Pasta con Ceci

This is a recipe that I’ll definitely be adding to my arsenal of quick dinners recipes AND meal prep recipes. Why?

– This took me 20 minutes, start to finish.

– This will satisfy your pasta cravings while sneaking some bean proteins in.

– It’s wicked cheap!

– Goya beans flow like wine in NYC, so it’ll be easy to find a can of chickpeas. Ha!

There isn’t much else to say; I feel that I could pad this post if I wanted to. I just whipped it up, photographed it, ate it, packed a bunch in Gladware to bring to work for the week, and DONE.

Backtracking: After I photographed it, I sat on my kitchen counter and ate a small bowl of it while my neighbors watched me from their kitchen window.

I can only imagine what they think of me when I’m standing on my wicker stool, towering 4 feet above my butcher block, head down, massive DSLR in hand. I’d like to think that they’re jealous they don’t get to eat the awesome food I’m creating!

Yeah…yeah…that’s it…

Pasta con Ceci
(Based on the Food 52 recipe for Pasta con Ceci)
(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

-3 cups boiling water
-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
-3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
-3 tablespoons tomato paste (I use Muir Glen organic tomato paste)
-1 teaspoon salt
-1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
-1 & 1/2 cups uncooked wagon wheel pasta

Before We Get Started…

– If you don’t have wagon wheel pasta, ditalini or another small shape works well! If you live near a Whole Foods location that has the bulk bins with dinosaur-shaped pasta, DO IT. Life’s too short not to!

– The consistency of the tomato paste adds to this dish, so please do not substitute tomato sauce in its place.

Directions:

1.) In a large saucepan, heat water and bring to a slow boil.

2.) While the water is coming to a boil, heat olive oil on low heat in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add garlic and cook and stir until soft; you can allow the garlic to slightly brown, but do not let it burn!

3.) Add tomato paste and stir for 30 seconds. Add salt, chickpeas, dried pasta, and boiling water. Stir to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Keep heat at medium-low and simmer until the pasta is cooked and the liquid has reduced, roughly 15 minutes.

4.) To serve, ladle into bowls and drizzle with extra olive oil, if desired. If meal-prepping or if there are leftovers, this will last in the fridge up to four days.

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Pumpkin Ricotta Gnocchi

Pumpkin Ricotta Gnocchi

Hello, babes!

Another long break, right?

It just seems like my “foodieness” is going in a multitude of directions.

After a lot of long thought…I’ve realized that I don’t need to feel pressured to update this website 2 to 3 times a week, as this isn’t my full-time job. This blog shouldn’t cause me pressure, but rather be a leisurely outlet for some things that I love: recipe development, cooking, and photography.

I’ve felt pressured to rush through recipes, photograph them even if the lighting isn’t right – I am all about natural light photography – and stress myself out if I don’t have enough time. I’ve looked back through my last few recipes, and I’m not totally happy with my photography. It’s all a learning process – I learn from the old to see what I don’t want to do – but I’m feeling like I want to re-shoot the last six recipes I’ve posted. Ha!

If I update here once or twice a month, at my pace, so be it! It’s all good.

Plan B? I marry someone with a lot of money and a good spousal health insurance plan so I can quit my job and focus on this blog full-time! Ha! Maybe…maybe…

Outside of this blog, I have been doing a lot of work with Instagram food influencer agencies in NYC, as well as developing recipes for Yoga By Candace, which has left me feeling wonderful and inspired! It’s allowed me to meet fellow NYC-based food bloggers, marketers, content creators, and recipe developers; it’s quite the little community I’ve stumbled upon, full of absolutely wonderful folks! (Well, about 99% of the time. I’ve met once or two unpleasant folks that have looked down their noses at me, but, I digress. Haaaa…)

That being said, it’s time to break out some pumpkin gnocchi, y’all.

I was home in Connecticut this past weekend, feeling very inspired to whip up a few recipes. Perhaps it was the country air, the light glow of the sun lighting up the colorful foliage, the smell of pine needles on the ground, but I wanted to play around with autumnal flavors.

I’ve made this pumpkin gnocchi in the past, and it was just as delicious as I remembered. It was also as sticky as I remember it. Ha!

This is a great recipe to make when you have a nice leisurely stretch of time and want to make something wholly warming and filling. There is nothing like a toothsome piece of good gnocchi, in my opinion.

Pumpkin Ricotta Gnocchi
(Makes…a lot of gnocchi. Serves 2 – 4, depending on how much you want to share!)
(Adapted from Chowhound’s recipe for Pumpkin Gnocchi with Crème Fraîche–Sage Sauce)

Ingredients:

– 1 cup whole-milk ricotta
– 1 cup pumpkin purée
– 2 large egg yolks
– 2 teaspoons salt
– 1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
– 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
– 1/4 teaspoon ground sage
– 1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Before We Get Started…

– As you see, the original Chowhound recipe has that lovely Crème Fraîche–Sage Sauce to top it with. I…get lazy. Ha! But, if you are looking for something lovely to finish this gnocchi off with, two fresh sage leaves, finely chopped, combined with two tablespoons of melted butter, makes a simple and flavorful sauce!

Directions:

1.) On a large baking sheet, place parchment paper and flour lightly. Set aside.

1.) Combine ricotta, pumpkin, egg yolks, measured salt, brown sugar, nutmeg, and ground sage; stir until smooth. Slowly add the flour – roughly 1/2 cup at a time, and mix until the dough is combined; it should be a bit sticky and soft.

2.) Place flour on a work surface. Taking a rough handful of dough, carefully roll it on the floured surface into an even rope, roughly 3/4″ in diameter. Cut the rope into 3/4″ pieces. Place the gnocchi on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough until all gnocchi has been made.

4.) Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Line a second baking sheet with parchment paper (do not flour!) and set aside. Carefully add gnocchi to the boiling water in batches – you can do this in 3 to 4 batches – and cook until they float and cook for 3 – 4 minutes; gnocchi will be floating on the surface of the water when finished. Remove with a slotted spoon, gently shaking off any excess water, and transfer to the second prepared baking sheet. Repeat until all gnocchi is cooked.

5.) Serve immediately with preferred sauces or toppings, or allow gnocchi to cool and solidify before placing in an airtight container to freeze. Frozen gnocchi can be cooked again at a later time by adding to boiling water and cooking for approximately 3 minutes.

Spaghetti al Limone

Spaghetti al Limone

Being a Manhattan-based millennial, I am often faced with a decision when developing a pasta-based recipe: Do I want to use a box of Barilla, or do I wanted to pull out my spiralizer and twirl a zucchini?

I will happily declare my love for spiralizing fruits and vegetables. I am a fan girl of Inspiralized; been following that blog since 2014! It’s a nice way to eat your vegetables in a different manner; I honestly do not enjoy cubed or sliced vegetables nearly as much anymore when I can twirl curly sweet potato “noodles” around my fork.

That being said, some things shouldn’t be messed with. Spaghetti al Limone is a sacred dish. When it comes to this recipe, I go FULL CARB. Flour. Wheat. GLUTEN. Sweet, delicious, allegedly inflammatory gluten! This ain’t no place for a zoodle, in my oh – so – humble opinion.

(And if / when I make a zoodle-based Spahgetti al Limone recipe months or years from now, feel free to call me out. Ha!)

Spaghetti al Limone

When I lived in the Hudson Heights section of Manhattan for 4+ years, I was blessed because I lived one block away from one of the best Italian restaurants in the whole city: Saggio. Their Spaghetti al Limone is the best I’ve ever had! In fact, it’s theirs that caused me to discover this wonderful recipe in the first place! Theirs is cream-based and served with an entire half of lemon on the side. Amazing!

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Though I’ve attempted a cream-based version, I do enjoy my cream-less version. It takes less time, it’s still insanely flavorful, and it saves me from spending $4 on a bottle of heavy cream that I’ll only use half of, leaving the rest of slowly die in my fridge for 2 months. Haaaa.

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Spaghetti al Limone
(Makes 2 main-sized servings or 3 – 4 side servings)

Ingredients:

– 8 – 10 ounces spaghetti, uncooked
– 2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese, finely grated
– Juice of two lemons
– 2/3 cups olive oil
– Zest of one lemon
– 1 cup fresh basil, chiffonade-cut
– 1/4 cup reserved pasta water
– Salt, to taste

Before We Get Started…

– It is preferable to grate the cheese so it is fine (powdery) rather than shredded. Either manner of grating will work, but Parmesan that is shredded tends to clump up more when mixed with the pasta. Finely grated cheese will yield a smoother consistency.

– Eat this dish as soon as you make it. It does NOT make for good leftovers. Trust me. I tried. 😉

Directions:

1.) In a large saucepan, cook spaghetti until it is al dente, approximately 8 minutes. Before draining, remove 1/4 cup of pasta water and set aside. Drain, toss with a drizzle of olive oil, and set aside.

2.) In a large bowl, combine lemon juice, olive oil, and lemon juice. Stir to combine; this lemon cheese mixture will become thick.

3.) Pour lemon cheese mixture onto pasta and toss; add the basil and continue to toss until all ingredients are combined and basil has wilted. If the mixture seems to dry, slowly add reserved pasta water until desired consistency is met. Add salt to taste.

4.) Serve immediately, topped with more basil, parmesan, and / or lemon slices, if desired.

hello fresh product review

Product Review – Hello, Fresh!

If there is one thing that this blog and its accompanying social media outlets have proven, it’s that I know how to develop and create some great recipes. I’m not trying to be self-congratulatory (HA!), but I’m just stating a fact. Still, with recipe development comes the inevitable stages of trial and error. As much as I don’t want to admit this, I have definitely bought too many products that I have wasted. If I buy too much hamburger meat, I’ll wrap it up and freeze it, thinking to myself, “I can thaw this in a month and make some meatballs or toss it into some chili!” Six months later, I’ll come across that frozen aluminum-foiled covered brick beneath my pint of Sea Salt Caramel Talenti, heave a heavy sigh, and pitch it into my trash bin. So many zucchinis and avocados have met their unfortunate end in my kitchen, though I can only hope that my composting has given them a second life someplace else. I don’t like to waste food, and I’m sure I’m currently preaching to the choir. I try as hard as I can to buy what I use and use all that I have. Still…I’m not always perfect.

Hello Fresh, I welcome you with opened arms.

Hello Fresh is fantastic because it’s fool-proof and efficient. I recently received three meals from them: Steak and Brussels Sprout Stir-Fry, Spicy Pork and Kale Soup with Udon Noodles, and Cauliflower Pancetta Mac and Cheese.

hello fresh product review

Post-election, without getting too preachy, virtually all of my friends were feeling rather down and out about the state of our country. With all of these boxes of food and my stomach, unfortunately, not big enough to ingest it all by myself, I thought, “Wouldn’t a little potluck meal boost our collective spirits a bit?”

As for the Spicy Pork & Kale Soup, I kept that for myself. However, I decided to break out the Steak and Brussels Sprout Stir-Fry and the Cauliflower Pancetta Mac and Cheese to share with the masses, complemented with an array of roasted vegetables and additional jasmine rice on the side. Also…mimosas. We had a LOT of mimosas. Ha! (Hey, it was Saturday afternoon. It’s all good.) And should I mention the vegan apple cider donuts and (non-vegan) chocolate donuts I ALSO made? I think it goes without saying that my calves were killin’ me the next day! Cooking for multiple hours while entertaining is strength and cardio. *phew*

hello fresh product review

I am a very concrete person, so I loved two things about these Hello Fresh boxes. One, the colorful and informative instructions left little to question. I appreciate transparency and clarity in recipes. Hell, I’ve looked back at old recipes of mine on this blog and have edited them after thinking, “…wait? Does that make sense?”

hello fresh product review

Two, the ingredient portions were exact, so no ingredient was wasted. It was all down to a T! In the mac and cheese box, I literally got one tablespoon of flour to make the roux with! I appreciated exact vegetable and meat portions, especially. Nothing was wasted, which made me feel good.

hello fresh product review

As for the taste? Superb! Well-developed recipes with exact ingredients and precise directions beget a perfectly seasoned dish. If you follow what’s written, you’re guaranteed to consume a delicious meal!

hello fresh product review

My wonderful yet voracious friends ate all of the mac and cheese before I could photograph it, and I can’t even be mad at them. Ha! It was collectively inhaled! As for the stir-fry, everyone was very pleased, as well. The meat was tender, the vegetables obtained a nice smoky char, and it wasn’t overwhelmingly salty, even with the addition of soy sauce.

While I am all about making my own meals about 99.99% of the time, I don’t think I’d necessarily discount using Hello Fresh again in the future! Some of the meals they put together are unique and have ingredients that I can’t easily get at my well-stocked C-Town. (i.e.: My C-Town does not have a single udon noodle in sight. Ha!) As I type this, I’m perusing their menu for next week. I’m seeing gems like Pork Larb over Jade Rice and Tuscan Ribollita. Wow! Rather than search high and low for a single Thai chili pepper or waste money on an entire bottle of sesame oil that I’d rarely use, I could get it all, perfectly portioned, in one box.

Ahhhhh, wonderful simplicity! It doesn’t get much better than that.

hello fresh product review

A smattering of my friends digging into the Hello Fresh potluck, with mimosas and donut ingredients in the foreground, and one friend practicing her yoga n the background. It’s always good to stay centered prior to a big meal!

– – – –

DISCLOSURE: The fine folks at Hello Fresh provided me with complimentary meal boxes to cook and review. I’d like to thank them for their generosity and making the stomachs of quite a few people very full and happy. All opinions shared in this post are my own.

curried vegetable ramen

Curried Vegetable Ramen with Soft-Boiled Egg

Have you ever been extremely well prepared when going to the grocery store, list of ingredients and recipes in hand, and then you get to the store and have a total panic attack over what to get?

Oh, god, it’s just me, isn’t it?

That was me last night. I spent my lunch break yesterday thinking of ideas for dinner and lunches for the rest of my work week. Maybe I could cook up some chicken with coconut milk and curry with a side of brown rice and vegetables. Maybe I could roast chicken thighs in the oven with carrots and saute some zucchini. As I walked around the store, I found myself looking at chicken and getting frustrated. I couldn’t find any pieces that looked good. I walked around the vegetable section. Every single container of washed baby spinach was gone. GONE. I went to the fresh spinach section, and the amount of slime on it made me cringe. I went to the Goya section, and all of the coconut milk was gone except the industrial-sized barrels (read: family-sized cans) of it. I started to get frustrated: it was hot. I was tired. I just had to endure a horrible commute home because traffic on 57th Street was tied up due to some moron trying to scale Trump Tower. I JUST WANTED MY DINNER TO COME TOGETHER.

Out of the corner of my eye, on my third return to the vegetable aisle, I spotted some radishes. I don’t know why they clicked, but it did. “That might be good with some ramen noodles,” I thought.

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Well…

I got home with my radishes and 19¢ package of ramen noodles, found some chicken broth and frozen spinach, and ended up being complete placated about 30 minutes later as I ate my impromptu creation.

curried vegetable ramen

P.S.: How great are these blue eggs I found? I used minimal photo editing to enhance the color of the yolks, too. They really were that brilliant.

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curried vegetable ramen

Curried Vegetable Ramen with Soft-Boiled Egg
(Serves 1)

Ingredients:

– 1 package ramen noodles, flavor packet discarded
– 2 cups chicken broth (use vegetable broth for vegan version)
– 1 tablespoon curry powder (I use Jamaican style)
– 1/4 cup frozen spinach or 1/2 cup spinach, washed and finely chopped
– 1 – 2 radishes, rinsed and sliced (I used just one for these photos)
– 1 soft-boiled egg (omit for vegan version)

Before We Get Started…

This meal, as stated in the ingredient notes, can be made vegan. Substitute vegetable broth or water for chicken broth and omit the egg. See Step #3 under Directions for egg substitutes.

Directions:

1.) In a medium sauce pan, bring broth to a slow boil; add curry powder and stir. Add ramen noodles and cook for 3 minutes or until separated and softened. Add spinach and stir until incorporated. Remove from heat and set aside.

2.) To make soft-boiled egg, fill a small saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add egg and time for 6 – 7 minutes; do not cook longer than 7 minutes! Keep an eye on that clock!

3.) Transfer noodles and broth to large bowl. Top with sliced radish and egg; substitute additional vegetables / mushrooms of your choice in lieu of egg if making a vegan version.

curried vegetable ramen