Spinach with Shitake Mushrooms and Shallots

With Thanksgiving only a week away, I’ve been going through some tried-and-true side dishes to figure out what I’m bringing with me this year. In previous years I’ve stuck to roasted brussels sprouts (because I’m on a mission to convince as many people as possible that brussels sprouts are delicious) and homemade bread, but I wanted to make something new this year. In reviewing recent favorites I found that I’d forgotten to post this spinach side dish that I made way back in September! This Spinach and Mushrooms recipe came from Bon Appetit magazine and it was a hit at the dinner party I took it to. And it was super easy to make, too! It’s the perfect Thanksgiving side dish. Just be careful with the amount of red pepper flakes you add in the end!

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Peppery Pasta Carbonara

I’m always on the lookout for a simple, quick meal that I can whip up on a weekday night but that still knocks my socks off when I taste it. This simple dish is full of lush flavor from the bacon, butter, cheese, and pepper but it somehow manages to be light at the same time. The poached egg on top? It’s like the icing on the cake. The runny yolk mixes with everything else for the ultimate silky rich texture and flavor punch. And possibly the best part about this recipe? It’s sized for one! It’s so hard to find recipes for one person that it makes me excited when I find one at all, let alone one this good! Read on for the recipe for Peppery Pasta Carbonara.

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Spicy Chipotle Coleslaw

I used to think that I disliked coleslaw that had a lot of mayo in it but then I accidentally put too much in a batch and found that I didn’t mind at all! I already knew that the slaws I like are the tangy or vinegary kind, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was that I didn’t like in the “bad” ones. I recently figured it out: sugar! Most coleslaw has some sugar in it but some recipes overdo the sugar and then it’s all I can taste when I take a bite. Given this newfound revelation I set out to make a batch that had no added sugar at all and was bright, summery, and a bit spicy. I present you with my (mildly) Spicy Chipotle Coleslaw! Enjoy!

In this recipe there is no added sugar at all but the addition of raw fresh corn gives a bit of sweetness (and extra crunch!) to the overall slaw. If you want to make it spicier I suggest adding other spicy elements instead of upping the chipotle powder, as any more than what I’ve included in this recipe will just give you heat without added flavor. Instead, try adding one finely chopped serrano pepper (seeds removed) or a splash of the liquid from pickled jalapenos if you have that on hand.

Slaws like these keep in the fridge for ages, but the fresh corn in this one means it has a slightly shorter shelf life. So maybe only a week or two instead of “ages” . . . Continue reading…

Camarones Enchilados

Ever have a dish that you feel way too much emotion about? For some reason this dish has evoked everything from wistfulness to almost rage in me and it isn’t the dish’s fault at all. It all started when I saw the gorgeous photos in Real Simple magazine for this Camarones Enchilados recipe and immediately bookmarked it to make in the future. Not for the first time, the photo sold me on the dish before I’d even read the recipe. Then I found out that the recipe is from one of my favorite food bloggers, Always Order Dessert (otherwise known as Alejandra Ramos) and it made me even more convinced that I had to make it ASAP. I went right out after work to gather all the ingredients and called my friend at the last minute to see if he wanted to come have dinner with me. He couldn’t make it and I felt like the dish got rejected. So about a week later I decide to make it again, and by some cruel twist of fate, the friend I invited THAT night canceled on me at the last minute! I realize that I’m projecting my own feelings onto the dish but I feel bad for it and have been hoarding it for myself ever since for fear of hurting its pride even more. Those people don’t know what they’re missing! Maybe one day I’ll manage to throw a gathering and serve this dish to people who actually show up . . .

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Pecan Shortbread Cookies

I’m on Martha Stewart’s “daily cookies” mailing list and that probably explains why I make cookies several times a month (sometimes even more than once a week!). I end up bringing the majority of every batch into work with me to avoid eating them all myself, and luckily I have coworkers who not only love cookies but who aren’t watching their weight too much . . . and therefore are still happy to have me bring in fattening snacks at 8:30 am on a Monday.

For this batch of cookies I needed a recipe that didn’t call for eggs because, as mentioned in my last post, I somehow managed to run out of eggs and repeatedly forget to buy some. In fact, here it is two weeks later and I’m still out! I’m not sure I’ve ever gone two weeks without eating eggs . . . but I digress. No-egg cookie = shortbread to me, and I had pecans in the cabinet so these Pecan Shortbread cookies from Martha were the perfect solution. They actually taste better a day later so they’re perfect for bringing along to work or a party!

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Roasted Fingerling Potato Salad

The current issue of Bon Appetit didn’t speak to me as much as most issues do, but the few recipes I immediately jumped on turned out to be some of the best I’ve tried recently. This Roasted Fingerling Potato Salad was simple to make and yielded a side dish with a real wow factor. Elevating a simple roasted potato to this level is amazing, but doing it with such an easy recipe is even better! My parents loved this potato dish and I’m sure you will too.

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Raw Asparagus Salad

The asparagus this year is so gorgeous it practically breaks my heart. When I tell you I’ve been eating asparagus several times a week for the last few weeks I’m not exaggerating! My favorite way to eat it is simply roasted with some olive oil and pepper . . . but I recently came across the idea of shaving it into thin strips and tossing it for a bright salad and I knew I had to give it a try. This refreshing, spring-like salad would be a perfect side to go along with a strong protein like duck or lamb, but it would also go well served next to a pile of simply-garnished pasta. Me? I made a pile big enough to serve as my whole dinner and drank a beer “on the side.” Works for me.

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Incredibly-good Carnitas

If I had a “signature” dish it would have to be carnitas. I often make them in the slow cooker because it’s easy and they come out very moist and tender, but real carnitas are not a slow cooker dish. Making them in the slow cooker leaves them with a boiled taste that isn’t in the real thing. This recipe is for the more labor-intensive braised version of carnitas,which really isn’t all that much extra work but yields a much tastier version that’s also more authentic (just in case you care about that sort of thing). I made this batch to take to my CSA’s pre-season taco potluck and I’m not embarrassed to say that everyone who tried them raved about them. They do take over 4 hours to make but almost none of that time is active working time, so you can be doing other things while the meat’s in the oven. But even if you decide to just sit and watch it cook, believe me, it’s totally worth it.

I advise you to always look at the weekly meat specials and keep an eye out for pork shoulder. Its standard price here in NYC is just under $2 per pound, but I’ve seen it for as much as $4/pound (horrors!) to as little as $.89/pound. Supermarkets geared towards a Latino audience usually have the best deals. When I find it on sale, I buy it! Just stick it in the freezer until the mood strikes you for some deliciousness. Boneless pork shoulder isn’t much more expensive than bone-in, so it’s often a good deal to buy it boneless . . . although you do lose the bonus of using the bone for some soup stock later, so it’s a trade-off. This is the sort of dish that can feed many for very little money, so take advantage for your next low-key party. You’ll impress your guests and no one will ever know that you fed them for a dollar a head!

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Blueberry “Scone” Cookies

I realize it’s been a month since I posted and I admit that’s pretty shameful. That said, I’m sure it’s obvious to anyone reading this blog over the last 6 months or so that I’ve been going through some gigantic life changes. I think I’m on the other side now and intend to GET BACK TO BLOGGING! The last month has been full of “tying up loose ends” and getting settled into my new place, and I’m happy to say that I’ve been cooking again. This month’s issues of Martha Stewart Living and Bon Appetit had inspiring recipes in them that lit a fire under my ass . . . hopefully some of you are still reading this and will enjoy!

What you see above is the very last cookie out of this batch of Blueberry “Scone” Cookies. I absolutely adore this recipe and literally every single person who’s tried them has taken a bite and then immediately looked up and said “what’s IN these!?!” (and yes, in a good way). They’re super easy to make and the fact that there’s fruit in there instead of, say, butterscotch, makes you feel less guilty eating way too many of these (which you totally will). Keep in mind that these take longer than regular cookies to bake so if you’re making them last-minute plan ahead. Click to the “continue reading” link for the recipe . . . and stay tuned for carnitas in the next post!

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Baby Potatoes with Shallots and Lemon

This time of year one of the most exciting seasonal items is the teeny tiny potatoes that start popping up in all the markets. The baby potatoes are so sweet and tasty that they don’t even need butter or anything to make them delicious . . . but of course some shallots, garlic, and lemon never hurt anything did they?! These potatoes are easy to make and they’re a great side dish for just about any protein.

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