A new love. (Other People’s Food Post #1)

I’ve decided that I must post more, even if I don’t have the fortitude to come up with my own recipe. Today’s star dish is from The Crumby Kitchen, and it is a recipe I have been making for a few years now.

My “new love,” referenced above, is alfredo sauce. Perhaps, growing up, I only ever had bottled, gross, mass-produced alfredo. Who wants that shizz? No one.

The husband and I love our local Italian restaurant, Picasso’s. I’ve never liked fettuccine alfredo until I tried theirs on a whim. It. is. perfect. The sauce is light and packed with flavor, and perfectly coats to their beautifully-cut fettuccine.

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Look at that marvelous creation.

Perhaps it was my new-found love for alfredo, combined with my Local Fare delivery of sweet potatoes and gorgeous San Marzano tomatoes, that reminded me of this favorite recipe in my collection.

 

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Spiralizing veggies to sub for pasta is by no means a new craze, and, let’s be honest – it does not hit the spot as pasta does.

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It is pretty fun and satisfying to spiralize something – though a little scary, depending on your spiralizer. Mine has a blade that looks like a guillotine! And, in this recipe, the sweet potato “noodles” balance perfectly with the oh-so-decadent sauce.

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After making a quick tomato sauce with shallots, you combine said sauce with a lovely alfredo sauce, and the results are delectable.

This recipe does require a lot of dishes – so I’d advise planning well so you can reuse pots or pans without having to dirty new ones.

I want this tomato alfredo to be part of my regular rotation. Tomato alfredo all the time!

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Beauty, thy name is alfredo.

Recipe found here.

Succotash Penne with Blistered Tomatoes and Soft-Boiled Eggs

Succotash Penne with Blistered Tomatoes and Soft-Boiled Eggs

Before I get to today’s recipe – a mild succotash with delectable blistered tomatoes perfectly complimented by a creamy egg, I want to pause a moment and talk about Chamblin Bookmine. I don’t know how or why I never went there until I was an adult (actually – I do – I live in such a sprawling city I didn’t even know that side of town existed until I was driving myself). This place is the mother of all used book stores. If I have in store for me some sort of afterlife, I should think it would be spent in the winding, twisting, infinite aisles of Chamblin.

I only go there about once a year – perhaps because I always spend at least $60. I rarely go there with a specific purchase in mind – I just let the books speak to me. I’ve found two amazing, gigantic cookbooks at half price, including my favorite, Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian.

My friend and fellow English teacher had never been there since moving to Jacksonville area, and we rectified that with great joy.

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Just look at those delighted faces!

If I haven’t conveyed how great it is, they have these quirky little signs all throughout. This one is in the children’s section.

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Now, back to food. Today’s recipe is adapted from Bon Appétit and Sun Basket. My farm bag delivery this past week included luscious cherry tomatoes, and I could not get the idea of succulent, sweet, blistered tomatoes out of my mind. I found a recipe for them in this month’s Bon Appétit, and adapted it to suit Sun Basket’s succotash-style pasta.

First, I slow-roasted these beauties.

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I could eat these and die happy.

Peppers and onions…

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And the remaining succotash ingredients sauteed with Cajun seasoning.

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Served with a soft-boiled egg and those gorgeous tomatoes, the flavors differ in every bite.

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Succotash Penne with Blistered Tomatoes and Soft-Boiled Eggs (steps in order should time everything right; serves 4-6)

ingredients

[for the tomatoes]

  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 TB lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 TB light brown sugar
  • 1/8 cup olive oil (fill a 1/4 cup measure halfway)
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes

[tomato method]

  1. If using dried lima beans for the succotash, begin the cooking process when needed. I started that before anything else, and pressure cooked them. See below for more.
  2. Preheat oven to 325˚ F.
  3. Combine all ingredients in a square baking dish before adding tomatoes. Stir with a fork to break up brown sugar.
  4. Add tomatoes and toss so they are lightly coated.
  5. Roast in oven for 50-60 minutes, tossing every 20. Keep an eye on them, as you do not want them to burst completely.
  6. Remove from oven and set aside when finished. (If all your timing works out, they will come out of the oven right as your succotash finishes.

While tomatoes roast…

[for the eggs]

  1. Bring 1/2 inch of water to boil in saucepan.
  2. Placed desired amount of eggs in a steamer basket, put into saucepan, and cover.
  3. Steam for about 6-7 minutes. (Mine should have gone for 7). While eggs steam, prepare a bowl of ice water.
  4. When time has elapsed, remove eggs to ice water. Let cool and peel. The shells slid right off of mine!

[for the succotash]

  • 1/2 cup dried baby lima beans, cooked, or 1 can
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 small green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 small ear of corn, kernels removed, or about 1/2 cup
  • Cajun seasoning to taste (I used about 1/2 TB)
  • 1/2 pound (about 1/2 box) of whole wheat penne (fusilli would work too; I almost used cavitappi!)

[succotash method]

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil with salt as indicated. Cook penne according to package instructions. When drained, save 1/4 – 1/2 cup cooking water.
  2. In a medium saucepan (or larger, if your vegetables are medium or large-sized), heat olive oil over medium. Add peppers and onions and saute until soft.
  3. Stir in garlic and cook for another minute.
  4. Add cooked lima beans, corn, and Cajun seasoning. Start with a little seasoning and add more as desired. Be careful – some varieties are salty! Cook for about 3-4 minutes more and turn off heat if your other ingredients are not ready. You can leave it on the burner.

[bringing it all together]

  1. When everything is ready, return the drained pasta to the pasta pot, and stir in succotash. Add 1/4 cup cooking water, or more if needed. Gently stir in the tomatoes (I used tongs to lift them from the baking dish, but I imagine that delicious cooking oil in the dish will only add amazing flavor!) Try not to smash the tomatoes, unless you want to!
  2. Garnish with chopped basil, parsley, or any fresh herb your heart desires. You can also add a little freshly grated Parmesan, because really, that goes with almost anything I make. Slice an egg in half and add to your serving. (I broke my egg up and stirred that runny yolk into the pasta, but my eggs were a little less done than I’d have liked.)

I suggest you do not skip the egg, because it added a nice kick of flavor. The pasta itself doesn’t pack a whole lot, depending on the level of seasoning you selected.

As a short cut, you can skip roasting the tomatoes and just stir raw tomatoes into the succotash as it cooks. But oh man, those blistered tomatoes are something else…

Enjoy!

Williamsburg, VA

Williamsburg, VA

When I was younger, my grandparents had an assortment of RVs (one at a time, of course.) I remember one was named something to do with Thor…

Anyway, aside from a scattered amount of in-state trips with my mother and stepfather, I did most of my traveling with my grandparents, pretty much exclusively spring break trips to their property in North Carolina. On my favorite trip, we went to the Biltmore estate in Asheville, NC (a surprise, from them), and the Biltmore has been lodged in my heart ever since. I hope to return there this summer on a fancy trip with my man.

As I mentioned in my first post on this new site,  one of my summer goals is to travel. Thanks to my best friend and her husband’s family, we went on an impromptu trip to Williamsburg, Virginia.

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This is us, in 2015 at Stephanie’s and my high school reunion, minus my bearded man. I was hiding a bottle of wine behind my back.

We stayed at a lovely resort. Neal and I got a suite all to ourselves, and I am all about suites. Especially ones with kitchens. There’s something so grown-up about a suite. My 10-people-to-a-hotel room days are OVER.

I didn’t take as many pictures as I’d have liked, but I did try to photograph all my restaurant adventures, and have some photos of Neal and Brad’s brewery tour…

Our first night, we went to Berret’s Seafood. In a pleasant surprise for Stephanie and I, they had a few vegetarian entrees.

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Roasted Chickpea, Spinach & Sweet Pepper Manicotti

This dish had an impressive Greek twist on an Italian dish, although the cilantro was overpowering (that’s odd for me to say, because I’m a cilantro lover and probably over-season my food…) Stephanie ordered a risotto that was amazing.

The next day, we went to Food for Thought. It has a unique concept – walls decorated with profiles of great thinkers and philosophers, cards from brain games on the tables – and the food was the best I had on our trip!

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This tofu scramble was the best “tofu scram” I’ve ever had. It was cooked to perfection.

Since we had a limited amount of time in Williamsburg and inclement weather approaching, we went to Colonial Williamsburg in the early afternoon. I had no idea it was such a huge place. We could have spent hours, days there – but ended up going into four trade places.

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The walk to Colonial Williamsburg takes you backwards in time. As you read the plates on the walkway, you learn what was different so long ago.
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It is truly a terrible punishment.
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There are beautiful gardens and walkways behind the homes.

Next, the boys had to go on their bro beer tour, helpfully documented by Stephanie.

Neal’s continued chants of “BEER, BEER, BEER, BEER!” were answered at Alewerks, Brass Cannon, and the Virginia Brewing Company. Not pictured is the Silver Hand Meadery, which we visited mostly for me, and was AWESOME. We did a honey tasting first, to see which honeys went into the meads. I gave them a lot of my money, buying two types of honey, three bottles of mead, and one of those honey dipper things.

Day two was rainy, so we visited the museums of Colonial Williamsburg, which starts with a tour of the oldest mental hospital in America (rebuilt after a fire.)

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The earliest mental patients would have this setup as their home. Blech.

Later, we got some pizza at The Crust.

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Portobello mushroom and spinach!

Then, with not much else to do, we went to Movie Tavern and saw Wonder Woman. Movie Tavern is a chain of theatres with a full restaurant and bar. We very much enjoyed the “seat service,” and the film.

Back at the resort, we checked out games and watched another movie, staying up far too late. Our nearly ten-hour drive the next day was pretty quiet.

This impromptu trip makes me feel like I am not wasting my summer, and I loved my time with our close friends!

More travel to come – I hope.