Week 25 – Zuppa Toscana, Goat Cheese Biscuits, and Coconut Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies

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What a crazy week.  It was back to work for me on Monday (Matt had to go back last Friday), but then Tuesday-Thursday we went up to Rochester to attend the wake and funeral for Matt’s grandma who passed away last weekend.  It was great to see everyone, we just wish it had been for a different reason.  And oh boy, the weather up there.  It was Chicago-style cold.  Just reaffirming our current location and how not ridiculous the winter is in DC (although you wouldn’t know based on how the city reacted to the whole 1 inch of snow dumped on them early Tuesday morning…it took us 2 hours to get out of DC on our drive to Rochester!)  Friday Matt went back to work and I took a vacation day because work is pretty slow and I have studying to do (see below #2).  The weekend was pretty uneventful, which we needed, just some more studying for me and hanging out.

Did anyone make new year’s resolutions?  I didn’t officially write anything down but I am trying a couple of things differently in the new year:

  1. Facebook only on Sundays.  That thing is a black hole with all the articles and meaningless updates that get posted and I am amazed at how much more time I have in my life (and how much less time I spend looking at my phone!)
  2. Pass the CFP exam this year.  I bought some books, signed up for a class and review class, and studying is how I spend most of my spare time.  Which really isn’t that bad because I’m a nerd and am learning about things that interest me.  The exam is only offered 3 times a year, I’m going to be taking it in late July.
  3. Meatless Mondays.  Which leads me to a couple of our recipes….

So we tried out a meatless pasta dish on Monday, accompanied by some biscuits.  Holy wow, those biscuits!  Can’t wait to have those again!  The pasta dish…not so much.  Matt did have seconds, but he said he was just hungry.  He has even recommended that I don’t even give you the recipe, and that I never get recipes from this one blog again (it was a new food blog find).  Instead, I will give you a link and some recommendations on how I think it would actually be quite delicious if Matt would allow me to try it again.  We also made a new soup recipe after our drive back from Rochester – quick, easy, and delicious.  Definitely going to make that one again.  And for the soup, definitely use Kale and don’t let your husband/eating partner try to convince you to use spinach instead.  Thankfully I won that argument and Matt admits the soup was quite delicious, even with Kale it in.  The cookies were a last minute ‘I want some chocolate’ thing.  They might be a little healthier because they use coconut oil instead of butter, but the recipe isn’t too different from the usual.  They tasted great, we’d make it again but it also wasn’t so amazing that we’re never making them the tollhouse way again.

Caramelized Shallot, Spinach and Goat Cheese Garlic Butter Pasta (Full recipe is here)

Advice if you choose to make it (which you should, it would probably be delicious knowing these things now):

  1. Either double the pasta or cut the spinach and goat cheese amounts in half.  It was WAY too much of both.
  2. Use more shallots!
  3. The shallots do not need to cook for 10 minutes in the olive oil while covered.  They will burn after 5 or less, use your common sense when cooking those.
  4. Definitely eat immediately while it’s warm.  We’re also not convinced leftovers would be the best (we threw our 1 1/2 servings of leftovers away since we were going out of town) so good luck with that…

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7-Ingredient Zuppa Toscana (recipe from here)

Makes: 6+ Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground hot* Italian sausage
  • 2 small or 1 large white onion, peeled and diced
  • 4 cups good-quality chicken stock
  • 1 (12-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained and diced
  • 1 bunch kale, roughly chopped (and stems removed, if desired)
  • 1 pound potato gnocchi (I used mini gnocchi)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper
  • optional toppings: freshly shaved or grated Parmesan cheese, crumbled bacon

Directions:

  1. Add Italian sausage and diced onion to the large stockpot or Dutch oven. Cook over medium-high heat until the sausage is completely browned, stirring occasionally and breaking up the sausage with a spoon.  Drain out as much of the excess grease as possible.
  2. Add in the chicken stock and diced roasted red peppers, and bring the mixture to a simmer (still over medium-high heat). Once it reaches a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low and add the kale and gnocchi and stir to combine.  Continue cooking for 5 minutes, or until the gnocchi are cooked through and tender.  Stir in the heavy cream.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Serve warm with desired toppings.

*Definitely use “hot” Italian sausage for this recipe.  With so few ingredients, the sausage is actually the ingredient that provides most of the seasoning for this soup.  And much of the heat will be dispersed over the multiple servings.  I don’t like too spicy of things and it was perfect in this recipe.

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Goat Cheese Biscuits (recipe from this book)

Makes: 12 biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 c plain yogurt
  • 6 Tbsp cold butter
  • 4 Tbsp crumbled goat cheese
  • ¼ c grated parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425˚ F and place cast iron skillet (10″) into oven while it preheats.
  2. Pour flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium sized bowl. Cut 4 Tbsp of butter into small pieces and add to the bowl, add goat cheese and yogurt.
  3. Stir until the mix is moistened, adding an extra Tbsp of yogurt if needed.
  4. Remove hot skillet from oven and place 1 Tbsp butter into it. When the butter has melted, divide the batter into 12 biscuits, and nestle them into the skillet.
  5. Brush the tops of the biscuits with 1 Tsp melted better and bake 15 minutes, or until browned.
  6. Remove from oven and sprinkle with the grated parmesan.

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Coconut Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies (recipe from here)

Makes: 24 Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, softened but not melted
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment to cream together the softened coconut oil, sugars, egg, and vanilla extract on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add in the flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt, and beat on medium-low speed until combined. Fold in (stir in) the chocolate chips by hand until just combined.
  3. Shape the dough into balls, and place them on a large plate. Cover with plastic wrap and chill the dough balls for 1-2 hours.
  4. When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place chilled dough balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes , cool, and enjoy!

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