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Friday, April 2, 2010

eatin' like beyonce

believe it or not, despite the other craziness in my life these days, i've been cooking!
this week's dinner offerings included a new recipe: arroz con pollo. the hub is a big fan of this stuff and orders it often when we go to a mexican restaurant. so when i was searching for more low-calorie meal options and this recipe popped up, i decided to give it a shot.
the recipe calls for saffron, which is a spice i don't have and have never used before. i'd always heard that it was pretty expensive, but i thought, it couldn't be that pricey, could it? i turned to my favorite source for discounted groceries, fresh & easy, but was disappointed to find their considerable spice selection saffron-free. boo.
at the grocery store, it took several pass-throughs to find the one brand of saffron they carried - and it was $20. $20!! i whipped out my phone to search for possible substitutes, and found that the closest i could find was turmeric. i took note of the warnings - use sparingly and expect it to provide the golden color of saffron only, not the flavor. okay, fine. it was $5, and that was good enough for me.
it was fairly easy to whip up, and it smelled pretty fantastic. the hub seemed to be pleasantly surprised at the change of pace, and even the bean enjoyed some pieces of chicken. keeper!

i'd ripped out this recipe for pancetta/mozzarella/asparagus flatbread out of this month's cooking light magazine and decided to give it a shot. i mixed the ingredients for the dough, set it aside to rise, and chopped up the other stuff for the toppings. i sauteed the pancetta with a little garlic and some dried thyme, rolled the dough out, threw it all in the oven, and about twelve minutes later sliced into the finished product.

YUM. another keeper!

this week's people magazine provided yet another fun new recipe to try. apparently, beyonce and jay-z love to order this spaghetti with fresh tomato & basil sauce from scarpetta restaurant in miami - at, like, 2 in the morning. heh. and so if it's good enough for them, it's sure good enough for me!

it involved some new-to-me steps: peeling and seeding tomatoes. after doing a little googling, i got started:

first, i cut shallow "x"s into the bottom of each tomato.

i dropped them into a big ass pot of boiling water and let them soak for about 30 seconds before scooping them out and immediately tossing them into a bowl of ice cold water, to stop the cooking process. five minutes later, they looked like this:

the skins peeled off easily, and in a few minutes i had a little army of naked produce:

i sliced them in half and used one of the bean's little spoons to scoop out the seeds. i tell you, baby gear comes in quite handy at the most opportune times.

i heated up the olive oil, tossed the tomatoes in to cook for a few minutes, and then squished 'em up with a potato masher (thanks, mom!).

after cooking the mixture down for about 25 mintues it had thickened up nicely, and because i wasn't going to be around to serve it, i took a few liberties with the final steps and tossed in a pat of butter, a handful of parmigiano-reggiano cheese, and some chopped fresh basil leaves.

a little salt and pepper, and it was good to go.

if you've never made fresh tomato sauce before, i HIGHLY recommend trying it. although it sounds like a pain in the ass, and is definitely a bit more labor-intensive than simply opening a can of diced tomatoes and going at it, it is so worth it. the flavors of this sauce really reflect the freshness of the ingredients, and it's so delicious. plus, you can easily make it ahead of time and just warm it up to toss with the spaghetti later on.

and last, but definitely not least - happy birthday to my wonderful, fabulous, sweet, hunky hub! i love him so much, and every day is an adventure with him. he gives so much every day, never wants attention for himself (which is a good thing, since he's married to my ass), and is an even better husband and father than i'd ever imagined.

i must remember to thank the ILs today. i owe 'em, big time.


  1. oooh I want to try the fresh tomato-basil sauce.Looks yummy! Now I want spaghetti!

  2. wow - that sauce actually looks good enough for me to do the extra work. :)

  3. Call me wacky, but I kinda like peeling tomatoes. It's sorta fun. Heh.

    All three of these dishes look so yummy!

  4. yuuuum. need to try making sauce from scratch this summer.

  5. Amber is totally wacky :) I don't like touching the inside of tomatoes. Ewwww.

  6. Ooooh I think I will actually try some of these new recipes - they look fantastic!


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