Sunday, March 30, 2014

Dinner Date

For Christmas this year, we gave the kids pre-planned dates for the whole year.  They each get to go on a date once a month.  One month with Mom, the next with Dad, and so on.  This is by far their favorite gift.  And it's the gift that keeps on giving, right?  All year!  So, one of the dates with Mom is to choose a recipe, go to the store and purchase the ingredients, and then make it together.   This is what my son and I did this weekend.  He chose "Pasta with Arugula, White Beans and Walnuts" for dinner and "Raspberry Napoleons" for dessert.  If you're thinking, wow, her kids like healthy food, just know I was just as surprised that he chose this as you!  I mean, really, what 9 yr. old wants pasta with greens and beans???  I have a bunch of "Everyday Food" magazines, and he went through some of them and that is what he chose.  I will say I do have great eaters for kids.  They used to be more picky, but overall they like a lot of things.  My son especially, he's like my husband, he will try just about anything.  I am so grateful to have easy to please kids...well, at least in the food department.  :-)

So here's a look at our date:

 Toast the walnuts... oh the flavor!
 Learning to slice garlic

 Cooking the pasta

I love how he put so much effort into a pretty table.

All the kids liked this dish.  One of my girls wasn't so crazy about her wilted greens, but she still ate most of them.  

Pasta with Arugula, White Beans, and Walnuts

12 oz farfelle (bowtie pasta)
coarse salt and ground pepper
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 TBS butter
1 pound baby arugula
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup walnut pieces, toasted

Toast walnut pieces in a 350 degree oven for about 7-9 minutes. Watch them so they don't burn. You don't have to toast them, but it brings out so much more flavor!

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water, drain pasta and set aside.

Place pasta pot over medium heat. Add garlic and 1 tbs butter, cook, stirring until garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes/

Add arugula to pot. Toss just until wilted. Add beans, pasta and remaining 3 tbs butter. Season with salt and pepper. Toss, adding enough reserved water to mixture to coat pasta. Garnish with toasted walnuts.

Needless to say, this dessert was a hit!  

Raspberry Napoleons:

All purpose flour for rolling pastry
1 sheet frozen puff pastry thawed
1/2 recipe cooled vanilla pudding (recipe follows) please don't use store bought, I promise you won't regret it!
1 container fresh raspberries
confectioner's sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 400. On a lightly floured surface, roll out puff pasty to a 10 by 15 inch rectangle. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Prick pastry all over with a fork. Cover completely with another sheet of parchment paper. Weight with another baking sheet to prevent pastry from puffing up unevenly. Bake, occasionally pressing top sheet down until pastry is golden. In my oven it only took 20 minutes, but it can take up to 40, so keep an eye on it. Remove the top sheet and parchment, and let cool

With a serrated knife, carefully trim and discard edges; cut into 12 equal pieces ( this is for 4 servings, I was able to stretch it to 6 servings by cutting into 18 pieces).

To assemble, put a large dollop of pudding on the pastry piece, top with a few raspberries and another dollop of pudding, layer a 2nd piece of pastry, repeat the pudding and raspberries, and top it with a 3rd piece of pastry. Dust with confectioner's sugar.

Vanilla Pudding:
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups milk
4 large egg yolks
2 tbs unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tsp vanilla extract

Place a fine mesh sieve over a medium bowl; set aside. In a medium saucepan, off heat, whisk together sugar, cornstarch and salt. Very gradually (a few tablespoons at a time) whisk in milk, taking care to dissolve cornstarch. Whisk in egg yolks.

Whisking constantly, cook over medium heat until the first large bubble forms and sputters. Reduce heat to low, still whisking (wow, there's a lot of whisking in this recipe), cook 1 minute. Remove from heat and immediately pour through sieve into bowl. Stir butter and vanilla into hot pudding.

Place plastic wrap directly on surface of pudding (this prevents skin from forming), chill at least 3 hours and up to 3 days. Before serving, whisk (again) pudding until smooth.

Ummm... Hello?  Where did everyone go?  Just keepin' it real here.  {sigh}


  1. Im trying those raspberry things...:D

  2. Chellie, this is wonderful! What a great idea. So many great memories made. and pssst OMG your pics are perfect! xoxo Sheila

  3. Chellie, hopefully this isn't a duplicate comment. I couldnt tell if it took my 1st one. I love this idea! so many great memories made, and WOW your pics are amazing. xox sheila

  4. I love the idea of 'dinner date' with the kids! Especially when they get in the kitchen and help make the food. Good for you!