Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Gnocchi with Spinach in Parmesan Cream Sauce

Let's say one night you're having meatloaf.  Or a meat pie.  Or hamburgers.  Or cabbage rolls.  And you need a different side than the regular old mashed potatoes, or French fries, or potato salad, or mac and cheese.

I would say that you should absolutely make this Gnocchi with Spinach in Parmesan Cream Sauce.  It's kind of like mac and cheese, except for totally mature and grown-up like.

It's creamy, and rich, and extra good for you cause, spinach.

Never you mind about the cream.

And don't worry about the ridiculously long name.  It's actually super quick to put together!

In a pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the garlic - cooking until fragrant.

Then add in the flour.  And cook until golden.

Slowly whisk in the cream.

While you're waiting for the cream to thicken, cook the gnocchi according to package directions.

Once the gnocchi is cooked and drained, toss into a hot pan with a little melted butter.  Cooking, stirring often to brown and caramelize the gnocchi.

Once the cream mixture has thickened, stir in the Parmesan cheese.

Back to the gnocchi.  Toss the spinach into the pan and stir it around until its wilted.

Then stir the gnocchi and spinach into the pot with the cream sauce.

Stir in some cooked, chopped bacon.

Serve immediately.

Try not to eat it all by yourself.

I completely loved this.  I wanted to dive headfirst in the sauce.  I even loved the spinach - again, the sauce.  

The sauce, the spinach, the bacon, the gnocchi.  It all played together beautifully. 

You could even throw some sun-dried tomatoes in there.  Or use cheese tortellini instead of gnocchi if your heart so desired.

And I don't want to hear any complaining about how you "don't like" gnocchi.  You're GOING to like it after this!

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Bailey's Cheesecake

Aaaaahhhh - St Patrick's Day.  The day when most of us fools gather round and drink green beer and have a rowdy good time.

Did you know that it's actually the traditional death date of Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland?

Yeahhhhh - we mostly focus on the party time...  Not the death stuff.

I've done a couple of different stews and sampled a couple of different soda breads.  You can check them out here, here, and here.  Oh, and these Vanilla Bailey's Cupcakes are to die for.

But we should really talk about this Bailey's Cheesecake.  Normally, I tend to do no-bake cheesecakes simply because they are so much simpler.

There's just something about a traditional cooked cheesecake that is so special.

First, start with the crust.

Combine the sugar,

With graham cracker crumbs,

And melted butter.  Stir it all together and press it into the bottom and up the sides of a springform pan.

Bake the crust.

Then make the filling.

Beat the cream cheese until its smooth.  And add the sugar.

Then add the eggs one at a time and beat them into the cream cheese.  Make sure the eggs are at room temperature so the cream cheese doesn't seize up.

Then stir in the Baileys and vanilla.

Pour the cream cheese mixture into the crust and bake.  I like to make a little nest of aluminum foil for the springform pan just in case it leaks.

The cheesecake is going to puff and turn golden.  Don't be bummed if it cracks.  You can fix it with a little patience - I prefer to cover it with whipped cream and call it perfect.

And how perfect it was. 

Rich and creamy - just like something you'd get at a high-end bakery...  And it came out of MY kitchen!

If you're a little hesitant about making a baked cheesecake, please don't be!  In fact - I recommend starting with this one!

Complete perfection.  The Baileys flavour wasn't lost at all.  It was 10,000 times better than Baileys and coffee and made my insides all glowy and happy just the same.

xoxo - Heather

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Cinnamon Meatballs

Cinnamon Meatballs.  Cinnnamonnnnn meatballs.  Really - no matter how many times I say it - it sounds sooo weird.

I mean - I realise that cinnamon is a fairly common ingredient in lots of dishes.  Especially in North African (see Morocco) dishes.

But it took me a long time to take the plunge into actually trying it.

I wish I'd done it sooner.  Trust me and go with it.

In a large bowl, combine the onion and parsley.

The egg.

Add the oregano and thyme.

And the cinnamon.

And salt and pepper.

Then throw in the breadcrumbs.

And the beef.

Gently mix everything together and then divide into meatballs.  I used a medium cookie scoop.

Throw the meatballs into the oven.

While the meatballs are baking, make the sauce.

Melt some butter and cook with some garlic.

Add in the flour and cook until it's slightly golden.  Slowly pour in the milk and cook until it starts to thicken.  Add in the tomato sauce.

The parmesan cheese.

And cinnamon.

Stir it all together, bring to a simmer and thicken.  The stir in the meatballs.

Stir to coat.  I recommend serving over egg noodles.  The cinnamon gravy on the egg noodles is like something out of a dream.

And you know what?  They kindof tasted like cinnamon, but they kindof tasted like so much more.

The cinnamon was present, but unobtrusive.  The meatballs were tender and flavourful.

If you live in my neck of the woods, we've just launched into a beautiful warm spell.  I even had the kitchen window open today!

Although the beautiful day has me all confident about Spring, but it's totally likely that we'll get an enormous dump of snow - you should absolutely make it on that day.  BUT - if we don't get that Spring dump of snow - I'll remind you about this when the Fall comes.

Enjoy!  - Heather

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Creamy Chicken and Rice

Okay - so the cast of characters in this recipe is pretty large.  But, fear not!  This is actually a ONE POT MEAL!!!  One!!!

I love the idea of a one pot meal.  Less dishes, less fuss.  Everything working together to make a totally delicious dish.

*sigh*  This day I was totally on the ball.  Everything got chopped, diced, weighed, measured, portioned out, and lined up in order of addition before starting.

I love mise en place.  Even though I feel like it might make me look a little crazy.  It makes me feel like I have a little control in this nutty world we live in.

In a heavy pot or ceramic baking dish, start heating the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat.  

Once hot, stir in the onions and carrots.

And the salt.

Once the onions and carrots are cooked and softened, add in the chicken thighs.

EVEN if you prefer chicken breast.  USE the chicken thighs.  Trust me on this one.

And some more salt.

And bay leaves and black pepper.

Cook for about 5 minutes until the chicken is browned on all sides.

Crank up the heat and pour in a cup of white wine.  Cook down the wine until it's cooked off.

Add in the chicken broth ( make sure it's heated through before you add it to the pot).

And stir in the rice.  Cut the top off a whole bulb of garlic and place it cut-side down in the pot.  

You can kind of see it swimming around in there.

Put the lid on and cook over low heat until the rice is cooked through - about 15 minutes.

Remove the garlic bulb (you can just dispose of it, or squeeze the garlic out of the skins and into the pot - totally your call!).  Stir in 2 Tablespoons of butter until melted and combined.

Stir in fresh parsley,

and grated parmesan cheese until it's melted and creamy.

And serve.

This came out JUST LIKE risotto, but with like a tenth of the work involved.  Creamy and rich, the chicken was tender and full of flavour.

And so few dishes!!!  And it's relatively quick to make, so you could have it on a weeknight after a busy day without a lot of fuss.

I highly recommend this dish - it feels totally decadent, but won't break your waistline, and would probably be well received by your kiddos.

AND - it's impressive enough that you could serve it to company and they would think that you slaved over it!

xoxo - Heather