10-Minute Spinach and Roasted Red Pepper Marscapone Sauce

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Remember those Apple and Marscapone Tartlets that I featured a couple posts back? Well, that venture left me with some leftover marscapone and I certainly did not want to let that yumminess go to waste. As I had already used marscapone as one of the main ingredients in a sweet treat, I figured that I would use it in a savory dish this time around. To me, the obvious choice seemed to be in the form of a delicious, Italian-inspired sauce packed with fresh flavors. That it was.

For the most part, when I make pasta it’s because A) I’m feeling lazy, or B) I have absolutely nothing else to eat. In these circumstances, said pasta is dried and the sauce that accompanies it typically comes in a jar. Rest assured, the sauce that I’m featuring in this post is still perfect for those lazy nights. I threw it together in only 10 minutes, and the quick trip to the grocery store to pick up some fresh pasta was well worth it.

Note: This recipe yields four servings. For best results, serve with a sliced baguette and seasoned extra-virgin olive oil for dipping. ;)

What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup EVOO
  • 8 oz. container marscapone
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1/4 a sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 tsbp. fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsbp. fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 cup roasted red peppers (my recipe here)
  • 2 cups packed fresh spinach
  • Cracked black pepper to taste
  • Himalayan salt to taste
  • The pasta of your choice (I went with fresh linguini. Yum!)
  • Shaved locatelli for garnish

What you’ll do:

  • Combine all ingredients (minus the spinach, salt, and pepper) in a food processor; blend until smooth
  • Transfer to a large saucepan and, over low heat, stir in the spinach and desired amount of salt and pepper; stir occasionally until the sauce is heated through and the spinach is slightly wilted
  • Spoon a generous amount of sauce over the pasta, garnish with shaved locatelli, and enjoy!

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Fall Foliage at Morris Arboretum

A couple days ago, my friend Lauren and I headed to Chestnut Hill to check out Morris Arboretum of The University of Pennsylvania. It was nice to take a break from city living and check out the leaves changing colors, as well as various fall blooms. The arboretum was both stunning and peaceful. Also, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Penn Medicine employees get in for free by simply showing your PennCard at the gate…score! Afterward, we went to Downtown Chestnut Hill to check out the adorable shops and grab some sushi. It was a great day catching up with my girl. :)

Please check out some of my favorite shots below!

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Apple and Marscapone Tartlets with a Maple-Cinnamon-Bourbon Glaze

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Now that I’ve made some savory dishes using my goods from Linvilla Orchards (here and here), it’s time that I bring something sweet into the mix. I’m typically not much of a baker, so I’m pretty darn proud of myself for coming up with this concoction. They were super tasty without being sickeningly sweet, and the best part? They couldn’t be easier to throw together! From start to finish, these bites of heaven took me less than a half-hour to make.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 puff pastry sheet
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 fl. oz. bourbon
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 4 apples, cored and cubed (a variety is best; I used 2 Golden Delicious and 2 Stayman Winesap)
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, crushed
  • 8 oz. container of marscapone
  • 6 fresh sage leaves, chopped

What you’ll do:

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F
  • Meanwhile, spread flour onto both sides of a defrosted puff pastry sheet; using a pizza slicer, cut into 6 pieces
  • Fold the edges of the dough upward on all sides as pictured; use a fork to press the edges down, thereby creating a decorative border (be sure to wet the fork each time you press it into the dough to ensure that the fork does not stick to the dough)
  • Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or until golden brown
  • Meanwhile, combine the bourbon, maple syrup, cinnamon, and apples in large frying pan; cook over high heat, stirring often, for 8 minutes, or until the apples are soft and the sauce thickens; then stir in the lemon juice and cook for an additional 2 minutes
  • Using a slotted spoon, scoop the apples into a bowl, leaving any extra sauce in the pan; set the bowl aside
  • Turn the burner to medium heat, and stir the marscapone and walnuts into the remaining sauce; stir for 2 minutes, or until the marscapone thins out slightly and is heated through
  • The centers of the pastry should puff outward after baking; if this happens, flatten only the centers with a spoon; then, transfer to a serving dish
  • Equally distribute the marscapone mixture, followed by the apple mixture, onto the centers of the tartlets; finish off with a sprinkle of the fresh sage

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How To Properly Dry Fresh Herbs

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Although my recent posts make it pretty clear that I’ve embraced the fall with open arms, there are some things about summertime that are just so dang hard to say goodbye to. One of these things, which is on the tippy top of my list, is no longer having an herb garden. There’s nothing like having fresh herbs at my fingertips to enhance my cooking. However, this year, once the cooler weather rolled around, I decided that I would dry my herbs, rather than let them wither away. It was super easy to do, but patience, grasshopper – depending on the herb, drying can take anywhere from two to four weeks. Aside from the weather becoming significantly cooler, you’ll know your herbs are ready for drying when their growth is stagnant and/or when they begin to flower.

Believe it or not, there many adorable spice jars to choose from. The jars that I used can be found here, but other great options can be found here, here, and here. As you can see in my photos, I chose to display mine on my kitchen window sill, as I love the look of natural light shining through recycled glass. Additionally, there are countless ways in which you can label your jars, but I opted to stamp washi tape (my newest obsession!) with this alphabet stamp set. My reasoning? Aside from loving this particular washi tapes’s subtle, chevron pattern, the tape will be easy to remove in the future, allowing me to potentially reuse these jars for different herbs.

What you’ll need:

  • Heavy-duty scissors
  • Rubber bands
  • Kitchen twine
  • A hanger
  • Spice jars

What you’ll do:

  • One herb at a time, cut the stems at the root until there are no remaining stems; thoroughly rinse the stems and pat dry; bunch the stems together and secure with a rubber band
  • Using a 15 to 20 inch piece of kitchen twine, tie one end to the hanger, and tie the other end to the rubber band that is securing the stems (the bunch should be hanging upside-down); repeat this step for any other herbs that you would like to dry
  • Place the hanger in a cool, dark place, and allow the herbs to dry completely; as mentioned previously, this should take 2 to 4 weeks depending on the herb
  • Once your herbs have dried, one herb at a time, remove the leaves from the stems by placing your thumb and pointer finger at one end of the stem and, moving in the opposite direction that the leaves grow, slide your fingers down the stem (the leaves should fall right off)
  • Use a mortar and pestle to break the leaves of each herb into smaller pieces; alternatively, rip or chop the leaves into smaller pieces; transfer each herb to its own spice jar, and viola!

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Autumn Harvest Salad with Spicy Pepitas and an Apple Cider Vinaigrette

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Anybody who knows me well knows that I absolutely loathe wasting food. Remember those pumpkin bowls from a couple posts ago? Well, I couldn’t bare to simply throw them away after Dan and I used them to eat our chili out of, so I thoroughly rinsed them out and roasted them in the oven after we were done eating. It’s amazing how creative you can become while attempting to put leftovers to good use, and this salad is a prime example of that. It was when I was trying to figure out how to use my leftover, oven-roasted pumpkin when this salad came to life. While I eat salads pretty regularly, I’ll be the first to admit that salads this inspired are few and far between. This salad would be perfect for a very hungry individual, but more ideal as an elegant side dish at a fall get-together (Thanksgiving dinner, anyone?).

First, let’s talk about the dressing. It was beyond. Like, beyond in the sense that my roomie was eating it off of a spoon. Anyway, I always make my dressings from scratch, and I do so for several reasons. For starters, I like to know exactly which ingredients are going into my food. I figure, if I’m going to make nearly everything else from scratch, why not salad dressing? Which brings me to my second reason: making your own salad dressing is so easy to do that I don’t see a reason to not make them from scratch. You simply throw the ingredients into a blender, and BOOM! You’ve got yourself a delicious, yet unique salad dressing that can be made in under five minutes. Lastly, I like to concoct dressings that I know will make me crave salad. I used to be an oil and vinegar gal, but that got old… fast. I’ve come up with three dressings that I regularly rotate, and I love them so much that they make me opt for salad over other, often more unhealthy food. Is it a surprise that this apple cider vinaigrette will soon become the fourth dressing on said rotation?

Next, let’s talk about the pepitas, which, in plain English, means “pumpkin seeds.” I went with “pepitas” only because it has a nicer ring to it, and it makes me feel like I’m actually putting 5+ years of Spanish classes to use. Anyway, oven-roasting pepitas is something I’ve always wanted to do, but it also comes back to me not wanting to waste any food whatsoever. Because I like food with a kick, I made mine spicy with chipotle pepper and cayenne pepper. Aside from being used as a component of this salad, they make for an awesome snack; they are not only crunchy and addictive, but also provide many health benefits. Specifically, pepitas provide the following benefits: magnesium for heart health, zinc for immune support, plant-based omega-3 fats, anti-diabetic effects, and anti-inflammatory effects, among many others.

PART 1: APPLE CIDER VINAIGRETTE

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup EVOO
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic
  • 8 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • Himalayan salt to taste
  • Cracked black pepper to taste

What you’ll do:

  • Combine all ingredients in a blender
  • Blend until smooth
  • Pour into the container of your choice

PART 2: SPICY PEPITAS

What you’ll need:

  • The seeds from two small pumpkins
  • 2 tbsp. EVOO
  • 1 tbsp. chipotle pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp. cayenne pepper

What you’ll do:

  • Preheat the oven to 300°F
  • Thoroughly rinse the seeds using a colander; transfer to a small sauce pan, halfway filled with salted water, and bring to a boil; once boiling, turn the heat down to its lowest setting and simmer for 10 minutes
  • Strain the seeds and transfer to a small mixing bowl; thoroughly coat with the EVOO, chipotle pepper, and cayenne pepper; transfer to a baking sheet and spread them out so that as many seeds as possible will be directly exposed to the heat from the oven
  • Cook in the oven for 10 minutes; next, remove the baking sheet from the oven, give the seeds a good stir, and spread them out in the same manner as before; cook for an additional 5-10 minutes
  • Allow to cool for 30 minutes; then, transfer to a mason jar

PART 3: AUTUMN HARVEST SALAD

What you’ll need:

  • 1 small pumpkin, halved with the pulp and seeds scooped out
  • 2 tbsp. grape seed oil
  • Himalayan salt to taste
  • Cracked black pepper to taste
  • 4 cups spring mix
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 apple, cored and cubed
  • 1 avocado, pitted and cubed
  • 2 large radishes, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup smoked cheddar, cubed
  • 1/4 cup spicy pepitas
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinaigrette

What you’ll do:

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F; then, place the pumpkin halves onto a glass baking dish, brush with the grape seed oil, add desired amount of Himalayan salt and cracked black pepper, and cook in the oven for 25 minutes
  • While the pumpkin is cooking, begin to assemble your salad by laying down a bed of lettuce, and placing the remaining ingredients on top in neat rows (be sure to leave an empty row for the oven-roasted pumpkin); feel free to add more or less of each ingredient, as the instructions I provided are only a guideline
  • Once 25 minutes has elapsed, remove the pumpkin halves from the oven; once cooled off, remove the skin (it should peel right off) and discard; next, cut the remaining pumpkin flesh into cubes, and add 1/2 cup to the salad; the remaining oven-roasted pumpkin can be used for future salads, or whatever else you’d like to use it for!

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