Ricotta Gnocchi

raw-gnocchi
Ricotta gnocchi is my latest culinary obsession. Unlike the traditional potato, flour, and egg gnocchi recipes, ricotta gnocchi is really easy and also not very hard to mess up. Since gluten immediately causes nausea for me, I decided to search for a gluten-free flour that would work for this recipe. I found a white rice flour by Bob’s Red Mill that kicks ass for this purpose and makes a really nice light and fluffy gluten-free gnocchi. Another plus, the ricotta adds some protein to an otherwise all-carb dish. Finally, I would like to give Gar a shoutout because he is the one who came up with the method I use for shaping the gnocchi. So here it goes:

2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan
2 eggs
1/2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1 and 1/4 cup white rice flour
Semolina flour for dusting work surfaces

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Bacon Pineapple Upside Down Cake

pineapple-cake

Yes, bacon pineapple upside down cake. It’s really, really good. I got the idea for this from last year’s Food Network bacon magazine. I deviated from their cake recipe and made a butter cake and also did not mix bacon bits in the batter like it suggested. The pineapple bacon effect is so easy to create just butter your pan, apply a single layer of brown sugar, put down your pineapple rings, and fill the non-pineapple space with homemade bacon bits. It’s that simple. It’s that good.

Chinese Hot Pot

ChineseHotPot

Have you ever heard of Chinese hot pot? Gar explained what this was to me a few months ago and we’ve done our version of it twice since then. There are variations of this style of meal depending upon the geographical location but, basically, it’s a sort of Chinese fondue involving a hot broth, meat, sauces, and various vegetables. I read that there are traditional bowls for the broth that are sometimes heated with very hot stones. Well, I suppose the next best alternative to kick-ass traditional Chinese bowls is Sunbeam’s hot pot express for $9.99 at Target. The hot pot can boil water faster than anything and it actually works out so great for a hot pot dinner. It is not cordless, however, so you might need to run an extension cord to your table. But, hey, that’s the fun of doing something different for dinner!
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Holiday Leftovers

holiday-leftovers
Every year around the holidays I try out new ways to utilize leftovers. Sometimes I get really fancy and sometimes I find small variations on classics such as soup or sandwiches. This year, my favorite leftover dish by far was this potato pancake. It’s super simple. All one has to do to make this dish is mix some bacon and diced gouda with mashed potatoes, coat with flour, and pan fry with oil. Top your pancake with a poached or fried egg because you can and that’s it! Leftover magic.

Spicy Cilantro Lime Chicken Soup

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Soup is good even in the summer. I saw a picture for a lime chicken soup recipe online and I didn’t even read the recipe, I just thought to myself “Yum! I will make something like this tonight.” I boiled chicken breast in some chicken stock and then shredded it once cooked. I added some jalepeno, cilantro, fresh lime juice, lime zest, black beans, and minced garlic. Once that simmered for about 30 min. I served and topped with avocado, sliced radishes, and fresh cilantro. This soup is so good and refreshing. I really like eating it lukewarm but it is also good cold. The flavors really mellow out the following day so if you like spicy, I would add a little more jalepeno than you think you need. Also, it’s a good idea to reserve some lime wedges to squeeze over leftover bowls.

Vesuvius Rigatoni

vesuvius-rigatoni
I have not had a food crush like this in a while. I was watching a tv show about Italian street food and saw this dish and cooked it the next day. I even found a recipe for it online in Italian and translated it to English to find out what exactly was in this dish. I didn’t make the recommended sauces for it (in small part because I didn’t have tomatoes from the foothills of Mount Vesuvius) so I topped it with Julie’s Pasta Sauce. Also, they originally baked these at 300 degrees in aluminum tins lined with plastic wrap but I just used a 6-count nonstick muffin tin instead and it worked great. I’m still very unsure about the whole plastic-wrap-in-the-oven-thing. I tried researching the details about such a thing with inconclusive results. Ok, back to the fun part. To make this dish you will need to dice up a log of fresh mozzarella, mix together grean peas and ricotta cheese (I ended up using about 8 oz.), make mini meatballs (I made simple mini turkey meatballs by combining 1lb. lean ground turkey, one egg, breadcrumbs to texture, garlic powder, salt, and freshly ground black pepper), and boil large rigatoni pasta for 4 minutes. Trust the four minute cooking time and do not worry about stopping the cooking process of the pasta once drained. 4 minutes is perfect.

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Chipotle Apple Dipping Sauce

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Pork chops and apple sauce… not a huge fan. Don’t get me wrong, I love pork. I love breading and baking chops (pictured above), grilling chops, and grilling tenderloins. I super love slow cooking pork shoulder when it goes on sale. However, accompanying chops with applesauce doesn’t excite me in the least. I figured, though, that there has to be something worthwhile in the pairing for it to be considered the classic that it is.

I made a dipping sauce for breaded pork chops by combining about 1 and 1/2 cup of no added sugar applesauce, 2 diced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp. of molasses, 2 dashes of worcestershire sauce, and a dash of salt into a small saucepan and heating on a low heat until the mixture was bubbling and well combined. The sauce kicked ass and I would definitely make it again for the same purpose or for another, such as a topping on a burger. Even if you do not wish or have the means to create that exact sauce, just the simple addition of any amount of chipotle peppers to applesauce will be a tasty accompaniment to pork chops.

Side note, the pork chops were served with a very simple broccoli casserole. I caramelized some diced onion with a little bit of butter, added a small amount of water and chicken bullion, and carefully steamed chopped broccoli in the same saucepan. Once the broccoli was lightly steamed, I added a little more butter, a little bit of 2% milk, and a little cheddar. I thickened the liquid in the saucepan by adding some corn starch dissolved in a very small amount of cold milk and then brought it to a simmer before dumping the whole thing in a casserole dish. I topped the broccoli mixture with a light sprinkling of cheddar and with crushed cheddar goldfish crackers. If this sounds like a lot of work its really not… cheesy broccoli either baked or just with a light cheese sauce is one of my go-to craving replacements for macaroni or rich starches.