Cooking Adventures: Spaghetti Squash “Alfredo”

BEHOLD!

The greatest gift I will ever give humanity.

This is will probably remain one of my favorite things I will ever cook.

AND I made it up!

Now, I tend to cook in the healthy vain because I learned to love food when I was vegan for 3 minutes.

So anything that uses healthy ingredients but imitates something that is horrible for you.

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If you are a health conscious person, you must become familiar with spaghetti squash.

It is a vegetable that you can manipulate into tasting like pasta!

That is like finding out that you can cook cucumbers in such a way that they can taste like a Snickers!

I’m still working on that recipe…..

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And it is not SUPER difficult to do either. In some ways, it is a little therapeutic.

Not only do you get to stab the crap out of the yellow, head shaped vegetable (DAMN YOU FOR BEING GOOD FOR ME!) but you get to dig out the nasty seeds and strings. It is a murderous clean freak’s dream vegetable.

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When you are prepping your faux spaghetti you may start to doubt it’s delectibility from it’s firm consistancy.

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Now don’t get me wrong. It is not going to taste like Mario Batali just fished a fresh, hanmade piece of pasta out of his salty boiling water for you eat off of his fork to assure him it is ready or not. That would be a dream come true.

No. This is still a vegetable. But it is such an exciting substitute for the pasta you want to be shoving in your face every day.

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But you have will power. You make better choices the majority of the week so that you can indulge in a ridiculous lasagna and bottle of red wine on a night out.

And if you don’t, who cares? It’s your life.

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I can also warn you not to judge the consistency of the spaghetti squash as soon as you scrape it out of it’s squash exoskeleton.

Once you place it in the pan with some onions….

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…..and garlic, salt, and pepper…..

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….and a tahini sauce….it will give the “noodles” a much softer texture and the tahini sauce will make an incredibly creamy, savory, and tangy coating. The spaghetti squash itself peppers that combination of flavors with a hint of sweetness to make it an easy yet complex side dish. That is good for you!

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Spaghetti Squash “Alfredo”

1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

2. Poke holes all around your spaghetti squash to help release the pressure from the steam.

3. Place spaghetti squash in a shallow baking dish and in the oven for 1 hour or until it is soft when you squeeze it. You may want to check on it after 30 minutes and turn it on it’s other side for even roasting.

4. When it is done, cut it in half, and extract the seeds. Be careful! It will be very hot and steamy when it comes out of the oven. You may want to let it cool a little before doing this.

5. Take your fork and scrape the insides of the spaghetti squash, creating the pasta like strands.

6. Heat olive oil in medium sauce pan on medium/high heat.

7. Add chopped onions and saute until soft (2-3 min).

8. Add garlic, a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of pepper, and saute until soft (1-2 min).

9. Add two cups of spaghetti squash.

10. Add 3/4 of a cup of tahini sauce.

11. Mix until evenly covered.

ENJOY!

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Cooking Adventures: Mediterranean Roasted Broccoli!

I DID IT!

I finally created my very own original recipe.

Well, original to me.

I am sure someone has made this somewhere throughout the course of human history.

But in my own history, this is the first recipe where I have taken bits and pieces of what I have learned from numerous food blogs (most notably The Amateur Gourmet and Smitten Kitchen) and created something.

All. By. Myself.

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Eating vegetables is a skill that I did not acquire until I was an adult.

But throughout my avid avoidance of all things good for me, I have had an allegiance to broccoli.

When I was vegan for 3 and a half minutes, I finally started teaching myself how to cook and I was basically restricted to learning how to do so with vegetables.

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Now, I am extremely passionate about vegetables.  I have tons of new favorites but broccoli will always remain my number one. Not necessarily because it is the best but because it has been there the longest. You know, like any long term couple.

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My favorite method for cooking veggies, by far, is roasting.

I roast everything. Sweet potatoes, bell peppers, brussel sprouts, and even my own nuts!

Almonds. Not testicles.

But I couldn’t believe I hadn’t used my favorite roasting method with my favorite vegetable.

So I went on a hunt for a roasted broccoli recipe and of course I found one on one of my favorite food blogs, Amatuer Gourmet, called “The Best Broccoli of Your Life.” 

Go on…….

Adam Roberts’ recipe goes over the basics (425 degrees for 20 minutes, 5 TBLSP of olive oil, sliced garlic, etc)  of roasting broccoli but he also adds lemon zest, lemon juice, and parmasean.

Acid and cheese make everything better!

Acid And Cheese should be the name of my new punk band.

Now, when I first started actually cooking, my primary thought process was, “As long as it is edible.”

But this time, I had the spark of creativity.

“This needs color and texture,” I thought.

I proceeded to give myself a pat on the back for thinking that at all and then dove into my fridge and cupboards.

I found a red onion, pine nuts, and homemade tahini sauce.

More things that make all things better.

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So, I added slices of red onion to add some beautiful maroon (psssh! RED onion my ass) slices of onion to the vibrant pile of green roughage before I popped it in the oven so they could roast right along side their broccoli brethren.

When I popped it out of the oven 25 minutes later, I zested and squeezed the lemon and sprinkled the parmasean as planned. But then I scattered the pine nuts and drizzled the tahini sauce as artistically as possible.

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ISN’T IT GORGEOUS???!

Well, it is as delicious as it is beautiful.

Maybe Adam is talking about the best broccoli of YOUR life

But I assure you….THIS, most certainly, is the best of MY life.

Mediterranean Roasted Broccoli

Ingredients:

2 bunches of broccoli
6 tablespoons of olive oil
1/4  of 1 red onion
1 lemon
4 garlic cloves
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
parmasean cheese
tahini sauce
pine nuts

Steps:

1. Cut broccoli into big florets.

2. Place completely dry florets on aluminum foil covered baking sheet.

3. Add 5 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 1/2 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp of pepper, sliced red onion, and 4 sliced (on the thicker side) cloves of garlic and toss.

4. Place in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes. Keep an eye on it. Don’t let it burn. Just let them get a little tender with brown edges.

5. Add 1/2 tsp more of salt and pepper. Toss again.

6. Zest and squeeze some lemon juice on top.

7. Garnish with as much tahini sauce, parmasean cheese, and pine nuts as you like.

ENJOY!

Let me know if you end up making it. No one has done that yet…..

🙂

AND WATCH MY COOKING WEB SERIES! A Cooking Show!

A Cooking Show Episode 5: Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats

Episode 5 is here!

With Special Guest, comedian and writer, Emma Tattenbaum-Fine!

These recipes are straight from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook and, of course, they are fantastic!

A perfect, and easy recipe to make for your next party. Especially if you want to be the most popular person there.

Have a question? Comment? Whatever?

Leave a comment below!

Follow me on Twitter!
@rebecca_vigil

Follow me on Pintrest!

And stay tuned for Episode 6!

ENJOY!

Cooking Adventures: Sour Cream Pancakes… From Scratch!

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I finally have, in my possession, The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.

And it is outstanding.

I am new to exploring this part of myself. The “home cook” part. But, when I am engrossed in a cookbook the way I would be in a great novel, I feel like I am turning on a light in a new room in my brain.

I have lived in this brain my whole life but, as I get older, I realize that I have never traveled to the east wing.

Exciting, right?

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While skimming through all of the recipes that I was going to make, I was beginning to feel intense anticipation.

I am going to make these things!

Skimming through the photographs, stories, ingredient lists, and cooking instructions, I started to drool… and sweat.

Wait.

I am going to make these things?

Looking at this cookbook felt like I was looking at a text book. There is so much I have to learn! How can I learn it all right now??

I mean, this pancake recipe looks simple enough but….I don’t even think I have successfully flipped a pancake before. AND peaches aren’t in SEASON! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

I often let myself overwhelm……..myself.

And the first rule for people like me? Baby steps.

So, I decided to just take the basic pancake recipe. And start there.

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I began to assemble my ingredients.

Pssh. Assembling ingredients? Child’s play.

Wait. Sour cream in pancakes?!

Seriously. Was there ever a better idea? I mean, other than electricity.

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As I learn more about cooking I realize how magical counter-intuitive seasoning can be.

Salty, sauteed bell peppers? Add some cinnamon!

Delectably sweet pancakes? Add some sea salt!

Just the right touch of these opposing ingredients can really bring a dish to life.

As the great Paula Abdul once said, “opposites attract, you know.”

And I once said, “holy shit, what happened to Paula Abdul?”

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Aaaww butter. Your incredible smell, the way you glide across a hot skillet leaving a silky train behind you, the way you make everything better, butter. Except the flow of blood through our arteries.

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I approached the moment of truth. Just put two even dollops of your completely from scratch pancake better on the hot cast iron skillet, wait for it to bubble on the top, get your spatula completely underne –

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Alright. Well.

That went exactly as I had feared.

So, I went and got a different, more gigantic spatula and tried again.

Oh no….. I guess I have to eat the pancakes I messed up. Too bad.

(Did that sarcasm read?)

And, of course, they were absolutely incredible. They looked terrible. But they tasted, literally, the EXACT opposite of terrible. Gooey, creamy, sweet (with pure maple syrup), and just a hint of salt right at the end.

Okay Rebecca. You are trying to be a food blogger.  You need a respectable picture of your finished product.

You know, in case someone actually reads this.

Here goes. One…..two…..THREE!

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HOORAY!!!!!

I did it!

Look at those babies.

Completely made from scratch. No Bisquick. No bullshit.

All me.

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So here they are. They are just the basic pancake recipe from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook.

But they are my first, perfected, completely homemade pancakes.

And definitely not my last.

I intend to get even better at making them so when peaches are in season, I can make her Peach and Sour Cream Pancakes.

By the way, I can not recommend this book highly enough. I am getting the entirety of this cookbook tattooed on my body.

 

Sour Cream Pancakes

Ingredients:

1 large egg
1 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
a pat of butter

Steps:

1. Whisk together the egg, sour cream, vanilla extract, and sugar in a large bowl.

2. Whisk together the salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, flour, baking powder, and baking soda in another bowl.

3. Gently fold (don’t vigourously over mix) the dry ingredients into the wet ones. The batter should end up fluffy, airy, and lumpy.

4. If you are lucky enough to have a cast iron skillet, get that out. If not, any medium sized skillet will do. Bring the skillet to medium-low heat and add your pat of butter. I accidentally typed “ass” instead of “add.” I had to tell you.

5. Ladle in a 1/4 cup of batter at a time. Let them spread a little, leaving 2 inches in between, and let them cook.

6. When the sides of the pancake look like they are cooked and the top is bubbling, grab a giant spatula, get completely underneath the pancake, and FLIP AS FAST AND CLEAN AS POSSIBLE.
These are not super simple to flip. This takes someone who is kinda bad ass.

And that’s it!

ENJOY!

ALSO! Keep an eye out for Episode 5 of my cooking show, A Cooking Show! Coming this week!

Cooking Adventures: Sick Day Oatmeal

I think the five months of winter is getting the best of all of us here in New York City.

There have been a string of sicknesses that have been passed around my place of work.

And I sense another one is going around.

So I stayed home to rest, take too many vitamin D supplements, and work on the ol’ passion.

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I managed to pull my 1,000 pound head off of the pillow so that I could shuffle in to the kitchen to make my morning coffee. By the way, I am running out of my coffee beans, does anyone have a recommendation for a new coffee bean I should try?

Also, how friggen awesome is my coffee thermos. Totally impractical (lid comes off super easy and it doesn’t really keep my coffee warm) but totally adorable. I don’t remember where I got it. Some chic place in Williamsburg.

Anyway! I couldn’t very well have coffee on an empty stomach. That would make me feel worse. And I didn’t want to have my normal healthy egg breakfast. I wanted something comforting. And then I remembered…..

Ina Garten had made the best oatmeal on her show the other day. It looked so creamy, warm, and delicious. And I had all the fixins in my kitchen. Which is amazing.

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But, seeing as I am a new “food blogger,” I thought I would make some changes myself to see what happened.

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I started with the whole milk and water on the stove. I was only making it for me (wah wah) so I cut her recipe in half.

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I have had these dried cranberries in the refrigerator for a while now and I wanted to put them to good use. And this was a great use!

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Now, I normallly try to stay away from sugar because it awakens the fat kid inside of me so I wanted to go with the healthiest sweetener alternative but without turning to chemical crap that gives you cancer like Splenda.

I had just read in this book that I am devouring right now, The Happiness Diet, that black strap molasses is excellent for you!

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It can help you get certain nutrients that our modern day lifestyles have diminished like calcium and iron.

So I thought, why not add it to my oatmeal?! It’s kinda sweet….right? And the rich, dark color will look amazing drizzled on top.

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Well, it looked great once you drizzled it…..

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But when you stirred it all together, not only did it look like a bowl of shit….it tasted like one too.

Rookie mistake.

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Luckily, I still had a teensy bit of the original batch of oatmeal left over in the pot.

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Now, I normallly try to stay away from sugar because it awakens the fat kid inside of me but…I am sick damnit. I am going to treat myself.

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And what a treat it was! There is something about adding salt to the oatmeal that makes it so much more complex! The salt enhances the sweet, the sweet enhances the cranberries and the cinnamon, and the milk makes it smooth as butter. Without butter!

Oh no. The kid is awake. I WANT ICE CREAM AND FRENCH FRIES ! ROOOOOOAAAAAARRRR!!!!!

Sick Day Oatmeal

Ingredients:

3/4 cup of whole milk

1 cup of water

3/4 cup of instant oats

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1 tablespoon of cinnamon, 1 tablespoon of sugar in the raw, to taste

Steps:

1. Add milk and water to a pot on the stove and heat until simmering. Once simmering, add oats and bring to a boil.

2. When boiling, reduce heat and let simmer for 5 minutes to thicken. Stir occasionally.

3. Thick enough for ya? Remove from heat, add your dried cranberries (and any other dried fruit or banana!), cover, and let stand for 2 minutes.

4. Add cinnamon and sugar in the raw (or honey or brown sugar if you prefer) NOT BLACK STRAP MOLASSES (like this ass did) and SERVE!

ENJOY!