Cooking Tip: When Making Pasta with Creamy Alfredo-Style Sauces, Boil It With Milk

I’m always looking for ways to improve my cooking and recipes.  One thing that I highly recommend when making creamy pasta, is boiling milk and water.  Some recipes suggest using only milk, but I have had a lot of luck using a proportion of about 3/4 water and 1/4 milk.  If I only have a little bit of milk left, then I just throw in what I have.  I only use skim milk when I use this strategy, but the higher the fat content of the milk, the creamier the pasta will end up.

As when normally making pasta, I still add salt so that the pasta does not stick together.  I’ve tried boiling my pasta with milk both with and without olive oil, and it has turned out well each time.   I happen to like putting in a dash of olive oil because I use skim milk, but if I was using 2% or full fat milk then I would not recommend olive oil

This works with any time of pasta.  I’ve tried it with rotini, linguini, and fettuccine.

Step 1:  Fill pot with water and add salt

Step 2: *Optional* Add olive oil

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Step 3: Add milk and bring water to a boil

Here’s a picture of Step 3 with olive oil added:

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Here’s a picture of Step 3 without any olive oil added:

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Bring the mixture to a boil and throw in whatever pasta you’re making.

Linguini . . . img_2414.jpg

Rotini . . .
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There are so many possibilities with pasta.  Here are a couple of my finished products after boiling pasta with milk 🙂

Pasta alla carbonara:
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Wild shrimp and asparagus fettuccine Alfredo:

 

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Use Leftover Cranberries for Cranberry Oatmeal Muffins

I’ve been on a baking tear the beginning of this year.  My husband was tired of his bagel/bialy/protein bars that he rotates for breakfast, so I spoiled him with fresh muffins.  In order to use up cranberries, I made oatmeal cranberry muffins.  I had lots of leftover cranberries from various recipes, and I was looking for something low effort since I made these first thing Saturday morning.  (FYI cranberries stay good in the refrigerator for up to a month, so don’t preemptively throw them away!)  This is an easy recipe, and the muffins are relatively healthy, as they do not contain any butter or white sugar.  I will definitely make these again, and potentially try them with blueberries next time!

Rather than butter, these muffins are instead made with plain yogurt.  I had regular plain Chobani yogurt on hand, so that’s what I used.  The first step to making these muffins is to combine the oats and yogurt and let the mixture sit while you prepare everything else.img_5202-1.jpgNext, I was too lazy to sift the dry ingredients, so I mixed around all of the dry ingredients with a fork.  I added the honey, one egg, and then stirred in the yogurt mixture.Lastly, I added the chopped cranberries.  I didn’t worry about chopping the cranberries too finely, and instead just cut them in half.  Then I stirred until they were evenly distributed.These were very easy to scoop out into a muffin tin prepared with liners.I baked them at 400 degrees for almost 20 minutes, keeping a close eye on them.Look at that height!I kept these muffins refrigerated because it’s warm in my apartment, and it’s better to gently heat them every morning than let them sit out.  I just bought this handy dandy tupperware a couple months ago from Amazon right before I started my holiday baking, and I’m obsessed.  Mmmmm, warm oatmeal cranberry muffins, a delicious breakfast!

Cranberry Oatmeal Muffins Recipe (reprinted and slightly modified from original recipe):

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg 
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup halved cranberries
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and prepare muffin pan with liners.
  2. In a separate smaller bowl, mix together the oats and yogurt and let the mixture sit.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients.  Add in the honey, olive oil, and then the yogurt and oat mixture.
  4. Evenly stir in the chopped cranberries and lemon juice.
  5. Divide into prepared muffin pan.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes.  (I check on my muffins at around 17 minutes first, to make sure they’re not overdone.)

Enjoy!

Free the Frozen Plastic Baby LOL: My Friend’s Baby Shower Game Shenanigans

I went to a friend’s baby shower yesterday in Westchester, or should I say “Westchestah” and played a hilarious game.  The game was called “My Water Broke.”  There were frozen plastic toy babies in pieces of ice, and the person who was able to melt their ice first and free the baby had to yell out “MY WATER BROKE!”  Is this not adorable?!img_5015I rubbed the ice between my hands, looked for candles, heating, anything to put my hands nearby.  Though, I gave up at one point and threw the baby into my champagne.  Merry Christmas!!!!!  LOLimg_5016

Brussel Sprout and Bacon Salad Recipe: Add Some Freshness and a Crisp Factor to Holiday Side Dishes

I cannot believe that Thanksgiving is already over!  These fall-winter holidays go by so fast!  At least I can live by the memories of all the food and good company!

I don’t know about you guys, but I feel like Thanksgiving has a lot of mushy dishes.  Between the mashed potatoes and cornbread, to the sweet potatoes, and pies — mushy smushy!  I wanted to incorporate a fresh and crunchy element to our meal, so I came up with the idea of using raw brussel sprouts versus the usual warm cooked brussel sprouts.  I searched around for a bunch of recipes and I found one that used cold shredded brussel sprouts, and a freshly made citrus vinaigrette.  To round it out, there hard crunchy bacon!

This salad/side dish is really easy to make.  First, make the vinaigrette and refrigerate it — sorry no photos of it, I got too excited!

Second, fry the bacon in a skillet and lay it on some paper towels to degrease a little bit.  This step is totally optional, but I recommend it because the bacon turns out less soppy and more crispy.imageMake sure you get a really big bowl to mix the salad.  I bought pre-shredded pre-washed brussel sprouts from FreshDirect.  The recipe calls for buying whole brussel sprouts and shredding them on a mandolin, but who has A) a mandolin in their NYC apartment and B) time to shred miniature little brussel sprout balls…  Maybe when I have a huge kitchen one day with time and space for unnecessary kitchen gadgetry.

Throw together all of the salad ingredients, tear apart the bacon on top, mix in the vinaigrette, and toss the salad around so everything is well-coated.  Here are some tasty close-ups of the salad.  Mmmmm…..

Bacon and Shredded Brussel Sprout Salad(reprinted with minor alternations from pinchofyum.com’s recipe)

For vinaigrette:

  • 1 lemon
  • 1 orange
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil or to taste (remember there will be some bacon fat too 🙂 )
  • salt and pepper

For salad:

  • 6 slices cooked bacon (you can put a couple more pieces if you would like…)
  • about 4 dozen shredded brussel sprouts
  • 1 cup blanched/shredded almonds
  • 1 cup grated Pecorino-Romano cheese (whatever grated hard salty cheese you have on hand should work — the first time I used Parmesan)
  1. Juice the lemon and orange into a small bowl.  Mix the rest of the ingredients for the vinaigrette, and make sure it’s almost to the point of being nice and foamy.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate it until you’re ready to serve the salad.
  2. Fry the bacon in a skillet.  I placed the cooked bacon on a plate of paper towels to blot some of the bacon fat, but this step is optional.
  3. In a large bowl, dump out the shredded brussel sprouts.  Stir in the chopped almonds, grated cheese, and tear apart the bacon with your fingers.  Mix in the refrigerated vinaigrette and toss the salad around.

Serve and enjoy this fresh and tasty salad!

Fall Treats: Cinnamon Raisin Loaf Topped with Sugar and Blanched Almonds

Today is just one of those days when you want stay home.  It’s grey, gross, and muggy out!  Since it’s technically fall, I decided to bake something so my husband has a little breakfast bread with his coffee every morning.  I made a cinnamon loaf with raisins and blanched almonds.  Yum!

To cut fat and calories, I substituted out the buttermilk and oil.  (For the buttermilk, I used a tablespoon of white vinegar and the rest of the cup organic skim milk.  For the oil, I substituted apple sauce.)  The consistency of this loaf is light and airy like a muffin.

The little bowl on the left is the raisins coated with flour.  If you don’t coat them with flour, they tend to sink to the bottom.  The bowl on the right is the cinnamon, sugar, almond, and butter mixture for the top of the loaf.img_4631img_4630Gently mix the raisins into main mixture.img_4632Sprinkle the topping mixture across the top:img_4633Bake and eat it warm!img_4635Look at the height on this thing!img_4634Dig in!  This is my afternoon treat 🙂img_4636.jpgimg_4637

Cinnamon Bread I recipe with alterations/substitutions

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white sugar (I substituted 1/2 cup honey)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I substituted 1 tablespoon white vinegar and skim milk)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (I substituted with applesauce)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons butter

I added:

  • handful of raisins dusted in flour so they don’t sink to the bottom
  • blanched/sliced almonds for the sugar/cinnamon/butter mixture that get’s sprinkled on top of the loaf

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and butter loaf pan.
  2. Take 1 tablespoon of vinegar and pour it into a 1 cup measuring cup.  Fill the rest of cup with skim milk.  Let this sit while you mix the rest of the ingredients together.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, honey, baking powder, baking soda, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, salt, milk mixture, applesauce, eggs and vanilla.  Pour into loaf pan.
  4. Measure out raisins to taste, and coat them with flour so they don’t sink to the bottom.  Gently stir them into the large bowl of ingredients.
  5. In a little bowl mix the 2 tablespoons sugar, cinnamon, 2 tablespoons butter, and blanched almonds.  Sprinkle over the loaf pan, and run a butter knife through the top a few times so it looks like the sugar is marbled throughout.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes.

Make sure you store this in the refrigerator since it has applesauce!  When you’re ready to eat it, cut a thick piece and toast it in the oven for a few minutes to warm up.

 

 

Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joe “inspired” sandwich on day one, and an egg scramble on day two.

I try to eat healthy, but sometimes I crave something bad!  I also really, really didn’t want to go anywhere on Friday, so made sure to get my FreshDirect order for the day before.  I came up with the idea of a Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joe “inspired” sandwich.  My goal was to make it as quickly as possible, and as healthy as possible.  Although, let’s be serious, it’s difficult to make hot meat sandwiches healthy.  I made it with a frozen baguette (love the FreshDirect brand), organic ground turkey, frozen organic broccoli, and provolone cheese.

I heated up some olive oil in a pan and started cooking chopped onions and garlic:

It’s important to have a drink when you cook on a weekend.  (Not pictured, is also the frozen baguette from FreshDirect.  It takes about 20 minutes to bake, which is perfect while I make the meat.)

Onions and garlic are always so aromatic!

Time to add the ground organic turkey meat:

Stirring it around with a wooden spoon and getting it nice and browned:

I didn’t have Worcestershire sauce, so I made my own version with soy sauce, hot sauce, white vinegar, salt, and pepper:

Then the broccoli goes in towards the latter part.  I also dressed the meat and broccoli again with salt, pepper, and sauces.

 

 

Bread is out of the oven!  I kept it on the warmer until I was ready to cut it apart.

I decided to make one mega sandwich, rather than two.  So I cut the bread in half down the middle, and lined the whole thing with provolone.

Top the bread with filling and put some more cheese on top.  Dinner is served!!!!

There was a lot of the meat and broccoli filling leftover, so the next day I made an omelette/scramble out of it for breakfast.  Take a non-stick pan, put an extremely small amount of olive oil, put it on low heat, and then throw the eggs over it, cooking everything on a low temperature.  All I did was take four eggs, scramble them in a bowl, add some black pepper, and pour them over the meat and broccoli.  Sooooo good!

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Next weekend, in lieu of a cheesesteak, try making this Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joe “inspired” sandwich!

A Healthier and Easy Banana Bread: Make it quick, before you run out the door!

I had four rotting bananas that I really didn’t want to throw away.  I was also in a hurry to get ready and leave, because I needed to run an errand on the way to my Mayweather-McGregor watch party!   #fightnight #vegassssss 🙂

I took a shower, prepared the banana bread, threw it in the oven, and finished getting ready.  That’s how easy this one-bowl type recipe is to make.  It was perfect.  It baked for 55 minutes, and that’s exactly how long I needed to primp,  prime, dress up, and be at the door by the time the banana bread came out.  The best part about this recipe is that it contains no butter!  It’s made with applesauce, and half sugar/half honey, which is healthier of course than butter, and all sugar.  Honey still has sugar of course, but it is more natural and less processed.

Here are my overly ripe bananas about to be delicious banana bread:

There was absolutely no need to put the bananas in a separate bowl.  I crushed them with a fork into the mixture.Here I am about to mash the bananas with a fork into the applesauce, honey, sugar, egg mixture:  Stir around and mix gently.  Don’t turn this into baby food puree:Pour the batter into the greased/floured loaf pan.  You can make this recipe with a muffin pan and cook it for a shorter period of time, but it is way easier to pour it just once into a loaf pan:The loaf is out of the oven!  So pretty that I had to take multiple pictures.  It’s also extremely difficult to convey how good this smelled…I wrapped the banana bread in the loaf pan tightly with foil and put it in the fridge overnight.  I store all of my baked goods like banana bread, cornbread, etc., in the refrigerator.  Especially when you’re baking with fresh fruit and applesauce, the stuff tends to go bad if you leave it out.

It’s particularly important to let baked goods made with applesauce to sit overnight.  I find that otherwise they stick to the side of the pan or muffin liners.  However, when you let them sit overnight, the muffin/loaf/-fill-in-the-blank separates itself from the sides.

I took it out of the fridge this morning, cut two very thick slices, and gently warmed them on a piece of foil in the oven.  I set the oven to 350F, but didn’t even wait for it to get to that temperature.  The pieces just slightly needed to be warmed because there was some condensation from the foil that had formed (and the banana bread was obviously very cold from the refrigerator):Here it is out of the oven.  COULD NOT WAIT TO FINALLY TRY THIS!

Breakfast is served!

Light Banana Bread (Adjusted from Food.com Best Banana Bread Recipe)

1/2 cup applesauce

1/2 cup honey and 1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs beaten

4 bananas mushed with a fork

1.5 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

a few dashes of cinnamon

butter and flour to grease pan

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease the loaf pan with butter, and flour it.
  2. Get a big mixing bowl.  Combine the applesauce, honey, and sugar.
  3. Stir in the two beaten eggs.
  4. Put the bananas in the mixing bowl and mash them down with a fork.  (It doesn’t need to be puree, just make sure they’re smashed.  Little chunks of bananas are perfect.)
  5. Stir in the flour, salt, baking soda, vanilla, and cinnamon.  Don’t go crazy mixing, just make sure it’s generally evenly mixed.
  6. Pour into the greased/floured loaf pan and bake at 55 minutes at 350F.
  7. Cover with foil when it comes out of the oven and refrigerate overnight.