Saturday, July 31, 2010

Summer Vegetable Pasta (a.k.a. what the heck do I do with all this squash??)

The thought of it used to strike fear in my heart. 

Fear and disgust. 
I hated squash. 
Strange, I know. That the eater of all things vegetable refused to even try this stuff until I was in high school. 

The Hungry Hubby still turns his nose up at it. (Unless my Mom makes it for him, then he'll gobble it up. Whatever.)
Well, this time of year anyone with a garden can tell you they end up with more d*mn squash than you can shake a stick at.

That's how we ended up with all this squash. 
It was a gift. 

At Church on Sunday someone had left a large pile of vegetables on a table with a sign that said "Homegrown veggies, please help yourself." The sign might have well have said "We're over run with this yellow squash. It's like Kudzu. We don't even know what happened to the swingset. It's everywhere."
If you had SEEN the pile of squash on that table, you would totally understand the desperation behind that neat handwriting.

It was like this. {via}

I should have taken a picture.
Instead, I took 3 GIANT yellow squash home, knowing I would be the only eating them.

So then I had this squash. 
I just stared at it for a week. 

This morning I took the Hungry Baby to the Pepper Place Farmer's Market and got some MORE veggies. 


So I made Summer Vegetable Pasta. 

pretty sexy for a camera phone!

It's awesome! (AND because odds are The Hungry Hubby won't try it, due to the squash and it being remotely healthy for you I get it all to myself!) 

For Summer Vegetable Pasta, you will need: 

  • 1 lb. Penne (I used gluten free brown rice pasta)
  • Olive oil
  • Sea Salt
  • 3-4 Yellow Summer Squashes, mercilessly cut up into little bits
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, cut into halves
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried basil (you could use about 1 1/2 cups fresh leaves, cut up, but I didn't have any on hand)
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1. Put the little squash bits in a colander, toss them with about a bit of sea salt and put the colander over a big bowl to drain for about 30 minutes or so. (This will allow some of the water to leech out of the squash, so it won't be so...well...squashy.)

2. Put a big pot of well-salted water on a boil.

3. After some water has drained out of the squash, pat it with a paper towel, just to get it a bit drier. 

4. Put the squash in a large pan with a few tablespoons of Olive Oil, over medium-high heat. Toss the squash around. 

5. While the squash is a-squashin', put the pasta in. (Don't let it cook past "al dente", or it will be gross.)

6. Once the squash has been cooked up a bit (it will appear slightly softer), put in the basil, pepper flakes, garlic and balsamic. Coat evenly.

7. Once pasta is ready, drain it (don't rinse it) and return to the big pot.

8. Add the tomatoes to the squash and heat through. 

9. Mix the vegetables into the pasta, making sure the olive oil coats the pasta well. 

10. Serve warm (with some grated parm and white wine if you're trying to look fancy!) 

Feel better about yourself for figuring out what to use the squash for without coating it completely with Velveeta.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

R.T.'s Italian Chicken (a.k.a. one of the easiest things you will ever make)

My cousin, Rebecca Tabb, is an amazing human being who has mastered the art of thinking of her CrockPot as useful for making more than just roast. 

(Gee, I haven't made roast in a while ... [insert Homer Simpson saying "mmmmm...roast"] but I digress)

She came up with this great idea for Italian Chicken and it is Hungry Hubby approved! 

I even made it yesterday.

This is all the cooking skill you need.

For Italian Chicken you will need: 

  • 6-8 Frozen, boneless, skinless, chicken breasts (or if you're like me, those bone-in, skin-on, chicken leg quarters you got in a bag for $2.50 at Aldi. Because you're cheap and couldn't find it in your cold, dead heart to spring for breast meat.)
  • 1 bottle of cheap Italian dressing
That's it. 

Seriously, that's all you need. 

1. Throw the frozen chicken into the CrockPot

2. Squirt the ENTIRE bottle of dressing on top of the chicken. 

3. Set the CrockPot for 8-10 hours on low.


(If you're really ambitious, throw some skinned baking potatoes in the CrockPot too. I did. They were GOOD. But, you don't have to...)

(While it was cooking, we went to Publix, and took the Hungry Baby to see "Inception"! It was like a date!)

Even with the cheapo chicken, it turned out SOOOOOOOO GOOD! 

Thanks to Rebecca we have a new favorite in our house and I have new confidence in my CrockPot skills!

Chocolate Cobbler (a.k.a. OMG LookAtThisGoopButItIsNOMS! Pie)

This is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. 

It's like a chocolate lava thing, but when I first read about how you make it, I didn't think it would work. 

I showed it to The Hungry Hubby and blurted "I am going to make this RIGHT NOW and it will never come out looking this yummy but I need chocolate NOW!" 

It was almost 10 pm when I said this.  
The Hungry Hubby, of course, was on board. 
(as you are aware, if it involves sweets and is junky for you, he'll eat it) 

This is GOOD. 

Next time I will be baking a double or TRIPLE batch of this stuff. AND I will be downing it with LOTS of vanilla bean ice cream.

(The Hungry Hubby didn't want to go to the store in the middle of the night just for ice cream. After all, I'm not pregnant anymore. He's not as compelled to cater to my every caloric whim.)
So here goes: 

For Chocolate Cobbler you will need: 

  • 1 cup All-purpose Flour (I used Pamela's Gluten-Free, as always)
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • ¼ teaspoons Salt (Morton's regular salt, for once.)
  • 7 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder, Divided
  • 1-¼ cup Sugar, Divided
  • ½ cups Milk
  • ⅓ cups Melted Butter
  • 1-½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract (I used Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla_
  • ½ cups Light Brown Sugar, Packed
  • 1-½ cup Hot Tap Water (and I mean HOOOOT, but not boiling) 
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Shoo cat away from oven.

2. First stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, 3 tablespoons of the cocoa, and 3/4 cup of the white sugar. Reserve the remaining cocoa and sugar. Shoo cat off counter.

3. Stir in the milk, melted butter, and vanilla to the flour mixture. Mix until smooth. Shoo cat away from fridge.

4. Pour the mixture into an ungreased 8-inch baking dish. I used a square casserole dish I had around and was disappointed that it was too big.

5. In a separate small bowl, mix the remaining white sugar (it should be 1/2 cup), the brown sugar, and remaining 4 tablespoons of cocoa. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the batter. make sure none of the batter is showing. Put cat out on porch.

6. Pour the hot tap water over all. DO NOT STIR! Yes, I know it sounds NUTS, and this was the step I said "THIS WILL NOT WORK!" but, it did.

5. Bake for about 40 minutes or until the top is nice and crusty.

6. Let stand for a few minutes with your husband excitedly hovering over it with a spoon. Eat, then go to bed with happy tummys. 

7. Wake up later and realize cat is still on porch. Let cat in. Go back to bed.