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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.
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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.

************************************************************************************************

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

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

Penne alla Vodka

August 24, 2012 4 comments
Penne alla Vodka

Penne alla Vodka

Let me begin by stating this blog entry was very close to not ever being written.

Why you ask?  Well because the dish was almost ruined, along with my house during the process.

The recipe, which I’ll get to shortly, requires that you flambe’ part of it. For those not familiar, it is the cooking process where you essentially set your food on fire with alcohol.

Food and Fire – I’m in!

Since I’m a pretty decent cook AND I’ve seen the flambe’ process up close and personal at fancy restaurants where I ordered Banana’s Foster, I assumed I could do it without issue.

I’ll go on record and state…I can do it.  You can do it too. Because setting food on fire IS easy. But not done properly IT IS DANGEROUS.  Extremely dangerous. Dealing with the 3 foot high flame that ignites from this process will also scare crap out of you.

Now I’ve been known to exaggerate before (see my thunderstorm story here), but the height of the flame is no exaggeration. And once the flame was ignited, there was no turning back.

I really didn’t know what to do other than move it away from anything that would catch on fire and as low from the ceiling as possible. And since I’m over six-feet tall, I needed to crouch a bit as I waited for the alcohol to burn.  Not an easy task.

With no way for me to put out the flame  I needed to keep it out of harms way long enough to avoid a call to the insurance company.

The 60 second process seemed like an eternity and every time the flame got lower it grew again when I would move back towards the stove.  So I waited with the hot pan of fire in my hand until it was gone.

With the flame gone and my eyebrows still intact, I moved the pan back to the stove, wiped the moistness from my face (and perhaps changed my skivvies) and proceeded to make one kick-ass pasta dish.

So now I that I lived to tell my story, I did some research on how to properly do this technique.  Seems like I did it just fine, but my kitchen is too small and I should have avoided trying altogether.  I also found out afterwards that while flambe’ is the best way to infuse your dish with the vodka, you could do it without this process.

I sure wish I had known that ahead of time….but then I wouldn’t have had this great safety lesson to share.

If you want to try flambe’ go for it, just make sure you have a fire extinguisher handy.

For those not as adventurous (read:stupid), here is the flambe’ free version.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

This is the base for a good meal

Cooking with booze….yum!

  • 1 lb. dry penne pasta
  • 1 tbsp. of butter
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup vodka + 3/4 cup additional vodka
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups of your favorite marinara sauce (I promise this recipe will be available in the fall)
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Cook penne according to package.
  2. Meanwhile, in large skillet, melt butter over medium heat and add onion.  Cook 4-5 minutes.
  3. Next add 1/2 cup of vodka, pepper, and cook 4-5 minutes to reduce. (*here is where you would flambe’ instead of reduce*)
  4. When penne is cooked, add to skillet with the vodka and onion.  Stir.
  5. Add remaining 3/4 cup of vodka and stir.  Cook to reduce.
  6. Add pasta sauce and stir.
  7. Add cream and stir to combine.  Cook 3-5 minutes until nice and thick.
  8. Serve immediately topped with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.
Bowl full of penne

Facile gustoso piatto di pasta (easy tasty pasta)

Spicy Sesame Peanut Noodles and Baked Egg Rolls

August 13, 2012 Leave a comment
Peanut Noodles and Egg Rolls

Spicy Sesame-Peanut Noodles and Egg Rolls

When I met my future wife she openly admitted to me that she wasn’t destined to be crowned “Top Chef.”  Lucky for me (and my family) she didn’t have to be because I love to cook and I take ownership of that responsibility.

Now that doesn’t mean that I’m solely responsible for meals.  She willingly chips in when she has to. However, she knows her limitations.  A crockpot or one dish meal with limited, familar ingredients and she’s typically willing to give it a try.  Complicated ingredients like, ummm, err….rice.  Probably not happening.

So recently I had planned to come home and make Peanut Noodles and Egg Rolls.  I had laid out the recipes and the ingredients so I was ready to hop to it the second I got home.  However, unforeseen circumstances (sometimes I call it Monday) kept me from getting out of the office on time.  I informed my wife of this via text and she replied “I’m going to start dinner, is that ok?”

Since peanut noodles AND egg rolls both fall outside of her comfort level, I wasn’t sure how to respond.  I could have easily played the ‘I’m too busy to respond’ card and would have come home to fabulous gourmet frozen chicken tenders.  But being the good husband that I am, I shot her a text of encouragement simply saying “Yep. It will be easy.”

The meal was excellent and she was VERY proud of her accomplishment.  Not proud because it was good (although she should have been because it was delicious) but rather because she used the food processor without issue.

I love this woman.

I would be remiss if I didn’t tell everyone what a WONDERFUL baker my wife is.  Everyone I know raves about her desserts and my waistline is further proof.  Be sure to come back in the Fall when she goes crazy.  I’ll blog all about it.

And oh, don’t think I don’t know I’m being played for a fool. I know she can cook….but she has me right where she wants me.

For the Noodles

Ingredients:

  • 1 box linguine noodles
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup chopped unsalted peanuts (for garnish)

Cook noodles according to package.  Drain and rinse well with cold water.

Meanwhile, add all other ingredients to a blender and puree until smooth.

Combine with noodles and toss.  Serve immediately.

For the Egg Rolls (makes 6)

  • 6 egg roll wrappers
  • 1/2 of a one-pound bag prepared cole slaw mix
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Splash of soy sauce
  • Olive Oil cooking spray

Preheat over to 375.

Meanwhile, put cole slaw mix in a bowl and microwave covered for 3-4 minutes.  Drain well to remove excess liquid.

Add soy sauce, garlic, and ginger.  Mix.

Add heaping spoonful of mix to the center of an egg roll wrapper and fold according to directions.

Repeat for each roll.

Spray baking sheet with olive oil spray.

Line rolls on baking sheet and spray the rolls.

Bake 15 minutes.  Flip.  Bake additional 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve with soy, duck sauce, or my favorite, sweet and spicy asian dipping sauce.

Yum

 很好吃 (Very good eats)

Pasta in Garlic Sauce

August 4, 2012 4 comments
Pasta in Garlic Sauce

Pasta in Garlic Sauce

If you run a food blog, love to cook, or you breath, then chances are you’ve heard of Pinterest.

If you’re unfamiliar, Pinterest is a site where registered users from all over the world “pin” just about anything they think of. Movies, books, fashion, photography, funny quotes, and of course, recipes.  Its an online bulletin board of sorts meant to peak your interest and inspire.

When I first heard of Pinterest I wasn’t sure what to make of it.  But then I started looking over my wife’s shoulder as she browsed the site.  Seeing all of the magnificent looking desserts she viewed, I decided to give it a whirl on my own.

I’m glad I did.

I mainly review the food and drink “pins” and I’ve been incredibly inspired by so many talented food bloggers that I discovered.  The blogs I found through Pinterest have given me tons of recipes of to try.  Pinterest may have even been the final piece of motivation I needed to start my own blog.

Most recipe “pins” are unique, but sometimes there will be one or two “pins” that keep showing up over and over again.  These recurring “pins” are known as a ‘repin’ and serves as a measure of popularity.

Such is the case with the recipe I’m about to share. I’ve seen this recipe pinned so many times that it was virtually impossible for me not to want to give it a try.

Pinned as “Spaghetti in Garlic Gravy with Herbs and Lemon Marinated Chicken and Cherry Tomatoes”, this recipe is a refreshing summer pasta dish that makes excellent use of fresh cherry tomatoes that are cropping up in backyard gardens all over the country.

I thought the name was too long, plus I omitted the chicken, so I simply call it Pasta in Garlic Sauce.  Enjoy!

Adapted from Godess of Scrumptiousness Blog

Ingredients:

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (box) pasta
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh basil, chopped
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes

Cook pasta according to package.

Meanwhile, over medium heat, melt butter and olive oil.

Add garlic and saute approximately 1-2 minutes or until garlic is soft.

Add flour and stir.  Cook for approximately 1 minute.

Another Roux

The start of another roux: a recurring theme on my blog

Add chicken stock and simmer until thick.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add basil and drained pasta. Stir to combine.

Add tomatoes and cheese and gently toss.

Plate the dish and top with a small sprinkle of basil and a bit more cheese.

Summer Pasta

This is summer

Lower-Cal Alfredo

July 28, 2012 Leave a comment
Alfredo Main

Lower-Cal Alfredo

Years ago I went to a restaurant and and was looking over the menu. Unsure of what I wanted, I focused in on the Fettuccine Alfredo.

Pasta. Cream. Butter. Parmesan.  Sounded good to me.

The dish came, and it looked heavenly.  The pasta smelled wonderful and tasted equally as good.

The portion was decent but wasn’t huge, so I tackled the whole plate.

About an hour later things weren’t so good.  I felt like I ate a bag of cement.  It just sat there, filling my gut.  I was miserable.

A few days later I came across an article entitled “Worst Foods to Order When Dining Out”.  What do you think topped the list?  The article stated that Fettuccine Alfredo has more saturated fat than a whole pint of Ben and Jerry’s Chubby Hubby.  YIKES!

After reading the article, this chubby hubby vowed never again to eat the gut-busting, artery clogging dish.

That is, of course, until one morning I was watching (yep, you guessed it) Food Network.  The show was “Healthy Appetite” with Ellie Krieger.  She made a version of Low-cal Fettuccine Alfredo that, if it tasted as good as it looked, would get me back in the Alfredo eating game.  One-third the calories and fat, I couldn’t wait to give it a try.

Thank you over-priced cable television.

I modified her recipe slightly by adding more cream cheese and less Parmesan and omitting parsley in the dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 Clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 Teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 Cup 2% milk
  • Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 4 Ounces low-fat cream cheese (1/2 block)
  • 1/2 Cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Box spaghetti noodles (or any noodle you prefer  – or even homemade)

Cook pasta according to directions.

Meanwhile, over medium heat melt the butter.  Add the garlic and lemon zest and cook for about 1 minute.

Alfredo Step 1

Melting butter with garlic and lemon zest

Stir in the flour to make a roux. Stir for about 1 minute.

Alfredo Step 2

Don’t be afraid to make a roux

Whisk in the milk, salt, pepper and cook, stirring constantly….

Alfredo Step 3

1% milk could probably work, but skim won’t

….until the liquid coats the back of a spoon, about 3 minutes.

Alfredo Step 4

Thick enough

Add in the cream cheese and Parmesan and stir until melted.  Lower heat.

Alfredo Step 5

Parmesan screams Italian, right?

Drain pasta, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water.

Add pasta, along with half-cup of the pasta water to the cheese sauce and gently toss to combine.  If the mix appears too thick, add more pasta water at little at a time.

Alfredo Step 6

My favorite kitchen tongs that I use for almost every meal

Add to serving plate and top with another small sprinkle of Parmesan and top with parsley, oregano, or a combination of Italian spices.  Enjoy!

Alfredo Final

Bellissimo!