Spicy Orecchiette and Broccolini with Jus’ Garlic

Spicy Orecchiette and Broccolini with Jus’ Garlic

Jus’ Garlic: The Garlic Lovers Condiment

There are unsung heroes in your kitchen that deliver quick flavor to even to even the simplest meal. I think half of my fridge and pantry are just taken up by various condiments. I adore a salsa, fancy mustard, hot sauce, even a pickled veggie or flavored oil! If I am just not in the mood to cook, I can use these magical little flavor boosters to make my life so much easier. So when local entrepreneur Vinh Banh reached out to me and offered me a free sample of his Jus Garlic, I was excited to try it! Mr. Banh started out just making this condiment for his family and friends, but before long they were all insisting that it was time to share Jus’ Garlic with the world. I was so excited I made a whole recipe just to highlight all this yummy, crispy goodness in a Spicy Orecchiette and Broccolini with Jus’ Garlic.

Let’s Make Some Pasta:  Orecchiette and Broccolini

Jus’ Garlic is perfect for the garlic lover in your life (is that you? ok good… me too!) It is the crispy garlic of your dreams. This condiment is packed in neutral oil, so the flavor you get is pure garlic and a little spice. Jus’ Garlic can be dolloped on just about anything. A quick look at the Jus’ Garlic Instagram feed shows the product on lots of Asian noodle type dishes and soups. My first instinct was to put it in a nice bowl of ramen or pho… (which is incredible, do it!) I decided to go a different route though. I decided to go Italian, and I made a garlic-y Italian pasta. YUM. 

This pasta is a great option for a quick weeknight vegetarian meal. The aleppo pepper and garlic pack in a lot of flavor. My favorite part is that you can get this pasta done in less than 30 minutes!

Here are a few other ways you can use Jus’ Garlic

  1. On eggs
  2. In a taco
  3. In soup
  4. On beans
  5. On fried rice
  6. On a salad
  7. On your hotdog
  8. On chili

…I think you get the idea! Use your imagination and use this stuff anywhere that sounds delicious to you! Jus’ Garlic is not in stores yet, but you can order directly from him via Instagram or by calling 469-333-0813.

Spicy Orecchiette and Broccolini with Crispy Garlic

Spicy Orecchiette and Broccolini with Crispy Garlic

Broccolini and Pasta come together for a quick weeknight meal with a nice hit of heat and garlic.

Ingredients

  • 2 bunches Broccolini
  • 12oz Orecchiette
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
  • Aleppo Pepper Flakes
  • Freshly Grated Parmesan
  • Jus' Garlic

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a simmer. (Taste your water, add enough salt to make it as salty as the summer sea!)
  2. Add your broccolini and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove from water and coarsely chop.
  4. Bring the water up to a boil again and add your orecchiette. Cook to al dente.
  5. While the pasta cooks heat olive oil to medium heat in a skillet large enough to hold your pasta, veggies.
  6. Add the aleppo pepper to olive oil and sizzle for until you can smell the chili.
  7. Add two ladles of pasta water and stir or whisk vigorously to emulsify.
  8. Add the broccolini and toss in emulsified sauce then add the pasta and toss well until coated in sauce.
  9. Toss pasta in parmesan cheese (as much as makes you happy!)
  10. Pour out pasta into serving bowl and stir in Jus' Garlic to taste.
  11. Serve with an extra grating of cheese and a spoonful of Jus' Garlic on top.
  12. Enjoy with people you love!

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Its that time of year! The time when we all try and recover from all the sweet treats and fatty foods we ate during the holiday season. More veggies you say? Eating clean? Going low carb or Keto? Here are five foods you can prep to make sure you can always throw together a delicious meal no matter how busy you get.

Roast Carrots

Peel a bunch or carrots, toss them in olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast at 400 until soft and with ever so slightly burnt ends.

  1. Eat these as is as a side dish
  2.  Toss into your salad
  3. Add to a sandwich or wrap

Other veggies to roast: Cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, white potato, sweet potato, beets, Brussels sprouts, onions

Boiled Eggs

Perfect jammy eggs are a wonderful luxurious touch you can add to any meal. They are easy to make and make even the simplest salad feel fancy!

Let your eggs come to room temperature. Prep a large bowl full of ice water. Bring water to a boil. Gently slip in your eggs and boil for 6.5 minutes. Remove eggs from pan and slip into the ice water. Chill until they are just a little warm, about 2 minutes. Peel

  1. Add to salad
  2. Make avocado toast and eggs
  3. Add to chicken or tuna salad
  4. Add to asian noodle soup (use spiraled zucchini for your noodles if you are going low carb for the new year)
  5. Grate over roasted asparagus
  6. Eat as is with salt and pepper

Cooked Beans

I know you can buy these in a can… but they are extreamly simple to make and just so much more delicious when you make them at home. I promise!

Soak black beans, white beans or chickpeas in salted water for 18-24 hours.

Drain and rinse then simmer with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and a bay leaf or a bit of lemon peel until soft and creamy

  1. Serve as a side dish
  2. Transform into a soup
  3. Puree and use as a sandwich spread or a dip
  4. Toss in a salad

Vinaigrette

These are not just for salads. Seriously a little vinaigrette can brighten up almost anything you are eating 

Have it on hand to:

  1. Toss with your roast veggies
  2. Dress your salad
  3. Dress your sandwiches or eraps
  4. Marinate chicken or fish
  5. Drizzle over roasted meats

Basic Vinaigrette

1 part Vinegar or citrus juice

2 parts good olive oil

1-2 tsp dijon mustard

1 tsp minced shallot

salt/pepper to taste

Add all ingredients into a jar and shake until thoroughly combined. Dip a lettuce leaf in and taste. If it tastes too tart add some olive oil. If it does not taste tart enough add more vinegar. Taste again and continue to adjust until you like the balance. Adjust seasoning once you have the tartness level where you want it.

Nut Butter Vinaigrette

1 tablespoon your favorite nut butter: tahini, peanut butter, cashew butter or almond butter

2 tablespoons acid: lemon, lime, Apple cider vinegar, champagne vinegar, rice wine vinegar, sherry vinegar

A pinch of seasoning: salt, pepper, chili flake, minced shallot, onion powder, garlic powder, soy sauce, fish sauce, mustard

Add all ingredients into a jar and shake until thoroughly combined. Dip a lettuce leaf in and taste. If it tastes too tart add some olive oil. If it does not taste tart enough add more vinegar. Taste again and continue to adjust until you like the balance. Adjust seasoning once you have the tartness level where you want it.

Quick Pickle

This one takes a little more planning ahead, but minimal effort. Once you have them, you can quickly grab them and jazz up any meal!

  1. Add to sandwiches
  2. Eat as a snack with a little prosciutto or smoked turkey
  3. Add to a taco
  4. Use the brine as a marinade
  5. Use the brine in your vinaigrette
  6.  eat with roasted meats like carnitas, brisket, chicken, pulled pork

1 lb Veggie of your choice: Onion, radishes, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, cauliflower, fennel, yellow squash or zucchini.

a few sprigs of herbs of your choice: oregano, dill, rosemary, fennel fronds

1 tsp whole mustard seeds, peppercorns, coriander, or juniper (or combine your faves)

1-2 cloves smashed garlic (optional)
1 cup water
1 cup vinegar rice or apple cider
1 tablespoon kosher salt (diamond crystal)
1 tablespoon sugar (also optional)
2 pint size jars or 1 4 pint jar

WASH your jars and lids and dry thoroughly
Prep your veggies (wash, peel and cut to the desired size. Spears, slices, dice whatever you want)
Add herbs and spices and garlic if using to jar
pack in your veggies. Leave 1/2” space at the top. Put in as much veg as you can without breaking or crushing them.
in a saucepan combine vinegar, water, salt, and sugar and bring to a boil stirring to ensure everything is dissolved
Pout into jars, leaving a 1/2 inch from the top.

Gently tap the jars to get out any air bubbles and add more brine if needed. Top and allow them to cool at room temp. Once totally cooled you can put them in the fridge. You can open and use after 48 hours, the longer they sit, the better they will taste. Date your jars, they are edible for about 2 months…. if they last that long!

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How I Came to Love Mac and Cheese

How I Came to Love Mac and Cheese

There are Two Kinds of Mac and Cheese

There are two schools of thought when it comes to macaroni and cheese. The first school believes that creaminess is king. The other thinks that the real king is a crisp topping. I am Switzerland. There is no bad macaroni and cheese. Every iteration brings new delights and its own set of charms. Macaroni and cheese is so pervasive in US culture that most people don’t remember the first time they ate it. We assume that every child in America adores it and that their mac and cheese of choice comes in a navy blue box. This was not the case for me. My mother made baked macaroni and cheese for me when I was little. Mostly this was because we moved around a great deal, and not every place we lived had Kraft Mac & Cheese available. I was probably seven years old before I discovered the wonders of nuclear yellow powdered cheese and thin pasta tubes.

I Fell Hard for the Big Blue Box

I was visiting family in Texas for the summer. School was out, and it was time to come to the US and see Grandma and Grandpa. My grandmother was an excellent cook, but she, like every other American woman, knew that children adore mac and cheese. So one night for dinner, we had the most ubiquitous of American meals: Mac and cheese, chicken fingers, peas and carrots, and ketchup. I was in love. So much so that when we got back home to Honduras, I wanted nothing but bright orange-yellow mac and cheese.

There is No Replacing the Big Blue Box

We were fortunate enough at the time to have help at home. My mother and father both worked full time and living in Central America afforded us the luxury of Lila. Our amazing cook. I was always under Lila’s feet. Watching what she was making, asking her questions, and offering to “help.” So when my mac and cheese addiction came into full bloom, I begged her to make my sister and me some for lunch. She agreed and whipped up a batch of her macaroni and cheese. The one she always made for me. Ever helpful, I mentioned that it was the wrong color. “Can you make it more yellow?” I asked. She thought for a moment and got the food coloring. She added a few drops and stirred it in. “Asi?” she asks… “like this?” “Noooooo” I reply. “More yellow, it should be brighter” she adds more, looking worried, but willing to try. “Asi?” she asked again. “No! Brighter!” I demanded. Poor Lila continued trying until she couldn’t take it anymore. “No mas, ya es bastante! No more, that’s enough!” Bratty seven-year-old that I was, I pouted. This mac and cheese was totally wrong. She had used the wrong noodles, and it was entirely the wrong color. UGH. (Lord, I was an entitled little brat.)

This disappointment in the color and quality of my mac and cheese was short lived. First, it was delicious, and second, I adored Lila, so pouting about her food and making her feel bad wasn’t exactly my favorite activity. She continued to make that mac and cheese for me as long as we lived in Honduras. Always adding that yellow food coloring (with a little added orange) to make me happy. Can we all take a moment to wonder in amazement and awe at this patient and kind woman?

I Find My Own Perfect Version of Mac and Cheese

Fast-forward ten-plus years and I cook for the family most nights. We are living in the US, and Kraft Mac & Cheese is readily available. At this point, while I still love it, I am also in love with the Fannie Farmer Cookbook. Her classic recipe is a baked mac and cheese. It is simple, it is massive, and it has a perfect golden crispy crust. I made this recipe about once a week. My mother never said a word about the heavy rotation of baked mac and cheese and neither did my siblings. Until one fateful Thanksgiving when my brother finally told me, he thought it was gross. Poor kid, he ate that baked mac and cheese for ages and all he wanted was some Velveeta Shells & Cheese. I am no Lila. However, I rallied and discovered that delights of thick, gooey, cheesy non-baked mac and cheese. I’ve been hunting for the perfect version for years, and I finally found it. A combination of great melting cheeses and good ol’ Velvetta get you the perfect consistency every time. It’s quicker and easier to make than the baked kind which is another huge point in its favor. Have I changed allegiances once again? Am I now a creamy, gooey mac and cheese person? Nope. I love them both. What’s your favorite version? Are you team baked or team stovetop?

Mac and Cheese

Mac and Cheese

A cheese-filled mac and cheese that will make even the pickiest tummies happy. You can put this together with just a few simple ingredients and in well under an hour, including boiling and baking!

Ingredients

  • 24 oz Large Elbow Macaroni
  • Kosher Salt
  • 2 cups Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • 8 oz Velvetta "Cheese", diced
  • 2 tbs Unsalted Butter, (plus an additional tsp)
  • 1/2 cup Whole Milk
  • Tellicherry Pepper, fresh ground
  • 1/4 cup Breadcrumbs, Panko or Homemade

Instructions

  1. Fill a large stock stock pot full of cold water, add a handful of kosher salt (I suggest Diamond Crystal for this). Bring it to a boil on high heat.
  2. Preheat your oven to 400F
  3. Once the water is boiling, pour in your elbow macaroni and stir so that the noodles don't stick together and the are not stuck on the bottom. Bring back to a boil and cook about 2 minutes less than pack instructions. You want these to still have a but of resistance when you bite it.
  4. Place a colander in your sink and once the pasta is cooked, pour it all into the colander and drain. Return the pasta the pot (make sure you have turned off the burner!) 
  5. A quick note about your cheese here. You want it to melt and get creamy and deliciously gooey. If you buy pre-shredded cheese you are greatly reducing your chances of this happening. So buy block cheese and grate it at home. It won't take that long, even if you have to use your box grater (but if you have a food processor use that, its take seconds!) Stir in all the cheese, butter and milk. Stir until everything is melted and evenly coats the pasta. 
  6. Add a few grinds of pepper and stir in. This is to taste. I love pepper so I add quite a bit, but add the amount that tastes good to you. There is no right or wrong here, it just depends on what you prefer.
  7. Prepare your casserole dish by spreading the butter evenly all over the inside of the dish. The pour in the macaroni spread it evenly in the dish, but don't press down or compress it. Just make sure that it is evenly distributed in the dish.
  8. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over the top of the macaroni. 
  9. Slide the filled casserole into your pre-heated oven. Bake for 10 minutes, then switch to broiler and brown the top. Your breadcrumbs can go from brown to burnt really fast so keep an eye on this! Remove from oven when the top is golden brown.
  10. Serve while hot and enjoy!

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Beans and Greens Spring Salad

The Mr. and I have decided to focus a bit more on the vegetables in our diet and cut back on the animal proteins. We aren’t full-blown vegetarians, and we certainly are not vegans. However, we do want to eat more vegetables than we have. I think spring is a great time to start eating more veggies. There are so many delicious veggies just beginning to appear in the stores. This Beans and Greens Spring Salad is an homage to early spring. Lots of green vegetables for a light, fresh weeknight dinner! A couple of things about this salad. Make sure you season with salt every step of the way. The secret to a great salad is seasoning each of your ingredients along the way. Do this, and you will notice a big difference in all your salads.

The Beans

The first step in the process is to prep your beans. I know its easy to get them in a can, and you can certainly do that. Personally, I prefer to cook my own. It’s easy, and if you work a few days ahead. Soak your beans in heavily salted water for 12-24 hours. White beans soak pretty quick so you can do this for less time than you would a black bean. Then in the same pot with the same water bring your beans to a boil and then turn down to a simmer and cook until soft. I do think it is worth taking the time to make your beans. They aren’t hard to make yourself; it means you have to plan a tiny bit.

If you don’t want to make your beans, you can use a can of beans. They will taste EXACTLY the same. The only real benefit to making beans is that you avoid additives (which careful label-reading can also take care of). Well, that and a bag of white beans is $0.50 and it makes a TON more than you get in a can of beans. I used Great Northern Beans for this recipe because I love their creamy texture, but any white bean will do. These two reasons are enough for me, especially given how little effort it is to make them.

The Vinaigrette

I also recommend making your vinaigrette. Firstly, the vinaigrette is possibly the simplest thing you will ever make. Secondly, commercial dressings mostly have a ton of added chemicals and sugar. I try to avoid sugars like this; if I am going to eat sugar, I want it to be in ICE CREAM. (Have I mentioned my CoolHaus obsession?) Anyway, you can eyeball a dressing like this in a jam jar. The traditional proportion is 1/3 vinegar to 2/3 oil. I also add dijon for the extra flavor and to help with the emulsification. Add some salt and pepper, and you are good to go. Seriously, don’t buy commercial dressing. It is tastier and cheaper to make it yourself.

The Croutons

I recently discovered Central Market’s Savory Hazelnut bread. Ummmm…. I might be addicted. Holy cow, it’s so good. It is studded with hazelnut and little pieces of shredded carrots, sunflower seeds, and goodness knows what else. I don’t care. Its delicious. I know not everyone can get this bread, so if you are not in the DFW area with access to a Central Market try any nutty bread, you can find. I think Orowheat’s Health Nut Bread would be a great substitution, but any nutty bread that strikes your fancy will work.

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Tim’s Picks!

A perfect match for our beans and greens dish, this juicy red may also go by the name of Napa Gamay by old time wine aficionados. You will find cherry and pepper notes, lush berry fruit, and a soft herbal palate. This offering does best with a slight chill, it is best to refrigerate about 20 minutes before serving.

I will earn a small commision on some of the products on this page if you purchase through my link. I have only recommended products I know and love. I have not recieved anything from these companies for free.

Beans and Greens Spring Salad

Beans and Greens Spring Salad

This light but fulling spring salad covers all the bases. Protien, tons of veggies and TONS of flavor.

Ingredients

Salad

  • 1 8 oz bag Great Norther White Beans
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1/2 box Baby Arugula
  • 2 Spring Onions
  • Parmesean Cheese

Pan Fried Croutons

  • 3-6 slices Nutty Bread
  • 2 tbs Olive Oil
  • Kosher Salt, Diamond Crystal
  • Black Pepper, Fresh ground tellicherry

Vinegarette

  • 6 tbs Olive Oil
  • 2 tbs Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • Kosher Salt, Diamon Crystal
  • Black Pepper, Fresh ground tellicherry

Roasted Carrots

  • 1 bunch Young Carrots (multi-color), with tops
  • 2 tsp Sumac
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • Kosher Salt, Diamon Crystal
  • Black Pepper, Fresh ground tellicherry

Instructions

Beans

  1. Soak your beans in heavily salted water for 12-18 hours. Taste your water to as you salt it. You want to to be very salty, like sea water. I like to use Diamond Crystal salt for this because I understand the quantities and it dissolves quickly. Any salt (other than table salt!) will work here, just make sure the water is not over or under salted.
  2. After your beans have finished soaking bring your beans to a boil in that same water and then reduce to a gentle simmer.
  3. Cook until beans are soft and creamy. The amount of time this takes depends on how old your beans are, the older they are the longer it will take. Most batches take between three and four hours. Start checking them at 2.5 hours.
  4. Once beans are done, turn off heat and allow beans to cool before storing

Crutons

  1. Cut up your bread slices into the cubes. It really does not matter what size, whatever YOU like. I think small-ish ones are nice because they are about the same size as the rest of the ingredients in the salad, which makes for nice balanced bites as you eat.
  2. Heat a cast iron skillet on medium heat. Add olive oil and let it heat. Don't get things too hot here. You want the bread to toast not burn.
  3. Toss the bread cubes into the pan, season with salt and pepper and toss the bread cubes in the pan so they are evenly coated with oil.
  4. Allow the bread cubes to toast and then flip them over and around so they toast on all sides

Roasted Carrots

  1. Heat your oven to 400 degrees
  2. Peel the carrots and cut the leafy green parts off the carrots leaving a bit of the stem.
  3. Line a sheet pan in foil. Then toss your carrots with olive oil, sumac, salt and pepper. You can do this right on the sheet pan. No need to dirty another dish!
  4. Put the carrots on the oven and roast until the carrots are soft and the tips are a bit charred.

Vinegerette

  1. In a jam jar add all your ingredients and shake until well combined

Roasted Red Pepper

  1. Take a whole red pepper and place it directly onto the flame on your stove. Allow it to char to fully black and then turn until it is charred on all sides. Use your tongs for this, it will make it easier to maneuver your pepper so that its black all over.
  2. Put your pepper in a zip top bag and allow it to steam in there for 10-20 minutes
  3. Remove the pepper from the bag and peel off all the charred bits. Tear it open and remove the stem, seeds and white veins.

Assemble your Salad!

  1. About 10 minutes before you are ready to serve. Thinly slice your scallions, using both the white and green parts. Then place in a bowl of water and set aside
  2. Put your arugula into a salad bowl and season with salt and pepper. Set aside
  3. Cut your carrots into 1.5 inch pieces. I like to cut them at an angle because I think it looks prettier, but do whatever makes you happy! Set aside
  4. Cut your roasted pepper into 1-1.5 inch dice
  5. Add all the ingredients, half the salad dressing but not the croutons to the salad bowl and toss well so that the dressing is well incorporated into the salad and all the ingredients are well dressed. Taste. Add more dressing if needed, add more salt if needed, add more pepper if needed and toss again. Taste, adjust seasoning if needed. Repeat until the salad tastes good to you. Add the croutons and toss one last time. Top with big shavings of parmesan cheese!

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