Brats and Kraut Pasta

20191228_185933I know I’ve posted bratwurst and sauerkraut recipes before, but what can I say? I just love this fatty, salty, sour, funky flavor combo. Today’s recipe comes courtesy of a can of real German sauerkraut brought to me from Germany by a friend. I wanted to ADAPT the usual flavors, and turn it into a one-bowl, hearty, pasta based dish for easy leftovers. I took guidance from some of my other favorite recipes and chose to build a “sauce” for the pasta that wasn’t tomato or cream based, but rather closer to a vinaigrette. The vinegar and mustard flavors of the sauce really cut through the richness of the rest of the ingredients and help bring the sauerkraut flavor home. And in case you were wondering if this gets weird after a day or two in the fridge… nope. It just gets better!

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Thanksgiving Leftovers Bread Pudding

20191110_181800I love stratas and I love bread pudding, but I wanted to make them even more versatile by using leftovers and preparing it in a slow cooker. This recipe has a lot of prep, but you can do it any day of the week so that you’re ready to dump into the slow cooker the morning that you’ll be eating the dish. By then, I’ve already forgotten about the work anyway!

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Pumpkin Cheesecake with Candied Pecans

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I know you might think it’s too late to make a pumpkin cheesecake in 2019, but I believe in you. I came up with this recipe for a work Thanksgiving potluck, because I wanted to bring something thematic but I didn’t want it to be the same old pumpkin pie. Let me tell you, this is one of the best desserts I’ve ever made. It has a great BALANCE of both flavors and textures. The cheesecake tastes very pumpkin-y while the topping speaks strongly of pecan pie. It’s the best of both worlds and I recommend you make it this week.

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Radicchio Pesto Pasta

20190930_192202As you know, I love pesto. It’s so easy and fresh and works with a lot of different foods. I recently heard about the concept of a pesto based on radicchio, the bitter red lettuce related to endive. While I was skeptical, I do like radicchio and have found it to be surprisingly pleasant in the right circumstances, so I decided to try it out with pasta, adding a quickly sautéed shrimp for some added protein.

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Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies

20191109_221941As I’ve said before, when I get bored, I bake. Since it’s usually a spur of the moment thing and all I really want is a sweet diversion, I try to take it as an opportunity to test out a new recipe, rather than just make the same old chocolate chip cookies. This time, I decided to try to COMBINE two of my favorite types of cookies, oatmeal raisin and peanut butter, into a beautiful marriage that would taste something like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. These would be great with raisins or other dried fruit instead of cranberries, but don’t skip the peanuts – they really give that crunchy peanut butter taste! Also, a note about the instruction to hit the pan on the counter halfway through baking: I didn’t make this up but I hoped it would help with chewiness. To hear about the origins, see this New York Times Cooking article.

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Coconut-Pineapple Tofu Tacos

20190806_194921My favorite thing about tacos is the toppings. They often have all of the flavor and texture anyway – who needs meat? But sometimes, it would be nice to have a filling that is good for the environment but also protein packed to make the meal feel hearty. I’ve been inspired by my vegan sister to eat more tofu recently. Here I used the tofu crumble method from blogger It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken to make something approximating ground meat, then COMBINED it with one of my favorite taco recipes from EmilyC on Food52. It’s crucial to be patient with this method to make sure the tofu is dried out enough that it gains the texture of cooked meat.

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Shrimp and Grits Strata

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I love stratas for their versatility, which makes them a great base for innovation. Here, I ADAPTED my classic shrimp and grits recipe to the strata format, making sure to get all the key flavors in there – shrimp, sausage, tomato, and even grits. I added in some kale to up the nutrition of the dish, and presto, a dish that feels totally new and yet totally comfortable!

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Fig and Sweet Potato Risotto

20190916_190133Risotto is so tasty, hearty, and versatile; I can’t believe I haven’t done a risotto recipe on here yet! For this version, I knew I wanted to do risotto, but I didn’t know what I wanted to put in it. So I did what I usually do – I went to Haymarket (my local “farmers”/produce market), looked around, and saw what struck my fancy. This time, what hit me in the face was the number of fresh figs everywhere! It turns out it’s fig season, and even though I’ve never had fig risotto, I knew figs go great with cheese, which is also often in risotto, so I thought I’d give it a try. To go with the roasted figs I chose another roasted vegetable, then added spices, sherry, and almonds on the recommendation of my Flavor Bible.

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Peach Blueberry Upside-Down Cake

20190902_201154Before the summer is truly over, I wanted to make a dessert that celebrated some of my favorite fruits of the season. My mom had recently tried the Peach Upside-Down Cake from NYT Cooking, which was good, but I wanted something with more fruit, that paired the peaches with almond to make a more complexly flavored cake. To do this, the RATIOS of the ingredients were crucial and I relied heavily on knowledge from sources across the internet. Almond flour is not the same as wheat flour and combined with almond paste it can really weigh the cake down. I needed enough egg whites (instead of whole eggs) to provide lift. I also wanted to use buttermilk for lift and moisture, but I had to compensate for the added acidity by replacing some of the baking powder with baking soda. Overall, I was very pleased with the result!

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