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DLW: Pasta Carbonara!


May is always a very busy month…and this one has been no exception.  Two college graduations, a multitude of birthdays (including my own), leaving my 8 to 5′ish job, and having visitors  - all of a sudden I cannot believe that it is almost June!  Many meals have been light snacks or potlucks, happy hours or small bites late in the evening.  We did manage to get this some-what homemade meal on the table a week or so ago…and it is one of my favorite quick dinners.

This particular evening, we used 1 package of fresh pasta (from the refrigerated section of the grocery store), half a package of bacon, 2 eggs and some grated parmesan cheese.  First – cook the bacon using whatever method you like the best.  When the bacon is close to being done, boil some water and salt it heavily.  Cook the pasta according to the package directions and then drain it, but make sure to keep 1-2 cups of the cooking liquid.  Meanwhile beat the eggs and season with salt and plenty of fresh cracked pepper  I throw the pasta back into the pot (make sure the heat is off) and then add 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup of the cooking liquid and stir a bit.  Next you are going to slowly pour in the beaten eggs into the very warm pasta and the heat from the pasta helps cook the egg a bit and the starchy pasta water helps turn it into a delightful sauce.  It will thicken quite a bit, so don’t be shy with the pasta water.  Sprinkle in the parmesan cheese and the crumbled bacon and top with some fresh chopped parsley or thinly sliced green onions and another hit of black pepper.  Serve immediately.

Dinner is done!

Panna Cotta – Under Construction! {a little help over here…please!}


Okay readers.  Clearly, I am in need of your help, your collective knowledge and wisdom, your trial and error experience with the seemingly simple (any-idiot-should-be-able-to-make-it) Italian dessert – panna cotta.

Don’t get excited…I did not make this one…

{via}

I made this one.  I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that a perfect panna cotta is not supposed to look like this…

Seriously…I’ve searched and searched for clues as to why it separated…and I can find none.  I repeat…NONE!  I followed the recipe exactly.

Okay not e-x-a-c-t-l-y…but very close.  Instead of using vanilla, I used Meyer lemons as the flavoring, the juice and some of the zest.  I bloomed the gelatin and heated the milk, stirred it altogether to make sure it was good and mixed…I poured it into little ramekins and let it cool a bit and then put them in the fridge.

(and what’s worse…I served them to my in-laws who were visiting…who were more than polite and delved right in as if eating gelatinized milk with a weird-looking yellowish layer on top was nothing other than sheer delight – luckily they are good-humored individuals!)

It tasted fine as well…but the bi-level layering and the yellowish top layer was a bit hard to get past.

So what happened, huh?

Attempt number two is happening this afternoon…but, if that one doesn’t turn out.  I may have to throw in the panna cotta towel.

{I’m counting on you, readers, to pull me out of panna cotta hell and tell me what went wrong!  Puh-lease!}

oh…and Happy Mother’s Day!

—– UPDATE—–

I made a second batch yesterday afternoon using a Mark Bittman recipe for Vanilla Buttermilk Panna Cotta.  The process varied quite a bit, and I was sure it would work out this time.  Many have thought that my issue may have been caused by the acid in the lemon juice – but yesterday’s recipe contained no lemon at all!  I was feeling very confident and pulled one out of the fridge after dinner and dug my spoon in…only to find that once again…full separation.

At this point, panna cotta and I are in a fight…a big one, and currently, I’m holding a big grudge.  We’ll have to talk it over at some point but I think right now I need some space!  GEEZ!

So I now request your help once again…or I’m going to start email-stalking Bittman himself until he discovers the error of my ways!

Help!

DLW :: Whatever-is-in-the-fridge Calzones


Sometimes we’re fancy around here and spend a lot of time and effort planning and cooking a meal…and others…it is just about filling your stomach for the evening.  These are the evenings when having some random ingredients in the fridge and pantry comes in handy!

Although pizza dough is incredibly easy and relatively quick to make…every so often I grab a bag of dough from the refrigerated section of Trader Joe’s – it can be so versatile.  So…we happened to have one just waiting to be used.

Throw in a leftover half an onion, some green olives and some roasted red peppers and whatever remnants of cheese you have along with some herbs and seasoning…and all of a sudden, you’ve got a delicious calzone.  I tend to leave the sauce out of the calzone and serve it warm on the side…otherwise, it can make everything a bit soggy.  We split this one between the two of us and it was a nice light meal.

What are your go-to pantry meals and creations?

Mom’s Oatmeal Comfort Cookies


You know the days when all you want to do is come home to some cookies made by someone who loves you, and enjoy them just out of the oven while you sit there and complain vent discuss your crappy day…?

I seem to have had more than my fair share of those lately.  Why wait for someone to come along and cheer you up…when you can just make some yourself.  (This has the added bonus…that maybe, just perhaps, no one knows exactly how many cookies you made and therefore can’t accuse you of eating the whole batch…just saying!)


Mom’s Oatmeal Cookies*

1 cup rolled oats
¾ cup flour
½ cup brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter (room temp.)
¼ sugar
1 egg
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. vanilla

Beat living crap out of sugar and butter, add egg and everything but flour and oats, then flour, then oats.  (Mom usually doubles, or even quadruples the recipe.)

Spoon onto baking sheets.  Bake at 375° for 12 minutes (‘though Mom finds this too long sometimes).  Be generous with sugar for more thin/lacy/crunchy cookies.

{*recipe is taken word for word from the Connelly Family Cookbook (my maiden name)}

Quick tip…when my mom was making cookies regularly for the 5 of us to nibble on after school…sometime during the day, she would plop the stick of butter into the Kitchenaid bowl on the counter and by the time she started the cookies, the butter was room temperature and ready to mix!

There was strong disagreement in our house growing up about whether oatmeal cookies should inherently contain raisins.  I think of oatmeal cookies like cake…there are many kinds and they can all be good for different reasons.  Coffee cake vs. red velvet vs. chocolate decadent vs. ice cream cake – the list goes on.  My Dad is on team raisin  and my Mom – her opinion is that adding raisins to these cookies is ‘just wrong’.  I’ll let you decide.  (and I promise, I won’t hold it against you!)

Perfect cookies to enjoy with just a small glass of milk!

{I actually had trouble eating less than two okay three anytime I walked by the cookie jar!}

What is your go-to comfort cookie?

 

 

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