Monday, January 5, 2009

Jaw-Droppingly Delicious Asparagus Penne

Tonight, I decided to head back to the The Big Orange Book from Rachael Ray.
After grocery shopping yesterday, I was ready to make Jaw-Droppingly Delicious Asparagus Penne. This really isn't so bad or expensive to make. I will admit; I can pick some recipes that are not so nice to the wallet. I think the most expensive thing in this recipe is the cheese, but it can be used for other recipes, too!
Recipe (Serves 4)

1 pound thin asparagus, trimmed of ends
1 pound whole wheat penne pasta
1 tablespoon EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil)
2 tablespoons butter
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup vegetable stock
3/4 cup half-and-half
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons lemon zest
Black Pepper
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, fine chopped, a couple of sprigs
Juice of 1 lemon
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water. Drop the asparagus in for 2 minutes, then remove, drain, and chop into 2-inch pieces. Add the pasta to the water and cook to al dente.

To a skillet placed over medium heat, add the EVOO and butter. When the butter melts into the oil, add the garlic and gently cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then sprinkle the flour into the pan and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Whisk in the stock, half-and-half, mustard, and lemon zest. Season the sauce with salt, pepper, and tarragon, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes to thicken. Add the lemon juice, and gently toss the asparagus and pasta with the sauce to coat. Turn off the heat and adjust the salt and pepper to taste, then top with grated cheese and serve.
This was really quick to make because there was a lot of time where parts would be cooking, so you could prepare other things while something was cooking. We were able to have one serving and have plenty for leftovers to take for lunch!

I will say this recipe was somewhat...well, not bitter, but tangy I suppose. As you can tell from the recipe, there's a decent amount of lemon zest as well as the juice. Now, tangy doesn't mean bad, I just don't think it was the taste that best fits Henry and I. I know there are people that this would probably suit very well. So try it! I'm not sure that we'll make this recipe again, partly because I try not to make things over and over, but this wasn't one of our ultimate favorites.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Graduation Cupcakes

Henry's sister, Emily, graduated this December, and I knew there had to be some sort of celebratory goodie! Since I can't get enough of the red velvet cake recipe, I decided to make her some cupcakes using the same recipe. Though they weren't exactly the hit I had hoped, the idea behind them was pretty cool.

The cupcakes and the icing are the same as the previous red velvet cake recipe, but I added a few things on top! As you can probably tell from the picture above, I added graduation hats on top. These hats are 100% edible and really yummy! I got the chocolate squares from Ghirardelli using the dark chocolate mint and milk chocolate squares.
Underneath those chocolate squares are Reese's peanut butter cups that are turned upside down.

As you can see, I used a dollop of icing to secure the chocolate square to the peanut butter cup. On top of the chocolate square, I used a Dr. Pepper Jelly Belly since that jelly belly was the most maroon looking jelly belly to match Texas A&M! I also used a small amount of icing and died it yellow to create the tassle on each of the chocolate squares.

The result came out better than I thought, and it was a lot of fun to make them!

Cake Pops

I can't stop making this yummy red velvet cake! After discovering a very exciting baking blog, Bakerella, I decided I had to try making her Cake Pops. I followed her directions on how she makes her Cake Pops. A co-worker at work was having a birthday, so I thought this would be a fun treat in the office.

Basically, your taking a baked cake, crumbling it up, adding icing, and forming the mixture into cake balls that are added to skewers or some type of stick to create the pop. It's funny when you decide to make it with red velvet cake; the mixture ends up looking like ground meat!
After they are made, they look like the picture below. I didn't exactly use the right type of chocolate as I should have, but if you look through the Bakerella blog, you can see how wonderful these guys can look! My picture isn't all that fantastic either.

General Tsao's Chicken

CHINESE FOOD! I've never really ventured into this realm of cooking except for the measly chicken fried rice recipe I've already given you. I was very nervous to try this, but Henry was very impressed after it was all said and done. Now, I won't lie to you. If you've never made chinese food, you'll probably find this a tedious and time consuming process. I'm sure part of this time consuming process was probably due to the amount of chicken we cooked, too. I'd suggest halfing this recipe or perhaps even fourthing it if you are making this meal for two. I discovered this recipe on, though it is possible that it can be found elsewhere.

It does ask for fresh ginger root, and fresh ingredients do make a difference. However, because I do not regularly cook or bake with ginger, I did take some help from McCormick's on this one. Additionally, I left out the MSG. I can't take it at Pei Wei, so I wasn't ready to use it at home. Otherwise, I made this recipe as it states, even the white pepper! This chicken was so fresh, moist, and tasty. Together with the chicken fried rice recipe, Henry and I had a WONDERFUL meal. I'd suggest making this for sure!


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