Spring Vegetable Pasta with Mushroom Butter Sauce

To the best I can tell, it is pretty much spring around these here parts.  We have had beautiful weather and I sure hope it stays that way.  This is pretty much one of the freshest pastas I have ever made with so much flavor.  A co-worker shared this recipe with me (thank you, Christy!) after going to a cooking class and I just had to try it.
I usually do not like my pasta to be bothered with any sort of vegetable, but the long ribbons that you make out of carrots, zucchini, and squash intrigued me.  The ribbons were so delicate and soaked up the mushroom butter sauce to just melt in your mouth.

From my little kitchen to yours... Enjoy.







Spring Vegetable Pasta with Mushroom Butter Sauce
Recipe Notes
The original recipe called for pappardelle pasta.  This is basically a skinny version of lasagna noodles, but I could not find it so I used fettucine.  Use whatever you can find.  If you are unfamiliar with leeks, they are really just a larger version of a green onion.  Wash them well and slice just the white part.  See picture above. 
1 lb. fettucine or pappardelle pasta *see recipe note
2 zucchini
2 yellow squash
2 carrots 
1 cup chopped white button mushrooms
2 leeks, washed and sliced *see recipe note
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 lemon, zested and juice
Step by Step
Peel carrot with vegetable peeler and throw away outer layer.  Continue to peel long ribbons of carrots and set aside.  Peel squash and zucchini into long ribbon pieces, stopping at seeds.  Make long strands one side of squash until you hit seed.  Then, rotate to another side and repeat until all sides have been peeled; set aside.
Saute leeks with butter on medium heat, 4-5 minutes until translucent.  Add garlic and continue to cook until fragrant, 2-3 minutes.  Add mushrooms and wine and cook an additional 10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Mushroom butter sauce can be covered and stored in the refrigerator up to one week.  Boil pasta according to directions on packaging in a large pot of salted water.  When pasta has 3 minutes left, add ribbons of vegetables to pasta and cook together.  
Drain pasta and vegetables and place in a large bowl.  Pour butter sauce on top and mix to combine.  Serve immediately. 

Makes 6 servings. 


Italian Wedding Soup


I don't know what all of a sudden happened and made me go into a soup obsession.  Maybe it was the cold, maybe it was receiving this jewel, but nonetheless, they seem to be on tap a lot around here and I seem to just find great recipe after great recipe.

You might not have jumped on the band wagon when I made this one, but let me tell you, I would be willing to wager you would be hard pressed to find someone who doesn't like this Italian Wedding soup.  The only argument I can see against this is if you are vegetarian and I would encourage you to make this the dish you go non-vegetarian on just once in your life.
Contrary to what you might first assume, this soup has nothing to do with any Italian marriage  tradition, but is actually a mistranslation in the Italian language and refers to the fact that meat and vegetables go well together.

Now back to what's important... how good this is.  The chicken meatballs are baked with fresh bread crumbs, two cheeses and added to simmer with chicken broth, wine, tiny star pasta, vegetables, fresh spinach and a little dill.  This is good when it's cold, I imagine it would be perfect for someone under the weather and I enjoyed it all week for lunch.

In conclusion, I will try to help you understand the gravity of how much I love this soup by telling you that I'm not sure I will ever be able to make any other type of vegetable soup or chicken noodle soup ever again.  This is a perfect blend of the two and just hits the spot.

From my little kitchen to yours... Enjoy.

Italian Wedding Soup
Adapted from Ina Garten
Recipe Notes
I could not find regular chicken sausage.  I found a variety that was blended with spinach and feta and I thought those flavors would be fine.  If there is not ground chicken, you can have a butcher ground chicken breasts for you, but you might not have realized it's in most grocery stores.  I'm not a fan of washing the mini food processor if I don't have to so I've come up with a bread trick for fresh bread crumbs.  Any time I have a few pieces left over from a loaf, I pop them in a freezer.  I take the bread out for a few minutes and then grate it with a cheese grater.  The almost frozen bread makes perfect crumbs.
Freezer Note:  Double the recipe of the meatballs so you can have two batches.  For the batch you are not going to use, place on parchment paper an inch apart and freeze for one to two hours.  Wrap tightly in saran wrap and place in a freezer bag.  Freeze for up to two months.  When ready to use, thaw overnight in the refrigerator for one hour.
For the meatballs:
3/4 pound ground chicken
1/2 pound chicken sausage, casings removed
2/3 cup fresh white bread crumbs *see recipe note
2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
3 tablespoons milk
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the soup:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup minced yellow onion
1 cup diced carrots (3 carrots), cut into 1/4 inch pieces
3/4 cup diced celery (1 large stock), cut into 1/4 inch pieces
10 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup small pasta stars (or any other small pasta)
1/4 cup minced fresh dill
12 ounces baby spinach, washed and trimmed
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the meatballs, place the ground chicken, sausage, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, Pecorino, Parmesan, milk, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl and combine gently with a fork. Using a teaspoon, make mini meatballs and place about 1 inch apart.  (You should have about 40 meatballs. They don't have to be perfectly round.) Bake for 30 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned. Set aside. You can also freeze unbaked meatballs at this point for use in a later soup. 

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and saute until softened, 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken stock and wine and bring to a boil. Add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the pasta is tender. Add the fresh dill and then the meatballs to the soup and simmer for 1 minute. Taste for salt and pepper. Stir in the fresh spinach and cook for 1 minute, until the spinach is just wilted. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle each serving with extra grated Parmesan.


thank you FPC.

You might have noticed that my banner got a little face lift. Thanks to the wonderful stylings of Allison, it looks much better. Allison is a co-owner of Frontier Paper Company, which makes amazing paper products that really live up to their tagline... notably fresh paper goods. Each project is custom and dreamy. Check them out if you haven't. Thanks, Frontier Paper Company! And I hope to meet the other co-owner, Libby, soon!
How cute is this invitation for a Valentine's Day party? I'm in love...


a taste of: New Orleans


When it came time to pack our bags for a weekend trip to we had planned months in advance, I was excited, but the planner in me was a little nervous.  I'm one of those who likes to know exactly what we are doing every minute of a trip because I don't want to miss out on anything.  I love going with the flow but also don't like to leave things to chance and end up missing out on something you must see or eat in a town.  

We went to New Orleans with our great friends, Adam and Jennifer, and it just so happens that they enjoy a good meal as much as we do.  And just like any true tourists would do, we went equipped with an amazing list of things to do, thanks to a few great friends who pulled through the day before we left.  But if you have ever been to New Orleans (or know us), you might be able to guess that 95% of this list was places we had to eat.   And boy, did we eat.  I thought I would share my favorites so if you happen to find yourself headed that way, you wouldn't miss the good stuff.  If you can believe it, we ate a lot more but these were the absolute best.  I'm sure we still missed other great places... what are you favorites?

First off was breakfast at the Old Coffee Pot in the French Quarter.
Eggs benedict with scrambled egg whites on top of spinach and artichoke hearts with hollandaise. mmmm... definitely put this on your list for breakfast.


We walked around the French Quarter and I happened upon a little treasure...

A cookbook store chock full of vintage cookbooks

Some shelves sorted by state...

Could have spent hours in here...


To know me is to know my obsession with olives and all things pickled.  That would help explain my obsession with muffulettas (however, I do order it without the bologna or "lunch meat" that is usually in these... ham, salami or turkey only please).  Central Grocery Co.  is one of the places I had been dying to go since a fellow muffuletta lover, Adam, had told me about the "home of the original."  If you have any sort of love for these sandwiches you must go.  Amazing.


The. best. cupcake. I. have. ever. had.
Seriously, and I know that is a strong statement from someone who doesn't shy away from a cupcake, but seriously this was heaven.  A dense brownie cupcake, peanut butter frosting and crushed Reese's Pieces on top.  The sad news is that this place was losing their lease the next day and would be closing.  They are hoping to find a new place to set up shop so google Kupcake Factory if you are in town and see if you can find this little jewel. 

Fried shrimp po-boy and turtle soup from Mother's.  Such a great lunch and worth the wait that that was wrapped along the block. 

This was as much about the experience as it was the amazingly fresh oysters.  Felix's is a  great little dive with guys shucking oysters at the bar. 

Now this was serendipitous to say the least.  For some reason we all seemed to be craving pizza after lots of cajun food and determined not to have the plastic tasting pizza on Bourbon Street, we asked a few locals, checked Yelp and found Cafe Angeli.  This pizza was just too good not to share. 

And of course, we had to go to Cafe Du Monde twice for beignets.  There's just not much more to say than these are the absolute best. 


Another great little find thanks to Yelp,  Little Dizzy's.  We were looking for one last great meal and we definitely found it.  This little place is in an old bank building, which was not only a fun little setting, but a very unexpected place to find reasonably priced, great cajun food.  I had shrimp grillades over cheesy grits and the fried chicken got rave reviews from the boys. Would definitely go back here. 

Last, but not least...
After much testing, I would like to weigh in on where I found the best Bloody Mary in town.  The Court of Two Sisters.  And those pickled green beans, oh those pickled green beans. 
So this is my first post of restaurant recommendations when traveling and while I going to keep on with the cooking, I will occasionally share the good food I come to find when I am out and about.  Have any must eat recommendations for New Orleans?


Parmesan Thyme Crackers

thyme crackers

I'm in a lovely little book club called Read Between the Wines. That's right, we read... between the wines.  Once a month, we read a book and then we get together for dinner to discuss... and have a glass or two.  I was up this month and I chose the book The Help.  It was wonderful and to try to go along the lines of a southern book, I served a sort of southern meal... and also tried to take in account that we were having the coldest weather we have probably ever had here in Houston.  So my menu... avocado chicken salad, roasted tomato basil soup and these little parmesan thyme crackers.  Just about the best thing I could imagine with a bowl of tomato soup.  They go well by themselves with a glass of wine so I think they were just about perfect.

Very easy to make, rich, flaky and delicious.  Ina does it again.  I do have plans to try these with rosemary instead of the thyme.  The thyme was great... I just don't love trying to get those tiny little thyme leaves off of the stem.  Anyone with me? Add these to the menu for anything from a cocktail party to a hearty winter meal.

Note to self:  Take pictures before you have 6 girls show up for dinner.  At least I got one picture of the baking process because these little things went fast.

From my little kitchen to yours... Enjoy.
Parmesan Thyme Crackers
Adapted from Ina Garten

Recipe Notes
The dough might be a little crumbly so I added just a dash of water to help keep it together.  Some had reviews that they added a lot of water so add a little bit at a time so you have can keep it together, but it will not be overly moist.  You can also make this ahead of time and keep frozen until ready to use.  Bring almost to room temperature before slicing so that it doesn't crumble.
1/4 lb (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3 ounces grated parmesan
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Step by Step
Place butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Mix until creamy.  Add parmesan, flour, salt, thyme and pepper.  Form dough into a ball.  Dough will be very crumbly so add a little bit of water to help moisten.  Roll dough into a 9 inch log.  Wrap log in plastic wrap and freeze for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut log into 1/2 inch slices.  Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 22 minutes.
Serve warm.

Makes 18 to 20 crackers.


Broccoli Soup


I know I have instantly alienated a good chunk of you by posting a recipe for broccoli soup.  And if you had the same question as Mr. Hungy, no, this is not broccoli cheese soup, it is a very healthy soup.  So if I still have anyone’s attention, I will proceed. 

Our broccoli crop has been wonderful, but only so many times can I eat steamed broccoli in a week.  I had thrown it in pasta as well, but we still had an abundance that needed to be used before it got too big and bitter.  Hence the reason I started searching for recipes that would use a lot of broccoli at once.  When I found this recipe, I thought it would be pretty wonderful if it worked out because it would also be very healthy and looked easy.  So healthy that it is a part of a series of detox recipes from Whole Living.  Perfect for this time of year… hearty, but it won’t pack on the pounds.

By george, it worked... it was delicious, thick and creamy.  Instead of this soup being chock full of cream and cheese, it gets its thickness from cannellini beans.  This seemed odd to me at first, but after pureeing, it added a perfect thickness to the soup. 

Basically, if you can come around to the idea of broccoli soup, this is definitely the one to try.



Broccoli Soup
Adapted from Martha Stewart, Whole Living

DISCLAIMER:  I tried this with the broccoli from my garden.  Broccoli grown from home is better than any broccoli I have bought from the grocery store.  The results might be similar, but I’m just sayin, the broccoli I started with was amazing and slightly sweet.
1 head of broccoli (1 lb.) cut into florets with stems thinly sliced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
1/2 ounce shaved parmesan for serving
Step by Step

Steam broccoli florets and stems until tender and bright green, about 3 minutes. Let cool slightly. Reserve 1/2 cup florets for serving.

Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic for about 8 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add beans and stock and bring mixture to a simmer. Remove from heat and add broccoli.  Use a stick blender to blend soup to a slightly chunky consistency. If you do not have a stick blender, allow soup to cool and blend in batches in a blender until you have a smooth consistency.   Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish each bowl with broccoli florets, toasted pine nuts, and shaved Parmesan.

Freezes well or can be kept in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to one week.


come tweet with me.


Are you on twitter? I am... sort of. I only post about new recipe updates. Have any suggestions for good people to follow? I don't totally get what it's all about, but I figure I should at least find some fun people to follow since I have an account. I was really just working on my icing skills since that's on my list, and I sure had fun making these with my friend Jennifer. I made this one for my brother who is quite the tweeter. Hello joshthemoore.

Want to work on icing sugar cookies? Click here for some hints on getting those from-a-bakery-looking cookies.

Perfect Roast Chicken


I can hardly believe it is only February and I can check something off my resolution list. While this would be a totally normal pace, I envisioned having to check these off my list come December because I had procrastinated.  I also wasn't sure it would be easy.  One chicken, one recipe and my search was over.  Ina Garten calls this perfect roast chicken and I couldn't agree more.  Easy, flavorful, tender and juicy... perfect.

This is my quick pep talk for you who feel like I did about 6 months ago.  I use to cook with no chicken that had bones or skin. Just didn't want to deal with it all. when you could have a lovely boneless, skinless chicken breast any time you wanted. Skin was messy and bones kinda freaked me out.  So yes, I went as far into chicken recipes as boneless, skinless chicken breasts would allow. Until I finally roasted chicken breasts on the bone and realized this was the absolute only way to make chicken for things like chicken salad and soups.  I will admit it took me a few minutes to handle a whole chicken without thinking about the chicken that it once was running around a little farm somewhere... it just looks so much like a... chicken.  Those little wings... thos little legs... okay, not helping my point.  Needless to say, I got over it and this is an easy to prepare, new go-to meal. 
Quartering the fennel...



Perfect Roast Chicken
1 (5 to 6 pound) roasting chicken

Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch fresh thyme, plus 20 sprigs
1 lemon, halved
1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, melted
1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
4 carrots cut into 2-inch chunks
1 bulb of fennel, tops removed, and cut into wedges
2-4 small red skinned potatoes, quartered
Olive oil
Other tools
A roasting pan or pot
Kitchen string
Meat thermometer (optional, but extremely helpful)

Recipe Notes
Any large pan or some kind of dutch oven (like le creuset pots) will work as a roasting pan. It is good to have something deep so that none of your veggies fall out, but even a glass casserole dish can work. If you do not have kitchen string, it is worth picking up a roll. You can buy it from places like Central Market or Sur la Table, but some grocery stores carry it as well.  I added small potatoes because I had some on hand, but they cook wonderfully and helped this be a more complete one pot meal, so I think they were worth adding.

Step by Step
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Remove the chicken giblets from inside the chicken. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and pat the outside dry. Salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, both halves of lemon, and all the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place the onions, carrots, potatoes and fennel in a roasting pan. Toss with salt, pepper, 20 sprigs of thyme, and olive oil. Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan and place the chicken on top.

Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until a meat thermometer register 160 in the breast meat.Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes. Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve it with the vegetables.


hello, gorgeous


This little dream boat was given to me for Christmas and oh, how it has changed everything. I have had my eye on a large Le Creuset oval for awhile and almost fell over when I opened it. I'm well aware this is not something you just go out and buy, but if you get the chance to get one of these, do it. It's the perfect thing to put on a registry or my original route to making this dream come true was to ask for gift cards and start saving. I've already used it for so many things and will be sharing soon. Just had to share what I'm smitten with these days...

happy valentine's day.


So I took my own idea and made these brownies and made a version of these bags.  Two days before Valentine's was not the time to start looking for the brown bags I needed for this project so I improvised and used brown lunch bags and cut them off.  My printer was being difficult so I just printed on white card stock and pasted on.  It's been awhile since I brought a sweet treat to work, so I thought this was a perfect excuse to try out a new version of the over top fudgy brownies that I have been dying to try and give my coworkers a little old fashioned valentine.

Are you ready for this?  No seriously, if you have any interest in peanut butter and serious chocolate, this could change everything.  Dark chocolate Reese's peanut butter cups sprinkled into over the top fudgy brownies.  I can barely type because of the sugar coma I have put myself in just from the bite here and bite there that i ate, but what better day than Valentine's to go a little over the top?  I will say these weren't the easiest brownies to cut into hearts, but I think they turned out pretty darn cute. I made half with Snickers just in case the Reese's cups didn't work out, but seriously?  Why would I have ever thought peanut butter cups would be anything but bliss in all this chocolate??

This version is now on the very top of my list of outrageously tasty and decadent treats with the Reese's being my favorite version.  Hope you are noshing on some sweet treats today and put these on your list.

From my little kitchen to yours... Enjoy.

Here is the recipe.  Substitute Dark Chocolate Reese's Peanut Butter Cups for Snickers and walnuts for the pecans.



Sure wish you I could deliver these through each one of your screens... hope you have a great day.