Saturday, September 22, 2012

Pesto & Goat Cheese Pasta

One of the questions that I get most often when talking about my blog with others is "Do you make dinner for your family every night?"

Let's just clear a few things up.

No.

Yes, I love to cook. When I make something I really love (and have a garnish handy) it usually ends up on homemade toast - but I don't cook like what you see on here every night.

More nights then not, I pull out the leftovers or throw something easy together at the last minute and call it good. My kids could live on Goldfish, scrambled eggs and seaweed (yup) alone. And, sometimes they do.

Sometimes, simple is better. Especially when it requires fewer dishes to keep in the sink until tomorrow or maybe the next day because I am way too tired to clean them now wash.

This pasta toss came about on one of those throw-together nights - and ended up becoming one of our favorite pasta sauces. So simple and easy, and a great way to use leftover veggies.

And, it sounds fancy.

Pesto and Goat Cheese Pasta


Ingredients:
Goat Cheese
Fresh Pesto
Pasta
Vegetables (we love using fresh tomatoes, or sauteed asparagus and zucchini)

Optional: top with a squirt of lemon and fresh basil, or Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of balsamic


Directions:
Mix one part goat cheese to one part pesto over medium-low heat in a sauce pan until melted. Toss with veggies and warm pasta.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Frozen Meringue Cake with Balsamic Raspberry Syrup

I saw this recipe for Frozen Meringue Cake on an episode of Giada at Home the other day. I have always wanted to try a dessert using balsamic vinegar - and this seemed like the perfect recipe to try!

The balance of flavors and textures in this cake is so perfect - you would never believe it by just looking at the recipe! Each layer of the cake compliment the others so well - the frozen meringue is chewy and crunchy (it kind of reminded me of freeze-dried ice cream), the raspberry cream layer is light and soft, and the sweet and tangy balsamic raspberry syrup just brings it all together perfectly!

This dessert is unlike anything I have ever made before - which is why I was so anxious to try it out. I am so glad I did, it's such a light and lovely dessert!

Here is my version of Giada's Frozen Meringue Cake. You'll love it!

Frozen Meringue Cake

Ingredients:

Meringue:
5 large egg whites, at room temperature

3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
Pinch fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cups fresh raspberries (4 ounces)

Syrup:
1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries (6 ounces)
1 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 cup fresh raspberries, for garnish, optional

Directions:

1. Prepare the meringue.

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 200 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a pencil, trace two 8-inch-diameter circles, side-by-side, on the parchment paper. 

Beat the egg whites until fluffy in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Gradually add the powdered sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, with the machine running on medium-low speed, until the mixture holds soft peaks.

Beat in the cream of tartar and salt. Increase the speed to high and beat until the mixture is thick and holds stiff peaks, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla extract.

Place the meringue in the piping bag. Pipe the meringue into two 8-inch circles on the prepared baking sheet using the traced circles as a guide, then spread evenly with back of spoon.

Bake until crisp, 4 hours. Turn off the oven and allow the meringues to cool completely while still in the oven, about 2 hours. Peel the meringue disks away from the parchment paper and set aside.




2. Prepare the syrup. (You can make this at any point - just make sure it has cooled to room temperature before serving.)

Mix the raspberries and the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan. Lightly mash the raspberries using a fork.


Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until thick, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in brown sugar.

Strain the mixture through a fine sieve and allow to cool.

3. Prepare the cream.

Beat the cream on high speed until thick using an electric hand mixer. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Continue to beat on high speed until the cream holds stiff peaks. Add the raspberries and beat until the cream turns a light pink color.

4. Assemble the cake.

Spread a few tablespoons of cream on the bottom of the plate to prevent the cake from moving. Place a meringue circle on top. Spread about 1/3 of the cream on top of the first meringue layer. Add the other meringue circle on top of the cream.

Spread the remaining cream on the top and sides of the cake. Garnish with fresh raspberries if using, and freeze the cake until firm, at least 3 hours.







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