Amazing Crackers + A Modern Way To Cook Cookbook Review

Today, I’m going to give you my thoughts as part of A Modern Way To Cook cookbook review, as well as share my favorite recipe I’ve made from the book so far, simple but super tasty Amazing Crackers. I’ve been cooking from Anna Jones’ a Modern Way To Cook for a while because it has so many recipes. The cover promises 150+ recipes which I think underestimates all the idea potential here. Several recipes list variations to substitute a certain seasonal ingredient for another, such as switching out tomatoes with beets. And there are definitely lots of flavor combinations to make tasty dishes.
Anna Jones cookbook A Modern Way to Cook Amazing Crackers recipe by Anna Jones for her cookbook A Modern Way to Cook recipe by Anna Jones for her cookbook A Modern Way to Cook

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Salted Almond Butter Chocolate Bars + Easter Recipes Roundup

Easter is here already? It really seems April is speeding by for me this year – though perhaps part of this is helped by how much is on my calendar this year, I think this Easter weekend is actually the only weekend that isn’t packed with plans already. I also just had my second food list published on Eater P – in January it was the PDX Essential Ramen List and now I have a list of Hottest Portland Popups.  But I still squeezed some new recipe trying from a cookbook.  If you have a little free time and some extra chocolate bunnies, have you ever considered re-purposing the chocolate into making your own chocolate treats? Like say, Salted Almond Butter Chocolate Bars? I also will highlight some other possibilities for Easter recipes.
Recipe for Salted Almond Butter Chocolate Bars, a vegan chocolate bar you can easily make in 30 minutes, adapated from A Modern Way To Cook by Anna Jones

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Lemony Spinach and Pasta Salad with Cherry Tomatoes and Feta

At work, I organize a quarterly potluck for my team in Oregon as a way for us to have time to decompress from our normal lunch routines and work day by socializing together, talking about how our projects are going and how our lives are going to connect professionally and personally. So, I’m always looking out for dishes that I can contribute that can be prepped at home the day before, can be cold or room temperature, and can be vegetarian and nut-free to accommodate some dietary restrictions. This Lemony Spinach and Pasta Salad with Cherry Tomatoes and Feta Recipe is one I prepared last time.
Lemony Spinach and Pasta Salad with Cherry Tomatoes and Feta Recipe: very easy to make and quick to prepare the day before, and substantial enough to feed a group and can be cold or room temperature, perfect for a potluck recipe

So I can definitely tell you from experience that this dish is very easy to make, quick to prepare, and substantial enough to feed a group when you don’t know what everyone else is bringing. In this case I used vegetable pasta, but you can use regular pasta if you wish or gluten-free pasta, and you can use a variety of pasta shapes.

If you want to make this dairy-free as well you can cut out the feta for chopped olives instead to still have bit of slight salty kick and Mediterranean feel. For me, I served the feta on the side so people could choose whether to add it or not. You can also consider adding slivered almonds for texture, or if you want protein some diced grilled chicken.

Lemony Spinach and Pasta Salad with Cherry Tomatoes and Feta Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces pasta – penne, rotini, elbow, farfalle shapes all would work well, a shape you can stab with a fork
  • 4 cups baby spinach (approximately – I used 4 handfuls!)
  • 3 1/2 cups heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved – I like using both red and yellow tomatoes here. Alternately, you could use red tomatoes and for yellow add in some bell pepper.
  • 1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese
  • 7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice (approximately a juice of a large lemon)
  • 3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. First, cook your pasta in a pot of salted water until al dente and drain. Immediately rinse with ice cold water to cool the pasta, drain well and place in a large container that has room to toss in the other ingredients. I honestly had to use 2 mixing bowls, and then my final serving vessel to take to the potluck was a big 13×9 casserole dish from my mother-in-law.
  2. Now, add your 4 cups of baby spinach and the 3 1/2 cups of halved heirloom cherry tomatoes. You can also add in your 1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese now, or hold off and serve the feta on the side as an optional addition.
    Lemony Spinach and Pasta Salad with Cherry Tomatoes and Feta Recipe: very easy to make and quick to prepare the day before, and substantial enough to feed a group and can be cold or room temperature, perfect for a potluck recipe
  3. In a bowl, whisk the 7 tablespoons of olive oil, 4 tablespoons of lemon juice, 3 tablespoons of whole grain mustard, 2 minced garlic cloves, and 2 teaspoons of grated lemon peel. Season with salt and pepper to your liking.
  4. Pour the dressing and now toss everything! Now you can put this in the fridge and you are all set to take it to your potluck or gathering the next day, and you can serve this cold or room temperature.
    Lemony Spinach and Pasta Salad with Cherry Tomatoes and Feta Recipe: very easy to make and quick to prepare the day before, and substantial enough to feed a group and can be cold or room temperature, perfect for a potluck recipe

I like how the dressing has the brightness of the lemon, but a bit of bite from the garlic and bit of spiciness from the mustard. The bursts of cherry tomatoes and creamy slight salt from the feta make this a good flavor combination. The colors of the green, red, yellow and white looks great, and it’s healthy to make up for the inevitable stack of sweets that show up at a potluck, am I right?

Lemony Spinach and Pasta Salad with Cherry Tomatoes and Feta Recipe: very easy to make and quick to prepare the day before, and substantial enough to feed a group and can be cold or room temperature, perfect for a potluck recipe
This recipe is adapted from one on Epicurious for Lemon Pasta Salad with Tomatoes and Feta, but I added the spinach and ignored the bell peppers as I was upping the cherry tomatoes instead. Other versions I have seen include a Lemon Pasta Salad recipe from Food Network by the Neelys that use the same dressing but add asparagus, peas, and dill leaves instead of the spinach, so this is a very versatile pasta salad recipe.
Lemony Spinach and Pasta Salad with Cherry Tomatoes and Feta Recipe: very easy to make and quick to prepare the day before, and substantial enough to feed a group and can be cold or room temperature, perfect for a potluck recipe

I bought my cherry tomatoes, spinach, and feta from Costco – which meant I now had the unexpected consequence of a LOT of feta since the container was so large. I chose to use the feta in another potluck dish I’ll share in a future post.

Do you have a go to recipe for a potluck? What do you make?

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Easy Mushroom White Wine Cream Sauce Recipe

One of the things I pride myself on is being able to re-invigorate leftovers into other meals. After a fondue party last year, I had a handful of mushrooms that were left over. I also had various bottles of leftover wine (it was a wine potluck), including a white wine that was open. And, there was a small carton of cream that was in my fridge from a guest who had left it behind after making a chocolate fondue.

To extend the mushrooms and the wine into a full meal (which I also enjoyed with a glass of red wine!), I made this vegetarian and super ridiculously easy mushroom white wine cream sauce recipe.

I put mine on pasta, but these does equally well on rice, or on chicken, pork, etc. As a sauce on protein, this would be enough for 4 people! But on pasta, this was just enough for 2.
Use this Easy Mushroom and White Wine Cream Sauce recipe on pasta to feed 2, or pour it over chicken or other protein to feed 4 or more! Easy MushroomWhite Wine Cream Sauce recipe on pasta
Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of diced onion (I always keep a frozen bag of diced onion in the freezer!)
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 5 mushrooms, thinly chopped
  • 1/2 of a vegetable stock cube: just cut the solid rectangle in half. If you use chicken stock depending on how strong the flavor you may want to use 1/4 instead
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions:

  1. In a pan on medium heat, heat a little olive oil. Add the diced onion for a couple minutes until it becomes translucent.
    Add the diced onion for a couple minutes until it becomes translucent.
  2. Then, add, garlic and mushrooms and saute until the mushrooms so that the garlic is not so raw. You don’t need to brown the mushrooms, so this will only take a few minutes.
    For this easy mushroom and white wine cream sauce, you saute briefly onion, garlic, and mushroom
  3. Reduce the heat to low, and carefully pour in the wine. Simmer until the wine has been absorbed by the mushrooms, which should take 5 minutes or so.
    Easy Mushroom and White Wine Cream Sauce - add the wine and let the mushroom absorb it Easy Mushroom and White Wine Cream Sauce - add the wine and let the mushroom absorb it
  4. Crumble in the 1/2 of a vegetable stock cube, and pour in the 1/2 cup of cream. Raise the heat to medium-low, and let it simmer and thicken, about  5-7 minutes.
    Easy Mushroom and White Wine Cream Sauce Recipe - add the wine and let the mushroom absorb it, then add the cream and let thicken Easy Mushroom White Wine Cream Sauce Recipe - add the wine and let the mushroom absorb it, then add the cream and let thicken

It’s pretty crazy right? I can easy pop in 5 mushrooms in my mouth off a vegetable tray. But, here the 5 mushrooms really last by chopping it up into all these little bits into a pretty mushroom-y sauce to take full advantage of the flavor of mushroom.
Easy Mushroom White Wine Cream Sauce Recipe- add the wine and let the mushroom absorb it, then add the cream and let thicken Easy Mushroom White Wine Cream Sauce recipe on pasta

This recipe is so easy, I was making the pasta, the sauce, texting with my family, and talking to F all at the same time. But, it’s such a satisfying sauce, and dinner.
Easy Mushroom and White Wine Cream Sauce recipe on pasta

Do you have any special recipe or trick to transform leftovers into another meal? How do you stretch an ingredient?

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