Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Lemon Garlic Pasta with Shrimp, Kale, and Goat Cheese


Make this pasta.

OK, bye.


On a serious note, I want to tell you a little story about this pasta. I got home a little later than usual but I still wanted a hearty, delicious homemade dinner. I didn't succumb to the take out menu, and I am so glad I had that willpower. This meal came together in less than 30 minutes, but I was hungry. Ravenous. I needed food in my belly. I took a bite of this pasta right out of the serving bowl and after that first bite, well. I knew I had to share this with you. I needed to wait just a few minutes longer, snap a few (really unremarkable) photos, and let everyone on the interwebs know what an amazing dish this is.

In the end, it's a happy story. I had two big servings of this pasta, I'm not hungry anymore, and now, just below, you hold this recipe in your hands.

This dish, despite being a pasta recipe, is delightfully light and fresh. It is hearty and flavorful. It starts with a pasta of your choice--I'd recommend a whole wheat or Trader Joe's Brown Rice and Quinoa pasta for gluten free. Pasta = happiness, as we all know, so this is a good place to start. Save a bit of the pasta cooking water too, it will come in handy later when we make our sauce. Then, there is chopped kale, sauteed in a bit of olive oil with two generous cloves of minced garlic. Lovin' ya. Big, juicy shrimps are sauteed until golden brown and gorgeous.

The fun part about this pasta is that we are making a no-cook sauce. In a big serving bowl, we are whisking together the juice of 2 lemons and about 1/3 cup of olive oil with a big handful of grated parmesan cheese and lots of black pepper. SERIOUSLY, that's it. Pasta, kale, and shrimp all get a big toss in this lemon sauce along with that pasta water, creating a nice, slurp-able sauce.

OH wait. You thought that was it? That description there was perfect and you're ready to dig in? That's fine, but wait. There's more more more. And you don't want to miss this. GOAT CHEESE. Yes, yes. Crumbled on top of each bowl while the pasta is still hot. And it's going to melt, and become creamy, and dreamy, and you will finally understand what love is.

Here's what you need for Lemon Garlic Pasta with Shrimp, Kale, and Goat Cheese* (Print Recipe!)

1 pound pasta of choice
1 bunch kale, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined (fresh or frozen & thawed is fine!)
2 lemons, juiced
1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for sauteeing
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and lots of pepper to taste
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Here's what you do

Prepare pasta according to package directions. Reserve a cup of the pasta cooking water (you may not need all of it, but better safe than sorry).

While the pasta cooks, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the kale and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the kale is wilted and tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Be sure to stir occasionally so as not to burn the garlic.

Push the kale to the side of the skillet and add a bit more olive oil to the pan. Add the shrimp and cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side until it is pale pink in color and slightly browned on the edges.

In a large serving bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil and parmesan cheese with a generous pinch of black pepper. Add the hot pasta and toss to coat. Gently fold in the shrimp and kale mixture and drizzle in a bit of the reserved pasta water. I used about 1/4 cup, just to loosen the sauce a bit. Season to taste.

Finally, spoon the warm pasta into bowls and top with crumbled goat cheese. Each person should lightly stir the goat cheese into the pasta to create a nice, creamy finish. Enjoy immediately.

*Gas Stove Girl Original Recipe

Friday, August 15, 2014

Pistachio Muffins

When I eat these muffins, all my troubles melt away. These muffins are like warm blankets wrapping us up in a big muffin hug.

You know how some foods can transport you to another time or place? Pistachio muffins are like that for me. They immediately bring me to lazy Saturday mornings at home. My mom and I preferred to eat them toasted with a bit of melted butter on each half. Oh, yum. 

I was really craving one of these muffins and so I decided to give a try making a slightly lighter version at home. Turns out, the recipe was a huge success and I had to share it here!

My recipe for Pistachio Muffins is guaranteed to make your weekend a better, more relaxed place. Muffins are one of my favorite breakfast treats to make--all you need is a big bowl, a liquid measuring cup, and a muffin tin. 

These muffins are wonderful for many reasons. First of all, pistachios, crushed and crumbled, are the best nut ever. Please do not argue with this! They add a wonderful flavor and a slight crunch throughout every bite.

Then, of course, there is the whole stick of butter that is melted and stirred into the batter. Don't be scared of the butter! It keeps the muffins moist and tender for days! Plus, I subbed half the flour for whole wheat pastry flour (good life choices!) 

My muffins are sweetened with light brown sugar and almond extract, for an extra delicious nutty flavor. Might I suggest enjoying one warm, right out of the oven, with some more butter spread on top? Or perhaps you have some cherry jam, in which case it would be prudent that you slather a bunch of that on a muffin or two. If you are enjoying these muffins a day or two after baking, try zapping them in the microwave for just a few seconds -- they will be just as delicious as the moment you enjoyed them fresh out of the oven!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Kale and Quinoa Stuffed Patty Pan Squash

How do you guys feel about farmer's markets?

I never used to go to these too often but this summer I have really changed my tune. The produce is just so beautiful and fresh, and there is no doubt that you are eating delicious fruits and vegetables that are in season.

Look at these adorable Patty Pan squash! I very rarely see patty pans in the grocery store, but this past week at the Copley Square farmer's market they were all over the place. Bright, sunny, patty pan squash. I had never cooked or even eaten these before, but they looked like little packages of sunshine and I had to give them a try!

The farm stand owner told me a little bit about the taste of patty pan, which is slightly more bitter but similar taste as a regular yellow squash. Not surprisingly, he recommended that I stuff them and I decided to channel some Mediterranean flavors. 

My Kale and Quinoa Stuffed Patty Pan Squash is a wonderful Meatless Monday recipe! It is also a great fulfilling lunch option. I chose to cook the squash and make the filling separately, then use the squash as an edible serving vessel. 

The squash has it's top cut off then it is seeded and baked until tender. In the meantime, I prepare the filling. Quinoa is cooked until fluffy. Then a big bunch of kale is thinly sliced and cooked down in a bit of oil. Like most leafy greens, kale is best seasoned with salt, pepper, and a touch of ground nutmeg (trust me!). Once the kale is tender, the filling comes together in no time flat--just mix in the quinoa along with fresh, sliced basil, chopped pistachios, crumbled feta and the juice of a lime.YUM. 

Feel free to just take a spoon and eat the filling right out of the pan--it is amazing on it's own! But today, we are honoring the farmer's market and mixing this amazing, flavorful quinoa mixture with a tender and delicious patty pan squash! 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Oven Roasted Pork and Apples

I wish you knew how wonderful my house smells right about now.

You can know about this, if you make this recipe. And I have to insist you put this on your dinner menu next week!

My Oven Roasted Pork and Apples recipe is prepped and ready for the oven in under 10 minutes. Then all we have to do is sit back and relax, let some amazing flavors develop, and gobble this up.

Into a big baking dish, I combine gala apples and mirepoix. Saying "mirepoix" makes me sound like a fancy restaurant chef, but this is just a term that means chopped carrots, celery, and onion. It tends to be a major part of most of my soup recipes as well!

The vegetables become tender and slightly sweet in the oven, which compliments the apples in a wonderful way. For an earthy, lemony bite, I toss the vegetables with fresh thyme leaves. The pork gets marinated quickly with a dijon mustard vinaigrette. The marinade, along with the natural juices from the vegetables, make this pork tender and ta-die-for!

We decided to enjoy this as a low carb dinner, but you can feel free to add anything you want -- diced sweet potatoes or yukon gold potatoes would be very happy alongside the apples and mirepoix. You can sub out the carrots for parsnips or turnips, or bulk up the veggies with some green beans. I love the combination of the mustard, apples, and pork--it's like they were made for each other--but if you choose to use chicken, I think you'd be just as happy.