thegingerchef

Recipes from My Kitchen

Apps for a Night Out

So a week or two ago I went out with my friend Theresa, which meant I got to make some appetizers ūüôā ¬†Three cheers for new recipe night! ¬†I didn’t have a lot of time, so I found a recipe (ok, two of them) that were pretty quick, required very few ingredients, and were pretty tasty. ¬†The first is a date log – this would be great served with crackers, cheese, and fruit. ¬†It’s great for an appetizer for a gathering – it’s a very rich dish, but so easy you won’t mind making it. ¬†The second is a ricotta-type empanada. ¬†A great cheese dish, rich, but not over the top.

Date Log (http://thekiwicook.wordpress.com/2014/01/30/date-pecan-log/)

I only made half of the recipe – but it was really easy. ¬†You don’t have to toast the pecans, they smell good, but if you’re short on time. ¬† Toast the chopped nuts in the oven until they’re fragrant – about 10 minutes.20140314_174916Mix together the chopped dates, sugar, honey, orange zest and juice in a pot on the stove. 20140314_175459¬†Bring the pot to a simmer, until it thickens, then add in the pecans. ¬†Here’s where I went wrong (don’t get me wrong, it was still delicious, but I am ready to throw out all of the wax paper I own – it does me no good). ¬†20140314_180557When the mixture has thickened, add to a sheet of parchment paper (not wax paper – do as I say, not as I do!) and mold into a log shape. ¬†Chill in the fridge until you’re ready to serve (remove and bring to room temp when you’re ready). ¬†Don’t use wax paper – the log is *very* sticky and you can’t peel the two apart. ¬†Parchment would work so much better, I just didn’t have any. ¬†This will be a sticky mess, but if you slice it with a sharp knife on a wooden board/solid surface, it will be worth it.20140314_181731

 

The cheese empanada (or Maltese Pastizzi¬†http://mediterranealicious.com/2013/11/21/maltese-pastizzi-my-way/) was super easy to make – thaw out some puff pastry and roll it out. ¬†Mix ricotta with an egg and some cheese, salt, pepper. ¬† Cut out the puff pastry with a ring mold (i.e. an upside down cup), fill with a tablespoon of ricotta mix, and then seal up. ¬†Brush with an egg (if you have one, but not needed), and then bake. ¬†That’s it!!

 

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Dinner – 29 minutes or less!

Welcome back! ¬†I am back from the holiday break and ready to be in my kitchen again ūüôā ¬†Tonight I made one of my favorite Pampered Chef recipes from a book called “29 Minutes or Less (vol 2)” and I have made it several times. ¬†This is a ricotta gnocchi with a garlic and brown butter sauce – and really it’s the only way I’ll eat gnocchi (traditionally, it’s considered a pasta and you boil it – but that’s too squishy for me – it very much resembles a dumpling). ¬†Gnocchi can also be made with potato (white, mashed), sweet potato, or different types of squash.

Mix ~1 C ricotta with a splash of lemon juice, one egg, some salt, and ~1/2 C flour. ¬†You might need to add a little more flour so it’s not too sticky to work with (or keep some handy for your hands) – but roll the dough into small balls onto floured parchment (just to keep them workable).

 

Melt a little butter (~1 T) with some olive oil in a pan – when it’s hot, add in the gnocchi and brown thoroughly on each side.

This recipe makes about 45 gnocchi – it was plenty to feed 5 people; you might need to keep adding the butter/oil combo as you cook the gnocchi – make sure there’s enough in pan so they don’t burn. (When they’re done, they will slightly resemble pan-seared scallops!)

After they’re all cooked, add quite a bit of butter (~half a stick for 5 people) to the pan and heat until melted and begins to brown. ¬†As soon as it’s cooked (2-3 min), remove from heat and add in a splash of lemon juice, some crushed red pepper, and 2-3 cloves of minced garlic.

To serve – layer a plate with fresh spinach, gnocchi on top, and drizzle with garlic butter sauce. ¬†This meal always gets rave reviews! ¬†You will not be disappointed ūüôā

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