the beautiful things

things i made

{things i made} white wine and manchego asparagus carbonara

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I’ve has some pretty awful experiences with pasta carbonara—from inauthentic tries at restaurants (heavy cream is not a traditional ingredient!) to an at-home attempt that was so rich everyone couldn’t stomach a full plate, I figured it was one of those dishes meant to be eaten once in Italy when everything about it would be local and calories “wouldn’t count.” Then I stumbled upon this winning idea—throwing in roasted vegetables and swapping out the intense Parmesan cheese with slightly more mild Manchego. The result is party-presentable, very tasty, and insanely simple after minimal prep.

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2 lbs penne
2 bunches asparagus, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces​
1.5 cup peas, thawed and drained on paper towels if frozen 
12 large cloves garlic, chopped​
1 cup white wine
200g manchego cheese, grated 
12 oz pancetta, chopped and fried until crisp
4 eggs
1/4 cup olive oil
Fresh parsley, to garnish

1. Pre-heat the oven to 400F. Toss the asparagus in olive oil, put it on a baking tray and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on the top rack of the oven.​ After 10 minutes, add the garlic and the peas ​and roast until it ​all ​starts to crisp​, 20 to 30 minutes (check every 10 min and give t​ray​ a shake so that they roast evenly).
2. Meanwhile, add wine to your smallest saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer uncovered until reduced, about ​10 minutes​.
3. Crack the eggs and whisk together with olive oil. Set aside.
4. Cook and drain pasta. 
While still hot, add the egg mixture,​​ s​tir​ring​ constantly to​​ prevent ​the egg​s​ from scrambl​ing​.​
5. Add the wine and cheese and stir until the cheese melts. Add the roasted vegetables and cooked pancetta and mix. Serve topped with parsley, ground pepper and a little extra cheese.

 

{things i made} pumpkin loaf

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I'm not sure how this has happened but "pumpkin" season is coming to an end. Tomorrow night I'll bake a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving–how exciting is that!?–but sadly after turkey day, the ingredient loses just a bit of its shine. Still, I love baking with it in the fall–check out this post to see just some of the recipes I've made–and this moist bread reminds me exactly why. There's something almost savory about its taste, I suppose because its so hearty and nutrient rich. This bread is very easy to put together also easily adjustable (more or less sugar or spices). Just be mindful of the baking time and be sure to cook it all the way–undercooked pumpkin anything is not so yummy.

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​2 c​ups pumpkin puree
2 cups applesauce
​1.5 teaspoons vanilla ​
4 eggs
1 cup water
​1.5​ cups sugar
3 1/3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
​3/4 teaspoon allspice​
1 teaspoon salt

rolled oats, for topping

1​. ​Preheat oven to 350. Grease two 9 x 5 inch loaf pans and dust with a little flour.
​2. ​In a large mixing bowl, beat together pumpkin, applesauce, sugar, water, ​vanilla ​and eggs until well blended.
​3. ​Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ​allspice, ​and salt, into a separate bowl and stir until combined.
​4. ​Slowly add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture, beating until smooth. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans. Sprinkle with rolled oats.
​5. ​Bake for ​1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Allow bread to cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans. 
 

{things i made} crunch-top apple pie

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It's hard to reinvent the wheel–and just so you know, in this case the wheel is apple pie. When it comes to the autumnal staple, I've already got a filling I love and a crust I love but I was looking to make things a little more interesting and special. I'd never heard of or seen a crunch-top pie before but I liked the idea (more crust to distribute over the sweet, jam-like filling will always be fine with me). Easy, tasty, and seasonal–go apple picking (stores count too) and make one tonight!

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2-2/3 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup oil
6 tablespoons milk

1. Mix the flour and salt in a bowl.
2. Put the oil in a measuring cup and add the milk without stirring. Pour mixture into the flour and mix briefly. Do not refrigerate.
3. Flatten dough by rolling on floured surface or between two sheets of wax paper. Place in pan. Repeat, with a second batch of ingredients, reserving for top crust.

 

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
Dash salt
1 tablespoon butter (or olive oil, frozen)

1. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl.
2. Using a fork, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Set aside.

 

2/3 cup sugar 
1/3 cup cornstarch
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 pounds Granny Smith and/or Braeburn apples, peeled, cored, and cut into wedges
1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In large bowl, combine sugar with cornstarch and spices. Add apples and lemon juice and toss to coat evenly.
2. Spoon apple mixture into prepared crust. Top and seal with second pie crust. Fold overhang up over the pie-plate's rim and pinch to form a decorative edge. Cut three vents in top crust. Sprinkle evenly with crumb mixture.
3. Bake pie 1 hour 10 minutes or until apples are tender when pierced with knife (to prevent burning, cover pie loosely with tented foil after 40 minutes). Cool pie on rack 3 hours to serve warm, or refrigerate to serve cold later. 

{things i made} minestrone

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It is officially soup weather–chilly days somehow always creep inside and all I want to do is cozy up and keep out the cold with hearty, warming dinners. I have yet to meet a soup I didn't like, and this one's no exception. A good minestrone is incredible–lots of veggies packed in every bite, an herb-flavored broth, and a bit of pasta too–but bad, un-flavorful one is a tinny waste of calories. Luckily this one is of the first variety and exactly what a cold November night calls for.
 
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1 cup white onion, minced 
1/2 cup zucchini, chopped 
1 pound sliced mushrooms (about 6 cups)
2 russet potatoes, peeled, cubed

1 cup green beans, cut into one-inch pieces
1 cup carrots, chopped or shredded
1/2 cup celery, minced 
4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 ounces sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped
8 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth
2 (15 ounce) cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 (15 ounce) cans small white beans or great northern beans, drained
1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
2 tablespoon parsley
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 cups hot water
4 cups fresh baby spinach, torn

 
2/3 cup  small shell or tube pasta, cooked
Finely shredded Romano cheese 
(or Parmesan), for serving 
 
1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pot. Saute onion, celery, garlic, pancetta, green beans, potatoes, and zucchini for 5 minutes or until onions begin to turn translucent.
 2. Add broth to pot, plus tomatoes, beans,
mushrooms, carrot, hot water, and spices. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer for 40 minutes.
3. Add spinach leaves and cook for an additional 30 minutes or until desired consistency. Serve with pasta and topped with cheese.
 

{things i made} baking with pumpkin

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I love baking and cooking with pumpkin, mostly because the average person (me included until a few years ago) normally doesn't think past a traditional pumpkin pie when presented with the ingredient. I haven't touched the canned puree in ages (I use this site's step-by-step to make it fresh–it seems more complicated than it looks the results are like comparing night and day it's that good). Check out the links below to find the perfect recipe for this Halloween–and keep another in mind for Thanksgiving! 

 

{clockwise}

white chocolate chunk pumpkin cookies – recipe here

traditional pumpkin pie - here

cream cheese frosting filled pumpkin muffins - here

pumpkin cheesecake swirl brownies – here

pumpkin crumb muffins – here

 

{things i made} pain-perdu

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I love French toast–it always was one of my mom's favorites so we had it quite often as children. It's of course most worth making when a good, thick bread is involved, which is why "pain perdu" (literally, "lost bread," but referencing stale bread) always held so much appeal to me. After a good soaking in milk, vanilla, and egg (this recipe uses orange–zest and liquor–instead of any cinnamon for flavoring) and a quick fry on a griddle, the end product is a soft, custard-y center enrobed in a crispy, sweet shell. It's dessert-for-breakfast at its most hearty and indulgent, and it's phenomenally good.

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1 large brioche or challah loaf
3 tablespoons orange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
​1 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
3/4 teaspoons salt
Oil, for pan
Confectioners' sugar, hulled strawberries, and/or syrup, to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Slice the bread in 3/4-inch slices.  
2. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, honey, sugar, orange liqueur, vanilla, orange zest, and salt. Pour the egg mixture into a large shallow plate and soak a few slices of bread for about 5 minutes, turning once.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Take each slice of bread from the egg mixture, and place in pan. Add more bread to the egg mixture to soak. Cook for 2 minutes on each side, or until browned. Place the cooked bread on a baking sheet to keep warm in the oven. Wipe out the pan with a dry paper towel, add more oil, and continue to cook the remaining bread. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar and serve hot with syrup and/or fruit.

 

 

{things i made} angel food cake

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There isn't a lot to hate about angel food cake. Light, airy, and sweet, the name plays on its dreamy qualities. Science explains how the sponge cake bakes so perfectly–the eggs whites get stabilized with cream of tartar and they climb the steep pan slowly as they bake. Cool it upside down to prevent collapsing and cut with a serrated knife so as not to compress the slice, and with some freshly made whipped cream and macerated fruit the cake will be a little slice of heaven.

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1 cup flour with ​2 ​-​1/2 tablespoons cornstarch​, ​sifted after measuring
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. table salt
1 1/2 cups egg whites (fro
about 9-10 large eggs), room temperature
1 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract 

1. Clean your mixing bowl, beaters, and utensils thoroughly. Preheat oven to 350° F. 
2. Spin sugar in a food processor for 60 seconds, or until finely ground b
ut not powdered. Add half of the sugar to the flour, and set the other half aside.
3. Sift together the flour, half of the sugar, and salt at least 2-3 times to ensure it is evenly mixed.
4. Begin whipping egg whites at medium speed. Once they become frothy, add the cream of tartar and increase the speed of mixer to high.
5. Once the egg whites start to look fluffy and white, sprinkle in the reserved sugar two tablespoons at a time while mixing. When all of the sugar is added, the meringue should look glossy and billowy. Continue to whip until medium peaks form. In the last couple minutes of whipping, add extract.
6. Sift about third of the flour mixture over the top of the meringue, and fold gently with a flexible rubber spatula so as not to deflate the meringue. Once the flour is just barely incorporated, stop folding. Repeat two more times with the remaining flour, folding until just barely incorporated.
7. Gently pour batter into ungreased angel food or tube pan. Gently twist the pan back and forth to settle the batter to ensure that the batter contacts the sides of the pan. Do not drop the pan against the counter.
8. Bake on the middle-lower rack for about 35 minutes, or until the top is evenly golden brown. Do not open the oven door during the first 30 minutes of baking, as it may deflate the cake.
9. Once done, immediately invert the entire pan over a bottle (some pans come with metal feet and can be flipped on the counter). Let the cake cool completely while suspended.
10. Once cool, use a thin knife to cut around the edges of the pan. Remove the cake from the sides of the pan, then cut underneath to separate it from the bottom/tube part. Slice the cake with a serrated knife, and serve as is or with fruit and whipped cream.

 

{things i made} double chocolate banana cookies

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I love a crispy, sugary chocolate chip cookie as much as anyone–ok, probably more–but I know they're a "sometimes" food and are best reserved as treats and not causal snacks. It's good to know a few lighter recipes to keep things less indulgent when the time calls for it. These simple little chocolate-ly bites have no added sugar, oil or butter–you can thank the ripe bananas for that–but are super tasty nonetheless.

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1 cup ripe bananas, mashed (from about 2 bananas)
2 tablespoons almond butter
3 1/2 teaspoons cacao powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

​1. ​Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
​2. To bananas add almond butter, cacao powder, vanilla, baking soda and salt and mix to combine.  Add flour to bowl and stir until well mixed.  Add chocolate chips.
​3. ​Using a cookie scoop, place even mounds (about 12) on prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes or until cookies are slightly golden on tops and bottom.

 

{things i made} glazed chocolate layer cake

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This has unintentionally become birthday week here–not that I'm complaining!–so I decided to share my cake from this year. I've been baking birthday cakes (with my sister's help) for everyone in my family for a while now, and though some have become tried-and-true hits, for my own cake each year I usually avoid repeating a recipe. I also throw my usual low-fat, low-sugar tendencies out the window. Case in point: this cake is enrobed in a rich ganache, layered with a luscious cream filling, and scented with an orange-flavored liquor. Decadent? Sure. Tasty? You have no idea. I promise it's a lot easier to assemble than it looks–as long as you beat each egg addition for the described time, it comes together perfectly and in a snap.

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1 cup sifted all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
1 teaspoon salt
5 large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons oil

2 large eggs, separated
2 cups mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon orange zest
pinch of salt

4-6 tablespoons Grand Marnier

8 oz (about 1⅓ cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy whipping cream

 

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. Coat four round baking pans with oil. Line with parchment paper and coat with more oil. Dust with flour, tapping out excess. In a bowl, whisk together flour and salt.

2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer beat eggs, yolks, and sugar on medium-high, 2 minutes; increase speed to high and beat until pale and thick, 5 minutes. Sift flour mixture over egg mixture; with a large rubber spatula, fold until almost blended. Pour oil down side of bowl, folding to combine. Divide batter between pans; smooth with a table knife. Immediately transfer pans to oven and bake until cakes are golden brown and springy when pressed, about 6 to 7 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Let cool completely.

3. To make filling, in a large bowl stir together egg yolks, mascarpone, sugar, cocoa, orange zest, and pinch of salt. In another large bowl, using an electric mixer beat egg whites and pinch of salt until soft peaks form. With a large rubber spatula, fold one-third whites into mascarpone mixture; fold in remainder.

4. Invert cakes and gently peel off parchment.  Place one cake layer, golden side up, on a platter; brush with Grand Marnier and spread with 1 cup filling. Repeat with remaining cake, brandy, and filling, ending with a layer of brandy-brushed cake. Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.

5. To make chocolate ganache, bring cream to a simmer on the stove, stirring occasionally. Just as small bubbles form, remove from heat and poor over chocolate chips, swirling the bowl to cover. Place lid on chocolate chips and let sit unmix​ed​ for 5 minutes. Remove lid and whisk, starting in the center and working outward until smooth. Let sit uncovered at room temperature (70˚F) for 15 minutes (note: the longer ganache sits, the thicker it becomes). Place cake on a wire rack over a rimmed platter or baking sheet. Pour ganache over top of cake and spread so it drips down sides. Finish by spreading evenly. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour (or up to 2 days).

 

{things i made} cream-cheese frosting-filled pumpkin muffins

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Happy Fall! While I'm super sad to see summer go, I'm just as excited for autumn. I'm celebrating the start of my favorite season with this amazingly tasty recipe for pumpkin muffins. They're moist–seriously, they have the mouth-feel of a cake–and are absolutely bursting with spice-infused flavor (I throw my own version of pumpkin pie spice in anything that can support it). I adore desserts with pumpkin as the main ingredient so this is easily my new favorite any-time-of-the-day-treat. The cream-cheese frosting isn't overpowering but rather a "something special" that makes the muffins feel ever-so-slightly decadent. 

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​3 cups pum
pkin puree

3/4 granulated sugar

4 egg
​s + 1 egg white​
 
9 oz olive oil
 
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4  + 1/3 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
1.5 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
 
2.5 tsp cinnamon

3/4 tsp cloves 

3/
​4​ tsp
 ​nutmeg 
 
​2 ​tsp
​ ​
​allspice
1 tsp ginger

12 oz
​​
 
raisins 

Cream cheese ​frosting, see below​

 

​1. ​Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 
In 
a large 
bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla.
 
2. Sift together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, 
​and spices​
 over the wet mixture. 
Whisk together until just blended. 
Add raisins and fold until blended.
 
​3. Fill two greased 12-cup muffin trays evenly with batter. Bake for 25 minutes
​ (c​heck with a toothpick
​ for done-ness)
Allow muffins to cool for
​at least 30 minutes.
 
​4. For cream cheese filling: 
​soften 
​4 ounces low
​-​fat cream cheese 
​and mix with 4 ounces strained Greek yogurt. Stir in ​1 teaspoon vanilla
​ and​ about 
​a 1/
​4​ cup of powdered sugar
 (t​
aste
​-​test
​ and adjust as necessary). ​ Punch a small but deep hole into the center of each muffin and pipe 
or spoon ​frosting into the center
 and ​finish with a small rosette
​ or peak​.



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