Saturday, September 11, 2010

Recipe: Lemon Chili Pasta with Arugula and Capers

Because summer is coming to an end I'm in the mood for heartier, spicier foods. For me crisp weather heralds comfort food, soups, curries, and all together heavier meals. However, the heat index is still in the hundreds here. So I've come up with another pasta dish which can be served hot or at room temperature or cold, my current favorite. These sort of meals will carry me over until I can break out my soup pot.

This lemon chili pasta is one of my favorites. It's zesty, a little peppery, and yet still light and easy. At the end of a work day in the kitchen I don't feel like preparing a complicated meal. Pasta seems to be a recurring theme around here, and it's likely that if the saying "you are what you eat" holds true, I will one day soon turn into a noodle. But, it's a quick vehicle for flavor. So bear with me until this pasta (and arugula) phase passes.

Use fresh red chilies if available. The farmers market did not have any this morning so I substituted chili flakes. Adjust the amount to your preference.

Lemon chili pasta with arugula and capers

1 pound fresh angel hair pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chili pepper flakes OR 3 long red chilies, seeded and diced
1/3 cup capers (if using salted capers, then wash and rinse them)
3 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 cups fresh arugula
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Cook the pasta in a large pot until al dente. Drain and return to sauce pan and keep warm.

2. Heat the oil in a large sautee pan over medium-high heat. Sautee the chilies and capers until crisp. Add the lemon zest and garlic and cook until golden.

3. Toss with the pasta, arugula, lemon juice and salt and pepper and serve.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Recipe: Easy Banana Bread

Passing on my love for food, baking and cooking is something I hope to do for my very picky little eater, Jack. I am trying a new approach to get him to try new foods, with the thought that if he gets excited about something we cook together he will then want to also eat it. I figured we would start with something he is sure to please him, banana bread. I also wanted Jack to be able to prepare it from start to finish without much intervention from me, so this was a great easy recipe.

I used to not be a big fan of banana bread, I found them to sometimes be too soggy, heavy and not 'cakey' enough for me. This particular version is still moist, but has a bit more crumb to it than previous versions. I have made this as a cake in 2 - 9" pans and iced it with cream cheese icing, it makes for a nice banana layer cake as well. You can also add in nuts or chocolate chips.

Easy One Bowl Banana Bread

4 cups mashed banana (about 5-6 bananas)
1/4 lb. butter, melted
2 cups sugar
3 cups flour
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2- 9" loaf pans, greased.
Preheat oven to 350 F degrees

1. Blend all ingredients together in a large bowl with a wooden spoon.

2. Evenly distribute batter between the loaf pans and bake 50-60 minutes or until golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean.

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