orecchiette with roasted red peppers and sausage

orecchiette with roasted red peppers and sausage [ inthiskitchen.com ]

I’m tempted to say that pasta shapes have never mattered to me, but on whatever minor level it may be, I do prefer certain kinds over others. Long shapes like spaghetti, linguine and bucatini are great, as well as standard short pastas like penne and rigatoni. But when it comes to “wagon wheel” pasta, bowties, and fusilli, for some reason I’m not as charmed. But the little ear-shaped orecchiette pasta has always been a favorite of mine. It is special enough that I don’t have it all the time, but not so fancy that it feels pretentious.

This orecchiette with roasted red peppers and sausage is definitely not pretentious, and is easy enough to throw together in a half hour. The flavors of the sausage, spinach and red pepper blend perfectly with the parmesan, basil and a small spritz of lemon juice at the end. It’s the kind of pasta that doesn’t just feel like a big bowl of starch but can be as hearty or light as you want.

orecchiette with roasted red peppers and sausage [ inthiskitchen.com ]

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almond butter buckeyes

almond butter buckeyes [ inthiskitchen.com ]

Peanut butter buckeyes have always been something I’d seen but not had, due to being a little allergic to peanuts. When I saw this recipe for almond butter buckeyes, I of course jumped at the chance to try them. I’m sure the flavor with almond may be slightly milder than with peanuts, but I think these almond butter buckeyes are a great decadent little treat, like an almond butter Reese’s cup but hand-made.

almond butter buckeyes [ inthiskitchen.com ]

I realize that buckeyes are typically a holiday treat, but I see no reason to have them any time of year. They’re easy to make, no baking required, and each one is so rich that they’ll last a good while in the fridge!

I wish I had one right now to help quell the nervousness I’m feeling about starting a new job tomorrow… though I’m sure by the next time I post here I’ll be settled in and my fears will be gone. Wish me luck and enjoy almond butter buckeyes!

almond butter buckeyes [ inthiskitchen.com ]

Almond Butter Buckeyes
from Food52, author Sarah Jampel
Makes anywhere from 15 to 30 buckeyes, depending on how big you roll them

3/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, as needed
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup chocolate chips
Sea salt, for sprinkling

Cream together almond butter and butter until light and a bit airy. Mix in vanilla and stir. In a separate bowl, whisk together confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon, and pour into the almond butter mixture a LITTLE bit at a time – start with 1 cup and see how dense the mixture becomes after it is thoroughly mixed. If your almond butter is more oily, it may take more sugar to make it firm and rollable, but mine only required about 1 and a quarter cups of sugar. It is ready when it is firm enough to stay together on its own and be rolled into solid balls. Roll into balls about the size of 1-2 tablespoons (to your desired size), and place each onto a parchment lined sheet. Place in the freezer to chill and firm for 20-30 minutes.

After the balls have chilled, in a small bowl, melt your chocolate chips over a double boiler slowly, or in the microwave, microwaving in 20-second bursts, stirring between each burst so that the chocolate cooks evenly. Dip each almond butter ball into the chocolate, and rest them on the baking sheet again. Sprinkle with a bit of sea salt (this provides great contrast with the sweet almond/sugar mixture). For easier eating, poke each with a toothpick for serving.

chickpea, cucumber, tomato and avocado salad

chickpea, cucumber, tomato and avocado salad [ inthiskitchen.com ]

Summer is here – though I’m sure most of us feel like it’s been around since mid-May or June. Because I’m an Arizona native, summer has always seemed to fall between the months of, oh, April to October. Even though I’m now in the suburbs of Washington, DC, I don’t feel like the heat is any less brutal, now that it’s combined with 70% humidity. These are the reasons we need salads like the one I’m sharing today: a jumble of chickpeas, cucumbers, tomatoes and avocado that gives the perfect crunchy, tangy and refreshing antidote to a hot day.

chickpea, cucumber, tomato and avocado salad [ inthiskitchen.com ]

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magic custard cake

magic custard cake

If you make the rounds on Pinterest, chances are you may have seen this cake before. It’s been around for years now, and it has been on my to-do list ever since I saw Todd and Diane rave about it on White on Rice Couple. I finally got around to making it, and I’m so glad I did!

magic custard cake

magic custard cake

This cake really reminds me of one thing that sounds totally different, but is similarly fluffy and custardy all at once: a dutch baby pancake. This magic custard cake shares a similar flavor to a dutch baby/german pancake to me – with a pillowy and light cake top and a thick and creamy custard center (but of course, this cake is much thicker and more dense than a pancake). The cake is very easy to make, and the batter is liquidy and easy to mix. Don’t worry if the batter feels way too liquidy to you – it’s supposed to be that way.

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triple chocolate brownie cookies

triple chocolate brownie cookies recipe [ inthiskitchen.com ]

When I found this recipe, the picture is what caught my attention. A crackly, slightly crisp outside of a chocolate cookie, with a super soft, darker brownie-like inside. It looked so good that I immediately had to add it to my to-make list.

I got to make it this past week, and it really delivered what it promised: a cookie-brownie hybrid that is super soft and tender, and very chocolatey. They were originally deemed “brookies” (as a brownie cookie hybrid), but I looked up brookies and that seems to be more commonly associated with a cookie dough/brownie dough hybrid (hello, new addition to my to-make list). So I think it’s safe to call these guys brownie cookies – a brownie, in cookie shape.

triple chocolate brownie cookies recipe [ inthiskitchen.com ]

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cacio e pepe (italian cheese & pepper pasta)

cacio e pepe

Cacio e Pepe is one of the easiest pasta dishes to make. It’s like a fancy, dressed-up mac & cheese, but with lots of fresh black pepper. It comes together in a pan on the stove, and requires so few ingredients: cheese, pepper, pasta, butter, and not much else. This recipe added an extra flavor with the addition of a little lemon zest, which gives it a nice kick for spring.

The recipe calls for Grana Padano cheese: if you’re not familiar with this cheese (I wasn’t either), it’s a very common and popular cheese in Italy that is growing in popularity here in the states, too. It was very easy to find in the cheese section of the big supermarket near me. It’s somewhat similar to parmesan in flavor, but melts more easily and therefore works great in cacio e pepe, which melts the cheese with butter and pasta water on the stove. There is also a bit of Pecorino Romano, which is a classic cheese associated with cacio e pepe.

cacio e pepe

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spring asparagus, white bean, and wild rice salad

spring asparagus, white bean, and wild rice salad

Spring is here, grad school is almost over for me, and I can again go outside without feeling like the weather is working against me! I’m excited to be able to cook more and also to hopefully go on more long walks outside. Spring also means I’m ready to eat lighter, and I think this asparagus salad is the perfect way to do that. It’s got the nice crunch of fresh asparagus, a zesty and lemony parmesan bite, and white beans and rice to round it out and make it a little bit hearty. It’s also healthy without even trying. I really love it and think it would be great to bring to picnics or get-togethers.

spring asparagus, white bean, and wild rice salad

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quinoa & black bean salad with lime vinaigrette

quinoa black bean salad [ inthiskitchen.com ]

I have been crazy busy with grad school the past few months, and currently am enjoying my last few days before the next (and final!) semester begins. I cannot wait to get back to regular cooking and posting – I think about it and miss it on a near daily basis. Recipes like today’s wonderful one from Gather and Dine are so simple and perfect for when you’re 1) really busy, as we all tend to be, and 2) in the dead of a cold, bitter winter and want something light and refreshing but still so flavorful and delicious. It’s a simple quinoa and black bean salad that even quinoa haters can enjoy. I’m certainly not a huge quinoa fan, but in salads like this with a great tangy vinegar-and-lime punch, I can really get into it. This salad is also vegetarian and vegan, so it’s a great dish to bring to a get-together and make everyone happy. Almost all of the ingredients can be used either fresh or frozen/canned, so the salad can be made in winter while you dream of summer.

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honey sesame chicken wings

honey sesame chicken wings

When I made these honey sesame chicken wings, it was actually the first time I had made wings at home. I couldn’t find the recommended “party wings” or “wingettes” in my grocery store, so I ended up just buying regular wings and cutting them as per the instructions. I was a little worried that it would turn out somehow wrong, because I don’t know a single thing about cutting chicken, but once the wings were slathered with the sauce and roasted, they looked good enough for me! The sauce on these is really good, and I would almost be tempted to double the sauce ingredients so that I could pour more over the finished wings.

The recipe is super, super easy, especially if you can find the party wings or wingettes at your store. It basically is as simple as mixing together the sauce, throwing it on the wings, and baking for a little over a half-hour. That is my kind of recipe. I’ll definitely be making it again in the future.

honey sesame chicken wings

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momofuku ginger scallion noodles

momofuku ginger scallion noodles [ inthiskitchen.com ]

These ginger scallion noodles are so easy that I thought they might be boring, but that definitely was not the case. They are super, super simple but the flavors come together so well to make a great vegan/vegetarian side dish – I had no idea simple green onions could give so much flavor. If you add grilled pork or chicken, these can also turn into a main meal. They originally come from Momofuku by David Chang, which can do no wrong in my book. I recently started grad school, so I am super into very easy and delicious recipes and these noodles definitely fit the bill.

momofuku ginger scallion noodles [ inthiskitchen.com ]

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