Pasta Scampi

Veronica! Dinner!

Every once in a long while, when my hair is lacking in shine and my fingernails are especially raggedy and I’m feeling a little insecure, I can’t help but wonder if my sharing recipes here at Galley Kitchen is little more than a desperate plea for the validation of strangers. I mean, why else would I bother with stats on page hits and click-thrus?

Pepperoni Stuffed Chicken

And why, other than the steaming pot of self-doubt simmering on the stove, would I feel the need to bring up my recipe for pepperoni-stuffed chicken breasts, my most popular recipe of 2012? Sure, I served today’s simple pasta scampi alongside the “famous” chicken parmesan variation for Handsome Greg’s birthday dinner, but that’s a pretty slim excuse to draw a big, fat arrow pointing to my number one recipe.

I hope you’ll forgive my blatant exploitation of the chicken, and take a look at the simple dish I served with it. The tender pasta is coated in butter with a little acidity from white wine, a lot of freshness from Italian parsley, and a punch of heat from red pepper flakes.

Herbs

And ultimately, it doesn’t matter that this simple pasta is wearing a modest house dress. It’s going to the homecoming dance with the most popular poultry in school.

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Top Ten Recipes of 2012

Happy Holidays, imaginary internet friends! And congratulations on surviving the end of the world. Now I’m off to Barnes and Noble to demand a refund for my Mayan wall calendar. Wish me luck!

In the meantime, I hope you’ll take another look at the 10 most popular recipes I shared this year.

S’mores Fried Ice Cream with Chipotle Chocolate Sauce

 

Asparagus Lasagna Slice

Asparagus Lasagna with Pancetta, Goat Cheese, and Lemon

 

Baked Churros with Cinnamon Ice Cream and Dulce de Leche

 

Loaded Baked Potato Grilled Cheese Sandwich

 

Cinnamon Roll Grilled Cheese Sandwich

 

Oatmeal Cream Pies

Homemade Oatmeal Cream Pies

 

Cookies and Milk

Toffee Cashew Cookies

 

pie crust crackers

Chicken Pot Pie Soup with Pie Crust Crackers

 

Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese Sandwich

And the most popular recipe of 2012:

Pepperoni Stuffed Chicken

Pepperoni Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Here’s to a delicious (and gooey) new year!

Lemon Pesto Pasta with Shrimp

Most of the year, I really appreciate the giant, south-facing windows in each room of my apartment. Particularly in wintertime as the sun rises and paints my buttery yellow walls with a gentle glow, I’m thankful that my odd-numbered apartment placed me on the south side of the building.

In July, however, those same windows with tightly sealed blinds conceal an indoor climate of roughly 8 berzillion degrees with a dew point of oh-my-god-my-hair-is-still-wet-three-hours-after-washing-it. I can’t believe I’m talking about the weather, but what the fork? It’s hot.

So hot. Only my lemon understands.

And that’s not just my garbage-crap excuse for failing to post a new recipe for nearly a month. It’s also my garbage-crap excuse for failing to cook anything blog-worthy for nearly a month. I’m smack-dab in the center of my annual mid-summer meal slump. I don’t really feel like cooking and nothing sounds good to me except salads and sandwiches.

So I was shocked—shocked—when I found myself craving pasta. In JULY. One steamy afternoon, I imagined twirling my fork in a mess of spaghetti, and I just had to make a light, sunshiny, quick and easy, pasta dinner. This lemon pesto capellini with shrimp is the perfect combination of bright, summer flavors, tender-toothsome textures, and crave-busting carbs.

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Asparagus Lasagna with Pancetta, Goat Cheese, and Lemon

Asparagus Lasagna Slice

Lasagna terrifies me.

Asparagus Lasagna Slice2

For years, I dreamed of re-creating the Italian comfort classic in my kitchen, but I was always scared off by the many potential pitfalls. It’s too dry. It’s too soupy. The noodles are undercooked. The noodles are mush. The noodles are stuck together in a giant starch-bomb. Who are these kitchen acrobats willing to walk the cheesy Cirque du Soleil tight-rope of perfectly baked lasagna?

Asparagus Lasagna Baked

Well, I know of one lasagna superhero, and she’s been the greatest deterrent of all to my taking on lasagna. It’s my mom. She makes lasagna once a year for Christmas dinner, and it’s outstanding. Her take on the classic lasagna is hearty and packed with flavor, and it comes out perfectly every time.

Asparagus Lasagna Layers

I just can’t compete with that. It seemed pointless to attempt a classic lasagna knowing it would never measure up to Mom’s. So I decided the only way I could bake a lasagna that didn’t leave me feeling dead inside would be to take it in an entirely different direction.

Asparagus

I knew I wanted to nix the traditional red meat sauce and use a béchamel punched up with tangy goat cheese instead. Then I held a series of vigorous auditions in the produce department, and after much deliberation, ultimately cast asparagus, lemon, and thyme as the leads. Diced, sautéed pancetta plays a salty, supporting role. (Sorry, I’m watching the Oscars.)

Pancetta

The resulting lasagna is almost as delicious as Mom’s, but could not be more different. It’s really the perfect dinner for a late February evening, when I’m still craving winter’s creamy comfort foods, but I’m ready for bright, fresh flavors. The tender asparagus and sunshiny lemon zest reach out from under a velvet blanket of cheese and pasta to invite springtime to stay for dinner.

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Chicken Campanelle with Asparagus in Gorgonzola Cream Sauce

Hey, remember back when I had a job? No?

Well, once upon a time, I had a job. Every day at noon, I would walk down to the lunch room, heat up my leftovers, and tell the story of my lunch to my co-workers. And on days I brought in superstar leftovers like this velvety and rich, blue-cheesy casserole, my colleagues in the lunch room came down with a strong case of lunch envy.

I miss those days.

But good news, friends! After nearly three months of unemployment, I am thrilled to enter the field of catering. On a really, really, really small scale.

This is the dawning of the Age of Asparagus

Starting this week, I’ll be making lunches for Handsome Greg to take to work. See, Handsome Greg isn’t much of a cook, and he isn’t a planner, and he’s really not a morning person, so he buys his lunch out pretty much every day. The food isn’t particularly healthy and it costs a fortune.

So I spent yesterday afternoon preparing two different lunch menus and packing them up neat in plastic containers to send off with Greg after our date Saturday night. In the interest of Greg’s cholesterol level, the dishes I made this week are not quite as luxurious as the chicken campanelle with asparagus in gorgonzola cream sauce, but I think they may inspire lunch envy with the guys at the office nonetheless.

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Southwestern Bean and Pasta Salad

Once I conquered my fear of baking a cake without a box mix, I was hooked on making every element of every meal from scratch. Hamburger buns, condiments, crackers, ice cream – I love making it all myself. Really, if I can find a way to needlessly complicate a recipe, I will.

Southwestern Bean and Pasta Salad
At this point, it takes an unbearably hectic week to keep me from churning my own butter, so to speak.

Scallions
So. It was a week until pay day, which meant protein = beans. I was planning to make my southwestern-spiced pasta and bean salad, when I realized that I had not one, not two, but THREE half-empty, opened bottles of Ranch salad dressing in the door of my fridge. Could I really justify buying buttermilk and sour cream and three different fresh herbs to dress my salad?

I could not. So I tossed my salad with bottled dressing, and it was perfectly lovely.

As much as I love cooking and baking from scratch, my option to do so is a luxury. It requires time, money, energy, access to fresh fruits and vegetables, a place to store both fresh foods and dry goods, reliable transportation to the market, potable water, pots and pans, cupboard space, and cooking skills, just for a start.

Sometimes I have all of those resources to spare, and just like most people, other times I don’t.

I hope you enjoy this recipe.

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Smoky Mac and Cheese

So, you made it through the holidays, and enjoyed enough mashed potatoes and gravy to safely hibernate until the snow melts for good. Perhaps you’d like something a little lighter to begin the New Year?

Not today, friend. I made this Smoky Mac and Cheese weeks ago, and resolutions be damned, I just can’t keep it to myself any longer.

It’s perfectly creamy and rich, with a crunchy, golden top and just a hint of smokiness.

I served this with a simple romaine salad tossed in lemon vinaigrette, and it was the perfect, crunchy foil to the creamy, rich mac and cheese.

So don’t fret over a silly bowl of pasta. It’s difficult to eat when you’re hanging your head in shame. Safety first!

Recipe below the fold

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