Tuscanini Gigli Pasta With Fennel, Tomatoes & Peas

Tuscanini Gigli Pasta With Fennel, Tomatoes & Peas is a beautiful vegan dish that brings brightness, color, and at the same time comfort to a snowy cold winter day.

I received a sample of Tuscanini Gigli pasta and LOVED the fun shape which reminds me of a trumpet flower. It's apparently great served with sauce as the sauce sticks to the fluttered edges, but I decided to make it with a bunch of vegetables. In fact, there are more vegetables in this dish than pasta.

Of course you can use whichever pasta shape you love!

Tuscanini Gigli Pasta With Fennel, Tomatoes & Peas
Serves 3-4

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced, then well washed and drained
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
salt & red pepper flakes to taste
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup defrosted peas
1 cup defrosted corn
2 cups dried pasta, cooked according to directions {NOTE: I always cook my pasta 1-2 minutes longer because I don't like it al dente pasta}
Meyer lemon zest and juice
dill, chopped
extra olive oil

1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add leeks and fennel and saute until softened, mixing every few minutes. Season with salt and red pepper flakes.
2. Add cherry tomatoes, peas, and corn. Saute for a few extra minutes.
3. Add drained cooked pasta. Mix to combine. Saute for a few more minutes.
4. Off the heat, add Meyer lemon zest and juice. Taste and adjust for salt.
5. Serve topped with dill and a drizzle of olive oil.

PS Leftovers reheat well and are great with chopped olives!

Dislaimer: I received a sample of pasta free of charge, but this post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own.


Weekend Edition: Apartment Therapy's January Cure

DEHOARD. CLEAN. ORGANIZE. Those are just some of the things I've been doing for the last week or so thanks to Apartment Therapy's January Cure

Who knew I had so many random notebooks and notepads?

Who knew I did not actually lose those international electricity converters? They just fell behind my suitcase.

Who knew how much dust was hiding under my bed, in my closets, and behind my dressers?

Who knew I have at least 15 random glass jars from jams, pickles, etc?

I KNOW all that now!

The plan for this weekend is to go through all my kitchen cabinets.

Good thing my galley kitchen is pretty small. I've already found bowls and glass containers I'm giving to a friend because I have too many. I put post it notes on each cabinet and drawer for an easy visual of what needs to be done and for the sense of accomplishment of taking them off once that space has been cleaned.

I'm also going to clean the fridge: now is a good time because I don't have that much in it.

And those flowers? They were actually also an assignment: the easiest one because I buy flowers for myself all the time.

Share with me your cleaning and dehoarding tips. 


Vegan Butternut Squash, Chickpea & Kale Red Curry

Vegan Butternut Squash, Chickpea & Kale Red Curry
Serves 4-6
Inspired by Washington's Green Grocer

1 tablespoon olive oil, more if needed
5 cups bite-sized diced butternut squash
1/2 diced onion
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons red curry paste
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
13.5 ounce can coconut milk (full fat!)
1 cup water
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 handfulls chopped kale
juice of 1 Meyer lemon
chopped parsley or cilantro
chopped smoked almonds (or any other nuts you like)

1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add butternut squash and saute for 5 minutes.
2. Add onion, ginger and garlic and saute for 3 more minutes, adding a bit more oil if needed.
3. Mix in red curry paste, turmeric, salt, coconut milk, and water. Bring to a simmer and simmer uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes until the squash is tender but not mushy.
4. Mix in chickpeas and kale, cover, and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes until kale has wilted.
5. Off the heat add Meyer lemon juice. Adjust for seasoning.
6. Serve topped with parsley and almonds. 

You can eat this as is or over rice. This curry reheats great for leftovers: you may need to add a bit of liquid to thin it out.


Richard Sax's Chocolate Cloud Cake

The second I saw a recipe for Richard Sax's Chocolate Cloud Cake on Food52, I knew I wanted to make it for NYE party at a friend's house. And I did! The hardest part was figuring out whether to wait for the actual party to try the cake...because how could I take photos so late at night!?

Instead, I made this gorgeous cake in the morning, and my friend and I dug into it after her two daughters napped...I could not nap because I was so excited!! Even the 3 and 5 year olds liked it, but only had a few bites because it was too chocolaty :) No problem: more for us!

I've made another recipe for flourless chocolate cake many times, but this recipe stood out because of a cloud of whipped heavy cream slightly sweetened with confectioners' sugar and a bit of vanilla extract. I used dark chocolate chips and a bar or dark chocolate for the decorative shavings. You can use semi sweet chocolate I suppose, but please don't use the milk variety.

This was a dream! Relatively easy to make (I just had to read directions 5 times because I basically have ADD), beautiful, not too sweet, not too heavy, AND it tasted great the next morning!

I left the leftovers at my friend's house because that's how generous I am ;)


RESET: Pinto Bean & Kale Soup

If you need a reset after the countless cookies, pies, cakes, and who knows what else you ate over the holidays, this Pinto Bean & Kale Soup is for you!

The soup takes less than 30 minutes to make and is full of flavor, vitamins, color, and still fits the comfort food label. I used defrosted pinto beans from Camellia beans I cooked in my pressure cooker and defrosted chicken broth. If you want to make this soup vegetarian, substitute vegetable broth. For a vegan version, leave out sharp cheddar.

RESET: Pinto Bean & Kale Soup
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
3 carrots, diced (no need to peel)
3 celery ribs, peeled, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
salt & red pepper flakes to taste
4 cups chopped kale
2 cups cooked pinto beans
4-6 cups chicken broth (depends on how thick you want the soup to be)
chopped parsley
sharp cheddar, shaved

1. In a large soup pot, heat olive oil. Add onion, carrots, celery and garlic. Season with salt and red pepper flakes and saute for 10 minutes on medium heat.
2. Add kale. Saute for a few minutes until kale has wilted.
3. Add beans and chicken broth. Bring soup to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
4. Serve topped with parsley and cheese and a side of toast.

This soup keeps well for days in the refrigerator and is great as leftovers.


Raw Brussels Sprouts, Red Cabbage, And Carrot Slaw

Raw Brussels Sprouts, Red Cabbage, And Carrot Slaw is the perfect way to use winter produce literally in minutes! This slaw is colorful, crunchy, keeps well in the refrigerator, and is basically negative calories dish: you'll burn more calories chewing ;)

I had a bunch of produce from my latest Washington's Green Grocer order and instead of roasting the Brussels sprouts and making a cabbage soup, decided to thinly slice all the vegetables and mix in the beautiful pomegranate arils. 

For the dressing, I used tangerine juice, olive oil, and whole grain mustard. You can use as little or as much of each of these ingredients depending on how spicy or sweet you want the dressing to be. In fact, feel free to add a bit of honey or lemon juice.

Also, I used a food processor to shred my vegetables. You can use a knife or a mandoline if that's what you have.

Raw Brussels Sprouts, Red Cabbage, And Carrot Slaw

Brussels sprouts, shredded
carrots, thinly shredded
red cabbage (or purple) thinly shredded
pomegranate arils (leave some for garnish)
salt and pepper
olive oil
fresh tangerine juice
whole grain mustard

1. Combine the vegetables in a very large bowl. 
2. Sprinkle most of the arils on top, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil, tangerine juice and top with a few tablespoons of whole grain mustard. 
3. Gently mix to combine: you don't want to crush the pomegranate arils.
4. Serve in individual bowls topped with extra arils.


Bulgur Winter Salad With Preserved Butternut Squash, Cotija, And Smoked Almonds

If you think salads are only for hot-weather months, think again. Bulgur Winter Salad With Preserved Butternut Squash, Cotija, And Smoked Almonds is bursting with color and a combination of sweet, salty, and crunchy flavors that will make the winter blues go away if only for a short while.

A few months ago I took Domenica Marchetti's workshop to learn about preserving. One of the recipes surprised me: did you ever consider preserving butternut squash!? Neither have I, but Domenica was correct: preserved squash is such a fun and unexpected idea. The squash retains its gorgeous orange color and crispy texture and is paired with mint and dried chili peppers. 

You can find the recipe for the squash here, or in Domenica's Preserving Italy book. 

In Preserving Italy Domenica shares a recipe for Farro Salad With Preserved Winter Squash And Dried Cherries, which I adapted and simplified to fit my tastes and the contents of my refrigerator and pantry. I used bulgur instead of farro, smoked almonds instead of hazelnuts, cotija instead of ricotta salata, and left out honey and vinegar.

Bulgur Winter Salad With Preserved Butternut Squash, Cotija, And Smoked Almonds

cooked bulgur
dried cherries
thinly sliced shallot
preserved butternut squash
cotija, crumbled
olive oil
salt to taste
smoked almonds, chopped

Layer ingredients on a plate or mix in a bowl.


Easy AF Dessert: Fudge With Walnuts & Flaked Sea Salt

Easy AF Dessert: Fudge With Walnuts & Flaked Sea Salt

This fudge is totally ridiculously easy to make but will have everyone so impressed! Plus, it's a great no-bake dessert that can be made days ahead, is easy to transport, and can be easily customized with different add ins: nuts, peanut butter cups, m&ms, etc!

1. In a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat melt together 3 cups of semi sweet chocolate and 14 ounces of sweetened condensed milk by stirring constantly. 
2. Turn the heat off and add 1/4 teaspoon sea salt and 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 cup toasted chopped walnuts. Mix to combine. 
3. Immediately spread the mixture into a parchment lined 8×8 baking dish and smooth with an offset spatula. 
4. Sprinkle with flaked sea salt and carefully press into the surface. 
5. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. 
6. Cut into small pieces and share. 


No Soggy Bottom Apple Crostata Recipe

No Soggy Bottom Apple Crostata is a great recipe to make to bring to a friend's house or to have for a casual but impressive dessert. I bet it'd be even great for breakfast with coffee, but I didn't end up with any leftovers to test out this hypothesis.

Last week I saw a gorgeous photo of a pear crostata and decided to make one with apples using leftover pie dough from mini chicken pot pies

My biggest concern was WILL THERE BE A SOGGY BOTTOM? You see, I was planning on bringing this dessert to a friend's party and would not know about its success or failure until the actual party.

Luckily, the dessert was a complete success, and there was no soggy bottom!

No Soggy Bottom Apple Crostata Recipe
1 pie crust dough (I bought mine)
1 large Fuji apple, cored and thinly sliced
1 large Granny Smith apple, cored and thinly sliced
1 egg, whisked
sugar in a raw
2-4 tablespoons apricot jam
powdered sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
2. Line a baking dish with parchment paper. Roll out your pie crust dough.
3. Arrange apple slices on the dough in a pretty design overlapping slightly and leaving about 1/2" edge. 
4. Fold over the edge and brush with the egg wash.
5. Sprinkle the entire crostata with sugar in a raw.
6. Bake crostata for 30 minutes.
7. Remove crostata from the oven and brush the apples gently with the jam. Bake for 10 more minutes.
8. Allow the crostata to cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar (optional).

The crostata tasted great at room temperature. The bottom was cooked through and held up well! 


Individual Chicken Pot Pies Adapted From SkinnyTaste One And Done

I've been wanting to make a chicken pot pie for months and finally decided to just do it last weekend. Did you know I used to work at KFC when I was in high school!?

I used a recipe from Gina, aka skinnytaste, as my inspiration, but changed a few things as always ;) Gina's new cookbook Skinnytaste One and Done has a recipe for her Mom's Skillet Chicken Pot Pie, but I thought for easier portion control I would make individual ones. 

I used fresh carrots and only rotisserie chicken breasts instead of the entire chicken and added parsley at the very end. I wish I also would have added potatoes, because I love potatoes!

Be careful about how much salt you use because I slightly oversalted mine not taking into an account the salt level in the chicken and chicken broth. Overall, this was a super easy recipe to make, good to freeze, and to have on a cold day like today.

Individual Chicken Pot Pies Adapted From SkinnyTaste
Makes 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 carrots, peeled and diced
3 celery stalks, diced
salt & pepper to taste
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn
2 large rotisserie chicken breasts, diced
1/3 cup chopped parsley
3 3/4 cups chicken broth, divided
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 refrigerated pie crust
1 egg

1. Preheat the oven to 425F.
2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add onions, carrots and celery, and season with salt and pepper. Saute for 10 minutes.
3. Add frozen peas and corn, chicken, parsley and 2 cups of chicken broth. Cover and bring to a rapid boil.
4. Whisk together the remaining broth with the cornstarch and add to the chicken mixture. Simmer for 6 minutes stirring occasionally as the filling thickens.
5. Divide the filling into 6 ramekins (mine were about 1 1/4 cups capacity) and cover with cut out circles of pie dough. Crimp the edges. DO NOT MAKE SUPER FANCY POLKA DOT DESIGNS BECAUSE THE FILLING WILL BUBBLE OVER! JUST MAKE A FEW SLITS IN EACH TOP INSTEAD. SOMETIMES BEING FANCY DOESN'T PAY OFF.
6. Whisk an egg and brush each crust.
7. Bake the pot pies on a baking sheet for about 30 minutes and allow to set for at least 10 minutes before digging in.