Spicy Clams & Pasta

Spicy Clams & Pasta

Chrissy Teigen Sunday night dinners have become a staple for my girlfriends and me. Not only are the recipes in Chrissy Teigen’s “Cravings” cookbook easy to follow, but so far all of them are amazingly delicious. So far I have hosted two Sunday night dinners featuring recipes from the “Cravings” cookbook. The first dinner, we went a little overboard, we made three different recipes – the crispy prosciutto salad, street corn and fish tacos (ALL amazing by the way!), so when it came time to plan the menu for our second dinner, we opted to try just one recipe and make it the star.

We decided on Pepper’s Spicy Clams and Pasta and set off to the best seafood counter in town, Santa Monica Seafood to get the best clams this side of the 405. Armed with clams, pasta, and Justin wine we returned to my place and let the cooking party begin. Pepper’s Spicy Clams and Pasta is a quick and easy recipe once you de-sand all the clams. My advice is to drop your clams in a large bowl of water for 30 minutes, pop open a bottle of wine (don’t drink it all – you still need some for the recipe!) and enjoy 20-30 minutes of girl talk until your clams are de-sanded, then it’s time to get to work!

Spicy Clams & Pasta

ingredients:
Kosher salt
12 oz dried linguine
1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter
2 T extra virgin olive oil
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 lbs. Manila clams, scrubbed
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish

directions:
In a large pot of heavily salted boiling water, cook the linguine until al dente according to the package directions. Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta and return it to the cooking pot.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat. When the butter foams, add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until the garlic is fragrant and very lightly golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the wine and pepper, increase the heat slightly, and cook until bubbling, about 2 minutes. Add the clams, increase the heat, cover, and cook just until the clams open, about 3 minutes.

Transfer the opened clams to the pasta pot. (If some clams are stubborn, re-cover the pan for another minute or two; if the clams still don’t open, ditch them.) Taste the sauce and add salt to taste.

Add any remaining cooked clams and all the clam liquid to the drained pasta. Warm through over medium heat, adding the reserved pasta water as needed to help bind the sauce. Toss in the parsley, divide the pasta and clams among bowls, and garnish with more parsley if you want.

De-sand yo clams
Sometimes clams have sand. You want no sand. So, first of all, see if there are any already opened clams. Tap on them; if they don’t try to close back up, toss them and let them rest in peace. Place the totally-sealed-shut clams in a bowl and cover with cold water. Let them sit for 20 minutes. You’ll see some sand in the bowl after they sit. Then carefully lift them out of the bowl and scrub all over their shells, especially the hinge, with a clean, stiff brush under running water to remove any extra grit.

Recipe from “Cravings” by Chrissy Teigen also found here.

Spicy Clams & Pasta

Snapshots: 36 Hours in Boston

Red Eye from LAX to BOS
Arrive at 6:30 AM

One of the things that makes a quick trip to Boston easy is that the airport is a mere 15 minutes away from the heart of the city. We grabbed an Uber at the airport and started the quick trip from BOS to The Godfrey Hotel. Once at the hotel, we checked-in (sadly, no rooms were ready), quickly changed our clothes and set off for our first day in the city.

Boston Boston

The day started with breakfast at The Paramount – a Boston staple! We walked from our hotel through Boston Commons right up to The Paramount, and arrived 10 minutes before they opened (they open at 8am on Saturdays) and there was already a group of people waiting! We waited with the others and checked out the menu so we were ready upon entering. We ended up ordering the Western Omelette and French Toast, both were nice big portions and amazingly delicious. Definitely get there early, because there will be a line!

Boston

Now that we had some food in our bellies, we were ready to trek out to Fenway Park and take the stadium tour. We had prepurchased a tour at 10AM to ensure we beat the heat and could spend the rest of the day closer to city center. I cannot recommend the Fenway tour enough! It was so fun to see all the different seating areas and hear the history of the Boston Red Socks. The area around the staidum is extremely walkable, with lots of shops and restaurants. Since we had an early breakfast, we opted to stop by Walburgers (I mean, it’s like a rule if you’re in Boston right?) for a snack. We opted for the melt and sweet potato tots – I have to admit the burger was very good, but the tots kind of left me wanting more. They were a little too sweet and a little too greasy for my liking.

With the tour over, it was time to return to the Godfrey and luckily a room was ready for us. We checked in around 1:30pm and decided that we earned some quality nap time after walking over 6 miles already! Plus we had plans to check out Toro, a tapas resturant with a no reservations policy, that opened at 4:30pm. We made it to Toro a few minutes before 4:30pm and were the third group on the list for dinner service starting at 5pm.

Boston Boston

First off, if you are in Boston and have the time and opportunity, run don’t walk to Toro! The staff were very friendly and the food was so amazing, it was out of this world! We ordered the Pan con Tomate V, Jamon Blanco, Maíz Asado con Alioli y Queso Cotija, Filete a la Plancha, Mejillones and finally the Churros for dessert. Along with all of these wonderful tapas, we ordered a bottle of white wine served in a perrone! This drink order definitely took the dining experience up a notch. Especially if you are in a large group, I would recommend getting yourself a perrone (or two!). Out of the dishes we ordered, you cannot go here without ordering the Mejillones – the mussels and chorizo are out of this world. I cannot eat mussels without dreaming of this dish.

Boston

After dinner, we wandered to the North End, for what else but Cannolis! We opted to try Mike’s Pastry our first night in town. After waiting in line for nearly 20 minutes, it was finally our turn to order. We opted for cookies and cream, chocolate chip, pistachio and espresso! Out of all four, I’d have to say the cookies and cream cannoli was my favorite. From the North End, we walked back to our hotel and turned in early, we had a big day ahead of ourselves.

Boston

We ended up sleeping in much later than planned and started our Sunday off with a quick trip to Boston Commons Coffee before heading out on the Freedom Trail. Another absolute must if you are in Boston is the Freedom Trail, not only do you cover a lot of history, but it is a great way to get your bearings in the city and know where everything is. We had such a great time walking around and soaking in the history and culture of the city. If you find yourself needed a snack along the trail, try Saus Boston for the most amazing poutine you’ve ever seen or tasted!

Boston

If you keep going along the trail, you’ll end up back in the North End and hopefully hungry enough for another cannoli! This time I opted for a traditional one at Modern Party – the pastry was crunchy and the filling was sweet and fluffy! The perfect treat to power though the rest of our afternoon walk.

After finishing up the trail, we took the subway over to Harvard to explore the campus. Along with the Class of 2020 (OMG!!!), we walked around taking in the sights and sounds of the prestigious campus and picked up a couple souvenirs, visiting campus means we are practically Harvard grads, right?! We grabbed an uber back into the city and stopped off at Legal Seafood for a cup of chowder before I headed to the airport. I’m not a huge chowder person, but you could taste how fresh their seafood is even in the chowder. We will definitely have to go back to try more of their seafood menu.

All in all, my thirty six hours in Boston were jam packed, but still felt fun and extremely enjoyable. The food, the drinks, the sights and sounds were all amazing! Even a short trip is worth it to explore such a remarkable and historic city.

Boston to LAX

Leave at 8:20 PM

Chicken Pot Pie Casserole

Chicken Pot Pie Casserole

I first discovered my love for homemade chicken pot pie last summer and I’ve been mildly obsessed ever since. I constantly looking for new ways to make old recipes exciting and this was a no brainer – swap out the individual ramekins and make it a casserole – done and done. All the same veggie filled chicken yumminess, but without the hassle of cleaning separate baking dishes. A love whipping this dish up on a Monday night and enjoying leftovers for the next couple of days. There’s something about chicken pot pie that is so comforting and makes your day or week instantly better. Personally, I love this recipe because of how many veggies there are, some pot pie recipes end up with way too much buttery filling that you feel sick. Not the case with thus version, all the different veggies keep you feeling full without being stuffed. What are some of your favorite pot pie filling options?

Chicken Pot Pie Casserole

ingredients:
8 tablespoons salted butter, divided
1 leek, white and light green parts, sliced and rinsed in a bowl of water
2 cups sliced tricolor carrots
2 cups chopped asparagus
1 cup frozen peas
2 cups shredded chicken
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 Pillsbury croissant dough, cut into circles
1 large egg, beaten

Chicken Pot Pie Casserole

directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 9×11 glass baking dish with nonstick spray.

To make the filling, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large pot over medium high heat. Add leeks and carrots and cook, stirring frequently, until the carrots begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add asparagus and cook, while stirring, until the vegetables are tender-crisp, about 5 minutes more. Remove from heat; stir in peas and chicken.

To make the sauce, melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1-2 minutes. Gradually whisk in chicken stock and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce has begun to thicken, about 5 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Add sauce to the chicken-vegetable filling and gently toss to combine and transfer to the glass baking pan.

Top with croissant dough, I opted to cut the dough into 8 small circles. Brush each crust with the beaten egg.

Place into oven and bake until the crust is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 8

Chicken Pot Pie Casserole

Snapshots: Cake Tasting

Cake Tasting

We are finally in less than one year stretch and still doing things ridiculously ahead of time.  We headed down to Orange County this past weekend to visit a friend who just moved back from Hawaii, and conveniently, she lives 15 minutes from our wedding venue.  We decided to take the opportunity to schedule not one but two cake tastings while we were in the area.

Note to brides to be, don’t schedule two tastings back to back. I’m pretty sure I had a sugar hangover when I woke up Sunday morning.  Although the sugar overload wasn’t my favorite, it was nice to try both places in a short period of time because we could remember the things we liked about each place and make a more informed decision.

Cake Tasting

Our first tasting was at Sweet & Saucey Shop in Newport.  Before we arrived for our tasting, we were giving a huge sheet of flavor options and made selections based on what we wanted to try.  For the frosting we chose: cream cheese based: regular, espresso, coconut, peanut butter, and Oreo, buttercream: vanilla, salted caramel, and Nutella, chocolate ganache, strawberries, raspberries, hazelnut crunch, Valrhona chocolate pearls, toffee bits and salted caramel drizzle.

Cake Tasting

We opted for the chocolate, vanilla almond and strawberry cake flavors.  And if you thought the frostings and toppings above were enough, think again – we also tried a few creamy fillings – whipped cream, vanilla Bavarian cream, lemon cheesecake mousse and chocolate mousse.

Cake Tasting

And those were just the cake options… We also tried a few mini desserts- traditional cheesecake with fresh fruit, cappuccino cheesecake, chocolate salted caramel tarts.  Last but not least, we sampled some mini cupcakes: candy bar, chocolate espresso, chocolate peanut butter, carrot cake, coconut, strawberry cream and nutella hazelnut.

After reading all of that, you probably are asking yourself how we didn’t get sick or need to roll each other to the car afterward… Patience my friends, it’s all about small bites.  Just enough to get the flavor combination and not enough to get yourself sick.  It also helped that we preferred the cream cheese frostings, which are less kick you in the stomach sweet compared to their buttercream cousins.  When it came to testing the mini desserts, we only ate a quarter of the tarts and one small fork full of each mini cupcake.  It was the perfect amount to taste the cake, frosting and any fillings, but no need to overload the tummy.

The entire experience at Sweet and Saucey Shop was super enjoyable.  Their décor is very cute and the fact that they have Styrofoam sample cakes all over the shop, helps you get an in person idea of the size of your cake.  We wanted a very simple textured design, so the pricing was extremely reasonable when it came time to talk numbers.  In our discussions with our consultant, we opted for a smaller cake, a simple two tiered style with two different flavors, which we will probably top with fresh flowers and a simple topper.  If cake is not our guests’ thing, we will have 4 different mini dessert options to satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth.   Our consultant was very knowledgeable and didn’t feel pushy.  She gave her opinion and was very helpful when it came to pointing out different sized cakes featured in the store to help us picture the cake in person.

I won’t spoil the surprise of what we ended up choosing for our wedding, but just know this – my sweet tooth will be more than satisfied😉

Chicken Sausage Breakfast Sandwich

Chicken Sausage Breakfast Sandwich

In my humble opinion, Sundays are the best day of the week. And I don’t like to waste a minute of it. My perfect Sunday starts with my favorite hike – a nice 5 mile loop near the former NIKE Missile Control Center – which earns me enough burned calories to splurge with a yummy breakfast sandwich, which is probably why my favorite meal is brunch. Whether it’s crispy buttered toast paired with a veggie scramble or a meaty, cheesy, breakfast sandwich with a dash of hot sauce, I am a happy gal. My signature breakfast sandwich includes a perfectly fried egg, just waiting for the yolk to crack. I mean what is more visually appealing than the ooey gooey yolk just waiting to be sopped up by the rest of your delicious sandwich.

Chicken Sausage Breakfast Sandwich

ingredients:
2 Jalapeno chicken sausages
2 Half-baked Panini Rolls
1/4 cup Mozzarella cheese
2 Eggs
2 teaspoon pesto
handful of arugula

Chicken Sausage Breakfast Sandwich

directions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Bake panini rolls for 6 minutes. While panini rolls are baking, slice each sausage into 3 pieces. Warm precooked sausage in the oven for 6 minutes.

Once the rolls have finished baking, slice in half. Coat each cut side with pesto, sprinkle top half of the roll with mozzarella cheese and return both halves to the oven to toast and melt the cheese, about 2 minutes.

While the cheese is melting and rolls are toasting, fry two eggs over medium heat. Once the eggs are finished cooking, assemble your sandwich-add sausage on top of the pesto coated toast, top with fried egg. Sprinkle arugula on top of the melted cheese toast and combine halves to create one delicious sandwich.

Serves 2 // 380 calories

Chicken Sausage Breakfast Sandwich