May 22, 2012

Pasta with Red Pepper Pesto

Today's post is for the HH6 May challenge:

We're all inspired by someone, whether we know them in real life or just from the tv. Tell us who inspires your cooking and share one of their recipes.

I had a certain something in mind for this post but circumstances made my initial idea impossible.  I am determined to make it possible in the future so I won't spoil it.  Anyway, despite that minor setback, I still have an excellent dish for you.  My inspiration here is my friend Stacey (whose food blog is down, else I'd link).  I met Stacey in the summer of 2008 through a third party who (without permission) invited us to her house for dinner.  Quite rude, but incredibly fortunate as it turned out - who else would I have backpacked the Grand Canyon with, after all?  Anyway, Stacey is an awesome cook and I was newly married and just beginning to experiment on the culinary front.  Seeing what she made really pushed me to be better in the kitchen.  Today I've made a dinner I had at her house last fall.  Salmon, roasted veggies, and pasta with red pepper pesto.

Now, not only is it delicious, but the pasta has the amazing ability to pass The Husband Test.  See, my husband pretty much refuses to eat pasta that doesn't have "red" sauce.  Guess what?  This sauce is red!  If I hadn't told him, he never would have known that he was eating peppers and pine nuts!  As an added benefit, it's delicious hot or cold - bring it to your next summer grill-out instead of the traditional pasta salad!

Side note:  I really dislike the place we are currently living.  There are a lot of reasons for this.  My current reason is that I had to drive an hour to get pine nuts.  I did not buy basil when in the city, figuring that basil, at least, I could obtain closer to home.  Yeah, not so much.  And my own garden basil is not large enough yet.  So I had to use dry.  SOB!


Penne pasta
1/3 c evoo
8 garlic cloves
1/3 c pine nuts
1/4 c Parmesean cheese, chunks or grated
1/4 c asiago, chunks or grated
1 c fresh basil
1 c roasted red peppers

Cook pasta as usual.  Drain and set aside.

Heat the oil in a skillet and saute the garlic.  Add the pine nuts and cook another minute or two.  Combine oil, garlic, nuts, basil, peppers, and 1/2 of the cheese in a food processor.  Process briefly until smooth.

Toss with pasta and top with grated remainder of cheese.

May 1, 2012

Chocolate Cups with Bailey's Mousse

A few weeks ago, my mom sent me this link for Easter Egg Balloon Cups.  I thought they were pretty cool looking and wanted to try them out.  But there was so much more potential here than to just fill them with little chocolate eggs.  What to use...

Bailey's Mousse.  It's perfect.  Light and fluffy, combined with the crunch of the chocolate, and Irish creme goes so well with chocolate in any setting.

I did have some trouble with my balloons being too large.  I just pulled them out of the junk drawer, but you'll be better off going to get the little water balloons, I think.

For the bowls...


1 lb semi-sweet and milk chocolate
small water balloons

Temper your chocolate. Pay close attention to the temperature of the chocolate, this is important!

Cool chocolate slightly, then dip in balloons.  Two dips should be plenty.  Put balloons on parchment lined tray until set, then refrigerate.

For the mousse...


1 c whipping cream, divided
1/4 c chocolate shavings
1/4 c Bailey's

In a double boiler, stir 2 T whipping cream with the chocolate shavings until melted and smooth.  Cool to room temperature and whisk in the Baileys.  Whip the remaining cream until soft peaks form.  Gently fold the whipped cream into the Bailey's mix, then refrigerate to set, about an hour.  Spoon into chocolate cups and enjoy!