Monday, February 28, 2011

Fettuccine with Roasted Bell Pepper Sauce
and Sautéed Vegetables
Sorry for the almost unprecedented delay of two weeks between posts!  My laptop has had some issues and needed to spend a week with the help desk.  Anyway, I had been feeling like another pasta dish was in order for my blog for some time, but plain old tomato sauce or pesto was not going to make the cut.  Roasted red peppers are one of my favorite foods whether on sandwiches, antipasto salads or just on their own, roasted red peppers are sweet and tangy and delicious.  The sauce for this dish was a nice twist from the usual and the sautéed vegetables gave it a healthy crunch!

1 box fettuccine
3 red bell peppers
3 yellow bell peppers
1 zucchini
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
2 cloves garlic
1 medium yellow onion
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese to garnish

I had been wanting to roast my own bell peppers FOREVER and I finally got around to it with this recipe! However, if you are not up to the task you can use one entire jar of roasted red or yellow peppers and a bit of the oil from the jar.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit.  Place two red and two yellow bell peppers on a sheet pan in the oven and roast until blackened on all sides. Once the peppers are blackened, after about  thirty to forty minutes, take them out of the oven and place them in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Covering the bowl with plastic wrap allows the peppers to steam and makes them much easier to peel after about ten minutes.

Put a large pot of salted water on high heat and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, cook the fettuccine according to the directions on the box. Thinly slice the onion and garlic and place in a large sauté pan with one tablespoon olive oil. Sauté until onions are soft and translucent then add white wine and red wine vinegar and cook until mixture is slightly reduced.  At this point it should be very easy to peel the roasted red and yellow peppers in the bowl and cut them into a rough chop.  

Once the peppers are slightly cut up, add them to the sauté pan.  Take an emersion blender and purée the entire mixture.  If you don't have an emersion blender it should be just as easy to transfer the mixture in two batches to a blender and purée until smooth. Once the mixture is puréed keep it over low heat to stay warm.

Using a sharp knife, julienne, or slice into thin matchstick shaped slices, the remaining red and yellow bell peppers as well as the zucchini.  Place them in a separate sauté pan with one tablespoon of olive oil and sauté for several minute until cooked through but still crisp.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Whiskey Chocolate Truffles

Whiskey Chocolate Truffles
Happy Valentine's Day everyone! I first tried these chocolate truffles at dinner with my brother and his girlfriend last spring and I requested the recipe for this Valentine's themed blog post.  In Lauren's recipe she called for vanilla extract as one of the ingredients but when I decided to make these, shockingly, there no vanilla extract in my apartment so I added a few surprise ingredients of my own instead. Namely, instant coffee powder and Jack Daniel's whiskey.  These truffles are creamy and decadent and can be finished off in a number of ways. I chose to roll my truffles in cocoa powder, crushed pecans and red sprinkles but you can also use powdered sugar, shredded coconut, melted pure chocolate or anything else you think would be delicious!

1 eight ounce package of cream cheese, softened to room temperature
3 1/8 cups powdered sugar
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips, melted
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
1 tablespoon Jack Daniel's whiskey

First, mix the cream cheese and sugar in a large mixing bowl until well combined. Then, in order to melt the chocolate, put the chocolate chips in a large microwave safe bowl and microwave on high in thirty-second increments and stir in between each increment.  In my opinion, this is the best way to melt chocolate chips because they melt from the outside in and the stirring prevents the chocolate from burning. You can also use a double boiler to melt the chocolate but it is much harder to control the temperature that way. Once the chocolate is melted, pour it into the mixing bowl with the cream cheese and sugar mixture and mix thoroughly.  Lastly, add the tablespoon of instant coffee powder and the tablespoon of whiskey and stir to combine.

For the next part in making these truffles I used a melon baller to get evenly sized truffles but you could just as easily use a tablespoon. Scoop up a small portion of the chocolate mixture and using your hands, roll it into a ball about one inch in diameter. Then roll the ball into the coating of your choice and set aside!  Within minutes the truffles will harden slightly and be ready to serve or store. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Warm Spinach Artichoke Dip

Warm Spinach Artichoke Dip
I'm posting this with a little more than an hour before Super Bowl XLV kickoff but if you run to the store now you can still have the delicious dip at your Super Bowl table!  This is another one of my recipes that I think would really make semi-homemade Sandra Lee proud.  With just four storebought ingredients and an oven-safe dish you are good to go! There are few things better than warm spinach artichoke dip in my mind and this one really takes the cake.  A shoutout to my friend Blaike for being such a great hand model, and another shoutout to pita chips for being the ideal sturdy dipping instrument for this tasty masterpiece. Its the perfect balance of creamy and cheesy and vegetable-y with just a bit of tanginess from the artichoke hearts.  And it literally couldn't be easier to make.  The hardest part is waiting for the spinach to thaw and that takes...lets see...NO effort! Here we go...

2 boxes chopped frozen spinach
2 cans quartered artichoke hearts in water
1 jar alfredo sauce (I like the roasted garlic flavored sauces)
1 bag shredded italian blend cheeses

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. If you happen to think ahead before making this dip then leave the frozen spinach out overnight to thaw. If not, just take it out of the box, put it in a microwave-safe bowl and pop it in the microwave for a minute or so.  Be sure to squeeze out all the extra liquid from the spinach before placing it in the bowl.  You can mix this dip right in the bowl you plan on baking it in.  Drain and rinse the quartered artichoke hearts and give them an extra rough chop just to break them into pieces that are a bit smaller.  Add the spinach, chopped artichoke hearts and alfredo sauce into the bowl.  Add about two thirds of the bag of shredded italian blend cheeses into the bowl as well and mix thoroughly. Once all of the ingredients are well combined, smooth out the surface of the mixture with a spatula or spoon and sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese on top.  Bake in the oven for thirty minutes or until the top is melted and serve immediately. Enjoy!