Happy Belated Birthday – To Us!

sam

Oops. Missed it again.

We launched more than two year’s ago with Brie’s popular and delicious Irish cupcakes on March 4, 2013. Just look at these things:

cupcakes

My first “real” post on Qwerty Cafe was unveiled to the public on March 13th. That was this recipe, still one of my favorite appetizers:

Cream Cheese Things

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(I admittedly haven’t gotten any better at naming dishes – for example, the “I Have Nooo Idea What I’m Doing Casserole.”)

Since then, Adam, Brandie, Brie, and I have posted more than 334 times. That’s a lot of talking. And food. And lovely memories, honestly. :)

We still meet nearly every Friday to get together, try out some delicious new recipes, and just enjoy each other’s company. Sometimes I get ambitious and start thinking about how I’d like this space to evolve – but the base of what is here is something I’m pretty proud of already.

Thanks for sticking with us.

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Butternut Squash Lasagna

Butternut Squash Lasagna

Ever since this last autumn Adam and Brandie have been saving the butternut squashes that they’ve received in their veggie box deliveries with the intent that we would make something together with them.

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It wasn’t until this Friday though, when we were faced with having to use SIX butternut squash, that we did anything at all.

I had been desperately craving butternut squash ravioli, but really didn’t want to make the pasta, so Cat suggested a lasagna.

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It was genius!

And with our amazingly delicious lasagna Adam and Brandie made a butternut squash risotto, and I made a butternut squash soup.

butternut squash lasagna

It was perfection, and at the end of the day, there were no more squash.

Butternut Squash Lasagna
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 large butternut squash (about 3lbs) peeled and diced into ½ inch cubes
  • 2 shallots
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ¾ cup water
  • 8 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 18 ounces of oven ready lasagna noodles
Instructions
  1. Dice your shallots of garlic and place in a large pan over medium high head with the butter and diced butternut squash to saute for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the water to the pan, cover, and turn the heat up to high, stirring occasionally.
  3. Steam for about another 10 minutes until the water is soaked up and the squash are cooked through and tender.
  4. Turn off the heat and either using an immersion blending or a hand blender or even a potato masher, puree the squash mixture.
  5. Stir in the ricotta and spices.
  6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a 9x13 glass baking dish.
  7. Take a quarter cup of the squash mixture and spread it evenly over the bottom of the glass dish and then layer pieces of the lasagna noodles evenly until the bottom is covered.
  8. Spread about ¾ cup of squash mixture over the noodles then evenly distribute half a cup of mozzarella and a tablespoon of Parmesan. Place another even layer of noodles to cover the cheese.
  9. Repeat with squash, mozzarella, Parmesan and noodles, until you're out of ingredients or out of room.
  10. End your last layer with cheese (using just a little extra if you have it).
  11. Cover the dish tightly with tin foil whose underside has been greased, and bake in the oven for 40 minutes.
  12. Remove the tin foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes until the cheese is golden brown on top.
  13. Once removed from the oven, let sit for 15 minutes then cut into squares and serve.

 

Thursday Link Rodeo

Forget a roundup – this here is a link rodeo! It’s a collection of cool/exciting/delicious food news, recipes, and more that we’ve encountered recently. Yeehaw. Or something. 

This week’s rodeo has been brought to you by the incredible, edible egg.

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1. How to Make Classic Egg Creams from Serious Eats.
2. Egg Fried Rice from Qwerty Cafe. :)
3. How to Bake Eggs En Cocotte from The Kitchn.
4. Breakfast Pizza also from Qwerty Cafe.
5. Goopy Carbonara from – you guessed it – Qwerty Cafe.

Egg Salad Sandwiches

Egg Salad Sandwiches

We’re big fans of egg salad around here and seemed fitting for Easter Sunday when we didn’t do much else.

egg salad sandwich 4

 

It’s a super simple meal but deeply satisfying, and besides for the annoyance of peeling the eggs, very quick and easy.

egg salad sandwich 3

I like to think that my recipe is particularly good (everyone always wants seconds), so I suggest you give it a try.

egg salad sandwich 2

Egg Salad Sandwiches
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Sandwiches
Serves: per person
Ingredients
  • 3 hard boiled eggs per person
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise per person
  • ½ teaspoon grainey spicy brown mustard per person
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder per person
  • 1 tablespoon finely diced onion per person
Instructions
  1. Slice eggs and mix and mash in a bowl with remaining ingredients until fully combined and egg pieces are aesthetically pleasing to you.
  2. Spread about ½ cup - ¾ cup mixture on your favorite bread (I suggest potato) with crisp lettuce. Cut in half or diagonally, and enjoy!

I suggest you use mine and Alton Brown’s preferred egg boiling method, works every time.

alton brown eggs

Thursday Link Rodeo

Forget a roundup – this here is a link rodeo! It’s a collection of cool/exciting/delicious food news, recipes, and more that we’ve encountered recently. Yeehaw. Or something. 

This week’s rodeo has been brought to you by Easter Sunday and Spring Fertility Celebrations. And such. ;)

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40 Cloves of Garlic Crockpot Chicken, from me.
Pepper-Roasted Asparagus, from Brie.
Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes, also from Brie.
Hearty Fig Bread, from me.
Classic French Meringues a la Brandie.

Sausage, Bean, and Tomato Stew

sausagestew3

There’s that glorious period of about a week after a major grocery run where I am pretty sure of what the daily menu will look like. I have a good handle on what we have in the house and a decent idea of what is or is not expired. It’s always a mix of cool new recipes I’m wanting to try, and the routine family favorites.

sausagestew

After those sevenish days it gets tricky. I *could* go to the store, but ugh. Then we start running out of easy meal options and the fresh veggies dwindle. I rough it for as long as I can, maybe picking up some milk here, some bread there, eventually stretching that big grocery run for two weeks.

And then… it’s the dregs. The grocery dregs.

sausagestew2

This is where planning dinner becomes a major challenge and I get stubborn about not wanting to do another big grocery run.

Turning to the great Google god for help, I pick three or four major ingredients I have on hand that I think *might* work harmoniously for a meal for the four grown adults in my household. Usually it’s onions, [some kind of meat], [pasta/rice/legume], [frozen or canned veggie]. Sometimes I’ll throw in a wild card like “coconut milk” or “shelled walnuts.”

Thankfully, as I’ve become better and better at spotting good recipes online, these Google adventures turn out pretty well. I usually blend several of the recipes that pop up (taking from the best of the comments sections).

This time it was “onions,” “sage sausage,” “white beans,” and “crushed tomatoes.”

I ended up hitting pay dirt – the resulting stew is hearty, filling, and really delicious. I was completely out of bread and wanted something doughy to dip in the stew, so I paired it with my first-ever attempt at focaccia bread (carmelized (charred?) onion).

focaccia

Sausage, Bean, and Tomato Stew
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Stew
Cuisine: Italian-esque
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 4 sausage links
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons squeeze bottle garlic
  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cubes chicken bouillon
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasonings
  • ⅛th teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 10 oz. box of frozen spinach
  • 2 15 oz. cans white beans (cannellini are good)
  • Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Add olive oil and sausage links into a large pot over medium-low heat.
  2. Once golden and firm, remove from heat and slice into rounds.
  3. Return to pot, add onion and garlic, and turn heat up to medium.
  4. Stir occasionally until onions are soft.
  5. Toss in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken bouillon, Italian seasonings, red pepper flakes, black pepper, water, and spinach.
  6. As the ingredients in the pot are heating up, rinse the white beans in a colander and drain.
  7. Add drained beans to pot and stir occasionally until bubbling and hot.
  8. If too thin, let reduce over medium-low heat. If too thick, add water ¼ cup at a time until desired thickness is reached.
  9. Salt to taste.
  10. Serve on its own, or pair with some kind of yummy bread. :)

What do you make when you’re low on ingredients?

Los Angeles Trip

Los Angeles Trip

This weekend my sister Jennifer and I took a whirlwind trip (leaving Friday morning, and returning Sunday afternoon) to Los Angeles to visit our other sister, our nephew, and his wonderful girlfriend.

Friday evening after we arrived we ate dinner at a really delicious local restaurant in Northridge called Lum-ka-naad Noodle and Thai Cuisines.

We all shared a very delicious and ever so slightly spicy coconut soup called Tom-Kah-Kai.

coconut soup

And I ate half of a large plate of very delicious Pad Thai that I later finished as a late midnight snack on Saturday.

pad thai

After dinner we shared a second Christmas at my nephew’s home (we didn’t get to visit with them in December) and had some tequila shots out of small bowls as they didn’t have any shot-glasses.
Clearly this was the fanciest way to shoot tequila.

tequila

 

Saturday was a very long day, but we started it off the right way by getting brunch together at a well known and popular spot Myke’s Cafe in Pacoima.

The food was as delicious as the art on the walls was interesting.

I got really tasty plate of french toast with raspberries and lemon curd and a side of sausage. I consumed it all and it kept me fueled for the rest of the day.

french toast

They took us to the Getty Museum which was beautiful beyond belief, and very busy because it was a family activity day.

getty

We spent hours with the European paintings, antique and opulent furniture, and walking the garden.

garden

We spent that evening at the El Capitan Theater watching the new live action Cinderella experience (eating theater food for dinner), and then walking Hollywood Boulevard taking in the sights.

We headed back for the bay area shortly after waking the next day, but the family and food and whole trip was just wonderful.

What delicious spots have you eaten at on your travels recently?

Thursday Link Rodeo

Forget a roundup – this here is a link rodeo! It’s a collection of cool/exciting/delicious food news, recipes, and more that we’ve encountered recently. Yeehaw. Or something. 

This week’s rodeo has been brought to you by Coconut.

1. Coconut Jasmine Rice with Mango & Strawberries (from me!)
2. DIY Thai Coconut Curry with Shrimp Instant Noodles, from Serious Eats.
3. Coconut Pound Cake, from Love Foodies.
4. Double Chocolate Coconut Macaroons, (from Brie!)
5. 17 Absolutely Delicious Ways to Cook with Coconut Milk, from The Kitchn.

You Can Waffle That

There used to be this odd little anachronistic burger joint in Montana, straight out of the 1950s or so, that made a mean “flying saucer” burger. The “flying saucer” burger was, essentially, just a typical burger, cheese, ketchup, mustard, onion, pressed between two round pieces of bread that were sealed at the edges and toasted. It was quite delicious and I was very sad to see the place close down in recent years. Funny how a simple little change to the bread can really make something taste incredible.

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The interwebs are telling me this is a “Cuban Style Sandwich,” but it also looks a lot like the burgers from Montana. Image from: http://ifood.tv/american/423573-cuban-flying-saucer-grilled-sandwich

 

That brings me to waffling.

No, not the kind where you can’t make up your mind. This kind of waffling is bold, decisive. Delicious.

Whatever kind of sandwich you can make, you can waffle.

Just prepare your sandwich, heat up your waffle maker, spray it with non-stick cooking spray, place your sandwich in it and SQUISH. Squish hard! And then wait a few minutes (slightly longer than your average, everyday waffle would take), and BOOM.

You’ve just waffled your sandwich and it is delicious. Don’t you feel smart and attractive?

Try it with:

– Peanut butter and jelly
– Roast beef and cheddar
– Turkey and provolone
– All of the cheeses ever

The sky is your waffley limit. Enjoy your new found fabulous, toasty, squishy, delicious method for heating up sammiches. Yum!

P.S. You can also use waffles to make your sandwiches. Or pizza. Or a lot of things really.

Crescent Ring Sandwiches

Crescent Ring Sandwiches

Mark doesn’t often request a particular food, but when he does we see what we can do.

He saw this intriguing Italian Hero Crescent Rings on Reddit and we decided to take it a little father.

italian ring

Not only did we make the Italian Hero with a few tweaks, we also made a roast beef and cheddar that was insanely good.

italian ring 2

 

These were super quick and easy to make with a lot of flavor.

italian ring baked

It’s a great take on classic sandwiches for dinner or lunch.

italian ring baked 2

 

Italian Crescent Ring Sandwiche
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 cans (8 oz each) Pillsbury™ refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
  • ½ cup well drained roasted red bell peppers (from a jar)
  • 8 slices provolone cheese, halved
  • ⅓ lb deli sliced hot salami
  • ¼ lb deli sliced ham
  • ¼ lb deli sliced capocollo
  • ½ cup well drained hot pepper rings (from a jar)
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 375°F (350°F for dark or nonstick cooking sheet).
  2. Unroll both cans of dough; separate into 8 rectangles. On ungreased 12-inch pizza pan, arrange rectangles in ring so short sides of rectangles form a circle in center. (Dough will overlap; half of each rectangle will hang over edge of pan. Dough ring should look like a sun.)
  3. Spread roasted red bell peppers toward center of ring on bottom halves of rectangles. Top with half of the cheese. Layer salami, ham and capocollo slices over cheese. Arrange pepper rings over top. Cover with remaining half of cheese.
  4. Bring each dough rectangle hanging over side of pan up over stacked filling, tucking dough under bottom layer of dough to secure it. Repeat around sandwich until entire filling is enclosed (some filling might show a little). Sprinkle with black pepper.
  5. Bake 18 to 22 minutes or until dough is golden brown and thoroughly baked. Cool 5 to 10 minutes before cutting into serving slices.
Notes
We used three different kinds of salami, pepperoni, and nixed the ham.
For the beef and cheddar sandwich, we soaked about ¾ of a pound of roast beef in an au jus overnight, and then drained it well before putting it on the sandwich. We then topped that with a very meltable cheese dip.