Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Perfect Pairing:  Rainy day


Tuna noodle casserole typically does not fall under the gourmet category.  It may not be fancy but it is some seriously good comfort food.

A few weeks ago after church my boyfriend and I were going to swing by the grocery store to pick up something for lunch.  It was a cold and rainy day, which is the perfect setup for comfort food and movies.  I asked him what sounded good and gave him a rundown of possible menu options and he chose pasta.  So for the rest of the ride to the store I came up with a tuna noodle casserole recipe in my head.

Friends…. This is good eats.  It was the perfect thing to enjoy on a rainy day (which there have been WAY too many of recently in Chicago) and it was really cheap!  The sauce is a simple white sauce that is enhanced with Dijon mustard, sour cream, and two kinds of cheese.  No canned soups here!  I swapped out the traditional potato chip topping for Ritz crackers since I had them on hand.


Plan on lots of leftovers!  I sent some home with my boyfriend who ended up eating it for the next four out of five meals.  I think it is safe to say he liked it.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Asparagus and Eggs

Perfect Pairing:  Peeler

Growing up we had asparagus almost every night for dinner in the spring.  It grew in a patch of garden at the very back of our yard.  I had no idea how lucky I was to be eating fresh asparagus every night! 
Asparagus is a great thing to have in a garden because it grows back so quickly.  I swear we could clean out the patch and it would be ready to harvest again in a couple of days.  I have fond memories of walking out to the back of the yard on a gorgeous spring evening with the dog to pick asparagus for dinner.
This recipe for asparagus and eggs is great for a quick brunch or even a light dinner.  It is fresh, healthy, and delicious.  Roasted asparagus is tossed in lemon juice, then topped off with parmesan shavings and a fried egg.
The Perfect Pairing for this recipe is a vegetable peeler.  It is the perfect tool to use for parmesan shavings.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

French Onion Soup

Perfect Pairing:  Epicurean cutting board


Today you are getting a soup recipe.  Why?  Because it snowed in Chicago yesterday.  It was quite a bit of snow actually.  I am NOT happy about it.  I am so disgusted with winter.  That has to be the last snow.  Right?  RIGHT?!

I have always loved French onion soup.  Why not?  It is salty, cheesy, and topped with crusty bread.  It even eliminates the extra step of me dunking my bread in the soup, which I love to do.  For some reason I avoided making this at home because I assumed it would be very time consuming and perhaps difficult.  I guess I just always assume French recipes are time consuming and difficult. 

While we are on the topic of France.... I am going to France next month!  I am over the moon excited.  I am going for work but extending for fun.  The first half of the trip will be in Paris and then it is off to sunny Nice for a few days.  I can barely stand it! I studied for a semester in Nice, so I am pretty pumped to see it again as a grown-up and a foodie. 


Anyway, like I said above, I always thought French recipes were difficult.  Good news!  French onion soup is easy!  Really, really easy.  This version tastes just like the restaurant classic.  It does take some time to get the onions cooked down but overall it is very low maintenance.  It would be great as a first course or served alongside a hearty salad. **My original draft of this said a heart salad, not hearty.  Gross.   When I made the soup I served it with this Kale Salad with Spiced Sweet Potatoes and Sweet Sesame Dressing.  It was a great cold weather meal.


The most time consuming part of the prep is slicing the onions.  It is important to have a really sharp knife.  Invest in a great knife and you won’t be sorry.  I love my Shun knives. 

I have always used the flexible plastic cutting boards.  They are great in the beginning, but after a few runs through the dishwasher they start to fold up around the edges and cause extreme annoyance in the chef.  My mom had an Epicurean cutting board that she received after attending a Wolf oven demonstration.  I coveted it.  I assumed this was a specialty board that would be hard to find, but apparently they are all over the place.  It was at the top of my Christmas list this year.  I love this board.  It is dishwasher safe, lightweight, and comes in various sizes.  This might sound crazy but I truly enjoy cutting and chopping more on this board than any other.  Weird? 


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Pecan Pie Bars

Perfect Pairing:  Room temperature


Growing up I was convinced I did not like pecan pie.  It was served at every Thanksgiving, but I only had eyes for the pumpkin.  I actually thought I didn’t like nuts in general.  I think I was just trying to be cool like my big brother.  All of the adults raved about pecan pie so I decided to give it a shot one year.  Whoa.  Revelation.  It is amazing!


I was intrigued when I came across this Pecan Pie Bar recipe.  I liked the idea of a shortbread crust and making them in a 9x13 so they would serve a crowd.  I followed this recipe with no changes, except I did not top them with whipped cream.  These were incredible.  I think they are better than traditional pecan pie.  My parents agreed, and that is saying something since pecan pie is their favorite dessert of all time.

I kept them fresh in the refrigerator, but they were definitely best served at room temperature.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Sweet and Tangy Bean Dip

Perfect Pairing:  Scoop chips


This dip is going to be a regular on my summer menu.  It is my new favorite recipe!  It is so easy and delicious.  It is downright addictive.  I served it as a dip, but it would be pretty great as a side dish.

I made this for a party at my brother’s office.  He is a dentist and bought his own practice two years ago.  His awesome staff threw him a surprise two year anniversary party. 


He was SO surprised!  It was great.  By the way, if you are in the north shore and need a dentist you must go see Jay!  He is the best!  I promise there will be no cheesy elevator music in his office, and his staff is fabulous.


When I thought about what to bring to the party I knew I needed something that did not need to be cooked/warmed up, and more importantly, I needed to make it a few days in advance because of a busy schedule.  This dip was perfect because it just gets better with time. 


I suggest serving it with scoop chips for obvious reasons!  You don’t want any of this good stuff falling off the chip.

One year ago on Perfecting the Pairing:  Trail Mix Wheat Berry Salad with Chicken, Goat Cheese, and Orange Vinaigrette

Two years ago on Perfecting the Pairing: Deviled Eggs with Goat Cheese and Herbs

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