Batter Licker

December 14, 2010

baked ziti

Filed under: beef,cheese,meat,pasta,pork — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Kristen @ 9:08 pm

When I’m in the mood for tomato-based Italian pasta that’s a little more interesting (i.e. baked and cheesy) than spaghetti, I often turn to this classic baked ziti. This a great use for my 15-minute Simple Meat Marinara Sauce without requiring too much more effort, as most of the work is done by placing a baking dish in oven for a 35-minute sauna.

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The beauty of baked ziti is that each bite features a different flavor, from rich tomato and meat flavors to creamy ricotta and mozzarella, while also providing textural contrasts between the saucy underside and the Parmesan-crusted, slightly crunchy topping. (more…)

November 15, 2010

creole jambalaya

I love spicy foods, and when I have some peppers and onions left over from fajitas, jambalaya is a good way to make use of these veggies and other pantry items I always have on hand. Plus, jambalaya mixes it up a bit so the leftover-friendly dish has some bite without having the same Mexican flavor profile and doesn’t seem quite so left over.

Compared to other spicy, complex, and delicious Southern creole dishes, such as gumbos and étouffées, jambalaya is much simpler and less time consuming to prepare. But it still looks and tastes incredibly flavorful and much more labor intensive than it is, which is never a bad thing.

While there are several types of jambalaya out there, the creole variety is my personal preference. Not that I’d turn down a cajun jambalaya, but there’s something about the tomato-based creole version – probably the acidity of the tomatoes – that just really balances the spice intensiveness of this dish.

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Jambalaya is typically made with rice cooked directly in the sauce, but I usually do a pasta version. Pasta not only cooks faster than rice, but penne rigate is particularly fantastic for this dish because the ridges add texture and really catch more of the sauce. (more…)

November 8, 2010

butternut squash and basil bechamel lasagna

File this under “best lasagna you almost never tried because there’s no meat in it, no ricotta, no tomato sauce, and the main veggie featured is … squash?!?!?” It sounds crazy, I know.

And I’m sure the meat lover in your life will balk just as fervently as Jay did … and Adam … and Joe (okay, Joe kept the balking internal, but eventually admitted to it). Heaven forbid you ever make lasagna without sausage or ground beef! Have you forgotten the most basic tenets of lasagna-making?!? Surely you’ve gone a little too far down foodie alley; you’re trying too hard to come up with innovative, blog-worthy recipes; you’re completely off your rocker.

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But then said meat lover will scoop up a slab of cheesy, squashy, creamy, basily baked noodles. And his carnivorous, quick-to-hate vegetarian food mouth will chew and gulp and chomp and swallow as he devours his portion (more…)

October 25, 2010

butternut squash gnocchi in garlic-sage cream sauce

I’m not a pumpkin kind of gal. I’d like to be, and heaven knows I’ve tried pumpkin in various forms plenty of times. But pumpkin just doesn’t do it for me, unless I’m sticking a sharp knife into it to carve a spooky face.

Pumpkin’s fall friend butternut squash, on the other hand, is something I can really get behind. Butternut squash in soups, baked pasta dishes, pizzas, risottos, and salads – or even just roasted with a bit of salt – is positively divine.

Yes; I called butternut squash divine. No; I’m not exaggerating.

Compared to other kinds of squash, the creamy skinned butternut squash is a much more manageable size, making it both easier to peel and chop and unlikely to leave you with a ridiculous amount of leftover squash. And, for the occasionally lazy among us, you’ll be delighted to know that Costco sells skinned, cubed butternut squash for the next few months.

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August 11, 2010

basil-flecked pasta

Filed under: pasta — Tags: , — Kristen @ 10:29 pm

Whenever I go out to an Italian restaurant, I avoid pasta like the plague. And it’s not a no-carbs diet thing; it’s an I-shouldn’t-order-restaurant-food-that-I-can-make-at-home thing.

However, I sometimes permit an exception where the pasta is homemade and there is something intriguing or unique about the ingredients or sauce. Those are the only things that make me feel justified slightly better about paying $15 to $25 for a dish that would only cost $5 for me to make at home.

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But now that I’ve learned how easy and cheap it is to make your own pasta, I’m not sure I can order pasta at a restaurant ever again.
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