An Open Cookbook

An Open Cookbook


Bacon and Cauliflower Pasta

Sometimes on a Friday night you need a bowl of comfort food and a glass of wine. After a discussion with a coworker about macaroni and cheese with bacon and apples, I decided to evolve that idea into a decadent bowl of pasta featuring cauliflower, bacon, Parmesan cheese, and pasta. That combination really can't go wrong, having a perfect balance of salty, earthy, and Italian goodness.

Speaking of balance, I have recently had a few light bulb-over-the-head moments on the yoga mat. Everything on the yoga mat is a metaphor for life. I do yoga of the hot version which takes me to a whole other level of exhaustion...the good kind of exhaustion where all the little hang-ups I carry around during the day somehow don't seem so important anymore. It is as though you come to realize what is actually important.

Last night the instructor said, 'If you can reach back and touch your heels in camel pose, then you must'. This is such good advice for life as well. It allows for no excuses. I often feel like this about walking home from work. Sometimes I really don't feel like walking home, but I physically can, so I must. Now I will just have to remember this for all aspects of my life!

While in warrior 2 pose, another instructor said 'You need a solid base in order to stretch upwards and grow'. What a true statement about life and about getting yourself taller in the actual pose. I have recently been taking more conditioning-type classes at the gym and have been doing more yoga, and am finding that the more I do, the more I can feel my muscles engaging in different ways. When the teachers say to evenly balance both legs in warrior 2, I know what they mean. So nice when things suddenly click. It is the little things in life that make the difference.

So let balance be a theme in the back of our minds today. Sometimes, after a great workout and a long work day, you need a bowl of pasta with bacon sprinkled into it...and a glass of wine.

Bacon and Cauliflower Pasta
Makes 2 servings

2 slices bacon
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 head cauliflower, cut into small pieces
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 cup pappardelle pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Heat a large skillet over medium heat; add bacon to the hot skillet. Cook until bacon is cooked through and crispy, 6 to 7 minutes per side. Remove bacon from skillet with tongs and drain on a paper towel-lined plate to cool; crumble and set aside.

Drop onion and cauliflower into the bacon grease in the skillet; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and cauliflower is very tender, 20 to 25 minutes, adding water to skillet if needed. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil; drop pasta into the boiling water. Boil until pasta is cooked through but tender to the bite, 5 to 10 minutes. Drain and transfer to a serving bowl. Toss pasta with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle cauliflower mixture with Parmesan cheese and crumbled bacon; toss until cheese is melted. Spoon cauliflower-bacon mixture over pasta.


Carrot Pie with Coconut Glaze

It is the first Monday of the month which means recipe swap time again! Christianna of Burwell General Store has given us a Thanksgiving-themed recipe this month: carrot pie. Upon reading it, I was very intrigued, having never heard of such a recipe...

But as it turns out, this is a fairly popular dessert. Spending a great deal of time looking at recipes at work, I realized that carrot pie is baked quite often. You can see from the above recipe that it is basically like a pumpkin pie but carrots are substituted. My interest was peaked, so I stayed pretty on par with the theme. I upped the ante by using coconut milk and ground ginger and decreased the amount of egg.

Keeping in line with my Honesty 2012 policy, I do have a truth to unveil, dear reader. I made my own pie crust, but wasn't happy with the result, so I will not be sharing that component of the pie with you. Almost all the recipes I found for homemade pie crust used either a whole stick of butter or a cup of shortening and I just couldn't bring myself to use an entire stick of butter. So I used half a stick of butter and the result was sub-optimal. Let this be a lesson learned. If you are going to make a pie crust, just use the whole stick of butter...better to be very pleased with the result, than feel deflated when serving it to your friends at Sunday brunch.

I give the pie filling a B+. If served a slice at Thanksgiving, I would definitely assume it was pumpkin pie, with maybe a hint of coconut. The glaze is by far the best part. As T and M said at brunch today, it reminded them of sweetened condensed milk. It looks like, smells like, and tastes like sweetened condensed milk, but with a whole lot less sugar.

This month's recipe swap definitely kept in line with trying new recipes and new perspectives. I would have never concocted a pie consisting of pureed carrots, which turned out to be an inspiration to make use of regular ingredients in a new way. I also gained a new respect for the lighting in my apartment. By pulling every single one of my blinds up 100%, I was able to get an incredible amount of light in the front room today...even with the time change and all. So that was also a nice discovery. As always, thank you Christianna for this month's inspiration!

Carrot Pie with Coconut Glaze
Makes one 9-inch pie

Pies such as carrot or pumpkin are easy vehicles for creativity. Any variety of milk, whether it is cow's milk, soy milk, almond milk, or coconut milk will work. You can add more eggs or more cinnamon. You sprinkle in some nutmeg or cloves for added spice. The options are endless...

2 cups baby carrots
1 cup light coconut milk
1 egg
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 pinch salt
1 pie crust (homemade or store-bought)

1 cup light coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bring carrots to a boil in a pot of water over medium heat; cook until carrots are tender enough to cut with a fork, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and let cool for about 10 minutes. Transfer to a food processor.

Add 1 cup coconut milk, egg, maple syrup, 1 teaspoon vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, and salt to the carrots in the food processor. Blend until very smooth, scraping down the sides once or twice if necessary.

Press pie crust into a 9-inch pie pan; pour carrot filling into crust. Bake pie in the preheated oven until edges are lightly browned and middle of pie is set, about 50 minutes.

While pie is baking, place 1 cup coconut milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook until reduced and syrup-like consistency, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve pie slices with a drizzle of coconut glaze.