Roasted Butternut Squash with Goat Cheese and Pine Nuts over Orecchiette

I had no dinner plan at 5:45 last night but I rallied with this recipe that’s in our regular rotation.  This is the easiest, most crowed-pleasing pasta dish when you have butternut squash on hand.  I diced the squash and roasted it with a diced onion, two whole cloves of garlic and then made pasta.  I tossed the vegetables with the hot pasta and about a half cup of pasta water and about six ounces of goat cheese and topped it with rosemary and toasted pine nuts.

This was done in about 30 minutes.  My husband came home to hot pasta, spinach salad and cold wine and didn’t see any of the chaos leading up to dinner.  It felt like the good old days at the Draper residence.

– Catherine

Meatless Monday: Shakshuka

This “Poached Eggs in Tomato Sauce With Chickpeas and Feta” recipe is from Bon Appetit.  I’ve tweaked it a little, replacing half the paprika called for with smoked paprika and using only half of the jalapeno so the girls can eat it.  This does not need to be served with a starch, but I’ve started making it with a cup or so of Israeli couscous to give it a little more body and to stretch it out over dinner and lunch leftovers.

Remember when Anthony Bourdain said he was an “egg slut”?  Well, I still believe in the three date minimum, but I do love this dish.

– Catherine

Pork, Cocktails and Zooby Zooby Zoo (Zou Bisou Bisou)

How many times do you think the song that Megan Draper sang to Don for his birthday has been downloaded today?  I probably would have been watching it through my hands if I hadn’t steeled myself for the premiere with a pitcher of Whiskey Sours.

Awkward, but she really pulled it off, didn’t she?

The Whiskey Sours were dessert.  Dinner was our favorite pork, braised with a combination of spices and onion and garlic and then served in tortillas with cilantro, lime, salsa verde, avocado, lettuce, jalapeno and refried black beans.  So good.

All that pork and those Whiskey Sours and the birthday singing and dancing (and the ruined white carpet) has definitely made us ready for Meatless Monday.

– Catherine

Microwave Popcorn and the Joy of Popcorn Salt

If you aren’t on the healthy/home-made microwave popcorn bandwagon yet, I have two words for you:  popcorn salt.  This salt, in the jar on the left, is so fine that if you inhale it before it’s settled into all the little crevices of a piece of popcorn, it will make you cough all over your healthy delicious popcorn and make everyone you’re with annoyed that you ruined another perfectly good evening.

I’ve made this popcorn with regular Kosher salt, but I believe the popcorn salt is the difference that makes the homemade taste so much better than the store bought packages.  I bought mine from Barry Farm, ordered through Amazon.  (I also buy my beluga lentils form Barry Farm; they’re the most affordable I’ve found.)

Microwave Popcorn

1/3 cup popping corn

1 Tbsp Canola oil

Mix popping corn and canola oil in a small bowl until all kernels are covered.  Put in a brown paper bag and roll bag over two times to ensure it will stay closed in the microwave.  Place bag standing up in the microwave and pop on high for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes, or until popping slows.  Pour into bowl and cover liberally with butter and popcorn salt.  Enjoy.

– Catherine

When Life Gives You Whiskey…

Ina Garten does everything better than the rest of us.  Her food, her house, her barn that is a giant kitchen and guest house in her backyard.  In the Hamptons.  Even her Whiskey Sours.  She calls for more lime juice than some recipes (some don’t even use lime).  I’ve improved her recipe further by adding more whiskey, because we like to live by the motto that “More is More”.   Especially when it comes to Zombies and whiskey.

My Whiskey Sours (same as Ina’s with an additional 1/4 cup of whiskey)

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup fresh lime juice

1 cup whiskey (I use Jack Daniels but bourbon is also delicious)

2/3 cup simple syrup

I cannot say enough about this juicer.  It was my grandparents, which probably sums it up perfectly.  I’ve always fantasized about one of those very architectural press juicers that looks stylish on your countertop and is eco-friendly, but why would I take the extra time to juice limes and lemons when Happy Hour is looming like a hungry mouth-breathing Zombie?

– Catherine

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