Just because you're short on time doesn't mean you shouldn't make your own pasta sauce! This quick and spicy bacon-tomato pasta sauce is chock-full of flavor and takes only about a half hour to make. I had applewood smoked bacon on hand, but next time, I will use pepper bacon to add a little more complexity to the dish. To really heat things up, I used two jalapenos with no seeds — feel free to adjust it depending on your palate. Ready to simmer your own spicy pasta sauce? Keep reading for the recipe.
Nothing warms the soul more than a comforting bowl of pasta, especially when it is covered in a creamy brie sauce and topped with mushrooms, onions, and spinach. Already, this dish is a fast and easy dinner, and I shaved off even more time by using the quick-cooking angel hair pasta, but any pasta variety will do; just pick your favorite. Quickly dice the mushrooms and onions to get them sautéeing in a bit of olive oil. Once they begin to purge their juices, add a bit of white wine and cook down.
Bring your pasta water to boil, and once the pasta is finished, be sure to set aside some of the starchy water to use in the brie sauce. Melt the brie with a little pasta water in the mushrooms and onion mixture. Toss in the pasta and evenly coat with easy creamy sauce. Voilà — dinner!Of course, covering anything in brie will result in an indulgent and delicious dish. If you want to indulge a little less, I have also used half brie and half low-fat cream cheese to re-create a lighter cream sauce. This fast and easy pasta should be in everybody's cooking repertoire, so keep reading for this quick recipe.
Grapefruit lovers: if you haven't discovered it yet, get to know a cocktail called the Salty Dog.
No, it's not a strange concoction with hot dogs, but the cousin to the classic Greyhound. Both the Greyhound and Salty Dog combine fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice with vodka. The Salty Dog, however, is served in a salt-rimmed glass similar to a margarita.
When I get home late, it's easy to rush through making a dinner that's often not the healthiest. That's why salmon cakes are my new favorite: they take a mere 20 minutes to make, and they make a delicious but healthy dinner. The most involved part is giving your food processor a couple whirls to chop up the salmon and mix in the other ingredients. After that, it's a less-than-five-minute affair. I topped off the fish cakes with a little bit of sour cream and scallions just before serving, and noted to myself that they'd also make a great appetizer served atop crostini. For my most recent dinner, though, I served the fish cakes alongside a raw kale salad.
Ever since my trip to Barcelona, I love to travel back down memory lane by making the dessert I discovered on my travels, crema catalana. Many of us have had crème brûlée, that famous French dessert that Amélie loved to crack with a spoon, and this Spanish caramelized custard will surely give you the same satisfaction. The Spanish recipe is lighter, since the custard is milk-based, unlike the French version that uses cream.
Traditionally, the Spanish add a bit of lemon zest to the custard, but grapefruit, lime, or orange zest would be a great addition. The recipe is not complicated, but pay close attention once you have added the eggs because too much heat can result in curdling.
To caramelize the top, you don't need a fancy torch; just stop by the local hardware store for a propane torch, which will surely save you a couple bucks. Or skip the torch altogether and just use the broiler in your oven.
Sweetheart candies are an essential on Valentine's Day, and recently Williams-Sonoma took the same idea to cookies with Message in a Cookie, a kit that comes with three different cookie-cutter shapes: a heart, a star, and a scalloped square. Each cookie cutter features slots for text, where you can use the accompanying letter stamps to make your own talking sugar cookies.
I whipped up a quick batch of Alton Brown's delicious sugar cookie dough and stamped sweet sayings into my heart-shaped cookies. I can't wait to use the scalloped square to create edible place settings at my next dinner party. Of course, you can achieve a similar idea by using a traditional cookie cutter and carefully etching out your text with a paring knife, but these handy cookie cutters just make it easier. Stop by your local Williams-Sonoma to pick up your own conversation cookie cutters, and keep reading for the sugar cookie recipe.
Valentine's Day is the perfect time to make sweet treats for the ones we love, and since my love is a chocoholic, I get to try out a couple of new chocolate recipes every February. This month: a decadent Nutella pound cake that will make your sweetheart swoon.
Traditionally a pound cake is exactly that: one pound each of the essential ingredients — flour, sugar, eggs, and of course, butter. The cake is pretty easy to make even for a beginner baker, and the key is to never overmix the pound cake batter. You can either layer the Nutella and cake batter to create a swirled, marbled effect or fold the chocolate hazelnut spread into the cake batter entirely.
This is a dense cake, so use the toothpick trick to see if it is baked completely. Resist the urge to cut into the cake right away and be sure to let it cool for at least 20 minutes, otherwise the cake might start break apart as it cools. To serve, sprinkle with cocoa powder and pour a tall glass of cold milk. If you have a chocoholic or Nutella fiend in your life, keep reading for the recipe.
I'm always on the hunt for those perfect bite-size appetizers that are suitable for just about any party, even this weekend's Super Bowl. These button mushrooms stuffed with artichoke and spinach dip are just that; they only require a small cocktail napkin and are best served warm, but are even satisfying at room temperature. The earthy mushrooms are filled with a creamy vegetable mixture and topped with crunchy panko crumbs — a perfect bite.
The task of preparing the mushrooms can be a little tedious, as you'll want to remove the gills, or the undersides of the mushroom caps, since they retain most of the water; removing them will ensure you won't have a soggy bite. With the right tools (either a small paring knife or a tiny melon baller), removing the gills is fairly easy.
There's nothing as comforting as a big bowl of soup on a cold Winter night, especially one that tastes just like a baked potato! If you happened to be baking a couple potatoes for dinner already, throw a couple more in the oven so you can make this amazingly delicious soup.
Once you have your potatoes baked (I find it easiest while the potatoes are baking to bake the bacon in the oven at the same time), it takes no time to put the soup together, just caramelized leeks and a blender to smooth the texture. You can blend the whole potato and the skin, but I like to cube about a quarter of the potato to add a little more texture. Top your soup with all of your favorite baked potato condiments like chives, sour cream, cheddar cheese, and bacon bits. Each bite will warm your soul, so keep reading for the recipe!
Buffalo chicken is one of my favorite game-time indulgences, and I love to transform its flavors into something new, like a buffalo chicken dip and now a pizza with all of the same flavors. This tasty pie is topped with buffalo chicken, mozzarella, and Gorgonzola cheese, but it doesn't end there: the whole pizza gets topped with a shaved celery and parsley salad.
If you've never shaved your celery, don't worry: it's really easy. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the stringiness, and be sure to hang onto the leaves of the celery, since they are quite tender and add texture to the salad.
Alone, this pizza might be a little heavy but topped with shaved celery salad, it's lighter and even has a bit of a crunch. Score a touchdown with this pizza at your Super Bowl party when you get the recipe!
Buffalo wings are an essential for just about any Super Bowl party, but it's hard to keep them warm, and I don't want my house smelling like fried food. So I was thrilled to find a buffalo chicken and cheese dip with the exact same flavors! The best part: you can make the recipe ahead of time and just warm it up in the oven just before the game starts. Bonus: if the dip needs a little more heat at halftime, just throw it in the microwave for a minute to bring it back to its creamy state. Be sure to alter the recipe to suit your palate by picking your favorite variety of hot sauce. Serve this scrumptious spicy dip with chips or celery sticks for an even more authentic buffalo wing feel. Get ready for kickoff and keep reading for the recipe.
Have a New Year's party at your own house this year? Playing bartender for the night could mean your work's cut out for you, so instead, make simple cocktail mixers ahead of time, and let your guests mix them with an alcohol of their choice. I've toyed around with a few and come up with three that'd be perfect for New Year's Eve in fresh fruit flavors: cranberry mint, grapefruit basil and pomegranate citrus.
All three of these mixers would marry well with a host of spirits, even sparkling wine. I mixed the cranberry mint in a shaker with rum for a refreshing holiday drink, while I mixed the grapefruit basil with vodka for a more herbaceous version of a salty dog. The pomegranate citrus served as an easy topper to a flute of sparkling wine (for extra flair, float in a few pomegranate seeds, too). I also recommend keeping sparkling water on hand to mix with as a nonalcoholic drink.
Set up a bar before your guests arrive with glasses, buckets of ice, pomegranate seeds, lemon slices and a couple of shakers to ensure your guests and yourself can celebrate into the midnight hour. Mix up your New Year's by reading more for this simple mixers.
During the holidays, it's always fun to have elaborate dinners with multiple courses to celebrate the season and spend even more time around the table with your loved ones. Tease everyone's palate before the big meal with one of my family's traditions: cream of mushroom soup. You can make this recipe pretty inexpensively by sticking to button mushrooms, but if you're in the mood to go all out, pick up different varieties. I opted to use mostly button mushrooms but also added chanterelles for more complexity.
The holiday meals can always be stressful getting everything ready, but this soup can be made a couple days in advance and easily reheated on the stove just before serving. If you decide to bring the soup to the table, be sure to heat up your soup terrine in hot water to keep the soup piping hot. Keep the garnish really simple with a little parsley, chives, a slice or two of sautéed mushrooms, and a drizzle of truffle oil.
Making a batch of gingerbread cookies is an essential for the holiday season: not only are they tasty, but your house is bound to smell like Christmas as they bake. These cookies are crisp on the outside and chewy in the center, perfect with a hot cup of tea and a roaring fire. The extent that you decorate these cookies is up to you. Maybe you want to use a small straw and poke a hole in each cookie so they can be strung onto the tree with a little bit of ribbon. Alternatively, pull out those cookie cutters, and let the family go wild with their decorations.
Or keep it really simple like I did here and use a drinking glass to make perfect circles and sprinkle the cookies with sugar before baking. It isn't too late to get into the holiday mood, so keep reading for the recipe.
If you're like me and love to make pizza at home, with tomatoes and bell peppers out of season right now, one sometimes has to get a little more clever when it comes to Winter pizzas. If you have already tried all of those, experiment with butternut squash as an unexpected pizza topping.
Of course, you will have to preroast the squash; I find it easiest to just roast it the night before but you could also pick up a bag of frozen butternut squash and precook it in a saute pan.
Once the squash is roasted, assembling the pizza is cinch. Drizzle the finished pizza with a touch of walnut oil, which adds even more flavor and richness. Serve it with arugula salad for an easy dinner, or slice it into smaller pizzas for an simple vegetarian appetizer. Skip delivery and make your own pizza pie by reading more for the recipe.
Post-Thanksgiving, it's always tough to figure out what to do with all of those leftovers. Rather than re-creating the same plate you had the day before, give a leftover Thanksgiving pizza pie a try! This turkey, pesto, and cranberry pizza is a hearty meal with plenty of savory and sweet flavors. I used a caramelized onion cranberry sauce but if you had just a plain cranberry on Turkey Day, quickly sauté some onions to mix in; they'll add an edginess to the pizza. Mozzarella, goat cheese, or ricotta would all be a great choice for a cheesy topping — just pick your favorite! Pull out that pizza stone and give your leftovers a makeover with this creative pizza recipe.
Sitting on a mound of leftover turkey? No worries! Bake up a tasty turkey pot pie that's bound to satisfy the whole family. When it comes to pot-pie filling, once you have your roux, you can use the leftover turkey or even experiment with using the leftover side dishes too. I kept my pot pie really simple with onions, celery, and leftover roasted sweet potatoes but I can only imagine that if your family's stocked up on cream of mushroom soup, green beans, or brussels sprouts, they'd be great addition to a pot pie, too.
To keep things really stress-free, pull out the food processor for this incredibly simple flaky pastry crust — or, easier yet, pick up some premade pie dough. Don't let those leftovers go to waste; instead, read more to get the recipe for this comforting leftover turkey pot pie.
If you want to bring something to Thanksgiving that everyone is bound to love, then get cooking with this supersimple mushroom, spinach, and goat cheese queso! This melted and creamy dip can be served with crostini, crudités, or even crackers and chips for a little extra crunch. The sautéed mushrooms add an earthy flavor that is complemented by the tangy goat-cheese base, and the chipotle pepper adds just a touch of spiciness to the dish. This dip could easily be prepared today, then baked just before serving tomorrow to ensure that it's nice and gooey. Surprise your Thanksgiving feasters with a new take on an old classic dinner-party favorite; keep reading for this incredibly easy recipe.
For a different take on the traditional dinner roll this Thanksgiving, try chef Art Smith's goat cheese biscuits; the recipe is a basic buttermilk drop biscuit that incorporates tangy and creamy goat cheese.
The recipe's incredibly easy, though I did make one change: The recipe called for coating the preheated cast iron pan in butter, but due to the heat, the butter nearly instantly turned a very dark brown, and smoked throughout my first batch. Since I didn't want my smoke alarm to go off for my second batch, I opted to use a peanut oil to ensure they didn't stick, but also didn't smoke. Ready to try a new take on a biscuit? Just keep reading for the recipe.
Everyone loves caramelized onion dip, but this holiday season, change it up by using a brother to the onion, the leek! Leeks are more mild in flavor, but once mixed with a crunchy bacon and tangy goat cheese, they make a delicious dip. The best part of this dip: it can prepared one day in advance, so you don't have to fret over it the day of your dinner party. Just be sure to set it out an hour or two before to bring it up to room temperature before serving. I served it with thinly sliced french baguette and tortilla chips for a little more crunch, but a crudité platter would also be a wonderful accompaniment. Top it with a smidgen of chives to add a little more color and even more flavor to the dip. Keep reading for this simple and scrumptious recipe.