May 27, 2011

Creamy Caprese Pasta.

Raise your hand if you love basil.

You better believe my hand is up high in the air. Fresh basil is one of my very favorite things. The smell, the taste, I love it all. And when summer starts rolling in and the basil is super fresh? Mmmmm.

I saw this recipe on How Sweet It Is on Monday & put the ingredients on my shopping list right that very second. When a restaurant has a Caprese sandwich or salad, I almost always order it. Juicy ripe tomatoes? Yes, please. Basil? Obviously. Fresh mozzarella? Heck yes. Perfection! (And it doesn't hurt that a favorite sandwich at a local restaurant adds proscuitto, too!)

This pasta is all of that Caprese yumminess in a baked pasta. It's good. Really good.

Creamy Caprese Pasta
Slightly adapted from How Sweet It Is

1 lb pasta (I used whole wheat penne)
1 1/2 C pasta/tomato sauce
1/3 C heavy cream
1/3 C freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
8 oz fresh mozzarella - 4 oz cut into cubes, 4 oz cut into thin rounds
1 pint of grape tomatoes, halved
5 - 7 (depending on size) basil leaves, plus more for ganish
Preheat oven to 350°.

Boil water and cook pasta according to directions.

While pasta is cooking, heat tomato sauce over low heat in a large saucepan. Once warm, stir in heavy cream and grated parmesan.

Once pasta is done cooking, drain and return to the large pot, off heat. Pour warmed tomato sauce + cream onto pasta, mixing to coat. Fold in mozzarella cubes and tomatoes, and chopped basil leaves.

Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray and pour the entire pasta mixture into the dish.

Top with fresh mozzarella rounds. Bake for 25 minutes, or until cheese is golden and bubbly.

Top with additional fresh basil and grated cheese.

May 13, 2011

Lemon Frosting.

We celebrated my husband's 30th birthday last week. For the party, I made a cake & cupcakes, but wanted to try a new frosting. I saw Pioneer Woman's post for the Best Frosting I've Ever Had a while back, and decided to give it a shot on for his birthday. 

The frosting recipe is just vanilla though, and since I was pairing it with vanilla cupcakes, I wanted to add more flavor. I used lemon curd, since (1) I had it in my refrigerator, and (2) I love lemon. 

And the frosting? It might really be the best I've ever had (cream cheese frosting excluded, which does have place & time). I made a little bit without the lemon curd, too, so I could sample both ways. The frosting is light and sweet. And with the addition of lemon curd, perfectly tart. I received several compliments at the party - It is SO good!, I've never had frosting like this before!, It is so light & almost tastes like whipped cream!.

A new go-to that we will be using again & again.

Lemon Frosting 
Slightly Adapted from Tasty Kitchen  

5 Tablespoons Flour
1 cup Milk
teaspoon Vanilla 
1 cup Butter 
1 cup Granulated Sugar
1/3 C lemon curd

In a small saucepan, whisk flour into milk and heat over medium, stirring constantly, until it thickens. You want it to be very thick - thicker than cake mix, more like a brownie mix. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature. Stir in vanilla.

While the mixture is cooling, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy and until there is no more sugar graininess.  Add the completely cooled milk & flour mixture and lemon curd. Beat it on high speed, until it all combines and resembles whipped cream. If it looks grainy or separated or weird, beat it longer.

Spread onto a cooled cake or cupcakes.