killing time between meals

where talking about what's for dinner while you're at lunch is totally acceptable


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Garlic Roasted Shrimp Pasta

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If it were up to my main squeeze, there would be a lot more pasta cooked in our house. Don’t get me wrong; pasta is one of my favorite things to eat. Cream sauce, red sauce, pesto. I’m all in. But I try not to overdo it. Everything in moderation. Including moderation. Right?

This shrimp pasta dish has become a quick go-to at our house, and  I usually have all the ingredients at home. Due to our sad landlocked state, I keep bags of frozen shrimp in the freezer for fast meals like this. And you can skip the broccoli altogether if you want. See? Easy.

Garlic Roasted Shrimp Pasta with (or without) Broccoli
Adapted from Ina Garten
Serves 2 to 4

2 cups broccoli florets
Olive oil
Kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper

½ stick butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon rosemary leaves (fresh or dried), minced
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper
1 lemon
½ lb. (½ of a 16-oz. bag frozen) raw shrimp, peeled & deveined (Of course you can always use fresh, but I keep these bags on hand.)

½ box thin pasta such as vermicelli, capellini, or thin spaghetti

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • If using frozen shrimp, quickly rinse under cold water to thaw. Set aside.
  • Sprinkle broccoli with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat. Spread in one layer on a baking sheet and place in the oven.
  • Next melt the butter in an oven-safe sauté pan over low heat. Add the olive oil, garlic, rosemary, red pepper flakes, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook one to two minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and zest the lemon into the sauce. Toss in the shrimp and spread into one layer (overlapping is fine).
  • Slice half of the lemon into thin rounds, and tuck those rounds into the shrimp.
  • Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon coarse salt and ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper.
  • Place sauté pan in hot oven. Check on the broccoli and toss.
  • Roast the shrimp for 12 to 15 minutes until they are firm and pink. Do not overcook!
  • Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil and cook pasta according to package directions.
  • All elements—pasta, shrimp, and broccoli—should finish cooking around the same time. Drain the pasta and pour it directly into the shrimp. Toss to coat the noodles in the buttery sauce. Squeeze the other half of the lemon juice over the pasta.
  • Add the broccoli and toss again.
  • Serve in large pasta bowls. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if you’re into that sort of thing.


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What’s Your Go-To Dinner?

I have Ina Garten to thank for many foodie things in my life: a collection of her cookbooks that I use again and again, an appreciation for the simple truth that less honestly is more when it comes to good food, the courage to cook with new ingredients because she makes it look so easy, and (most importantly for my daily life) my favorite go-to dinner recipe—Summer Garden Pasta.

You should buy this if you don’t already have it.

We all have that one easy dish we rely on, right? This recipe from her Barefoot Contessa At Home cookbook is so simple and satisfying, and the ingredients are things I keep on hand.

You remember garlic, my first love.

This stuff is the BEST. Just put it in a glass of water on your window sill and it will last for weeks.

These are delish in all kinds of dishes. Keep them around. You’ll be glad you did.

I make this pasta at least once a week, especially in summer when the tomatoes are at their finest. Click the link above to see Ina’s original recipe. My version is just slightly adapted. If you are a serious carnivore, feel free to throw some grilled chicken or salmon on top. As Ina would say, “How bad could that be?”

Summer Garden Pasta (aka Garlicky Tomato Pasta)
Adapted from Ina Garten; Makes one generous serving

½ pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
Extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced (Adjust this to your preference—the garlic is raw, so it’s very strong. I use 3 cloves, but I am crazy like that.)
5 or so large basil leaves, julienned, plus extra for serving
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
Kosher salt & pepper
1 serving dried long-cut pasta (I usually have whole wheat linguine, so that’s what I use. But you can use regular angel hair or whatevs you have.)
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  • Combine the tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, basil, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature. Ina says to let this sit for about 4 hours (at least 2 ½ hours), but sometimes I just don’t have time for that. The longer it sits, the better; however, I have thrown it all together in 20 minutes and it still tasted good to me.
  • Just before you’re ready to eat, cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente.
  • Drain the pasta and add to the bowl with the cherry tomatoes. Add the cheese and some extra basil, and toss well.

I may or may not have sprinkled more cheese on top after I snapped this picture.


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What is this? Happiness.

Luckily for me, a Home Depot hot dog was not the culinary highlight of last weekend.

This menu included boiled crab legs with drawn butter, grilled filets, baked potato, grilled artichokes, and rosemary roasted garlic purée with crusty bread. The occasion? Saturday.

I vowed to figure out this garlicky deliciousness after dinner at Fluke in RI. And I must say, I think I’ve mastered it.

Rosemary Roasted Garlic Purée
Makes 2 large servings

3 large heads of garlic
3 sprigs rosemary
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Leaving the skin on, trim off the top of each head of garlic, exposing each clove. Drizzle with olive oil and rub in. You want to be sure each clove has a little oil.
  • Place one sprig of rosemary on top of each head and wrap with foil. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until the cloves are very soft.
  • Unwrap each head and let cool until easy to handle. Remove the individual cloves, putting them into the bowl of a food processor. Add a dash of salt and a splash of olive oil, and pulse to purée. (If you’re in a rush, you could just mash the roasted garlic with a fork because it is super soft & creamy, but putting it in the food processor makes the garlic extra smooth & fancy.)
  • Using a spatula, remove the garlic to a plate. Pour olive oil around the mound of goodness, and sprinkle with a few rosemary leaves. Serve with warm, crusty bread.

Oh yes. This is living.

Next time, I think I will:

  • Make much, much more!
  • Try infusing the garlic with a different herb. How bad could sage garlic be?


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Never a dull Rhody moment

Don’t let the tinniness of Rhode Island fool you—New Englanders have managed to pack a multitude of flavorful restaurants into a square footage the size of the county I grew up in. I took a long weekend trip to The Ocean State to visit Kristen & Anne Marie, and we had many amazing culinary adventures along the way. AM even had these cute signs drawn up for the event.

Our first night’s dinner was shared in Providence at Al Forno, which we had planned on visiting solely based on the lavender panna cotta. Unfortunately, said dessert wasn’t available that night, but I managed to stay happy between homemade grilled pizza, linguine with creamy egg & duck bacon, and the three desserts we ordered for the table to split. It was a grand dinner, to say the least, and I can’t wait to go back.

The second day we headed to Newport—the quintessential city-by-the-sea. On our way to lunch we randomly saw a restaurant AM had told us about, so we stopped and made dinner reservations. (I mean, this is the original killing time between meals crew—would you expect anything less?) Anyway, New England is famous for chowder, pronounced “chowdah” up there, so we headed to The Black Pearl to sample the city’s finest.

Oh. My. Gosh.

Hands down, the best I have ever eaten. Not too many potatoes. Lots of clams. Thick, creamy, goodness potent with dill. It was bowl-lickable. The best news? You can buy it by the case here.

Kristen and I then shared a lobster salad on croissant. I don’t usually care for lobster (I find the meat too tough, so I’d rather eat crab), but as a salad, it was delectable.

I would add a photo of us dining at The Black Pearl, but AM is our resident photographer, and I only took pictures of food.

A few hours later we (minus Kristen, who wasn’t feeling well) headed to Fluke for dinner. Let me just start by saying that I would get arrested to eat this meal again.

I knew I was gonna like this place when they started us off with roasted rosemary puréed garlic for our bread. (I have a small obsession with garlic, but that’s for another post.)

Um, yes please. (I plan to attempt to make this myself soon. I’ll let you know how it goes.)

After an extra order of that garlic and fire roasted octopus, I moved on to a grilled pork tenderloin. It was cooked to perfection, which I’m pretty sure wasn’t a stroke of good luck as the restaurant’s name suggests. As a matter of fact, Fluke’s chef Neil Manacle worked as Bobby Flay’s sous chef on Iron Chef America and in many of Flay’s New York restaurants.

We also ordered the wild mushroom risotto with truffle oil for the table to share.

Another successful, delicious trip to RI! And wouldn’t you know, we’ve already started planning the restaurant tour on my next visit.