Fettuccine Alfredo with Chili Crisp & Spinach

This is another rich pasta dish incorporating chili crisp. I must confess that my family preferred this one. My husband even declared that this dish was “restaurant quality.” 🙂

I added one tablespoon of chili crisp fearing that it would be too spicy otherwise, but, as the cream offset the heat, I think it could easily have incorporated the full amount for my crowd. Every brand varies in spiciness, so it is important to taste it and adjust the amount to your spice-tolerance.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Genevieve Ko. I used unsalted butter and added salt. I also included more spinach. Quick and delicious.

Yield: 6 servings

  • salt
  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 1 to 2 T chili crisp, plus more to taste and for serving (I used Lao Gan Ma Spicy Chili Crisp)(see Tip)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 pound dried fettuccine
  • 1 (6-ounce) package baby spinach
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan (2 1/4 ounces), plus more for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. While the water heats, melt the butter with the chili crisp and a pinch or two of coarse salt in a very large skillet or Dutch oven over low heat. (Add chili crisp 1 tablespoon at a time.) (I used a large and wide enameled cast iron pan.)
  3. Whisk in the cream; taste and adjust heat, if desired, by adding more chili crisp. Keep warm over low. (It should steam, not bubble.)
  4. Cook the fettuccine until al dente according to the package directions. Use tongs to transfer the noodles to the cream mixture, reserving the pasta water.
  5. Add the spinach and turn with tongs until the noodles are well coated.
  6. Add the Parmesan and toss, still over low heat, until the noodles are slicked with a creamy sauce, adding a spoonful or two of pasta water if needed to loosen the sauce.
  7. Place in a serving bowl or divide among serving dishes; top with Parmesan.
  8. Serve immediately. Additional chili crisp can be provided at the table, if desired.

Tip: For this dish, try to add more of the solids than the oil to the sauce for the most flavorful dish.

Creamy Roasted Tomato-Garlic Soup

I usually need grilled cheese as a bribe for my family to enjoy tomato soup for dinner. My daughter loved this soup even more than the grilled cheese! 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Food 52.com, contributed by Carolina Gelen. I modified the method and proportions. It was a quick dinner packed with flavor. Perfect with our grilled cheese sandwiches and giant green salad.

We swirled pesto into the soup just before serving. Additional cream or crème fraÎche could also be added.

Yield: Serves 4 to 5

  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1300 grams grape or cherry tomatoes (about 4 cups)
  • 2 yellow onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 heads of garlic, halved crosswise
  • 2 to 4 sprigs of basil
  • 2 large sprigs of thyme
  • 1 or 2 red chiles, optional (I omitted it)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk or heavy cream (I used one 13.5 oz can of coconut milk), plus more for serving, as desired
  • 1 cup vegetable or chicken stock, plus more as needed
  • homemade or store-bought pesto, for serving, optional
  • grilled cheese sandwiches or fresh bread, for serving, optional
  1. Heat the oven to 450°F (230°C). (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  2. Drizzle some oil into a deep baking dish. (I used a large enameled cast iron baking dish.)
  3. Add in the tomatoes, onion, basil and thyme, and chile (if using). Drizzle more olive oil on top, plus a big sprinkle of salt and pepper. Mix to coat. Add the garlic cloves, cut side down, nestled into the other ingredients.
  4. Roast for 25 to 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are slightly charred. (I roasted mine for 38 minutes.)
  5. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 to 7 minutes. Remove and discard the thyme. Remove garlic cloves from the papery skin.
  6. Add the rest of the ingredients to a blender, along with the coconut milk and stock. (I used a Vitamix on the hot soup setting.) Remove the little plug from the blender lid, then cover the lid with a kitchen towel and blend until smooth.
  7. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper if needed. Adjust consistency with additional stock, as needed.
  8. Serve drizzled with pesto and/or cream with a grilled cheese sandwich and green salad, as desired.

Shortcut Creamed Spinach

Oh my… this silky side can be prepared dangerously easily. We loved it too.

The recipe was adapted from Bon AppÊtit, contributed by Julia Langbein. I modified the proportions. Although it was fabulously creamy, I would incorporate less crème fraÎche next time.

The original recipe notes that heavy cream and fresh lemon juice could be substituted for the crème fraÎche for a similar flavor profile. I personally loved the tanginess from the crème fraÎche.

Yield: about 6 servings

  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound (16 oz) spinach (mature or baby spinach)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • freshly grated nutmeg, optional
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup crème fraĂŽche (I used 3/4 cup but would start with 1/2 cup next time)
  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium. (I used a stainless steel sautĂŠ pan.)
  2. Cook the garlic cloves, stirring occasionally, until golden around edges and very fragrant, about 3 minutes.
  3. Increase heat to medium-high and add spinach, by the handful, stirring and letting it wilt slightly after each addition. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Add freshly grated nutmeg, to taste, if desired.
  4. Cook spinach, stirring often, until mostly wilted, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
  5. Add 1/2 cup crème fraĂŽche; stir until spinach is saucy and coated. Add more, as desired.
  6. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if needed.

One-Pot Chicken & Biscuits

I have another tasty cast iron skillet dish to share. I made this one-pot (skillet) chicken pot pie for our Valentine’s Day dinner. ❤

This recipe was adapted from epicurious.com, contributed by Sahara Henry-Bohoskey. I loved how the biscuit topping was crumbled and scattered over the top. The filling bubbled over and oozed over the sides of the pan- I was very happy that I placed the skillet on a baking sheet in the oven! Next time I would garnish each serving with fresh herbs to add a pop of color.

The original recipe notes that 1/4 cup of aged cheddar or one teaspoon of dried thyme, parsley, or rosemary could be added to the biscuit topping, if desired.

Yield: 8 servings

For the Biscuit Topping:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1/4 tsp Morton kosher salt
  • 6 T chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 T heavy cream

For the Filling & To Assemble:

  • 1 T vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
  • 1 1/4 to 1 lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 4 or 5)
  • 1 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1/2 tsp Morton kosher salt, divided, plus more
  • 2 T unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 small or 1/2 large yellow onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium carrot, scrubbed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium (5–8 oz) waxy potato (such as red), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 celery stalks, any leaves coarsely chopped and reserved, cut on a diagonal into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more
  • 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock or water
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • flaky sea salt
  • fresh parsley, for garnish, optional

To Make the Biscuit Topping:

  1. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl to combine.
  2. Add chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces, and toss to coat.
  3. Work in butter with your fingers or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. Add heavy cream and stir with a fork until a shaggy dough forms and no dry bits of flour remain.
  5. Chill 20 minutes. Do ahead: Dough can be made 2 days ahead. Cover tightly and keep chilled.

To Make the Filling & To Assemble:

  1. Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 450°. (I set my oven to true convection.)
  2. Heat oil in a 10″ cast-iron skillet over medium-high.
  3. Pat the chicken with paper towels to dry. Season both sides with salt.
  4. Arrange chicken thighs in pan in a single layer and cook, undisturbed, until golden brown underneath, 5–7 minutes. Turn over and cook until almost cooked through, about 4 minutes. (Chicken will finish cooking through in the oven.)
  5. Transfer to a cutting board; let cool slightly, then cut into 1-inch pieces. Reserve any accumulated liquid.
  6. Reduce heat to medium and melt butter in pan (no need to clean).
  7. Add chopped onion, carrot, and salt; stir to coat. Cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent, about 3 minutes.
  8. Add chopped potato, celery, garlic, thyme, pepper, and remaining tablespoon of unsalted butter. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.
  9. Add flour and stir to coat vegetables. Cook, stirring often, until flour coating is golden and nutty-smelling, about 3 minutes.
  10. Add white wine, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pan. Bring to a boil and cook until wine is reduced by half, about 1 minute.
  11. Add chicken stock or water and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover pan, and cook until mixture is thickened a bit, about 4 to 6 minutes.
  12. Uncover pan and stir chicken and any accumulated juices, coarsely chopped celery leaves (if using), heavy cream, and peas into filling.
  13. Taste and season with more kosher salt if needed.
  14. Scatter pieces of dough over filling. Brush with cream and season with pepper and flaky sea salt.
  15. Place skillet on a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips and transfer to oven.
  16. Bake until biscuits are golden brown and filling is bubbling, 20 to 30 minutes.
  17. Let cool slightly before serving. Garnish with parsley, if desired.

Nutmeg-Maple Custard Pie

Pie is the most important part of the Thanksgiving feast. I added this wonderful pie onto the menu in addition to our traditional apple and pumpkin pies. It may have to be a new tradition. 😉 Everyone tried a very small slice of each! Perfect.

The creamy nutmeg-maple filling was absolutely amazing. The crust was flaky and fabulous as well. We loved it!

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I modified the pie crust. I made the par-baked crust two days in advance and baked the pie one day before Thanksgiving, refrigerating the pie overnight and bringing it to room temperature before serving.

Using extra pie crust from my apple pie, I cut out maple leaves and baked them to use as decoration on top of the finished pie. Nice.

Yield: One 9-inch pie, about 8 servings

For the Crust:

  • 150 g (1 1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons ice water, as needed
  1. In a food processor, pulse together the flour and salt.
  2. Add butter and pulse until the mixture forms blueberry-sized pieces.
  3. Slowly add ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse until the dough just comes together. It should be moist, but not wet.
  4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gather into a ball. Flatten into a disk with the heel of your hand. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  6. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to a 13-inch round a scant 1/4 inch thick. (I rolled it out on a floured silicone pastry mat to about 1/8-inch thick.)
  7. Fit the dough into a 9-inch pie dish (I used a pottery pie dish). Fold the dough under itself and crimp decoratively. Refrigerate the pie shell for 10 to 15 minutes.
  8. Crumple up a large sheet of parchment paper (this is a trick to allow it to fit more snugly in the pie dish). Line the pie shell with the parchment paper and then foil; fill with pie weights or dried beans.
  9. Place on a rimmed cookie sheet. Bake in the center of the oven until nearly set, about 20 to 25 minutes.
  10. Remove the foil and weights, discard the parchment, and bake until the crust is pale golden, about 10 minutes longer. Let cool completely. (I pre-baked the pie crust one day in advance.)

For the Pie Filling:

  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 pre-baked 9-inch pie crust (recipe above)
  • whipped cream, for serving, optional
  • decorative pre-baked pie crust shapes, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. (I set my oven to true convection.)
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks and egg. Set aside.
  3. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, reduce maple syrup by a quarter, 5 to 7 minutes. (It will boil vigorously- so use a tall pot and stir constantly.)
  4. Stir in cream and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat.
  5. Whisking constantly, slowly add cream mixture to eggs.
  6. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl with a pouring spout.
  7. Stir in salt, nutmeg and vanilla.
  8. Place pie dish on a parchment paper-lined, rimmed baking sheet and pour filling into crust. Cover the edge of the pie crust with foil (or equivalent) to prevent over-browning.
  9. Bake until pie is firm to touch but jiggles slightly when moved, 45 to 50 minutes on convection, or about 1 hour in a standard oven.
  10. Let cool to room temperature before serving. Store in the refrigerator if making ahead of time; bring to room temperature before serving.

To Make (Optional) Pie Crust Topping/Decorations:

  • extra pie crust, rolled 1/4-inch to 1/8-inch thick
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
  1. Using extra 1/8-inch thick pie crust (I used some from my apple pie), cut into desired shapes. I cut mine into small maple leaves.
  2. Chill cut shapes on a piece of parchment paper for 10 minutes in the refrigerator. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Remove from refrigerator and place the parchment paper on a rimmed baking sheet.
  4. Brust the top of each shape with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
  5. Bake in a preheated 350 oven, preferably on convection, for 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Dulce de Leche Swirl Ice Cream

After seeing authentic dulce de leche in the store, I felt compelled to make a caramel swirl ice cream using my new favorite vanilla ice cream base, from the French-Style Roasted Strawberry-Vanilla Ice Cream that I made earlier this season.

The vanilla ice cream recipe used in the base was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Fany Gerson. Dulce de leche is an ice cream flavor that everyone in my house enjoys. 🙂

For the Vanilla Ice Cream Base:

  • 2 cups heavy cream 
  • 1 cup whole milk 
  • 1 vanilla bean pod 
  • 6 large egg yolks 
  • 5 T (1/3 cup) granulated sugar  
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

For the Swirl:

  • about 7 oz canned Dulce de Leche (I used Nestle La Lachera), or more, as needed
  1. Stir together cream and milk in a medium saucepan.
  2. Split vanilla bean pod lengthwise; scrape seeds. Add scraped seeds and vanilla pod halves to mixture in saucepan. Cook over medium-low, undisturbed, until mixture just comes to a simmer.
  3. Remove from heat. Cover and let steep 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. Return steeped cream mixture to heat over medium-low; cook, undisturbed, until mixture just comes to a simmer.
  5. Meanwhile, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and salt in a medium-size heatproof bowl.
  6. Gradually whisk warm cream mixture into yolk mixture in bowl. (It’s important to slowly add the hot cream mixture to the egg mixture, whisking constantly and never bringing to a boil, to ensure the eggs don’t scramble.)
  7. Transfer cream-yolk mixture to saucepan. Cook over medium-low, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, 6 to 10 minutes, making sure it doesn’t bubble. (I cooked mine for 7 minutes.)
  8. Remove from heat. Pour through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a medium-size heatproof bowl; discard solids.
  9. Place bowl in a large bowl filled with ice water. Let stand, stirring often, until mixture reaches room temperature, about 8 minutes. (I kept mine in the ice bath until the ice melted.) Remove.
  10. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or transfer base to a sealable container; seal and refrigerate until cold, at least 6 hours or up to 12 hours.
  11. Pour base into frozen freezer bowl of an ice cream maker; proceed according to manufacturer’s instructions. (I churned mine for 25 minutes.)
  12. Transfer a few scoops of the vanilla ice cream into a shallow container, such as a glass loaf pan, and spread into an even layer.
  13. Top with some of the dulce de leche; spread into an even layer. Repeat the layers, finishing with ice cream on top, until all of the ice cream base has been transferred.
  14. Cover, and freeze until firm, at least 2 hours. (I press a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the ice cream and then top the container with an additional sheet of plastic wrap.)
  15. Store in an airtight container in freezer up to 3 weeks.

Strawberry Cream Pie

This pie is an upgrade of classic strawberries and cream. It was simple and minimally sweet. The creamy pudding filling was flavored with vanilla bean- yum. I had originally planned to make it with our freshly picked berries but ultimately made it with store-bought berries. (I ran out!) The honey drizzle was essential to the presentation and to add a little sweetness.

The recipe was adapted from Food 52, contributed by Erin Jeanne McDowell. I made the crust and filling in advance and chilled each component separately until serving to ensure that the crust wouldn’t soften once assembled. I must note that the crust remained crisp the next day when we ate the leftover pie. I also used a ceramic deep dish pie pan. Next time, I would sweeten the filling a little bit more, noted below. I would also add salt to enhance the vanilla flavor.

This would be a wonderful dessert to serve on July 4th because the components can be made in advance. Nice.

Yield: One 9-inch pie

For the Crust:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 8 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
  • 3 tablespoons ice water, or more as needed

For the Filling:

  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved and scraped
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided (adjust sweetness to your taste)
  • 1/3 cup (5 T) cornstarch
  • generous pinch of coarse salt, or to taste
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 quart strawberries, hulled (or enough to cover the top of the pie)
  • 2 tablespoons wildflower honey

To Make the Crust:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425Âş F, preferably on convection.
  2. In a large bowl or in a food processor, combine the flour and salt.
  3. Add the butter and toss to coat. Cut the butter into the flour with your hands, or pulse in the food processor until the butter resembles the size of peas.
  4. Add the water and mix to combine. The dough should come together easily but not be wet or sticky.
  5. Wrap the dough and chill for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  6. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until it’s 1/8-inch thick. (I rolled it out between lightly floured parchment paper.)
  7. Transfer it to a pie plate, and trim the edges so there is only 1/2 inch of overhang all around. (I did not have this luxurious amount of excess crust because I used a ceramic deep dish pie plate.)
  8. Chill the dough inside the pie plate for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  9. Fold the excess dough under at the edges, pressing gently to “seal” the dough to the pie plate. Finish the edges as desired.
  10. Poke the base of the crust a few times with a fork. If the dough seems warm, chill it again.
  11. Line the crust with parchment paper and pie weights, and bake until the crust is golden and crisp, 15 to 20 minutes.
  12. Remove the parchment and pie weights and continue baking until the crust is fully baked, 5 to 10 minutes more. (I continued to cook the crust for an additional 8 minutes.)
  13. Cool completely. (After the crust had completely cooled, I covered it with plastic wrap and kept it at room temperature overnight. I chilled it the next day before assembling the dessert.)

To Make the Filling & Finish the Pie:

  1. Mix the milk, cream, vanilla bean, and 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of granulated sugar together in a medium sauce pot. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat. (I used 1/4 cup granulated sugar this time but would use up to 1/2 cup next time.)
  2. While the milk warms up, whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, cornstarch, salt, and eggs in a medium heat-safe bowl.
  3. When the milk comes to a simmer, gradually pour the hot liquid into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to combine.
  4. Return the mixture to the pot and cook until the mixture is thick and comes to the “first boil” (one large bubble rising from the center of the pot, not many small bubbles around the edges).
  5. Whisk in the butter and pour the mixture into the prepared pie crust. Taste and adjust salt, if necessary. (I made the filling a day in advance and placed it in a glass bowl and refrigerated it overnight.)
  6. Cover the surface of the pudding directly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until fully chilled, at least 3 hours. (I chilled the pie crust for at least 3 hours prior to assembling and serving the pie as well.)
  7. To finish the pie, top the pie with the hulled strawberries.
  8. Warm the honey in the microwave or over medium heat, and when it’s runny, brush it over the strawberries.
  9. Serve the pie chilled. (not too chilled- let it warm up slightly so that the flavors shine through!)

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