Fettuccine with Sausage, Tomato, and Arugula

February 16, 2014 Leave a comment
Fettuccine  with Sausage, Tomato, and Arugula

Fettuccine with Sausage, Tomato, and Arugula

I’m sucked in to the Olympics.  Even though I admit that I like the Summer Olympic games more, I’m still all about getting my fill of curling, skiing, bobsledding, and of course hockey.

So far what I’ve watched has me entertained, but because of the time difference, I’m struggling to not know the outcome ahead of time.  If I truly want to be surprised, I would have to go completely dark (ie no Facebook, Twitter, or ANY Internet).  I’m sorry, but in this fully connected 24/7 world, that’s impossible.

That is why this weekends hockey was awesome.  7:30 am Eastern Time starts? Yes please. I could get used to that.  Maybe not full time but the occasional morning sporting event would be wonderful.

I woke up, made a pot a coffee and watched a spectacular hockey game in my pajama’s, in bed.  When it was over, I grabbed breakfast, a shower, and started my day.  Most of all, since I was able to watch live, no spoilers.

Seriously, what’s not to love?

So, NHL, NCAA, and NBA…throw us a bone every now and then and start a weekend game bright and early.  I’ll watch, and I’m sure lots of other people will too…..unless of course they have tickets to attend.  If that happened to be the case, that would just suck.

GO USA!!!!

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There are about a million, maybe a trillion ways to make pasta, so what’s one more?

I found this healthy recipe via Cooking Light.  It’s made with whole wheat pasta, fresh tomatoes, peppery arugula, and turkey sausage.

It’s tasty.  It’s quick.  It’s healthy. So feel do yourself a favor and add this to your repertoire. You’ll love it.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of whole wheat fettuccine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 Italian-style turkey sausage links (turkey removed from casing)
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced (approximately 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 cups baby arugula
  • Pecorino Romano Cheese, shaved

Directions:

  1. Prepare fettuccine according to directions. Drain, reserving 2/3 cup of pasta water.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over over medium high heat.
  3. When heated add olive oil and sausage, heat until cooked through and golden brown ensuring to break up the sausage in to pieces.
  4. Once turkey is cooked, add garlic and stir (30 seconds).
  5. Add tomatoes and pepper.
  6. Cook approximately 2-4 minutes and begin to gently smash to tomatoes with back of wooden spoon to open and release juices.
  7. Cover pan and reduce heat.
  8. Cook additional 3-5 minutes.
  9. Remove from heat and add pasta, the pasta water.  Stir.
  10. Add arugula and toss with pasta until slightly wilted.
  11. Finish the dish by sprinkling the shaved cheese on top.

Granola

February 9, 2014 Leave a comment
Granola

Granola

It’s snowing again as I write this and I though maybe I would write about the weather (again) but I think at this point, if you’re in the states, especially the Midwest, you get it.  So lets just move on.

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I love granola.  Problem is that store bought granola is often loaded with calories.  Even if you buy the healthy versions they typically cost a small fortune.

So I scoured the world wide web to see if I could find a good recipe that would be both economical and waist line friendly. The results were overwhelming.

So what does any experimental cook do?  I experimented by taking bits and pieces from a few recipes I researched.

The first batch I tried was too sweet.  The second was too sticky.  The third was not sweet enough. Finally, after some tweaking I ultimately settled  on the one below and just like Goldilocks, this one was just right.

While the upfront cost is probably more than a box of store bought granola, I was able to make 4 or 5 batches for under $10.  Most of all, I controlled the ingredients making it as healthy as I possibly could.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Rolled Oats (such as Bob’s Red Mill) (do not use quick cooking oats)
  • 1/2 cup of chopped nuts (use any kind – pecans, almonds etc)
  • 1/4 cup of coconut flakes (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons honey (wildflower if possible but any good quality honey will do)
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup (no Mrs. Butterworth)
  • 1 teaspoon of canola oil
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup of dried fruit, chopped (I use blend of cranberries, cherries, blueberries)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients (except fruit), mix well.
  3. Add in all wet ingredients and gently stir to combine.
  4. Pour contents of bowl on to a rimmed sheet pan lined with parchment paper (or silicon baking mat)
  5. Bake 15 minutes.
  6. Stir gently with a spatula and bake additional 15 minutes until lightly golden brown.
  7. Remove from oven and sprinkle the dried fruit on the cooked oats.
  8. Cool completely and transfer to an airtight container.
  9. Serve with Greek Yogurt and Berries, or milk, or just snack right from the jar.

The best part is you can add anything you want to the granola. Be adventurous.

Granola with Greek Yogurt and Berries

Tomato Soup

January 2, 2014 Leave a comment
Tomato soup

Tomato soup

Is there any job in America that gets it wrong more often than Weather Forecasters? I know its not an exact science, but it IS a science and you would think that in 2014 there would be a better way to get it right.

In my opinion, the only way to know what the weather is up to, is to step outside and see for yourself.

That said, I still find myself checking the various weather forecasts, especially when I have upcoming plans outdoors (or vacation).

I check way more often in the winter than the summer. I find this odd because I have less outdoor plans in the winter so in theory I should care less.  However, I do it mainly to see IF we’re going to get inclement weather that may factor in to my daily commute.

So recently I checked out one of the online weather sites and was upset to discover that in the next few days they’re predicting frigid temperatures.

A high of 1 degree to be exact.  One. Uno.  Factor in the wind chills and who knows how cold it will get.  I won’t like that at all.  I suppose many won’t.

Then I remembered there are people in Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and plenty of other states that have it much worse than me for many more days each and every year.

Then there’s the Russians?  The Canadians?

After dreading whats forthcoming for a few moments, I realized that no matter how bad I think I have it, there is always someone worse off.

Still doesn’t mean I won’t lay around in comfy sweats and a hoodie enjoying a nice cup of tea….or coffee….or a delicious bowl of soup.

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This recipe is simple and has just a few ingredients (most of which may already be in your pantry).

From start to finish it takes around 15 minutes give or take.

This soup is much healthier that those cans of condensed soup. Not to mention, this version probably costs about the same, yet feeds a family of 4 (with leftovers for lunch the next day).

Who doesn’t like healthy, economical, simple and delicious.

Enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 (28 oz) can of diced tomatoes (I used Organic which was $1.50 at Aldi)
  • 1 (43 oz) container of low sodium tomato juice
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar (to cut the acidity of the tomatoes)
  • 2 low sodium chicken bouillon cubes
  • Fresh Ground Pepper (eyeball it)
  • 1/2 cup Half & Half
  • 1 tablespoon of basil, chopped

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium high heat.
  2. Add onion and cook until soft.
  3. Add tomatoes and stir to combine.
  4. Add tomato juice, stir.
  5. Add sugar, stir.
  6. Add bouillon cubes, stir.
  7. Add pepper, stir.
  8. Bring everything to a boil then remove from heat.
  9. Stir in the half & half and basil.
  10. Serve immediately. (preferably with a grilled cheese sandwich)

Drunken Pasta

December 31, 2013 2 comments

Drunken Pasta

Drunken Pasta

Once again the end of a year is upon us.  Time to say goodbye to 2013 and hello to 2014. But before I usher in the new year, I thought I’d take a moment to reflect, like most others do this time of year.

Let me state that while 2013 had its share of bad moments (life is full of ups and downs),  I’m strictly going to focus on the positives (which was actually one of my resolutions for 2013).

  • I’m the healthiest I’ve been since my Navy days.  I’m doing a much better job of watching what I eat and have committed to an overall healthier lifestyle including exercising regularly.
  • I took up running back in April, and was able to run two 5-K races this past year, the second of which I ran in under 30 minutes.
  • My step-son was accepted to college and recently finished his first semester with a 3.40 grade point average.
  • My good friends Chuck and Josh finalized the adoption of a wonderful, precious boy, Thatcher.  He recently had his 1st birthday and boy does this kid light up a room.
  • My wife and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary.
  • I completed my 18th year with the same company.  In this day and age of uncertainty with employment,  I’m extremely happy for that.

I’m sure there were plenty more good moments, but those were a few that stood out.

So time to change the calendar and welcome in 2014.  I’ll do that with a few good friends, a couple bottles of wine, and a wonderful meal (Standing Rib Roast and Crab Legs in case you’re wondering).  Only one thing that remains missing….but I’ll save that for another day.

Hope you all had a wonderful 2013 and an even better New Year.

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For my last post of 2013, what better way to go than with a meal with “drunken” in the name. Like many recipes I try, I found this one on Pinterest.

At first I assumed it was named Drunken Pasta because its made with wine.   However, after reading further, I realized the author stated it was a play on the Thai dish “Drunken Noodles.” Or maybe its because her last name is Beer?

Since I like wine a lot, I’m sticking to my version and blaming the name on the wine.  Enjoy!

Source: Ingrid Beer.  The Cozy Apron – Italian Drunken Noodles, modified slightly

Ingredients:

  • Olive Oil
  • 2 Large Sweet Italian Sausage Links, removed from casing
  • 2 Large Hot Italian Sausage Links, removed from casing
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 yellow pepper, sliced
  • 1 green pepper, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, julienne
  • 1 package of large, wide pasta noodles (Pappardelle)

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium high heat.
  2. Add sausage and cook, stirring occasionally until just browned.
  3. Remove sausage from pan and set aside.
  4. Add onion to pan with the sausage drippings and cook until just browned (about 5 minutes).
  5. Add salt, pepper and Italian seasoning, stir to combine
  6. Add peppers and saute with the onions for about 5 minutes, or until just slightly tender
  7. Add garlic and wine, cook to reduce.
  8. Add tomatoes and juice from can.
  9. Add the cooked sausage and fold to combine.
  10. Simmer for 5-7 minutes.
  11. Add parsley and 1/2 of the basil.
  12. While sauce is simmering, prepare the noodles according to directions.
  13. When noodles are completely cooked, drain, and toss gently with the sauce.
  14. Serve equal portions and top with a drizzle of olive oil and some of the remaining chopped basil.

 

Pasta and Wine - Always a great combo

Pasta and Wine – Always a great combo

Tuscan Beef Stew

December 15, 2013 1 comment
Tuscan Beef Stew

Tuscan Beef Stew

When I first started blogging I would write two, sometimes three entries a week.  If you follow, you know that its no where near that pace these days.  It’s got to the point where people ask why I don’t blog more often.  It’s a legit question and one I really don’t have an answer for.

So let me dive in to it a bit more and see what I can come up with.

1.  Its no longer my ‘flavor of the month’? My wife says that anytime I do something new, I obsess over it.  Sadly, she’s right (as most significant others are).  She can easily site numerous examples and I can’t disagree with any of them.

2. I haven’t been cooking anything good?  This isn’t entirely accurate. But for the most part I’m in a bit of a rut.  I’ve been cooking things I’m comfortable with instead of branching out.  Even though I’ve found a ton of recipes I want to try, I just haven’t made them as often as I would like.

3.  Work has been a bit demanding as of late?  Business has picked up lately that’s for sure and when I’m at work doing what it is I do there, one of the last things I want to do is write. I think I’d rather catch up on TV.

4.  My food photos look like garbage?  Garbage? I think they look like crap.  We eat with our eyes so the last thing a blog about food needs is unappealing photos of said food.

5.  There’s nothing to write about?  I can’t argue with this at all.  I mean, I just wrote a list detailing why I’m not writing.  If that doesn’t reek of uninteresting, I don’t know what does.

So there you go…..5 reasons why I’m not blogging nearly as much as you (mainly me) would like.

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This stew recipe is from the Cooking TV channel show Extra Virgin starring Ari Gold’s secretary (Entourage reference in case you’ve never seen the show) and her Italian (Tuscany region) husband.  If you’ve never watched, its on often so check it out while you’re making the stew….because while the recipe is simple and uses simple ingredients, you will have a couple hours to kill while its cooking.  The show has been my new favorite cooking show.

This flavorful stew is rich and hearty and has quickly become my new go-to stew recipe.  The slow braise makes the beef fork tender but the the veggies don’t turn to mush.  Make sure you serve it with a nice hunk of crusty bread so you can savor all of the juices.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 red or yellow onion, rough chopped
  • 3 large peeled carrots cut in to 1/2 inch thick medallions
  • 3 stalks of celery, rough chopped
  • 2-3 lbs of stew meat – 1 inch cubes (to save money, buy a chuck roast and cut it yourself)
  • 2 1/2 cups dry red wine (such as Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • 1 28oz can of whole tomatoes
  • 4-6 sprigs of fresh thyme (wrapped in a bundle if possible)
  •  Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium high heat.
  2. Add onion, carrot and celery.  Saute about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until just browned.
  3. Add beef and cook until browned on all sides.
  4. Add wine and thyme. Stir to combine.
  5. Bring to a boil.
  6. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper.
  7. Lower heat to medium-low and cover.
  8. Cook for approximately 2 to hours or until beef is tender.
Big old Pot of Stew

Big old Pot of Stew

Thanksgiving Leftovers Sandwich

December 1, 2013 1 comment
Thanksgiving Sandwich

Thanksgiving Sandwich

Thanksgiving Twenty-Thirteen has come and gone.  Unfortunately, the added pounds and leftovers did not go with the change of the calendar.  However, I’m here to help you with one of those problems. Sadly, you’ll have to deal with the pounds yourself.

Last year, I blogged about the Thanksgiving Burrito. That monster is a good way to rid yourself of those Thanksgiving goodies.

The Thanksgiving sandwich, for all intents and purposes, is the same as the burrito, only in sandwich form.  And for my money, its my personal favorite way to eat the Thanksgiving leftovers.

For one, fresh baked bread (homemade or from your local bakery) out weighs a tortilla any day of the week (unless of course you’re eating a mexican style burrito which would be extremely difficult to eat between two slices of bread.  Then again…..hmmmm….).

A burrito might be easier to eat, but I believe that a properly constructed sandwich allows all of the ingredients to meld together and I don’t think you can get the same thing when its rolled up.

And lastly, its grilled.  With butter!!!

Winner by majority decision, the sandwich. (although you can’t go wrong with either).

While I am providing a detailed recipe, please use it very loosely, but I do think the order you assemble it is important.

Also, if you don’t like cranberry sauce, feel free to omit, but it really is, in my opinion, the essence of this sandwich.

Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 slices of freshly baked bread (homestyle or sour dough work well
  • 2 teaspoons cranberry sauce
  • 1/4 cup stuffing/dressing
  • 1/4 cup mashed potatoes
  • A few slices of turkey (thinner is better) (white or dark – your preference)
  • 2 teaspoons turkey gravy

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat a cast iron (or non-stick skillet) over medium-low heat
  2. Butter one side of each slice of bread
  3. Spread 1 teaspoon of cranberry sauce on each slice of bread (the non-buttered side)
  4. Add 2 slices of turkey and top with a teaspoon of gravy (on top of the cranberry sauced piece of bread)
  5. Next, layer the stuffing and potatoes (I spread it as best I can)
  6. Top with the remaining teaspoon of gravy
  7. Top with the remaining turkey
  8. Top with the 2nd piece of bread (which should be already spread with cranberry sauce)
  9. Heat in cast iron pan until all ingredients are warmed through and bread is grilled to your liking
This is another sandwich, but wanted to show the cast iron)

This is another sandwich, but wanted to show the cast iron pan

Gnocchi with Mascarpone and Lemon

November 3, 2013 Leave a comment
Mascarpone and Lemon Gnocchi

Mascarpone and Lemon Gnocchi

For those in the United States (sans Arizona and Hawaii), today marks the end of Daylight Savings Time.

In the days leading up to today, we’re often reminded to turn back the clock and “enjoy that extra hour of sleep.”

Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel like I get anything extra.  As a matter of fact, I feel like I’m losing out in the deal.

My body decided that (new) 5:30 was a good time to be awake and as a result, I’ll be ready to be in bed by (new) 8:30.  If this holds true, I won’t even be awake to hear the jazz music during “Homeland’s” opening credits.  Sad!

Because of the time change, my stomach wants to eat all meals at its “normal” time so I find myself unnecessarily snacking while I await the real mealtime.  Fun-sized Kit-Kat anyone?

I get that it may light when I arrive at work tomorrow, but what good does that do me when I have to drive  home in the dark?

I understand the reasoning behind it and I’m all for helping our farmers, but somehow the rest of the world seems to manage without changing clocks.

Point being, I’m not getting anything extra here and you’re not either.

So I say, as a nation, lets rally around getting rid of Daylight Savings Time.  If not, I suppose I could move to Hawaii.  Now that would be something extra!

Since you received that extra hour of sleep today, why not take advantage of that energy and make this delicious Gnocchi recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis.  Enjoy!!

Ingredients:

  • 8oz Mascarpone Cheese (at room temperature)
  • 1 Whole Egg + 1 Egg yolk (at room temperature)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Zest of 2 Lemons
  • 1 Cup Parmesan, Grated
  • 1 Teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 Cups All-Purpose Flour (plus additional for forming the gnocchi)
  1. Combine both cheeses, the eggs, lemon zest and salt in a large bowl and mix with an electric hand mixer on medium speed until all ingredients are well incorporated is light and fluffy.  This will take about a minute or two.
  2. Slowly mix in the flour until a dough begins to form.
  3. Once mixed, sprinkle a large sheet pan with flour.
  4. Using 2 kitchen teaspoons, drop 1 teaspoonful-sized ball of dough on to the floured sheet pan.
  5. Repeat until all of the dough is used.
  6. Gently shake the sheet pan to cover each piece with flour.
  7. Then with floured hands, gently shape each piece in to an oval.
  8. Repeat until complete.
  9. At this point the Gnocchi are complete and can be frozen for future use or cooked immediately.

Your uncooked gnocchi should look similar to this:

Finished gnocchi before cooking

Finished gnocchi before cooking

To freeze:  Place entire sheet pan in freeze for approximately 30 minutes.  When gnocchi have hardened, transfer to freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months.

To cook immediately:  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  In batches of 6 to 8 pieces of gnocchi, carefully drop in to boiling water.  The gnocchi will float to the surface when they are done (typically 3-4 minutes).  Carefully remove with a slotted spoon and serve with your favorite sauce.

 

The sauce used for the pictured gnocchi is a brown butter and thyme. To make this sauce, simply melt a stick of butter with a teaspoon of salt in a skillet until it begins to brown. Remove from heat and stir in tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves. Pour over cooked gnocchi.

Gnocchi finished with a brown butter and thyme sauce

Gnocchi finished with a brown butter and thyme sauce

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