Dinner For Two: 30-Minute Beef Stroganoff

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

As we an embark on this “week of love” with Galentines Day, Valentines Day, and the latest spin on the holiday- Palentines Day (falling on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, respectively)– I thought it’d be fun to share some holiday-inspired posts throughout the next few days.

The first, and one of my favorites- is a super quick and easy recipe you can whip up with just a few ingredients and within a half hour to share with your love, your date, your lady-friends- or your friends in general before you light some candles and gather around to watch a romantic comedy together…

… Or whatever you do to celebrate these sorts of holidays (mine involves a little more beer and little more “Mystery Science Theater 3000”- but to each their own!)

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 pounds beef tenderloin, halved lengthwise and cut into ½-inch strips
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 shallots, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 quart button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1½ cups beef broth
  • 1½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup fresh chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 pound pappardelle (FYI – I used egg noodles this time around!)
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh dill

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. In a large pot, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Season the beef with salt and pepper.
  2. Working in batches, add the beef to the pot in a single layer and sear until browned on both sides, about 1½ minutes per side. Transfer the beef to a plate.
  3. Add another 3 tablespoons of the butter to the pot and melt over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic; sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Stir in the mushrooms and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the beef broth and the mustard. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat.
  5. Simmer until the liquid reduces into a thick sauce and the mushrooms are very tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
  6. Stir in the beef and continue to simmer until the beef is tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in the sour cream and parsley.
  7. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pappardelle according to the package instructions. In a large bowl, toss the pappardelle with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter; season with salt and pepper.
  8. To serve, top the pappardelle with the beef stroganoff and dill.

Loaded with savory flavors and with each portion being filling and beyond satisfying- this dinner is a convenient and delicious spin on a favorite that typically takes a lot longer to prepare- making it perfect for busy Gal/Val/Palentines Day plans!

It’s a lot of fun to prepare together, too- so why not get your significant other or your friends in on the process with you? Cooking a meal together is a great bonding experience, after all!

And now, with Monday morning underway- I’ve got to buckle down and get some work done today- and tonight it’s all about meetings and meetups with friends!

Here’s wishing you all a wonderful start to your week! See you all again on Wednesday!

xx

– Ashley –

Backyard BBQ Recipes: BLT Pasta Salad

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone! Here’s hoping you all had a great weekend!

Before I dive right into my e-mails, early morning meetings and phone calls at the office- I thought I’d share a quick and easy recipe I tried out this past weekend for an afternoon cookout at a friend’s house (the first of many this coming season, I’m sure!)

I’m a big fan of the simplicity of BLTs for lunch- but I also think a backyard BBQ isn’t quite the same without a chilled pasta salad available as a side. This recipe combines the two- the minimal ingredients of the sandwich but with a more filling pasta substituted in place of the bread and a bit more flavor with a creamy and tangy dressing mixed in. Add some avocado and you’ve got yourself a hit for your next early-Summer gathering!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 pound bacon
  • 1 pound pasta (your choice! I used penne.)
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 3 medium tomatoes, cut into small wedges
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Arrange the bacon on the baking sheet; season generously with black pepper. Bake until the bacon is crisp, 15 to 17 minutes. Remove from the pan from the oven and cool completely.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions, 7 to 9 minutes. Drain and cool to room temperature.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard and vinegar; season with salt and pepper.
  4. In a large bowl, toss together the pasta, tomato, avocado and romaine. Crumble the bacon into the salad.
  5. If serving immediately, add the dressing and toss well to coat. Or leave undressed and store in the refrigerator for up to two days.

This pasta salad was so good- and was a fun and flavorful spin on the usual macaroni salads I typically see at cookouts and backyard BBQs. Any leftovers (and there wasn’t much!) were placed back in an airtight container and refrigerated- and tasted just as good on Sunday during an indoor lunch when the weather didn’t hold out as planned.

I’m thinking I’ll be making another batch of this for my co-workers when we have our pre-Memorial Day weekend luncheon in a couple of weeks. Anything with bacon and avocado is sure to be a hit!

Try to enjoy your Monday, everyone! Let’s make it to the weekend!

xx

– Ashley –

Comfort Food: Baked Mac-and-Cheese Bites

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you all had a chance to rest, relax, and regroup this past weekend- which I know may have been a little tricky with Daylight Savings Time throwing a wrench into everything.

I’m still a bit off, especially since I forgot to re-set my clock in my car- so when I happened to glance at it when I was halfway to the office this morning- I had a moment of panic thinking that I was somehow (and miraculously) an hour earlier than scheduled.

I’m sure I’ll get accustomed to it by the time Fall rolls around and we have to set the clocks an hour back, of course.

Anyway- this morning I have a pretty fun (and not really appropriate for those avoiding carbs, sorry!) appetizer/snack recipe that adds a fun twist on an old classic. I love pasta, and I love cheese- so homemade mac & cheese is one of my “Cheat Day” indulgences- but I never really get a chance to bake it in a way that gives me some control over portion sizes.

Until now, anyway. All you need are the below-listed ingredients and a mini-muffin tin- and you’re good to go!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 pound small elbow pasta
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2½ cups whole milk
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups grated white cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups grated yellow cheddar cheese, divided

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease two mini-muffin pans with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the elbow pasta and cook according to the package instructions, about 7 to 9 minutes. Drain.
  3. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute more.
  4. Sprinkle the flour into the pot and stir to combine. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  5. Add the milk and whisk well to combine. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.
  6. Season the sauce with the cayenne pepper (if using), salt and pepper. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the white cheddar and 1½ cups of the yellow cheddar. Stir until the mixture is melted.
  7. Stir in the cooked pasta and mix until it is evenly coated with the sauce. Scoop 1½ to 2 tablespoons of the mac-and-cheese mixture into each cavity of the prepared pans.
  8. Sprinkle a few pieces of yellow cheddar on top of each mac-and-cheese bite and then transfer the pans to the oven. Bake until the cheese is melted and the bites become golden, 17 to 20 minutes.
  9. Let the bites cool for 15 minutes before unmolding and serving. Serve hot or at room temperature. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days.

I’m not ashamed to admit I ate way too many of these things when they were done- because they were so delicious and addictive! I also want to mention that I used smoked cheddar in this recipe, which gave these bites a really great and almost unexpected kick of flavor- so if anyone is feeling experimental- it’s a pretty tasty alternative to regular cheddar cheese!

I think when I make another batch of these (which I most certainly will soon!)– I’m going to add pieces of cooked bacon and maybe some diced jalapeño peppers to the mix. This is a pretty versatile recipe that you can play around with and customize- which makes it even better!

Enjoy your day, everyone! Here’s to another beautiful, brilliant week!

xx

– Ashley –

Comfort Food: Cacio e Pepe Pasta

It might not look like much, but cacio e pepe is one of the quickest, easiest, and tastiest pasta dishes you can whip up in under a half hour when you need your fill of carbs for a cheat day or you’re just trying to satisfy a group of people with something packed full of cheese and pepper. Not quite the usual macaroni and cheese dish- and not quite plain cooked, buttered noodles- this recipe falls in-between the two and was my go-to dinner this past weekend when I had limited ingredients prior to stopping by the grocery store but still had to feed a couple of friends who had dropped by unexpectedly.

If you’ve got a box of pasta and some grated cheese on hand- you can make this in no time at all!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 12 ounces spaghetti (I used linguine since I like the texture better than spaghetti!)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ⅔ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper (lots of it), to taste
  • Chopped parsley, for garnish

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes.
  2. While the pasta cooks, mash the soft butter with the olive oil and pecorino cheese in a large bowl to form a paste.
  3. When the pasta is tender, drain it, reserving ½ cup of the pasta cooking water. Add the spaghetti directly to the bowl with the butter mixture. Toss well to coat, adding the pasta water as needed to make a thick, creamy sauce that coats the pasta strands. Season with salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Divide the pasta among four plates. Garnish with parsley; serve immediately.

The cheese, pepper, and even the parsley make this a standout meal. It’s simple, but flavorful- and it’s really filling- so you don’t have to worry about your stomach growling again right after you eat it. Best of all? With the limited ingredients involved in preparing this one- cleanup is a breeze!

xx

– Ashley –