Meat-Free Friday: Shrimp Scampi over Linguini with Zucchini

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Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed something: I NEVER want to cook on Monday’s. Monday’s are always long and busy, and when I get home I just want to relax. So I decided to plan quick, easy, and irresistible dinner for Monday nights. That way, I have no excuse to order in instead of cooking. This shrimp scampi was the perfect Monday night meal – the rich, buttery shrimp with a pop of citrus served over linguini and sauteed zucchini was on the table in under 20 minutes. And only dirtied two pots! With a meal this delicious and easy planned, there’s no justifying getting take-out.

Cooking Basics: Browned Chicken Stock

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As the weather continues to cool down I find myself wanting soup more and more often. I think soup is just about as close as you can get to the perfect meal: warm, comforting, balanced and great for wither lunch or dinner (and in some cultures even for breakfast!). I usually make my soup with boxed stock, but nothing beats homemade soup made with homemade stock. This browned chicken stock is a great base for almost any soup – it’s richer than regular chicken stock, but the chicken flavor isn’t so overpowering that you can’t use it in a vegetable based soup too. I most recently used it in my Pho Ba, and it was wonderful. If you have a few hours one afternoon to let the ingredients simmer, you can easily make enough of this delicious stock to last you through a few pots of soup. Just divide it into smaller containers and freeze it – since you can cook it right from froze, you’ll be able to make a great homemade soup whenever you want. [....]

Daring Bakers: Macarons

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The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s TheLast Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

Macarons. A word that will simultaneously put joy and fear into the heart of any home baker. I was excited to hear that this month’s Daring Baker’s challenge – I’ve made them before, but lost the pictures before I had a chance to post them. I’ve been looking for another excuse to make them. I chose to make chocolate cookie with a salted caramel filling.

In the US, people often confuse French Macarons with macaroons – a cookie made primarily of coconut. Although macaroons are also delicious, they don’t even begin to compare to the beauty that is a macaron. Macarons are a sandwich cookie made of almond flour that is combines with sugar and egg white. The texture is a combination of crispy and chewy, with a crispy outer shells that gives way to a soft meringue center. The cookies are sandwich together, often with ganache, caramel, or fruit preserves.[....]

Southwest Stuffed Acorn Squash

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I love acorn squash, but I usually only ever have it one way – baked with butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup. I’ve been eating it that was ever since I was a kid and its delicious. Like candy. But I don’t really think my dinner should taste like candy, which is why I decided to switch it up this time and take a more savory approach to the squash. Erika from Itzy’s Kitchen inspired me to try stuffing the squash – she’s been making some beautiful stuffed squashed lately that are packed with vegetables and look wonderful. Like the pumpkin gnocchi with mushrooms and chestnuts that I posted the other day, this dish went through a few incarnations before I settled on the final version: a southwestern styles acorn squash stuffed with black beans and chorizo and toped with melted cheese. [....]

Meat-Free Friday: Chipotle Mac and Cheese

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I promised that Meat-Free Fridays would be back this week with a great new vegetarian dish, and I’m here to deliver! But first, did you see my super exciting news from yesterday? I won one of eight scholarships to the Foodbuzz Festival from Bertolli Sauces – my cioppino is officially on the menu! But in order to have the opportunity to demonstrate and serve it at the Festival, I need your vote! (I’ll update this post with more information on ho to vote as I receive it)

Ok, so back to the mac and cheese. Last Sunday was one of those cold, lazy days where I didn’t want to do much more than lay on the couch, watch football, and eat comfort food. So that’s what I did. This isn’t your 5 year-old’s mac and cheese: This mac is the ultimate adult comfort food. A rich and creamy cheese sauce blankets elbow noodles and chipotles peppers add smoke and spicy. Then, the whole thing is topped with a crispy layer of bread crumbs. What is like your kid’s mac and cheese though is that the chipotles tint the sauce orang and make it look almost like that old standard that comes in the blue box. This is great served on its own, but a half portion would also make a great side dish. [....]

Healthy Delicious is On The Menu at Foodbuzz!

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I got some super exciting news today – thanks to Bertolli Sauces, we’re On The Menu at the Foodbuzz Blogger Festival next month!!

When Foodbuzz announced last month that there would be a few sponsorship opportunities to cover the cost of travel and accommodations for the Festival and that the first would be offered by Bertolli Sauces, I knew that I had to submit an entry. I was excited but I never thought that I would actually be chosen! Entrants were asked to develop to 2-course menu using to different Bertolli Sauces products – I wanted to do something different since I figured they would be flooded with Italian recipes, but it didn’t take me long to come up with my menu.

Since the Festival is being held in San Francisco, I thought it would be fun to start my menu with something representative of the city. I don’t know what says San Francisco more than sourdough and cioppino! But I didn’t want to make just any old cioppino – it needed to be different! So I used Bertolli Sauce’s Fire Roasted Tomato and fish stock as my base, and added lots of garlic, celery, onion, and other traditional cioppino flavors. The to make it even more different, I gave it a Spanish spin by adding saffron, shrimp, and mussels. The final dish has a markedly Spanish flavor that’s slightly spicy and a wonderful aroma that ignites your senses the moment you bring the fork to your mouth. Sourdough was the perfect tool for sopping up all of the extra broth. We ate every last bit and I’ve been itching to make more ever since.

From the minute I tasted the final Menu Item, I knew that it was a winner. This was SO GOOD and it’s killing me that I’m not allowed to share the actual recipe with you all (yet). But here’s the deal: Foodbuzz and Bertolli Sauces tested my recipe and I made it into the Top Eight. That means I won the sponsorship and get to go to the Festival for free (whoo!) and that this dish is On The Menu. BUT only THREE of us get to actually demo and serve our Menu Items at the Festival. This menu item is fabulous, and I really want to share it with my fellow bloggers. This is where I need your help: The top three recipes will be chosen by a vote from the Foodbuzz Community. So, can I count on your vote? Pretty please?

Voting starts tomorrow, Friday, October 23rd and runs through November 2nd. I’ll post the final details when I receive them.

Don’t you want some of this??

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(In case you were wondering, only my appetizer was chosen as a Menu Item. My entree was Lamb Meatballs in a Cumin-Scented Sauce over Spaghetti Squash and Wilted Spinach. It was also amazing – Shawn actually said he liked it better than the cioppino but I disagree – and I’ll be posting that recipe to the blog soon.)