Kabocha Curry with Spinach, Chickpeas, & Farro

Kabocha Curry with Spinach, Chickpeas, & Farro

Friends. I have things I want to tell you about. Big things. So major that I’ve been staring at these photos for over a week, unable to find common ground between all the news I want to share and this unexciting (albeit delicious) bowl of curry. And that’s why half my news will have to wait. Until I make a cake. One that may involve booze and pink frosting.

The other half, I’ll share now.

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Homemade Sriracha

homemade sriracha

Note: This post contains an updated recipe after numerous trials and some obsessive tweaking, as well as a note about the updates at the end of the intro, before the recipe itself.

If I had to sum this post up in two words, those words would be “F#@% YES.”

Sorry, that’s a bit of an aggressive way to start off a post! But seriously, can you blame me? I have been obsessing over making this stuff for nearly eight months, ever since Joshua Bousel detailed his experiments with homemade Sriracha on Serious Eats. I planned my entire garden around it, sacrificing what would have been a variety of peppers to grow only jalapeños. And then I waited, and waited, and WAITED for those darn peppers to turn from green to red. Being an impatient person, I also spent my Saturday mornings elbow-deep in Half Pint Farm’s hot pepper bin at the market, collecting every last red jalapeño I could find. It was on one of these days that Spencer of HPF suggested that red serranos might also work well, so I started buying up those too. (A great suggestion, it turns out, as a little more research led me to the fact that serranos were once the pepper from which Sriracha was made, until the company deemed them too difficult to harvest [or perhaps too costly] and switched to red jalapeños.)

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Pizza Sauce

I hope everyone had/is having a wonderful 4th! This is the second year in a row that I’ve spent late June/early July house-sitting for my parents in upstate NY. And while spending the 4th of July alone might seem boring to some, I rather enjoy it. I still devoted my day to making a ton of food and indulging in an afternoon beverage or two, and the only thing that made me feel like I was kind of missing out on this year’s festivities was when J sent me a picture of a plate full of bbq and sides. And although I now have a major craving for mac and cheese, it’s going to be ok — pizza is a good substitute!

See, the thing about spending an entire day making food is that people need to actually eat it. And since I’m the only one here (and the only thing my parents’ cats seem interested in eating are vomit-inducing amounts of cat treats or the animals they proudly slaughter), most of it needs to be preserved for my parents to enjoy later. Which is why pizza is the perfect choice, since I can freeze a ready-to-bake portion and then bake up a tiny little pizza for myself. And while I can be pretty lazy when it comes to pizza sauce (using tomato purée straight from the jar or opting for alternatives like pesto or just plain white pizza), making it really isn’t that difficult. And it makes your pizza taste even better.

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Shrimp & Alfredo Spaghetti Squash

Fact: This is one of the first dishes to spark my interest in cooking. Actually, the first first thing that set me on the path (other than my mother and all of her awesome home-cooked meals and treats that I took for granted as a young’un) was a Spanish tortilla my friend Whitney made after she returned from a semester abroad in Spain. I remember hovering over the stove watching her cook up a bunch of eggs and potatoes and thinking, “wow, that looks awesome, and really easy!” And then I tried to make one a few months later and totally screwed it up. :D Alas, there was not much room in my college life for cooking endeavors, and those pursuits were moved to the back burner.

But then, I graduated. And got myself a real, grown-up job. And the manager of my department just happened to be pretty awesome at food stuff. One day, she brought in spaghetti squash with alfredo, and I was in awe. “So you’re telling me there’s a squash that looks like spaghetti on the inside? And you cover it in alfredo? I need one. Now.” I found one. I made it. It was awesome. And it’s still one of my favorite dishes! Alfredo—amazing as it is—can be kind of heavy when paired with pasta, so using spaghetti squash is a great alternative. And when my friends at Wisconsin Cheese contacted me about doing a new guest post, I was more than happy to oblige with this. (Especially since it gave me an opportunity to rephotograph the dish, which did make an appearance in all of its icky point-and-shoot glory last year.) So head on over to Wisconsin Cheese Talk and check out the new and improved version!

Butternut Squash Alfredo

For the record, I love butter. Love it. So for me to replace it with something else—especially something healthy—the end result has to be delicious. And this certainly is.

Last fall, I was going crazy for roasted butternut squash. Then one day, I happened upon a recipe for a butternut squash and parmesan sauce. I’d never thought about puréeing the thing before, but it seemed like a potentially yummy idea. I decided to try making a faux alfredo, leaving out butter entirely.  And oh my, was it good! I’m not going to say it was better than alfredo (I feel like a statement claiming anything to be better than alfredo might potentially be blasphemous), but it is equally good, in a different way. The squash gives it a nice richness and depth of flavor—it’s a surprise to find out that there is no butter in it whatsoever. And it’s healthy (or, not as unhealthy), so you can justify snacking on the leftovers incessantly (and there will be leftovers—this yields a lot of sauce). If you don’t like leftovers and you aren’t feeding a family of 8, I recommend cutting this recipe in half.

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