Thursday, June 16, 2011

Angel Hair Pasta Primavera

Even though, here in Chicago, it doesn't look or feel like summer (we have had a few good days, but a lot of gloomy, rainy days as well), I am still excited to start cooking with summery flavors and ingredients:) When I think of summer, I think of fresh basil, crisp vegies and gorgeous juicy berries. I also like to make summer pasta dishes, loaded with summer vegies, fresh herbs, and pesto. So I decided an angel hair pasta primavera would be perfect for our Sunday dinner.

This recipe we really delicious. But let's be honest, any recipe involving a half stick of butter and a half cup of heavy cream is destined for yumminess:) Hope you have a chance to make this, it's great way to use up some of that fresh basil I know you have growing in your yard and I'm sure I'm the only slacker who hasn't started on their herb garden yet. Any other slackers out there?? :)

Classic Pasta Primavera Recipe

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes


  • 1/2 pound angel hair pasta or spaghetti
  • 1 small bunch broccoli, about 1 heaping cup of florets
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 4 asparagus spears
  • 1/2 cup peas, fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 cup snow peas
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 3 Roma or other paste tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 12 basil leaves, chopped
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth (use vegetable broth for vegetarian option)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt


1 Get a large pot of water boiling. Salt it well. It should taste like the sea. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Boil the broccoli for 1 minute. Add the asparagus and boil another minute. Add the snow peas and boil for 30 more seconds. Remove all the vegetables and plunge them into the ice water. Once they’re cool, drain in a colander.

If you want, you can boil your pasta in the same pot you boiled the vegetables in, or you can start over and boil new water; I use the same water.

2 In a large sauté pan, heat the butter over medium-high heat. When the butter is hot, add the garlic and zucchini and sauté 1 minute. Add the diced tomatoes and sauté another 2 minutes, stirring often.

3 Pour in the chicken or vegetable broth and turn the heat to high to bring it to a boil. Add the cream and toss in all the vegetables you boiled, plus the peas. Stir to combine. Turn the heat down until the cream-chicken broth mixture is just simmering, not boiling.

4 Add the parmesan cheese and stir to combine. If the sauce seems too thick – it should be pretty thick, but not gloppy – add some more chicken broth, cream or water.

5 Boil the angel hair pasta. Note: If you are using spaghetti, you will want to start cooking it before you begin sautéing the garlic and zucchini. Angel hair will only need 1-2 minutes to cook, vermicelli or spaghetti can take 8-12 minutes.

As soon as the pasta is done, transfer it with tongs into the sauce and stir to combine. Add the basil now, and taste for salt. Add salt if needed. Grind some black pepper over everything and serve immediately.

Yield: Serves 4.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Birthday Cake

It's been a month since Eleni's first birthday-and I still haven't posted about it! The reason? Ok I have to be honest-I took a lot of pictures and I am a little intimidated to go through them all and pick my favorites to put up! But I shouldn't be so picky and should just post about it already:) But because I am still a little indecisive, I decided to show you her birthday cake. I've always wanted to make a ruffle cake, I think they are one of the cutest things ever;) And since I think my little girl is one of the cutest things ever I thought it would be perfect for her own little personal cake she could dive right into. This cake was not only cute, it was delicious too. Bellow are directions for making the ruffles, or you could check out this lovely video, it explains how to do the ruffles really well:)

O-and my ubber talented sis in law Kori is responsible for that darling "E" on top of the cake, sooo cute!!!

Tender Lemon Cake


  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter room temperature, plus more for pans
  • 2 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • Zest of 1 lemon


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-by-2-inch round cake pan. Line with parchment; butter; dust with flour.

  2. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. With electric mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 4 minutes. Add sugar; beat well. Reduce speed to medium; add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Reduce speed to low; alternately add flour and buttermilk, starting and ending with flour. Stir in zest.

  3. Pour batter into pan; bake, rotating halfway through, until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool in pan on rack 15 minutes. Remove; let cool completely right side up on rack.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream


  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Beat butter with electric mixer until fluffy and pale. Transfer to small bowl.

  2. In double boiler over simmering water, whisk sugar and egg whites until warm and sugar is dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to clean bowl of electric mixer; beat on high with whisk attachment until fluffy and cooled, about 10 minutes.

  3. Reduce mixer to medium-low; add butter a scant 1/4 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in vanilla.

  4. Switch to paddle attachment; beat on lowest speed 3 to 5 minutes. Leave at room temperature if using same day. Or store airtight in refrigerator up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature; beat until smooth.


  1. Trim bottom layers; stack on cake round, with 3/4 cup buttercream spread over top of each. Add top layer; spread 1 cup buttercream over entire cake. Refrigerate 40 minutes until firm. Tint half remaining buttercream pink.

  2. Place cake on rotating stand. Lay flat a 12-inch pastry bag with #103 tip. Fill half of bag from tip to top with pink buttercream, other half with white. Hold bag vertically, slot of tip perpendicular to cake; use swift back-and-forth motion 1 inch wide to make ruffle, pulling tip up side.

  3. Turn cake stand slowly, piping circular ruffle over top.