Begin with making the dough for the hearts. Beat the butter and sugar in medium speed for a couple of minutes. Add the vanilla and egg and beat again. Add the flour and salt and mix until just incorporated. Scrape the dough together and turn it out onto a lightly floured counter or board. Roll the dough into a log about 1 inch thick. Wrap and refrigerate.
To make the pink dough, beat the butter and sugar together, then add the vanilla and egg. Add the flour, baking soda, salt and sprinkles. Beat this all together until just mixed.
Heat oven to 350. Scoop the pink dough out into about 1 ½ tsp sized balls. Line them onto a baking sheet, keeping them at least an inch apart, then flatten them gently. Remove the log of dough from the refrigerator and slice it into roughly ½ inch pieces. Form each piece into a heart. Place a heart onto each pink disc and gently push them together. Bake for 12 then remove to a cooling rack. Makes about 30 cookies.
Sometimes, that’s the method I take when writing a recipe or making dinner. Try stuff out, see what happens. Little bit of this, little bit of that, riff on one thing or another. Case in point, recently I had in mind the makings of a gratin. However, we have a family member who is not eating potatoes. No worries, we had parsnips – that would be a cool swap. Also, I am all about the one pot/pan full meal, so decided to use the ground beef and the kale I had in the refrigerator. Cream. Parmesan. Done. I put it together and honestly thought, “well, I have no idea how THAT is going to turn out to be.” Result? Deeeelicious. Obviously, I had some thought that it would be decent, or I wouldn’t have tried it (“oooh, that sounds horrible – let’s do it!”). I definitely had the sense, though, that it would be simply adequate. Wrong. I LOVE this thing. The cream is so good at taming the bite of the parsnip, leaving just the sweet to come through, and that sweet balances the beefiness so nicely. The kale just feels good. My least veggie eater in the house gobbled this. Give it a try, and also try your own hand at tossing things up and seeing how they land. More often than not, your will hit the target.
Beef Parsnip Kale Gratin
1 lb ground beef
2-3 cups (you decide!) baby kale
½ lb parsnips, peeled and cut about 1/4 inch thick on the bias
1 cup heavy cream
¾ cup grated parmesan
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cracked pepper
Heat the oven to 375. Cook the beef in a skillet over medium heat for about 6-8 minutes, until no longer pink. Stir in the kale, cream, ½ cup of the parmesan and the salt and pepper. Line the bottom of the baking dish with the parsnips. Pour the beef mixture over them then top it all with the rest of the parmesan. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the parsnips are tender and the cream is bubbling and thickened.
Sometimes, dinner turns into breakfast. Sometimes this happens when the leftovers are so delicious, you don’t want to wait until lunch to have them. Sometimes, you get up early to enjoy your quiet kitchen and make dinner for later in the day, or test a recipe for your blog and take a picture. Then it might happen that you give the bowl to your husband and he decides to eat the whole thing for his breakfast because he loves it so much. Soon after, your friend stops by to pick up your son for the baseball carpool, sees the potful and says, “ooh, is that black bean soup?” “Yep, want some?” Vigorous nod. Small bowl offered. “Mmmmmmmmmm”, Saturday morning bliss. Oh, and, by the way, you might end up with this as your cooking snack.
All this is to say 1) dinner can be breakfast and 2) apparently, this soup is irresistible. So make it.
Cuban Black Bean Soup
4 oz pancetta
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
¼ cup chopped onion (1 small or ½ medium-large)
1 green pepper, diced small and divided
2 cans black beans, partially drained
1 cup broth*
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
Splash of red wine vinegar
Place a soup pot over medium high heat. Cook the pancetta in this for about 6-7 minutes, until fat has rendered and the meat is crispy. Scoop the meat out into a bowl, leaving the drippings. Pour in a bit of the broth to loosen the bits of flavor at the bottom of the pan. Add the garlic, onion and about ⅔ of the pepper. Cook these until softened, about 5-6 minutes. Stir in the cumin, oregano and salt. Add the beans and broth. Let this simmer for about 10 minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree about half the soup. Stir in the splash of vinegar. Serve the soup topped with some sour cream, the reserved green pepper, some cooked pancetta and chopped cilantro.
*I say broth because you can use any sort that you want or have around. It is equally good with vegetable, beef or chicken. Each one will certainly give the soup a different flavor, but all are tasty options.
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