Jan 4, 2006

Guest Blogger #2 - Sweetnick's

My second guest blogger for this week is Sweetnicks. If you have never visited her site, take a look it is great! Lots of wonderful recipes and the largest list of food blogs I have found anywhere. I know you will all enjoy these recipes, they sound wonderful!


When I found out that Michele was looking for guest posters for her website, I jumped at the chance. I asked what the guidelines for my post should be and Michele said, "as long as it's frugal or food-related" that would be great. I knew immediately what I would do.

When I moved out of my parents' house and into my first apartment, I dove into Woman's Day and Family Circle magazines, feverishly clipping out their recipes. I loved using them as a source because they always list how much it costs to make the recipe, and given it was my first time living on my own, although I didn't always follow a budget, I did try and keep an eye on costs ... most of the time. ;) Now 10, 15 years later, although I still subscribe to those magazines, I've moved on to include others as well, like Cooking Light, Bon Appetit, Gourmet and more. But going back to my Woman's Day/Family Circle eat-on-a-shoestring days, I often challenge myself to "cook out of my pantry," choosing to use what I have here already, instead of arming myself with a list and running to the store to buy more ingredients.

So to combine both topics of "food" and "frugal," tonight's dinner is using up stuff I had at home already. Theoretically, you could say it didn't cost me one cent to make dinner, since I already had everything on hand; but if you add up what I spent when I originally bought the ingredients, it's about $8, and that will cover dinner for the 3 of us tonight, and leftovers for tomorrow. Not too shabby! Not sure where we could go for dinner for $4/night, but I doubt it would be as good as this meal. :)

Somehow I ended up with an abundance of lemons ... I think from our New Years' Eve feast this past weekend, so I knew I wanted a recipe to use those up. Turning to a tried-and-true, we'll be having Giada DeLaurentiis' Lemon Spaghetti. Got lemons? Make spaghetti. I know ... not the usual solution, but it's a great, quick to table, weeknight meal, and Nicholas gobbles it up. Starting dinner off first though will be Spinach Salad with Dried Cranberries and Cheese. This is one of those great, throw-together salads that will work any number of ways. Usually I'd buy gorgonzola to crumble on top of it, but we're cooking from what I have on hand today, so it'll be cubed, marbled Jack/Colby cheese - yummy stuff. The dressing is a mixture I make with maple syrup (warmed to thin it a bit), olive oil, salt, pepper and a few splashes of balsamic vinegar. This is another dish that Nicholas dives into --- just don't tell him he's eating spinach! He thinks he doesn't like it. And lastly, I had some extra heavy cream and eggs leftover from Christmas, so I'm making one of The Husband's favorite desserts, my Creme Brulee. The simplest recipe ever ... Creme Brulee doesn't have to be reserved for just when you order it from a restaurant, and with my recipe? No torch required.

So next time you're trying to figure out what to make for dinner, throw open your cupboards, refrigerator, freezer and pantry and start rummaging around. You'd be surprised what you can come up with using items you already have on hand. In fact, last night, I made Eggnog Rum Raisin Muffins, using ingredients I already had. And for anyone who happens to visit my site regularly, you'll know that today is The Husband Cooks Wednesday, so while I may have planned the menu, you know who's doing the cooking...!

Giada DeLaurentiis' Lemon Spaghetti

1 pound spaghetti
2/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the oil, Parmesan, and lemon juice in a large bowl to blend. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Toss the pasta with the lemon sauce, and the reserved cooking liquid, adding 1/4 cup at a time as needed to moisten. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with lemon zest and chopped basil.

Creme Brulee

7 egg yolks
7 tablespooons sugar
3-1/2 cups heavy cream
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
extra sugar for sprinkling the tops

Heat cream and vanilla until very hot. Beat eggs with sugar until light and creamy. SLOWLY add hot cream to egg mixture and stir well. Evenly divide mixture into ramekins. Place cups in a 13x9 baking pan filled halfway up with water. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and cool, then refrigerate. If you make them ahead, pull them out of the refrigerator about a half-hour before serving, and then immediately before serving, sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon of sugar on top of each cup and broil until golden brown and crunchy. Makes about 8-10 ramekins, depending on the size of yours.


Kalyn Denny said...

Anything that has lemon zest, you can be sure I am going to like it. I would use low carb spagetti to make this, but otherwise, it sounds like a keeper from Sweetnicks.

Anonymous said...

I love all of Giada's recipes. I haven't tried this one yet. Thanks, Sweetnicks and thanks Michelle for these interesting guest blogger posts. They're great!


Anonymous said...

The first time I made creme brulee I was shocked at how easy it was, as long as you make sure you bake it in a bain marie (water bath) you can't really go wrong.

Torching is the fun part!