine must torment cheesecake enthusiasts on a regular basis. But then I tasted an amazing one with a crumby crust and creamy, dreamy center topped with lemon curd, and I realized that me and cheesecake could be friends.
Kale is one of those kitchen firsts where I’ve eaten the stuff a thousand times, but never actually cooked it for myself. You see, I kind of always thought that I didn’t like kale, or that it was ok but not worth my time or effort to actually cook at home. But in the name of getting back on the kitchen firsts wagon before the end of the year, it seemed high time to go and get a bunch of kale, and little did we know we’d be back to the market the next day to get some more.
You see, we got a bit distracted with our first bunch of kale, but were too excited about the prospect of this pasta to wait to make it. So another bunch came home with us, and I’m so glad that it did because this pasta was a kale revelation! I was a little skeptical about it, even up to the very moment that I tossed all the parts of the dish together, because tasting the parts separately (the spicy breadcrumbs, braised kale, pasta, and parmesan) it really didn’t seem like anything to write home about. But it is way more than the sum of its parts, and I feel confident saying that this dish would appeal to kale-lovers and kale-haters alike– the kale becomes mild and tender as it braises, the cheese gives a little rich nuttiness, the lemon gives a nice lift, and the spicy, garlicky breadcrumbs provide a nice aromatic crunch. All in all, a very satisfying pasta for a late autumn dinner, and one you can feel good about eating too!