Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

I used to think making your own pasta was super intimidating. And I still think some types of pasta are tricky. Especially the kind you roll out. But gnocchi is pretty easy to throw together. Now I'm not going to claim I can make pretty looking pasta or anything but it sure did taste delicious. I'm a big fan of sweet potatoes so they were a natural choice for my first foray into homemade pasta. Oh, and did I mention the awesomely good bleu cheese sauce that goes with the gnocchi? 

What You'll Need:
2 cups cooked, pureed sweet potato
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces gorgonzola or other bleu cheese
1 cup half and half
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted

What to Do:
Cook your sweet potatoes and scoop out the flesh. It took 3 small sweet potatoes to get 2 cups. Puree the sweet potato and add the salt. Gradually add the flour 1/2 cup at a time until the dough comes together and and is easy to handle. Depending on how juicy your potatoes are, you may not need all of the flour. Divide the dough into 4 balls. 

Generously flour your work surface and roll out each ball into 1/2 inch thick ropes. I'll admit I rolled my a little thick and they took a bit longer to cook. Try and err on the smaller side. Cut the logs into 1 inch pieces. You can get fancy and press a fork into each piece to make them look more traditional but you can cook them as is. 

Cook the gnocchi in boiling water until they float. Let them cook for a few more minutes and test one to see that it's cooked through. They should be chewy but still soft.

For the sauce, mix the cheese and half and half until the cheese is melted. Cook the sauce until it thickens slightly, about 5-10 minutes. Add the walnuts at the end. Drizzle the sauce over your gnocchi and I promise you'll love it :)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Petite Potatoes

I know. I'm a terrible blogger. Leaving you hanging for weeks on end with no explanation. Well, really there is none. Life's just busy. But that doesn't mean I haven't been cooking. Just not blogging. Like I said. 

So a few weeks ago I found a ton of amazing potatoes at the Athens Farmers Market. They came in all shapes, colors and sizes but what I thoughts sounded most delicious was the golden mini potatoes. They're sweet and buttery and pretty much impossible to cook incorrectly. My dad suggested the following preparation. I took a few liberties but I think he should still get credit :)

What You'll Need:
1-1.5 pounds petite potatoes, halved
1 bell pepper, diced
1 sweet onion, diced
Oregano, thyme, marjoram, garlic powder*
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup milk

*This is basically greek seasoning

What to Do:
Saute the pepper and onion in a dutch oven until the onions turn clear. Remove them from the pot and set aside. Add the potatoes to the pot along with the water, salt and pepper. Close the lid and steam the potatoes over medium high heat for about 20 minutes or until tender. 

Remove the lid and add the pepper and onion back to the pot along with the milk and spices.   Turn the heat down to medium and reduce the milk, stirring occasionally until it forms a creamy sauce. Add grilled chicken to make a complete meal. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Banana Caramel Fudge Brownies

You know those chocolate cravings. Like gotta have chocolate or I'm going to die no I'm not kidding cravings? Ladies, you know what I mean. Enter banana caramel fudge brownies. Think of these as chocolate-meets-bananas foster. They're super gooey, fudgy and will totally hit the spot. Plus, they use store-bought brownie mix so you have no excuse for not making these. 

What You'll Need:
1 box brownie mix 
1 banana chopped and mashed
1/4 cup oil
1 egg
1/3 cup caramel sauce

What to Do:
Basically, you make brownie mix according to the box but substitute the water for banana. I prefer Ghirardelli because it has a dark chocolate flavor and chocolate chips. You can certainly use your favorite brownie recipe for this too, but the box mix makes it so easy. The batter will be really sticky when your done mixing.

Pour the batter into a greased 8x8 pan and drizzle caramel sauce over the top. Although you're using a pre-made mix, I highly encourage you to make your own caramel sauce. It's so much better! Bake for the least amount of time recommended on the box, about 40 minutes, at 325 degrees. The brownies won't seem done when you take them out but they are. And they are surprisingly easy to pry out of the pan...

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Zucchini Crisps

You know those moments when someone introduces you to a new idea and you think, why have I not tried that yet? This is one of those recipes. My aunt made these while we were in the mountains for our annual family get-together. As much as I love zucchini, it never dawned on me coat them with cheese and breadcrumbs. Which makes everything taste awesome. Duh.

So here's how to make this ridiculously easy, yummy and crunchy appetizer.

What You'll Need:
Olive oil
2 zucchini
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 cup panko bread crumbs

What to Do:
This is super easy. Slice zucchini thinly and place it in a ziplock bag along with a tablespoon or so of olive oil and shake to coat. Lay the zucchini out on a parchment coated cookie sheet, trying not to overlap them too much. Mix the cheese and breadcrumbs together and generously sprinkle it over the zucchini. Flip the zucchini over and sprinkle the other side. You can also add a dash of red pepper to make these a little spicy.

Bake the zucchini at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Warning: these are highly addictive and will be eaten quickly. Two batches may be necessary. You can also do this with tomatoes. Although they won't be crispy, you can add a little fresh basil after they've roasted and they are delish. Thanks for the idea Aunt Beth!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Blackberry Lemon Mousse

Blackberries are in season. And they are awesome. Even with all of the rain we've had over the summer, you can find some killer blackberries. I picked up a carton at the farmer's market a few weeks ago and needed something to do with them (besides eat them all out of the bowl!). 

I thought they would be perfect with my go-to lemon mousse recipe. Adapted from Martha Stewart, this version is slightly less lemony to complement the blackberries. This is a great dessert to impress your friends. You don't have to tell them how easy it was ;)

What You'll Need:
4 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (2 lemons)
1 cup heavy cream

What to Do:
Heat the eggs, sugar and lemon juice over medium-low heat for a few minutes, stirring constantly. Turn the heat up to medium and cook until the mixture coats the back of a spoon, about five minutes. Stir the whole time or you might scramble your eggs! Strain the mixture through a sieve, pressing it through with a spatula.

Pour the mixture in a bowl and place plastic wrap directly on the surface. Chill for at least an hour. Meanwhile, whip cream until soft peaks form. Fold whipped cream into the lemon mixture and chill at least 30 minutes. Top with fresh whole and macerated blackberries. Garnish with basil if you like and dig in!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Okra Two Ways

Okra's one of those foods that, the more I cook, the more I enjoy. Okra tastes amazing if slow cooked in gumbo or with tomatoes but my favorite way to eat is fried. Classic right? For a little healthier version with a similar flavor, nothing beats grilled okra. You can use a traditional grill but the Foreman works nicely too (thanks Jeni!).


Preparing okra is so simple that it almost doesn't need a recipe. For the fried version, wash the okra and slice it into rounds. Dredge the wet okra in cornmeal and shake to remove the excess. Heat peanut oil in a dutch oven and add okra. Fry okra until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. Try not to move the okra around too much to make sure it caramelizes.

For the grilled version, brush the Foreman grill with peanut oil. Wash the okra and pat dry. Grill okra lengthwise for about 5 minutes until you get a nice sear and the okra just starts to deflate. 

Season the okra after you cook it to keep it from drying out. A little sea salt is all you need but I also like to add a kick of hot paprika. Ready to go cook yourself some okra yet?

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Vidalia Plum Relish

My husband is not a very good southerner. I mean, he doesn't like peaches. Not even in pie. And we live in the peach capitol of the south. Sigh. But he does love sweet onions so I thought I'd make a version of this relish with plums instead of my go-to peaches. Honestly, I can't tell much of a difference between the peach relish and the plum, but hey, whatever it takes to get him to eat it, right?

What You'll Need:
2/3 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/8 cup gin or vodka
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon red pepper
1 pound vidalia onions, diced
1 pound plums, pitted and diced
2 cloves of garlic, sliced

What to Do:
Bring the water, sugar, vinegar, alcohol and spices to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir ocasionally to make sure the sugar doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Add the plums, onions and garlic and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Pour the relish into jars and refrigerate. This recipe make about 24 oz and should keep for a few weeks in the fridge. I love serving this over pork roast but it would also be great with chicken. You can easily can this and add it to fall dishes and it makes a great southern housewarming gift :)