Thursday, May 23, 2013

Rotini Pasta with Pesto Cream Sauce

It has been a long week.

Living in Oklahoma you learn to cross your fingers and your toes every May and June when the storms roll in, because you never know how it is going to turn out. You call the siren's bluff. You stand out on your lawn and point to rotations in the sky just knowing deep down that you'll be safe. My family was incredibly lucky to come out of an insane tragedy and natural disaster untouched. 
    My heart hurts for the hundreds upon hundreds of people affected by the devastating tornadoes that struck through Oklahoma on Monday. Today it is storming again. I could really use some sunshine.

In the meantime I'll cope with all sad the news(which I can't bring myself to watch anymore) by drinking wine and eating comfort foods in my pajamas. 


 Sticking with that theme, here's the pasta I made last night. I haven't eaten pasta in a while- due to a beach vacation coming up soon- So at first I thought maybe I thought it was amazing because anything that involved pasta and cream sauce would rock my socks off- but CW loved it too.....

 I was thinking how can I blog right now? I don't want a sad blog. No one wants to look at recipes at a time like this- but you know what, we still gotta eat. So here it is: Rotini Pasta with  pesto cream sauce.

I started the recipe with crimini mushrooms. I thought these baby portobellos where the way to go since we weren't having meat in this dish. Also, I am a sucker for sauteed mushrooms. Yum.

Once the sauce came together it looked so good! Creamy and cheesy and full of flavor thanks to the pesto- I used jarred btw, because it is easy and tastes great....

I used the Ronzoni Garden Delights Pasta, which I love because each serving has a half serving of vegetables packed into it. My kids love it, and it makes it a little easier to overlook them picking out the spinach.

The finish product was amazing. Like I said I haven't had pasta in a long time, so I devoured it. I served up some warm foccacia bread that I bought at the grocery store and our meal was complete!

Rotini Pasta with Pesto Cream Sauce
An L.A. Walter Original Recipe
Serves 4
Ingredients

  • 1 12oz box rotini pasta
  • 11/2 cups sliced crimini mushrooms
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons prepared pesto (jarred or homemade)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup grated parmasean cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded asiago cheese
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • A few grape tomatoes halved to garnish


Directions 
Cook the rotini al dente according to package (about 9 minutes). Meanwhile, sautee the mushrooms in a large skillet with 2 tablespoons of butter until brown. Salt and pepper them to taste.
In a large sauce pan melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute over medium heat. Add in the pesto. Stir in the heavy cream and and cook until the sauce begins to bubble and thicken. Add the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in the cheese, continuing to stir until it is all melted.

At this point add in a 1/4 cup of the water from the pasta- this starchy water will help the sauce stick to the pasta. Stir in the sauteed mushrooms. Continue to cook the sauce for about 2-3 minutes as it thickens.

  Once the pasta is done, drain well and add to the sauce. Add the fresh spinach and toss the pasta well to mix everything together and wilt the spinach.

Top individual bowls with halved tomatoes.

  Serve with crusty bread and enjoy!


  

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Ritz Bottom Peanut Butter Brownie Cups

Dear Thighs:
   I am so sorry that I created this recipe.



Seriously.
  I am very fortunate to have a love for creating sweet things that isn't accompanied by a love of eating them. But this......

I was daydreaming over a cup of coffee about baking (I call it foodtasizing) because it is a little bit rainy- which means I have an overwhelming urge to stick something in an oven. And somehow I started thinking about how much I love peanut butter and crackers. I started thinking, man if I could figure out a dessert that combined Ritz crackers and peanut butter- well that would be one hell of a treat.  
   Foodtasizing can be dangerous- when you have a beach vacation right around the corner.
 
 Feel free to join me tomorrow in doing a massive amount of squats to balance out today's peanut-butter- carb fest.


Ritz Bottom Peanut Butter Brownie Cups
An L.A. Walter Original Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter- softened 
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Approx. 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 12 Ritz crackers


 Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 12- count muffin tin with bakers spray(nonstick cooking spray with flour)- Or lightly grease and dust with flour.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla, eggs, and cocoa until just combined. Gradually stir in the flour, baking soda, and salt. Do not overmix.

Put one cracker in the bottom of each muffin cup. Divide the brownie batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake for 15-17 minutes, until brownies are set. Don't overbake, these will be a chewy brownie and a toothpick inserted in the center should come out slightly wet.

While the brownies are still warm top with about a teaspoon each of the peanut butter. The tops of mine caved in, but if yours don't you can tap them gently with a spoon to make a little well.

Remove carefully from muffin tin and allow to cool. Or eat them warm like me because you couldn't resist gooey peanut butter!




Friday, May 10, 2013

Dino Bento

I had to post E-man's bento today because I thought it turned out super cute! He has been learning all about dinosaurs in his Pre-k class, so I thought I would try to go along with that theme.

  The sandwich is on whole grain white bread and consists of turkey and cheese with a little mustard. The kid likes a simple sandwich what can I say.
  It got a little whompy( my spell check say this isn't a word, but I say IT IS!) but I could still tell it was a dinosaur so it worked. I made the palm tree out of crust and some leftover zucchini slices. The cheddar sun(cut out by the hubby with a shaker lid) brought it all together.
 On the side he has fresh blueberries and carrot sticks with a bit of ranch. He also has a GoGo Squeeze Strawberry Apple Sauce and a bottle of water.
5 minutes and he gets a super cool lunch!
I can't believe he only has a few weeks left of Pre-K! I am going to miss doing bento boxes this summer( or I will just do them at home!)  

Fresh Salsa

I love making fresh salsa. I usually only do it in the spring and summer when the produce is in season and on sale. So now it is kind of a ritual, that when it starts to warm up I have to make fresh salsa. 

  The awesome thing about this restaurant style salsa is that you can play with the ingredients to suit your tastes. With 1 and 1/2 peppers it is a medium level of spicy. If you wanna feel those lips burn kick up the amount of peppers- or be a daredevil and leave in the seeds! Also I am NOT an onion fan. Although, I hate onions, I know they have there rightful place in the culinary world. I just don't put in very much onion- if you love onions add in some more. Play with it until you get the perfect taste for you! 

  This salsa tastes fresh and bold - and since we are just chopping and blending this is really easy to whip up. You can use this salsa in any place you would a basic jarred salsa(but this will be so much better and healthier without all the processed junk)- my favorites are on a little taco, with blue corn tortilla chips, on top of  an omelette, and atop taco salad of course!




Fresh Salsa

An L.A. Walter Original Recipe

Ingredients
  • 1 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 10 Roma tomoatoes roughly chopped
  • 1 clove peeled garlic
  • 1 fresh jalapeno (seeds removed)
  • 1/2- 1 serrano pepper(seeds removed)
  • the juice of 3 limes
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro
  • Salt, black pepper, and cumin (to taste) 


Directions
Mix first 7 ingredients into a large bowl. Blend with an immersion blender, or blend in bathes using a food processor or blender until you reach your desired consistency. Season with salt, pepper, and cumin to taste. Don't skimp on the seasonings- fresh tomatoes beg for salt! 
  Let chill for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Strawberry & Basil Cornmeal Cupcakes

There is something I love about the combination of strawberries and basil. The freshness of the basil just makes the sweetness of the berries pop.



 I've been making strawberry-basil lemonade (recipe coming soon?) for a while now, so it only made sense for me to try and incorporate that flavor into something baked.

    When I found a recipe for Cornmeal Cupcakes in Everyday with Rachael Ray Magazine I knew it would be the perfect base to try these with.

 They turned out to be really good. A little sweet, nice and light- perfect to me. I hope you guys like them too!



I have to give photo credit to my Little Mr. who snapped this pic when I left the room. When I uploaded everything I noticed it and thought it was great! As you can tell we both loved these cupcakes! 





Strawberry & Basil Cornmeal Cupcakes
Adapted from a recipe originally appearing in Everyday with Rachael Ray May 2013
Yields: 12 cupcakes

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temp)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped fresh strawberries
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • powder sugar, for dusting


Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper or silicone liners.
In an electric mixer cream together the butter, sugar and eggs. Mix until well blended and fluffy. Meanwhile, mix together the flour, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl.

 Add in the milk. Reduce mixer speed to low and stir in the dry ingredients  Beat until just combined. Batter may be lumpy. Stir in the strawberries and basil by hand.

 Fill the prepared muffin cups slightly over halfway. Bake until golden and a toothpick comes out clean in the center of the cupcake- 20- 25 minutes.

   Dust with confectioners' sugar and allow to cool on a wire rack. Enjoy these warm for the best flavor- but they are pretty great at room temp too!