Spaghetti alla Carbonara

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I’m really struggling to write this post. Not because the food was uninspiring, or I’m in a drunken stupor, or any legitimate reason. It’s all because I saw the Hunger Games this week and that horribly catchy (and quite disturbing) “Hanging Tree” song is running a repeat marathon on a loop in my brain. Please, someone have pity on me and play a T-Swift song to knock me off this track. I will pay you in pasta to do me this one small favor.
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One-pot pasta: Spicy Tomato Cream Sauce

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Sometimes I hate Pinterest. It’s an overload of awesome and my brain just can’t take it. No-bake peanut butter pretzel bark with a side of rainbows and magic beans! Seriously– who can resist? And when there are 60,000 of those flying in your face in perfect little columns of glory….doomed. Doomed to spend hours every day salivating without ever actually making anything! Oh sure, you want to cover your walls with DIY mason jar crafts and adorn the dinner table with 43 kinds of Baked Alaska, but you can’t because your productivity has taken a destructive nose dive. All you can do is scroll for more…and more…and more.

 

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Today I said “Enough, self! Get up and make something worthy of the Pinterest gods!” And it was done. All with minimal clean up, since my garbage disposal is broken and I’m too lazy to figure out how to fix it. So it goes.

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Oh, and it tastes good. I took some inspiration from Pasta Putanesca with the olives and anchovies, which make it salty and delightful and tummy-warming.

Spicy Tomato Cream Sauce

2 T olive oil
2 T butter
1 small red onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 t red pepper flakes
1/4 white wine
12 oz pasta
2 c stock
1 c milk
1.5 c tomato sauce
1 t anchovies, chopped fine
1/2 c olives, cut in half
1/4 c fresh basil, sliced thinly
finely grated parmigiano reggiano
S&P (because of the anchovies, olives, and cheese, you will not need much salt)

Heat a large pot (if you are using linguine-type noodles, make sure that the pot is wide enough to fit the noodles laying down; otherwise, you’ll need to break them in half) over medium heat. When hot, add the oil and butter. When the butter is melted, add the onion and saute for a few minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about one minute. Add the wine and reduce for a couple of minutes. Add the anchovies and stir until a bit melted. Add the stock, milk, tomato sauce, and noodles. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low. Stir frequently and add more water if the sauce becomes thick and the noodles aren’t yet done. When the noodles are al dente, remove from heat and taste for salt. Top with olives and parmigiano cheese and serve over fresh arugula.

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Guiltless Vegan Chocolate Mousse

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Although taking a break from my “Heroes” marathon was a touch painful, I was happy to do it for further work on this recipe. I have been intrigued for some time by the concept of paleo chocolate mousse with no added sugar, but initial attempts did not satisfy me. The base is comprised of only three ingredients– cocoa, coconut milk, and dates– and the flavor of the dates was too strong for me. I wanted more chocolate, more depth of flavor throughout, and a touch of sweetness that didn’t come from the dates.

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I am very happy with the result, which is rich, creamy, a touch coconutty, and very chocolatey. Feel free to experiment a bit with the level of sweetness– cut out the sugar entirely if you’re a purest, or try it with a tablespoon more or less to suit your palate.

Oh and when I say “guiltless”, I mean “doesn’t have any eggs or dairy, so it makes me feel super righteous.”

Guiltless Chocolate Mousse

1 c pitted dates
1 can coconut milk (do not use low fat)
2-4 T powdered sugar or honey
1 t tapioca or potato starch
1/4 c cocoa
1/2 chocolate chips, melted and cooled
1 t instant coffee powder
1 vanilla bean or 2 t vanilla extract

Refrigerate the coconut milk overnight. Be careful not to shake the can when you open it and spoon out the top layer of thickened cream. Put into a large bowl and back into the fridge to keep cool. In a food processor, puree the dates until you have a paste, adding some of the coconut water from the can to loosen it up a bit. Pass the pureed dates through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium-sized bowl. Mix in the cocoa, melted chocolate, coffee powder, and seeds from the vanilla bean or the extract. Remove the coconut milk from the fridge and whip with a hand mixer on high until it fluffs a bit. Sift in the powdered sugar and tapioca starch and whip on high. Spoon in the chocolate mixture and continue to beat until fluffy and incorporated. Spoon into serving dishes and chill until ready to eat.

This goes very well by itself, but would also be quite tasty with some shortbread, slathered on a piece of cake (if you’re feeling extra decadent), with shredded coconut and espresso salt, or with some toasted almonds on top.

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