dinner from heaven

Ohmygoshohmygosh. Last night was another potluck din with my friends, and man OH man, was it heavenly or WHAT.

What did this dinner consist of, you ask? I concocted a pasta with sausage, roasted cauliflower, and olives that turned out pretty delicious, if I do say so myself. And then Raluca blew our minds with this outrageous pan roasted brussel sprouts with bacon recipe. Yes, brussel sprouts coated in bacon fat. Everything in moderation, right?? Andy made cookie-brownies with chocolate chips and a secret ingredient….cherries! They were super tasty and we devoured ’em all. And last but not least, we had Zinfandel, both red and white varieties. Matt joined us after dinner just in time for dessert and for what turned into a heated albeit friendly conversation about whether or not there an alcohol dehydrogenase pill should be invented. This is what happens when you get four science-minded people together, my friends.

It was so much fun to have my pals over, and I’ve missed having them live close to me in Ann Arbor. You make a girl so happy to have such good friends 😉

Corkscrew Sausage Pasta

6 sausage links, boiled

Green olives, chopped

1 large head cauliflower

1 lb. corkscrew pasta

1 jar favorite pasta sauce

Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Chop up dat cauliflower head into florets. Place cauliflower on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle on salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat evenly. Roast for about 10-15 minutes or until cauliflower is tender.

In medium pot, place sauce, chopped olives, cooked sausage, and cauliflower over medium heat. Keep warm while cooking pasta according to directions on package.

Once pasta is cooked, drain and top with cauliflower sauce. Devour.


who, me cook? (part 2)

I have to say…after all that complaining about cooking, hem and hawing, bippity boppity boo, my pasta creation came out DELICIOUS the other night. However, I did swap the gorgonzola cheese for garlic and herb goat cheese from Trader Joe’s, and oh my goodness, was it a party in our stomachs or what. I ended up putting a dollop of the goat cheese on top of the cooked pasta and mixing it in to create a sort of creamy brothy sauce. Also, whole wheat angel hair was not to be found in my house, so regular pasta had to do this time!  Here is the low-down so you can make this, too:

Olive Garlicky Pasta
Get it? I-love-garlicky-pasta? Hehehe…

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons garlic, minced
2 (mine were 5.75 oz. dry wt per can) cans black olives, drained and roughly chopped
2 (15.5 oz.) cans butter beans, drained and rinsed
1 (10 oz.) bag spinach, rinsed
32 oz. low-sodium broth (I used chicken broth)
1 (1 lb.) box angel hair pasta
Goat cheese (I used Silver Goat Garlic & Herb)
Salt, pepper, and spices to taste

Set a large pot of salted water to boil on the stove.

In a large skillet (it is best to use one that is a tad deep, too, about 1-2 inches), heat olive oil and add garlic. Let simmer for 2-3 minutes. Add olives and beans, and saute with a wooden spoon, until oil and garlic is uniformly incorporated among them. Add pepper and any other spices you chose. Basil would be delicious in this!

Add spinach to oil and garlic mixture. Depending on how large and deep your pan is, it may be helpful to add spinach in two separate additions. A lid placed on top of the pan will help the spinach to cook down more quickly. Once spinach is cooked, mix into the oil and garlic mixture until evenly incorporated.

At this point, hopefully the large pot of salted water is boiling. Add pasta to pot and cook according to directions on back of the container.

While pasta is cooking, add broth to the oil and garlic mixture. Let simmer.

When pasta is done, drain and place in serving bowl. Stir broth mixture into pasta. Devour. But not before you top with a dollop of goat cheese. Then devour.

Mix and match your favorite beans, add-ins, and cheeses to make it your own delicious dish! Since I have dreams of pasta with luscious chunks of gorgonzola mixed in, that is what I will be trying in this next.

Okay. And I haven’t dreamt of gorgonzola pasta….yet.

who, me cook? (part 1)

Confession: I am not the world’s greatest cook. Not that I’m horrible at it or anything, cooking is just not my forte. It’s just so…meh, I don’t know, wouldn’t you just rather eat a brownie and be done with it??
Okay, that wasn’t a very nutritionist-like thing to say. But everything in moderation, right? That means brownies, too.
Anyway, we’re talking about cooking-woes because that is what’s on my mind. I have to come up with a creative dinner to serve my friends tonight. The phrase “my friends” is very important because as some of you might know, cooking for yourself and cooking for other people are two very, very different things.
When I used to cook for myself when I lived away at school, I’d basically throw anything into cooked noodles that sounded relatively appetizing. And nine times out of ten, it would come out delicious! Like this creation I concocted long ago that I lovingly called Garlic Pasta Dump:
Looks delicious, huh? And it was! The catch?
There’s no sauce on this pasta.
Not because I don’t like sauce, oh no. It was because I was too lazy to make sauce, or didn’t even have it on hand. But I didn’t mind because I thought it was delicious just the same, and I was also extremely hungry. See what I mean? Cooking for only yourself equals diminished cooking expectations, at least for some people, and this is definitely the case for me. Cook for others, and the tables turn a tad. In the case of this pasta, I just wouldn’t have felt right serving sauce-less pasta to friends or fam.
The moral of the story: College has made me a lazy cook. However, we are still at square one and I still don’t have a dinner planned for tonight!  Let’s procrastinate a bit more, however, and talk about the rest of this dinner. These potluck dinners occur between myself and two of my good friends from undergrad, and we rotate which part of the meal we make – main dish, side, or dessert. Me, I try to get the dessert portion of the meal as many times as possible since as a nutritionist, that is what I happen to “cook” best. My two friends are actually fabulous cooks – Raluca dominates all things pasta, spices, and garlic; Andy is King of the Meats, especially pork chops and fresh caught perch. And me? I should have tempeh, worldly spices, and only the freshest vegetables growing out of my ears, right? Being a Master of Public Health Nutrition, right?

So what do I do when in this predicament? Maybe there are some of you out there who also find cooking real-food a minor inconvenience to daily living. My tips for you: Try to fit 3-4 food groups into a meal, never underestimate the power of canned and frozen vegetables (they are as nutrient dense as fresh, if not more!), and garlic, salt, and pepper alone can do wonders for flavoring up a meal. And be creative!  For tonight, I’m thinking:
Whole wheat angel hair (good source o’ fiber)
Chicken broth (low sodium!)
Butter beans (heck yes, plant-source protein)
Spinach (vitamin A! iron!)
Olives (monounsaturated fats)
Garlic (to fend off vampires)
 Gorgonzola cheese (minor calcium contribution, major deliciousness contribution)

Salt n’ peppa

I’ll let you know how it goes. Pictures àla my new camera to come in the near future!P.S. Meet my new camera, Cornelius (yes, I name my electronics)…

…who takes pictures like THIS!

He’s pretty swell.