On a cold weeknight when you’re too tired and busy to really worry about dinner, baked pasta is like a gift from the gods! It’s warm and comforting and easy to throw together! This vegetarian version is one of my favorites:
- 8 ounces of penne or rigatoni pasta
- 2 teaspoons, olive oil
- 1 - 14 ounce can of artichoke hearts, rinsed and chopped
- 3 cups chopped fresh spinach
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 bunch green onions, chopped
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 cup of cream cheese, softened
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup panko crumbs
- Preheat oven to 500F. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water, until just barely tender (6-7 minutes)
- Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add oil, then garlic and green onions. Cook for 1 minute, stir in spinach and artichokes. Cook until spinach starts to wilt, 1 minute. Stir in broth, parmesan, cream cheese, lemon juice and pepper flakes. Stir until cheese is melted, then add pasta. Transfer to an 8 inch square baking dish. Spring with panko and bake in center of oven until topping is golden, about 5 minutes.
Slow Cookers are like life’s little saviors. You pop something in before work and by dinner time there’s a slow cooked feast of magnificence awaiting you. I work from home so I get to smell the incredible magic happening but that doesn’t make me use it any less. In fact, once Autumn hits, it’s probably one of my most used appliances in my kitchen.
Tonight’s comfort food extravaganza involves Pulled Pork that’s been working away in my slow cooker for 10 hours and homemade onion buns (recipe to follow)
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 onions, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups tomato-based chili sauce (I like Heinz)
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp liquid smoke
- 3lb (1.5kg) boneless pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat
- In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft (about 10 minutes). Add garlic, chili powder and pepper and cook, stirring for a minute. Add chili sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and liquid smoke. Stir to combine and bring to a boil.
- Place pork in slow cooker and pour sauce over. Cover and cook on low for 10-12 hours or high for 6 hours - pork will be falling apart.
- Shred the meat using two forks and serve by spooning shredded pork and sauce over warm buns.
If you’re feeling adventurous and want to bring a little extra love to your table these onion buns take a little effort but are well worth it and the perfect vehicle for Pulled Pork Sandwiches!
Onion and Rosemary Buns
- 2 large onions, sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/8 cup butter
- 1/8 cup olive oil
- 3 cups warm water (110 degrees)
- 1/8 cup Active Dry yeast
- 1/8 cup honey
- 3/8 cup Olive oil
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 tbsp +1 tsp of salt
- 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves removed and chopped
- Saute the onions and minced garlic in the butter and olive oil over medium heat until brown and caramelized (15 to 20 minutes) and set aside.
- Pour warm water in a bowl and sprinkle yeast on top. Add the honey and olive oil and stir gentle to combine.
- Combine flours and salt in a separate bowl, add to the flour mixture your onions and rosemary.
- Pour in the yeast mixture, stirring gently until dough is combined - the dough is VERY sticky.
- Generously flour a flat surface and knead your dough about 20 times. Do not over-knead, we’re making Onion buns not Onion pucks! add flour generously to make it easier to handle but you want the dough to remain sticky.
- Drizzle Olive oil in a separate bowl and add your ball of dough turning to coat. Cover with a warm, damp tea towel for 1.5 to 2 hours.
- Preheat over to 400 degrees (F). Divide dough into 10 portions and form each into a round shape. Place on parchment paper covered baking sheets and cover with a clean towel to let rise for 15 minutes.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes or until brown.
Well this girl keeps telling me that but I think it’s because I hang out with her so I’m awesome by association :P
I very much do :)
What I made on Saturday Night: Grilled Colossal Shrimp wrapped in Prosciutto & Basil served with Grilled Asparagus Orzo
It’s a pretty common belief that we eat with our eyes. Meaning that a visually appealing dish will trigger your salivary glands and heighten the anticipation of the meal. I believe this to be true, in most cases, but through the years, I’ve stumbled on cuisines that (aside from glorious colours) are visually unappealing, and taste absolutely amazing. Indian and Ethiopian dishes, to name but two.
This brings us to bacon jam! Visually, it looks like dog food (hence I’m not even bothering with a photo) but it tastes like magic.
I used my slow cooker to pull it together because I didn’t want to baby sit a simmering pot for 3.5 hours but feel free to use a regular pot on low heat with no cover if that’s your preference.
- 1- 1/2 pounds of sliced bacon (cut crosswise)
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar
- 4 garlic cloves, diced
- 1/2 cup dark-brown sugar
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup (no Aunt Jemima - go for the good stuff!)
- 3/4 cup brewed coffee
- In a large skillet, cook bacon over med-high heat, stirring occasionally, until fat is rendered and bacon is lightly brown (about 15-20 minutes)
- Use a slotted spoon or spatula to transfer bacon to paper towels and pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat. Add onions and garlic and cook until onions are translucent, about 6 minutes. Add vinegar, brown sugar, maple syrup and coffee and bring to a boil. Scrape up brown bits from the bottom of the pan, add bacon, stir to combine.
- Transfer mixture to a slow cooker and cook on high - uncovered - until liquid is syrupy (3.5 - 4 hrs). Transfer to a food processor or use a hand blender to pulse until coarsely chopped. Let cool and refrigerate in airtight containers for up to 4 weeks.
Serve with crusty bread or anything else that sounds like it needs bacon jam!
It’s true that occasionally I do bake but I’m the first to admit that everything I know about baking was learned from my grandmother and I tend not to deviate from her tried and true recipes, a stark contrast from the way that I cook. Recently, my husband bought me a cake stand and I feel a certain obligation to keep it filled with something tasty :) This coffee cake is light and delicious without being too sweet - hopefully the slight variation would make my grandma proud.
- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant or minute oatmeal!)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup butter, softened (or margarine, if you prefer though not the light stuff regular Becel works)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tbsp chilled butter, cut into pieces
- Preheat oven to 350
- Spread oats on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 6 minutes, until oats are light brown.
- Coat a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray
- Reserve 1/4 oats; set aside. Place remaining oats in a food processor; process until finely ground. Combine ground oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
- In a large bowl, combine sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/3 cup of butter. Beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in vanilla.
- Add flour to the sugar mixture, alternately with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
- Spoon batter into prepared pan.
- Combine remaining 1/4 cup oats, 1/4 brown sugar, nuts and cinnamon in bowl. Cut in tablespoon of butter with two knives until well blended. Sprinkle on top of the batter.
- Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
During the summer, salads are in abundance and in my house, most often a part of my lunch so I can avoid turning on any ovens or stoves. My favorite lately is a simple combination with a lot of attitude! It’s also a great excuse to use the fresh herbs and vegetables from my garden.
- 1 tomato, chopped
- 1/2 cucumber, chopped
- 2 tablespoons of cilantro, chopped
- 1/2 tbsp of olive oil
- 1/2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
- crumbled feta cheese
- freshly ground pepper to taste
- Combine the tomato, cucumber and cilantro in a bowl.
- Combine oil and vinegar in a small bowl and whisk to combine.
- Top salad with feta and dressing and toss to combine.
- Add freshly ground pepper to taste