During most of my day to day life I like super simple, clean cooking. But I have a special tradition I like to call “fuck it Friday.” It’s a similar concept to a cheat day, but without the gross guilty connotation, and it allows me to set it on a schedule.
One of my big go tos for this moment is some kind of alfredo pasta. But what happens when I feel the need to be sneaky during the week, or on the other hand slide a vegetable into my Fridays? The answer is simple, why not both? Enter alfredo mashed cauliflower.
It’s super rich and decadent. But making cauliflower the base at least lets me pretend I’m being somewhat healthful. I’m a huge believer in the magic of cauliflower, and if you weren’t before then there’s nothing a little parmesan won’t solve.
Back in I want to say sometime between 1999-2001 I lived for when my parents would let me stay up late so I could watch the original Japanese Iron Chef. The drama, the chefs being themed on nationality, my dear sweet Chairman Kaga, and that fortune teller judge. What a time to be alive.
Those late (to a six-year-old) nights were pretty much my crash course in getting wild and creative. I remember they made ice cream out of EVERYTHING, namely squid ink, which I didn’t even know was a thing you eat, but now I adore. But this story leads to one place. And that is my first ever love/hero, Masahiko Kobe aka “Iron Chef Italian.” This dude made ravioli with chocolate pasta dough.
My. World. Was. Rocked. I went borderline rabid asking how is that possible, and if my mom would make it for me. She looked like I grew two heads.
Fast forward about 10 years. I’m a junior in high school. My mom, brother and I took a trip to Asheville, North Carolina. We stopped in a fancy chocolate shop. And there it was…a bag of chocolate fettuccine. I immediately flashed back to my Iron Chef days and tried to do everything to get that bag to go home with me, to no avail.
But guess what, mom? I’m an adult now and can make my own damn chocolate pasta! (I’m sorry mom, I love you.)
The biggest challenge was figuring out what sauce to make with it. I thought creamy, I thought mascarpone, and then I thought nah. I decided I wanted something that felt fresh to go with it. So I landed on raspberries and mint for freshness, with a punch of balsamic vinegar for intrigue.
Lately my life has been about the hunt for convenience. Between a new job, studying for my second licensing exam for my new job, housework, and making more time for the gym I need grab and go food anywhere I can get it.
That being said one of my biggest weaknesses going about my day is making sure I eat breakfast, let alone a balanced one.
Enter: frittata muffins. It’s so simple it’s genius and stupid at the same time. All you do is cook off some veggies/meat, mix it with eggs and cheese, and then pour into cupcake tins and bake. I’m kinda kicking myself I didn’t do it sooner.
For my cupcake tin’s maiden voyage I decided to go with turkey sausage and a vaguely French inspired veggie mix and spinach, (see the previously mentioned attempt at being healthier), and some mascarpone and parmesan because we love ourselves.
Normally when people think about Italian food the first thing they think about is pasta. Honestly I can’t blame them; pasta is versatile and delicious in all its forms. Something not thought about as much in a world of Olive Gardens and Pinterest dinners, however, is risotto. Much like pasta risotto typically delivers cheesy, carby goodness, with a wide variety of flavor combinations, but in the form of lovingly sauteed rice instead of noodles.
In case you hadn’t noticed, in a very large percent of the world it is extremely cold out right now. Currently I live in Chicago and we have the kind of cold where a hot coffee can freeze on the walk to the train, salt solutions make cars and every clothing item you own look gross, and you see me at peak crankiness. When it comes to winters like this all I want to do is live in a blanket fort and sustain myself on pizza and hot cocoa.
In the town I grew up in there is a pizza place. When I was little every time my family would get takeout from there my dad and I both had to get their spaghetti and meatballs. I’m not even sure why because it was actually incredibly mediocre. You could tell it was frozen and the sauce tasted like water, but that was my and my dad’s thing.
I think anyone who reads my blog at this point knows I am a garlic junkie. Have I even posted one recipe that does not use any garlic other than the dessert I posted? To be honest I don’t think I have. And can you blame me? Garlic is absolutely delicious! There is nothing better than that sweet, almost nutty flavor you get from beautifully browned garlic. Well this pasta recipe here is an ode to all the fellow garlic lovers out there, and even better, this recipe is unbelievably cheap and simple to prepare and is friendlier to the figure than a lot of the recipes I have posted.
Pretty much every time my brother offers to cook me dinner and ask what I want my response is the same, chicken marsala. For me a good chicken marsala is all about the sweet richness of the sauce. Normally I get so caught up in the sauce and mushrooms that the chicken tends to kind of fade into the background. This time I wanted the chicken to take center stage along with the sauce. I found that the key to that is braising.
I am about to share something very sacred with all of you. Do you recall your first food memory? Maybe something a parent, guardian, day care professional, or nanny made for you? That one special food that always just makes you feel warm, tingly, and loved? This is my version of that. Ever since I was three or four years old I remember my mom making her famous chicken parmesan.
For tonight’s dinner I decided to take one of the recipes I recently blogged about, chicken piccata, and attempt a new preparation of it. For my last chicken piccata I dredged a boneless, skinless chicken breast in a flour mixture and pan fried it. The fried cutlets were paired with a simple sauce of chicken stock, white wine, lemon juice, capers, and butter. The last preparation was a very classic, on the nose version of this Italian classic. Although the classic piccata is one of my favorite dishes to both cook and eat today I was feeling experimental.