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

Goat Cheese, Apple & Pomegranate Aril Toast

Goat Cheese, Apple & Pomegranate Aril Toast

It’s a couple days before Christmas and you’re checking your list, making sure you’ve got the main course prepped, the sides are ready to be popped in the oven and then you realize you forgot the appetizers. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered with an extremely simple recipe that will knock the socks off of anyone at your festivities. The ingredients are easy, but the presentation is where you will really wow them. You can prep them all ahead of time, or just arrange the individual ingredients on a cheese board and let your guests go to town as they get hungry. Feel free to swap in any of your go to cheese plate ingredients and make your own variation of these yummy toasts. Mix it up with some feta cheese and nuts or forget the apple and opt for a pear or some fresh berries; the possibilities are endless.

Goat Cheese, Apple & Pomegranate Aril Toast

ingredients:
Toasts or Thinly Sliced Baguette Bread, I like the brioche toasts from Trader Joe’s
1 package spreadable honey goat cheese
2 small green apples, sliced into thin halves
½ cup pomegranate arils
2 tablespoons honey

Goat Cheese, Apple & Pomegranate Aril Toast

directions:
Spread goat cheese on toasts. Top with apple slices, pomegranate arils, and drizzle with honey, as desired.

Perfect Spatchcock Turkey

Perfect Spatchcock Turkey

I have been dying to host a friendsgiving basically since I graduated from college. Every year, it’s been difficult to find a space that accommodated everyone and a date that worked with everyone’s schedules. This year that all changed. Luckily Bill and I have a fairly sizeable back patio and with a little bit of elbow grease, I was able to add a couple easy and drought tolerant plants to our awkward one foot strip of dirt to add a homier garden vibe to the space. Plus, who doesn’t love café lights – literally the easiest way to dress up any outdoor space. Now that I’ve set the scene, let’s discuss the sheer panic that ensued after I decided to host our “frandsgiving” and realized holy cow, I’ve never cooked a turkey before. Don’t worry, I did what any millennial would do and googled the shit out of every turkey recipe known to the internet. After hours of research, I decided spatchcocking was the way to go, perfectly cooked turkey in 90 minutes, sign me up. Not only was it easy, the results were fantastic – juicy flavorful meat with crispy skin – hello new go to turkey recipe!
Also, because I did so much friendsgiving research, here are the unofficial rules of friendsgiving as well as an awesome step by step guide to spatchcocking.

Perfect Spatchcock Turkey

ingredients:
6 tablespoons Morton’s kosher salt
2 tablespoons of baking powder
3 large onions, roughly chopped (about 1 1/2 quarts)
3 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped (about 1 quart)
4 stalks celery, roughly chopped (about 1 quart
12 thyme sprigs
1 whole turkey (12 to 14 pounds total), butterflied according to instructions, backbone, neck, and giblets reserved
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 quarts low sodium chicken broth
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour

Perfect Spatchcock Turkey

directions:
Start off with a Dry Brine – DO THIS 24 HOURS BEFORE:
Combine 6 tablespoons Morton’s kosher salt with two tablespoons of baking powder in a bowl. Carefully pat your turkey dry with paper towels. Generously sprinkle salt mixture on all surfaces of the turkey. The turkey should be well-coated with salt, though not completely encrusted. (Heads up: You probably will not need all of the salt, in some cases less than half will be okay depending on the size of your bird and your salt preference).

Transfer the turkey to a rack set in a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate uncovered for 12 to 24 hours.

Now it’s turkey time:
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 450°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan with aluminum foil. Scatter 2/3rds of onions, carrots, celery and thyme sprigs across bottom of pan. Place wire rack directly on top of vegetables.

Butterfly your turkey following the directions here.

Pat turkey dry with paper towels and rub on all surfaces with 1 tablespoon oil. Season liberally on all surfaces with black pepper. Tuck wing tips behind back. Place turkey on top of rack, arranging so that it does not overlap the edges, pressing down on the breast bone to flatten the breasts slightly.

Transfer turkey to oven and roast, rotating occasionally, until an instant read thermometer inserted into the deepest part of the breast registers 150°F, and the thighs register at least 165°F, about 80 minutes.

While turkey roasts, make the gravy. Roughly chop the neck, backbone, and giblets. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a 3 quart saucepan over high heat until shimmering. Add chopped turkey parts and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add remaining onions, carrots, and celery and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables start to soften and brown in spots, another 5 minutes. Add chicken stock, remaining thyme, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and reduce to a bare simmer. Allow to cook 45 minutes, then strain through a fine mesh strainer into a 2 quart liquid measuring cup and discard solids. Skim off any fat from the surface of the broth.

Melt butter over medium-high heat in a 2 quart saucepan. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly until flour is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Whisking constantly, add broth in a thin, steady stream until it it all incorporated. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until reduced to about 1 quart, about 20 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper, cover, and keep gravy warm.

When turkey is cooked, remove from oven and transfer rack to a new baking sheet. Allow to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes before carving. Carefully pour any collected juices from out of the roasting pan through a fine-mesh strainer into a liquid measuring cup. Skim off excess fat and discard. Whisk juices into gravy.

Carve turkey and serve with gravy.

Recipe from Serious Eats.

Perfect Spatchcock Turkey

Easy Turkey Burger Sliders

Easy Turkey Burger Sliders

Anytime I know I am going to have people over, I always try to rack my brain for easy yet impressive meals.  Every time the answer is too simple, it’s almost criminal – mini versions of my favorite recipes.  For the 3rd of July, I didn’t want to go over board with grilling up a burgers, hot dogs and the whole nine yards, since I knew we would be stuffing our faces full of those items on the 4th.  Instead, I opted for an easy turkey burger recipe made in miniature.  Seriously, it never ceases to amaze me how many people ooh and awe over sliders or over mini versions of their favorite appetizers.  Just try it once and you will probably never go back to serving full size food at your parties again.  And the biggest plus, is that people usually eat less because there’s more time required to get up and get an additional appetizer versus sitting down and pigging out on its full size cousin.  It’s win-win for any hostess!

Easy Turkey Burger Sliders

ingredients:
1.2 lb ground turkey
1/3 cup feta cheese crumbles
2 tsp chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cups chopped spinach
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp salt
black pepper
12 slider buns
toppings (spinach, avocado, tomatoes, condiments, etc.)

Easy Turkey Burger Sliders

directions:
Combine the first 8 ingredients in a large bowl. Gently, using your hands, work together all the components to distribute the ingredients evenly throughout the meat. Shape the meat into 12 patties.

Heat a pan over medium high heat and coat the pan with nonstick cooking spray. Once the pan is hot, add the patties to the pan and cook for about 3 minutes per side. While the patties are cooking, if desired, toast your slider buns at 400 degrees, for 3 minutes.

Serve turkey burgers with desired toppings, I opted for spinach, avocado, tomato and ketchup!

Easy Turkey Burger Sliders

Pineapple Mint Spa Water

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Two weeks ago, I went to Whole Foods with my grandmother and saw the most brilliant way to convince yourself to drink water– fruit infused spa waters. Yes, I caved and bought the $1.50 bottle of pineapple and mint spa water, but only with the intention of replicating the results. Last week during my usually trip to Ralph’s, I picked up a whole pineapple for a cool two bucks and a huge batch of mint for 99 cents. It took me less than 10 minutes to assemble these adorable mason jars full of yummy looking water. I left them overnight to soak up all the sweet pineapple juice and refreshing mint flavor and tada delicious spa water. I’m excited to share any new flavor combinations I find.

Pineapple Mint Spa Water

ingredients:
1 whole pineapple, cored and cubed
1 bunch, mint
Containers (Mason Jars, Nalegene Water Bottles, etc.)
Water, tap or filtered, up to you and your location

Pineapple Mint Spa Water

directions:
Core the pineapple- cut off the top then carefully cut the sides off. Take extra care to core the “eyes” these are bitter and hard to chew.

Once cored, cut the pineapple into chunks.

Depending on the size of your container, add pineapple and mint leaves to the jar (I put one ring of pineapple and 2 sprigs of mint per 8oz).

Refrigerate overnight, then enjoy!

Pineapple Mint Spa Water