Monday, January 20, 2014

"One Pot Wonder" Pasta with Rainbow Linguine, Baby Heirloom Tomatoes, Sun Dried Red Peppers, Fresh Basil, Artichokes, + Creamy Goat Cheese

"One Pot Wonder" with Rainbow Linguine, Baby Heirloom Tomatoes, Sun Dried Red Peppers,
Fresh Basil, Artichokes, + Creamy Goat Cheese
I liked to call myself a "snooty foodie". And by no means, do I mean that positively. All the time, I get requests from my mountain man, family members, and friends asking for something that I just completely turn my nose up too. Casseroles, pot roast, pasta, & slow cooker meals to name a few. I don't know, I guess I'm a complicated girl, who likes complicated food. However, there is a certain recipe that has been floating around the internet and has taken the world by store. And it's all because of Martha. Martha, martha, marthaaaaaaaa. I was certainly skeptical of course, it seemed too easy, too simple, and down right impossible. It literally requires you to throw pasta, vegetables, aromatics, liquid, and herbs into one pot and boil it all together to form one luscious, creamy dish... without the fuss of dirtying up a million pas & utensils. I stored this recipe away for a day that I was scrambling to find something quick to cook for dinner. And well, tonight was the night that I would pull it out for examination. Her original recipe isn't as "fully loaded" as mine, but I'm sure they are equally tasty. I started off with a tomato basil theme, but it kinda grew + expanded from there when I added artichokes, white wine, chicken stock, sun dried red peppers, roasted garlic paste, pesto, and goat cheese. Hands down, our favorite component was the sun dried red peppers. We swear by the brand, DeLallo. So if you can get your hands on those, you won't regret it! They are sweet, slightly smokey, and plump beautifully during the cooking process. And lemme tell y'all, these peppers are amazing on a homemade pizza! As for the pasta, any kind will do, but we loved the idea of using gourmet rainbow linguine because, well, it's gorgeous and tasty. Once everything has cooked through and the pasta has soaked up all of the liquid and achieved the perfect al dente texture, toss in some softened goat cheese (or even some brie would be a great substitute as well) and stir until an extra creamy sauce is formed. For this dish, it calls for two bunches of fresh basil... one is added in at the beginning to "perfume" all of the components and the other is thinly shaved and lightly folded in just a minute before serving. I think that it's a really important step because it creates a wonderful balance between the rich sauce and herby basil. But you know what's best about this recipe? It would be great all year long, no matter what season it is! I can't even imagine how much better the pasta would be with fresh summery basil and juicy heirloom tomatoes... it's practically what my dreams are made of here, people. So give this recipe a try because it literally will become your "one pot wonder" and a weekly go-to!! Enjoy :)
ingredients: fresh basil, baby heirloom tomatoes, fresh garlic, roasted garlic paste,
artichokes, rainbow linguine, sun dried red peppers, onion, + creamy goat cheese
is that food for the eyes or what??
toss it all in and call it a day!
luscious, creamy, hearty, but fresh. it literally as it all. 
For the One Pot Wonder Pasta:
16oz Gourmet Rainbow Linguine Pasta
1 Sweet Vidalia Onion, Sliced
16oz Baby Rainbow Heirloom Tomatoes, Sliced in Half
14oz Artichokes, Drained + Quartered
½C Sun Dried Roasted Red Peppers, Julienned (we love the brand, Delallo)
4 Cloves of Fresh Garlic, Thinly Sliced
2T Roasted Garlic Paste + 2T Homemade Pesto
2 Bunches of Fresh Basil (one for the cooking process & one for finshing)
4C Chicken Stock + 1C White Wine
2t Dried Oregano
½t Red Pepper Flakes
Fleur de Sel, Fresh Cracked Pepper, & Olive Oil (to your preference)
4oz Creamy Goat Cheese, Room Temperature (although brie could be substituted here)

1. For the Pasta: Combine the linguine, baby tomato halves, sliced onion, quartered artichokes, sun dried red peppers, garlic, roasted garlic paste, pesto, 1 bunch of basil, red-pepper flakes, olive oil (I used about two big glugs), fleur de sel, and fresh cracked pepper in a pot. Pour the chicken stock and white wine all over the pasta components in the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil mixture, stirring and turning pasta frequently with tongs, until pasta is al dente and water has nearly evaporated, about 15-20 minutes.
2. Finishing the Pasta: Once the liquid has reduced and thickened, add in the softened goat cheese and stir to melt and form a creamy sauce. Season the dish with more salt and pepper if needed (we actually added a touch of honey to round out all of the flavors). If the pasta has an al dente texture, then it is ready to serve! Chiffonade the remaining bunch of basil and toss that in just before serving. This will give the pasta a wonderful, aromatic taste and balance the creaminess with its’ herbed flavor.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

How To : Homemade Dark Brown Sugar (with vanilla beans)...

How To: Homemade Dark Brown Sugar (with vanilla beans)...
Hi everyone! Today I'm going to be posting a new series called "How To", which simply is gonna be "how to" make things that I use on a daily basis and in all my recipes (shocker, I know). So today I got a real hankering to make my own nifty version of a hot buttered rum. Well actually, I'm going to make Hot Brown Buttered Bourbon's-- yum in my tum. Anyway, I go to the pantry to find some dark brown sugar, for the compound butter component, and to no such luck, we're out of it. SHOOT. I can't muster up the energy, or courage, to venture out into the cold, cold world to get some. Lucky for me, there is a quick solution to this common problem... just make it yourself! Simple dark brown sugar just calls for granulated sugar and robust molasses, and in the case of my recipe, I like to throw in a vanilla bean (but that's completely optional). The process is super easy peasy, just toss everything into a food processor and pulse away... here's a step-by-step pictorial of the homemade dark brown sugar.
step one: put everything into the food processor
step two: pulse until everything is combined (a rubber spatula is helpful)
step three: dump out your brown sugar into a bowl and mash up any small clumps
with a fork to make it a little smoother 
step four: it's ready to be measured & used!
See, it's as easy as that!! No lie, so if you are ever like me and you find yourself in a bind, keep those few ingredients in the pantry and you'll be baking in no time!! Enjoy your first "How To" post :)
For the Homemade Dark Brown Sugar:
2 ½C Granulated Sugar
½C Robust Molasses
1 Vanilla Bean, Split & Scraped for Seeds

1. In the bowl of a food processer, add the granulated sugar, robust molasses, and vanilla bean seeds.
2. Pulse the ingredients until the mixture begins to turn brown and becomes the texture of wet sand.
3. Dump the brown sugar into a bowl and mash up any clumps of molasses with a fork until everything is incorporated.
4. Spoon into a measuring cup and continue baking!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Caramelized Sourdough French Toast with Mixed Berry Compound Butter, Macerated Blackberries, Homemade Whipped Cream, & Buttered Maple Syrup

Caramelized Sourdough French Toast with Mixed Berry Compound Butter, Macerated 
Blackberries, Homemade Whipped Cream, & Buttered Maple Syrup
So, there was a nasty cold front that moved through Atlanta this week, and it was absolutely dreadful. Pipes were bursting, roads were freezing... all chaos ensued. It's funny how Southerners act like the world is ending when it isn't even snowing. We're all a bunch of nut cases. But really, can you blame us? We live in a world where it's a hot as hell, the cold is far too frigid. Anyway, the sun finally came out today, YAY. And it started feeling like springtime again. We all know that gives me the itch to make a decadent brunch on the porch, butofcourse. I already had a gorgeous loaf of sourdough bread, so french toast was meant to be. Now, I feel really strongly about french toast. There a three keys to success when making this iconic breakfast staple... 1. Thick, THICK slices of bread 2. Perfect Batter 3. Lots & lots of gourmet toppings. First we tackle the bread. I cut my slices about two inches thick and soak them for about 15-20 minutes in the batter. Now the batter is important because that is where all the flavor is injected. So mine is flavored with heavy cream, milk, vanilla bean rum, orange zest, cinnamon, and nutmeg. When you soak the thick slices of bread in this luscious batter, the middle puffs up into this almost souffle-like center, but the crusts remain crunchy + chewy. But what really puts this recipe over the top is the dusting of powdered sugar. Some of you might be wondering how I get the french toast so perfectly caramelized-- and that's because of the confectioners' sugar! I used a fine mesh sieve to lightly dust the sugar all over both sides of the soaked bread and quickly tossed them into hot butter. Since the pieces of bread are so thick, you have to cook them a good while until everything has heated through and the outsides have evenly browned & crisped. It is also very important to bake it in the oven for about 10-20 minutes to round everything out and keep it warm for serving. Onto the gourmet topping... I made homemade mixed berry compound buttered, macerated blackberries, whipped cream, & buttered maple syrup. Mixed berries + french toast are a match made in heaven, y'all. So don't leave them out... especially the compound butter... and the whipped cream... oh shit, don't leave out anything, alright?! Finishing out the meal, I served our french toast with cheesy scrambled eggs + praline bacon. Umm yumm. Well, I hope y'all make this soon because it makes Sunday Brunch that much better!! Enjoy :)
Soaking the thick slices of french toast in batter...
Ahh the dusting of confectioners' sugar...
SEE-- the PERFECT caramelization
french toast, cheesy scrambled eggs, & praline bacon
raspberry sorbet mimosa in a mason jar
For the Mixed Berry Compound Butter:
4 Sticks of Unsalted Butter, Softened
1C Mixed Berries (I used raspberries, blackberries, & blueberries)
1t Vanilla
1T Sugar
Pinch of Salt & Cinnamon

For the Macerated Blackberries:
3C Fresh Blackberries
½C Sugar
2T Balsamic Vinegar + 1T Fresh Lemon Juice

For the Caramelized Sourdough French Toast:
1 Loaf of Crusty Sourdough Bread, Sliced Very Thick
4 Extra Large Eggs
½C Heavy Cream
¼C Milk + Vanilla Bean Infused Rum
3T Sugar
2t Vanilla Extract
1T Fresh Orange Zest
¼t Cinnamon & Freshly Grated Nutmeg
Pinch of Salt
Confectioners’ Sugar, For Dusting
Unsalted Butter, For Frying

For the Buttered Maple Syrup:
½C Maple Syrup
4T Butter 

For Serving:
Prepared Mixed Berry Compound Butter, Cut into Rounds
Prepared Macerated Blackberries
Warm French Toast Slices
Prepared Buttered Maple Syrup
Homemade Whipped Cream

1. For the Mixed Berry Compound Butter: Beat together the softened butter, vanilla, sugar, salt, and cinnamon until combined & fluffy. Add in the mixed berries and beat until they have broken up and evenly dispersed throughout the butter. Spoon it onto a piece of plastic wrap and form it into a log and refrigerate until the butter has chilled and hardened. Cut into rounds and enjoy on your French toast.
2. For the Macerated Blackberries: Using a fork or the back of a wooden spoon, mash 1 cup berries with sugar and balsamic vinegar in a large bowl until sugar begins to dissolve. Gently stir in remaining berries; let sit at room temperature, tossing occasionally, until berries are juicy, 1-2 hours.
3. For the Caramelized Sourdough French Toast: Cut the bread into 8 large wedges. Whisk the eggs, heavy cream, milk, rum, granulated sugar, orange zest, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a large baking dish. Add the bread and turn occasionally until soaked through, about 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put the confectioners' sugar in a fine-mesh sieve. Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add half of the bread and dust generously with the confectioners' sugar; cook, turning and dusting often with more confectioners' sugar, until golden brown and caramelized, 15 to 20 minutes (add more butter to the skillet, if needed). Transfer the French toast to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. Add more butter to the skillet and repeat with the remaining bread. Serve with maple syrup.
4. For the Buttered Maple Syrup: Heat maple syrup in a small pot and whisk in a tablespoon of butter at a time, while whisking the entire time, until the mixture is completely incorporated. Serve warm.
5. For Serving: Serve the French toast with some mixed berry compound butter, macerated blackberries, a drizzle of buttered maple syrup, and a dollop of homemade whipped cream. Enjoy!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Mulled Moscow Mules

Mulled Moscow Mules
If I could pick a drink of the autumn-winter season, it would be this Mulled Moscow Mule. It's fabulous. And even though it is a cold drink... that is supposed to be enjoyed during the cold days of the year, it doesn't matter because when swallowed, you immediately feel like you are being hugged by a good looking man in a big 'ole sweater. Now who doesn't want that? Well, I guess some guys wouldn't. But that's a topic to be covered on another blog. Anyway the nitty-gritty deets of this cocktail are pretty simple-- homemade mulled simple syrup, vodka, fresh lime, strong ginger beer, and cinnamon sticks for serving. Ain't nothin' wrong with dat. I am in LOVE with this simple syrup. It is so versatile for the season/holidays. We put it in just about everything... mulled spiked apple ciders, mulled wine, etc. All absolutely delicious. You really can't go wrong. Some of the flavors that are prominently featured are cinnamon, orange, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, mulling spices, star anise, and peppercorns. They all work cohesively together to create a perfect balance between these headstrong spices. The syrup is quite strong + extremely fragrant, but don't worry, the flavor mellows out miraculously with the addition of Vodka. PS-- I hate vodka. So, that says a lot about this recipe when I'm going back for seconds, thirds, and fourths. ALSO, make sure that you buy a high-quality ginger beer, no ginger ale please! It really brings the flavor to a'whole'nother level. We used Reed's Extra Ginger Beer, it was just what the doctor prescribed. Lastly, it is crucial that you serve your drink with a cinnamon stick, because, well, it adds flavor and festivity to it. So do that, fo'sho. Y'all, it's pretty important that you have a copper mug because when the drink is super cold, the mug begins to frost and makes the whole experience much more enjoyable-- take my word for it. Anyway, try these out before it starts to warm up because you'll be missing them throughout the whole summer season!! Enjoy :)
Tito's Vodka, Extra Ginger Brew, Mulled Simple Syrup, Copper Mug
Homemade Mulled Simple Syrup
Ready to enjoy!
excited about the drink
okay, maybe super excited.
For the Mulled Simple Syrup:
2C Sugar
2C Water
3 Knobs of Fresh, Peeled Ginger
½C Candied Ginger
2 Cinnamon Sticks
2 Oranges, Peeled for their Zest
¼C + 2T Mulling Spices
2 Star Anise Pods
10 Peppercorns
½t Cinnamon, Freshly Grated Nutmeg, & Cardamom
Pinch of Salt

For the Mulled Moscow Mules (for one drink):
Crushed Ice Cubes
1 Lime, Zested & Juiced
¼C Vodka
3 Shots of Mulled Simple Syrup
½C Chilled Ginger Beer
Cinnamon Stick, For Stirring
Candied Ginger, For Garnishing
Lime Wedge, For Garnishing  

1. For the Mulled Simple Syrup: Add all ingredients to small saucepan and bring to gentle simmer. Stir until all the sugar has dissolved and let simmer for 10-15 minutes or until sufficiently steeped and it has reached a syrupy thickness. Turn off heat and let cool to room temp with spices. Decant into glass bottle (or plastic squeeze bottle as I do) straining out the spices with a cheesecloth or small strainer. It is ready to use or keep in fridge.
2. For the Mulled Moscow Mules: Zest and juice a lime into in the bottom of a cocktail shaker, add in some crushed ice. Next, pour in the mulled simple syrup and vodka (we used our large jigger at home to make our drinks, so we followed a ratio of 3 shots of mulled simple syrup to 2 shots of vodka with ginger beer up to the rim… not exactly specific ounces, so keep that in mind). Fill a tall cup or glass with a little bit of crushed ice. Pour the strained liquid over the ice and fill the glass up to the rim with strong ginger beer for finishing. Stir until a frost forms on the outside of the cup. 
3. Garnish with a cinnamon stick for stirring and candied ginger and/or a lime wedge for presentation and more flavor!
Five Spice Moscow Mules that we enjoyed in Savannah-- our inspiration for this recipe!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Creamy Brie Mac n' Seven Cheese with Toasted Breadcrumb Topping

Creamy Brie Mac n' Seven Cheese with Toasted Breadcrumb Topping
There are a few dishes, in life, that we are constantly searching for "the best" of. I've done it many times, mainly with my chocolate chip cookies, tinkering with it just ever-so-slightly until perfection has been attained. I also do it with southern pimento cheese, fudgy brownies, and mac n' cheese. People rave about Martha Stewart's recipe, but although it was great, it was still missing something. But the other week, I came across this idea to use BRIE in the mac n' cheese. OMG I love Brie. I love it plain, I love it on sandwiches, I probably would eat it off the ground (if no one was watching). So, to toss something so utterly creamy & smooth into mac n' cheese, I just thought it was stunningly brilliant. A simple Béchamel sauce is made, but then is amped up with sharp white cheddar, fontina, havarti, gruyere, + parmesan cheese. That's a full cast of characters, y'all!! Ain't nothing wrong with that. I love this mixture of cheeses because they all are different in taste and texture (or melt factor, as I like to call it). Every single one plays a crucial role in this pasta dish, so don't leave one out... ya'hear. On top, I put some homemade breadcrumbs with butter and garlic. This gives the dish a great contrast of texture as well. All who tried this mac, raved about it. Especially my two year old niece, who can sometimes be picky. So all you mommies out there, this is kid friendly, yay. Anyway, make this now, while it's still super chilly outside and enjoy a big bowl of it by the fire. It'll be the perfect night!! Enjoy :)
creamy brie cheese + toasted breadcrumbs, yum :)
For the Topping:
3T Unsalted Butter
2 Cloves of Garlic, Finely Minced
1 ½C Toasted Bread, Pulsed into Bread Crumbs

For the Béchamel:
4T Unsalted Butter
¼C AP Flour
1C Heavy Cream + 2C Warm Milk
¼t Mustard Powder, Cayenne, Salt, & White Pepper

For the Mac n’ Cheese:
1lb Small Pasta (elbow, corkscrews, shells, etc)
1C Sharp White Cheddar Cheese, Shredded
1C Fontina Cheese, Shredded
1C Havarti Cheese, Shredded
1C Gruyere Cheese, Shredded
6oz Brie Cheese, Rind Removed + Cut into Small Cubes
½C Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the pasta until al-dente. You want it to have a bit of bite. It will finish cooking in the oven. Drain well.
3. For the Béchamel: While the pasta boils add 3 tablespoons butter to a medium skillet and melt. Add the garlic and sauté 30 seconds then throw in the homemade breadcrumbs and toss to coat.
4. Toast the crumbs for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid burning. Once the crumbs are lightly toasted remove form the heat and set aside.
5. In the same pot you boiled the pasta, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let cook/bubble for 1 minute, stirring once or twice to avoid burning. Gradually whisk in the milk and raise the heat up to medium-high. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking frequently until the sauce has thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in all of the cheese, mustard powder, cayenne, salt and pepper. Stir until the cheese is fully melted. Stir in the pasta and transfer to the prepared baking dish.
6. Evenly sprinkle on the toasted crumbs and place the baking dish on a baking sheet.
7. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the crumbs are golden brown and the sauce is bubbling. Remove from the heat and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.