Monthly Archives: February 2016

Cacio e Pepe

IMG_0338Well it happened again. The chicken was still frozen. And I had such good plans for it. Chicken and Rice in the pressure cooker. Fortunately, thanks to the magic of Facebook’s never-ending flow of recipes, this lovely video from Epicurious came by. BINGO!!! It happens to be the perfect night for pasta in Central Maryland. We are experiencing some epic late winter thunderstorms. Heavy rain, thunder, lightning, big winds! All of it.

I actually had some Romano. It was meant to be. Of course, I made a couple of modifications to the recipe. You can watch the video for the original, or try mine!

Cacio e Pepe
2 1/2 cups shredded Romano cheese
2 TBSP olive oil
3/4 cups Parmesan broth
1 lb pasta, cooked

  1. Combine everything but the pasta in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Cook the pasta – I used Angel Hair – until al dente.
  3. Drain the pasta and put in the bowl with the cheese mixture and stir vigorously until the pasta is nicely coated.
  4. Serve IMMEDIATELY!!

Truth is, I am not a huge fan of pasta. I find it often disappoints. This did not. It was cheesy and and had a nice little kick from the pepper. And it was so fast to make.

If you happen to not have a container of Parmesan broth at the ready, you can use water as they do in the original recipe. And if you don’t happen to have enough grated Romano (I didn’t), you can supplement with a bit of grated Parmesan.

Are you going meatless for Lent? This is a good addition to your menu.


Homemade Peanut Butter

hpbAnother snow day, working from home. As I wait for the huge file transfer over VPN (not sure what I was thinking), I wander, puttering in my kitchen, trying to kill time. Wipe the counter, rinse a cup. Pick up a wrapper that missed the garbage.

What’s this box of snacks? Hmm… Dry roasted peanut packs? Where did those come from? Have¬†they expired? Nope! What can I do with them? Homemade Peanut Butter says the small voice of My Faithful Assistant from the family room. Not a bad idea.

Homemade Peanut Butter
2 cups peanuts of choice – I used dry roasted peanuts with sea salt

  1. Put the peanuts in your blender – I used my Vitamix
  2. Starting on low, slowly increase the speed until you get to high. Blend for about one minute until smooth.

The verdict? Good stuff! We added some honey to it, maybe two tablespoons. My Faithful Assistant thought it would be quite good with some vanilla or cinnamon. I could also see adding a little cocoa powder for an extra special treat.

No sugar needed for this if you can handle it and want to enjoy that pure peanut taste. If you need some maybe add a small amount at the end of the blending. I would start with no more than two tablespoons and adjust according to your taste. And if you don’t have a Vitamix, I’m sure you could make this in a food processor.

My Faithful Assistant really loves creamy peanut butter. If he ends up enjoying this more than the stuff we buy in the store, it may become a staple in our home.

Of course, you can no doubt use another nut; cashews, almonds – no skin on those, though. Lots of options here!


Raspberry Brownies

raspbrownI’m skipping right over the Super Bowl and going to Valentine’s Day. No chili or wing recipes from me this week!

If you are a follower, you know that Valentine’s Day is also our oldest son’s birthday. He gets the same special heart shaped cake and his favorite pasta (aka Crazy Sexy Pasta).

I’ve been dying to make brownies, or better yet, have brownies made for me. My Faithful Assistant is usually gangbusters to make brownies. His response to my request. “We don’t have any mix.” I have failed as a parent.

I saw this recipe for Supernatural Brownies and was interested in trying them. Of course, I didn’t have the proper ingredients, and I didn’t read the recipe before I went to the store so I ended up with not enough chocolate and the wrong sugar. Oh well. My loss may be your gain. I scavenged in the pantry and came up with chocolate chips, turbinado sugar, and seedless raspberry preserves. The result? Pretty terrific!

Raspberry Brownies
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate (1 1/3 cups chocolate chips)
2 sticks of butter
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup turbinado sugar
3 tbsps seedless raspberry preserves
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups flour

  1. Melt the chocolate, sugars, preserves, and butter either in a double boiler or the microwave.
  2. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes, while you whisk the eggs, vanilla, and salt. Add to the chocolate.
  3. Fold in the flour and pour batter into two fudge pans (9 1/2″ x 6″ foil) lined with buttered parchment paper.
  4. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.

These brownies are freaking awesome, if I do say so myself. I love the dense, fudgey texture, and the slight hint of raspberry is fantastic! They aren’t too sweet so you really taste the chocolate. I’m not sure if it makes a difference, but I used Kerrigold butter. I was overtaken by the shiny wrapper one day. It was too much for me to resist. You can probably use regular store brand butter and come away with some insanely delicious brownies of your own.

No mix. I think I should hide my delicious brownies from that tiny baked-good heathen.


Parmesan Broth

parmbrothOne day, while scrolling through FaceBook, I came across this recipe from Epicurious for Parmesan Broth and I was awestruck… smitten… overcome. It didn’t occur to me that parmesan rinds were a thing and that they were a useful thing for making broth. I had to try it.

Off I trotted to Wegman’s Cheese Counter to ask the lovely cheese lady if she would be so kind as to carve a chunk of rind off her precious wheel of parmesan so I may partake of this culinary adventure. She pointed to a display, “They’re on the front of that display.” Clearly, I am the ONLY one who had no idea.

I didn’t have the recipe handy when I was at the store. I had a vague remembrance of the photo. It included the rinds, herbs, onion, and garlic. Onion and garlic are always on hand. I grabbed a packet of fresh poultry herbs, finished my shopping, and headed home to my broth making extravaganza!

Parmesan Broth
1/2 lb parmesan rinds
1 pack or a couple ounces fresh herbs, like rosemary, thyme, oregano, etc
3 or more cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 onion, cut into quarters
salt and pepper
2 quarts of water

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a slow cooker set on low for 6-8 hours.
  2. When done, set a colander over a large bowl and pour the broth into the colander to remove the rinds, herbs, and bits of garlic and onion.

This is probably my favorite broth in the whole wide world now. I will now have to keep parmesan rinds on hand at all times. I may even post on FaceBook, asking friends to give me theirs.

We used our first batch of broth to make chicken and rice. It was amazing. We made it in our new pressure cooker so it was ready very quickly. That was nice. But the flavor and aroma would have totally been worth waiting for.

The picture is from the batch My Faithful Assistant whipped up after school this week. Yes, it’s that easy that an 8th grader can make it. And now he’s looking forward to coming up with some interesting ways to use it.