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Posts Tagged ‘Italian’

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.

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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

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

Chicken Piccata

September 14, 2012 3 comments
Chicken Piccatta

Chicken Piccatta

Ahhh, the chicken breast.  I have such a love-hate relationship with you!

Let’s talk pro’s and con’s of the chicken breast.

Pros:

They’re extremely healthy when the skin is removed.

They’re readily available and I usually always have them on hand.

While more expensive than a chicken’s darker body parts, they’re a lot cheaper than other meats.

There are so many different ways to prepare it (versatility is a cook’s friend).

Cons:

The skin is full of fat and calories.

They need lots of jazzing up otherwise they’re plain, boring, and tasteless.

Overcook the white meant and its more dry than the Arizona Desert.  But if you under cook it, bad things happen.

Damn you chicken breast!!

All kidding aside, the chicken breast really can be a cook’s best friend.  Just find a decent way to keep it healthy while keeping it moist at the same time and your family (and your waistline) will love you for it.

This chicken dish is light, refreshing, and super moist you don’t even need a knife to cut it.

Go easy on the egg and flour and it can be pretty healthy too as each breast comes in at just under 300 calories.

What’s even better is that it is quick to make — easily under 30 minutes — and its cooked in one pan, so clean up is even easier.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
  • Pinch of Kosher Salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 large lemon (cut in half)
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  1. Place chicken breasts between 2 layers of plastic wrap and with a meat mallet, flatten each breast to make thin.
  2. Set up a breading station (1 pan with the beaten egg, 1 pan with the 1/4 cup flour + pinch of salt)
  3. Lightly coat each piece of chicken with flour (shake off excess), then dip each piece in the egg, then again with flour (again, shaking off excess).  Set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, add chicken stock, lemon juice from 1/2 of the lemon, and flour. Mix until flour is smooth.
  5. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.
  6. Add chicken and cook 4-5 minutes on each side until golden brown and chicken is cooked through.
  7. Remove chicken from pan, set on clean plate and loosely cover with foil to keep warm.
  8. Lower heat to medium-low.
  9. Add garlic to pan and cook for 1 minute.
  10. Add broth mixture to pan and stir, making sure the brown bits from the chicken are removed from the pan.
  11. Bring to a boil and continue for 1 minute or until thick.
  12. Add capers and stir.
  13. Plate each piece of chicken and pour some of the cooked mixture over the chicken and garnish with lemon slices from the remaining half of the lemon.
Moist, flavorful chicken

Moist, flavorful chicken

Marinara Sauce

September 3, 2012 3 comments
Marinara Sauce

Marinara Sauce

My very first blog entry was homemade pasta where I promised I would have a future entry dedicated to the sauce I use with it.  Nothing.

Then a few weeks later I made the meatball entry, where again, I made promise to blog my sauce recipe. Still nothing.

I did pizza entries (both on the grill and my deep dish) both of which need sauce, but yet, no sauce recipe. (Yikes)

I think the last straw for me to get off my butt and actually write about it came recently when a couple of friends of mine asked “When do I get the sauce recipe?”

Guess I better get to it.

Oh, but before I do, let me mention that a good marinara sauce is one of the simplest things you can make.  It tastes better than jarred sauce (and its better for you).  It’s cheaper than jarred sauce (stock up when canned tomatoes are on sale).  And best of all, it is just as quick to make as sauce from a jar.  Not to mention, other than the tomatoes, most everyone has all the ingredients in their pantry.

Take that convenience argument!

(If you don’t have garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil in your pantry, shame on you – quit reading and run out and buy these staples and keep them on hand – don’t forget the tomatoes)

Finally you might be thinking why canned when there is an abundance of tomatoes in season right now?  Personally, I think they taste better for *sauce.  (*I like fresh tomatoes for things like salsa)

Ingredients:

  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 – 28oz can of whole tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 1 small pinch crushed red pepper (more if you want some spice)
  1. To make the sauce, start by giving each garlic clove a quick “whack” with the back of your chef’s knife to smash them.
  2. In a medium sized sauce pot, heat the smashed garlic with 3 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat.
  3. Heat until garlic is brown (but not burnt).
  4. Add the tomatoes (and juice) to the pot.
  5. Add a good amount of salt, pepper (to taste), and crushed red pepper.
  6. Cook approximately 10 minutes until the sauce starts to thicken.
  7. Add 3 tablespoons more of olive oil.  Turn heat to medium-high.
  8. At this point, begin to crush the tomatoes in the pot with a wooden spoon.
  9. Once all the tomatoes are crushed, continue to cook approximately 5 more minutes or until the olive oil that you added is red.
  10. The sauce will be a bit chunky.  If you like it smoother, you can pulse it in a blender to the consistency you’re looking for (but may get a bit watery).

Use sauce for pizza, pasta, meatballs, sausages…..or as is served over a nice piece of crusty bread topped with grated Parmesan.

Fantastico

Fantastico!

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)