Spinach and Ricotta Pasta

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This pasta is choke full of spinach for a healthy dose of veggies.

1 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lb fresh spinach, chopped
1/2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
8 oz ricotta cheese
1/4 c milk
1/2 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
1/4 c pine nuts, toasted
1/2 lb pasta
salt and pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, cook pasta according to packaging.

Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onion on a gentle heat until soft but not browned. Add the thyme, garlic and spinach. Continue to cook on low heat until the spinach leaves have wilted, approximately 2-3 minutes. Stir in ricotta and milk, cook until smooth, adding more milk as needed.

Add pasta, heat through and allow pasta to absorb the sauce, about 2 minutes.

Serves 2.

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Chard and Parmesan Cheese

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Simple is generally better, especially when you buy fresh quality ingredients! This is a great weeknight dish that is sure to please.

Ingredients:
2 bunches of chard, stems removed
2 TBSP butter
1/4 c fresh grated Parmesan cheese
Salt & Pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, cook chard for 4 minutes. Remove and drain. Wring out water and chop.

In a large 12 inch skillet, melt butter and add chard, toss to warm, add cheese and stir.

Serves 4.

Buffalo Salmon

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If you put hot sauce on it, I will eat it. Put it on a piece of fresh salmon and I’m in love. This is from Epicurious with a few tweaks. Super simple, tasty and quick.

Ingredients:
1 lb salmon
Franks red hot sauce
Panko breadcrumbs
Olive oil spray

Preheat oven to 425.

Pour a thin layer of hot sauce over the salmon, top with panko, spray with olive oil and bake for 15 – 20 minutes until cooked through.

Serves 4.

Ad Hoc’s Braised Ox Tails with Mushrooms

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Thomas Keller is amazing because he can do simple and make it phenomenal. This dish is unctuous – and worth every calorie. This dish takes all day, with most of the work being hands off. I did not alter this recipe one bit – this is best every greasy, meaty calorie. I usually serve it with a simple salad topped with white truffle salad dressing.

Ingredients:
4 lbs Ox tails
5 qt beef broth
3 cups oyster mushrooms, trimmed
1/4 c shallot
3 sprigs of thyme, leaves only
2 TBSP of butter
Salt & pepper
1 chibatta loaf, sliced in half lengthwise
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 400.

Salt and pepper the Ox tails. In a large oven proof pan with a lid, heat 1 TBSP of canola oil over medium high heat. Add Ox tails and brown on all sides. Add beef broth, cover and put in the oven for 3 – 4 hours until falling off the bones.

Remove from oven, flip over Ox tails and let rest for an hour with the lid on. Remove the lid and let rest for another 30 minutes to an hour until cool enough to handle. Move all the Ox tails to one side of the pot and start to remove the meat. Toss the bones and connective tissue. Work you way thought the Ox tails. I usually take a second pass to make sure I’ve removed all the bits and pieces I don’t want to eat. Cover and hear over low heat.

In a large pan heat a tsp of oil over medium heat and add 1/4 – 1/2 the mushrooms – DO NOT crowd them. Cook for 10 minutes on once side until brown, flip and cook the other side, remove and repeat. Add the mushrooms back to the pan with the shallots and thyme and butter, cook until nicely glazed.

Add mushrooms to the meat, stir to combine and cook for a few minutes.

Heat the oven to broil. Generously brush the bread with olive oil. Broil for 2 – 5 minutes until nicely toasted.

Slice, top with meat and mushroom mixture. Enjoy!

Serves 6 – 8.

Dulce de Leche Bread Pudding

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Dulce de leche, come on you know your drooling! Look for it in the ethnic section of you super market, I usually buy a couple of cans since my treks to Safeway are limited. This recipe comes from food and wine magaine, with a few changes from yours truly. If you are not watching your wasteline feel free to use whole milk. This is an amazing treat that will warm you right up on a cold winter night. It would also be great for breakfast.

Ingredients:
Crème anglaise
2 TBSP flour
1 3/4 c 1% milk
1 vanilla bean, scraped
2 large eggs
1/4 c sugar
1 TBSP sugar

Wisk flour & 1/2 c milk in a medium pan until smooth. Whisk in remaining milk, vanilla and pods. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, reduce to low and cook for about 1 minute until thickened

Whisk eggs and sugar together, add a little milk to temper the eggs. Add eggs to milk mixture.

Cook overflow heat, stirring constantly until thick, about 5 minutes.

Bread Pudding
1/2 c dulce de leche, plus more for serving
2 TBSP butter, melted
4 large egg whites,
1 load challah, cut into 1-inch cubes

Preheat the oven to 425° and butter a 2-quart shallow baking dish.

In a large bowl, stir the crème anglaise with the 1/2 cup of dulce de leche and the butter. Whisk in the egg whites. Add the challah, stirring and gently mashing until the cubes are nearly soaked, 5 minutes. Transfer the bread mixture to the prepared baking dish and bake for about 12 minutes, until firm and bubbling around the edges.

Heat the broiler. Broil the pudding for 1 to 2 minutes, shifting the dish a few times, until browned all over. Cut the bread pudding into squares, drizzle with dulce de leche and serve.

Serves 10 – 12.

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

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Trader Joes had peppermint bark bites and I just had to bake some cookies featuring these tasty finds! I had them healthier: used 1/2 c apple sauce in place of butter; replaces the brown sugar with coconut palm sugar; used some whole wheat flour and used coconut palm oil in place of the remaining butter. They still taste wonderful but are slightly healthier 😉

Ingredients:
1 1/4 c whole wheat flour
1 c all purpose flour
¾ c unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 tsp baking Soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c applesauce
1/2 c coconut oil
1 c Coconut palm sugar of brown sugar
1/2 c Sugar
3 egg whites
1-½ tsp Vanilla
1 tsp Pure Peppermint Extract
9 oz peppermint bark pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of your mixer, beat aplle sauce and coconut palm oil with the sugars until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg whites beating until smooth. Add vanilla and peppermint extracts. On low speed, mix in the flour mixture a little at a time. Mix in peppermint bark.

Place teaspoons of dough on an ungreased cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes.

Cool for one minute on the pan before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

Fig Stuffed Pork Loin

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I spent some quality time cooking from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc cookbook last weekend. This pork dish was out of this world! I served it with caramelizes sweet potatoes and roasted broccoli. I had some left over fig stuffing that I heated and served on the side.

Ingredients:
2 lb pork tenderloin
2 tsp canola oil
1 large fennel, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c shallot, minced
1 c fig jam
4 TBSP balsamic glaze
1/4 c chicken stock
2 tsp canola oil
1/2 c white wine

Preheat oven to 375.

In a medium sauce pan heat oil over medium heat, add fennel and cook for 5 minutes until softened. Add garlic and shallot, cook for 3 more minutes until softened. Stir in fig jam, balsamic and chicken stock, cook for 10 minutes until slightly thick. Set aside to cool.

Season your tenderloins with salt and pepper. Cut the tenderloin through the middle almost to through, you want to be able to open it like a book. Full cavity with stuffing, tie gently – you don’t want the stuffing coming out.

In a oven proof skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Brown tenderloin on all sides. Add wine to the skillet and pop in the oven. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes until it reaches 130 for medium rare. Let rest for 10 minutes then slice.

Serves 6 – 8.

Pasta with Veal Tomato Sauce

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This is a great weeknight pasta you can whip up with very little effort.

Ingredients:
16 oz canned tomatoes, chopped
3 TBSP butter
1 onion, chopped
1/2 pound ground veal
salt
pepper
1/4 c Parmigiano-Reggio, grated
8 oz pasta

In a 12 inch skillet, melt butter over medium heat, add onions and cook for 5 minutes until softened. Add veal, cook until brown, breaking up with a spoon. Add tomatoes and simmer until ready to use, up to 1 hour.

Being a large pot of salted water to a boil, cook pasta according to package.

Add pasta to sauce, adding a little water if needed. Toss to coat pasta. Too with parm and service.

Serves 4.

Pasta with Artichokes and Proscuitto

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Monday Monday… Yeah for Monday because in our house that usually means a nice comforting bowl of pasta! This one is packed full of flavor, sweetness from the proscuitto, salty parm cheese and a little acid from the marinated artichokes – yummy!

Ingredients:
8 oz fresh pasta
4 oz proscuitto, torn into small pieces
4 oz Parmesan, grated
2 small tomatoes, chopped (canned are on)
2 marinated artichoke hearts chopped (jarred with olive oil – 8 quarters)
Red pepper flakes
1/4 c parsley, chopped

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, cook pasta according the directions on package.

In a 12 inch skillet, cook tomatoes over medium heat, for about 2 minutes, until most of the liquid is a absorbed. Add artichokes and proscuitto, red pepper flakes and cook until proscuitto starts to crisp. Add pasta and a little pasta water, toss. Add cheese, toss and top with parsley.

Serves 2.